Restaging Works from the Ballets Russes: A Conversation between

in Experiment
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Abstract

Critic Marcia Siegel and choreographer Millicent Hodson discuss problems of putting lost or nearly forgotten 20th century ballets back on stage, focusing on questions of authenticity, interpretation, choreographic process and documentation through direct contact with Diaghilev's dancers. The discussion refers specifically to reconstruction of ballets by Nijinsky and Balanchine which Hodson has done with scenic consultant Kenneth Archer during the last years when Ballets Russes artists still survived to pass on their knowledge. Siegel extends the discussion to Diaghilev's other choreographers, Fokine, Massine and Nijinska.

Restaging Works from the Ballets Russes: A Conversation between

in Experiment

Sections

References

2)

Millicent Hodson“Compostion by Field: Merce Cunningham and the American Fifties,” Choreography: Principles and PracticeReport of the Fourth Study of Dance Conference (4-7 April 1986) National Resource Centre for Dance University of Surrey Guildford 1987.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Dancers with shields for elegiac last scene of La Chatte. The movement with the shields was a collaboration between George Balanchine and the sculptor Naum Gabo, who designed the decor and costumes, assisted by his brother Antoine Pevsner. The ballet is based on an Aesop fable of the Greek hero who falls in love with his cat, whom Aphrodite (Venus) transforms briefly into a woman. Tempted by a mouse, the woman reverts to cat and the hero dies of a broken heart. His comrades mourn him in a procession. Balanchine derived many choreographic motifs from Greek vases, according to the reconstructors’ interviews with his partner, Alexandra Danilova, 1989. Page from Choreographic Notebook by Millicent Hodson, 1989.
  • View in gallery
    Olga Spessivtseva with her Giselle hairdo in the hat for La Chatte at the Monte-Carlo premiere in 1927 showing how the style crystallized with the change to 1920s spit curls by Alice Nikitina (top right) for the Paris premiere later that year. Reconstruction Costume Dossier by Kenneth Archer, 1989.
  • View in gallery
    Carole Pastorel as Death with the Emperor on the dais and the Chamberlains in Archer/Hodson reconstruction of Le Chant du Rossingol with Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. Premiere at Holland Dance Festival. Photo from the front page of Trouw, The Hague, November 16, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    The Mechanical Nightingale malfunctions and is carried from the Chinese Emperor’s Court by the Japanese Maestro. Reconstruction drawing for Le Chant du Rossignol by Millicent Hodson, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    The Emperor, whose illness is worsened by the presence of the Mechanical Nightingale, is taken to his bed on the dais by his Assistants and the Chamberlains. Reconstruction drawing of Le Chant du Rossignol by Millicent Hodson, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    The Mandarins make a moving platform for the entrance of the Emperor so that he never touches the ground. Reconstruction drawing for Le Chant du Rossignol by Millicent Hodson, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    The Nightingale comes to the Emperor’s chamber to heal him and does not see the entrance of Death with her necklace of skulls. Reconstruction drawing of Le Chant du Rossignol by Millicent Hodson, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    Death pierces the Nightingale with her pointe shoe and seems to be victorious in the fijight for the Emperor’s life. Reconstruction drawing by Millicent Hodson, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    Death wraps the necklace of skulls around her wrist to taunt the Nightingale. Reconstuction Drawing for Le Chant du Rossignol by Millicent Hodson, 1999.
  • View in gallery
    Nancy Cunard’s signature style of multiple bracelets as a model for Death’s wrist wrap of skulls in Le Chant du Rossignol. Reconstruction Costume Dossier by Kenneth Archer, 1999.

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