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Mark Morris Memoir Claims


sandik

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[Admin note: Responses to a now defunct post disputing some historical claims that Mark Morris made in his new memoir. apologies for some lack of continuity to avoid losing the discussion.]

 

I've only just started to read this, and so haven't gotten to this claim.  Seattle is my home town, and many of my early ballet experiences were with the Joffrey.  While  Pas des Deesses is indeed an homage to the Romantic era (rather than a reconstruction), the company did stage many significant reconstructions, in some cases keeping dances from being lost altogether.  I've always counted myself lucky that I was able to see as much as I did, considering how difficult it was back then to see foundational works.

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I don't have the new Morris book, but I'm curious  if he knows about the Oakland Ballet's history of reconstructions, notably Nijinska and Massine. Unfortunately, they don't list dates, although we know they all happened after the company was founded in 1965. I have a vague memory of seeing them do Nijinska's Les Noces in 1982, but don't see it on their list for the 50th anniversary performance. I wonder if their reconstructions predated the Joffrey's. Nijinska herself worked with this company.

http://oaklandballet.org/wp/performances/fivedecadesofdance/

http://oaklandballet.org/wp/about/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1982/05/26/oakland-ballets-flawed-but-compelling-les-noces/fcd733ed-0190-4030-8079-62be56a07341/

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This is actually a rather shocking mistake and I wonder if there's an explanation. Before Apollo (1928 - Balanchine's oldest surviving ballet), legend has it that he choreographed dozens of works that never survived. Is there evidence any of those support Morris' claim?

 

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Well, Les Sylphides dates to 1909 and The Dying Swan dates to 1905 (neither written as dance music) and Balanchine was born in 1904.  Unless Balanchine was choreographing in utero, Morris and the fact checker (if there was one) didn't do their research.  

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1 hour ago, lmspear said:

Well, Les Sylphides dates to 1909 and The Dying Swan dates to 1905 (neither written as dance music) and Balanchine was born in 1904.  Unless Balanchine was choreographing in utero, Morris and the fact checker (if there was one) didn't do their research.  

Thank you for those dates. It is a shocking mistake, for sure, and one wonders how it got into the book. I've had the impression that Morris is well-informed about the universe of dance, but this makes me wonder.

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4 hours ago, California said:

I don't have the new Morris book, but I'm curious  if he knows about the Oakland Ballet's history of reconstructions, notably Nijinska and Massine. Unfortunately, they don't list dates, although we know they all happened after the company was founded in 1965. I have a vague memory of seeing them do Nijinska's Les Noces in 1982, but don't see it on their list for the 50th anniversary performance. I wonder if their reconstructions predated the Joffrey's. Nijinska herself worked with this company.

http://oaklandballet.org/wp/performances/fivedecadesofdance/

http://oaklandballet.org/wp/about/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1982/05/26/oakland-ballets-flawed-but-compelling-les-noces/fcd733ed-0190-4030-8079-62be56a07341/

I saw some of those Oakland reconstructions, but don't have dates in my notes that I can find.  As far as a timeline is concerned, the International Encyclopedia article says that Ashton jump-started the Nijinska revival in 1964, when he asked her to stage work for the Royal Ballet.

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I could see where Morris might have meant that Balanchine was the first to come to mind when considering ballets made to existing instrumental music, given the enormity and longevity of Balanchine's output. I'd like to assume that Morris knows his stuff and that some error occurred in between the editor and proofreader and printer.

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