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I wonder what Bugaku would be like if it wasn’t costumed in a japanoise style?  

If it instead had mid-18th century powdered wigs and abbreviated costumes?  Would it seem less racially tinged?  

 

Alien costumes?  Giant eggheads?  

Edited by Jayne
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3 minutes ago, Jayne said:

I wonder what Bugaku would be like if it wasn’t costumed in a japanoise style?  

If it instead had mid-18th century powdered wigs and abbreviated costumes?  Would it seem less racially tinged?  

 

Alien costumes?  Giant eggheads?  

Those are very interesting ideas, I think it could work quite well in other styles.

I happened to just read today an interesting passage Croce wrote about Suzanne Farrell and Allegra Kent in the piece:

Quote

Farrell's Dulcinea and her role in Diamonds suggest that, as a Balanchine conception, she's free and more than equal to any man. In Bugaku, she appeared in a contrasting role, one originally done by Kent. Here the woman is seen ribaldly as an object, and though there are moments of satire in the geisha-girl pantomime (as well as some pseudo-Oriental mannerisms), Bugaku is the nearest thing in the New York City Ballet repertory to a Béjart ballet. Balanchine seems to have derived his inspiration for the pas de deux from Japanese pornographic prints. Farrell brought out some of the acid below the surface, but not enough. Kent can bring it all out—complicity carried to the point of mockery—so the piece becomes nearly a feminist statement; she can make the movements look insinuating and delicious at the same time.

(February 24, 1975, in Afterimages, p. 129)

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6 minutes ago, Jayne said:

I wonder what Bugaku would be like if it wasn’t costumed in a japanoise style?  

If it instead had mid-18th century powdered wigs and abbreviated costumes?  Would it seem less racially tinged? 

Alien costumes?  Giant eggheads?  

There's a rather immense discussion about this over here (I'm not even sure where it started in that thread).

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Thanks so much for the heads-up about the comments; I might've missed them. And the above is always true hah.

Oh I would love to see the piece live! When was it last in NYCB's rep, anyone know?

In the last 10 or 12 years I've seen Bugaku twice at NYCB.  Once with Kowroski and once I think with Whelan.  It is fascinating in terms of pure movement.

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4 minutes ago, Marta said:

In the last 10 or 12 years I've seen Bugaku twice at NYCB.  Once with Kowroski and once I think with Whelan.  It is fascinating in terms of pure movement.

Oh interesting, so it's possible it's still reasonably revivable there. I thought it might be more definedly out of the active rep.

I find it fascinating as well, even though obviously off-putting in some ways. I'd be very interested to see it.

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1 hour ago, nanushka said:

Oh interesting, so it's possible it's still reasonably revivable there. I thought it might be more definedly out of the active rep.

I find it fascinating as well, even though obviously off-putting in some ways. I'd be very interested to see it.

My dates and memory are really off in what I said earlier:  In the last 10 or 12 years I've seen Bugaku twice at NYCB.  Once with Kowroski and once I think with Whelan.  It is fascinating in terms of pure movement.

After I wrote that, I knew something was off so I looked through some NYCB programs since 2000 - no Bugaku. The first one from the 1990s  had Bugaku -- with Watts and Soto, 1993. Late period Watts .  Maybe I imagined I saw Kowroski at some other time!  I still think it's revivable. They don't do Davidsbundlertanze very often.  

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Thanks so much for the update on that!

I only started seeing NYCB ca. 2007 and have seen Davidsbündlertänze since then (and disliked it — but would be curious to see it again, now that I’m more into Balanchine overall), so that’s definitely more recently in the rep.

I would love to have seen Watts in Bugaku!

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5 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Thanks so much for the update on that!

I only started seeing NYCB ca. 2007 and have seen Davidsbündlertänze since then (and disliked it — but would be curious to see it again, now that I’m more into Balanchine overall), so that’s definitely more recently in the rep.

I would love to have seen Watts in Bugaku!

We saw the same Davidsbundlertanze then in the last 11 years. I love it!  Maybe you won't be converted, but  the film on youtube  is fantastic:  Farrell, D'Amboise, von Aroldingen, Luders, Martins, Watts, ... gonna stop here ...  

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1 minute ago, Marta said:

We saw the same Davidsbundlertanze then in the last 11 years. I love it!  Maybe you won't be converted, but  the film on youtube  is fantastic:  Farrell, D'Amboise, von Aroldingen, Luders, Martins, Watts, ... gonna stop here ...  

I’ve been meaning to watch that, have had it saved on a playlist. Will take a look! Definitely a great cast.

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On 3/22/2018 at 5:22 PM, Jayne said:

I wonder what Bugaku would be like if it wasn’t costumed in a japanoise style?  

If it instead had mid-18th century powdered wigs and abbreviated costumes?  Would it seem less racially tinged?  

 

Alien costumes?  Giant eggheads?  

I won't try to recap the discussion from the other thread, but I wonder as well, how much of what I find difficult in the work is embedded in the movement and how much is part of the exterior style.

But I'm not so sure about the alien suggestion.  Or the eggheads, although I'm considering a specific category: "dances with difficult costumes."  The newly uncovered color photos from the original 4 Temperaments, with those astonishingly restrictive costumes made me think of it.

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On 3/22/2018 at 10:01 PM, Marta said:

My dates and memory are really off in what I said earlier:  In the last 10 or 12 years I've seen Bugaku twice at NYCB.  Once with Kowroski and once I think with Whelan.  It is fascinating in terms of pure movement.

After I wrote that, I knew something was off so I looked through some NYCB programs since 2000 - no Bugaku. The first one from the 1990s  had Bugaku -- with Watts and Soto, 1993. Late period Watts .  Maybe I imagined I saw Kowroski at some other time!  I still think it's revivable. They don't do Davidsbundlertanze very often.  

Its not your imagination, I definitely saw 2 runs of Bugaku, the first with Kowroski & Evans and the second with Whelan & Evans. I don't remember the years, but I just googled it and the Kowroski run was in 2007, Whelan in 2008.

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17 minutes ago, nysusan said:

Its not your imagination, I definitely saw 2 runs of Bugaku, the first with Kowroski & Evans and the second with Whelan & Evans. I don't remember the years, but I just googled it and the Kowroski run was in 2007, Whelan in 2008.

Thank you for the update!  Those are the two performances I saw, and I recall thinking that Evans was not looking good either time. Kowroski was magnificent. I liked Whelan too. Both women have a human pretzel aspect,. as did Watts, but to my mind, Kowroski had a  more sinuous and sensual quality .  

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Wow. I just watched the Theme and Variations (or actually probably mvmt. 4 of Tschai Suite No. 3, but it's not listed that way) with Merrill Ashley and Sean Lavery on Clifford's channel.

Wow.

Ashley is quite tall, yes? Because both dancers' movements are so remarkably articulated in that video, even shot from rather far away — I can only imagine what it must have been like to see that performance live.

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11 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Wow. I just watched the Theme and Variations (or actually probably mvmt. 4 of Tschai Suite No. 3, but it's not listed that way) with Merrill Ashley and Sean Lavery on Clifford's channel.

Wow.

Ashley is quite tall, yes? Because both dancers' movements are so remarkably articulated in that video, even shot from rather far away — I can only imagine what it must have been like to see that performance live.

I think someone mentioned that Ashley said she was 5'7.5" (stated in her biography), so it always depends on who a dancer is standing beside.  ;)
Her limbs are quite long, but that didn't seem to slow her down any. She must have a lot of "fast twitch" muscle tissue (like a sprinter).

 

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4 minutes ago, pherank said:

She must have a lot of "fast twitch" muscle tissue (like a sprinter)

SERIOUSLY! Rewatching now the Ballo Della Regina on Dance in America. She’s amazing. Must’ve been unbelievable to see her live.

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1 minute ago, nanushka said:

SERIOUSLY! Rewatching now the Ballo Della Regina on Dance in America. She’s amazing. Must’ve been unbelievable to see her live.

Interestingly in the documentary "Dancing for Balanchine" Merrill Ashley says that when she first entered the company she was not very technically strong and spent many years in the corps and more years as a soloist. It took her many years to build up that strength. 

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Just now, canbelto said:

Interestingly in the documentary "Dancing for Balanchine" Merrill Ashley says that when she first entered the company she was not very technically strong and spent many years in the corps and more years as a soloist. It took her many years to build up that strength. 

Yet I believe Ballo was made on her even before she made principal, according to the DVD notes!

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Croce writes about Ashley in the “tall cast” of Div 15, when apparently there was both a tall cast and a short cast. Does that still happen now, with pieces such as Div 15, Ballo, T&V, etc? Or is it mostly just shorter casts now for those Allegro-Adagio ballets? (wherein even when it’s adagio it’s still kinda allegro)

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3 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Croce writes about Ashley in the “tall cast” of Div 15, when apparently there was both a tall cast and a short cast. Does that still happen now, with pieces such as Div 15, Ballo, T&V, etc? Or is it mostly just shorter casts now for those Allegro-Adagio ballets? (wherein even when it’s adagio it’s still kinda allegro)

Aside from the "Tall Girl" in Rubies, I can't say I've noticed NYCB or other companies insisting on a certain height for any Balanchine roles.

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Well not “insisting” but there are definitely trends. Symphony in C second movement is often (not always, obviously) taller. Agon PDD or Choleric same. Russian Girl or Symphony in C 3rd movement shorter. etc.

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2 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Well not “insisting” but there are definitely trends. Symphony in C second movement is often (not always, obviously) taller. Agon PDD or Choleric same. Russian Girl or Symphony in C 3rd movement shorter. etc.

The company would have to have enough dancers of different heights/physiques to be able to pull that off. With most regional companies, the principals are just who they are, and when the program calls for The Four Temperaments, or Agon, then the usual principals are still going to have to make it work. Only NYCB has the size and depth, and endless young dancers waiting for their chance, to be able to think about how a dancer's physique fits a role (or not). But that approach is problematic since it means dancers aren't allowed to take on a role because they supposedly aren't tall enough, or whatever.  Sara Mearns would never have gotten to perform as Carabosse or dance in a Martha Graham ballet if she were always cast to her 'type'. It has to be uncomfortable for any dancer when someone else decides what their type is.

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Quote

It's a mark of the company's current strength that the ballet is at last coming back into its own. Balanchine is able to cast it two different ways: "tall" and "short." Though he actually doesn't have two completely first-rate casts, that day may not be far off. The "tall" cast is, dancer for dancer, the more impressive, with Kyra Nichols, Maria Calegari, Stephanie Saland, Susan Hendl or Colleen Neary, Peter Martins and Merrill Ashley dancing the six variations in outstanding style, and with Sean Lavery and Gerard Ebitz in the two secondary male roles. The five women's roles are more or less equal in size and richness, but two are especially well favored. The climactic whirlwind variation calls for the high-powered allegro technique that at the moment only Ashley possesses—and, in fact the central role in the ballet belongs to the allegro ballerina. But the plum role may really be the one performed by the third soloist, who has the centerpiece pas de deux in the great supported adagio of the Andante.

– Croce, January 30, 1978, in Going to the Dance. p. 55

Edited by nanushka
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9 minutes ago, pherank said:

The company would have to have enough dancers of different heights/physiques to be able to pull that off. With most regional companies, the principals are just who they are, and when the program calls for The Four Temperaments, or Agon, then the usual principals are still going to have to make it work. Only NYCB has the size and depth, and endless young dancers waiting for their chance, to be able to think about how a dancer's physique fits a role (or not). But that approach is problematic since it means dancers aren't allowed to take on a role because they supposedly aren't tall enough, or whatever.  Sara Mearns would never have gotten to perform as Carabosse or dance in a Martha Graham ballet if she were always cast to her 'type'. It has to be uncomfortable for any dancer when someone else decides what their type is.

Yes, definitely the points you make here are valid. Sorry, I was wondering about what the current practices are at NYCB, the company Croce was discussing in the context I mentioned. Sorry that I wasn't clear enough. I forgot that context wouldn't necessarily be clear.

Edited by nanushka
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55 minutes ago, nanushka said:

Yet I believe Ballo was made on her even before she made principal, according to the DVD notes!

It was made for her right after she was made a Principal, because she wrote that her two dreams came true:  she was promoted, and Balanchine was making a ballet for her. She was promoted in 1977, and the ballet premiered during the Winter Season.  She didn't quite believe she had been promoted, because she'd been congratulated once before in an earlier season, when everyone assumed she'd been promoted at the same time as one of her male colleagues, but she wasn't.

I read her bio a long time ago, but I think that was the one time she wasn't in 100% shape before the company was back from summer break -- many dancers returned expecting to get back into shape slowly, but she'd generally be there already -- and it also may have been right after the trip where she scraped her toes on coral on her vacation to Hawaii.  I do remember her writing about how Balanchine had them all doing a bazillion hops on point in class, because he used them a lot in the ballet.

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