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Everything posted by bart

  1. I videotaped the National Ballet of Canada version from A&E or Bravo in the days when they actually showed ballet and opera. I didn't know it was the same version as POB. I'm going to look at it again, but I recall bad lighting, a lot of exagerrated Louis XIV court hyper-activity -- and a complete lack of chemistry (and divergence of temperament and style) between Nureyev and the Aurora, Veronica Tennant. I was not familiar with Tennant's works, but admired what she did here. As I see it, Herman Stevens is on target with his comments about Nureyev's self-indulgence.
  2. I also wonder about this. And there is a related topic. What about the schools? It appears that they keep churning out dancers, but it is unclear what happens when the dancers have to get work. Is dancer supply overwhelming demand now that the state no longer guarantees employment? Does that explain all those Russian dancers moving to other parts of the world -- as well as pick-up or other forms of companies, some of them not very good, touring the classics?
  3. bart

    Margot Fonteyn!

    Way to go, Solor! And thanks for your detailed response to my query, hockeyfan 228. Comparing performance forms is fascinating when it's done by someone able to "see" both so clearly -- and so much in command of the language of each discipline.
  4. I echo Koskoff and Justdoit on the McIntyre. The (more than) inadequacy of the recorded music really mushed up the Dvorak score -- but the dancing was clear, with beautiful flow. A great illustration of Villella's version of Balanchine's insistence on moving seemlessly without visible preparation for the steps, even difficult steps. And the amazing mixing of soloists, principles and advanced corps members -- artistic democracy works best when ALL are encouraged to be as good as they can be. One sad tradeoff for the star system in other companies is that you rarely get to see this kind of regular and sustained interaction. Later in the season, seeing the company bring so much balleticism (word?) to Taylor's Arden Court, I reallized that the McIntyre was not just a cross-over fluke. Villella really works at selecting choreography suitable for his dancers and their style. Incidentally, all three of us so far have used the word "impressed" (with a slight suggestion that we were surprised and delighted to find a level of performance we had not excpected). I hope we can all continue to communicate -- reporting, sharing opinions, asking questions -- about future MCB performances. And that we will be joined by many others. A question: did anyone share my disappointment with the Nutcracker, especially the battle scene? Even the production looked a little shabby compared with Ballet Florida's on the same stage. Was I just having a bad day?
  5. Thanks for the reminder. I put this on my list but lost the list. Now I definitely will get it. I remember when punctuation was taught as very S-E-R-I-O-U-S business, and I especially loved possessives. P.S., I confess that when I read the title of this topic I thought it had to to with vegetarianism (confusing vagansmom with vegansmom). So I'm glad I looked forward. "Witty and cranky" -- my favorite British combination. I am told this describes me, too, except for the witty part.
  6. Wow! Reallly makes you wish the lighting were better so you could see every bit of the movement. The word "lovely" truly applies to dancing like this. Thanks so much, Poppiedancer, for finding it and passing it on. Anyone know what the lyrics are saying?
  7. Nijinska's "Le Train Bleu" (Ballet Russe, 1924, with score by Darius Milhaud) featured the entire cast wearing beachwear designed by Chanel, according to Susan Au, Ballet and Modern Dance. There's a fascinating photo on p. 111 showing two lines of male swimmers standing in arabesque, a larger group of women in tent-suits, and wierd cubist shapes in the background. This is said to have been an evocation of chic society in Deauville. Thanks, Tiffany, for bringing this up. Question: are there any other famous ballets with regular clothing (as opposed to dance costumes) by designers in Chanel's league? how about ballets taking place at the beach?
  8. No mention of the Nicolas Nabakov score? I still remember how deadening the effect of the music on what was otherwise quite a moving pageant, especially with Balanchine as Don Q. It's possible, of course, that a second hearing might be an improvement. But in 1965 the music did nothing to enhance the visual aspects of the production, and much to distract from them. The 1604 publication date for the first book of Don Quijote would make it a very young Philip III. Seems he was a rather melancholy fellow, so "stifling" would probably apply.
  9. Here in southeast Florida "the west coast" means the Gulf of Mexico coast of Florida. I learned this when we first came here and I was informed that a plumber could not come to fix a sink because he was "on the west coast for the weekend." Of course I thought of jet-set jaunts to LA or San Francisco -- and VERY high plumbing fees to pay for them -- but it turned out just to be a visit to his in-laws in Naples. No, not the city south of Rome.
  10. This is an all-call to everyone who's seen the Miami City Ballet season at home or on tour. What do you most remember (good or needing improvement) about the season? Those of us living in this distant peninsula far removed World Ballet Central have to keep in touch. For me: Joyous, technically strong ensemble work in Divertimento No. 15, Ballet Imperial, and La Valse. What a thrill to see so many dancers performing their hearts out at the conclusion of Ballet Imperial, impeccably in sync. Rapid growth in skill, stage confidence, and versatility of Tricia Albertson, Jeremy Cox, and Jeanette Delgado -- everybody's favorite substitutes: they can dance anything and are still so young. Miami Ballet's mini-series of classes for adults at the Kravis Center in West Palm. Learning barre exercises, positions, steps, and then putting some of it together in the center work at the end of the session was an incredible experience -- and one which has really helped me to "see" what dancers are doing on the stage. to former NYCB dancer Steve Caras, our teacher, and to Miami soloists Callie Manning and Didier Bramaz for setting such a pure example of each combination. Giving to Paul Taylor's Arden Court a lightness, energy, and flight that stay in my visual and emotional memory. Giving us La Valse, to remind us that Balanchine could descend (or rise) to the slightly tacky and sensational end of the sensual and emotional spectrum. And esepcially Jennifer Kronenburg's airy yet grounded moves as the Sleepwalker. Less successful: a Nutcracker that tended towards the lifeless, with the most conlused, crowded, and non-dramatic battle between the Nutcracker and Mouse King that I have seen. That's just me. How about your impressions?
  11. Yes!! Maybe we could prepare a grant proposal -- "Ballet, not Bombs". Building ballet studios in places like Fallujah could absorb the energies of disgruntled fundamentalist teens and even provide further employment for retired Ballanchine dancers who would come in to coach things like Prodigal Son, thus speeding the withdrawal of American troops. I can imagine the Farewell Gala.
  12. I love these examples of the imaginative lengths that theatears have to go to just to remind people to behave courteously. It seems to becoming a new art form -- certainly worthy of a footnote in some future "Cultural History of the World in the Early 21st Century." Perhaps they should be collected on a video, something along the lines of "America's Funniest ...", and distributed to to theaters everywhere.
  13. bart

    Margot Fonteyn!

    Paul, good point which I hadn't thought of. I still suspect, however, that the presence of those huge, cumbersome and immobile or clumsily moving machines must have had an effect on the marking difficulties the dancers seem to be having. These were artists who lived "on the stage" in a way that might seem inconceivable to younger dancers. Whatever you think of the dancing in videos of the last 10 years, it seems to me that younger dancers take to the camera with great east. Improved camera work and direction help a lot, of course.
  14. bart

    Margot Fonteyn!

    Helene, your expertise in ice skating competition seems relevant to this question of the increase in technical ability and difficulty. How far, technically, have figure skaters advanced since the days of (say) Peggy Fleming. And what has happened to artistry as a result?
  15. I guess it depends on the period in which the dance takes place. In the late 18th Western Pa. was definitely the frontier. And much of Ohio was called the "Western Reserve" (claimed by Connecticut, I believe). There's still a Western Reserve University there. I am always amazed by the way the cliche "it's all relevant" provides solutions to so many questions.
  16. bart

    Margot Fonteyn!

    This is fascinating. All these informed opinions, nudging and assisting the rest of us to fashion and rethink our own opinions. I have a question based the way cygnet and a few others have expessed their thoughts on the various ballerina styles. Cygnet's language suggests a high degree of intentionallity in Makarova's style -- and a slightly more passive role, representing a school or even an era, for Fonteyn. Here's the question. Based on what you know and/or have observed, what are the most important factors that influence a dancer's interpetation of the great classical roles over time: the dancer's own ideas/intent? sustained coaching? exposure to a company style over a long period of time (Alexandra's point)? a shrewd judgment of what "works" with the audience? something else? Maybe it is factors like these that have changed in the past generation. I would be interested in Daniil's thoughts about this, since he is now beginning a lifelong process of defining his own sense of style in particular roles. An aside re old videos: nowadays most of us are more or less comfortable in front of a camera (at least the TV reality shows suggest this). We've been filmed, snapped, and (many of us) interviewed, and we've seen people we know in the same position. In the past, however, it's possible that the presence of huge, cumbersome cameras and the special lighting needed to make the process work may have been perceived as much more intrusive by the dancers, with the effect of disorienting and even distorting their work. Tallchief on Bell Telephone Hour always looked like someone stunned and caught in the headlights of an onrushing car: she always appears nervous and ill at ease. Bruhn and Eglevsky, far from coming across as the greata danseurs nobles that the were, sometimes give the impression of not quite knowing where to move next. There's hesitation before major steps, lifts, jumps, etc., that I doubt very much occurred on stage without the cameras.
  17. And now a report from the provinces . . . Many of us live in towns that do not know the luxury of feeling peevish about two many Kirov R and Js. We get visits from Russian companies whose sole reason for exisiting seems to be touring "reduced" versions of the classics, with casts of "young dancers" and . I am not talking about Maryinsky or Bolshoi, but organizations like Russian National Ballet and St. Petersburg Ballet (the later of which was the topic of an extended discussion here recently). Last night the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach got a one-night stand of Sleeping Beauty from the Russian National Ballet Theatre (of Moscow), along with the 45-piece Sofia Symphony Orchestra. (Quick, get me a pot and soup ladel and call me the South Florida Percussion Virtuosi.) The audience was younger than at Miami City or Ballet Florida performances. I assume that they were -- like me -- happy for any chance to see this classic performed at all, since we are out of the major-league touring orbit by many hundreds of miles. 45 dancers (they said) and a 40+ orchestra are a rarer here than a weekend evening without a charity ball. What can I say? The director of the company, a grandson of the founder of the Moiseev company and a former Bolshoe character dancer in his own right, made a point in his pre-curtain comments that, while this was the original Petipa version, the ballet was too long had been shortened. He did NOT mention that this was done by cutting out almost all the dancing by the corps (except simple waltz steps and lots of wavy-arm activity). Or that almost all the difficult dancing in the soloists parts would be cut out. Or that the evening would actually be lengthened by a conductor who seems to think of Tchaikovsky primarily as a composer of largos and dirges. Very, very slow. Very, very lifeless. And, I would think, almost impossible to dance, since the principals were actually given quite a bit of the original choreography and had a lot of time to fill between the steps that were left. (Not to mention many long, slow sections, usually deleted, with lots of courtly walking round the stage. My companion commented that the young people sitting on the banquettes during the court scenes seemed to be fighting the temptation to check their watches.) For a rather high ticket price we got some pluses: Lovely and high-quality costumes, a wonderful Carabosse, lovely young Russian girls, an Aurora (not clearly identified in the program) who was quite beautiful and capable to impressive balances, extensions, and even the occasional affectionate glance at her parents or the Prince. Is this kind of touring good for ballet? I think not. The audience can sniff out a counterfeit classic. Its response was as tepid as I've ever seen it at the Kravis. Near the end of the Wedding Act, after the umpteenth break for bowing after each minute or so of dancing, hundreds thought it was over and began drifting out. Why not? This tour (I believe Giselle is also touring) is a collaboration between the company and the promoters resonsible for the Opera Lirico d'Europa, which tours regularly with leaden and incredibly uneven productions of Tosca, Aida, etc., The point: if your town gets ABT, Royal, Kirov, NYCB, or even a major regional, be GRATEFUL. You are not likely to see corps members who can manage only an "entrechat un", jumps in which only the front leg is in control, or a Rose Adagio which is actually one of the peppier parts of the ballet. Buy your tickets and think of us.
  18. Great responses. On second thought, I think the question should be divided into two parts. Why support the arts? is the big one. But for those of us who love ballet the question we really have to answer is: given the limited resources and time that institutions and people can (or want to) devote to the arts, what's so special about ballet that makes it worth funding (which means NOT funding something else, even another form of dance). Sounds like the beginning for a good grant proposal -- and maybe that's what's needed, rather than some large moral justification for dance. I like the idea of finding alternate and low-cost venues, which would work especially for classiscal pas de deux, chamber ballets and small-cast contemporary ballets. I wonder why companies don't do more of this. They will send dancers to a Ballet Guild luncheon for obvious reasons. But how many send dancers into high schools or community colleges? I really think you have to see ballet young to get hooked. And "see" means more than being a passive (and often confused) observer at a single performance once in your life, or even once every year. In our area, a resort destination but also the home of many north-eastern cultural types, the Palm Beach {County} Cultural Council administers funds derived from a share of the hotel tax. Ballet Florida and Miami Ballet, alone with numerous other cultural organizations, get significant funds from this -- I believe in excess of $100,000 a year for Ballet Florida. The gist of the questionnaire: how many people have you brought to the performance? how much money did you spend on the performance? how much money did you spend in Palm Beach County as part of attending this performance?
  19. I llike the term "dance drama." It's honest, accurate, and reflects the essentially 19th century spectacle that the story allows for. In retrospect, I wish I could see this again, through the expectations associated with "dance drama," rather than the expectations createad (for me at least) be the term "ballet." I think I would have enjoyed it. Dirac, I know Batory tried to keep her youth, but was it be drinking or bathing in the blood of local virgins? If the latter, perhaps the score from Ondine might be updated and used.
  20. Jack, I hear they are working on getting support for next year. Let's hope.
  21. To those of us who grew up in the early days of the concept of the National Endowment for the Arts -- or who have come experience of European governmental support for the arts -- often lament the decline of a sense of "public" (as opposed to rich people giving donations) responsibility for the classical arts. Specifically ballet. What if Congress -- responding to some bizarre, spontaneous, mass hallucination -- decided to add a very large sum to next year's appropriations for "the arts." You have been asked to argue the case for giving a large parcel of it specifically to classical ballet. What's the main argument you would make to support your case? You can't use the body-beautiful argument because it would offend certain moral sensibilities. You can't use the Great Tradition argument because it smacks of Eurocentrism or cultural elitism. You can't even use the argument that people deserve access to the arts because someone is sue to point to the vast potential of privately funded cable TV to do the job. You have, someone, to convince them that ballet per se is worth it. Then, how would you spend it? (Grants to companies, choreographers, dance academies? Support of new productions, reducing ticket prices, new hires?)
  22. Ballet Florida (based in West Palm Beach, FL) has announced its 2005-06 schedule. As in previous years, there's a full-length (R and J) plus several programs of shorter, contemporary ballets, the Nutcracker, and the dancers' own choreographic workshop performances. * = company premiere ** = world premiere Eissey Theater (I) -- November 4-6, 2005 -- Bartok Concerto (Ben Stevenson) -- After Dark, double pas de deux (Mauricio Wainrot) -- The Envelope (David Parsons) -- Gemini (Vicente Nebrada) -- Super Straight is Coming Down (Daniel Ezralow) Kravis Center -- December 23-28, 2005 -- Marie Hale's The Nutcracker Kravis Center (I) -- February 3-4, 2006 -- * Rite of Spring (Mauricio Wainrot) -- * Bella (Dominic Walsh) -- ** Five Poems (Ben Stevenson) Kravis Center (II) -- March 17-18, 2006 -- Romeo and Juliet (Vicente Nebrada) Eissey Theater (II) -- May 6-8, 2006 -- * I Remember Clifford (Twyla Tharp) -- Bakers Dozen (Tharp) -- ...Smile with my Heart (Lar Lubovitch) -- Second Before the Ground (Trey McIntyre) Eissey Theater -- June 23-24, 2006 --Step Ahead (Ballet Florida's Choreographic Workshop) After having had serious financial and administrative problems last year, as well as surviving 2 hurricanes which damaged their headquarters, the company seems to be reorganizing, with a new Executive Director and a million-dollar grant from two benefactors. Ballet Florida describes itself as a Classical and Contemporary Dance Company. The training and classes are ballet-based, but the reperatory is primary cross-over or modern. Attempts to do classical works -- Balanchine, Le Corsaire, and even Sean Lavery -- don't always fare too well. On the other hand, the late Vicente Nebrada's ballet-lite choreography works pretty effectively for a company attempting the large-scale Romeo and Juliet. The company's special relationship with Ben Stevenson (who helped them set his Dracula last year and has a few ballets in each season) continues. The Envelope is a repeat from last season, when it was done without the bite, speed or crispness of previous years. They've done a lot better with this work before. It's a crowd-pleaser, as are the Tharps and the Trey McIntire. At their best, this is a winning and energetic company which does interesting work and makes it look like fun. Their Step Ahead program -- 10 or more dances choreographed by members of the company -- is always exciting. The only personnel change reported so far is the retirement of the elegant and versatile dancer, Christina Hampton. She'll be missed, and I hope they seek to fill her toe shoes with someone with a similarly strong classical gift.
  23. This, from the Miami City Ballet forum, may be relevant.
  24. bart

    Margot Fonteyn!

    I'm not familiar with this video, but I did see Fonteyn perform at the old Met (not Odette/Odile, but Aurora). And I have seen a few ballerinas of her generation, performing at or near their prime: notably Tallchief, Alonso, and Hayden. So I recognize this feeling: what the old films or videos show is NOT what I remember. Nysusan mentions the loss of "warmth" and "essence". That's just what I feel. When Fonteyn made her entrance as Aurora at the birthday party, the entire house seemed to be suffused with the joy that she herself appeared to feel -- joy at being alive, at being young and beautiful. To be honest, the aura, the "star quality" was so great that it may have been impossible to focus critically on the technique. The unsupported balances and the promenades of the Rose Adagio, for me, will always be Fonteyn's, despite a degree of wobble and despite having seen them done perfectly (on video) by others (eg. Viviana Durante, early 90s?). Similarly, I have never seen a video that even came close to the effect that Tallchief, Alonso and others had alive on stage. What made that effect so powerful then and memorable now? Undoubtably nostalgia plays a role. For many of us of a certain age, these were our first experiences of great female dancing. Like a first love, we continue to see them as unique and special. It may also have to do, as Alexandra says, with the chance these dancers had to hone and re-create these roles in numerous performances. Do we have to think of this as the opposition of technique v. the "heart of the role" (to use Solor's phrase)? Maybe the job requirement to be a prima ballerina was simply different in those days. Maybe the ability to convince audiences of your "heart" was considered a prerequisite BEFORE you were given the role, not something you might try to learn from a coach after you had mastered the steps. It could be largely a matter of different standards of success.
  25. Thanks, Carbro, for this report. A reduced company performed Coppelia that evening here in Florida, despite the flight of so many principals and lead soloists. One of the great and infectious qualities of this company, IMO, is conveying joy. They're always game. No bored corps members here. And no walk-through solos. Great effort apparently goes into making it all appear effortless, a quality I appreciate a lot. As to Villella's comment that only two of his dancers came from the School of American Ballet. The program lists 5 principals and principal soloists who "trained" at SAB, whatever that means. 3 are from Cuba and one each from Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, China, Brazil, and the North Carollina School of the Arts. Two recent principals, no longer with the company, were from France. I wonder how this compares with other regional companies around the US?
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