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penelopesimpson

Filling in the Gaps

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Just over 5 years ago, Mr Samodurov choreographed a fairly spectacular version of Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Ballet of Flanders:

 

 

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From what has been said above I feel I should thank the Late Mr Stretton for giving me the chance to see Nicolas le Riche live.  I have never forgotten it or him.  Utterly stunning!

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And, later, Tamara Rojo?  Or didn't you catch him then?

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4 minutes ago, alison said:

And, later, Tamara Rojo?  Or didn't you catch him then?

 

 

Rojo is someone else i booked for but kept missing.  I was especially sorry that she was injured when I was hoping to see her as Tatiana with Adam Cooper.  I did see her live when she appeared in Triad as part of the Nureyev but that was hardly that representative if her work.

 

I must concur that I missed a very special artist.

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I was thinking about when she invited Le Riche for Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, but you did indeed miss a very special artist if you didn't see her.

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Just now, alison said:

I was thinking about when she invited Le Riche for Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, but you did indeed miss a very special artist if you didn't see her.

 

 

Another loss!  

 

I have seen him in Le Jeune Homme via Sky Arts.

 

These are the mixed joys of being a balletomane.  For every great artist you do see there are so many you didn't.

 

Heigh ho!

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18 hours ago, fashionista said:

Indeed, Slava is now Director of the Ural Ballet in Ekaterinburg.  However, their version of Fille (I attended the premiere) was in fact by the now sadly deceased Sergei Vikharev.  

 

Yes of course you're right. I had forgotten.

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Floss - that post has now been deleted as requested, together with subsequent remarks.

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On 01/09/2019 at 08:45, Ian Macmillan said:

Floss - that post has now been deleted as requested, together with subsequent remarks.

 

Floss - I do hope you will be re-posting this item as and when you've had an opportunity to sort it out. It looked to be an authorative and very wide ranging background to the RS affair and I for one was very much looking forward to reading it.

Edited by David
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On 01/09/2019 at 08:45, Ian Macmillan said:

Floss - that post has now been deleted as requested, together with subsequent remarks.

 

8 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

Me, too.  Why can't we read it?


Possibly because Floss asked for the post to be removed...

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 I asked for my earlier post to be deleted because it was too long and far too repetitive, or so I thought, and  I had not finished editing it , culling the unnecessary words and reducing it to some semblance of order before I inadvertently hit the send button . I did not think that thirty minutes would give me sufficient time to cut the unnecessary verbiage so I asked for the entire text to be removed for which I think that you should all be very grateful indeed. Here is what I intended to say about the company's "Time of Troubles". I have tried to avoid writing a potted  history of the company but I am not sure that I can avoid saying something about the company's early history if only to explain what with the benefit of hindsight, now seems to be the totally inexplicable decision to appoint Ross Stretton as the company's Artistic Director. We know what happened as a result of his appointment but those who appointed him thought that he was the solution to a very real set of problems which the company was then facing.

 

I am sure that everyone who reads this site  has a fairly firm grasp of the broad outline of the company's early years but in order to understand  the problem's real or imagined that Stretton's appointment was supposed to solve you have to understand a bit about the company's creation myth and its sense of artistic identity. In order to do that we have to go back to the company's beginnings. Everyone knows that a few years after she established her school de Valois founded the company which after several name changes and much hard work and artistic achievement became the Royal Ballet. That company gave its first performances in 1931. De Valois who had danced for the Diaghilev company picked up most of her knowledge and ideas about running a ballet company from her time working for him. Although between 1933 and 1939 she acquired and staged five major nineteenth century ballets for her dancers with the assistance of Nikolai Sergeyev, the former regisseur of the Mariinsky company, at no time did she intend that her young company should merely be a repository of ancient repertory, She intended that her company should be a created one  creating its own repertory for its audience. Each of the old ballets she chose for her company's repertory were major works which had played a  significant role in the development of ballet and the music written for it . Her choice of name for these selected works " the classics" set them apart from the company's potentially ephemeral new creations and enabled her company to tap into an established artistic tradition and pedigree. She knew that a good music director was an essential element in the potential success of her endeavour and appointed Constant Lambert to that position when she secured the services of Frederick Ashton as the company's choreographer she knew that she had acquired a  " real choreographer". What she cannot have known was that in Ashton she had acquired the services of a major choreographer who would create a series of masterpieces for her company and establish and shape its performance style for the best part of the next sixty years. As so many Western ballet companies today have a core repertory which includes some nineteenth century works it may be difficult to grasp how novel and radical it was to include full length  nineteenth century ballets in a company's repertory. Inserting a single act from one of them in a mixed bill otherwise composed of newly created works was not so unusual as Diaghilev had done this when he got Nijinska to concoct Aurora's Wedding for him.

 

The acquisition of her five "classics"  was intended to raise the technical standards of the company's dancers by requiring them to dance  choreography created for an earlier generation of gifted dancers and then maintain those standards at an appropriate level by dancing the same works, in whole or in part , at regular intervals but it had an added bonus. It exposed Ashton to the very best of the Russian nineteenth century choreography and repertory and enabled him to study it at close quarters as well as dancing in it. It enabled him, as he later put it, to take "private lessons with Petipa". This historically significant nineteenth century repertory provided her dancers with important technical and artistic development opportunities and her resident choreographer with a complete education in ballet construction of which they took full advantage. Another unintended  consequence  of the acquisition of these historically significant  ballets was that it gave the company  a ready made opera house repertory which was to come in handy when it was invited, post war, to become the resident company at the Royal Opera House. After the move de Valois established a new ballet company at Sadler's Wells which was to tour the country and also provide a training ground for young and inexperienced dancers and choreographers where they could develop and make their mistakes away from the  stern gaze of the critics attending performances in Bow Street.

 

Each director has acquired new repertory for the company but until comparatively recently these works have been major works which have a deservedly established place in the repertory rather than choreographic off-cuts assembled for the company's dancers. When Massine's new ballet company folded in the late forties de Valois acquired his ballets La Boutique Fantasque, Le Tricorne and Mamz'elle Angot  and later at about the time of the twenty fifth anniversary of Diaghilev's death she added Fokine's Firebird and Petrushka to her haul. When Ashton became director he acquired Balanchine's Serenade and Apollo as well as getting Nijinska to revive her Ballets Les Biches and Les Noces for the company. He also allowed Nureyev to try his hand as stager and choreographer, his Nutcracker, which was not   treated as a Christmas fixture,was in the company's core repertory for years and was only dropped, it seemed to me , when the company no longer had the dancers to do it justice.  His staging of the Kingdom of the Shades was so satisfying to watch. MacMillan also added a  handful of major works to the company's repertory. The important point  to make is that these acquisitions were made against  the background of the company's own creativity not as a substitute for it. Well into the late seventies it seemed that the announcement of each season's bill of fare included the promise of a new work by Ashton or MacMillan and sometimes by both of them or the revival of a major Ashton work because he felt that he had the right cast for it. The company did not feel as if it was treading water as it did increasingly under Norman Morrice or worse stagnating as it came increasingly to do during the years of Dowell's directorship.

 

I don't want to make it sound as if I think that Dowell is the villain of the piece or that everything that went wrong at the company during  his directorship was  entirely attributable to him a great number of his problems  he faced were legacy problems or manifestation of things going wrong elsewhere in the system.The decline in the company's technical standards which I think is all too apparent in some of the recordings made during his directorship could not simply be solved by hiring stars to fill the leading roles. Weak technical standards are something, it seems to me , which are only remediable if you identify the source of the problem and address it. Whatever was, or was not, going on at the school Dowell was also facing the problems which MacMillan's  disbanding the Touring Company, in a cost cutting exercise, had created. Its closure had deprived young talented dancers of an organisation which gave them stage experience in major roles , perhaps weekly for as long as a tour lasted, away from London  and the critics.  MacMillan did not come up with an effective replacement for this training ground and seemed to be content to work with a group of dancers he had selected. Eventually another company was established to tour outside London but dancers no longer moved between the two Royal Ballet companies as freely as they had once done . Its remit did not extend to the development of the next generation of dancers and choreographers  in the way that the old Touring Company had done. The cumulative effect of this lack of training ground manifested itself during  the directorships of both Morrice and Dowell, As far as its long term consequences are concerned  the disbanding of the old Touring Company as part of a cost cutting exercise was by far MacMillan's biggest mistake one much bigger than not creating the role of Isadora on Seymour was ever going to be. The response of MacMillan's successor Norman Morrice, to the lack of adequate training ground seemed to be to cast promising dancers in major roles on a sink or swim basis. Each promising dancer would in turn would be treated as the flavour of the month and cast in everything and be abandoned almost as quickly the first  time they showed any sign of faltering.

 

 I have no idea how much freedom of choice Dowell had in reality when selecting the repertory to be danced each season or how it was to be programmed but David Vaughan suggested on a number of occasions that one of the things that Dowell could have done to remedy the  company's shaky technical standards was to programme some of the company's early repertory such as Coppelia and Ashton's early works such as Les Rendezvous and  Les Patineurs as a way to raise standards.  Dowell had been a great dancer and is, as I understand it, is a great coach but I am not sure that his previous experience had prepared him for the job of running the company and the problems which came to a head during his directorship. The more I think about it the more I have come to the conclusion that  how well a director is judged to have performed in post is largely a matter of luck and the extent to which  their previous experience  has provided the individual concerned with the tools suited to dealing with the specific problems which now need to be resolved . In quieter rimes with fewer major challenges to face Dowell's skill set might have been more than adequate and his directorship deemed largely successful. As far as the great falling out which derailed what appear to have been Dowell's plans to revive a number of Ashton's neglected works there is some evidence to suggest that it was the reaction of his friends as much as those of Ashton himself to the news that Dowell's new Swan Lake would drop most of Ashton's additional choreography which led to the souring of relations between the two men.  The most that  came of Dowell's plans was the successful  revival of the long neglected  Ondine and discussions between Ashton and Grant Coyle about the revisions which the full length Sylvia required to make it stage-worthy.

 

I don't think that designing for ballet was  one of Dowell's strengths and yet redesigning existing works and restaging the classics was a feature of his directorship. Not only did we get new productions of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake with fussy unsatisfactory designs but in the years following Ashton's death the re-design cure was applied to at least three of his ballets. A meeting of the Ballet Circle  was told by Ashton's nephew that this was because the opera going Board could not understand why the ballet audience was prepared to watch old ballets in old designs over and over again. It seemed that they had somehow got the idea that these ballets needed a bit of sprucing up to encourage ticket sales. The ballets selected for this indignity were Les Rendezvous, Daphnis and Chloe and Rhapsody. The new designs for Les Rendezvous destroyed its character, charm, mood and floor plan in the process. Daphnis and Chloe which Ashton and Craxton his designer had set in a parched modern Greece in which the old gods were still powerful with the women wearing costumes which amplified their movement was now diminished by its new designer's clever references to ancient Greece which distanced the audience from the action of the ballet and gave the  women chiton style costumes which restricted their movements rendering the bacchanale which ends the ballet a very damp squib indeed. Rhapsody's new designs should not have been at all controversial as no one had liked  the original ones but although no one could agree about what its designs should look like everyone seemed to agree that they should not look like Bauhaus designs.

 

Put simply the background to Stretton's appointment was the apparent failure of the institutions which de Valois had founded to adjust to changed circumstances by renewing themselves, training and developing the next generation of company stars, retaining their services and the collapse of the company's creativity. From its foundation in 1931 until MacMillan's death in 1993, the company had enjoyed unprecedented creativity in a wide range of ballet styles classic and expressive, comic and dramatic. Many of the works which Ashton and MacMillan made for the company had proved to have real staying power, some came to be acknowledged as company classics while others came to be seen as twentieth century classics which  were admired by ballet fans at home and abroad. All of which added to the prestige which the company had earned abroad through its performance of de Valois' nineteenth century classics.

 

 The impact on the company of suddenly ceasing to be the creative force which de Valois had intended it to be can not be  over stated. The death of Ashton and MacMillan within five years of its other without an obvious creative successor to make compelling new works for the company made it seem as if the company had dwindled into being yet another choreographic museum like all those other companies whose artistic directors were little more than museum curators. Dowell, I think said words to the effect , that the company suddenly knew what it was like to be ordinary.  The late David Drew spoke of the impact on the company's sense of identity of no longer having a unique repertory created by its own in-house  choreographers in its back catalogue which set it apart from other companies; having to adjust to sharing some of its most successful dramatic ballets with other companies and the knowledge that the next season would not bring the possibility of a major new work for the company's dancers to perform. Then there was the school which had apparently run out of steam; a company which had somehow managed to lose five male dancers and seemed no longer capable of creating its own stars. Of course not all of this was attributable to the artistic decisions  made by Dowell but it was very easy to think that the problems of the company and the school were largely the result of selecting the directors of these institutions from an already limited pool of real talent by further restricting the pool of candidates by seemingly insisting that they had to have strong Royal Ballet connections. If you put all of this together you may perhaps understand why the interviewing panel might have viewed a candidate  from outside the charmed circle of the Royal Ballet family as having considerable potential. Perhaps someone not so emotionally attached to the company's glorious past would prove capable of taking the necessary remedial action where someone more closely attached to the institution and its repertory would hesitate and fail to cure the patient.

 

Then there are other factors that need to be considered. They include Michael Kaiser's plans for the company during the closure of the ROH  and that it is unlikely that Kaiser and Stretton were completely unknown to each other as I think Kaiser has since claimed. They were both involved in the arts in New York at the same time and most artistic worlds prove on close inspection to be rather more small and incestuous than they do at first sight. Generally they prove to be interconnected worlds in which most people have heard of each other. aonputatind have some knowledge of their professional reputation or at the very least know someone who has that knowledge.  Michael Kaiser was brought into the ROH to sort out its finances and create a leaner more economically minded organisation.  As I understand it as far as the ballet company was concerned his plans included cutting the company's overheads. The plans for the company and its post closure future  which Kaiser revealed to Dowell included disbanding the ballet company during the ROH 's closure for refurbishment and  hiring a new company on new contractual terms and conditions when the theatre was once more available for use. The new contractual terms, as in the US, would only provide an income for the part of the year during which the dancers were employed. The inducement intended to secure Dowell's acceptance of the plan was that he would  be able to  hire the five best dancers in the world. Dowell baulked at this plan and he and Anthony Russell Roberts undertook urgent research to see whether the terms of the company's Royal Charter required  it to be resident at the opera house. As we know the company was not disbanded and instead went on its travels around London. I seem to recall that  Dowell was reported as saying that he could not accept the proposed terms as he was afraid that, if he had done so, de Valois would have risen from her grave and haunted him for daring to impose part time employment on her company's dancers . De Valois had been the first ballet director in the UK to guarantee her dancers full time employment.

 

I leave it to you to decide whether and to what extent Kaiser  was actively involved in securing the post of artistic director for a preferred candidate. It seems unlikely that Kaiser was planning to return to the US at the point that initial arrangements were being made to recruit Dowell's successor. If I recall correctly in the unexpurgated version of his autobiography Sir Peter Wright says that he was expecting to be involved in the recruitment process and had been assured that he would be consulted only to discover that the appointment had been made without any involvement on his part. Time may reveal whether Kaiser was more involved in recruiting Stretton than he now likes to admit and whether he saw Stretton as providing another opportunity to put his grand cost cutting plan into operation. What evidence there is surrounding  Kaiser's involvement in Stretton's appointment is purely circumstantial and we may  never discover the truth of what happened but circumstantial evidence is quite capable of providing a plausible explanation for apparently  unconnected incidents and events. Stretton's directorship was extraordinarily short lived and far from successful which makes it unlikely that anyone with a reputation for restoring ailing arts organisations to financial health is likely to mention their involvement in his appointment in their memoirs or their manuals on how to be a success running arts companies. As you will find in the footnote below it was not as if a few discreet enquiries would not have provided some useful information about Stretton's  leadership style.

 

The official history of the company  published at the time of the company's seventy fifth anniversary is, understandably, a trifle opaque when it comes to this stage in the company's story . There is little about the recruitment process which secured  Stretton's services, his short time in post or his departure. We shall not learn anything near the truth until all the participants in his recruitment are safely dead. In much the same way that everyone involved will have to be safely dead before we discover what really went wrong at the RBS during the late 1970's, 1980's and 1990's; whether the main company's apparent inability to renew itself was entirely attributable to what was happening at the school or whether the disbanding of the old Touring Company with its remit as a training ground for young inexperienced dancers and choreographers was the root cause of the company's difficulties in renewing itself.

 

I can't help thinking that if Stretton had not been brought down by allegations that he was casting young, relatively inexperienced dancers in exchange for sexual favours his programming and casting policies would have led to his eventual departure. Perhaps he saw himself as a a man on a mission to transform the company in double quick time . His programmes were far from enticing; his choice of repertory ignored the company's history and suggested that he intended to transform the company into a sort of ABT on Thames. He is said to have refused to listen to advice from those within the company who had a sure grasp of local tastes and an understanding of the company's history and repertory. Choosing Nureyev's staging of Don Q to open his regime was far from diplomatic as it was essentially the work which de Valois had refused to let him stage. Casting it with young inexperienced dancers who were not ready for it and relegating the mature performers who could dance it to the end of the run was singularly inept.  A short while before his departure I attended a performance of a mixed bill which included From the Forgotten Land and The Leaves are Fading and I have never seen such a dispirited group of dancers on the opera house stage. They all looked as if they longed to be put out of their misery and that being shot would have been a blessing. I saw them a few days after Mason took over as acting Director and the difference was palpable. She came on to announce a cast change and did not get any further than saying "My name is..." before being drowned out by rapturous applause and when the curtain rose the dancers looked as if the Covent Garden stage was the only place they wanted to be. I think its called leadership.

 

Footnote.

 

The first time that I heard the name Ross Stretton was towards the end of Dowell's final season when a couple of Australian ladies in front of me in the day ticket queue suddenly asked me why the Board had appointed Stretton to be the company's next Artistic Director?  Well I had to admit that I knew nothing about that decision so they asked me whether no one in the UK world of dance had noticed the number of Australian dancers who had suddenly arrived to work in Britain or had asked themselves why they were here? Again I had to admit my ignorance. They then proceeded to tell me that those dancers were almost certainly working here to get away from Stretton who was known in the company he was then running as "Stress Rotten" . They were equally certain that as Stretton was coming to work in London the bulk of those dancers would be going back home to work. Finally they said that they were surprised that no one involved in the selection process had made any enquiries about his professional standing and reputation in Australia as there were plenty of people there who would have been more than willing to let them know about the problems they were likely to encounter with him

 

 

The Classics

 

Although the company acquired a number of major twentieth century ballets during the tenure of its first four directors it acquired no more full length nineteenth century ballets . De Valois declined Nureyev's offer to stage Don Q for her company; Ashton allowed him to mount a short lived Raymonda  for the Touring Company  which was quickly abandoned  ;a  new Nutcracker for the main company  based on Vianonen's staging plus two one act display piece stagings derived from the full length La Bayadere  in the form of  "The Kingdom of the Shades" and a staging of the final act of the full length Raymonda as "Raymonda Acr III".  The important thing to understand is that at  no time did de Valois intend that her company should become a choreographic museum or that its artistic directors should be reduced to the status of museum  curators. It was only when the  creativity dried up and the company became  just like every other company with the death of MacMillan that the company came resemble  a choreographic museum  with the acquisition of the Baryshnikov Don Q and Markova's  staging of La Bayadere during Dowell's directorship

 

 

Dowell's Freedom Choice

 

A comment made by Zoe Anderson in her history of the company to the effect that in his last season he was able to programme the works he wanted suggests that in earlier seasons he had far less freedom of choice in the matter. 

Edited by FLOSS
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FLOSS well said.

I think that the full story about Stretton's appointment is still some way away from appearing - as you suggest, more time needs to elapse before the roles of Isaacs, Kaiser and the ROH Board (rather than the role of the Royal Ballet Governors) in the affair become clearer.

Your earlier comments about the strategy de Valois had for the company suggest a clearer pathway than actually existed - there were some missteps on the way; her attitude to Baronova, Volkova and Karsavina in the 40s and 50s suggest some insecurities - but in general I agree with you that there was a clear strategy usually carried out decisively and the company prospered.

My understanding of the replacement of the touring company with the "New Group" in 1970 was that it was a decision taken by Webster and the Board for financial reasons (at the same time as Ashton was "resigned") and that Macmillan was offered the directorship on condition that the plan was implemented.

Earlier in the thread I made a brief contribution and was then asked to list some of the dancers whose careers had been adversely affected. I didn't reply as to do so would allow people to infer that dancers not adversely affected might be thought to be complicit with the Stretton "arrangements" which would be both unfair and inaccurate in most cases. I hope that if anyone does make comments here that names don't get thrown about.

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A fascinating read, Floss. Thank you. 

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Really interesting. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, Floss.

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I did not want to muddy the waters too  much by going into detail about de Valois' hesitations, missteps and miscalculations on the way to achieving national institution status for herself and her companies in a piece attempting to put Stretton's appointment as Artistic Director into some sort of historical context. I did not want to talk about the financial relationship between the ballet and  opera companies and how costs were allocated to each; why the most recent book on the company's history mentions that in 1988 for the first time the opera company's ticket sales surpassed those of the ballet company or the financial imperatives which might have influenced some of the decisions made during Dowell's directorship such as the decision to part company with some of its more experienced female dancers for the simple reason  that with so little solid information you could easily put two and two together and make twenty four.

 

As far as de Valois is concerned I agree that her insecurities are revealed  when you look at her dealings with those such as Karsavina who had an undisputed claim to be part of the Imperial Russian ballet tradition or that they are more than a little surprising in someone who had achieved so much, but as they say " There's nowt so queer as folk " and personal insecurities are often the oddest of all. It is very difficult to believe that Edris Stannus suffered from imposter syndrome but the facts support the view that at some level she did. Shearer's account of de Valois' anger on discovering that she had been consulting Karsavina on her  performance of Giselle and the interpretation of the role reveals not only her pettiness and her favouritism but also her  failure to act in the best long term interests of the organisations she had created. It is more than a little uncomfortable to contemplate what de Valois let slip through her fingers. Richard Buckle writes about Karsavina showing him lengthy  mime passages from the old ballets and her demonstrations coming as a revelation of how expressive and moving those mime passages could be. We know that she gave lectures to students at the school because Mason mentioned one when she attended an Insight Evening and yet no one bothered to record them in more permanent form for future generations. Apparently no one ever thought it might be helpful, if only to demonstrate the way in which performance style had altered over the years and continued to change, to film her demonstrating or coaching  for archival purposes.

 

As far as  de Valois' working relationship with Volkova is concerned de Valois really should have  been more pragmatic in her approach to a woman who was probably at that time one of the greatest teachers anywhere in the world and accepted whatever Volkova was prepared to offer the company and, or, the school such as teaching the final year in a class of perfection, if only for a few sessions each week

 

I am quite prepared to accept that the company's foundation myth and the founder's myth about herself have been modified and improved so much over the years that she now appears never to have made a single mistake on the route from performing on the end of every pier in England to getting to  Rosebury Avenue and moving from there to Bow Street and that each of her successors as director who has broadly followed her formula concerning the company's mix of repertory has not only enhanced their own reputation for ability, sagacity and directorial flair but has burnished hers so much that she no longer appears as the pragmatist,which she undoubtedly was, but has been transformed into someone with such unbelievable foresight that she scarcely seems human.

 

Edited by FLOSS
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Just to add to this appreciation of Madam is the tremendous foresight she saw in the possibility of establishing  a regional base for Sadler Wells, namely Birmingham Royal Ballet . She was quite an advanced age but footage of her at the time keen to be part of the celebrations remain a fond memory. (Sorry to go off the main topic a little)

 

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4 hours ago, Odyssey said:

Just to add to this appreciation of Madam is the tremendous foresight she saw in the possibility of establishing  a regional base for Sadler Wells, namely Birmingham Royal Ballet . She was quite an advanced age but footage of her at the time keen to be part of the celebrations remain a fond memory. (Sorry to go off the main topic a little)

 

I agree.  She was amazingly, enthusiastic about the move from London to Birmingham which was incredibly refreshing amongst a lot of anxiety from the dancers and downright hostility from some of the ballet intelligency.  She had enormously vision and the success of BRB vindicated her faith.

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7 hours ago, FLOSS said:

Richard Buckle writes about Karsavina showing him lengthy  mime passages from the old ballets and her demonstrations coming as a revelation of how expressive and moving those mime passages could be. We know that she gave lectures to students at the school because Mason mentioned one when she attended an Insight Evening and yet no one bothered to record them in more permanent form for future generations. 

 

Indeed FLOSS, it is a great pity we don’t have a filmed record of these (or any) lectures by Karsavina. However some of her manuscripts of the talks have turned up, which is why I was recently able to write here with authority about what she said at White Lodge in 1967.

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Dear Floss, I just wanted to say a big thank-you for that enormously enlightening background history.  I have printed it off so I can refer to it.  Your knowlege is as enviable as your willingness to share it.

 

 

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