Quiggin

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About Quiggin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    balletgoer
  • City**
    San Francisco
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    California
  1. I always find that video – and film but differently – leaves out the poetry of the performance and adds another poetry, one of interesting but distracting visual artifacts. The choice of a slightly telephoto or slightly wide lens (like that of an iPhone or, more extemely, that of Google Street View) gives the dancer a smaller or larger amount of space to move through. If the camera is on a crane, the point of view shifts quickly from that of an audience member in the balcony to that which someone in the orchestra would see. The video editor's cuts break the natural "breathing" and concentration of a dancer's phrasing. Looking at all the previous recorded versions, at best you end up with a kind of synthetic "best available practices" version, a ballet without an inner voice – and one with all the accumulated errors. Better perhaps to learn the choreography blindly from someone who has danced it well before. (I remember Kyra Nichols here in San Francisco talking about how she had to "strip away" all the accumulated details and ornamentation from the roles she inherited from Suzanne Farrell and start over again. Videos compound that problem of getting down to the purity of the role.)
  2. Zelda Fitzgerald was also a pretty good novelist and diaryist – good enough that Scott Fitzgerald borrowed sections of her journals for "Tender is the Night." Not sure if "Save Me the Waltz" is in print or not. San Francisco Library has one tattered copy. From Google Books:
  3. I don't see that much dance here in SF – as opposed to painting – to really comment. Contra-zombie formalism, I've liked Trey McIntyre's Presentce at the Gala this year, Jessica Lang's Schubert Wanderer excerpt at Jacob's Pillow Interactive, and the unpopular here California Dreamin that Paul Taylor did for the last SFB New Works. Also very much so Ratmansky's Scarlatti. They all do develop ideas. Ratmansky, as Carrie Gaiser Casey points out in her SFB podcast, lets minor characters repeat the motifs of major characters as a composer might repeat and develop something in another key. This constantly enrichens the ballet rather than zombie-flattens. (Millepied – at least in video – seems to have flattened Beethoven in his Appassionata ballet, following the music so closely, dance word for music word, that neither the dance nor the music could breathe.) [You can move this somewhere else if others want to comment on the state of: musicality? structure? (good) formality?
  4. Sort of an inert formality. All over. Maybe arrower than Wayne McGregor. ... ??? I guess more generally off the shelf minimalism built around a single idea. (I think I'm contracting here.)
  5. Jerry Saltz – Panero's subject – is a pretty unique case. Very messy writer but seems to interested in getting through bull- of the art world, for example the trend of "zombie formalism" (which may have an equivalent in dance): Anyway he seems to be a more effective muckraker than Panero. http://www.vulture.com/2014/06/why-new-abstract-paintings-look-the-same.html Meanwhile at the Times, following the recent dismissal of the Public Editor, many copy editor jobs are to be eliminated: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/business/media/new-york-times-staff-members-protest-cuts.html?_r=0 The Times' defense ("Baquet Answers Readers' Questions") https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/reader-center/dean-baquet-newsroom-changes.html?mcubz=0:
  6. My impression was that Ulrich brought the question up more than once and kept it before the public. I didn't remember him before that advocating so strongly for a work of art – outside of his opera and classical reviews for the Financial Times. To me it seemed a great example of what good arts journalism can do. Also it seemed that was so unusual a work for SF Ballet that they didn't quite know what to do with it - how to promote it, etc. Ulrich:
  7. The Bejart Company also did a revival of "Parade," in the 1960s. Unfortunately only the original manager's costume survived and was last seen in a Diaghilev exhibition Richard Buckle put together in 1955. The costumes for the Joffrey revival were said to be reasonable facsimilies but not to have the impact of Picasso's originals. I wonder if the costumes and sets Robert Rauschenberg did in the 1970s for Cunningham and other companies had some of the dazzling effect of those in "Parade" in 1917 (when e e cummings and Marcel Proust were in the audience)? Regarding the continuity of SF Ballet's programs, they are still perhaps a mix of NYCB and ABT heritage, and in a triple bill you might say the Tomassons take the place of the Christensens, the Possokhovs stand in for the Smuins and there's kind of a Tudor freelance third place. The relation to the audience to the company remains the same, sometimes conservative, sometimes up for something brilliantly new or well revived – like Symphony in Three Movements or the Shostakovich Triology (which thanks to Allan Ulrich's enthusiastic reviews was given a second year's showing).
  8. It depends on what the artist does with the "found" pieces. Beethoven constructs a brilliant set of answers – in different keys and tempos – to a waltz in the "Diabelli Variations" and maybe not so brilliant with "God Save the Queen". John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Johnny Griffin take bits of pop songs and make intricate msucial ribbons out of them. Picasso "steals" and "destructs" but completely combusts his sources. Pastiche in general doesn't seem to age well – the conceptual cracks begin to show. The "Appropriation" art of the 8o's (Sherrie Levine signing Walker Evans photos) – originally called "Scavenger Art" – looks pretty flat these days. In poetry T. S. Eliot seems to have become eclipsed by the wholly original Wallace Stevens. And in the end Schoenberg is more rewarding to listen to than Stravinsky. Joni Mitchell's comment on Dylan – a little like Mary McCarthy's on Lillian Hellman – is interesting in that she is a colleague of Bob Dylan's and knows the field from inside. She says, “His name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.” Jonah Lehrer making up Dylan quotes, which might not be original in the first place, makes an rather amusing circle.
  9. Latest in the Bob Dylan Nobel Prize saga – about his SparkNotes like acceptance speech. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/14/arts/music/bob-dylan-nobel-lecture-sparknotes.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Farts&action=click&contentCollection=arts&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0
  10. I saw Bugaku only once 20 years ago and it was one of the few Balanchine ballets I didn't like – Variations on a Porte et une Soupir was the other. It was too stylized – like the strangest Ikebana floral composition – and I have to admit I'm a bit prudish. (I didn't like the Cage but neither did Stravinsky, so.) Maybe I'd feel differently today. I do think if you put certain images on stage or on screen – even if the cavalry does come in and everyone is happy in the end, the images stay deep in the unconscious and somewhere give people permission to act badly. Macaulay asks, “Must works of art only depict people behaving correctly?” Not necessarily, but there's good taste, in the sense of a kind of moral good taste. But RaKU wasn't a Japanese story – like one by Ozu or Kawabata or even Mizoguchi – it was a Japanese news item choreographed by a Russian-American with a score borrowing from various ethnic and contemporary sources. Anyway I only brought it up because it was one I could immediately remember.
  11. Interestingly, in today's FT, Apollinaire Scherr makes this observation about "Decalogue": And this topic kinda ties in with our discussion some months ago about the potential violence in the purse snatching scene "Fancy Free." ... The unpleasant thing I've noticed most in contemporary ballets is how women are treated like furniture to be moved about – especially in Christopher Wheeldon's work, though in his case perhaps not out of misogyny as out of a lack of imagination, or maybe just recycling what's around. Balanchine sometimes uses women as devices like pencils with which describe arcs around the stage – in "LIebeslieder" and "Violin Concerto", but the woman always seems to be the one in control, and the one whose imagination the ballet is really about. RAkU has a rape scene in it involving a monk backed up by some sort of soldiers and the audience here in San Francisco seems to love it. In the 70s I think it would have been booed. We've regressed.
  12. Thanks for the reports, Jack – it's a pleasure reading about these ballets and performances and reconstructing them in your mind's eye.
  13. San Francisco Ballet has so many dancers coming from such different backgrounds that it was almost as if the Cuban and Spanish trained dancers and teachers gave it a bit of a center for a while. Taras Domitro it seemed came in to replace Gonzalo Garcia, the high spirited company favorite, who had left suddenly for New York City Ballet. Now the company feels like a bit of a patchwork again. What I liked about Domitro is his depth of concentration and his ability to lose himself in a character (though they weren't necessarily deep characters). His Melancholic in The Four Temperaments was perhaps the best interpretation I've seen anywhere. He was also terrific in Scotch Symphony, Symphony in C, in the Swimmer, in the duel scene of Onegin and as Benjamin in Cinderella – the first act where his mime (and sleights of hands) made him look like one of Mack Sennett's regulars. Here's a roll call of Cuban dancers of the class of 2004. Viengsay Valdez, Romel Frometa, Yoel Carreno are in Part 2, Carlos Quenedit is in Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ImPpPZi7vo And a class with Loipa Araujo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN01x8UxosU
  14. My parenthetic comment was, and still is, that the community of Cuban dancers at San Francisco Ballet would be greatly diminished. With Boada, Feijoo and Quenedit gone, this makes three of four. Their presence, and the influence of Jorge Esquivel and Lola di Avila as teachers, added something special to the company.
  15. Nice suite of photos of Lisa F-P at Pace Macgill, also some of Penn's small trades. All good, but liked milkman especially. http://www.pacemacgill.com/selected_works.php?item=164