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Allegra Kent — "A Midsummer Night's Dream” — Act II Divertissement Duet


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I’ve finally decided that it might be best to give this its own topic. To read more that’s been written  please go to

https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/42228-allegra-kent-in-symphony-in-c-2nd-mvt/page/2/?tab=comments#comment-425706

Like others here probably, I’ve been watching a lot of ballet videos recently. Once again I come back to this, George Balanchine’s Act II Divertissement Duet from "A Midsummer Night's Dream,” as being one of ballet’s finest statements. It’s possibly the finest after the White Swan Duet from Swan Lake. The difference between this and the White Swan Duet is that the White Swan Duet is perhaps more distilled, more essence in fewer words. They’re both possibly among the finest overall artistic statements ever.

The beauty of the Midsummer Night's Dream duet comes from the * Range of Expression * , its meaning and the remarkable way that it’s presented. It was originated by George Balanchine with the wonderful choice of Mendelssohn’s music and then interpreted and presented by Allegra Kent with the extremely fine support of Jacques D’Amboise.

There’s so much that Allegra Kent is expressing, that varies from her love of her partner and her way of conveying this, to relating who she is and how she will make ‘who she is’ apparent. It also goes beyond in seeming to relate and explore who she is in relation to everything. I’ve written that it conveys ‘All of Shakespeare’ because this is what he explored and expressed and the duet and its performance touch on the most elevated and beautiful of this.

It’s described in lovely and highly descriptive dance motion as well as depthful theatrical expression. It combines the two and arrives at a poetic Panorama of Love and its place in the scope of everything.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Buddy
two minor typo corrections
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Thanks, Rock.

What I’ve expressed is my perception. It’s based on a rather blurry video that I’ve watched over and over for several years, sometimes trying to immerse myself as much as possible and also trying to absorb as much detail as possible.

Yesterday evening, after my post, something quite interesting happened. I found a slightly clearer video of the same performance. Has my perception changed? Yes, somewhat.

She now seems much more into a dream, which certainly makes sense. This is now primary. Jacques D’Amboise is there to support her dream throughout. Although the dream is primary she does at times focus her attention on him, both to thank him and to show her love.

The ending is probably the most beautiful part of the duet. This is where Jacques D’Amboise lowers her almost to the ground with her in a backward reclining position. As a series of still images it’s a masterpiece. Add the continuity of motion and it becomes even more so. Jacques D’Amboise is both completely supporting her and releasing her into her dream.

Added: This could very well be where George Balanchine got his ending (without the erotic aspect). "Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss" by  Antonio Canova. This first version is in the Louvre, Paris and a second version is in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. Also there's a copy in the Metropolitan in New York. George Balanchine could have seen any of these.

cupid_and_psyche.jpg

Edited by Buddy
Added: added to
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A few more quick thoughts about a Swan Lake, White Swan Duet comparison.

The sculptural, rhythmical, theatrical drama contrasts so beautifully with the flowing aura of the Swan Lake duet. Both are a beautiful dream.

Allegra Kent’s airiness and softness, especially in the arms, bring the two more closely together. The wonderful, ethereal Mendelssohn music is matched by both the choreography and the performance.

Edited by Buddy
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More viewing — more Awe.

There’s just so much going on and it’s so incredibly beautiful. Emotional emphasis, motion and sculpture, meaning, rhythm and structure of relating are all constantly changing.

My considering it perhaps ballet’s finest statement after The Swan Lake Duet continues.

My ultimate love in dance always returns to the Ethereal. This is the most Ethereal of George Balanchine’s works that I know of.

Ethereal is what Swan Lake is about. For me, it’s what ballet is about.

In his A Midsummer Night’s Dream Duet George Balanchine amplifies dimension and range. It seems as if the entire range of elevated emotion is being explored, expressed and above all made into compelling and magnificent dance poetry, into magnificent art and message.

How Allegra Kent and Jacques D'Amboise interpret and express this couldn't be finer, perhaps making it the equal of The Swan Lake Duet.

Added thought:  The ending when Jacques D’Amboise lowers Allegra Kent almost to the ground with her in a backward reclining position is possibly the finest single statement in dance that I've ever seen.

 

Edited by Buddy
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On 4/17/2020 at 3:28 PM, Buddy said:

Added: This could very well be where George Balanchine got his ending (without the erotic aspect). "Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss" by  Antonio Canova. This first version is in the Louvre, Paris and a second version is in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. Also there's a copy in the Metropolitan in New York. George Balanchine could have seen any of these.

 

The version at the Met is actually not a copy. It is a preliminary full scale plaster model marked up with a grid for transfer to the final work in marble.

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17 minutes ago, aurora said:

The version at the Met is actually not a copy. It is a preliminary full scale plaster model marked up with a grid for transfer to the final work in marble.

Thanks, Aurora, for this information. If you're familiar with the ending to the A Midsummer Night's Dream — Act II Divertissement Duet do you see a significant resemblance to the Canova sculpture ?  Can you think of any other works of art that the ending might resemble ?

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Please allow me a few summary thoughts. Essential to the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream Duet’ is the combination of

The Ethereal and The Dramatic

George Balanchine’s Dramatic amplification is what separates this work from the more purely Ethereal ‘Swan Lake Duet.’ Here it’s elevated by the merging of Allegra Kent’s remarkable Theatrical Expression (framed, accented and supported wonderfully by Jacques D’Amboise) and her, and the dance’s, equally remarkable Physical Expression.

Range

is also essential to George Balanchine’s success. The way that he can combine so much interest and so many elements so coherently is remarkable.

Maybe most important is that it seems to be an ongoing kaleidoscope that challenges description and is perhaps ultimately most meaningful as A Magnificent Experience. 


 

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