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katharine kanter

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  1. As we have been asked to eschew all political debate on these pages devoted to Art, I can go no further than to state that the reference to Plumbers on June 17th, 1972 was to a not-unknown Hotel in Washington DC, known as the Watergate Hotel and to Certain Events surrounding the Democratic Party of the United States, at that time. Whether that slice of History will solve the dilemma now confronting the Paris branch of the National Federation of French Plumbers and Boiler-Technicians (has non-Union labour been used to set up the bits and pieces of bathroom equipment on the Garnier stage ?) is a moot point.
  2. Nope, it's Bastille all the way. This production is giving a new twist to the word "embastillé" which I s'pose one might translate as "all walled up". And where was that fortress when we needed it ?
  3. Good news Americans ! The Plumbers are Back ! No, Heavens no ! Not June 17th, 1972, Washington DC ! It is, or will shortly be, February 26th, 2003, and a "ballet" entitled 'L'appartement' is about to be up - yet again - at our own dear Opera. Having walked out of the theatre about five minutes on the last time this UFO with the bidet was being "danced" at Garnier (why, pray, the larger Bastille venue this time ? or am I being irreverent, God forbid ?) , one would not care to predict whether the actual plumbing may work On the Day, but might one throw the topic open to those who DO know something about waterworks ?
  4. Could not resist putting up this incredible passage from Auguste B. on his studies with Vestris at the Paris Opera between 1824 and 1830: "Be not astonished, when you discover that for me there was no more glorious dream than this: to be able to soar while dancing, without touching the ground. In my youth, I was always haunted by the thought of unsuccessful performances, weak memorisation, and incomplete costume, and I awakened as from a nightmare. Now, as a pensioner (....) (in dreams) I am borne on the wings of Time back to my earlier pursuits. The journey usually carries me to Paris, where I come a halt in the Ballet Foyer before the three mirrors which during the years 1824-1830 reflected my diligent exercies. "To the astonishment of my onlooking comrades, I easily overcome all the difficulties that had formerly given me the worst trouble. I stand as if rooted to the spot in attitude, turn with complete security (...) and need only hold my breath in order to ascend to the rafters like an aerostat, or by stretching my feet behind me like the birds in their flight, to sail through space and soar from the stage out into the auditorium. One can hardly imagine the exhilirating feeling of excitement and satisfaction these fantastic results produce. It is the ectasy of victory, the loosing of earthly bonds - freedom !" Then I say to myself (for reflection imperceptibly creeps up on imagination): this time it is no longer a dream ! Now you have got it ! Just make sure you do not forget the technique (...) !" From "My Theatre LIfe", published at London, A & C Black 1979 (out of print).
  5. Did not Miss Assylmuratova say that as head of the Vaganova School, she did not feel the need for a big "send-off" ? The real "send off", will, one hopes, be the reforms she is introducing to the School. Here at Paris, Mr. Kolb has danced this past December, in La Bayadère. Interesting dancer - good mime, very clean floor patterns compared to most of his colleagues, reserved but very intense acting. Mr. Kolb, one request however: now that you are Principal, might we ask you to refrain from all further Ruzimatovisms, and to decline, in future, to pick up the leg ? It does not fit at all to the otherwise dignified elegance of your work.
  6. Please note that the above piece is by Francesca Falcone, of the Accad. Nazionale di Danza at Rome. The present poster has translated it, and the translation has been approved by Miss Falcone. Readers will understand that it would be inappropriate for me to any comments or questions, as the piece is entirely the work of Miss Falcone. Thank you.
  7. FRANCESCA FALCONE, THE AUTHOR OF THE BRIEF NOTE BELOW, IS ONE OF ITALY’S LEADING DANCE SCHOLARS. SHE IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE ACCADEMIA NAZIONALE DI DANZA AT ROME, WHERE SHE TEACHES THEORY, AND IS A COUNCIL MEMBER FOR ITALY OF THE EUROPEAN ASSOCIATION OF DANCE HISTORIANS. MISS FALCONE HAS ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO MANY SPECIALIST PUBLICATIONS, FOCUSSING, IN PARTICULAR, ON THE CHOREOGRAPHY OF AUGUSTE BOURNONVILLE AND NICOLA GUERRA. AUGUSTE BOURNONVILLE AT ROME: Notes from a meeting By Francesca Falcone Introduction In December 2002, under the aegis of Daniele Cipriani, as part of a series held at Rome entitled “Academic Techniques in the world today”, the scholar Francesca Falcone organised a seminar on Bournonville, in collaboration with of Denmark’s Royal Theatre, attended by Anne-Marie Vessel Schlueter, Head of the Royal Theatre’s School, the pianist Julian Thurber, and the solo dancers Gudrun Bojesen and Thomas Lund. The Rome seminar began on Friday December 13th, and ended on Sunday December 15th 2002; it was open to dancers, professors, students, critics, art historians, accompanists and balletomanes generally. Three of the presentations (The Royal Theatre’s School, Bournonville’s Mime, and Bournonville, Then and Now) were given by Miss Falcone, who teaches Dance Theory at the Accademia Nazionale di Danza at Rome. Miss Falcone’s final presentation opened a Round Table on December 15th, attended by all four Danish guests. Three classes were given in Bournonville’s style and technique, two by Miss Vessel Schlueter, and one by Thomas Lund, the first designed for intermediate-level students at the National Academy of Dance, the others for the seminar’s participants. Then, led by Miss Vessel, alongside Miss Bojesen and Messrs Lund and Thurber (the latter presented how, his view, a pianist should accompany these classes), matters of pedagogy and style were discussed. The School’s present circumstances, as well initiatives launched by Miss Vessel to bring in more students so as to take advantage of greater opportunities for the Danish ballet as of 2004, when the New Opera House is scheduled to open, were also raised. Mime passages from Acts I and II of The Sylphide - the Window Scene, and the Sylphide’s death – as well as Hilda’s confrontation with Diderik, Viderik, Muri and the trolls, and the contrast between Hilda and Birthe clash in A Folk Tale, were analysed in great detail. Following a showing of the Elfeld films (1902-1906), a Round Table on reconstruction was held on the Sunday. Julian Thurber played passages from the final scenes of “The Lay of Thry (Thrymskviden)”. The solo dancers then demonstrated the pas de deux from the Flower Festival at Genzano, and the Jockey Dance that appears in From Siberia to Moscow. AUGUSTE BOURNONVILLE AT ROME: NOTES FOR A MEETING How much Bournonville loved Italy, especially Rome and its surroundings, is readily apparent both from his many ballets based upon things he had actually seen - as noted in his diaries – and from the Roman scenes in Danish painters of the Golden Age that inspired ballets such as his “Festival at Albano” (1839). In recent years, and ever-more frequently, Rome has seized the occasion to pay homage to this choreographer through performances of his works in our theatres (this past June, Miss Bojesen and Mr. Lund appeared at the Opera here in an impeccable production of The Sylphide, put up by Niels Kehlet), as well as through seminars like that organised in 1997 at the Accademia Nazionale di Danza to celebrate the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen. The purpose behind this past December’s seminar was to deepen issues relating to the Danish choreographer, by setting up brief, but intense, encounters of a historical and didactic nature. Amongst the aspects dealt with were Bournonville’s style and his methodological choices; the great value of certain forms of instruction such as mime; issues such as keeping up the style by continuing to stage certain ballets, and reconstructing yet others thanks to those scholars who have brought life back to carefully-annotated manuscripts in the Library of the Royal Theatre. We saw before us two generations, in an exchange certain to produce fresh developments: Miss Vessel, who leads the School, and there taught both Miss Bojesen and Mr. Lund, traced back, with a wealth of recollections, what Bournonville represented in the past, while Miss Bojesen and Mr. Lund, amongst the most respected heirs to the Bournonville tradiction, stand for its future. The lessons in technique, given by Miss Vessel and Mr. Lund, and then demonstrated by the latter alongside Miss Bojesen, focused upon the rather simpler enchaînements –complex though they seemed to our eyes – from Bournonville’s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday schools, that being the form in which Hans Beck chose to set down the master’s exercises, according to the Days of the Week. Mr. Lund, in extraordinary form, and with text-book placement, performed, inter alia, the so-called “dark step”, which owes its name to the blind terror it has struck into generations of dancers, on account of its intricate and very extensive batterie. Miss Bojesen demonstrated the step known as “The Rose”, and then led the group of participants. Of most particular interest was the mime section. Passages from the Sylphide (the Window Scene, and the Sylph’s death), and from A Folk Tale (Hilda and the Trolls) were first explained in words, and then demonstrated, arousing, in the first instance, keen emotion amongst the public, and the second, amused curiosity. It is no everyday occurrence on stage for a dancer to identify so strongly with his personage that the concept reach the public as though by enchantment, but that is precisely what took place here. The final event was a Round Table, entitled “Bournonville – a journey through recollection and re-creation”, being a report on the current state of the tradition, in the light both of earlier, and more recent, reconstructions. In respect of other well-known versions, such as Peter Schaufuss’ Sylphide (well known here in Italy), the Danish guests views were most instructive, revealing as they did, considerable critical acumen. The pianist Julian Thurber was a little less optimistic as to the future, with regard to attempts such as The Legend of Thrym (1868), which Elsa Marianne Von Rosen had reconstructed for the Royal Theatre in 1990. In point of fact, it was Mr. Thurber who made a rehearsal-version of the score, so as to “propose, to the people doing the staging, a musical framework that they might find inspiring”, given what he described as a “dreadfully old-fashioned story”. That being said, as Mr. Thurber’s own playing evoked, from the J.P. Hartmann score, the minutest details of characterisation, one did get the impression that the staging had been very worthwhile nevertheless. Extremely rare film by Peter Elfelt, dating back to 1902-1906 was also shewn, where one can observe the lightning-swift artistry of people like Hans Beck. The finale to the seminar was an exhilarating Jockey Dance, from one of Bournonville’s last pieces, From Siberia to Moscow (1876), a crack of the whip that shot us straight back to the present, with Mr. Lund and Miss Bojesen in riding boots, jockeys in a wild steeple-chase. The whirlwind vivacity of the chase did not suffice to put away the image of serene calm painted by the two artists earlier, in the Flower Festival at Genzano, as they danced it at the seminar’s opening. ***
  8. Jeannie wrote: "IMO, it is kind-of nice to live in a country where artists and scientists are held in the highest esteem by the majority of the population...even if salaries do not mirror the esteem. " Yes.
  9. A new interview with Jean Guizerix, former étoile of the POB, now interim director of the Ballet du Nord, is up at http://auguste.vestris.free.fr/Interviews/...erixFrench.html http://auguste.vestris.free.fr/Interviews/...rixEnglish.html
  10. Thank you for those interesting comments. It is always a relief to read that people in Russia are still so concerned about the "apparently irrelevant" matters of art.
  11. Roma wrote: "Still it was highly gratifying to see a dancer make actual artistic choices and carry them out (very successfully and bravely, I might add). " Very interesting review. Thank you.
  12. Too few opportunities to see the lovely Zhelonkina. Rarely on foreign tours. Perhaps this award might alter the situation ? The following was written by Marc Haegeman a couple of years ago. I have not seen Mlle. Zhelonkina in several years, but his portrait corresponds very precisely to that recollection: "Irina Zhelonkina has been a dancer with the Kirov Ballet since 1989. "She was born in Tcheboksary and trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy (pupil of Natalia Dudinskaya) in Leningrad. In 1995 she was made a first soloist. With dancing that is remarkably restrained in manner and unemphatic in technique, with featherlight, effortless leaps, and flowing movements, Irina Zhelonkina has become a supreme classicist. Her physique combines delicate, feminine charm with an exquisitely refined plastique. Of middle-height, beautifully proportioned, with chiseled legs and arms, in a way a dancer like Irina Zhelonkina looks out of place in the Kirov company of the nineties, dominated by slim, long-limbed ballerinas. "Irina Zhelonkina has never been in the forefront in the Kirov company. Western audiences mainly know her as the tireless soloist, performing in numerous pas deux and solos of the Petipa-classics. Zhelonkina is the Kirov's ideal interpreter of those charming, witty, and virtuoso pieces like Harlequinade and Carnival in Venice, or Street Dancer in Don Quixote (and few will forget with what lightness and ease she skimmed through the solo with the bells in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai), but proves also very much at home in the nocturnal, romantic atmosphere of Chopiniana. All too occasional appearances in leading roles provided a tantalising glimpse of her artistic potential: she is a true Petersburg Aurora, an aristocratic and proud Gamzatti, a vulnerable Shirin in Legend Of Love, a mischievous Ballerina in Petruskha, and a touching Polish princess in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai." Irina Zhelonkina prepares her roles with Olga Moiseyeva. "
  13. Debate over what has gone wrong in the last three decades, and how to fix it. On a higher level.
  14. It is with regret that we must inform our readers that Elvi Henriksen died a fortnight ago, at the age of 86. Elvi Henriksen was a concert pianist, who devoted much of her life to the ballet. Her husband is the great mime, and former head of the ballet at the Royal Theatre, Niels Bjoern Larsen. Her daughter, Dinna Bjoern, now heads the Finnish Ballet. In the famous 1967 Danmarks Radio series, on the six Bournonville Schools, made for television, she can be seen at work in the some of the frames.
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