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Preserving the Product - or not?


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In another thread there was some tangential discussion regarding how the legacy of recent choreographers - such as MacMilllan and Balanchine - is being preserved  and guarded through legal means.  

 

At first thought this is a worthy goal.  But....

 

If we think about the oldest of ballet's classic repertoire - La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, etc., we know that there have been many changes through the years.  These ballets, though over 100 years old are still very popular, and are often the backbone of major ballet companies.  

 

Would they be so had the original choreography and designs been kept from changing with time and taste?

 

If the legacy of choreographers such as MacMillan and Balanchine are kept legally frozen will they still be performed 100 years now?

 

Can they "live" without change?

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That's a great question, and one that extends beyond ballet to just about every other form of human creation as well.  In music, for example, a new artist can re-make or "cover" a previously recorded song - and, apparently, do so legally.  Would the original song have been able to "live", as you say, without change?  I would answer yes, they can all "live", but, without renewal, they may need to rely on "life support" from academia and historical societies to do so.

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These works are going to change no matter what. I remember one amusing (to me) video where Frederick Ashton was invited to return to the Royal Ballet to tweak one of his works back to his original intent. It might have been Anthony Dowell who was supposed to coach this to the company. The minute that Ashton was gone the dancers started changing things again.

 

In the recent several hour program of Chistopher Wheeldon coaching the Joffrey to do Swan Lake, it seemed in the first hour that one person would say lift an arm, another would say lower it, and they would finally take the course of least resistance.

 

As for whether attempts at precise preservation are good -- probably, up to a point. Artists, more than anyone, are going to do it their own way anyway. I remember on a video, George Balanchine said that his works would continue to be performed after him but never like he would have done them. Im not sure if this was a lament or not. 

 

The comment about cover versions in pop music is a very good one. Great cover versions have been created. The Mariinsky does this to Balanchine, in my opinion, with great success. Would George Balanchine have liked it? I think so.

 

On the other hand, Ansel Adams, the great nature photographer,  willed all his plates to be used by others with the intent that they be played with and reinvented. 

Edited by Buddy
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Some years ago David Morse gave a talk to Friends of BRB in Bradford. One of the subjects he touched on was videoing performances to create a library of productions. One of the potential issues is that if a dancer does something differently in a videoed performance then that becomes the de facto way the role is performed when that video is used as a reference point. I would guess it is not feasible to video all the performances.

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Video filming is probably the best method, Janet, but its limitations must be taken into account. Multiple filming of a work is also a good idea, but as I mentioned above, we might be shocked at how different one performance can be from the next. 

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Video filming is probably the best method, Janet, but its limitations must be taken into account. Multiple filming of a work is also a good idea, but as I mentioned above, we might be shocked at how different one performance can be from the next.

 

When you see multiple performances even by the same cast - not at all shocked that performances look different. This would be even more the case where dancers may have a certain latitude on interpretation. For example, last year Northern Ballet had 3 Mark Antonys in Cleopatra. All danced the same steps but Toby Batley looked every inch the patrician being a soldier and Ashley Dixon was every inch a soldier being a patrician while Javier Torres was somewhere in the middle. All 3 were valid and wonderful interpretations but all 3 looked different.

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I think having a video of, say, the dancers while they are practising in the studios might be helpful.

 

I know they use choreology to document the actual choreography (or I assume they do) but this doesn't always convey the overall feel of the dance, or even the speed at which the original steps were meant to be performed.

 

When I watched the recording of Fonteyn doing the Sleeping Beauty that they recently showed on the BBC, I noticed how light and quick many of the female dancers were in their variations.  Today's dancers may be stronger, more flexible, able to throw more turns in, but these Oldies certainly knew a thing or two about dancing in time with the music!

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I don't think it's realistic to expect to preserve old ballets in their original form, but if the ballets are going to stay in the repertoire - especially if the original choreographer's name is still associated with them - some sort of good-faith attempt needs to be made to preserve authenticity at some level. I think Ashton and Balanchine were both aware that their ballets were going to change over time after they weren't around any longer (and some of them changed during their lifetimes, for that matter), but hopefully if they did manage to come back 50 or 100 years later, they'd still be able to recognise their work for what it was.

 

I think it's important to try and preserve heritage to some degree, but not to be too slavish about trying to be authentic. We insist that repairs and renovations to listed properties be compatible with the original design, materials, and workmanship, but we don't have a problem with adding electricity and indoor plumbing, and we certainly don't encourage demolishing those old buildings so they can be replaced by modern architecture. We still perform Shakespeare in the original poetry but these days it's the norm to have female actors in female parts (even at the Globe, although if I remember right, they started off using just men in the cast) and nobody would complain if synthetic fabrics were used for the costumes or stainless steel for the weapons. We don't insist on period instruments for playing Beethoven concertos, but our musical experience would be a lot poorer if we didn't have Beethoven concertos in the repertoires of the major orchestras.

 

I was amused by a comment by Frederick Ashton that I read in Secret Muses. Apparently he was rather miffed when Anthony Dowell let him know that his added bits of choreography for Sleeping Beauty were going to be dropped from the new production in the interests of authenticity. He was very gracious and understanding to Dowell's face (not that he had a lot of choice), but his comments afterward (she doesn't say who he was talking to, but she did say it was Michael Somes who got him riled up about these changes) were very much to the point, and pretty much sum up the best way to deal with these sorts of cases: "Deploring the new trend towards scholarly reconstruction, Ashton insisted that what mattered in dance was to extract the essence of a work and to convey its poetry. 'If you're going to be authentic, then you have the original costumes and a Lilac Fairy with a 38-inch bust. Not Bryony Brind with no tits.'"

 

Bless him... :lol:

Edited by Melody
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I was amused by a comment by Frederick Ashton that I read in Secret Muses. Apparently he was rather miffed when Anthony Dowell let him know that his added bits of choreography for Sleeping Beauty were going to be dropped from the new production in the interests of authenticity.

 

:lol:

 

I am not familiar enough with the Sleeping Beauty to remember Ashton's added bits, why were they created in the first place?   And more to the point, is the ballet poorer as a result of their removal?

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When a company wishes to dance a work from the Balanchine repertoire, they apply to the Balanchine Trust.  A representative from the Trust is sent to assess the capabilities of the company to produce the ballet and the dancers' ability to dance it.  If both conditions are met, the representative will teach the choreography to the company.  The representative then leaves and the company spends the next weeks rehearsing.  

 

Before performance, a representative again comes out to observe rehearsal and sanction (or not) that the performance can go forward.  Not only are the choreographic details checked, but also all of the production values such as: lighting, stage design, music, lighting, etc.  Also checked are the program notes which will appear in the program handed out to the audience.

 

In addition to the fee paid to the Trust for the "use" of the intellectual property (Balanchine's choreography and use of his name) but also the expenses of the representative.  If the company is in California and the representative flies in from New York, this can be fairly expensive.  Of course, in return the company now has the cachet of adding Balanchine repertoire to its programming possibilities.

 

As I understand it, if the company has a history of presenting Balanchine repertoire successfully - the oversight by the Trust is ...well,..more trusting with a bit less direct supervision needed.

 

While this is probably as close as one can get to preserving the intellectual property (as well as paying Balanchine's heirs for its use), it is possible as time goes on and there is a generational change in Trust members, changes will creep in.  They probably already have.  But those changes are probably unintentional.

 

The problem is - as I see it - while it is understandable that one's first reaction on the death of a renowned choreographer (or composer) would be to abhor change.   But that is also stagnation.  As it was said in an above post, the instruments upon which music composed many years (centuries) ago has changed.  Tastes change.  The first ballets performed on pointe were done in unblocked shoes and thus use of pointe work more restricted than it is today.  

 

A fine line between stagnation and preservation.

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I am not familiar enough with the Sleeping Beauty to remember Ashton's added bits, why were they created in the first place?   And more to the point, is the ballet poorer as a result of their removal?

I may be imagining it, but is Florestan and his Sisters one of his? And did he do a Garland Dance? Seems that pretty much everyone else has had a go at it :)

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Looking at the ROH Performance Database will give you some idea of the changes made to the text of the The Sleeping Beauty by Ashton and MacMillan over the years if you are prepared to plough your way through it.Not everything is as plain as it might be

 

.While it indicates the dates of new productions there are no notes to indicate dates when changes were made to a production for example by the addition or removal of divertisements in Act III or  major changes in design.So you would not know by looking at the data base that the current production had recently undergone a radical redesign so that it is no longer a sea of pastel and finally looks as if the design had been influenced by Oliver Messel. Another problem with it is that some of the longest running productions have so few performances attributed to them that I find it difficult to regard the database as a definitive account of the Royal Ballet's performances of The Sleeping Beauty.

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There is no reference to additional choreography in the Opera House's record of the Vic Well's 1939 production and although Fydor Lopukhov's name suddenly crops up as choreographer of the Lilac Fairy's prologue solo in MacMillan's 1973 production this does not indicate that a new solo had been inserted but that Lupokhov had admitted that he was responsible for this part of the" traditional" choreography. The choreography for this variation was I assume recorded in the notes that Nicholai  Surgeyev used to stage the ballet for the Vic Wells company in 1939. 

 

Frederick Ashton's name first appears as a choreographer involved in The Sleeping Beauty in connection with the famous 1946 production. His contribution to the choreography was, Act I Garland Dance and  Florestan and his two sisters.Act III Presumably this pas de trois was devised in order to provide the male dancers in the company with more opportunities to dance. 

 

The 1968 production was mounted by Peter Wright. Ashton's contributions were Prologue Fairy of Joy, Act I Garland Dance.

Act II Prince's Solo  and Awakening pas de deux,  Act III Gold and silver pas de trois ( later replaced by the choreography of Florestan and his two sisters  but still called the Gold and silver pas de trois)..  I think that the choreography for this production's Garland Dance was new. The moody solo for the prince was added to give him something to do. Remember this was a ballet created when  Pavel Gerdt was past his prime. In the mid twentieth century under Nureyev's influence a prince did not expect to have to wait until act III to dance.Unlike some of the later interpolations in other nineteenth century classics, such as the prince's solo at the very beginning of the company's current Swan Lake, this solo seems appropriate to the character's mood at this point in the ballet.

 

In Kenneth MacMillan's 1973 production most of the additional choreography including a new Garland dance was provided by him, but it did use Ashton's Act II solo for the Prince and Jewel Fairy variation in Act III.. This  production was replaced in 1977 by one by de Valois. There were no quibbles about the choreographic text used in this production the main complaint was that the sets and costumes were not as lavish as the ones in the Messel production . The reception of the 1977 production was in marked contrast to the 1968 production and that of 1973. 

 

Both Wright's production and MacMillan's had been strongly criticised. The bell shaped tutus and the medieval style designs  of Wright's production caused controversy as did the colour of some of the costumes. I recall several pages in the Listener given over to a discussion of costume design in  ballet which centred on the appropriate shape of a tutu for classical ballet.The designs of the 1968 production were judged to be inappropriate for the Sleeping Beauty as they suggested the romantic period.  MacMillan's production was, I think, criticised because it was said  it looked as if much of the action was taking place at the bottom of a swimming pool. The 1977 production was welcomed as a solid production. 

 

The 1977 production used choreography by Ashton for the Garland Dance  Act I; Prince's solo, Aurora's variation and Awakening pas de deux Act II and Florestan and his two sisters in Act III. It also included MacMillan's choreography for Hop O' My

Thumb  which had been made for Wayne Sleep and originally appeared in the 1973 production.This variation seems to have. disappeared in 1980. 1981 saw the restoration of the variation, once described as" the most boring in all ballet" Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. From 1977-78 this production also included the Three Ivans a variation last been seen in 1972 in Peter Wright production,  Ashton's Awakening pas de deux seems to have disappeared at some point in 1979.

 

There was a new production in 1994. This time Anthony Dowell was responsible for what we saw on stage; the choreography was attributed to him..This production used MacMillan's Garland Dance for Act I  and Ashton's  Act II varitions for the prince ( the moody solo) and Aurora; Act III Sapphire variation used his choreography and the entree and coda of the pas de quatre were described as "after Frederick Ashton.". This production was the last one to use a significant section of the court dances in Act II

as can be seen in the recording of the production.

 

By the time that Ross Stretton arrived as director there appeared to be a tradition of each director having a new production of Sleeping Beauty so Stretton had his. The 2003 production was mounted by Natalia Markarova using the choreography of Konstantin Sergeyev and Fydor Lopukhov.The fact that it lasted for only two seasons and was  rapidly replaced gives some indication of how much it was disliked. Why was it so disliked? In large part because it ignored the company's own tradition of performing the ballet, which despite tinkering at the edges, the company and its audience felt was closer to the text and spirit of the Sleeping Beauty than the Soviet style production which Stretton had decided on.

 

The Markarova's production was replaced by the one performed by the Royal Ballet today. It has a Garland Dance by Christopher Wheeldon and Ashton's choreography is used in Act II for the prince's solo and Aurora's variation and in Act III for Florestan and his two sisters. It is interesting that it is the garland dance that has been changed most often. I suspect that is because changing that dance does little or no damage to the ballet as a whole. I am afraid that I would prefer any of the earlier versions of the dance to the either of those that Wheeldon has so far provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Before performance, a representative [balanchine Trust] again comes out to observe rehearsal and sanction (or not) that the performance can go forward.  Not only are the choreographic details checked, but also all of the production values such as: lighting, stage design, music, lighting, etc.  Also checked are the program notes which will appear in the program handed out to the audience.

 

 

The problem is - as I see it - while it is understandable that one's first reaction on the death of a renowned choreographer (or composer) would be to abhor change.   But that is also stagnation.  As it was said in an above post, the instruments upon which music composed many years (centuries) ago has changed.  Tastes change.  The first ballets performed on pointe were done in unblocked shoes and thus use of pointe work more restricted than it is today.  

 

A fine line between stagnation and preservation.

Also, in the case of George Balanchine, we're talking about someone who was always changing his choreography. Correct me if I'm wrong. So to what extent do you want to go to preserve the authenticity of what ?

Edited by Buddy
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Looking at Secret Muses again, it was Swan Lake, not Sleeping Beauty, that was being redone in an "authentic" way - I was being misled by his comment about the Lilac Fairy. This is what the book says:

 

"In an attempt to create an 'authentic' version of Swan Lake, the Royal Ballet was eliminating recent interpolations - all of which had been choreographed by Ashton: his Act I Waltz, Act III Pas de Quatre, Spanish Dance and final act, choreographed in the style of Ivanov. Realizing that his decision was likely to cause offence, Anthony Dowell, the producer of the new version, had driven to Eye to explain it to Ashton, who seemed surprisingly reconciled to the changes. Later, however, goaded by Michael Somes, he grew so embittered at the idea of his work being 'thrown on the rubbish heap' that he would not allow Dowelll to retain his Neapolitan Dance (a duet as specified in the original libretto) and refused to attend the gala premiere."

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When did notation start?  It must be easier to preserve the original choreography (if not necessarily the intent) when a piece has been notated (or latterly filmed) rather than it being handed down by demonstration.  After several generations the choreography must differ slightly than the original, whether intentionally or not.

 

Ashton allowed Natalia Makarova to use his glorious Neapolitan, Pas de Quatre and some of Act IV in the production she did for London Festival Ballet in 1987 or 88.  He came on stage for the curtain calls at the first night in Bradford and the entire audience erupted.

 

I think with Balanchine the black and white look he adopted (if that is the correct term) is pretty well timeless so doesn't necessarily need to be redesigned whereas some of the 19th century classics look very dated when you see photographs.  That is also true of photographs I have seen of the original version of Apollo.

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Arthur Saint Leon published a book about ballet notation in 1852, Janet, and then there was the Stepanov method at the end of the 19th century (that's the method used for the Sergeyev collection). The Benesh and Laban methods date from the mid-20th century if I remember right.

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Also, in the case of George Balanchine, we're talking about someone who was always changing his choreography. Correct me if I'm wrong. So to what extent do you want to go to preserve the authenticity of what ?

 

 

Fokine also was known to change his choreography.

 

When did notation start?  It must be easier to preserve the original choreography (if not necessarily the intent) when a piece has been notated (or latterly filmed) rather than it being handed down by demonstration.  After several generations the choreography must differ slightly than the original, whether intentionally or not.

 

Ashton allowed Natalia Makarova to use his glorious Neapolitan, Pas de Quatre and some of Act IV in the production she did for London Festival Ballet in 1987 or 88.  He came on stage for the curtain calls at the first night in Bradford and the entire audience erupted.

 

I think with Balanchine the black and white look he adopted (if that is the correct term) is pretty well timeless so doesn't necessarily need to be redesigned whereas some of the 19th century classics look very dated when you see photographs.  That is also true of photographs I have seen of the original version of Apollo.

 

 

I have read some critics who think the black and white look is dated.  

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 Even if those setting the ballet do so following the notation without consciously altering  any of the choreography a change in any or all of the following will alter the way in which the audience experiences the work..

 

1) Altering the speed at which some or all of the music is played.Usually by slowing it down to enable the soloist to display her technique resulting in a strange mismatch in tempo between those sections danced by the corps and those danced by the soloist In some of the longer nineteenth century works this can also result in cuts in order to finish by 10;30.

 

2) Dancing on the beat when the choreographer intended that the dancers should dance off the beat or the opposite dancing off it when it should be on.

 

3) Ignoring the style of epaulement that the choreographer used .

 

4) Performing steps in the way that you have been taught in class rather than as set by the  choreographer for example Ashton's use of the pas de bouree.

 

5) Redesigning a ballet in such a way that it ignores its mood and floor plan and makes the now defunct choreographer look incompetent. The new designs for Les Rendezvous are a prime example of this. By removing the railing and fence at the back of the stage there is now a gap where there should be none and of course no dancers to fill it. New costumes can  destroy the mood of a ballet those for Rendezvous turn it into a paler version of Facade.They can also destroy the quality of the movement as happened with the redesign of Daphnis and Chloe which have fortunately been replaced by the original designs.

 

Any of these will change what you see on stage without anyone feeling the need to tell you that you are not necessarily seeing anything that the choreographer would recognise as his creation.At what point does it become appropriate to remove the choreographer's name from the programme and all publicity material? 

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My last contribution to this debate was prompted by a comment made about the last revival of the Dream at Covent Garden by someone whose memories go back to the very earliest days of that ballet. She commented that the corps de ballet's rendition of the fairies' choreography did not seem to shimmer and flicker as it once had and that all in all it was flatter than it had seemed in the past. The thing that I noticed , among other things, was that the Pas de quatre pose for Mustard Seed , Cobweb etc no longer registered, as it once had, as the pose of the four ballerinas in the famous print. Any one going to those performances could have been forgiven for believing that they had the stamp of authenticity on them as Anthony Dowell had been involved in the revival. 

 

If anyone involved with the revival had been asked they would have said that it had been performed in accordance with the notation. 

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It was - and still is - not unusual for a choreographer to have a specific dancer in mind when composing a dance.  Thus, when any other dancer undertakes the part it will look different to whatever degree.

 

Seems like the effort of entities such as the Balanchine Trust to keep change at bay is an impossibility.  It does, however, keep the intellectual property fees intact.  I am not implying this is a nefarious object - intellectual property is property and should only be used with the consent of the owners.

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This is more a case of a ballet starting to fray at the edges than the effect of the replacement of a dancer.  As the ballet was celebrating its fiftieth anniversary it must have gone through at least seven  generations of dancers as far as the corps is concerned. Fifty years is plenty of for musical values to change and for technique to be altered by changing tastes.

 

Perhaps someone could tell me but I think that I heard or read somewhere that when a ballet is revived the notes of the last revival are used .If this is the case, and there must be some truth to it as it explains how the " toupe incident" found its way into Cinderella,

then each revival of a ballet is the equivalent of a printing plate used over and over again regardless of the amount of ink on it or how worn it has become.

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My last contribution to this debate was prompted by a comment made about the last revival of the Dream at Covent Garden by someone whose memories go back to the very earliest days of that ballet. She commented that the corps de ballet's rendition of the fairies' choreography did not seem to shimmer and flicker as it once had and that all in all it was flatter than it had seemed in the past. The thing that I noticed , among other things, was that the Pas de quatre pose for Mustard Seed , Cobweb etc no longer registered, as it once had, as the pose of the four ballerinas in the famous print. Any one going to those performances could have been forgiven for believing that they had the stamp of authenticity on them as Anthony Dowell had been involved in the revival. 

 

If anyone involved with the revival had been asked they would have said that it had been performed in accordance with the notation. 

 

I think that is what often strikes me when I see any Ashton ballet these days.  A lot of it comes across as dull, and I think part of the reason  might be because of the point you made about music being slowed down. 

 

I am no expert, but I believe much of his choreography emphasised twinkling footwork, which loses its impact when the music is played at a slower tempo. 

Edited by Fonty
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I think that changing/updating costumes is a difficult one. There are slight 'fashions' in ballet and costumes can start to look very dated, or camp in the case of the men. I'm surprised how 'revealing' some tutus used to be; as well as not being very wide they often seemed to sit very high on the ballerina in a manner which exposed her pants. Having said that, some tutus today seem rather wide, particularly on the smaller ballerinas. I don't think that updating is necessarily a bad thing but some updates are just not particularly good.

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I think that is what often strikes me when I see any Ashton ballet these days.  A lot of it comes across as dull, and I think part of the reason  might be because of the point you made about music being slowed down. 

 

I am no expert, but I believe much of his choreography emphasised twinkling footwork, which loses its impact when the music is played at a slower tempo. 

Plus his choreography is regarded by many as difficult, slowing the tempo makes it easier to dance,

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Which brings us to Ashton's Sylvia.

Why was it revived or preserved when Ashton clearly had tried various shorter versions after the premiere and later abandoned it altogether?

Should not the choreographer's feelings on the subject be respected?

 

While the music for Sylvia is lovely, the story is a bit thin - not the thinnest in ballet by any means. (Tchaikovsky who saw it in Paris thought that the music was the sole point of interest in the venture). Ashton's version follows the original story but today seems very camp and dated and I think he may have recognised that himself.

 

{The only other version I have seen is that of John Neumeier.  He goes back to the original myths for his libretto but it didn't convince me.  Apparently there is another ballet by Lavrovsky from the 1930's called Fadette based on a story by George Sand and using the Delibes Sylvia score. Sounds as though it might suit the music better.  It is still danced by some Russian companies.}

 

So, revive and preserve against the choreographer's wishes or not?

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Which brings us to Ashton's Sylvia.

Why was it revived or preserved when Ashton clearly had tried various shorter versions after the premiere and later abandoned it altogether?

Should not the choreographer's feelings on the subject be respected?

 

While the music for Sylvia is lovely, the story is a bit thin - not the thinnest in ballet by any means. (Tchaikovsky who saw it in Paris thought that the music was the sole point of interest in the venture). Ashton's version follows the original story but today seems very camp and dated and I think he may have recognised that himself.

 

{The only other version I have seen is that of John Neumeier.  He goes back to the original myths for his libretto but it didn't convince me.  Apparently there is another ballet by Lavrovsky from the 1930's called Fadette based on a story by George Sand and using the Delibes Sylvia score. Sounds as though it might suit the music better.  It is still danced by some Russian companies.}

 

So, revive and preserve against the choreographer's wishes or not?

 

This assumes the choreographer's wishes are known and not just a temper response of the moment.. 

 

In the case of music, the composer indicates his/her tempo on the score and that should not be violated. But it often is - quite grieviously.  I just heard a jazzed up rendition of Orff's Carmina Buranna that had me running across the room to shut it off.  I don't know if Orff's work is still protected or not.   To alter the tempo of the music (which does not always make it eaier to dance) is a violation.  That being said, every conductor has an individual understanding of what the composer's tempo instruction means.  We all operate through a personal filter.

 

I think that if it is known that a choreographer truly did not want his/her product performed - that should be respected.  Not everything that is produced even by a genius is a success and we should all be allowed to put away work which did not turn out as it was originally envisioned by its creator.

 

That being said....there was a day when I looked at one of my paintings and decided it was a hopeless failure - so I rolled up the canvas and put it out in the trash can (dust bin) to be collected by the city trash truck.  I happened to see someone walking by who saw the canvas, picked it up, unrolled it, smiled at it and walked off with it.  I was of two minds about this - first it is illegal to pick something out of a trash can - but, on the other hand, I was rather pleased that what I considered a failure brought a smile to someone's face.  It also taught me a lesson: that which I consider a failure today might please me on another day.

 

Did Michaelangelo or DaVinci have any work they considered failures?  Even those failures would probably be considered treasures today. Sometimes we scrape away at a painting of one artist to reveal a more renowned artist's work beneath.  Did he/she allow it to be overpainted because he/she considered it a failure and didn't want the world to see it?

 

The problem with the performing arts is that they must be re-created each time they are seen.  Almost by definition that means change of some kind to some degree.  Otherwise it becomes a museum piece and one might just as well show a film of the production (if one exists) rather than attempt slavish exactitude.  It is also asking the dancer (who is also an artist) to completely sublimate self to service - which isn't going to happen.

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Ashton made it clear that he didn't want Marguerite and Armand to be performed by anyone other than Fonteyn & Nureyev, in spite of that it is now performed regularly, though I'm yet to see a cast that can truly do it justice.  Sylvia is another matter as I think theatrical taste works in cycles and what was once seen as camp in the past can be considered fun today.  The score is wonderful in my view and deserves the attention of other choreographers too.  I also saw the Neumeier version in Paris and found it rather moving, but often this can be as much down to the dancers as the ballet.

 

When I first started going to the opera Massenet was never performed but that has changed now and I think ballets wax and wane in popularity too.  Who thought we would ever see revivals of the Flames of Paris or Laurencia? 

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From some of the reviews/extracts on YouTube I think it is a real shame that Marguerite and Armand seems to have become something of a European free for all. It is a real shame that tighter control over the rights has not been exercised.

 

Ashton not wanting anyone else to do it was one thing. Letting absolutely anyone do it their way is letting the pendulum swing far too far in the other direction.

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