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Andrew73

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About Andrew73

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan - with a special interest in Giselle
  • City**
    London
  • State (US only)**, Country (Outside US only)**
    England
  1. Is that the usual way in the Netherlands? In the UK, the DVD comes out long after the TV showing. If ever!
  2. I've seen many versions of Giselle, both live and recorded, and I've never heard of this part of La Bayadere being used. On the other hand, Versions of La Bayadere vary a little, so it would be worth your while to take a look at a few, as Gina suggests.
  3. Beautifully put - the dancer needs to be true to themselves, and to the part they are performing - that means they need to be following direction - but also that the director needs to know them! That should avoid both the rictus at one extreme and the 'over the top' displays of personality at the other, that people have described above. From an audience POV, I'd guess that some parts in some ballets would require much more self discipline than others.
  4. I'm not at all sure what the problem is; when I first started seeing live ballet regularly, one of the few things that I found distracting was the grinning rictus that appeared on many faces - and sometimes the whole corps (much as described by Merrill Ashley, above). It must have been choregraphed, and was awful, robotic and distracting. Happily, that seems much rarer now. I'd suggest that teaching dancers to focus effort on facial expression is an error; for a start, they have more important things to do, also attempting a half-smile, 'to disguise effort' could end up an almost anything after a lot of effort, and a need to concentrate on what comes next. I'd much rather see - as others have suggested - a calm, in control dancer, who does not feel they have dance with their face in any way at all, though, hopefully, they'll play down any pain or difficulty - and, as actors, they'll remain in character. In some comedy ballets, there is a specific interaction with the audience at times - Elite Syncopations comes to mind - where the audience is 'in on the act'. I'm happy to say that I've never ever seen the malaise described here, though I'm equally happy to say that I've seen some beautiful smiles from dancers, usually in response to audience appreciation. Is there a problem, or it it just a reviewer with writers block? That has to be just plain spite, doesn't it? But has it something to do with the specific character in the specific ballet - way over the head of our critic?
  5. Kudos to those who put personal fortune after artistic effort, and stay loyal to Alonso and NBC - it's a fantastic organization from a nation of only 10 million people and no money. That is something any dancer can be proud of; I pray that the defections do not do lasting damage ... but history shows us that no-one is indispensible! Let us hope that 2009 brings permanent change, to benefit of all, not just the ballet.
  6. I suspect that 'guests' having their own distribution deals will increase, and the companies will have to learn to live with it. In this case, however, I feel your pessimism is unfounded. I very much doubt we are being 'deprived' of anyone else - much more likely that without his agent and distributor pressing the RB, there would be no DVD performances at all. If he is managing to get them to get their act together, kudos to him. And if he can do the same for CNB, double kudos!
  7. For that matter, why aren't there more vintage ballet performances on DVD? Many have been televised over the years, but few have reached the market. Once the production has been filmed, the costs of producing DVDs is fairly small - and at the prices ballet DVDs sell for, it would not take huge sales to more than pay for themselves. I think the problem is more a small-minded marketing issue; they don't want to bring out older performances, as they may be favourably compared to new ones, and they don't want to release new ones, in case they undermine attendance at the theatre. Both arguments, in my view, being false, and a missed opportunity to widen the interest in ballet, and serve those who cannot attend current live ballet (for whatever reason) plus those who want to enjoy the best of the past. Just think - it would only take one major company to break with accepted wisdom to shake up the whole market.
  8. I'll vote for that...Have you ever have the opportunity to see the company... live...? No - I was away when they came to London recently. I'm going to Cuba in December .. must find out what my options are - but both the web sites (www.balletcuba.cu and www.balletcuba.cult.cu) have gone.
  9. I think the ballet is uneven; I always enjoy it, but at the same time, I'm always a little disappointed. With a great ballet, the 'whole' must be greater than 'the parts', and Manon doesn't pass that test. I suspect the problem is not just the music, and not the choreography so much as a story that is unevenly paced and does not do justice to all the key characters. It's never fair to judge a ballet after seeing Sylvie Guillem; you'll always come away feeling it was great
  10. Some might argue that 'scarcely performed at all' is still too often.
  11. For me, it's one of MacMillan's best*; I've only seen the Royal Ballet's version, but I've always enjoyed it, and I think it's well received in London every time. I think it's important for a full-length ballet to have a strong story to tell - and Manon certainly does. "Ironically, the ballet contains none of the music from Massenet's opera Manon, with which it shares an almost identical story. The music ... is drawn from other works by Massenet" - Wikipedia *I'm not a great Macmillan fan, I have to confess!
  12. There's two separate issues here, she may have one or the other or both! DVDs are regional; this is a big problem, but many DVD players can easily be converted to 'multiregion' ('region 0), with simple resetting using the remote. It's cheaper for the manufacturers to make one standard machine and put regional settings, than make different machines for each region. Google the make and model and the word 'multiregion', and you'll soon find out! As has been said, if this fails, then a computer's DVD player will usually suffice - and many portable DVD players are also multiregion form the start. I mostly play mine on a portable, and wire that to the TV for a bigger, better picture. TVs have different standards - PAL, NTSC, etc. - many TVs, especially those made in Asia, will be dual standard. It's cheaper for the manufacturers to make one standard machine than make different machines for each region (!). In Europe, almost all PAL TVs will play NTSC without blinking - but I think I read somewhere that US-made TVs do not usually convert So it may be a simple matter of trying a different TV. But if it IS a TV standard problem, then the best you'll be able to get, usually, is a pretty poor conversion; it would be better (and almost certainly cheaper) to abandon the attempt and look for a 'correct' copy. Your friend was unlucky with Amazon - I'm in the UK, and often buy US DVDs; when I try through Amazon, I get at least three warnings that I may be buying incompatible material - and many US sellers just won't sell to Europe, because they're sick of us Europeans ignoring the warnings and demanding money back! If it was an "Amazon Marketplace Seller", she should be able to get her money back, as the seller should have warned her. If it was a direct Amazon sale, she'll get a refund.
  13. Until I joined here, I'd seen a fair number of live Giselles, but few on video; now, having read about the many superb performances on video, I've seen quite a number of them. I don't think there is a 'best', as, so far, I've not seen one that excels in ALL areas. Makarova/Baryshnikov has often been described as the 'definitive' Giselle, and it's marvellous, but amazing though Baryshnikov was in that performance, Seymour/Nureyev gives us a superior Albrecht in the dramatic scenes - while Baryshnikov flys through the air, Nureyev stamps on your heart. But Makarova/Baryshnikov probably gave us the best Myrtha, in Martine Van Hamel. I cannot begin to define charisma in a ballerina, but she had it! As for Giselle herself, I cannot nominate one 'best', though Pujol/Le Riche comes close. I look forward to the Cojocaru/Kobborg (Royal Ballet - September release), as I've seen some beautiful Giselles in London, especially when they emphasise the dramatic side of the ballet, and Cojocaru (I hear) excels. For 'mad scene' afficionados, there's few as good as Alonso (1965), which is an extraordinary production, unique in many ways. I cannot begin to decide on a best 'white act', Makarova/Baryshnikov offered fine leads - but at time the corps were, er, a little ragged. Creole Giselle offered a unique and beautiful Act II, and several others are fine performances, but, for me, none quite compare to live versions I've seen - that may be the nature of the Act; slight imperfections glare from repeated small screen viewing, but are gone in a subliminal trice at the theatre. It's worth adding that comparisons are unfair, as we cannot help being influenced by production issues; Makarova/Baryshnikov is a little fuzzy and washed out in places, Seymour/Nureyev is almost sepia, while Alonso (1965) was always monochrome and Alonso (1980) had to be lovingly pieced together from fragments (including rehearsal extracts, and not even dress rehearsal!). Many of the earlier performances suffer from poor or unimaginative camera work and lighting, and sound quality varies. There's also the issue of studio / empty theatre / live performance; most of the early recordings were truly 'live', while many later releases have the advantage of mixing and matching from two or three performances. Which adds the issue of audiences. Some hate studio performances for lack of audience reaction; as a Brit, I could cheerfully strangle ABT's audience in places (not really!). Long may the search for perfection continue - I've still got three more to watch, plus a pre-order next month!
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