REHEARSAL AS RESEARCH IN THE RECREATION OF LES NOCES 1

In: Experiment

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  • 1. I wish to thank Stephen Hartke for his comments on this article before its publication, Ritchie Spencer for his assistance with the illustrations, and the company of dancers without whose hard and devoted work the research presented here would not have been possible - Margo Caslavka (ballet mistress), Abel Delgado (musical consultant), Sarah Smith (bride), Greg Mooney (groom), Jennifer Boling, Jessica Clague, Yvonne Gaspar, Cori Haisler, Christina Kane- las, Claudia Valencia, Ivette Michelle Badgley, Kim Culotta, Alfedo Gutierrez, Laura Hummasti, Jennifer Kaplan, Nicole Marusiak, Lewis Stevenson, and Kai Young. 2. Stephen Hartke, Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California, earned degrees in composition from Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Cali- fornia, Santa Barbara. His music has received major performances by such groups as the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, and the Moscow State Philharmonic. Among his many awards are those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy in Rome, the Fulbright Senior Scholars Program, and the Gugenheim Foundation. In 2004, he won the prestigious Charles Ives Award that allows him to devote his time exclusively to composing for three years. His music is performed worldwide and is available on compact discs. In Fall 2001, Stephen and I co-taught a special seminar on "Stravinsky and the Dance," also funded by the Arts Initiative.

  • I . 3. Sally Banes, Dancing Wornen: Female Bodies on Stage (New York: Routledge, 1998), p. 109. 4. Robert Craft, Stravinsky: Glimpses of a Life (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992), p. 346.

  • 5. Nancy Van Norman Baer, Bronislava Nijinska: A Dancer's Legacy (San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986), p. 36. 6. Leslie Satin, Rev. of Past Forward, Theatre Journal, 54, no. 2 (May 2002), 317.

  • 7. Thomas Jensen Hines, Collaborative Form: Studies in the Relations of the Arts (Kent, Ohio: Kent State Univ. Press, 1991), pp. 170-71. 8. Lawrence Sullivan, "Les Noces: The American Premiere." Dance Research Journal, 14, nos. 1-2 (1981/1982), 3. 9. Ibid., p. 3. When the composition is performed as a ballet, the music is rarely live, in part because Stravinsky's unusual orchestration does not rely upon normally constituted groups of musicians. 10. Craft, Stravinsky: Glimpses of a Life, pp. 336, 347; Stephen Walsh, Stravinsky: A Creative Spring (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), p. 241; Simon Karlinsky, "Igor Stravinsky and Russian Preliterate Theater," in Confronting Stravinsky, ed. Jann Pasler (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986), pp. 8-9. 1 I . Walsh, Stravinsky: A Creative Spring, pp. 238-54.

  • 12. Stephen Weinstock, "Gontcharova [sick, Nijinska, and Stravinsky: The Evolution of Les Nonces." Dance Magazine (April 198 1), p. 75. 13. Craft, Stravinsky: Glimpses oja Life, p. 336. 14. Louis Andriessen and Elmer Sch6nberger, The Apollonian Clockwork, trans. Jeff Ham- burg (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989), p. 154. 15. Craft, Stravinsky: Glimpses of life, p. 343. 16. Ibid., p. 236. 17. Drue Fergison, "Bringing Les Noces to the Stage," in The Ballets Russets and Its World, ed. Lynn Garafola and Nancy Van Norman Baer (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1999), p. 170. 18. N. Gontcharova [sic], "The Metamorphosis of Les Noces," trans. Claudia Waters, com- mentary by Weinstock, Dance Magazine, 73 (DATE?). ` 19. Ibid., p,'"74.

  • 20. Weinstock, "Gontcharova, Nijinska, and Stravinsky," p. 72. 21. Bronislava Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," trans. and introd. Jean M. Serafetinides and Irina Nijinska, Dance Magazine (Dec. 1974), 59-60. 22. Weinstock, "Gontcharova [sic], Nijinska, and Stravinsky," p. 74. 23. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. 24. A number of participants in the Arts Initiative project - Yvonne Gaspar (soloist dancer), Margo Caslavka (ballet mistress), Sarah Smith (dancer/bride) and Stuart Mitchell (ac- tor/Stravinsky) among them received academic credit for their work on The Wedding. All these students wrote analytical papers about the production. Their quotations in this article are from their papers.

  • 25. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. 26. Lynn Garafola, "Bronislava Nijinska: A Legacy Uncovered," Women and Performance, 3, no. 2 (1987/1988), 82-86. 27. Bronislava Nijinska, "On Movement and the School of Movement," in Baer, Legacy, p. 87. 28. Ibid., p. 19. 29. Nicoletta.Misler, "A Choreological Laboratory," Experiment, 2 (1996), 170-72. 30. Garafola identifies "Soviet analogues" in Les Noces by relating the acrobatics to the Blue Blouse troupes and the pyramids of bodies to Meierkhol'd's biomechanics. "Who knows,"

  • Garafola wonders, "how many of the ballet's other startling configurations had their origins in the movement experiments of early Soviet directors" Lynn Garafola, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (New York: Da Capo Press, 1989), pp. 126-27. 31. Baer, Legacy, p. 19. 32. 'æronislava Nijinska: Dancers Speak," Ballet Review, 18 no. 4 (Winter 1986), 24. 33. Nina Tikhonova, Devushka v sinem (Moscow: Artist, rezhisser, teatr, 1992), p. ]25. All translations from this source are mine. 34. "Bronislava Nijinska: Dancers Speak," p. 35. 35. Sally Banes compares this sculptural image to the "pyramid of skulls in the painter Vasily Vereshchagin's nineteenth-century painting The Apotheosis of War," a comparison that suggests how "the Russian wedding rite is virtually a funeral rite for the woman" (pp. 113-14). For me, however, a comparison with Klimt seems more apt, not only because of The Virgin's subject, but also because, in scene two, the groom's mother blesses her son with a gesture that also recalls the inclined heads in other Klimt paintings such as The Kùs. 36. Baer, Legacy, p. 20.

  • 3'7.Ibid.,p. 19. 38. Nijinska, "Creation ofLes Noces," p. 59. 39. Nijinska, "On Movement and the School of Movement," p. 86. 40. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. 41. Garafola, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, pp. 127, 122.

  • 42. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. 43. Serge Lifar, Serge Diaghilev: His Life, His Work, His Legend (New York: Da Capo Press, 1976), p. 169. 44. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. 45. Ibid., p. 61. 1. 46. Think, for example, of Picasso's designs for Parade in 1917, which overshadowed Sa- tie's music and actively hampered Massine's choreography. 47. Drue Fergison, "Bringing Les Noces to the Stage," in The Ballets Ru.sses and Its World, eds. Lynn Garafola and Nancy Van Norman Baer (New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press, 1999), p. 171. 48. Normally a School of Theatre production rehearses for five or six weeks. Given the diffi- cult music and idiosyncratic choreography, our dancers rehearsed for five months. I held audi- tions in April 2001 and began dance rehearsals in late August for our opening in February 2002.

  • We treated rehearsals as a class, meeting twice a week in three-hour sessions. In the last month of rehearsal, the dancers worked every day. The musicians rehearsed independently. We met them only once in the rehearsal hall where Stephen and 1 set the tempi with the conductor. The actors joined the company for the last six weeks of the rehearsal period. 49. Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Retrospective and Conclusions (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1969), p. 110. 50. Igor Stravinsky, An Autobiogrnphy (New York: W. W. Norton, 1936), p. 72. 5 1. Ibid., p. 61. 52. Stravinsky and Craft, Retrospective and Conclusions, p. 119.

  • 53. roger Shattuck, "The Devil's Dance: Stravinsky's Corporal Imagination," in Confronting Stravinsky, ed. Jann Pasler (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986), pp. 82-88; Charles M. Joseph, "The Making of Agon," in Dance for a City, ed. Lynn Garafola with Eric Fone (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1999), pp. 99-117; Drue Fergison speculates about whether Stravinsky had a hand in influencing the choreography of Svadebka; he himself had claimed as much in a newspaper interview that followed its premiere (p. 176). . 54. Lifar, Serge Diaghilev, p. 169. 55. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces." p. 61. 56. Tikhonova, Devushka d sinem, p. 126. 57. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. A pas de bounce is a fundamental, classical movement that is composed of three small steps.

  • 58. Sono Osato, Distant Dances (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980), p. 99. • 59. Ibid., p. 100. 60. Lifar, Serge Diaghifev, p. 170. Garafola describes this downward emphasis in the chore- ography as a depiction of women who move "as if weighted by centuries of toil" (Balfets Russes, p. 128).

  • 61. Nancy Van Norman Baer, "The Choreographic Career of Bronislava Nijinska," Experiment, 2 (1996), 66. 62. Satin, Rev. of Past Forward, Theatre Journal, 54, no. 2 (May 2002), 317 63. In 1999 Dora Krannig (formerly principal ballerina with the Royal Ballet Company, London) and I had reconstructed Vaslav Nijinsky's L Apres Midi d'un Faune. Supported by the Fund for Innovative Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Southern California, the pro- ject explored the role that Nijinska had played in the ballet's creation in 1910 and its reconstruc- tion in 1922. In both these historical moments, Nijinska had danced the title role. We therefore cast a woman as the faun in order to examine precisely how a female body would impact the bal-

  • let. See Camicke and Krannig, "Nijinska Dances the Faun: Revisioning Nijinsky's L'Apr�s Midi d'un Faune," in Proceedings of the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, 2004. 64. Sharon Marie Carnicke, The Theatrical Instinct Nikolai Evreinov and the Russian Theatre of the Early Twentieth Century (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), p. 17. 65. Bonnie Oda Homsey,."Capturing Dances from the Past," in Envisioning Dance on Film and Video, ed. Judy Mitoma (New York: Routledge, 2002), p. 123. 66. Along with the sources cited in this article, we also referenced a video tape ofLes Noces as performed by the Paris Opera Ballet: Paris Dances Diaghilev. Electra Nonesuch Dance Collection (An NVC Arts, La Sept Co-production with Arts and Entertainment Cable Network) (New York: Time, Warner, 1992). Serge Lifar's leadership of the Paris Opera Ballet (1930-1958) created a direct link to the original Ballets Russes. He had been Diaghilev's last cherished dancer, had studied with Nijinska, and performed in the 1923 premiere of Les Noces. The production on this recording was staged in 1976 and filmed in 1990. 67. Because Stravinsky had initially envisioned a production in which all the musicians would be seen on stage along with the dancers, he convinced Diaghilev to solve the problem by placing two pianos on each side of the stage (Baer, Legacy, pp. 33-34). After the premiere, how- ever, Diaghilev used theatres with larger pits that could hold the pianos. 68. Igor Stravinsky, The Wedding: Vocal Score, trans. D. Millar Craig (tondo: Chester Mu- sic, [no date]). 69. Stravinsky himself recorded Craig's translation for Columbia Records. Craft notes that Stravinsky had twice abandoned efforts to make his own English translation of Svadebka (p. 335).

  • 70. I did not wish to dress women as men; I felt that travesty would too radically change the spirit of the piece. 71. Baer, Legacy, p. 34. 72. Nijinska, "Creation of Les Noces," p. 59. 73. Garafola, Ballets Itusses, p. 127

  • 74. Banes, Dancing Women, p. 113. 75. Garafola, Ballets Russes, p. 128. 76. Nijinska, Memoirs, p. 169. 77. Lynn Garafola, "Choreography by Nijinska," Ballet Review, 20, no. 4 (Winter 1992), 68. 78. Lifar, Serge Diaghitev, p. 256.

  • 79. Fergison, "Bringing Les Naces to the Stage," pp. 186-87. , . 80. Banes, Dancing Women, p. 110. . 81. Ibid., p. 115. 82. (Garafola, Ballets Russes, p. 115. 83. Lifar, Serge Diaghilev, p. 256. 84. Banes, Dancing Women, p. 116.

  • 8 5.Ibid., p. 115. 86. Ibid., p. 116.

  • 87. Osata, bistant l7nnces, p. 101. 88. Weinstock, "Gontcharova [sic], Nijinska, and Stravinsky," p. 73.

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