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Least Suitable Adaptations

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Let's see...this will be fun:

'The Three Musketeers: A New Ballet' and just think, there could be sequels like, "The Man in the Iron Mask!" Ha! Bring in that guy from "Titanic"!

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Beauty's Only Skin Deep" What fun it would be to see the ABT try some like THAT! I can just see it now, Quasimodo doing a chair dance with Esmeralda in the Cathedral while Frollo dances carying a torch! Now THAT'S Entertainment!

Here are some for the kids!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Alice in Wonderland (Poor Carroll!)

what about...MIRACLE ON 34th STREET!

Well, that was fun. smile.gif

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Flemming Flindt did "The Three Musketeers" in 1966. It was, as one Danish wag wrote, "Something everyone should see. Once."

There are several "Hunchback of Notre Dames" (including the 19th century version known as "Esmeralda.") Roland Petit did one several decades ago, and there are a few Quasimodos swinging on bells around the country as we speak.

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There are also a couple of "Alice in Wonderland" ballets out there. Ben Stevenson did it several years ago, and a choreographer from I think Oregon, Toni (last name starts with a "P", sorry, can't remember, maybe Pimble or something like that) did it out there and also for Washington Ballet. Not very successfully, IMO. Sets and costumes were fun, and I think it could work, but there was not enough dance, especially for Alice herself. She was on stage for the whole production and never did anything. I have not seen Stevenson's production, but I know that the Alice also speaks in that one.

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I seem to remember seeing some Ashton choeography for Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps not a full ballet. I remember Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Alice. He used lovely British piano music based on traditional English folk songs. Does this ring a bell for any one?

Ashton also did a Tales of Beatrix Potter ballet.

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Yes. There was a Tweedledum and Tweedledee pas de trois (with Leslie Collier as "Alice.") It was meant only as an occasional piece, though.

Although the Royal does "Tales of Beatrix Potter" as a ballet, on stage, it was done as a children's film and supposedly Ashton said, loudly, specifically, several times, that he did NOT wish it to be seen done on stage.

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If I remember correctly, there also a was a production of "The three musketeers" by Andre Prokovsky (it was danced in Belgium or Netherlands a few seasons ago).

What about "The count of Monte-Cristo"? biggrin.gif

Among Andersen's tales, I think that "The little girl with the matches" wouldn't be very successful as a ballet... And among Perrault's, "Snow-White and the seven dwarves" doesn't seem to have motivated many adaptations...

Manhattnik, I loved your "Flatland" idea (for those who don't know it, "Flatland" is a very original little book written by Edwin A. Abbott at the end of the 19th century, in which the main characters are two-dimensional polygons, and one of them discovers the existence of a third dimension). I was also thinking about J.J.Rotman's "An introduction to the theory of groups"- probably not many dancers would like to be cast as symmetric groups, nilpotent groups or homomorphisms.

It reminds me of a high scholl classmate of mine who was said to have spent all the end of a party (after quite a lot of drinking) saying that he was a cosine (and asking people if they remembered the cosine of which angle he was... wink.gif )

What about Albert Cohen's "Belle du Seigneur"?

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Someone beat you to "The Little Match Girl", Estelle. It was Heinz Poll's traditional Christmas ballet for the Ohio Ballet for people who just couldn't stand the idea of having a Merry Christmas wink.gif

Your penance for not knowing this is to write ballet libretti for the novels of George Perec. Have fun!


Leigh Witchel - dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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I love this topic! so funny ...

How about Origin of Species: the ballet (lots of parts for children a la nutcracker, playing birds with different shaped beaks etc.) ... It's not a novel though, so does it count?

Bridget Jones' Diary: the ballet

I just looked at my bookshelf for inspiration, but I'm at work so all my books are called things like "Teach yourself Unix" and "Statistical Methods in Biology". VERY unsuitable for adaptation to ballet! smile.gif

[This message has been edited by beckster (edited October 16, 2000).]

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Leigh, how many kids went out crying from that "Little match girl" ballet? I always founf that one so unbearably sad as a kid (and also "The little mermaid", but that one would make a good ballet plot, I think).

What about "The ugly duckling" (ducks with

brown and green tutus, etc.)?

Perec ballets- I hadn't thought about that! The adaptation for "La disparition" would need to have some strong choreographic constraints ("La disparition" is a novel without the letter "e", it has been translated in English- still without "e"- as "A void"). But, as strange as it may seem, there have been some adaptations of works by Perec for the stage: last year, there was something about "Espèces d'espaces" ("Species of spaces", a very abstract work) at the Opera Bastille, and also some time before a musical work after his text "L'art effaré" (literally "frightened art", but in fact it was a text written only with syllables sounding like musical notes, "do-re-mi-fa" etc.)

A ballet after Asterix (very famous comics in France) would be somewhat dreary, with all those flashy colors and big men fighting- but it could hardly be worse than the film made after it last year.

What about ballets about super-heroes? They already have tights...

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Gee, that's a toughie. He wouldn't HAVE to be an American, would he? I'm thinkin' The Blue Giselle.

(And a belated second to the notion of super heroes, who already wear tights. There would be the problem that we're in an era where there seem to be, at least in America, a whole lot more Robins than there are Batmans, though.)

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How about The Iliad and or The Odyssey? (I would mention the Aeneid, but Mark Morris got there first. And did a good job--to my mind, speaking just for myself, no one has to bother complaining about his playing Dido. So I guess no fair using novels that already have libretti.) Maybe epic poetry doesn't count....This leads me to the novels of James Joyce. Bloomsday, the Ballet.Takes 24 hours, since danced in real time. Go ahead, cast Leopold Bloom!

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This is unsuitable because it is extremely politically incorrect, but there is a wonderfully over the top late-Victorian adventure novel called She (which has been made into several movies). It has some set scenes which could make for some wonderfully tasteless dancing. In one our heroes are staying in a cave with some suspiciously friendly natives, who are preparing dinner by heating up pots--no food, just pots. It turns out that dinner is going to be our heroes, cooked by the pots being plopped on their heads. I see a quite frantic dance of the hot pots. And later, our heroes (who escaped the pots) are in a valley entertained by yet another group of natives, who dance illuminated by torches of burning mummies. But I can't really see this being done now.

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While in full agreement that the H. Rider Haggard novel "She" could not be successfully made into a ballet, I believe it is for different reasons. Political incorrectness would not be a difficulty. The real problem would be that this work has already entered the Canon of Everything that is Important in Western Civilization in its film incarnations.

Who could forget the 1965 masterpiece starring Ursula Andress...which was matched only by the 1985 version with Sandahl Bergman. I know I certainly can't.

If anyone is interested in Sandahl Bergman's career, by the way, you can see her (lots of her) in the "Fly United" (or whatever it is called) sequence in "All That Jazz".


"The great pleasure in hearing vocal music arises from the

association of ideas raised at the same time by the expressions

and sound."

Joseph Addison, "The Spectator", 21 March 1711.

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I think Sylvie Guillem would make a splendid She.

Also, with all due respect to the spectacular charms of Ms. Andress and Ms. Bergman, the definitive cinema She is Helen Gahagan (later Mrs. Melvyn Douglas and political opponent of Richard Nixon), in the version made in 1935, with Randolph Scott and Nigel Bruce in support. And H. Rider Haggard rules.

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I hope all of you aabers (that's posters to alt.arts.ballet) remember two summers ago when we had an absolutely wonderful time imagining the Least Adaptable Book-to-Ballet Imaginable -- "Moby Dick" -- and, after speculations on whether Moby would be a ballerina role, and how many fish dives there would be in the pas de deux, a brave soul from Somewhere in New England chimed in that her daughter's ballet school had just done "Moby Dick" -- in all seriousness -- last season.

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