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Recently in Ballet Category

The Psychological Ballet

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Antony Tudor

Under Analysis: The Psychology of Tudor's Ballets

By Alastair Macaulay
New York Times

When the choreographer Antony Tudor, whose centenary is being celebrated this year, moved to America in 1939, the moment could not have been more right. He was known as the psychological choreographer, and he arrived when psychology entered American popular culture. In 1938 Fred Astaire played Ginger Rogers's psychoanalyst in "Carefree"; in 1942 Claude Rains steered Bette Davis back from a nervous breakdown in "Now, Voyager." Later Martha Graham would become yet more famous for the Greek myths she turned into modern-dance psychodramas, but that phase – like Hitchcock's (notably in "Spellbound," 1945) – had not yet arrived.

Back in 1936, however, in none-too-psychology-friendly London, Tudor created "Jardin aux Lilas" (sometimes called "Lilac Garden"), often labeled the first psychological ballet. Nobody played a psychiatrist in it, but its steps, gestures and phrases showed flickering aspects of repression, denial, private longing, heartbreak, personal conflict and hypocrisy, all against a setting both romantic (a garden with lilacs in full bloom at twilight) and conformist (with characters in Edwardian dress, middle-class and formal).

Read more about this at the New York Times website:

   http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/11/arts/dance/11maca.html

Ballet Thriving in San Francisco

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Is ballet's future in America?

San Francisco Ballet's New Works Festival has been warmly received by an eager public. It makes English ballet look secretive and cautious

By Judith Mackrell
Guardian

I was in San Francisco last week for the launch of San Francisco Ballet Company's New Works Festival. The levels of adrenaline and enthusiasm that were buzzing around put British ballet culture to shame.

It wasn't just that SFB were premiering an astonishing 10 new ballets over three successive days (compared to the two being offered by the Royal Ballet during their entire next season). It was that the city as a whole appeared to embrace ballet so energetically. This ambitious and expansive festival included choreography by Mark Morris, Paul Taylor and Christopher Wheeldon and a newly commissioned score from John Adams – yet most of the funding had been raised from local sponsors.

Read more about this at the Guardian website:

   http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theatre/2008/05/ballets_future_is_in_america.html

Growing Pains at the Joffrey

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From inside Joffrey Tower, Chicago

Joffrey carries on steps of change

By Sid Smith
Chicago Tribune

The Joffrey Ballet of late seems simultaneously blessed and besieged, an organization in transition or trouble, depending on the day or the headline.

In September, the company moves into gleaming, new $23 million headquarters, with third- and fourth-floor studio glass walls overlooking the corner of State and Randolph Streets. Not only will this facility finally unite administrators and artists under one roof, but the skyscraper will trumpet the company's name – the Joffrey Tower – and offer daily views of the dancers at work.

The tricky hunt for a successor to octogenarian co-founder Gerald Arpino went off smoothly last fall, a process that ripped apart top dance troupes elsewhere. Ashley Wheater emerged as the board's unanimous choice, welcomed by Arpino with a warm public salute.

But in February came news that Maia Wilkins, 38, the fluid, soulful lead ballerina, won't be back next season, her contract not renewed, a move that struck some as abrupt.

Read more about this at the Chicago Tribune website:

   http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-0413_joffreyapr13,1,4799307.story

Dancing the Neapolitan Way

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Ballet in Naples

By Jeff Matthews
aaaa

The season program always reads "Opera and Ballet at San Carlo (year)," which reflects the fact that in Naples, as in most places in Italy, the ballet company is part of the same organization that provides opera – in this case, the San Varlo Theater. As elsewhere, dancers in Naples serve two ends: (1) to provide incidental dancing called for in many operas, and (2) to perform independent ballet. In Naples, there is both a ballet school and a ballet company. You start as a child in the former and hope to get good enough to move up to the latter.

Dance has always had a place at San Carlo. On opening night, November 4th, 1737, together with Achille in Sciro by Domenico Sarro, the first-ever opera at the splendid new theater, there were three short ballets (one before, one between acts one and two, and one after the opera) composed and choreographed by Gaetano Grossatesta. He worked at San Carlo for 30 years and was replaced by one of the most important names in the history of classical ballet: Salvatore Vigano (1769-1821), a Neapolitan dancer and choreographer who also studied and worked in France and Germany and who even collaborated with Beethoven on the ballet, Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus. (And wouldn't that look good on your résumé!) Vigano is considered the father of a new kind of performance called "coreodrama" about which I know nothing except that dance tells a story and is not simply moving around to music.

Read more about this at the Napoli.com website:

   http://www.napoli.com/viewarticolo.php?articolo=20982

The Return of Grigorovich

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Yuri Grigorovich

Bolshoi's choreographer back

By Tony Halpin
The Australian

He ruled the world's most famous ballet company with an iron fist for three decades until he was ousted in a revolt against his authoritarian style.

Now Yuri Grigorovich is returning to the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow to oversee the Soviet-era repertoire that earned him global fame as a choreographer.

Grigorovich, 81, was the Bolshoi's artistic director from 1964 until 1995, when he was forced out amid accusations that its reputation had stagnated and crumbled with the Soviet Union. His appointment this week as a ballet master by general director Anatoly Iksanov marks a stunning return.

Grigorovich received the invitation to return to the theatre at the funeral last month of his wife, Natalia Bessmertnova, the legendary ballerina whose name means immortal in Russian. She was among 15 dancers who protested against Grigorovich's departure with a one-day strike. They appeared on stage in jeans and T-shirts before a shocked audience expecting to see Romeo and Juliet, the first time that a performance was cancelled by a dancers' protest since the Bolshoi was founded in 1776.

Read more about this at the The Australian website:

   http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,23351747-16947,00.html

Dance Theatre of Harlem Remerges

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Dance Theatre of Harlem

Regrouped Dance Theatre of Harlem to focus on education

By Susan Reiter
L.A. Times

The organization's financial picture improved after a hiatus, but not enough to put its company back on tour.

Until a few years ago, whenever Dance Theatre of Harlem was on a tour of U.S. cities, it routinely held auditions for its school's summer program or to spot potential apprentice dancers. But that was before September 2004, when financial realities forced the umbrella organization to put the professional troupe on hiatus.

At the time, DTH founder and artistic director Arthur Mitchell says, he expected an interruption of a year at most. But although the sizable deficit and the grim overall financial situation that threatened the organization in 2004 have diminished substantially, no one will be seeing the professional company in the near future.

Instead, DTH is conducting a 10-city audition tour devoted solely to the intensive student summer program at its spacious Harlem headquarters, which continues to hum with activity. The Los Angeles tryouts will be held Sunday at the Lula Washington Dance Theatre.

"We made up our minds that we wanted to fill that gap that existed because the company was no longer on tour," the indefatigable and eternally youthful Mitchell, who will turn 74 this month, said the other day. Just outside the conference room where he sat hung posters from DTH's foreign tours -- souvenirs of engagements in Monte Carlo, Verona, Germany, Barcelona.

Read more about this at the LA Times website:

   http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et-harlem7mar07,1,994856.story

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