Stravinsky Dances: Re-Visions across a Century

Hdl Handle:
http://hdl.handle.net/10142/48293
Title:
Stravinsky Dances: Re-Visions across a Century
Authors:
Jordan, Stephanie
Abstract:
Stravinsky Dances: Re-Visions across a Century Stephanie Jordan Abstract—incorporating an excerpt from the Introduction chapter More than any other twentieth-century composer, Igor Stravinsky is associated in the popular imagination with dance: ranging from his early Ballets Russes successes Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911), the years of scandal and experimental works like Le Sacre du printemps (1913) and Les Noces (1923), through to the celebrated collaboration with George Balanchine. Yet, so far, little has been written about the composer’s shifting views on dance across his career, the importance of his concert as well as ballet scores, or his appeal to a century of choreographers well beyond any established canon, representing modern dance as well as ballet. My survey and close examination of a range of Stravinsky dances—some familiar, some lesser-known—sheds new, unexpected light upon a composer central to Western artistic tradition and increasingly important to an emerging world culture. Historical and aesthetic issues highlighting the dance line through Stravinsky’s career provide the logical starting point for the book. Chapter 1 draws from my new collection of Stravinsky’s statements about dance and new diary of his attendance at, and conducting of, dance events. It is important to examine Stravinsky’s own perspective, because his stated intentions and dance aesthetics and the legal mechanisms of copyright and royalties operate in tension with the take-up and interpretation of his music. Thus, I consider his experience of dance beyond his ballet collaborations and his views on the theatrical realisation of specific ballet and concert scores. Research reveals that Stravinsky was a composer of hybrid scores involving spoken and sung text, a far more important aspect of his dance activity and legacy to future choreographers than generally acknowledged. We might then ask: how do his broader conceptions of theatre interact with dance and what challenges do these hybrids pose to choreographers (such as Frederick Ashton), being so different from the ‘pure music’ with which Balanchine is primarily associated? And how, given his exceptionally proactive nature, do his personality and business strategies impact on the nature of his collaborations, the dissemination of his scores and the profile of choreography made to them? I begin Chapter 2 posing general questions about the nature of Stravinsky’s music as dance music. In relation to previous notions of music for dance, is his a new form of musique dansante? How do Stravinsky’s own movement dynamics map on to his music, and how have dancers and choreographers responded to the physicality embodied in his music? In an overview of choreographies drawn from the Stravinsky the Global Dancer database (Jordan and Larraine Nicholas, www.roehampton.ac.uk/stravinsky), I then reflect upon patterns of usage over time, including discussion of little-known settings. I consider which ballet and concert scores have been used when and where, by modern dance or ballet choreographers, the reasons for this distribution, and in relation to the general pattern of Stravinsky reception. The chapter concludes with a discussion of selected scores and dances, setting the scene for the later detailed case studies. In-depth analytical research raises specific questions about the relationship between interpretations by choreographers and dancers and Stravinsky’s own intentions, whether these were stated or not, deliberate falsehoods or grounded guidance. In what ways have the boundaries been stretched recently (e.g. by Jérôme Bel) beyond theatrical interpretation of a score to its use as reference within a performative framework? For those using scores theatrically, there is also the notion of Stravinsky’s musical style modifying individual choreographic styles, reflected in particular choices of movement vocabulary and dynamics, approaches to structure, rhythm and phrasing. So, does Stravinsky sometimes bring the work of his choreographers closer together? And what are the distinctions between settings of the same score? We might also ask how the Stravinsky dance canon has been used and marketed. As a symbol of squeaky-clean high modernism or as raw, challenging commentary on humanity? As a source for further choreographers, using history overtly as part of their process? And how might understanding of the larger body of work illuminate understanding of the canon? In Chapter 3, Balanchine’s work is seen as the most marketed Stravinsky dance product, a symbol of Cold War apolitical purity and a quoted source (by, for instance, David Gordon and Yvonne Rainer). The chapter reflects on my own history, having analysed the Balanchine-Stravinsky ‘masterworks’ in the past, and I deliberately do not examine in detail works that are very familiar, including Agon, which was subject to lengthy treatment in my last book Moving Music. Instead, after surveying the range of Balanchine’s Stravinsky ballets, I dedicate most attention to two works that represent extreme positions, as radical statements, Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1963; a rare serial music setting) and Divertimento from Le Baiser de la fée (1972; the score arranged by Balanchine). Chapter 4 examines the work of Ashton, who, even if he set Stravinsky only four times, created one of the most complex choreomusical constructions of all, Scènes de ballet (1948); his style changed markedly in response to the composer’s music. I also analyse his settings of two hybrid scores Persephone (1961) and Le Rossignol (1981), involving spoken and sung text. Noces and Sacre have given rise to the most diverse choreography over the years, fascinating examples of score renewal, with significant aesthetic implications, themes of oppression, sexuality, human relations embodied within the most sophisticated structural detail or recalled through reference to a history that remains ever present. In Chapter 5, the Noces of Bronislava Nijinska, Jerome Robbins and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker are compared, the latter two productions using the controversial 1994 Dmitri Pokrovsky recording that might be seen to have ‘mis-translated’ Stravinsky’s intentions. Still no score attracts more choreographers than Sacre, which also bears the greatest weight of mythology and features increasingly in the work of the more conceptually-oriented choreographers/performance artists. Thus, in Chapter 6, Raymond Hoghe and Bel’s settings are considered alongside those of Pina Bausch, Maurice Béjart, Vaslav Nijinsky and Paul Taylor. Amongst Stravinsky’s scores, it is Sacre too that most readily invites discussion as global property, and I introduce the score as a presence within non-western traditions and as a feature of cultural diaspora. In terms of dance currency, pointing to the future as well as the past more forcefully than any other score, Sacre signals the logical end to Stravinsky Dances. Stephanie Jordan
Publisher:
Dance Books
Issue Date:
2007
URI:
http://hdl.handle.net/10142/48293
Additional Links:
http://www.dancebooks.co.uk/
Type:
Book
Language:
en
ISBN:
978 1 85273 125 0
Sponsors:
Arts and Humanities Research Council; British Academy
Appears in Collections:
Department of Dance Collection

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.contributor.authorJordan, Stephanie-
dc.date.accessioned2009-02-02T08:46:18Z-
dc.date.available2009-02-02T08:46:18Z-
dc.date.issued2007-
dc.identifier.isbn978 1 85273 125 0-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10142/48293-
dc.description.abstractStravinsky Dances: Re-Visions across a Century Stephanie Jordan Abstract—incorporating an excerpt from the Introduction chapter More than any other twentieth-century composer, Igor Stravinsky is associated in the popular imagination with dance: ranging from his early Ballets Russes successes Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911), the years of scandal and experimental works like Le Sacre du printemps (1913) and Les Noces (1923), through to the celebrated collaboration with George Balanchine. Yet, so far, little has been written about the composer’s shifting views on dance across his career, the importance of his concert as well as ballet scores, or his appeal to a century of choreographers well beyond any established canon, representing modern dance as well as ballet. My survey and close examination of a range of Stravinsky dances—some familiar, some lesser-known—sheds new, unexpected light upon a composer central to Western artistic tradition and increasingly important to an emerging world culture. Historical and aesthetic issues highlighting the dance line through Stravinsky’s career provide the logical starting point for the book. Chapter 1 draws from my new collection of Stravinsky’s statements about dance and new diary of his attendance at, and conducting of, dance events. It is important to examine Stravinsky’s own perspective, because his stated intentions and dance aesthetics and the legal mechanisms of copyright and royalties operate in tension with the take-up and interpretation of his music. Thus, I consider his experience of dance beyond his ballet collaborations and his views on the theatrical realisation of specific ballet and concert scores. Research reveals that Stravinsky was a composer of hybrid scores involving spoken and sung text, a far more important aspect of his dance activity and legacy to future choreographers than generally acknowledged. We might then ask: how do his broader conceptions of theatre interact with dance and what challenges do these hybrids pose to choreographers (such as Frederick Ashton), being so different from the ‘pure music’ with which Balanchine is primarily associated? And how, given his exceptionally proactive nature, do his personality and business strategies impact on the nature of his collaborations, the dissemination of his scores and the profile of choreography made to them? I begin Chapter 2 posing general questions about the nature of Stravinsky’s music as dance music. In relation to previous notions of music for dance, is his a new form of musique dansante? How do Stravinsky’s own movement dynamics map on to his music, and how have dancers and choreographers responded to the physicality embodied in his music? In an overview of choreographies drawn from the Stravinsky the Global Dancer database (Jordan and Larraine Nicholas, www.roehampton.ac.uk/stravinsky), I then reflect upon patterns of usage over time, including discussion of little-known settings. I consider which ballet and concert scores have been used when and where, by modern dance or ballet choreographers, the reasons for this distribution, and in relation to the general pattern of Stravinsky reception. The chapter concludes with a discussion of selected scores and dances, setting the scene for the later detailed case studies. In-depth analytical research raises specific questions about the relationship between interpretations by choreographers and dancers and Stravinsky’s own intentions, whether these were stated or not, deliberate falsehoods or grounded guidance. In what ways have the boundaries been stretched recently (e.g. by Jérôme Bel) beyond theatrical interpretation of a score to its use as reference within a performative framework? For those using scores theatrically, there is also the notion of Stravinsky’s musical style modifying individual choreographic styles, reflected in particular choices of movement vocabulary and dynamics, approaches to structure, rhythm and phrasing. So, does Stravinsky sometimes bring the work of his choreographers closer together? And what are the distinctions between settings of the same score? We might also ask how the Stravinsky dance canon has been used and marketed. As a symbol of squeaky-clean high modernism or as raw, challenging commentary on humanity? As a source for further choreographers, using history overtly as part of their process? And how might understanding of the larger body of work illuminate understanding of the canon? In Chapter 3, Balanchine’s work is seen as the most marketed Stravinsky dance product, a symbol of Cold War apolitical purity and a quoted source (by, for instance, David Gordon and Yvonne Rainer). The chapter reflects on my own history, having analysed the Balanchine-Stravinsky ‘masterworks’ in the past, and I deliberately do not examine in detail works that are very familiar, including Agon, which was subject to lengthy treatment in my last book Moving Music. Instead, after surveying the range of Balanchine’s Stravinsky ballets, I dedicate most attention to two works that represent extreme positions, as radical statements, Movements for Piano and Orchestra (1963; a rare serial music setting) and Divertimento from Le Baiser de la fée (1972; the score arranged by Balanchine). Chapter 4 examines the work of Ashton, who, even if he set Stravinsky only four times, created one of the most complex choreomusical constructions of all, Scènes de ballet (1948); his style changed markedly in response to the composer’s music. I also analyse his settings of two hybrid scores Persephone (1961) and Le Rossignol (1981), involving spoken and sung text. Noces and Sacre have given rise to the most diverse choreography over the years, fascinating examples of score renewal, with significant aesthetic implications, themes of oppression, sexuality, human relations embodied within the most sophisticated structural detail or recalled through reference to a history that remains ever present. In Chapter 5, the Noces of Bronislava Nijinska, Jerome Robbins and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker are compared, the latter two productions using the controversial 1994 Dmitri Pokrovsky recording that might be seen to have ‘mis-translated’ Stravinsky’s intentions. Still no score attracts more choreographers than Sacre, which also bears the greatest weight of mythology and features increasingly in the work of the more conceptually-oriented choreographers/performance artists. Thus, in Chapter 6, Raymond Hoghe and Bel’s settings are considered alongside those of Pina Bausch, Maurice Béjart, Vaslav Nijinsky and Paul Taylor. Amongst Stravinsky’s scores, it is Sacre too that most readily invites discussion as global property, and I introduce the score as a presence within non-western traditions and as a feature of cultural diaspora. In terms of dance currency, pointing to the future as well as the past more forcefully than any other score, Sacre signals the logical end to Stravinsky Dances. Stephanie Jordanen
dc.description.provenanceSubmitted by Stephanie Jordan (s.jordan@roehampton.ac.uk) on 2009-01-31T20:11:14Z No. of bitstreams: 0en
dc.description.provenanceApproved for entry into archive by Pat Simons(p.simons@roehampton.ac.uk) on 2009-02-02T08:46:15Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 0en
dc.description.provenanceMade available in DSpace on 2009-02-02T08:46:18Z (GMT). No. of bitstreams: 0 Previous issue date: 2007en
dc.description.sponsorshipArts and Humanities Research Council; British Academyen
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherDance Booksen
dc.relation.urlhttp://www.dancebooks.co.uk/en
dc.subjectdanceen
dc.subjectmusicen
dc.titleStravinsky Dances: Re-Visions across a Centuryen
dc.typeBooken
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