Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Forrest Through the Trees ?

Carolyn Carlson's "Don't Look Back" for Pietragalla was stunning, really.  It doesn't get old, I never tire of it and Pietra - though young - was peppering her own signatures all over the performance AND IT WORKED. the end I like the part where she shoves her fist in her mouth. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

stuck in the middle

Too many projects and I will finish none.  

Here is a photo of Beatriz Rodriguez in "Taming of the Shrew", Joffrey, I don't know what year.

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 with 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...