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  1. I think that from what I have read elsewhere the point being made here is that the change at the top in a ballet company based in Germany has the potential to be far more disruptive than it is elsewhere in the world as the new director is free to replace every dancer in the company should he or she wish to do so. Of course something like Ratmansky's reconstruction may be years in the planning and may not always disappear overnight with a change of director, in the absence of repertory to replace it, but the fact remains that the artistic direction which a German company takes can, and often does, alter almost overnight with a change of artistic director. If my understanding is correct and a change of artistic director often means not only a change of repertory and the type of dance works being performed but a complete change in dance personnel then a change of director can be very rapid and disruptive indeed. I should be happy to be proved wrong but I don't think that the Paquita reconstruction staged for Munich a couple of years ago survived the change of director.
  2. As there are two more performances at which Osipova is to dance Tatiana I thought it might be interesting to visit a couple of these resale sites to see whether there were any tickets being offered and what sort of prices the sellers were asking for them. Not surprisingly I found tickets for sale for both performances at highly inflated prices including some for seats in the Upper Slips from which there is virtually no view of the stage. As it is so easy to find tickets being offered for any number of performances at the Royal Opera House on these sites I can't help wondering why it takes no action against the vendors by cancelling the tickets and then taking action against the original purchaser by cancelling any Friends Membership they may have and banning them from buying tickets in the future? Its conditions of sale state very clearly that it reserves the right to cancel tickets which are offered for resale. Does anyone else find its apparent indifference to such activities more than a little odd as it can be argued that by allowing this activity to continue unchecked it suffers a certain amount of damage to its corporate reputation ?
  3. I trust that this does not offend anyone but Marguerite Porter's Lilac Fairy is not an ideal exemplar with which to compare later exponents of the role save where tempo is concerned. Where the 1978 recording of the ballet really scores is in the dancer's relationship with the music. Apart from the Crystal Fountain variation which is slower all the other dancers in that recording are within seconds of the tempi set by Previn in his LSO studio recording of the score and Collier is a second or two faster as the Fairy of the Songbirds.From my recollection this degree of acute musicality is true of the entire recorded performance which is worth watching to understand what the ballet should look like in performance even if not all the cast is ideal when compared with the company ten years earlier. To return to Porter's Lilac Fairy her account of the role was not that highly regarded at the time. It was generally thought that compared with the likes of Bergsma who had been the great Lilac Fairy of the 1960's and Beryl Grey who had been the great exponent of the role from 1946 until she left the company and went freelance Porter lacked the authority which comes with a powerful technique and obvious mastery of the choreography. I think that Arlene Croce said as much when she wrote about the company's New York performances in the late seventies commenting on Porter's approach to the role by saying that she was beneficent rather than authoritative, dominating and powerful. The truth is that since 1978 Sleeping Beauty has fallen victim to the great Petipa go slow caused among other things by the idea that legs should go much higher and the mistaken belief that the audience wants to see static poses rather than transitions. This has happened because no one wanted to set the company's performance style in aspic and the alteration was incremental.rather than an overnight change. Another factor to add to the mix is that hardly anyone on stage today has had any real involvement with Cecchetti training whereas in the 1970's everyone who had come into the company via the school, and the bulk of the company did just that, had some experience of Cecchetti training. Perhaps I am wrong about this but I sometimes think that the Royal Ballet occasionally suffers from its self imposed self-sufficiency when it comes to coaching roles like the Lilac Fairy and the Fairy Variations. I recognise that when so many casts have to be prepared to dance the leading roles in this ballet preparing dancers to perform the Fairy Variations may have come to be seen more as a matter of logistics than of artistic exposition but I am not convinced that the company has got its coaching priorities right when it comes to these roles. It is almost as if the company has persuaded itself that the dancers appearing in them require less artistic polish and nuanced plastique than those dancing Aurora need. Fortunately the days when the casting of the Variations seemed to be undertaken by drawing names from a hat at random are over but we are rarely presented with a full line up of dancers who are equally accomplished in their roles and manage to persuade the audience that they are all there as of right. It is as if the company has forgotten that the Variations were originally devised to showcase Petipa's own leading dancers which suggests to me that they should not look as if they have been mass produced with little concern as to how their performance will read in the theatre, only that there should be enough of them. Each of these variations requires sufficient technique to reproduce the choreography after which it is largely a question of understanding and nuanced presentation. What I fail to understand is why, when Bergsma was invited to help with the revival of Enigma Variations, she was not asked to coach this season's Lilac Fairies as well or why Thoroughgood was not invited to polish the other fairies as she must have danced everyone of them at some time in her career after being coached by de Valois and Ashton. I may be being unfair but it really should not be a matter of luck as to how much impact each individual dancer makes in the Fairy Variations. If the Insight Evenings are anything to go by then it would seem that these roles are prepared for the stage by ballet mistresses few of whom have been great exponents of any of these roles themselves. Perhaps it is no wonder that they look somewhat mass produced rather than individually crafted. Is it somehow a matter of personal pride that those who could deal with technical issues and the artistic aspects of these roles play no part in reviving this or other ballets? The company has fine coaches and excellent ballet masters and ballet mistresses but they are not infallible. Beryl Grey is still alive and I imagine that she could still contribute a great deal to giving the Lilac Fairy's gestures meaning and getting the speed and the focus of the variation right. I can't help thinking that the insights and expectations of the likes of de Valois and Ashton and the way they polished these roles is all that is now missing. Sleeping Beauty is a nineteenth century ballet perhaps the company should make the brave decision to dance it in a Cecchetti inspired style rather than a style heavily influenced by Guillem. Only a thought. Perhaps I should point out that in the Dark Ages the Royal Ballet never tried to field more than a couple of Lilac Fairies at any one time with the result that they got the coaching the role requires and the opportunity to dance the solo at the right speed enough times to achieve true mastery of the role and its nuances rather than merely paying it a flying visit every two or three years,as happens now. In addition dancing any of these variations entirely flat on and completely vertical removes any opportunity for nuance and is incredibly boring.
  4. I may wish to add to it after I have been to the gala but at present my list is as follows:- Lander's Etudes, which was once the company's calling card. Ashton's Romeo and Juliet. Balanchine's Night Shadow. Balanchine's Apollo. Markova's staging of Les Sylphides. Skeaping's Giselle which should be timetabled for regular revival. Lifar's Suite en Blanc. Massine's Parade for its Picasso designs and its sheer oddity. Bejart's Song of a Wayfarer. All of which I think bear repeated viewing. Could you please move this to the reviving ENB repertoire thread ?
  5. Following on from the comments about the audience being fully engaged with the action of the ballet last night and in particular the reaction to the fate of the knitting women.The knitting women are sentenced to hang not to be beheaded. The halter is depicted in the mime.Beheading although capable of being botched was I believe regarded as a merciful death when compared to the agony of being slowly throttled on the end of a rope. Beheading was therefore reserved for the nobility and those to whom a monarch might wish to extend a modicum of mercy. I suspect that the gasps from the audience were prompted by the idea that such a severe punishment might be imposed for the mere act of knitting rather than the form the punishment would take. The punishment seems excessive today but at one time at the end of the Prologue instead of the corps de ballet lining up in a diagonal facing Aurora's cradle gesticulating in a beneficent manner towards her the final tableau was of the corps grouped around the King as he forbade the use of spindles, and by implication other sharp handicraft implements, in his kingdom. Ratmansky's reconstruction has this as the Prologue's final tableau which makes the King's actions at the beginning of the first act seem a little less arbitrary than the current Royal Ballet text does. Like Leslie Edwards before him Montes' Catalabutte collects the knitting and holds it so that all the points of the needles are facing upwards. He then tests the needles to see if they fall within the letter of the law concerning prohibited sharp implements. He discovers to his horror that they are sharp and begins to look sad. But is he sad for them in the knowledge of the punishment that awaits them for breaking the law or is he sad on his own account because of the effort he has put into preparing for the great day which now looks as it it will be wasted? The Queen's notices that Catalabutte is sad. She asks the reason.The King is told that the knitting ladies have broken the law and he condemns them because by their actions they have endangered the life of the heir to the throne. As members of a class clearly far removed from the nobility the women would have suffered the ignominy of hanging had it not been for the Queen's intervention. Her actions enable the audience to see the benefits of living in an autocracy as they watch the KIng exercising his prerogative of mercy . I imagine that this bit of flattery went down exceptionally well with the Tsar and his family. But what prompts the Queen's intervention? Does she intervene simply because she is kind and considerate or is it that she sees that the King has acted in an arbitrary manner ? Is she concerned that the executions would dampen the celebration of Aurora's birthday making things a trifle awkward with the visiting Princes? The reason for Catalabutte's concerns almost certainly encompass those of the Queen with the addition of the planning and preparation he put into the event which seems likely to be wasted.
  6. I think that we need to remember that in Russia the old rules of emploi are still pretty rigorously applied in the world of ballet. This means that from the day a dancer enters a company their career trajectory is pretty much laid out as far as the sort of repertory and roles available to them is concerned. The rules of emploi are based on the idea that a dancer's physique and their looks determine the sort of role to which they are suited. The tall dancer is seen as elegant and stately dancing with elegant effortless ease which makes them suited for princely roles; the shorter more compact dancer is suited for less elevated roles, dances with far greater overt vigour than the danseur noble and plays less socially elevated characters and so on down the ranks of dancer types each of which has their specialist allotted roles and repertory. I understood that Osipova came to London because she wanted to escape being typecast as a demi -character dancer and only ever being permitted to perform roles deemed suitable for dancers of that emploi. As Swanilda is a prime example of the sort of role available to a demi-character dancers in Russia it is quite possible that she just did nor want to dance the role again. I don't think that we need to know why she has not appeared in this revival of Coppelia but I think it highly unlikely that she would have been denied the opportunity of appearing in it had she wished to do so. In the circumstances it seems a pointless exercise to try to work out whether she was gainfully employed, pursuing one of her private projects, at the time this revival was being prepared and rehearsed and so unavailable or whether there was some other reason for her not being given the role. The simple fact is that she did not appear as Swanilda at this revival. I suspect that if given the choice between preparing the role of Tatiana in Onegin or Swanilda in Coppelia, Osipova would choose Tatiana every time as it is the sort of role that probably would not have been available to her at the Bolshoi as a demi-character dancer. I am not at all put out by the revised casting. Casting according to type has its advantages and its disadvantages as does casting against type which does not always pay of.Much as I admire Muntagirov as a dancer the announcement that he was to appear as Onegin intrigued me but also left me feeling that with his boyish charm it was unlikely to prove to be an inspired decision to cast against type which might give new insights into Onegin's character and was much more likely to turn out to be a serious miscalculation which would not work in performance. As far as Clarke's suitability for the role is concerned he has the undoubted advantage of looking the part before he dances a step and of having , as yet, no established stage persona from which he has to extricate himself in order to convince the audience that he is Onegin. A sort of postscript. One or two posts have touched on the topic of dancers working elsewhere when we might have expected to see them performing in London.giving the impression that they rather disapprove of the practice. While it can be disappointing not to see dancers whom you admire on a more regular basis I suspect that agreed absences work to the company's and the audience's advantage by enabling the company to recruit and then retain outstanding dancers within its ranks. The range of repertory may be what makes dancers want to join the company but it is the promise of roles and development opportunities which keeps them there. It seems to me that Kevin has got the balance between meeting the needs and expectations of his senior dancers and those of the younger ones about right. The truly talented get opportunities in a way that would not be possible if all the senior dancers were appearing at Covent Garden during the entire ballet season. In the dim and distant past dancers would join the company brimming with potential and enthusiasm but by the time they got their chance to show what they could do in a do or die debut the potential had more often than not been smothered by years of waiting. It was not pleasant to see then and it would be unlikely to happen today as today's dancers would almost certainly vote with their feet.
  7. I was blissfully unaware of this campaign until I came across this discussion. I can't help thinking that arts organisations have got better things to do than ally themselves to campaigns which add nothing to their status or artistic stature and which in the current populist patriotic climate could easily be misinterpreted by disgruntled employees as sanctioning giving British born dancers and passport holders preferential treatment when it comes to such matters as casting and promotion. I should have thought that it was something that the ROH would have been best advised to avoid at all costs. It seems pretty pathetic to me. The next thing you know the Union flag will be on prominent display outside the building; we will have the National Anthem at the end of each performance and will be expected to sing the words of more than one verse. Unfortunately it strikes me as just the sort of initiative that would appeal to the the great and the good who are on the ROH Board who might well think that it would bolster its national standing at little or no cost to it as an effective arts organisation. The problem with such campaigns is that however innocuous they may seem to those who sign up to them they often prove to have significant unintended consequences.The RB seems from the outside to be a remarkably cohesive company given the number of people in its ranks who have competing artistic ambitions not all of which can be satisfied.But if you were an ambitious young dancer who was not a British passport holder and were passed over on a number of occasions for a promotion which you thought you had more than earned mightn't you begin to think that favouritism based on nationality was at play especially if colleagues who were British by birth or choice were promoted instead of you? It would not be the first time that the Board and or the Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House have put their foot in it.
  8. Much as I admire Cuthbertson as a performer I have to confess that I am more than a little relieved that she has not appeared as Swanilda in this revival of Coppelia. I suspect that the reason for her absence has more to do with her workload which at present includes preparation for her streamed Sleeping Beauty, the premiere of The Cello and her appearance as Aurora in St Petersburg during the next couple of months than management's views of her suitability for the role. While she was fine as Alice, a role created on her, I thought that she was miscast as the Young Girl in Two Pigeons and only ever gave a superficial account of the role. Although she reproduced the choreography accurately enough so much of what she was doing on stage seemed like stage business which had nothing to do with the character she was supposed to be portraying. The classic example of this lack of integration of choreography and character was the point at which the Young Girl pulls the chair away from the Young Man as he is about to sit down. If it is done fully in character it encapsulates what is wrong with the couple's relationship. If it is not done in this way it looks as if Ashton was so desperate at that point in the ballet that he resorted to a slapstick pratt fall to get a cheap laugh and that is how at least one critic interpreted it. The result as far as I was concerned was that rather than breathing life into the intensely self centered, immature, irritating character Ashton had created as Stix-Brunell did with Ball and Clarke in successive seasons Cuthbertson only managed to play her as a cute two dimensional soubrette. So while I have enjoyed every cast I have seen in this revival I do not regret Cuthbertson's absence but I do that of Stix-Brunell who I think would have been ideal in the role of Swanilda. I do not intend to say who I liked best or least in the leading roles as I thought everyone brought something worth seeing to the roles they were playing. I will simply say that I hope that Kevin has programmed Fille for the second half of next season when I believe we are to be permitted to see some of the company's "heritage" repertory as on current showing there are a significant number of talented young dancers who really should be given the opportunity to dance Lise in the not too distant future. I welcome Bracewell's return to the stage after a long absence and look forward to seeing more of his Franz as his first act was particularly amusing. I regret that Coppelia has been absent from the company's active repertory for the last thirteen years as its absence has deprived us of seeing much more of Morera's beautifully judged account of Swanilda than now seems likely. to be likely or possible. I look forward to Coppelia , and one or two other suitable ballets such as Cinderella, Fille and a mixed bill of Les Patineurs and Two Pigeons being programmed at Christmas in future seasons instead of Nutcracker. That ballet only came to dominate Christmas at Covent Garden and become "traditional" during Dowell's directorship. Before that LFB/ENB had a virtual monopoly in London on Nutcracker at Christmas. This had real benefits as it not only ensured that LFB/ENB was able to cover its operating costs by making up for the losses it sustains on tour but it enabled the Royal Ballet to introduce family audiences to a far wider range of its repertory than would have been possible if it had to perform Nutcracker every year. I look forward to the Opera Hose becoming, if not a completely Nutcracker free zone, at least one in which we see it far less frequently than has been the case of late.
  9. As far as the three sections of the score of Swan Lake about which a somewhat opaque question was asked by ecriveur my answer is as follows. In traditional productions of Swan Lake the first section of the score which introduces themes the audience will hear later in the ballet is treated as an overture played with the curtains closed. In some productions the stager may ill-advisedly use the music as an accompaniment to a dumb show in which the audience is shown Odette bewitched and transformed into a swan by Von Rothbart. This has the unfortunate effect of reducing the theatrical impact of Odette's mime sequence in act 2 in which she tells the prince of her situation. As there is no mystery to be resolved the mime sequence counts for next to nothing.. The second section describes the bustle of the preparations for the celebrations of the prince's birthday. In Petipa's production and traditional ones which retain his first act's choreographic structure it accompanies the entrance on stage of groups of dancers and individual characters including the prince himself in a procession like sequence. During the music the audience was intended to have time to register the entrance of the dancers admire their sometimes sumptuous costumes and acknowledge the prince's arrival on stage. In Petipa's original production the third section of the score, the waltz was the first serious bit of dancing in the ballet. The music accompanied choreography for the corps which took the form of the big production number involving large numbers of dancers for which, it would seem, Petipa was much admired by St. Petersburg audiences It seems to have been one of the few sections of the ballet which received favourable comment when the full ballet was first seen in St Petersburg in 1895. In these scenes the choreographer was less concerned with giving his dancers a space in which to dance freely than filling the stage with a large body of dancers and moving them through a series of floor patterns in which the emphasis was on the numbers involved, keeping the mass mobile and displaying the dancers at different heights and in different planes. Although only the floor pattern survives the Ratmansky reconstruction of Swan Lake gives a good idea of the effect Pertipa sought to achieve in such scenes. Possibly the most accessible version of Petipa's big production numbers is the reconstruction of his Jardin animee scene in the Bolshoi's current Le Corsaire. I trust that this helps
  10. ecriveur. You may not have liked Ian MacMillan's response to your initial enquiry , you may even have found it a little frustrating, although I can see no reason why you should have done so, as the answer was succinct and to the point as far as the question you posed is concerned. Communication is a two way process and if you do not think that you have received an adequate response to a question the solution is to set out more fully the precise nature of your enquiry, the background to it and why you think that the answer you have received is inadequate. The reason I say this is because what someone asking a question may perceive as a refusal to deal with their enquiry is more often a failure of communication on the part of the questioner than a refusal to answer the question that was asked. It is a basic rule in effective communication that it is the recipient of a message who actually determines its meaning rather than the person who sent it. This means that the question you have posed is not the one that you may believe you have asked but the one you are perceived to have asked. We are none of us mind readers and are only ever able to answer the question we believe has been asked. If someone has a genuine enquiry which they don't believe has received an adequate response the solution is to ask a supplementary question in which the exact nature of the enquiry is set in context and expressed with greater precision. The solution is not, and never has been, to engage in insults and name calling.
  11. If I understand you correctly Helen it seems that while you enjoyed the performance you saw on Wednesday you want to rework Coppelia to turn it into something it was never intended to be and for which Delibes foolishly made no provision in his score. I suspect that one of the reasons why the choreography for this ballet looks old fashioned and odd to some is that it retains many of the features to be found in ballets created earlier in the nineteenth century because unlike Sleeping Beauty it has not had the dubious benefit of having Soviet heroic style male choreography grafted onto it at any time. Much of the choreography we see in the de Valois production dates back to the version of the ballet staged in St Petersburg during the 1890's. That the version of the ballet currently in repertory at Covent Garden has choreography which retains significant elements of late nineteenth century dance vocabulary including mime sequences is not, in my opinion, a defect but rather a strength as it means it retains its connections with the theatrical conventions of the period in which it was created. The mime sequences enables the characters to inform the audience about matters which are relevant in furthering the narrative . I am far from sure how you would achieve this in any other way. as what the characters have to say is not the sort of thing that is easily conveyed by expressive dancing. Coppelia was first staged in Paris in the late 1860's a time when male dancers had virtually been banished from the Paris Opera stage. If you had seen it in its original form you would have seen Franz treated as a travesti role performed by a female dancer, a tradition which was continued , as I understand it, by the POB until the the ear;y 1950's The version which the Royal Ballet performs derives from a staging of the work first seen in St Petersburg in the mid 1890's in which Ivanov and Cecchetti are said to have had a hand. Perhaps the most important innovation of that production was to depart from the French performing tradition of treating Franz as a travesti role by giving the role to a male dancer. This made it necessary to create a pas de deux for the third act which would give both leading characters their expected solos and coda. The ballet was modified over a century ago to accommodate the presence of a male dancer in the role of Franz and his choreography reflects what male dancers were performing in the 1890's rather than what they came to dance after the Revolution. In the de Valois production the music used for this is taken from sections of the ballet's score which had become redundant. I am not sure that you could give Franz more opportunity to dance without rewriting the libretto. He can hardly dance in the second act as he spends most of it unconscious after drinking Coppelius' wine. The third act contains the masque of the hours and there is no music to spare unless you intend to cut the participation of the corps and soloists and if you were to take that course of action you might free up some music but little of it would seem suitable for Franz to dance to. I have to say that I do not understand why people have suddenly taken to saying that the sequence of dances celebrating the bell makes no sense. We need to remember that the church bell was the first piece of technology which regulated the the day's activities telling people when it was time to get up, time to pray, time to work and time to rest and relax. Thus in the ballet we have the night hours followed by Dawn and Prayer which are in turn followed by the working day. As far as the strangeness of some elements of the choreography is concerned mime and clear, crisp, fast footwork are as much part of the vocabulary of classical ballet as steps of elevation are. Watching someone doing petit batterie accurately and at speed can be extraordinarily exilharating in performance, To eliminate such steps and replace them with the sort of limited dance vocabulary which has today become the standard format of most of the male variations to be seen in the nineteenth century repertory deprives both dancers and audiences of the opportunity to experience a significant part of the vocabulary of classical ballet in performance . l don't think that old choreography should be changed merely to meet the expectations of the audience because they have become used to seeing other steps which they consider more exciting and more modern as this diminishes the art form. The whole point about dancing the historically significant ballets which de Valois called "the classics" is to enable the audience to see the best of the ballets created by the great choreographers of the past; experience their work as living theatre and to enable today's dancers to test them selves against the technical challenges posed by the great dancers of the past in the choreography created for them. Altering the the choreography denies the dancers and the audience of the opportunity to experience and engage with the great works of the past in something approaching their original form.Refusing to engage with the past in this way was an approach to the arts which the late Jonathan Miller's once described as "provincial".
  12. I hate to point this out but the heroic prince who wins Aurora by combating and vanquishing evil is alien not only to the ballet which Petipa, Tchaikovsky and the Director of the Imperial Theatres created but to the Perrault tale on which it is based as in his tale the trees and brambles surrounding Aurora's castle part of their own accord as the prince approaches them. The heroic prince who had perhaps begun to insinuate his way into the Royal Ballet's production is very much a Soviet invention. Florimund is a prince and thus worthy to receive Aurora's hand in marriage. He does not have to prove his worthiness to win his bride by engaging in combat with the malign forces which bewitched Aurora He may be a bit dim but he is the right prince in the right place at the right time and as such all he has to do in the ballet is to answer the Lilac Fairy's question correctly and work out how to restore Aurora to consciousness which requires him to engage his brain which in itself seems to be something of a challenge. This is a fairy tale rather than a tale of chivalry thus his actions are sufficient to entitle him to her hand.
  13. The reason why the mime is unfamiliar is that it is not the mime which Karsavina learned and later taught to others . Her mime for Giselle's mother was no doubt what was seen in theatrical performance at the time she danced Giselle but it is essentially an edited version of the mime originally created for the ballet. I have no idea whether Petipa or an earlier ballet master at the Mariinsky revised and shortened the mime passages nor why the mime was adapted . A number of possibilities present themselves ranging from a shift in audience tastes which had made them more interested in the dance elements of the ballet than the mime passages; a ballet master wanting to accommodate another set of dances and finally the company accommodating the loss of a character dancer who had been particularly effective in delivering lengthy passages of mime. It is unlikely that we shall ever discover the real reason for the change. It is quite simple for us as Ratmansky's production is using an earlier fuller version of the mime passages just as Pacific North West Ballet's did in its 2014 production. As far as speed and clarity are concerned I imagine that Ratmansky is taking Adam's markings seriously and that he is trying to get his dancers to transition from other action into mime and from mime into other action as seamlessly and smoothly as possible rather than getting them to draw attention to the mime passages by stopping before and after they have delivered them. Ratmansky's source material is not only drawn from the Stepanov notation and material from the Russian archives he is also using material from at least one Western source namely material which a man called Henri Justament used when staging ballet in France in the mid nineteenth century. There is a great deal of material relating to Justament's career staging ballets safely housed in two European archives . However the notebook containing the material relating to Giselle is in neither of them. It came to light in Frankfurt some years ago and fortunately its value was recognised. Its importance lies in the fact that the Justament material predates Petipa's version of Giselle, the source of all modern productions of the ballet, by thirty or more years. Although it is now disputed at one time it was thought that the Justament notebook had been used to stage the last revival of Giselle at the POB before the Franco-Prussian War. What ever the date when it was being used Justament's Giselle notebook brings us much closer to Giselle in its original form than the standard Petipa version of the ballet does. The 2015 Petipa Conference held in Bordeaux was told that the Justament material had been used by Pacific North West Ballet when the company staged their Giselle in 2014 with both Doug Fullington and Marian Smith acting as advisers on such matters as the text, performance style and mime. Marian Smith spoke about the structure of ballets in the 1830's and 1840's describing them as not unlike operas of the same period. She told the conference that at the time of Giselle's creation mime played a far more significant part in a ballet's structure than audiences are used to experiencing today with a balance of about 40% mime to 60 % dance being quite usual. She spoke of Adam's deep involvement in the creation of the ballet saying that he had been present in the rehearsal room as the ballet was being created and that the score not only incorporated the action of various characters such as Albrecht knocking at Giselle's door but that it followed French speech patterns and was, at times, literally music which spoke. She said that they had discovered that the Justament material, in which passages of mime are written out in full, did not fit the traditional score but when they obtained a copy of the violin reduction used by the ballet master Titus who had staged the ballet in St Petersburg in 1842 they discovered that the mime fitted the music in the reduction perfectly. What we see on stage will of course represent Ratmansky's own artistic choices.I wonder whether he has been brave enough to abandon the anachronistic press lifts in favour of showing Giselle gliding across the ground ? The streamed performance in January is certainly something to look forward to seeing. Let us hope that the Bolshoi bring this production with them when they next visit London.
  14. Modern choreography does not have to be "tossed out " but it would be rather nice to see dancers and their coaches approaching ballets made in different centuries by different choreographers as if there were stylistic differences between them much as musicians would if they were playing music by Mozart and Berg in the same programme. One of the complaints that Clement Crisp made at the turn of the century was that the company danced everything in exactly the same style regardless of who the choreographer was as if there was no difference between a nineteenth or mid twentieth century work. I am far from convinced that high legs are needed in MacMillan's Manon as I am pretty sure we would have noticed them in the mid and late 1970's if they had been there. My recollection is that neither of the ballerinas who played a part in the ballet's creation raised their legs much higher in this ballet than they would have done in any of the other roles they danced. I suspect that our idea of what MacMillan's Manon should look like, or does look like in performance is the product of watching a generation of dancers heavily influenced by Guillem's performance style applying her aesthetics to pretty much everything they dance.
  15. Ecriveur I hope that you don't wander off . You only learn by watching ballets, preferably in live performance so that you get an idea of the different quality of movement which individual dancers bring to a role, asking questions and reading the occasional book. The book about Tchaikovsky's ballets by Wiley which Angela has recommended is one of the best another that you might like to read is "The Ballet called Swan Lake" by Cyril Beaumont. I think that you have asked a very interesting question but as Angela has said what a composer writes on a score to indicate the style in which his music is to be played and the vocabulary he employs, even when composing a ballet score, may have little or nothing to do with the same word when used in the context of a ballet company where it may have a very different and very specific meaning . The word " sujet " when used in the context of a ballet company denotes a specific rank in a company's hierachy. As the composer and the choreographer fulfill two very different functions in the creation of a ballet I can not imagine any circumstances in which a composer's markings would indicate the rank of dancer who should dance to a specific section of the score. If a choreographer works in collaboration with a composer in the creation of a ballet then whether the score is to be an original composition or a score cobbled together from existing music it will usually be the choreographer who will indicate the type of music he wants and the duration of each section of it. It is the choreographer who decides who dances what and how it is to be danced. If a specific type of dancer is required for a role who brings a special quality of movement say exceptionally clean footwork and real attack or great lyricism providing a necessary contrast to a series of variations then the chances are that the names of the dancers who created the roles will be recorded somewhere as an aide memoire for future revivals. I wonder whether the main problem in answering your question is that the list of the various musical sections in the first act score of Swan Lake which you have provided seems to refer to the original version of the score which was used at the ballet's Moscow premiere rather than the version we are used to hearing in the theatre accompanying performances of the ballet which Petipa and Ivanov created ? Petipa supplied Tchaikovsky with minutage for Sleeping Beauty on which they collaborated but played no part in the creation of the Moscow production of Swan Lake and only seems to have become sufficiently interested in the score to contemplate making a ballet using it after the composer's death. His interest in the score seems largely to have been prompted by the success of Ivanov's choreography, for what became act 2 of the ballet, which was performed at the St Petersburg tribute to Tchaikovsky held after the composer's death at which extracts from a number of his works for the theatre were performed. The point here is that the score which Tchaikovsky wrote has undergone any number of transformations since it was first written. In order to create a serviceable score for his new Swan Lake Petipa undertook a major overhaul of the original score, cutting some numbers completely and moving some sections of music into other acts in order to arrive at a score that would suit his needs as a choreographer and meet the expectations of the local ballet audience about structure and content. Before you mourn this as an act of outrageous musical vandalism I think that it is only fair to point out that Tchaikovsky was aware of his lack of experience as a ballet composer at the time that he wrote his Swan Lake as he is reported to have said later that had he been aware of Delibe's score for Coppelia he would never have dared to write his first ballet. One or two choreographers have tried using the score in its original form or at least restoring some of the cuts which Petipa made. I shall take the Royal Ballet's dealings with the score as an example of what I am talking about. The company's first production used the traditional version of the score. I believe that the Helpmann production staged for the Royal Ballet in 1963 for which Ashton supplied quite a bit of new choreography including a completely new fourth act used a score closer to the original version than we are used to hearing at ballet performances. MacMillan's new production of the ballet first staged in the early 1970's restored the traditional ordering of the numbers and moved the pas de quatre, which Ashton had created for the first act in 1963, to open the third act and replaced Ashton's fourth act with Petipa's original version. A further revision was made in the late 1970's when Morrice restored Ashton's fourth act to the ballet. Dowell's production restored the traditional score and the production which replaced by Liam Scarlett has reverted to tinkering with the traditional score. All of this tinkering can make it difficult to answer questions on specific aspects of the original score because most of us are more familiar with the score of this ballet in a revised version, the traditional text, or a revised version of the traditional text in the context of a theatrical performance of the choreography for which it was created than with hearing an orchestra playing the original score in the concert hall. I am a great believer in hearing a ballet score in the context of a ballet performance where you experience the score in the theatrical context for which it was created. In the concert hall you only ever experiencing a percentage of the possibilities which the score presents. The dancers are not a distraction their performance , if the choreographer is sensitive to the score, enhances what you are hearing. I have no idea where you live or what versions of the ballet you have access to but if you ever find yourself within striking distance.of a company performing Ratmansky's reconstruction of the ballet you should try and see it .
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