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Fall Digital Season

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I wouldn't include Emeralds, just personally. I feel like that piece didn't reach its truest state until Balanchine added the final movement. Before that (speaking as one who, admittedly, wasn't around then), I think it was incomplete.

I think of it very differently, for instance, than of Theme and Variations and Suite No. 3.

p.s. I personally can't stand the Duo ending.

p.p.s. (seeing the post below) I also wouldn't include Serenade. That, too, seems to have exactly the necessary ending, even from the perspective of the very first bars of the piece.

Edited by nanushka
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Here is the POB doing the Scherzo.

ETA: here are Marianela Nunez and Federico Bonelli:

Really amazing how different companies with different styles can do this ballet so well.

P.S. I hate it when dancers pronounce "pas de deux" as "pas de duh." 

Edited by canbelto
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I've been really happy to see so much film with Bouder and Fairchild.  After I moved from NYC, on a visit, I was able to see Bouder in a soloist role -- 2nd ballerina in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 -- and loved her, and possibly Fairchild when she was in the corps.  I've never much liked Duo Concertante before, but Fairchild changed my mind.  

Bouder said that she learned the First Movement Brahms/Schoenberg role when Nichols did it towards the end of her career.  The first performances I saw were with Nichols, who then switched to the Fourth Movement.  So it sounds like she switched back.

I thought Emily Kikta was fabulous as the 2nd ballerina, and Unity Phelan was superb in Mauve.  I've only seen them live in an opening night gala in which the choreography didn't do anyone any favors, so it was great to see them shine.

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Just finished with the family friendly programming. What a joy Western Symphony is! Pleased to see Silas Farley in there (and still so bummed about his retirement). This is one of those ballets I wish we had in full, but excerpts after excerpts we might get there 😅 We had the rondo last digital season, now we saw the first movement... Balanchine's genius never ceases to amaze me.

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There's also (or at least has been at times in the past) a 1956 one (Diana Adams, Herbert Bliss; Melissa Hayden, Nicholas Magallanes; Allegra Kent, Robert Barnett; Tanaquil Le Clerq, Jacques d’Amboise), a 1965 one (Patricia Neary, Roland Vazquez; Suki Schorer, Richard Rapp; Gloria Govrin, Frank Ohman), and a 1985 one (Lourdes Lopez, Jock Soto; Susan Gluck, David McNaughton; Florence Fitzgerald, Christopher Fleming; Jerri Kumery, Carlo Merlo).

Edited by nanushka
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On 10/14/2020 at 7:29 PM, canbelto said:

Serenade also has a much darker ending than you'd initially expect when the curtain goes up.

I presume Balanchine switched the order of the Tchaikovsky's third and fourth movements to set up that darker death and transfiguration ending. Personally, I find it rather jarring to hear the fourth movement finale—including the recap of the opening themes—three-quarters of the way through the ballet rather than at the end where, musically at least, it belongs.

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On 9/13/2020 at 3:12 PM, Kathleen O'Connell said:

I too prefer whole ballets to excerpts. That being said, Balanchine himself elected to present excerpts from his ballets for the Dance in America series featuring his choreography. There was no Jewels in its entirety, only excerpts from Emeralds and Diamonds. (And not even the entirety of those two ballets, either, just excerpts.) Only excerpts from Chaconne. Only the Andante from Divertimento No. 15. Only Elégie from Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3

I have no idea why Balanchine chose to have only excerpts of those ballets televised, but he did. 

The Dance in America programs were four hour long presentations. Balanchine did present a few works in their entirety. The Jewels excerpts were still substantial portions that gave you a good taste of the ballet and I would say Balanchine's excerpts were better chosen than some of the current ones. They are only pieces of the ballet but they stand alone decently enough. I don't think this is true of many of the excerpts of this digital season. It could be that they are selecting from hunger, but they are still unsatisfying out of context.  I'm guessing Mr. B would have given us at least two parts of Ivesiana.

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I bit of the digital season feels like bingo or trading cards:  "Collect all four movements of Symphony in C!," but if that's the option, I'll take it.

PNB is doing socially-distanced recent performances, and the excerpts chosen were based on dancer-pods and households.  We got the Diamonds Scherzo, which has pretty Covid-friendly spacing, and by zooming in during the section where the demi men partner the demi women, it's possible that they limited the actual dancing of that section to people who were safe touching each other, as I only saw new parents Sarah Pasch and Ezra Thompson and a glimpse of a second couple (I think).  

NYCB has a treasure box of recorded performances from which to choose, and it's not billed as a current, paid subscription season with all of the safety constraints, so it's interesting to see what choices they are making.

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48 minutes ago, dirac said:

The Jewels excerpts were still substantial portions that gave you a good taste of the ballet and I would say Balanchine's excerpts were better chosen than some of the current ones. They are only pieces of the ballet but they stand alone decently enough. I don't think this is true of many of the excerpts of this digital season

I absolutely agree!

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On 10/16/2020 at 8:45 PM, canbelto said:

Very vintage: 

An excerpt from Figure on the Carpet. This is a Balanchine ballet that I can barely believe is Balanchine as it differs so markedly from the minimalist, austere aesthetic I associate with him:

Thanks for finding this video, Canbelto. I remember seeing Figure in the Carpet footage in some program/documentary, but forget where exactly. Mostly I just remember reading that the stagings were difficult to reproduce (I think there was a large water fountain involved), and Balanchine ended up reusing some of the choreographic ideas elsewhere rather than revive the ballet. Here's a short clip of the other section that I had seen before:

Scotland: The Four Lairds of the Isles and Their Lady

The original casting was out of the "golden era" of NYCB:

Violette Verdy, Conrad Ludlow, Melissa Hayden, Jacques d'Amboise, Susan Borree, Suki Schorer, Edward Villella, Judith Green, Francisco Moncion, Francia Russell, Patricia McBride, Nicholas Magallanes, Arthur Mitchell, Diana Adams

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The first and the Diana Adams parts of Figure in the Carpet held up the best for me (perhaps as a whole the ballet remembers better than plays). The inner sections seem as if they would be very problematic to present today. 

There is a good account of the ballet's genesis in Gottlieb's Reading Dance by Rosanne Klass who originally suggested a ballet based on the esthetics of Persian carpet art to coincide with a Congress of Iranian visual art. Kirstein gave it its title after a Henry James story about a secret shared, never to be revealed, by a married couple. Except for the Sands of the Desert section, the ballet turned out less abstract than Klass and Kirstein had envisoned.


Instead of a purely abstract ballet, Balanchine decided to do a court ballet ... I think the reasons were probably twofold. First of all, I recall being told in late January that Panamerica, the recent evening of ballets based on Latin American themes, had been a financial fiasco and that Balanchine, Kirstein, or both felt they couldn't risk another financial flop, so they decided to do something colorful, theatrical, more surefire for the spring season ... Eventually – possibly taking their cue from Dr. Pope's analogy between Persian and baroque aesthetics – either Lincoln or Mr. B or both together hit on Handel's Royal Fireworks Music and Water Music and the idea of the court ballet, though which came first I don't know.

She also remembers that Balanchine


told me that he had a special affinity for Oriental carpets, that when he was a child in Georgia his home was filled with them. "I was a very naughty little boy," he said. " I took my penknife and cut out one of the flowers out of the carpet."

Klass's letter, which was received by the Performing Arts Library in 1986 and one of their few reference materials on the ballet, is worth reading in its entirety.

Was that young Alistair Cooke introducing the ballet?

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On 10/15/2020 at 11:14 PM, canbelto said:

I've been feeling under the weather all day and watched the DAAG clip again. It's such a balm for the soul.

Agree. i just love it and can't wait to see it again in person.    

Also: P.S. I hate it when dancers pronounce "pas de deux" as "pas de duh."   Why do they do it?  It seems almost every NYCB dancer says this!

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