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Least Suitable Adaptations

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I am almost afraid to suggest this adaptation as I am sure it's been done somewhere, but how about Charlie And The Chocolate Factory? I see many places where a choreographer could put in divertissements: after the mishaps of the Golden Ticket holders, perhaps, or something similar to The Nutcracker, with the dance of the Everlasting Gobstoppers, etc, etc. Maybe even a pas de cinq at the gates of the factory for the 5 children. Not to mention the ways in which one could portray a chocolate river or a Wonka-vator onstage.

Sorry for butting in, but I just had to put it out there.

[This message has been edited by BalletNut (edited October 20, 2000).]

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In re-reading this ever diverting (and probably highly predictive) thread I came across Estelle's mention of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. I just want to point out, that although it is not a ballet, that Paul Taylor has chore0graphed a marvelous ironic version of this tale. (With Elie Chaib as a very vain prince.)It would be nice to see it again.

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I'm not surprised. The Disney people are notorious trademark fascists. I guess they have to be, but still.

BalletNut's suggestion made me think of an even more unadaptable Roald Dahl book: "James and the Giant Peach, the Ballet".

cargill, I wouldn't be surprised if Matthew Bourne takes on the "Rebel Without a Cause" idea. Already I see Will Kemp sulking fetchingly in a red windbreaker.

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There's one real life Most Unsuitable Adaptation on the boards already: "Bambi" Yes, "Bambi." (I wonder who gets to do Bambi's Mom?)

Now, it may prove to be original and wonderful, and one must never prejudge, of course. Anything is possible. So we must all go out to Oregon this March to see James Canfield's full-evening production, to a commissioned score. Since it's Canfield, I doubt this is a children's production. It will be more likely "The Bambi you only thought you knew."

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Originally posted by dirac:

BalletNut's suggestion made me think of an even more unadaptable Roald Dahl book: "James and the Giant Peach, the Ballet".

Good call, dirac!! Actually, right after I posted my last message, the thought briefly crossed my mind, along with...MATILDA!!! Miss Trunchbull could be danced by a male character dancer in drag, like the Sisters in Ashton's Cinderella. And how about The Witches? I'd love to see a choreographer tackle the scene where the little boy turns into a mouse. Back to James... I see some juicy character dancing for Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge...

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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"

From the AP:

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- A new English-language opera based on Herman Melville's classic "Moby Dick" premiered in Amsterdam for a one-night performance in the Stadsschouwburg, or city music hall.

Named after the book's famous opening line, "Call Me Ishmael" drew a full house Sunday and standing ovation for composer Gary Goldschneider, who had worked on the piece for nearly 20 years.

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Jeff's post confirms my deep suspicion that this thread is being mined for real life use. Write it here as parody, see it tomorrow on the stage...anyway, I think Erik Hawkins actually made a modern dance in which he was Ahab. I think I saw it...

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Old English novels like "Clarissa," "Tess of the D'Urbaville's and "Moll Flanders" would be bad ballets. If MacMillan were still around, he could

do something with these stories because they have the common theme of

doomed femininity, youth and virtue degraded, with untimely death

(in Tess's case hanging). I think Sir Kenneth cornered that market with

Manon and Mary Vetsera. "Ivanhoe," is 'Raymonda' in a very roundabout way. The 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy is a great idea. But even if it were done like the Ring Cycle it would be too much to choreograph. Who would finance it? Who would write the score? What company would be bold and big enough to do it? Which choreographer could tell the stories better than Peter Jackson? If Grigorovich were still with the Bolshoi, with the backing he had in the old days it might be a possibility. Prokofiev or Shostakovich would have to be resurrected to write the score. (Personally, I think the team that could do it is the one that produced Sleeping Beauty in 1890 :lol: ). Also - no ballets as biopics of killers. For example, "Fall River Legend" still works. Jack the Ripper, J. Dahmer, 'Hannibal' et al. do not. Any politician's bio or autobio is bad choreographic material. I think Houston Ballet had a full length 'Dracula'. Does anyone know if its still in their rep?

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I think that Tess of the D'Urbervilles would make a terrific three-acter, with a few time tweaks and some plot simplification:

Act I, Scene 1: Tess's awful family life, getting sold to her cousin

Act I, Scene 2: Tess at cousin's, pas de deux with cousin, Tess escapes him

Act II, Scene 1: Tess as milkmaid, Tess meets Angel Clare, Pas de deux with Clare, they become betrothed.

Act II, Scene 1: Tess writes confessional letter on day of her wedding, solo, puts it under window, takes it back, marriage processional.

Act II, Scene 2: Clare's confession, Tess' confession, Clare's rejection.

Act II, Scene 3: Clare's sleepwalking scene, where Tess whispers him out of committing suicide and back to the house. Tess leaves in disgrace.

Act III, Scene 1: Tess reduced to potato farming. Tess goes back to cousin.

Act III, Scene 2: Clare tracks down Tess at cousin's and repents. Tess kills cousin and runs away with Clare.

Act III, Scene 3: Tess and Clare do final pas de deux, before Tess is tracked down for the murder of her cousin and taken away.

Jude the Obscure would be much more difficult, since the main characters are depressed and frustrated.

I'd put most of Henry James in the "least suitable" category. I still shudder at the few hours of my life I'll never get back from having seen Nureyev's Washington Square.

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I'll go with Clarissa and all other epistlatory novels. I may be summoning this, but imagine the "dream Pamela" or "dream Clarissa" plunked front and center on the stage at her table with a quill and stack of paper and writing, writing, writing as the action spools out behind her. By the end of the ballet she's made a stack of correspondence almost up to the proscenium!

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Pretty close to off- topic, BUT Young Eric Hawkins DID wear a white unitard in Diversion of Angels and looked MIGHTY fine, as indeed did young PT in something else of Graham's(was it Episodes) Well, at least from some points of view it was quite watchable.....

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How COULD I come to this topic so late in life -- so little time, so MUCH to say....

Darling Cargill, it was Helen Gahegan Douglas (sp? or wasn't it? you remember, the Democrat moviestar/politician smeared as a Communist by Nixon) who played SHE who must bbe obeyed, and indeed there WERE some interrupted sacrificial dances in it, and I remember thinking when I first saw Forsythe's Artefact 2 (have I got hte number right) in Seattle that it was some dances for She.... it all seemed to be set way deep in a pyramid, or a Rosicruciantemple, and when hte firecurtain crashed down cutting off some scene and went back up on another version of it, seen from the back or side or something, it seemed like some kind of ritual sacrifice was either in the offing or maybe had been accomplished already behind hte asbestos curtain....

Which doesn't mean I didn't like it -- indeed, I really did, it was at least as creepy as the cage, and more fun.....

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Sorry, I've kind of recovered now, and ...

indeed, seriously, folks, how about "The Periodic Table"

There could be a violent pas de deux for sodium and chlorine, and a skizzy little variatino for the flame at the end of a strip of magnesium...

A pas de xept for hte Halides, who all hate each other, some remarkable ambiguous partnering for the ambivalent elements -- chromium, manganese, all those that go both ways, with chromium changing colors as s/he went from being the cavalier to the ballerina, with platinum standing stock still in B-Plus devant as the catalyst that does nothing but in whose presence remarkable changes take place in others...

There could be radioactivity, and maybe some mild fission among the very heavy elements 9BUT WHO COULD BE GOT TO PLAY THEM? mAYBE THIS COULD BE DONE WITH SHADOWS OR MIRRORS OR BOTH)..

It would be a magnum opus, and with new volumes coming out every other year --

A HUGE installment would be the hydrocarbons, and WHO AGAIN, would get to play the benzene ring? That would probably be the first double-bar, since the circle always comes at hte end, but in htis case it would be the end of hte beginning. We'd be able to use the children to make up the methane series; that would come very early. There could be a corruscating solo for pure carbon in its diamantine form, and something looking like hte end of 4 T's for the transformation of peanut oil into margarine. The development could be a quasi-organic reaction, or rather, one that's defniitely bigger than just molecular formation, some thing like life, like Mitosis (or meiosis, if there aren't enough dancers) -- which would look a lot like a quadrille, with lines forming, then separating, then spinning in a star, then each 8-some going off to a corner of hte stage to do a square dance....

For the finale, well it would have to involve carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and phosphorus -- and could end in an explosion, maybe, with all the dancers on their backs all over the stage and in the flies.

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I was going to suggest Moby Dick: The Ballet, but was beaten to it.

How about "His Dark Materials: A Ballet in Three Volumes"? I can see the second one as being very MacMillanesque. All require a number of young principals, and the creatures rollerbalding on something like a coconut would be a challenge ....

The Royal Ballet did, of course, tackle Frankenstein.


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Paul, Your piece sound perfect for Paul Tayor to me! There could be a comic dance to the Tom Lehrer song about the elements--foolium and falium certainly sound like fun. There are just so many works that would make perfectly terrible ballets, and so little time to think of them! But unfortunately, when I do think of them, it seems that someone else has too. I don't know if someone mentioned this, but in the I Remember Balanchine book, there was a mention of a Lincoln Kirstein project for a ballet on Moby Dick. This was in his early Americana stage.

I think Tarzan would make a wonderful ballet. Classical dancing for Jane, macho jumping for Tarzan, and lots of character dancing for the chimps. There could be a secondary love interest for Cheetah, and lots of drums for the natives. Not to mention a great villian in an evil white hunter. I see Stanton Welch as the choreographer, but who could do the music?

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Ok, how about the Bush White House? This would of course have to be at a company where the males dominate (say, ABT). There could be a pas-de-trois between Bush, Cheney, and Powell, with Powell "losing." A very romantic pas-de-deux between Karl Rove and Bush, a "dream" sequence in Bush's head with Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat, the Iranian mullahs, and the N. Korean prez all dancing together. It would be the "white" act. Jenna and Barbara Bush are the soubrette roles (Xiomara Reyes and Michelle Wiles?). Condoleeza Rice of course has a solo.

Really, the ballet has potential.

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