RAYMONDA DOES NOT CLAP, SHE IS A PRINCESS:
(from Dale Brauner's article on DanceView Times this week)
Homage to St. Petersburg
Kolpakova has been coaching the couple and others for the company’s upcoming production of Raymonda, which will get its American debut during the spring Met season.
When the ballet was previewed as Grand pas Classique this fall at City Center in New York, there was a bit of controversy when Raymonda’s “claps” during her solo were not heard. According to the Russian tradition, they are not supposed to.
“In the last act, Raymonda is presented to royalty,” explained Dvorovenko. “Well, you would not expect (Britain’s) Queen Elizabeth to make a loud clap. It is supposed to be just slight brushing with hands, and your wrists are angled.
“At the Paris Opera when Rudolf Nureyev did the production, he did the different kind of presentation for the ballerina. The ballerina, at the end, she became kind of a mean person, as she achieved some thing and this (she claps hard) will show everybody. But traditional Russian style is just a gentle clap and the way Irina shows it is incredible. She turned the upper body. She constantly asks you to elevate your body, to be radiant. She works on your facial expression, they way you look, the way you move. She said you can always tell a high-class ballerina not by the main steps but by the between steps, the way a ballerina acknowledges somebody, or runs across the stage.”
OF COURSE SHE CLAPS, IT'S A DEMI-CARACTERE ROLE
But Frederic Franklin had this to say at another recent New York symposium. From Mindy Aloff's Letter to New York (November 10, 2003) in DanceView Times:
Letter from New York
The Raymonda suite that Anna-Marie Holmes has put together from what is going to be a full-evening ballerina vehicle still looks like a work-in-progress, an impersonal swatch of classical opportunities. Its insinuating, czardas-like solo for the ballerina has her doing air claps rather than real ones, and although I understand the reason for it (Hungarian aristocracy thought that real clapping was vulgar), in the context of A.B.T.’s ballerina issues, the air claps make the Raymondas a little more remote than they could be. At Barnard College in October, Frederic Franklin, in his 90th year, dropped into a variations class taught by Barbara Sandanato as part of his duties as the 2003 Virginia C. Gildersleeve Professor, and for the same Raymonda solo he got up and danced the version that Alexandra Danilova used to do with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. “It’s really demi-caractère,” he explained, and when he clapped, you could hear it and feel it. At A.B.T., Wiles offered a compromise—a real clap with a very soft sound. It was lovely, but, perhaps I’m alone in this, I wish Raymonda’s voice was louder, more like the Danilova that Franklin momentarily brought back to life.
So what do we think happened? I'll put up a poll in a minute so you can vote for which you'd prefer, but I'd love to hear other lore here -- Russian, European, American.
There was an article a long time ago in Dance Research Journal (and I hope I have the right one) by Alastair Macauley, an interview with Ashton, about the claps. I remember the question being raised, but it was so long ago that I can't remember his answer -- if anyone knows about this, please report!