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BBC's "Christmas" Dance Offerings 2015


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I'll hazard a guess here, that they hadn't realised how little space was left 'upstage' once that big circle put in place actually on the main stage, so what was left was a bit more cramped than they'd envisaged. Just a thought, that's all.

Very possibly - but again, should they not have considered that?

 

Please don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Acosta, and I did enjoy his Don Quixote very much, but I think it's sad that his career has ended on a less than well thought out piece of choreography, which may have turned out much better but for a little forethought and intervention at an earlier stage. I've said before that I didn't find it as awful as some of the critics or some people here evidently did, but it could possibly have been so much better.

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And FLOSS try saying in 5 words what you say in 50. What is sauce for what you say about MacM and Neumeier is sauce for ...

 

;-)

 

No FLOSS don't!!!!!   Your posts are most appreciated and so full of information and knowledge.  Don't change a thing! 

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All the above re Carmen  is exceedingly true.

 

Maybe now might  be a good time to say Goodbye to Carmen, and, after a short and thoughtful, probably rather sad pause, to move forward to thinking about something else..as the phrase 'flogging a dead horse' is starting to come to mind ( I admit I've been doing it myself.)

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I hope that FLOSS will NOT shorten her posts; they are long because she is putting forward complex ideas and arguments as well as factual information. And I'm very grateful to her for doing so. (Writing is not ballet, unless perhaps you're writing poetry.)

 

P.S. Apologies for making a gender assumption here. Should have said his/her, she/he, etc. Though of course that would have produced a longer post. :)

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Very possibly - but again, should they not have considered that?

 

Please don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Acosta, and I did enjoy his Don Quixote very much, but I think it's sad that his career has ended on a less than well thought out piece of choreography, which may have turned out much better but for a little forethought and intervention at an earlier stage. I've said before that I didn't find it as awful as some of the critics or some people here evidently did, but it could possibly have been so much better.

 

Undoubtedly - but perhaps it was practicalities in as much as they could only hang the circle and successfully drop it at a point further forward than planned. Total guess - but might account for why they found themselves more cramped than anticipated.

 

I didn't find it that awful either - in fact, I liked the pdds - but wasn't keen on Carmen's lacy, ill-fitting costume (fully clothed in the red dress was frankly sexier), and most of the corps dancing wasn't my cuppa - and certainly not the tuneless wailing in the card scene (that would be the first thing I'd cut!)

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Incidentally getting back to Darcey prog I loved that clip of Nureyev and Bruhn together ....in the studio ...together taking the art into a more spiritual plane perhaps but rather moving.

Is this clip from another Documentary does anybody know..... or is it just a piece of short homemade footage?

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I'd like to return to the Nureyev Dance to Freedom programme which I thought was in many ways the most interesting and original programme about ballet I have seen for a long time. I found it refreshing to dramatise the events, interspersing the dramatic reconstructions with photographs and interview with people who were caught up in these events. And what remarkable interviews they were- Alla Soloviev, Tatiana Legat to name but two of the many ex Kirov and French dancers. There was even an ex KGB officer. It was moving to hear the voice of Clara Saint who clearly fell in love with Nureyev and played a prominent role in his defection. The choice of Artem Ovrachenko to play the character of Nureyev was inspired - not only a fine dancer but his occasional tilt of the head and certain expressions uncannily resembled the man. The final section prompted some provocative thoughts about the defection being less instinctive than is commonly believed and that Nureyev had been planning this for sometime. A few programmes like this go a long way in redeeming the reputation of the BBC for its scanty scheduling of dance programmes.

Edited by Odyssey
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I thought that the Darcey programme was fine. One can argue about who should have been included but the tittle suggests that it was a personal selection. I thought that the ending featuring Lendorf was a bit clunky but I suppose that the programme wanted to show a modern Danish 'star'. Darcey does gush a bit but cool and pedagogic is not her style. I didn't find the bit about her daughter and the named studio irritating; she was making the point in the context of a discussion (with Peter and Luke Schaufuss) about the pressures faced by young dancers who come from a dancing families. This was a programme aimed at people who know little or relatively little about ballet and I think that it was well balanced and pitched at about the right level. Darcey is well known to the viewing public though her involvement with Strictly and (IMO) was exactly the right person to front this programme.

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This was a programme aimed at people who know little or relatively little about ballet and I think that it was well balanced and pitched at about the right level. Darcey is well known to the viewing public though her involvement with Strictly and (IMO) was exactly the right person to front this programme.

I agree - television programmes need to be reasonably accessible and entertaining to the general viewing public.

 

After all, professional chefs wouldn't expect 'Bake-Off' to be pitched at their level of technical knowledge, and I also know for certain that many expert genealogists cringe at the simplistic presentation of family history research on 'Who Do You Think You Are?'.

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The A.D's new year resolutions for 2016 should include:-1) Keep a close eye on inexperienced choreographers however eminent they may be as dancers.

 

FLOSS, are you expecting him to come up with any more choreographers who are eminent dancers? :)

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For those wondering about the cast filmed in Les Noces in 1966 they are Svetlana Beriosova(Bride) Robert Mead (Bridegroom)  Gerd Larsen, Leslie Edwards, Romayne Grigorova and Ray Roberts (Parents) with Dowell and Parkinson as the dancers who come out of the corps and have solo parts.I think that Larsen and Edwards would have been the bride's parents. You can see the importance that everyone attached to the acquisition of this ballet by the speed in which the dancers were taken into the studio and the piece was recorded This information comes not from the ROH Performance Database but from a site completely unknown to me until I stumbled across it last weekend. The site in question is Genome BBC which gives access to copies of the Radio Times from the 1920's until the 2000's.

 

If you want a view of a different world in which ballet was not regarded as an elite artform then I recommend that you look at the amount of dance material scheduled in 1978 and 1980. In both years there were Dance Months with dance based programmes,mainly ballet, virtually every night on BBC 2. One of the men responsible for some of the best dance based programmes during this period was John Drummond. Something tells me that much of what we perceive as the BBC's commitment to serious arts programmes on primetime television is attributable to the taste and breadth of knowledge of a few individuals.The BBC is still living on the reputation created for it by people like Margaret Dale and John Drummond. I do hope this is brief enough for those who want brevity.

 

Unfortunately while brevity and accuracy can go hand in hand when you are imparting information they do not always make such good companions when you are trying to explain why you like one thing and find another unsatisfactory. I don't want to upset people by being peremptory about my views of performances that I have seen. I recognise that we have different view about specific dancers and I do try to say why I liked or disliked a performance or a production. 

Edited by FLOSS
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For those wondering about the cast filmed in Les Noces in 1966 they are Svetlana Beriosova(Bride) Robert Mead (Bridegroom)  Gerd Larsen, Leslie Edwards, Romayne Grigorova and Ray Roberts (Parents) with Dowell and Parkinson as the dancers who come out of the corps and have solo parts.I think that Larsen and Edwards would have been the bride's parents. You can see the importance that everyone attached to the acquisition of this ballet by the speed in which the dancers were taken into the studio and the piece was recorded This information comes not from the ROH Performance Database but from a site completely unknown to me until I stumbled across it last weekend. The site in question is Genome BBC which gives access to copies of the Radio Times from the 1920's until the 2000's.

 

 

But that wasn't the one shown in the programme, was it? The earlier of the two extracts was from 1978 and the Bride was Vergie Derman.

 

I just caught up with the Ballroom and Ballerinas programme and thought it left a rather sour taste - nice to see the ballet clips but too much of the commentary seemed to be either patronising or poking fun.

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Well we could probably all....on occasions....be more concise!!

 

At least FLOSS has the solace that something knowledgeable has been said in her/his longer posts!

 

With some of my longer ones I'm left thinking what on earth was I trying to say there!! And often manage to contradict myself in the same post!!

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I just caught up with the Ballroom and Ballerinas programme and thought it left a rather sour taste - nice to see the ballet clips but too much of the commentary seemed to be either patronising or poking fun.

 

Yes - it's a while since I watched it, but I seem to remember detecting distinct smug notes of "look how much more advanced/sophisticated we are now" or "how naïve/unsophisticated we were back then".  It's an attitude I find I've been seeing too much of in recent years.  I was glad I didn't bother recording the programme for posterity.

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When I posted briefly on Ballroom and Ballerinas, I said the commentary reminded me of Come Dine with Me.  If you have never watched CDWM, the voice over is probably the best thing about it, with its wry humour and mocking remarks about the various dinners being cooked. 

 

Unfortunately, that type of commentary seems to be creeping into quite a few other programmes now.  I think Sue Perkins does a lot of these voice overs, and she always manages to make it sound as though she is taking the micky out of everything she is watching.  In this instance, it was Tamsin Greig, and she has obviously adopted the same style.

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When I posted briefly on Ballroom and Ballerinas, I said the commentary reminded me of Come Dine with Me.  If you have never watched CDWM, the voice over is probably the best thing about it, with its wry humour and mocking remarks about the various dinners being cooked. 

 

Unfortunately, that type of commentary seems to be creeping into quite a few other programmes now.  I think Sue Perkins does a lot of these voice overs, and she always manages to make it sound as though she is taking the micky out of everything she is watching.  In this instance, it was Tamsin Greig, and she has obviously adopted the same style.

The voice-over artists won't write the script though, and presumably they are cast in those roles. The ultimate 'feel' of a programme will be shaped by the director, the producer and in the editing suite.

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Perhaps Ballroom and Ballerinas was simply intended to puff the virtues of Strictly as a piece of enlightened egalitarian programming. It spent more time poking fun at Reithian idealism, old style ballroom based programmes and the BBC's failure to keep abreast with the tastes of the young than it did ballet.I was surprised that it found its way onto BBC4 in tone it was more suited to a  popularist channel such as BBC 1 or 2.

 

I hope that the programme was more accurate about the BBC's popular dance output than it was about its ballet output. It seemed to me that the author of the commentary showed singular ignorance of both social history and of the history of ballet in this country..Here are some errors that I identified.

 

1) Alicia Markova was trained in Russia.

 

2)The assumption that the entire television audience knew nothing about ballet when a larger proportion of the audience had come into contact with ballet than is the case now because of the amount of touring undertaken during the war.

 

3) The assumption that Les Sylphides was an obscure work. At the time it was recorded it was a ballet cliche and probably the best known classical ballet in the repertory because every company performed it.

 

4)Describing the 1958 recording of the Nutcracker as the first full length version of the ballet shown on television in this country. When all the evidence is that only Act 2 was recorded.

 

5) Giving the impression that the Nutcracker was an established part of the RB  Christmas repertory in the 1950's.

 

The only part that I found interesting was the information that in the 1960's de Valois entered into an agreement with the BBC to provide ballet material for broadcast. However given the inaccuracies in the rest of the script I am not sure that I should accept this statement at face value.

 

Can anyone identify whether the productions which are referred to in the section in which Jeremy Isaacs is being reprimanded are opera or ballet productions? It is footage from About the House and the impression given by the way it has been cut is that  the RB had made contracts with a designer for two different productions neither of which were going to be delivered on time. I have to say it sounds far more like the sort of thing that happens with the Opera Company. On one famous occasion the Opera Company entered into an agreement for a co-production and only discovered late on the day that the set would not fit the Covent Garden stage.

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Perhaps Ballroom and Ballerinas was simply intended to puff the virtues of Strictly as a piece of enlightened egalitarian programming. It spent more time poking fun at Reithian idealism, old style ballroom based programmes and the BBC's failure to keep abreast with the tastes of the young than it did ballet.I was surprised that it found its way onto BBC4 in tone it was more suited to a  popularist channel such as BBC 1 or 2.

 

I hope that the programme was more accurate about the BBC's popular dance output than it was about its ballet output. It seemed to me that the author of the commentary showed singular ignorance of both social history and of the history of ballet in this country..Here are some errors that I identified.

 

1) Alicia Markova was trained in Russia.

 

2)The assumption that the entire television audience knew nothing about ballet when a larger proportion of the audience had come into contact with ballet than is the case now because of the amount of touring undertaken during the war.

 

3) The assumption that Les Sylphides was an obscure work. At the time it was recorded it was a ballet cliche and probably the best known classical ballet in the repertory because every company performed it.

 

4)Describing the 1958 recording of the Nutcracker as the first full length version of the ballet shown on television in this country. When all the evidence is that only Act 2 was recorded.

 

5) Giving the impression that the Nutcracker was an established part of the RB  Christmas repertory in the 1950's.

 

The only part that I found interesting was the information that in the 1960's de Valois entered into an agreement with the BBC to provide ballet material for broadcast. However given the inaccuracies in the rest of the script I am not sure that I should accept this statement at face value.

 

Can anyone identify whether the productions which are referred to in the section in which Jeremy Isaacs is being reprimanded are opera or ballet productions? It is footage from About the House and the impression given by the way it has been cut is that  the RB had made contracts with a designer for two different productions neither of which were going to be delivered on time. I have to say it sounds far more like the sort of thing that happens with the Opera Company. On one famous occasion the Opera Company entered into an agreement for a co-production and only discovered late on the day that the set would not fit the Covent Garden stage.

As I recall, Maria Björnson had been commissioned to design Katya Kabanova for the Royal Opera and The Sleeping Beauty for the Royal Ballet at the same time.

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The voice-over artists won't write the script though, and presumably they are cast in those roles. The ultimate 'feel' of a programme will be shaped by the director, the producer and in the editing suite.

 

Yes, and by casting a comedian such as Perkins, they are indicating what that feel should be.  Nobody would expect that tone if the voice over was by, say, David Attenborough.   

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Thank you for that information I had managed to forget  the Bjornson Katya. I was relieved to discover that at least one of the Markova Masterclass programmes with Barbieri and Ashmole from 1980 has survived. There were three of them covering Giselle, Swan Lake and Les Sylphides and the ones I saw were fascinating

 

I thought that the 90 minute programme about contemporary dance was much better than Ballrooms and Ballerinas. Its reverential tone came as bit of a shock after the jokiness of Ballrooms and Ballerinas which was more concerned with entertaining the audience than educating it. After watching a programme which is directed at telling the audience that they need not worry their pretty little heads about classical ballet because it is merely fantasy it is a trifle unnerving to be presented with a programme which takes any sort of dance seriously. I thought that it was put together by someone who knew and loved the subject. It almost persuaded me that I needed to see the Green Table again even though I was far from impressed by it when I saw it years ago.

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I had assumed that the Beeb had dusted off its recording with the RB's original cast  of Les| Noces and included it in the footage of this documentary.I should have realised that a black and white recording of  Nijinska's handpicked cast could not compete with a colour recording from some years later.The recording  shown in 1978 was almost certainly recorded in 1977 as Noces was revived at Covent Garden in that year.The 1978 Radio Times entry for Les Noces merely lists the dancer's names not their roles.But they would have taken the roles which they danced at the opera house. Vergie Derman (Bride),Derek Rencher (Bridegroom)  Larsen, Edwards,Newton, Grigorova (Parents) Dancers who emerge from the corps and dance the solos at the end of the ballet Dowell and Parkinson. 

 

It is a great pity that Forsythe's comments about the stature of this ballet are unlikely to result in any of the Beeb's recordings  of this work or any other material related to it being shown on the box. There is plenty of material including, according to the Radio Times  archive, a half hour programme in which Bernstein,Nabokov and Ashton talk about its significance. It is difficult at a time when the Diaghilev repertory is hardly performed to recapture the importance of the London revival of this ballet.Up until that point it was only known to most people from photographs,sketches and the recollections of dancers old enough to have seen it.. I saw the original RB cast a few years after the 1966 revival and it was one of my greatest experiences in the theatre.

 

Some have suggested that in emphasising the freedom from constraining rules of the makers of contemporary dance  the programme is criticising classical ballet and in effect announcing its imminent death. I don't think that the programme is saying contemporary dance good classical ballet bad. If you want to explain contemporary dance forms you have to talk about them in the context of something people know and explain what its starting point was. As far as Nijinsky and the Rite of Spring is concerned It is a great pity that they did not use the archive recording of Marie Rambert's description of the first night. She helped stage the work  and was in the wings giving the dancers the counts. Her description  would have given  life to the event which the film of the  anaemic  reconstruction of the ballet singularly failed to deliver,Does anyone know whose  resurrection of the Rite they  screened ? Again why not use some archive material of Ashton talking about Duncan and/or  of Seymour performing the Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan which were said to have reduced Rambert to tears because  they were what she remembered Duncan's dancing being like?.

 

I think this programme on the makers of contemporary dance was one of the best dance programmes I have seen for a very long time. it is such a pity that classical ballet only ever gets the Noddy and Big Ears approach with Bussell. It would be very good if just occasionally we were given a programme  about classical ballet presented by someone who has  obviously got brains. Ballet can so easily be dismissed as lightweight, brainless entertainment but for me, at least, the fact that a lot of obviously very intelligent people like Rambert and de Valois were involved in ballet made it something that I wanted to know about. I think that if my first exposure to ballet had involved someone like Bussell fronting it I might have been put off for life. 

Edited by FLOSS
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Please don't diss Noddy. He has a lot of problems and is possibly far more complex than he at first appears. Big Ears, despite rumours to the contrary, is entirely blameless and was "only trying to help" Noddy, who has somehow managed to get himself arrested on a number of occasions. Their various wheezes and jolly scrapes are positively Freudian in comparison. :P

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Firstly I would say that Darcey Bussell has brains and to suggest otherwise is rather rude.

 

We do get programmes about ballet presented by other people - have you forgotten David Bintley's programme about dancing during the second world war? As excellent as that was, I'd hazard a guess that the viewing figures for that were lower than Darcey's Ballet Heroines and even her programme about Audrey Hepburn. Like it or not, Darcey is better known to the general public and because of her Strictly success, she is more likely to attract non-balletomanes to watch a BBC programme than someone less well known. She'd be a fool to turn down presenting work when it is offered, regardless of whether some people don't like her presenting style.

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