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Mel Johnson

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Everything posted by Mel Johnson

  1. However she wrote about it, I don't recall the traveling arabesque as happening before 1975. At least the Air Force provided me with a bright line in memory markers to remember things like this, and I was in 1970-74.
  2. The New York Times does a lot to explain what made Mark SO special: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/arts/dance/mark-goldweber-leading-dancer-with-joffrey-dies-at-53.html?r1
  3. In Portland, OR, an audience reacts to the news: http://www.orartswatch.org/remembering-dancer-and-ballet-master-mark-goldweber/
  4. 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.
  5. So very sad; for forty years, Mark was like a kid brother to me. This hurts. It just hurts so bad. May he have eternal rest; may light everlasting shine upon him.
  6. They're gussets - providing for expansion of the vamp of the shoe across its width at the throat.
  7. It certainly was Nureyev. Those sixes were a bit of a sensation when he interpolated them, leading to a bit of stage mimicry in Swan Lake when Nadia Nerina substituted 32 entrechats-sixes for Odile's fouettés. Nureyev, as Siegfried, looked on and seethed, realizing that he was being mocked, but she did it!
  8. Her hands are also elongated; she must have used them most expressively.
  9. Also, Karen Conrad, while dancing for Ballet Theatre, rehearsed "Sylphides" with Fokine.. "No, no, Karen, sylphs don't leap like that!" "Oh, but they do in Philadelphia, Mr. Fokine!" This, of course, was a Great Unanswerable.
  10. Joffrey had two different stagings of Romeo and Juliet, the first being a version by Oscar Araiz, which featured a double-cast of the lead principals - presumably, one pair of "real-world" and one pair of "emotional world" characters. It was difficult to follow, but skilfully arranged and Kevin was one of the Romeos. This version was introduced ca. 1980. About five years later, Joffrey decided to capitalize on his success with the Cranko repertoire, and had his version of the ballet staged by the company. This version was an outstanding success. The company did not have a complete Romeo and Juliet before Araiz. I don't believe that the company has performed the Cranko since Joffrey's death.
  11. The pattern of the floorboards pretty much matches the old Covent Garden stage. NYCB dancers commented on the unusual alternation of left/right and upstage/downstage flooring which contributed to the "many gallant Americans who fell at Covent Garden". Also, groundcloths were usually of very stout duck material, not unlike the heavy weather sailcloth used by larger sailing vessels. For all I know, if they're still in use anywhere, they still are.
  12. Russian productions of "Les Sylphides", practically always called "Chopiniana" after the original suite of dances, have been noted over the years for a curious lack of vaporousness and airiness which characterizes the usual post-Diaghilev product. From the outset, the frequent use of the "Military" Polonaise as overture and a light plot which seems more broad daylight than moonlight have worked against the Romantic feeling which is desired by many. The male variation is not a bravura one, and some people are put out with even the thought of a male dancer in a legato solo. As to the music, the arrangements have, to my ear, been mostly inoffensive, but sometimes conductors can make the selections seem most unpianistic. This latter flaw is not limited to Russian productions alone.
  13. You may be thinking of La Source. Sylvia is all Delibes. And it is a lovely score. Tchaikovsky loved it!
  14. And even he had two sidekicks to join him in the dances!
  15. Well, remember that whoever's version of Fille is going to be a revival of one sort or another. Ashton's followed Jean Aumer's 1828 staging at least roughly, and even Petipa and Ivanov were working from Paul Taglioni's version for the Berlin Opera! That's the version Gorski revived. Remember, Petipa once said of Gorski, "Will somebody tell that young feller that I ain't dead yet!" Anyway, they all spring from 1789 and Jean Dauberval, although we would barely recognize that presentation.
  16. In the Kirov's touring production from the '60's, I believe that they called Abderakhman's sidekick "Ali" (which is a good allpurpose Arab name) and he served as someone to "talk" to for Abder, as a device for him to develop his character. He wasn't so flamboyantly dressed as here, and he led off the dances of the Saracens.
  17. In 1826, Cadet Leonidas Polk (USMA 1827) was ejected from the Superintendent's house party for wearing the new-style fly-front trousers instead of the older-fashioned front-fall trousers, which buttoned at the side. It was felt that his appearance was too "suggestive" for polite mixed company, and so he was thrown out of the house. (It didn't hurt his reputation any, though. He went on to become the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana.) Jump ahead to about 1970. When the 3rd US Infantry, 4th Battalion, A Company was tricked out in Revolutionary War uniform for their ceremonial duties in Washington, the Commanding General's lady was scandalized by the men's breeches. She thought that they showed their "forms" too clearly. As a result, the breeches were scrapped, and the unit outfitted instead in the looser long "overalls" which they wear to this day.
  18. The answer here will probably depend upon the continuing development and modernization of the Mariinsky archives. As with most places worldwide, the Mariinsky kept an Institutional Archive, but it was hampered by the state of archival science and a terrible understaffing which led to things getting preserved which shouldn't have been, information treasures being trashed, stuff surviving but having become separated from its intellectual content, and all the misery that attends modernizing an old repository. Items surface, and information science is so much better now that interpretation can be made, but a lot of context has been lost, never to be recovered. For all we know, photos of Marussia are there, but mislabeled! This happens a lot in archives.
  19. BUT (!) if you leave the pas de six in, can end up with an Act III which is about an hour long, thus threatening the 3B limitation on ballets - Boredom, Bottom, Bladder. Examined AS MUSIC, the 1877 edition of the score is masterly. If examined as a stage drama, other values come into the picture, and the ballet needs tightening and pointing, so that the audience goes along with the conventions.
  20. Most of it was happening while I was in the US Air Force, 1970-74. By the time I got out and was able to go to ballets again, the Kirov wasn't touring the US, and I was already transitioning into a museum career. In 1976, I was able to get a look at the N. Sergeyev notations as they were being processed through the Libraries at Harvard, and I was struck by the odd variation I was able to dope out from what I could decipher from the Stepanov notation, which is actually not that counterintuitive, but quirky. News from Leningrad was filtering back that in response to the discovery of the Marussia Petipa photo, that the Prologue to the K. Sergeyev Beauty had been modified to add a NEW fairy - whose supposed name escapes me right now - and that Lilac was relegated to a new role, but still in the stilted post-Soviet manner of deeply compromised mime. The chatter out of Russia was that the overall effect was not much liked, and the interpolations were soon after eliminated. I didn't see the production, but I was around to earwitness the grumblings surrounding it. You hear a lot of interesting things when you're secretary to Robert Joffrey.
  21. Not to my knowledge, although it certainly made the rounds shortly after its discovery. Maybe rg has a postable version of the photograph.
  22. I think there's great mischief possible in "restoration" when uncontextualized evidence shows up and suddenly finds itself incorporated in current productions. The Lilac Fairy is a good example. Around 1970, a single photo of Marie Petipa as Lilac was found showing her in a "chemise-shift" and soft shoes with heels, clearly indicating a role whose job was primarily mime. The Maryinsky promptly revised the Prologue to have SEVEN fairies, one non-dancing. Subsequent research clearly established that Marie was dressed in a traditional "tarlatine" (tutu) and danced a much different variation from the one we're accustomed to, but clearly en pointe. She changed the dress and the shoes for Act I and the rest of the show, but the damage had been done, especially on people whose first view of the ballet was the precipitately modified one. First impressions are very lasting.
  23. There aren't that many characters IN Paquita to fill up all the variations which CAN be tipped into this "Grand Pas" (which never happens in the original scenario, anyway).
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