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Nureyev's Falling Out at POB - Why ??

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This may be old hat for seasoned membership but maybe there are some nouveaux like myself who are/were not sure as to the reason why Nureyev had to leave POB in 1989 after just six years. From watching docus and interval interviews over the years I had learned that he had a falling out with Pierre Bergé, but wasn't sure whether the reason was administrative, artistic or "personal", Bergé being the "partnyor" of YSL. The marvellous docu "Constellation Nureev" recast by Mezzo some days ago also did not shed much light on this matter, so doing a web search I found a NYT article from November 1989 which sets it all out, and it is here for anyone who may be interested :

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/02/arts/nureyev-and-head-of-paris-opera-hold-a-peace-conference.html

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I thought he left when he did because of his deteriorating health.

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7 hours ago, Mashinka said:

I thought he left when he did because of his deteriorating health.

For a long time I was under the impression that POB management did not want an AD whose AIDS was an open secret although he never admitted it. However the issue was almost totally administrative it seems. Ballet lovers must surely be thankful to Nureyev for having staged Bayadere at POB after being dismissed. It seems incredible to me that this great classic was unknown in the West until Nureyev smuggled out the score and notation after a trip to Russia. Are you familiar with the "Dancer's Dream" docu series on dvd, the "making of" of Nureyev's ballets at POB after his death ? Wonderful stuff imho.

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32 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

Ballet lovers must surely be thankful to Nureyev for having staged Bayadere at POB after being dismissed. It seems incredible to me that this great classic was unknown in the West until Nureyev smuggled out the score and notation after a trip to Russia. 

Nureyev's version for POB was in 1992: https://www.operadeparis.fr/en/season-15-16/ballet/la-bayadere

Makarova staged the entire thing for ABT in 1980: http://www.abt.org/ballet/la-bayadre/

and for Royal Ballet in 1989: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/la-bayadere-by-natalia-makarova

I don't know what she used as the basis for her version or how it differs from POB's, but it's not fair to say that we would not have known Bayadere in the west without Nureyev.

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Posted (edited)

I think that you have to remember that when Western Europe rediscovered ballet as a significant art form in the early years of the  twentieth century the rediscovery was  prompted by Diaghilev's Ballet Russes which for the main part presented new works rather than historically significant repertory. The only company in the West which maintained a significant amount of nineteenth century repertory was the Royal Danish Ballet. The POB performed Coppelia but it had last  performed Giselle in the late 1860's. The newly kindled interest in ballet in the West was essentially an enthusiasm for new works.

Although today a lot of companies in the West have a repertory which includes a mixture of twentieth century ballets and  versions of some of Petipa;s ballets this was not the norm in the 1930's.  When the company which eventually became the Royal Ballet acquired its nineteenth century repertory in the 1930's the ballets which De Valois selected for her young company were all works which had historically important scores as well as good choreography. The idea was that these works would develop the company technically and artistically and be a means of maintaining the company's technical standards long term. They were not intended to dominate the company's repertory as it had been established to be a creative company rather than a choreographic museum. As the intention was to establish ballet as a serious art form and Minkus' music tends to support the  prejudice that nineteenth century ballet and its music are sweetly vacuous ballets with scores by  Minkus were the last things that De Valois and her music director would have wanted to stage and that is before you get into the practicalities of the diminutive size of the stage at Sadler's Wells and the fact that the company did not have the resources to stage a ballet like La Bayadere. I think that the first that the West saw of La Bayadere was the Kingdom of the Shades scene which both major Russian companies had as part of their touring repertory . That is the section of La Bayadere which Nureyev staged for the Royal Ballet in the 1960's.For years it was the only bit of that ballet which the company danced. As far as I am concerned I should be quite happy if the company were to revert to dancing it with its full compliment of  thirty two shades and dump the Markarova staging. But that is another story.

Edited by Ashton Fan

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Franklin Stevens' "Dance As Life" describes the Makarova's rehearsals for that ABT staging of Bayadere.

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3 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

As far as I am concerned I should be quite happy if the company were to revert to dancing it with its full compliment of  thirty two shades and dump the Markarova staging. But that is another story.

Seconded.

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Just now, Mashinka said:

Seconded.

I thought no complete reconstruction existed, though. At least I was told so at a lecture.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Gnossie said:

the full Fourth Act with the Temple destruction saw the light. The temple destruction is on Youtube.

If I may be allowed to express an opinion : I attach as much importance to the drama, if not more, as to the execution. Imho the fourth act of Bayaderka is an anti-climax and spoils the preceding drama. The drama ends when  Nikiya dies, and the third act is a "vision" where the "descent" is so effective and emotional that the variations (in effect divertissements) are tolerable. The fourth act is totally superfluous (imho). It's akin to a third act being added to Giselle, where the second act stands on the intense drama of the first.

Edited by mnacenani

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16 minutes ago, Gnossie said:

I so disagree with you in this particular case, Bayaderka isn't Bayaderka without Act 4, that's where the real stuff is!, Bayaderka is my favorite ballet

It's my favourite ballet too, minus the 4th Act :D. I really could see all performances of a 4 day run at the Bolshoy. If you will excuse me for saying so, Nikiya chasing Gamzatti around in the Makarova staging (hope I remember correctly, has been some time) is a farce.

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24 minutes ago, Gnossie said:

I don't know why would I have to excuse you, I hate Makarova's version which is really an invention of her own...and not a good one! 

Yuri Nikolaevich's staging of Bayaderka is the least offensive of his "after petipa" stagings, although if you want drama to be "spoiled" talk about his modification of the fight scene........jeté here jeté there...oh just STOP IT! But otherwise is a decent production. 

Agree about that terrible Grigorovich fight scene - definitely too many jetes across the stage and the drama of the fight itself is completely lost.  Also agree that Bayadere (I am another for whom it is my favourite ballet, although along with Shurale!) NEEDS that final act with the destruction of the temple etc, in order to have dramatic credibility. 

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Ah, but y'all have probably never seen the abomination Stanton Welch staged in Houston, where all of Nikiya's variations are rechoreographed, Aya wears pointe shoes and a costume practically indistinguishable from Gamzatti's, the D'Jampe music is used for a male quartet, there is a fire god and a dream god, as well as a golden idol, although he doesn't dance, and where the shades make their way down the ramp in a weird syncopated rhythm. The fact that the temple comes crashing down at the end (because Gamzatti stabs Solor for refusing to marry her) does absolutely nothing to salvage the production. Plus Welch uses the gawd-awful Lanchbery orchestration. After that, I promise you, Nureyev's version looks a lot less offensive.

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2 hours ago, Gnossie said:

Back to topic: Nureyev had problems with the general direction of L'opera and with many dancers (including the etoiles Michael Denard, Cyril Atannasoff and Patrick Dupond), the "Nureyev Etoiles" might talk talk about him as if he were a saint but many powerful ballet people like Claude Bessy and Roland Petit (or it was Bejart?) did not like him at the helm, it's a surprise that he lasted so much.

Funny you should mention this. Writing in the April issue of Dance Europe about the recent Benjamin Millepied/Maurice Bejart double bill at the Opera, Francois Fargue had this to say:

"Millepied ascended to the actual position of artistic director . . . , while Bejart, who never made it that high, still famously acted like he was the director as he once upped and named the young Manuel Legris and Eric Vu An etoiles on stage following the premiere of his Arepo on 22 March 1986. An all-the-more unorthodox initiative as both young men were only sujets. Bejart had only forgotten that he was just a demigod. True god Nureyev cancelled the 'nomination' the very next day. Those were fun, eventful times. Who's a god these days?"

Speaking of Claude Bessy, how are she and Madame Dupont getting along these days?

 

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12 minutes ago, Gnossie said:

Volcano, you're lying!!! Such a thing can NOT exist! 😱 

Madonna santa it sounds like the worst ballet production of all time....and I never thought the God-awful Mariinsky Les Noces of circa '98(by a mariinsky dancer whose name I don't remember) in which the Bride and Groom did fouettes was going to be overpassed. 🤢

It's even worse than you can imagine. Nikiya loses her big entrance down the temple steps, the High Brahmin does solo dancing and standard pas de deux choreography, so his interactions with Nikiya are practically indistinguishable from her interactions with Solor, there is no oath over the sacred fire, the Rajah does some of Solor's parterning in the engagement party grand pas, Aya is the one who attempts the stabbing...of Nikiya, the snake is put into the flower basket at the end of the fight scene, which rather spoils the shock at the betrothal, there is no offer and rejection of the antidote. Ay, ay, ay... :speechless-smiley-003:

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26 minutes ago, Gnossie said:

She makes no comment about the disgraceful situation of L'opera. She has been present at the farewell of HER étoiles, but she's been on one side of the stage and Dupont in the other.

Poor Manuel Legris! After all the trouble he went to trying to secure the Peace of Vienna:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BDQvpJooWWt/?hl=en&taken-by=manuel.legris

Yes, I'm kidding . . .

 

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4 hours ago, Gnossie said:

It should be punished by law to destroy such a beautiful ballet! 

Nureyev and Grigarovich had the good judgement (imho) to know where to stop, but once again "chacun a son gout".

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5 hours ago, Gnossie said:

but she's been on one side of the stage and Dupont in the other.

Wasn't it Bessy who said in an interview at the time of Dupont's farewell that at ballet school she was "lazy and sloppy" ??

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Posted (edited)

 Although I should like to see the Royal Ballet stage  Nureyev's Kingdom of the Shades I am not in general a great fan of Nureyev's full length stagings of the nineteenth century repertory. They tend to be crammed full of more choreography than they can sustain with expanded male roles which distort the structure of Petipa's original stagings.  Nureyev obliterates vast sections of the original text in favour of  interpolated tracts of choreography so full of technical challenges that they are reduced to  fiendishly  difficult exhibitions of technical skill akin to show jumping courses rather  than the demonstrations of elegant ease which Petipa intended them to be. Please correct me if I am wrong but I thought that the POB  entered the twentieth century with very little to show in the way of active historic repertory apart from Coppelia. Giselle was staged for it in the 1920' s nearly fifty years after the company had last danced it and Lifar staged act 2 Swan Lake for it. As so much of the nineteenth century repertory which is danced today originated in  Russia I am left wondering whether the POB would have acquired such an extensive Petipa based repertory if Nureyev had never been its director.  Granted that all of Nureyev' a productions are "after Petipa" stagings  and some are so far removed from his ideas that Petipa would  struggle to recognise the ballets staged in his name the fact is that we only have the luxury of arguing about the form which the POB's stagings of the nineteenth century classics should take because Nureyev staged them there in some form.

Edited by Ashton Fan

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1 hour ago, Ashton Fan said:

 Please correct me if I am wrong but I thought that the POB  entered the twentieth century with very little to show in the way of active historic repertory apart from Coppelia. Giselle was staged for it in the 1920' s nearly fifty years after the company had last danced it and Lifar staged act 2 Swan Lake for it. As so much of the nineteenth century repertory which is danced today originated in  Russia I am left wondering whether the POB would have acquired such an extensive Petipa based repertory if Nureyev had never been its director.

I appreciate your thoughtful, informed comments on this and other subjects. Allow me to make just two remarks. At the turn of the 20th century, the ballet troupe of the Opéra was still big, they were dancing frequently, even though separate ballets were performed less frequently, and there were few new ballets, compared to the pre-1867 period. Coppélia, La Korrigane, La Maladetta*, L’Etoile*, Danses de jadis et de naguère*, Bacchus*, Le Lac des aulnes*, La Ronde de Saisons*, Namouna (in new redaction by Léo Staats), Javotte* (with absolutely wonderful music by Saint-Saëns), La fête chez Thérèse* were the ballets performed (I marked with asterisk those that were premiered between 1893 and 1910). Of these, the first three were practically all the time on the affiche. In Javotte Olga Preobrazhenskaïa was performing twice as a guest artiste. It is very unfortunate that La Korrigane, La Maladetta, Javotte, all disappeared. Thanks to Lefèvre and Dupont, unfortunately, the brilliant original Coppélia met the same fate now.

My second comment: Marius Petipa's three great classical works, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, were all in the repertoire of l'Opéra  before Noureev, so he cannot take credit for them. Noureev replaced those productions with his own.

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16 hours ago, Gnossie said:

Nureyev had problems with the general direction of L'opera and with many dancers (including the etoiles Michael Denard, Cyril Atannasoff and Patrick Dupond), the "Nureyev Etoiles" might talk talk about him as if he were a saint but many powerful ballet people like Claude Bessy and Roland Petit (or it was Bejart?) did not like him at the helm

Petit was always a friend and supporter of Nureyev, Bejart?  Nureyev danced very successfully in his company earlier in his career, perhaps there was a falling out.  The examples given are certainly bizarre.

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Aside from putting that in the context of POB school standards, which make the Navy Seals look lazy and sloppy, many dancers find their niche later, and if Dupont was, indeed, lazy and sloppy during her school days -- must have been the influence of living in Bethesda as a child ;) -- she certainly made up for it as a dancer, becoming a premiere danseuse in nine years and l'Etoile in 11, as well as winning a junior gold medal in Varna three years after joining POB, as well as other awards early in her career:

http://www.browsebiography.com/bio-aurelie_dupont.html

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Posted (edited)
On ‎12‎.‎4‎.‎2018 at 10:25 AM, Ashton Fan said:

I think that you have to remember that when Western Europe rediscovered ballet as a significant art form in the early years of the  twentieth century the rediscovery was  prompted by Diaghilev's Ballet Russes which for the main part presented new works rather than historically significant repertory. The only company in the West which maintained a significant amount of nineteenth century repertory was the Royal Danish Ballet. The POB performed Coppelia but it had last  performed Giselle in the late 1860's. The newly kindled interest in ballet in the West was essentially an enthusiasm for new works.

Although today a lot of companies in the West have a repertory which includes a mixture of twentieth century ballets and  versions of some of Petipa;s ballets this was not the norm in the 1930's.  When the company which eventually became the Royal Ballet acquired its nineteenth century repertory in the 1930's the ballets which De Valois selected for her young company were all works which had historically important scores as well as good choreography. The idea was that these works would develop the company technically and artistically and be a means of maintaining the company's technical standards long term. They were not intended to dominate the company's repertory as it had been established to be a creative company rather than a choreographic museum. As the intention was to establish ballet as a serious art form and Minkus' music tends to support the  prejudice that nineteenth century ballet and its music are sweetly vacuous ballets with scores by  Minkus were the last things that De Valois and her music director would have wanted to stage and that is before you get into the practicalities of the diminutive size of the stage at Sadler's Wells and the fact that the company did not have the resources to stage a ballet like La Bayadere. I think that the first that the West saw of La Bayadere was the Kingdom of the Shades scene which both major Russian companies had as part of their touring repertory . That is the section of La Bayadere which Nureyev staged for the Royal Ballet in the 1960's.For years it was the only bit of that ballet which the company danced. As far as I am concerned I should be quite happy if the company were to revert to dancing it with its full compliment of  thirty two shades and dump the Markarova staging. But that is another story.

Not meaning to divert the topic, but the claim in the beginning with Diagilev and the rediscovery of Ballet is somewhat outdated and has gone under some revision over the years. Classical ballet was never dead in France. 

Giselle was performed By Diagilev's Ballets Russes in 1910, to warm reception but it was rather mild compared to other "exotic" works in the press reviews. The classics such as Giselle did raise some nostalgic feelings among french audience but the general view was that the romantic ballet was old and out of fashion. This I found when I analysed reviews from several prominent french newspaper from 1909-1914 for my bachelor thesis.

There was a reason why unclassical repertoire  were created. Those unclassical works were solely created for western audiences.

I mean books about Diagilev and Ballets Russes usually highlight their successes but their success did not come without problems especially during 1909-1914 period.

Edited by Lam

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On 4/13/2018 at 2:11 AM, Gnossie said:

She makes no comment about the disgraceful situation of L'opera

Posted short while ago extract of yesterday's Figaro article on "the situation at POB" !

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