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Quiggin

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  1. I (too) was once taken aback when talking to a Russian woman in New York, I referred to Joseph Brodsky as a Russian poet and she said that he wasn't Russian at all, he was Jewish. She seemed very pleased with the point she had made. In the "Shostakovich: A Life," Elizabeth Wilson's oral biography, Shostakovich does what he can to protest against Stalin's post-WWII campaign against "rootless individuals," and the "Doctors Plot" where a group of Jewish doctors were accused of belonging to a terrorist group. Ironically at the same time the Soviet Union was first to recognize Israel as a nation. Natalia Vovsi-Mikhoels:
  2. I felt that in the discussion a minor point had eclipsed a major one. And the issue of blackface, the persistence of it in the ballet world in the 21th century, was the major subject. As pointed out by Tapfan (if I'm quoting intent correctly):
  3. I just wanted come in and say that I think it's false equivalency to say that Copeland's failure to delete the names of the original posters is anywhere as wrong as making up in blackface today, no matter where you are in today's interconnected world. And Instagram and Twitter accounts are deleted all the time due to one faux pas or another – as I observed when following Brexit prior to the election of Boris Johnson – it's not a big thing. For some reason I thought that after the civil rights movements of the sixties there would never again be another blackface image posted anywhere. And if countries are on a twenty year gap in regards to influencing each other's moral values, 1990 would have been the cut off date for Russia. The blackface image from the Bolshoi is very powerful and has extremely degrading connotations – I felt like I had to avert my eyes or somehow become complicit with it. I also think yellow face is pretty bad (for which see RaKu), as well as Nutcracker orientalizing mannerisms – though nowhere as lethal. How many decades more of all this?
  4. Here is a report on the Mariinsky production of La Bayadere in Berkeley this past November – Berkeley Ballet says dancers disinvited from performing in show after concerns about brownface https://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Berkeley-Ballet-says-dancers-disinvited-from-14809292.php
  5. Thanks for posting the link to this article. Some very nice images, great way of capturing the contours and silhouettes of the dancers. They give an idea of the counterpoint of the choreography. I like the series of moody Merce in front of the mirrored wall. A very young Douglas Dunn and Valda Setterfield in another image.
  6. I can see both sides on the issue, but am biased towards the new rule. Video-ing may disrupt classes and rehearsals and dancers' concentration. It might make nearby dancers, who don't want to be filmed in the background, uncomfortable. Whose workplace is it might be the question. Also not sure that the quality of many of the videos would fit into a resume and be able to be cut together and make sense. Portrait format, which most seemed to be captured in, seems too confining, while landscape, which is more natural, is harder to control as a far as extraneous details and empty space etc. And maybe everyone wants to take a tech breather for a while.
  7. Would like to see a Guggenheim-like discussion and demonstration of early 20's Ballet Suedois works, including Honneger/Leger Skating Rink and Satie/Picabia Relâche. I especially like the in-character walking/skating bows in Skating Rink. Did this influence Ashton Les Patineurs and even Balanchine Cotillon? The Leger costumes are especially fine. https://vimeo.com/14390025 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHAYeOU9hkU Another reconstruction of a lost ballet, lost before it was first constructed, for a magician repetiteur. Came across this letter to Balanchine yesterday in the Noguchi archives:
  8. 7 for Eight isn't bad. Boada was always good in one of the parts where he seemed to be dancing in two Bachian tempos at once. You might also look at the concurrent Program 6 which features Ratmansky's Seasons. It's on a lot of best of 2019 lists and was much discussed here when it was premiered at ABT last spring.
  9. Synesthesia and Nabokov’s old anxiety of influence about poets and poetry. Interestingly the classic book on synesthesia is by another Russian, Aleksandr Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist. It's the basis of some of Oliver Sacks' work. "What a yellow crumbly voice you have" the mnemonist says to Luria's colleague Lev Vygotsky when they first meet.
  10. I should have said greatest novelist which are what Platonov and Grossman were, though Grossman was also a great journalist who covered the second world war in the Soviet Union. I read Speak Memory many years ago and found it charming. I wonder though if Rimbaud (whom Nabokov wittily wrote about in "The Forgotten Poet") got it better and more succinctly in the poem that begins "A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue ..." Nabokov seems to be doing an extended riff on Rimbaud – overwhelming him in homage, as he did Pushkin with translation footnotes.
  11. My dance going was minimal this year but best was the Maryinsky's Bayadere at Cal Performances in Berkeley, namely the Kingdom of the Shades scene. How different it is to see it in the (ghostly) flesh as opposed to in videos which tend to flatten it into a kind of wallpaper. How nicely the Maryinsky dancers' solos and trios played against the shivery white corps-mass behind them, popping out in twitchy staccato steps, like figures half carved out of marble in a Rodin sculpture. Disappointment: Shostakovich Trilogy this third time around at San Francisco Ballet. It wasn't the performances which didn't work (though Karapetyan as the poet, Quenedit & Van Patten as a couple, and Domitro in Cornejo's role were key for me the first time around). It was the fine clockwork that this time was off – the sharp sequences of moves, one escapement against the other. At the dress rehearsal it looked as though Trilogy had been directed in-house rather than with someone like Nancy Raffa around to set the beats and fine-tune the interactions, get the sourish idiomatic flavor just right. What was interesting though was Ulrik Birkkjaer's take on the poet in the second section (Chamber Symphony/Quartet #8), much lighter than Karapetyan's or Robison's, as if he were outside the role and curious about it, kicking the tires, seeing where it was deep and where it was shallow. * Other arts: John Beasely Greene's beautifully printed mid-19th century photographs of Egypt and Algeria at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (recently reviewed in the Times). Like Atget's photographs of the empty streets of Paris but here of the empty deserts around a surviving pharaoh or sphinx sentry. Egypt of our most austere dreams. Museum of Modern Art reopened, at least the online version. Reports are that the new bricks and mortar iteration is much less airporty than the last one of 15 years ago. Happy to see that so many artists are out of the storeroom and have taken their rightful places on the walls – Pat Passloff, Carmen Hernandez, Grace Hartigan (Shinnecock Canal), the great Brazilians Helio Oiticica, Wilys de Castro, Lygia Pape, etc. Books: good– The new Susan Sontag biography follows the trend of calling the subject by first name (which gets confusing in Ninth Street Women: now which Joan is this? which Bob?). Doesn't really come to grips with Sontag's ideas but has lots of gossipy gossip. For example, of the difficulties of a particular relationship: Lucinda Childs articulating only one tenth of what she was thinking and Sontag articulating 10 times her thoughts. Not enough about Alfred Chester who was a big influence on Sontag (as well as on Cynthia Ozick). And not disclosed: Chester's abandoned memoir was to be titled "I, etcetera" which SS used later for her own book of stories. Richard Serra interviewed by Hal Foster. Fascinating following Serra from UC Santa Barbara where his teachers were Diego Rivera and David Sequeiros influenced muralists to Yale where he ended up teaching just retired Joseph Albers' course on color. Serra says that Judson dancers influenced his placement of big metal plates in his sixties sculptures, that it was Tricia Brown's dancers leaning against each other shoulder to shoulder to hold each other up that gave him the idea for his House of Cards. great– All of Natalia Ginzburg's novels which are being republished. Early ones – Voices in the Evening and All our Yesterdays – are set in the small village where she and her husband were sequestered during the second world war and are constructed out of a kind of cubist dialogue of the familiar things people repeat to each other and then just as quickly contradict. The late stories – Happiness, as Such and The City and the House – take place in series of letters among family members drifting apart, each one of which has a tenacious grasp on only a bit of the whole. Sonnallah Ibrahim's recently translated Notes from Prison and earlier Stealth, the novel of his 1950's Egyptian childhood, both in bare-boned but very evocative prose. * And thanks to Ballet Alerters for all the reviews this year of performances that I and many others here don't have the means to see, especially of New York City Ballet, Miami Ballet, and whatever Alexei Ratmansky is working on.
  12. : Nabokov's seal of approval. As time goes on, Lolita the novel seems to wear badly, serving mostly to whitewash one-sided Woody Allenish "may/december" relationships. Everyone always winks and then says HH got his comeuppance at the end, plus there's all the humiliating American vulgarity he has to tolerate, so it all works out. Also for me much of Nabokov's humor – his descriptions of some male's "mincing steps" and his general homophobia - quickly becomes tedious. Is Nabokov really a greater writer – or even an equal – of his Russian contemporaries, Andrei Platonov and Vassily Grossman? Sue Lyon on the role via the Rolling Stone notice dirac linked above:
  13. I was thinking Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and The World of Apu), being a kind of homecoming movie, might be worth watching again during the holiday season. There's the lyrical new wavish, and very moving, Russian film I am Twenty (or Ilyich's Gate) by Marlen Khutsiev – a big social panorama and three or four young men trying to find their places in it. The restored three hour version which was recently shown at the Pacific Film Archive (as one of Tom Luddy's favorites) didn't seem to have a dull moment in it. Also Claude Jutra's Mon Oncle Antoine, and Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander as FPF recommended last year.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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).
  17. 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.
  18. 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
  19. 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."
  20. 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.
  21. 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
  22. 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."
  23. 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.)
  24. 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
  25. 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
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