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Posts posted by Nanatchka

  1. I would ALWAYS rather see the choreography. Time was, this was the difference between ABT and NYCB. Stars, choreography. Not that the choreography was always better in one place than the other, and not that the dancers were better in one place or the other. But a difference in emphasis.

  2. Yacov Sharir also came out of Batsheva--the souce of both of the "deaf dance" companies. Interesting. Since his company came first, there might have been some back and forth. I have looked up Sharir since my first post, and his subsequent company is now the resident company of the dance department at UT Austin, and Sharir is now, and has been for some time, very interested in computers and dance.

  3. Nanatchka, that company of deaf dancers sounds amazing! I just wonder about that all-important quality for a dancer: musicality. Deaf people can't really be musical, can they?

    If by musical you mean an ability to phrase movement material, the deaf are actually highly skilled--you only have watch a conversation in ASL (American Sign Language) to see this. A complex metre does not need music to be conveyed to a performer, merely a demonstration. As Merce Cunningham said to me once, people "don't understand that rhythm is time cut up." However, if by musical you mean dancing to deeply heard music, a deaf performer cannot do that, of course. A person can also be intrinsically graceful (like a cat), which has nothing to do with music, and thus be perceived as musical, I should think.

  4. Yacov Sharir founded a company of deaf dancers in Austin, Texas, in the late 1970s. They were mostly modern dancers, not ballet dancers (though I remember one danseur in particular), and some had backgrounds in gymnastics. Sharir was inspired by Merce Cunningham--the cueing was all visual. The dancers did feel the vibrations of the music through the floor--I remember in particular a dance by Dee McCandless called "Wadi," which had percussionists in the wings. If I am remembering correctly, the ballet choreographer Michael Utoff, who was then with the Hartford, made a piece for them. Some of the dancers were later absorbed into the Sharir Dance Company. The original company, though, to get back to that, was quite wonderful, and much loved by the community. In their audience was where I learned to applaud with my hands raised in the air over my head, so the dancers could see the acclaim.

  5. The Wind and the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

    Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger

    a Blandings Castle comedic novel by P G Wodehouse (choose any)

    Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf

    Howard's End, EM Forster

    Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers

    The Thurber Carnival, James M. Thurber

  6. If nationality is an issue, King (or Rex, or whatever you wish to be called), why not have an award like those the French government awards? The Legion d'honneur comes in ranks--Knight (Chevalier) and Commander (Commandeur), I think. I had the honor to see an American choregrapher awared the highest of honors by the French ambassador at their beautiful cultural affairs building in New York this spring. It was a moving ceremony. The French have had a love affair with American modern dance--thus I do not know of any ballet choreographers so honored. If anyone's interested I could look into it. Two of those I know of have a history with NYCB---Paul Taylor guested there and was asked to join the company, and Merce Cunningham, whom I saw honored, has had two works in the rep, though one was only in Ballet Society, the NYCB predecessor company. To wrap up, I think Violette Verdy should be declared a Living International Treasure!

  7. Greek God: Peter Martins

    Soulful: Baryshnikov

    Hot: Edward Villella

    Beyond divine: Igor Youskevitch

    Handsomest Choreographer: Paul Taylor (he guested with NYCB, so I am grandfathering him into the ballet thread)

    The Handsomest Man in the World: dancer Rob Besserer

    I am not including people I did not see in person, though I met Villella and Youskevitch after they retired from the stage. From the photographic evidence, the Danes have consistently populated dance with the handsomest of the handsome.

  8. Was the character wheeling Tewsley around supposed to be just a nurse, or was there some larger symbolism that I missed?

    Anthony's question got lost in the shuffle - can anyone answer it? And who was Stephen Hanna supposed to be? Some of the "characters" were quite clear, apparently, and others not. Did Lincoln Kirstein make an appearance? Stravinsky?

    I've seen it, now, and I'm back.

    1. The "nurse" is wearing a Nehru suit. I take this to mean that he is the little boy in Midsummer, grown up. (Oberon/Balanchine in his late years, with faithful attendant.)

    2. The third character in the Mourka trio is Stravinsky. I deduce this from photographs of the three, not from the choreography. (I considered and decided it wasn't Kirstein, or Eddie Bigalow. ) I do not think there actually is a conflation of Mourka and Zorina.

    I think Whelan is a wonderful cat. The ballet is meretricious claptrap, but you cannot blame the dancers, who give it their best. (Some of the novelty steps look dangerous.) If one could sue from heaven, Balanchine and all of the composers could make out like bandits. Just like Eifman.

  9. I think there's a dichotomy going on here between form and content. Once you start discussing the relationships in Balanchine's ballets, you are in essence looking for mothers-in-law, whom you will not find. Perhaps his content can be viewed as conservative, though I think sublimated is more like it myself. His form, however, is anything but conservative. I don't see why "raw emoting" is liberal, or modern. Essentially the divide in this conversation seems to be between story/not story, or between narrative/metaphor. There's nothing essentially conservative or liberal about any of these, is there? What Balancine can not be--the only thing I think he cannot be--is contemporary.

  10. It makes me think that you Americans are far more conservative in your views of the arts than us British.... throw you a meaty bone of MacMillan, a richly sugared slice of Bejart, or now, (as it appears from my reading so far of the US newspapers) a spicy and though-provoking stew of Eifman, and you're thrown; it is unfamiliar, so you can't handle it. 

    I'm observing only - not criticising

    I don't think we're really as provincial as all that, despite being your former colony. Bejart is not unfamiliar here, and indeed rather popular. Also MacMillan. (In fact, I have had occasion to feel wearily familiar with both.) They hardly occasion the shock of the new. As for the richly theatrical experience you espouse in culinary terms, I should think it depends on what you mean by rich, and what you mean by theater.

  11. -- i was good, and kept my mouth shut -- although when they began disrespecting kyra.....

    You should have decked them. I will now tiptoe into the conflation of Mourka and Zorina. Both another name for cat and the Spanish "zorina" can be constured as slang allusions. Thus Balanchine is in a "cat house."

  12. Let's say we go with the Suzanne K. Langer theory Alexandra so succinctly sums up. If we need art as a kind of indirect worship, then the reason we need it less as a society now is because our society is moving towards more direct religious experience--in other words, a society of evangelicals communicating directly with God (or engaging in pop mystical practice), needing neither priest, teacher, nor mediator, be that Balanchine, or Bach. (That would be the sacred music or dance part of worship spun off, but retaining its spiritual power.)Art as an investigative tool is also less needed, because who needs to investigate when already directly guided? I think I will go read some more now about Madonna and the Kabala....

  13. Hey, I'm a huge fan of ineluctible formalism. But I don't dislike Bejart because he is narrative. I dislike the schlock aspect. Besides, I'm perfectly prepared to be passe along with formalism, if it is passe. Nonetheless I maintain, as I have for a boringly long time, that dance can never be abstract, because people do it. By nature people are the opposite of abstract. Roca should be comforted by the fact that, his agrieved posture of alienation notwithstanding, more people seem to share his taste than mine, if not more literati.

  14. Shalimar is a very sweet scent with a top note of vanilla, as my nose recalls it, but the original bottle was very oriental looking, and it was "oriental" in that it wasn't a flower scent. (Margaret Tracy, maybe. Cookies, not erotics.)It was extremely popular in the late sixties and seventies with girls who grew up seeing their mothers dab it on before going out at night. The flagon was dark blue cut crystal with a faceted pointy stopper. Guerlain makes a more intentionally oriental fragrance called "Mitsuko." Such good names. My favorite of theirs (name not scent, though it's lovely--all of those perfumes before the ghastly emergence of Opium, Poison, and Giorgio, which have ruined so many nights in the theater for those sitting near their wearers) is L'Heure Blue. So, Farrell Fan, I suppose this is what I am talking about when I talk about a ballerina's"perfume":a translation of the visual sensory impression to an olfactory one. I don't think of this as a lingering after the fact kind of thing, but one of aura at the time of performance. In the case, say, of Farrell, when I speak of her perfurme I am not speaking of an exisiting scent which she conjures, but of the synesthetic experience of Farrell as scent.

  15. There is a also a collection of the dance photography from 2wice--including the photos mentioned above--in a new book published by Phaidon called 2wice Dance. You can get it on Amazon. I hope this link works I have never tried one before: 2wice Dance Or some one smart can put in a link here.... I have the book and have seen the magazines. Most of the dance writing (deep captions, not long pieces) is a hybrid of dance and photography writing--it is about the photographs, which are collaborations between the photograher and the choreographer, or the dancer- subject. The photos are commissioned for the magazine, which have a single word theme reflected in the title of each issue. They are not neccessarily documention of theater work--there's a picture of Mark Morris with a watermelon, for example, in the issue called "Picnic"--, although sometimes theater works are performed in the shoots. Dance Ink and 2wice have the same publisher, Patsy Tarr, a longtime supporter of dance. The same award winning graphic designer, J. Abbott Miller, is responsible for both, and 2wice is a highly designed publication. According to the intro to the book, 2wice showcases dance along with other arts, including decorative arts, to attract a broader readership than a single issue magazine. For people still interested in Dance Ink, there is book of photos complied from the magazine--now out of print, published by Chronicle. There are a lot of used copies in circulation. I've seen it on e-bay.

  16. As good a reason as any besides his Man of Letters pedigree. Gottlieb has actually come rather recently to writing dance criticism, though not to seeing dance. (He has seen an incredible lot.) He was busy heading Random House, and then editing The New Yorker, and also being the personal editor of a variety of distinguished writers, among them Katherine Graham, Paul Taylor, and Joe Heller. And guess who's editing Bill Clinton's new tome? Thus you might imagine that a publisher and his or her back of the book (that's reviews and the like) editor would be thrilled to have Bob Gottlieb as a writer--by the way,his criticism appears elsewhere, too, including as a book reviewer for the NYReview of Books and the New York Times. Whatever you think (I happen to think he is totally divine), his distinction is indisputable.

  17. <<<To me, the way he writes it's almost as if it's pure torture for him going to the ballet. If that's the case why go?>>>

    To bear witness. (That is my speculative answer, not Mr. Gottlieb's actual answer.)

    <<<< the person that is the focus of the review would come away with more knowledge of what he or she should do too better themselves in their dancing from the positive criticism more so then from the negative criticism>>>

    This is a misconception about the role of criticism, which is not the same thing as a director or dramaturg's notes, but made public. In other words, a review is not written as corrective advice, or if it is, in the hands of a good writer it is clearly cast that way. (For instance, "If only blank blank blank would blank blank blank, it would be wonderful. I can dream, can't I?") This doesn't mean that the critic might not actually have staged the work better--indeed, it is a grim moment in a mature career when you realize you could have set a work better than the stager, or helped the stager in significant ways. Nonetheless, criticism is written for the READER, who is construed to be a member of the audience, not for the PERFORMER. Reviews are letters to the world, not fan mail, and not stage directions.

  18. Sandy DUncan used to be a television star. She toured in Peter Pan for ages, and also I think in Music Man. She's ultra perky and ultra nice and to my mind a little old to play the role Anna, which I suppose she has. Who's the big star man? This would be the Yul Brenner role (once played by Nureyev, by the way). It really matters who this actor is, too. I think this production is probably geared towards the nostalgic set, rather than young people. But why don't you rent the excellent old movie with Yul Brenner, and see what you make of it? Steel Magnolias was a charming play, much better than the movie of the same title--it's an ensemble piece for women. Who's in the cast? Can you list any of the actresses? It's about women in the south, kind of a three hankie show, all takes place in a "beauty parlour." Full of gentle southerm jokes. I'll check back for you. I cannot advise you on anything else because I detested Riverdance, which you would probably love, since you loved Lord of the Dance. Except that Smoky Joe is a musical review kind of show. It is probably a pretty good production (these are "bus and truck" tours--that is, travelling versions of Broadway shows, designed to fit into a variety of theaters) but all depends on the band. See if you are interested in the music (is it Stoller and Lieber? I can't remember. Just Google the title) because that's the draw. I think if I were choosing from the list, I'd see the 12th Night and maybe the improv guys (Whose Line) because it might be fun to see them live. And Contact. I'm not a fan, but you might love it. If you want to read reviews of Contact, you can find them on line from the original Lincoln Center theater production. Susan Stroman did the directing and choreography.

  19. In addition to The Once and Future King (which is also read well beyond the 8th grade), there is a wonderful book by T H White called Mistress Masham's Repose. It is a continuation, of sorts, of Gulliver's Travels, involving a colony of Lilliputians living inside a Greek-style temple on a repose (a little island) on a great British estate. (This actually is my favorite book ever.) You might also look into the Redwall series, beloved of one of my children, and of course Tolkien. Not to mention Harry Potter. Not that magic and alternate universes are the same thing, but the Potter books, I am told, by same son, are both.

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