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Subject: "RB Triple Bills" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2566
Reading Topic #2566
eugdog

11-03-02, 02:24 PM (GMT)
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"RB Triple Bills"
 
   I have yet to see the current Triple Bill but I do feel confident to make some observations on programing choice!

The trouble with the themed ballet nights is that you tend to get ballet of one flavour only - ie splashy galas or heavy/slow modern works. But the trick it is to mix it up!

Eg when I first saw the RB Raymonda - it was after seeing "Concerto" and a couple of pdd. I thought that Raymonda was like adding suger to cream. I had enought bon-bons and really wanted something more substantive. The next season I saw it again but after two very heavy works including Macmillan Las Hamanas! Raymonda came accross like a breath of fresh air.

One of my most memorable nights at the ballet when I saw a NYCB triple bill in Feb 00 . They did Glass Pieces, then a surreal ballet set to the "unanswered question" but wash it all down with "Western Symphony". The NYCB always do this so every evening ends with a bang of sorts!

I found the most recent RB triple bill (Leaves are Falling) to be the worst case of misprogramming. 3 rather good ballets were ruined by puting them all togeather. If they just took out one out and put in something fast paced and exciting it would have transformed the entire evening - what a waste!


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: RB Triple Bills Richard Jones 11-03-02 1
  RE: RB Triple Bills alison 12-03-02 2
     RE: RB Triple Bills Robert 12-03-02 3
         RE: RB Triple Bills MichellePotter 12-03-02 4
             RE: RB Triple Bills Robert 13-03-02 5
                 RE: RB Triple Bills MichellePotter 13-03-02 6
                     RE: RB Triple Bills gd 15-03-02 7
             RE: RB Triple Bills Bruceadmin 15-03-02 8
                 RE: RB Triple Bills MichellePotter 16-03-02 9
                     RE: RB Triple Bills alison 16-03-02 10
                         RE: RB Triple Bills MichellePotter 16-03-02 11
                             RE: RB Triple Bills Richard Jones 16-03-02 12
                             RE: RB Triple Bills Pete 17-03-02 13
                             RE: RB Triple Bills Brendan McCarthymoderator 17-03-02 14
                     RE: RB Triple Bills Bruceadmin 17-03-02 15
                         RE: RB Triple Bills Robert 19-03-02 16

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Richard Jones

11-03-02, 10:43 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #0
 
   Yes, the RB programmers could do a lot worse than look up some old Diaghilev programmes and see how the past master of the triple bill attracted the crowds.


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alison

12-03-02, 01:12 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #0
 
   That was precisely what I thought - contrast rather than similarity. Not that the Royal Ballet in recent years, generally barring the last year of Dowell's directorship, has had a particularly good record of putting together triple bills, either.


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Robert

12-03-02, 07:42 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #2
 
   I think there was an article in an Australian Magazine about Ross Stretton's dreary triple bills. It seems madness to me to have three badly lit miserable or serious ballets together. I am going up to Birmingham at the weekend to see their triple that finishes with Facade, now that is the way to end a triple bill!


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MichellePotter

12-03-02, 10:51 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #3
 
   I'm not armed with box office statistics here but it was pretty clear that towards the end of the Stretton reign in Australia his triple bills were doing really good business. My regular Saturday matinee subscription day in Sydney, usually the time when older subscribers and young children make up the bulk of the audience, was regularly chock-a-block for triple bill programs when for years previously the auditorium looked only about three quarters full for triple bill programs. Even some of the boxes, where the sightlines are the pits, were occupied. It took a couple of years for this to happen. Audiences seem to be fairly resistant to change, which is a shame because there's more to ballet these days than the tried and true full-length classics.


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Robert

13-03-02, 02:04 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #4
 
   It is good to know that Ross Stretton got something right and put on popular triple bills in Australia. I agree with Eudog, the choice and variety of ballets is all-important and I do not think he is putting together varied enough programmes. Criticism of his choice does not just come from people who want the old classics. When I first became interested in ballet there were mainly triple bills, even Nutcracker was danced in a cut down version, as Casse Noissette Suite. All the really new and sometimes experimental dances were done as part of a mixed evening. You might see something good bad or indifferent but you would also see Pineapple Poll, Fašade, Petrushska the Rakes Progress or something else really exciting before the evening was out. Putting on triple bills is not new Diaghilev almost always did it and he invariably got it right.


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MichellePotter

13-03-02, 10:27 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #5
 
   Diaghilev was great. He changed the face of dance forever. But it's nearly 100 years ago that he first hit Paris. Without wishing to deny him his greatness perhaps it's time to be open to new ideas and new directions?


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gd

15-03-02, 09:36 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #6
 
   I think you have got it wrong - Daighilev WAS new and exciting and embraced modernity and change. No one more than he took new ideas and directions That was the essence of his artistic spirit; the fact that he was around 100 years ago has simply nothing to do with it.
Archimedes was a revolutionnary mathematician and is still so after 2000+ years!


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Bruceadmin

15-03-02, 09:52 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #4
 
   I've moved this into What's Happening where I think it perhaps sits better. Ed

Michelle - were Stretton's bills in Australia as they are here - ie not mixed but very strongly of a type?

I think its interesting that as regular goers we are all more used to seeing mixed bills and applaud that variety. But some of these new bills are not about those who go already, they are about new audiences. Stretton keeps saying he cannot please everybody and is looking to bring in new groups with different programming. If you want a (UK) political analogy its like New Labour - old labour voters will still generally turn out and vote labour (if with a bit of a grump) - what else can they do - while the polices and marketing are all about winning over the uncommitted. That's what I think is happening here and the result can only be measured in the box office and audience demographics.

He does however need to do some Mixed Bills or heritage themed nights, else Ashton and MacMillan pieces will evaporate...


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MichellePotter

16-03-02, 03:55 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #8
 
   Bruce
I dragged out some of the old triple bill programs from the Stretton period. Here are some examples, one from each year of his directorship:
1997 Jardi Tancat (Duato), Gemini (Tetley), Theme and Variations (Balanchine)
1998 Divergence (Welch), Fall River Legend (de Mille), Por Vos Muero (Duato)
1999 Dark Lullaby (Weir), The Book of Alleged Dances (Kudelka), X (Welch)
2000 Bella Figura (Kylian), Vertiginous (Forsythe), In the Upper Room (Tharp)
2001 Theme and Variations (Balanchine), Other Dances (Robbins), Beyond Bach (Baynes)

Ten from this list were new acquisitions, including some commissions, for the AB, one goes back to the Peggy van Praagh era, and three come from the Gielgud period.

When he first came he seemed to toy with the idea of themeing things and we got titles like 'Classic fusion' and 'Quantum Leaps' - can't remember now what went in these theme nights! But as time went on the word 'Trilogy' started to get used and that's how it ended up. All triple bill programs were named 'Trilogy', which I guess is less limiting. In the end though 'What's in a name?' I found his triple bill programs exhilarating most of the time and certainly neither dreary nor composed of works that were of a kind. I think he's right to say that he can't please everyone but perhaps it would have been more politic to have said he can't do everything at once. I feel pretty confident that Ashton and MacMillan will get a go in time. And perhaps if he had started off doing Ashton and MacMillan everyone would have thrown up their hands in horror and said but he's got nothing new to offer us?

And on the question of Diaghilev, of course he was innovative - a real agent of change. But it seems odd to me to be holding him up as a model for what things should be like now. I kind of suspect that if he were around today he wouldn't be doing the same kinds of triple bills as he was staging in 1909. He'd be out there shocking us all with his daring new triple bills.


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alison

16-03-02, 04:49 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #9
 
   >1997 Jardi Tancat (Duato), Gemini (Tetley),
>Theme and Variations (Balanchine)
>1998 Divergence (Welch), Fall River Legend
>(de Mille), Por Vos Muero
>(Duato)
>1999 Dark Lullaby (Weir), The Book
>of Alleged Dances (Kudelka), X
>(Welch)
>2000 Bella Figura (Kylian), Vertiginous (Forsythe),
>In the Upper Room (Tharp)
>2001 Theme and Variations (Balanchine), Other
>Dances (Robbins), Beyond Bach (Baynes)

These sound (for those I'm familiar with - I don't know any of the 1999 works) a little more varied mix than we've had so far.

All triple bill programs
>were named 'Trilogy', which I
>guess is less limiting. In
>the end though 'What's in
>a name?'

Quite. I've grown accustomed to referring to them as e.g. "whatever that triple bill that contains "Carmen" is called"!

And perhaps
>if he had started off
>doing Ashton and MacMillan everyone
>would have thrown up their
>hands in horror and said
>but he's got nothing new
>to offer us?

Quite possible, of course . I think I'm just a bit concerned at the assumption that because it went down well with AB it will automatically sit well on the Royal Ballet as well.

>And on the question of Diaghilev ...I kind of
>suspect that if he were
>around today he wouldn't be
>doing the same kinds of
>triple bills as he was
>staging in 1909. He'd be
>out there shocking us all
>with his daring new triple
>bills.

Oh, he would, of course. But I still suspect that they might have been a little better chosen from the point of view of variety. Putting In the Middle and Vertiginous together, in my view, only showed up how much better the first is than the second (or was it just that much better danced?).



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MichellePotter

16-03-02, 09:15 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #10
 
   The 1999 works mentioned above were all new works, two from the AB's resident choreographers, and the commission from Kudelka.

You're right that what works here won't necessarily work in the UK - we have a quite different heritage and I suspect different expectations. Ross of course needs to take that into account. And of course not everyone over here thinks things worked while Stretton was in charge. I get the feeling though that some people (no specific insults meant here) get washed along by what they read in the press or what someone else says without looking hard for themselves.


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Richard Jones

16-03-02, 10:13 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #11
 
   The point was made about Diaghilev because he had the ability to combine short ballets to the benefit of each. For instance, the up-to-minute cubism of 'Parade' was set against the traditional Russian flavour of 'Les Contes Russes' to the music of Lyadov.

Nijinsky didn't like Parade, but Diaghilev told Nijinsky that he found it vital to be with the avant-garde. However, just before Diaghilev's death there was evidence that his earlier enthusiasm for Tchaikovsky and Wagner was becoming more important to him. It is obviously tantalising to wonder in what direction he might have gone had he lived, though he is also reputed to have said that he was considering asking Hindemith to write a ballet score.


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Pete

17-03-02, 04:27 AM (GMT)
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13. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #12
 
   I agree, Diaghilev was very receptive to the overall picture painted by a 'mixed bill' and used each ballet to add to its final colour. Engaging Fokine for instance, was a huge exclamation in support of forward thinking & modernism at that time, but Diaghilev still embraced traditional choreography.

Each piece of the RB's 'Enduring Images' bill has individual merit. 'Por Vos Muero' for example is a very moving piece if perhaps a little too 'busy' & full of different conceptual ideas. However, the picture painted overall by this bill is dark and it shows a lack of understanding to expect an audience to totally refresh its palate during an interval and enjoy the next piece without the merest subliminal reference to the last.

There have been much more imaginative combinations from the RB in the past.


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Brendan McCarthymoderator

17-03-02, 09:02 AM (GMT)
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14. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #13
 
   LAST EDITED ON 17-03-02 AT 09:13 AM (GMT)

I'm with Michelle on this one. There was going to be an inevitably sharp changing of gears as Ross Stretton probed the London audience and began to develop a sense of what worked here and what did not.

However I am not sure that the newspaper critics have got it completely wrong. Few ballet.co contributors would seriously disagree that Don Q and the Memories bill were misjudged. Indeed Ross Stretton concedes as much about Don Q.

There is a divergence of view about Enduring Images. The critics by and large did not care for it, Jenny Gilbert and Giannandrea Poesio apart. But I think there was a significant section of the educated dance audience that thought it stimulating and, in the main, well-chosen.

A publicly funded opera house has to be adventurous, in the same way as the BBCSO and BBC Phil are expected to show a lead with new music. Inevitably this means showing work and programmes of uneven merit. This price is well worth paying: we have to know what is happening outwith the Anglo-American world.


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Bruceadmin

17-03-02, 12:07 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #9
 
   >Bruce
>I dragged out some of the
>old triple bill programs from
>the Stretton period. Here are
>some examples, one from each
>year of his directorship:
>1997 Jardi Tancat (Duato), Gemini (Tetley),
>Theme and Variations (Balanchine)
>1998 Divergence (Welch), Fall River Legend
>(de Mille), Por Vos Muero
>(Duato)
>1999 Dark Lullaby (Weir), The Book
>of Alleged Dances (Kudelka), X
>(Welch)
>2000 Bella Figura (Kylian), Vertiginous (Forsythe),
>In the Upper Room (Tharp)
>
>2001 Theme and Variations (Balanchine), Other
>Dances (Robbins), Beyond Bach (Baynes)
>
>
>Ten from this list were new
>acquisitions, including some commissions, for
>the AB, one goes back
>to the Peggy van Praagh
>era, and three come from
>the Gielgud period.

Thanks for digging all that out Michelle. My first take is similar to Alisons - these look a little more mixed then what we have been seeing here (and are about to see). Perhaps there is too litle data to go on but I think new things are being tried, especially around the new choreographers evenings. It will be interesting to see what is unveiled in next years season by way of mixed bills and perhaps best to wait until then before saying so much more


>When he first came he seemed
>to toy with the idea
>of themeing things and we
>got titles like 'Classic fusion'
>and 'Quantum Leaps' - can't
>remember now what went in
>these theme nights! But as
>time went on the word
>'Trilogy' started to get used
>and that's how it ended
>up. All triple bill programs
>were named 'Trilogy', which I
>guess is less limiting. In
>the end though 'What's in
>a name?' I found his
>triple bill programs exhilarating most
>of the time and certainly
>neither dreary nor composed of
>works that were of a
>kind. I think he's right
>to say that he can't
>please everyone but perhaps it
>would have been more politic
>to have said he can't
>do everything at once. I
>feel pretty confident that Ashton
>and MacMillan will get a
>go in time. And perhaps
>if he had started off
>doing Ashton and MacMillan everyone
>would have thrown up their
>hands in horror and said
>but he's got nothing new
>to offer us?

Its rather too soon to evaluate it all but the ROH search comitee were looking for a new AD who would look after classics and herritage works as well as push forward on the new - there were three facets to the job. He doesn't need to talk about the three dimensions all the time, but the odd mention might be prudent/reassuring...


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Robert

19-03-02, 02:02 AM (GMT)
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16. "RE: RB Triple Bills"
In response to message #15
 
   I do not think we can speculate as to Diaghilev's reaction to Ross Stretton. He certainly did not suffer fools, (unless he had a crush on them). I am pleased that the lists you give for Triple bills in Australia went down so well, presumably the Australian audience is more sophisticated than here. I am afraid I think that they look a bit unexciting. Lots of people seem to be grumbling about the present arrangements, I wonder if it will be reflected in ticket sales or will lots of new people start flooding in?


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