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do wilis have wings?or the spirit of Giselle?


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#16 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 03:10 AM

Oh, yes, we have Commas, too, and Red Admirals, and assorted Mourning Cloaks. But also there are swallowtails, Monarchs and various sulphurs, for which the forewing is not particularly concave. Actually, Giselle's wings in various productions have sometimes reminded me of Luna Moth wings.

#17 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 03:38 AM

Exactly--conVEX, not concave! I think the Lunar Moth analogy is a good one, but I can't quite picture the line of the forewing. I'm sure it's illustrated somewhere in a curious old set of Consolidated Encylopaedias circa 1940 that my dad bought for my mom when they got married. They came with a free two- volume Webster. Some of the entries are nothing short of astonishing--that for "negro," for example. I shall see if I can turn up the moth in question in one of the colour plates.

#18 rg

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 04:14 AM

i wish i knew the full import of krasovskaya's comment. it may have something to the do with the russian words for moth and for butterfly. i THINK butterfly is babochka but don't know what the word for moth is nor what the gender distinction(s) might be. i seem to recall that later in his career nijinsky was actually cast as a moth, but can't place the full context of that role.

#19 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 05:22 AM

I think I might have to eat a huge wadge of humble pie in Mel's presence, but I shall defer the ritual until I have had time to leaf through a book of moths in the UCT library. There was no Luna Moth in my Consolidated Encyclopaedias--I must have been crossing lines with another set of books from my childhood, the Afrikaans Kinderensiklopedie, which I no longer possess. All I know is that I pored over a plate containing a Luna Moth for many hours as a child--not attentively enough, it seems, for an internet search for a Luna turned up a convex forewing, and so too a search for the SA Emperor Moth, to which family the Pine Tree Moth belongs. It seems as if I might have been confusing a concave forewing with the way in which some moth wings (eg those of Argema mimosae) display a quite noticeable flattening at the apex, and then a pronounced concavity below that on the outer margin--which does describe Carlotta's wings as well, though I would need now to go through my butterfly encyclopaedia to see if there are also butterflies that conform to this profile. If there are, then perhaps one should juggle with the idea of bat wings as a source for the mild disquiet that the wilis' unconventional apparatus were probably meant to generate.

In my searches I went back to my Field Guide to the Insects of the Kruger National Park, which lists all the Linnaean orders, suborders and families, and I really don't know what possessed when I said that moths belonged the Hymenoptera (cf earlier post). That, of course, pertains to bees and wasps. Moths are just lepidopterids that (in general) fly by night, club their antennae, thicken their thoraces, limit their spectrum to dun, and fold their wings back in repose. Sorry, Mel!

#20 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 07:35 AM

Munch. Munch. That's the sound of my humble pie going down, Mel. BUT, thanks to your astute prodding and correcting, I now stand confirmed in my belief that Lormier meant us to read Carlotta's wings as moth wings. I have combed my butterfly encyclopaedia, and am 98% sure that no butterfly has, but many moths have, a marked flattening of the forewing apex, with a concave segment immediately below it on the wing's outer margin. It is a pretty defining morphological feature. As fate would have it, my researches turned up a butterfly that might be said to have, if not a concavity on the forewing inner margin, then at least an inward-tending irregularity--Symmachia mantinea, from Brazil.

RG, could you please give us some idea of the setting for Les Caprices du papillon? I ask because I have found a picture in Roslavleva, unidentified as to the ballet, of Pavlova in a Romantic tutu with dorsal wings. Nicolai Legat is holding them gingerly, but he doesn't look as if he's in Albrecht mode. The costume has a faintly oriental look. Is this Papillon, Giselle or something along the lines of? Citrus, I forgot to check Roslavleva yesterday because she is filed away from my coffee table books. The title is The Era of the Russian Ballet, and it provides an excellent introduction to the subject.

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 01:55 PM

Don't worry, Rodney, taxonomy is one weird study, and between the moths which are butterfly mimics and the butterflies which are moth mimics and the both of them having wasp mimic genera, it's a miracle any taxonomist gets any work done at all.

As to the Pavlova/Legat picture, I wonder if it is from the first state of "Chopiniana" with its Tarantella, actual Polonaise entrée, and other assorted bits that didn't make it to "Les Sylphides"? There's a bit in "Sylphides" where the Poet draws his partner backward by the wings. Imagine the Poet less Keats and more Byron, and the "oriental" costume just might be appropriate.

#22 rg

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 03:04 PM

the pavlova/legat photo referred to here is captioned by keith money(?) or someone else maybe as 'giselle.' i don't think legat ever did chopiniana (first version) or later for that matter.
money is a good and reliable source - tho' i question one or two of his captions, in gen. when in doubt, he says 'possibly such-and-such' -for his time he did remarkable research as did the lazzarinis in their remarkable studies of pavlova which i think predate money's.
i know 'giselle' seems odd to our eyes as an ident. for this pic. but that's what one of these sources posits.

#23 citrus

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 05:48 PM

Gee, moths, I know pratically nothing about them! Not a pleasure to the eye, never watched them closely. Let me go grab my encyclopedia first. And please keep those posts coming. It's been a fascinating read. R S Edgecombe, thanks, I'll check the book out.

#24 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 10:35 PM

I think Mel makes an excellent point, RG, and I much prefer it to Keith Money's suggestion simply because the wing clasping IS so distinctive to Sylphides, and has no parallel in Giselle. I was so thrown by the Legat's tunic that I didn't think of making the connection. But I don't think the photo represents anybody IN anything, really. I have a sense that two dancers arrived in a studio with different costumes in their portmanteaux and Pavlova said,"Why don't you hold my wings as in Les Sylphides" and Legat obliged. Her arms are wrong for that moment, which I recall as a sort of aerial breast stroke, not bras adores. Could I ask either of you please to access the photo of the male dancer that RG posted in the Talisman thread and see if his tunic tallies in any way with Legat's? The changes in the Invision software mean that I can now only see the legs! Thank goodness I printed out Kchessinskaya while I could! And could you please tell me if you sound the terminal T in Legat?

On the subject of photos, when I went back to the SB shot of Brianza and co, I identified, for the first time, the en traversi pages with their violins that RG and Doug mentioned with regard to the dance following the Rose Adagio. It had never before occurred to me to link them to Act I. Is the woman on the left a friend/maid of honour? Do we know her name? And is the woman protectively standing next to Brianza a sort of duenna?

#25 Mel Johnson

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 02:52 AM

Having studied in the Legat system for awhile, I can tell you definitely that the "t" at the end is made, but unaspirated; it's a real final "t". And the studio scenario you propose seems as probable as another. Rather than bras adoré, though, in "Sylphides", as she bourrées backward, it's sort of bras dog-paddle, then the arms sweep wide when she takes the arabesque penchée.

#26 rg

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 07:11 AM

all bets are off!!!
i've utterly misrepresented money and the captioning of the anna pavlova & nikolai legat photo. it's not in money. i must have hallucinated that. as to where i MIGHT have seen a suggestion of its being from GISELLE, i can now not imagine.
i think RSE is most likely correct w/ suggesting a photo-session pose in whatever costumes came along w/ the dancers in question. pavlova's would SEEM to be the chopiniana tutu tho' i don't see a clear indicationof the garlanded flowers that distinguish the bakst confection.
re: legat, no, this is not the same tunic worn by andreanov in what i take to be the maharaja from 'talisman.' andreanov's tunic is longer, has a side-purse/pocket and a distinct star-like badge on the left breast - the talisman of the title, i presume - the indications of fur on legat's tunic make me suspect that it was perhaps a tunic for jean de brienne from the grand pas of 'raymonda,' but that's only a guess.
IF i ever unearth the 'location' of this photo as being from GISELLE i won't believe it but i will be able to hang the 'odd' caption on the real author and not on keith money, who is innocent here. it's not in smakov either, unless i missed it.

#27 rg

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 10:20 AM

whereabouts determined if not mystery soloved:
the photo shown in 'era of russian ballet' w/ anna pavlova & nikolai legat is also in john and roberta lazzarini's 'pavlova' p. 97, where it says what i thought i'd remembered: 'as giselle, in act 2, w/ legat as albrecht.'
i'm not saying this is correct just that it's stated so here.
the photo is identified as 1909, berlin. where it appears pavlova danced 'giselle' w/ legat.
my new hunch is that he's holding her by the wings perhaps to help her steady her balance for the film frame time necessary to 'take' the picture.
the caption discusses this bakst costume's similarity to the one bakst also designed for 'chopiniana.'
i've never known a russian albrecht to wear such a tunic as legat's but who knows what might been done on tour. etc.
the lazzarinis tended to have sound if not impeccable research. they preceded money w/ his research so he had the benefit of theirs to start from and in some case to amend, adjust, correct. i'm prepared to accept the book's ident. of the date and place: berlin, '09, if not the ballet's title.
still i'm happy to note that i didn't hallucinate the whole thing from start to finish.

#28 R S Edgecombe

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 11:25 AM

Not to worry, RG, I have been having such moments with increasing frequency ever since I turned 50 last year. Heather sweet-naturedly calls them my "senior moments"--as when I recently told Mel that I thought ailuros was the Greek word for mongoose, and found out today that the OED cheerfully glosses ailuros as cat. Though it must be Hellenistic Gk, because I can't find an entry for ailuros in my (abbreviated) Liddell and Scott, which was co-authored by Alice in Wonderland's papa (I think--another senior moment threatens!). Thanks for disconnecting the tunic from The Talisman. I looked at Nijinsky's Talisman costume as well, and it's nothing like. I'm not sure I would go with Jean de Brienne, though, because of the wig. It's closer to (but still not wholly congruent with) the Russian idea of Renaissance hair (ie Siegfried or Albrecht), whereas my photo of Fokine as J de B shows him in a "page-boy" of 1460ish vintage. I also think the tunic is a tad too ornate for a medieval setting. The name of those appendages has been eluding me all day--I want to call them tassets, but that's a kind of plate armour skirt (the original of the tonnelet?)--and seem to belong to a later era. I haven't any idea which, though--which is why I wanted to go the Indian subcontinent.

I had never paid attention to Roslavleva's nearby photo of Clustine's Stars before, but, thanks to your Anton Simon info, I studied it with great interest for the first time--very appropriately, because it's a picture of Mars and his satellites, and today is being (jocularly) celebrated as Mars Day in SA. I haven't seen the planet yet because of all the cloud, but my mom caught up with it yesterday in the predawn sky over PE, as globular and pickable as a Seville orange!

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 11:33 AM

This will be a totally useless post -- but I did want to thank citrus for finding this thread and raising it to the top again by asking that question, and to Mel, RSE and rg for all your digging and prodding -- this has been so much fun to read, and it's a great addition for the Archives. Thank you all!!!

#30 rg

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 02:14 PM

re: talisman iconography - nijinsky danced the role of 'vayou, god of the wind' (or in legat's version: hurricane) and his satin-draped and pearl-decorated costume, much to fokine's chagrin, was quite close to the benois design he wore as the favorite slave in 'pavillon d'armide.' samuil andreanov danced a different role, that of noureddin, maharajah of lahore (i have no idea at the moment if legat renamed this leading male character), and which i BELIEVE is shown in the postcard i have of him - even tho' this same photograph is identified in some texts as showing andreanov as siegfried in 'swanlake,' which i don't buy.
your observations, RSE, about the hair styling is a good one, and to be sure the hair style sported by legat in this pavlova pic is v. close to that he wears in pictures from the same year as siegfried. still i don't see anywhere in legat's catalogue of roles any ref. to the marahajah of lahore. in fact legat restaged 'talisman' in the period when he was acting as imperial ballet balletmaster, but i don't see that he danced in it. so i think we can rule out the tunic's being from 'talisman.'


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