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Mme. Hermine

Sergeyev's Notes

47 posts in this topic

re: mcbride's vision scene solo by balanchine, i wonder how many performances it had. i saw one and think there may have been no more than a weekend's worth, or perhaps a short week's worth, at best - say Thurs thru Sun.

as i recall - and i might have actually filed a report about it at the time tho' i'm not sure if i wrote about the perf. per se, or if it was mentioned in an interview i did w/ mcbride and bonnefous (now bonnefoux) around that time.

in any case i recall mcbride wore, a high-waisted shift - maybe lavender in color. if i find i filed a coherent sentence or two on the particulars of the solo i'll let interested parties know.

-i just found what i filed at the time,it wasn't in a review of perfs. which i didn't get to publish, but it was in an interview i did for SohoWeeklyNews, which ran on 12 may 1977. the graf in question goes as follows, fyi:

"I changed the subject [which Bonnefous was talking about w/ ref. to 'classicism vs. neo-classicism'] and asked McBride about her solo in the Vision Scene in THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, which she danced recently with the Eglevsky Ballet. I had been told the choreography is actually Balanchine's. [i'd completely forgotten until digging up my yellowed clipping book from the 1970s that Balanchine was not specficiallycredited for his choreography in this instance.] 'He did it in a few minutes,' [McBride] somewhat shyly admitted. The performance tape was too fast for her to approximate the variation Fonteyn used to do, so she asked Balanchine to help her out. The dance had struck me as an arresting solo when I saw it. It's all pique moves, balances and turns that don't hold position: they barely reach full shape before re-aiming in another direction. Phrased by McBride to live music,I can imagine it drawn out with exquisitely painful tension."

SOHO WEEKLY NEWS: "He's Imported; She's Homegrown" [interview w/ McBride and Bonnefous]

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Hm! Curiouser and curiouser. Had to run down into my basement for the Souvenir Program and show programs from the 60s, which is when I learned something about the production history of Beauty. The '63 programs seem to credit Nijinska for Florestan and His Sisters and Innocent Ivan and His Brothers.

By '69, they credit Ashton! By '69, the Ivans were demoted to "crowd" though.

And by Jove, Florestan and the Sisters are gone!!! :unsure:

Do you have your copy of Beaumont handy? Can't seem to put hands on mine, but the 1954 Balanchine's Stories... seems to credit (p. 353) Ashton for the Vision Scene variation in the 1952 revival of the '46 production. I'm writing as I read, here, so I may be somewhat disjointed. It also mentions a solo for the Prince done by de Valois, but if this is supposed to be in the Vision Scene, I don't recall the Prince dancing at all in that scene by '63. I always have harbored some doubts about those jetés elancés at the outset of the coda of the Florestan for the male dancer. Didn't look like the stuff male dancers did in the '20s.

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...this enchanting Aladdin's cave of a website.
indeed, rodney. we all feel that way. how great that you've found it. :unsure:

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Peter Williams' report on the revised RB Sleeping Beauty in

January 1952 describes 'a lovely new variation' for Aurora in the Vision Scene, 'reconstructed by Ashton to some music we have not heard before, and said to be correct'.

He also says 'It was a good idea to put in a variation for the Prince in the last act, and although it has been well reconstructed by de Valois, full justice has not yet been done to it...' - so that's presumably the one you were reading about, Mel.

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To loop back to Hans's post for the moment, the galop variation for Kitri (with the pas de cheval) didn't figure in the Moscow version of the ballet, which Minkus published in piano score. The waltz does, however. When I refer to the hopping variation, I mean the third of the three in the pas de quatre that turned eventually into the pas de deux. Th components are entrada (marche in C, valse in Ab), adagio in Eb, G major waltz, C major waltz--curremt male variation--G major marche with a hopping configuration in the melody (and, without doubt, sautes sur les pointes in the choreography), coda (C major galop).

The Beauty Act III pas de trois, by the time it reaches the RB Aurora's Wedding, must be an almost indivorcible amalgam by the three participants. Nijinska chose clearly to dispense with the jewel motif, and rechoreographed the gold waltz without the endless racourcis, and Ashton retouched the whole here and there. Who was Florestan, by the way? I don't recall him in this Perrault story. Does he figure in another?

Finally, could all who saw McBride's variation try to rack their brains and see if they could come up with a collective verbal paraphrase of what she did. I find I can remember very striking choreography after one viewing--though bits of it rather than a coherent whole.

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I'm sure if I heard the music, I would know exactly what you meant :innocent: but I'm having trouble figuring it out--I'll get my Don Q tape out. Does the G major march begin with a harp?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Florestan is supposed to be the name of the king in Sleeping Beauty. I have no idea why the prince is sometimes named "Florimund."

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Hans: If Florestan is the King in A's Wedding, then he must have the gift of bilocation--the ability to occupy two different spaces simultaneously that the Roman church attributes to some of its saints--because he is sitting on the throne while the pas de trois gets underway. Nijinska's Florestan, if he isn't a Perrault character, must be an ad hoc brother of Desire (accent aigue), which is the name under which the prince figures in the piano score--though I've also have heard Florimund at some time or other. Perhaps Diaghilev is to blame for the change, since he renamed all the fairies in a v conventional manner. (Who would want to exchange the choreographically significant Miettes qui tombent for Woodland Glades???) By the way, not all the components of Beauty are courtesy of Perrault. Both Florine/Blue Bird, and the white cat derive from stories by Madame de Aulnoy. (Grace: Gwendolen will, one day, I hope, make her debut as la chatte blanche, for she is white from top to paw tip, if you except her black yamulke and tail. She has magnificent elevation--leaping from the side of the bath clear across the passage and into the sitting room when she plays with her foster sister Cecily, but landing rather heavily because of an Antonia del'Erian embonpoint in her figure. Still, I think she looks magnificent in flight--like a great swan, though eyes less fondly paternal than mine might be reminded of a jumbo jet!]

Hans: You won't find the G major marche because, to my knowledge, it has never been recorded. If you want to get an idea of its deportment, listen to the Grahn variation of Pas de Quatre. [incidental query: is her name pronounced Grah-hahn in Danish? Somebody once told me it was.] The harp you are thinking of is probably the B flat major (dominant) preparation for the pas de cheval galop (E flat) that provides Kitri with her variation in the Ouboukov recension of the pas de deux--though Mel says the Kirov offers it too on occasion. The mysterious (apparently untraced) music for this variation might postdate Beauty because, if you listen carefully to the section in F, when she begins her echappes a la seconde, you will hear an oscillating pedal beneath a stabbing melody. This is almost identical in effect and structure with the galop in G (not F, as Roland Wiley seems to imply] that accompanies Aurora's entree in Act I, and which yields, after the pedal slips down to E (the dominant preparation), to that wonderful perigourdine in A major. I still get goosebumps when I hear it, and I must have heard it thousands of times! The worst of it is that when you hear it in the theatre, the audience drowns it out with welcome clapping for the ballerina. It used to make me FUME!

PS Please forgive all the typos in my previous post. I sent it from my office via Netscape (at home I have Explorer), and it was like writing through a post box slit. I had no idea where my sentences were going.

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Whoops! Erratum for a bad mistake. I have just checked the score. The echappe section in Kitri's variation is, of course, in B flat. It has an oscillating F Major pedal, and that's what I was thinking of.

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rodney: since no-one has yet replied to your post above (i am no-one!), you can edit your previous post, without upsetting anyone.

i have always believed that florimund, (flor = flower, mund = world), means flower of the world - named to signify his desirability/beauty/etc. a suitable partner for aurora (= the dawn). rodney, mel: have i been too fanciful, or would you back this up?

rodney: i had never thought of describing my superfluous abdominal flab as "an Antonia del'Erian embonpoint in (her) figure"... i hope i have understood you? perhaps gwendoline looks like a glorious pelican in flight - we have lots of those on the west coast here, where i live. :innocent: )

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Must be the house of Flor. Since the King is Florestan XIV, a significant number for divine right autocrats, then the next one would be XV. After all, look at the Hanoverians and the absurd parade of Georges. At least George II tried to break things up by having a Prince of Wales named Frederick, but he spoiled things in getting killed by being beaned by a cricket ball, and the succession went to his eldest son, George III.

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I thought of that one as well, Mel. While we're on the subject, does anyone know where Ashton (or whoever) got the idea that Aurora had siblings? This must not square too well with NYCB's version in which Aurora seems to be an only child and she and Désiré take over the kingdom the moment they're married!

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And also Perrault's tale starts by saying that Aurora's parents had some difficulties to have a child ("Il était une fois un roi et une reine qui étaient si fâchés de n'avoir point d'enfants, si fâchés qu'on ne saurait dire. Ils allèrent à toutes les eaux du monde, vœux, pèlerinages, menues dévotions; tout fut mis en œuvre, et rien n'y faisait. Enfin pourtant la reine devint grosse, et accoucha d'une fille")... But well, perhaps after Aurora was born they had no problem having other children, sometimes it happens in real life ;)

By the way, it's interesting to notice that in the original text of Perrault none of the characters have names (it's just "the princess", "the prince", "the good fairy", etc.- there's just the small dog of the princess called "Pouffe" (well, it wouldn't be a name to use now, as it has a derogatory meaning in French slang, as "stupid, vulgar woman" :wacko:) and also Aurora's children are called Aurore and Jour). I wonder how Petipa chose the names he used?

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Grace, I like your idea of Gwendolen as pelican very much--except that she has a pouch

on her belly, and not on her chin. There's a wonderful description in Patrick White of

pelicans with heaving wickerwork wings. Your etymology of Florimund is spot-on, and

fits the ballet perfectly. I wasn't objecting to it but rather wondering where it comes from.

I definitely prefer Petipa's fairy names to Diaghilev's, however, because they supply

important iconic and choreographic clues.

Thinking about the Florestan pas de trois last night, I was suddenly struck by the idea that

if Nijinka restored the gold waltz to Act III, she would have had to exscind it from Act II.

That would have left a bleeding wound that, I feel sure, the musical Diaghilev would have

wanted to stanch. So isn't it just possible that it wasn't Ashton, but rather Nijinska, who

was the first to choreograph the Bb variation? Perhaps the fouettes Dame Ninette

remembered could have figured here--and she must surely have meant the ronds de

jambe kind and not the tap-on-the-shoulder ones that are still retained, and which have

functioned as a metaphor of unattainability ever since Silfiden. I can count 17 fouettes to

the D minor section of the variation, which at one point has little skirls that could match a

whipping leg.

And this morning I looked at my RB tape of A's Wedding again, and feel sure that it's

Ashton's edition of the polka, not Nijinska's, that we see there. I say that because N, who

loved rotary hands and arms, would never have cut those distinctive Petipa port de bras

(one could perhaps call them mains tournantes a la mouffle) that he also uses in the female

variation in The Talisman, and which the RB replaces with speeded up bras de

benediction from Miettes qui tombent. Also, those hands brought sharply down to bras

bas but with the palms out-turned (during the entrechats toward the end) are pure Ashton.

I recall a comparable effect in Sinfonietta, where the male demi-caractere dancer does

sissonnes with similar gestures.

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the following information was included in a review by Francine Du Plessix Gray (THE NEW YORKER, Aug. 7, 2000, p. 81) of Catherine Temerson's "Marie-Antoinette: The Last Queen of France."

At the time of his marriage to Marie-Antoinette, the Dauphin, who would become Louis XIV, was known as Louis le Désiré.

I suppose it was said already but the prince in THE SLEEPING PRINCESS was simply called Prince Charming.

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rg, surely you meant Louis XVI, not XIV?

Actually, it seems that the name "Louis le Désiré" was used much more often for Louix XVIII, Louis XVI's younger brother and successor (I don't know the origin of the name, perhaps that was his reign came after the troubled period of the Revolution and the First Empire (actually he wasn't that popular, but probably such names were given by the court rather than the people?...)? And I wonder why Louis XVI was called "le Désiré"- perhaps his parents were looking forward to having another child, after the death of their second son just a few months before?

Also Désiré probably already existed then as a first name, and Désirée for the women (for example there was Désirée Clary, a mistress of Napoleon and later wife of Bernadotte and Queen of Sweden).

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no, E, i meant the future Louis XIV, son of Louis XV, or at least that's how i read the review: FDPG, the writer, noted that the prince was called Louis le Désiré at the time of his marriage to Marie-A.

i hadn't realized this turn of phrase was a somewhat usual one for the various Louis kings.

[by the way, mel once very kindly put up a chart of keystokes to get accents - acute and grave - by using the alt key and certain number codes on the numberlocked key pad: e-acute is ALT 130.]

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Since Diaghilev didn't alter Desire to Florimund, I wonder if the change originated in a PR strategy by western companies eager to dissociate their male dancers from suggestions of effeminacy. Desiree was a very popular girls' name in SA during the fifties and sixties--and presumably in Oz and the UK as well--and a radio interview, say, with a danseur who said he was the Desire of the current Beauty, might have evoked unwelcome sniggers.

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Well, Desiré is the other side. If his name were to start with Flor-, it might be taken that Aurora was marrying a cousin or something, although among European royalty, that was hardly unusual. Remember, if you go to family reunions in order to meet women, you might be either a redneck or European royalty.

It isn't until the second part of the tale by Perrault that we learn that the Prince is the child of two ogres. Now, honestly, how many girls have married their sweethearts and found themselves in exactly this situation? :pinch:

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no, E, i meant the future Louis XIV, son of Louis XV, or at least that's how i read the review: FDPG, the writer, noted that the prince was called Louis le Désiré at the time of his marriage to Marie-A.

Well, rg, I woudn't like to sound picky, but Louis XIV (fourteen) was the king before Louis XV (and his great-grand-father), and it was Louis XVI (sixteen) who was the successor Louis XV (and his grandson, as his father Louis le Dauphin had died when he was a kid) and who got married with Marie-Antoinette

:grinning:

I had mentioned Louis XVIII because from what I've read the name "Le Désiré" was used quite a lot for him

and seemed to be his "official" nickname like Philippe IV "le Bel", Henri IV "le Grand", Louis XIII "le Juste", Louis XIV "le Grand", "Louis XV "le Bien-aimé", etc., while for Louis XVI it seemed to be used less often.

By the way: do the Russians use Florimond or Désiré for the Prince?

Mel, I wonder if someone ever used the end of the tale (with the Ogre mother-in-law) in a ballet. When I had heard that Mats Ek would make a "Sleeping Beauty", I thought it would be well-suited to his style, but unfortunately he didn't use it (and on the whole I found his "Beauty" far less interesting than his other full-length works...)

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test

There is an odd error on this thread. There's a long delay before posts appear -- 15 minutes, in the case of this one -- and Estelle got an SQL error notice. I'm closing the thread so no one else loses a long post. It will reopen when the tech people have looked into this and told us it's safe.

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We're cleared for take off :wub: The problem Estelle and I (and perhaps others) experienced the other day was related to the conversion, they say. Probably a little bit of code that hadn't been changed. I'm told it's been fixed.

This thread is now open again; sorry for the detour.

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