Monday, January 16, 2017

Nutcracker Diary, The Faune & The Critic (orig 2010)

Someone said to me recently, after reading this blog, that I should be a dancer. Ok...that's nice but (a) I was a dancer and I wasn't that great, (b) I'm 40-something and it's too late and (c) I write about dancing and make it interesting. That's my forte. There are some dancers who write about it and you come up with reasons to never ever go to a ballet as long as you're coherent enough to convey the sentiment to anyone with any kind of power or influence in your life. I put a spin on things that interest me.

I sell ballet to people who watch Family Guy.

That's what I do - I make things interesting to people who might not otherwise consider them because I am passionate about them. But passion doesn't equal talent. I am passionate about dance but I can't dance anymore. And I've read blogs written by both well known and obscure dancers with ballet and contemporary companies - all very passionate - and some of it is too inside while others are just boring crap. 

I want to message these  girls and beg them to stop writing, for the love of Terpsichore, please...stop. You're killing an ancient art form. And I suppose I AM arrogant but how many blog entries about Nutcracker rehearsal does a Snowflake need to write? It's The NUTCRACKER. It's terrible and the rehearsal is even less relevant. It's like recess at a school for autistic children - you feel bad but you really want to get of there.

Yet when this Snowflake's Company performed Nijinsky's L'après-midi d'un faune, (Afternoon of a Faun), she posted the first paragraph from Wikipedia and a picture. That's all she knew (Boston Ballet shhh) There are no Sugarplum Fairies in L'après-midi d'un faune, doncha know little snowflake.


It was a very risqué modern ballet, nothing prior compares and it was choreographed and performed by who?...Nijinsky. The masturbation to the nymph's scarf at the end seemed to slip past an audience who would a year later freak out over something pretty close in choreography - but set to music so jarring that I sometimes wonder had Le Sacre been set to something less challenging than Stravinsky's "Rite" would Le Sacre have been accepted?  Are we a people who can be distracted by something as odd as "Faune" by pretty music?  Studies say yes.  I say whatever.

L'Apres-mid d'un Faune is a slow moving and startling piece where each pose, held far longer than any classical piece seen prior -  is awkward, strange and I imagine the audience sitting with askew expressions trying to make a decision on it.  Debussy made it for them.  The sheep of ballet.

(the above clip is the pas de deux between Charles Jude and Marie-Claude Pietragalla.  I do not think there is a better performance on video)

Let's think about it:  this was a wildly interpretive piece of performance art, far from ballet, far even from the oddities of Petrouchka which could be explained away by the libretto.   It could have been a scandal.  Then where would we be? 

 I think of "Faune"as the warm up pitch for the following year's riot (possibly a well-calculated warm-up pitch by the ballet's owner Sergei Diaghilev), Its' success allowed Diaghilev to make a move: 

assign what might be Stravinsky's next and greatest work to Nijinsky whose choreography might equal that...or ruin them all. I admire and dislike Diaghilev.  Had he been an ethical man, Nijinsky would not have died such a broken one.

Le Sacre du Printemps , which would change the cultural world forever, was a fearless and intent tempest on course with an unprepared people.  This is the stuff that makes history.  And it did. 

But none of this matters because it is NUTCRACKER TIME....and there was no role for the Snowflake so a picture and a wiki about "faune" count as a blog post.  

Am I saying that ballerinas dim witted? Absolutely not. I have had the immense pleasure of some exchanges with dancers past and present and they have MUCH to contribute.

An interview with Alexandra Iosifidi revealed a great insight to dance as did one with the Joffrey's Joanne Wozniak.

Marie-Claude Pietragalla was etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet and is one of the most brilliant choreographers of our time .  She also wrote a book that was pretty good (it wasn't about Sugarplum Fairies). 

I have a friend who danced in Sofia for 3 years then quit to pursue multi-media art and her jarring and beautiful installations are global (like "Denmark" global);

I suppose gifted dancers must set aside Petit Mort for The Nutcracker because the calendar says so: they would rather not, but they are obliged.

The internet gives everyone "a book" aka "blog", so that even an asshole like me gets to write about the ballet and use the word asshole at the same time. So when you look at it that way, I have some nerve to sit in judgment of the Snowflake, don't I.

- Fatova Mingus.

L'apres-midi d'un faune by Vaslav Nijinsky, 1912Dancers: Charles Jude and Marie-Claude PietragallaMusic: Claude DeBussey