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miliosr

1978 . . . and Today

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miliosr   

I've been reading through Arlene Croce's second volume of collected reviews. The November 20, 1978 review discusses the San Francisco Ballet's then-recent performances in New York. Croce wrote that the company presented 11 works:

 

Lew Christenson: Con Amore (1953), Divertissement d'Auber (1959/63), Il Distratto (1969) and Stravinsky Pas de Deux (Norwegian Moods) (1976)

Michael Smuin: Shinju (1975), Romeo and Juliet (1976), Songs of Mahler (1976) and Quattro a Verdi (1978)

Robert Gladstein: Stravinsky Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra (1978)

John McFall: Beethoven Quartets (1977)

Tomm Ruud: unnamed by Croce but I'm guessing it was Trilogy (1978)

 

It's interesting to read about the repertory presented in 1978 and realize there is zero continuity from the company's in-house efforts then to the company's repertory today. I make no claim that this is good or bad -- just interesting.

Edited by miliosr

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pherank   

It's all about the new. I'm curious if any of these ballets are being performed anywhere these days? McFall may have moved on to (performing) other creations in his time at Atlanta Ballet.

Edited by pherank

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miliosr   
21 hours ago, pherank said:

I'm curious if any of these ballets are being performed anywhere these days?

Outside of the Smuin works being performed at the Smuin Ballet, I would say no.

 

After 84 years, does San Francisco Ballet possess a choreographic patrimony that would survive the inevitable changeover from Helgi Tomasson to a new director?

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pherank   
20 hours ago, miliosr said:

Outside of the Smuin works being performed at the Smuin Ballet, I would say no.

 

After 84 years, does San Francisco Ballet possess a choreographic patrimony that would survive the inevitable changeover from Helgi Tomasson to a new director?

 

If you mean do they have a classic repertoire that will continue to be passed from generation to generation a la Petipa and Balanchine (though mostly only in the USA for Mr. B) - the answer is probably, no. And neither does any other company in North America, excepting NYCB for what they already possess, and select works done for ABT. The other regional companies borrow the best works that they can, and rely on lots of secondary choreography. That's show business. And I'm sticking by my earlier comment: It's all about the new.

Justin Peck is a talented man, and I think Myles Thatcher is as well, but they both have a lot of learning to do as artists. Many Ratmansky pieces have lasting value, but certainly not all. Of the pieces done specifically for SFB, I'm not remembering any that I would call 'classics'. Tomasson and Possokhov both have particular ballets that are enjoyable for me, but again, I'm not sure I've seen anything that would last beyond a single generation. (Of the two, I think most people would agree that Yuri's ballets are the more distinctive and risk-taking). Scarlett's Frankenstein was a necessary risk, imo. The ballet did well with the SFB audiences - better than in London - but I think it mainly showed people that such a ballet was doable, but the choreography has to be developed a great deal more. It's just not significant choreography.

 

The earliest Balanchine ballets to survive in the general repertoire are Apollo and Prodigal Son, and those were his 84th and 94th ballets [according to the Balanchine Foundation listing]. I'm wondering if any of these current choreographers even have that kind of staying power, let alone Balanchine's ability to evolve.

Edited by pherank

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And some of us would quibble that NYCB doesn't have so many Balanchine ballets.  His steps, yes.

 

 The choreographer was reported to ask, "Steps?  Steps are what?"  The 2016 Paris videos show impressive displays of technique, of highly refined athletic ability, but to someone who saw hundreds of performances of Balanchine's NYCB - when he supervised it - Sara Mearns (and possibly Tyler Peck - praised in those videos by the reliable Alastair Macaulay, but I haven't caught up with her there) are the exceptions who infuse this movement with "meaning" or a sense of a reason for doing what they do, other than that display.

 

But this is an old story, much older than Balanchine's death, 34 years - a generation - ago.   

Edited by Jack Reed

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pherank   

If anyone happened to watch the Moscow International Ballet Competition Opening Ceremony on Medici.tv

(still available to watch for free), you would be treated to nothing but 'traditional ballet', expensive costume(!), and very predictable, tried and true(?) choreography, over and over again:


Yuri Grigorovich / Marius Petipa / Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker

August Bournonville / Filippo Taglioni / Herman Severin Løvenskiold, La Sylphide

Marius Petipa / Cesare Pugni, Le Corsaire

Agrippina Vaganova / Cesare Pugni, Esmeralda

Yuri Grigorovich / Aram Ilitch Khatchatourian, Spartacus

Marius Petipa / Yuri Grigorovich / Léon Minkus, La Bayadère

Yuri Grigorovich / Vassili Vainonen / Dmitri Shostakovich, The Golden Age

Kasian Goleysovsky / Valery Zhelobinsky, Don Quixote

Alexander Gorsky / Peter Ludwig Hertel, La Fille mal gardée

Yuri Grigorovich / Marius Petipa, Raymonda

Mikhail Fokine / Camille Saint-Saëns, The Dying Swan


Alexander Gorsky / Léon Minkus, Don Quixote

 

If one wants to get a sense of where ballet is now, and where it is headed - best to keep searching - it won't be found at the Moscow International Competition.

 

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miliosr   
On ‎6‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 8:50 PM, pherank said:

 

And I'm sticking by my earlier comment: It's all about the new.

 

On ‎6‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 6:44 PM, pherank said:

If anyone happened to watch the Moscow International Ballet Competition Opening Ceremony on Medici.tv

(still available to watch for free), you would be treated to nothing but 'traditional ballet', expensive costume(!), and very predictable, tried and true(?) choreography, over and over again

What is that happy medium between commissioning new works and finding a "creative present" in old works? I think of the old Joffrey under Robert Joffrey and how he lovingly presented works from the first half of the 20th century. Under Ashley Wheater, the new Joffrey might as well be an adjunct to the San Francisco Ballet; so closely does it hew to the same names you find at the San Francisco Ballet.

 

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes production of the Cocteau-Massine-Picasso-Satie Parade, which Massine revived for the Joffrey in the early 70s. It might be really interesting to see the 70s production performed in 2017 rather than seeing the same old-same old from the usual suspects. Instead, the only salutes to Parade I'm aware of have been/are museum shows: Picasso and the Great War last year in Philadelphia and Picasso Parade Napoli this year in Naples.

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JumpFrog   

miliosr "What is the happy medium between commissioning new works and finding 'creative present' in old works?" is such a good question. I think that is one of the hardest tasks an artistic director has of a dance company to have to decide how they program in a way that drives dance forward. Theater companies continue with Shakespeare while also doing new stuff and I think ballet is the same. Because it is all about the balance between the two and what the right balance is for each person is so unique is why there seems to be so many varying thoughts and opinions on this but is also why each dance company can still have its own distinct identity and voice because they will go about it in different ways. I think your idea of seeing the 70's production today is interesting as well. Would it work? No idea. But it would open up the discussion of what makes something stand the test of time which is I think an important question.

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Drew   

Just a side note to this discussion: The Moscow competition not only requires competitors to present something more modern/contemporary, but specifically has a choreography competition for new work. It still isn't where I would look for the future of new choreography--in that I agree with Pherank. But I think it is a little unfair to give this particular competition as an example of nothing but 'tried and true choreography.' That's certainly where the dancers want to establish themselves--and why not? It's a competition. Do opera singers not want to show they can sing the mainstream repertory when they appear in competitions?--but as it happens this particular competition makes some effort to offer more than that. 

 

So far I have only watched one of the new pieces (by a choreographer from China), and it was not based in the ballet vocabulary.  Indeed for many dancers and companies new work seems to mean just that--ditching ballet altogether. I'm more interested in seeing new ballets developed that are based in ballet's traditions and vocabulary. But I don't really expect there to be more than a handful of truly great ballet choreographers working at any one time and a slightly larger circle of interesting ones. From that perspective I am okay with different companies wanting to commission new works by the same top people. Certainly there needs to be a balance -- in all things.

 

Edited by Drew

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pherank   
5 hours ago, miliosr said:

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes production of the Cocteau-Massine-Picasso-Satie Parade, which Massine revived for the Joffrey in the early 70s. It might be really interesting to see the 70s production performed in 2017 rather than seeing the same old-same old from the usual suspects. Instead, the only salutes to Parade I'm aware of have been/are museum shows: Picasso and the Great War last year in Philadelphia and Picasso Parade Napoli this year in Naples.

 

I've always wanted to see the Parade revival, but for that matter, I'd love to see someone like SFB take on Farrell's Gounod Symphony 'restoration'. Why should that project raise its head for a moment, and then sink back into oblivion? Farrell is not getting any younger - now is the time to transmit the ballet's roles to whomever.

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Drew   

I loved that production of Gounod Symphony (maybe with a caveat about the ballerina's costume). Now, especially as Farrell's company is shutting down, companies should be racing to obtain it for their rep. It is very rarely performed and, as Farrell herself has discussed, quite unusual in its handling of the corps de ballet. 

 

Another ballet revival Joffrey's Joffrey performed and that seems to have been entirely lost, is Tudor's Offenbach in the Underworld. If that were revivable....

Edited by Drew

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sandik   
15 hours ago, miliosr said:

 

What is that happy medium between commissioning new works and finding a "creative present" in old works? I think of the old Joffrey under Robert Joffrey and how he lovingly presented works from the first half of the 20th century.

 

Just saw Leigh Witchel recently, and we talked about a program we'd both seen in Chicago in 2007 -- Apollo, The Green Table, and Massine's Les Presages.  I'd love to see that again!

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Josette   

The Joffrey did that program in Los Angeles as well. I think it's the only ballet by Massine I've ever seen. 

 

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miliosr   
On ‎6‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 1:26 PM, JumpFrog said:

I think your idea of seeing the 70's production today is interesting as well. Would it work? No idea. But it would open up the discussion of what makes something stand the test of time which is I think an important question.

 

On ‎6‎/‎18‎/‎2017 at 4:00 PM, pherank said:

 

I've always wanted to see the Parade revival

With so much interest in World War I right now (heck, the new Wonder Woman movie is set in World War I), a revival of Parade would seem like a no-brainer if for no other reason that the Ballets Russes was wandering around Europe in the middle of the conflict. And, irony of ironies, Gary Chryst, whose performance as the Chinese Conjuror was much admired in the Joffrey revival, was just seen by a member of this board having a meal with Kevin McKenzie and Martine van Hamel!!!

 

In any event, here is a clip about the Joffrey revival:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/joffrey-film-excerpt-the-parade-revival/2398/

 

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pherank   
3 hours ago, miliosr said:

 

With so much interest in World War I right now (heck, the new Wonder Woman movie is set in World War I), a revival of Parade would seem like a no-brainer if for no other reason that the Ballets Russes was wandering around Europe in the middle of the conflict. And, irony of ironies, Gary Chryst, whose performance as the Chinese Conjuror was much admired in the Joffrey revival, was just seen by a member of this board having a meal with Kevin McKenzie and Martine van Hamel!!!

 

In any event, here is a clip about the Joffrey revival:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/joffrey-film-excerpt-the-parade-revival/2398/

 

 

There is fairly complete footage of Chryst dancing the Chinese Conjuror role. I have to say that's one of my favorite characterizations in dance - surprising and freakish as a sideshow conjuror should be. Chryst is stupendous in that role. I don't find the rest of the choreography to be of the same level, but that's life.

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Helene   

In February 1981 the Metropolitan Opera produced a triple bill consisting of the ballet "Parade," with choreography credited to Gray Veredon, and two operas, Poulenc's "Les Mamelles de Tiresias," and Ravel's "L'enfant et les sortileges."  Gary Chryst was Harlequin, and Dave Roeger was the Chinese Conjurer.

 

It was the first of two promising mixed bill programs.  The second was in December 1981, the following season, with an all-Stravinsky program consisting of the ballets "The Rite of Spring," with choreography by Jean-PIerre Bonnefoux, Ashton's "Le Rossignol," with singers in the pit and Makarova dancing with Dowell,  and the opera "Oedipus Rex."

 

Unfortunately, search is done within frames on the Metropolitan Opera Dabatase site, and there are no direct links to the results.  You have to search for it yourself:

http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/frame.htm

 

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Drew   
11 minutes ago, Helene said:

[....]

 

It was the first of two promising mixed bill programs.  The second was in December 1981, the following season, with an all-Stravinsky program consisting of the ballets "The Rite of Spring," with choreography by Jean-PIerre Bonnefoux, Ashton's "Le Rossignol," with singers in the pit and Makarova dancing with Dowell,  and the opera "Oedipus Rex."

 

Unfortunately, search is done within frames on the Metropolitan Opera Dabatase site, and there are no direct links to the results.  You have to search for it yourself:

http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/frame.htm

 

 

I very much enjoyed Le Rossignol and long regretted that it was never revived. But I had not thought about it for some time until reading this post. 

 

I also remember that a work colleague of mine at the time went with his partner to see this triple bill. His partner did not realize the Met had brought in guest artists for Le Rossignol. In the middle of it he turned to my colleague and whispered "These dancers are really good for the Metropolitan Opera House ballet..."

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Helene   

:D.

 

(There was the time I was at the Met for "Queen of Spades" and after the baritone sang the most heart-rending Yeletsy's aria, I thought I had heard the next great baritone only to realize I had "discovered" Dmitry Hvorostovsky, whom I hadn't recognized in a brown wig.)

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sandik   
On 6/19/2017 at 0:40 AM, Josette said:

The Joffrey did that program in Los Angeles as well. I think it's the only ballet by Massine I've ever seen. 

 

 

I was very lucky in the 1970s when the Joffrey did a number of his works -- Three Cornered Hat was amazing.

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sandik   
15 hours ago, pherank said:

 

There is fairly complete footage of Chryst dancing the Chinese Conjuror role. I have to say that's one of my favorite characterizations in dance - surprising and freakish as a sideshow conjuror should be. Chryst is stupendous in that role. I don't find the rest of the choreography to be of the same level, but that's life.

 

I loved the acrobats, and the Little American Girl's solo, but most of the big thrill of the work is watching the physical environment, especially the two masters of ceremony.  I'd love to hear a group of dancers talk about their experiences working with the kind of wearable set pieces that sometimes come along in the world (Cunningham dancing with a chair on his back, Trisha Brown wearing a film projector, all those big masks like Bottom in Balanchine's Midsummer or these constructions here) 

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sandik   
18 hours ago, miliosr said:

 

With so much interest in World War I right now (heck, the new Wonder Woman movie is set in World War I), a revival of Parade would seem like a no-brainer if for no other reason that the Ballets Russes was wandering around Europe in the middle of the conflict. And, irony of ironies, Gary Chryst, whose performance as the Chinese Conjuror was much admired in the Joffrey revival, was just seen by a member of this board having a meal with Kevin McKenzie and Martine van Hamel!!!

 

In any event, here is a clip about the Joffrey revival:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/joffrey-film-excerpt-the-parade-revival/2398/

 

 

May I raise my hand for Green Table (another ballet with a great performance by Gary Chryst!)

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I will never forget an evening at the Joffrey: Three ballets-- the Clowns, I think by Joffrey, Secret Places--a beautiful pas by Arpino, and The Green Table. This was in Chicago in the late 60's I think, and  during the Viet Nam war. I marveled at how each ballet  told a  different story of that horrible time. I would love to see all three again, though I saw Green Table with David H. at ABT.

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sandik   
1 hour ago, macnellie said:

I will never forget an evening at the Joffrey: Three ballets-- the Clowns, I think by Joffrey, Secret Places--a beautiful pas by Arpino, and The Green Table. This was in Chicago in the late 60's I think, and  during the Viet Nam war. I marveled at how each ballet  told a  different story of that horrible time. I would love to see all three again, though I saw Green Table with David H. at ABT.

 

Was Halberg the Profiteer?

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