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doug

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Posts posted by doug

  1. Coppelia includes a number of national dances: czardas and mazurka in Act II, Spanish and Scottish in Act II. Am I missing some?

    Is there traditional choreography for these dances and, if so, from where does it derive - Paris or St. Petersburg? Is it possible to trace its authorship?

    The Stepanov notations of Coppelia include what was intended to be very elaborate documentation of the Act I mazurka but, sadly, the notation was not completed. I believe the mazurka called for 20 corps couples and 2 soloist couples (I'd have to check my notes).

    [ 05-20-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

  2. I think Coppelia deserves much more discussion that she is getting. Come on folks, there is a lot to discuss in this work!

    I really am interested in various productions of Act III. What was the take - a wedding, a festival, a pageant, just another Act III divertissement? I find that with many full-lengths, what were once a unique final celebratory acts with much individual flavor have been restaged according to a catch-all formula of pas de deux and variation after variation.

    Please share your experiences with Coppelia Act III - there must be some interesting versions out there, historic and contemporary. :)

    [ 05-20-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

  3. Maybe this could be an individual topic: I'm interested to know different takes on the Act III Festival of the Bell. It seems to be a sort of pageant about life and a day at the same time, plus the dedication of the town bell. I believe French productions omit most of Act III.

    On another topic, I'd like to bring to everyone's attention the CD recording of Coppelia with the Orchestre de L'Opera de Lyon, conducted by Kent Nagano, on ERATO 4509-91730-2. I feel this is the best Delibes recording, by a long shot. It's amazingly suave and well-timed, with great ensemble. If you like ballet music but generally don't favor Delibes, I'd say give this one a try. If you like Delibes, you'll really appreciate this recording. Another benefit is the complete Act III, with some of the sorties and other bits of music that aren't even in the re-issued piano score.

  4. Kent Stowell, Artistic Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet, has a letter in his office from President Johnson (dating from Kent's years with NYCB) thanking him for his performance at the White House. It is very short but it is signed by Johnson.

  5. Tallchief has done parts of Pas de Dix for the Balanchine Foundation. The piano variation would make a good study of how Balanchine revised Petipa's choreography.

    Pas de Dix was essentially superceded by Cortege Hongrois in 1973, which is most of Raymonda Act III plus some portions of Acts I and II. Balanchine choreographed nearly all of the dance music from Raymonda in his three Raymonda ballets (not including the nearly full-length Raymonda of 1946).

    I've always felt Raymonda is a ballet that CAN be successful, although everyone knocks the story. The original libretto is not as confusing as one might think from reading about it or from seeing revised versions. :)

  6. In that interview, she told me she felt the "classics" needed to be updated and compared them to documentaries that were often too long! She suggested presenting various scenes from Raymonda as one-act ballets. She also said she remembered some of the ballet very clearly from when she danced children's roles at the Maryinsky. She is on video teaching the Act III piano variation to Zippora Karz.

    Frederic Franklin has recently restaged a few solos from the 1946 Raymonda for the Balanchine Foundation.

    I don't think it's possible to completely restage the 1946 Raymonda accurately, but I believe some of the dances, in addition to those that Franklin has restaged, could be revived, at least now. Maybe not in a few years . . .

  7. Alexandra, re: Symphony in C staging. Here is my understanding: the Balanchine Trust does not control rights to Symphony in C. John Taras does (he got them from Betty Cage to whom Balanchine left the ballet in his will). Steps have been changed and he won't allow the ballet to be performed unless the changes are made by one of his stagers. The rights are also very expensive compared to Balanchine ballets held by the Trust. For this reason, Symphony in C has gone out of the rep of a number of companies, including PNB. Francia Russell taught Symphony in C to John T. and now he wants someone else to come make changes. It's really too bad.

    [ 04-25-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

  8. The Kent Stowell piece is called "Poeme Saint-Saens" (forgive the lack of accents, etc.) and is a 7-minute work for a ballerina and 3 men. I saw Jodie Thomas and Julie Tobiason.

    I doubt that the programmers considered that both Poeme and Violin have walkovers! The walkover in Poeme comes at the end when the ballerina is tired, so maybe it looked as though she collapsed, maybe she did collapse, maybe her back was tight, etc. That's the joy of live performance. They looked okay to me, but I'm generally not keen on walkovers in the first place, so I'm a bad judge of execution. :)

    I know I'm biased toward PNB, but I feel they have a great way with the black and white Balanchine ballets in their rep. I have to say I was SO disappointed with NYCB's Four Temperaments this past January. I was expecting something great and thought most of it was really underdone and some of it just plain badly danced (or set? - also very dully played by Richard Moredock). Most everyone else thought it was a highlight of the season, so I think we are seeing and expecting different things in these ballets and dancers.

  9. Bart Cook staged Violin for PNB. He was back a few weeks ago to restage it this time around, as well. Bart was a member of the second cast in 1972 but joined the first cast shortly after the premiere. Dianne Chilgren played for rehearsals. She was there in 1972 also and has her score full of notes and counts.

    My thoughts are that at the end of Aria II, any emotion that may seem to well up might come as a result of the dancers standing still, facing the audience. The man is behind the woman and reaches out. Their heads tilt as his hand moves. The audience has a chance to really look at the dancers, particularly their faces, and the music may reinforce the emotional effect. Does that make sense? At PNB, Jeff Stanton danced Aria II with Patricia Barker. Louise Nadeau also danced the Kay Mazzo role - she is tiny like Mazzo. Others danced these roles as well, but I can't remember who at the moment

    As far as humor (and fun), I think there is a LOT in Violin Concerto. Balanchine put in Russian character steps and steps one might think stemmed from his years in Hollywood and on Broadway. The final Capriccio is a real party. I've always loved watching it. I enjoy this ballet as much as Four Ts and Agon.

    These comments are also very interesting to me in light of PNB's performances. PNB is known for its rather dry interpretation of Balanchine ballets, particularly the black and white rep. The dancers tend not to be the sort that would layer on an interpretation of "put on" emotion just for its own sake. At the same time, I can't really see Bart Cook asking for that sort of thing either. The rehearsals I saw were very straightforward. Steps set to music. I would guess that anything "extra" resulting from it would spring from the combination of movement and music perceived by the individual.

    Gee, does that sound TOO dry?! :)

  10. Sorry to join in so late in the game - forgive any repetitions. The libretto, at the beginning of Act II, also mentions birch trees, aspens and weeping willows. Myrtha leaps around from willow branches to flowers (unspecified!). Albrecht hide behind a weeping willow while Hilarion is killed.

    Re the daisy/daisies in Act I: not to confuse the issue further, but the libretto states, "She [Giselle] picks some daisies [Elle cueille des marguerites], and strips away the petals, to assure herself of Loys's love.--The test succeeds, and she falls into her beloved's arms."

    The libretto also states that, at the end of the ballet, Albrecht "carries her in his arms far from her tomb and puts her down on a knoll, amidst a clump of [again unspecified :cool:] flowers." The Stepanov notations of Giselle, which date from probably 1903-5ish, also indicate this action.

  11. I'm currently reading Marian Smith's new translation of the original published libretto (which she gives both in original French and English translation), and see that Giselle does not stab herself: "... [Giselle] is about to let herself fall on its [the sword's] sharp point, when her mother hurries toward her and grabs it away." Giselle continues her mad dance and then dies: "So many sudden sorrows, so many cruel blows, together with this latest effort, have finally exhausted her dwindling resources ... Life seems to abandon her ... her mother takes her in her arms ... A last sigh escapes from the heart of poor Giselle ... She glances sadly at Albrecht in despair, [italicized from hereon] and her eyes close forever! Bathilde, kind and generous, melts in tears ..."

    The libretto is very rich in detail and very illuminating.

    [ 04-21-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

    [ 04-21-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

  12. My understanding is that Balanchine left his ballets to 14 different individuals (this was made possible by the ability to copyright choreography, granted by Congress in 1976). Several of the major rights holders deposited their rights into the newly-formed Balanchine Trust. Tanaquil LeClerq retained her rights but the administration of the rights/ballets left to her was handled by the Trust. She, therefore, received the royalties for performances of the ballets for which she held rights (which, I believe, were the American performing rights to most of Balanchine's ballets). I'm shooting from the hip here (Taper's addition re Balanchine's will was also published in Ballet Review in two separate issues, but I'm too lazy to dig them out), so correct me where I'm wrong. If we get into nitty gritty, I'll dig them out.

  13. According to the original libretto, Albrecht and Bathilde are reconciled at the end of the ballet: "[Giselle] points Albrecht toward the trembling Bathilde, on her knees a few steps away and stretching out her hand in a gesture of entreaty. Giselle seems to tell her lover to give his heart and soul to this sweet young girl." And at the very end: "Weak and staggering, he [Albrecht] falls into the arms of those who surround him, and reaches out his hand to Bathilde!!!"

    The exclamation points are original, too!!! :mad:

  14. Here is Heinrich Heine's description of Wilis. This has been translated by Marian Smith and is included in her new book, Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle (Princeton, 200O). This description was also printed at the beginning of the Giselle libretto in 1841:

    GERMAN TRADITION

    From which the plot of the ballet Giselle or The Wilis is taken.

    There exists a tradition of the night-dancer, who is known, in Slavic countries, under the name Wili. -- Wilis are young brides-to-be who die before their wedding day. The poor young creatures cannot rest peacefully in their graves. In their stilled hearts and lifeless feet, there remains a love for dancing which they were unable to satisfy during their lifetimes. At midnight they rise out of their graves, gather together in troupes on the roadside, and woe be unto the young man who comes across them! He is forced to dance with them until he dies.

    Dressed in their wedding gowns, with wreathes of flowers on their heads and glittering rings on their fingers, the Wilis dance in the moonlight like Elves [italicized]. Their faces, though white as snow, have the beauty of youth. They laugh with a joy so hideous, they call you so seductively, they have an air of such sweet promise, that these dead bacchantes [italicized] are irresistible.

    Heinrich HEINE (On Germany) [italicized]

  15. Amy, Lunacharsky is mentioned on pages 53, 53 and 64 of Bernard Taper's "Balanchine." Taper states that Lunacharsky convinced Lenin that opera and ballet were not inherently decadent.

    From my readings, I've not gotten the impression that a particular ballet influenced the decision of the early Soviet government to support ballet. Doesn't mean it wasn't the case, of course. There is a parallel story in the history of early music that Palestrina's "Missa Papae Marcelli" (Pope Marcellus Mass) saved polyphony in the wake of the Counter-Reformation. This story is regard as apocryphal today, but it sure has made that particular mass setting famous.

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    Doug Fullington

  16. Alexandra, my knowledge of the early post-Revolution era in Soviet Russia is pretty limited. Souritz deals with the ballet "to be or not to be" crisis on pages 42-50. According to Souritz, Lunacharsky was the main leader involved in championing the ballet, first in Moscow, then in Petrograd. She doesn't mention Vaganova in this section. In fact, Vaganova is mentioned only once in the entire book, re her 1930s redaction of Swan Lake.

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    Doug Fullington

  17. "Soviet Choreographers in the 1920s" by Elizabeth Souritz is a great resource for learning about early changes to the full-lengths we know today. I believe a Soviet official named Lunacharsky is thought to be responsible in great part for the continuing of ballet during the early years of the Soviet Union.

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    Doug Fullington

  18. Re: Odette's port de bras and neo-classicism, I would disagree that Odette's arm positions indicate a **particular** development or "looking ahead" beyond Ivanov's attempt to make Odette resemble a swan. Notated port de bras from the late -Imperial era is quite a bit different from what we consider classical or, more specifically, Vaganova port de bras today. Photos from the era jive with various notated arm positions: there seems to have been a lot of variety in port de bras and the aesthetic was also different from what we might think. For example, palms were often turned toward the audience when arms were raised, wrists were often flexed, arms in high fifth were sometimes crossed over the head, etc.

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    Doug Fullington

  19. This is a little off the top of my head, but . . . I wrote my analytic paper in law school on choreographic copyright. I believe it was in 1976 that Congress added choreography to copyright laws. Essentially, as soon as a piece of choreography is made, it is protected by copyright. The big case on this subject is still the Balanchine Trust case against the folks who wanted to published pics of Balanchine's Nutcracker in a book without the permission of the Trust.

    [This message has been edited by doug (edited March 26, 2001).]

  20. My impression from BB friends is that McPhee's role as artistic coordinator is to help finish pulling the 2001-2002 season repertoire together in a very short time. The BB marketing department has deadlines in early April for renewals and season announcements. The staff is working together to complete the budget and McPhee is overseeing the communication among the various constituencies. Given the very limited time in which they have to do this job and keep their heads above water, following last month's period of paralyzing stasis, I think they are probably doing the best they can at the moment. McPhee is one of the artists at the center of BB. He may not have experience as a dancer, but he knows how to work with people and he is trusted, and those characteristics might be the most important at the immediate present.

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    Doug Fullington

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