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silvy

Aurora

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I wonder what qualities you wish to see in Aurora? And of the female dancers you have seen (either live or on video), who is the one that in your opinion is closest to your ideal?

Just thought it might be interesting

Silvy

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Very interesting! Great topic, Silvy!

Aside from musicality and enough technique to execute the steps capably and beautiful line (I'm taking them as givens), I think Aurora -- more than any other role -- needs radiance and serenity. Well, radiance is implied in her name, isn't it? :D

I have seen some lovely Auroras, but no one has filled the role as magnificently (to my mind) as Martine van Hamel. :wink: To me, she will always be the Gold Standard.

I have wonderful memories of Darci Kistler's Vision Scene. She was a very different Aurora than Martine, did not have full mastery of the technical demands for the Birthday or Wedding Acts, but broke my heart in that central act. :wub:

Susan Jaffe, in her later later Auroras (with Carreno) had an unusual take on the Vision, expressing Aurora's own yearning for her Prince. It was nice to see her (mere vision though she was), turn Aurora from a passive object of desire to an actor in her own right.

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Silvy, in addition to the qualities which have already been mentioned by carbro, I think Aurora needs to have a quality of youthful freshness and vulnerability, even though she is a Princess. And though serene, as befits a Princess, she is also joyful and young, and then in love and only slightly more mature in the Wedding Scene :wub: I don't think I have seen anyone who can touch Fonteyn in this role, although I'm sure there are some out there. It was her eyes. Just look at the photos from when she was younger!

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Although Fonteyn wasn't a spectacular technician, as far personality goes, I think she was the perfect Aurora. And she did hit some pretty nice balances in the Rose Adagio.

I think Alla Sizova in the 1964 Kirov film is my favorite all-around Aurora. She has a luminously beautiful expression, and is very secure in both adagio and allegro.

As for the qualities Aurora should have, I can't do better than say ditto to what Victoria Leigh wrote.

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She should have some of the qualities of the fairies, but be more human --

the Auroras I have loved most were circumspect enough to have the dignity of a person whom all eyes will be constantly watching, but still have the graciousness to meet that challenge with warmth. In particular, I LOVE it when Aurora looks at everybody else onstage -- Yelena Pankova did this, Cheryl Yaeger did this, Joanna Berman did this -- when I saw them perform live in San Francisco. It fantastically opens up the space for her to make eye contact with people all round the room, as a girl WOULD do who was being presented on such an important day -- as brides do at their weddings, looking through the crowd and greeting people without actually putting down the bouquets or leaving hte arm of their father --

Berman did it because she was ganuinely beloved of the whole company, and everybody onstge was happy for her as Joanna, and they watched her and she met thei eyes and greeted them -- it's amazing how that creates thetical depth and vibrancy on he stage, hte air itself becomes charged, almost sparkling, all around her, so her edges, the places where the light hits her, become even more sharply defined than if she'd lost ten pounds.... it also is almost impossible to make such connections without there being a heart connection, which is probalby most evident in he quailty of the breathing. Above all, Aurora must be breathing like a happy person.

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djb, Sizova is my favorite, too :). I think everyone who has posted so far has captured what Aurora should be perfectly.

Also, going back to Paul's first sentence, I heard on the board that Aurora's Act III variation is meant to display the qualities bestowed on her by the fairies during the Prologue.

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Joanna Berman immediately came to mind as a favorite Aurora -- and then I realized I never saw her perform that role! She just seemed as if she would have been perfect.

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djb, I am so sorry you missed it.....

She got the Isadora Duncan award for that performance, and I was there when she received hte award and she said she'd had a remarkable feeling throughout the performance, which was that she was just going to let it happen. SHe could hardly believe she was going to get to do the role. That was (I think she said) the only time it ever did happen, though she had prepared it many times. SHe had a rib injury the first time around (years ago), and then there was something else, plantar fascitis? -- that let her dance one-acts but not Aurora. Then in the run up to he performance her partner was injured and was replaced at the last minute -- and they'd barely rehearsed it, and then she was on, and she found she didn't want to impose herself on hte ballet but just let it unfold and be aware. She had fantastic support -- wonderful fairies, all her friends were on the stage....

It was a fabulous evening -- I wrote about it in Ballet Review -- her act 3 solo made me cry... I remember thinking, I've cried at SwanLake, which isn't strange, but it IS strange to be crying in Sleeping Beauty -- it was SO beautiful, and the "Russian dance" section, the way the arms rose from her back, you could feel it coming from the shoulderblades, it was so generous, so loving, so full of feeling, and so MUSICAL, like Isaac Stern playing Russian dances for his encores..... I was quelling, as they say in Yiddish.

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Aurora to me represents light and hope in a world of dispair and darkness. Her first variation in Act 1 should show how enthusiastic and full of life she is. How she want's to embrace the whole world. The vision scenes in Act 2 should represent her as a sort of idealized version of true love and beauty. In Act 3 she should show how that idealized version of true love can grow into a mature and enduring love that will last through the ages.

I've always liked Irina Kolpakova as Aurora. She seems like such a warm and pure princess. Certainly deserving of all of the gifts the Fairies bestow upon her in the Prologue. The video of her dancing Aurora I saw was I believe made in the late 1970's or early 1980's. She must have been in her forties. But she looks as dewy and youthful as a teenager. Something I think Fonteyn was able to convey also.

There are two Aurora's I've never seen, much to my regret. Antoinette Sibley and Ekaterina Maximova. Perhaps someone has seen either one dance it?

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Perky, I agree, both of those ballerinas would be great.... I wish I'd seen them too.

ANd i agree, she embodies a whole people's hope for hte future -- maybe not in a world of darkness and despair, but certainly of strains and well-concealed anxiety. (The music is SO full of sudden alarms -- even Lilac Fairy's music has abrupt moments ofstrange rhythms, sudden sforzandos). That's the point, she's the LONG-awaited heir. I remember Elizabeth Loscavio's balances in hte Rose adagio having a quality of being like a fountain, you had no question thta she would stay up, she was breathing so freely she could even sway a little bit, like a fountain in a breeze, without there being any question of falling -- it was like hope springing eternal, looing at that, she was an irrepressible dancer, a fabulous Aurora for us in SanFrancisco...

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"Although Fonteyn wasn't a spectacular technician, as far personality goes, I think she was the perfect Aurora.  And she did hit some pretty nice balances in the Rose Adagio."

Fonteyn is always getting zinged for not being "a strong technician," but from the video I've seen she seemed to have a fantastic ability to modulate what she was doing -- to make us think that something was hard, or thrilling, or fast, or whatever extreme quality you might want to see at that time. I've only seen parts of her Aurora on tape, but I was struck by her musicality in the Rose Adagio, the very slow build through the four balances until at the end you felt her triumph as she tossed her flowers in the air. It was amazing.

We saw a bunch of Auroras last spring in Seattle, and I remember thinking it was a good role for a young dancer just moving into program-length works -- the arc of the character as she grows in skill and self-possession, matches the development of the performer, as she takes on a challenge and grows into a role.

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I'm not sure what sandik meant by "getting zinged," but I stand by my opinion that Fonteyn was not a spectacular technician. She had her strengths, but spectacular technique was not one of them.

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May I respectfully disagree with sandik at the follwing:

QUOTE

and I remember thinking it was a good role for a young dancer just moving into program-length works -- the arc of the character as she grows in skill and self-possession, matches the development of the performer, as she takes on a challenge and grows into a role.

UNQUOTE

In my modest opinion, Aurora is too big a role to be danced by a very young dancer- unless she has a lot of experience behind her, which is not very likely. I think that in order to fully understand the different nuances required by the role in her 3 appearances (birthday, vision scene and wedding) requires a very mature approach. Unless there is a very good coach behind, of course. Say, like Juliet in the theater, who has to look young, but cannot be played by a 15 year old actress?

Nevertheless, she does have to look young!!! (like Juliet also :( )

Silvy

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I'm not sure what sandik meant by "getting zinged," but I stand by my opinion that Fonteyn was not a spectacular technician.  She had her strengths, but spectacular technique was not one of them.

Sorry for the slang -- what I meant to say is that I frequently see comments about Fonteyn's limitations which imply that physical amplitude (what I sometimes call the Olympics aspect of dancing: farther, higher, faster) is the ultimate goal of ballet. Like most people, I'm fascinated by a dancer's ability to do things I can't: to leap farther, beat faster, turn on a dime, etc. But I love it best when all those skills are in service of something beyond athleticism (unless that is the subject of the work) -- I'd rather see a beautifully phrased double turn than four fast rotations with no clear beginning or end.

I never did see her live, so I can't speak about Fonteyn in that context, but I am fascinated with her musical phrasing in the film and video I've seen. It seems to me that she often had a way of initiating or completing a movement phrase with a change in focus or a kind of quickness that gives the impression the movement itself was thrilling or vertiginous, even if it hadn't been. It's a very complex phrasing sequence and one I haven't seen in many other dancers.

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May I respectfully disagree with sandik at the follwing:

QUOTE

and I remember thinking it was a good role for a young dancer just moving into program-length works -- the arc of the character as she grows in skill and self-possession, matches the development of the performer, as she takes on a challenge and grows into a role.

UNQUOTE

In my modest opinion, Aurora is too big a role to be danced by a very young dancer- unless she has a lot of experience behind her, which is not very likely.  I think that in order to fully understand the different nuances required by the role in her 3 appearances (birthday, vision scene and wedding) requires a very mature approach.  Unless there is a very good coach behind, of course.  Say, like Juliet in the theater, who has to look young, but cannot be played by a 15 year old actress?

Nevertheless, she does have to look young!!! (like Juliet also  :wink: )

Silvy

I think we may agree more closely than you might think. I don't believe that Aurora is a role for neophytes, but of the program-length dramatic ballets (like Swan Lake, Giselle, La Sylphide...) I think the dramatic requirements of SB are easier to approach than many others. Yes, a more mature dancer will give a significantly more nuanced performance, but I think Aurora is a better starting place than Odette/Odile or Giselle.

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Sandik, I don't care about the "olympian" aspect of dancing either, but to me, Fonteyn never looked strong. I'm not talking about high extensions, high jumps or multiple turns; I'm talking about something as simple as looking secure en pointe. When I saw Fonteyn live, I didn't notice her less impressive technique as much because her intangible assets were so much in evidence. But when I watch her in videos, it becomes clear to me that she was not a strong technician. According to her autobiography and the documentary about her, she did not consider herself a strong technician. However, when she made her first entrance as Aurora, no one that I've ever seen looked so right.

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Did anyone see Kirkland in her post-recovery SB with Dowell? I never saw her perform live, but from the videos I have seen suggests a vulnerability that I feel she might have devoloped. Would have loved to have seen these performances. :wink:

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Aurora to me represents light and hope in a world of dispair and darkness. Her first variation in Act 1 should show how enthusiastic and full of life she is. How she want's to embrace the whole world. The vision scenes in Act 2 should represent her as a sort of idealized version of true love and beauty. In Act 3 she should show how that idealized version of true love can grow into a mature and enduring love that will last through the ages.

I've always liked Irina Kolpakova as Aurora. She seems like such a warm and pure princess. Certainly deserving of all of the gifts the Fairies bestow upon her in the Prologue. The video of her dancing Aurora I saw was I believe made in the late 1970's or early 1980's. She must have been in her forties. But she looks as dewy and youthful as a teenager. Something I think Fonteyn was able to convey also.

There are two Aurora's I've never seen, much to my regret. Antoinette Sibley and Ekaterina Maximova. Perhaps someone has seen either one dance it?

Hi Perky, and Happy New Year to all!

I didn't see Sibley's except for the short exerpt in the movie "The Turning Point"

She seemed very regal in the opening developpe of the final ppd. I did see

several snippets of Maximova's Aurora on the "Stars of the Bolshoi" and another

Bolshoi Kultur tape (can't remember the title). The former tape was the complete

Act 3 ppd with her husband Vasiliev: Perfect and very romantic. The other tape

was a gala tape honoring Asaf Messerer in 1981 at the Bolshoi Theatre. She was

in her mid forties. She and other stars of the Bolshoi were in practice clothes on

stage. They gave an open class for the audience with the orchestra, and each

of the stars danced a variation from the repertroire. Maximova danced Aurora's

Act 3 solo. Her's was a very Russian character interpretation of the solo. I wish

I would have seen Sibley and Maximova (w/Vasiliev) in the entire work on tape

or IRL.

Another great Aurora was Ludmilla Semenyaka. I've seen her Rose Adagio and

Act 3 ppd with Alexei Faydeychev on her own tape "Bolshoi Ballerina - magnificent and spontaneous! Fonteyn was good but I agree with you: Fonteyn and no one

could ever compare with Irina Alexandrovna Kolpakova. I have the Kirov tape

from 1983 - she was 50. I can only imagine what she was like when she was in her

20s and 30s!. Her feet were completely flawless. She was flawless. She coached

Lezhnina when she started out, and she was greatly influenced by her coach.

Lezhnina is also exemplary. Asylmuratova was also excellent in the mid 90s.

Current Auroras: IMO Vishneva is too "experienced" for the role of Aurora. Also,

her interpretation is inconsistent. Her pyrotechnic approach is not suited for this

role (at least in the Kirov's reconstruction of 1890 production). She does not seem refined (behave like a King's daughter). Her characterization is that of a princess

who is slightly spoiled. Zakharova's Aurora tends to look glumly prosaic in Act 2

but she doesn't tell the story - her approach is to be correct but introverted.

Edited by Cygnet

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Violette Verdy was my first and she was fresh!

I don't see the ballet live much any more but I very much like Viviana Durante on DVD.

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Oddly enough, my three favorite Auroras, by a mile, were (are) from the Royal Ballet & not the Kirov-Mariinsky:

Margot Fonteyn (the non-plus-ultra, judging by videos; she was a bit past her prime in the one 'live' performance I saw by her, with National Ballet in DC, in early 1970s)

Alina Cojocaru (best 'live' performance by an Aurora that I've seen, as guest with the Kirov last month)

Leslie Collier (saw live in DC, as guest with Ballet West, and she was fantastic!)

As you see, I like my Auroras relatively small, tidy, non-flamboyant. Ultra-feminine, angelic...forceful amazons need not apply!

I would bet that Evgenia Obraztsova will be a heavenly Aurora, when/if she ever dances it with the Kirov.

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I have seen Fonteyn's Aurora many times; the first time when she was 30 years old. There have been many Auroras, but she epitomizes the role for me. I cannot see an Aurora today without images of Fonteyn creeping into the performance. I loved the joy she projected in her first entrance and the other-worldliness of the vision scene. Above all, it was her (non-exaggerated!) beautiful line which was shown to great advantage in this role. Her little touches, her mannerisms in the role seem just right. I write this as one who is not fully 'committed' to Fonteyn (although I love her Ondine as much as her Aurora). I have major reservations about her Giselle, Odette or Marguerite.

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Thank you for reviving this thread, glebb!

In my limited live viewing experience, I loved Elizabeth Loscavio the one time I saw her in it. She was like a sprig of lilac, the perfect young princess.

On video: Sizova.

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I love Margot!

Margot

Makarova

Gelsey

Violette

Viviana is great as Aurora. Too bad she chose to leave the limelight so soon.

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I agree that Aurora must have a vulnerability. I believe that she needs to have this certain degree of being naive. Like seeing the world for the first time. She should feel as if every step she does is a new discovery. I also think that they should be able to correctly portray that youth in the first act. She needs something more ethereal in the second act. She should have a more floating quality. And she should also have an obvious draw to the Prince. You should be able to feel the chemistry drawing them together. Then in the third act she should be able to portray that maturity that comes with age. And she must also, as you all said, bestow all the qualities that were given to her by the fairies in the Prologue. Because after all, it should become a part of her at that point. I also think that in the third act she should have a hopeful feel. Shes entering marriage so she should have a hope for the years to come!

I have seen (on video) Viviana Durante and Sofiane Sylve. I loved Durante's youthfulness, it was perfection. But on the other hand, i loved Sylve's strength. She was so sure footed that it was easy to watch her. I couldn't chose between them because it would be like comparing apples and oranges, so i loved both of them for very different reasons!

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Then in the third act . . .she must also, as you all said, bestow all the qualities that were given to her by the fairies in the Prologue. Because after all, it should become a part of her at that point.
A very good point that is not often articulated!
I also think that in the third act she should have a hopeful feel. Shes entering marriage so she should have a hope for the years to come!
Tchaikovsky is very good at creating a mood of expectancy -- in the Wedding Act it is bright and optimistic. I think any ballerina who really has absorbed the music will be unable to resist showing that.

A commendable debut from you, LooseLegs. Please introduce yourself on our Welcome Page.

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