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Posts posted by Nanatchka

  1. He doesn't look any too thrilled when he has to wear gypsy clothes, either...Sometimes you feel he is a dancer wearing a costume as a good sport, rather than a character who would wear such attire. This doesn't bother me at all, and I may be imagining the affect.

  2. Ari, yours is inversion of what I was thinking of-- when I travel to see the Cunningham company, we are both (the company and I) away from our same home city. A kind of shared road trip. But your point is so interesting--about seeing the home cities of companies--I have always wanted to see the Kirov-- during the White Nights! I adore Silvy's travelogue, too. So dashing---Montevideo to Buenos Aires. (Such wonderful names.) Makes the train trip from NYC to Washington DC seem exceedingly dull....

  3. It isn't a ballet, but because it shares a title with this thread, I will mention crossing the Atlantic to see Merce Cunninghan's "Ocean" in Brussels, one of many trips I have taken to see Cunningham repertory. One of the happy accidents of such travel is that one sees, and connects, elements of the visited cities with elements of the work. In Brussels, it was Cunningham and Brughel ,and from Brughel to William Carlos Williams (the American who wrote the poems called "Pictures from Brughel). There are also the surprises of travel--as when you go to see one ballet, but another is the central experience of the trip. I once went to Paris to see Cunningham's "Windows," and thus was there to join the French in an extended ovation for "Sounddance." "Windows" was indeed, as it was said, "superbe," but "Sounddance" was galvanic.

  4. I don't know about that, Nanatchka.  Isn't Mozart always and instantly recognizable as Mozart?  And while there are themes that appear in more than one work, it is hardly the "same old same old."  Michelangelo?  Van Gogh?  Petipa?

    Sorry, I guess I didn't make myself clear! I don't think Mozart is a

    "repetitive artist," so none of what I said would apply to him. I was thinking of bad choreograpy, actually, of the present era. When Mozart themes recur (such as the clarinet in the Clarinet Concerto "singing" an aria from Figaro), the works simply resonate with each other. Or not so simply.

  5. Well that's something I really have to think about, Alexandra. Just off the top of my head, I'd say that with a signature style, the artist uses the same language to say different things (not that there isn't an overarching vision or philosophy). With a repetitive artist, there usually isn't much being said at all, and whatever it is is always the same old same old. (This is getting into form and content---sooooooo, back to you, Alexandra! How would you explain the difference?! If I had smilies enabled, this is where my wicked grin would go....)

  6. Since it's a not for profit enterprise, once operating expenses are met, the companies can keep the rest of the ticket money.

    What would you do with your unexpected booty?

    Once operating expenses are met, there will be no left over money from ticket sales. That's why dance companies need donors, and are non-profit.

    As for me, I would establish a foundation with the money, and use it to help underwrite live music for performances (first up, Paul Taylor's company), and to support various revivals of works out of repertory (I have to either miss them or want to see them for the first time) in certain companies. (Funding new work is generally the preference, so I would be in a small way redressing that situation.) I would also establish a collection of choreographer's "drawings" and "choreographic notes" and set and costume sketches that I would, until such time as the foundation's resources were exhausted, be housed here in the foundation office, aka the room in which I am sitting. (ie, It's my foundation, I get to have some fun here.) They would be available for exhibition loan to non profits. To keep things on the up and up, I would pay a book keeper, but find a lawyer to do the foundation work pro bono if possible. In the way of ongoing projects, Alexandra, as the well recompensed off site foundation staff member with full, independent supervision of web and print publication, could do with her generous budget whatever she pleased. Additionally, I would fully underwrite on a yearly basis the positions of Faculty Chair of the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio, and Assistant to the Choregrapher and Rehearsal Director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. If there were any income left, I would make make two donations to existing foundations: the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, which makes grants to individual artists, and to the 2wice Arts Foundation, which commissions collaborations between photographers and choreographers. I would also directly make some small grants, just to make sure I kept myself out there seeing things.

  7. I think it is a hallmark of greatness that, at a time when one can look back upon a life of work, it suggests not discrete entitites, but a "body of work" with a shape. In this way dances are like poems, and the body of choreography like poet's Collected Works. The better you know the work the more differences you see among works, because detail is so telling, and because the choreographer's means are so familiar to you that you can "read" the work clearly. And yet, there is that blessed familiarity, the signature traits that , when someone complains that the work is all alike, makes you say, 'Thank Goodness." Incidentally, to me differences do not neccessarily arise from music, but from the inherent structure of the work, and how the choregrapher creates drama though weight, inflection, phrasing, pace, counterpoint, canon, etc etc. That may be a reflection of or an amplification of a score, but it may be resident in the steps, apart from the music.

  8. I, too, adored Ferri. I thought it might have helped if Stiefel were merely taller, which of course is impossible, and not a criticism of him. Some of the beautiful architecture of the figures might have been enhanced in the pas de deux. Also, a little passion would have been good. I felt during the broadcast as I did in the theater--that this is such an English dream--not Shakespearean, but Victorian. It is interesting to me to see the suitability to the music, which is supremely adept, but so, too, is Balanchine's. I don't think their differering sensibilities--Sir Fred, Mr.B-- are any clearer than in thinking about them vis a vis their Dreams. A really great experience of ballet is to see first one, then the other. Let it be so. I can dream, can't I?

  9. Don't forget the men! Adam Luders was wonderful in this ballet--which with Davidsundtlertanze was his very best role--and so was Sean Lavery, and partnering Patty McBride, Bart Cook. The more I think about it, the more beautiful casts of Liebeslieder I can think of. I think I will try to see them all this season.

  10. to the best of my knowledge arlene croce's balanchine book is NOT a biography; it's a study of key works, no doubt w/ biographical information but not a biog. per se.

    Oh, OK. It makes sense, obviously, that Croce is not writing a biography.

    However, in that case I'm going to say again, it is really baffling that there isn't a major, new-generation biography in the works.

    If it's really true Mr B is up there with Mozart and Tchaikovsky it's a little awkward that they have new books to show off with every five years or so, and all Mr B's got is a bunch of (fine) memoirs.

    I think there is one to be out in June. When I know for sure, I will post.

  11. Amy, Carbro: the ladder incident and the birthday set are two different sets, two different dances. From the ladder anecdote:

    [Kirstein asked] "David, is that going to be this color?" of a metal ladder than happned to be on the stage when he came to look at a set. Balanchine later derived much fun from this, apparently teasing Kirstein that items were going to be "tin" colored.

    Sorry I don't remember which ballet had a "surprise" set.

    I loved the Hays segment, just as I love his work for the ballets. It was unfortunate that slides of his designs were not projected during his talk. I thought we were afforded a rare look at a relationship between Balanchine and a collaborator, narrated intimately, and with great modesty and charm.

  12. And I was fascinated by the Kirstein biographer (perhaps because I've been wondering if there were a biography out there... this is one book I'll definitely run out and buy)

    There's a Kirstein biography in the works? More info, please. Who is the author? How far along is the book -- can we expect to see it any time soon?

    I certainly don't envy the author his/her task. Imagine everything you'd have to know to write such a book: all about art, literature, dance, music, esthetic theory, in addition to the details of such a long and rich life. But that's what will make it so exciting to read!

    Martin Duberman is the author. Among his books is a wonderful study of Black Mountain College. Duberman has grown more political in his writing over the years, being a champion of what is sometimes called Gay Studies. He has access to the unedited Kirstein diaries, from which he read. These are quite different from the published version, having been cut for reaons of tact concerning the living. I hope the book will contain a lot of this material. Duberman spoke briefly of Kirstein's relationship with his father--you can see that this is not going to be a dance book per se, but a biography with cultural context.

  13. When I saw her in Newark as the Sylph, I thought she could fly. Very much along the lines of Alexandra's impression of her in Washington--an other worldly dancer. I also admired how she achieved a kind of antique effect in a totally plastic way. That is, she looked as if charming old engravings had come to life. Very very clear shapes. She made no lasting impression on me at all in Conservatoriet--no one did. This was no doubt more my fault than theirs. It just seemed quaint.

  14. There's some sort of ratcheting down going on in the theater. Standing ovations are now customary on opening nights (the gala crowd being full of supporters) and for Broadway shows in general. They are, perhaps as a consequence, more common everywhere. (I think if people bother to pay a lot for tickets and go out, they like to think they have seen something fabulous.) You can do what you want. With all the racket, the people on stage won't know, unless you are in a highly visible location. ( I have heard a critic say she never, in her long career, applauded. Because Walter Terry didn't, as I recall.) When I am a guest of the house, I politely if quietly go along with whatever happy carrying on is happening in the audience. When I am on my own steam, I do as I please. Often enough, in either case, that's leaping to my own feet to acknowledge the entrance onto the stage of someone of greatness. In sum: if Merce Cunningham or Paul Taylor is standing, I am not sitting.

  15. What did they do, hire a cat herder to get them into the same room, a caterer to feed them so they'd stay there,  someone with a whip to get them all to stop bickering, and someone with a gun to get them to agree to agree? I'm really sorry I missed that....

    Very close! If Mel is talking about what I think he is, said critics, like a colony of rats, followed the tune of the piper. :)

    I don't know what is being talked about. What is the dance, who is the piper, and who are the critics being discussed here? How did they "collude?"

  16. For the same reason I gave for wanting to see a ballet that got panned, I'm now very cautious about ballets that get raves.  One provided me with much amusement at the very horror of it, and all the NY critics had raved about it.  Turned out much later, that the critics had all colluded and resolved not to give this big fat turkey buzzard the bombing it deserved, because it would have killed the company, who busted the bank in producing it.

    What did they do, hire a cat herder to get them into the same room, a caterer to feed them so they'd stay there, someone with a whip to get them all to stop bickering, and someone with a gun to get them to agree to agree? I'm really sorry I missed that....

  17.   Back to the confusing program which listed the same three dancers in 'Nomade' (although there were only two principals) and 'Triplex'.  I am assuming I saw Hojlund in 'Triplex'--but did I also see her in the lead in 'Nomade'  :shrug:

    That's a very good question. The whole deal with the program was a DISASTER. It was either assumed by the people who drew it up that we knew everyone already, or that we didn't care. Leaving aside the issue of actually listing the actual performers, and crediting solo variations, how hard is it to post pictures of the dancers in the lobby, as the Payl Taylor Dance Company does, or sell a little pamphlet?(Assuming there is no space in the actual program for pictures of the dancers.) I didn't think the house was poorly sold. Those upper tiers probably sell out for pop music concerts. (Large spaces often have been planned with arrangments to adjust the space for the type of entertainment, particularly when the auditorium has a function as a kind of civic center, which this one most certainly does, to its great credit.) I thought it was an excellent enaged interested diverse and intelligent audience with an exceptionally nice house staff. I didn't see gaps in the front half of the house, but I would attribute any to the cold weather before anything else.

  18. It is unfortunate that that respect did not extend to overseeing the proper production of a program for their Brooklyn audience. (All this would require is the sending and receiving of a fax.) Failing that, there should have been a clear announcement at the opening, or even better, a program insert. One should always assume that somewhere in the house are Ballet Talkers and Ballet Alertniks and their like--and besides, one should be courteous to all in the house, and to the dancers, by identifying them properly.

  19. You betcha "pantherine" is a word. Have you been reading me? I use it when I describe Stephen Petronio. (So shoot me.) I love that word. It sounds so, well, panther-like. (Guilty, guilty, guilty.) Not that there aren't things I'd like to see retired:



    And maybe we should take "iconic" out of circulation for a while. I remember when that word was launched--by Joan Acocella, as I tracked it--and it was fun to watch it make the rounds.

    The theater critic Richard Gilman wrote a whole essay on this topic in the 1970s. I will try to find it. (He hated "haunting." He said no one was ever haunted by a performance.) He liked to make his students write without adjectives. It makes for a more, well, pantherine prose. (Don't you just hate it when people call prose "muscular?") I now regard adjectives the same way I do chocolate. Yummy. I just love them. Which reminds me of another word I could do without, unless it is Deborah Jowitt writing.

    She can write about "luscious thighs" all she wants. Everyone else should stop. Let's just call a moratorium on all food adjectives applied to dancers. It implies that the writer 1)needs a life 2) is hungry.

    Mel, I think people use "amplitude" rather than "ampleness" because they want to make it quite clear they are writing about a movement quality, and not a plumpness quality. I don't know why the words have different connotations to that effect, but they do.

    About the body playing the music, or writing to that effect: it is an attempt to describe the experience known as "synesthesia," or a confusion of the senses, which is, when not produced by neurological problems but by a work of art, a magical sensation. You look at a dance--for instance, the concentric circles in Mark Morris's L'Allegro--and you feel as if the movement is producing the music. So your ears see, and your eyes hear. Balanchine was very fond of this notion.

  20. In 1981, I was interviewing Edward Villella for a radio program. NYCB had given me a room in the basement of the State Theater for the occasion. After we finished taping, Mr. Villella--who was, I have to admit, totally devastating--offered to take me upstairs to meet "Mr.B." ("You've never met him?") A few minutes later, I found myself on the STAGE of the New York State Theater, where Mr. Balanchine was contemplating a collection of long lucite tubes hanging at the back of the stage. He was wearing his usual shirt and string tie, and a jacket. He seemed pleased to see his prodigal son, offered me his hand most graciously, and gave me a quick appraising once-over. He looked amused. Of course Mr. Villella does not remember this--I once reminded him of it, to thank him for the introduction--but I always will.

  21. Amy, I agree. Looking down on the stage from the disinterested point of view of a bird or God or something takes away a lot, although some altitude compensates me if I'm farther back than I like. At the other extreme, can't you be too low, too, so you can't see the stage floor and aren't so aware who's near or far in the space? So when I went to see Merce's programs in the Harris in November I bought a lower-balcony seat for the first night and an orchestra seat for the second. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the new theatre....

    Okay, we know about the theater now, BUT WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE MERCE??? I was there too, and I found the only strange aspect of the theater the long, boarding an airplane type entrances, and the whole weird deal of being three stories underground. I was seated very close, and the view was terrific. The accoustics are hard to judge given the music, but the vocal part was very easily heard, but also amplified. (Cunningham and David Vaughan read John Cage's stories as the "music" for one of the pieces, How to Pass Fall Kick and Run.)

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