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LE PALAIS DE CRISTAL, 3e mouvement

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a photo i have on hand of LE PALAIS DE CRISTAL, 3e mouvement, it's seemingly a rehearsal moment w/ the original cast of leads posing on stage people, casually, by other dancers in the ballet.

these are micheline bardin and michel renault.


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WONDERFUL photograph -- but it's hard to believe it's that old, unless the ballerina had JUST put on her tights -- I remember Gisella Christensen, who danced -- or rather was GOING to dance -- this role when it was premiered in NYC-- telling a bunch of us how silk tights used to bag at the knees, how nothing you could do would keep them from stretching (maybe i'm remembering Nancy Reynolds reporting this story as an instance of Gisella's down-to-earth, gentle manner, I know I've heard her tell it, too); the gentleman's tights show some tendency towards wrinkling, though he has beautifully straight knees -- but the lady looks like she's wearing nylon.... Maybe she is? Maybe it's not a rehearsal but a moment staged to LOOK like a rehearsal?

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Thank you for this photo RG. I'm quite facinated by Le Palais de Cristal, because whenever I read about it, the only difference mentioned are the costumes, the doubling up for corps, and the fact that Mr. B let out the musical repeats. But from what I can tell, the choreography is almost 75 percent different, especially in the Adagio. The frame is the same and the idea and intent, but there are many, many, many different steps and combinations. I had always throught there were (with a few detail differences) two Symphony in Cs. The one that John Taras stages (with help usually) around the world and the one Balanchine continually tinkered with and is currently performed at NYCB. After having seen it, I was surprised that nobody really mentioned the differences of the version POB dances and the other two versions. Only Croce in 1986 wrote about the differences (briefly, and she thought that the POB had changed the choreography), but none of the other books or articles that I've read mention differences other than those I pointed out above about the costumes, etc..

If the choreography for Palais is still what it was when Mr. B set it, than what made him change it? For example, in the adagio, many of the touchstones of that movement as we in NY know it are not there - the beautiful falls, the famous arabesque (that later had Farrell touching her nose to her knee). Even the end is different, the ballerina runs to her partner and he twists her into the final pose, which is almost the same. I had always thought I knew what type of dancer Toumanova was from this movement and how the linage of Balanchine muses went from her to Le Clerq, to Adams, to Kent, to Farrell... Just from looking at pictures of Toumanova, I could see those strong legs and immediately thought of those arabesques with the bent knee in the Adagio. Those are there in Palais, along with several other hops on point. But the swooning lyrical movement that we know now is not, it is less an Adagio and more a slow Allegro (if that makes sense). From articles and archive footage, it is known that Toumanova was excellent at balances and liked doing them, and there are more in the second movement. So the lyric quality must have come from Le Clerq.

It could be suggested that Balanchine came home (and according to Anatole Chujoy, had to be talked into setting the ballet for his own company), and saw that his own dancers could not do what the POB dancers could and change things. And I have to admit, on the surface, the later version is less "technical."

But I believe Balanchine either A) was inspired to choreograph that version for those dancers in Paris, but was inspired to do another version for other dancers who had different gifts; or B ) was a man for hire in Paris, who had a job to do. In Taras' article, he said that the first movement ballerina in Paris liked to turn, so she added more turns, and the other dancers seeing this, added more to their own movements. Plus he had Toumanova wanting her steps etc... Maybe when he got home, he was happy to be working with his own dancers and didn't have people nagging him and he could just do what he wanted.

I'd be interested what others think of this version.

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I had always thought I knew what type of dancer Toumanova was from this movement and how the linage of Balanchine muses went from her to Le Clerq, to Adams, to Kent, to Farrell...

Conversely, I drew my image of LeClerq largely from the Symph. in C Adagio. Like you, I'd read many accounts of how Balanchine returned from Paris, restaged the work with new costumes and a new name. How could a role that was not done on a dancer be so crucial to my idea of what she was like?

Only after seeing POB dance Palais was I reassured that, yes, Second Movement Symph. in C indeed was Tanny.

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Thanks for that photograph, rg :wink:

By the way, there's a smallish photograph of the first cast on an old page of mine:


Dale, when reading your comments, I feel even more frustrated about the fact that it seems very very likely that the POB will perform "Symphony in C" instead of "Palais de Cristal" next month (see the discussion about it in the POB forum:

http://balletalert.ipbhost.com/index.php?s...showtopic=12702 )

There are so few opportunities to see "Palais de Cristal": the POB last performed it around 1994 or 1995, I saw it once then and that was all, I was looking forward to seeing it again... :thumbsup: I've also seen "Symphony in C", by the NYCB in Edinburgh (twice) in 2000, but seeing them so many years apart I couldn't see the differences of choreography. Well, there still are some doubts about which choreography will be actually performed (the season brochures are quite confusing, the costumes are said to be "after Karinska", so black and white, but the choreography is said to be "Balanchine, 1947 (Paris)", and also on the POB web site one page says "Palais de Cristal" and another one "Symphonie en ut" :flowers: ) but if they don't perform that of "Palais de Cristal", then I'll have some doubts about whether they want the choreography to survive: are there any other companies in the world still performing "Palais de Cristal"?

And by the way, who owns the rights for each version?

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John Taras was given the rights by Betty Cage, who had been left the ballet by Balanchine. She gave it to him because he was instrumental in reviving the ballet. He is not part of the Balanchine Trust. But I don't know if Palais has a different owner. I'd hate for any of the 3 versions to be lost and I'd hate to think any organization would stop it from being performed because it is not Balanchine's last thought on the ballet. Theme and Variations have two versions and are performed often at the same time by NYCB and ABT.

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Le Palais de Crystal isn't mentioned specifically in Balanchine's will, which, as noted, gave rights to Symphony in C to Betty Cage.

The will clearly divides all unspecified assets evenly between Barbara Horgan and Karin von Aroldingen, so I imagine the fate of Palais de Crystal is in their hands, unless it could be proved that Balanchine created the ballet under some sort of "work for hire" contract, in which case perhaps the POB "owns" the ballet. I know European laws on intellectual property rights are a bit more complicated than US ones.

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Dale, thanks for the link to the Tokyo Ballet page (perhaps it's just a photograph problem, but the costumes that I remember were quite darker than those ones... ). It says "And among that, to perform "LE PALAIS DE CRISTAL" is permitted only to Paris Opera Ballet, which was originally created for, and to The Tokyo Ballet"(sic). But that leaves the question of "who owns the rights" still open... Manhattnik, yes, it would be possible that the POB owns the rights of the ballet as it was created for the company (it reminds me of reading something about some of Nureyev's productions which said that the company had to pay no rights, or lower rights, to perform it as they were created especially for the POB, but I don't remember it precisely).

And as you wrote, there also are some differences in the laws about intellectual property- as I had written in an old thread about it, there are two sorts of rights, "droit patrimonial" which lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator and which deals with the material aspect of things, and "droit moral' which lasts forever, can't be sold, and deals with several things, including for example the right for a creator to have his/her name clearly indicated when the work is performed/ published/ used/ etc., the right to refuse an adaptation of the work which would not considered as suitable, etc. Of course it can become very complicated... A recent example was when the son of the late novelist Marguerite Duras (who owned the "patrimonial rights" for her books) wanted to publish a book of cooking reciped of her mother, and her former companion (who owned the moral rights) didn't accept that book to be published (considering that she hadn't planned such recipes to be published, that the book included some texts by other people, etc.) I've no idea how it works when several countries with different rights are involved... Anyway, I've no idea if the reason why they don't perform "Palais de Cristal" has anything to do with rights, perhaps it has to do with the stagers, or with the costumes, or Brigitte Lefèvre prefers black and white costumes... Who knows? :shrug:

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It could be suggested that Balanchine came home (and according to Anatole Chujoy, had to be talked into setting the ballet for his own company), and saw that his own dancers could not do what the POB dancers could and change things.  And I have to admit, on the surface, the later version is less "technical."

Having seen the POB and NYCB perform this work in 1948 this comment rings true to me. The POB was in New York in '47 or '48 and I know I saw this version first, and then the NYCB performance. It was quite a contrast :) . What we saw at POB was elegance and bravado; NYCB came up short on both. I only saw POB dance it once, so I cannot answer any questions on choreography. Maria Tallchief was the only ballerina in the production, and the men, at the time were technically weak. In contrast, the POB had Alexandre Kalioujny (all elegance and beautiful line, perhaps an early Erik Bruhn) and Michel Renault (good dancer with an ego to match Bujones).

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atm711, do you remember who were the other dancers? Were they those of the original cast? Indeed you have seen so many great performances that you should write a book about it :) From what I've read, yes indeed, Michel Renault had quite a strong temper and was not easy to deal with.

It is a bit sad for me that I've seen many of the names of the dancers of the first cast in obituaries since I started being interested in ballet in 1992: Lafon had died in 1965 aged 42, and Kalioujny had died in 1986 (after he stopped performing he had a career as a teacher, and one of his most famous students was Charles Jude), and then Renault in 1993, Toumanova and Darsonval in 1996, Ritz two or three year ago, Bozzoni in april 2003. I don't know about Bardin.

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Estelle, the only other dancer I recall is Darsonval in the 1st movement. I don't believe it, but I cannot recall who did the 2nd movement! That season, when POB came to New York was pretty exciting for us. In adddition to "Palais" they performed 'Suite en blanc' and 'Two pidgeons' and a work with Grand Guignol characters. I can't recall the name, but I saw it more than once because it was such good fun---perhaps you might know. It was also a time when Lifar was being criticized for his WWII behavior and there were pickets outside the theater. I was determined, though, to see him up close, and I managed to track him down and have him autograph my copy of his biography of Diaghilev.

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In my performance log, I have entries for Le Palais de Cristal in July 1986 from a POB visit to the Metropolitan Opera House. (It was paired with Washington Square, a Nureyev ballet set to Ives.)

The casts were:

15 July:

First Movement: Elizabeth Maurin/Charles Jude

Second Movement: Sylvie Guillem/Jean-Yves Lormeau

Third Movement: Florence Clerc/Patrick Dupond

Fourth Movement: Karin Averty/Manuel Legris

16 July:

First Movement: Karin Averty/Laurent Hilaire

Second Movement: Elisabeth Platel/Jean-Yves Lormeau

Third Movement: Isabelle Guerin/Patrick Dupond

Fourth Movement: Fabianne Cerruti/Manuel Legris

(I hope I haven't murdered any names; sometimes I can't read my own writing two decades later.)

The performance on the 16th was memorable, because the very glassy-eyed women next to me shrieked the throughout Dupond's performance and glared at me for not matching her enthusiasm. I was used to NYCB protocol, which was to wait at least until the end of the variation to go wild.

I remember three things in particular -- the costumes for each movement were a different color, instead of the all-white NYCB costumes, I liked Karin Averty very much in the first movement, and the second movement seemed very different and flatter than the mid-80's NYCB version. I was trying to imagine the dancer behind the original choreography, but couldn't, unlike in the Symphony in C second movement.

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Thanks for sharing those memories, Helene. I wish I could have seen those casts (but it was long before I started being interested in ballet). It's interesting to notice that in the casts for the upcoming performances, there are two dancers who already danced this ballet 17 (!) years ago: Manuel Legris (now dancing the 2nd movement) and Karin Averty (still in the 1st movement- she never was promoted to principal, but I think she had the level and repertory of a principal dancer, but there were many competitors in her generation...). If I remember correctly, Manuel Legris (then 22) was promoted to principal during that tour?

atm711, yes I have seen Jude (the last time being a few months ago in "Icare", he's now 50 but still dancing), but not as much as I'd like... It's interesting to read that "Suite en blanc" was not well received then, as far as I know it was very successful in France, and was one of Lifar's most often performed works. Well, now, all of his works seem to be forgotten by the company (I've heard that's partly because Hugues Gall doesn't like Lifar's works and so refuses to program it), but when I saw it in 1996 I really liked it (especially Lalo's score).

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I'd hate for any of the 3 versions to be lost and I'd hate to think any organization would stop it from being performed because it is not Balanchine's last thought on the ballet.

Well, I'm sorry to say, but in the program of the Paris Opera's Balanchine triple bill, it says "this new production is danced in the New York City Ballet's black and white version, just as the choeographer ultimately envisaged it." Now, it is true, this is what is written, the official reason for giving Symphony in C instead of le Palais de Cristal, maybe there are some other reasons too. :thumbsup:

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Estelle, I've often wondered how Karin Averty fared after she returned to Paris after a couple of years at the San Francisco Ballet, where she was an immensely charming dancer, very well-liked by many critics and by the public.

I have to say I was one of those who did not like her in everything -- and in the second movement of Symphony in C I found her disappointing -- so beautiful and elegant that she raised fantastic hopes, which then were not satisfied, for she was not musical.

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