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Quiggin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    balletgoer
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    San Francisco
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  1. Quiggin

    Arthur Mitchell has died

    Shostakovich said several times that he would one day write his autobiography and explain everything but never did, perhaps never really intending to. Mitchell, Ashton and Cunningham may have felt they really didn't have anything to say or any talent for making anything they had to say about themselves interesting. Isn't it terribly difficult to find some way to grab hold of your past and overcome all its resistances? The most interesting memoirs I've read have been minor or narrow ones, like Calvino's "Road to San Giovanni", or Tolstoi's "Boyhood," or that of Penelope Fitzgerald by way of her short novels. Coetzee's "Boyhood" was also good because it was so direct and simple. I did like this opening by Jack Robinson, whose "Robinson" [Crusoe] was just reviewed on a Times podcast. It may offer a method of sorts.
  2. Quiggin

    Job posting for artistic director

    I think Clifford is right to discuss how the company style has been codified in a kind of brilliant, god-is-in-the-little-details way that looks quite different from that of the fifties and sixties. "I could write a whole book on the differences" Clifford says. "And it was very interesting to read about the adjustments needed at NYCB when McBride and Villella coached Rubies recently." I think that's why Miami Ballet's interpretations seemed so interesting when Villella was there. You were getting a different take on the work coming down refreshed along a different heritage route. And it's not necessarily a dead past that Clifford is being particularly nostaligic about, but one that could be built on just as easily as the Martins/Schorer ideas of how Balanchine should be done. And as to why Farrell and Villella and others were not invited to coach at City Ballet for the last thirty or so years, this seemed like a curious – or maybe very diplomatical – statement of justification in the recent Times article on Villella and McBride:
  3. Quiggin

    What is "Musicality" in a Dancer?

    The point Drew makes about judging video recordings is a valid one. The sound and picture are often off – for instance the music for the Cynthia Gregory Rose Adagio is not only flat sounding but seems to warble which means it's not being played at the right speed. I think Jack Reed has pointed out how the PBS City Ballet DVD reissues of City Ballet performances are less reliable in syncing sound to picture than the earlier video tape offerings. (There's also the problem of playback, say sitting close up by a computer or 10 feet back in a proper listening room with books and curtains, in both of which the sound and picture have slightly different times of arrival.) And often times if we've seen a performer live, we have all sorts of clues – the "unrecordables" – that we fill in as we watch the same dancer in a You Tube offering. That said, I'll add Violette Verdy as a fabulously musical dancer – in the film and video recordings offered by Dominique Delouche – in Jerome Robbins' Dances, in Emeralds and in Liebeslieder Waltzes. (Verdy seems to pick a place in the music which anchors everything else, all the smaller currents, sometimes even retroactively so.) Of performances I've seen live, I'd say that Kyra Nichols in Mozartiana ca 1993 was especially musical, Taras Domitro in Four Temperaments and in the Lensky duel in Onegin at San Francisco Ballet, Maria Calegari in general, Kozlova also in that era, Joseph Gordon in the recent Dances at a Gathering video clip (and how he describes the negative spaces around him and his partner). I was going to mention some Symphony in C performances but I think that with that ballet, the musicality is written into the choreography, everything happening a little before it should and right on the heels of the last choreographic proposition. And the elasticity of Ratmansky's Seven Sonatas makes everyone look musical. Farther afield, I thought early Mark Morris in some Purcell pieces made interesting musical choices as did Merce Cunningham in his last onstage appearances. And Valda Setterfield always had a kind of wry Cagean musicality (Cage and music that shifts terms as it goes along, like that of the contemporary Italians, adds another consideration). But I don't know how to define the musicality that particularly appeals to me – whether it's a beat too fast or not ,etc. It's more that the dancer is thinking out loud with her or his movements and sectioning them in odd ways – and neither we nor the dancer knows where it's all going to end up (no matter how many times we've seen the part).
  4. I think it's fairly common between couples to use each other's computers depending on what room they're in. (Purses in the old days – I once heard Susan Sontag, in a bookstore in New York, giggle and say to her partner, "oh Annie, I think my card is in your purse!") Anyway a friend of mine had a version of the Waterbury revelation happen to him when he looked at his email on his partner's computer – which was in the kitchen – and when he opened the first screen, his partner's emails and arrangements for secret dates immediately popped up.
  5. This is an important point. I agree – perhaps in a different way – that company members could sense during class and rehearsals that something was going on between the dissident men through coded remarks, a certain tone of voice – and this could have had a disruptive effect on company morale. It's like something you realize was unpleasant only after it is gone or has been lifted. And, by nature of their senior status within the company, through their "social capital and influence," the women who have posted that nothing was wrong were not really affected or potentially vulnerable.
  6. It is very pertinent. Kerollis talks bout how straight dancers in the company are always having to prove they're straight and by doing so make things unpleasant for everyone else. He goes on to say dropping the PR talking point that ballet companies are a great place for men to date – and touch – women (as in the male dancer episode of city.ballet), and dropping the PR talking point that ballet class is a great thing for athletes to take to improve their football/basketball/etc game would be helpful way to change general perceptions of ballet companies. He invites comments about the podcast from other dancers. Begins about 15 minutes in, Houston Ballet at 18 min.
  7. Kent also says she danced wildly some nights and was surprised Balanchine let her go on. So he did give her some freedom within the company. Joan Brady, who was at the school in 1959 with Gloria Govrin, Patricia McBride and Carol Sumner just ahead of her, says, As far as the relation of the school and the company, Brady says that And I thought this was an honest description of what it was like to be in the School at the time. The Unmaking of a Dancer You could also say this focus was not that different from being a dancer downtown, living on cans of spaghetti and in a cold water flat, or an artist in SoHo in the seventies and submitting yourself somewhat masochistically to the criticisms of other artists and to the general rigors of being a minimalist or second gen abstract expressionist. The past was the past – we tend to want to autocorrect for it.
  8. Did Balanchine really destroy Farrell's career as Steichen seems to imply? Didn't she afterwards dance with Bejart for several years, then come back to City Ballet where she originated roles in Mozartiana and Davidsbundlertanze?
  9. Steichen. A little over the top. He claims that Balanchine (completely is implied) destroyed Farrell's career.
  10. I don't know if this is a factor, but the messaging between the dancers named in the suit may have been something of an open secret that other dancers were aware of but didn't know the specifics of. This could have been through comments overheard on breaks, facial expressions, hudddles in the back of the room, changes in tone of voice, etc. Something a colleague might be slightly curious about but at the same time sense that she or he should keep their distance from.
  11. The Finlay affair became a big story in the press because it has elements in common with the Peter Martins domestic violence incident of which Toni Bentley says, This most recent incident too had a particularly pointed symbolism in that one of the dancers – a danceur noble like Martins – has referred to a female dancer associated with the company worse than an animal: a slut. That's turning the ethos of NYCB – whatever you might think of it – upside down. It's not PR, it's the company narrative. And the reversal makes it a natural story for journalists and maybe even for novelists. Other than Sergui Celibidache refusing to seat a woman trombonist at the Munich Philharmonic in the 90s, there hasn't been an equivalent in the classical music world to Martins firing Farrell and refusing the talents of Villella, Verdy, Clifford and many other "prime movers" of Balanchine technique. As a result it was said in the press for a while that you had to go to Miami to see Balanchine done with proper character and verve. (That might be different now and Miami's example perhaps helped.)
  12. Toni Bentley has just written an article for the Times titled, "The Decline and Fall of New York City Ballet." https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/17/opinion/new-york-city-ballet-decline-fall.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
  13. This exciting program will be going at the Museum of Modern Art this fall into winter. From the prospectus - Good clip of some Judson works below (much more effective with sound muted) – https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3927
  14. I don't think that argument, which was also used in the comments on Macaulay's Instagram page, holds up. What these employees did on their own time, in "non-work-related activity," greatly compromised the image and "good will" City Ballet and all its members have tried to build up over the years. Maybe it's a bit precious, but that's the Ballet's choice. If say an employee of the General Motors design department had written crude and disparaging remarks about the esthetics of a car model on his or her own time and at home and it had gone to the wrong person and been made public, that person too would have been fired. Of course, that's only a narrow parallel, and doesn't take into consideration all the broader workplace factors.
  15. Yes! nanushka: Edward Villella, in Prodigal Son, says that after he returned to the company he realized that Jacques d'Amboise seemed to have more pull than was immediately apparent and that he could decide what roles he got to dance during the year. I've been reading Joan Brady's harshly self-critical memoir "Unmaking of a Dancer" which gives a fascinating and cool-eyed view of life at the San Francisco School of Ballet and later School of American Ballet in 1959, where she was a contemporary and friend of Suki Schorer. Interesting portraits of the Christensen Brothers, Balanchine, Danilova and Doubrovksa, their coaching, and their vanities, but also about the hierarchies, and insider and outsider status, that established itself among the students and dancers. Brady also says that there was always one or two ex-students – "exiles" – studying at the Columbia School of General Studies since the company began.
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