Preserving a legacy, preserving ballet history: restaging the ballets of Antony Tudor
Knoblauch-O'Neal, Christine Ann
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The purpose of this study was to examine the work of the Répétiteurs of the Tudor Trust in restaging the ballets of Antony Tudor. I drew on my interviews with Sally Bliss, executor of the Tudor will and Trustee of the Tudor Trust; Donald Mahler, senior Répétiteur of the Tudor Trust and former Tudor dancer; Kirk Peterson former principle dancer with American Ballet Theatre and Répétiteur of the Tudor Trust; Amanda McKerrow former principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Répétiteur of the Tudor Trust, and last ballerina to work with Mr. Tudor; and James Jordan, Répétiteur in-training with the Tudor Trust and Ballet Master with the Kansas City Ballet. Additionally, I drew on my experiences working with three of the participants during the restaging of Dark Elegies for the Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St. Louis along with my years of dancing with Mr. Tudor at American Ballet Theatre. The dissertation study traces the process taken by each of the Répétiteurs in restaging Mr. Tudor's ballets and explores their understanding of and appreciation for his unique aesthetic and choreographic intention. The Répétiteurs' processes are further shown to be enhanced by their experiences as dancers working with Mr. Tudor along with their continued in-depth research and analysis into the nature of Tudor's genius and its impact on his craft. All the collected data from the R's is further presented in context with the chorographical, historical, psychological, and literary influences felt to inform and further shape Tudor's choreography. The study was developed through qualitative research methods for data collection, analysis, and interpretation. The data collection involved not only interviews with the Répétiteurs, but also interviews with three college dancers who had recently learned and performed a Tudor ballet restaged by one of the participants, and observations of each Répétiteur during his or her restaging process. Also, Sally Bliss, given her position, allowed full access to the archival videos of past productions of the Tudor ballets held by the Tudor Trust. Three areas of interest emerged from this diverse data collection: 1) The sense of authenticity for each restaged ballet was grounded in and secured through the Répétiteurs' experiential relationships with Tudor and/or their continued research and critical analysis of documents, videos of past productions, and biographical materials. 2) The Répétiteurs' process of restaging encouraged a sense of exploration and discovery for the dancers in order to better understand and embody the essential elements of the Tudor ballets and 3) The role of the Répétiteurs as the tellers of stories or the importance of the recounting and retelling of stories within the restaging process which created the presence of Tudor, as a Transcendental Tudor. I hope that this research adds to the literature on the creative process, the choreographic process, the restaging process, archiving and documenting dances, and the where and when of making ballet history.