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Amy Reusch

Harlequin & Commedia dell'Arte in ballet

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My favorite Tarantella guy will always be Baryshnikov for his giddy energy, as well as execution of steps. Somebody please find that clip from the 1979 "In Performance at the White House" to see what I mean. Not that Villella & Ratmansky didn't also delight. MB was just so looney-giddy that it made me want to jump along.

The Balanchine Police must have lost their DCMA Take-Down Notice Foo.

Here's Tarantella

and ... Harlequinade

both with McBride.

That seemingly low-hanging East Room chandelier always makes me nervous ...

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I remembered one more thing... When the dancers demonstrated the mime to the music... I felt they rushed and were left with more music than they knew how to fill... Just like stillness on stage, which always seems so much longer to the performer than it does to the sudience, mime gestures have to be done slowly enough that they have time to register on the audience and express the music... Measure per word...it's like resonance were it spoken...there is a tempo set by the music and if the mime rushes past that, it loses some of it's enchantment.

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Thanks, everybody!!! THis is the most wonderful thread!

Re baryshnikov -- yes that chandelier is frightening!!!

I'm glad to see this -- though I'll have to watch it again. They're so cramped, especially him. I'm not sure I like it. He looks like hte kind of kid who could become a drug dealer just by hanging with the wrong crowd, rebellious without a cause.... Seems to me that McBride is putting on a good fake of how much she likes to dance with him ... not. With villella, it feels like the relationship is mutual. These two, I don't believe it. And Baryshnikov keeps looking at the floor. It IS goofy. But I'm very glad to have seen it. Thank you so much for posting that.

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That would be in keeping with Harlequin's devil origin? (on the other hand, maybe he's afraid look up and catch that chandelier in the periphery of his vision! :D )

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Probably OT, but having watched the available versions of Tarantella online, can I just say what a difference McBride's jolly little skirt makes? (The dreadful schmatte on her head we can safely dispense with, however.) I think this is a ballet that needs a bit of leg to be properly saucy. Karinska's costume has a ton of flirty peek-a-boo built right into it.

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Quiggin   

That would be in keeping with Harlequin's devil origin? ...

Yes ... As Richardson says commedia dell'arte is a bit obscene, and rough like greek or roman Old Comedy. The characters are flawed ones Petrushka gets some of this.

Massine wanted to do a complete commedia dell'arte, not just a traditioal harlenquinade with Diaghilev and Picasso in agreement. Pulcinella (1920) was the result. Here's Balachine's version following Kathleen's link (which I can only view on my computer in halting slow motion).

http://www.raiscuola.rai.it/articoli/pulcinella-coreografia-di-george-balanchine/8269/default.aspx

Also: Barysnikov's Harlequin might come more out of his "Vestris". I do vote for Villella's less verttical version Ratmansky may have incorporated a little of Harlequin in the Denis Savin role in "The Bolt."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ERWrhGZCIg

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Unfortunately the Pulcinella wouldn't play on my platform... but it was fascinating to see the Ratmansky. His choreography is so sensitive to the music, yet such a different musicality than we find in Balanchine.

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sandik   

Ratmansky seems to have a different strategy about passing through 5th position -- it's as fluid as Balanchine's standard strategies, but works with direction changes in a different way. I'm not sure how it operates yet -- I've spoken with a few dancers at the local company and they agree there's a difference, but we're still puzzling out what it is. Not sure if it's a function of his Russian training, or his time in Denmark, or just he himself. Fascinating stuff.

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Re Ratmansky? Are you talking about the character in "the Bolt"? That's a very special idiom --

Anyway, thanks for posting the Pulcinella excerpt, which kinda plays on my machine here, very jerky, long pauses, hard to get a sense of the overall rhythm among so much business and mayhem, but still, I think I can get the feel for it. I guess that's Scaramouche? Like a whole world of scaramouches? A friend who knows a lot of dance history tells me that Scaramouche was the only creature who could get infant Louis XIV to stop crying.... I don't know the source for that, maybe one of you does and can amplify, maybe say how he did it [with his silly walk?]-- or if it's NOT true, can contradict it...

I thought I saw a bit of Groucho in here....

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sandik   

Re Ratmansky? Are you talking about the character in "the Bolt"? That's a very special idiom --

I was thinking more universally (if mine was the comment you were wondering about) PNB does Concerto DSCH, so I've seen it in rehearsal as well as performance, and I've watched several other works, and it seems to me that he's got a different relationship to 5th position than the one we most often see in Balanchine's neo-classical rep (and the work that derives from it) I see it most clearly in direction changes, but it's there in other stuff as well -- I just don't have a good understanding of it yet.

I thought I saw a bit of Groucho in here....

Marx learned his trade from the vaudeville world, and that's a direct line back to commedia. You Bet Your Life.

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Thanks for picking that up, Sandik. Yes, was curious about the Ratmansky comment. I haven't noticed THAT, but I'll be on the lookout; pivots, directional changes are the name of the game in classicism [one of the great things in the Bournonville rep is the 22 1/2 degree changes from effacee to en face, which happen all the time, esp in glissades -- Balanchine uses those, I think, but then Ratmansky might, too -- he was in the Danish company for a while . Anyway, I'm just speculating as to what you might mean. Though I've seen the whole Shostakovitch trilogy a couple of times [atSFB], I never noticed this.

It's funny how, one day you're ready to notice something you'd never have seen before. When the Bolshoi were here, dancing Raymonda, I noticed how the company use their hands. They do not round their fingers, European style; they extend them slightly, ASIAN style -- not as far as the Balinese, but still, all the fingers are slightly extended, the backs of he fingers are lengthening, lifting away from the metacarpals. Since noticing it, I've noticed it called Tulip-style [esp in ref to Bessmertnova -- but in act they ALL do it, or maybe used to -- it was a feature of company style. Osipova

does it less than Bessmertnova did

I'm looking forward to checking this out. the Kirov/Maryinsky will be here tis week with Ratmansky' Cinderella. Among other things, I'll be looking for that.

SOrry, I got WAY off topic there. But back to commedia-- AMY, you've got to find some way to see the Pulcinella-- basically, Pantalon whips up a huge batch of spaghetti and throws it to a lot of Scaramouches, who go into a feeding frenzy but in fact get their hands and feet all caught up in it, and theyre trapped -- then a harlequin comes out of the cauldron and starts manipulating them like marionettes, till one of them -- who seems a lot like Groucho Marx -- sneaks up on him from behind. The ancient video is on an italian web-site, very jerky playback, but hte mayhem is delicious

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From Amazon:  In 1922 the dance historian Cyril Beaumont contributed to the Dancing Times an article on the history of Harlequin, which as a result of continuous research since that period grew into the present volume. It covers the history of Harlequin, and of the Commedia dell'Arte, from their beginnings in the 16th century through their heydays in the 17th and 18th century and their gradual decline thereafter. The book includes more than 40 illustrations and the complete text of a Harlequinade from 1806, together with a dance for a Harlequin in Feuillet notation.

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