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Program III: Firebird, Rodeo, NSS.


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17 hours ago, lmspear said:

My Ballet Russe reading is stuck in my long term memory.  Tamara Karsavina was the first Firebird.  Alicia Markova was the title bird in The Nightingale and Maria Tallchief was Balanchine's first Firebird.  Didn't von Aroldingen also dance Firebird after Kirkland?

Yes, I've mixed up my -birds! Thanks, Imspear, for the correction. Markova did dance Firebird for Dance Theatre but that was in 1945. 

Tallchief did the Balanchine version in 1949: "The long variation contained a succession of turned-in movements that reflected the music and suggested a frightened bird in flight and had to be executed quickly and effortlessly ... for two minutes all I did was jump."

All in all, it seems like to tough role to resume one's dancing career with.

Tallchief/Firebird/JacobsPillow –

https://danceinteractive.jacobspillow.org/maria-tallchief-michael-maule/firebird/

Edited by Quiggin
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7 hours ago, trixiebeaumont said:

Why such negativity towards Kathryn Morgan’s body?  Who says that dancers must only be a specific size in order to dance well?  It’s baffling in 2020 that dancers are still held to prepubescent standards.  We are discussing someone who is quite small naturally, but she has filled out as a woman. Does that make her a bad dancer or just not conforming to a preconceived notion of the perfect Balanchine dancer? 

I agree that this is yet another opportunity lost to reset the general ballet mindset about what a soloist/principal dancer needs to look like. But I can't say I'm entirely surprised given the look of the MCB company. Not long ago, I watched the MCB production of Apollo (with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting) and I was really struck by the physical look of the MCB dancers: there's an obvious preference at work for a particular physical build. Cameron Catazaro stood out for his height, but even he had the 'correct' physique, so proving the rule. Yes, that's just one ballet, but it was interesting how matched everyone seemed to be. The downside for me was that the visual effect proved monotone, and smoothed the edges off any possible moments of unique 'personality' being revealed. Very uniform, but ultimately predictable, and not what I would call enticing or emotionally charged. [It didn't help though that they were performing the short version of Apollo which lacks the dramatic structure of the earlier versions, imo.]

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8 hours ago, Helene said:

Given her relative height to her partners, 5'9" seems wrong, like her height on point, but Wikipedia lists that as her height citing this 2013 article from Time Magazine:

https://entertainment.time.com/2013/04/12/the-silent-song-of-maria-tallchief-americas-prima-ballerina-1925-2013/

Yes, 5'9" on pointe seems likelier. I don't know where Time Magazine got the height stat, but if Tallchief really had been 5'9", she couldn't have danced with Nureyev, who was 5'8". On pointe she does look a little too tall to be an ideal partner for him, but clearly she was not taller than he was.

Still, it's also clear there is no single "Firebird body" given the difference between Bouder and Mearns, or Kirkland and Aroldingen.

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Posted (edited)

Woohoo! This just popped up in my YouTube notifications!

MCB has posted a video of Firebird which was recorded from the premiere season in February 2020, with Nathalia Arja in the role. It is available to watch online until June 28, 2020. I know what I'm doing later today 🤩

 

 

Edited by sohalia
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Tallchief was certainly not 5'9". There's a picture out there of Tallchief, Le Clercq and Adams in Apollo with Eglevsky and you can clearly see she's shorter than the other women. 

Wow, I missed a lot. I follow Kathryn Morgan and I did not see this on her feed (I follow way too many people and I miss things!). This is a real shame. It was the costume that should have been jettisoned, not the dancer. That unitard was tacky and distracting. All the costumes looked like they came from the Fredericks of Hollywood clearance rack. [I should apologize for missing the small children in the production when I talked about it on another thread. Evidently I missed them in the profusion of hot pink and yellow on the stage] I think Kathryn Morgan has something that can't be got with a diet or a tacky costume - she has a special way of moving and responding to the music. It should be nurtured. She would have looked smashing in a red tutu. 

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17 minutes ago, Dale said:

All the costumes looked like they came from the Fredericks of Hollywood clearance rack. 

Does NYCB rent out their costumes and sets when they license use of one of their ballets? Was it cheaper for MCB to make new ones than to pay rent and transport on NYCB's? ABT rents out theirs regularly and (except for Nutcracker) I thought this was standard in the ballet world. Everybody needs their own Nutcracker for December, but they don't seem to think they need their own stuff for every ballet when good options can be rented. 

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@California I won't say they don't but I haven't heard that they do. I think the Chagall Firebird would be very special to NYCB and it's also probably fragile. I noticed that when ABT added Symphony in C to its rep, it rented the costumes from National Ballet of Canada. I think NYCB would want to keep their Firebird proprietary so audiences come to see it in NY. But also, Miami has redesigned several Balanchine ballets recently to make them more Miami-centric. They moved Midsummer underwater and this is like Tsar in the Tropics. I don't think either worked. 

ETA - NYCB doesn't have the license to the ballets. Those belong to the Balanchine Trust. We have threads about it on the board somewhere but he left the ballets to people, not the institution. 

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12 minutes ago, Dale said:

I think the Chagall Firebird would be very special to NYCB and it's also probably fragile...

ETA - NYCB doesn't have the license to the ballets. Those belong to the Balanchine Trust. We have threads about it on the board somewhere but he left the ballets to people, not the institution. 

I have heard that the Chagall sets are in a fragile state. I think it is the Robbins Trust that controls Firebird licensing now, or it is at least shared between the BT and RT.

This was mentioned a while ago, but Nathalia Arja was promoted to principal after her Firebird performances. So I wonder if the promotion was "cooking" in the background, as Lourdes was running into her 'issues' with Kathryn Morgan's appearance. And so there was a ready excuse to push Arja forward instead.

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I thought someone mentioned the fragility of the costumes during one of the Fourth Ring talks or lectures. 

I know Peter Boal said that renting the A Midsummer Night's Dream costumes to San Francisco Ballet would be the last time they were rented.  (Not because of anything that SFB did, but to make sure they were usable for a PNB revival.)  So companies can be protective of their assets.

The Balanchine Trust can allow a company to create different designs with their approval , but if there isn't a redesign, companies have to either rent from an approved source, recreate, or do a combination of both (ex: building a new replica for a lead).  

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1 hour ago, Dale said:

Tallchief was certainly not 5'9". There's a picture out there of Tallchief, Le Clercq and Adams in Apollo with Eglevsky and you can clearly see she's shorter than the other women. 

Wow, I missed a lot. I follow Kathryn Morgan and I did not see this on her feed (I follow way too many people and I miss things!). This is a real shame. It was the costume that should have been jettisoned, not the dancer. That unitard was tacky and distracting. All the costumes looked like they came from the Fredericks of Hollywood clearance rack. [I should apologize for missing the small children in the production when I talked about it on another thread. Evidently I missed them in the profusion of hot pink and yellow on the stage] I think Kathryn Morgan has something that can't be got with a diet or a tacky costume - she has a special way of moving and responding to the music. It should be nurtured. She would have looked smashing in a red tutu. 

I’ve read everything I could get my hands on about Tallchief since I was a child and have ever only seen a height of 5’9” for Tallchief.  Same online tonight when I looked again - from several sources. Le Clercq is listed at 5’8”?  But much taller en pointe.  I know it’s possible to contort one’s body to appear shorter - and photography angles can be deceiving - but have no other explanation for the disparity in the photo you reference. . 
 

Agree 100% with your assessment of Kathryn Morgan and that dreadful Firebird costume.  NO ONE looks good in that - and after seeing the performance on YouTube last week, think it more than ever. Very unflattering. 

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9 hours ago, California said:

Does NYCB rent out their costumes and sets

On an NYCB wardrobe tour I did a few years ago, Marc Happel said that they categorically did NOT rent out their productions

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34 minutes ago, kbarber said:

On an NYCB wardrobe tour I did a few years ago, Marc Happel said that they categorically did NOT rent out their productions

Interesting. Virtually every company that wants to present a Balanchine ballet is started with Serenade, as I understand it, to see how they do. Wonder who owns all those blue tutus? Should be big business renting them out.

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The National Ballet of Canada rents out a lot of its productions. But I don't imagine building a production of Serenade costs very much, as ballets go, and then you have the costumes in the warehouse for decades.

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