Monday, June 19, 2017

beatriz rodriguez (orig from Oct 2010

About a year ago someone wrote me here and asked if I knew anything about Beatriz Rodriguez, the Joffrey dancer who had the first honor of dancing the role of the The Chosen One in the 70 year-in-the-making reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" or Le Sacre du Printemps - considered by many to be the single greatest musical work ever. I'm on board with that of course. 

Rodriguez debuted the ballet to the world in fact when The Joffrey Ballet televised the performance out of San Francisco in what we all know today as the 1987 debut of The Hodson Reconstruction and I hate that.  I refer to it as the recovery of Nijinsky's ballet and soul and he was at last recognized.  Big stuff. 

I like to compare the reaction of the Chosens when they are ..chosen!  All are unique.  But here...I look at B-Rod's face and you see her surpsise AT the other girls.  As if the schoolyard bullies stopped yelling and hit her but they have selected her to die, something she knows might befall her but when it happens... 

Her face registers that "how could you!" and from there she is in no state of graceful ballet.  She spins in that circle in confusion.  And this stuff is not lost on the kids/people watching the 87 Joffrey on my YouTube channel. 

this little 10 second piece shows what I mean .  She registers the emotional shock and I think she conveys the libretto wish such frightening drama that she holds people in those minutes.  It's so barbaric and she is terrified.  Some kid wrote
"see how she runs to each side of the circle?  I think she is trying to escape."

This is not some pedestrian observation.  It is the huge spiritual aspect of Le Sacre (more on my blog Lackademick)

So there were rumors that she was not "light enough" for the role. That is, she is ethnically not perfect. Thank goodness she wasn't dancing for Mary Wigman in France.  She would have been on a freight train in no time - yes, Wigman DID hand her Jewish friends over.  Genius - nope.  Nazi - yes.
I digress.  It's possibly true for that time.  Years later you would be sued for this so Erica Lynette Edwards could have been awful and they would have shut up, no?  I read an article today where B-Rod hints at this in '95 with the Chicago Trib.

So, I was asked - when I first wrote this piece in 2010 - if I knew anything more on Rodriguez because Inquiring Minds Want To Know. And a year later, I have this site with 3 pages of Herbert Migdoll slides from Joffrey performances of days gone by featuring Beatriz but not as a Chosen One.  What you do find is black and white shots.  Who knows?  Beatriz and the company and so to you who have asked, I know as much as you.  Sorry I lost track of you. It's been a terrible year. 

5 years later

UPDATE::  Along with a wild Hungarian dancer named Andrea Ladanyi, some SERIOUS progress has been made.  Thank you to the "heavy hitters" who have gotten involved.

Beatriz is a mythical creature to the thousands of viewers/commenters on the YouTube video.  They want to know more.  And they hate dance.  They swear and say stupid things and insightful things and then...they come back.  And they have learned more.  Just like I did in my beginning.

Tonight when I heard from one of the THREE ORIGINALS of the 87 Joffrey - Gates, Rodriguez and  Carole Valleskey  I was over the moon.  Took 7 years but I may actually communicate with her and you know what?  It needed to take 7 years.  In that time, that peformance on YouTube has transfixed and transformed so many people.   She has a curtain call left.  With us.

Carole Valleskey...BLESS YOU for sharing this which will be shared and so excitedly received.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

An Unkind Time

There would be a price to pay.  There usually is when you take a wild chance like Nijinsky did with 1913's "Le Sacre du Printemps". 

I don't think he knew the price would be his life.  And if he did, would he have changed anything?

We all love the story of "The Rite". We all love the reconstruction!   It is all very dramatic and stunning....more than was expected, I believe.

But in our joy to have Nijinsky's work recovered, I think we forget the price he paid and the length of time he waited....and waited...

1987 was as important as 1913.  Nijinsky was alive and rejected, Nijinsky was dead and lauded and everything he may have believed was finally understood. 

Life was unkind to Nijinsky.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Scene Of The Crime (Part I)

When I first started writing about Nijinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps in 2007, I was studying World War II and reviewing Holocaust Survivor memoirs (not an easy gig). But once I saw the ballet, it was as if I was possessed! So much to learn!  So much to study! Which dancer is this?  What company is that? I dropped everything for a while and went all in.

And all to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring!?

Of course in the beginning I knew little but blogged my heart out. And in that pursuit, driven initially by love of Stravinsky, I amassed a serious  collection of Le Sacre performances on my YouTube channel.  Next time you see a video of the 1987 Joffrey, it's mine.  I am proud of that. 


Like everyone else, the 1987 Joffrey was my first exposure to Nijinsky. I had to know everything then write about it.  Watch it again, write more, talk people to death about it... but I'll get to that later.

The second Chosen One video I saw was The Mariinsky's Alexandra Iosifidi.  I wrote often that she was not suited to the role and was harsh about it.  I am unforgiving in my opinions but I should keep that to areas where I actually have the credibility to do it (history).  I wrote to Miss Iosifidi this week to apologize and she was glad I made the apology and "changed my mind".  She knew I wrote negatively about her and so wasn't that was very gracious?  As for her dancing - she is prima and lovely in classic performance.   I couldn't get my head around her Chosen One - too graceful.

Of course,  Marie Claude Pietragalla's performance in The Four Variants was outstanding.  My father insisted there could be no better, in love with her synchronicity to the timpani or the low brass.  Being an adoring fan of Pietra's I agreed. Understanding the music, I agreed more!

Until I saw the video of  Teatro dell'Oper di Roma's Gaia Straccamore.

She was it.  There could be no better.  And that horrible orchestra!  Actually, I liked it. It was like a rusty old thing but she did not miss one rusty old note. I felt it improved on the emotion. There is no way to tell from the video that she is a wonderful person, enormously talented and extremely here you go

Then came Daria Pavlenko.  This girl is kooky, I know it.  I like her and I like the abandon and drama she forces into those 5 minutes.  She kills the death rattle and drop to the floor.  On the whole, she is fantastic and she bails the Russians out.  They will never be that great. But check her out:

Oddly, in an interview with her, she was very sedate, nothing like the character she BECOMES.  It reminded me of how these dancers transform themselves.

And a seasoned dancer can do that.  But sometimes they aren't seasoned at all...

A great example  Margarita Simonova, a gorgeous young Polish girl - an artist in her own right and I can see her going deep into performance art - who was born for this role.

There are some nuances that just grab you.  Small gestures that distract you from the ballet for a moment.  I did a lot of going back to see THIS part of THAT part 3 and 4 times. I love her.  The video quality I don't love but here she is :

( I still love Gaia):
Now comes Rio's Rachel Ribeiro.  This poor girl's video is such garbage quality that it makes it hard to actually see her. I got caught up in the shitty orchestra.  My goodness!  Tempo all over the place to the extent that it seemed deliberate. Musicians. They hate ballet.   But she hangs in there!  It's kind of shocking that she manages to pick out the precise moments in THE RITE OF SPRING for starters...but when it is played so badly and she STILL does it?  I give her SERIOUS credit for that.  

After watching it 3 times, I saw some sweetness in her performance that I hadn't seen before.  A shyness in the "sacrifice".  It's endearing.

AND at long last Maud Sabourin confirmed that ues, it is her, in the 2009 Numeridanse video.  It is a standout performance. Though shot wide, you can see she is plugged in and evoking her Chosen One. The Rite of Spring

This is a photo.  The video will link to my G+

And now, there is video on Karen Mesquite and Vivian Barretto of Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro.  Soon to come...

I love revisiting the beginning of my "affair" with this ballet, this moment in history. And there is much more to say:  THE JOFFREY!  But I'll make that part deux.

For those 3 of you who read this thing...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

7 Years Of Le Sacre

On January 30, 2010 I uploaded the Joffrey's 1987 debut of "Le Sacre du Printemps" onto YouTube.  Back then the time allotted was 10 minutes so it is in 3 installments.

I have had over 1 million views about 1,800 comments, some of which disappeared in 2014 for some reason and it is an absolute joy to see peoples' reaction to Le Sacre. Installment One ends almost at the end of  "The Ritual of Rival Tribes"...that's one hell of a cliffhanger though...

The comments run the gamut.  

Seven years ago, I was all emotion about the reconstruction.  In LOVE with it and surprisingly I didn't fight with viewers/ commenters.  My parents raised me to think expansively about art.  I have encouraged people in the last year now that music students have to watch it.  

Then you see some young music students going back and forth - 2 of them love it and are watching on their own time.  I don't know why that excites me but it does.  It's encouraging.  I like to answer and educate without being condescending.  It's taken some time to learn but I have learned. 

I never found the ballet as scary as the students who see it for the first time though!  I think 60% of the comments are about how scary it is:

It doesn't matter what their comments are, they saw something so historically and artistically significant and they don't even know it.  Not yet. This guy 3 months ago made a comment about how they are just jumping around

I am going to work on a project of "the comments". 

One thing that everyone agrees on is that Beatriz Rodriguez, in the "death rattle" scares the hell out of them:

"You can tell from her eyes she's gone mad cuz she's dying!"

You're right dude.  She does. And you sat through the entire ballet to get to it...!!

I'll write more on this.  I see people come back with more knowledge and comment again, usually inaccurately like I used to at first. But damn.  They come back and want to talk about it. I love it. 


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dame Margot Fonteyne on Vaslav Nijinsky, 1979 (originally posted 2010)

Dame Margot Fonteyne, still considered one of the world's greatest prima ballerina, spoke about the history of ballet in this 1979 documentary. Here, she quite clearly states that it is Vaslav Nijinsky and not any later choreographer (ie Martha Graham) who should be credited with modern dance, citing his 1913 Le Sacre du Printemps as a work quite far ahead of its time, referencing the riot.

In the clip, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring score is played, a couple of photos of the 1913 Ballet Russes Compagnie who performed this near-mythical masterpiece are shown, as are some sketches from newspaper reporters present at the opening (Valentine Gross) while Fonteyne laments that the choreography was not preserved. You see a genuine pain in her as she speaks on Nijinsky'
s lost legacy and sadness when stating that "he lost his reason" soon after the 1913 debut. 

Fonteyne then goes on to speak with Kyra Nijinska, Vaslav's daughter, also a dancer and choreographer and - let's face it - also with an attic full of toys. It is a sad thing when she recalls her father being taken away by the "policemen" to the institution after a violent episode.  She begins to cry just like a 6 year old but stops herself,   Her father, Vaslav Nijinsky, was the world to her.  There was no need for fairy tale books, she explains, when you have a father who is like a fairy tale. 

Everything about Nijinsky from that debut forward, is sad.  Seeing his daughter, strange thing that she was, start to weep like a little girl makes it feel worse.

Fonteyne - who danced way beyond her years and in her last filmed clip, Le Spectre de la Rose, looked like Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", really someone should have stopped her - she would not live to see the reconstruction of Nijinsky's masterpiece which she clearly believed it was in this 1979 interview.  Her absolute conviction that Nijinsky's Le Sacre would be groundbreaking had it not become lost makes the reconstruction that much more exciting though I certainly felt disappointed for her.

Kyra, on the other hand, was still alive at the time of the 1987 Joffrey presentation but I can find no information on whether or not she saw it. She lived a nomadic life until her 2001 death -  maybe 2002? - and was rumored to have been working as a sales clerk in a department store in San Francisco at the time of The Joffrey Ballet was there in California resurrecting her father, so to speak.  Like I said, toys in the attic. 

Russian stacking dolls. -Fatova Mingus.

You Might Be Playing Nijinsky Too

Eric Hofbauer,

Of course, you broke the Rite down to it's pieces as is par for the course.  I hate when people screw with The Rite of Spring I just hate it!  There is only one person who should have done it - Zappa.  But,  Well.  Since I have put your collection into my YouTube Channel which is pretty much THE Le Sacre du Printemps spot, all these jazz dudes' videos are showing up and they talk before it and discuss what Stravinsky was probably thinking...

If you want to know what he was thinking just look at the interviews where he says it specifically all on my channel and broken down for idiots. 

Ok.  There it is. Your music, set to Nijinsky's choreography for Spring Rounds.  Bad dance performance,ugh,  good film quality.  I slowed the speed to make it work better.  Did you know that is what you were playing?

I think you are playing Nijinsky Eric. And it is a mystery that shows up in different places.  I do not know what it is but this ballet - this thing - resonates with certain people in a strange way.  I am one of them but I have a father who played Stravinsky so much I thought it was his own music. This 1913 debut was more than historical. It was more than "a riot".  It was more than groundbreaking which we wouldn't call it for 80 years and almost didn't get the  It's more.

It was elevating and devastating. One became genius and one became an outcast.   

This ballet was performed 9 times.  Nine.  Vaslav Nijinsky,  the worlds' greatest dancer, was out of work within a year.  When people think Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was "ahead of its time" they are right.  But the choreography was ahead of the earths' orbit. People would not be able to accept it even in 1940, maybe even 1950.  So in 1913 these art snobs rioted more over their own limitations than over the incredible challenge of  the music or the choreography and the 2 together was passive aggressive almost.   We like to think we appreciate something or we are lofty in our tastes.  Then someone raises you and you're out of money.  So you throw the table over make a scene.  

That's what happened on May 29, 1913.  But there would be an effigy.  And not Stravinsky.

Now, Stravinsky was poised to be the greatest composer in history before the debut.  He was young, had 2 successful ballets behind him and was with the Ballet Russes.  With Sergei Diaghilev, the man who took the Russian ballet out of Russia and made history just for that forget all the things he would do from there.  Stravinsky was an amazing human being but he was arrogant in his youth. And intolerant which he had become entitled to by that year. And he did not like Vaslav Nijinsky.  

There is a photo of them standing together from Petrouchka.  It is the only photo they are both in and it is a promo shot.  People use that shot as the "friends" who caused "the riot",  I once did before I knew the story. 

Stravinsky did not want to work with Vaslav for The Rite of Spring but when Diaghilev says "my lover is going to do the choreography".,,,,you say yes.  This would be his first major choreography.  The first "minor one"  was Afternoon of the Faun, which he performed and it...was...shocking.  But offset by Debussy, his odd angles with the dancers, his strange poses and movements oh and the simulated masturbation at the end...he got away with it and it is MASTERFUL.  

What Nijinsky did with The Rite was create what appeared chaotic but was very deliberate and brilliant.  42 dancers on stage, 5 soloists.  In other words, 5 groups each doing something different.  Each dancing to one area of the music.  You see it in that video, yes?  

It hasn't been done since.  

In 1961 Stravinsky says that the audience were "naive and stupid people.   they didn't understand art" when asked about the ballet.  I wish he had said it earlier.  

Nijinsky was sent on the road by Diaghilev so the storm would die down.  He took the ballet to South America where he married.  And Diaghilev, jilted, fired him.  Nijinsky was already showing signs of his illness which would present within in a year or so.  Schizophrenia.  He became the greatest dancer ever who no one would hire.  Unheard of!   Eventually, he spent his life in and out of institutions.  Forgotten.  There was always a rumor of a crazy ballet but it was buried by Diaghilev in 1914.  People forgot it.  

When Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer, at Robert Joffrey's request, began unearthing it in the early 80' was a monumental task and done just in time.  They speak about it in many videos which I am clipping now.   The dancers and musicians and artists from that night were nearly all gone.  Hodson and Archer worked tirelessly to recover this ballet.  To rescue Nijinsky.  And they did. 

In 1987 this debuted live,  The quality is poor but they are untouchable. 

Everything changed after that.  A ballet from 80 years ago somehow became the yardstick for measuring a choreographer's chops.  All that Nijinsky was denied, was suddenly celebrated.  I believe that the Joffrey Ballet has the Nijinsky inheritance and will never lose it.  Three different times I have seen them and they are not dancing.  They are involved in 1913.  Different years, Different dancers.  Same performance.  It was bestowed upon Joffrey I know it.  His contribution to art is as great as Nijinsky's.  Without Robert Joffrey, Le Sacre du Printemps would have been a myth.

It sounds dramatic but it is not.

I could wax ridiculous here but I think I have written enough. 

This piece is simply for a jazz musician who played the Rite of Spring and it was great because he played Le Sacre du Printemps.  He played both Stravinsky and Nijinsky.  That is my opinion and I have never said it before. 

Eric Hofbauer's Rite of Spring will appear in the intro and exit of some of the upcoming videos for "The Hodson & Archer Experiment"

NOTE:  FATOVA MINGUS is a trademark.  Tread lightly hackers. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throw Away Girls

 The Hodson Archer Experiment 

New collection. Distracts me from the injustice of so many dancers not even documented in a Company's archive.

New Collection.

I just felt that - while I have the energy - let's assemble important video clips , content with Hodson and Archer's wisdom in small direct doses with credited sources?  And what about tribute video messages? Yes.  "Dear Millicent..." is for anyone.  I have two so far, (ok so one was mine) working on one, another on deck. 

I have gone against my better judgment and signed into a dance forum for their archive info.  The whole "Nijinsky choreography" crap gets under my skin and it is HARD to keep my mouth shut.

If this were 1984 in Budapest I wouldn't care. But it is not.

Please contact me if you would like to make a statement via a 1 minute video of photos.  I will incorporate your spoken comments or use text.

I can't stress enough...I will run out of gas for a while.  So use me now!

(artist Hodson)

And by the way, its all stitched up in the only "Rite of Spring" investment I have not found insulting to the Maestro, Eric Hofbauer's "Prehistoric Jazz".  Who is family acquaintance.

Companies did not treat dancers with respect in the 1990s, did they?  Castoffs..  You were either "the Pietragalla" or you were nameless dancer in the photo WITH "the Pietragalla" whoever that may have been.  I have picked through a few companies who started Le Sacre in 1993 and still do it.  You can NOT find he corp dancers names until around 2006.  

Perhaps its computers, I don't know.  I know when the Interpol went from paper to computer it was thorough.  Small town halls in the middle of nowhere did it. Eh.

I wonder if I am doing this as a catharsis for some childhood rejection....