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Posts posted by DanielBenton

  1. A poet friend of mine, upon seeing the 1973 Berlin video of Allegra in the Symphony in C 2nd movement, said she has a nobility about her...Her autobiographical book referenced above shows her to be an extremely intelligent, articulate, and very witty observer or herself and her own life, which, off the stage, was often a mess! 


    What did Balanchine think of her?  

    Page 31, Gloria Contreras:  Diary of a Choreographer.  What I Learned from Balanchine, Jorge Pinto Books, Inc., New York, 2008.

    "I just got back from a rehearsal of Concerto Barocco, which I attended as a spectator.  It’s set to Bach and the choreography rivals the music in its beauty and depth.  Allegra Kent and Violette Verdy are the soloists.  The former, as usual, has a harmonious style and is delightful to watch.  Violette has a lot of personality and is a very good ballerina, but she’s going through hell because she still doesn’t know the piece.  During the rehearsals she concentrates and is respectful to the choreographers and amiable with her companions, without talking down to the girls in the corps de ballet.  At the end of the rehearsal I went up to Balanchine  and told him my opinion of Concerto Barocco, that it’s profoundly religious.  I know that he liked the idea because his eyes shone and a subtle smile passed across his face.  But his answer was “Allegra is divine!” "

  2. for information on Balanchine I would recommend, in addition to the "direct" biographies, the autobiographies of d'Amboise and Villella (cited above), and Allegra Kent's autobiography"Once a Dancer".  All give nuanced views of  GB by his finest dancers.  The Charles Joseph book cited above is also very fine, somewhat muscially technical, and contains important information about the aesthetics and principles formulated by GB and Stravinsky. 

    Also Elizabeth Kattner-Ulrich's "The Early Life and Work of George Balanchine."   Yuri Slonimsky's article in Ballet Review:  "Balanchine:  The Early Years" and Elizabeth Souritz' "Soviet Choreographers in the 1920s" are wonderful in giving context to Balanchine and Soviet dance in the post-revolutionary period .  I am wary of Kendall's book because it is both speculative and not a primary source.  Goldner's books can be a useful list if you have seen the works she describes from her viewpoint.  Joseph Mazo's "Dance is a Contact Sport" is quite an unusual and good read about GB and the NYCB for one full year (1974). 

  3. A few years ago I queried the director of Iowa Public Television as to why they did not schedule the Great Performances series episode of the School of American Ballet spring program (which was broadcast in early December of that year).  She replied that it was not in keeping with midwestern values and in lieu of the regularly-scheduled Great Performances they would show some locally-produced program from Minnesota Public Television.  I did not call her a moron, nitwit, nor plebian.  I did not tell her that a woman from Coralville Iowa is in the NYCB corps de ballet.  Nor did I tell her that our friends' daughter is a scholarship student in the SAB summer program.

    I did tell her my New York friends would be laughing at her response.  

  4. 7 hours ago, vipa said:


    That is interesting.  I have seen the ballet both ways.  There was a season when NYCB did both, I just don't remember when.  I don't like the birth scene but like having that staircase there for the final climb, which is think is more effective than a walk around finishing with the starburst. Either way, the ballet is amazing it its imagery, musicality and substance so I don't want to get too bogged down in criticizing one version or the other!  We are lucky to have this work of art.

    Amen to that.  It does seem like the starburst is more difficult to accomplish without the staircase; the lighting seems to be critical to its success.

  5. I have read the first 100 pages and have learned much about Patricia Wilde, about whom I knew little. The major drawback is that much of the copious commentary and opinions about ballets and ballet dancers are not attributed. This leads me to believe that they are Lobenthal's opinions, not Wilde's. So far it seems as if I am reading approx. 35% about Wilde and 65% unattributed.

  6. I am sorry- Referring to Fracci-Bruhn I was thinking of Giselle, not La Sylhpide (I have Giselle on my mind these days, watching many versions in preparation to give a course on 19th century ballet). I have seen only a few versions of La Sylphide but prefer the traditional RDB DVD with Jeppeson, Hubbe and Englund. Along those lines, I appreciate Peter Martins' traditional staging also, seen a few weeks ago in NYC.

  7. Bournonville because of the stylistic consistency and the music. Performance: Fracci-Bruhn movie from late 60's ABT production. In spite of the film-makers intrusiveness and brevity of the ensemble dancing, Bruhn's acting and development of relationship with Fracci makes it better theatre than any other I have seen.

  8. I just came from today's performance at the cinema. The visual was fine including some nice close-ups of Clothilde conducting. There was something wrong with the audio - it sounded compressed, canned, like AM radio. I don't think the problem was with the theatre sound system, it sounded more like the recording process and/or the feed. Curious if anyone else heard the same.

  9. Thank you Syrene. I found it visually stunning and it would make a great blu-ray DVD. I am still digesting the content and considering the match of dance to music which I did not find convincing on my first viewing. I thought the overall mood of this production was somewhat at odds with the mood that the music dictates...but that is just my initial opinion on first viewing. I will be watching it again!

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