Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Circus Really Does Eventually Come To Town

Being in Australia can at times leave you feeling just that little bit disconnected from the rest of the world and the things that go on out there.

And, as a kid, I guess this was probably one of the driving forces for me living in England and France for five years. With numerous European top-ups since - and a year in the Peoples' Republic of China.

But then sometimes the big things come to us here.

Like the Ballets Russes visits from the mid thirties to the early forties, taking the opportunity to perform during the disruptions of World War 2 elsewhere. It came in various guises - The Original Ballets Russes, Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, Covent Garden Russian Ballet.

A highlight of these visits would have been the 1940 re-staging by Serge Lifar of his ballet 'Icare' (1935), with new percussive music by Antal Dorati and with new sets by Sydney Nolan ...

Lifar took the lead role of Icarus at the premier ...

... but then it was danced on subsequent performances by Roman Jasinsky ...

Amazingly, there's quite a lot of colour film of the performances of the Russian Ballet during these visits, including of footage of 'Icare' with Jasinsky.

So I've cobbled together a video around Serge Lifar, Roman Jasinsky, the Ballets Russes in Australia and 'Icare', and included some black and white 1950s film of Lifar teaching the principle role to a dancer at Le Palais Garnier in Paris ...

Hope you like it as much as I did putting it together!

I must say I really like ruminating on all the angles of being drawn to the arts of places elsewhere on the planet other than where you live ... while not descending into some kind of cultural cringe.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Caught on Film!

I'm not a royalist or a monarchist but have always had a soft spot for horny old Lothario Edward VII - known fondly as 'Edward the Caresser' (as opposed to Edward the Confessor).

And I was surprised, the other day, to find so much film existed of the king. In social as well as ceremonial occasions. Surprising given that the king died in 1910 at the very dawn of motion pictures.

So I thought a compilation seemed in order - sadly now split into three cos of Blogger upload limits ...

These little scraps of footage, some quite up-close and personal, really do give some sense of this larger than life Dionysian character.

I've added, as the audio track, part of Edward Elgar's 'Enigma Variations' as this music so strongly reflects the nostalgia an empire quickly slipping away at the turn of the C20.