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Everything posted by Ari

  1. Apologies -- it was Mizrahi I was thinking of, not Jacobs.
  2. Very few designers can be said to be in Chanel's league, but a number of them have designed ballets. Chanel herself designed the costumes for an early production of Apollo. Christian Lacroix designed costumes for the ABT production of Gaité Parisienne that were so stunning I could hardly pay attention to the ballet. Marc Jacobs, not a coutourier like Chanel and Lacroix but a fashionable New York designer, has also done some work for ABT, I believe. But all designers who create for ballet dancers do so with the knowledge that they are making costumes, not street clothes. They have to, in order for the outfits to stand up to the rigors of repeated performance. Then again, there were those Calvin Klein jeans worn, controversially, by ABT dancers in a recent ballet -- I'm sure someone here will remember the name -- and those Manolos worn (briefly) in NYCB's Thou Swell . . .
  3. I've noticed lately that there seems to be a strange discrepancy between the time listed on posts and the time that they actually go up. Then it dawned on me that Daylight Savings Time just began here in the US. The Board software does not adjust for this automatically, so you have to do it yourself. If you are living somewhere that observes Daylight Savings Time (called Summer Time in some places), click on My Controls in the top right-hand corner of your screen. Then, on the left-hand side, look under Options and click on Board Settings. Check to see that your time zone is right, then check the box beneath it that says "Daylight Savings Time in Effect." Voila, the correct time.
  4. Ari

    Margot Fonteyn!

    Daniil, it would help the discussion if you could tell us why you think that technique has improved so much from "the old days." Do you mean that dancers are doing more of everything -- more pirouettes, higher jumps and extensions? Is it that you think execution of steps is cleaner? Are you talking about both men and women, or more of men?
  5. If I'm not mistaken, Kirkland and Farrell overlapped at NYCB only briefly. Farrell left the company in the spring of 1969, when Kirkland was just apprenticing, and returned in the winter of 1974. Kirkland left NYCB in the summer of '74. I think of them as representing very different chapters in the history of the company.
  6. In the thread Programming of Standards, fendrock brought up the difficulties that companies face in scheduling their subscription seasons at home. I thought it would be interesting to have a similar topic devoted to programming by visiting troupes. Usually, there is only one organization or theater in a town that presents visiting ballet companies. Most of the time they have a choice of troupes, although the smaller cities usually don't have a say in the selection of repertory. When a company is touring several cities, it has to present the same ballets in all or most places for financial reasons. But the bigger, more "prestigious" cities have the luxury of choosing both companies and repertoire. A lot of wrangling goes on between the top venues and the companies as to which ballets will be presented. There are lots of considerations -- expense, how recently the company appeared in that town in certain ballets, the availability/suitability of the company's dancers to the desired repertoire, and the programming of other companies. Elsewhere, we discussed whether the Kirov will bring the "reconstructed" Sleeping Beauty or the Konstantin Sergeyev production to America next season, and one of the factors militating against the latter was the fact that the Royal Ballet will also be touring America at that time, bringing with them their new Makarova production of Beauty, which is heavily based on the Sergeyev version. As an audience member, what do you want to see from visiting troupes? Ideally -- if we didn't have to bother with tedious things like money and competitive programming -- how would you arrange a company's offerings? Do you want to see their "signature" works, or their novelties, or both? Would you like to see the repertory structured around the company's stars? I'll start off. As a resident of the Washington area, almost all the ballet I see locally is presented by the Kennedy Center. After five years here, I've become impatient with the organization's utter dependence on full-length ballets and what seems almost like terror at presenting works that are less than surefire. Excepting the New York City Ballet, all visiting companies present at least one full-length, and sometimes that's all they present. There seems to be a rule that we can't live without some company doing Swan Lake and The Nut. The deterioration in ABT's programming in recent years is especially alarming. When I first arrived, they always brought the inevitable full-length, but also a mixed bill that was usually pretty well-chosen, including serious and interesting ballets. But in the last couple of years they've relied heavily not just on full-lengths, but the most hackneyed ones: Romeo (twice in three years!), SL, Giselle, Nutcracker. We've never seen La Fille Mal Gardee or Sylvia, let alone shorter works by Tudor, Ashton, Balanchine, Robbins, etc. What are your beefs with your own town's programming of visiting companies? What would you rather see? Or if you're happy with what you're seeing, why?
  7. The search engines that come with discussion forum software are always lacking. The most reliable way of searching is, of course, Google. Go to Google's advanced search page, put your search terms in the top boxes, and then go down to the field that says, "Domain." Put in http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com and hit enter (or click Search). That will give you results from the last few months only, since we moved to a different URL in January. Unfortunately, to get previous results, you'll have to do another Advanced Search, using the URL http://www.balletalert.com. That'll bring up tons of previous threads.
  8. Goro, this is a question to pose on our sister site, Ballet Talk for Dancers. You'll have to register there, too, as the boards are now separate. This board is for discussion of ballet from the point of view of the audience.
  9. I just finished reading this book, and share many of the feelings of previous posters with respect to the plodding nature of the narrative and Jowitt's meticulous (you might say exhaustive) accounts of Robbins's work. Nonetheless, it was a fascinating read. For those interested in New York City Ballet history, it's a must. Just compare the chapters on the NYCB of the early fifties to Anatol Chujoy's history of the company -- what an intriguing and hilarious difference! One effect the book had on me was to make me yearn to read Lincoln Kirstein's collected letters. Let's hope they'll be issued as an adjunct to the official biography. And the pages on the events surrounding Peter Martins's appointment as Balanchine's successor were very revealing. Apparently Balanchine insisted on it largely to prevent Kirstein naming himself Artistic Director, which he thought would destroy the company. As others have mentioned, Jowitt pays scant attention to Robbins the man, preferring to emphasize his work. I think more attention to the man would have illuminated the work, but throughout the book Jowitt seems skittish whenever it comes to dealing with the Robbins conundrums (which are one of the things that makes him so interesting). Occasionally she suggests a reason why he may have said or done something, but she never attempts a wholesale interpretation of his personality. This is disappointing for many reasons. Going into the book, I had a pretty negative image of Robbins as a man, but what Jowitt reveals about him made me like him much better and long to understand what made him tick. It looks like Amanda Vaill will address this in her biography, which is due to be published late next year. Reading this book, I began to rethink my own view of Robbins's work. Perhaps I've been looking at it the wrong way, expecting him to give me what others (mainly Balanchine) give me, instead of what he was prepared to offer. I'd like to re-watch the Robbins rep now with a more open mind. I guess that's a pretty high compliment to Jowitt.
  10. Good point. We hold NYCB to the highest standards, and rightly so. After all, they're the standards the company has set for itself. When we praise MCB or PNB or either of the SFBs, what we're really saying is, "How wonderful — for a regional company!" Our expectations are lower, so it's easier for them to delight us. I think there's a more practical explanation. In Balanchine's day, the repertory was just as big, the ballets often as sloppily prepared. BUT, Balanchine could swoop into a rehearsal at the last minute and give the dancers the kind of guidance that made all the difference between a mechanical performance and one with spirit. That's why it's important, when he's no longer around, to have people who remember those kinds of things, to pass them on to this generation of dancers. This ought to be happening, because of the eleven people listed in the program as ballet masters or assistants, all but two spent most of their careers working with Balanchine (although Christine Redpath and Jean-Pierre Frolich handle the Robbins rep). But obviously there's a problem and these critical details aren't getting passed along.
  11. Comparing the performances of NYCB to those of regional companies is tricky, because there are a lot of differences between them that account for what we see onstage. Oberon has touched on some. The quality of the balletmastering, which is essentially what we're talking about here, is just one of them. During the Kennedy Center's Balanchine Festival several years ago (an event that featured most of the Balanchine-influenced companies we're been discussing), I was struck repeatedly by how overjoyed the dancers seemed to be to be dancing such glorious works. I have never seen NYCB dancers look that way, not in my over 30 years of watching the company. They didn't look like that in Balanchine's day, and they don't look like that now. The main reason, I think, is that NYCB dancers take for granted a lot of things that dancers outside NYC cannot: topnotch ballets to dance, frequent performances, lots of opportunities for dancing solo, demisolo, and principal roles, and exposure on a national stage. ABT dancers have also looked as jaded in their own repertory, so I figure it's a function of being at the top of the chain. Put another way, if NYCB gave only a few programs at lengthy intervals over the course of a season, if they had only a limited number of performances in which to show their stuff, if their Balanchine ballets were bestowed on them only after special application to the Balanchine Trust and staged, with lots of rehearsal, by imported balletmasters who were new to them, every performance would be more of an event and would have that special sheen that we admire in the work of other companies. Since the dancers in NYCB have, generally speaking, bodies and techniques that are closer to what Balanchine wanted than the dancers in other companies, the end result would indeed be glorious. I'm not saying that lacklustre performances by NYCB are inevitable -- far from it. I think there's lots of room for improvement in the way they're performing Balanchine, starting with coaching by dancers who worked with him. But it's important to separate out those other factors and know what we can realistically expect.
  12. I know that many BT posters, myself included, have that proprietary feeling about NYCB, charlieloki, but that doesn't mean that we all agree about the way the company is being run now -- or the way it was run in the past, for that matter. The issue posed by this thread is, unfortunately, complicated by the feelings that some people have about Peter Martins. His personality, his conflicts with other Balanchine people, and the things he's quoted as saying in interviews have engendered a lot of animosity towards him, and some of those anti-Martinsites tend to heap blame on him for everything. It can be hard, in this polarized atmosphere, to evaluate his leadership objectively, to see both the good and the bad. But that's what we're trying to do here, both in this thread and in general. Emotion has its place in talking about ballet, but it should never overrule judgement.
  13. The image of the American man as a big, hulking, straight-from-the-hip nonintellectual is one that has been prevalent in American mass culture for years. Look at the roles played by the young Fred MacMurrray in films from the 30s and 40s -- that was the kind of guy that was perceived as the quintessential American hero, the regular guy, respected by men and adored by women. Whether women really did go for that type is open to question, but as boys were encouraged to adopt that kind of attitude they didn't have a lot of choice. I think the issue that Alexandra posed at the outset of this thread -- "I know that the audience for ballet has become predominantly female (and I don't thnk this is a good thing) but I didn't know that reading, writing, painting and music were equally on the It's Not a Guy Thing list" -- is a problem mainly with American men, due to the models of masculinity that American boys are raised with.
  14. While the federal, state, and local governments give relatively little to the arts in the way of direct subsidies (compared to those of other countries), the U.S. government provides a huge indirect subsidy through the tax laws. By allowing taxpayers to deduct their donations to nonprofit (including arts) organizations, it foregoes millions of dollars of tax revenue.
  15. This software can be tricky with UBB Code (which is what makes the blue boxes, italics, and other formatting). For quotes, take a look at the reply box and make sure that there's only one QUOTE at the beginning of the quoted material, and only one /QUOTE at the end. If there are two QUOTEs, for instance, it won't work.
  16. In keeping with Balletaime's wish, I've split off the discussion of whether NYCB's current standard in Balanchine has dropped over the years. Those wishing to discuss this hot topic, please go to the NYCB forum for Balanchine's Ballets -- Has Performance Quality Dropped?. Please use this thread to discuss the different interpretations of Balanchine's works offered by various companies. Lots to talk about here! How can we tell which of the many versions of a given ballet is "right"? Or can there be several correct versions, depending on what era in Balanchine's life the stager comes from?
  17. My thanks, too, Bart, for such a comprehensive and interesting review. I'm not surprised by the Miami audience's puzzled, lukewarm reaction to La Sonnambula -- the NYCB audience, which ought to know better by now, reacts in much the same way. I'm curious, though -- did the audience laugh when the Sleepwalker stepped over the Poet's outstretched arms? They've done so in almost every performance I've ever seen, both in NY and Washington.
  18. Balletaime, I'm not sure what your subject is here. Is it the way NYCB dances Balanchine? Is it the varying interpretations of Balanchine's work offered by different companies? Is it the validity of critical condemnation of Martins's leadership? Is it Accocela's bona fides as a dance critic? They're all good questions, but one at a time!
  19. Some Canadian company has a balletmaster named Jean Grandmaitre. Never having seen his work, I can't say whether the name is apt. (BTW, I can't see how having a thousand feet would be an asset to a dancer . . .)
  20. The Joffrey used to have a dancer named Pamela Nearhoof.
  21. Today's Observer (thanks, Mme. Hermine!) has a further story on the film that can only cause further alarm. According to the article, the film will focus on the alleged affair (never verified) between Fonteyn and Nureyev. Moreover, the author's account of the book on which the film is supposedly based is flat wrong: Sorry, but this isn't what's in the book. Daneman never uses the word "dysfunctional" to characterize Fonteyn's life; on the contrary, her conclusion is that the ballerina had, overall, a satisfying, happy life, albeit one that contained the usual heartaches, disappointments, and tragedies that we all experience. She never argued that Fonteyn repeatedly went after the wrong men, and took a benevolent view of her possible affair with Nureyev. And as for sex, is having an appetite for it something scandalous? Of course, it's hard to tell whether this mischaracterization of the book is the fault of the author of the article or the people behind the movie.
  22. Ceeszi, think about the videos that you would like to discuss, and what it is about them you'd like to discuss. Is it the ballet itself? We have a forum devoted to ballets. Is it an historical question about the ballet? We have a ballet history forum. Is it a particular dancer? Post your question in the Dancers forum. If your interest lies in something that isn't covered by one of our other forums -- for instance if all you want to do is discuss the production qualities of the video, or the performance generally -- I'm afraid you're going to have to wait until you're a full member (30 or more substantive posts) before you can bring it up in the Videos forum. We instituted this rule because we've had trouble with people coming in to trade videos who have no interest in the rest of our discussions and who have not dealt honestly with our members. I know it may seem unfair, but there are lots of other subjects to talk about, and before you know it you'll be a full member!
  23. But the films we have of Fonteyn are old, and the cinematic quality is far below that of present day standards. If they tried to do that, the dancing sequences would have an awkwardly "pasted-in" look. And wouldn't the filmmakers have to get permission from Fonteyn's estate to use this footage? To say nothing of permissions from the original filmmakers, other dancers, etc. It might be best for them to leave out any dancing scenes entirely and concentrate on her life. Although that brings up a whole other can of worms. The news story announcing this movie referred to Fonteyn as a "tormented ballet diva" -- a characterization that anyone who's read the Daneman biography, on which the screenplay is supposed to be based, can only wonder at. Biographies of artists are always a dicey proposition, and there's a lingering Romantic tendency to show them as Suffering For Their Art. There is a truly interesting story in how an artist reconciles the pressures and lures of a private life with devotion to his or her art, but that's difficult to show. Willa Cather did it in The Song of the Lark, but offhand I can't think of another example. I'm familiar with some of Ronald Harwood's work -- his best-known play is The Dresser, about a star actor, which was made into a movie with Albert Finney. The producer of the proposed Fonteyn film, Mark Milln, was executive producer of Being Julia (Harwood wrote the screenplay), another film about a performer (actress) and one I quite enjoyed, but which, like The Dresser, definitely played up the image of the star as a self-dramatizing queen, something that Fonteyn most assuredly was not.
  24. Why, Michael, when are we ever at cross purposes? You're quite right about the photo, as Amanda pointed out earlier in the thread.
  25. I understand everyone's frustration, but these photos are copyrighted and we cannot scan and post them without the copyright holder's permission. If it helps, the Apollo photo of Boal that had lampwick and her roommate in stitches shows him posed in fourth position tendu front, holding the lyre by its neck in his left hand and the other end of the, er, instrument resting just above his groin. The shape of the lyre and its angle could be seen as suggesting something else.
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