[Dixielandjazz] Revisiting The Past - A Fresh Approach?

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 24 08:55:39 PST 2005

Interesting article, snipped for brevity, about reinventing past ballets. A
similar approach might also work well for OKOM.

Steve Barbone

March 20, 2005 NY Times By JOHN ROCKWELL

When Discovering the Future Means Revisiting the Past

SOMETIMES looking backward can mean looking forward. Neo-Classical ballets
like "Pulcinella" seemed progressive back in the 1920's, however furiously
modernists fought against them. Today the search for freshness is less
likely to lead to new work in old idioms than to revived, or even
reconstructed, old work. This is as true with the early-music movement as it
is in ballet and modern dance.

You can still enliven the repertory by asking modern dancers to create
ballets or by cultivating young ballet choreographers or even, when a work
of Balanchine is still unfamiliar, by turning to him. But on a recent swing
through four leading American regional ballet companies, the most vital work
came in revivals. 

To be sure, brief stops at the San Francisco Ballet, the Boston Ballet, the
Pennsylvania Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago don't provide enough
evidence with which to pronounce on the state of dance in this country. And
all four programs attested to the paradox that everything old can be new

The Joffrey program also had Jerome Robbins's exhilarating "N.Y. Export:
Opus Jazz!" Set originally for his Ballets: USA in 1958, it includes a
spiffy symphonic jazz score by Robert Prince (excellently performed, like
all the music here), striking sets by Ben Shahn and enthusiastic dancers in
sneakers straight from "West Side Story."

Audiences crave novelties; man cannot live on "The Nutcracker" alone. Since
in-house choreographers are often not yet fully formed, whatever their
innate talent, and since not all European imports or crossover ballets work
terribly well, where is a company to turn for novelty? To the past.

So let new ballets crop up in every corner. But looking backward counts,
too, more and more. In reacquainting us with ballet history, regional
companies are serving both their communities and the art of dance itself.

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list