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Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux


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#1 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 07:04 AM

We just had an interesting exchange where Michael mentioned that for him, the definitive version of this ballet is a performance on video with Patty McBride and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

I found it really interesting because to me, I find the ballet absolutely mutable. It's the little black dress of pas de deux and I've seen it done by people as diverse as Agnes Letestu and Nina Ananiashvili. I go in seeing how it's going to look on each individual dancer less than how the dancer will mold him or herself to it. I can think of plenty of people I've liked in the role, but nobody "owns" it in my head.

Which approach more defines you? Do you have an image in your mind of a definitive Tschai pas?

#2 Juliet

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 07:40 AM

On the American Masters: Balanchine video/DVD/TV program there are some really nice clips of Tchai Pas with Verdy, McBride, and Hayden interwoven--it is a grand way to see the differences and delightful interpretations of each dancer.

Verdy was Really Something.

#3 emhbunhead

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 09:06 AM

i'm no expert - but having seen the video of McBride and Baryshnikov, and have actually performed this myself, i dont think anyone can "own" Tchai Pas. As you said, any type of dancer could excell in it, and add their own touches. It's just one of those pieces that transends the dancer and is a force just being what it is, regardless of who is dancing it. just my opinion. :thumbsup:

#4 Helene

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 09:53 AM

Hayden's and d'Amboise's performance of part of Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux was originally broadcast as "New York City Ballet, 1965" on WNET. (The opening adagio was omitted from the broadcast, which started with variations.)

From everything I've read and seen of Conrad Ludlow's dancing (on film), he was noted as an exceptional partner, but not a virtuouso, and his persona was the opposite of Michael's description of Cornejo. I wish I could see the film of Verdy and Ludlow, to see what version he danced, since he was one of the originals.

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 02 June 2004 - 02:48 PM

Helene - Verdy and Ludlow coached that version for the Balanchine Foundation to Peter Boal and Jenny Somogyi. I did an interminable article on it for last winter's print edition of Dance View.

The short answer is that Ludlow's variation was much longer, and gradually got pared down as the other dancers doing the part made cuts. His variation was more "Petipa" in nature; I recall a diagonals of assemble's and pirouettes. It felt like Balanchine gave it to him almost as an assignment. (Describing one diagonal, he said, in essence, "I couldn't do this, but Balanchine wanted me to.")



#6 tempusfugit

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 12:13 PM

Tchaik Pas was begun, interestingly, on Diana Adams! Adams suffered a foot injury and the ballet was finished on Violette Verdy. {trivia for the day}
Verdy recalls this in Balanchine's Ballerinas. she says she always esp. liked dancing to a violin because it gave the muscles a sensuous quality....
I'd say the little CHANEL black dress, with perfect pearls, of pas de deux.
Nichols was especially lovely in this, as she was in many Verdy parts (La Source, Liebeslieder, Emeralds). and it's never mentioned at all, but Ashley was so dazzling in it one completely forgot the man!
There were two distinct male variations at one time: Villella's and D'Amboise's (the two men who most often danced the role, beside Ludlow)

#7 sz

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 02:58 PM

"I go in seeing how it's going to look on each individual dancer less than how the dancer will mold him or herself to it. I can think of plenty of people I've liked in the role, but nobody "owns" it in my head."

Bravo! Exactly! And what a fine way to observe any dancer in any role.

#8 Ari

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 05:19 PM

I love the Tchaik pas, but it bothers me when dancers use it simply as a vehicle through which to display their virtuosity, in the way they often use the Don Q and Corsaire pas. This frequently leads to a knock-'em-dead performance style better suited to the Black Swan. The music of the Tchaik pas, and the choreography that Balanchine made for it, is gentle, relaxed, and intimate, a conversation between good friends. It should sparkle, not glare. I like to see it danced by couples who have performed together often and are comfortable with each other.

#9 emhbunhead

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 05:52 PM

i agree, Ari. :) Tchai Pas is not meant as a DonQ, BlackSwan "showstopper" piece. Mybe this is why its easier to watch dancers from NYCB dance it rather than those in ABT, who are used to playing with virtuosity. Dont get me wrong, NYCB's gals and boys have amazing technique, but maybe being in the "house of balanchine" allows them to truly feel the music and the steps and not just knock of eight pirouettes and a balance. Even though I could imagine Gillian Murphy dancing this beautifully....

#10 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 03 June 2004 - 06:23 PM

NYCB has a recent habit with the ballet that may be becoming a tradition and it is something I like: They often use Tschai Pas as a way of announcing their hopes with young dancers. It's done by the young rising stars (Ansanelli, Taylor, et al.). Not that I dislike a mature interpretation - it was Nichol Hlinka's farewell ballet along with Scotch Symphony - and she was wonderful.

#11 sz

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 10:01 AM

“Tchai Pas is not meant as a DonQ, BlackSwan "showstopper" piece. Maybe this is why its easier to watch dancers from NYCB dance it rather than those in ABT…”

And then there’s Irina Dvorovenko’s Tchai Pas…..

#12 Juliet

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Posted 04 June 2004 - 10:26 AM

:lol: Perfect, just perfect!!!

But then, she dances everything as if it were Etudes...... :)

With the exception of Grand Pas Classique, I generally dislike the Pause for a Round of Cannons pieces....if I never have to sit through another Don Q or Corsaire pdd I won't mind a bit.
The recent Tchai Pas performance at a gala which was wonderfully memorable, however, was Nina Ananiashvili's at the opening of ABT's Spring Season. 2002. I had not expected to like her in it, much, but she brought such an individual stamp and beautiful definition to her interpretation that it has always remained with me. She also wore red. white, and blue flowers in her hair as a remembrance of 9/11---it touched me very much.

#13 carbro

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 08:41 PM

I like to see it danced by couples who have performed together often and are comfortable with each other.

Perhaps this is why the first performance that sprang to my mind was Judy Fugate and Peter Boal's toward the end of NYCB's earlier Balanchine Festival. They were not frequent partners in this piece, but had shared a number of ballets as partners. In that Tchai pas, both reached uncharacteristic levels of excitement, but both dancers had an innate quiet quality that tempered the fireworks.

The best of both worlds, perhaps, but definitely magical.

Otherwise, Verdy -- as in everything she danced -- gave it such irresistible charm.

#14 atm711

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 10:40 AM

Although I have never seen them perform it together---Patricia McBride and Peter Martins would be the definitive couple for me. McBride's joy in the role is intoxicating and Martins had that wonderful ability to dance 'on edge', most notably during a grand jete, and his beautiful clean footwork and positions.

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 04:49 PM

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm mightily curious as to what pas de deux Pelagia Karpakova had composed for her by Minkus and choreographed by Petipa as an interpolation. The music we know as the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux was written to supersede that. I would truly love to be noodling about in some Russian ballet archive and find that!


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