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odinthor

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Everything posted by odinthor

  1. Thanks for your thoughts! Surely somewhere--book or research paper--there's an extended study of ballet in South America, with details of productions...? The signature seems to be "R de los Heros". I'd very much like to see more of his/her work. Online searches have yielded nothing applicable, neither text nor images. The theatrical costume design folks in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London are unfamiliar with this artist, yet clearly these were produced by a professional familiar with costume design. The bird symbol on one gentleman's shield appears to be very close to an Incan symbol for a Condor; the designer appears to be drawing on that cultural background. It could be that the production adapted a traditional Greco-Roman tale to make use of local color/national heritage. These works have now been protectively reframed and are hanging proudly in my home, sparking appreciation, comment, and thought. Someday the details of their origin will come to light!
  2. Still trying to pin down something about the production these delightful sketches presumably come from, or who the artist/designer was. The female has something of a Medea vibe; but the story of Jason and Medea doesn't concern rival men, which would seem to be the implication of the spirit of the sketches. Does anyone know someone who has done research on the Ballet scene in South America in approximately the 1950s? (Of course, just because the pictures came from a collector in Argentina doesn't mean that the production was in Argentina or South America.)
  3. Thanks! I was quite charmed by them. Here are close-ups of the other two figures, should they provide a clue about the production/artist: and The lady seems to be holding a length of rope.
  4. I wonder if anyone has any ideas about what production these costume designs were evidently intended for (and who the artist/designer might be)...? Here is the artist's signature (which for the life of me I can't construe): I recently purchased these three gouaches. The seller indicates that they came from Argentina, and guesses a date around 1940; another design expert, not knowing of the 1940 guess, thought "1950s." (I seem to recall vaguely that Massine had a South American tour or two in that era.) Here's a sharper image of one: Any thoughts would be warmly appreciated!
  5. Saw it last night. Was entertained but underwhelmed. No questioning the commitment and ability of the dancers; but I did not feel the spirit of Isadora was evoked. The movements were too tight and nervous. The presentation was too concerned with being symbolic and allusive. The ever-undulating thisses and thats made me sea-sick. Afterwards, I felt neither a greater understanding of Isadora nor--taking Isadora out of the equation--understanding nor empathy with the faux-Isadora. I was unable to set aside the notion that character Terpsichore looked halfway between an Indian in a white-feathered headdress and the figure of Liberty on turn-of-the-century coinage and stamps. The extended Soviet sequences will I am sure resonate more strongly with Russian audience members, which is to say that non-Russian I had had enough of them very quickly. In all fairness, my enlightened audience-neighbor enjoyed the production; and the ever-generous Segerstrom audience gave its customary standing ovation. You see, if we give something a standing ovation, it helps convince us that yes we most certainly must have seen a wonderful show.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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...
  9. 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...
  10. 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."
  11. 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
  12. 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...
  13. 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.
  14. 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 . . .
  15. 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 . . .
  16. 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?
  17. 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.
  18. 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.)
  19. 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.
  20. Still no DVD of Les Millions d'Arlequin? Any recent productions? Assuming "no" and "no," why and why?
  21. Tall people in the orchestra section? OK, that would be me (6' 3 1/2"). Sorry!--I always try to hunch down when the curtain goes up. Anyway, will be there Saturday evening 12/12 to see Veronika and Marcelo! And side seats? Me, I like my longtime side seat. "Less than ideal," yes, quite so; but there are certain plusses to the un-ideal: One gets a rather different experience of the performance proper from what one would get on, say, a DVD or the like, which can be thought-provoking and perhaps can give insights of one sort or another. Also, it's fun to be able to see a bit into the wings and observe what's going on there; and being close to the end of the row and freedom has benefits beyond anything mere words can express . . .
  22. I was present, in my usual way up front seat, for the Saturday night performance of Raymonda. While I can't make dancer-specific comments with good overview and perspective, as many of you have done, I feel I should make some remarks because, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I have strong reason to believe that Raymonda appeared here, premiering on the West Coast, specifically because a letter of mine to the management about two years ago mentioned not only it but also everything else on this season's regular roster (meaning "not Nutcracker," which is an optional add-on); at least, if this was a coincidence, it's the most remarkable one I've ever heard of. I was thus personally pleased to see this rarity in its full length, and indeed liked Act II--enthusiastically--with its exciting diversity much better than what one usually sees from the show, the pas de dix from Act III. About Oxana Skorik, I defer to the opinions of earlier posters; I came away with the impression that she danced beautifully while not feeling the part; but I laid that to the nature of the show (see below). Andrei Yermakov made a noble and handsome Jean de Brienne without the part giving him ample opportunity to dominate. Yuri Smekalov reveled in the lustful sneakiness which mediaeval times characteristically invested in Saracens; exacting technique such as his can too easily be camouflaged by the grand gestures required by such character roles. The show's various friends and troubadours were without exception wonderful, focused and invested in their roles; the various national dances were nothing but thrilling; the corps faultless as always; and I was especially charmed by the children's dances. Raymonda does not offer the emotional impact of shows such as Giselle, Swan Lake, La Sylphide, or indeed even Coppelia. It is a show of atmospheric moods and tone, not of character development. We are immediately plunged into a mediaeval ethos, and the attitude and action of the work is best digested from this viewpoint. The original's inclusion of the supernatural White Lady would serve to enhance this mediaeval mind-set; its exclusion thus weakens the show's dramatic underpinning. Glazunov's music, while good enough, especially in the ethnic or character dances, does not seem to me to be deeply felt; rather, while it often seems to echo Tchaikovsky, it seems to be echoing a Tchaikovsky having an off day. All of this, I feel, is why one leaves the theater less touched with Raymonda than one is accustomed to be after seeing an acknowledged classic ballet, its unfamiliarity also militating against it. I had no problem with the clouds per se as the audience is taken into Raymonda's dream; but the length of this passage, combined with the fact that the audience was unfamiliar with it, seemed to be sparking discomfort in the audience as if something had gone awry in the scene change. This--and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the audience--had a shadow effect in that it distracted audience members with a notion that there would be further such interludes in the show. We have all been to dance performances in which part of the show is for the dancers to come down into the audience and drag audience members onstage; when this happens, the audience remains wary for the rest of the performance that this usually unwelcome development might happen again, and so distracts from the presentation. Same with this segue into Raymonda's dream (though less worrisome). The audience likes to know what to expect, and then likes to have its expectation fulfilled! While much of the above is of the nature of general remarks on Raymonda, rather than remarks specific to the performance, these elements played their part Saturday night. The audience members who remained to the end of this delightfully long ballet were enthusiastic in their standing ovation; but, between acts--especially after Act I--we lost more than I would have anticipated. Were Raymonda more familiar, were its special and varied charms and serene sophistication more securely placed in the minds and experience of the less cosmopolitan ballet-goer, the greater familiarity would, I am certain, engender exponentially a fuller and warmer appreciation of this ballet. Much as the ripe genius of Verdi pervades his late opera Falstaff, a masterpiece though of a difference sort than the early Rigoletto, so do I sense the ripe and consummate genius of Petipa in Raymonda, still achieving choreographic wonders of the highest level as his career neared its unwilling end. Raymonda is magnificence; it is a magnificence that the audience member has to prepare to live up to. That is what I saw on Saturday night.
  23. Many thanks (please excuse the delay; cataract surgery--perfectly successful--has thrown a monkey-wrench into the smooth flow of life, for the moment) for your very enlightening and detailed post! Very good to know and reflect on. Yes, I'm almost certain that the Segerstrom Center had a hand in producing the ABT Sleeping Beauty, recalling the press when the season was announced. Right, my idea was along the lines of the venue's availing itself of different companies scattered across the globe to present the various Petipa works (of course, I'm just using P. as an obvious example; I'd be just as delighted to see a survey of Buornonville etc. etc. etc.. or--focusing on era rather than choreographer--a somewhat less focused theme of the likes of "little-seen early ballets"), and not taking over whole seasons but just one or (getting greedy) two of a season's yearly presentations. Among the other many benefits, it would give the audience member a feeling of anticipation and commitment each season. It's impractical in many ways; but it's very canny in other ways. To end: I've wanted to air this thought for quite some time, just to put it in the air for those who could conceivably act on it. There in the audience with my long-familiar audience subscriber-neighbors, I hear (and participate in) the groans or cries of pleasure when the content of a new season is announced. I see who renews, who disappears, and generally know why. This is my way of addressing the question, "How do we develop subscriber loyalty?" Thanks again for your kind responses!
  24. Stepping up to the plate would have to be someone with vision, dedication, resources, an ambition to make a name for him- or herself . . . Begging pardon for a bit of thread-drift; but it pertains to our discussion: In a nutshell, what, generally speaking, is the succession of events and time frame for a venue in planning a dance season for its subscribers?
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