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Mel Johnson

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Everything posted by Mel Johnson

  1. Anna, the reason you found it difficult to post this question to this board is that it's intended for ballet from the point of view of the audience. There's a whole other board, Ballet Talk for Dancers, which treats on ballet from the technical point of view of the student/performer. Go there by clicking the "Ballet Talk for Dancers" link at the top of the page, just under the banner. You have to register separately for that board, but we're related.
  2. I see a big opportunity for the scalping industry here, especially with transactions being handled online. A little judicious hacking, and voilà.
  3. Every decade or so, this topic comes up somewhere or other. It's always been followed within a couple years by a BIG epiphany coming from a totally unexpected direction.
  4. The conversations of Balanchine given above are so like him. "Dear, I don't know, but can you make like sissonne, but with little (demonstrates) right before landing?" "Suzanne, I am man, not trained on pointe; can this step be done en pointe?" Questions, always questions. Sort of the Socrates of ballet.
  5. One of the great examples of screenplay padding. Except for the last 20 minutes or less, the whole film is backstory. The original Hemingway short story was less than 3,000 words long.
  6. The Sacketts were nice kids, I liked them all a lot! Of the Ottos, there were a bunch at the School of American Ballet simultaneously, but only David was in the company, if I recall correctly. Oops - William made it too. But there had to be at least one Nutcracker that had the whole tribe onstage. Even NYCB isn't immune from "cute" casting.
  7. That's the nice part of the gases produced from solid (CO2) or liquid (N2), especially the latter. The old way to deal with bedbugs, even in the early seventies, when I experienced the joy in the Air Force, used DDT, even knowing that it left residues that got into the environment and stayed forever. (Hey, what did they care? It was Vietnam and Korea, not Omaha.) Carbon dioxide is probably less chemically active than plain nitrogen, but the cold it produces isn't low enough reliably to kill the eggs in one application.
  8. About the only upside to the bedbug situation is that they aren't known to be a vector for any known viral or bacterial disease. A friend of mine is an exterminator, and he tells me that the trade has simple, effective means to kill the little boogers which leaves no toxic residue. They just blow carbon dioxide or nitrogen over the infested areas, and they're dead.
  9. And then there's "The Whims of Cupid and the Balletmaster" (1786).... Cupid was put on pointe, but Galeotti's material is still known to some of us. (Only I don't know of anyplace that has a production currently up. It was last heard of with the Royal Danish Ballet.)
  10. I'll bet the Petersburg audience will eat Midsummer up. And Agon will keep them buzzing for a couple of years!
  11. Ballet is organic. It cannot live in a glass bowl, hermetically sealed. As long as the choreography and the music, which are intact, to my memory, survive, and the updates to the costumes and decor capture the spirit of the original, the work is alive. I did rather prefer the spikier tutus, but then that's a de gustibus matter, and can't be recaptured short of having a time machine. Karinska was more than just a designer. Her construction has not been matched, in my opinion. Perhaps we have here another example of the Japanese spirit reserved in "Bugaku". I should retire to the beach of my koi pond, and contemplate these matters.
  12. It was even greener - a whole order of color temperatures different. And the reds were the vivid cinnabar red that Clive Barnes used to like to call "cyclamen red". The vibration they set up against one another was dazzling, which was perhaps the whole point! Take one element, focus on it entirely, and leave all else out. That is the "beauty of the missing" which is part of Zen. That it made such a strong impression which has lasted so long in ballet years* leads me to believe that it was an intentional act of creation. Another feature, which seems now mellower was that the chrysantemum tutus seemed stiffer, more sticky-out than the ones I'm seeing in the videos. I guess you had to see them in motion, as the photos don't adequately capture this quality. I know that these are not the choreography, but I'm still a diehard believer in the old dictum that said that ballet was a fusion of dance, costume, music**, and stage setting. Don't get me wrong! - these are still very good examples of "Bugaku" on the videos. They're just a little updated from what I recall. And that's a good thing! (Gee, I must have liked the thing better than I knew at the time!) *like dog years, only worse. **I can talk about this too at some length and with some passion. I had played some Mayuzumi chamber works by the time I first saw "Bugaku".
  13. I'll have to catch it at NYCB next time it comes 'round on the samisen. I haven't seen it in literal decades. It was programmed so much when I was a kid, I guess I subconsciously avoid it now! The green was so intense, I found myself asking, "Why are they dancing on a pool table?" There also now seems to be a torii-influenced fence around the playing area that wasn't in the earliest set and the area itself is dish-shaped.
  14. Another point worth making: I've been watching "Bugaku" since City Center, and from the video, I'd say that the former set by David Hays has been gussied up a bit over time. As I recall it, it was spare, spare, spare, with only a very green groundcloth, an upper platform leading to a central step unit and the dancing ground laid out among four VERY red vertical poles at each corner. Like I said - there was a Zen about it.
  15. It's my supposition that this "variation" fits the bill of the earlier pas de x's from the age of Bournonville and St.-Léon and marks the "adage" as one of the variations, I guess by all three dancers.
  16. Apparently, Tchaikovsky being a ballet novice in 1877, the andante sostenuto was supposed to be like an adage for 3 dancers, echoing the structure of the pas de deux, with its entree, adage, variations for danseur and ballerina, and coda. Pas de trois structure does not ordinarily contain an adage.
  17. I don't know much about the exact creative process that Balanchine used while making "Bugaku", but I feel that it is only fair to reiterate that whether by design or accident, he found a cognate to the Grand Pas of ballet in a Japanese hermeneutic. The former flowed from the era of Courtly Love and the Roman de la Rose, and the latter from the Floating World and the Pillow Book.
  18. It's been a long time since I really thought about "Bugaku", but I think that Balanchine was drawing a parallel between European stylizations of love and sex, and recasting it into terms of Japanese erotic art, Shunga. Just as the Romantic-Imperial period of ballet used conventions to display a "ritual" between men and women, so Gagaku (Imperial court music) ritualized the same subject, but using vastly different conventions. The music, by Toshiro Mayuzumi, portrayed styles found during the Edo Period (1603-1867) in Japanese arts. Allegra Kent was the originator of the ballerina role, and Edward Villella, the danseur. Arthur Mitchell also frequently performed the male lead. Karinska's costumes adapted the European tutu to form a sort of crysanthemum skirt, while the men's costumes were quite simple, based on the short coat, haori, worn with white tights. The set by David Hays did a lot with very little, suggesting a sort of Zen.
  19. As carbro indicates, clear provenance here is of paramount importance. As used pointe shoes, their value will be everything from utterly worthless to a couple of pounds, at best. The best indicator is to have a pair signed by the user on the outside of the shoe. Inside markings, or those on the sole may only indicate the company shoe boy's stock marking. If you have a clear provenance, then take them to Christie's, Sotheby's or other auction house of high standing and get a formal appraisal statement.
  20. Right, Kalman Thurocy (to give him his Magyar name) was even a bishop! He was a real bookworm, and his only contact with Crusaders was to chase them out of his country before they ate the Hungarians out of houses and homes. That First Crusade was rougher on the Christians than on the Saracens!
  21. Must be pretty rough as contemporaries go. Andrew II was the Hungarian king who went to the Crusades, and it actually was GOOD for him. His nobles encouraged him to go, expecting that he would be taken out by either sickness or battle, and the old boy returned healthier than ever, to make their lives miserable for years!
  22. Must be politics of some sort, although I can't imagine why an Irish peripatetic saint who was murdered (not even martyred, really, he was killed by robbers when they found that he had no money and didn't speak the local language) in Austria in the early 11th century was a better name than a Crusader King of Jerusalem.
  23. Waitaminnit! Who? He looks like Jean de Brienne.
  24. "Yondah lies da castle of my fadduh." -The Black Shield of Falworth
  25. Shoulda seen 'em when Messerer was in charge. "Over the top" didn't quite explain it. "They're comin' in the windows" had to be added. It was attack, attack!, and ATTACK!!! I always liked Timofeyeva.
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