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June 10, 2015

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Thanks for posting this. I now have a confirmed reservation. I wouldn't have known about this, if not for you.

You're very welcome.

Can we clone her, offer her a Queen's random, and get her to run ABT for a few years? Seriously, she has more intelligence in her little finger than KM has in his entire body. That was so interesting. Thanks again for bringing it to my attention,

Ellen, I got stuck at work and couldn't make it to LC in time to catch Dame Monica's presentation. Can you give us a little more about it?

Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order:

2 clips were shown, but neither had MM dancing. The first was a rehearsal clip showing MM co-coaching Song of the Earth. The second clip showed some current dancers doing a section from one of the songs; this was filmed at some public event (something like Works + Progress is my guess). MM feels it is helpful to expose potential audiences to pieces before they see them in the theater. You get a connection to the work before you actually see it. I immediately recognized the section when I saw the evening performance; I thought the dancing in the evening to be better than what was shown in the clip and I did get more insight into the piece.

MM talked extensively about her relationship with MacMillan as his assistant. He set her a 24-hour test: come up with a complete cast list for R&J. He ran his eye down the list and pronounced it boring. Why? Because it was his casting. He didn't want his casting, he wanted her casting. He said if a certain role was always done by a short dancer and you thought a tall dancer could do the role, well, then cast the tall dancer. Think outside the box. Go for it. MM mentioned more than once that MacMillan didn't like safe, he liked risk-taking.

Alistair M asked in the Q&A if MM considered Song as part of a trilogy with Requiem and Gloria. Essentially, she said no. She considers R and G to be a duo, but Song to be outside of that. She also considers Requiem to be a very Crankoish ballet. (For more than the obvious reason.)

She feels things happen as they ought to. If Song had been done on the Royal instead of Stuttgart, she feels a very different ballet might have resulted. It is what it is because it was set on Stuttgart dancers, not Royal dancers.

She talked about trying to get dancers to listen to the music. You can't count the Mahler; it is not 1 2 3 4 5 6; it could be more like 1 2 3 444444 5 6, and the dancer needs to listen to it. One dancer listened to the score for days, but wasn't hearing the music. When she queried said dancer on whether he heard strings or woodwinds, he had no clue. It's a flute she said; you need to listen for the intake of breath before the flautist begins to play. This should impact the dancer's performance. She said it also makes a big difference that the singers are on the stage. You can hear their breathing onstage and it affects your performance.

She feels that there is truly no such thing as a plotless ballet, no matter how abstract it might seem. When you put a man and a woman on stage, there is a reaction of some kind; otherwise, she said, it is not a performance.

She talked about the importance of notation; while she thinks filming is helpful (they couldn't have remounted Sylvia without archival footage that came to light), she thinks notation is still the most important record of anything, because very, very rarely is anything notated incorrectly. She declared herself frankly shocked that Pater Martins and NYCB don't notate.

The bottom line for me was that this is a very articulate, intelligent woman who doesn't stumble over her words or hesitate. No um every other word, like a certain AD who can't seem to string two coherent sentences together.

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

Ellen, thank you so much for these comments. I hope you don't mind that I've featured them in today's Observations.

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