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Nadia Nerina


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 04:56 AM

Ah, but I don't think of the Lilac Fairy as a runner up -- not originally -- I think she's The Star. That was the great gift of seeing the Kirov's reconstruction, especially with Part in the role. She's not the Star in the sense of the most stage time, or the most varations, but she holds the ballet together. Petipa was giving us an 18th century neoclassical ballet fairie, but I don't think anyone got it :)

This was reinforced by seeing the short film, Act I only, and that condensed, of Excelsior. There, the Spirit of Light was completely mime -- whatever the equivalent of a bass is in a ballerina :) -- and the ballerina was demicaractere, quick and brilliant, the only soloist in a grand ballabile of corps dances and processions (she was the Spirit of Civilization). The Spirit of Liight presided.

#17 Roma

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 06:12 AM

Petipa was giving us an 18th century neoclassical ballet fairie, but I don't think anyone got it


That’s so interesting, because in so many Balanchine ballets, it’s the second soloist, not the ballerina, who is the organizing principle of the work (Tchaikovsky No. 2, both Emeralds and Rubies, Gigue in Mozartiana).

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 06:26 AM

Good point, Roma! Thank you -- I'd never thought of that! You're right.

I'd never noticed the similarities between the Divert ballerinas and the Sleeping B fairies until I saw Farrell's company do Divert last season -- it was a very old-fashioned staging, or at least they danced in the way, I'm guessing, that Farrell did when she first danced it, and production was much more "classical" than we're used to seeing in a Balanchine ballet.

I did see one staging, by Colleen Neary, of "Rubies" (for PNB) where the "second ballerina" was Queen Bee and the leading couple was reduced to her sidekicks, and thought the balance was off. But maybe....just maybe.....

#19 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:54 AM

Strangely enough, I recently had an email from Michelle Potter in which she said something similar about Berthe in G 1. Makes a girl think! (M Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) Roma, alas, I don't know the B ballets you mention--have some excerpts from Rubies, but not enough to make structural judgements. However, I wonder if, in the case of T No 2, which began life as Ballet Imperial with SWB, the transference of focus had something to do with B's antipathy (too strong?) toward Fonteyn, and preference for the mobility (l'arcana parola ognor!--as Manrico says in Trovatore) of Shearer.

#20 Ari

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:15 PM

I wonder if, in the case of T No 2, which began life as Ballet Imperial with SWB, the transference of focus had something to do with B's antipathy (too strong?) toward Fonteyn, and preference for the mobility (l'arcana parola ognor!--as Manrico says in Trovatore) of Shearer.

Rodney, Ballet Imperial did not begin life at the Sadler's Wells Ballet. It was made in 1941 for the American Ballet Caravan, a predecesssor of NYCB, and the original ballerinas were Marie-Jeanne and Giselle Caccialanza.

#21 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 01:57 PM

Well, there goes that little theory! Many thanks for the correction, Ari. I was somehow under the impression that it had been conceived in all its Romanov flamboyance and Berman wigs for the Garden, and that B had stripped it down to its austere current title and practice type clothes when it went to America.

#22 grace

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 03:30 PM

rodney - yes. lucette appears momentarily in TURNING POINT, as odile, with bujones, if i recall correctly. the AB DQ has recently been re-something-or-othered, (much to her satisfaction), and re-released - but i haven't seen the 'new' version. i am teaching now, where the notation DOES come in handy...

#23 atm711

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 09:27 AM

That’s so interesting, because in so many Balanchine ballets, it’s the second soloist, not the ballerina, who is the organizing principle of the work (Tchaikovsky No. 2, both Emeralds and Rubies, Gigue in Mozartiana).

I never thought of it in quite this way--but it is so true in regard to "Ballet Imperial". I saw both Marie-Jeanne and MaryEllen Moylan in the ballerina part, but it is Maria Tallchief in the secondary role that I can still vividly recall. This was at a time in her career when she danced with great gusto, Balanchine's make-over was still in progress.

#24 Roma

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 09:46 AM

re Divert and Sleeping Beauty. I was so intrigued by the idea that there might be a relationship there, I went back to watch the tape of the old Kirov version with Assylmuratova. I am not sure that my eye is sharp enough to clearly differentiate all the fairies by employ, but my jaw dropped when I saw them line up (arms around each other, a corps girl holding “the end of the line” on either side, and two supporting the Lilac Fairy) and then do an arabesque, developpe avant, which is the same exact thing that the women in Divert do (supported by the three men), only in reverse (developpe, then arabesque).

Re: Neary’s Rubies. I can see how it might be tempting for a stager to present the role she happened to have danced as THE role in a ballet, but probably about as desirable as having an overbearing Lilac.
Rodney, judging from pictures and descriptions, Marie-Jeanne was a soubrette type dancer—small, virtuosic, and quick. I often get the feeling that whenever you have a soubrette doing a role in a classical (or romantic) vein, you also get a danseuse noble that acts like a spindle around which everything is wound (I am thinking of the tall girl in Rubies, Myrtha, Lilac). But the classical ballerina doesn’t need anyone else; she IS the Queen Bee :). Of course, there are too many exceptions to this in every direction. No idea where that would put “Mozartiana” with it's classical ballerina and a male second soloist. :unsure:

#25 Alexandra

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 09:55 AM

re Divert and Sleeping Beauty. I was so intrigued by the idea that there might be a relationship there, I went back to watch the tape of the old Kirov version with Assylmuratova. I am not sure that my eye is sharp enough to clearly differentiate all the fairies by employ, but my jaw dropped when I saw them line up (arms around the next dancer’s back, a corps girl holding “the end of the line” on either side, and two supporting the Lilac Fairy) and then do an arabesque, developpe avant, which is the same exact thing that the women in Divert do (supported by the three men), only in reverse (developpe, then arabesque).

Roma, I've noticed that, too. But there's bits of Petipa sprinkled all through Balanchine. Now, wouldn't it be wonderful to know from where Petipa got it? :unsure:

#26 Roma

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 10:00 AM

Yes, but this just screams copyright infringement :unsure: And it would be wonderful.

#27 Alexandra

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 10:12 AM

A long time ago I made a joke that there was originally ONE ballet, in Italy, in 1465. And everything we've seen since then is a little part of that one, big, exorbitantly fantastic 12-hour-long classical extravaganza.

And sometimes I wonder if maybe it's not a joke :unsure:

#28 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 12:15 PM

Roma, I am afraid I'm so ignorant about American ballet that I hadn't even heard of Marie-Jeanne before Ari mentioned her above. I have seen some footage of ME Moylan, but so bleached by the lighting that I couldn't get much sense of her quality. It struck me, even so, that she wasn't a B muse as we have come to conceive the type, though neither, perhaps, were Allegra Kent (is that the right name? it seems wrong) and Darcy Kistler. Would I be wrong to suggest that, valuing speed as he did, B made do with dancers like Marie-Jeanne, but as a stopgap--until he could, by careful selection and training, make his his unique contribution to the typology of dance physiques, viz., the dancer with a jarrete line so extreme that one could call it mannerist, but who can, even so, move like the wind and not fall over her feet.

When Patricia Neary staged Serenade for the Cape Town company, they danced it in a demure, gentle, British way, and I thought that S was the most Ashtonian of all the B ballets I had seen--and that, I should add, is too, too few for my liking. Then I saw a tape of the NYCB in S, and it found it ELECTRIC by comparison. The ballet went at almost double the speed, and the dancers were at least a head higher than their Cape Town counterparts, all enormously precise and fleet (soubrette precise and fleet) but LEGGY. I had never seen anything like it, and once again threw up my hands in despair at trying to fathom out the taxonomy of dancers, which always scrambles itself the moment I think I've got it down!

#29 grace

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 05:33 PM

A long time ago I made a joke that there was originally ONE ballet, in Italy, in 1465. And everything we've seen since then is a little part of that one, big, exorbitantly fantastic 12-hour-long classical extravaganza.


:D :unsure: :)

#30 Paul Parish

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 06:42 PM

Mr. Edgecombe,

I wish there were footage of Marie-Jeanne for us to see that would allow us to know what her dancing was like.

I think in a sense, when Tanaquil le Clercq arrived, Balanchine DID have that leggy creature you think he was waiting for. But I think there's a lot of evidence that Balanchine adored the way Marie-Jeanne danced (Allegra Kent, too).

But from what I've read and heard, Balanchine was fascinated not only by Marie-Jeanne's speed, but by her dance imagination (as he would be again in even greater degree by Kent's and especially Farrell's). She had fast, very long feet -- so when she went on pointe, the change in imagery was quite startling -- her legs became very long.

I have met Marie-Jeanne, and she told me when I asked that in Ballet Imperial he asked her to "do something jazzy" in all those places in the first movement cadenza where the ballerina now does a double swivel. She said she couldn't tell me exactly WHAT it was she did, but she threw herself into it, it was a wild move, and he loved it.

I met her about 10 years ago at the home of the ballet's seconda donna, Gisella Caccialanza (who married Lew Christensen and settled in SanFrancisco), who was a very different sort of dancer, but rather a similar person -- down to earth, sweet to the core, both of them such refreshing, lovely people. Mrs. Christensen had been Cecchetti's last protege, and had left Italy with her mother for the US while still a teen-ager. I HAVE seen home movies of HER dancing in the 30's - -from when Ballet Caravan was on tour in South America -- and her dancing was light, soft, VERY fluid and supple. The film showed her at the barre and in some partnered work and a little in the center, but did not show the jump she was famous for -- but she could do double saut de Basques, famously.

ATM711, I can well imagine Tallchief as being a much more vivid and memorable personality in hte second-girl role than Caccialanza.... Tallchief has a formidable side to her stage personality....


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