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Posts posted by bart

  1. Both sandik and dirac have mentioned the role played by tableau vivant in the development of dance..This thread has made me think of the musical "Sunday in the Park With George," based on the Seurat painting. I can imagine a ballet based on a similar premise -- or, if that is too difficult to convey without words, a ballet that begins with a tableau vivant of a famous painting, after which the figures move to music, relate to each other (or not), and -- just in time for the opening bell -- return to their frozen positions.

    The painting:


    As recreated by the cast of the U.S. version of "The Office":


    I was thinking about other paintings which might allow themselves to being awakened, or unfrozen, by dance. Buddy mentioned the Botticelli Venus. My own feeling is that the sense of "dance" in this painting is provided largely by the wind's effect on draperies and hair. Venus herself provides the stillness at the center of all that agitation.

    How about Caravaggio, whose human (and animal) figures seem to be straining to escape their frozen fate. A brief Google turned up the following, a filmed performance, based on Caravaggio's "philosophies", and starring Beatrice Knop, Paolina Semionova, and Vladimir Malakhov.

    “Moretti and Monteverdi’s Caravaggio,” a ballet performance recorded at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, will be shown on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m., and Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m., at Criterion Cinemas at the corner of Temple and George streets in New Haven. The 93-minute show, conducted by Paul Connelly and starring Beatrice Knop, Polina Semionova and Vladimir Malakhov, was choreographed to reflect the artistic philosophies of the legendary Italian painter. (A Caravaggio exhibit is coming to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford this spring.) Details: www.bowtiecinemas.com.


  2. I was just thinking about Wilson, in relation to the discussion of the Martha Graham/ George Balanchine Episodes on the MCB thread. This may have been the only time I remember seeing her, as Queen Elizabeth I in confrontation with Graham's Mary Queen of Scots. The crucial scene was a representation of a tennis game between the two queens.

    Here is the 2008 NY Times obituary by Jack Anderson.


    The obituary concludes with the following:

    Ms. Wilson always believed in total involvement in roles, even if the part was as an extra in a Wagner opera. At the Met, I once had to stand still for 45 minutes as Tannhäusers page, she once said.

    As far as Im concerned, if youre on stage in a ballet, you're doing dancing, she said on another occasion. Any movement or non-movement on stage is dance.

    This says something about how seriously Wilson took her on-stage time. (It should also be a comfort to those of us whose ballet experience has been limited entirely to supernumary roles. In Wilson's book, we too are "dancers." tiphat.gif)

  3. Accoarding to Jovani Furlan on the MCB blog, Patricia Neary has been down in Miami setting Episodes, along with Peter Frame. (Furlan is one of the most interesting young corps members.)


    Webern was a daring musical choice back in America in 1959, for a ballet choreographer at least. I'm listening to the Webern Ricercata (a six-part fugue from Bach's Musical Offerings) as I type this. I plan on listening to all the Webern music before the performances. When I saw Episodes, I had not even heard of Webern. My firdst experience of the music back in 1959 or '60 (and the chance to see it, thanks to Balanchine's dancers) was an extraordinary experience and one which entirely re-directed my musical taste.

    Here is Balanchine talking about Webern, as printed in Nancy Reynolds Repertory in Review.

    Webern's orchestral music fills the air like molecules; it is written for atmosphere. The first time I heard it, I knew it could be danced to. It seemed to me like Mozart and Stravinsky, music that can be danced to because it leaves the mind free to see the dancing. In listening to composers like Beethoven and Brahms, every listener has his own ideas, paints his own picture of what the music represents. How can I, a choreographer, try to squeeze a dancing body into a picture that already exists in someone's mind? It simply won't work. But it will with Webern.

    And, from Stravinsky:

    Doomed to total failure in a deaf world, Webern kept cutting his diamonds, the mines of which he had such a perfect knowledge.

    And, from Violette Verdy:

    The one thing that disconcerted me at first was to dance with so little sound coming from the pit, but then I realized that what we had to imprint on top of the musical line was making its own time, and was in complete correspondence, and the sound came then as a kind of reward, rather than the expected motivation.

    Here is the original January '59 cast of the Balanchine portions of Episodes:

    -- Symphony, op. 21 (1928). Violette Verdy, Jonathan Watts, 3 couples;

    -- Five Pieces, op. 10 (1911-13). Diana Adams, Jacques d'Amboise;

    -- Concerto, op. 24 (1934). Allegra Kent, Nicholas Magallanes, 4 women;

    -- Variations, op. 30 (1940): Paul Taylor;

    -- Ricercata in 6 voices from Bach's Musical Offering (1935). Melissa Hayden, Francisco Moncion, 13 women.

    I hope that South Florida audiences are ready for the challenge something unfamiliar -- a "new" ballet (1959) with "new" music composed from 1911-1940. West Side Story Suite (also on Program III) it is not. wink1.gif

    Episodes is on Program III, which will be danced in Miami, Feb. 14-16 -- Fort Lauderdale, Feb. 21-23 -- and West Palm Beach, Feb. 28-March 2. I don't know the dates for Naples, but Program III is usually performed there as well. (That's the "Naples" on the Gulf of Mexico, not the one on the Tyrrhenian Sea.) Program III consists of Episodes *, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux, and West Side Story Suite *.

    (*) Company premiere.

  4. There is a POB DVD with Nicolas Le Riche and Marie-Agnès Gillot and it's what I like to remember from this beautiful ballet.

    Yes, I was thinking of that as I watched Vasiliev's strange reinvention of the piece. Le Riche and Gillot are brilliant. Gillot wears the same yellow dress and black wig as the woman in Vasiliev's version. Le Riche actually outdoes Nureyev in his elevation and in conveying how he is drawn in spite of himself to the figure of death. His concentration and desperation make sense of some of the arbitrary-appearing movements in the choreography. The last few minutes -- the way the young man dies (body jerking), the return of death in a long white gown with long red gloves, the transfer of the death mask, and the exit -- turn what could be a piece of kitsch into something that moves you even when you should know better.
  5. Helene wrote:

    Paul Taylor did the reconstruction with Frame in 1986. I'm not sure if any other dancer learned or performed it. Have there been any reports about who is staging it?

    According to MCB's Facebook page, it is Peter Frame, who danced it when it was revived by NYCB in 1986. Frame is a former NYCB dancer and a repetiteur for the Balanchine Trust. As you say, he learned the part from Taylor himself, so the new MCB Episodes will have a pedigree divided between Taylor and NYCB.

    There's a stunning photo of Frame in the role, posted on MCB's Facebook page. (I hope it is okay to post something from Facebook, but it is directly connected to our discussion.)


    Here's Frame demonstrating a portion of the choreography.


    And here's Ariel Rose learning the role.


    Rose's story is an interesting one -- as is Lopez's decision to cast him in this important role even before he has danced with his new colleagues. I wonder whether Rose might have caught Philip Neal's eye when Neal was in Richmond choreographing for the company last year.

  6. In fairness, I think the professional camera work on the Nureyev clip might have had something to do with why I preferred it over the shaky, unprofessional recording of Vasiliev.

    I agree. The 1969 film had the luxury of good lighting and allowed time fo closeups. I tried to compensate for that by focusing on body movement/language.

    Is it possible that ideas of what qualities like anguish and seductiveness look like are quite different today, in the 2010s, from what they were in the 1960s?.

  7. It's fascinating to watch these videos side by side (in short segments).

    Vasiliev looks like someone who lifts weights seriously ; Nureyev's body is softer, sleeker, with less muscle definition. Vasiliev interpolate quick bravura moves in the first couple of minutes -- multiple pirouettes, grands jetes. Nureyev does less, and more gently. The business with the watch, the chairs, the way the cigarette is handled: each dancer is quite different. Vasiliev's bursts of muscular intensity play against the music; Nureyev's fluidity fits the music better. Vasiliev's death is curiously unmoving (climb-the-ladde, put-your-head-in-the-noose, go-limp), while Baryshnikov's death was shattering. It would have been interesting to see Nureyev's.

    A similar contrast in style holds true during the entrance of the young woman -- Vasiliev's partner (in day-glow yellow dress) strides towards him on stiletto points. Jeanmaire (45 at the time of the filming) is more subtly dressed, and moves softly, fluidly, seductively in the old manner, at least when we first see her. Unfortunately, the clip ends before her transformation.

    My preference is Nureyev/Jeanmaire, even without the conclusion.

  8. Thanks to all, on behalf of those of us who are not there. It's a great pleasure to read this kind of posting.

    volcanohunter, thanks for your detailed comments on the Swan Lake performance -- as well as for your analysis and Russian translating on the other Bolshoi threads. Your eye for detail and feeling for the larger scope of things never cease to amaze me. tiphat.gif

    Thanks, too, to meunier fan. (And welcome to Ballet Alert). Your description of Alexanddrova's accident and how the performance went without Gamzatti is one of the most fascinating pieces of reportage I've read on B.A. tiphat.gifaurora's point about how differently ABT handled the situation when Herman Cornejo was injured during Ratmanskyk's Shostakovich ballet makes me think we might need a thread on this topic in general -- something like: "What happens when an injury occurs onstage?"

    cubanmiamiboy, who made such a long transatlantic journey to see the Bolshoi in London, thanks for telling us about the revisions (distortions) in music and story. Knowing your love of this work, and deep experience in watching it performed, I can empathize with how you felt. Hope the rest of your visit goes much better. tiphat.gif

  9. I notice that story is is from 2001. Which explains another curious reference:

    (Will Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani now put on a tutu and toe shoes as one of the mischievous cowgirl ballerinas in Balanchine's ''Western Symphony''?)

    Does anyone know if Giuliani did indeed dance in Western Symphony?

    If so, maybe he belongs on our All-American Ballerina list. And if not, it still produces an image that is hard to push out of myhead. I see him as the girl with the big hat.

  10. Thank you, cahill for posting this story. Levin is right when she describes Isanusi Garcia Rodriguez as an ...

    ... an exceptional dancer with a riveting, panther-like combination of power and smoothness.

    The photos accompanying the article give an idea of the range of the roles he dances. His Tybalt was world-class, imo. I'm sorry I missed his partnership with Deanna Seay in Diamonds.

    The article explains for something that appeared puzzling -- his on-and-off relationship with the company, and especially his recent disappearance from performances after he had returned and was dancing so well.

    I'm glad he has Christie Sciturro, a gifted and striking member of the MCB corps, sharing his life. And that he has the support of his friend and "brother," fellow principal Carlos Guerra. Wishing him the best of recoveries and a return to the studio and stage as soon as possible.

  11. Thanks naomikage for the links, especially for the Chicago Tribune article, which is actually from Reuters.

    I was especially interested in the last paragraph:

    Last month, Russia dismissed the long-serving head of the Bolshoi, Anatoly Iksanov, and entrusted Vladimir Urin with rebuilding the theatre's reputation following the scandal.

    It sounds like a good sign, when the Powers That Be at the Bolshoi (whoever they are) becomes concerned about what the rest of the world thinks about them.. I hope the article is correct about the motive of "rebuilding reputation." I also hope that Urin is given the authority to do what's necessary to do what is necessary to rebuild public confidence in the institution.

  12. I finally got tto read this. Its rich and dense, and is especially impressive in the way in which it integrates a close analysis of Ratmansky's manner of working in the studio, the elements that make his ballets look the way they do onstage, and a serious discussion of the music that he works with.

    Ratmansky at work in the studio --:

    “Let’s listen to it,” he says calmly at a session two days later. The pianist plays a few bars. Then Ratmansky shows the dancers a short sequence of steps. “You don’t need to count here,” he advises, singing the melody as he travels from one step to the next. His movements are accented, stretched and tilted, with a juicy, three-dimensional quality. His arms complete the lines of the body, extending them or pulling his torso around with a powerful twist. The dancers stare at him in slight disbelief. They do their best to imitate him, but at first their versions are timid and comparatively square. At one point a dancer slips slightly, skittering across the floor and into another dancer arms. Ratmansky’s eyes widen with a mischievous spark. “Can we keep that?”

    Looking at Ratmansky's work on stage --

    One of the great joys of Balanchine, even in his most modernist works, is the absolute legibility of every moment. Not so with Ratmansky, whose ballets tend toward extremes of complexity. In any given tableau, there are often three or four hives of activity humming simultaneously; at times, it can be overwhelming. His ballets invite second and third viewings, and they force the eye to see more. Afterward, other ballets can look too simple, too neat, with all those straight lines, crisp steps and symmetrical patterns. At a point during a rehearsal of the Chamber Symphony, I saw a group of dancers jumping, several couples engaged in complicated traveling lifts, and a few free agents zooming through the remaining space. Another ensemble repeated an earlier phrase, but in reverse. At first, there were traffic jams, but the effect was startling: a complex moving figure had come to life. Nothingness had become chaos and now this, a kind of crazy machine with pistons flying.

    Her long discussion of what happens in the Chamber Symphony (middle) movement of the Shostakovich is superb example of this important skill. Her paragraph on The Bright Stream, though less descriptive, is just as good in its own way.

    Ratmansky and music,in this case, Shostakovich --

    Take the pas de deux in the recent Symphony No. 9. After a bright, snappy march led by flute, violin and snare drum, an enigmatic clarinet slithers downward in a minor key in the second movement as a man and woman curl around each other like two snakes, occasionally turning their heads sharply to peer through the surrounding darkness. Their movements are oblique and stretched, tango-like, echoing the clarinet’s plangent melody. A threat seems to loom beyond the wings. (The peering motif has already been introduced, in passing, in the first movement.)

    Marina Harss is the kind of writer that ballet needs more of -- good eye, clear powers of description, good knowledge of ballet and music history. Count me an enthusiast.

    If you haven't read the complete piece, please, please do.

  13. [sylve is] still a French citizen, I believe. And a wonderful dancer. Sylve, like Verdy, is one of those interesting "cross-bred" cases (bad term, but I can't think of anything else at this late hour). They both had significant time receiving French training, but also lots of time at NYCB (and SFB for Sylve).

    I'm wondering if analyzing the changes in the dance style and technique of these dancers wouldn't provide better clues as to what makes a dancer "American", rather than of the French or Russian schools.

    I don't know Sylve's work (just one video of Swan Lake before she came to America), but Verdy, after several decades working with Balanchine at NYCB, definitely qualifies as an "American" ballerina. Of course she always retained her "French" personality and excelled especially in ballets by French composers. Her specialty was speed, delicacy, subtlety, wit.. But a glance at the index of Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review demonstrates how wide her range of NYCB performance was.

    -- Symphony in C (1st movement) -- Orpheus (Eurydice) -- Firebird -- Swan Lake Act II -- Scotch Symphony -- Lew Christensen's Con Amore -- Western Symphony (Allegro movement) -- Glinka Pas de Trois -- Agon (second pas de trois) -- Gounod Symphony -- Episodes (premiere) (the Balanchine section) -- Sonnambula (Sleepwalker) -- Panamerica (premiere, Brasil section) -- Theme and Variations -- Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (premiere) -- Electronics (premiere, Balanchine -- set to a contemporary electronic score) -- Raymonda Variations (premiere) -- Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream (premiere -- Divertissement) -- Irish Fantasy (Jacques d'Amboise) -- Brahams-Schoenberg Quartet (premiere, Allegro) -- La Guirlande de Campra (Taras, premiere) -- Jewels (Emeralds) -- Glinkiana (premiere, polka movement) -- Haydn Concerto (Taras) -- La Source (premiere) -- Dances at a Gathering (Robbins, premiere) -- In the Night (premiere, Robbins) -- Sarabande and Danse (premiere, John Clifford) -- Printemps (premiere, Lorca Massine) -- Pulcinella (the girl, premiere) --Choral Variatiosn on Bach's Vom Himmel Hoch (premiere) -- Four Bagatelles (premiere, Robbins) -- Sonatine (Ravel, premiere)

    All of this was in the U.S. dancing as a principal in a U.S. company. There's no Bugaku or Slaughter on 10th Avenue on this list. No Coppelia, for some reason. But just about everything else is there. Right now I'm remembering the vivid impression she made on me in Pulcinella (with Villella).

    Especially in the early days, she -- like the other principals -- had to dance many things outside her fach.. She was the opposite of a "part-time ballerina," in the sense that she danced and danced, often creating a role or substituting for someone who was injured. She was brilliant in almost every ballet she touched.

    I just finished reading Mary Cargill's excellent recap of the NYCB Spring 2013 Season in Dance View ...

    Just wanted to say how much I got from this piece as well. As someone who does not live in NYC and missed the season, it was the next best thing to being there.

    IIf we can come up with what defines a ballerina, must a dancer show those qualities through a significant part of their careers to become a ballerina? Outside of prodigies, is it valid to call younger dancers with relatively limited reps and experience in principal roles, ballerinas? Is being a ballerina a series of qualities, regardless of how limited the experience? (If so, there's a corps dancer I see at PNB that I'd call a ballerina, but people would laugh at that if they saw her resume.) Must a ballerina be at least great, if not equally good, in all parts of her rep, aside from the occasional experiment and/or mis-casting? I think these are underlying issues that Macaulay was getting at in his "part-time" ballerina comment.

    In terms of rep, there's a difference between companies with a dominant choreographer -- Balanchine, Ashton, MacMillan, Grigorovich, and Bournonville in periods -- or those who primarily "After Petipa" rep of various shades -- where there are exemplars of that rep through the generations, and the norm in North America, where even if there is a house choreographer, typically the Artistic Director, and a neoclassical aesthetic, there is a wide range of rep. I don't know if anyone would argue that Fonteyn wasn't a ballerina, certainly in her rep, but would she be considered a ballerina if she had to dance Forsythe today, Balanchine tomorrow, Tudor the day after next, Kent Stowell's "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet" next month, Tomasson after that, "Giselle" the month after that, followed by "Rodeo," not to mention the Morris, Taylor, Tharp, etc. etc. that makes up the typical rep of an American/Canadian ballet company?

    Great questions. As this thread has progressed (it's in its 6th page now) more and more and more names are being added. It seems that "ballerina" is very much in the eye and heart of the beholder. I suppose each of us has his or her own definition of the term. My own is fairly strict. It involves such qualities as

    -- technical genius in a variety of repertoire

    -- charisma: the ability to hold the eye, to to fascinate, to excite

    -- the ability to convey emotion through movement

    -- a high degree of consistency, at least in the same roles or type of role (for example, I disagree with including Heather Watts on this list, largely on the grounds of INconsistency)

    -- whatever it is that makes major choreographers want to create work on you

    -- the quality of unforgetability, in the sense that after you have stopped dancing, you leave us with vivid visual and emotional memories. The kind that make one grateful that you were there when "X" danced. The kind you talk about every time the topic of great dancers comes up in conversation.

  14. Anthony Tudor? There might be good material in looking at the spectrum between clearly narrative ballets like Pillar of Fire and Romeo and Juliet -- ballets that create and develop complicated emotional situations in real-life settings, but which are more suggestive than outright narrative, like Dim Lustre and Jardin aux Lilas-- and an abstract work like Leaves are Fading, which suggests relationships in an abstract setting without telling us a story about them.

  15. Wow, sandik. Thanks for doing this. tiphat.gif Threads with topics like this have a way of meandering on and on (sometimes for years), with more and more names being added, so that few of us can remember who was mentioned a couple of pages earlier.

    You make it possible for us to sit down and think about the results (so far). My first impression is that there are so many differences among these dancers that it makes me question whether the category "all-American ballerina" has much meaning .... or importance. I'm looking forward to reading our members' take on your interesting challenge, especially as to the difficult question "What do these women have in common?"

  16. Thanks, Alexandra. The paper edition hasn't arrived yet, and I'll wait for that. (Much better for marking and underlining, for those of us with dodgy memories. smile.png ) I like the paradox near the beginning of the paragraph -- with Isabella Boylston commenting that "His ballets are so heard; you do so many steps," and following that up with: "But you can also have a sense of abandon ...."

    The Nation has always impressed me with its commitment to progressive political analysis combined with its willingness to devote a lot of space to serious articles about the higher arts.

  17. The new director, Doreen Callaghan and her boss Lourdes Lopez seem committed to expanding the School's curriculum.

    Lopez says she aims to broaden the school's range, emulating New York City Ballet's famed School of American Ballet. .... "[sAB] trained you to dance absolutely everything," she says. "So I want to put in place teachers who will create a fully rounded dancer."

    The article also introduces Olivier Pardina, who will be working with the advanced and pre-professional students and is charged with developing a student company (great idea!!!). Pardina taught for many years at the Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, one of the country's preeminent pre-professional schools for classical ballet.

    One thing continues to puzzle me, however. Most people nowadays agree that young pre-professionals need to be trained for "absolutely everything" (or near to it) if they hope to compete in the current job market for dancers. The problem is how to do it without watering down the classical (and in MCB's case, the Balanchine version of classical). There's only so much time in the day and in the curriculum..

    I don't know much about ballet schools, but I've always assumed that Villella's approach to ballet training was an essential ingredient in the success of MCB itself -- including the school's homegrown stars like the Delgados, the Estys, and the best of the Brazilian transfer students. On top of that, the Villella system certainly seemed compatible with MCB's ability to dance (and dance welll) a repertoire that, if not "fully-rounded," included multiple works by choreographers as diverse Robbins, Taylor, Tharp, and other non-Balanchine choreographers. This is not "absolutely everything," but it was a good start in that direction.

    So ... are we dealing with a new philosophy of ballet education here? A shift in emphasis? A matter of degree? Something more nuanced?

  18. Sandik, phrank: it's wonderful to read your thoughtful and thought-provoking exchange.

    When Macaulay makes what appear to be arbitrary or extreme statements, I sometimes think he is trying to stimulate just this kind of reflection and discussion. If this is true, Macaulay has succeeded here on Ballet Alert. In just the past few posts you've given us a couple of insights that might keep us discussing this topic of about balelrinas (with all its ramifications) for many months.

    For example:

    sandik writes, in reference to Macaulay talking about partnering in something of Wheeldon's::

    I'm paraphrasing wildly, but my impression was that [Macaulay] felt the lack of physical space between the two dancers undercut the sense of the woman as independent actor, which is a big part of how we see a ballerina. A ballerina is autonomous, in a way that a danseur is not -- there are many contemporary ballets that have extremely challenging roles for the lead woman that don't necessarily create this sense of independence. I think that's part of what Macaulay is trying to get at in this essay.

    And phrank:

    And this brings me to the important part, something that seems unique to this artform: traditional ballets that are well staged and well danced provide the audience with a moment of living history. And if the performance is really exceptional, "transcendent" as some like to say, then for a short while, it is as if we see the unbroken chain before our very eyes: an unending ritual passed through the generations of dancers. I


    This effect is much less common in modern ballets of the present day, in my opinion, but there was a time when a Martha Graham, or Isadora Duncan could evoke something deep and ancient in their dances. Modern ballets strike me as often being insular and private (as in 'your own private world'). The perspectives shown (if they can be discerned) are so often personal, psychological and not communal.

  19. Thanks, dirac, for the link to the article by Robert Craft. How sad that Stravinsky's "markings for Nijinsky" -- rewritten in longhand at the request of Diaghilev -- were written in faint lead pencil, which became illegible.

    I remember the Joffrey reconstruction and its impact. That's the template for visualizing this work, I think. However, the score lends itself to a variety of versions and dance styles, and I've seen several that served the music and the intent of the composer very well.

    The most powerful and troubling that I've seen is Mauricio Wainrot's, as performed by Ballet Florida in the early 2000's.. Though visually quite unlike the Joffrey reconstruction, Wainrot interpretation seems quite consistent with Stravinsky's intention quoted below, with a single exception: it does not look "Russian." To quote Stravinsky, from the Craft article:

    The Rite is essentially a pictorial history in music from the beginning to end. The image of God, as experienced in primitive pagan Russia, as at the core. of the vision.

    Tina Martin's Chosen One is a tour de force of energy, desperation, and -- ultimately -- despair.. Wainrot selected Martin to dance a portion of this choreography on the Bolshoi stage during the Benois de la Danse competition.

    An 8-minute clip of the Chosen One's final dance --

    Martin's Partner is Markus Schaffer. The woman who appears to be a leader of the tribe is Maria-Angeles Llamas. This was most likely filmed at a performance at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

  20. I saw this many years ago at a gala performance:


    Brilliant! tiphat.gif A great example of the pretzel-bending school of choreography. So many of these moves are still with us in new choreography. Especially the lifts and balances that are awkward to get out of. Love the promenade in which Esquival is obliged to place his palm on the top of the ballerina's head as she turns.
  21. Thanks for the "Grand Pas de Deux," phrank, which I didn't know until you linked it here.. It's like a compendium of almost all the old ballet jokes strung together. It made me notice a recurring pattern in a lot of ballet humor. You start with a pompous and rather grand movement (taken very seriously -- then you deflate it suddenly by something like an awkwardly flexed foot, an off-balanced swing of the leg, etc. My favorite example in this video, for excellence of execution, was the mis-calculated swan dive. The red handbag was briefly funny but outstayed its welcome, as a great deal of ballet humor does.

    I saw "The Concert" when it was revived in the 70s. To me, at least, the gags were new I actually laughed out loud, as did the people around me. Nowadays, I'm more likely to smile in appreciation or chuckle briefly.

    Count me as one who cannot stand the comedy of "Don Quixote". -- Sancho Panza, Gamache, the doofus Don himself.

    Helene mentioned Ashton. How about "Cinderella," for a kind of humor that moves into slapstick? And Widow Simone in "La fille mal gardee,." for a more gentle kind of humor. When I was a kid the scenes with Cinderella's step sisters struck me as the funniest things I had ever seen.That they were performed by men impressed me less than the element of comic sadness in the sisters' pretensions to beauty and grace.

  22. The photo of Pauline Mercier is exquisite, though it certainly doesn't suggest that she was "inclined to be buxom." I can understand how she was able to charm the vicomte and the Goncourts.

    Do you have any idea of what role Giuseppina Bossi is portraying? It looks like something I've seen before. ' La Vivandiere'? Something along the lines of 'Fille du Regiment'?

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