The Dance of the Maids of Honour and the Pages
Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:51 AM
Posted 05 August 2003 - 05:12 AM
the violinists (and doug could answer this more definitively if he has the notation info at hand) are likely original, they appeared in latest 'reconstructed' kirov version as well as in a staging of the dance by alexandra danilova for SAB years back.
i think they may never have been danced by actual boy pupils but by girls dressed in boys' attire, as i think was a convention at the time.
perhaps too wiley tells of the breakup of the hierarchy of aurora's friends in this act.
my suspicion is that the royal - once sadler's wells - ballet version(s) by n.sergeyev were adjusted for the numbers of personnel available. along the way one would have to check with archivists and authors such as d.vaughan, or a. bland, etc. to divine the actual 'hands' at work on various stagings of 'beauty' during the 40s, 50s, etc.
Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:42 AM
I was struck by the hierarchy in the new/old Sleeping Beauty, too, and I'm sure it was, as rg wrote, because the Sadler's Wells was so much smaller. In the West, we doubled up on everything -- if you were a courtier in the prologue and first act, you had to be a member of the Prince's hunting party, too, etc., but in Russia, they needed roles for the dancers, not the other way 'round.
Having different groups of maids of honor, with different costumes, also gives the ballet more texture -- one of the many things we lost, I think, in 20th century neoclassism, when the obsession with classical ballet, as beautiful as it was, pushed aside much of what was visually interesting in the classical ballets.
Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:38 AM
Posted 05 August 2003 - 03:08 PM
as i recall the retinue of violinists is for adolescent dancers and maybe petipa wanted girls for the 'purpose'; i can't say w/ any authority.
perhaps wiley's appendix indicates the gender(s) used in the original, or perhaps doug can relate what the notations say for these roles.
Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:03 AM
Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:57 AM
RG, I grew up reading the works of Arnold Haskell, who argued that ballet in Russia was spared the decadence that overtook it in France because it continued to honour the male dancer (he always cited the en traversi Franz in Saint-Leon's Coppelia as a regrettable development). I can, however, think of at least one occasion on which Petipa choreographed en traversi, and that's the Enchanted Garden sequence in DQ. A boy could never have danced the choreography for Cupid. Which leads me to modulate enharmonically to another kind of androgyny altogether. I have long been intrigued by the following passage from Edmund White's Farewell Symphony. Other characters in the novel (which may or may not be a roman a clef) are recognizably based on real figures, eg Felice Picano, but I am so ignorant of the American dance scene that I wouldn't be able to pick up the clues about Jimmy, even if they were blaring at me.
Here are extracts from pp 72 and 75 of the Vintage edition:
Jimmy was the best. He could leap the highest and turn the most times without "traveling," that is, drifting unwittingly downstage or to one side or the other. He was faster and cleaner than the other men. He could turn as easitly to the left as to the right. He could turn and leap, turn and leap, following a perfect giant circle of grands jetes inscribed within the square of the stge. He could leap up an beat his legs together faster than a barber's shears. His ports de bras were elegant, but not mannered, at once noble and unfussily American. He was too short to partner ballerinas convincingly, but he could do things no other man would attempt, such as kick the back of his head as he went flying offstage in an absurd rock adaptation of Vivaldi that had been especially concocted to show him off, a role so rapid and demanding that backstage assistants would clamp an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth before pushing back in front of the audience.
* * *
Jimmy dreamed of changing his sex, not because he rejected his . . . well, boyhood, but because he thought that if he were a woman he'd be the strongest ballerina in the world with the most startling elevation and he'd never have to totter and struggle to lift another big girl off the ground.
End of quotes.
The oxygen mask brouhaha is obviously a variant of the backstage antics during Nijinsky's Spectre de la rose, but I wonder if there are nuggets of fact buried in all that. Does anybody know?
Posted 06 August 2003 - 06:59 AM
In Raymonda, Petipa's lead couple in the Act II Spanish dance was augmented by eight "couples," all danced by women (corps de ballet members in that instance). But he also choreographed the Act III "Danse des enfants" for 12 students couples who were danced by girls and boys, as was the Paquita Mazurka.
Posted 06 August 2003 - 10:45 AM
Posted 06 August 2003 - 09:55 PM
Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:51 AM
Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:58 AM
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