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Everything posted by Quiggin

  1. I like the part where Doubrovska reenacts her part as the Siren in Prodigal Son in the small space to the side of her coffee table, standing straight up and then folding herself up on a small patch of floor. The film was made by Virginia Brooks whose name only appears in the tail end credits – and lost as these things are on YouTube to those who post them. According to her bio at Dance Films Association, Brooks has written reviews for Ballet Review and other dance periodicals, was coordinator of Robbins Film Archive at New York Public Library and has been video editor for the Balanch
  2. Hal Foster in Conversations About Sculpture with Richard Serra (Yale 2018) talks about how the modern, at least in sculpture and architecture, doesn't date. "You know how modern architecture still looks modern, while everything else – the people, the clothes, the cars – don't," he says. You could say the modern – Luis Barragan, Mies van der Rohe, Serra's sculpture, and Balanchine and Agon – doesn't date because it's all structure and essence, whereas postmodernism was about skin and coverings. It feels to me that Pam Tanowitz is trying to burrow down to the bone and structure of movement.
  3. Balanchine's work went through an iffy period in the 1990's when it was thought that the repertory might be lost due to bad management and deteriorating quality of performances – maybe Helene and others remember. There was lots of press and soul-searching from Arlene Croce at the New Yorker and elsewhere. Balanchine's success in America – and ballet's – was in part a result of the cold war, when the US and the Soviet Union were competing in the arts. There was money from the Ford Foundation for ballet (as there was from the Rockefeller Brothers (&CIA) fund for MoMA to send abstract e
  4. What worked for me photographically in "Thank you, New York" is that the backgrounds were "ordinary" and visually calm and the camera moved slowly and in parallel with the dancer. The equivalent of small stage and proscenium was created most of the time (Mearns' scene in Chinatown was handheld and had a different value). They were all one-shot take scenes which seems to make a big difference in immediacy. Reminded me slightly of Fred Aistaire's solo in the original Penn Station, "I'll Go my Way" in the Bandwagon or one of many Gene Kellys.
  5. I liked the key shot but I'm less and less into montage – cutting – effects and side shots these days. But I was quite taken with Ana Turazashvili's Emeralds, posted a few years back, the quiet lassitude of it. A little like when a fisherman lets out a line. There was also a tutorial with her in it on a World Ballet Day past. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsAO05roO6M
  6. I shouldn't have put that in – though Symphony in C in parts is something of a decadent layered cake – because it detracts for the other things I was trying to say – about Balanchine being boxed in and there being no path to the present through him from his Soviet past. Like that which Robert Rauschenberg made from Kurt Schwitters, Cunningham from Oscar Schlemmer, and the orthodox Minimalists like Andre and Flavin and "down and dirty minimalists" like Richard Serra and Eva Hesse made from Vladimir Tatlin's Constructivism. To open up the ideas of Balanchine and reattach them to their sourc
  7. For what it's worth, Balanchine's choreography in the Soviet Union pre-1924 was considered very experimental (parts of his New Ballets survive in opening and the "writhing" on the floor of The Four Temperaments}. It also shares some of the same roots with Cunningham's work which in turns comes from Constructivist and Bauhaus ideas via Black Mountain College. Cunningham apparently kept an eye on Balanchine (enough to comment on his use of time), and Balanchine in his late abstract ballets must have been aware of what was happening downtown. The problem is how long can you just maintain a p
  8. Doing "New Song" (Andrea Miller) in one take lent it a coherence the other films didn't have, and not having the escape valve of a cut or dissolve gave a bit of the excitement of a live performance. You were in on the whole arc of the performance. Also you could watch things happening close to the camera while other things were developing in the distance, almost "off stage."
  9. I enjoyed, as always, Pam Tanowitz's choreography, and Russell Janzen's dancing was fascinating to watch. I was distracted by it being filmed on location with all the big statement architecture behind. I wished I were seeing it on a small dark stage with a simple set where there would just be the steps and nothing else. I think the "flaws" that Tanowtiz was interested in and the side angles could have been approximated there just as well. I hope she continues to work on it and extends it for City Ballet when they return to State Theater. The conversation afterwards was interesting and I g
  10. The first and the Diana Adams parts of Figure in the Carpet held up the best for me (perhaps as a whole the ballet remembers better than plays). The inner sections seem as if they would be very problematic to present today. There is a good account of the ballet's genesis in Gottlieb's Reading Dance by Rosanne Klass who originally suggested a ballet based on the esthetics of Persian carpet art to coincide with a Congress of Iranian visual art. Kirstein gave it its title after a Henry James story about a secret shared, never to be revealed, by a married couple. Except for the Sands of the
  11. Thanks for the clips, miliosr, and the original notice, volcanohunter. In the Funny Girl version of Swan Lake, Rall seems to carry himself like Eglevsky in Balanchine's Ivanov version. The widescreen overhead crane shot struggles a bit to take everything in, but it's interesting to watch especially if you can filter Streisand out. From Playbill: He also danced with Bob Fosse in a movie adaptation of My Sister Eileen, with Betty Garrett as Ruth, and on stage in Milk and Honey, with Molly Picon. From IMDB trivia: https://www.playbill.com/article/broadway-veteran-a
  12. Balanchine left out some of Emeralds (Violet Verdy's solo?) from the Dance in America broadcast but on the other hand he did create an additional ending which retroactively gave the piece a different, graver, tone. I wouldn't mind any well-curated group of excerpts. I always wondered what a City Ballet at St Marks Church evening would look like, with excerpts from Violin Concerto or a reduced Symphony in Three Movements with a diagonal line of dozen dancers sweeping across the room and giving way to one of the pas de deux. A dance or two from Liebeslieder alternating with ones from Agon.
  13. My first glimpse of nudity in performance was at an event that featured a Surrealist program many years ago at Schoenberg Hall at UCLA. A group of 12 nude men and women quietly bicycled out onto the stage, circled about, and then bicyled off, all with the upmost gravity. It was shocking and bracing at the same time. And that's kind of where I associate nudity on stage – with the sixties, with Dionysus 69 and the Living Theater, where it meant something politically and culturally. Now in ballet and in theater I don't think it has much meaning, other than perhaps a kind of stand-in for personal
  14. If City Ballet has changed, it's perhaps because society has also changed. How people enter a room, how they walk on the street is different than it was 50 years ago. My general impression about how Balanchine interpretations have shifted at City Ballet is that they seem to be cleaner and more finely detailed – due to greater technical proficiency of the dancers and the biases of different coaches or simply the mechanics of coaching and trying to carry certain remembered details over the years. Your eye is drawn more to a dancer's periphery, to fingers, forearms and feet, to their quickne
  15. Didn't know it was the Vertigo score at first and thought the composer was quoting from it – and, at a few moments, from Mahler! It has the feeling of being the music of transitions, the equivalent of a slow lap dissolve. I thought San Francisco Art Institute was an effective setting for Justin Peck's incisive choreography for Joseph Walsh. The plaza and cafe have some of the greatest views of the north bay (the architect, Paffard Keatinge-Clay, was student of Le Corbusier and had a difficult time practicing here in San Francisco). Photography seemed smooth and well done. Must have been d
  16. Last day – hours – to watch the Ratmansky/Boccherini Fandango rechoreographed for Roman Mejia. At 1:10:30 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCgq_e-1O84
  17. Les Enfants du Paradis may be more a critic's pick than a director's choice. It was often on best lists in journals like Film Quarterly when Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris were reviewing there. You can also understand why Truffaut liked it when you think of films like Jules and Jim. But cinematically Les Enfants du Paradis is fairly conventional and more of a filmed stage play when compared to say Jean Renoir's films like Rules of the Game and A Day in the Country (with Sylvia Bataille) with their long takes and surprising camera moves and clever ways of compressing the story. Or Antonio
  18. What a fascinating list! Somewhat like the annual top tens that Sight & Sound and Film Comment used to publish – though Rossellini, Ophuls, Vigo, and Keaton are no longer in the upper ten or fiften. And only four women directors: Jane Campion for Janet Frame's An Angel at My Table, Claire Denis (with Agnes Godard's camerawork) for Beau Travail, Barbara Loden for Wanda, and Agnes Varda for Cleo from Five to Seven. It's a director's directors list and so most of the films are solidly constructed, with few false passages. And being made before the introduction of Steadicam photography me
  19. Thank you, Sebastian, for your detailed response, especially for the note about Carabosse being integrated back into the social order in the 1890 production. The reason I referred to anti-Seminism in Russia and Paris is that I've recently been reading about the New Odessa Colony, an important commune in Oregon that was set up by some of the many Russian Jews who emigrated during the 1880s. One of the projects of the New Odessans was to build ships that would enable them to rescue prisoners in Siberia – maybe a subject for a Shostakovich opera! I was attracted to Lopukhov's writings b
  20. Might it also be tweeked to be an awakening to something other than a repressive regime? Both France and Russia had in common anti-semitic campaigns going on in the 1880s and 1890s. What was happening in the streets impacts in some way what is happening on stage, so "The Sleeping Beauty" may have been a dream of a return to a past where complicated social questions disappeared. Fyodor Lopukhov in the "Ballet Master and the Score" criticizes some of the cuts Petipa made to Tchaikovsky's score for "The Sleeping Beauty," as if he were a lesser composer like Minkus or Pugni. And that for
  21. Thanks, Jack, it's concise and has some good observations, such as about the three-voiced writing for the Gigue. Also about Andersen's beats off his Bounonville drum-stick legs. I see that AG has just amended the "sunny version" Franklin/Davilova pas turtorial from the Balanchine Foundation to it.
  22. Another factor that I don't see being discussed much is how effective a vaccine will be. The CDC says that initially it should be 50%. From the Washington Post – https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/06/30/coronavirus-vaccine-approval-fda/
  23. Mozart, in turn, based his variations on some phrases from Gluck's "The Pilgrims of Mekka," traces of which can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MYX_fqERn4 The Mozartiana I know is Kyra Nichols'. She succeed Farrell in the role, partnered first by Ib Andersen and later by Damian Woetzel. In interview here in San Francisco she said that she had to strip away all of Farrell's ornamentation and start from scratch. Her interpretation as I remember it had fewer of Farrell's startling transitions and upbeats and was clearer, yet seemed as complex. Croce says of Farrell’s var
  24. Thanks for the video. Apollo was brilliant – sort of reverse-engineered. What was the name of Balanchine's cat? Mouska?
  25. Wasn't there a big influx of Cuban ballet dancers into US and Canadian companies 10 or 20 years ago? It seemed as if Cuba produced a brilliant generation of dancers all at once, a legacy of the government's support of ballet and ballet schools after 1957. The ballet here had a little "parliament" of them for a while. San Francisco did do some interesting afternoon school programs in the 70s in the Lower Potrero Hill area which were very successful but then they ran out of federal funds. If reparations are finally made, African American school and after-school programs would seem to be a
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