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Sleeping Beauty

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Could someone describe the individual fairy roles in Sleeping Beauty?

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I suppose you mean the seven fairies from the prologue. In the original Petipa version, the first fairy is called "candide" and has a slow variation, and gives to Aurora purity. The two next ones dance together a faster, more energetic and dynamic variation with lots of ronds de jambe and give her joy and high spirits. The third variation (fourth fairy) is the breadcrumb one is a more staccato variation and symbolises the breadcrumbs being thrown on her (in russian tradition it brings a happy motherhood). The fifth fairy brings laughter and singing and is known (at least here in france) as the canary variation (she is in a bright yellow tutu). The sixth fairy is known as violent and also has quite a staccato variation with unconventional arm movements (stiff with the second finger pointing out). She gives a lively character. The last one, sometimes danced by the lilac fairy, is a rather slow variation with grands ronds de jambe and arabesques. She brings elegance, generosity and happiness (they all seem to bring happiness!).

Hope it helped a bit, and that someone else will have more original things to add!

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Thank you, Su-lian. We have an archived forum from our discussion of Sleeping Beauty that has information on the fairies.

http://www.balletalert.com/forum/forumdisp...p?s=&forumid=73

Calling Mel Johnson -- I checked (very briefly) your excellent Sleeping Beauty pages on our main site and didn't find much on the fairies. Since this question will come up from time to time, and young dancers, especially, will be interested in the variations for exams and competitions, perhaps this is something we could add? (And a thousand pardons if I missed it.)

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Gi-normous thanks to su-lian, Alexandra, and Mr. Johnson for their speedy and helpful replies!

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Thanks, Mel. I was thinking of a new page, perhaps with the different names of the fairies from various major productions :) In your copious free time, of course...

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I've never seen the 2nd variation danced by two people before. To what production are you referring, su-lian?

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I think I've seen this duet in the Nureyev version.

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I haven't either. I thought perhaps I read the response incorrectly.....

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In the Nureyev version, I agree, Glebb -- at least, the production he did for National Ballet of Canada. I don't know if it's in the Paris production. (I didn't get the point of it, but...)

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In Nureyev's version for Paris there are two fairies for the 2nd Prologue variation as well. Don't know why either.

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A poster on ballet.co has seen the dress rehearsal of Makarova's new production for the Royal Ballet, and reveals that this time round the fairies are called Purity, Vitality, Generosity, Eloquence, and Temperament.

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Yes, the Nureyev version at the Paris Opera Ballet has it danced by two fairies and it is the version I know the best, but also according to the program, this was also how it was done at the creation by Marius Petipa. It was a pas de six with six fairies and six variations, but the last variation was danced by the lilac fairy, and the second variation was danced by two fairies, "coulante" and "fleur de farine"(which I wouldn't really be able to translate properly but it would probably be something like 'flowing' and 'pure wheaten flour'!). This is probably why Nureyev chose to have it like that because apparently he wanted to more or less keep the original Petipa choreography except that headded some variations for the men, as usual. , unless I haven't understood what was said in the program correctly, but I think this is what it says.

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Those numbers don't add up properly--you wrote that there were six fairies and six variations, the last one danced by the Lilac Fairy. By my count, that makes one fairy per variation. As for it having been done that way originally, perhaps someone who saw the Kirov's reconstructed Sleeping Beauty could tell us for sure? I'm wondering if this isn't a vestige of the time when somebody found a picture of Marie Petipa dressed as Lilac Fairy Act II and mistakenly added a fairy to the prologue.

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In the Mariinsky version each of the 6 variations is danced by one fairy, the last one being the lilac. In Nureyev's version the 6 variations are danced by 7 fairies, the 2nd variation is danced by two (Coulante 'and' Fleur de Farine, usually one and the same).

It's also interesting to read what Doug Fullington has to say about the Kirov's reconstruction: http://users.skynet.be/ballet-lovers/Beauty1.html

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Thank you for that link; it is extremely interesting, although his terminology is vague, probably out of necessity (it sounds as if precious little of the steps was actually notated). It's interesting to see how much of the Royal Ballet's production is accurate, and also to see that I prefer some of the newer steps to the original, mostly in Princess Florina's variation, which was more clearly described than the other dances, though I may have just filled in gaps with what I already know.

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I know they don't add up properly. What I meant was that if there are six fairies dancing the pas de six (adagio, variation and coda) but that the lilac fairy comes and dances the last variation, then two of the fairies have to share one variation. In the Nureyev version, it is called pas de six but has been changed to a pas de sept because there are actually seven fairies dancing , the last variation is not danced by the lilac fairy, but he kept two fairies dancing the second variation so that makes it seven. But I suppose in the original, if the lilac fairy dances the last variation but not the rest, then there are only six fairies dancing the adagio and the coda and since the lilac takes one of the six variation, there are five variations for the six fairies of the pas de six, so two dance the second variation. I suppose this is what it all means, it is all so complicated!

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On the notes written by Petipa to Tchaikovsky for the music, it states:

-Little introduction for the pas de six

-Pas de six.Adagio.Petit allegro.

-Variations of the fairies

-Candide

-Coulante and Fleur de farine

-Breadcrumbs

-Canary

-Violent

-Lilac Fairy

-Coda

So that means Petipa himslef makes it a pas de six with seven fairies: six fairies and the lilac fairy.

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Now I understand--that is really, really interesting! So you were not counting the Lilac Fairy as one of the six. I guess the question now is...what happened to that other fairy?

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No, I wasn't counting the lilac fairy as one of the six fairies from the pas de six, I was probably wrong, but it seemed to me intuitively that it had to be counted like that, and from what I've seen, Petipa wasn't counting her either! I still think it would be interesting to see (or rather read!) what the reconstructed version is like.

Which other fairy? The other one dancing the second variation? In the Nureyev version, the lilac fairy doesn't dance at all in the pas de six and there are seven fairies dancing the adagio and the coda, and they each dance a variation except two of them who have to dance together. From what I understand, the original has seven fairies (six and lilac) dancing the six variations but there is nothing about the adagio and the coda, so I don't know if the lilac fairy danced them too or not. I don't suppose so, other wise Petipa would have just called it a pas de sept.

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Now it's my turn to clarify--in the Sergeyev production, the entrée, adagio, variations, and coda are performed by five fairies and Lilac. Before, when I've referred, and heard reference to, "six fairies," I (and probably others on this board) assumed that "six" included the Lilac Fairy because that was the way I'd always seen it done.

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Yes, I understand. I should have been clearer in my explanations, I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so used to the Nureyev version which apparently is quite different from the Sergeyev one (seven fairies instead of six but no lilac fairy)! At least now we've all learned lots about fairies in Sleeping Beauty! It's been interesting to try to find all this and understand it! I quite like comparing different versions of the same ballet and sometimes try to find what it was like originally, it can be very interesting! The problem is that I mostly know about the Nureyev versions, being in Paris, but not so much about other versions, and this is why Ballet alert is so interesting, because there are lots of people who can tell me about what I don't know!

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I think part of the confusion is over whether or not the original Lilac danced a variation. One theory is that Lilac and Carabosse are cognates -- both mimed roles, and that Lilac is a danseuse noble. (Well, actually, what's usually written is that Petipa's daughter couldn't dance and so she didn't have a variation, but I don't buy that.) I think there have been many different distributions of the fairy roles and fairy music -- sometimes there are five plus Lilac, sometimes six plus Lilac, sometimes six including Lilac. I've always liked the theory that Lilac shoud always be in the middle -- "the apex of every triangle," as Croce wrote" -- with three on each side.

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I heard something similar, Alexandra, only I was told that the reason Lilac's variation is so easy was because Marie Petipa couldn't dance well...interesting that Petipa's daughter should have been a bad dancer!

I actually prefer the choreography that emphasizes that the Lilac Fairy is one of a group--the most important member, perhaps, but not self-sufficient. Remember, all the other fairies give important gifts, too!

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