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Has Onegin speeded up over the years?


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I've been having a look at some older recordings of Onegin over the last week or two, and have been surprised to note that various sections of modern-day performances of the ballet "feel" faster, regardless of whether they actually take less time or not.  A prime example would be the mirror pas de deux in Act I: nowadays it often seems quite breathtakingly fast and athletic, especially in the "flips", whereas a few decades ago it looks as though it was more romantic, almost languid in places, maybe.  I don't know whether this change is international - I haven't seen anyone but the Royal Ballet dance it this century - or local, and whether it has in fact changed over time, perhaps with increasing technical ability, or whether it's my imagination.  Certainly I noticed that in later Royal Ballet casts in this run it appeared to be taken more slowly, but I wasn't sure how much of that could be down to Nuñez and Soares both recovering from injury, or (I think Lamb and Hristov were also slower) lesser familiarity with the choreography/partnership.

 

I'd be interested to hear points of view in particular from those who've seen more of this ballet than I have, and/or have a longer and/or more international perspective than I do.

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Alison, I guess this depends on the male dancers and their lifting ability - maybe it looks "faster" if the difficult lifts go smoothly? I've seen Onegin in various companies with various casts and I don't remember extreme differences in speed - some couples like it a bit slower, some are more experienced and take it faster, normally those with the better partners. That's not very helpful, I fear.

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Interestingly, I had a conversation with Jean-Marc Puissant who had been a dancer with the Stuttgart Company in the '90s. He messaged me on facebook after we had both been to the General rehearsal on January19 saying that it all seemed to him as being too slow,especially the mirror pdd,but he put it down to the young and relatively inexperienced conductor.

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Well normally the conductor sets the tempi together with the dancers, not only in the Swan Lake pdds but also in Onegin, so it's not his decision alone, I guess. I don't remember such extreme differences in Onegin like in, let's say, the DQ pdd or the Black Swan pdd.

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My memories of this ballet go back to the original cast and I've seen at least five companies dance it but I've never heard anything other than minor differences of tempi, nothing to make me note a major change. I've noticed a couple of minor differences of approaching certain roles though.

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