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....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kirsi Said....

What a pleasure it is to find a dancer from 20 years ago who performed as The Chosen One 2 times...TWO TIMES...and put together a little 2 minute video of her feelings on those 5 minutes in the circle.  Kirsi Tiilijarju of Finnish National Ballet Helsinki did not have a photo of herself as was the case up until the last few years.  Man.  Dancers were not treated well in the early 1990's in some of these companies.  Sort of like the Soviet Union and their Olympiads. Property.  These dancers also have no photos among others and I do not know the reasons:


Anyway, there were no photos of Kirsi  because she was "no one".  Also the value of the Hodson&Archer reconstruction had really not been assessed yet.  So...we we used blurred images of other performers to make points, credits at end of course.  It was her passion...her statement....that made it beautiful.  She did not record:  I used text.  And still...what a nice feeling for me. Click on the link above.  Worth it.

Also today I found - the thing that keeps me so attached to Le Sacre - NEW COMMENTS on the Joffrey 1987 performance.  I have the oldest video on YouTube and it pops up first so I get the myriad of philistines weighing in with awe.  Or judgment from contrarians of which I am loath to admit I can be.  AND then there are the professional musicians who pontificate about the meter or the poor recording.  Why do trained musicians behave with such superiority?

I like to direct those arrogant comments to a younger musician, still in school, who writes "Fuck, this is good but I hate playing it".

Remember where ye come from.

Kirsi asked me why I do this.  Why am I so connected to Le Sacre du Printemps, why do I know so much, did I dance, did I study.  It's hard to explain the connection without sounding like a Le Sacre "groupie".

I will be disappointed if no other dancers give me a few statements to create a video for THE HODSON ARCHER EXPERIMENT because the reality with me is that I will burn out on something.  I will burn out on this.  I'll take time away, do something else with fervor...but with Le Sacre I always return.

You know I studied WWII in the European Theater, mostly the camp liberations, and wrote Holocaust Memoir reviews?  I found 4 fakes in 41 books.  Then I lost interest.  Of course, there are no new memoirs.

But there is always something to learn. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I Am A Disappointment

My little "Dear Millicent" video project is slow to go and so I made my own video.  I recall in it that my parents raised us to watch everything, listen for more, try this, do that, even if it is stupid, so what, create dumb stuff, look for new artists, don'

I sit in judgment of so many performances and performers.  I would be a disappointment to them,

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Firebird Finale

I started looking at an old paper I had on the theoretical analysis of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite", 1911.  I got a head ache.  I had a glass of wine. I don't want to sully that last 60 seconds with metre and harmonics and diatonics. 

When I was little I heard the end of the Firebird a lot.  The reel to reel seemed to only play the last 4 minutes.  But that last 60 seconds:  that chromatic (?) chord progression, the accelerando ending with the Stravinsky had a beautiful soul.

Akram Khan somehow missed that with iTmoi.  Among a lot of other things.

Stravinsky had deep faith. You heard it in those progressions as in Symphony of Psalms:  Always a moment where suddenly the blackest clouds open and a ray of sun punches through.  And that moment was perfected in the Firebird finale.

I used to think that when it was time to go to heaven - because when you are 7 you think it's that easy - that it would sound like those 60 seconds: God opening the sky chromatically and I would fly up to Him during the strings of that last note.  And I would be wearing my First Holy Communion dress with matching purse.

I am older now.  But I still love God and I pray I am living in the example of His only begotten Son. A lot of time I fail but I don't give up.   

Cuz I still want to go heaven to The Firebird finale.

(Sarah Ioannides conducting her brains out in video)