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Mel Johnson

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About Mel Johnson

  • Rank
    Diamonds Circle
  • Birthday 06/19/1948

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Museum curator, ballet teacher.
  • City**
    Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY

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  1. Measles in an adult can be pretty damaging. Few people recall that in the 1620s and 30s, the Native American population was devastated by a measles epidemic that swept the Americas. Smallpox, nothing. It was measles that took the heavy toll on the Indians.
  2. A very good point, and certainly easier to explain as folklore than to have the Wilis first enter a ballroom and enchant the floor, as a proposed scenario started.
  3. Sounds like one of the routine preparations to fourth position for pirouettes.
  4. And further the goodwill engendered by such events as the Royal Wedding shows up in the form of increased revenue to the nation from overseas, not only from investment, but also from tourism and other travel outlays by other than British subjects. To my surprise, I heard a left-leaning economist estimate that the event would pay for itself by the end of this year, and go on generating benefits for a long time after. I was surprised not so much in that it might be true, but that the result would happen so quickly!
  5. Quite so; I heartily agree, and the careful selection of uniform was simply one more attractive feature of an event which blended features of the past, present, and the beginnings of the future at once. Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple, their good families, and a great nation.
  6. My actual point was that had they wished to preserve the image of the Groom's Supporter as Champion, another Order, another Regiment or even an entirely different Service could have been chosen. In thirty years of wearing the uniform, I had only three occasions when I had to wear full-dress/diplomatic order, with chapeau-de-bras, full epaulettes, and M1860 field-and-staff sword. One only one of those occasions did I have to appear while mounted in this uniform, calling for the replacement of the former sword with a horseman's saber. The latter weapon is exceedingly ungainly to walk with, an
  7. Harry could have worn a sword if he had wanted to, as the Best Man/Groom's Supporter is a development from the old role of Groom's Champion, whose job it was to face about during the part of the service that runs, "If any know just cause..." and face the congregation. If there were challenges to the marriage, the challenger and the Champion were to go outside and settle the matter. The Bride had a Champion in her retinue as well. The Champion used to be a part of coronations too, but the last monarch to choose one specifically was George III in 1760.
  8. Was Harry uniformed as Commodore in the Royal Navy? That would be the only grade (and that Honourary) he holds superior to William, who was uniformed as Colonel of the Irish Guards. Anyway, I think the Royal Wedding is indeed entirely appropriate for discussion on a ballet board, as the old ballets de cour celebrated royal things without the need for anybody actually to have to be born, die, marry, declare war, or any number of other hard-to-schedule events. The whole lead-in was a masterly demonstration of logistical triumph, getting materiel and personnel where they had to be to the nea
  9. Going by the Dumas retelling of the story, which is what Vsevolozhsky was working with, it was Silberhaus (Silverhouse). I also didn't like the sound of the perhaps more Hoffmanesque Stahlbaum (Steeltree). Given the propensities of modern producers to change everybody's name to something "relevant", I predict a time not too far off when the kids are named Leni Riefenstahl and Heinrich Himmler Stahlhelm.
  10. The 1841 score has an extended farewell mime scene for Giselle, Albrecht, Wilfrid and Bathilde, none of which is used in any modern production of which I know. (Maybe Mary Skeaping's reconstruction?) As the motifs appear, you can tell who's entering and "speaking". Giselle ascends along the leg of a cut drop above her grave, and the fast music is Albrecht swooning into the arms of Bathilde and Wilfrid, as he has just witnessed a Genuine Miracle, with Giselle's soul accepted into Heaven, or perhaps she is assumed whole, by a merciful God who has observed her Christ-like sacrifice to save an u
  11. No, Bathilde is not an "insertion" in the Zuraitis reading of the score. That version is the 1841 uncut version. The cut to the fast curtain music seems to have come about in the 1884 Petipa revival, and the lento music is an interpolation from the 1903 Pavlova debut in the role, supervised by Petipa, even though he was in forced retirement.
  12. Haven't we been over this ground before, further up this subject forum? The original ending was an extended mime farewell scene among Albrecht, Bathilde, Giselle, and Wilfrid. I don't know who Petipa got to shorten it and/or add the lento section (Minkus? Glazunov? Drigo?), but the original goes on for quite awhile. The only recording I've ever heard of it was by Algis Zuraitis with the Bolshoi Orchestra, but I don't think it's available today.
  13. It is never stated, either in the ballet's libretto, or the original Perrault tale, but it must have had something to do with wisdom. A tradition of Russian baby- and childhood is to be given a birthday party where the baby or child is lain or seated under a lilac bush. In Russian tradition, the lilac is a symbol for wisdom.
  14. If with the literate I am, Impelled to try an epigram, I never try to take the credit. We all assume that Oscar said it. - Dorothy Parker. I met both Sir Robert Helpmann and Sir Anton Dolin, and found that they were both entirely capable of taking the credit for almost anything said by anyone else, ever. Avoided the esprit d'escalier, I suppose.
  15. My memory may be serving me ill here, but I think the quote is not quite exact. I also think it arose at a performance of Dutch National Ballet because the bon mot was being repeated as we were leaving the theatre where male nudity had just been exhibited. I cannot help but be reminded of the anecdotal exchange: OSCAR WILDE: I wish that I'd said that. JAMES WHISTLER: Don't worry, Oscar, you will.
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