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Creating effective ballet programs,


bart

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In today's Links, dirac posts an interview Karen Kain in which she discusses the National Ballet of Canada program that combines a full-length Giselle with Wheeldon's Polyphonia.

The ballet [Giselle] is extremely physically demanding and exciting to watch, impressive and charming, said Kain, who has paired it with a 21st-century work that is spare, modern and bizarre. "I love the contrast." Christopher Wheeldon is one of the hottest young choreographers on the world scene today and Kain said his Polyphonia is demanding both physically and emotionally.
Has anyone seen this program? What do you think of the balance? I find it hard to imagine Giselle on a program with almost anything -- let alone something selected largely because it presents such an across-the-board "contrast."

Also: what do you think generally about pairing other ballets -- and what kind of ballets -- with Giselle on a single program? What could work? What would you avoid?

Link to the Kain interview is here: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/ar...2c-565a1b330adf

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Giselle is long enough and meaty enough for an entire evening's program. Emotionally it's also catharctic for the audience, so if it were well performed, I can't really imagine wanting to see anything else afterwards.

Among the classics, the problem of splitting a bill is more common with La Sylphide, a ballet just enough shorter than Giselle that it seems to need something else to make the right length for a program. Traditionally, in Denmark, it shared the evening with an opera, or at least I think so. In a purely ballet context, it would be interesting to see it paired with Balanchine's Scotch Symphony, though the idea is a bit schematic.

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After Baryshnikov restaged Giselle at ABT -- a version that did not include a peasant pas -- it was presented as the last two acts of an evening. One program I remember opened with Voluntaries.

I agree that Giselle, even in its abbreviated, peasant pas-less version, needs no complement. Nor, for that matter, does La Sylphide. But there are surely those patrons who might not feel they got their money's worth if the show ended before 10:00.

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But there are surely those patrons who might not feel they got their money's worth if the show ended before 10:00.

Exactly. To me, the thought of pairing something with Giselle seems like those restaurants that feel compelled to enlarge their servings so that customers feel they get their money's worth. Give me fresh ingredients, well conceived and prepared, presented attractively, in moderate amounts, and I will leave happy. This goes for ballet as well as food.

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After Baryshnikov restaged Giselle at ABT -- a version that did not include a peasant pas -- it was presented as the last two acts of an evening. One program I remember opened with Voluntaries.
Voluntaries is Poulenc, I think? That seems an okay fit with the Giselle score. And the dramatic arc of Voluntaries is similar to Giselle in that it ends with a feeling of uplift and redemption..Also, I can see that something abstract and relatively without decor might be a good balance with the naturalism and story-telling of Giselle.

I've not seen Polyphonia. What qualities does it -- and its score -- have that makes it compatible with Giselle?

I guess it's like different courses at a banquet. You don't want them all to be the same. You want contrast, but not CONTRAST!

I'm one who prefers to experience Giselle on its own. But, then, I've never had the opportunity to do anything else. What sorts of thing might go well with Giselle, if you had to fill the time slot?

P.S. I Sylphide has been paired with Konservatoriet or Napoli. What are your thoughts on that?

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There's been quite a brouhaha in Seattle, because I Pagliacci is being presented as a stand-alone.

I never thought of Giselle as being a ballet that would be presented with anything else. I understand how it is more palatable to a big company to have more than six featured roles in an evening (counting the Peasant pas de deux), but ballet #2 has always felt like overkill to me.

At least in La Sylphide, which I saw RDB perform with Etudes, James might have a tragic ending, but Effie is content and Gurn is a happy camper -- there's a distinct "life goes on" aspect. Giselle is uniformly tragic. What other works can match its pathos on the same bill?

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Which ballet is performed first, or does it matter?

In this case Polyphonia was performed first. I suspect that had it been placed at the end of the program, the audience wouldn't have stayed. (I probably wouldn't have; Ligeti is not my favourite composer. Perhaps if I'd had ear plugs...)

I'm with you on that. San Francisco Ballet does both and if they paired Polyphonia with Giselle most times I'd probably just show up at the first intermission.

I've never seen Giselle with another ballet, but I'd have no objections to it, as long as the hors d'oeuvre came first on the program - the objections other posters have raised to a ballet following Giselle make perfect sense. Stravinsky Violin Concerto or Allegro Brillante sound quite nice. As Leigh points out, such a ballet can give the guys something to do for the week, (and if it cuts into the time given to some versions of Act One I wouldn't cry about it).

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I've never seen Giselle with another ballet, but I'd have no objections to it, as long as the hors d'oeuvre came first on the program - the objections other posters have raised to a ballet following Giselle make perfect sense. Stravinsky Violin Concerto or Allegro Brillante sound quite nice.
Good point. If you have to do this -- and I do understand the matter of audience demand plus the need to provide something for male dancers to do -- that seems to be the way to go.

But, what about Polyphonia? As an opening ballet or as a closer?

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But there are surely those patrons who might not feel they got their money's worth if the show ended before 10:00.

Exactly. To me, the thought of pairing something with Giselle seems like those restaurants that feel compelled to enlarge their servings so that customers feel they get their money's worth. Give me fresh ingredients, well conceived and prepared, presented attractively, in moderate amounts, and I will leave happy. This goes for ballet as well as food.

Well, let me tell you. In my case, they'll only make me happy if they serve me a generous plate...(what can i do, i have a big appetite!.. :P ), so i guess that one can also be voracious in terms of ballet consumption. Now, i really don't want to see "Giselle" paired with anything else. About "Chopiniana",i do agree is too short to make it as a solo act ,and needs some extra support...I also would like to add that the fact that there's not emotional attachment related with the Shylphides' abstract plot makes the transition to something else less shocking and easier to digest...

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Either that, or you could go for a complete mood buster with Stars & Stripes. :devil:
I was thinking of that! (Along the lines of Monty Python's "And now for something entirely different."?)

But I was afraid to post it!

I also considered Massine's "Beau Danube" :P Of course this would only work as a closer, suggesting the kind of fun Giselle might have had if, instead of falling in love with Albrecht, she'd gone to Vienna and become a party girl.

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I've only heard of the second ballet being a curtain raiser. You don't put anything on after Giselle. What could go after?

an idea with two women's stories, Leigh!...

First part: "Giselle'

Intermission.

Second part: "Véronique Doisneau"

some background on this ballet...

It was created by Jérome Bel. The music was played during a very long time and Véronique Doisneau stayed motionless on stage.

How's that ...? :P

--------------------

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I've only heard of the second ballet being a curtain raiser. You don't put anything on after Giselle. What could go after?

an idea with two women's stories, Leigh!...

First part: "Giselle'

Intermission.

Second part: "Véronique Doisneau"

some background on this ballet...

It was created by Jérome Bel. The music was played during a very long time and Véronique Doisneau stayed motionless on stage.

How's that cygneblanc...?

Cristian,

You are funny!!! :P

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Mel, that seems like a wonderful idea -- light, happy, plotless (but with "situations"), beautifully choreographed, and set to music from more or less the same period of Giselle. A winner! The guy who put that program together was skating, all right, but not on thin ice. :P

My problem is the idea that Kain seems to have about what is appropriate "contrast".

I don't see something so neoclassical as what I gather (from photos) Polyphonia is. Same with the Ligeti score. (I've heard some of his work, but not this piece.)

Similarly, I don't see programming Giselle with something great in its own right -- something which demands a great deal of attention -- llike Stravinsky Violin Concerto. Or even something merely very, very good, like Allegro Brillante. Hors d'ouevres are best when they leave you hungry for the meal.

And, Cristian, wouldn't Chopiniana and Giselle be too similar stylistically -- all those Romantic movements and long tutus? The ladies might appear to the audience to be the "Good Girl" version of the "Bad Girl" wilis. And the poet would inevitably appear to be something of a wimp in comparison to Albrecht.

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And, Cristian, wouldn't Chopiniana and Giselle be too similar stylistically -- all those Romantic movements and long tutus?

Absolutely, bart!...Actually, i would pair "Chopiniana" with something else...(still have to think about the perfect match), but, as i stated in an earlier post, not "Giselle"..

" Now, i really don't want to see "Giselle" paired with anything else. About "Chopiniana",i do agree is too short to make it as a solo act ,and needs some extra support.."

I guess this is because the cuban version that i grew up with is lengthy enough, as in include all the "Peasant PDD" music, but rearranged as a "Pas de Dix". No complains of empty stomach here... :P

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