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Everything posted by bart

  1. Silvy, good luck. You've gotten some fine advice so far. I always think one of the most important parts of this kind of preparation is to know the audience very well: what it expecting to get from the lecture -- what is the level of its experience, knowledge, and interest (probably the most imortant thing to know) -- and what it has seen and not seen. This is more than the difference between general public and academics. Ask the presenters, or people who have attended previous lectures in the series or at the same venue. A few other ideas: a) audiences like and seem increasingly to require visuals -- whether videos or dancer-demonstrators, if you have access to them -- or at least slides of still photographs (easy to scan if you have large-format books of photographs) b) the use of "compare and contrast" -- find out what they know (stories, images, etc.) about conventional ballet, and compare it with the way Balanchine handled the same material c) consider Poer Point or handouts, especially if you get heaviliy into the various stages of Balanchine's careers (all those unfamiliar names) -- plan to discuss a vew ballets in detail -- etc. Even the most sophisticated audience can absorb only so many unfamiliar and foreign-sounding names, or grasp the nuances of chronology. You will have to leave a lot out if you rely only on the spoken word. d) Leigh's suggestion of a tie-in with the Balanchine performances in Buenos Aires is an excellent one -- especially if it's the sort of audience that might potentially make the journey.
  2. Thanks, nycdog, for preserving the video clip. It reminds this emigrant from NYC how remarkable the NYCB's resources are. All those dancers, doing so many things so well -- and yet it all coheres. Stars and Stripes shows as much as at did at the beginning the dancers as a company that expresses enthusiasm, brio, and a skill at marshalling large forces moving quickly and accurately from pattern to pattern. Balanchine certainly could create stage-packed grand finales -- crowd-pleasers on a very high level. It was good to see it again.
  3. We're a long way from costumes, but this is a ballet from the 1890s. The Tsar's father had been assaassinated by revolutionaries; secret societies, secret police, terrorist organizations (outside and inside the government) were in everyone's consciousness; the pogroms in the Ukraine were beginning. Even in liberal circles there was strong criticism of the isolation of the Tsar and his advisors (the "court") from the realities of Russian society. Upper class audiences may have wished to escape into an evening of fantasy (a la "everything is beautiful at the ballet"). But can sophisticated people like the creators of Sleeping Beauty have been unaware of the potential tensions and ironies in their story? Fonteyn shines in the earlier Royal production, which may indeed have been conceived to escape the horrible memories of World War II. But its smug, pallid, designs and exaggerated (but low energy) courtly posturing don't do justice to the music or to the dramatic tension built into the libretto. Related question: in Soviet Era ballets about various royals, what were those tight, curly white wigs worn by romantic leads all abouts? Why did state theaters sentimentalize the ruling class they had just wiped out a generation earlier?
  4. Looking forward to your review, Danseur86. Dancers bring a special perspective to writing about dance performance, and I often wish that I could see things through a dancer's eyes.
  5. Couldn't agree more. Those off-kilter, vertigo inducing sets for that Beauty were an outright contradiction of the symmetry and order that are the heart of Beauty. After first seeing this, I would have agreed with both opinions. But after several more viewings, admittedly on video rather than on the stage, I find that I have come to like this production much more than the pastel, prettified earlier Royal Ballet version. The "symmetry and order" in the world of Sleeping Beauty is surrounded by a larger world that contains danger, malice, menace, and disorder. That world harbors Carabosse and her minions, as well as spirits (good and bad) with vastly greater power than the King's. They intrude on the court, dramatically and arbitrarily overthrowing the plans of humans and of each other. The skewed angles of the set, which give the impression that it all might come crashing down, convey this dangerous side of things. They also provide a contrast to the elaborate formality and hierarchy of the court itself. Order and disorder coexist. To believe in the safety and permanence of the court world is to be deluded. The happy ending reestablishes "order" -- but you only have to look at the King, Queen and oddly assorted courtiers (some gentrified animals, too) perched awkwardly on a radically curved platform, to get the impression that the happy wedding celebration will not be the final act of this story. The costumes (to return to the topic of this thread) are beautiful, gently but not palidly colorful, often bizarre, and , IMO, show the dancers well. Carabosse's outfit is classic. And, when she pulls of Catalabutte's balding wig-under-the-big-wig, there's both a surprise and the opportunity for Carabosse to do some truly wicked hair-plucking.
  6. Thanks, Liebeling, for reminding me. The performances are at the Miami City Ballet Study in Miami Beach, which seats about 200. Friday, 4/29 at 8 pm Saturday 4/30 at 2 pm and 8 pm (there's a post-performance party after the 8) Sunday 5/1 at 2 pm You can order tickets on the MCB's website: www.miamicityballet.org. Anyone have information about the program this year? The mixture of original choreography and classic pas de deux, etc., is intriguing.
  7. Another imaginative solution to the "live music" problem -- use a university symphony. Today's news links (April 19) includes a review of a performance by the Eugene (Oregon) Ballet in which the music -- including Dvorak and Rimsky-Korsakov -- was provided by the University of Oregon Symphony. There must be many places where this option would make sense.
  8. I can't really think of exceptions to this, in my opera experience. But WHY is this the case? Surely the creative people involved in opera production aren't intentionally stopping everything so that the audience can twiddle its collective thumbs through the (a) dull, limited classiscal choreograhy, (b) corny caberet ethnic dancing, or © semi-amateur posing and arm-waving which constitute "dance" in most of the opera ballets I've seen. Nor does the audience really seem to care for it. So why do it?
  9. Here in south Florida there seems to be a pool of excellent classical musicians that is larger than the obvious demand. The bankruptcy and disbandment of the Florida Philharmonic several years ago has added to this pool. Last year Miami City Ballet got a donation that permitted live music for much of the season. The Florida Classiscal Orchestra was contracted for this and did a wonderful job. But, the money was spent, and that was it. Back to recorded music in 2005. Ordinary revenue -- given the fact that ticket prices are highly subsidized by donations and fund-raising -- apparently does not permit longer-term solutions. Florida is a co-called right-to-work state, so only a few groups are unionized, and fewer have collective bargaining agreements. I presume that this makes it cheaper to hire them. On the other hand, it also makes them seem less permanent, more vulnerable to the constant ups and downs of arts funding, and therefore more disposable. The effect on quality? I don't know, but performance levels were ocnsistently high, and I noticed a surprising rapport between orchestra and dancers at each performance I attended. This despite the relative short-term quality of their relationship. Maybe the youth of the orchestra and the relative novelty/excitement of being in a pit were factors. Certainly they did not have the opportunity of suffering from the oh-no-not-another-Swan-Lake syndrome. Much of this music, however familiar to dance audiences, may not be part of the regular repertoire of symphony musicians. And they may enjoy the novelty. P.S. I've never understood why the NYCB ballet orchestra, which has the chance to play such a varied repertoire of really exciting music, has such a hard time maintaining quality and energy. Could it be overwork, given the number of performances and the very large size (and, often, difficulty) of the repertoiore?
  10. Giselle is one of those full-length ballets in which the dancing is profound and the story actually quite integral to appreciating it. I wish there were a way to help the audience to understand what is going on in Act II: especially the nature of, and reason for, Myrtha's sentence on both Hillarion and Albrecht. Once you know what is going on, the dancing becomes truly thrilling (a kind of dance of death), much more than the sum of the bravura steps. How do you help the average audience member to see this? People don't seem to read the program notes, as far as I can tell. Nor do most of them arrive early enough for a curtain-raiser talk. I really wonder what most people make of it, without understanding the mime or knowing the "plot." That it's some extented divertisement? the funeral equivalent of the wedding act at the end of Sleeping Beauty? P.S.: I wonder what kind of advice GQ, Esquire, Men's Health or other "men's" maggazine advice columnist might give to the Albrechts of the world.
  11. My new experience of ballet classes (at an advanced age) has pushed a Walter Mitty button. I find myself imagining what it might be like actually to dance one of the great (or not so great) ballet roles. In my case, I wished myself into the fantasy of performing one of the men's roles in the leaping, jumping, joyfully balletic Arden Court (Paul Taylor) with the Miami City Ballet. In a more broody mood, I would do Albrecht to Carla Fracci's Giselle, with Martine Van Hamel as Myrtha. I'd need a personality transplant for this, but it would be worth it. What role would you like to perform if you had all the resources of technique and personality? Why? What qualities would you bring to it? With whom would you like to work (partner, company, choreography, coach, whatever)? Conversely, what role would you detest having to do? Etc. P.S. Of course it's possible that you ARE a great ballet dancer. In that case, what's on your performance wish list?
  12. Sounds similar to what Arlene Croce said about the rushed development of prodigies among American ballerinas (1996 review): "When remarkable young dancers like Kowroski and Paloma Herrera become stars without having been trained up to the level of the roles they will have to carry, it isn't just a damn shame and an abuse of talent; it's an affliction -- it means actual physical hardship."
  13. Really clever! Thanks, Treefrog.
  14. After overhearing very positive intermission comments about the 40-plus member orchestra during a visiting Russian production of Sleeping Beauty, I know that people really do appreciate and respond to live music in a way they never will to canned music. "Isn't it wonderful to have a live orchestra!" Etc., etc. And that was with one of the most dreadful orchestral performances (conductor and certain players) I have ever heard. There was a liveliness of attention and response in the house that was palpable. At least for the first act. Yet, as the postings on the "women and ballet" topic show, high ticket prices -- which pay for such wonderful enhancements -- are keeping many ballet lovers from the theaters. Company costs are so much higher than ticket revenue, even without a live orchestra. Yet the live music -- if featured in the publicity -- might add signficantly to sales. Quite the dilemma.
  15. Here are a few updates, culled from other forums. Plus: According to a post by hockeyfan228 on the Ballet Arizona forum, that company will have live music (Phoenix Symphony) for 4 of 6 programs next year, their 20th Anniversary Season. Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker, and two all-Balanchine programs (Agon, Apollo, and Rubies -- and Divertimento 15, Sonnambula, and Theme and Variation). :blush: Minus: Ballet Met will turn to taped music for Cinderella. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra played for previous performances.
  16. Giannina, thanks for the reference to this video. I've seen bits and pieces -- everything BUT the d'Amboise-Hayden bit, apparently -- and will definitely seek it out for my collection. d'Amboise was, indeed, an "incredible drawing card" during the 50s and 60s. My favorite pairing in the early days was Hayden, and I can still see him in my visual memory. It's uplifting that both are still contributing so much to ballet. I wonder why, despite his long career, great popularity, real stage presence, and impressive dancing, d'Amboise has not gotten more attention in memoirs of NYCB in that period. Edward Villella's memories are rather negative, as I recall. Farrell, on the other hand, credits him as a partner, teacher and coach. Do any writers try to capture and analyze the quality of his dancing? Three sets of images come to mind right now: a very young d'Amboise in Faun; an Apollo with genuine feeling and drama (and with Farrell, too); and the man attending, supporting and adoring (when called for) a variety of great female dancers.
  17. I've just skimmed through the posts here, after watching the Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty (Durante). No one but Rachel mentioned Zoltan Solylmosi. This was one stunning prince (like a 50s Yale 4-letterman) who was really overwhelmed at having stumbled across this really great princess. Gosh! And Durante really comes to life after meeting him. Googling, I learned that he has a brother, Tamas, who has danced or will dance with ABT. I also found a claim, in a British site, that Zoltan was "both liked and revilved at times." Having seen him only in this video and in a Manon pas de deux with Sylvie Guillem, I'm puzzled. What could there possibly be to revile about the work of this handsome, earnest dancer, wonderfully proportioned, who moves so beautifully and clearly loves his partners? British posters, and others, please help.
  18. Bad: the fussy, cumbersome costumes worn by the variious Diaghelev troupes; anything with a feather sticking out of the forehead (Bluebird; Solor); and -- I'm not sure if this qualifies as a costume or an accessory -- those wierd snowballs on sticks carried by the snowflakes in some Nutcrackers. Great: the costume shift from part one to part two of Liebeslieder Walzer. This relates beautifully to the music and creates a visual icon of Balanchine's aesthetic revolution.
  19. Ballet Florida's 4th program of the season, at the Eissey Theater in Palm Beach Gardens, consists of three ballets under the general heading "Blending all the Rules." Dates: May 6 (8pm), 7 (2 & 8 pm), 8 (2pm). Program: Our Waltzes (Vicente Nebrada) Barber Violin Concerto (Peter Martins) Lambarena (Val Caniparoli)
  20. Anthony and Dirac -- thanks for pointing to the Louis Menand review from the New Yorker. I think he quibbles. A good deal of the practices he disagree with seem to relate to style (as in the various "style books" that major publications have) and not strictly to rules of punctuation. For instance: how to write "the 1980s." As to his charge of inconsistency, written language often aspires to "read" as it might sound when spoken. Menand mentions "of course." My use of "of course," with or without before-and-after commas, depends on how I would actually say the sentence in a conversation. I think this increasingly common in good writing. Less acceptable might be the increase in exclamation points, italicizing for stress, etc. I love indulging in them in relatively ephemeral forums like Ballet Talk, but would not dream of doing so in more formal writing. So the marketplace for writing is a factor, too. As for parentheses (you know: the ()'s) -- I love them (personal indulgence). Truswell is helpful in separating British and American practice. Her discussion of the Chekhov story, "The Exclamation Mark", is worth the price of admission.
  21. With no irony??? That's great! A more typical commercial scenario is the man being dragged to the ballet by his woman -- or using his acquiescene to make a score. I imagine there were numerous expensive focus groups who saw and commented on this before it was screened. So perhaps it's a good cultural sign..
  22. Perky, you raise a very interesting ethical question. I identify with your concern. I thought immediately of a local ballet company -- and seeing dancers and the artistic director sitting outside the theater (when not actually performing) smoking and relaxing. As a long-ago smoker (now ex-) I admit to finding that very seductive. I also noted that the majority in this group are always women.
  23. I started going regularly to NYCB as a mid-teen in the mid-50s. I understand Ari's and Farrell Fan's points and am in remarkable agreement. I stopped attending, except rarely in the mid 80s after moving from NYC, though I followed the news, read the reviews, saw the available videos, and got to town for a few performances. I have strong visual memories of the Balanchine pieces, and can see them elsewhere. I don't regret missing the Martins' choreography or most of the Diamond Project -- though I really wish I could see live performances of Wheeldon's work. Oberon's post makes me realize how grateful we all should be to Peter Martins for keeping the operation going at a higher, more idealistic level (not to mention solvency) than we couuld realistically have expected after Balanchine's death. My biggest regret is not having experienced today's dancers in a way that made us feel we really "knew" them (as performers) when I was a regular. That takes lots of exposure and attention. I'll never know what makes Ballet Talk posters enthuse so much about certain dancers -- lament weak performances or bad casting -- or call for different kinds of coaching. I am sure that there are people today buying tickets to NYCB who feel that thrill of revelation just as we did decades ago -- though the revelation may be about different things. But, as Ari's post implies, each slice of time in ballet carries its own way of seeing, feeling, evaluating. We understand these things only when time has passed --when we and the world have changed. That's a great thing about getting older.
  24. Re-reading an Arlene Croce review, I came across a statement from the 1970s that implied that the "falsetto whoof" was replacing the bravo in New York City performances of the day. I've always felt that dancers usually deserve an audible, enthusiastic responsel, and I am willing to be noisy when the curtain falls. In my pedantic youth, I used to look closely at the stage prior to shouting either bravo, brava, brave, or bravi, depending on gender. Now I go for the unadorned bravo or the whoof. What do you do to signal your appreciation of performance? In what circumstances do you do it? What's the furthest you will go? Do you ever signal disapproval audiblyl? And if you are or have been a dancer, what audience tribute did you appreciate the most? P.LS. Croco broods about the whoof: "Is [this] another mark of the Me generation? Bravos, oles -- all the traditional audience vocables -- say, YOU were wonderful.; they're directed to the performer. These wordless woofs say, I'M wiped out." Another of those wonderful, intense Croce pontifications that (alas) make you think: Maybe there is less to this than meets the eye.
  25. I gather that that's Erick Hawkins with Graham in Amy's photo link. And that Merce Cunningham danced a preacher. That, along with the contributions of Copland and Noguchi -- quite a creative parley.
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