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2021: Free Streaming during COVID-19 Crisis


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3 hours ago, nanushka said:

Balanchine's one-act Swan Lake, performed by Ballet Chicago:

 

What a treat! Thanks for reminding us it's on-line. It isn't often performed by NYCB and I've only seen it in the theater a few times. Made in 1951, it strikes me that Balanchine would not have seen this ballet since leaving St. Petersburg decades earlier. A few details reminded me of the Ratmansky reconstruction a few years ago, the version he would have known, e.g., the male hunters remaining for a time (at 15:00) and getting in line with the swans. Nancy Reynolds' Repertory in Review has extensive reports about how it was received, for those with the book - surprising for Balanchine to do this ballet, but nicely done. I've always thought that Balanchine knew he needed some money-makers, as he did with his Nutcracker a few years later. But the real treat is Balanchine's reworked/new choreography for the corps.

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4 minutes ago, California said:

I've always thought that Balanchine knew he needed some money-makers, as he did with his Nutcracker a few years later.

Definitely. He was a very keen builder of repertoire, I think.

I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, and very glad to have a video record of the full piece — since, as you say, it's not done too often.

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17 hours ago, nanushka said:

Definitely. He was a very keen builder of repertoire, I think.

I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I'm looking forward to it, and very glad to have a video record of the full piece — since, as you say, it's not done too often.

Agreeing with both statements; correct me, but I think that on the rare occasion when NYCB does this short version, they use the new costumes - the corps in black - and an augmented corps at that, so that the clarity of Mr. B's designs - his "luminous clarity" I believe Edwin Denby called it once, not just here but generally in Balanchine's works - is lost.  Black is the least visible color, and the stage looked clotted when I saw this revision many years ago.  So this restoration is wonderful - literally full of wonders - as you say.

But more than that, there may be a number here that's not done too often.  California, did you stay for the Zoom discussion afterward?  I didn't quite get Dan Duell's remark about a number Sandra Jennings suggested, during their negotiations, that they might include because it wasn't done much.  Or was she referring to the whole suite? 

I saw some of his versions of this a lot in the 70's, when Violette Verdy was alternating with Melssa Hayden, and even visited the Royal's production once when it was next door at the Met.  I was surprised at how many of their  "white" sequences were familiar from Mr. B's production - every other one it seemed, in places; he had replaced a duller one with something more luminous, leaving in what suited him.  They said they worked from Sergeyev's notebooks, so we may see here a lot of Ivanov.

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31 minutes ago, Jack Reed said:

. . .

But more than that, there may be a number here that's not done too often.  California, did you stay for the Zoom discussion afterward?  I didn't quite get Dan Duell's remark about a number Sandra Jennings suggested, during their negotiations, that they might include because it wasn't done much.  Or was she referring to the whole suite? . . .

I did not stay for the Zoom discussion -- now I need to go back and listen to that! From Nancy Reynolds on this ballet, it seems there were several things that are now left out.

I wondered about the black costumes, which is how I've seen it in the theater -- reportedly, Balanchine was asked: why the black? He said only that "there are black swans, too." (Sorry I can't remember the source on that.) I seem to remember that another report said they had a lot of black fabric around that he thought they should use. (I always wonder about the use of some black swans in the last act by some companies -- is that mourning?)

I thought the patterns and steps for the corps in the Chicago performance were really impressive -- so Balanchine! Very glad I can go back and study this now.

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1 hour ago, California said:

I did not stay for the Zoom discussion -- now I need to go back and listen to that! From Nancy Reynolds on this ballet, it seems there were several things that are now left out.

I wondered about the black costumes, which is how I've seen it in the theater -- reportedly, Balanchine was asked: why the black? He said only that "there are black swans, too." (Sorry I can't remember the source on that.) I seem to remember that another report said they had a lot of black fabric around that he thought they should use. (I always wonder about the use of some black swans in the last act by some companies -- is that mourning?)

I thought the patterns and steps for the corps in the Chicago performance were really impressive -- so Balanchine! Very glad I can go back and study this now.

Balanchine may have been asked about the costumes, but the black-clad corps de ballet was added in 1986 -- after his death. On the company website, when they talk about this redesign they offer speculation that he was planning something of the kind and include the quote you mention: "In 1986 the production was redesigned once more by Alain Vaes who created an icy landscape instead of the traditional Gothic lakeside, and dressed the corps of swans in black, which Balanchine may have been planning in 1981 when he mysteriously ordered 400 yards of black tarlatan. When asked to justify this odd request, Balanchine merely said, 'There are black swans as well.'"

I remember very much enjoying the Vaes designed version on the occasions I've seen it, but this anecdote seems to me rather thin evidence that Balanchine himself planned on dressing the corps of swans in black.  (Since apparently he wasn't being asked specifically about this ballet, he could have had all kinds of things in mind including teasing and putting off the questioner. )

 

 

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1 hour ago, California said:

I did not stay for the Zoom discussion -- now I need to go back and listen to that! From Nancy Reynolds on this ballet, it seems there were several things that are now left out.

I can't seem to find a recording of the Zoom discussion on YouTube. If anybody finds it, please give us the link.

Meanwhile, looking again at Reynolds (p. 130): "Over the years there have been many changes -- the pas de trois and pas de quatre have been dropped, a valse bluette for three swans has been added. The Prince's variation is often omitted. The Swan Queen's traditional solo no longer exists; to her music, a number of new variations have been designed in which the Queen is supported by four swans. . . There is a new ending to the famous adagio, which involves the corps de ballet; and parts of the adagio itself have been changed.." There's more for anybody interested. 

Reynolds was published in 1977, so it's certainly possible more changes came later, although Balanchine was presumably busy with other things before his death in 1983.

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I may be misremembering, but I thought the anecdote was that the original stash of black fabric was purchased with Balanchine's comments in mind, but that it was supposed to be a small number of black swans mixed in with the white, not an entire corps of black swans.

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On 3/29/2021 at 11:45 AM, California said:

... I thought the patterns and steps for the corps in the Chicago performance were really impressive -- so Balanchine! Very glad I can go back and study this now.

"[S]o Balanchine!"  Yes, yes.  The real thing, to this old man.  "That's the way it was."

Regarding the Zoom material, I'm afraid we may be out of luck; I think those are strictly live.  (The red "Recording" dot I've seen in the upper left corner of a Zoom meeting was not on, so BC may not have a recording themselves.)

But regarding Reynolds, yes, Repertory in Review is copyright 1977, but the redoubtable Nancy Reynolds is research director of The George Balanchine Foundation, which publishes and updates the Balanchine Catalog; its main entry on Swan Lake has more recent material, including two references to stagings by Ballet Chicago (in 2013, a performance of which we saw here, and in 2018); there's a lot of information there covering his changes.  (Personally, I'm among those who consider this source scrupulous compared to the more casual NYCB website.)   

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2 hours ago, Helene said:

I may be misremembering, but I thought the anecdote was that the original stash of black fabric was purchased with Balanchine's comments in mind, but that it was supposed to be a small number of black swans mixed in with the white, not an entire corps of black swans.

It's funny so many of us remember anecdotes about that black fabric. But with considerable googling, I can't find a source. Not sure where we all learned about this. If anybody can track it down, please let us know!

A few black swans mixed in with the white in the final act matches Ratmansky's reconstruction of Petipa, which, as noted, would be the version Balanchine remembered.

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For what it's worth, I don't remember anything being said about the black costumes being Mr. B's idea from the time I saw it.  Alain Vaes's design was a Martins innovation, as far as I know, though as far as I know, Mr. B. could have said something about it in his last, long decline.  (Martins was said to be practically commuting from the State Theater to Roosevelt Hospital, a few blocks away, where Balanchine was dying, for advice.)   Probably better not to speculate on that; better to treat skeptically reports of his unrealized ideas. 

In general, he drew on his past, his heritage, but as his Swan Lake exemplifies, if it wasn't right in one way or another, he'd change it, or try to.  Notice Reynolds says in the Catalogue entry I linked to that he restored something at the end he had removed - that tells us something about his continuing thinking; the ending of Swan Lake is a problem for many stagers.  Of his Swan Lake, he was reported at the time I was seeing it - not in the 50's, but in the mid-'70's - to have said about it, "I've got all the cholesterol out."  (With the accent on the last syllable!)  

Edited by Jack Reed
So I don't repeat myself below!
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7 hours ago, California said:

Reynolds was published in 1977, so it's certainly possible more changes came later, although Balanchine was presumably busy with other things before his death in 1983.

The only reference to costume changes in Nancy Reynolds' Balanchine Catalog was the 1964 one for the move to the State Theater; I even searched the page for the word black, but it didn't come up.  

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On 3/9/2021 at 6:33 PM, Buddy said:

...

How old would you say that these Ballet Chicago students are ?

I'm continuing to watch this video a lot. I like the quality and pleasantness of these young dancers and the contrast with Simone Messmer in Concerto Barocco is very enjoyable and interesting.

Also the performance of Divertimento No.15 is very good. For some reason George Balanchine's inventiveness is more apparent here (or perhaps more enjoyable) than in some video compilations I've seen of his own company. The way that he plays with Mozart, of all individuals,is quite delightful. He uses a lot of idiosyncratic structuring, for example, and just when I think that it might be getting a little too loose he puts in something brilliantly sophisticated.  

Buddy's question is a little old now, but here where we are talking about the last Ballet Chicago Studio Company program, Balanchine's Swan Lake, which is supposed to be available until Friday April 2nd at 7:00 Central Daylight Time, I can say, having just learned it, that four of the soloists there, the four who accompany the Odette in the eighth number, Dana Coons, Meghan Behnke, Devin Johnson, and Taylor Richard, ranged in age from 11-14.  The girls in Barocco and Divertimento may be a year or two older.

It may also be worth pointing out that the Studio Company carries out the intention of the school that some students perform at a professional level when they are still pre-professional in order to prepare them for professional company experience.  You may be wondering how that 11-year-old got into the Studio Company.  A friend and her dancing teen-ager were in their studios one day, and she asked that very question, How long does it take to get into the Studio Company:  "When. They're. Ready," was the reply we heard.  "Time served" has nothing to do with it.  You can be 11, if you're good enough.  Only if you are good enough.

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18 hours ago, Jack Reed said:

Buddy's question is a little old now, but here where we are talking about the last Ballet Chicago Studio Company program, 

It may also be worth pointing out that the Studio Company carries out the intention of the school that some students perform at a professional level when they are still pre-professional in order to prepare them for professional company experience. 

Thanks, Jack. These young dancers are very impressive.

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Posted (edited)

The National Ballet of Canada in excerpts from Guillaume Côté's Frame by Frame, Aszure Barton's Watch her and Marie Chouinard's 24 Preludes by Chopin

 

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On 3/28/2021 at 3:36 PM, nanushka said:

Balanchine's one-act Swan Lake, performed by Ballet Chicago:

 

 

Thank you, nanushka! Had not seen Balanchine's ballet before. His version seemed more atmospheric than dramatic: no mention/chance of Odette's spell being broken; Siegfried left alone in despair at dawn. The groupings and patterns of the swan maidens were quite lovely.

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Posted (edited)

The Stuttgart Ballet in Hans van Manen's Adagio Hammerklavier and Große Fuge and Mauro Bigonzetti's Einssein. Available until April 5.

 

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Not free, but thought some of you might like to know.  The Royal Opera House is streaming Ashton's Symphonic Variations. This is the 75th anniversary of its creation. Version as recorded in 2017.  Nunez, Muntagirov, Hay, Choe, Naghdi, Dyer. 

It costs £3. Available now until 2 May. Details here

https://www.roh.org.uk/tickets-and-events/symphonic-variations-2017-details

 

 

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