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About Quiggin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
  • City**
    San Francisco
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
  1. Favorite SFB Short Video Clips

    Not sure if all of this travel is good for 1) company style 2) the ballets themselves that the dancers are supposed to serve. Dancing with so many different partners, do dancers develop a generic style? Do they pick up mannerisms and bad habits trying to quickly fit into a program or another company? Do they still care about being in a new Ratmansky or Peck work or a revival of Dances at a Gathering – or just accumulating quirky instagram juxtapositions. Frances Chung, who doesn't seem to travel from home base that much, says, "I continue to dance because of the community I am in" (which I take as being the immediate community).
  2. Your Desert Island Triple Bill

    Maybe there were so many choices of Balanchine works because they wear well on repeat viewings. There are so many twists and turns and trick endings that you are always surprised how they come out. Each is both a ballet and the critique of a ballet. Ratmansky also has his surprises and enrichenings of content. I could add Shostakovich Symphony #9 (the first of the Trilogy) and parts of Bolt to a desert island menu. (I initially picked Seven Sonatas.) I've only seen one Peck ballet here in San Francisco and intriguing snippets of Rodeo – so I guess there could be a triple bill of Rodeo (Peck), Rodeo (deMille) and Western Symphony.
  3. Your Desert Island Triple Bill

    What kind of island is this? Prospero's? Morel of Bioy-Casares? New Yorker cartoonists'? I'm listing ballets I've seen often without getting tired of. And Faure/Scarlatti or Donizetti/Stravinsky I wouldn't mind hearing over and over (Bizet would drive me crazy). – 1. Emeralds 2. Donzetti Variations or Seven Sonatas 3. Violin Concerto
  4. Why So LIttle Massine?

    The Parade costumes no longer exist. John Richardson who is writting a several volume biography of Picasso says the last time he saw the Manager's costume was in 1955 at an exhibit Richard Buckle put together. He said it was a cubist masterpiece – whereas the Joffrey reconstructions looked like "fake Picassos" (he was speaking as an art historian). He thought that they might have been tossed out after the show. The original choreography also apparently no longer exists. Massine on the 1964 revival of Parade (for Bejart?): from My Life in Ballet - via George Dorris' review of the Massine bio The Barnes foundation is apparently rebuilding their website, so hopefully that info will be back.
  5. You're right about the significance of the buy out. She was a consistent voice. And she wasn't afraid to pan a book by a writer from an important publisher. My gripe I guess is that book reviewing is no longer the great art it was, wide ranging and full of interesting insights.
  6. I'm not too sad about this. I found it difficult to read Michiko Kakutani's book reviews. As Ben Yagoda at Slate points out, they were either thumbs up or thumbs down reviews, nothing in between. And not as thumbs-down-pleasurable to read as someone like Pauline Kael. And never insightful in the put down. You would follow her thought and wait for the finishing touch, but it was always two sizes two small or would end on a cliche. Compare her reference to the overused "baggy monsters" of Henry James to Dwight Garner's where the book he's reading is "a large lumbering novel ... that strives for a bit of what Henry James called 'the big Balzac authority.'" You learn something new with Garner while Kakutani would always reach for the stock phrase. The worst for me was her "paint by numbers" condemnation. Who knew anyway what meant? A form of beginner's painting popular in the 50's long gone. Andy Warhol did a parody of it in 1962. I googled 10 or so instances. Here are three: What's much sadder though is the greatly diminished New York Times Book Review. They used to publish substantial reviews of important novels – international as well as just domestic – and reviews of books of history and philosophy and ideas. And dance. By people who had read more than one book by the author or on the subject. No more. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2006/04/michiko_kakutani.html
  7. Eliot Feld

    Interesting acerbic interchange with Anthony Tudor at 5:15, also a brief cameo by Wilhelm deKooning 10:02 in Spoleto, and Clive Barnes reviewing at the end, 13:01 & :38. Narrator seems to out-Edward R Murrow Ed Murrow. Blackwood catalogue also features what looks like a good survey called Making Dances - 7 Post-Modern Dancers. Also great clips of Thelonious Monk in the Monk documentary. more Blackwood Feld (trailer) - http://www.michaelblackwoodproductions.com/old/md_americanballetcompany.php Making Dances (begins with Valda Setterfield) - http://www.michaelblackwoodproductions.com/old/md_makingdances.php Monk - http://www.michaelblackwoodproductions.com/old/md_monk.php
  8. Why So LIttle Massine?

    Massine's light ballets were popular enough in the US and England in the 1930s, but the big symphonic ballets were controversial among critics. The debate was whether choreography should tightly follow each musical phrase with an equivalent choreographical phrase, as in Massine's work, or whether the choreography should be oblique or contrapunctal to the music, as in Ashton, Nijinska, and Balanchine (:Constant Lambert). In 1937 Edwin Denby credits Massine with being the master choreographer of the day, brilliantly inventive, able to create the equivalent of multiple voices in music with the entry of many characters at once. But he also says he doesn't enjoy his work, that there is an abstract nervousness that doesn't add up to any humaness. He thinks Aleko the best of the work (John Martin's choice is Choreartium). Denby, in "A Briefing in American Ballet" (1948), also says that being cut off from its cultural sources in Europe during the 30s and 40s was disasterous for the Ballet Russe and its style of dancing and choreography. There were no longer (as Sandik points out) the kinds of character dancers to bring off the older novelty pieces. And once you had Rodeo, Fancy Free, Billy the Kid and Merce Cunningham's The Seasons being presented, Massine's symphonic work didn't seem to have much resonance for younger American audiences. From the Massine site above, a clip of Choreartium revived by Baravian State Ballet, with a discussion in German that seems to refer to Massine's influence on Cranko and Neumeier (and intriguingly something about Thomas Mann?). (Begins at 6:10) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYB38YVv7lQ&feature=youtu.be&t=6m51s target= A good example of the almost maddening complexity of Massine's choreographic constructions - Symphony Fantastique - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KxsAoiegLM
  9. I'd say product of. Stravinsky apparently wanted Giorgio di Chirico to do the sets for Apollo. You could say that Apollo is moving plaster sculptures in a kind of deep space, like di Chirico, while Agon is in terms of the cubistic fragmentation on flat ground of a contemporary Lee Krasner or Joan Mitchell or deKooning painting. The body whole vs bodily aspects. Kenneth Silver did two important books on the "Return to Order" (Cocteau's phrase) - "Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Avant-Gard and the First World War" and "Chaos and Classicism" based on the show he did at the Guggenheim in 2010. Apollo I believe is mentioned. Description and short video here. https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/chaos-and-classicism-art-in-france-italy-and-germany-1918-1936 With Balanchine too it would perhaps be fruitful to consider each period separately and related to the immediate history it came out of - horizontal integration you might say rather than vertical integration.
  10. A mostly biography-less biography that focuses on the art. Many of the old stories told about Balanchine that were necessary for the promotion of City Ballet in the 1960s perhaps should be retired. The "Picasso-mistress" approach – which art historians are always having to fight against – also dropped. The teleology of having everything point to Balanchine having to make it to America (saved by Kirstein), found a school, a ballet company, rescue ballet (Homans) while at the same time founding a genuine American form (while wearing cowboy ties and watching Wonder Woman) that none of the Americans could, etc. Balanchine criticism also seems to neglect the currents of history around it in order to make a neat Balanchine point. (For instance linking Agon and Apollo so closely when Apollo is a product of the conservative, anti-experimentalism "Return to Order" movement in France where Stravinsky was purging his music of Russian influences, while with Agon he was renouncing that Neoclassicism. This alone makes the two ballets different projects rather than thirds of a trilogy.) I agree with miliosr's take on Croce. I would further say that Croce is personality-oriented and sees ballet first through the figures of the performers (esp Farrell and Villella and Baryshnikov) and only then as ballet. She is very astute and can be wonderfully aphoristic ("hell is the space other dancers occupy") but not systematic. She also slips in many assumptions about dance without questioning their basis that you find yourself having to accept. But she is a very pleasureable read and does have many important insights about City Ballet.
  11. Thanks, dirac. I used to have that song on an Philips Lp. Jules and Jim was one of four early Traffaut movies that played for years in Los Angeles – often triple-billed with 400 Blows, Shoot the Piano Player or Soft Skin. All had very abrupt (but inevitable) endings. La Notte also made the rounds, shown with L'Avventura and L'Eclisse. (Those were the days of very intense film going.) Interesting that towards the end of her life Moreau even managed to appear in a Manoel de Oliveira film. Marguerite Duras (Moreau was in Duras' Moderato Cantabile) says of her in an interview:
  12. 1978 . . . and Today

    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.)
  13. 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:
  14. Critics on Social Media

    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?
  15. Critics on Social Media

    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.)