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Everything posted by Quiggin

  1. The Wendy Perron tribute that California referred to above has a link to a fascinating conversion between Sally Banes and Yvonne Rainer covering the early days of Judson Dance. Rainer says that the Judson dancers were reacting against their earlier Cunningham training, and that they had become "children of John" Cage, not Merce (Cunningham's curt words), which greatly amuses Banes. Talk took place at the Walker Art Center in 2001.
  2. I didn't find any of the comments suggesting the use of more productive hashtags abrasive. I clicked through to the Instagram home pages of the commenters and they seemed to be fairly charming, low-keyed and attractive individuals. I'm hoping for that too. And I do feel this time around there is more across-the-board solidarity and that something good might come out of what's happening, now that we all seem to be in the same boat regarding our finances, health issues and painful awareness of social inequity. I was around in that unfinished year of 1968 of which 2020 is beginning to seem like a reprise. On this day, June 4, as a member of a small student film crew, I was filming Robert Kennedy making his way through crowds of cheering young African Americans in Watts, just as the week before he was standing on the platform of a slowly moving train going through the San Joaquin Valley, waving to dozens and dozens of young Latinos running behind the car and shouting out. So I'm somehow hoping for a fulfillment of those old 1968 inclusionary promises. And perhaps the ballet world could in some way make use of some of the revitalizing energy going on on the outside right now – it might offer a way forward. Many of the City Ballet Instagram comments called for a roster of dancers that reflected the current demographics in the US (San Francisco Ballet seems to have made greater strides that way). Perhaps fewer Justin Peck ballets about boy meets girl at the high school dance or Balanchine trifles and more serious things like The Four Temperaments or even Serenade or works by Cunningham (who kept a keen eye on what Balanchine was doing). Doesn't seem to be the time to retreat into perfect worlds while everyone is suffering so much. Now realize that this should have been in another thread but one thing following another ...
  3. 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/
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.)
  8. 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/
  9. Not well but maybe certain parts like the Firebird may indeed have size requirements – Alicia Markova who originated the role was tiny, a hummingbird firebird. Not sure if this is the exact part Kathryn Morgan was doing. I remember hearing that only the small men would play Franz in Danilova/Balanchine Coppelia in San Francisco several years ago (Boada, Luiz, Domitro), because of the quickness and lightness, pas de chats, etc, the part demanded – and don't small men do Tarantella? Roberto Bolle looks as though there are certain parts that he wouldn't play well but romantic and langorous ones he would be dreamy in. In basketball, teams are said to be strategically playing the smalls – going small – or playing big (Steph Curry at 6' 3" is a small).
  10. Two years ago in California N95 masks were in high demand due to the California wildfires, and sold out in all the hardware stores. That should have been a warning to 3M and the Federal Government. States and federal responsibilies are not that complicated. One of that duties of the Feds is to mantain strategic reserves of oil and rubber, grain and medical supplies for an emergency. That's what got us through WWII. They also can buy in large quantities to keep the prices down, rather as now having the states to bid against each other, making a 95c mask cost $4.00 as it did for the State of New York. Then each state can distribute them the way it sees fit. I think this fits in with Drew's point. The War Powers Act also helps enhance this. (Factoid: During WWII Ralph K Davies, whose wife's name, Louise M. Davies, graces our symphony hall here in San Francisco, coordinated all the oil companies' production.) It was FDR's genius to bring everyone together, local and national interests, and to tamp down all the little natural strifes people have and not amplify them, and do that for three or four years. Anyway making masks, like Victory Gardening, seems something we can all do for everyday use in the newish normal ahead. In that spirit, yesterday I went through all the fabrics i've collected for various projects and evaluated for their masking efficiency and their "coolness," or at least so I don't look like a bandit from an old movie! Interesting the old percale pillow case that my grandmother embroidered has an amazingly tight weave structure, but I couldn't bear to tear it up. Old soft chinos from the great 1980s J Crew catalogues were also quite good but too difficult to breathe through. Third best were some soft Indonesian batik cloth which I'll probably, festively, use.
  11. This Ballo della Regina performance should be the cheerful video of the day! How inexhaustibly witty. Sometimes it seems as if Balanchine is a comic poet, toying with syntax and rhyme structures, stops and starts, and reimagining everything on a blue guitar of his own. The notes say that Merrill Ashley and Stacy Caddell staged this performance which means it comes from the gods themselves. It almost trumps Ashley's own PBS performance in that there are no confusing background sets, so you really can see the complete contour of every phrase. Balanchine somewhere says that he learned a lot from Verdi – from, if I can recall correctly, something like the structure of the choral parts or the transitional music between the big scenes. Also it looks as though Ballo was choreographed just a few years after Balanchine did the Act III Coppelia divertissments which Ashley also performed in, so maybe one influenced the other.
  12. Lee Konitz has died. He was one of the last links to Charlie Parker and Lennie Tristano. He developed a delicate and lean, scribble-like, written and overwritten sound. In the 1980s you could hear him play in a little club near Columbia University with only a beer or two minimum cover. Lee Konitz with Warne Marsh, and Billy Bauer on guitar, "I can't get started" – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDUIJR3v_Qk&list=PL0q2VleZJVElzRYrZXCCXz-GPztWg4Rl_&index=3 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/16/arts/music/lee-konitz-dead-coronavirus.html
  13. I have an N95 left over from the wildfire period which I use with a clean bandana when I bicycle to Ft Mason. It's a little bit of a hindrance but not bad. The joggers on Polk Street, a small-scaled commercial corridor, are really disrespectful to pederstrians, many of them in their 60s and 70s – when they could just as well jog on Larkin or Hyde, Francisco or Chestnut. You hear them breathing hard when they pass you and if you look at the Times animation I posted above, it's on the border of being safe and not being safe. Any mask is helpful to keep water droplets from being dispersed and the fewer in the air there are the better for everyone. After much deliberation we regretfully closed our community garden at Ft Mason, the only such garden in the Parks system, to visitors because they were not observing any of the proticols, and were endgandering the health of the gardeners. This unfortunately included the birdwatchers who always followed the rules. Other parks were probably also presented with the same dilemma. Free will – a sometimes dubious concept even in normal times – might be reined in a bit during these increasingly tragic ones. According to Angela Merkel, one-size-fits-all works. so let us all be fools in masks driving alone in cars for a while. With AIDS we lost our bird-doggers, the ones knew the latest things, who pulled the best ideas out of the air before anyone else had them. It greatly impacted the visual arts and dance worlds. With Covid19 we're losing the ones with long memories and talents ("cultural capital") who still have a lot to teach and reflect on things that take that kind of longview: book reviewers and literary critics, architectural essayists (Michael Sorkin), our senior dance teachers, etc. Regarding "herd immunity," I believe it depends on a vaccine already being available. From the Oxford Vaccination Project website:
  14. Here are some excerpts from Chancellor Merkel's comments showing how her thinking goes – so level-headed and at odds with ours currently in the US. From today's Times – This animation linked below shows various scenarios of transmission. The last panel of a breathing, not coughing, person suggests how effective a mask, any mask and not necessarily an N95, could be. "An infected person talking for five minutes in a poorly ventilated space can produce as many viral droplets as one infectious cough." Regarding the resumption of performances, on one hand passing out N95s would be like the days when they festively passed out 3–D glasses in movie theaters. But on the other hand I think of the unnatural amount of coughing that goes on 1/2 hour after people are seated in a classical performance or ballet, especially during the quiet movement, as if one's body is protesting at not being up on stage with the musicals or dancers. I don't know ... I just don't know. Maybe it should start off small-scaled and well-spaced in 400 seat auditoriums, downtown style, more Phillip Glass and John Cage than Mozart, with the big companies beginning again in small venues. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/14/science/coronavirus-transmission-cough-6-feet-ar-ul.html PS – I am surprised about the compliance and non compliance with the mask rule in San Francisco. In the mornings in my mid-Polk neighborhood virtually everyone wears them as they go about their shopping. You see fewer in the afternoon, fewest in late afternoons, none on the joggers who run along the commercial street instead of the side streets, but a fair number on bicyclists. You also see classic leftist/libertarian couples, one with a mask, one without.
  15. Yes, that's sensible. I was thinking of its use as the master record of a ballet or as a primary teaching tool, rather than the role flowing directly from teacher to student. I think Gene Kelly's warning in the Magic Factory (not Fantasy Factory as I cited above) re American in Paris, about the differences in time on screen and on stage is something to keep in mind. I believe he said he had to shorten the same routine for film for it to have the equivalent effect it did on stage. My ideal director for Midsummer Night's Dream would have been Kenji Mizoguchi of the long criss-crossing tracking shots. Or even Alexander Sokurov of the Russian Ark!
  16. Thanks, I didn't realize that. But the orchestra sounded more French than Russian to my ears. The little ways of playing instruments are passed down over the years by each generation to the other and it would be difficult to mitigate that – although Esa Pekka Salonen does get a slightly different sound from San Francisco Symphony than Michael Tilson Thomas, more in a lovely layering of sound in Ravel and Stravinsky.
  17. I find that we accomodate ourselves to give up a lot of little pleasures in viewing recorded performances of dance without reaily realizing it. It's like the whittling down of the provisions of the Dashwood will at the beginning of Sense and Sensiblity. The lapse or smudging of this nuance and that one at the end of the day add up to a significant loss. Also the artifacts of filmmaking – wrinkles in costumes, little bits of color in the background that smart contemporary visual artists would have a field day with – begin to compete with the main attraction. The art director of Renoir's The River told me – it was his first film in color – that he had to run around with a can of spray paint continually blacking out little, seemingly inconsequential, details. Von Sternberg said the same things about his films, he'd look through the viewfinder and then run out and spray something out no one had noticed before. So: everything in the frame of a film is a character and of a different order than on stage. Also as a lapsed filmmaker, I always see film in terms of graphic art, of overlapping planes, which I find very exciting, but it doesn't convey any of the spacial depth you'd see on stage. And as Gene Kelly once pointed out in a book on musicals called the Fantasy Factory, time rendered on stage is completly different than that in film, and he gives a formula where you mulipy one of them by two or one and a half to get an equivalent. Also in general time in film seems rather homogeneous whereas on stage it's variable and elastic and often frought with a feeling of danger, that anything can happen, that the story can go anywhere. Whereas in film it's all a kind of a priori time. I do think great dance films can be made and have been made but I think all these things have to be taken into account and adjusted for. Maybe starting again with black and white, some of the crude but often very affecting CBC films of Balanchine in the 50s perhaps have some interesting graphic clues for reimagining the process. Also the 1930s Kodachromes – a very coherent color process – of Cotillon and the first Violin Concerto of 1937 – had a great excitement about them. Again I think dance filmmaking has to be treated as a graphic art.
  18. There was something about the softer attack of Fancy Free, the longer more evenly distributed phrasing, that I liked at first but then it felt less compelling as it went on. But I did enjoy the French translation of Robbins, their version of American swagger, the raised eyebrow, etc. The contours of the music too were different from say how Leonard Bernstein would conduct it where he has all the impact clustered together right on the front lines. The French version here had some of that attack but also – as a bonus – a longer fanned-out decay of orchestral color and richness. I remember long ago reading Virgil Thomson's comments on different national approaches to conducting, Furthwangler, Monteux, etc and was able to retrieve this –
  19. The time frames for Sigfried and Roy are quite different from that of Liberace, early 1950 vs late 60s. And in that context Sigfried and Roy could have been on the cover of Sergeant Pepper and would have "passed" as one of the eccentric actors there before they would have been thought of as a gay couple. (I remember Mitchell Leisen, the director of the delightful screwball comedy "Easy Living," coming to give a talk in a film class dressed up as a Sargeant Pepper character and how that first impressive of loveable eccentricity gave him cover and overrode the fact that he was there with his young boyfriend. The sixties did offer everyone lots of new options of self-presentation.) Interesting about Mashinka's cite of the early libel case and Liberace's cruel denial of his true self to the very end. In a way each generation had a different way of coming out – of being discreet or open depending on the norms of the time that formed them. David Sedaris has a painfully funny piece on how careful he was growing up to not betray any gestures to his parents that might have shown he was gay – stiff walk, straight wrists – and years later coming home to find his father being best friends with a very much so out-of-closet neighbor who continually refers to the father as "she" or "that thing." (Not sure if I correctly remember the piece, but it went something like that.)
  20. Liberace didn't have a "coast to coast" network show, as Perry Como and Dean Martin did. He was signed to KTTV Channel 11 in Los Angeles, a local station, and that may have been syndicated to other cities with a week or so delay. It would have been hit or miss if you could have caught him. His show is barely mentioned in the New York Times database. I remember those early days of local TV in LA well, the little B movie studios turned to television, even worked for KHJ as a student news sound man for a brief stint, covered the 1968 California primary: Eugene McCarthy, Sam Yorty, Polansky, the search for the girl in the polka dot dress, etc.
  21. As I remember. Liberace's shows were the television equivalent of B movies – they were on local tv and syndicated tv but never on the big networks. His was always a kind of Las Vegas act for tv and Las Vegas seemed to be where his biggest popularity was. Also it seemed to be in the tradition of vaudeville like Joe E Brown or Milton Berle, who did lots of drag routines with Martha Raye, the equivalent of "low comedy." Liberace was able to pass by making it self-parody. Other more genuine performers ran into trouble – like Johnny Ray. Not so sure if Liberace helped advance what was then called Gay LIberation or set it back by being the go-to gay norm.
  22. There were machine ballets before (Le pas d'acier,etc), but the problem with original production of The Bolt seemed to be that the scenario was satirical and Dimitri Shostakovich's music "too flippant for a proletariat subject," and therefore it was pulled after one performance. The conductor Alexander Gauk said that there were " musical characterizations there worthy of Chekhov's stories," and that he often conducted a suite from the ballet score which was very popular. Shostakovich later incorporated parts of the score into his other works. I haven't seen the whole Ratmansky Bolt production for a while and only clips recently. I remember being very much taken with Denis Savin's performance of the character named after him and always wondered if Savin's particular kind of acrobatic dancing in turn influenced some of Ratmansky's choreography for the Shostakovich Trilogy. Alexi Ratmansky in his NY Library interview with Paul Holdengraber talks about the great influence that the rather radical works of the Taganka Theater had on him, and that he would sneak out and try to see every production of theirs that he could. The Taganka Theater has deep roots going back to Stanislavski and Brecht, and the founding director Yuri Lyubimov was in the same touring acting and music company as Shostakovich in 1941. Lyubimov did however have something of a falling out with him after Shostakovich signed something or didn't sign something he shouldn't/should have. So, Buddy, I know this isn't a great answer but I thought that maybe the key to the Bolt ending – and some of the imagery in the Trilogy – could be found by looking into the dramatic art of the Taganka Theater. I believe they still are around. Here's something from Yuri Lyubimov's reminiscence of DS that Elizabeth Wilson collected for her great Shostakovich oral biography. Not really on topic but I think these things, these footnotes to the arts & culture of the 20th century, should be kept alive wherever, whenever possible – Ratmansky interview at NYPL https://www.nypl.org/audiovideo/alexei-ratmansky-paul-holdengräber Yuri Lyubimov obiturary https://www.americantheatre.org/2014/10/08/yury-lyubimov-1917-2014/ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/06/theater/yuri-lyubimov-experimental-stage-director-dies-at-97.html
  23. Satire or no I do think cubanmiamiboy has a point about the moving goal posts in this particular instance of gender fluidity. Aren't the Trocks though, following Susan Sontag, really High Camp performers, aware of their spectacle? And aren't the differences between say an orthodox ABT performance of Swan Lake and their version really the subject. The differences in size, proportion, recoil – the robust specifications – over the standard off-the-shelf performance as the thing, as the specialty of the house. It's an overlap of parody and good faith, a passionate half-heartedness, a sort of a post-modern approach. John Kelly does that with his Maria Callas performances and Audra MacDonald tried something even more bizarre when she sang Billie Holiday songs with all the artifacts of Holiday's deteriorating late style, the catches in her voice and sibilance of the microphone pickup, almost even the scratches in the record. They became the subject.
  24. From the Times too, not streaming but clipped – Paul Taylor solo from Episodes – Michael Trusnov. Balanchine following out his ideas in the Melancholic vein but harder – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/arts/dance/trusnovec-episodes.html Lauren Lovette and Joseph Gordon in Violin Concerto. How sweet and different an interpretation, not lacking though in the right amount of astringency. Linked earlier by bellawood but worth revisiting – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/24/arts/dance/stravinsky-violin-concerto-lauren-lovette-joe-gordon.html Set among the water towers Hilla & Berndt Becher later photographed, Trisha Brown's Roof piece, recreated as Room/Roof on many little Zoomy screens – https://trishabrowncompany.org https://www.benbrownfinearts.com/exhibitions/97/overview/
  25. Russell Page designed many gardens in Europe as well as the Frick garden in New York. I remember seeing a series of low-cut white 'Iceberg' rose bushes floating above a sea of blue pansies on the Fifth Ave side (though it may not have been a direct Page design). From "The Education of a Gardener" – The Paul Rudolf Foundation on the Bass Residence, 1970-76, with Paul Rudolf and Russell Page drawings – https://paulrudolph.org/project/bass-residence/
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