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The Balanchine Foundation has established its own YouTube channel. The contents look very interesting. Lots of interviews but also coaching sessions. When you see the short section of Violet Verdy coaching  a section of a pas de deux from Emeralds you may get an idea of what has been missing in some of the performances that we have seen at Covent Garden.  All in all it looks fascinating.

Edited by FLOSS
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I totally agree about Violet Verdy. She is compelling watching, I imagine that the material comes in large part from NYCB archives as it seems to go back years. I wonder if the RB has been as assiduous in filming coaching sessions where the coaches were the dancers who created the roles in Ashton's works from the 1960's and 1970's and whether they have filmed  insight events which have included such dancers? it would be wonderful if the Ashton Trust was able to do something similar to the Balanchine Foundation and even more extraordinary if the Tudor Foundation were able to do so. Of the three major choreographers born in the early twentieth century  he is the one worst served by performances as his works require such meticulous coaching. His home company ABT seem to have given up on reviving works like Romeo and Juliet because of the amount of  time and effort required.

 

Back to the Balanchine archive. It would be nice if watching the great Miss Verdy coaching a bit of Emeralds persuaded a few people who claim to be bored by Jewels, and by Emeralds in particular, of the extraordinary possibilities which the first section of Jewels contains. It would be even better if some of those cast in it next season watched it and became aware of the possibilities contained in the choreography and what they needed to attain in performance.

Edited by FLOSS
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The Balanchine Trust provides coaches for the Royal Ballet and any other company which is licensed to dance Mr B's ballets but that does not guarantee that the company being coached will capture the mood of the ballet and the subtler elements of the choreography and reproduce them. The broad outlines of the choreography will be staged. The audience will see the groupings,the steps, the head and arm positions and a very close approximation of the choreographer's musicality but just as an engraver's plate gets worn and shows less fine detail the more that it is used so the finer details of ballets tend to get lost over time. The selected coaches cannot guarantee that the casts that they have coached will manage to reproduce the ballet's finest details and its essential mood in performance. This is why, for me, the coaching sessions with Verdy are so intriguing and so valuable.

 

This is not a problem which only relates to the revival of Mr. B's works such as Emeralds. It is a problem that arises when a ballet is passed from the original cast to its successors. Some of this loss is inevitable where it relates to the original cast's physicality and the quality of their movement but the loss of other details such as the precise position of the dancers' arms and head is not. These finer details may seem fussy and inessential to subsequent casts and coaches but it is often those details which the choreographer has used to create the ballet's mood by subtle references to paintings, sculpture lost ballets of which only he/she is truly aware.

 

If you want some evidence of what I am talking about in more familiar repertory then look at the bits of film on Youtube which show Ashton coaching Sibley and Dowell in the reconciliation pas de deux from the Dream and him coaching a dancer in part of the Gipsy's choreography in Two Pigeons. Some of the detail that Ashton corrects in the Dream can seem like nit picking it is so meticulous but when you see the end result you begin to understand the difference between "all right" and "just right" is a matter of centimetres and fractions of centimetres. It is the difference between the eye of someone who can judge the accuracy of the reproduction of movement and groupings and someone who understands how a movement or the angle of the arm or head will be read in the theatre.

Edited by FLOSS
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The Balanchine Foundation has established its own YouTube channel. The contents look very interesting. Lots of interviews but also coaching sessions. When you see the short section of Violet Verdy coaching  a section of a pas de deux from Emeralds you may get an idea of what has been missing in some of the performances that we have seen at Covent Garden.  All in all it looks fascinating.

 

 

In relation to FLOSS's comment, I thought it might be worth flagging Alastair Macaulay's very detailed assessment of current NYCB performances of Jewels, taken from this week's Links:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/arts/dance/new-york-city-ballet-casts-a-singular-luster-in-jewels.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fdance&action=click&contentCollection=dance&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront#

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