CriticalDance Forum

Geilgud interviews de Valois!
Page 1 of 1

Author:  grace [ Mon Oct 16, 2000 6:08 am ]
Post subject:  Geilgud interviews de Valois!

yes, really.... last December, at de Valois' home in barnes (south london), the day after the gala opening of the newly refurbished Royal Opera House (from which de Valois was notably absent). de Valois is now 102, blind, and says she feels it's time to die (no, i'm NOT making this up..):<BR> <A HREF="" TARGET=_blank></A> <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>MADAM: Oh yes, technique has definitely advanced. But you<BR> never advance without losing something en passant, and you lose<BR> it because you're paying so much attention to the new thing.<BR> Therefore, it's very very important to look after the old things,<BR> because in a few years time you'll find all the new things will be<BR> turning backwards, and saying "how did they do that twenty years<BR> ago, now I want to know." And all those that are just twenty years....<BR> There's a partnership in life, there's a partnership in everything --<BR> and the greatest partnership is between Heaven and Earth....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>and i know basheva (and alexandra) will appreciate this, as i do:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>MG: What do you feel about the very high extensions of present<BR> dancers?<P> MADAM: Oh, I don't think it matters provided it's used for the right<BR> dances. Don't invent a lovely dance of praying and high kick your<BR> way through it.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> Image<P>congratulations to dance insider on acquiring this fascinating document. well done, paul!<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Oct 16, 2000 6:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Geilgud interviews de Valois!

In a short time, Grace, you know me well!! I certainly do agree with Madame de Valois. When the height of an extension - or the number of revolutions in a pirouette - are the crux of the dance - then it becomes a contest. And the contest takes over the art. <P>This was very evident in that well known televised (I have the tape) performance of ABT with Baryshnikov, Kirkland and Bujones. Baryshinikov was scheduled in Theme and Variations to do some triple tours en l'air, and Bujones did those same tours earlier in the program. Baryshnikov was so furious he almost didn't go on - you can see the fury in his face. Now, if that is not a contest I don't know what is. In both cases the choreography was altered to suit the dancers, too. <P>But, maybe the times have passed me by - <BR>Ninette de Valvois was, and obviously still is, a very astute observer of life and art .<BR>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Oct 16, 2000 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Geilgud interviews de Valois!

Basheva said:<BR> <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>In both cases the choreography was altered to suit the dancers, too.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <BR> <BR>Isn't this what Petipa did as well?

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Oct 16, 2000 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Geilgud interviews de Valois!

What a charming and delightful interview! Does anyone know to whom Madame refers in her comment about "a catty Russian lady" in the New York preview audience in 1949?

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Oct 16, 2000 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Geilgud interviews de Valois!

Stuart - I think that the choreographer can and often does alter the choreography to suit the dancer - or just change his/her mind and that is the choreographer's perogative. But the dancer does not have that perogative. I do believe that those specific turns for that night (that I mentioned above) were altered by the dancers because in both cases the choreographer was deceased. <P>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Oct 17, 2000 1:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Geilgud interviews de Valois!

The interview is certainly a fine read. What comes across loud and clear to me is her radical, change-welcoming approach. How could it be otherwise for someone who cut their teeth with Diaghalev and steered UK ballet from its first small steps through to the position today.<P>Madame's comments on the need to change, adapt, discard and create, as well as preserving the best from the past, are summarised by Geilgud:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>....her perception of the way cross-fertilization has always been a major factor in the progress of classical ballet, and its need to continue to do so, should perhaps be heeded by those with a more blinkered outlook....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Some specifics to support this reading:<P>While agreeing that national characteristics will remain, Madame says, <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>You can't stop what comes into a country, you can be influenced, but you can't stop it, you shouldn't, because it makes all the others interesting, we all get muddled up together, and produce something that belongs to everyone. That's right.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Rather than saying that heritage should be strictly adhered too, she says of classes:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>MG: Do you think the teaching of class has changed a great deal? <P>MADAM: Well, naturally: languages change, our clothes change, everything changes. It's either not good enough and dies altogether, or it develops.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>On the high extensions, the language is ambiguous, but I read this as saying that high extensions are acceptable 'for the right dances', even though where they would not have been done that way in the past, but only where appropriate ie not a prayer dance. Whereas the 'heritage only' school, would rule them out in all circumstances.<P>For me, ballet like any art form should be a dynamic, evolving entity. The Shakespearean productions of today are very different from those of 50 years ago and the productions of 1890 would be laughed off the stage now. The key factor for me, as in any artistic production is 'does it work' rather than 'is it the way it was done originally'. <P>grace, the source for my comment on the Petipa choreography changes is Andreja Jelicic, one of my history lecturers at The Laban Centre, who has the advantage over many ballet historians of speaking fluent Russian. She takes the view from her researches that Petipa was relaxed about changing his work and saw himself as a craftsman working under instruction for the Imperial Family. It's not so surprising given that ballet was not considered a serious art form by the Russian intellectuals, but rather a spectacle for the aristocracy and their guests. Fokine was one of the first to be concerned about his changes to his work, as was Nijinski. The question of heritage/adaptation is a big area which could perhaps be discussed in a separate topic - hint to the Moderators.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited October 17, 2000).]

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Oct 17, 2000 6:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Geilgud interviews de Valois!

Well, as for me - everytime I did a penche' arabesque - it was prayer time - ok - sorry - couldn't resist................ <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited October 17, 2000).]

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group