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Ballets of Jerome Robbins?


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Robbins did a number of ballets for NYCB such as "Afternoon of A Faun", "Age of Anxiety", "Ballade, 'The Cage". I don't think the company has done any of these in years. Is anyone doing them?

I saw all of them; Robbins danced in the first two. I thought "Age of Anxiety" danced to Bernstein's symphony of the same name and based on Auden's baroque ecloque was a great ballet as was "The Cage".

Fred

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Thanks for bringing this up Kurneval -

The Cage and Afternoon of a Faun have remained in repertory to this day, and I believe a select few other companies do them as well (I think San Francisco Ballet performs The Cage, but I could be mistaken)

Age of Anxiety and Ballade have been dropped from repertory. "Repertory in Review" mentions with Age of Anxiety that contemporary feeling was that it was so much of its specific time that it did not wear well. John Martin, writing four years after the premiere, "It begins to seem quite old-fashioned. Perhaps this is because when one has really grasped its boldly complex design, there is not so much substance as one had believed. Or perhaps this is an age of different anxieties, less selfish and more universal."

Ballade is mentioned as not being a success originally, but in his interview with the book Robbins says he is thinking of reviving the ballet. He didn't, but afterwards used the music, "Six Antique Epigraphs", for an entirely new work, "Antique Epigraphs". The description of Ballade, with its commedia dell'arte characters, and its succesor (a pared down "Greek" episode with only hints of character for eight women) seems to indicate one of the major issues in Robbins' work. His tastes originally ran toward ballet as theater, rather than ballet as abstraction. Did his assimilation of Balanchine's influences mean he was running counter to some of his own natural impulses?

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I've always been curious about "The Age of Anxiety" and "The Guests." Often ballets that seem dated the decade after their creation are palatable as period pieces 40 years on. I'd like to see how Robbins handled serious material. Save for "Fancy Free," we either get his kiddie ballets or his abstract ones now.

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Pied Piper -- I'd forgotten that one. Thank you, Dale. When did Robbins begin filming his ballets? I never give up on a ballet until every person who danced in it has died :) I hope there are still some Anxious Guests around who could work with someone to stage there. But you'd need a real Robbins advocate -- there's lots of Tudor that could be gotten back, too, but.....

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I checked on the NYPAL for a film of The Guests and came up empty. Maybe PBS will unearth more films for its American Masters program documentary. Wasn't Tallchief involved in some of those ballets? Le Clerq was, and now is gone.

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Not only living dancers who danced the ballets, but who have fond memories of those experiences. Otherwise, I suspect sabotage -- intentional or not -- due to unpleasant aftertastes.

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I don't know if this is relevant and interests you, but the Paris Opera Ballet has danced The Cage in october (2002), and in february-march 2001, and Afternoon of a Faun in december 2001-january 2002. About other of ballets by Robbins it has done recently, it has done Other Dances (last time was 2001), The Concert (2001), In the Night (2001), A Suite of Dances (2000).

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It is of interest, thank you, su-lian. I think that the POB has the largest Robbins repertory of any company besides NYCB.

What do you think of Robbins' ballets? I'd be curious to know how they are regarded by Parisians, especially the younger generation, if you could give us some sense of that.

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Well, I'll try to do my best...

Personally, I really love Robbins' ballets. I have seen The Concert, In the Night, Other Dances, The Cage and A suite of Dances. I haven't been able to see Afternoon of a Faun, and I am very sad about it. It was a ballet I wanted to see.

In the Night is in my opinion, a very nice ballet, full of emotion, and it is wonderful to see how he uses the music and the dance to convey exactly the feelings we can't truly express with words. In addition, I am a great Chopin fan, it's what I love most with ballet. This is why I also want to see Dances at a Gathering, but it hasn't been done since 1993 I think. And I like the style a lot, based on a very classical 'vocabulary', but also those other very dary and unusual movements which neo-classicism allows (I don't know if Robbins is neoclassical, but that's more or less how I see him. Maybe there's also more.), like the portés and some promenades. And the costumes are very nice and the set or lighting quite unusual, and very pleasant.

I like Other Dances for more or less the same reasons: Chopin, style, feelings, costumes...

The Concert is also absolutely fabulous, at least, that's what I think. But it's not for the same reasons! I like the comic side of it, and it is interesting to see how Robbins picked out on some details that we don't pay much attention to (people coming in late...) and how he made them ridiculous, ironic, exaggerated...Both times I saw it, the audience was laughing out loud, including me. I was trying to keep serious at first, because, well, it's the Paris Opera, and people expect certain things of you, so I supposed even if it was funny, I wasn't meant to laugh, but then, when I saw even distinguished ladies and gentlemen were laughing, I relaxed a bit and laughed too.

I also quite liked The Cage and A suite of Dances, but my memories about these two ballets are much more vague, and I can't really discuss what I found interesting or not in them, sorry.

I can't really talk for other people, and don't know that many who are so interested in ballet, but I know two of my friends also liked Other Dances, it was in a programm with other ballets, and it was their second and third best after L'Arlésienne, and for the other, after The Cage too, but then, the other ballet in the programm was quite bad, so I don't know if it's that significant, but any way, even if it wasn't the one they prefered, they still liked Robbins quite a lot.

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Thahk you! You're right -- Robbins isn't often referred to as "neoclassical." He's ..... hmmm. "Ballet and Broadway choreographer" (and he knew which was which) I read an interview with Robbins a few months ago, when San Francisco Ballet brought "Dances at a Gathering" here (one of my favorites), and he called that ballet "nearly completely classical" and said it was a conscious reaction against the anti-dance movement then prevalent in modern dance (the Judson Church movement, which was all about everyday movement, nondancers dancing, not dancing, that kind of experimentation). So in the context of its time, and considering who Robbins was (a hit Broadway choreographer) it was almost a classical manifesto.

I liked "Other Dances" too. I saw its first few years, when there was a continual excitement over who would next dance it. It was first done for Makarova and Baryshnikov, in blue. I can't remember the lineage now, but Kirkland and Dowell did it at ABT, and I remember...McBride at City Ballet, and Farrell and Martins. (I'm not positive about Farrell, but I remember Martins.)

In some ways, though, I think "Fancy Free" is the best of them. It's a perfectly constructed demicaractere ballet.

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What I've always found interesting with Robbins pieces, is that they're not so typecast. You can have many different dancers in roles and it still works. And I think it's because, for me at least, he establishes the dancers relationships to each other so well. I've seen major flubs of some of the steps, but you hardly notice because he used upper body so well.

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I'm almost certain I saw Farrell in "Other Dances".

I love "Dances at a Gathering", "Interplay", "The Four Seasons", "Fancy Free", "In The Night", "Other Dances", "The Goldberg Variations" (a lot!), "The Cage", "The Concert", "Moves" and "New York Export, Opus Jazz" which was done by The Joffrey in the seventies.

I think I like Robbins. :)

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After seeing the recent and disappointing performances of Interplay at NYCB, I was thinking of NY Export Opus Jazz at the Joffrey. When I first moved to NYC, I saw it with Edward Verso and it was one of the most exciting things I had ever seen. Verso had wonderful presence and a very sharpy, jazzy musicality that is missing from Interplay now. It seemed like a quintiessential NY moment - gone now, I guess.

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Farrell and Martins did dance OD, as did Damian Woetzel with Stephanie Saland and Kyra Nichols. Kyra also did it with Sean Lavery. I think Heather did it, but I may be remembering her variation from Piano Pieces, which has a couple quotes from OD. I'm pretty sure Darci's done it. Across the Plaza, Alessandra Ferri and Julio Bocca have done it. I always found Ferri too studied in it.

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How this thread is making me want to see an all Robbins evening.

"Goldberg Variations, "Dances at a Gathering" and "The Concert".

Probably an odd mix, but this is my dream night.

Dale, I saw Farrell with Afshin Mofid in "Afternoon of a Faun". Did you see that?

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Wasn't Mofid exquisite in that role?

Did anyone else see the All-Robbins, All-Concerto evening? In G Major, Op. 19, and the Gershwin Piano Concerto, but I don't remember the order. Very bizarre programming.

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Couldn't let this thread go by without mentioning Watermill. Controversial for its time: half the audience booed while half stood and cheered wildly (including me). Villella a study in stillness and coiled energy. Not a masterpiece, but provocative, experimental, modern and ancient at the same time. A rather sad autumnal mood pervades the piece, yet it made me glad to be alive.

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