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Whatever happened to Balanchine's full-length Raymonda?


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Balanchine and Danilova staged the full-length Raymonda in 1946 for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Does this ballet still in some companies' repertories? Has anyone seen it? It's not in NYCB's repertory. However, Balanchine staged 3 ballets to portions of the Raymonda scores, they are Pas de Dix, Cortège Hongrois, and Raymonda Variations for NYCB. I am just curious to find out the current status of the full-length version.

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I'd love to see it too, but I don't think that version has been in any rep except the Ballet Russe. As you noted, Balanchine put has done several divertissement ballets from "Raymonda" (and I think the full-length was as much Danilova as Balanchine; he always gave her a great deal of credit for her stagings.)

Nancy Reynolds... :)

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There was an interview with Danilova about Balanchine's treatment of Raymonda in Ballet Review about one or two years ago (for some reason I'm thinking it is the one with Julie Kent on the cover). Danilova was asked if she thought it was possible to cobble a full-lenth version with what is left of Balanchine's several works to the music. I don't have the article in front of me but I think AD was not sure whether it was possible.

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In that interview, she told me she felt the "classics" needed to be updated and compared them to documentaries that were often too long! She suggested presenting various scenes from Raymonda as one-act ballets. She also said she remembered some of the ballet very clearly from when she danced children's roles at the Maryinsky. She is on video teaching the Act III piano variation to Zippora Karz.

Frederic Franklin has recently restaged a few solos from the 1946 Raymonda for the Balanchine Foundation.

I don't think it's possible to completely restage the 1946 Raymonda accurately, but I believe some of the dances, in addition to those that Franklin has restaged, could be revived, at least now. Maybe not in a few years . . .

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Originally posted by Dale:

Thanks Doug.  Nice interview, by the way. I wish NYCB would bring back Pas de Dix.  I think Miami City Ballet does it regularly.

I believe this is another Balanchine Foundation project and they've already taped Maria Tallchief on the subject. They also have a tape on Patricia Wilde coaching a Raymonda variation. The tapes are available for viewing in several libraries. Hopefully they'll get their website up and then the following link will have some info for you: http://www.balanchine.org/

Meantime, it's probably listed in the NYPL Dance Collection catalog.

[ 05-01-2001: Message edited by: Amy Reusch ]

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Tallchief coached Somogyi in Pas de Dix when JS was still at SAB for the Balanchine Foundation project.

I think Balanchine took some older ballets out of the company's rep. because a) he couldn't remember the older ballet and it was easier to just do a new one and B) he often recylcled steps from his older ballets for new ones. However, with no Balanchine around to make new ballets, it would be nice to have more revivals.

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Dale, Just a minor correction. Tallchief worked with Jennie Somogyi on the Pas de Dix for the SAB workshop, not the Balanchine Foundation tapes. She did work with Somogyi for the tapes, but it was on the 1st movement in Symphony in C. I don't know if the Pas de Dix has been coached for the Balanchine tapes, but I too would love to see it. (I did an interview with Maria Tallchief once, and she said it was a beautiful ballet.)

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Tallchief has done parts of Pas de Dix for the Balanchine Foundation. The piano variation would make a good study of how Balanchine revised Petipa's choreography.

Pas de Dix was essentially superceded by Cortege Hongrois in 1973, which is most of Raymonda Act III plus some portions of Acts I and II. Balanchine choreographed nearly all of the dance music from Raymonda in his three Raymonda ballets (not including the nearly full-length Raymonda of 1946).

I've always felt Raymonda is a ballet that CAN be successful, although everyone knocks the story. The original libretto is not as confusing as one might think from reading about it or from seeing revised versions. :)

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Originally posted by doug:

I've always felt Raymonda is a ballet that CAN be successful, although everyone knocks the story.  The original libretto is not as confusing as one might think from reading about it or from seeing revised versions.    :)

I agree (and thanks for all your input on this, Doug). I think that was Balanchine's thinking in 1946 as well. The Raymondas I've seen have been a mess because they tried to make the story make sense, instead of just following the libretto, which does make sense, at least stage sense. Danilova's comment about updating is understandable in the context of the times in which she was speaking, but...tastes change, of course. A very short time ago audiences were impatient with story ballets and anything long. They wanted a selection of short ballets. Now the taste has changed. In the 19th century, there were ballets that failed because there was too much dancing in them. Had those hung around, ballet's repertory would be substantially larger. We've gone through a time of mime cutting; that will change as well. It's a shame no one has yet figured out a way to preserve a ballet in private, as it were, behind the scenes, while "updating" it publicly, so that when tastes change the ballet is there, ready an waiting.

I love the score for Raymonda, and it's a great ballerina role.

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Maria Tallchief came to Miami in January 1999 for the Balanchine Foundation project, and she coached Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero in the principal roles of Pas de Dix. I think they did the whole ballet (opening entrance, pas de deux, variations, coda and finale) but I am not sure exactly. My understanding is that these tapes take a while to edit, so this one might not be available, yet.

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Thank you all for the info. I am wondering how many ballets were gone with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. I think Dale's already mentioned some of the reasons. With Mr B gone, we need to preserve & revive his works as much as we can.

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I saw this production at its premiere, and the best description of that night can be found in Jack Anderson's book "The One and Only: Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo". It looked like a 'shoe-string' production. The only good thing about it was Danilova's dancing. We came to what we felt was a 'chestnut' with eyes that were attuned to Tudor, Robbins and Balanchine. The story was ridiculous and Frederic Franklin in armor was truly funny.

I guess we have retrogressed.

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ATM, I think we just see with different eyes -- I can very much understand that people who were used to Tudor or Balanchine would find Raymonda horridly creaky. DeMille wrote a lot of anti-Massine pieces -- they think this is new, but it's not. If you saw what Graham was doing, you couldn't sit through Massine, etc.

But some people would have gone to it and been transfixed, in the same way that so many people used to Diaghilev's one-acters fell in love with "Sleeping Beauty." (And vice versa, of course. If today, in the midst of an entire season of "full lengths," there was Best of Diaghilev program, there will be people who will go and say, "That's it. Now I know why people like ballet." And the ones who only want to see "Raymonda" will think they're daft.)

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Oh, please keep mumbling and grumbling! I hope you know that I'm very much in favor of respecting tradition and keeping ballets in repertory.

I remember, just when the full-length boom was starting, that ABT did a triple bill of "Theme and Variations," "Pillar of Fire," and "Fancy Free" It was my first year or so of seeing ballet -- I was still doing standing room -- and I remember being (pleasantly) shocked by it. And then it slowly sunk in that all three of these ballets had been created for ABT. I'd love to see "Shadow of the Wind" and Tudor's "Romeo and Juliet" again, and even some of the more minor pieces -- DeMille, Lichine. And Fokine and Massine did several pieces for them.

We often read and hear that ballet just doesn't have a rich repertory and that's why we have to have so many Made Yesterday 'Noon pieces, but that's not so. There are dozens and dozens of ballets -- good ballets -- that could be done and, I think, if they were done with care, audiences would still respond.

ATM, if you'd like to start another thread with a Wish List, do feel free :)

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