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The Eifman Balanchine Bio Ballet

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[This thread was split off from the Eifman/Forsythe poll thread, as it seemed to be taking on a life of its own. The rather abrupt beginning can be explained by the fact that Manhattnik said he was afraid he'd "summoned" the idea, and I said he wasn't guilty of that, because it had been in print, in The Dancing Times, last fall -- September, I believe -- and Manhattnik's fantasy ballet scenario had been posted in November. A.T.]

Oh, and I'm glad to know my posts on BA didn't somehow summon Eifmann (I do have this vision of him appearing in the wake of a pyrotechnic explosion in the middle of the fountain at Lincoln Center the instant I clicked on the "Submit" button!), but I was thinking it. Absolutely. I swear I was!

Considering the dreck we've seen at the State Theater, an Eifmann ballet might be a welcome relief. As a Christmas present, here is the casting:

Balanchine: Adam Hendrickson

Geva: Yvonne Borree

Danilova: Miranda Weese

Tallchief: Jenifer Ringer

Zorina: Darci Kistler

LeClercq: Maria Kowroski

Farrell: Maria Kowroski (Eifmann will need to do something very artsy here to make it work, but I have faith in him!)

Hayden: Jennie Somogyi

Kistler: Janie Taylor

Diaghilev: Jock Soto

Nijinsky: Ulbricht

Kirstein: Peter Martins (dragged out of retirement over his sotto voce protests)

Robbins/Tchaikovsky: James Fayette

Lifar/Stravinsky: Nikolaj Hubbe

Martins: Nilas Martins

d'Amboise: Philip Neal

Lew Christenson: Charles Askegard

Villella: Damian Woetzal

Tomasson: Peter Boal

McBride: Alexandra Ansanelli

Arthur Mitchell: Albert Evans

Please note that the role of Balanchine's mother will be danced by every female listed above.

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Did I mention that in addition to the expected bits of Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, etc., large tracts of the ballet will feature as-yet-never-heard-in-the-West-and-doubtless-for-good-reason numbers by Meliton and Andrei Balanchivadze?

That we'll see the young Balanchine torn (literally) by his young devotion to both music and dance -- represented by a piano on one side of the stage, and a barre on the other? This is where the birth of the doppelganger comes in, played by, in a stroke of casting brilliance (if I do say so myself), Suzanne Farrell! Yes, who says a doppelganger has to be the same sex as its, uh, original? And even if they do say so, would Eifman listen? I should think not. I should hope not. And he'll finally effect the reunion of this star-crossed duo from the dance firmament.

Large sections of the ballet will feature the motif of Balanchine attempting to reattach himself to his sprightly and fleeing doppelganger (who represents his artistic inspiration), much as Peter Pan had to chase his dettached shadow.

(Did I mention Wendy Wasserstein will write the 13-page synopsis, which starts out with "The great choreographer is cooking blini....?")

Further casting: Heather Watts/Wendy Whelan, Kay Mazzo/Yvonne Borree (I know, what was I thinking casting Borree as Geva? Geva will, of course, be Megan Fairchild. Allegra Kent will play herself, as will Kyra Nichols. Merrill Ashley/Ashley Bouder (sounds like a name game of some sort, doesn't it?). Von Aroldingen/Monique Meunier (Eifman can work miracles, y'know!).

And, I went back over the original Eifman/Balanchine thread, and I see Leigh comfirms what I'd thought. I may not have posted on BA about the Eifman/Balanchine ballet, but I DID discuss it with Leigh the previous year -- 2000. So, yes, it is ALL MY FAULT! Here's what Leigh said in his post of November 5, 2001:

This is actually Manhattnik's: alas we were joking about this a year ago and we should have learned by now not to make jokes lest they come to pass. He already suggested a title that is perfectly tortured-Eifman.

Prodigal Son.

Well, it was actually "Balanchine -- the Prodigal Son," which will have as yet another subtext the wandering of Balanchine's spirit through time and space, detached, suffering, until it's brought back to his Russian roots through the choreographic exertions of a true Son of Russia -- Eifman (who, in a two-act cameo, will play himself, but with one of those Maurice Bejart goatee thingies to make him look a little more, well, imposing).

Anyway, here's my original libretto for "Balanchine -- the Prodigal Son," for those of you who may have missed it (complete with authentic typos):

Actuall, it was "Balanchine -- the Prodigal Son." Something about his soul returning to Mother Russia after all that NYC nonsense....

Of course this ballet will work on many levels, but I see Eifman presenting us with a Balanchinian psychodrama much like Tchaikovsky. We learn that, of course, Balanchine's much ballyhooed love of women is nothing more than overcompensation for -- you guessed it -- repressed homosexuality.

Balanchine's relationships with his wives, affairs, etc., will be presented as nothing more than doomed, never-consummated, desperate attempts at conventionality, always thwarted when the castrating-bitch-ballerina leaves him. The excerpt from Don Quixote, where Farrell's Dulcinea beats Balanchine's Don to a pulp with her shepherd's crook is one of the emotional highpoints of the ballet.

Another high point will be the extra-jazzy version of Concerto Barocco, with new music by Winton Marsalis.

Contrasted to Balanchine's unhappy (if artistically productive) relationships with women will be Eifman's depictions of Balanchine's many "conversations" with the spirits of dead composers, not coincidentally all male. The details of these are best left to the imagination, as is the climactic duet between Balanchine and Stravinsky.

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