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About Quiggin

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
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  1. Just watched the New York Theatre Ballet Jardin aux Lilas which is very impressive but a very strange flavor of ballet. Everything happens when no one is looking, in the shadow of a glance away. Little revelations seem to be signaled by doubled movements. Christopher Caines wrote an appreciation of the ballet in Robert Gottlieb's Reading Dance and says that dancing seldom represents dancing in Tudor, rather it visualizes dialogue and interior monologue. I wonder if Balanchine was somewhere thinking of Lilac Garden when he composed Liebeslieder (and the additional ending to Emeralds). And I wonder if Tudor as a young man was influenced by Balanchine's Gods Go a-Begging. He apparently programmed Gods for Jacob's Pillow with Hugh Laing and Nora Kaye (whom atm711 mentions above as being fortunate to have seen In Tudor's Romeo and Juliet). Laing first danced the part in the 1930s. Theatre Ballet's Jardin aux Lilas, staged by Sallie Wilson, 2008: https://vimeo.com/180424486 Gods Go a-Begging with Nora Kaye and Hugh Laing, June 1951: https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/nora-kaye-hugh-laing/the-gods-go-a-begging/ National Ballet of Canada, short Jardin clip, August 1953: https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/national-ballet-of-canada/lilac-garden-jardin-aux-lilas/
  2. Lots of interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses of preparing and showing a collection. Dresses named after the Alain-Fournier novel, a cantaloupe, and one after Picasso that seemed especially unstable. Also the sweetly self-conscious looks of the models, self-conscious in a different way than now (sometimes as if they were trying to locate something fleeting behind the camera). Nice lunch scene at a little table squeezed in among all the pattern making worktops. With one dress Dior honors his mentor Christian Bérard, who helped steer Dior towards the "New Look." Bérard did the great sets and costumes for the first version of "Mozartiana" and had some choice observations about Balanchine's character that he shared with Kirstein when Kirstein was still at sea with what to do with his life. Thanks for posting that.
  3. I, too, am just catching up with Concerto DSCH which seems like middle ground between Shostakovich Triology and The Bolt. The two De Luz/Garcia guys indeed reminded me of Bolt personnel or the surveyer's two assistants in Kafka's The Castle, who are always there doing something, whether helpful or not. The Mearns/Angle pair seems to have a relation to the good couple in the first part of the Trilogy, Bouder a newly hatched force. The first part of the ballet is a engine, "an eternal engine" (an arbitrary-melody making machine?), Ratmansky says, switched on by Shostakovich at the start, while the slow middle section features wanderers moving under the influence of the midnight sun. Everyone is always working, doing something seemingly practical and workmanship-like, lifting and setting a partner or partner-thing down in different places or in different configurations. An orange-colored Russian Seasons like community moves in and out of the viewer's peripheral consciousness. ((But who's running the show and where is it going?!)) Seemed fun, brisk and bracing, though not quite as complete or varied a world contained in the smaller “jewel-box” Seven Sonatas.
  4. Garcia did Rubies in San Francisco and was like a bowling ball tearing down the lanes but he was then in his twenties. Villella, at 31, was brilliant in the role but only with the most intense physical effort. I very much liked Garcia's solo in the recent showing of (said in a whisper voice) Peck's Rotunda.
  5. I liked Taylor Stanley's performance and think it worked almost as a monologue as he developed aspects of the role. It had many strengths. Of past performances I like the video of Farrell and Martins, their slight self-absorption and concentration makes it work well – maybe the best for me. Also liked Ib Andersen's Apollo which he did for his farewell performance, it had a very nice almost improvised quality. Apollo the ballet always has some problems for me, too many stops and starts and potentially empty places – and getting to the props and having them lying at the back of stage. These seem to get more emphasis when viewed in filmed or videoed form. It may work better on smaller stages than New York State Theater – at City Center or the orginals Diaghilev used in Paris. It seems in character like a highly stylized Art Deco work, a bit too high art. Apollo may not have been the obvious representative of Balanchine's work for Diaghilev until the 1950s – in earlier years the Gods Go A-Begging and La Chatte were given higher ratings. (Apollo was also less revolutionary than Parade or Mercure.) As far as the muses (there was a question above), there were nine and they were goddesses, the daughters of Memory. One or two overlapped with the Sirens (Peitho) and could be both beneficient or harmful. The characteristics of gods was a bit unstable in ancient Greece, varying from city to city, Apollo of Athens being honored for different things than say Apollo of Epidaurus. Diaghilev's Apollo was the Apollon/World of Art movement he was a part of around 1909. Taylor Stanley's Apollo also may be a local god, the Apollo of Lincoln Center, or the Apollo of Lincoln Kirstein (who wanted to see the ballet revived) as much as, or even more so than of George Balanchine, who was a bit ambivalent about him.
  6. I do remember one dancer leaving San Francisco Ballet for the Dutch National Ballet about seven or eight years ago with her partner, one of the reasons being that she wasn't permitted to dance in galas and events outside the company. One of her parents was ill and she wanted to help raise money for his medical bills working elsewhere else off season. I was told that that was a strict rule most of the time. Other dancers such as Ulrick Birkkjaer, who was already organizing events outside the company, may have signed onto SFB under a special contract that allowed some flexibility as far as dancing at the Joyce, etc. The logic for SFB not allowing performing in galas might be in what Ana Sophia Scheller says – that's where you meet other dancers, see how you work with them, and mull over the possibility of working with them on a permanent basis. I tend to believe that she was telling it as it was and acting in good faith.
  7. I just watched it and really enjoyed it. It looked as though it had been choreographed to read well in its video form. It filled the stage nicely with lots of nice things everywhere, and having the dancers in different colors really helped you see details of the choreography, as well as helped you follow particular dancers. There were all sorts of wonderful moments like the men lifting the men at around the 9 minute mark which makes a kind of furrow into the background and at another place where the men and women do a soft curtsy to each other. And so nice seeing Gonzalo Garcia, who danced here at San Francisco Ballet for several seasons, in such a lovely solo and moving solo. I liked that there's no false drama, things happen and then other things happen after that. Didn't find it too fast somehow. Felt like a complete world. My only complaint is that the dark horizon line that the backdrop makes with the floor was a little distracting during Sara Mearns' solo. All in all seemed just the right tone.
  8. I sort of liked the overhead shots. They reminded me of my old Fifth Ring $8.00 seats. The problem might be is that they are out of character with the more orthodox frontal views, which almost had too much spacing, too much air between dancers.
  9. They are and they are a different thing. Time and presence exchanged for a different kind of immediacy. The problem is that we live in a culture where the secondary and tertiary versions are given significant precedence over the primary. Where the actress or actor who plays the role is studied and revered over the person she or he plays. At best it's a kind of screwball comedy script where the original is left out and sulking at the side of the scene. There's a Nabokov story where a Rimbaud-like poet, old and disheveled, shows up years later to accept an award, but no one will believe him because he doesn't fit the image they have of him.
  10. You're probably right about it being off-balance – that's the first comment I ever heard about Apollo, well the second, the first was that it wasn't being done anymore (1990) and neither was Liebesdlieder. I like looking the comments of contemporaries – Martin, Denby, Hagin, Garis, Croce – which give you a feeling of context and how the works were grasped in time. Balanchine told Kirstein in 1933 to be slow in reviving old Ballets Russes choreography, that the vernacular of one decade faded for the next, they existed as "a mere breath, a mere memory." Added: They did reduce the stage props in 1957 to just a stool and staircase. And no staircase after that. Artifacts from 1928, like those in Prodigal Son?
  11. Yes, I came across my old notes on the trajectory of Apollo – I was house cleaning and they were in the toss pile – and looked at the John Martin NYT comments. The first one has a reference to the birth scene. And 1957 Balanchine was already eliminating things: I'd also say that the Modernist movement of which Balanchine was indeed a part – from his days as a Constructivist choreographer in St Petersburg, through Episodes, Kammermusik and Violin Concerto – was all about eliminating narrative references and footnotes, especially in the post WWII period. You can see this paring down and essentializing in "Square Dance." You also see this sort of thing in the work of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock from 1945 to 1951 or so. Added in answer to –
  12. There may be a myth about the "complete" version of Apollo. Reading old reviews in the historical New York Times and elsewhere, it seemed to have changed with every revival, from 1937 on – in tone and in some of the action. According to an interview Lynn Garafola reported on in a Green Room talk in San Francisco, some of the birthing scene was inspired by the Martha Graham exercises Balanchine saw one of his students do. Danilova talks about significant changes in meter and accent from the 1928 Apollo she was in. So the longer ur-version could have been any one of many different versions.
  13. I could see something of a fall season with spacing, the fourth ring open to accomodate it. But also with pieces with small casts – as nanushka notes about Nutcracker not having. And more of the lighter City Center scaled fare – like Allegro Brilliante, Donzetti Variations, and Danses Concertantes. Not sure of what the mood in the country will be then. Saw the Royal Ballet's grim Metamorphosis last night which seemed like the last thing you might want to watch right now with so many people in intensive care (besides being untrue to the complex tone of Kafka's original and throwing what seemed to me all the old Brecht, Brook, and Kantor tricks at it.)
  14. Thanks, pherank, those are helpful. The Clothes/Shoes/Hair/Newspaper article helps set up a sensible hierachy of concerns. Taking off your shoes in the entry has always been a good idea anyway with all the dogs and spit and stormwater/drain runoff out there. I tend to have a dedicated pair of trousers by the door for outdoor excursions and bicycling but not for short trips to the mailbox or to the rooftop. The findings on jogging were good too, with rules of thumb for passing others. (In the old days, actually not so long ago, bicyclists would give a gentle warning, "passing on your left," before coming up alongside you.)
  15. Yes, I've mixed up my -birds! Thanks, Imspear, for the correction. Markova did dance Firebird for Dance Theatre but that was in 1945. Tallchief did the Balanchine version in 1949: "The long variation contained a succession of turned-in movements that reflected the music and suggested a frightened bird in flight and had to be executed quickly and effortlessly ... for two minutes all I did was jump." All in all, it seems like to tough role to resume one's dancing career with. Tallchief/Firebird/JacobsPillow – https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/maria-tallchief-michael-maule/firebird/
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