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Subject: "Summer 1952" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #2787
Reading Topic #2787
Jane S

03-06-02, 05:22 PM (GMT)
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"Summer 1952"
 
   While we're in Jubilee mode, I thought it might be interesting to have a look at what ballet goers in this country could have been watching 50 years ago this summer.

The Sadler's Wells Ballet was at Covent Garden for the whole of June and the first week of July, giving 19 performances: Coppelia, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, and 8 short ballets (4 by Ashton - Scenes de Ballet, Daphnis and Chloe, Les Patineurs, Symphonic Variations; A Mirror for Witches (Andree Howard); Bonne-Bouche (Cranko); Checkmate (de Valois); Ballabile (Petit))

Two noticeable differences from today were that there were 6 performances of triple bills, and they were all different combinations; and that when the June Dance and Dancers went to press, they still couldn't print the dates for the whole month as they hadn't been announced - no booking seven months ahead! There were 65 dancers in the company at this period.

Boone-Bouche was new that season and was a great hit, although it must be the most unreviveable ballet ever - it featured Alexander Grant blacked-up as a Cannibal King, who eventually ate his bride (a girl from South Kensington) for lunch.

Simultaneously, the Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet was at its home theatre with 12 more short ballets, including 4 by de Valois, and Coppelia.

Following SWB into Covent Garden came the big treat of the summer - New York City Ballet, on their second visit to London, dancing 19 ballets over seven weeks. Mostly Balanchine, of course, but also things you might not expect, like The Cage, and Tudor's Lilac Garden and La Gloire. They had a week at the Edinburgh Festival later, which included a couple more ballets not seen in London.

Meanwhile Ballet Rambert visited Windsor, Wimbledon, and Finsbury Open Air Theatre with several different quadruple bills, and gave one performance at the International Eisteddfod. International Ballet had a short season in Belfast and were also seen in Birmingham and Nottingham.

Festival Ballet were in Bournemouth, Leeds and Southsea during June, and then spent the whole of August at the Festival Hall with Giselle, Nutcracker, Beau Danube and other short pieces, including Ashton's Vision of Marguerite. It's interesting that both this company and Sadler's Wells always filled out 2-act ballets - Nutcracker and Giselle - with something else to make up a full programme.

Outside ballet, Katherine Dunham and her dancers toured England and Scotland, and the Yugoslav State Company gave a programme called Slavonic Rhapsody at the Cambridge Theatre in London for several weeks.

Two one-offs: a film of Beryl Grey and John Field in the Black Swan pas de deux was shown at a London cinema - the unusual thing being that it was in 3D; and John Cranko presented a programme of short pieces at the Kenton Theatre, Henley-on-Thames, for 2 weeks. One of the new works was called L'Apres Midi d'Emily Wigginbotham. Prominent among the dancers were Kenneth MacMillan and Peter Wright.

So though there was less variety than we expect these days, there was a huge amount to see!



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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Summer 1952 Helen 03-06-02 1
  RE: Summer 1952 Bruceadmin 03-06-02 2
     RE: Summer 1952 Robert 05-06-02 3
         RE: Summer 1952 Helen 05-06-02 4
             RE: Summer 1952 Robert 06-06-02 5
     RE: Summer 1952 Flight 08-06-02 7
  RE: Summer 1952 Alexandra 08-06-02 6
     RE: Summer 1952 Robert 11-06-02 8

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Helen

03-06-02, 08:13 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #0
 
   Oh dear, Jane, was this designed to make me feel old? I actually saw the New York City Ballet at the Edinburgh Festival that summer - I think I saw Symphony in C. We queued for tickets and by the time we got to the front of the queue there was only one ticket left, and my mother sent me in to the theatre with a complete stranger, a nice middle-aged woman, who had got the next-to-last ticket. I was 12 at the time.


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Bruceadmin

03-06-02, 08:57 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #0
 
  
Thank you Jane - really delightful!

A lesser known part of Ballet.co is the Ballet Years section and this will make a splendid addition. The Ballet Years index page is at:
http://www.ballet.co.uk/contexts/ballet_years.htm


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Robert

05-06-02, 05:20 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #2
 
   You are certainly right about there being a lot on in 1952, although quite often the Sadlers Wells ballet was performing as part of the opera. My Sadlers Wells programmes only cover part of the 1952-3 season, but I notice Die Fledermaus, Faust and Samson and Delilah with ballet. I also notice Carnaval, Pastorale,Pineapple Poll, Harlequin in April, Assembly Ball Summer Interlude, Ille Des Sirenes and The Rakes Progress as bits of triple bills. Dear dead days and dear dead dancers, most people on the cast lists have gone, although musicians John Lanchbery, and Charlie Mackerras are still around.
The Ballets Jooss were announced for April 1952-53?? I am not sure but they were very good (forget Forsythe and Bausch!) I also remember the Americans coming over. The Festival Ballet must have just changed their name as I remember them as, The Anton Dolin Alicia Markova company. Best seats at Sadlers Wells cost 10/6(about 55p) and the Gallery was 1/6(7p) but remember we had little money, I used to go to Sadlers Wells by Tram, and could not often afford Covent Garden.
Ballet was an exciting and innovative art form, even if the Royal Family, something that is now forgotten encouraged it. It is a shame that in the recent celebrations more ballet and some British folk dances were not shown.as these were of great interest to the Queen(she was seen at Barn dances) The Gala being so expensive will not be seen by or encourage any of the younger public to take an interest in Ballet or dance, and is unlikely to be televised.


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Helen

05-06-02, 07:54 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #3
 
   Festival Ballet changed its name in 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, I think.

I wish I'd kept my programmes!


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Robert

06-06-02, 04:00 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #4
 
   Of course, I must be getting old or stupid to forget the Festival of Bitain! The earliest programmes I kept are mainly for opera in 1952 although I think I also have Proms about that time. Unfortunately I did not keep many programmes in 60,s and 70,s. In the fifties they were very cheap, often fourpence.
My wife bought me an old Ballet Annual for 1954 for my birthday. They are full of interesting information, pictures and criticsm, I think I will try to get them all.


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Flight

08-06-02, 07:36 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #2
 
   I absolutely loved reading these! Is there any chance of any more, do you think?


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Alexandra

08-06-02, 06:06 PM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #0
 
   Sigh. Lovely to read, Jane. I'm jealous. Those dull, dull 1950s!

A friend of mine who used to travel to Europe frequently on business and arrange his trips to stop off in various cities to and fro to take in performances started noticing in the 1980s that he could no longer get a real sense of a company (not only in Britain, but elsewhere) because, rather than being able to see two or three triple bills in a weekend, or three- or four-day period, there was only one triple program -- often with multiple casts, but still only one program.

In America, we often hear that programs are under-rehearsed because the company is stretched to the limit because it performs so many ballets -- fewer than what you've listed. The different is, I think, that today we have, say, 20 ballets with 3 or 4 or 5 casts each, while yesterday we had 60 ballets with 1 cast and an understudy cast. Maybe that would make an interesting poll some day -- which would you prefer?


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Robert

11-06-02, 00:25 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Summer 1952"
In response to message #6
 
   The triple bill was so interesting and so varied, now with Ross Stretton they are ill chosen and often abstract. People do not realise that triple bills gave people the oportunity totry out choreographic ideas reasonably cheaply.


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