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 Post subject: Are British ballet productions too conservative?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:12 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1742
Location: London UK
An interesting piece in the FT's weekend magazine arguing for more up to date productions of ballet. There are comments from both Wayne Eagling of ENB and Declan Donnellan of Cheek by Jowl Theatre Company who was responsible for a Romeo and Juliet production performed here by the Bolshoi in 2004 to very mixed reactions. According to this article Mr Donnellan will again be collaborating with the Bolshoi in the future.

Clever new productions are one thing but surely a ballet audience places too much value on choreography to admire new productions with the sole merit of presenting the audience with a novelty. Mr Donnellan's R&J was not without some merit but the poor choreography didn't earn it much admiration in London. A reminder of what Criticaldance thought of it here:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 6883
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
I don't have a problem with updating a production or trying something new, but when the structure of the music and the choreography is hacked and slashed just to make it "new", I don't like it. I doubt a director would rearrange King Lear just to make it innovative. Set in revolutionary Russian all you want, but don't mess with the words, becuase they are what makes it a masterpiece.

So, is there a way to "update" Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake without butchering the structure or changing the music? I think there is, but it takes someone who is knowledgeable about the art form, not some hack theater director. Matthew Bourne did wonders with his Swan Lake.

On the same kind of note. I don't think the way to freshen up an artform is by bringing in directors from other artforms. The worst opera I ever worked on was directed by a very talented theater director, who was a completely impotent opera director, because she didn't understand the intimacies and specific quirks of putting an opera together. It is not after all musical theater. And neither is ballet.

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