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Tudor Centennial

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I wonder if this thread has started in another forum... (do we really not have a thread yet on the Tudor Centennial?)

Listening to Chicago Public Television's interviewer refer to "Anthony Tudor", I wondered if she realized the choreographer's prominence. It seems to me that there are many companies honoring Antony Tudor's centennial this year, but I couldn't list them off hand. Could we make a list here? (I'm a little shocked that ABT doesn't seem to be doing anything, although their site shows a picture of The Leaves are Fading on their blank fall repertory page.. perhaps they're planning something then?) The Antony Tudor Trust page only mentions the Julliard event, and doesn't even mention Joffrey's production.

I guess his work has dropped from popularity, but for earlier generations of dancers Tudor was Balanchine's opposite and rival just as ABT and NYCB were. How does this happen? Is it because Tudor was so not a classicist? Have his works become like melodramas of black & white cinema, not easily accessible to today's audiences? Have they become stiff blurred versions of what they once were? Do today's dancers lack the acting skills to bring them to life? We seem to be bankrolling revivals of Sylvia and The Pharoah's daughter instead. (I love Ashton and Petipa too, but I'm not convinced the story line flows well in either of those two works) I'm not a huge Tudor repertory fan, it's a bit more charged than I'm usually ready to extend myself toward, (I'm not big on Fall River Legend either), but I'd love to see his Romeo & Juliet staged before it's completely out of reach... so many people I respect have admired it. I do remember The Leaves are Fading as being quite beautiful.

New York Theater Ballet

- Little Improvisations

- Judgement of Paris

- Jardin aux Lilas or Lilac Garden

Joffrey Ballet

- Lilac Garden

- Dark Elegies

- Offenbach in the Underworld

Festival Ballet Providence

- The Leaves are Fading


- hosting symposium ( http://www.nytb.org/TheAntonyTudorCentennial-NYC2008.htm )

- Dark Elegies

Muhlenberg College

- Continuo

ABT lists the following works in their repertory, but doesn't mention if they are performing any this year:


-Dark Elegies

-Dim Lustre

-Echoing of Trumpets


-Gala Performance

-Goya Pastoral

-Jardin Aux Lilas

-Judgment of Paris

-The Leaves Are Fading

-Little Improvisations


-Offenbach in the Underworld

-Pillar of Fire

-Romeo and Juliet

-Shadow of the Wind


-The Tiller in the Fields


[Edited 3/31 to add:]

Judgement of Paris revival will be premiered at ABT's opening night gala on 5/19 at the Met...including ABT alumni: The season’s only performance of the ballet will feature ABT alumni Kathleen Moore as Juno, Martine van Hamel as Venus and Bonnie Mathis as Minerva, as well as Kevin McKenzie as The Client and Victor Barbee as The Waiter.

[Edited 4/7 to add:]

ABT has announced their Tudor Centennial Tribute for this Fall City Center season


American Ballet Theatre's Tudor Centennial Tribute, including special guest appearances and film excerpts depicting Tudor at work, will complement performances of several of the choreographer's greatest works, many originally created for ABT. The evening will begin with a performance of Continuo (1971) and will be highlighted by Jardin aux Lilas (1936) and pas de deux from Romeo and Juliet (1943) and The Leaves Are Fading (1975). Performances of Judgment of Paris (1938) and Pillar of Fire (1942) will complete the tribute evening. ABT's Tudor Centennial Tribute is made possible by a generous grant from The Howard Gilman Foundation and Gilman Paper Company.

ABTII @ Joyce Theater, NYC, 5/1, 5/9-11


Joffrey Ballet's blog has some photos (page down): http://jpointe.blogspot.com/

NY Times article on Joffrey's Tudor presentation: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/arts/dance/22joff.html

Julliard Tudor Centennial comments/remembrances form: http://www.juilliard.edu/pdf/Remembrance-Form.pdf

Sarasota Ballet will present Lilac Garden in celebration of the centennial, in April 2009

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20080.../804200378/1661 (mentioned at bottom of article)

Hartford, CT - 5/10/08: Ted Hersey Dance Marathon 10th Anniversary concert will present among other things, Julliard students performing excerpts from Dark Elegies'


Boston Ballet - 5/15-18/08

- Dark Elegies

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Don't despair. According to the February issue of Dance Magazine, other companies (in addition to the ones listed above) have performed or will perform Tudor pieces during the first half of this year:

Continuo (ABT II, Boston Conservatory, Brigham Young University)

Dark Elegies (Boston Ballet, Boston Conservatory, Company C Contemporary Ballet, Western Michigan University)

The Leaves Are Fading (Colorado Ballet)

Lilac Garden (Ballet Mainz)

Little Improvisations (Ballet Tucson)

Offenbach in the Underworld (Milwaukee Ballet)

As I read over the combined list of performances from the two posts, I'm left with a glass half-full/glass half-empty feeling.

The half-empty feeling comes from the realization that Tudor's work exists mostly at the regional ballet/college company level and hardly at all at the heavy-duty Group of 7 level (ABT, Bolshoi, Kirov-Mariinsky, NYCB, POB, Royal, Royal Danish.) (Sorry Helgi -- you're still the "Russia" of the group.) ABT should be the flagship company for Tudor but, apart from whatever they do this fall in honor of the centennial, seems content to put on one desultory Tudor piece a year. (And, putting on witless three act ballets instead of hunkering down and reviving something worthwhile like Tudor's Romeo and Juliet.) Truthfully, New York Theatre Ballet is more the flagship company for Tudor at this point than ABT is.

The half-full feeling comes from the realization that Tudor's pieces are probably better served by being performed on the smaller stages that come with regional/college ballet. I'm not sure huge opera house stages work to Tudor's advantage. (I feel the same way about Graham and Limon.)

Interesting how certain Tudor works are "in favor" and certain works aren't. As Dance Magazine notes, no one has announced plans to stage Pillar of Fire, Shadowplay, Undertow, Echoing of Trumpets, Dim Lustre, Gala Performance, or (especially) Romeo and Juliet.

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I would love to see ABT do Jardin. Do you all think it would be an audience pleaser these days? It is one of the dance masterpieces of the 20th century, but would today's audience go for it?

I performed Little Improvisations years ago in a regional company. I don't think a major company has ever done it. I'm not sure it is suitable for the "big time." On the other hand maybe it could be a good vehicle for some ABT dancers, I just don't know.

I remember Danny Levins in Undertow back in the day. He was terrific

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3/13/2008 - The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School will showcase the talents of its students in their year-end performance on Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 4:00 P.M and 7:00 P.M at The Ailey Citigroup Theater. The program will include Antony Tudor’s Little Improvisations, staged by Amanda McKerrow, and excerpts from Coppélia, Swan Lake and Flower Festival in Genzano, as well as new choreography from Raymond Lukens, Kirk Peterson and Jessica Lang. Completing the program will be Tudor’s Continuo, staged by Donald Mahler and performed by members of ABT II, including five former JKO School students.

(putting the text in bold was my doing, not ABT's)


And I'm wondering... how does March 22 come to be "year-end"? It seems so early.

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Why isn't there a Tudor Centennial thread?
You're posting on it! :) And thanks to Amy for her thorough list of commemorations. :flowers:

Also, New York Theatre Ballet's programs have been posted under "Press Releases and Season Announcements." Please try not to duplicate existing posts (I recognize that it's not always easy to find earlier posts), but feel free to add a comment to bump the topic up.

There are some reviews of NYTB's earlier performances of the Tudor bill of a couple months ago in in Recent Performances, and I hope those that see Friday's and next week's performances and those by Joffrey and Festival Providence will add theirs.

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Did anyone attend the Juilliard event (March 29-31) posted above by Dale?

It would have been wonderful to listen to the Tudor Dancers listed on the program: Eliot Feld, Bonnie Mathis, Kevin McKenzie, Amanda McKerrow, Kathleen Moore, Kirk Peterson, Lance Westergard, Sallie Wilson.

The students were performing Dark Elegies (on a program with Graham and Limon).

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Carbro, I think the issue is that at the top of the Ballets and Choreographers forum there are subforums for the Balanchine & Tudor centennials but one has to wade through the threads to come across this one about the Tudor centenniel.

I'm glad Missgoodytoeshoes posted here about Sallie Wilson... it's good to have all the info under one roof. I've been on this board for ages (look at my member number!) and I wouldn't have gone hunting under Press Releases... I would have assumed that like the Balanchine and Ashton forums, there'd be something under Ballets and Choreographers for Tudor.

I do hope someone made it to the Julliard event and posts some comments here...

(Is there some other board where the Tudor enthusiasts hang out?)

I spoke once to Mr. Tudor about Sallie Wilson's work referring to her as one of his disciples and he returned something like "Disciple? Slave!" Someday I have to find the tape of that interview and post a transcription here. He talked about how he had wanted to enter the church but realized he was evaluating everything in theatrical terms and that his home really was the theater. He lived at a zen monastary in his later years, didn't he? I typed up a transcription years and years ago for the producer who organized the interview, but I think it was before I owned a computer and I can find no disk of it" I think it ended up at the NYPL. The video is not riviting but the discussion was interesting (to me, at least!)

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I attended the celebration and will be writing about it for DanceView Times. I found it very interesting. There might be less talk about this than other celebrations because most of the attendees seemed to be former students. Other than a few writers, I didn't see the usual people I see at the Guggenheim talks or at the Balanchine lectures.

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It's so interesting to me that Tudor's following has dwindled so quickly. Do you think it has something to do with the institutions backing the Balanchine & Ashton centennials? Or it it just a reflection of a smaller repertoire? Is it because Tudor's work was somehow linked to a certain time and it's mode of expression is now dated? Is it a money thing? Or is it publicity?

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Speaking of publicity, I notice that ABT is now beginning to publicize the centennial a bit more:


3/17/2008 - In celebration of the centenary of the late choreographer Antony Tudor, American Ballet Theatre’s Opening Night Gala on Monday, May 19 will be highlighted by the Revival Premiere of Tudor’s 1938 comic masterpiece, Judgment of Paris. The gala evening, which was announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, opens the Company’s 2008 Spring engagement at the Metropolitan Opera House and features all of ABT’s Principal Dancers performing highlights from the season.
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He lived at a zen monastary in his later years, didn't he?
The Zen Institute on East 30th Street. (Rinzai Zen.)

Amy, I hope you do get the chance to publish the transcript!

Dale, looking forward to your report in DanceViewTimes. Like Amy, I'm interested in hearing from (and about) Sallie Wilson.

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It's so interesting to me that Tudor's following has dwindled so quickly. Do you think it has something to do with the institutions backing the Balanchine & Ashton centennials? Or it it just a reflection of a smaller repertoire? Is it because Tudor's work was somehow linked to a certain time and it's mode of expression is now dated? Is it a money thing? Or is it publicity?

Good questions, all of them. I think the answers are intertwined -- Tudor was affiliated with ABT for many years, as well as teaching at the Met and Julliard, but he made relatively few ballets, so the raw materials for an extensive retrospective are thinner than they might be for other choreographers. His contributions to the field were as much in the studio as they were on the stage. As beautiful as they are, his works never made up the majority backbone of a company rep as Balanchine and Ashton did.

I don't really think that his style is out-of-sync with contemporary tastes -- every time I've seen one of his works performed it seemed to make a big connection to the audience. And he's certainly on the wish list of most critics I know. I don't know about the financial aspect of things -- does anyone here have any information about the fees the estate charges for staging? (I know that kind of information is held pretty closely by most companies -- I'm not asking for deep secrets to be revealed)

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I attended the Tudor celebration this weekend and it was terrific!!!

There was some speculation and discussion by the panel regarding why Tudor's pieces don't seem to be performed as often as others. Some thoughts were:

It takes time for a company to learn a Tudor piece correctly. Not only are they technically difficult but they require the dancer to really become the character in the piece. This requires time and money that most companies don't have today. Someone made a comment that a Balanchine piece can be learned and performed in 2 weeks time and most require little cost in the way of costumes and scenery so they may be more appealing to some companies.

Those attending all seemed to agree that the pieces are not dated. The human element in his pieces are timeless.

Comments were made that possibly companies tend to assume that audiences are just not interested in Tudor. Poor publicity was also raised as a cause. Comment was made that the last time ABT performed a particular piece (I think it was Undertow - Dale please correct me If I'm wrong), they advertised it in the back of the brochure with a picture of a gravestone. Not very enticing to the uninitiated.

In answer to Bart's question, Sallie Wilson was unfortunately unable to attend the celebration, but if you are ever in NYC, the NYPL has video tapes of other similar panels where Sallie did talk about her experiences working with Tudor and they are well worth watching.

As an aside, I find in amusing that ABT is advertising this big revival of Judgment when it is performed regularly in New York City by NYTB. - Just my opinion.

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Carbro, I think the issue is that at the top of the Ballets and Choreographers forum there are subforums for the Balanchine & Tudor centennials but one has to wade through the threads to come across this one about the Tudor centenniel.
I think it has to do with the fact that the board has been reconceptualized and reorganized in the interim. The subforums such as those for the B'chine & Ashton Centennials have gone the way of the company forums.
It's so interesting to me that Tudor's following has dwindled so quickly. Do you think it has something to do with the institutions backing the Balanchine & Ashton centennials? Or it it just a reflection of a smaller repertoire? Is it because Tudor's work was somehow linked to a certain time and it's mode of expression is now dated? Is it a money thing? Or is it publicity?
I think it's a combination of those factors and more. Not only was Tudor's output miniscule in comparison with Balanchine's (pretty much everyone's is, actually :) ), but the ballets themselves are so specialized. I don't know if the trust has many Tudor veterans staging works or if it trusts dancers who learned ballets second-hand to supervising stagings. They should be more widely seen, but is it practical to just fly into town, teach the dancers the steps and motivations and go on to the next? Six months later, will they still be meeting the demands of the ballet with no Tudor acolyte balletmaster around? I think today's dancers, for the most part, need a whole different kind of education before they're ready to give a Tudor work what it deserves. NYTB has it.

Whoops! I see that MissGTS posted as I was writing :thanks: , so there's some redundancy here. :dunno:

ETA: I have been a certified balletomane for something like 33 years, and I have never seen Undertow. Never! Something's wrong here. It is considered a classic, but it's rarely performed.

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Julliard Students performed part of Undertow at the celebration this weekend. I think it was Kirk Petersen who has been working it on it with them. It was hard to hear what he was saying but I think he said he chose Freshmen as he knew it would take a while to reconstruct it. So maybe in a couple of years, they will dance it in their graduation performance!?!? Something to look forward to.

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I think that in some ways Tudor works are more fragile that works by some other major choreographers. I think, that for example, Balanchine works danced badly look like good or great pieces (depending on the work) danced badly. I think that Tudor has to be properly coached and performed in order to show the work. Some musical composers are like that. Many works of Bach are jazzed up, souped up, played on synthesizers, etc and still the piece shines through. Other composers are not so lucky. I think it doesn't mean that the work is a lesser work, just less durable, in a sense.

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Tudor also suffers from not having a major institutional home for his works. He is not central to ABT's DNA the way Balanchine and Robbins are to City Ballet or Ashton and MacMillan are (or was, in Ashton's case) to the Royal. Nor did he impart to his followers a flagship company bearing his name and performing his works year-in-and-year-out the way Alvin Ailey, Martha Graham and Jose Limon did.

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Lots of good explanations as to why Tudor's work is neglected. I'll add my own subjective, dancer-based one. I think performers--and ADs--can be impatient with the process of setting a Tudor ballet, b/c it's incredibly mystified (as in made cryptic), even to those performing it. It's the rare dancer who really "gets it"; the rest of us are never quite sure we're "rolling under the barrel" or "carrying the head of John the Baptist" in just the right way. Or why those images matter to the movement. And while no one is as harsh as Tudor himself was, the people who set his works sometimes emulate his authoritarian ways--to an end that is, again, not always easy to understand.

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the rest of us are never quite sure we're "rolling under the barrel" or "carrying the head of John the Baptist" in just the right way
Could you elaborate? If it's not too much to ask, I'd be curious to know more about where this imagery is requested.

"Under the barrel" (and over the barrel) refers to a part of Dark Elegies (women's dance, so I don't remember when); the port de head of John B comes in Lilac Garden, when some (3?) corps women whisp across the stage (near the beginning, I think), with their arms out in front of them holding .... something.

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Oh!! I remember shooting this for Pennsylvania Ballet... and thinking one section with 3 women whisping across the stage was very strange... kind of art-nouveau-ish? ... I didn't know what to make of it... it seemed very mannered like something out of the Edward Gorey PBS Mystery! television series animations... I wasn't sure if it was something that seemed right when the piece was made but now didn't connect for audiences (or me, at any rate... I remember thinking it was a very curious section). Thanks Ray.

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