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About odinthor

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Avid balletgoer
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  1. odinthor

    Why So LIttle Massine?

    Asking forgiveness for presenting a wall of text--I'll restrain myself after this--but I've run across a page which I feel puts across the essence of what Massine was doing with music vis-à-vis dance. (From Massine a Biography, by Vicente Garcia-Marquez, p. 122; the text relates to 1919, London.) "[...] In the evening the company presented its first performance, Les Femmes de bonne humeur, with a new, more realistic décor by Bakst. To Diaghilev's immense relief and deep satisfaction, Les Femmes and its dancers were a sensation. The ballet's cinematic movements and simultaneous action were a revelation to British balletomanes. Wrote The Observer: 'The merry adventures are unfolded with a rapidity of action that only perfect precision can sustain, and it is this precision with which every gesture is linked to its accompanying musical phrase that is the secret of this remarkable feat of stage production . . . The result is not only a brilliant work of art, but the most exhilarating entertainment. Wordless wit is not easy of accomplishment, but Massine's choreography has attained to it.' Still, the work's distinctive style and rhythm took the general public by surprise, and even ballet aficionados found it a bit puzzling. The dance historian Cyril Beaumont described his own first impression: 'I was not sure whether I liked the ballet or not. The unusual speed of the performance was a little bewildering, and I could not get accustomed to the jerky, puppetlike quality of Massine's choreography, so different from the rounded and flowing movements of Fokine's compositions.' Only after repeated viewing did he determine that Massine's 'dances did far more than accompany the music and accord with its rhythmical structure; they really translated the spirit of the music in terms of choreography.'" This is just what I get from Massine: Not dancing accompanying music, but dancing which is a representation of the music and its spirit, an incarnation of the music in dance terms, a presentation in which the music and the dance have become one.
  2. odinthor

    Why So LIttle Massine?

    Thanks, Quiggin, for that excellent overview and discussion of Massine! Massine is mentioned in various places, I seem to recall, as being extremely inventive; it's probably a case of having so much to give, and wanting to pack it all in. He became aware, as time went on, that his complexity could be daunting; or at least I recall in his autobiography several remarks from him to that effect. In talking about a revival of his Mam'zelle Angot, for instance, he writes, "In the course of producing this ballet [...], I found that much of the original choreography needed simplification. I also altered much of the ensemble grouping so as to give a less fragmentary background for the principals [...]" (p. 231). I enjoyed that dynamic Symphonie Fantastique clip, thanks, and found it rather enthralling (isn't that part of the rehearsal filming video they did, the one that I believe had Erik Bruhn early in his career, as a non-principal?). My read on Massine's conceptualization is that, whereas we're used to focusing on particular dancers or small groups, he imparts the experience as we experience the wall of sound of a symphonic work: Not violins and trumpets and flutes etc. picked out of the tapestry of sound and enjoyed separately or in little consorts, but all together integrally simultaneously as a unit. An interesting personal vision! Edit: I just ran across the following interesting paragraph, which expands on a passage in Quiggin's post: "Andre Levinson, the prestigious Franco-Russian ballet critic noted for his partiality to the classical tradition, congratulated Massine on his achievement in Les Femmes de bon humeur: 'The inspiration of this humorous ballet is so adroit, the execution so homogeneous and free from constraint, the whole so well composed that I freely surrendered myself to the sweetness of living that exquisite hour of forgetfulness.' He considered the ballet 'a living and original work where the past only appears in the form of a distant suggestion, an echo softened by the passage of centuries.' (Levinson once had severely criticized Fokine for relying in his ballets on 'ethnography and archaeology' when reconstructing the past.) Levinson admired Massine's choreography for combining 'a sense of delicacy with a feeling of fitness in which the laws of the classic dance are rarely abrogated, its normal movements distorted and parodied, heightened and dispersed by the rhythm.' He described Massine's style as 'perpetuum mobile, a movement falling on each note, a gesture on each semiquaver, a continual fidget to which we owe the breathless and spirited animation of The Good Humoured Ladies; now, this restless style, with its insistence on distorted or broken lines, is bound to the imperative of polyrhythmic musical movement or tyrannical syncopation that a Stravinsky imposes on the orchestra'" (quoted from Massine a Biography, by Vicente Garcia-Marquez, pp. 101-102). Thus the "abstract nervousness" of Edwin Denby.
  3. odinthor

    Why So LIttle Massine?

    My word. A Parisian friend, on seeing my recent Facebook blather about Massine, writes to me and tells me that one of his clients worked with Massine in one of the late incarnations of the Ballet Russe, has broached my interest to the client, and the client wonders if I have any questions. If I get any answers of interest, and can relate them without any breach of confidence or privacy, I'll share them here...
  4. odinthor

    Why So LIttle Massine?

    Outstanding and exciting! I'd feel honored and enriched to see such offerings today. I'm fairly sure I saw the Joffrey in L.A. about then doing at least Parade, Petroushka, and The Green Table. (And maybe I've just forgotten the others; it was about then that I started attending ballet, and I wouldn't yet have been hip to the significance of the various choreographers and their works.) And so, anyone who has any sway: Start talking up Massine, and the serious stuff (I wonder if his own choreography of Sacre du Printemps is recoverable...?) as well as the light pieces. We can't let Massine fall by the wayside...
  5. odinthor

    Why So LIttle Massine?

    Yes, it looks like it; or Theodor Massine. See http://massine-ballet.com/html/revivals.php : "For revivals the original Léonide Massine Ballets of the Ballets Russes and Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo have been documented on film and are available for remounting of these ballets. In addition the Massine Ballets have to be restaged in cooperation with a repetiteur approved by the Massine Estate. Restagings have been conducted by Lorca Massine, www.lorcamassine.com. Please send all enquiries to Mr. Theodor Massine."
  6. odinthor

    Why So LIttle Massine?

    I'm sure I saw The Good-Humoured Ladies performed at the L.A. Music Center, albeit quite some time ago (late 1970s?), though I can't quite recall the company (Joffrey? ABT?). And--this is a pretty watery statement, but for what it's worth--in something I read in the last day or two (M's autobiography? something I ran across on the net?), I believe it was M himself who stated, with relief, that one of his more obscure pieces had been set down in notation (I forget which), and there seemed to be some implication that others of his output had also been notated. At the very end of his life (about the time I was seeing The Good-Humoured Ladies ), for the Marin Ballet he was preparing (re-choreographing?) none other than The Nutcracker, which would be an ideal show for Massine. That's not so terribly long ago. Does anything remain of the notes or ideas for this final effort of Massine's? Edit: This is of interest: http://massine-ballet.com/html/revivals.php
  7. A simple question: Why is there so little Massine around? What little I've seen of his choreography I've found exciting, sensitive, distinctive, intelligent, stageworthy, and--even in the light stuff--deeply-felt and masterfully composed. I'm in the middle of reading his autobiography, and my appreciation of him is redoubled by becoming aware of not only what he observes and the depth and breadth of his reflections but also the varied richness of his output over so many years--so many works I had never even heard of before. Surely it is time, and past time, for a Massine renaissance, surveying the rare pieces as well as the better-known ones...
  8. My quick reaction to Saturday night's performance: Entertaining, sophisticatedly sweet (not cloying), choreography was postmodern classicism, vibrant and imaginative; music was charming and good while playing, but darned if a bar of it lingers in the memory. All of my audience neighbors were completely enchanted. Natalia has hit all the nails on their various heads in her postings; no disagreements. Cornejo was wonderful, both dancing-wise and acting-wise. All the dancers were dedicated, inhabited their parts, and--best of all--seemed to be having a great time. The tiniest negative, the only one I can come up with: The (giant-headed) Doctor touches his head a few times, and it was hard to tell in some instances if it was dramatic gesticulation or rather that the head "felt wrong" and needed to be adjusted. Yes, it's a splendid must-see. It's a show that--perhaps thankfully--doesn't have a deeper meaning (nice to have a vacation from Deep Thoughts). Just sit and let the wonderful artistry wash over you.
  9. Thanking everyone for their comments and details about this. I'll be there Saturday night, and will post any observations which add anything of (I hope!) value to the above. Cutesy and sweet try my patience; but . . . we'll see . . .
  10. odinthor

    Mikhailovsky US tour 2016

    Thanks (about what happened after I left)! I'm usually a stay to the bitter end sort, so was chagrined when I realized something was happening without me. Yes, the audience was very receptive Saturday night, which doubtless energized the dancers. Everyone was a winner. My audience neighbor was very impressed with MacKay, as I was--very lyrical and smooth. His lifts need a little work; but I'm sure he's working on that as I type this. The performers last Saturday from the top of the bill to the bottom all get an enthusiastic thumbs up from me, whatever use they can make of that; but I have reservations about the production (as opposed to the dancing). Quite some long time ago indeed, I saw a production from I believe it was the Bolshoi; and though I don't associate Farukh Ruzimatov with the B., I'm certain he was the Ali, and he turned in an unforgettable performance, and the production was splendid and opulent, from the shipwreck at the beginning to the sailing off to new adventures at the end. --My point being that I'd happily empty my wallet to see another such production of Le Corsaire; another iteration of this cropped and re-arranged production, eh, not so much . . .
  11. odinthor

    Mikhailovsky US tour 2016

    Saw the Saturday evening (Nov. 19) perf. of Le Corsaire at Costa Mesa. I was a bit taken aback to find the production not starting with the familiar shipwreck scene etc., a scene which enriches the ballet dramatically as well as providing a production with a chance to strut its stuff in theater-craft and wow the audience. I was then disoriented to find the quondam Ali the slave role much much reduced and the choreography scrambled, the Pas d'Esclave gone from Act II. Needless to state, ballet is not a history lesson; but, gee whiz, the pirates' ship seemed to be a Spanish galleon from the 1500s (corsairs would have used not only a much later ship but also a much much lighter and less bulky one), the drop showed a map from the reign of James II (reigned 1685-1688), and if I'm not mistaken the action of the piece is supposed to be taking place around 1800-1820. The set and dancing in this production seemed very tight and claustrophobic on our notoriously (and wonderfully) big Segerstrom stage. That said, I very much enjoyed the show; and Vasiliev gave his characteristically exuberant performance. But he wasn't just self-involved; he consciously bonds with the audience: I'm sure I'm not the only person in the audience whom he locked eyes with during the performance. This is generous in a dancer and serves to spread and intensify the spirit of the event on both sides of the proscenium. At the end, I thought the curtain calls were over and stepped away; but I heard at least two loud roars behind me as I walked through the front of the house, and am consumed with curiosity as to what I missed. Can anyone tell me?
  12. odinthor

    Juliet and Romeo at the Kennedy Center 2016

    I attended the evening of the 11th. It was danced beautifully and with concentration and verve by the uniformly disciplined and expert dancers in the company; the stark, brutalistic sets were impressive and appropriate; the Tchaikovsky score (a pastiche) was splendidly performed, though I wouldn't say the pieces were always well-chosen. And so we come to an interesting dichotomy: I enjoyed it as a display of outstanding dancing expertise; and I enjoyed the vigorous, fresh, and intriguing conceptualization of the choreography; but, as a depiction of a story, it left me completely untouched. To see it was a bit like reading an intricate and obscure roman a clef: Unless, on a meta plane, you knew from moment to moment what it was referring to, it was frequently difficult from seeing what was being presented onstage to put together just who was who and what was what; and for those very familiar with the tale, a good deal of time is spent looking for evidence of certain incidents and nuances of the story which . . . just aren't there in this telling. The gesticulation tapped a vocabulary which is far from universal--just so much mysterious hand-jive, I'm sure, to most onlookers. In the intermission, I heard much mystification being expressed; and about a quarter of the already-skimpy audience did not return for the second half. The intensity of the dancers impressed me, just as it did on the previous visit of the Royal Swedish Ballet (and I very much look forward to their return!); and, on an intellectual plane, I appreciated the choreography. But I felt neither the danger nor the passion of the relationship between our two star-cross'd lovers.
  13. About the Russian trio: California, I see where you're coming from on this, and would feel the same way if the choreographer weren't a Russian native; but my read on this is that making them three sillies is a sort of gracious joke from Ratmansky: He's saying, "Yes, I'm Russian, and we're very proud of our extraordinary ballet history and notoriously wonderful dancers; but here I am in America and I'm going to show that a Russian can poke a little fun at his fellow Russians." Had Nutcracker had an "American Dance," and made its dancers loonies, I'd feel insulted; but I take this as a sort of good-natured bonhomie. And, Kaysta, I liked the Bees and the Waltz of the Flowers too, and very much. (Earlier in the show, during the Battle I think, I remember reflecting to myself that Ratmansky was very lose to being a modern Petipa--same imaginative, daring spirit.) For those non-balletomanes in the audience who didn't know the female dancers were supposed to be flowers, I wish there had been some way to clarify this (somehow, perhaps, detaching from an enormous and obvious "plant" at the beginning, or something). I'm sure many were confused why there were bees flitting about. (Meantime, not sure why, but the "quote" command doesn't want to work for me here when I'm responding, not just now, but lately.)
  14. As previously mentioned in prospect, was at the Saturday evening perf. (last night). Just a few notes to record. A general word: The dancers were committed and focused, but--the audience was not very receptive, it seemed to me. I finally laid this to the account of the audience being largely made up of not balletomanes but rather families doing a Christmas event and so unfamiliar with what to appreciate and how to appreciate it. Our Harlequin (Craig Salstein) and Columbine (Luciana Paris) were, I thought, particularly splendid, and I was startled by the weak or indeed non-existent response by the audience, same with the Russian Dance in Act II. Setting the audience aside: The kids in the production--pardon me, the young dancers--were unusually amusing, professional, and successful: George Buford (Little Mouse), Justin Souriau-Levine (Fritz), Seth Koffler (young Nutcracker), Claudia Schuman (young Clara) as the top-liners, but all the young'uns are to be complimented. Marcelo Gomes and Hee Seo gave lyrical and confident performances, beautifully so. At one point, just before the end of the entrée of their pas de deux, something went momentarily awry, I think (did anyone else notice this?): I saw Marcelo's face take on a startled look for a split second, and he braced his body as if about to lunge to catch an off-balance Hee Seo (I didn't see what happened to make him react this way). They quickly both got a look of relief on their faces, and it seemed to me that they shared a little smile of "Whew, barely averted a disaster!" for the next moment or two. Ratmansky's vision of The Nutcracker has very much to commend it, with its freshness and wit (though I miss the weirdness and menace of Alexander Minz's Drosselmeyer in the familiar TV Baryshnikov version). Last night, I felt one or two of the Bees were contemptuous of their role; nevertheless they all danced with appropriate pollinating fervency. The Pacific Symphony gave a sensitive, beautiful performance; and the Southern California Children's Chorus was flawless--the whole effect of the Snowflakes number--dancers, music with chorus, scenery--brought an appreciative tear to my eye.
  15. odinthor

    Drigo's Les Millions d'Arlequin Ballet

    Still no DVD of Les Millions d'Arlequin? Any recent productions? Assuming "no" and "no," why and why?