Tag Archives: Royal Ballet

PRESERVING THE WORK

5 May

The events of this week made me realize there is so much more to a ballet archive than the simple collection of photos, film, dance notation and personal remembrances. It’s not just about the collection of materials, it’s ultimately about the preservation of the ballets within that archive.

The ongoing mission of The Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, in addition to the licensing and production of Antony Tudor’s ballets, has been to preserve Mr. Tudor’s work – his ballets, his teachings and his creative process – for future generations so they are never lost.

Antony Tudor teaching at the “old” Met – NYC, 1961

This week the National Endowment for the Arts announced an award in support of the development of The Antony Tudor Dance Studies Curriculum.  Their award, along with funding from the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the CORPS de Ballet and the Cornelius N. Bliss Memorial Fund, will allow the Trust’s “Curriculum Committee” to complete lesson plans for a dance curriculum which will offer a multifaceted, comprehensive approach to learning the work of Antony Tudor. The curriculum, intended for university dance programs, will include Tudor’s method of choreographic composition; his unique use of gesture and movement; the application of choreographic phrases in partnering, pointe and men’s classes; and, of course, Tudor’s unique musicality. Archival images, performance video, and studio exercises will be part of the package.

According to Sally Brayley Bliss, Trustee of the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust, “engaging the student-dancer on a level where significant learning takes place is the most effective means for preserving Tudor’s work. A fully developed Tudor Curriculum will best serve to assist dance teachers and students in the interpretation, presentation, and performance of Antony Tudor’s choreography…. it is vitally important this be done now while those who worked directly with Antony Tudor are here and ready to share their knowledge.”

Tudor at “old” Met, including left to right Pina Bausch, Jennifer Masley, James Waring, Bruce Marks – June 1961. Photo: Liz Sawyer

According to Mikhail Baryshnikov, former Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre, performing in even one Tudor ballet amounted to “a passport to become mature, to be an adult dancer, a dancer in-depth…”.

This week the NEA endorsed The Trust’s mission to insure Antony Tudor’s legacy – the development of an education program that engages young dancers in the choreographic complexities and creative process of his unique style.  Tudor was one of the great masters of 20th century choreography. The Tudor Curriculum will ensure his legacy will live on through learning. I’m excited!

ABOUT ANTONY TUDOR:

Antony Tudor was one of the giants of twentieth century choreography. He presented his works at American Ballet Theatre’s first season, and continued to choreograph works for companies throughout the world. His ballets have been performed by the world’s leading ballet companies including Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the Royal Ballet. Tudor was Choreographer Emeritus at American Ballet Theatre, and also was a renowned teacher at The Juilliard School, where he was a founding faculty member of the School’s Dance Division.

Tudor rehearsing “Little Improvisations” with Lance Westergard and Lee Wagner at Juilliard – 1964. Photo: Liz Sawyer

Licensing for performances of Antony Tudor’s ballets has been more or less consistent since Mr. Tudor’s death in 1987, with the exception of a spike in performances during Mr. Tudor’s Centennial year in 2008. Almost every major ballet company, regional dance company, university dance program, and international ballet school desires to have Tudor ballets in its repertoire.

Adria Rolnik, author of Adriaballetbeat, is Web Coordinator and Archivist  (Photos, Materials, Memorabilia) for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust.

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BEER, NACHOS AND BALLET The Royal Ballet at the O2 Arena – Good or Bad?

10 Jul
Self made replica of the Royal Ballet Logo

I’ve been thinking a lot about last month’s performances of the Royal Ballet at London’s 02 Arena, which seats five times the crowd as the 2200 seats at the Royal Opera House.

On June 19, Sarah Lyall of the NY Times wrote, “In an attempt to bring ‘ballet to the masses,’ the Royal’s performance of Kenneth MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet was “a way for ballet to break free from its rarefied, elitist image” and attract younger and larger audiences. Here was big time ballet, in a venue usually reserved for rock concerts and pop stars. Is this a good thing?”

In general, the event reviews were good, although most note that the big screens only focus on specific body parts, rather than the entire picture.

According to Mark Monahan of The (London) Telegraph, “Even sitting relatively near the stage, your eyes generally went up to the middle screen, which, given all the camera pans, meant you were in fact looking at a selectively edited version of what was happening on the stage.” But, he went on to say, “Overall, the Royal Ballet performed with grace, grandeur and finesse, and to the thunderous approval of the vast, unusually varied audience. Who could possibly object to such rousing, heartening proof of the art form’s broad appeal and complete accessibility… the conclusion that this was largely high art as rock gig proved inescapable.”

And note that according to Maev Kennedy of The Guardian (London), “some of its more highbrow critics are bound to think, downmarket.”

So here’s the question: is ballet as “rock gig” a good thing? Does ballet really need to be regarded as “elitist?”

Personally, I think “mass market” ballet is a good thing – I find there is an awful lot of ignorance out there. How disturbing it is when I tell someone I take ballet class and they respond, “Wow – do you work up a sweat doing that?” or “Really? Do you wear a tutu? Put on a recital?” Why do I so often hear, “ballet – ick!”? And then when I ask, “when have you last been to a ballet?” the answer is most likely, “Never!”

When you remove yourself from the artistic community you inevitably find people are ignorant when it comes to ballet and rush to judgment without ever having had exposure. It’s sad. Maybe it’s “downmarket” to present the ballet classics in an arena with beer and nachos, but I think creating excitement for this beautiful and amazing art form is a good thing. Exposure and education are paramount.

Big time ballet as big time rock and roll – I think we should do what it takes. For me, an arena filled with balletomanes is happily upmarket!

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