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Comments

Andrea

I vote "YES!" and am multi-casting the City Ballet dancers in it as I vote.

perky

I have to vote no on Giselle.
The NYCB aesthetic is Balanchine, Robbins and new works by upcoming choreographers. I wasn't happy to hear that Romeo and Juliet was being done by Martins. I would totally freak if I heard he was doing a Giselle. Those classical or romantic full lengths belong at ABT across the plaza, not at Balanchine's neo-classical ballet company. You could make the argument that NYCB is no longer Balanchine's company and you might be right but still I think a version of Giselle would be the final nail in the coffin for me. I think it would erode what makes NYCB so unique and special.

Now, I'm all for NCYB dancers guesting with other companies in their downtime and dancing roles they never normally would never get a chance to. Ashley Bouder recently danced some Giselles in Italy. I would have loved to have seen that just not on the State Theater stage.

Philip

Perky, all that you say is true but we also have to consider how to get audiences to keep coming (or even more importantly: START coming) to the ballet. The whole Balanchine/Robbins 'generation' are aging; long-time subscribers pass away, move away or become too physically feeble to attend the performances.

It is fine to stick with what NYCB have always done: the Balanchine-Robbins rep. But as those titles become increasingly just 'names' ballets like R & J, SWAN and GISELLE still mean something to the public at large.

I know that young people (ballet newbies) came to see R & J because of the ad campaign and Kristen's videos. They came and fell in love with people like Sterling, Robbie, Andrew, Joaquin and Amar. They came back to see them in other rep.

NYCB and ABT share many rep items, including Balanchine. People shuttle back and forth to see both Companies, mainly for the individual dancers.

Marisa

I think it's a good idea and agree with Philip that the Balanchine ballets simply don't have the audience recognition to draw in new crowds. I remember going to an all Balanchine evening a couple years ago and the house was 2/3 full. That weekend was Romeo and it was a sellout, I think, or very nearly.

Does this mean P M's Romeo is better than Balanchine? No, but it does mean that people want to see Romeo who don't necessarily know exactly who Balanchine is.

perky

I do see all of your points but I still think that something precious and unique would be irretrievably lost if NYCB became just another ABT or San Francisco Ballet.
The key is to get a new and younger audience demographic and still maintain the Balanchine and Robbins. How do you do this? I have no friggin clue, but I don't think adding Giselle to the repertory would be the answer.
People can disagree with me, I won't get upset. I enjoy the dialogue!!!

Philip

Perky, as time speeds by faster and faster I sometimes feel Balanchine and Robbins are as ancient in terms of ballet history as Fokine and Petipa.

Keeping Balanchine and Robbins rep alive and meaningful is a big task.

I do not think GISELLE is "the answer" but I do feel it could be a potent lure at the box office and that if people come for GISELLE they might come back for SERENADE.

James Barrick

I think Martins' SLEEPING BEAUTY is the best production of that ballet I have seen since I started attending ballet performances in 1970, while ABT's new (2007) production is the absolute worst. I also think highly of NYCB's SWAN LAKEs (both Martins' and Balanchine's). Why not GISELLE? There is no compelling reason NOT to do it, and many reasons to do it (nicely enumerated by Philip in this article).

perky

My feeling is that we are at a ballet transition that happens every once in a while.
The romantic ballet gave way to Petipa's classical ballet. Then Balanchine arrived with neo-classism. What we need is someone to take neo-classism to the next logical step, but who? There are many wonderful choreographers out there, such as Wheeldon and Ratmansky but we need an innovator not a redux and I just don't see one on the horizon.
And yes Phillip in a perfect world having a young person come in to see Giselle and leave loving Serenade would be awesome. It just makes me sad that you would have to dangle dead Willis in the breeze to do it. Maybe another Susan Strohman ballet? Not everyone liked her first attempt but it did get butts in the theater.
You know, I've been accused of being incredibly naive and idealistic and perhaps that explains my problem with this issue. I'd much rather have a young person come to a NYCB performance rather reluctantly and leave happily transformed by seeing Liebeslieder Walzer or Symphony In Three Movements and charged with the desire to come back as soon as possible. Maybe I should just live in my happy delusional bubble!
I do want to say Thank You to Phillip for starting the discussion with his thoughtful post even if we disagree on some things.

Philip

"...dangle dead Wilis..." Priceless!

Philip

James, I hated Peter's SWAN the first time I saw it but have come to love it - by tuning out some visual elements and concentrating on the dancing. And his ending is a real power-punch.

Peter's BEAUTY is so attractive and has the added bonus of Balanchine's Garland Waltz which alone is worth the price of a ticket. People protest his compressions but the music of the Hunting Scene for example is not especially intriguing; I feel that in Tsarist Russia that was probably the point when sorbet was served in the royal box. Peter's cuts are judicious, the story is all there and his Fairy/Cavalier Prologue set piece and his Vision Scene are really lovely to watch. The sets are just straight out of a fairy tale, and I love the way he depicts Carabosse for us.

To ABT's credit they took the many criticisms of their BEAUTY to heart and pared it back considerably the second season. But some of it is still an eyesore and more cuts could be made. The stories I heard about getting this production onto the stage are pretty incredible.

Lars

I can see both sides of the debate but the bottom line is, I would love to have a different view of "Giselle" available here in NY, and I do see the casting potential.

AnnaLise

Very interesting and thought-provoking on both sides of the coin. Perky's comments are really perceptive. On the other hand I would definitely go see a City Ballet "Giselle", repeatedly.

Marisa

I remember that poster! Right you are about the Nilas derriere!!

TomG

Agree with Perky, basically. But...I would go see it anyway!

Jane

"...dead Wilis..." Isn't that an oxymoron?

Sorry! Couldn't resist!! But points well made on all sides. However I have to say that there's something about the inherent wild abandon of Giselle which I think might suit the strengths of the NYCB talent and their Balanchine legacy. And it's time to take chances if the financial health of these companies is to be preserved.

Jane

Oh no, no! I don't mean "oxymoron". I mean quite the opposite -- "redundant"!

Never mind. Long day at the OK Corral.

Deborah

Great question, Philip. You and I have talked about this before (and agree) but thought I'd add the following to this discussion.

Ashley Bouder did "Giselle" in Rome (with Jared Angle) and I know (from one of the NYCB's great "Close Up Chats" ) that she would love the chance to do it here. I'm guessing that quite a few of our talented young ballerinas would be great in the ballet, as would our outstanding men.

Perhaps, Peter could bring in a guest director to help him stage this. But of course the NYCB should do it. Why not? It's good to shake things up every once in a while.

Bob

Another vote for "Giselle!" For more than 60 years, NYCB has remained unique and special despite having such full-length ballets as Nutcracker, Midsummer Night's Dream, Coppelia, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo and Juliet in its repertory. Why not add Giselle to that list! Everyone remembers Balanchine as an artistic genius but he was also someone who regarded himself as a "chef" who had to serve up "goodies" to his audience. He realized all too well that great art does not mean much if there are no people sitting in the theater to enjoy it. This insight is especially relevant in these difficult economic times when audiences for dance and all the arts are dwindling. And we should have no fear that this would make NYCB an ABT "copycat." We have seen time and again that when NYCB does one of the classics, it is quite different from ABT's version - much more streamlined, less mime, more "pure" dancing. So yes, let us follow Andrea's lead and start casting the NYCB version of Giselle. I would start with Ashley Bouder, Janie Taylor, Kathryn Morgan, and Tiler Peck rotating in the role of Giselle.

Philip

I like your Giselle castings, Bob!

jim

Bob:

That would be perfect casting with those four delights, and yes, I love "Giselle," and want NYCB to do it.
Like "Swan Lake," it screams BALLET.

jim

Elise

Hello, just wanted to stop by and leave a comment to say that I Love your wonderful blog, thanks for such interesting and enlightening posts and pictures.

Thank you !

Philip

Thank you, Elise! I'm really glad to hear from you.

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