Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Live Stream of La Bayadere


Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I just watched the Friday evening performance and urge that everybody take a look at the performances on Saturday.

I confess that it was challenging watching Act I -- very familiar music, much familiar choreography, but I was confused by the characters and narrative (probably my fault). I kept wishing for a simultaneous split screen to remember what the original choreography looked like for different musical passages. I suppose this is a problem for people very familiar with the original, or what counts as the "original" that we've seen in recent decades. 

The second act after the intermissions was a relief in many ways! The entrance for Kingdom of the Shades, with dancers in short white tutus coming down the familiar ramp. The tempo seemed awfully fast to me and they seemed to add a little step-kick to the back with bent leg that wasn't familiar. I quickly pulled up on another screen the entrances by Royal Ballet and Paris and, indeed, much slower tempo and no kick-step. So now I wonder if that was something found in the Stepanov notation that we'd never seen before. The variations and ensemble work were familiar with slight differences. E.g., the skarf dance had her holding the scarf by herself. No sling up onto the man's shoulder. And that very fast tempo again. So I wonder if there is a basis for thinking that's from the original. And I did keep wishing for a split screen to compare changes. 

I'm going to have to watch this again tomorrow and encourage everybody to take a look. I'm curious what others think.

Edited by California
Link to comment

In Ratmansky's production there is something like a pas de cheval in the shades' entrance, and the tempo is much faster than what we are used to seeing. In his production Nikiya does the scarf dance completely on her own, and when she's done with it, the scarf flies up and into the wings. I'm going to guess there was a technical reason why this wasn't done in Bloomington.

Link to comment
4 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

In Ratmansky's production there is something like a pas de cheval in the shades' entrance, and the tempo is much faster than what we are used to seeing. In his production Nikiya does the scarf dance completely on her own, and when she's done with it, the scarf flies up and into the wings. I'm going to guess there was a technical reason why this wasn't done in Bloomington.

I see that the metronome was invented in 1815, so there could be an historic record of the original tempo. I don't know if it was in use in Russia, but that seems possible.   https://www.wqxr.org/story/beat-goes-history-metronome/

Pas de cheval -- yes! Interesting that it was dropped at some point in later productions. 

Link to comment

Hi all,

The music scores in the Sergeyev Collection that date from his time in Riga contain metronome markings for much of the Shades scene, and I followed those pretty closely. And yes, we weren’t able to rig the scarf successfully to fly up into the air halfway through the variation. In the Shades entrance, the dancers perform a cou-de-pied back after the cambre and before stepping forward. It ends up looking like a pas de cheval. 

Link to comment

The stream of Star on the Rise: La Bayadère Reimagined has been posted on the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music site and is available here.

A PDF of the playbill, which includes program essays explaining approach and process, is available here.

Link to comment

Helene, you are right. I apologize. I was simply shocked to see this level of production from a top training program whose graduates will go on to dance, choreograph, and possibly direct ballet companies in their future. My overall impression of this "Bayadere" was that a woke enough ideology excuses one from having to execute the choreography – not a great message for this country's future dancers. In order to title your ballet "La Bayadere" (reimagined or not), in my opinion, the first shade must travel the last diagonal of arabesque releves from one corner to the other after already completing 3 difficult sections of the variation. The difficulty of the drum dance lies in the fact that the dancers need to bend low to the ground while still keeping up with the incredible tempo. The soloist women in the grand pas have choreography that is distinct for its head and arm coordination (the girls here have only one idea of epaulement and that is en face). And these examples only scratch the surface of everything that is wrong in this video. If I were paying 50 grand a year for my training, I personally would want to master the choreography rather than have it watered down for me in the name of some PR stunt. These students are talented enough to learn the difference. 

 

 

Link to comment

You're correct that the first Shade variation should travel on the relevé arabesques, although in the notated version we used for the choreography the relevés are broken up by a bourrée upstage. Likewise, few steps are notated as being performed en face, and epaulement is something we worked on at length. The drum dance (Bayadère's Hindu dance or Danse Infernale) is performed as notated for the 1900 revival and as captured on film by Alexander Shiryaev with the exception of a few arm positions and movements for the ensemble as they pose in the diagonal on stage right when the principals make their entrance. I can assure you that my work on the choreography had nothing to do with any so-called "woke ideology." Steps were simplified only for the youngest dancers of the affiliated Jacobs Academy and based on the limitations of their age and training. Working with the students and faculty of IU Ballet Theater was a delightful and rewarding experience. I hope you might read my essay on our approach to the choreography that is included in the playbill, available at the IU streaming site, or on my website at https://www.dougfullington.com/star-on-the-rise.

Link to comment
On 5/7/2024 at 10:49 PM, dansedanse said:

Helene, you are right. I apologize. I was simply shocked to see this level of production from a top training program whose graduates will go on to dance, choreograph, and possibly direct ballet companies in their future. My overall impression of this "Bayadere" was that a woke enough ideology excuses one from having to execute the choreography – not a great message for this country's future dancers. In order to title your ballet "La Bayadere" (reimagined or not), in my opinion, the first shade must travel the last diagonal of arabesque releves from one corner to the other after already completing 3 difficult sections of the variation. The difficulty of the drum dance lies in the fact that the dancers need to bend low to the ground while still keeping up with the incredible tempo. The soloist women in the grand pas have choreography that is distinct for its head and arm coordination (the girls here have only one idea of epaulement and that is en face). And these examples only scratch the surface of everything that is wrong in this video. If I were paying 50 grand a year for my training, I personally would want to master the choreography rather than have it watered down for me in the name of some PR stunt. These students are talented enough to learn the difference. 

 

 

And this is all coming from which source...?

Link to comment

I watched the livestream from IU and I couldn't believe my eyes or ears. To me, it was like going to a Broadway show, which is not what I expect when I buy a ballet ticket. If this were to become the new incarnation of Bayadere, I would never go to see it again. I LOVE that ballet, and think that this new version is a travesty. Cowboys? Really?

Link to comment

I haven't seen it but the cowboys theme sounds cringe... like, "let's combat offensive Asian stereotypes by throwing the ballet into the most stereotypical white-Americana hick setting."

2 minutes ago, angelica said:

I watched the livestream from IU and I couldn't believe my eyes or ears. To me, it was like going to a Broadway show, which is not what I expect when I buy a ballet ticket. If this were to become the new incarnation of Bayadere, I would never go to see it again. I LOVE that ballet, and think that this new version is a travesty. Cowboys? Really?

Link to comment
5 hours ago, matilda said:

I haven't seen it but the cowboys theme sounds cringe... like, "let's combat offensive Asian stereotypes by throwing the ballet into the most stereotypical white-Americana hick setting."

Actually, Hollywood filmmaking. And yes, cowboys! Way, way too many cowboys! Again and again!

I will say, however, that the dancing was quite good. These dancers missed a real opportunity to learn choreography  that they might be expected to know if they were to be hired by a ballet company after graduation. 

Not to mention the amount of money that must have been allotted for this.

Link to comment

Here is my account of our approach to this reimagined Bayadère:

Reimagining La Bayadère as Star on the Rise  
by Doug Fullington

I’ve always thought Marius Petipa’s choreography for the character dances in his 1877 La Bayadère would look at home on the music hall stage. So when Phil Chan suggested that we collaborate on a reimagining of this revered but problematic ballet warhorse, originally set in a fantasy India, I hoped we’d settle on an early-twentieth century setting. After discussing a variety of scenarios, we landed on a backstage drama—a show within a show—one of the favored narrative structures of American musical theatre. Phil immediately identified the congruence between Bayadère’s love triangle of Nikia, Solor, and Gamzatti and that of Singin’ in the Rains Kathy Seldon, Don Lockwood, and Lina Lamont. This led us to our reimagined plot, a comedy (!) featuring an up-and-coming ingenue, her fiancé, and the reigning star of the Silver Screen. Nikki (Phil’s new name for Bayadère’s Nikia) would be our star on the rise.

The Gershwins’ 1930 musical Girl Crazy, which made stars out of Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers, has long been a favorite of mine with its dude ranch setting and terrific musical numbers. I was thrilled, then, that Phil was as game as I was to set most of the ballet’s dances as part of a cowboy-themed film being shot throughout our show. In short order, Bayadère’s opening ritual dance became a Campfire Waltz, the “Djampe” scarf number became a Cactus Dance—its performers wielding riding crops—and Petipa’s lavish Badrinata festival was transformed into a Rodeo Parade. Bayadère’s iconic Kingdom of the Shades scene called for special attention and a contrasting approach. We’ve made it the “dream ballet” of our show—an art deco fantasy inspired by the over-the-top creations of Busby Berkeley.

We knew the score by Ludwig Minkus would need to be adapted to deliver the sound world of a vintage musical. This particular combination of symphony orchestra and jazz band is epitomized in the work of Robert Russell Bennett, the orchestrator of choice for most of the era’s tunesmiths. From the beginning, I had the wonderful vintage musical specialist Larry Moore in mind and hoped I could convince him to take on the project and give the score a Robert Russell Bennett treatment. Larry had worked on a reconstruction of Girl Crazy in the ‘90s, and I knew he’d be perfect for Star on the Rise. To my delight, he was more enthusiastic than I could have hoped, and we spent a happy nine months in 2023 working together as he adapted the score from period sources and sent me scans of his handwritten manuscripts, which I dutifully computer-set to create a full score, parts, and piano reduction. Larry worked from two Imperial-era rehearsal scores, one for two violins and another for piano. We breathed sigh of relief as we found that Minkus’s waltzes, polkas, and galops transformed easily into tangos, beguines, and Charlestons. The new orchestration for the Dreamland scene (Larry’s apt new title for the Kingdom of the Shades) was inspired by Bennett’s glamorous settings for the Astaire-Rogers hit film Swing Time.

I’ve approached Petipa’s choreography for Bayadère based on the various ways the steps have come down to us. Nearly all of the ballet’s ensembles dances and a few solos were documented using the Stepanov choreographic notation system in connection with Petipa’s revival of Bayadère in 1900. Nikolai Sergeyev, a dancer in the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet who later became rehearsal director and an important ballet stager in the West, was the notator. His work is now housed at Harvard University. (The ballet’s mime script, also copied by Sergeyev, and Petipa’s own preparatory notes are held in Moscow archives.) In setting the dances, I’ve followed the notation closely, although we’ve allowed ourselves some latitude in the upper body (and occasionally in the legs and feet) to help place the choreography within our new narrative context. 

Some numbers that aren’t notated have been handed down by oral transmission, from dancer to dancer. For these, we’ve consulted the earliest films we were able to locate—usually mid-twentieth century black-and-white excerpts from Bayadère. Here, we’ve allowed ourselves additional freedoms in the staging, particularly where the “traditional” choreography seems not to represent ballet step vocabulary or structure that was common around the turn of the twentieth century. In the case of the adagio from the pas d’action in the final scene, we’ve created new choreography drawing on many inspirations. Likewise, the dances for the fakirs in the opening scene—undocumented and by early accounts demeaning and exoticized representations of Hindu religious thought to possess miraculous powers—have been replaced by choreography for our band of cowboys. For these passages, we looked to other cowboy-themed dances in the American repertory for inspiration, especially those by Agnes DeMille (OklahomaRodeo) and George Balanchine (Western Symphony). (The cowboy roles are a composite of Bayadère’s fakirs, the young boy students in Petipa’s Badrinata festival scene—this choreography is shared with our young Buckaroos—and the ensemble in Bayadère’s "Hindu" dance.)

We’ve reassigned several dances as well: Pamela Zatti, our Gamzatti character, performs Nikia’s vina (guitar) number in the opening scene, its music reimagined as a tango; Nikki performs the "Manu" dance in the Rodeo Parade scene, a moonshine jug replacing the milk pitcher of the original; and Pam and Sol (our Solor) dance the leads in the frenzied “Hindu" dance, here rechristened as Bronco Busters, another nod to Girl Crazy. The "Lotus" dance in the ballet’s finale scene was choreographed by Petipa for 24 student girls and provided us with a particular challenge because our resources didn’t allow for this cast size. Our solution has been to set the dance for six young students joined by six Rancher men from the IU Ballet Department, and we have adapted the choreography accordingly. We’ve also included a non-Petipa dance that has become part of Bayadère’s performance tradition—the 1948 interpolation for a character originally called the “little god,” better known today as the Bronze (or Golden) Idol. Finally, with Larry’s encouragement, we’ve replaced the ballet’s apotheosis, depicting Nikia and Solor flying through the mist over the Himalayas, with an upbeat Charleston finale that befits the uplifting ending of our new story. Structured in the manner of a Petipa coda, the number features the entire ensemble dancing to the strains of a jazzy, reimagined melody from the Kingdom of the Shades.

The entire IU Ballet Department, especially its wonderful students, approached this project with generosity, openness, and enthusiasm. I sincerely thank them all. 

February 2024

I share more details in this video interview.

For those interested in reading about Petipa's Bayadère in detail, you may consult my dissertation here or order Five Ballets From Paris and St. Petersburg, available soon from Oxford University Press. Further information about Star on the Rise can be found here. New York Times preview available here.

 
Link to comment

Nikiya and Solor aren't the noblest protagonists in the ballet canon. And Minkus' music is not the most profound. A lot of it would be suitable for a 19th-century (European) garden party. But changing a tragedy into a blithe comedy, where the protagonists' greatest desire is movie stardom--as shallow an ambition as they come--is bound to be a step too far for many. I do find the idea behind the original Kingdom of the Shades transcendent and even spiritual, with its immortal visual metaphor of infinity. It's the primary reason why I always found Russian audiences interrupting the entrance of the Shades or Nikiya's appearance with applause almost sacrilegious. :speechless-smiley-003: :angry2: :wallbash: It's another matter that Solor deserves neither transcendence nor an apotheosis.

Link to comment
On 5/14/2024 at 1:25 PM, Jayne said:

I have yet to watch this, but the discussions have been very clear that Phil Chan has reimagined the ballet in a new setting.  If Shakespeare, Opera, etc can be placed in different settings, then why not ballet?  
 

 

Has there ever been a "reimagination" of The Merchant of Venice?

Link to comment

Almost every Shakespeare play that is performed has been re-imagined, multiple times.  Almost every major opera has been re-imagined, multiple times. (This is what many call "Eurotrash.")  In the Victorian era, they changed the endings, slashed and cut the script at will, and added in pretty much whatever text they wanted to make variety shows of sorts, with the Shakespeare being a loose framework for popular theater.  They made it about themselves, regularly.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...