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Subject: "Nureyev's Manfred and La Tempête" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #526
Reading Topic #526

18-02-00, 09:48 AM (GMT)
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"Nureyev's Manfred and La Tempête"
   I noticed that whenever someone asks about old dancers, like Pontois or Denard, or old productions it's always me who answers so I'm starting to consider myself as the "archive" for ballet.co.uk friends.
Marie asks about Nureyev's Manfred and La Tempête. Unluckily I've never seen Manfred, but in my collection of old copies of the magazine "Dance and Dancers" I found two reviews published on january 1980 issue. The first one is by Marie-Françoise Christout. She writes:

(...) Nureyev gave to the complex character of Manfred his own tortured mask and tragic authority. He conceived the role as the pivot of the work, almost constantly on stage. (...) For nearly an hour and a quarter, almost without pause for breath, the most dizzy wizardry - leaps, pirouettes, changes of direction, tours en dehors and en dedans - follow one another in quick succession. (...) Indeed, even more than usual, Nureyev the choreographer has driven Nureyev the dancer into a real marathon, and this waking dream travels at fiendish pace. No pause, no breathing space: a race into the abyss, into a swirling of hallucinations, (...) It is enough to say that the choreography is striking in its over-abundance. Where anyone else would provide a break in the tension, Nureyev increases the speed. When the dream has faded, we are left breathless at such an expense of energy and talents.

The second one is by John Percival. He describes the four scenes of the ballet in a very detailed way, then writes:

That is an ambitious programme to convey in dancing, and I am not sure that many spectators would grasp every nuance of it. On the other hand, I know that it is possible to follow it even at first sight, because although I saw five performances in all, and discovered fresh rewards in the choreography as it became more familiar, I found no reason to revise my first understanding of what it is all about. Also, I am not convinced that it matters too much to spot all the allusions to Byron's life and works: the emotional impact is there in full strength provided that you grasp only the essence of the situation. The most important point is that the theme and music have inspired Nureyev to his best choreography yet. Not, perhaps, his best production; there were some difficulties in staging it, which were gradually being ironed out during the run, and in any case the theme is one which will hardly have so universal an appeal as R&J. But the ballet is crammed full of dancing and holds the attention on repeated viewing. The central role is prodigiously demanding. With only brief pauses between the movements to allow scene-changing, the ballet runs more than an hour and the poet is on stage almost all the time. (...) he has more duets to dance than I can count: each of them differently characterised, (...) CContrasting with the classical technique in which his adventurous, poetic and ardent nature is expressed, the repeated interruptions by the black-clad figures of guilt pull and twist him in a quality of movement more closely related to modern dance. (...)

The "Journal des adhérents du Cercle des amis de Rudolf Noureev" (I'm a member) devoted the spring/summer 1998 issue to Manfred. Jean Guizerix wrote:

(...) Je suis convaincu que Manfred reste pour le choréographe Noureev sa recherche la plus originale, pour l'homme la plus proche de ses actions, pour le danseur la mieux digne de figurer l'ame de ce fou de danse qu'il était.

Now a few lines about La Tempête. I saw this ballet only once in Paris in 1984 so after 16 years my recollections cannot be detailed. I remember clearly how the ballet tried to create the atmosphere of the play without using words. This sensation was strengthened by the comparison with Giorgio Strehler' staging for the Piccolo Teatro in Milan, which was first seen 6 years earlier. I've no evidence of my opinion, but I'm convinced that Nureyev's curiosity brought him to see that much praised staging and afterwards he transferred in his ballet some of the ideas of Giorgio Strehler.

Last but not least: may I suggest to the French friends writing in the POB threads to group their messages under different subtitles in order to make easier the search of a subject later?

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