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new ballets in the classic style


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I have been wondering if there have been any recent ballets that have attempted to followed the classical style. I heard about "the legend of sleepy hollow" and that sounds a bit like the kind of thing I am thinking about.

And if so, have any of those new attempts at the classic style been successful?

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This is a question where definitions become a problem, I think. :) If you mean something like "Swan Lake" or "Sleeping Beauty," no. But there are a lot of contemporary story ballets -- "Merry Widow," at least Ben Stevenson's "Dracula" that are technically classical, I think. I haven't seen them, but descriptions of several of the "Madame Butterflies" make them sound like classical ballets. They've been successful in the sense that they're in repertory and have good houses; it's to early to tell how long they'll last. But I don't think they're very good. And by that, I mean they're simplistic in both theme and choreography, not very imaginative, etc. They're the kinds of ballets that, I imagine, a Petipa would insert some passages of more sophisticated choreography and add 100 years or so to their life span.

There are also ballets by people like Peter Martins, Kent Stowell, Helgi Tomasson, which are sometimes referred to, unkindly, as "Son of Balanchine" ballets, by which people mean that they use Balanchine rules but are more derivative than original.

There are a lot of classical and neoclassical ballets being made for schools -- read Dance Teacher Now and you'll be surprised how many. Both story ballets and abstract works. But they're looked on as training tools, it seems, and don't go into general repertory.

Other nominations?

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Alexandra, thanks for this comprehensive response. Really a brilliant response.

Afraid that I am not so familiar with Balanchine and his "offsprings" so I don't know enough to understand that part of it, but I really connect with what you are saying about "contemporary story ballets" and how Petipa would have made them into something great.

In fact I like your statement about contemporary story ballets so much that I will probably want to quote you on it in the future if that is allright. You said that these contemporary story ballets are "simplistic in theme and choreography and not very imaginative" < that is the part I may want to quote. Will that be OK? I really connect with that statement.

Thanks Alexandra.

Yes, can anyone else think of more examples? That would be interesting.

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The NY Times, Oct 6, 2002, has an article on Helgi Tomasson and the San Francisco Ballet. Mark Morris has choreographed several works for them.

"Mr. Tomasson recently commissioned a full-length ballet from Mr. Morris...The work, 'Sylvia,' based on a story about a shy wood nymph and set to a score by the 19th-century French composer Leo Delibes, will have its premiere during the 2004 season. 'I chose it because I love myths, because the music is gorgeous and I like their orchestra,' Mr. Morris said."

It sounds like what you've been waiting for, Ronny.

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Yes FF, Sylvia sounds like my kind of production. Too bad it isn't going to a choreographer that loves the old classic style. I've been told that Sylvia was never a hit in recent times, so there must be some difficulty with choreograpy or the storyline or something else because the musical score is terrific.

I just picked up the Sylvia CD (couldn't find a video) from my mail box and was enjoying the music yesterday. It is really a wonderful score. In fact there is one piece in there that was so good that it was stolen to add some depth to the last act of Copellia. (or at least my version of Copellia) The CD also has 6 ballet pieces from Saint-Saens "Henry VIII"... the package says these 6 are "Ballet-Divertissment" (don't know what that means)... but I enjoy that part more than the Syliva section. Does anyone know what this "divertissment" means?

Was talking with my sister yesterday since we were considering driving the 7 hours to Birmingham to see "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" but since we are both new at this, we both thought it would be better for us to go see the Nutcracker which is being performed locally a week later (Dec 7). I don't know about you, but I usually don't enjoy brand new music until I have heard it 3 or 4 times. I'm going to let the experts check out the Birmingham scene. I am going to see "old faithful" (nutcracker) for the first time. I know we will enjoy that:)

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