Ballet Excerpts

14 Jul

Since signing up for Facebook, “Friends” manage to keep me informed on ballets and dancers I otherwise might never have been.
One of the gems that Dennis Mullen provided was a brief 1909 movie of Tamara Karsavina in a Torch Dance. I think the choreographer was Michel Fokine and it was one of oriental-flair pieces that were so de rigeur at the time. Even with the static choreography, one could see the precision of the Maryinsky training and what a surpassingly lovely woman and good dancer she was.

I’ve also had glimpses of Sarafanov, whom the late George Zoritch saw in Perm at an Arabesque Competition, and mentioned to me; more recently a young Johann Kobborg in Bournonville variations with Rose Gad dancing the feminine role. Those wonderful little running steps in the variation as the dancer turns his back briefly to the audience in preparation for what is one of those light, impressive attitude jetes . Toba Singer was responsible for this banquet.

Daniel Simmons posted the final section of the Rose Adagio with Tamra Rojo as Aurora. She was a wonder; the camera was close enough so one could see her adjusting her weight as she held her pose and offered her hand to one of the suitors. What was remarkable was that she set her arms en haut each time – not just a movement from hand to paw, but a fully formed port de bras phrasing with the suitor gallantly waiting to approach the prize.

Which brings me to TV station 32.5 here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Its home is in Burbank with the offerings sustained by a  legacy. Sad to say I don’t remember the name of the man who left the funding allowing this station to broadcast 24/7 movies, music, dance and commentary, from silent films to Misha’s first days with American Ballet Theatre, partnering Dierdre Carberry in Twyla Tharp’s The Little Ballet.

The last couple of nights I have heard the strains of The Rose  Adagio, and since I saw Maya Plisetskaya in the role, thanks to the station,  I wasn’t very interested. But then I took a look and was astonished.
In flesh colored tights a battery of men, augmented by chrome ballet bars, were dancing, jumping and falling in utter precision to the various orchestral instruments before the ensemble parted to reveal Aurora, also in flesh colored tights.

She was led over and under the bars, she was covered by the male bodies to be revealed prone and spread eagled. One man picked up her arm and swung around on her back on the floor to one of the sequences usually displaying Aurora’s balance.

At that point it began to hit me – all the men around the prize – like dogs around a bitch in heat. Instead of stringing  out the analogy, Aurora was placed on one of the bars and led towards the selected Prince Charming who had thumped his chest. They converged on the bar and kissed. Ritual completed. Blackout.

The piece manages to be well danced, theatrically exciting and more than a little silently satirical in the crisp way European artists manage so well, a tone parallel in quality to Hans Von Manen.

It’s a fascinating piece of choreography; if my eyes are correct, the company is stationed in Biarritz, and bears the name of Malandatin, with Thierry Malandatin the choreographer and artistic director.  The Web carries quite a bit of information on the director, the dancers and the repertoire.

It would be fascinating to see what he might mount on San Francisco Ballet dancers.

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