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sandik   

Elsewhere on Ballet Alert we've been talking about Massine, and wondering why we don't see more of his work in current repertories.  I'd like to pose a similar question about someone who is still around -- Eliot Feld.  When he emerged at ABT in the 1960s he was considered a boy wonder, when he left the company to form his own ensemble (because ABT didn't give him enough time/space/performances) it got the same kind of attention that Christopher Wheeldon's creation of Morphoses did, and though he's still working through his Ballet Tech program, his repertory doesn't seem to have the traction in the larger community.  Who here has seen his work, and where have you seen it?  Is it still a significant part of 20th c ballet history, and if so, are we in danger of losing it?

 

I've seen Intermezzo, when it was staged on Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1999, toward the end of Russell and Stowell's tenure.  It was stunning then, and I imagine would be stunning now -- is anyone performing it?  And other works?  Are any being performed outside of his own ensemble?

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Barbara   

I'm afraid I can't remember individual pieces but I do remember liking his work a lot. I would have been living in the Los Angeles area at that time and think I must have seen the Joffrey Ballet do works by Feld. Would this have been accurate? PS - I also loved him as Baby John in West Side Story!

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sandik   
1 hour ago, miliosr said:

This doesn't answer your questions but there was a brief thread about Feld and "What Happened?" 15 years ago:

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/4785-eliot-feld-what-happened/?tab=comments#comment-38079

 

 

Manhattnik said something interesting in that thread, that crossed my mind in the Massine thread about other works.

 

"There was a time, back when, when it seemed that Feld was making ballets which were his "take" on the works of others. Intermezzo was reminiscent of Dances at a Gathering, Excursions was Rodeo on steroids, The God Amused was Apollo and friends, etc."

 

Other examples of this from other choreographers?

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sandik   
11 minutes ago, Barbara said:

I'm afraid I can't remember individual pieces but I do remember liking his work a lot. I would have been living in the Los Angeles area at that time and think I must have seen the Joffrey Ballet do works by Feld. Would this have been accurate? PS - I also loved him as Baby John in West Side Story!

 

Goodness knows, Robert Joffrey was the balletic version of a hoarder sometimes -- he wanted everything.  But I'm not sure if they actually danced Feld's work (and their current website is no help at all -- no information about anything that isn't in the current repertory).  Will have to rummage around for Sasha Anawalt's book on Joffrey.  (and yes, Baby John!)

Edited by sandik

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NYCB has presented quite a few Feld ballets over the years, mostly between the late 80's - early 00's. I liked them. In no particular order:

 

The Unanswered Question 

Backchat

Étoile Polaire

Organon

Intermezzo No. 1

A Stair Dance

 

I don't think the company has presented any of these within the last decade, which is too bad.

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vipa   

I can't  speak to a lot of  his choreography but I believe Intermezzo 1 and At Midnight ballets worth having  in a rep

 

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sandik   

And people had interesting things to say about Harbinger (to Prokofiev, who is often so dansant)

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vipa   
3 hours ago, sandik said:

And people had interesting things to say about Harbinger (to Prokofiev, who is often so dansant)

Yes, I remember seeing Harbinger at ABT but I don't  remember  much  about it

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Drew   
6 hours ago, vipa said:

I can't  speak to a lot of  his choreography but I believe Intermezzo 1 and At Midnight ballets worth having  in a rep

 

It astonishes me that ABT hasn't tried to revive Intermezzo in particular. I suppose it is possible that the angstier At Midnight might look more dated....but I certainly would be interested to find out. I also wonder smaller companies don't try to stage these or other Feld works --it is possible I suppose that he has not given permission.... 

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sandik   
1 hour ago, Drew said:

It astonishes me that ABT hasn't tried to revive Intermezzo in particular. I suppose it is possible that the angstier At Midnight might look more dated....but I certainly would be interested to find out. I also wonder smaller companies don't try to stage these or other Feld works --it is possible I suppose that he has not given permission.... 

 

I remember that when PNB did Intermezzo it came with some specific requirements about placement on the program and some other things -- perhaps it's trickier than it seems.  But yes, I would have thought that ABT might have done something of Feld's for their anniversary.

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miliosr   
On ‎8‎/‎10‎/‎2017 at 0:08 PM, sandik said:

Is it still a significant part of 20th c ballet history, and if so, are we in danger of losing it?

 

I've seen Intermezzo, when it was staged on Pacific Northwest Ballet in 1999, toward the end of Russell and Stowell's tenure.  It was stunning then, and I imagine would be stunning now -- is anyone performing it?  And other works?  Are any being performed outside of his own ensemble?

Is it still a significant part of 20th c ballet history? No

are we in danger of losing it? It's lost in the sense of (to quote Mindy Aloff) dances not having theoretical realities -- only performing realities. If the works aren't being performed, then they are lost.

Are any being performed outside of his own ensemble? If they are, the performances are happening in out-of-the-way places.

 

As to "What Happened?," maybe nothing happened. Feld had a few early successes in the 60s from which a whole lot of people predicted a fabulously creative future career. But it may have been that inspiration dried up quickly and all he could do was make variations on his own work and that of others. (You could say the same about Peter Martins and Calcium Light Night -- that the early work was the predictor of a false dawn.)

 

Here's a clip from a documentary about the first Feld company (which collapsed in 1971), American Ballet Company - Eliot Feld, Artistic Director:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBAI1ZskER0

(Antony Tudor and Clive Barnes make appearances.)

 

Edited by miliosr

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Quiggin   

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

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sandik   
9 hours ago, Quiggin said:

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

 

"Narrator seems to out-Edward R Murrow Ed Murrow."  Snark!

 

"Making Dances" is indeed a wonderful film -- one of the best looks at the big names of post-modern dance.  That, and the Dance in America documentary "Beyond the Mainstream" (which is very hard to find anywhere -- here's a tiny slice of David Gordon and Valda Setterfield in Chair) are excellent examinations of that time and those artists.

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I've enjoyed what I've seen of Feld's choreography, especially The Unanswered Question (NYT review here), but I suspect he won't be considered a capital-M major dance-maker once the dust has settled on his generation of choreographers. 

 

His truest and best legacy lies elsewhere: Ballet Tech, which is now part of NYC's public school system. Here's a recent NY Times #SpeakingInDance item featuring three of the school's students performing some of Feld's '80's choreography. Here's a TDF article about the school and its mission.

 

And, he was one of the founders of The Joyce.

 

 

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sandik   
2 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I've enjoyed what I've seen of Feld's choreography, especially The Unanswered Question (NYT review here), but I suspect he won't be considered a capital-M major dance-maker once the dust has settled on his generation of choreographers. 

 

His truest and best legacy lies elsewhere: Ballet Tech, which is now part of NYC's public school system. Here's a recent NY Times #SpeakingInDance item featuring three of the school's students performing some of Feld's '80's choreography. Here's a TDF article about the school and its mission.

 

And, he was one of the founders of The Joyce.

 

 

 

Any one of those accomplishments would deserve the thanks of a grateful dance community, but put together they are the biography of someone who has made significant contributions to the field in his lifetime.

 

While it looks like the bulk of Feld's choreographic work will not last much past the artist himself, I'm thinking that we are already the beneficiaries of his choreographic life, in that he created works that nurtured the dancers of his time, and helped the audience to see the shifting aesthetic.  Many of us who live near a company with a resident company have this experience frequently -- while the dances that are being made are not necessarily masterworks, they are part of the body of dance at their time.

 

Or as my sister says when she makes something new for her family, not every dinner is a winner. 

 

But I can't help being curious about these works in the past, both on their own merits, and as reinforcement for the developments to come.  It's a self-reinforcing system -- dancers are trained to perform the works being performed at the time, and then become the material that choreographers use to make new works.  What doesn't always get the same attention is that this also works for audiences.  We learn to understand dances by watching dances -- and the dances we watch are the fundamental tools we use to understand other works we see later.  I compare the works I see today to the works I saw in the past -- I may think they are "better" or "worse," but I use my early experiences as a landmark.

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