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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. San Francisco Ballet has done some good Jewels productions in the past, especially with the clean and speedy Cuban dancers who used to be in the company – and they will be doing Jewels again this upcoming season. I very much liked the Jewels that the Mariinsky did here almost twenty years ago, somewhat midpoint between Balanchine and their company style. And Miami City Ballet of course always did Balanchine with great clarity and immediacy. It must be difficult to pick up on Balanchine though without doing it all the time. Balanchine, like all modernists, tended to reduce ornament and dancers in non-B companies sometimes seem to want to put the ornament back in. The basic choreography is clean and bare-boned, some of it like throw-away lines, and one (d--n) thing follows another without pause. John Clifford somewhere says that when he restages the ballets, he conducts some basic Balanchine company classes first and that helps prepare the dancers for later rehearsals.
  2. Robert Garis suggests – and this is supported by Robert Gottlieb in an interview – that when Suzanne Farrell returned to the company, Karin von Aroldingen was doing her role in LIebeslieder Walzer. Balanchine didn't want to take the role away from von Aroldingen yet felt it still belonged to Farrell. He dropped Liebeslieder and created Davidsbundlertanze as a solution. Garis thinks the Clara and Robert Schumann roles for von Aroldingen and Adam Luders that Dirac refers to above are the most completely realized, and also Farrell's one of a self-sufficient, woman alone, but that the rest of the ballet is a first draft, a pencil sketch of a Liebeslieder-like work. I don't think I saw Davidsbundlertanze when I lived in New York – there's a line in my notebook reminding me to go and if I had, it would have been the first Balanchine work I had seen which would perhaps have given me a wrong idea of what Balanchine was about. On video it seems much more baroque than any of his other works, continually coming and going, bursting forward and disappearing into itself, all the clarity of classicism giving way to Schumann's romanticism and wildly shifting states of emotion. Happily Balanchine made one more great ballet afterwards, Mozartiana, whose emotional spreadsheet balances out more evenhandedly.
  3. Came across that from Slate's Explainer along with a short history of hyphenation in England – how it was originally used to preserve estates when there was no male heir or to preserve illustrious names. In France apparently (:Wikipedia) there were double hyphenated (--) names to distinguish ancient compound names from the newly minted names of the rising upper middle class in the 19c. So the use of "double barrel" is not original with Macaulay it seems, and pretty well worn by now. In this case, Danchig-Waring, it is rather annoying after the second time, like a form of hectoring. But maybe in England hyphenated names signal some sort of class differences they don't in the US – though I don't think Macaulay reads ballet with a Marxist slant (which might be interesting).
  4. David Crosby's advice seems very solid, much of it field-tested in his own life, very sensible about sobriety. More effective in video version than in print. He now looks and sounds a bit like his father Floyd Crosby, from whom I once took a camera course. Don't remember much of the senior Crosby's advice that except that he once complained about Hollywood cameramen who would shake the camera while mounted on a heavy tripod to give the film a bit of a New Wave look. Regret that I didn't ask him about his experiences with Robert Flaherty, Pare Lorentz and Orson Welles.
  5. I meant that Lopukhov's general description of choreographic sonata form – with contrapuntal themes all going on at once towards the end – began to sound like some of Balanchine ballets where everything is finally brought together at once, as in Symphony in C and The Four Temperaments. Anyway here's what I was trying to summarize from FL's essay: Some more here, but not all, in this Google books link, page 173: https://books.google.com/books?id=50voOBEhZCsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=lopukhov&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi96JTmk9flAhUOQq0KHSoMBNAQ6AEwAHoECAAQAg#v=onepage&q=bayadere&f=false
  6. Rachel Howard in her San Francisco Chronicle review says finds the caricature of Indian culture and religion "less easy to ride along with these days" and elsewhere says perhaps the solution is to do Act iii only – though sympathetic to the production as a whole. I agree with the comment by Letha Ch’ien who teaches art history at Sonoma State that I think we've come to the consensus these days that acting simply shouldn't involve dressing down and impersonating someone who suffers oppression in a particular society. Even old Actor's Workshop exercises involved full sympathy and vulnerability and identification with the character you played. Dark makeup and exotic costumes don't signify anything like that. * As far as this Mariinsky production of La Bayadere, I agree that Act iii is what makes it go and I did enjoy watching it from the balcony where the lack of ramps – due to the small stage size – actually seemed to enhance the experience. You could see the whole line of dancers snake back and forth and fill the stage and the changes of position trill or ripple along their whole length. I liked the light green color of the costumes – at least they appeared to me as light green – which seemed less sepulchral than light blue or white, more like sea foam. The puff sleeves seemed to help accentuate the choreographic variations. I also noticed that an overflow of dancers would discretely leave the stage to the rear and return as the composition of the corps changed from crosswise to lengthwise as if the fullness of one direction registered differently than the fullness of the other. Fedor Lopuhkov, the sometimes anti-Petipa Soviet choreographer – and an influence on Balanchine – writes glowingly of Kingdom of the Shades and says that its great success with audiences is that it is composed in what he sees as strict sonata form, that there are themes and secondary themes "that develop in parallel to the main theme and are contrapuntal to it." These themes, he says may be in "different keys" and he describes the way a choreographer can bring this about, citing various positions, and how the themes may all reappear side by side in the reprise. Which of course begins to sound like a description of "Symphony in C."
  7. I first saw Morris with a small group at Dance Theater Workshop early on. The choreography was set to Purcell which was an unusual choice at the time and was very finely crafted. It seemed more serious than light but I don’t remember a particular tone to it. Later Morris’s ballets – which I’ve mostly seen in short sections from videos – always seem fluid and lively but with an element of (high) camp underneath and of the choreographer not taking himself too seriously. With the 1991 Nutcracker his strategy seemed to have been to banalize the overly-familiar and cliched passages, to make its magic seem ordinary (which was also an art world practice at the time). For instance, when the Christmas tree refuses grow, the parents and maid make awkward gestures of moving their necks as if they see it fill the room. The Eleven clip is played over two different sections of the Mozart concerto without much loss of effect, so I’m not sure how closely the music is designed to the score. Balanchine sets choreography within choreography, such as a small dance for Suzanne Farrell at the end of Mozartiana responding to a solo clarinet – would Morris do something like that? Of Balanchine's works, I think Morris's sensibility might be compared to the witty Donizetti Variations but not to the later Symphony in Three Movements or Kammermusik No 2, which Ratmansky’s and sometimes Peck’s choreography remind me of.
  8. There's a good short article by Laura Jacobs on Jewels in a 2010 Playbill: "The Balanchine Tapestries": Balanchine's Jewels Dances at Houston Ballet - http://www.playbill.com/article/the-balanchine-tapestries-balanchines-jewels-dances-at-houston-ballet Jacobs original thinking on the relation of Jewels to the unicorn tapestries at the Musee de Cluny, which Balanchine showed to Suzanne Farrell a year before he choreographed Jewels, here at New Criterion (though behind paywall) - https://newcriterion.com/issues/1998/3/balanchines-castle
  9. Danilova in her memoir Choura, which is full of all sorts of good things, writes about some of the changes in Apollo over the years and compares her approach to Suzanne Farrell's:"... I was a light on my heels as I was on my toes. Now dancers go very light on toes but stamp back when they go on their heels." "My version was jumpier than the one they dance today [early 80s]... What I danced was lighter, smaller, quicker. I did fifth, arabesque, fifth, arabesque, nobody does that anymore. ... Balanchine changed the role when Suzanne Farrell learned the part because she couldn't jump as well... My accent was up, hers is down." She thinks that Farrell looks like a goddess but perhaps too tall for the role, and that Martins has something cold about him that is right for the part. Of course the version in the CNB clip looks wrong, there's no reason for her to be on pointe really. And I do like Farrell's mannerist approach, her off balance, oddly cantilevered extensions in the second clip. For the same reason I like the 50's broadcast on John Clifford's channel of Divertimento #15 with Jillana and Verdy and Wilde that's so lively and full of odd balances and wildly shifting locus points. How great it would be to see a clip of the "lighter and quicker" and apparently less serious 1928 Apollo. Danilova: "Balanchines's idea for Apollo was that the three muses would be in love with this god. They would have, as the French say, un béguin."
  10. Maybe for Macaulay it has class associations as it once did in England: Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady or, differently, in France, solid 19 century middle class: Cartier-Bresson. Though it's far more common and accepted now in the US than it once was. It could also be a gun metaphor, like double barrel shotgun. (Interesting how many of those sayings remain in circulation despite all the gun violence in the past ten years, such as: in last night's Democratic debate someone "gunning" for something, having "someone in your sights," or "pulling the trigger," that is bidding on ebay.)
  11. I don't know which painters Suzanne Farrell was referring to at the National Gallery. She could have been pointing to one of the impressionist works such as Monet's Garden at Vetheuil. Or maybe to the to one of the Washington school of Color Field painters such as Morris Louis. The Monet has both color and texture, the Louises use color as structure. Monet: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.52358.html Morris Louis: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.52382.html Stuart Davis: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.166441.html Veronese [red pushing against blue?]: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.46146.html
  12. Natalia Goncharova, who did sets and costumes for Diaghilev, and an important painter on her own, was very recently the subject of a Tate Museum show in London. The last painting in the link below, Peasants Picking Apples, looks as if it could be hanging in an Lower East Side gallery today, perhaps alongside one of Nicole Eisenman's works. What's interesting about the Russian Futurists that Judith Mackrell refers to in Buddy's link above – Kandinsky, Mondrian and all – is how they deploy space, or objects in space, as on a stage floor, like a kind of Labanotation, rather than through a proscenium or in Renaissance perspective. The pictorial elements push and pull against each another and there is no wasted space. Even in Goncharova's paintings every corner is activated, up and down as well as side to side. https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/natalia-goncharova
  13. Chester Higgins in today's Times describes a visit to Robert Frank this past January "to thank him, for having the clearness of heart to make these 1950s images that gave black people like myself the same decency and agency usually reserved for whites." One of the most moving elements of many in "The Americans." Walker Evans, whose own journey through America Frank was in part following, wrote sharply in his original but not used introduction to "The Americans" - "Since it is the fashion to say that Americans can afford everything, let us say they can afford to have an astringent, abrasive picture of America ... Those who know the language of images and the speech of the eye ... will instantly recognize this photographer's intellect, his ungentle poetry, his ferocious wit and his educated morality." And that book was basically a moral philosophy of photography, photographic aphorisms – that showed you could do and couldn't do as a photographer. It was an antidote to such overly ambitious shows such as Edward Steichen's "The Family of Man" which fuzzily said that everyone is the same person, everyone has the same experience. Frank lived all those years in a small, green-fronted loft on Bleecker Street just off Bowery, "poor as a church mouse" as a friend used to say. There was always a light bulb on during the day – or maybe it was only on when he and June Leaf were in Nova Scotia. Originally the little loft seemed to me like a fishing boat among fishing boats, and as the years went on it was still a fishing boat but now seemed to be completely surrounded by yachts (cafes, chic hat shops, etc).
  14. I don't think what serious film audiences liked then – just as serious ballet audiences appreciated Agon and The Four Temperaments in their time – was so off base in retrospect. After all George Lucas made American Graffiti from the bones of Fellini's I Vitelloni, Martin Scorcese was influenced by 8 1/2, and Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde, which was previewed at film school for student opinions, was inspired by Godard's Breathless, which for years was hugely influential. Lawrence of Arabia in its time seemed like a big old fashioned, conservatively constructed but fun, entertainment film. Panavision is less wide than mail-box-slot CinemaScope (great "envelope pushing" examples of which were Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well). The most pleasing aspect ratio seemed to be semi-wide screen 1.6, the classic golden mean ratio of 5:8, in which most European movies were filmed. In the US they would inevitably be projected in the wider and less attractive – neither this nor that – ratio of 1.85, voiding all the cameraman's careful choices. Here's Scorcese's (I can't forget the old spelling) list of Criterion Film favorites, Lourie's The River among them, and his reasons: http://www.openculture.com/2016/05/martin-scorsese-names-his-top-10-films-in-the-criterion-collection.html
  15. I remember seeing Lawrence of Arabia back in the day at film school. It seemed like a big overstuffed armchair of a movie in faux naturalism, with its over the top wide screen landscapes and wide screen acting (with Anthony Quinn's nose looking as though it could fall off at any moment). This was in comparison to the modest New Wave films my friends and I were seeing and even the color A-grade films that those directors had graduated to, like Contempt and Blow Up. (In Contempt, which was filmed in CinemaScope, Fritz Lang says that CinemaScope is only appropriate for snakes and funerals, all the while Godard was having his mischievous ways with it.) And students in the English dept would recommend instead reading Charles M. Doughty's Travels in Arabia Deserta, T. E. Lawrence's inspiration ("we may write books on parts of the desert … but here it is all said, and by a great master"). What Lawrence would have thought of this film must spin between the comic and the tragic in our imaginations. An art director I knew later, Eugene Lourie – who did the art direction on Renoir's The River and Chaplin's Limelight – told me that he worked on an early film with Peter O'Toole just after O'Toole had some plastic surgery done. On the first day of shooting all of the crew pretended not to recognize him and kept looking at their watches and wondering aloud when the real Peter O'Toole was going to show up.
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