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Alicia Markova


rg

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this publicity photo of Makrova shows her as the Firebird in what i take to be Chagall's design at the time.

the foto is undated but is stamped: 'S. Hurok Presents Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin and Company'

Im confused about the subject here... "in what passed for Chagall's design"??

are you implying its not design?

the post quoted above seems to imply you are merely unsure as to whether its chagall or not, the subject heading, something quite a bit different....

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sorry for cryptic wording, yes, i meant markova's costuming is from a production credited to chagall. i guess i wonder how much, if any, of this particular costume was directly overseen by chagall and what was free-association by those building the costume, which may or may not have taken into consideration some of markova's taste.

i've never seen anything quite like this silhouette in any of the chagall sketches i've come across.

i don't mean to imply that chagall work was not a 'design' scheme.

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Love the photo and the era of ballet glamour it evokes. (Not to mention that every so subtle touch of Carmen Miranda in the headdress?)

I was too young to see Markova during her Ballet Theater years, but I do remember visits to NYC later on. And appearances on tv.

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NYCB's first production used Chagall designs, too, but I don't know if they were from the early BT production or were new creations.
From the Reynolds/McCormick No Fixed Points:
Since severing his connection with Ballet Theater in 1945, [sol] Hurok had been paying storage charges on the color-drenched sets and costumes Chagall had designed for the cmopany's production of Firebird, with choreography by Adolph Bolm Over lunch at New York's Russian Tea Room ... he persuaded Balanchine that he was just the man to rechoreograph Stravinsky's fairy tale using Chagall's decor.
The photos I've seen of Tallchief in the premiere season sugest they tossed out the Markova headdress. Tallchief wears more of a whispy feather and wire creation sticking about 9 inches straight up from the top of her head.
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i suspect the sets were the main, consisitent element.

barbara milberg writes about NYCB's acquisition of the BT production and notes how many of the costumes fell apart they were taken from their storage cases, etc.

and thus how many needed to be rebuilt and i suppose revised at whim.

chagall also wrote a letter, eventually published, to balanchine asking that his name be removed from the credits of NYCB's firebird after he saw what passed for his work on tour, maybe in paris?

in any case it would not be unusual for the various ballerinas to have had their say about what they would (and thus would NOT) wear when dancing title role.

such a tradition in firebird was there from the start when golovine's designs for the overall ballet had some separate costumes designed by bakst insinuated into the mix - notably that of the firebird herself.

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I remember the Firebird costume from the 1949 version largely because of the high-standing pheasant feathers that she wore in her headpiece. I guess Francisco Moncion didn't have the same pull as Dolin - "now you can be taller than she is." For the 1970 revision, with Kirkland in the title role, Chagall had made up with City Ballet, and came in to supervise the painting and construction of various decor and costumes.

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Don't forget the gold monstrosity that Karin and Kyra had to wear in the 70's as well! Kyra could barely move with the headpiece and the train pulling in either direction.

The 1985 revival featured a reconstruction of the 1948 costume for the Firebird, by Dain Marcus. He recreated the delicate feathery feeling of the short , multi-layered tutu, with wisps hanging, all in shades of orange, reds and golds. When I saw Merrill Ashley's debut in that production, noticing her white tights, I had a memory, from childhood viewings at City Center, of what I thought were orange tights. At the Guggenheim, following one of her talks in 2004 I think, I spoke to Tallchief and asked her about that memory, and she said : "They were RED!" (her emphasis) "and I put glitter all up and down my legs, too."

That was a thrill.

The NYPL showed a clip of Tallchief dancing part of the first pdd I think, in their Centennial exhibition, filmed at Jacob's Pillow, with the piano reduction added on later, not quite always in synch. So that would be available in the archives.

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Don't forget the gold monstrosity that Karin and Kyra had to wear in the 70's as well! Kyra could barely move with the headpiece and the train pulling in either direction.
Is this the one? http://bullets-and-beer.com/images/Gelsey.jpg I do recall Kirland wearing the long train and strange attachments at the hips circa 1970. d'Amboise was not much more more fortunate in his costume, which had curled-up pointy toed boots. Was this Karinska? What were they thinking?

I grew up mostly watching Hayden wearing the sleek and elegant Tallchief costume, though with different headdress. That really did allow one to focus on the dancing. Here's a photo of Hayden in costume, from her obituary in the Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/arts/10hayden.html

And here's Tallchief: http://nativeamericanrhymes.com/women/imag...a_tallchief.jpg

and here: http://balletbookstore.com/ballerina/pic/tallch02.jpg

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It's interesting to look at Markova's feet here. Obviously, due to the fact that she's just posing in a studio and not dancing, she's not wearing ribbons on her shoes. But she is wearing what looks like a sequins cuff on one ankle. I've never seen that before.

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Don't forget the gold monstrosity that Karin and Kyra had to wear in the 70's as well! Kyra could barely move with the headpiece and the train pulling in either direction.
Is this the one? http://bullets-and-beer.com/images/Gelsey.jpg I do recall Kirland wearing the long train and strange attachments at the hips circa 1970. d'Amboise was not much more more fortunate in his costume, which had curled-up pointy toed boots. Was this Karinska? What were they thinking?
No. The Karin/Kyra getup was all gold lame with a floor-length train that would have completely obscured d'Amboise's lower half in this photo. Any dancer wearing that costume should have been eligible for hazard pay, which is probably why it was discarded. And the wings were higher on the back, as I see it in my mind's eye, rising well above the shoulders.
I grew up mostly watching Hayden wearing the sleek and elegant Tallchief costume, though with different headdress.
The costumes look different in these photos. Hayden's bodice isn't feathered like Tallchief's; her "V" insert is light against dark while Tallchief's is both dark against light and much more ornate.
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It's interesting to look at Markova's feet here. Obviously, due to the fact that she's just posing in a studio and not dancing, she's not wearing ribbons on her shoes. But she is wearing what looks like a sequins cuff on one ankle. I've never seen that before.
I have the impression that this was common with studio photos of glamourous ballerinas in those days. I remember being somewhat surprised, when I actually went to my first few performances of Ballet Theater as a child, that they had to tie their shoes to keep them on. :wink:
The costumes look different in these photos. Hayden's bodice isn't feathered like Tallchief's; her "V" insert is light against dark while Tallchief's is both dark against light and much more ornate.
I guess I was thinking more of shape, fit, and general simplicity. (Much prefer it without the fussy shoulder straps.) Is it possible that the color differences have to do with differences in lighting on the black-and-white film. I have the impression of a red-with-hint-of-russet for Hayden. A slightly different tone of red in Tallchief's material might have photographed much lighter.
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You're right bart. What I thought was strange was the little cuff she's wearing on her ankle. That's kind of an odd thing. I wonder if that was part of the costume fashion of the times or just an oddity.

Balanchine seemed to struggle with the costume for his Firebird. He said something like she should be a bird of fire but all she looks like is a ballerina in a red tutu. Of course, it was the choreography that made her look like a firebird.

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Of course, it was the choreography that made her look like a firebird.
But it's odd, all I can recall of Kirkland's performance is the long train and the other paraphernalia. I very much regret that.

Regarding the cuff on Markova's ankle. She's also wearing what appear to be two metallic cuffs on one upper arm. Vishneva in the Kirov Firebird dvd wears cuffs on both upper arms and bracelets on each wrist. Is this symbolic? Or another example of the "more is more" philosophy in costuming?

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Don't forget the gold monstrosity that Karin and Kyra had to wear in the 70's as well! Kyra could barely move with the headpiece and the train pulling in either direction.
Is this the one? http://bullets-and-beer.com/images/Gelsey.jpg I do recall Kirkland wearing the long train and strange attachments at the hips circa 1970. d'Amboise was not much more more fortunate in his costume, which had curled-up pointy toed boots. Was this Karinska? What were they thinking?
No. The Karin/Kyra getup was all gold lame with a floor-length train that would have completely obscured d'Amboise's lower half in this photo. Any dancer wearing that costume should have been eligible for hazard pay, which is probably why it was discarded. And the wings were higher on the back, as I see it in my mind's eye, rising well above the shoulders.

There has been a photo of Kyra in the costume, which has an entire bird's head over hers, on the 4th ring of the NYST, since the 2004 Balanchine Centennial.

I grew up mostly watching Hayden wearing the sleek and elegant Tallchief costume, though with different headdress.
The costumes look different in these photos. Hayden's bodice isn't feathered like Tallchief's; her "V" insert is light against dark while Tallchief's is both dark against light and much more ornate.

Even the two Tallchief costumes seemed different to me. The second one is more like the 1985 re-creation.

I just spent quite a while looking for images of that gold costume online and there isn't hide nor hair. Can you blame them?

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as shown in the link above, kirkland's Firebird costume had detailing more like streamers than a train.

the train came in bigtime with von aroldingen's white costume, first shown in the stravinsky festival version of balanchine's newer staging. this was very much modeled, it seemed. on the chalk-white bridal/bird image of chagall's front cloth. the flat strong train always reminded me of a platypus tail.

nichols' version, all gold, was very much in line w/ what balanchine insisted the firebird really meant - she was 'zhar' balanchine said - a 'ptitsa' of bright light not fire.

nichols told me how much balanchine liked the version karinska made for her - tissue-paper thin gold lame w/ open-work gold wings - and how balanchine would regularly bring people backstage to see this version of the costume when nichols first danced the role.

i've scanned the cover of the winter '80-81 season showing the gold costume in question.

post-848-1190771996_thumb.jpg

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Thanks, rg, for the photo. Are those wings? Were they stiffened somehow? Or is this a contrived studio shot, a la Markova's? Cristian asks:

i've scanned the cover of the winter '80-81 season showing the gold costume in question.

Is it me or she's actually not wearing any ribbons on her right shoe...?

This does seem to be the case.

It all raises the question: what did she really wear on stage? and how was she able to dance. (Even if the gold cloth was very light, that would seem to raise as well.)

It would be wonderful to hear from people who have actual memories of Kirkland, von Aroldingen, or Nichols actually trying to manage their costumes as they danced. (It seems like it would have been a challenge for the Prince, too.)

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