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Subject: "The great and the good are only human after all" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2439
Reading Topic #2439
trogadmin

18-01-02, 06:27 PM (GMT)
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"The great and the good are only human after all"
 
   A couple of items from the "The Book of Heroic Failures" and "The Return of Heroic Failures" by Stephen Pile.

Under the heading The Least Moving Pas de Deux, it describes a performance of Kenneth MacMillan's Mayerling on 19 Oct 1978. With Lynn Seymour and David Wall as the lovers, it should have been perfection. However, in the final pdd Miss Seymour tore her dress. Mr Wall attempted to rip off the pieces which were dragging on the ground. This only made matters worse, as the dress became shredded into gauze bandages.

Amid lots of writhing in frenzied abandon, they looked like a stack of old rags possessed by the devil. As more and more of Miss Seymour was revealed, excitement among the audience grew. The Sunday Telegraph reported "It was the first time I have watched Mayerling's suicide through a haze of tears, but what with trying to maintain a decent, sympathetic silence, and desperately trying to control a rising hysteria, the ballet's marvels were for once quite lost on me."

No doubt some of the more seasoned ballet.co-ers were at this very performance. Perhaps someone can expand on this?

Under the heading The Critic Who Reviewed The Wrong Show it says Heuwell Tircuit of the San Francisco Chronicle, savaged the San Francisco Ballet's August 1987 pdd from the Bizet opera "La Jolie Fille de Perth".

In a stimulating tirade, headed "San Francisco Ballet misses a step", he said 'Either the San Francisco Ballet is being overworked or under-rehearsed'. Further he states the dancers 'looked a tad dumpy', found David McNaughton 'not up to his best' and said of Ludmilla Lopukova 'her potato-drenched Russian training seemed less heavy than in the past. But she, when added to Tomasson's dank choreography, didn't quite come through'.

Apparently the performance was cancelled that night and replaced by "Ballet for Five Male Dancers", in which Miss Ludmilla did not appear.

These events are probably not as colourful as the punch-up that occurred at the debut of Sacre de Printemps (Champs-Elysees Theatre 29 May 1913). It is well documented that, after the first few bars, the audience verbally expressed their disapproval at the score. Mostly the orchestra were inaudible. The audience jeered, whistled, shouted and insulted the performers and the composer.

The switching on of the house lights saw the fights result in bodily contact. One young woman slapped the face of a man hissing in the next box. Her escort rose and cards were exchanged between the two men. A duel was fought the next day. The French do take their ballet very seriously! I do wish that I had been there to witness this performance. Is this ballet considered as saucy today?

Of course, the Brits are far too civilised for such antics. The most that I have heard during a less than dazzling performance these days is the odd hmmmmphhh.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: The great and the good are only human after all Paul A 18-02-02 1
     RE: The great and the good are only human after all jhanner 19-02-02 2
         RE: The great and the good are only human after all Richard Jones 19-02-02 3
             RE: The great and the good are only human after all Alexandra 19-02-02 4
                 RE: The great and the good are only human after all Jim 19-02-02 5
     RE: The great and the good are only human after all tortie14 19-02-02 6
         RE: The great and the good are only human after all Richard Jones 19-02-02 7
             RE: The great and the good are only human after all Paul A 20-02-02 8
                 RE: The great and the good are only human after all tortie14 22-02-02 9

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Paul A

18-02-02, 05:34 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #0
 
   >Under the heading The Least Moving
>Pas de Deux, it describes
>a performance of Kenneth MacMillan's
>Mayerling on 19 Oct 1978.
> With Lynn Seymour and
>David Wall as the lovers,
>it should have been perfection.
> However, in the final
>pdd Miss Seymour tore her
>dress. Mr Wall attempted
>to rip off the pieces
>which were dragging on the
>ground. This only made
>matters worse, as the dress
>became shredded into gauze bandages.

There was also the performance where Alfreda Thorogood singed Stephen Jefferies' hair due to a problem with the pistol.

And I've seen a Fille (RB in Liverpool) where the pony trap demolished the back wall of the farmyard trying to exit - the stage being much too small to turn the cart. And a different Fille at ROH where a chicken lost a foot.


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jhanner

19-02-02, 07:02 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #1
 
   Leanne Benjamin fell over (or into?) her grave at one performance of Giselle as she was leaving the stage at the end of act 2


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Richard Jones

19-02-02, 07:47 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #2
 
   The riot at the first performance of The Rite of Spring is so famous that the anecdotes are often repeated. The one I like is from Carl van Vechten, who said that "the young man seated behind me in the box stood up during the course of the ballet to enable himself to see more clearly. The intense excitement under which he was labouring betrayed itself presently when he began to beat rhythmically on top of my head with his fists. My emotion was so great that I did not feel the blows for some time". Some emotion!

At least this wasn't as bad as the riot at Drury Lane in 1755 when Noverre's "Fetes Chinoises" was presented at the invitation of his friend Garrick. Unfortunately, Britain and France were on the verge of war, so the audience didn't like the idea of a French production in London. A riot ensued, swords were drawn, and Jean-Georges Noverre's brother, Augustin, managed to injure an opponent very badly. He was advised to get out of town fast, and that's why he went to Norwich.


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Alexandra

19-02-02, 08:02 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #3
 
   Small in comparison to some of these, but there is the episode of The Sword in the Hut (which I did not witness, but have heard so many stories about it that I can offer it here )

This was in a performance of "Giselle" at the Met in New York. Apparently, Nureyev exited his hut at the beginning of the ballet and his sword somehow got caught in the door. He couldn't extricate it. He tried, at first subtly, a gentle little tug, but with no results. Then a more forceful tug, then another, during which the hut was lifted from its morings, yet the sword, like Excalibur, stayed put. He finally unbuckled it, leaving it stuck in the hut, and went on with the show.


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Jim

19-02-02, 08:43 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #4
 
   > He finally unbuckled it,
>leaving it stuck in the
>hut, and went on with
>the show.

Yes, I suppose it is the hallmark of a great performer to be able to carry on unperturbed. I have a clandestine video (Shhhh! sorry, I can't tell you who gave it to me - sworn to secrecy, but it was from Paris) of Sylvie doing the rose adagio. In one of the twirls, the suitor's sword became hooked on the top of her tutu and as she revolved it slipped neatly out of the scabbard and lay flat on top of the tutu. Quite unperturbed the hapless suitor came round behind her to stand alongside and when the pirhouette was complete she simply lifted the thing off and presented it back to him as if she was awarding him some honour like what princesses are used to doing! He promptly stood to attention and sheathed his weapon. Honestly, I don't think I would have noticed if it hadn't been pointed out to me - it all looked so natural, even rehearsed



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tortie14

19-02-02, 10:20 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #1
 
   And there was the performance of Cinderella at the ROH where the coach caught the scenery as it took Cinders to the ball and it began to fall down around her as she looked excited and enchanted.

And in Fille, many a time the pony trap has caused worrying wobbles on the scenery and then the ribbons...and the sticks flying around and the flute ... lots of near misses.

I remember the first night of Field Figures - the amphi was divided into cheers and boos - very unBritish - but no duels!


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Richard Jones

19-02-02, 11:03 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #6
 
   I also remember a BRB Swan Lake during which one poor girl lost her underskirt during one of the court acts. One minute she was dancing around niftily, the next she was extricating her feet from a crumpled heap around her ankles. She did manage to hop out of the muddle, and then a kind friend nearby picked up the discarded skirt and threw it into the wings!


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Paul A

20-02-02, 08:22 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #7
 
   Another Nureyev story - in the cell in Petrushka the panel in he wall that he breaks started to unpeel, revealing the hole beyond. Cue for inpromptu wallpaper pasting with his mittens!


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tortie14

22-02-02, 10:11 PM (GMT)
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9. "RE: The great and the good are only human after all"
In response to message #8
 
   At Bayadere last night I remembered my Mother telling me about the time Nureyev got carried away and the scarf got wound round Margot's throat - she elegantly extracated herself before she suffered the same fate as Isadora! Certainly made that performance memorable for my Mum and me.

No such problems last night though the tempo was very slow.


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