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Everything posted by Quiggin

  1. How the spoken name sounds with "Ballet" matters too. Chicago sounds better than Illinois, Cleveland than Ohio, Houston than Texas. Philadephia and Pennsylvania, on the other hand. are equally appealing – and in my California imagination equally exotic. At one time I associated them with "The Philadelphia Story" and "PEnnsyvania 6-500" from "The Glenn Miller Story". Or with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. At least ballet companies don't complicate matters by pulling up stakes and moving as sports teams sometimes do, like the once Los Angeles Rams or the Minnesota Lakers.
  2. Both Louise Fishman and Joan Mitchell were represented by Robert Miller Gallery and later followed John Cheim to Cheim & Read. Some very nice catalogues on their works are available to page through online here – https://www.cheimread.com/publications Poem Read at Joan Mitchell's I hope there will be more more drives to Bear mountain and searches for hamburgers, more evenings avoiding the latest Japanese movies and watching Helen Vinson and Warner Baxter in Vogues of 1938 instead, more discussions in lobbies of the respective greatnesses of Diana Adams and Allegra Kent, more sunburns and more half-mile swims in which Joe beats me as Jane [Freilicher] watches, lotion-covered and sleepy, more arguments over Faulkner's inferiority to Tolstoy while sand gets into my bathing trunks ...
  3. Another cohort that might be of interest are the "women of Ninth Street" – Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning (who also wrote about ballet), Lee Krasner and Grace Hartigan – all of whom held their own at the "Club" of Abstract-Expressionists of the 1950s. Frankenthaler's complex woodcuts are currently on view at the Dulwich gallery in London and a large (underlit) Joan Mitchell show is on display here in San Francisco, after which it will move onto Baltimore and Paris. Ninth Street Women – https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ninth_Street_Women/afQlCwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=ninth+street+women&printsec=frontcover Frankenthaler at Dulwich – https://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk Nice talk on Mitchell's work at SF MOMA by Stanley Whitney – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_bxpmwYdqg
  4. Natalia Goncharova is indeed a major artist – you can see traces of her influence in New York gallery painting today. We mustn't forget that the Soviet Union of the 1920s was a very encouraging climate for women artists – for Lyubov Popova and Alexandra Exter (who also did sets and costumes for ballet), as well as Goncharova. From the Tate show The short life of the equal woman – https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-15-spring-2009/short-life-equal-women
  5. It's a rather effective episode of Anatomy of a Dance – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKKt2mSPI-8
  6. Good discussion. I think Balanchine may have had trouble with Onegin based on the distortions to, and sentimentalization of, Pushkin's story. (And what Balanchine himself could have done with Tatiana's dream!). Also the British were a little cool on Balanchine in general in the 50s, complaining that his choreography of ballets like Symphony in C was cold and mathematical. I find Peck and Ratmansky works inventive and witty enough to fit into the City Ballet repertoire and hold up their end of the evening programs. Russian Seasons can be very affecting and Ratmansky's recent Bernstein Bubble for ABT was full of wonderful variations. What's nice about Pam Tanowitz's work is how it cleanses the palate of postmodernist empty gestured, live-fish-in-a-basket choreography such as Wayne McGregor's and treats the parts of dance as simple set of materials to be assembled and incrementally varied. Well, Balanchine was a unique phenomenon and it's difficult to hold him a kind of norm. He brought the inheritance of the traditional Russian ballet, the radical Soviet avant garde of the early twenties (out of whose style book The Four Temperaments comes) and ideas he had worked on in Diaghilev's company. Only Ratmansky has some of that depth of experience, with the Bolshoi and via the Taganka Theater productions he watched closely. In the art world the parallels would be with the Black Mountain College where young artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly were exposed to the Bauhaus teachings of Kurt Schwitters and Josef Albers. Now it's Matisse who often seems to be a point of reference in the art world, not only with his color sense but with the way he pushes the dynamics of the painting right to the edges of the canvas. I wonder if there's a point of reference in the past that young choreographers could open and and have a dialogue with – Ballets suédois, Kurt Jooss – that would enrichen their work and help them use the space of the "canvas" in a different way. Some place outside the closed loop of the usual influences.
  7. I left out "these days" to reflect my own thinking on Spielberg. I imagine Justin Peck's choreography getting lost in all the restless production values – hot colors, big sets, camera movements, etc. Translating the stage musical and choreography to the screen is always problematic in that film basically a realistic medium. Its tendency is to document everything, major and minor, with a ruthless eye that gives every element an equivalent value, whereas on stage you only notice the magic, not the clunkiness of the sets and furniture and the awkwardness of physical space. Directors who might have been interesing choices: 1) small scale - someone like the Chantal Ackerman or Jacques Demy who in different ways would have separated the everday actions from the songs and dance, foregrounded Peck's choreography against simple backgrounds, thus making them discrete elements – two films checkerboarded or running in parallel. Or 2) big scale - Martin Scorsese, who has a subtler sense of the craft and better understanding of cinematic values than Speilberg. Even Julian Schnabel would have been a more sober choice and would have cooled everything down a couple of notches.
  8. From Gia Kourias's article in the Times today, a collaborative video between Madeline Hollander and David Hallberg cataloguing all the varieties of the balletic bow – a typology of the art, endlessly fascinating. Funniest of all for me was the self-effacing New York City Ballet female bow. https://theshed.org/program/219-madeline-hollander
  9. I have a big pair of classic 7x35 binoculars which do allow a fairly wide view – 4 or 5 dancers worth from the rear of orchestra with a fairly natural amount of 3D. But switching between my single lens distance glasses and binoculars is always a bit of a comedy routine with me. And then deciding between the intimacy of a close up vs the overall view – have I missed someone entering and exiting?
  10. A closer look at the order list shows there may be some duplications, so that number should perhaps be readjusted to 30-40-50 copies? But there are also three electronic resource vendors providing online copies – Alexander Street, Axis and Overdrive. https://sflib1.sfpl.org/record=b4829437~S1 https://sflib1.sfpl.org/search~S1?/aPazcoguin%2C+Georgina%2C/apazcoguin+georgina/-3%2C-1%2C0%2CB/exact&FF=apazcoguin+georgina&1%2C6%2C
  11. I'm number 32 of 40 on the waiting list for Swan Dive at the San Francisco Public Library. It turns out it might not such a long wait as I originally thought since, digging deeper into the record, I see that the library has ordered something like 83 copies! In comparison they purchased/leased 10 copies of Rachel Cusk's Second Place and only two of Susan Bernofsky's well-reviewed (except by Joy Williams in Bookforum) biography of Robert Walser, the last two books I've requested. Anyway I look forward to reading Swan Dive, at least from the intriguing excerpts.
  12. Was probably filmed with a Cine-Kodak, a small popular 16mm camera that could take 50 or 100 foot loads that allowed for about 1 1/2 to 3 minutes worth of shooting before having to be reloaded. It featured a waist-level viewfinder which helped the cameraperson escape notice by ushers, though the sound of the gears grinding away might have limited filming to scenes when the full orchestra was playing. The 16 frames per second recording rate looks speeded up when played at 24 fps but may partially be corrected by double printing every other frame. I originally thought Ann Barzel might have filmed Cotillon but according the the NYC Public Library Performing Arts catalogue, it was Laird Goldsborough, and features members of the Monte Carlo Ballet Russe, including Tamara Toumanova, Olga Morosova, Tatiana Riabouchinska, and David Lichine. 7 minutes in total exists. Barzel did preserve intriguing glimpses of many other ballets including, Ballet Imperial with Mary Anne Moylan, Interplay, Union Pacific, etc. https://www.nypl.org/research/research-catalog/bib/b13483103#tab3
  13. Thanks for the Bently background. Karinska's costumes are definitely brilliant and players in the drama but I thought the seed may have been planted by the stagecraft of the earlier version. Adrian Stokes gives a nicely detailed act by act description of the 1933 Cotillon in Tonight the Ballet, where he refers to Bérard's costumes as "prismatic-colored." per Cartier-Bresson: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/54865?artist_id=1000&page=1&sov_referrer=artist
  14. You might begin at its source, Cotillion, a Kodachrome clip (by Anne Barzel?) of which is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqgFJGDfzGs Christian (Bebè) Berard did the costumes which most likely determined Karinska's lovely purple and black layered ones for La Valse – and which I prefer to the newer white ones. Berard also did the sets and the first version of the black dresses – and set the tone – for Mozartiana in 1933. Kirstein describes the colors of Cotillon as "pistache, purples, gilt and black" and the ballet "full of migraine and nervous ennui, the desperate gaiety of insecure adolescence" in a enthusiastic 11/01/1933 Vogue article, which leads with this photo: https://condenaststore.com/featured/tamara-toumanova-and-roman-jasinskii-in-the-ballet-mozartiana-george-hoyningen-huene.html (I'm a bit of a Berard fan – so therefore all the linkages.)
  15. Thanks for posting that comparison, very helpful. Agree with pherank about Peck – it's is too fast for my eyes, nothing there for them to catch on – maybe in person it's different. There seems to be a tendency of City Ballet dancers in the past 20 years, who were always speedy, to put the locus of that speed at the elbows and wrists without it coming from the body and along whole arm. It seems like a kind of rococo ornamentation of the choreography, the lacy finish of a splash of water. Maybe it was always there in the Balanchine works, maybe it comes from Verdy rather than Farrell, but seems to have become emphasised in recent years by the more virtuosic dancers. Hallberg may want something freer, but not as staccato.
  16. Meanwhile across Grove Street at the San Francisco Symphony: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/arts/music/asians-classical-music.html In a way this plays into the longtime criticism of San Francisco being politically progressive but culturally conservative and protective of the status quo, at least in the visual arts, architecture and opera.
  17. I look forward to revivals of Shadows of Transparence (Sibelius/Tudor), 13, rue de Fleurus - pas de Deux (V. Thomson/H. Ross) and Tra La La with costumes by Nikki de Sainte-Phalle. The recent biography of Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous by Mark Dery is reviewed in a recent issue of the LRB. https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v43/n11/rosemary-hill/how-peculiar-it-is Born to be Posthumous I just realized has a history here at Ballet Alert with Dery's Author's Call in 2012 asking us all for Edward Gorey anecdotes. https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/36060-edward-gorey-balletomane/?tab=comments#comment-307855
  18. Mitchum and Russell were also in Macao, clips of which seem unwatchable today, though I may have thought differently when I saw it years ago in a good print von Sternberg showed in a class he once (or twice) gave. I guess Sternberg got the Macao job because of Shanghai Express and Shanghai Gesture. (Interestingly parts of Shanghai Express were filmed in a little alleyway that the Santa Fe RR tracks go, or then went, through, not far from original Trader Joe's in Pasadena). William Wellman also gave – or rather spoke at – a class, Albert Johnson's, and told a story (which I may have posted before) about seeing Robert Mitchum for the first time. Mitchum was hitchhiking, walking forward along the side of the road with his thumb out, maybe somewhere between Palm Springs and LA, I'm not sure. Wellman said he knew immediately that Mitchum would become a big star from the way he moved his ass. In effect his swagger was his screen test. I remember thinking how amazing it was that someone of Wellman's generation would comment, and rather glowingly at that, on the sensuality of another male. It was struggled with but just not talked about.
  19. I've been in bullying situations in grade school and football practice and at summer camp. Someone picks on you everyday and no one in the group notices or wants to notice. For the bully repetition is part of the game. When I complained to a friend of my summer camp situation, he said for me to take care of it myself, we were all on our own now. AR did not necessarily do it to anyone else – often only one victim needs to be chosen. And how many battles on how many fronts was Pazcoguin going to conduct at once. Maybe the AR one was the least of them then. As far as HR or administrators, they're stucturally on the side of management and the status quo. Read the comments section of the NYT on workplace issues for many eye-opening stories on HR fumbles.
  20. I think On Pointe's comments on getting a two-for or three-for-one hire make sense. PNB seems overly playful with its answer to a serious problem, blurring the issues. Perhaps all hierarchy should be done away with in ballet and, as in small repertory companies that do Shaw or Shakespeare, every night of a run everyone plays a different part. Peck's and Ratmansky's tend to be built on a non-hierarchical, egalitarian basis, so why not an ever-changing "Sleeping Beauty"? Interesting that weight lifting is mentioned above as a masculine-identified activity since that's a relatively recent thing. My father's generation would do a set of push ups and sit ups in the morning – no gym work, maybe an occasional basketball game. Weight lifting was considered a niche activity limited to muscle beaches, and a bit suspect at that. And as I remember it was the gay community in the late 70s who cut their hair short and that took to weight lifting and made it a trend, while heterosexual men hestitatingly followed. But regarding gender fluidity and the general public imagination, I wonder what sort of a metaphor it makes outside the righting of social discrimination. (And why does it sometimes trump the righting of social discimination involving a greater number of individuals?) Is it a potential demonstration of free will or Americans' standing right to be able to remake themselves at any moment from scratch – a promise of personal happiness in a restless, never resting, country?
  21. Jenny Gilbert had this to say in a recent ENB review at the Arts Desk about the changes there in a nine year period (excerpt orginally posted in our Links section): Putting together the comments at SF_Ballet202, it seems that the middle mangagement, like many HR departments at corporations, is most concerned with the comfort level of the board members and the and big sponsors who don't seem to like changes to the traditional look of the ballet. (The recent negative reaction to the Peter Sellars/John Adams very multi-cultural "Girls of the Golden West" perhaps provides an example of what is feared at the Opera House.) The in-house solutions to the problems at SF Ballet seem at best half-hearted. Tomasson in the recent panel discussion linked above thought that offering $10 tickets to the ballet, an otherwise fine idea, would help with diversity – but that would only seem to show a new audience that what was on stage was not diverse. There also seemed to be a bit of finger-crossing faith that brilliant art form of ballet, if kept pure, would heal itself on its own of its social inequities. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a bit more progressive than the ballet, but also tone deaf in lots of ways, at least until a recent shakeup. Its expanded galleries opened a few years ago to reveal an entire floor entirely devoted solely to big-scale German male artists who were popular in New York in the 1990s when the collection was formed. The Abstract-Expressionist floor below it featured only two women artists, Joan Mitchell and Lee Krasner, in a section some people referred to as "the women's room." The problem with both the ballet and museum is that San Francisco is not big enough to engender competing narratives and cross-institution critiques – ABT vs NYCB, downtown vs uptown, MoMA vs the Whitney or the Guggenheim, etc – that would help sharpen our eyes. It would seem that someone like Tamara Rojo has to come in and, with great charm and style, change the long-standing culture, all the fussy little fall-backs of "we can't do this because," "we've never done that," "I have some issues with that"/"what issues"/"I can't say right now, just issues" ...
  22. All this might be in parallel with the recent personnel and structural changes at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Here's a discussion done a year ago at SFB that gives an idea of institutional thinking in San Francisco on diversity. Virginia Johnson tries unsuccessfully to get some strong proposals for change from the panel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzHjaZCbk38
  23. And I would think that doing makeup for black and white movies would be fairly straight forward compared to preparing for Technicolor – for the high heat, high intensity lighting that three-strip photography required. But also the subject matter of the 1940s was shifting towards shadowy film noir, the small studios perhaps leading the large ones on this. Val Lewton (at RKO) and Fritz Lang, Welles with "Citizen Kane" and "Magnicent Ambersons," the films of Max Ophuls. All requiring a different kind of actress/actor, smaller scaled, slightly flawed, with some sort of worrisome past. MGM fell in with "Laura" and Crawford with the upscale film noir "Mildred Pierce," directed by Michael Curtiz. Even Lubitsch's tone shifts with "To Be or Not to Be." (Interesting as I put this down is how much of Hollywood has a European basis – on one hand John Ford, Howard Hawks, Ben Hecht, Preston Sturges but on the other von Sternberg, Billy Wilder, etc.)
  24. This could also be, with some reservations, the cheerful video of the day. Kunstmuseum Basel has used the puppets of Sophie Taeuber-Arp's King Stag Dance, a work of "sharp, bright pointed gestures" (Hugo Ball) to create a new piece by Anita Hugi and Patrick Lindenmaier for the Taeuber-Arp exhibition. King Stag Dance originally premiered at the Gallerie Dada in 1917 and had only three performances, in part due to Spanish flu restrictions, making it in a way a double lockdown video. Taeuber-Arp studied dance with Rudolf Laban and Mary Wigman, and dance notations seem to run through her sparking graphic work. Today's NYTimes article, from which these links are borrowed, notes that "Many of the objects in the Basel exhibition were intended to 'dance' — or at least serve a function — and the curators have brought life to the works." The dance figures could perhaps be compared to those of Oscar Schlemmer later at the Bauhaus. Taeuber-Arp's kind of hard edged abstraction is something we seem to be reclaiming a taste for with the revivals of works by Carmen Herrera and the Brazilian Neo-Concrete group (Willys de Castro, Hércules Barsotti) in recent shows at the Musuem of Modern Art. Lockdown Dada dance: Great virtual tour of the museum show with a major stop at the puppet display. https://kunstmuseumbasel.ch/en/exhibitions/2021/sophie-taeuber-arp/virtual-tour Sophie Taeuber-Arp
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