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Sleeping Beauty, w/ Sylve, Dutch National Ballet


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#16 Dale

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 02:32 PM

I looked at the clip on Opus Arte -- it was of the Grand pas de deux. It was odd, at one point the camera just showed a huge expanse over the dancers' heads and sort of their heads. It looked like a mistake, but why would the director do that? Is there a lot of that?

#17 Andre Yew

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Posted 02 November 2004 - 06:14 PM

That is rather odd. It looks like the clip crops off parts of the full image, since the full image is letterboxed, and the clip appears to be the standard TV 4x3 ratio. The DVD doesn't look like that, but instead has a wide shot of the whole stage.

--Andre

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 27 November 2004 - 08:07 AM

I just got it and have only watched it once, with half an eye, but I agree it's a good production. The designs aim to be grand rather than beautiful, but the first act, especially, I think, really shows the contrast between the heaviness of the court, with its processions, and the lightness of the fairies. I like it that Lilac is in a dress -- but she could go off and change and come back to dance, as one reads was done in the original production (and her dress is one I don't like, a generic doll's ball gown, far from the gorgeous dresses in the new/old Kirov).

The direction is very fine -- I liked Sylve. Not as much as Lezhnina (whom I've seen dance the role on stage) who has what is, for me, the perfect line for Aurora, and that beautiful Kirov schooliing. Sylve has facility and technique but no schooling, meaning you're not going to bask in the beauty of her lines or expressive arms. But the Act I solo is beautifully done -- there's a graciousness in her dancing that goes beyond merely "nailing it." The Rose Adagio is odd -- I've never seen anyone handle balance problems the way she does. That toe is planted, as though held to the floor by a magical turning magnet; there's no fear she'll fall off pointe. But she'll twist and shift a bit in the upper body and hips. I also liked her acting in the pas de vertige; it's very clear.

I was less impressed with Lambiotte's Prince and the third act divertissements, but it is very well filmed and I think it's certianly worth having -- it's a model of how a classical ballet can be made to look contempoary (in the sense of being done in this time) without making it kinky.

#19 Old Fashioned

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Posted 01 December 2004 - 07:36 PM

My dvd came in today and I've only watched the prologue so far, but I agree that it's very well filmed. It also served as a reminder what a blessing it is for Houston Ballet to have Ermanno Florio. :)

#20 art076

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Posted 02 December 2004 - 12:04 AM

My copy finally came, and I've managed to watch it all the way through as well.

I was particularly impressed with the Prologue; I thought the fairy pas de six was very well danced, particularly the so-called "Lilac Fairy" variation - though in this production it is not danced by the Lilac Fairy but by an ambiguous other fairy instead. From what I could ascertain from the credits, it was Britt Juleen. I was also impressed by the fairies' entrance in the intrada of the pas de six - very sharp, and got the production off to a good start.

Sofiane Sylve was very good, especially in the Vision Scene, in the Awakening Pas de Deux, and in the Grand Pas de Deux in Act III. At many times in Act I, she seemed almost too womanly for the girlish Aurora. Her reactions in character read too put on; she just seems to naturally carry herself far more glamorously than her character at that moment is supposed to. That said, though, the dancing was just fine as I expected. She was definetly wobbling in the big balance moment of the Rose Adagio - as Alexandra mentioned. I'm not sure if that was a fluke (seemed like a one-off recording, based on what Herman wrote above), since I've seen her do a still balance live before. Though I liked Sylve very much, I'm afraid my favorite DVD Aurora will have to be Viviana Durante's on the Royal Ballet (even if the production itself was very oddly designed); she perfectly captured Aurora's innocence in Act I and then transformed into mysterious for Act II and then grandly bright for Act III. Larisa Lezhina on the Kirov video is pretty but almost too pretty; less texture for my taste.

On DVD, Peter Wright's production is interesting to me. Very stately and very grand, which I liked. He does, however juggle some big musical moments and scenes that I'm used to seeing in certain places, particularly with the removal of the big long mime scene at the beginning of Act I, and then, at the end of Act II he goes from awakening kiss straight into a lyrical Awakening pas de deux for Aurora and Florimund - removing the traditional grandiose finale (the music used here is the Entr'acte normally cut from 'Beauty' productions, but which Ashton used for an Awakening pas de deux, and which Balanchine lifted for the moment just prior to the battle scene in his Nutcracker). Thus, Act II ends on a far more romantic note than usual, giving Aurora and Florimund a chance to meet and fall in love - makes sense dramatically but I guess I was waiting for the timpanies and cymbal crashes.

I, too, was less impressed with the Act III divertissements; not as crisp as the Prologue dancing or even the Vision scene. Red Riding Hood's costume and make up actually looked a bit scary. But, Sylve and Lambiotte were sparkling in the Grand Pas de Deux.

By far the BEST thing about this DVD though is the extra features: they're just fantastic. There's a great mini-documentary on Sylve, with a ton of great dancing clips (including, for NYCB fans, excerpts from her debut as Dewdrop in NYCB's Nutcracker in 2003 - marvelous to watch), and then interviews with her personally. The documentary is very well done, and its far better than the normal fluff pieces that might appear on PBS; this one actually has her talking a bit about difficulties in her life, real challenges of being a dancer. The other features are also very sweet, particularly one about fairy tales, where the history of the "Sleeping Beauty" story are interspersed with a bit following young students preparing for a visit to the Het National Ballet's Sleeping Beauty - anyone looking for reasons to put arts education in the schools? Very sweet.

#21 Natalia

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 12:14 PM

I just received & viewed this DVD. OK -- most of you, I believe, are going to scream at what I'm about to write:

So this is the famous Sofiane Sylve about whom so many balletomanes and critics have waxed on eloquently?

Sorry but I cannot stand Sylve's Aurora. To me, she's the antithesis of the elegant, aristocratic, porcelain-pure Kirov Classic style...which should be THE style for that most 'imperial' of ballets, Sleeping Beauty! Sylve has a great jump, amazonian muscles and earthy face...which perhaps serves her in good stead in contemporary choreography at DNB and NYCB (I'd like to see her there, in Balanchine's great 'leotard' roles, such as Choleric in Four Ts)...but, for heaven's sake, she's no Princess Aurora. Aurora calls for otherworldly, delicate, 'angelic' beauty of face & figure (not to mention style)...the Lezhninas, Cojocarus, Platels, and Fonteyns of this world. Sylve's interpretation is downright crude in comparison to those ladies or anybody else whom I've seen perform the role, for that matter. For example, notice Sylve's silly 'little girl' expression in Act I, following her entree and just prior to the Rose Adagio; it's as if someone told her to 'look girlish, dear'...something that simply cannot be painted on in one brushstroke. You either have it or you do not.

I'm happy that this DVD afforded me the opportunity to see Sylve, though. Hopefully I'll see her 'live' in choreography that is more appropriate to her unique gifts.

p.s. - I'll agree with the majority on this point: this is a magnificently recorded production. If only the existing Kirov, Bolshoi and Royal Ballet videos/DVDs had been filmed so splendidly!

p.s.s. - Just curious why Sylve, a French ballerina (born in Nice), did not go through the POB school and system? That is not mentioned in the DVD's 'extra feature' on her life & career. I can't help but think that her unique physical qualities didn't allow her to 'fit a mold' at the POB school in Nanterre...Marie-Agnes Gillot being the only 'amazonian' female etoile of the current generation...yet Gillot is more 'refined' in the classical-dance sense than Sylve. If Sylve's schooling has been discussed in another thread, please direct me to it. She intrigues me as someone who has found success 'outside the mold'...it's just too bad that her very first DVD presents her in an altogether wrong role (for me, at least).

#22 Old Fashioned

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 12:50 PM

Sylve received training from Académie de Danse in Nice. She joined the Ballet Karlsruhe as first soloist at a young age. Nowhere is it mentioned, not on the dvd, the NYCB website, or her personal website, that she received any training outside of this, which I find pretty incredible.

#23 Natalia

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 01:00 PM

Thanks, OldFashioned. Definitely amazing. I bet that she was an athlete. I picture her as a natural track-and-field star...long jumper or hurdler. She has some 'mean' muscles on those legs!

#24 Old Fashioned

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 01:26 PM

Mean muscles, indeed. The frame of her body is certainly different from the "typical" ballet dancer, yet you're actually the first person I've known to mention anything atypical about her. I always found that odd, since people are usually quick to point out dancers with different bodies, like Karen von Aroldingen, Lauren Anderson, Monique Meunier and Veronika Part.

#25 canbelto

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 07:00 PM

Well ... wasn't the current RB Sleeping Beauty designed for Darcey Bussell, who is many things but certainly not what I'd imagine to be an Aurora type? The video from that production went to Viviana Durante, who is rock solid but also quite a bit earthier than the "typical" Aurora.
I havent seen the Sylve video (it's on my Xmas list) so I certainly appreciate the insightful reviews.

#26 Herman Stevens

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 01:07 AM

I just received & viewed this DVD.  OK -- most of you, I believe, are going to scream at what I'm about to write: 

So this is the famous Sofiane Sylve about whom so many balletomanes and critics have waxed on eloquently?

Sorry but I cannot stand Sylve's Aurora. To me, she's the antithesis of the elegant, aristocratic, porcelain-pure Kirov Classic style...which should be THE style for that most 'imperial' of ballets, Sleeping Beauty!


Clearly you haven't looked at a picture of Carlotta Brianza lately.

Your "Kirov Classic style" is, of course, a constantly evolving thing. Lezhnina, for instance, would probably look strange if she returned to Petersburg right now. (At least that's what she told me.) There's every reason to believe this process has been going on as long as the company exists. A 125 years ago the Mariinsky people thought the company would go to the dogs if Virginia Zucchi were to set foot on stage.

You are right Sylve's Aurora has a little less porcelain and a little more girl power than you're used to. Would I like every Aurora to be this way? No. Am I glad I saw this Aurora? Yes. What's so good about a strong tradition like the Belle au Bois Dormant tradition it can handle this.

p.s.s. - Just curious why Sylve, a French ballerina (born in Nice), did not go through the POB school and system? That is not mentioned in the DVD's 'extra feature' on her life & career. I can't help but think that her unique physical qualities didn't  allow her to 'fit a mold' at the POB school in Nanterre...


Allow me to quote from a public source, i.e. my December 20, 2002 interview with Sylve in the Dutch weekly HP De Tijd (formerly an affiliate of Time magazine), "Dance is my Home":

"At age eight I left home [her parents had just divorced] so as to live closer to a school that allowed for ballet training half the day. My grandmère moved along with me, and that's why I was pretty much raised by my grandmother. My teacher [Sylvie Maradei] became a kind of surrogate mother to me, and I spent a lot of time at her place. If these two wonderful women had not taken care of me this way I doubt I would have made it. A couple of times I was invited to come to the school of the Paris Opéra, the best school in France. But when I took a look at that building with those hard glass walls I knew I would never be able to survive there, all by myself. I would have been totally on my own."

#27 canbelto

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 04:44 AM

I agree with Herman about Lezhnina looking out of place among the current Kirov company. What's more, she looked out of place even when she was principal at the Kirov. Lezhnina looked very different from Makhalina, Asylmuratova, Mezentseva, Ivanova, Ayupova ... Me, I always thought Lezhnina was too porcelain china doll for my taste :lol:
Also, is there a "classic Kirov style" for this role? Irina Kopakova and Natalia Dudlinskaya were both strong muscular dancers. The Kirov choreography also completely eliminates fishdives, something that annoys me.

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 09:26 AM

I agree with Herman about Lezhnina looking out of place among the current Kirov company. What's more, she looked out of place even when she was principal at the Kirov. Lezhnina looked very different from Makhalina, Asylmuratova, Mezentseva, Ivanova, Ayupova ... Me, I always thought Lezhnina was too porcelain china doll for my taste  :lol:
Also, is there a "classic Kirov style" for this role? Irina Kopakova and Natalia Dudlinskaya were both strong muscular dancers. The Kirov choreography also completely eliminates fishdives, something that annoys me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I have to say I don't see a similarity at all between Kolpakova and Dudiinskaya. They're different physical types, different employ, and were generally cast differently. Kolpakova was known for her lyricism, Dudinskaya was a bravura dancer. Aurora was one of Kolpakova's greatest roles, and in her day, she and Fonteyn were the two Great Auroras.

I agree that classical style is always evolving, but in the great companies there's also a connection from generation to generation. There was a clear Aurora line at the Kirov in the second half of the 20th century -- Kolpakova, Sizova, Lezhnina. Others danced the role, of course, but that delicacy and porcelain qualty is something that is revered in some circles :dunno: The ballet wasn't "Kitri has a Birthday!" Aurora is a specfic type -- more compact, as they say now (classically proportioned, 90 degree arabesque, not because they couldn't get the leg higher but because it suited the role). Any long-legged Aurora looks "off" to me, because the lines aren't symmetrical. But others wouldn't care a fig about that!

I saw Lezhniina in the early 1990s and would say that she fit beautifully into the company. Nor was she viewed as an oddball. Rather, there was excitement that the company had yet another Aurora in the Kolpakova-Sizova line. The glory of that generation of ballerinas is that there was such a range of types, yet all recognizably Kirov. I think Lezhnina might look out of place at the Kirov now -- but so do Makhalina and Ayupova, and so would Asylmuratova! Not that there aren't dancers like that still in the company, but theirs do not seem to be the preferred styles at the moment.

Canbelto, the fiishdives were added in Diaghilev's London production, so the Kirov really isn't elminating them. The arms en couronne in the Rose Adagio were also an English addition, and Kirov ballerinas usually don't do them (at least,, not those I've seen). Sylve does -- but this is Dutch production was staged by an Englishman.

Back to the safer ground of the production on this DVD :) -- I just watched it again, and one thing I really admire about it is that, when Aurora falls asleep after priicking her finger, the court just doesn't go dark; it's nuclear winter! The ancient birth-death-resurrection myth is really clear (without intruding too much, or Making a Point). The dancers generally have beautiful stage manners and make me believe they're at court, and the Queen (Alexandra Radius?) is a Queen!

#29 canbelto

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 03:04 PM

For those who have seen the video: is the mime retained? ANd how are the Florine and Bluebird?

#30 Andre Yew

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 05:04 PM

There is a lot of mime (more than the Lezhina/Kirov, and the Durante/RB productions, I believe), but I don't think they have completely restored all of the mime, though it's the most I've seen on video. The scene I use to judge this is mainly the first Carabosse scene.

I liked Princess Florine, but Bluebird did not have enough ballon and ease (compare to the dancer on Lezhina/Kirov), and looked like he was getting really tired at the end of his entrechet-six series. It's also the shorter male variation.

--Andre


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