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 Post subject: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2002 9:03 am 
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Image <P>Oh, yikes! This PBS taping of "Othello" seems more a curse than a godsend to SFB. The company's own fine stable of male principals have been by-passed in favor of Desmond Richardson, resulting in frustration and acrimony among the dancers. Is it worth it to disrupt the fraternity within the company to satisfy the wish of a choreographer?<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B>Ballet, opera have long cast roles across racial lines</B><P>Octavio Roca, SF Chronicle<P>...<P>Much has been made of San Francisco Ballet's forthcoming revival of Lar Lubovitch and Elliot Goldenthal's superb 1997 "Othello," which will be videotaped by PBS for national telecast, with a DVD likely to follow.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><a href=http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2002/02/17/PK236092.DTL target=_blank><B>More</B></a><p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited February 16, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2002 5:18 pm 
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My opinion in a short answer to your question Azlan is yes. If that is what the choreographer wants then that is what he should have.<P>Besides, Desmond created the role and I think the company should jump at the opportunity to have a permanent record of the role's originator. I think it is great! He is an amazing dancer!


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2002 8:32 pm 
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I agree with LaraH, the choreorapher has the last word on casting. It is their vision upon which the piece is built, and they have the ultimate say on what goes on.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2002 12:19 am 
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Ah, but the ballet was co-commissioned by SFB and ABT. Desmond Richardson danced it first due to scheduling. It doesn't mean he was the only dancer who originated the lead role.<P>Keep in mind also that this is a taping of SFB -- paid for by SFB and KQED (SF affiliate of PBS) -- and not so much a taping of "Othello." The program is of SFB, regardless of the ballet.<P>Yes, the choreographer has a huge say in casting but are you saying the choreographer has the right to say, "I don't like this dancer, that dancer, and that dancer and him and her. As a matter of fact, I don't like any of the dancers you have. So, I'd like to bring in my own. I'll create the ballet for your company but my company will be dancing it." Where does it stop?<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited February 17, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2002 8:16 am 
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Those are contractural issues Azlan, I beleive. In those circumstances, where there different organizations involved in the creative process, it would rely upon what is written in the contract, between the choreographer and the organizations. It's probably pretty complicated, since it sounds like it was co-commissioned, and now it's being taped/filmed.<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited February 17, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2002 9:44 am 
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Azlan,<P>>>Yes, the choreographer has a huge say in casting but are you saying the choreographer has the right to say, "I don't like this dancer, that dancer, and that dancer and him and her. As a matter of fact, I don't like any of the dancers you have. So, I'd like to bring in my own. I'll create the ballet for your company but my company will be dancing it." Where does it stop?<<<P>Well, logically if a choreographer didn't like any dancers of a company then he wouldn't choose that company to perform his ballet.<P>And yes, I think the choreographer has the right to not use dancers that he doesn't like. <P>Look at how Reid Anderson chooses dancers to perform Crankl's Onegin. He keeps very tight control over the works. And Forsythe has it in his will that his works will NOT be performed after his death to preserve the integrity of the dance.<P>At the RB Anderson brought back Adam Cooper to be first cast ( a fabulous choice) and brought Tewsley from his own company to dance Onegin.<P>I have a real problem with dancers changing drastically what a choreographer has designed or changed his vision of a character.<P>Specifically Guillem changed Manon to suit how SHE thought the character should be - especially in the swamp PDD where her version of Manon is defiant as opposed to just dying like MacMillan created. She and MacMillan went round and round on characterization. My thought was it was HIS vision and if she didn't like it then don't dance it at all!<P>To me choreographers are like composers...if a composer wants an A# in a score does the oboist or conducter have the right to change it to an A flat instead?


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2002 10:14 am 
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It's not a matter of interpretation. The dancers capable of dancing Othello were selected by Lubovitch himself -- he has no problems with their interpretation of his vision. The assertion is dancers good enough to intepret (and in fact co-create) the role are not allowed to be in the film version because the choreographer wants a black dancer.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited February 17, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2002 11:57 am 
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>>The assertion is dancers good enough to intepret (and in fact co-create) the role are not allowed to be in the film version because the choreographer wants a black dancer.<<<P>Then that is his choice I think.<P>Now I am really excited about seeing this production come September no matter who is dancing it.<p>[This message has been edited by laraH (edited February 17, 2002).]


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2002 12:00 pm 
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Has Lubovitch specifically said it's a racial casting issue? Or is that our interpretation? In "The Moor's Pavanne" by Jose Limon, I seem to remember there always being a dark skinned dancer performing the main role, originally Jose himself, recently Carlos Orta, and I'm not sure who's doing it today.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2002 8:41 am 
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The heart of the controversy, quoted from Roca's article:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The company is bypassing its own three Othellos in favor of Desmond Richardson, a black guest dancer brought in just for this production. <P>The character of Othello is black as well, so there might some logic to all this; except that Desdemona, decidedly a white character, will be danced by Yuan Yuan Tan, who is Chinese. What gives?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>The rest I got from my sources.<P>Lara, there is no doubt this will be a wonderful performance (Helgi will no doubt see to it) and I would love to see Richardson dance it myself. I am just concerned of what this does to the long-term morale in the company that Helgi spent so much time fostering.<P>BTW, "Othello" will be performed by SFB at the Opera House from Feb 26th through March 3rd.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2002 8:53 am 
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Othello will be performed in Orange County in September. I ended up with two nights of ballet as my subscription ticket is on Thursday for a mixed bill and Othello on Friday. Lots of driving but looks like it will be well worth it!


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2002 3:40 pm 
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I'm in agreement with Azlan on this issue. It seems to me that this could have been negotiated to a more favorable outcome for SFB personnel. I am not sure that Mr. Lubovitch holds the high cards here; it is rather more likely that this is a desired outcome by PBS and the choreographer's purported insistence is an expedient means to that end.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2002 8:38 pm 
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Hmmm. Okay, I'm confused now. Are you saying Francis that perhaps Richardson is the PBS choice, disguised as the Lubovitch choice?


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2002 9:12 am 
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The choice has a certain appeal from the PBS perspective. They don't want a Miss Saigon controversy over this production. And they hold the production funding. My suggestion is merely based on the "follow the money" paradigm.


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 Post subject: Re: San Francisco Ballet's "Othello" / PBS Contro
PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2002 10:08 am 
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Notes on casting:<P>- Cyril Pierre and Lucia Lacarra will be dancing the leads on opening night, Tuesday, Feb. 26th;<P>- Desmond Richardson will be dancing the lead role on Wednesday (Feb. 27th), Saturday evening (Mar. 2nd) and Sunday matinee (Mar. 3rd).<P>Full casting will be up on the SFB web site in a couple days.<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited February 21, 2002).]


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