Jump to content

Recommended Posts

On 18/07/2021 at 16:03, alison said:

 

I've moved the rest of the "pinging" discussion to its own separate thread:

 

I fear we're going to have a lot more to say on the subject, if the weekend's headlines are anything to go by :(

 

Yes, the next thing is a pingademic!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 251
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

They just look to careful for me.  I would prefer something faster with an element of excitement even if they may look untidier.

 

I agree. Otherwise they become more of a way of getting into the final 'pose' rather than the whole move/movement mattering.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • alison changed the title to Royal Ballet: Beauty Mixed Programme, July 2021
  • 3 weeks later...

Just been catching up on the livestream of this (which is still up until tomorrow), and thought I had to say that I thought Beatriz Stix-Brunell was sublime in the After the Rain pdd.  The close-ups the streaming allowed really added to the impression I'd had from the upper reaches of the theatre: she looked absolutely blissful.

 

I miss her already ... :(

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are great musicians of the past such as Cortot who entered the recording studio and played as they would in recital and today if they are remembered at all they are remembered for the "Number of wrong notes committed to record in the name of art". Needless to say the knowledge that your legacy could well end up being your mistakes has had a dampening effect on studio recordings. Something similar has happened in the world of classical dance where today with the ubiquitous mobile phone you can never be sure whether or not someone is recording your performance for posterity.

 

The fish dives are part of the western tradition of Sleeping Beauty having made their first appearance in the ballet's grand pas de deux in London in 1921. According to Dolin they were introduced into the text by Vladimirov who had been engaged to dance the Prince. I can't say whether or not they were Vladimirov's invention. All I can say is that a great deal of technical experimentation took place in the aftermath of the Revolution as state institutions adapted to performing to a less sophisticated and knowledgeable audience than they had previously performed for. The Russian version of the ballet remains truer to the original in that respect than western versions are.  As an indication of how firmly entrenched the fish dives are  in western tradition when Ratmansky staged his Sleeping Beauty for ABT based on the Sergeyev  materials he felt obliged to retain them because to western audiences they are an essential part of the text.

 

I have to say I much prefer fish dives where you don't see the mechanics at all just the effect. That is how they used to be done in the dim and distant past by the likes of Sibley and Dowell. But then those dancers worked in a world in which there was much less opportunity for unauthorised recordings than today and the dance aesthetic was governed by the tastes of major choreographers who held to Fokine's ideas about the place of technique in the great scheme of things. Basically it was a world in which technique was a means to an end and never an end in itself in which a technically gifted dancer with little else to offer would be described as a "only a technician".

 

I think that two factors have worked together to produce this deadly dull mechanical effect and lack of apparent spontaneity in performances. The first is the way that today's obsession with perfectly performed classroom steps and enchainements has made its way into theatrical performance and come to dominate what we see in the theatre regardless of whether classroom steps are what the choreographer wanted the audience to see in performance or whether the music has to be significantly slowed down in order to achieve them. In many ways the failure to recognise and observe a clear distinction between classroom and theatre performance has had the effect of reducing far too many performances to displays of dance technique rather than displays of artistry.

 

A second factor is the dancers' knowledge that somewhere in the audience someone is likely to be recording what they are doing and may well post it and that it will then be commented upon by all and sundry which I think must have an impact on what we see in performances. The knowledge that a single section of a performance on a day determined by an unknown recorder may well end up being a #

 dancer's Aurora or Odette/Odile  for all eternity must have some sort of impact on all but the most tough minded of performers and affect their ability to engage in displays of apparent spontaneous artistry.

 

 

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 19/07/2021 at 16:51, Jan McNulty said:

Thanks Lizbie.

 

They just look to careful for me.  I would prefer something faster with an element of excitement even if they may look untidier.

 

Having finally caught up with that part of the stream, I would say I felt they were in keeping with the rather sedate nature of much of the rest of the pdd.  I'm not sure whether I like it being that sedate, but I'll have another look and rethink.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, alison said:

 

Having finally caught up with that part of the stream, I would say I felt they were in keeping with the rather sedate nature of much of the rest of the pdd.  I'm not sure whether I like it being that sedate, but I'll have another look and rethink.

 

Sedate is a good word for it.  I think I prefer it when Aurora is danced with the joy of a lovely young princess marrying the prince of her dreams, with emphasis on the youth.  I know I always mention Fonteyn, but she managed to convey this perfectly.  Some of the interpretations today are just a touch too regal and mature for my tastes.  

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ballet hadn't even entered into my consciousness when Margot Fonteyn was still dancing so I never had the pleasure of seeing her dance live.

 

I remember a documentary about finding a lost Sleeping Beauty film which showed the Rose Adagio as danced by Margot Fonteyn.

 

Even though what we saw was grainy black and white you could just tell that she was utterly magnificent and looked absolutely age appropriate for the role.  Although I've seen and loved (or not) lots of different Auroras over the years none have matched (for me) her performance in that grainy film.

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very interesting interview dated 06.08.21 with Suzanne Farrell might be of some interest in this regard.  Here is but one (perhaps pertinent) quote from it:

 

 "The words of a great poem are written down. They don’t change, but choreography is subjected to many variables. Our medium is humanness. The human body is constantly changing. It alters with time, emotion, humidity, with health. It has lived one day longer. You should never assume that a human body will be predictable."

 

Edited by Bruce Wall
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 08/08/2021 at 15:14, Jan McNulty said:

Ballet hadn't even entered into my consciousness when Margot Fonteyn was still dancing so I never had the pleasure of seeing her dance live.

 

I remember a documentary about finding a lost Sleeping Beauty film which showed the Rose Adagio as danced by Margot Fonteyn.

 

Even though what we saw was grainy black and white you could just tell that she was utterly magnificent and looked absolutely age appropriate for the role.  Although I've seen and loved (or not) lots of different Auroras over the years none have matched (for me) her performance in that grainy film.

 

I never saw her dance live either.  My experience is based entirely on film and Youtube snippets.  I don't think I have ever seen anyone match her for her ability to radiate joy.  

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I did see her live several times, and totally agree about her "radience". In Sleeping Beauty the thing I remember most is nkt one of the iconic moments, but the fluidity of her arms in the diagonal stepping forwards en pointe in the last Act solo - just before the sectionmwith the fish dives.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

I did see her live several times, and totally agree about her "radience". In Sleeping Beauty the thing I remember most is nkt one of the iconic moments, but the fluidity of her arms in the diagonal stepping forwards en pointe in the last Act solo - just before the sectionmwith the fish dives.

Are we thinking of the same action, Pas de Quatre? For me the most memorable move she makes in SB is in the final pas de deux when she leans over to one side and moves her arms amazingly quickly up and down and around and then repeats it at the other side. I've looked in vain since then for an Aurora to replicate this move but no one has done. An attempt is made today but it's very truncated and half hearted by comparison.  Perhaps it was an Ashton or De Valois move that's got lost over time but it's a shame as its so fast and striking. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, Borzoi said:

Would this be the video?https://youtu.be/AmbI8azLrS8


One of them, although that one misses out the balances at the end which is a pity.  Haven't watched those clips for ages, but the first thing that strikes me is the speed of the music, which I believe is the correct tempo?  The conductor doesn't hang around, she has to nail those balances spot on.

 

 

10 hours ago, jmhopton said:

For me the most memorable move she makes in SB is in the final pas de deux when she leans over to one side and moves her arms amazingly quickly up and down and around and then repeats it at the other side. I've looked in vain since then for an Aurora to replicate this move but no one has done. An attempt is made today but it's very truncated and half hearted by comparison.  Perhaps it was an Ashton or De Valois move that's got lost over time but it's a shame as its so fast and striking. 

  
I know exactly  the move you mean.  I have often thought of mentioning it myself.  What is that move called?  It is so exciting when she does it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Fonty said:


One of them, although that one misses out the balances at the end which is a pity.  Haven't watched those clips for ages, but the first thing that strikes me is the speed of the music, which I believe is the correct tempo?  The conductor doesn't hang around, she has to nail those balances spot on.

 

 

  
I know exactly  the move you mean.  I have often thought of mentioning it myself.  What is that move called?  It is so exciting when she does it.

 

Here is a clip of her performing it with David Blair. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxr5zGy5cMU

 

The move I'm talking about is 2.07/08 minutes in and is repeated later than I thought (about 2.28) and at the same side, not opposite sides. Don't know why she didn't do both sides. It would have been more symmetrical, but I saw a black and white clip of her doing it with Michael Somes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3veh2lXWxgg) and it was exactly the same. Don't know why no one does it like this now; perhaps they can't! That backbend right at the start as well; awesome! Also the incredible fish dives and the atmosphere of calm and control she exudes. There is a comment underneath from David Blair's daughter, Catherine and she thinks it was filmed about 1963. So Fonteyn would have been in her early forties yet she exudes the charm and vivacity of a young woman half this age. Would we have the RB we know today if it wasn't for trailblazers such as Fonteyn, De Valois and Ashton? We were so incredibly lucky to have all this talent to nurture the growth of British Ballet. In my opinion this performance is difficult to beat (though of course just a personal opinion) and has encouraged me to revisit my Fonteyn performances/documentaries and see how things were done at the start of British Ballet when the 'British style' of control, fast footwork, epaulement etc were more to the fore.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by jmhopton
Complete posting
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree. I was at the live performance and was really frustrated for them as they seemed to be struggling to slow the steps enough to fit the music. Which doesn’t allow for sparkling fast fish dives, for instance.

 

I don’t know much about it, but I always thought that a conductor conducting for dancers was supposed to keep one eye on the dancers and adjust the tempo if necessary. I had a clear view of Kessels where I was sitting and didn’t see him glance at the stage once.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Balletfanp said:

I agree. I was at the live performance and was really frustrated for them as they seemed to be struggling to slow the steps enough to fit the music. Which doesn’t allow for sparkling fast fish dives, for instance.

 

I don’t know much about it, but I always thought that a conductor conducting for dancers was supposed to keep one eye on the dancers and adjust the tempo if necessary. I had a clear view of Kessels where I was sitting and didn’t see him glance at the stage once.

 

You could be right that this was Kessels' choice, but I'm struggling to see why he'd impose that tempo. IMO it just doesn't work for the music (for starters, the violin "flourishes" sound very strange when so clearly articulated) and I don't think the other pairings had anything so slow.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If we compare any performances to Fonteyn's they are likely to be lacking.  But our current dancers bring their own gifts to the stage and I think the two we were discussing re the fish dives are amongst the best in the UK today.  Remember that this performance was part of a mixed programme, so it didn't have the emotional investment of a culmination of the whole (very long) ballet.  Marianela and Vadim chose to dance in a rather expansive, 'largo' style and I think it worked on the night I saw it.  I loved them both.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is indeed very hard to compare performers, and totally unfair as everyone is an individual and brings something different to the table.  However, having said that, the only dancer today who I think radiates joy in a similar fashion to Fonteyn is Osipova.

 

Going back to the fish dives, if you look closely they are executed in a different manner.  In the old fast version that Fonteyn is doing in jmhpton's links, the first piroutte is vertical, but towards the end of the second turn she begins to lean forward into the dive already.   In the slower version often seen today, both turns have a vertical axis, then the ballerina goes into a deep penché arabesque and the second leg lifts a little after.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

53 minutes ago, Pas de Quatre said:

However, having said that, the only dancer today who I think radiates joy in a similar fashion to Fonteyn is Osipova.

 

Having been privileged to see (and weep at) Naghdi’s debut as Aurora, I would respectfully disagree.  For me, Naghdi is *the * Aurora of her generation. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Pas de Quatre said:

However, having said that, the only dancer today who I think radiates joy in a similar fashion to Fonteyn is Osipova.

 

 

I would respectfully disagree with that.  At the Royal alone (nevermind elsewhere) there are a number of dancers who pass this test with flying colours (I'm thinking particularly, but not exhaustively, of Kaneko and Naghdi), without any need to overact.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

Having been privileged to see (and weep at) Naghdi’s debut as Aurora, I would respectfully disagree.  For me, Naghdi is *the * Aurora of her generation. 

Interesting how we all see things differently.  I found her rather over-careful and slightly wobbly, but maybe that improved with further performances.  She just didn't look the part to me, at all.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

46 minutes ago, Anna C said:

 

Having been privileged to see (and weep at) Naghdi’s debut as Aurora, I would respectfully disagree.  For me, Naghdi is *the * Aurora of her generation. 

 

I don't think Pas de Quatre was referring simply to Aurora?

 

On here we sometimes talk of Osipova as if she were an also-ran. I don't like her in everything, but IMO she is the most charismatic dancer at the RB.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are right Lizbie1 it wasn't just for the role of Aurora.  Everyone sees dancers differently.  There are certain individuals, well liked by members of this board, who simply leave me cold!  I won't mention the performers names as it may just start an argument.

Edited by Pas de Quatre
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only reason I mentioned Fonteyn in the first place is because there is this idea that today's generation of dancers are so much better technically than those of Fonteyn's generation, an idea that the dancers themselves seem to uphold.  If you look at some of the comments on the Youtube link above, and other links, the younger posters will comment on how rubbish she is - horrible feet, poor extensions, no turnout.  Admittedly the style is different, but that has a lot to do with the pace of the music, I think.  You can't extend your leg that high in the time available, unless you kick it up like a Tiller girl.  

 

Also, it wasn't just Fonteyn who danced at that speed, they all did.  It just happens to be that there are a lot of clips of her available to view.  There are very few, if any, of Sibley, Park, Seymour, Shearer, and the others of that generation.  But I bet they all danced with that same verve.  

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it’s the follow through of that second leg which makes the dive more exciting or not. When it’s brought over really fast the whole thing looks more dangerous. 
Im definitely with Osipova for the fish dives and the final Act but love Kaneko in the first Act whereas Nunez comes across a bit too mature.....but her dancing would never disappoint. I haven’t seen Naghdi in the role so can’t comment on her. 
I did see Fonteyn and she had that unique quality of bringing spontaneity to any role a very much in the moment dancer but training has changed so much it’s not really appropriate to compare technically dancers from different eras. 
Dance quality though is slightly different not completely linked to technique and Fonteyn certainly had that ....perhaps a good all round dancer ...so you’d want to see her in most roles. Just as today some dancers you would want to see in almost any role and others are more suited to particular roles. Probably why Fonteyn earned the title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta 

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Osipova can almost be too daring sometimes so you literally do find yourself on the edge of your seat!! In the right place she can be thrilling but not always the most relaxing dancer to watch. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share


×
×
  • Create New...