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      2018 Joint Fundraiser for Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers   02/03/2018

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About Quiggin

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  1. Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

    I agree with both of these points. Regarding the first, here are excerpts from Barbara Hoey's page at Kelley Drye. Her clients, I would assume, are from the management part of the spectrum, not that of labor (except perhaps in some pro bono work). https://www.kelleydrye.com/Our-People/Barbara-E-Hoey
  2. Wendy Whelan -- Into The Future

    As a photographer seeing this image, without any reference to the person or to ballet, this reads like a document of starvation after a war. That's how it would be used at a photo agency. The formal values suggest a very grim ordeal. Part of it is the sepia/b&w, the shadowy lighting, and the positon. It doesn't read as skinny or shaming of anyone's body size to me. It also could be part of the 70s performance art. Unfortunately I don't think WW realized how it looked from the outsize.
  3. To me words are acts. When Copley said outloud how he imagined the chorus member, he was stripping him in front of everyone in the room. It would also stick in the other members' minds afterwards. They would have to joke with him about it to diffuse its taint. But it doesn't matter if he had been traumatized before, everyone should be treated with equal respect.
  4. Winter 2018

    San Francisco Ballet did whole Apollo ten years ago for their big Balanchine celebration, very successfully. In that spirit they tried Square Dance with the caller, but it didn't work. Helgi Tomasson said there was something with the band on the stage not being able to hear the orchestra. Also, the reverse of Apollo, the original Square Dance is shorter. And it doesn't have the haunting male solo, which came later - sort of a fifth Temperament.
  5. SFB 2018: Sleeping Beauty

    I hestitated to see this production of "The Sleeping Beauty," as I had seen the Mariinsky's version (Vasiev's?) here in the Bay Area ten years ago with Vishneva, Zelensky and Korsakov (Bluebird) and still had some pleasant and not completely faded out memories of it. But I did enjoying seeing this "Sleeping Beauty" Saturday night. The company looked handsome in it, Ana Sophia Scheller was lovely, her dancing clear, and Angelo Greco was especially good in the vision scene. To Claudia Bauer's point, it did seem as if there were two ballets or stories – that of the sets, heavy and baroque (like the gold rush-monied lobby of the Fairmont Hotel), too much, and the pearl encrusted costumes, all wanting to be admired – and the story itself and the delicate choreography which needs no apology. It would be interesting seeing the ballet set against light Tiepolo drawings or Jacques Callot etchings or the kinds of sets Christian Berard did for the orginal "Mozartiana" in 1933. Which would be a great match for the wonderfully complex (and kind of radical) choreography of the Fairies' variations, which were the heart of the show for me. And where you feel the past is being transmitted, not in the expensive surrounds. I did miss the great transition of the kingdom into a sleeping one, into being overgrown and abandoned and Prince Desire coming across it and seeing all of it, as in the Maryiinksy version. This lacked that overview, was too interior. I also thought (with Bauer) that the change of Princess Florine's name to Enchanted Princess was all wrong. She is not an enchanted princess, but rather he is an enchanted prince (Prince Charming) who has been changed into a bluebird by an offended third party. Princess Florine is kept in a tower and the Bluebird visits her secretly at night bringing her little presents. Some of that melancholy backstory is somewhere in the choreography. (I also like productions where there are wavy sleeves and loosened feathers.) Those quibbles aside, it was a very happy evening.
  6. I think that mixing singular and plural is the big problem. And unfortunately written English doesn't have any of the rich store of emphatic particles that ancient Greek did – all the different shadings of reallys, very much sos, trulys - that help transcribe tone of voice. English is ambiguous as it is without making it more so by tossing out the they. And without rules, you can't be free, at least in poetry (and in ballet!). I'm sure that Elizabeth Bishop, let along Marianne Moore, both very precise in their use of the word (poetry is not a fuzzy business), would not approve. But I do think that gender fluid issues could be an interesting subject for everyone if they were linked to the full range of existential questions of being. But we don't do philosophy much any more.
  7. On the level of practice, how do you say: "She and he" went to the dance. "Oh, did they." "No, they didn't go. They stayed at home." I watched a bit of a small memorial service for a transgender person at UCLA, Doran George, and it became confusing when some of the participants used they singular, though everyone tried to respect it. It really seems to be an existential question that language is being asked to solve or accomodate until later. It needs its Thomas Berhard or Rimbaud or Colette to write about brilliantly from the inside and guide the rest of us. (Or Elizabeth Bishop: "you are an I ... you are one of them", first realizing as a child that she is alive, she is a person, is made of the same material as her surrounds. ("In the Waiting Room").)
  8. I was just trying to lay out what I saw as the differences between the two instances. That is, in the first case one uses their as a substitute for, or instead of, her, his or its. In the second case one is using it, she, he, their interchangeably, in parallel. You could say their is the common denominator in the first case, whereas in the second case its, her, his, their are all numerators - to borrow an image from math. To me they seem structurally different. I also meant that language evolves organically, not artifically - as in Greek where the demotic won out over the artificially constructed katherevousa. So we'll see what happens a few years ahead. My other comment, to sandik, is really off topic and just an observation the sometimes the young are more inflexible that their parents. Not really about our language discussion. Supposed to be a little humorous or point out an irony.
  9. The problem I see is that "their" is the equivalent of his, hers or its (no apostrophe!), while "they" singular has to stand alongside he, she and it. It's like saying chair, table and furniture as coequals. So it really doesn't build on the precedent of the "their" usage of Shakespeare and Jane Austen. All language systems including supposedly primitive ones like pidgin and slang do have their "rhymes and reasons", so when you drop a word, when you contract a thought, the other person knows what you mean - like in jazz when you leave out a note and the other notes in a phrase fill in. It's more the overall structure that allows this - and the differences between words as much as the words themselves. You begin to lose a little of the musicality of language when you add artificial constraints. sandik - Maybe younger, more inflexible brains. Less tolerant of inconsistency in their elders, who've learned to deal with all the contradictions and paradoxes of life and are therefore more agile in their thinking. I'm reading J M Coetzee's "Boyhood" right now and you're taken aback by how very severe he is with his mother. Also came across this while commuting on the streetcar this morning which may tie into the topic -
  10. Thank you, that's very helpful. I think though the change in the 19th century wasn't so arbitrary – it probably went along with teaching Greek and Latin, two highly inflected languages, at the same time. Interesting that Jane Austen used "their" so many times. Also may have been a kind of regional use – varying in different parts of England. You might be able to tell what county a person came from by it. I do agree – trying not to step into any of the controversy – that the use of singular "they" is more difficult (that's what originally puzzled me) and there isn't the same history that helps make the change over.
  11. The problem is that English, being a weakly inflected language, is at times somewhat ambiguous. Using "their" for first person singular possessive would further limit ways of signaling agreement between subject and predicate. Would be difficult to tell if the pronoun is referring to one or more persons. I wonder how this is being treated in French or Spanish or Greek where the rules are more consistent and adjectives have grammatical gender – m., f. and sometimes n.? What are some examples of common usage? That might help to set up a precedent and make the grammatical transition smoother.
  12. Are there ballets that should no longer be staged?

    pherank: I always like book reviews and art history notes where the reviewer follows the trajectory of a work, how it was initially accepted, its controversies, and how we see it now. This is often done in a scholarly and entertaining way in the NY Times, and the New York and London Reviews. What's often the case is that there are reviewers who "get" the work early on and clearly. For instance there was a very understanding review of Robert Frank's "Americans" done in the New York Times when the book first came out but which everyone forgot about afterwards, so there was subsequently the myth that it was universally panned. And Kevin Thomas wrote a very appreciative review of one of Truffaut's most underated movies, "The Soft Skin," in the Los Angeles Times when it was first released. The "stations" a work of art passes through, its endless lives, are always fascinating. Program notes could devote a paragraph to a kind of "historical intent" of the work without boring anyone too much. I agree that SF Ballet has done many excellent "Pointes of Views" pre-ballet programs. However, the ones I've sat in over the past ten years have only taken in a tiny fraction of the audience members who would see the ballets during the 10 day run, and the q&a s have been limited in number and in scope. Regarding Nancy Goldner's interpretation of "Bugaku,", which she develops in much greater detail than what I quoted above, there are earlier reviews that also signal that this is tricky territory. Jack Anderson says, Clive Barnes: I thought Robert Garis's take was amusing in that he almost puts a Hollywood ending to it:
  13. Are there ballets that should no longer be staged?

    Actually not too many people go to the pre-performance seminars in San Francisco, maybe 200 to the Green Room against a week's run in an opera house of 2,500 or so seats. Program notes would be better – and ones which outline the problems up front – by the second paragraph – and clearly. For instance with "The Cage," just as it's often noted that Prokofiev didn't like Balanchine's choreography for "Prodigal Son," here it could be said that Stravinsky didn't care for Robbin's choreography, and when he gave City Ballet permission to use the score, he thought Balanchine was the choreographer (which is sort of amusing). You would also have to gently fill in the early 50's post war atmosphere of low grade misogeny and all the paranoia regarding the red scare. (Michael Baxandall's "Pattern's of Intentions" might serve as a good template.) With "Bugaku," you could note that the choreography was controversial from the beginning, not just now, and that Arlene Croce, Jack Anderson, B F Haggin and Robert Garis had to work around its problematic asian overlay in order to defend it (Allen Hughes at the Times decidedly didn't). Croce: "though there are moments of satire in the geisha-girl pantomime (as well as some nasty pseudo-Oriental mannerisms), 'Bugaku' is the nearest thing in the New York City Ballet repertory to a Bejart ballet." And Nancy Goldner has quite a discussion on "the sexual violence" in the ballet in her "Balanchine Variations". "What ensues is rape, but not the conventional kind. In "Bugaku," the woman is a complicit party to the mating, because, as [Allegra] Kent says, it is ordained, and they both emerge from it as inscrutable as they are for the entire ballet." * When I was in high school, the first year English Shakespeare play that was assigned was "Merchant of Venice" (third year was "Julius Caesar"). What a thing to throw to ninth graders – in a small San Joaquin Valley farm town – to try to figure out! (though I do think, like Drew, that it's ok to occasionally perform.) My parents were rather enlightened as far as social injustices were concerned, and over the years I felt I have been too. Except... Except I've recently realized it hasn't been enough. These corrections for horrible things – like removal of statues of Justice Taney who wrote the Dred Scott decision from state house property or Justin Herman's name from a plaza in SF – are coming way too late. What excuses have we made to ourselves over the years, how we've sequestered the sting of these terrible symbols from ourselves, saying these little things really don't matter, just look the other way, etc. You'll just upset everyone if you make a fuss. I think the key might be when we say "some people might be offended." It might go deeper and be broader than that.
  14. Which dancer do you most wish you'd seen live?

    Thanks atm711 for your firsthand observations. How wonderful to have seen all that – and the Balanchine ballets in such depth. To Jerome Robbins, Marie-Jeanne, Mary Ellen Moyland, and Tanaquil Le Clercq, I'd add Jilliana and John Kriza.
  15. Peter Martins Sexual Harassment Allegations

    Sidenote: The Times' reports, towards the end of the article, that Deneuve also made a strong statement last March defending Roman Polanski. “It’s a case that has been dealt with, it’s a case that has been judged. There have been agreements between Roman Polanski and this woman.”