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EVENING's WALTZES


oberon

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I'm new to the forum.

Was wondering if anyone remembers the Robbins/Prokofiev ballet AN EVENING'S WALTZES? I saw it several times in the 70s; then I was "absent" from NYCB for a few years and it seems to have vanished. I seem to remember 3 couples, and a particularly sensational "exit" for the couple in yellow/gold costumes. But beyond that my memory is hazy. Does anyone remember when it was last danced and by whom?

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I don't remember this ballet, but this is what the NYCB site says about it:

Music: Suite of Waltzes Op. 110 (1946) by Sergei Prokofiev

Choreography by Jerome Robbins

Premiere: May 24, 1973, New York City Ballet, New York State Theater

Original cast: Patricia McBride, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Christine Redpath, John Clifford, Sara Leland and Bart Cook

I'm sure others will know more.

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Oberon, Evening's Waltzes hasn't been performed in quite some time. I believe the exit you recall was that of McBride and Bonnefous in their pas de deux to the Second Waltz. Both the Second and Third Waltzes were spectacular; the Third was originally for Gelsey Kirkland and Helgi Tomasson, both of whom were injured shortly before the premiere ( Kirkland, so she says, doing a dangerous and undanceable movement on which Robbins insisted....) Seems to me the ballet would be worth reviving, and odd that it is never done by other companies, but Kirkland's role was like most of the other choreography done on her at NYCB: viciously demanding and taxing. As John Taras once said, "I gave Gelsey very difficult steps but, of course, she could do anything..."

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Welcome, Oberon!

I only saw the ballet once, here in DC, and quite awhile ago (20 years? It was during my first seasons of watching ballet in the mid-70s, definitely after Kirkland had left the company.) I have only the vaguest memory of it, but it's one I've often wondered about, and would like to see again.

I think (writing this without checking) that in Joe Mazo's book in the company, written during the season whewn Robbins was working on this ballet, that Kirkland was injured during the rehearsals. According to Nancy Reynolds "Repertory in Review" she did eventually dance the 3rd couple (Peter Martins and Helgi Tomasson are both listed as subsequent cast third couple men.

Reynolds writes this: "An Evenings Waltzes was a pure-dance piece, full of invention, but despite dazzlilng individual steps, one which did not have a great deal of impact. The rather noisy, tired-sounding music may have been to blame.

"The ballet has some virtuoso partnering, which requires perfect timing, and when properly performed, some of the feats are breathtaking. It thus presents teh dancers in a most effective and rather different way."

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Thank you all for the replies...as I recall this ballet was a real audience-grabber and I remember (I think) Redpath & Peter Martins being called out 4 times after their duet!

I have, over the last few years, sometimes written to Peter asking that certain ballets be revived. And some of them have been, but probably not because of my requests. I asked about EVENING'S WALTZES; I'd love to see it again...if only to reassure myself that it was as much fun as I recall! Could it be no one remembers the choreography? But there must be notations somewhere...or a video?

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Oberon, you might be interested in this site --

Jerome Robbins Trust and Foundation

It's intended for companies or artistic directors who want to stage his ballets -- it's all practical information, like how many dancers, running times, etc.

I don't know how repertory is selected each season at NYCB, but the Trust may well have a say in it -- what ballets are possible to stage, which ballets the Robbins stagers think might be appropriate, are there any dancers who would be particularly suited, etc. You might try writing to the Trust and asking if there's a possibility that this ballet will be seen again -- who knows? :wink:

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Alexandra's right, Mazo does mention the injury in his book -- in fact, if memory serves, he was present at the rehearsal where Kirkland was hurt. His account corresponds to hers in the essentials, but he omits the give-and-take between her and Robbins that Kirkland describes. It's possible it didn't happen the way she says, but her account sounded pretty straightforward, IMO.

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Thanks, Alexandra, for the link to the Robbins Trust. I did write to them and received a very kind reply to the effect that EVENING's WALTZES does indeed still "exist" and that it is among the works being discussed for future revival.

Then I started thinking about another "missing in action" Robbins piece: SCHERZO FANTASTIQUE...Sara Leland & Bart Cook...

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Wow! That was fast -- on your part and theirs.

I didn't see Scherzo Fantastique, but I'd be up for reviving just about any Robbins.

I'm sure these aren't revivable, but I've always wanted to see "The Guests" and "The Age of Anxiety." (Those, and Ashton's "Picnic at Tintagel" and "La Gloire," Tudor's Hamlet ballet.) One could have a whole festival of City Ballet lost ballets.

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Brahms/Handel would be doable, considering the principal dancers are still around and so is Tharp. This was a successful ballet and I don't know why it was allowed to go away.

I haven't seen Gershwin Concerto since, maybe, 1995...or Eight Lines.

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Yes! MOTHER GOOSE, which I expected to hate and ended up liking...with Judith Fugate.

I cannot imagine Kyra dancing to Steve Reich. But her IN MEMORY OF... a couple years ago was one of the most moving and memorable things I ever saw.

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Does "Mother Goose Suite" have a storyline?  Does each section depict the story the music is inspired by?

djb, Robbins's ballet is loosely organized around the conceit of dancers finding old costumes and props and saying, hey kids let put on a show! So they pantomime to the various fairy tales. Oberon's memory is like mine: the tale I remember most vividly was the Beauty and the Beast section, with Judith Fugate in what was probably her first solo. It was a charming ballet, not at all contrived (as I find many of Robbins's works to be). The costumes and props used came from the company's storage, and Arlene Croce (who liked the ballet) remarked that this was a wry comment on the company's habit of using hand-me-downs to dress their new works!

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What I recall most about MERE L'OYE was Judith Fugate as Beauty...talk about type-casting! The performance I saw was on a bill with other ballets that I loved and I was kind of dreading it (MERE), thinking it would be childish...but it turned out that I truly enjoyed it.

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Hello, this was an odd roundabout way to find this forum but I was curious about a certain dancer, Heather Watts, who I saw was a friend on FB of Jennifer Nairn-Smith who I know from LA. So I googled to see if she was the one who replaced Gelsey Kirkland in An Evenings Waltz's back in the 70's. This forum cam up first so I clicked it. As I was reading thru the string of questions surrounding An Evening's Waltz's I remember it was Christine Redpath, I think. The amazing story is that I was in the audience or should I say just me and my friend who sings in the NYC opera at the time, Michael Devlin, took me to watch a rehearsal. We were the only ones out in the theater. I remember so vividly seeing Gelsey fracture her ankle. She was dancing with John Clifford who I met years later in LA. I always thought it was him throwing her incorrectly that caused the injury. But of course I could be wrong.

I fell in love with the ballet, the music is now some of my favorite by Prokofiev and to watch Jerry Robbins work was such a treat. I went to a performance with a friend to see it in costume. It was magical and I could never understand why it wasn't performed much after that. Well, I love films like Bright Star and My Brilliant Career(works of art) which the public just doesn't get.

So there you have it. My mother was a ballerina in Brazil and danced with the Ballet Russe when they came thru and the Rio de Janiero Opera. I love the ballet even though I was never very good. I ended up doing more Musical Theater because I have a strong, trained voice. Now I'm into film making. I have a lovely friend in the Joffrey, Mahallia Ward, so if you ever see that company, I hope you have the opportunity to see her perform. She's exquisite. Excuse my lenghty post. This experience with the NYC Ballet and GK getting hurt was such a strong memory I had to share it.

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[...] As I was reading thru the string of questions surrounding An Evening's Waltz's I remember it was Christine Redpath, I think. The amazing story is that I was in the audience or should I say just me and my friend who sings in the NYC opera at the time, Michael Devlin, took me to watch a rehearsal. We were the only ones out in the theater. I remember so vividly seeing Gelsey fracture her ankle. She was dancing with John Clifford who I met years later in LA. I always thought it was him throwing her incorrectly that caused the injury. But of course I could be wrong.

I fell in love with the ballet, the music is now some of my favorite by Prokofiev and to watch Jerry Robbins work was such a treat. I went to a performance with a friend to see it in costume. It was magical and I could never understand why it wasn't performed much after that. Well, I love films like Bright Star and My Brilliant Career(works of art) which the public just doesn't get.

So there you have it. My mother was a ballerina in Brazil and danced with the Ballet Russe when they came thru and the Rio de Janiero Opera. I love the ballet even though I was never very good. I ended up doing more Musical Theater because I have a strong, trained voice. Now I'm into film making. I have a lovely friend in the Joffrey, Mahallia Ward, so if you ever see that company, I hope you have the opportunity to see her perform. She's exquisite. Excuse my lenghty post. This experience with the NYC Ballet and GK getting hurt was such a strong memory I had to share it.

Thank you for sharing your memories. I saw Kirkland very little with NYCB (though later with ABT I saw her a lot) -- she was my absolute favorite ballerina. Many years and many ballerinas later, probably still is. And, unless my memory betrays me, the first time I saw the Marriage of Figaro, your friend Michael Devlin was the Figaro.

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