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Open Barre Podcast with Brandon Lawrence


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Thank you for all of your kind messages! 

 

Episode 3 of Season 3 is now live...we speak to former Royal Ballet dancer Nathalie Harrison and Mathias Dingman, current Principal dancer with Birmingham Royal Ballet. The episode focuses around what it's like to balance parenthood with a busy working ballet schedule! 

 

Enjoy!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another fascinating podcast.  As you say TTP,  we don’t get to hear much from Romany as she doesn’t really do social media, nor many interviews at all, so what a rare treat to hear her talk about her career past, present and future.   I so hope she will be able to dance Juliet and Aurora one day...

 

Thanks so much for this special podcast.   ❤️

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Hi everyone - another exciting episode today! No guests, just Brandon and me, but I was very influenced by the Forum in some of my questioning.... 

 

You can access the podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts! You can also listen via the links below...

 

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7dTPPZPjVsaz2AS4TCRIxm

 

https://podtail.com/en/podcast/open-barre/ 

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I really enjoyed listening to you two chatting about the deeper meaning of Swan Lake and R&J...😂

 

Great episode, great start to the weekend.  Thanks!

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Enjoyed this week's episode on my walk this morning. I wonder what others on the forum think about regarding at what point(s) the corps are swans and when they are women. And did Goldilocks and the others from the Justice Fairytale League have their own dances in a super long version of Sleeping Beauty at some point in the past?

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I also often wonder about this.  The spell cast by Von Rothbart turns Princess Odette and the other maidens into swans during the day, allowing them to resume human form at night.  However, what we seem to see all night long are swans.  I have never been able to reconcile this!  Not that it's given me sleepless nights, but just thinking about it!  Interesting discussion about this on the podcast...Brandon has a couple of theories!

 

I have no idea why the extra fairytale characters all of a sudden turn up at the wedding in Beauty when they haven't had any solo dances like the others.  Maybe just invited guests....or rent-a-crowd?  Not that the stage needs any padding out at that point!  Hmmm.

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I can remember many years ago reading in a ballet programme words to the effect that the original designs for the Sleeping Beauty had been a problem from the outset because they were devised by an aristocratic amateur and so lacked any sort of unifying artistic style adding that fortunately they were soon replaced by  designs which had real artistic merit. It is those improved designs and subsequent redesigns which have made the link between the ballet's narrative and the act three fairy tale characters more and more tenuous. All but severing the link as the action of the ballet was moved back in time in one production to medieval ballet-.land and then forward to the reign  Louis XV  and even later in others. Successive redesigns have had the effect of removing all the fairy tale characters from their original intended cultural and theatrical context. This effect I suspect is most problematical for the characters who have no divertisement assigned to them and only dance in the polonaise and mazurka.  The choice of characters seems to be arbitrary as there is no obvious reason for their presence other than as stage dressing and if they are only moving scenery why choose one character in preference to another?. 

 

In order to put these characters into a theatrical context we have to forget the brothers Grimm and their versions of the tales with which we are familiar. Restore the ballet to its original setting with a third act set in the gardens of Versailles at the time of the Sun King himself which is where and when the Mariinsky reconstruction sets it in accordance with the original designs and the presence of these fairy tale characters seems far less arbitrary. I know that Scholl can find no political message concealed in the Sleeping Beauty but Alexandre Benois seemed to think that there was more to the ballet than a simple entertainment or fairy ballet. I don't think it is chance that led Petipa to populate the last act with these characters who were never intended to have their own variations. In a final act which as originally staged had an apotheosis in which Louis XIV descend in the guise of the god Apollo to bless the bridal couple it makes perfect sense that two art forms associated with him are on display during the course of a performance. The first is dance itself with whose development, in the form of ballet, the king was closely involved the second is literature. The literary form in question is the fairy tale. The fairy tale characters  who appear on stage in productions based on the 1890 original or the Vic-Wells 1939 staging have one thing in common they are all to be found in the fairy tales written by either Charles Perrault or Madame d'Aulnoy who were the greatest exponents of the genre. Essentially much of the last act is devoted to celebrating the cultural flowering which was made possible by the peace and order which Louis XIV had imposed on his kingdom. Extolling the benefits of orderly government and ,by implication,autocracy past and present no doubt appealed to Alexander III.

 

 Swan Lake question. 

I have a funny feeling that questions about the precise point at which the act 2 swans are restored to their human form  and when they are forced to return to being swans might have been easier to determine before Fokine's Dying Swan than it has been since. I doubt that many dancers in those early years were tempted into doing bird imitations and emulating swans. When a few years back Ratmansky staged  a  reconstruction of Swan Lake based on the Stepanov notations for  both La Scala and Zurich the costume designs he used made clear the dual nature of the swans by giving them not only the usual white head coverings but a plait much like the one worn by the  Tsar Maiden in the Little Humpbacked Horse. As his design choices usually reflect the style of those used in early stagings of the ballet he is working on I imagine that he has stuck closely to the early designs in this case as well. Of course costume designs do not tell you when the dancers are in human form and when they are swans. I suspect that this is one of those ballets in which the wisdom of generations of coaches working in the same local tradition is what really counts. Remember that Fonteyn was insistent that Odette is a woman and never a swan. 

 Something which she presumably learnt through the usual train of transmission from Ivanov and Petipa to N. Sergeyev and then either directly or indirectly  to her.

 

I think that the traditional choreography gives you some clues as to when Odette is seen as a human being and when we see her as a swan By the time Odette speaks to Siegfried and tells him of her plight she must have been restored to human form The point at which she is forced to resume her swan form is particularly obvious. As far as the corps de ballet are concerned I am not sure that their form is so clear nor that it needs to be. I think that the ambiguity of their nature  and form is deliberate. If Ivanov did not have to show the bulk of swans as entirely human at various points during  the second act that gave him far greater freedom over the type of choreography he could create for the corps in the white acts act producing two theatrically desirable outcomes. First the acts which feature the bewitched swan maidens stand in sharp contrast to those which don't. Their acts have choreography which is softer and clearly inspired by the older French school while acts 1 and 3 contain Italian inspired steps and involve those unaffected by Von Rothbart's magic.  In addition by giving the corps a somewhat ambiguous form in act 2  Ivanov had the opportunity to emphasis Odette's plight even when she is in human form. I also have to add that recent alterations to the second act which deprive Siegfried of his attendant courtiers leaving him to take aim at the flock of swans after Odette has told him about herself makes little sense. The traditional version in which Siegfried intervenes to stop his fellow huntsmen slaughtering the swans which have settled in front if them followed by Odette's second section of mime in which she claims the swans as hers makes far more sense. It also suggests that the flock are still in bird form at that point.

 

For those who lose sleep at night over the question of when the corps are and are not swans in the second act could always invest in a copy of Cyril Beaumont's book on Swan Lake.

 

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The season 3 finale of Open Barre is now live! We are honoured to be joined by Yasmine Naghdi, Principal ballerina with The Royal Ballet. 

 

To have a listen, click on any of the following links. Alternatively, you can find us on phone apps such as Spotify, Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!

 

https://www.spreaker.com/user/openbarre/season-3-episode-6

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/s306-what-tools-do-dancers-need-to-develop-their-technique/id1521293558?i=1000518319416

 

https://open.spotify.com/episode/0lJkyr1IEZjptZ6H7bfQlX

 

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Wow what a wonderful episode with which to finish your third season!  So fascinating to listen to Miss Naghdi discuss in detail her physical, dramatic and emotional approach to her roles, as well as a lot more.  This is a funny, fascinating, intelligent and informal chat that is a joy to listen to.   I will certainly be listening again as it covers so much.  And Messrs O’Hare and Acosta...Brandon and Yasmine want to dance together...please take note!!

 

Well done Open Barre on another season of fascinating chat and a wonderful range of guests from the ballet world.  Enjoy your break and I really look forward to Series 4!  👏👏

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12 minutes ago, capybara said:

It was a good episode but it reproduced for me at virtually double the normal speed 😮

That’s strange.  Which link did you use?  I listened on Spotify and it was fine.  

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13 minutes ago, capybara said:

It was a good episode but it reproduced for me at virtually double the normal speed 😮

 

What do you mean? Did Yasmine Naghdi sound like one of the Chipmunks?

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3 hours ago, Sim said:

That’s strange.  Which link did you use?  I listened on Spotify and it was fine.  


The middle one - apple podcast. 
It was weird but I still heard what was being said OK. Glad the reproduction has been good for everyone else.

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I haven’t read or heard many interviews with Yasmine Naghdi so this latest podcast is  a real delight, particularly as Yasmine  was in the same cohort of students at the Royal Ballet school as co interviewer, Brandon Lawrence, which ensured a lovely relaxed , sharing of experience  between the two of them. Yasmine  is a class act and refreshingly down to earth. Another brilliant podcast  which I highly recommend.

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3 hours ago, Odyssey said:

I haven’t read or heard many interviews with Yasmine Naghdi so this latest podcast is  a real delight, particularly as Yasmine  was in the same cohort of students at the Royal Ballet school as co interviewer, Brandon Lawrence, which ensured a lovely relaxed , sharing of experience  between the two of them. Yasmine  is a class act and refreshingly down to earth. Another brilliant podcast  which I highly recommend.

 

https://www.tlbc.org.uk/resources/17-yasmine-naghdi-in-conversation

https://balletassociation.co.uk/pages/reports-2020-yasmine-naghdi

 

Yasmine is quite a frequent interviewee. The first one from April 2019; the second from December 2020.

But it was, of course, nice to have the two student contemporaries chatting together on Open Barre.

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