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Choreographers tweaking/reworking ballets


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Does someone remember a full-length ballet that has been cut/edited after the premiere? Well, John Cranko's Onegin was (by no one else but its choreographer, no dramaturg or theatre director) and became a classic, but are there any others that survived and thrived? Is something like that done today or do ballets rather disappear to make way for new efforts?

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I'm not talking about "tweaking" or small changes, I'm talking about substantial modifications, cutting scenes or even acts - sorry, I should have mentioned that. Critics always like to write "with some reworking it should be a fine ballet", but actually I never see any reworking, I must say, they just go on and play it like it was made... That's why I'm asking. Maybe the really bad ballets never get a revival where you have the chance to rework it.

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I'm not talking about "tweaking" or small changes, I'm talking about substantial modifications, cutting scenes or even acts - sorry, I should have mentioned that. Critics always like to write "with some reworking it should be a fine ballet", but actually I never see any reworking, I must say, they just go on and play it like it was made... That's why I'm asking. Maybe the really bad ballets never get a revival where you have the chance to rework it.

 

 

David Bintley choreographed Cyrano for the Royal Ballet and completely re-choroegraphed it for Birmingham Royal Ballet (including a different composer) some years later.  I couldn't remember enough about the choreography of the RB version to say if he had retained any of that but the only similarity I know of is that it uses the RB set and costumes.

 

How much did Balanchine change Apollo from the 1928 original to how we see it today? 

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I think that we have to remember that very few choreographers leave a great corpus of works that are worth reviving. The majority are destined to be the footnotes of ballet history. A choreographer can be of benefit to a company by creating works that will develop a company and individual dancers. It is ridiculous to require him to to be a genius who creates a great work every time he enters the rehearsal room. We have to remember that dancers benefit from having works created on them. If the work turns out to be a masterpiece that is an added bonus it is not something that we, the audience or the critics, can demand of right. Every creative artist has their off days and everyone has to learn their craft.

 

Cranko had the advantage of conducting his experiments in choreography at Sadler's Wells as did MacMillan a more apprentice friendly stage than that of the Royal Opera House. The Covent Garden stage imposes expectations which choreographers have failed to meet particularly when creating full length works. Cranko's Prince of the Pagodas did not stay in the repertory nor did .Bintley's Cyrano nor did MacMillan's Isadora and attempts to revive his version of Prince of the Pagodas have not proved successful however much forces outside the company may wish it to be proved viable.  .

 

As for Scarlett's ballet it isn't the cut and paste job that some critics have suggested it is nor is it a masterpiece but so far  it seems to be a crowd pleaser which suggests it has a good chance of survival at least in the short term. It has been beneficial for both Kish who has had more positive responses from his performance in this ballet than he has garnered in other performances and it has revealed Tristan Dyer to be a fine dance actor a fact that will only add to the AD's problems in casting next year. However I am sure that it is better to be spoilt for choice than to be forced to try to make the best of what you have got which is the position that Norman  Morrice found himself in as the company had pretty much travelled on empty during MacMillan's directorship as he made most of his great works on dancers who had been trained, recruited and developed by his two predecessors. For me there is an extraordinary falling off in the quality of his work after 1980. There are good things in this ballet but there is a lot that can be pruned we now have to await further developments

Edited by FLOSS
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Perhaps  I should make it clear before Janet tells us that Cyrano is alive and well and living in Birmingham that it is Bintley's first attempt at staging Cyrano that I am referring to in the above post. Of all Bintley's ballets I think that the one most likely to survive is Hobson's Choice.

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Perhaps  I should make it clear before Janet tells us that Cyrano is alive and well and living in Birmingham that it is Bintley's first attempt at staging Cyrano that I am referring to in the above post. Of all Bintley's ballets I think that the one most likely to survive is Hobson's Choice.

 

 

Surely, FLOSS, what you mean is 'Of all Bintley's NARRATIVE ballets I think that the one most likely to survive is Hobson's Choice'  .... or that is my hope at least. 

 

I would very much like to see such fine non-narrative works as A KIng Dances, Flowers of the Forest or Tombeaux survive their maker as part of his (i.e., Bintley's) meaningful legacy.  They deserve to I think.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Of his narrative works I think (hope) Hobson's Choice (one of my all time favourite ballets and the one David Bintley said he has not tweaked), Far from the Madding Crowd, Cyrano (BRB version) and Edward ll should survive (IMHO).

 

Of his "plotless" works I agree with the ones Bruce mentions and I would add in Gallantries too.

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No Bruce I mean exactly what I said. If the works of a choreographer who was as dominant as Massine was between the wars can  disappear almost completely from the repertory, if the works of Antony Tudor are rarely staged even by the company with which he worked most, and if, Ashton has a limited hold on the RB's active repertory then I can see no compelling reason why Bintley's works should survive much beyond the end of his directorship.

 

Ballet is perhaps the most ephemeral of the theatrical art forms as it is most at the mercy of the whims of directors and changes in public taste. Choreographic texts are preserved on a methodical basis but for most of us the individual ballet is inaccessible unless we see it in performance in the theatre. This is not true of plays whose authors cease to be fashionable. If I can read than I can access the works of Galsworthy and Somerset Maugham. Unless they have been filmed and the recording is readily available then I have no access to the works of Massine or those of Tudor and only limited access to those of Ashton who was one of the great choreographers of the last century. Why should the fate of Bintley's works be any better?

Edited by FLOSS
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No Bruce I mean exactly what I said. If the works of a choreographer who was as dominant as Massine was between the wars can  disappear almost completely from the repertory, if the works of Antony Tudor are rarely staged even by the company with which he worked most, and if, Ashton has a limited hold on the RB's active repertory then I can see no compelling reason why Bintley's works should survive much beyond the end of his directorship.

 

Ballet is perhaps the most ephemeral of the theatrical art forms as it is most at the mercy of the whims of directors and changes in public taste. Choreographic texts are preserved on a methodical basis but for most of us the individual ballet is inaccessible unless we see it in performance in the theatre. This is not true of plays whose authors cease to be fashionable. If I can read than I can access the works of Galsworthy and Somerset Maugham. Unless they have been filmed and the recording is readily available then I have no access to the works of Massine or those of Tudor and only limited access to those of Ashton who was one of the great choreographers of the last century. Why should the fate of Bintley's works be any better?

 

Forgive me if I play the devil's advocate for a moment, FlOSS ... but 'why shouldn't it?' ... Wouldn't it be wonderful if Bintley's executors/followers were to benefit from the misses of past ways and SEE that key works of his DID survive as a meaningful and substantial legacy ... in and amidst much new work of course?   

 

By the bye ... Is not Ashton duly celebrated in Saratoga?  I well remember in a free NYPL event he spoke at which I was lucky enough to attend - decades ago now - he said that he always felt he was better received overall in America.  Perhaps then the diversity of that representation is most fitting.  

 

Bless Jerome Robbins too for establishing that extraordinary dance collection where any of us - most days of the year - can watch the major works of all those you quite rightly credit free of any charge when able to access the NYPL.  I realise the films are a pale substitute  for the actual performance ... but still THEY EXIST ... and preserve the memories of the original casts who helped con them.  It would be much more difficult to do that here be it it in search of the many and varied works of the RB's resident choreographer (McGregor) or, indeed, the prodigious Bintley.  Would there were such a resource open six days a week to any and all comers.  It would take time, but I do sincerely believe that such an investment would pay off in developing an audience hungry for and knowledgeable about the development of yet more - meaningful - new work..  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Darius James cut huge swathes from his ballet of "How Green Was My Valley". In it's original version it went for (from memory) 2 1/2 hours and it's now a more managable 1 hour 40 mins. Some of the bits he cut I liked and some of the stuff he kept, I don't like so much.

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By the bye ... Is not Ashton duly celebrated in Saratoga?  I well remember in a free NYPL event he spoke at which I was lucky enough to attend - decades ago now - he said that he always felt he was better received overall in America.  Perhaps then the diversity of that representation is most fitting.  

 

 

During the current directorship the Ashton repertoire is celebrated in Sarasota. Unfortunately I don't think there's any particular reason to believe that'll outlive Iain Webb for long.

 

Since Alice was turned from a two-act ballet to a three-act ballet, I think that might count as more than just minor tweaking.

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I don't know about his repertoire but I really hope that BRB in its current size and form outlives David Bintley's directorship. No reflection on him, I was thinking about the current levels of funding now the Council has introduced a swingeing reduction.

Edited by Two Pigeons
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