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As a postscript to the recent discussion on 32 fouettés, here is a clip of Beryl Grey, probably while still a teenager, doing Black Swan/Odile with John Field (the reference in the Huntley archive says the film has sound but this poor quality YouTube sample is silent) More information would be welcome.

 

 

 

Edited by Geoff
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6 hours ago, Geoff said:

here is a clip of Beryl Grey, probably while still a teenager

 

Perhaps I was too hasty in taking the Huntley Archives dating of "1940s" at face value. A search of British films reveals a production, enticingly "stereoscopic" (ie 3D), released in May 1952 under the name "The Black Swan". Starring Grey and Field it is the work of Peter Brinson.

 

It is briefly discussed in Dance Research Journal (Spring issue, 1996):

 

https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S014976770001634X

 

 

 

Edited by Geoff

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Incidentally, on the issue of 3D, Peter Brinson, in a lecture to the RSA in 1989, claimed "The Black Swan" (some 13 minutes in total, another listing shows) is the only stereoscopic ballet film to have been made in western Europe. Presumably someone somewhere has researched this subject.

 

Edited by Geoff

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Watching that clip....it may have something to do with the speed of the film am not sure....but it appears that when she does the fouettés she doesn't seem to put her heel down!! So almost doing from Demi pointe!!

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19 minutes ago, LinMM said:

it may have something to do with the speed of the film

 

Do you mean you feel the film might be speeded up, LinMM? Although this copy is in murky black and white, don't be misled: this is nothing like a handcranked silent film from the 1920s (where there often used to be issues with speed, now usually corrected in modern copies).

 

A quick check with an electronic stopwatch against the film's in-vision time-code shows this to be an accurate recording (as I think it would have to be, given the 3D set up). They are dancing faster than we are sometimes used to these days, which happens to be something I really like!

 

Edited by Geoff
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Balanchine did not allow his dancers to put their heels down - so that they could move fast...    In fact it’s possible to move fast as well as put heels down, but weight must always be on metatarsals.

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Dame Beryl seems to have a lovely ‘flow’ of movement & it does really highlight how very slowly (sometimes excessively so perhaps?) the classics are sometimes taken now. 

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1 minute ago, Ianlond said:

Dame Beryl seems to have a lovely ‘flow’ of movement & it does really highlight how very slowly (sometimes excessively so perhaps?) the classics are sometimes taken now. 

 

She also has the most beautiful feet and shoes, and her technique is put entirely at the service of telling the story. When you look at dancers now (both female and male) you can see how strong they are both in their bodies and in how they move and present themselves; that wasn't the case in the past, when the aim was to disguise the difficulty of what was being done. I personally regret the trend of recent decades in that respect. 

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A wonderful clip,  such gorgeous dancing.  If anyone says that the dancers in the past didn't have the technique of those today, then they should be made to watch this, she was fantastic.  Can the new Swan Lake be danced at this speed, please?

 

They do seem to be dancing on a postage stamp, though!

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ianlond said:

Dame Beryl seems to have a lovely ‘flow’ of movement & it does really highlight how very slowly (sometimes excessively so perhaps?) the classics are sometimes taken now. 

 

Yes, very fluid, and the way she dances it makes it so much more understandable that Siegfried should believe that Odile is Odette: nowadays, Odile is often danced so flashily and aggressively that I don't believe anyone could confuse the two!

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Fancy that a Black Swan pas de deux danced at the correct speed and performed with the intention, even in this excerpt, of telling the story rather than as "an exhibition of dance" to quote Danilova's views on the post Soviet Russian style of performance. This looks as if it is the text which N. Sergeyev set on the company in the 1930's. The text danced in Zurich in the Ratmansky reconstruction of the ballet looked very similar.

 

The culture shock comes with Siegfried's choreography rather than Odile's. With Odile it is the performance style rather than the text which has changed but with the prince's choreography it is the text itself which has been radically altered. In the ROH's  programmes for Swan Lake of the dim and distant past you would read that Petipa had little interest in choreographing for the men in his company and that the male variations in many of Petipa's ballets were the creation of the teacher Christian Johansson to whom the men cast in lead roles would turn in search of a text to dance. This pearl of information did not worry me that much until I realised that Johansson who died in 1903 was trained and performed  in a very different style  from the one which is now generally encountered in class and on stage. It is so easy to assume that performance style and text have not altered since Swan Lake was first staged in St. Petersburg at the end of the nineteenth century. Here you get an idea of what the text looked like  before the Soviet need for a more powerful heroic and obviously virile style of dance eliminated the old text and aesthetic of princely characters dancing elegantly with effortless ease rather than in  the modern more forceful style of Chabukiani and other Soviet choreographers. Fascinating to see this recording  as the adoption of a Soviet influenced text and performance style by the RB and other Western companies was only a few years away.

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15 hours ago, betterankles said:

Balanchine did not allow his dancers to put their heels down - so that they could move fast...    In fact it’s possible to move fast as well as put heels down, but weight must always be on metatarsals.

Also the same in Bournonville, the dancers don't always put their heels down.

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It's always difficult when training and dance style starts moving in a different direction to previously what to do with older standing works.

On the one hand I'm really pleased that male dancing is being given more prominence and not just a background ( however stylish) for the female dancer.

However should this just be applied to newer works and the older choreographies like Swan Lake be left alone to stand as they were meant at the time.......and that includes the speed of the music....things were definitely taken faster back then.  I don't know.

Not that I have any religion these days but nevertheless it still always annoys me for example when old lovely carols are mucked about with and tunes changed unnecessarily etc etc. I have no problem with new carols being created but leave the old ones alone!! 

Still not sure how I feel about ballets in this respect.

Im sure there are people in the music world who still want all pieces composed at a certain point in time to be played on the original type of instruments of that era etc. Is this practical these days or even desirable? Perhaps there is room for both in some way.

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14 hours ago, Fonty said:

They do seem to be dancing on a postage stamp, though!

 

 

 

I remember at a talk given by Margaret Dale (who was in charge of filming ballet for the BBC in the 1960s onwards) that one of the major problems they faced was the small camera angle available, so yes everything had to fit into this small frame.

 

In the original St. Petersburg production of Swan Lake, (Not the earlier Bolshoi one), the role of the Prince was given to Pavel Gerdt who was well past his prime.  Much of the dancing and pas de deux work was performed by Siegfried's friend Benno, danced by Alexander Oblakov.  In most productions during 20th century Benno's role was reduced.  This may explain why Siegfried's role has had more revisions than Odette/Odile.

 

On the question of tempo, I find much of today's classical ballet artificially drawn out.  In spite of the ravishing dancing I found the recent Nuñez/Muntagirov Giselle to be guilty of this, sacrificing fluidity to hold a balance too long or exaggerate movement.

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39 minutes ago, Pas de Quatre said:

I remember at a talk given by Margaret Dale (who was in charge of filming ballet for the BBC in the 1960s onwards) that one of the major problems they faced was the small camera angle available, so yes everything had to fit into this small frame.

 

This is unlikely to be the reason for "The Black Swan" production being shot on a small stage. 1960s tv cameras did indeed use a limited number of lenses, but that would not apply to a 1952 film shot on 35mm. I suspect the reason is more likely to be a severely limited production budget (a smaller stage is usually cheaper than a larger one, and would also need less scenery to be built).

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19 minutes ago, bridiem said:

 

Wow!!

 

Quite - thrilling speed! Does anyone now do them so quickly?

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Extra thought: it's doubly impressive when you consider she wasn't exactly a small dancer.

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Not only fast, but done beautifully in time with the music as well.  

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She was known for having a wonderful technique, but those fouettés are brilliant. She barely moves off the spot the whole time, while some of the modern dancers wander around the stage a bit. I do wish they'd speed up the proceedings so it's more like those earlier performances.

 

When Ratmansky does his restaging of the classics, like his Sleeping Beauty, does he use the faster tempo as well as the original costumes or is it still done at the modern funereal pace?

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Faster tempi when Ratmansky does his restagings yes.

 

Re putting heels down or not in Bournonville.   Since Balanchine works and technique is greatl admired by Royal Danish Ballet dancers it now occurs that heels are not put down.

 

This is not part of Bournonville technique, although a smaller and quicker demi plie is used for jumps, rather then the Russian maxi demi plie and pronounced take off.

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My first visit to Covent Garden was to see Beryl Grey in Swan Lake. I was 4 years old.  Amazingly, I can remember glimpses and the experience stayed with me for life.   

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On 21/04/2018 at 06:35, Geoff said:

As a postscript to the recent discussion on 32 fouettés, here is a clip of Beryl Grey, probably while still a teenager, doing Black Swan/Odile with John Field (the reference in the Huntley archive says the film has sound but this poor quality YouTube sample is silent) More information would be welcome.

 

 

 

 

The film has not disappeared, see this listing from the BFI’s catalogue:

 

http://collections-search.bfi.org.uk/web/Details/ChoiceFilmWorks/150021215

 

However it is not clear from this information whether the BFI holds enough to project this in 3D, does anyone happen to know more? 

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