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 Post subject: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 4:22 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
In The Observer Jann Parry writes:

Quote:
The Opera House has been swarming with cameramen as the BBC recorded the Royal Ballet's wonderful Stravinsky programme. TV and DVD versions will not include Agon because the Balanchine Trust is wary of untried casts.
Assuming that this is the real reason, a few million UK TV viewers will not see their first work by Balanchine, because of apparent timidity by the Trust. Especially as they had set the work and approved it for performance.

This seems like a great shame to me and another instance where Trusts, such as the Balanchine and the Tudor, act against the interests of the creators who made the works.
What do others think?

Here is our 'Stavinsky Staged' topic
http://forum.criticaldance.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=4&t=000796

<font size = -2><center>(Edited by salzberg to fix link)</center></font>

<small>[ 08-11-2002, 09:47: Message edited by: salzberg ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 7:31 am 
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If the BBC and the Royal Ballet are being refused broadcast rights for Agon, it is outrageous. I attended the ROH Study Day for the Stravinsky Staged programme and really admired Pat Neary’s dedication to the Balanchine heritage, and her commitment to a faithful rendering of it. But there seems to be a sycophancy and a zealotry surrounding the Balanchine world which has become cross-fertilised with the most appalling (and indeed discredited) managerial approaches to quality control. Let me give this example from the ROH programme. The following notice appeared at the foot of the cast-list for Agon. <P>“The performance of Agon, a Balanchine Ballet, is presented by arrangement with the George Balanchine Trust sm and has been produced in accordance with the Balanchine Styleâ and Balanchine Techniqueâ. Service standards established and provided by the Trust”.<P>This kind of garbage is antithetical to creativity, and to the tradition of ‘handing on’ which is so much part of the culture of ballet. And it will ultimately be the death of Balanchine’s choreography, because companies will begin to consider it not worth the trouble.<P>While Samuel Beckett was particular about how his works were performed, he generally gave permission for them to be staged except where his intentions were being grossly perverted (for instance a ‘Godot’ with an all-female cast). This was far from the case with the Royal Ballet’s Agon. Whatever the specific criticisms, I would not quibble with Clement Crisp of the Financial Times who said that it was “nearly right in performance” that “the cast knew what it had to aim for” and “that Balanchine was honoured”<P>One doesn’t expect the Royal Ballet to dance Balanchine in the same way as NYCB. But it seems to me that the setting of “service standards” is not merely the death of creativity, but also (if this nonsense proliferates) the death of distinctiveness in company styles.<P>A question. Has any company (other than NYCB) been licensed to perform a Balanchine piece on video?<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 8:43 am 
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Welcome Brendan, it's good to see you here. You will find that all the US based Trusts use the same language as that of the Balanchine. I have seen the same wording with the Tudor Trust, the Limon and the Robbins.<P>I share your concern that there is sometimes too great a restriction on artistic interpretation which would have included small (or large) variations on the steps in the time of the choreographer. There are certainly those who feel that this can take the life out of a work. The MacMillan rep. has analogous arrangements and one knowledgable observer told me that the Birmingham Royal Ballet 'Romeo & Juliet' sufferred in this respect by over-stringent adherence to the notated steps . It's as if the dancer is not part of the creative artistic loop.<P>By the way, as I understand it, the Balanchine Trust does not have any jurisdiction over New York City Ballet. <P>On your question about recordings, our US friends will probably be able to help. I know that the BBC recorded for TV Pacific NorthWest Ballet's 'Midsummer Night's Dream' by Balanchine. But that has been around for some time and the Trust would have been familiar with the dancers performing the work.


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2001 9:54 am 
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I wonder whether the resulting TV programme will make it known that there was another piece to the evening but it couldn't be recorded? That would be very negative publicity for Balanchine works in this country. <P>I have a friend that used to dance with NYCB towards the end of Balanchine's days. I will ask her when I see her on Tuesday what she thinks of all this. She was a great admirer of Balanchine, as you can imagine. She saw "Jewels" performed by the Kirov at the ROH last year and I know that she loves to see Balanchine interpreted by other companies. I will report back her view. <P>I read recently an essay Balanchine wrote for his anthology, "Balanchines's Complete Stories of the Great Ballets" put together by Balanchine and Francis Mason (first published 1954). In the essay Balanchine describes how in 1923 he had put together a programme, performed in St Petersburg, called "Evenings of the Young Ballet" for which he had devised all the choreography. Although the audiences and dancers loved the evenings (which showed the evolution of ballet in Russia from Petipa's classicism to Fokine's reforms to his own ideas on movement), the state theatre directorate made it very clear to the dancers that they would not be able to appear in Balanchine's ballets and continue as members of the stare company. So Balanchine stopped the "Evenings" and looked for new outlets for his choreography. Ultimately he ended up with Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes where he was immediately given the chance to explore his talents and by this time his creative genius was lost to the Soviet Union. <P>What I am saying is, what would Balanchine have thought of these restrictions on his work? I can imagine that the idea that his work didn't feature in the TV programme for the wider audience because of the restraints of the Balanchine Trust would be an irritation at the very least. <P>Balanchine quotes himself in the essay (from an article he wrote for Anatole Chujoy's "Dance News"): "If it can be said at all that one man took ballet from the thin aristocratic stratum of society and gave it to the people at large, Diaghilev was the man who did it". It seems to me that he would have been happy for the Royal Ballet to be recorded in Agon for the enjoyment of the wider public. Of course he was a stickler for standards but we are talking the Royal Ballet......


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2001 4:43 pm 
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I wonder at what point in the process the Trust can withdraw it's approval? Was this a strictly broadcast issue, or more purely aesthetic/quality control issue?


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2001 1:42 am 
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it may have been more of a broadcast than an artistic issue, especially if there are standard rebroadcast rights or potential resale rights contained in the contracts that the company negotiates with the bbc.


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2001 12:29 pm 
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With my understanding of the Balanchine Trust, it would almost surely be a broadcast issue. The requirements by the trust are very stringent and expensive, probably prohibitively so.


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 Post subject: Re: No Balanchine for BBC TV viewers
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2001 6:36 pm 
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I could be way off base about this, but I believe a different lawyer negotiates European dealings with the trust than American ones. I'd need to check the facts on that, but if so, that could also explain differing standards.


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