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Haieff Divertimento

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Recently, a friend of mine who works for the Balanchine Trust, showed me a video of Balanchine's "Haieff Divertimento".

The video I watched featured Wendy Whelan and Nilas Martins as the lead couple. I believe the ballet was originally choreographed for Maria Tallchief.

There were several short but wonderful solos in the men's section and the women had some very difficult pointe work. They actually waited their turn to dance, balancing en pointe. The pas de deux work was enjoyable to me. The ballet seemed different and similar in many ways to other Balanchine ballets. I did notice one short, exact passage from "The Four Temperaments".

The ballet in my opinion is worthy of a long life. It should be done often as so many others are. I wonder why I have never even heard of it in all my years of being a Balanchine/NYCB fan.

I was unable to find any info at the NYCB website. Has anyone seen this ballet with it's original cast or the more recent cast?

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(Haieff) Divertimento was saved from oblivion by Una Kai (and if I recall correctly, Diana Adams), who revived it first on Kansas City Ballet. That revival was the basis of the NYCB production for the Balanchine Celebration. It's original title was simply Divertimento. The composer's name was appended to distinguish it from Divertimento No. 15.

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It was danced, as has been said, by Nilas Martins and Wendy Whelan for the Balanchine festival, and then the year after that, but then has disappeared. I think it is still listed on the NYCB's web site as in their repertoire, so maybe all is not lost! I loved it, even though I thought it needed a more classical cast. The music was beautiful, and the choreography, especially for the men, was as I remember, surprisingly difficult and intricate. Yes, it did look a bit like 4 T's, but what is wrong with that! Maybe they bring it back for the Balanchine Centenary.

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I don't think Ansanelli ever did Haieff Divertimento at NYCB. She was not yet in the company when it was brought back and it had already retired when she arrived. It's a shame. I liked the ballet but I agree with Cargill, it was not cast right. Although not my first pick, Whelan was not bad but Nilas Martins was all wrong. The ballet cried out for Peter Boal, who has the right mix of classical and jazzy. This might sound strange - but he has very jazzy hips that are perfect in 4Ts, Agon and Square Dance. I guess I'd like to see Ringer in the woman's part.

According to the Fall 1985 issue of Ballet Review, Francisco Moncion reconstructed the ballet for Kansas City, at the urging of Todd Belender, who also was in the first cast. Tallchief and Le Clarcq contributed as well. It wasn't in Marilyn Hunt's article, but it would make sense if Una Kai was involved, as she was the ballet mistriss during the 50s.

As far as it's life now at NYCB, the current administration appears not to be interested in many revivals. Maybe Divertimento will be done for a Balanchine Celebration in 2004. There was some criticism of some of the revivals (Bourree Fantastique and a few others) and the higher-ups seemed to go, "See, we told you. Balanchine didn't want those ballets back for a reason. They weren't good." I liked the revival of Bourree Fantastique (both at ABT and NYCB). And today, it would make great use of Maria Kowroski's comic abilities in the first movement. Somogyi in the 2nd and Bouder in the third...

Maybe another company will do Divertimento, such as Miami or the Joffrey :)

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At the time of the earlier Balanchine Celebration, Frank Moncion was a panelist at a symposium at the Library at Lincoln Center. He attributed NYCB's revival to Tanny LeClerc, very disapprovingly.

His opinion, not mine. But after all the great things I'd read about the Haieff, that performance was a bit disappointing.

Terribly sad that neither Moncion nor LeClerc is around to supervise a staging for the upcoming festival.

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I remember reading at the time of the 1993 Balanchine Celebration (In think in New Dance Review, but I'm not sure) that things were done in typically frantic style. In some cases, ballets were rehearsed by the usual people from the company and the former ballet stars (for lack of a better word) were brought in only for a last look. Whether that was because of the company or the guest coach's schedule, I don't know. But in many cases when the company said, for example, Tallchief coached X ballet, she only looked at it and the end and offered a few suggestions. There were other cases where the former dancer had more time or she owned the ballet and it was more than that.

Carbo, there are some conspiracy theorists out there who think your reaction ("This ballet was so wonderful?") is why the company brings ballets back this way.

That's why I'm not looking forward to such a big festival next year. I know how it's going to be done and how it will look. I'd love for these ballets to be lovingly restored, with time and care.

When Martins first took over, he (and Von Aroldingen) did bring back Leibeslieder that way (although he had two ballerinas who knew their parts from Balanchine's era in Farrell and McBride). He had the Tallchief part mostly restored in Firebird and reconstructed Gounod Symphony. I'd rather seen that - a ballet brought back as the highlight of a season.

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Dale, I have heard such conspiracy theories, although I do not subscribe to them. I almost wish I could blame poor stagings on less-than-honorable intentions.

I think that in some cases, when the ballets were still known by those in the company -- either the dancers or ballet masters -- it is likely that the alumni were asked for a final look. There were cases, though, where the consulting showed brilliant results and suggest a considerable investment of time and heart by guest ballet masters. Harlequinade, for example, which was coached by both McBride and Villella, revealed Peter Boal's newfound sense of dramatic projection. A real milestone, I think, in his artistic growth.

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