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Two Lilac Fairy Questions


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#1 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 01:12 PM

Does modern scholarship support Natalia Roslavleva's contention that Marie Petipa wore heeled shoes in Act II of Beauty. And if so, when did bourees displace her stridings about?

I have read somewhere that the variation the L Fairy now executes in the Prologue pas de six is by Lopokov. If this is true, how did this come about? Does it have anything to do with a suppression of the original variation because MP had a limited technique? Petipa, it seems, never felt compelled to give variations to ALL who had participated in his intradas, as witness the 3-variation pas de quatre in the Moscow DQ, and his devariationed version of the Gemstone pas de quatre that Doug has set out for us in the Desire/Florimund thread.

#2 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 03:08 PM

So far, so good on the Rosavleva front. When the picture of Marie broke some years ago, there was a rush to add a seventh fairy to the Prologue because it looked like Lilac couldn't have danced dressed that way. (Answer: She wasn't dressed that way in the Prologue - she wore her "tarlatan") Now, more of the Mariinsky archives, and more of the libraries in Russia have become available to researchers because of the fall of the Soviet Union. The information so far collected seems to bear out Roslavleva.

And yes, it's been known for years that the present Lilac variation dates from about 1912, and is the product of Lopokov.

#3 grace

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 03:14 PM

rodney, as your questions have become so specific, and so well-researched in advance, i am wondering whether you are perhaps writing a book? or very exhaustive programme notes? ....or are you 'just' a history buff, or someone with a passion for accuracy and detail? i hope you don't mind the direct question...? :D

#4 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 03:53 AM

Mel, many thanks for that information. Do you happen to know why Lopokov chose to rewrite the Petipa variation? Was the original insufficiently taxing?

Grace, I am writing a book (my eleventh!), but, like all its predecessors, it's on Eng lit. However, I have published musicological articles with a strong ballet content however (in Dance Chronicle and Nineteenth-Century Music and Brolga). And in the days when the SA magazine Arabesque was still extant (it was edited by the man who subsequently became the PR officer for Dawn Weller's ballet co--PACT--in Jo'burg), I wrote articles and reviews for that.

Gwendolen and Cecily, who are very skittish as a result of the cold front passing over Cape Town, and tearing in and out of the study like Valkyries on Benzedrine, breathlessly send you their love!

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 04:28 AM

I only looked at the Sergeyev notations once, at Harvard, but it occurred to me that what I was looking at was not what we know as the Lilac Fairy variation today. I was working from known portions of the choreography to the unknown in the notation, and it seemed to me that the variation notated was very easy, technically. It's actually there twice, but the other notation didn't seem to show the present variation, either.

We'll be proud to be co-conspirators in background for articles on ballet. :D

Gwendolen and Cecily? You mean your cats are named for the two coo-coo Pigeon sisters?

Here, try this; it's a general article on Beauty that we keep here:

http://balletalert.c...ty/sleeping.htm

#6 grace

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 04:41 AM

:cat: :cat:

#7 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 10:28 AM

Curiouser and curioser. There are THREE variant variations for the LF? The one danced by the Bolshoi is the one, more or less, that David Poole staged in Cape Town--but it differs substantially from the RB one, which I have seen only once. There, I recall, there were developpes a la seconde fouetting into attitude derriere (as in the DQ Queen of the Dryads solo, which Nureyev transposed--for reasons never explained to me--into his deporteured Le Corsaire pas de deux in An Evening with the RB). The Bolshoi/Cape Town text has a vertiginous sentence of sissonnes and pirouettes doubles that must be quite hard to spot, and which therefore tends to veer drunkenly off the vertical--though I must say Speranskaya manages very well on my Bolshoi tape. What is puzzling here is why DP, who was nominally restaging the RB text, should have gone behind the Iron Curtain for his LF variation. He is no longer with us to ask.

I'm afraid I don't know the Pigeon sisters. My cats are named after the women in The Importance of Being Earnest. Thanks for the kitty icons, Grace, which, I take it, are greetings from your own. I haven't told you that Cecily (who is a third of Gwendolen's size, even though they get exactly the same rations--a quite different metabolism) is a wonderful Bournonville dancer. When she plays with her catnip mouse, she does a soubresaut first to the left, then to the centre, then to the right of her iconic prey, all four feet clamped in perfect firsts (if indeed a soubresaut can be launched from first!). It's as though she were dancing the Time Warp from Rocky Horror, and it's a delight to heart and eye.

#8 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 10:38 AM

PS Many thanks for the Beauty hotlink, Mel. I think the summary of the ballet's themes (yours?) is a masterly piece of writing--so crisp and full of good ideas. Two queries, what is the origin of the phrase "trip to a woodshed"? I've never heard it before. And who is the ballerina in Romantic tutu? Is this from the vision scene? This Aurora looks as if she might have strayed in from Pas de Quatre or Les Sylphides!

#9 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 10:44 AM

PPS Oh my goodness! Another erratum. They aren't developpes in the Queen of the Dryads, of course, but grands battements. Imagine trying to balance the former--though apparently Trefilova once did in Odette's variation in Act II. The conductor (one Hartmann, as I recall) was so fascinated by the score that he took it at a snail's pace so as to absorb all its beauties. And Trefilova developped untremulously, sur le pointe, in slow motion. Marvellous beyond words!

#10 Ari

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 12:10 PM

The RB's Lilac variation is by Ashton, I believe. That may explain why David Poole didn't use it in his staging -- he might not have been able to get the rights.

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 12:44 PM

Thanks for the roses! Yes, the entire thing is my work, with occasional prods and nudges by Alexandra to bring the quality of the writing to a proper uniform level. The ballerina is the Ballet Alert! Online logo, Silja Schandorff of the Royal Danish Ballet in the "sylphide" section of Harald Lander's "Etudes". She adorns every page of the e-zine.

A "trip to the woodshed" is a reworking or reforming of previous behavior. It takes its name from the archetypal trip made by naughty little boys with their fathers for a sound thrashing, which, it was hoped, would bring about a certain metanoia.

And the grand battement moment to which you refer in the Dryad Queen variation is actually part of a grand fouetté en tournant, sometimes referred to as an "Italian fouetté".

And the Pigeon sisters are Oscar and Felix's upstairs neighbors in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. Their idea of air conditioning is to stand naked in front of an open refrigerator. :wub:

#12 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 08:48 PM

Many thanks for the info about Ashton, Ari. I didn't know that. It seems that the RB texts are full of such gussets and patches--eg the peasant's solo in Act I of Swan Lake, which was choreographed by Dame Ninette. And thank you for your woodshed aphorism, Mel. I am a product of the corporal punishment era, and was once caned at school when my entire Grade 9 class was sentenced to a collective punishment. This because we laughed with pointed crudity at all the jokes in a feeble Afrikaans story that our teacher made us read, whereas we wanted to revise for the next day's maths examination.

Inspired by Doug's recent posting about the Act III pas de quatre, and by Mel's interesting and suggestive account of the ballet (see hotlink above), I have been reading Wiley on SB. W makes the point that, even while the ballet appears to celebrate the myth of regal divine right etc, the allegory might also contain some unflattering implications (eg the supplantation of moral fairies by materialistic ones in Act III). I haven't been able to find out anything about Vsevolozhsky's politics, but I wonder if one could add the name of Florestan to the encrypted but critical aspects of the allegory (if they're there). After all, it is the name of Beethoven's hero in Fidelio--imprisoned, like so many under the rule of autocrats, even enlightened ones, without due process. In his preface to Little Dorrit, Lionel Trilling observes that "the trumpet call of the Leonore overture sounds through the century, the signal for the opening of the gates, for a general deliverance." Coupling the name Florestan with the numerical rank of XIV might, therefore almost read as a gesture of subversion. By the way, Estelle, Wiley seems to think that V, not Petipa, was prob responsible for the naming of the ballet's characters.

#13 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 02:50 AM

As you can probably tell, Rodney, I relied heavily on Wiley for that subsite of our e-zine, and also on Beaumont and Cohen's International Encyclopedia of Dance.. Vsevolozhsky seems to have been some sort of closet liberal who had been installed into the theater directorate thinking that he wouldn't do much, as his politics and military background had suggested an extreme conservative. Wrong. V. turned out to be one of those reformers, and worked important changes in the operation of the Imperial Theaters. :wub: The naming of the fairies seemed to me to be one of those "trips to the woodshed" where the collaborators strove away together in order to make a successful libretto.

#14 Jane Simpson

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 04:08 AM

Until the recent new production, which doesn't specify who did what, the RB has credited the Lilac Fairy variation to Lopokov since the 1973 production - maybe it's 'Ashton after Lopokov' but I don't remember ever seeing that in print, and it's not listed in David Vaughan's book. Is there some information somewhere that I've missed, Ari?

#15 Ari

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 04:48 AM

Jane, in one of Arlene Croce's reviews of the RB's Beauty she refers to "Ashton's beautiful Lilac Fairy variation." It's not pure Ashton, since some of Lupokov's steps and the general structure and feel of the variation are his, but someone else clearly added to it and changed it subtly. This kind of emendation is, of course, very common, but there are no conventions as to who gets program credit for it.


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