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Massine


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13 replies to this topic

#1 glebb

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Posted 29 January 2003 - 07:18 PM

His ballets are not seen a lot, but I always seem to like them. "Les Presages", Beau Danube", and "Parade" are the most familiar to me.

I found him unusual and interesting in "The Red Shoes".

Did anyone at BA ever meet him?

Any stories, anyone?

#2 atm711

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 11:51 AM

I never met Massine---but does being a super in 'Petrouchka' when he was performing count?? My fondest memories of him are in 'The Three-Cornered Hat'---no one can do a farruca like Massine! His Spanish dancing was exceptional (I don't know if the purists would agree). If you are lucky, you can still see it. He made a film about 1940 for Warner Bros called 'Capriccio Espanol' with the wonderful Rimsky-Korsakov score, and in it, he does some wonderful Spanish dancing. Forget him in the silly part he had in 'The Red Shoes'--this man was beautiful, elegant and very sexy on the stage.

#3 glebb

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Posted 30 January 2003 - 07:17 PM

Thanks atm711.

Petrouchka crowd scenes are fun. :)
I know that Massine added his own touches to the Joffrey production at one point, and then they were taken out because they were not original.

I was at a party in 1977, in San Francisco. Massine was sitting, speaking with Robert Joffrey and Agnes DeMille. I didn't dare go near them, but I did watch.

I do love the snippet from "Boutique Fantastique" in "The Red Shoes.

#4 mbjerk

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Posted 04 February 2003 - 12:57 PM

glebb - I will show my age. Massine set his Pulchinella on Joffrey when I was in the second company. We were still on Sixth Ave and I was the one who ran out to Balducci's for his smoked salmon daily lunch. Francesca Corkle was the Pulchinella and wonderful. I remember Gary Chryst was a favorite of Massine's and I spent hours watching the principals rehearse. We boys were the pulchinellas and ran around in smocks.

Massine as I recall was very old, until he hit the studio. There he was a force and so exact in what he wanted. Endless energy and drive. Very inspiring to watch him move and act with eyes that could drill a hole through anything.

I also remember him a gentleman to the ladies and very gruff with us lower members - polite but watch out if you did not get it fast enough.

It was a lesson in human capacity, working with that energy in the studio and then bringing him lunch in Mr. Joffrey's back office where he sat huddled over the desk and looking very tired.

#5 glebb

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 06:45 PM

Thanks for the thoughts, all.

Any stories about "Parade"?

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 08:13 PM

I wish I could contribute to this -- Massine is a choreographer who's always interested me. I have to say my heart always sinks when I see "Parade" on the program -- I don't like the music, I don't like the costumes, I don't like the movement, I don't like the whole idea of it! And yet when I see it, I always enjoy it and marvel at Massine's craft. (See the "taste" thread above -- this is a good work, I think, a minor work but a good one; it's just not to my taste.)

If a company put on a Massine festival -- put all the resources under the heavens into that festival and gave us Massine as Massine would want us to see him -- would we say, "Oh, thank you! A lost choreographer restored to us!" or is he out of time now? (If the latter is true, he may well be back in time in another 20 years or so, so I'd be very happy for that festival to preserve the works.)

#7 dirac

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:04 PM

The key thing would be to have the works, somehow. Even if the festival didn't work, or wasn't on the grand scale Massine would wish, they'd still be out there. I would love to see a couple of the big symphonic ballets, even if they didn't work.

glebb, I liked him in "The Red Shoes," too. Yes, it's a silly role, but he's still a striking presence. When I first saw the movie, I had no notion of who any of these people were except for Anton Walbrook, but as soon as I saw Massine I thought, "who's that?" (As opposed to Helpmann, about whom I thought, what's he doing there, couldn't they get a real dancing lead?) And that moment at the end, when the ballerina is dead and the show goes on without her, he holds out the shoes as if to say, "Who's next? Who'll take the chance?" and for me it's one of those eerie indelible moments.

#8 Estelle

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:41 PM

The Ballet de Bordeaux will dance "Parade" and "Le Tricorne" in June at the Theatre du Chatelet (along with Lifar's "Icare"), I'm really looking forward to seeing it, as all what I've seen by Massine so far is a video of "Le Tricorne" filmed around 1992 at the POB (and my mother has erased it accidentally and it's not commercially available :) :( ), and it's such a wonderful work. The POB used to have "Les présages" in its repertory, but hasn't danced it for at least 15 years.

Around 1995, the Ballet de Nice had done a Massine program, if I remember correctly it included at least "Le Beau Danube", Massine's version of "The Rite of Spring" and "Parade" (and perhaps something else). I think that it was in the period when Jean-Albert Cartier was its director, and tried to enlarge its repertory (if I remember correctly, they also danced Ashton's "Les deux pigeons", it's so rare to see some Ashton in France!) Unfortunately, since then the direction has changed several time, the company has shrunk, and now they only dance some home productions of full-length works- and no French company dances Massine works... :(

#9 atm711

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 12:11 PM

In the 'Times' last Sunday (2/22/04) there was an article about a music professor from Princeton who was interested in the score of an early Diaghilev/Massine/Prokefiev ballet which he identified as "The Steel Step" (Le Pas D'Acier). It was originally done in 1927 with a cast that included Danilova, Massine, Lifar and Woizikovsky. He went beyond his interest in the music alone, and is presently (with a group of collaborators) planning to revive the ballet at Princeton's Berlind Theater in the spring of 2005. The music professor, Simon Morrison, said "It is difficult music for a casual listener, as mechanical as the din of a factory floor......there is little lyricism..." ...."Most of the work will be a recreation in the spirit of the performance" (whatever that means, I'm not sure).
Zeeva Cohen, head of Princeton Dance program will use student dancers ..."The dance is about trying to capture the common man in the streets...it is not supertechnical, except for the lead couple." One interesting aside to all this: it seems that Diaghilev tried to get Kasian Goleizovsky from Moscow to choreograph it, but had no luck and gave it to Masssine.

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 February 2004 - 07:02 PM

One thing that was odd about that 1927 production was that Massine went with his interpretation of a leading theatrical movement in Russia, Constructivism, even though he hadn't been back there to see the real thing onstage. (Good thing for us, he might not have been able to get back out!) One of my favorite, "My God, now what?" pictures is Lifar lovingly cradling a crescent wrench about as tall as he was.

#11 sandik

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 01:01 AM

Massine's influence on the development of ballet in the US was really at its peak in the 50's, when so many Ballet Russe alumni were leading schools and performance ensembles across the country. It's been eclipsed for several years by Balanchine's more athletic American style, but if you go back and look at Dance Magazines from the 50's and 60's, I think you might be surprised at the number of Boutique Fantasque and Gaite Parisienne knockoffs there were.

I was sorry to have missed the Joffrey revival of that symphonic work (I've scared the name out of myself...) -- I've read so much about it and mulled over the photos, but would love to see something move.

I think the emphasis on character in Massine's work might do well today -- there's a section of the dance audience that responds to those kinds of elements -- but the cultural references (especially in things like Gaite) would be difficult for a literal-minded audience.

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 04:26 AM

The symphonic work I think you reference is "Les Presages".

#13 sandik

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 11:50 AM

The symphonic work I think you reference is "Les Presages".

Many thanks!

Mulling this topic over again I started thinking about the emphasis Massine placed on character dancing, and how many roles he created using that material. Those skills seem undervalued today, so that when we do get a ballet that asks dancers to make distinctions between different national dances, it often turns into mush.

#14 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 01 March 2004 - 02:27 PM

:D Yes, sir, I did meet Massine! Or, to be closer to the truth, I curtsied (a well brought up girl did that in those days when she saw a superior or older person).
Anyway, I might have told this story before on this board, please forgive me for repeating myself.
Anyway, in 1956 or 7, I was a pupil in the theater school - Massine was invited to mount "Gaitee Parisienne" and "Les Sylphides" and something more. I went through my old programs but could not find that one, of course. I usually pride myself on keeping things in order, but obviously not...
Anyway, this 1956 or 57 - here we had a choreographer of world repute who came to a hole in the wall with dancers to match (OK, I know I am being cruel here, but I am also honest). What on earth brought him to Gothenburg? The theater was a municipal one, it couldnt have been the money...
I will never understand this, but at least I have glimpsed a bit of ballet history which I treasure to this day. Yes, folks, I saw him live!!! :P
Still can't believe it to this day - such a bit of dance history :mondieu: :clapping:


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