Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

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Ken Viewer
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Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:36 pm

This is not news but nonetheless, it's the footage of a 1984 gala performance at New York City's current Metropolitan Opera House, Lillian Gish did a voice-over and took the role of the 'young girl' in the ballet choreographed by Michel Fokine famously known as "Le Spectre de la Rose." Because, if for no other reason than she was then 91 years old, the dancing for her part was left out and she performed her own (or some unbilled choreographer's) mime interpretation.

The production later aired on PBS and then almost forgotten about. The recording of the event, on commercial video tape, has somewhat faded, but here it is on Youtube. Some two minutes of dancing and other mime by the ballerina, and some by Patrick Dupond, who performed the role of The Rose -- which was created by Nijinsky, who Gish saw, in-person, when the original Ballets Russes production came to the old Metropolitan Opera House in 1916, was cut to accommodate the alterations to account for Gish's limited ability to dance at that point in her life.

Following this link is a link to another performance of the same work done in what used to be the Soviet Union, where the original Ballets Russes and Nijinsky never performed. Enjoy and ignore the second link if you don't want a fabulous performance by other artists to compare the Gish/Dupond show to:



A performance of the work starring Nikolai Tsiskaridze at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (no fiim of Nijinsky in the work is believed to exist) This is a work that is rarely taken out of cold storage by ballet companies for times when they have access to a male dancer who is a fabulous jumper, among other talents:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AI_jK7 ... K71A9E&t=9


Ken
Last edited by silentfilm on Fri Aug 17, 2018 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Embedd YouTube link

ClarenceE
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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by ClarenceE » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:11 pm

Miss Gish was so delicate and intelligent at any age. Bravo!

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Jim Roots
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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Jim Roots » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:58 pm

Did Baryshnikov ever do it? He was a hell of a jumper, and the best male dancer I've ever seen. And yes, I've seen Nureyev live in performance (at the old O'Keefe Centre in Toronto) ... albeit at the end of his career, when he built in periods where he could sit on a prop bench to discreetly catch his breath while others danced around him. But in comparing films of him in his prime and Baryshnikov in his, the younger Russian has always impressed me more.

Jim

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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by greta de groat » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:53 pm

Jim Roots wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:58 pm
Did Baryshnikov ever do it? He was a hell of a jumper, and the best male dancer I've ever seen.

Jim
Yes, and it was broadcast on TV. I've seen it more recently as well, probably on the Classic Arts Showcase channel.

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Unsung Divas of the Silent Screen
http://www.stanford.edu/~gdegroat

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Jim Roots
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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:53 am

greta de groat wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:53 pm
Jim Roots wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:58 pm
Did Baryshnikov ever do it? He was a hell of a jumper, and the best male dancer I've ever seen.

Jim
Yes, and it was broadcast on TV. I've seen it more recently as well, probably on the Classic Arts Showcase channel.

greta
How was it?

Jim

Ken Viewer
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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Mon Aug 20, 2018 8:26 am

I saw Baryshnikov's first U. S. performance (he had just defected while on tour with a Soviet company in Canada), which was in New York City, and his performance later on as the Rose at Wolf Trap picnic grounds and covered-shell theater. Footage of one such performance is currently on Youtube and so you can decide what you think for yourself. The girl is danced by the extraordinarily-underrated Marianna Tcherkassky:



Me? I was greatly disappointed as Baryshnikov didn't seem willing to get into the spirit of the work. He also didn't seem to either know or want to dance the purported original choreography. Admittedly, to do it right would have involved perhaps wearing a red bathing cap on his head and a costume that would win him awards at the annual New York City Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, but if ya won't perform this legendary role as many of us believe it was intended, why bother? The work is almost a pièce d'occasion or a circus-show but it is a great ballet and Ms. Tcherkassky, a principal dancer of the first rank, damn near takes their scenes together away from him.

The staging differs, IMO, from the version Andre Eglevsky always made (and coached the dancers) for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), where Baryshnikov was on-staff at the time (1976), but ABT had commissioned Eglevsky and designers to create another production only two years earlier for Italian superstar Paolo Bortoluzzi when he joined the company (but only stayed one season IIRC) and Carla Fracci (with Fracci alternating the role of the girl with American ballerina Eleanor d'Antuono).

Here's the version Jimmy Nederlander and Nureyev's manager/business-associate Sandor Gorlinsky commissioned for a four-week Broadway run with Nureyev dancing the role at every performance to a sell-out engagement, with Nederlander, who needed a dance company to back Nureyev, actually *renting* the Joffrey Ballet for the month with Robert Joffrey having no say in what went on. Hey, it was a good paycheck for his otherwise-unemployed dancers at the time. Nureyev was one of these superhuman people who could dance in three ballets a night seven times a week and survive the experience. In Russia, a star dancer might perform six times per month...

The girl for this Nederlander show (which was repeated in venues around the world and made Nureyev, Gorlinsky and Nederlander boatloads of money, on which Nureyev, who quickly became a Capitalist after he defected, avoiding paying income taxes in various nations) is Joffrey artist Denise Jackson:



If you have no interest in this material, please just ignore it. For those who want to watch it, I urge you to do it now, even though the fidelity of the footage, as originally recorded on video tape, is rather awful, because sooner or later some corporation is going to object and the footage will be blocked or taken down.

Ken

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Jim Roots
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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Jim Roots » Mon Aug 20, 2018 11:29 am

Baryshnikov defected in Canada, and to show his appreciation he immediately gave a tour de force performance in Toronto and televised across the country. It was jaw-dropping and overwhelming to watch.

Then, having paid his respects to us, he promptly shot off to NYC and more or less stayed there.

Jim

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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Ken Viewer » Mon Aug 20, 2018 12:58 pm

Jim,

Canada was merely the convenient place to defect for Baryshnikov, since the touring troupe he was with was not scheduled to perform in the United States.

(Some of my friends from the "ballet underground," back during this Golden Age of Ballet in the U.S. traveled to Canada specifically to see Baryshnikov dance and when they came back were openly talking about his apparent upcoming defection -- he'd been seen having conversations with the then-wife of New York Times/New York Post critic Clive Barnes. They took that as a tip-off, since, along with her husband Clive, she had an extraordinary devotion to helping Soviet dancers develop careers in the West.)

One of my friends told me American Ballet Theatre was to be Baryshnikov's home-company in the U.S. and that the deal had already been done. I talked to several ABT board members and they would not deny that the-then still-a-Soviet citizen Baryshnikov was expected to join the company.

Canada simply got used as the convenient location to stage the defection.

John and Jane Q. Public thought cultural defections were, in the 1970s, all top-secret, and that was just not the case if you knew what to look for and the right people to ask. By the time plans had been made for Russian dancer/film-actor Alexandr Godunov to defect and join ABT in 1979, a key player in that event had, to my amazement, in an interview with me, gone on the record about the upcoming event, and I included that information, as a humorous aside by Sandor Gorlinsky, in one newspaper where I thought it wouldn't stir up a mess. It didn't. Did the KGB know in advance? How could they not? Did they take bribes? As Alfred E. Neuman has asked, "What, me worry?"

The problem was that Godunov developed itchy feet during the New York portion of the Bolshoi Ballet tour of the U.S. and Canada that he was on, jumped prematurely in Manhattan, which ended up damn-near starting a war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union because he was scheduled to jump at the end of the tour in Los Angeles, and always intended to jump without his dancer-wife, who purportedly was in charge of keeping him from defecting, but he wouldn't wait. (He didn't want his wife and she decided to return to the Soviet Union -- no, I don't know why she did that, but I do believe it was voluntary).

Instead, his lawyer (who also happened to be the chairman of the board of the New York City Ballet) suddenly claimed Godunov's wife was being kidnapped out of the U.S., and FBI sharpshooters were sent to Kennedy Airport here in NYC to stop the Aeroflot plane that she had boarded from taking off. He was full of baloney and so was the Manhattan press agent engaged to represent their interests.

Heck, you don't start an international crisis to hustle the box-office allure -- and fees -- of some entertainer...

Anyway, the plane was finally allowed to leave with the wife and Godunov promptly joined American Ballet Theatre, which coincidentally at that moment was in the throws of a labor dispute between its underpaid dancers and its board of trustees. The dancers thus did not appreciate that they were living off of canned tuna fish and having to share hotel rooms while he had been hired by ABT for an upcoming salary of $6,000-per-week (this was 1979).

Things are often not what they seem in the world of show business. I guess they never have been and perhaps they never will be... I had a grand time covering this world but eventually tired of it and switched to specializing in covering something else. And no, unless some publisher (or like in the case of the foundation that in-good-part funded a Fantasyland version of William Fox's life) puts up a vast sum of money up-front, I'm not going to write a book about that Golden Age. I doubt there's a major market for such a tome and I simply got too old myself, but boy-oh-boy it was a fun time back in the day...

Ken

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Jim Roots
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Re: Lillian Gish Performing in "Le Spectre de la Rose" on the Stage of the Met Opera House in NYC in 1984.

Unread post by Jim Roots » Tue Aug 21, 2018 5:22 am

Ken, that's how I remember it with Baryshnikov, too.

It was very gracious of him to immediately give a major, televised performance in Toronto to thank Canada for helping him defect. He won a lot of lifelong fans in this country by doing so.

Jim

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