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Historical reconstructions: sense and nonsense


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#16 cargill

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 12:22 PM

Mel, I think there are old sets of Ruslan and Ludmilla--when the Kirov Opera was here several years ago at least, the sets were from the early 20th century (along with some wonderful choreography credited to Fokine.) Even though they had to abridge it due to time constraints at the Met (it was one kidnapping short of coherence) I thought it was one of the most beautiful productions I have ever seen. Absolutely magical.

As someone who thought the old/new Kirov Sleeping Beauty production was a true revelation, I would like to see more. Yes there were some peculiarieties--too many head whackers doing Aurora, but there were some truly wonderful illuminations. I loved the prologue where the court seemed dressed like people in lots of different colors, not like set decorations. Having Desire in heeled shoes in the Vision scene made so much sense. He is visiting a magical realm, which he can see (and we can see through his eyes) but which he is not part of. It is not his world, so he can't dance in it. It helped make the difference between the mortals and the magic so much stronger.

And having Carabosse be invited to the wedding was such a gentle touch. No absolute triumph of good versus evil, but harmony and civility prevailing over a pedantic sense of justice. And the final scene, when the ceiling rises, it went so perfectly with the music--which is not surprising, I guess, because it was written for it!

I don't think every production can or should slavishly follow it, but it does seem when there are reasonably early notes of choreography, producers should try to get as much pf the choreogrpahers intentions as is possible and feasible.

The Bayadere was somewhat more problematic, I think. Just putting the corps in vague approximations of 19th century puffy wigs and letting them dance with modern extensions seemed to make both styles look out of place. But if I had to choose between a Kirov reprodution of Petipa and some of the modern versions (like ABT's Swan Lake, or the Bjornson Sleeping Beauty), I would vote for even the most rigid authenticity. At least someone later could make that come alive, while the modern versions are DOA.

#17 Hans

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 01:35 PM

Re: ballotté, it is interesting that Karsavina performed it that way, as according to Vaganova, it should be performed with straight legs so as to get a gentle rocking motion. I know Karsavina's way would probably be pre-Vaganova, so it's interesting to see how it changed.

Performing a historical reconstruction at the Maryinsky is not skipping the last century, as the modern versions are kept in the repertoire, so I still don't see the objection.

Cargill wrote:

Having Desire in heeled shoes in the Vision scene made so much sense. He is visiting a magical realm, which he can see (and we can see through his eyes) but which he is not part of. It is not his world, so he can't dance in it. It helped make the difference between the mortals and the magic so much stronger.

Actually, that is one thing that did not make sense to me. Solor, Albrecht, and James all dance with their Shades, Wilis, and Sylphs, so why can't Désiré dance with the Dryads?

[Editing to say: Does Solor dance with the Shades in the reconstruction?]

#18 cargill

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 01:54 PM

I am pretty sure that the Solor dancing in Bayadere is a later addition--Chabukiani, I remember reading. Albrecht and James are Romantic heros,and are taken into the other world but Solor, Desire, and Siegfried are human observers, not really part of it. At least that is how it seems to me!

#19 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 02:33 PM

The Shades Act happens in Solor's dream - so he could as well be dreaming anything, even that he is the best dancer in the world :). But yes, Solor's entrance and coda is Chabukiani.

I don't know for sure if they' ll keep the Soviet Bayadère. Doesn't make much sense to do so. Besides dancers aren't computers you can switch from one version (old) to the other (new-old): they'd dance it in the same manner anyhow.

#20 doug

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Posted 11 March 2003 - 03:47 PM

In the notations of the BAYADERE Shades from 1900, Solor doesn't dance. Gerdt did this role and the most he gets is a notated fourth position and port de bras. Nikolai Legat did the dancing the in fourth act.

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 04:39 AM

And in the Messel production of Beauty, Desiré wore thigh-high top boots and hunting pinks. I think it's again the matter of emploi - Gerdt could dance, but he didn't until the grand pas de deux. In the vision scene, he does long legato movements terre à terre, and comments on the ever-elusive Aurora: "Isn't she beautiful!"

#22 Hans

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Posted 12 March 2003 - 10:14 AM

Marc Haegeman wrote:

I don't know for sure if they' ll keep the Soviet Bayadère. Doesn't make much sense to do so. Besides dancers aren't computers you can switch from one version (old) to the other (new-old): they'd dance it in the same manner anyhow.

That's true...the Soviet version doesn't have an Act IV, does it? So at least the story now has a resolution. But I hope they do continue to dance the Sergeyev Sleeping Beauty, especially considering that in places it seems to be more accurate than the reconstruction--though I definitely prefer the reconstructed sets and costumes...some of the Sergeyev court costumes are downright ugly, and the sets...:rolleyes:


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