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This is, of course, a variation on the discussion that we often have about artworks that use the conventions of their time, only to have those conventions change after the work is made.
Classical ballet is particularly subject to this sort of problem, since most of its classics were created in the distant past. "Other times, other manners."

Another disadvantage is that classical ballet's conventions are, built into the choreography . Classical theater has greater freedom in how it presents (or alters) its stereotypes, visually at least. This is possibly because texts can be cut, or given a different emotional significance. (For example, using irony to present text and situations which earlier audiences may have taken literally.)

(On the other hand, a subscriber to our best local theater company protested vociferously at the inclusion of Athol Fugard's Master Harold ... and the Boys in the subscription series, on the grounds that we are now a multi-racial society so there is no need to revisit plays about racism. speechless-smiley-003.gif )

Maybe it boils down to one's personal response to each individual work. The Stravinsky music sucks you in, as does the vividness and stylistic power of productions like the Joffrey reconstruction. The pathos of the characters and their situation somehow make everything seem somehow "right," even if I don't like all the assumptions behind it. The pace actually gives us (or me, anyway) precious little time to think and analyze. I'd love to see an updating, conceived as imaginatively as the Donald Byrd version described by sandik, but with the original Fokine choreography.

On the other hand, isolated bits of ethnic stereotyping -- like the dreadful (to me) Chinese variation in Nutcracker -- are almost impossible for me to watch, both as stereotyping and as choreographical cliche..

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Samuel Beckett liked the ballet. In his Letters he says he saw a performance of Petrouchka by the Woizikovski ballet at the London Coliseum, probably on September 19, 1935.

Beckett says that he did not care for Les Sylphides at all, that Tarakanova danced the Widow (in L'amour Sorcier) and the Doll extremely well, and that ...

Woizikovski does not dance so subtly as Massine... yet the Petrouchka as philosophy was elucidated without any attempt to do so having appeared, the man of low humanity worshiping the earthball and the man of high execrating his creator.

Nina Tarakanova obituary


Previous BA discussion on the Beckett Ietters


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I just wanted to add that of the performances of Petruschka that I've seen (or watched on DVD), the 2002 production named "Return of the Firebird" (shot for film) with Andris Liepa as Petruschka, is outstanding. His performance is physically astounding and emotionally wrenching. I also happen to find Nina Ananiashvili's Firebird interpretation (on the same DVD) to be THE ONE. In fact, all the Mariinsky soloists have taken to mimicking her performance in the latest productions of The Firebird. Kondaurova is closest in feel, but she's not the actor that Ananiashvili was.

Anyway, look for the "Return of the Firebird" DVD (directed by Liepa too, btw), as two of the ballet's on the disc are a most own.

Youtube does still have this video sample:

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