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Subject: "Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Bruceadmin

18-01-02, 03:06 PM (GMT)
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"Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
 
   this thread as been reposted by Bruce following a software problem. APologies that I have not teased out the responses from readers into separate posts - keeping it simple for speed

Caitlyn 18-01-02, 02:13 AM (GMT)
"Modernised Classics Quiz"
This is something I've been meaning to do for ages. I'm trying to come up with a list of ballets which are essentially updated, reworked, personalised, freudianised or otherwise ‘fiddled' versions of classics like Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, etc. In recent times I've been getting increasingly sick of modernised productions, especially since there still some classics of which I've never seen the traditional version. Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty are all works I've frequently seen on video - but never seen live (at least not wholly and completely).

However, rather than just launch into a pro-traditionist diatribe, I thought it'd be fun to put together a list of all the modernised productions which people can remember from the past few decades. In particular, I'm interested in hearing about productions which changed the storyline, character, setting, etc. of the original and which may (possibly) have had less appeal to children and first-time ballet-goers as a result. Admittedly, we can go into endless debates about what constitutes a ‘new' version of a classic and what even constitutes a classic in the first place. But based on the ones I've come up with so far, I hope people will get the idea and enjoy racking their brains!!!!

NUTCRACKER, Bejart, c.2000 - a semi-autobiographical work with psycho-sexual overtones and no similarities to the original.
NUTCRACKER, Roland Petit, 1976 - "an adolescent's awakening to love"
NUTCRACKER, John Neumier, 1974 - changed to a ballet about ballet.
SWAN LAKE, Yuri Grigorovich, 1969 - focus shifted onto Siegfried with Rothbart as his fate.
SWAN LAKE, Matthew Bourne, c.1996 - I think we all know this one!
SWAN LAKE, Mat Eks, early 1990s? - focus on Siegfried with bald females and themes of sexual repression.
SWAN LAKE, Peter Darrell, 1977 - Siegfried gets high and imagines scene with swans. Odile is a demi-mondaine.
COPPELIA, Roland Petit, 1975 - set around army barracks. "...narrative about the affections of the heart rather than a story about an old alchemist."
COPPELIA, Chrissie Parrott, 1998 - set in an Americanised Australia of the late 1950s. Swanhilda became Hilda Swan.
COPPELIA, Harold Collins, 1997 - set in a Queensland country town of the 1950s. A send-up of the original.
COPPELIA, Peter Clegg, 1977, set in Lancashire with Coppelius as a travelling entertainer.
SLEEPING BEAUTY, John Neumier, 1978 - Desire (as in the Prince) is an outsider in jeans and tee-shirt.
SLEEPING BEAUTY, Mat Eks, c.2001 - Aurora becomes a heroin addict.


(Obviously I haven't seen all these works myself, so apologies for any grossly inaccurate descriptions)

Responses...

jhanner 18-01-02, 08:47 AM (GMT)
1. "RE: Modernised Classics Quiz"
Didnt the ENB do a version of Giselle a couple of years back that was based on Austria/the Jewish persection in the 30s. I think Mat Eks or someone also reworked Giselle

alison 18-01-02, 01:01 PM (GMT)
2. "RE: Modernised Classics Quiz"
That's the NBT version of Giselle that you're thinking of. (They've also done a couple of revisions of Swan Lake). ENB's version (Deane) is relatively traditional apart from being set in the 1920's outside an Austrian hotel. Ek's version has Giselle committed to an asylum in the second act, but I can't remember full details.
There's also the Nureyev Nutcracker he did for the RB (way before my time), and AMP did La Sylphide updating it to the drugged-out inhabitants of a Glasgow tenement block (a real goody). Come to think of it, they also did an update of Nutcracker (which again I can't remember well enough to write about, except that the dancers in the first act were in an orphanage - more like Oliver Twist). Oh, and their Swan Lake was 1995.

Then there's the Lyon Opera Ballet's version of Coppelia, which I've never seen ...

jhanner 18-01-02, 01:59 PM (GMT)
3. "RE: Modernised Classics Quiz"
thanks alison - arent AMP reviving their version of the nutcracker or am I just imagining I read that?


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz alison 18-01-02 1
     RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz trogadmin 18-01-02 2
         RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz Nigel 18-01-02 3
             RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz AnnWilliams 19-01-02 4
                 RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz trogadmin 20-02-02 5
  RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz AEHandley 22-02-02 6
     RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz Caitlyn 24-02-02 7
         RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz Anneliese 26-02-02 8
     RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz katharine kanter 26-02-02 9
         RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz AEHandley 27-02-02 10
             RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz susiecrowmoderator 01-03-02 11
                 RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz Jim 01-03-02 12
                     RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz susiecrowmoderator 03-03-02 13
                         RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz Jim 03-03-02 14
                     RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz AEHandley 03-03-02 15

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alison

18-01-02, 05:37 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #0
 
   AMP have been promising to revive Nutcracker for years, but I think it may actually be happening next Christmas


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trogadmin

18-01-02, 06:05 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #1
 
   Shakti has a one-woman production of Swan Lake. She mostly plays a real swan, but there are elements of Odette/Odile. It is quite an erotic production (Shakti often wears very little) and some viewers may find it a little strong. I reviewed it on this site once.

Cwmni Ballet Gwent have Giselle Connotation, which is very close to the classic story, but set in modern day. The main departure being that Albrecht is already married and is bent on adultery with Giselle.


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Nigel

18-01-02, 07:18 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #2
 
   How about the Australian production of Daphnis and Chloe about 20 years ago (I think it came to London, but it was certainly on TV at the time as I have an elderly video of it)? Many of you will remember that this was the one with skateboards... Actually I enjoyed it no end and still do, but it certainly deserves a mention in this context.


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AnnWilliams

19-01-02, 10:55 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #3
 
   Two I can think of:

Nutcracker - Mark Morris' 'The Hard Nut' all seventies flared trousers etc. and very funny (1993?).

Giselle - Mats Eks' version, set in a mental institution, with Giselle as a deranged youg woman wearing a very unflattering beret and cardigan. It was actually very powerful and moving, I thought.


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trogadmin

20-02-02, 10:17 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #4
 
   Two more Swan Lake variations. The first could hardly be described as modern, as it was presented in Russia in 1934. The action is updated from the Middle-Ages to the 1830's. Siegfried becomes a German Count, who resides in an ancient castle. A storm rises and some of the Count's friends enter with a dead swan, the sight of which inspires him to thoughts of hunting. But some young people arrive and beg the Count to stay with them. He consents but, not given to merry-making, soon grows bored. The guests dance a Polonnaise and leave. The Count, left alone, takes a musket and goes hunting. His friends see him in the distance and decide to follow him.

The second scene of the first act takes place by the lake-side, with much of the action associated with Act II, except that the Count is armed with a musket in place of a crossbow. The second act shifts the action to the castle hall, the Count having
planned a fancy-dress ball in which all the guests are to come in medieval costume. Here again the theme follows the usual course. Rotbart becomes Duke Rothbart, a penniless nobleman, who hopes to improve his position by marrying his daughter, Odile, to the Count.

Among the guests is a girl dressed to represent a swan. The Count goes towards her but she disappears. Odile asks him to dance with her which he does. The swan-girl reappears and the Count, pushing Odile aside, goes in search of her. In his eagerness he hurries out of the castle to the amazement of his guests.

The final act returns to the lake-side. A swan enters in great distress for Rothart has been hunting and wounded her. Enters the Count still searching for the swan-girl. He runs toward the wounded swan and taking her into his arms tends to her, but she dies. The Count, greatly distressed, stabs himself and leaps over a cliff.

The other was presented by the Australian Dance Theatre in June of last year I think, and was titled Birdbrain. There is a web site about it at http://www.birdbrain.com.au There are some not too good piccies on the web site. It also has a reviews section, which has lots of good press in it. I remember the papers not being impressed with the idea of having the cast wearing T-shirts with the name of their character stenciled on the front. This was, in fact, the only costume and so it was the only way to identify who was who. I didn't actually see it, so I can't offer any opinion on it.


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AEHandley

22-02-02, 10:55 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #0
 
   What about that Australian Sleeping Beauty by Meryl Tankard? As seen in the interval piece when the RB's Beauty was televised in um er um Xmas 94?


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Caitlyn

24-02-02, 10:36 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #6
 
   I had no idea a Royal Ballet Sleeping Beauty had been televised in Australia around then. Which version was it? And what was Tankard's version like?


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Anneliese

26-02-02, 10:50 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #7
 
   Sorry, I was imprecise. The latest RB Beauty when televised from the ROH (Viviana and Zoltan) had some really interesting interval pieces including an interview with Tankard about her very updated version where the rose adage had Aurora looking for what a real modern woman would want in her man. I can't remember the details, when I have time to watch it again I'll post some more.


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katharine kanter

26-02-02, 12:51 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #6
 
   LAST EDITED ON 26-02-02 AT 12:59 PM (GMT)

This reply is on the wrong forum, because I could not find the forum on which Mr. Handley put a question to me yesterday.

The questions were: how does one decide where the centre of gravity should go, in assessing stability, say, in a developpé à la seconde ?

and what about the grand rond de jambe (in Vaganova school, I believe this is called "grand rond de jambe developpé).

To the first question:

Take two photographs, one from the 1950s or 1960s, of a first-class professional dancer doing a developpé à la seconde, on the flat foot.

And then take a photograph of Miss Guillem, Miss Lacarra, Miss Zakharova, or whoever, doing developpé with the kneecap pressed up against the ear, or wherever it is that thing goes.

The drawings below are for pedagogical purposes, they are not 100% anatomically correct, but let's go with it for the present.


Take a ruler, and a pencil. Draw a line down the middle of the head, between the eyes, down the middle of the nose, etc., it should end between the heels, as though the dancer were standing in (an imaginary) first position. That is your central axis, and between the imaginary heels of the first position, is where the central weight of gravity should come down.

Then draw a horizontal line with the pencil and rule at hip level, straight across the torso, at about the height where, if you touch your own hipbone with the hand, the most prominent bone juts slightly forward.

Those are your two coordinates.

Now compare your results for the two photographs.

Why is this important ? Well, we are not talking about admiring the "plastique" of still photography, or someone's lovely little figure. We are talking about classical dancers, with tremendous forces at work here: the force of gravity bearing down through the centre of the body, the centrifugal force of the raised leg, and the incredible energy of IMPETU, momentum, as soon as the dancer moves even a milimetre. Remember that when a dancer lands from a jump, for example, there are I know not how many times his own weight, like a ballistic missile mobilised by the sheer IMPETU of movement. Therefore, stability and proper alignment, at all times, are of the essence.

You will note that in the photograph of the dancer suffering from "Guillemitis", the vertical axis is utterly twisted and distorted, and the horizontal coordinate is NOWHERE NEAR LEVEL.
Unstable, and disaligned.

For those of you out there who are interested in painting, it is quite impossible to imagine Masaccio, Leonardo, Raphael, who were, after all, pioneers in anatomy, as well as being the founders of modern painterly science, slapping a jumbled mess like that onto canvas.

We move on to the grand rond de jambe. Last night, to answer your question Mr. Handley, I wanted to "check out the competition" so to speak, and therefore looked up an East German ballet manual, dating from the early 1960s and updated again in the 1970s. It was written by a Hungarian disciple of Vaganova. Despite a number of unflattering things one might say about the gentleman's methods or views, I noted that he is perfectly clear about the fact that in grand rond de jambe, the leg should remain at the same level throughout (front, side, back). And he gives that level as 90 degrees. Indeed, that is the WHOLE POINT OF THE EXERCISE.

It is also a choreographic point, because a great deal of classical choreography uses the grand rond de jambe as a passage.

Now, the human body - even the body of the ladies Lacarra and Guillem - cannot produce a developpé at the same height in all three positions, without cheating massively on alignment, owing to the way the hip joint is built. The hip joint is the heaviest in the entire body, and it is not precisely known for its mobility ! It's a bit like the "core" of a stringed instrument - leave it alone.

In terms of potential mobility, devant would always be the lowest, seconde would always be the highest, and derrière would allow for flat-out cheating, because one can manoeuvre about by diversely inclining the torso. But why bother, when a grand rond de jambe at 90 degrees is such a firm, beautiful thing ?

My Motto for the Year of the Horse is thus:

Think calm, think strong, think stable. Get those legs down.



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AEHandley

27-02-02, 08:30 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #9
 
   Mrs Handley actually! (btw I'm Anneliese on my other computer) But thank you for that detailed reply. I misunderstood your comment about grand rond de jambe I think. I thought that equality all round was the aim. I don't have any photographs to enable me to do the comparison you suggest but as a physicist I am a bit worried by some of your terminology. It was your original reference to the CofG that first got me bothered - I mean, to keep that stable Guillemitis is the most desirable state! If you're talking about that the spine and pelvis are doing, though, that's a different matter. When I was young and learning ballet, we were ALWAYS told that if you had to distort the pelvis to get the extension, you were stretching too high. Clearly people aren't so rigorous these days... Concerning your statements about mobility, I would add that it depends which leg you're using. EG when doing stretches in fouette and rotation with foot on the barre, I could only use the high barre with my right foot as working leg devant and a la seconde. My left leg only managed it derriere. Incidentally I read a wonderful paper some 17 years ago on the physics of dance (I kept the reference for several years but I suspect not through 6 house moves) which went into some amazing detail of (for example) what the body has to do to give the impression of suspended animation at the top of a jump. I know, useless without the reference, but you reminded me of it. Sorry, bit of a ramble!


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susiecrowmoderator

01-03-02, 11:38 AM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #10
 
   I
>don't have any photographs to
>enable me to do the
>comparison you suggest but as
>a physicist I am a
>bit worried by some of
>your terminology. It was
>your original reference to the
>CofG that first got me
>bothered - I mean, to
>keep that stable Guillemitis is
>the most desirable state!
>
The aim is not to keep stable - dance movement can only happen in the unstable place, the stable place is stasis, lack of movement. The art of the technique is to cultivate the ability to be in the unstable place so that the dance can happen. That way there is shape in the movement and movement in the shape.


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Jim

01-03-02, 12:38 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #11
 
   >The aim is not to keep
>stable - dance movement can
>only happen in the unstable
>place, the stable place is
>stasis, lack of movement

I appreciate that I'm diving in way out of my depth here, but is that always true? In the Rose Adagio, for example, the desirable effect surely is to remain as perfectly poised and motionless as possible until the music runs out (or considerably longer than that in the case of Mlle Guillem!).

There may also be a confusion in inter-disciplinary terminology here. As a physicist Anneliese will distinguish between stability and equilibrium. Equilibrium can be stable (ball in a bowl) or unstable (pencil balanced on it's point). Presumably a dancer motionless on pointe is in a state of "unstable equilibrium".


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susiecrowmoderator

03-03-02, 03:45 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #12
 
   >>The aim is not to keep
>>stable - dance movement can
>>only happen in the unstable
>>place, the stable place is
>>stasis, lack of movement
>
>I appreciate that I'm diving in
>way out of my depth
>here, but is that always
>true? In the Rose Adagio,
>for example, the desirable effect
>surely is to remain as
>perfectly poised and motionless as
>possible until the music runs
>out (or considerably longer than
>that in the case of
>Mlle Guillem!).
>
>There may also be a confusion
>in inter-disciplinary terminology here. As
>a physicist Anneliese will distinguish
>between stability and equilibrium. Equilibrium
>can be stable (ball in
>a bowl) or unstable (pencil
>balanced on it's point). Presumably
>a dancer motionless on pointe
>is in a state of
>"unstable equilibrium".

"Unstable equilibrium" seems a really good description of it - I increasingly think that dancers should spend time studying physics. The miracle of the Rose Adage balances is being able to stay in a place of unstable equilibrium with the potential for movement for so long. The balance maintained is not motionless stillness but the equilibrium of different lines of energy within the body; so that the pose is always alive. The maintaining of any balance entails the sensation of the continuation of the movement - all those floating arabesques and hovering poses in Les Sylphides are a case in point (sorry no pun intended).



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Jim

03-03-02, 04:18 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #13
 
   >"Unstable equilibrium" seems a really good
>description of it

Just to help pass a boring Sunday afternoon, I might as well add that a cone has three equilibrium positions - two stable (resting on its base or on its side) and one unstable - balanced on its point. Those who can recall the heady days of the Apollo moon landing programme, the rentry module (conical) was usually decribed when landing on the sea and floating on uits side as "We have stable II" (strong American drawl required here).


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AEHandley

03-03-02, 05:32 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: Caitlyn - Modernised Classics Quiz"
In response to message #12
 
   Presumably
>a dancer motionless on pointe
>is in a state of
>"unstable equilibrium".


A state of blind panic, I'd have said! (technical physics term )


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