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dirac

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Everything posted by dirac

  1. Out of desperation I once swallowed several teaspoons of honey before a college performance of "A Streetcar Named Desire." It worked.
  2. Sounds like a good libretto for "The Perfect Storm: the Ballet" if you substitute swordfish catching for war. Look, if they could make a musical out of the sinking of the Titanic... Sorry for going off topic, I just saw the movie on cable and was so inspired by the bravery of George Clooney and Marky Mark that I had to pull it in somehow.
  3. There is a book called "What is Dance? Readings in Theory and Criticism," edited by Roger Copeland and Marshall Cohen, that contains both theoretical articles on dance and pieces of practical criticism by Arlene Croce and others. I found it useful.
  4. I recall reading about an Anne Frank ballet with choreography by an Adam Darius. It was once available on VHS but I don't know if that is still the case. I did not see it or read anything about it. Recently Ballet Florida performed a ballet on the same topic called "Anne Frank", with choreography by Mauricio Wainrot. Kenneth MacMillan did a ballet,"Gloria", thematically concerned with World War I and inspired by Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth", if memory serves. [ 08-06-2001: Message edited by: dirac ]
  5. I'd like to see biographies of Diana Adams and Nora Kaye. I read Allegra Kent's book and was vaguely depressed by it. It was a distinguished and unique career, to be sure, but I thought it more than unfortunate that she seemed to have a chronic need to cut off her nose to spite her face. I haven't seen a book on McBride. I'm not sure if we ever will -- she had an important career, but it may have been too placid -- no hopping from company to company, no torrid affairs or stormy marriages. You kind of need that stuff.
  6. I can see why Vinogradov might take that view, but if by some mischance I had a relative who died of lung cancer because she believed Philip Morris' assertions that its products caused no harm, I might just say, the hell with the art....
  7. Also,if you're serious about it, you'd be surprised at what just one basic course in drawing can do for you. It doesn't make you talented, as I can say from experience, but it would make you lots better.
  8. The following link is to an amusing piece by Philip Kennicott that appeared in the Washington Post a couple of Sundays ago. He discusses the difficulty of writing intelligently about the nature of art, and lists a number of generalizations about art and artists that have appeared perhaps once too often. I'm wondering if anyone has encountered similar items in dance criticism? or arts criticism in general? Any meaningless adjectives that you would just as soon not encounter again? I personally have a problem with "compelling." It seems to be one of those words people fall back on when they liked something but can't think of anything more specific. Who was compelled? and compelled to what? Never mind. Anyway, here's the link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/style...-2001Jul13.html
  9. If the names of Mr. and Mrs. Moon are in the program as "Founders and Patrons," I would think that's sufficient as a tipoff. The company isn't obliged to put a big "FUNDED BY MOONIE MONEY" banner across the page. If people are interested in the company, they'll find out soon enough. Normally any discussion of religion where the discussion may lead to someone taking offense makes me run faster than Marion Jones, but I cannot resist observing that Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism have achieved enough respectability after a thousand years or so not to require putting forth the more exotic public relations efforts that less established religions do. (I do not mean to suggest that the Universal Church is not a scam -- it might very well be, I don't know. But if we query the claims of a sect because of homophobia and pretensions to Messiah-dom, we're ruling out some pretty well-established faiths, are we not?) I will now follow Jeannie's wise course and withdraw from this aspect of the discussion........
  10. As noted, this is a knotty question. During the Cold War, the arts (and sports, and space exploration, and so on) were exploited for propaganda purposes by both sides. The Communists were more systematic about it, of course, being Communists, but everyone was getting in on the act. In principle, I'd say that the business of examining people's motives for supporting the arts is not a particularly useful exercise; we can accept the art, with thanks, without buying anything else they're selling. However, I'm pretty certain that it would not have been right for us to welcome the Bolshoi or the Kirov during the time, let's say, of Stalin's purges or the Moscow Trials. In the sixties, I think the cultural opening followed the political sea change; it was a consequence of the thaw, not an instigator of it . ( Think of the Waldorf Conference a couple of decades earlier, which was supposed to bring American and Soviet artists together in a free exchange of ideas. But it couldn't really do that in any meaningful sense, because the Americans who attended did so of their own free will while the Soviets were there mainly out of a disinclination to be imprisoned or shot.) Re: the Universal Church, I am simply too ignorant to judge. Tom Wolfe once observed that a cult is a religion without political clout. As far as I know, we're not talking about Jim Jones and the People's Temple here, or anything else that would prevent me from seeing the company. One hears that the Rev. Moon is a con artist, but he would not be the first spiritual leader of whom that was said, alas.
  11. I used to sketch them a lot, once upon a time. I was better with tutus than with actual people, however. [ 07-23-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
  12. I think that finally you have to go by your pocketbook. To insist on formal or even semi-formal dress can be a form of class distinction (not that I am accusing anyone here of that!!). Not everyone can afford evening clothes or even rough approximations of same; I certainly couldn't when I was a student, even on those rare evenings that weren't SRO of necessity. Although my discretionary income has risen since then, it is still not the equal of, say, Blaine Trump's, or any of the other ladies who attend galas and whatnot. I'm usually reasonably well dressed if I'm coming from work or driving in; but if I'm using public transportation or spending a day in the city (I live in the East Bay suburbs) than even sensible low heels aren't comfortable for doing too much walking. I don't go in for slacks of any kind, and on windy days dresses and skirts are not ideal. (I remember descending from a bus, wearing a wide Dior-New-Look type skirt, into a wind tunnel area, prompting much merriment from onlookers and jocular references to Marilyn Monroe and subway gratings. Not my finest hour.) So I'm usually in my jeans, a nice top or sweater, and newish Rockports of the less clunky sort, and I figure that has to do. As for ballet inspired fashions, my feeling is that, as a rule, ballet-style clothing looks good on people with ballet-style figures and no one else, exceptions allowed of course.
  13. Well, you have Petipa in the 19th century and Balanchine for the 20th, which averages out to one per century. (This is not to say that Ashton, for example, wasn't a genius; we're looking at a particularly rara avis, the creator who redefines his art for generations.) And there are those who might argue that Balanchine surpasses all others in terms of his transforming influence, which means that in several hundred years ballet has produced just....one of him. There is also the question of whether current conditions are right for the emergence of such a figure. This is not to say it won't happen (or hasn't happened).....
  14. Balanchine was receptive to American culture in a way that other emigrés were not, but I had the impression that his eventual arrival here had at least as much to do with the closing off of his European options as anything else. (It's funny, we think of Balanchine and Kirstein as being Made For Each Other now, but at the time both of them seem to have had somewhat mixed feelings about the other guy.) I think Balanchine would have been a genius anywhere he went, but I wonder if his influence would have been quite as far-reaching and his aesthetic as dominant if he'd been able to wrest the Opéra from the fell clutches of Lifar or set himself up somewhere else in Europe. Instead, he established a school and a company in the preeminent city of the world's rising power.
  15. Almost forgot. This is not a ballet example, but there's also Bethsabee de Rothschild's loyal support of Martha Graham.
  16. Almost forgot. This is not a ballet example, but there's also Bethsabee de Rothschild's loyal support of Martha Graham.
  17. How about Ida Rubinstein? I suppose we must add her to the ranks of frustrated-ballerina-rich-ladies, but she did commission works from Bakst, Fokine, Ravel, Stravinsky, et al., not to mention keeping a youthful Ashton gainfully employed (he got a lot of social mileage out of a wicked imitation of her frightful dancing later on). [ 07-13-2001: Message edited by: dirac ]
  18. How about Ida Rubinstein? I suppose we must add her to the ranks of frustrated-ballerina-rich-ladies, but she did commission works from Bakst, Fokine, Ravel, Stravinsky, et al., not to mention keeping a youthful Ashton gainfully employed (he got a lot of social mileage out of a wicked imitation of her frightful dancing later on). [ 07-13-2001: Message edited by: dirac ]
  19. It might not hurt for the administrative/creative functions to be shared or separated. Yes, Balanchine did everything, but that doesn't mean that everyone who follows him can or should. Not all choreographers have a taste or talent for administration, and it seems reasonable to recognize this. As for the choreographer/conservator question, that might be very difficult to settle, depending on the choreographer. Someone who is working at Balanchine's level is not going to be wildly interested in spending a lot of time curating someone else's stuff, however distinguished, and understandably so. Since we're talking about someone of formidable creative powers here, it is reasonable to think that he (yes, I know, I'm not using the P.C. he/she, but let's get real) will have his own ideas about style and those ideas will differ from Balanchine's in many respects. In the worst-case scenario, you might have a fundamental stylistic conflict, and in such a conflict it's probable that the works whose maker is alive and monitoring their care and feeding have a better chance of survival. At the very least, you'd have to bring someone else in to keep an eye on the Balanchine/Robbins repertory. Having said that, I don't think we have to worry about a new Balanchine popping up any time soon. But when he does show up, I suspect he'll want to put his own stamp on a company and not spend his time genuflecting to someone else's accomplishments.
  20. As an aside, it seems to me that a couple of reviewers have made too big a deal about Lawrence's not being permitted access to Robbins' papers and having the nerve to produce an unauthorized biography. I don't doubt that Robbins' papers have a lot of useful information, but after all we're not dealing with Thomas Jefferson here. And quite a few valuable biographies would never have appeared if the authors had folded their tents and stolen away after being denied "authorization." (Whether Lawrence's book is among these is another matter, of course.)
  21. Something I used to do when I was in your position was go to the library and browse through the books at random. Often I would come across interesting stuff I never would have thought of on my own. You might look at Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. There's tons of information out there and lots of colorful anecdotes and personalities associated with the era.
  22. There was Hilary Hahn in the "Classical Musician" category, I think it was called, and there was a novelist, architect, artist, and so forth. I certainly wouldn't expect a dancer to make the cover of an issue such as this one, but I hope at least an effort was made to find somebody. Wrestlers made the issue, incidentally, under "Odd Jobs."
  23. TIME has produced yet another Special Issue, the first in a series called "America's Best." This one has Julia Roberts on the cover, and profiles "the artists and entertainers who rise above the rest." I scanned the list, and couldn't help noticing that there was no "Dancer" or "Choreographer." (Susan Stroman makes the cut, but in her capacity as "Broadway Director.") Desperate, I went to the section called "Odd Jobs." No luck. Apparently, TIME had room to showcase "Rappers," "Talk-Show Host," "Fashion Designer (Tom Ford, rakishly showcasing his chest hair)," and "DJ" but not Tharp, or Baryshnikov, or any rising young star. (No opera singers, either.) I actually became a little peeved, especially when I read Managing Editor James Kelly's explanation for the selection of the beauteous Ms. Roberts as "Best Movie Star": "....audiences feel they know her intimately, in all her vulnerable charm....these feelings in turn invest her screen performances with a special immediacy and resonance." I take this as Managing Editorspeak for "We wanted to put her picture on the cover." I don't mean to pick on TIME -- newsmagazines are in a tough spot these days -- but this did strike me as a significant omission. "I welcome your thoughts on our selections," Kelly concludes. I suggest we share our thoughts with him and his arts editor, Jan Simpson.
  24. My understanding is that Balanchine thought of this piece primarily as a technical showcase for his stars. (I think the music was a rewrite forced on Tchaikovsky by a temperamental ballerina who wanted different counts, so maybe he was considering the source.) After all, when you're building a repertory you need all kinds of ballets, and I wouldn't be surprised if he thought of this as a crowd-pleasing bonbon for galas and whatnot, although it's a cut above, say, "Tarantella."
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