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An Early April Fool's Joke?


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I am sure "Swan Lake Must Die"  must be somewhere in this site but I couldn't find it when I did a keyword search just now. If it is already posted and I have not found it then pardon my obtuseness.

 

It was my ballet teacher who drew my attention to this news item last night and she is quite upset about it - poor swan. So too are the vast majority of the folk who have commented including yours truly.

 

Of course it would never happen. At least not this side of the Revolution for even if all the artistic directors of the world's leading companies conspired to pension off Petipa and Ivanov there would always be an enterprising impresario backed by oodles of sponsorship money and TV rights to sign up the world's leading dancers, orchestras etc and stage their own Swan Lake, Nutcracker or whatever.

 

I think someone is pulling our legs but if it were ever a serious proposition these Olympian artistic directors should learn a bit of humility for it is we the ballet going public who keep the ballerinas in pointe shoes - not the artistic directors.

 

Incidentally I am all for new work and there are companies like my beloved Northern Ballet who produce it very well. The last time Northern staged Nutcracker was Christmas 2012 and in the meantime they have given us Gatsby and Cinderella which are jolly good. 

 

 

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I suspect I'm not alone in having been aware of this RAD-sponsored item since it started, but we would not normally promote alternative discussion sites here.  The ROH runs all manner of Twitter-based "What do you think of this?" items near continuously now too.

 

And the idea behind the question - the big classics v new commissions - has been debated here (and, before, on ballet.co) time and time again, albeit not perhaps in the quasi-binary form used this in this case.  I have no doubt at all that it will be again with, as ever, no unanimous conclusion reached - and, at its heart, there's an issue that must face every Artistic Director of a major company every time that he/she sits down to plan a future year's programming ..... with the Financial or Commercial Manager sitting right alongside, intoning about reality and asking how wages are to be paid if too many chances are taken.

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The first thing that came to my mind when I read the "idea" is would they suggest that with any of Tchaikowsky's other works or would they suggest taking the Mona Lisa down from the walls of the Louvre?  There is a place for both new and historic works.

 

The reason the likes of the "big three" Tchaikowsky ballets, Giselle and various other well known works have survived is because THEY ARE GOOD!  How many more works have not stood the test of time and have died naturally?

 

I may have put thi on the comment thread if I could ever have reached the end of it!

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The first thing that came to my mind when I read the "idea" is would they suggest that with any of Tchaikowsky's other works or would they suggest taking the Mona Lisa down from the walls of the Louvre?  There is a place for both new and historic works.

 

The reason the likes of the "big three" Tchaikowsky ballets, Giselle and various other well known works have survived is because THEY ARE GOOD!  How many more works have not stood the test of time and have died naturally?

 

That is so true. 

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Incidentally I am all for new work and there are companies like my beloved Northern Ballet who produce it very well. The last time Northern staged Nutcracker was Christmas 2012 and in the meantime they have given us Gatsby and Cinderella which are jolly good. 

Not to forget their 3 Musketeers which was a wonderful piece: great fun but with a real emotional core and which I look forward to seeing again sometime.    Sadly I find Matthew Bourne's work interesting and entertaining but strangely unmoving.  I find a lot of the newer works a little cold which is maybe why they don't stick in my memory and I have no real desire to see them again.

 

Swan Lake will survive because it touches the emotions, IMHO.  As Anjuli says on another thread: we will happily go to something that makes us cry!

 

Linda

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In view of the new tv series of 3 Musketeers, which looks as if it will be very successful, perhaps Northern Ballet should think of reviving their ballet.  I thought it was a wonderful piece too, and really admired the sleight of hand in the dénoument at the end with the box of diamond studs.

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I suspect I'm not alone in having been aware of this RAD-sponsored item since it started, but we would not normally promote alternative discussion sites here.  The ROH runs all manner of Twitter-based "What do you think of this?" items near continuously now too.

 

And the idea behind the question - the big classics v new commissions - has been debated here (and, before, on ballet.co) time and time again, albeit not perhaps in the quasi-binary form used this in this case.  I have no doubt at all that it will be again with, as ever, no unanimous conclusion reached - and, at its heart, there's an issue that must face every Artistic Director of a major company every time that he/she sits down to plan a future year's programming ..... with the Financial or Commercial Manager sitting right alongside, intoning about reality and asking how wages are to be paid if too many chances are taken.

 

What was novel and in my view shocking about the article on the RAD's website was not the debate over new work against the classics which is an issue for individual companies and upon which some like Northern Ballet have already made a decision but the suggestion that the Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty "should be given a rest globally for five years". In other words, that companies should agree not to put on the classics for a year so that the public will be forced to see new work whether we want to see them or not.

 

I can see the reasoning behind the suggestion but it is wrong and, as Northern shows, it isn't even necessary.

 

I agree that as a general rule it is undesirable to incorporate other websites voces populorum into this form (though as Wordpress, Blogger and other blogging packages and even static websites incorporate a comments feature it is hard to see how one can avoid them) but I would respectfully argue that the dismay at the suggestion expressed by many ballet goers (including me) justified an exception.

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The suggestion of a global ban is, of course, wholly fanciful and would close down companies.  The public at large will NOT go to see new work in the numbers needed, no matter how artistically driven Directors are, and that is repeatedly the case away from London and, I suspect, most major metropolitan centres.  Nor is it a new phenomenon - I've quoted several times in the past that the RB Touring company was finding huge resistance to "triple bills of novelties," according to the ROH's Annual Report for 1959/60, with the "repertory modified in consequence."  And anyone paying attention to our daily Links each December will find that companies in North America appear highly dependent on their annual Nutcrackers to keep afloat, and I suspect that the major UK companies need that cashflow too.  I have no fear at all for the future of the major Tchaikovsky pieces..... even if I'm less and less likely to attend them myself.

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Glad we are agreed Ian Macmillan.

 

Audiences outside London are not so resistant to novelty as one might fear. I noticed very few empty seats in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow on 21 Dec when I saw Hampson's Hansel and Gretel and even fewer in The Grand on boxing day when I saw Nixon's Cinderella.

 

I also saw an excellent Nutcracker at the Coliseum on 11 Dec and an exceptional Giselle in Covent Garden last Saturday which is as it should be.

Edited by terpsichore
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