EvilNinjaX

Taglioni vs. Bournonville Versions of La Sylphide

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My latest dvd order just came in today. I got BOLSHOI BALLET - BETWEEN FAME AND DRILL (a documentary about the Bolshoi Ballet school), IVAN THE TERRIBLE (Paris Opera Ballet), and LA SYLPHIDE (Paris Opera Ballet).

interesting, the LA SYLPHIDE is not Bournonville, but is a Pierre Lacotte staging of Phillipe Taglioni. can someone explain/describe the history of this choreography? I've only seen the Bournonville a couple of times; could someone explain what the differences are that i should note?

thankx

-goro-

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Goro, Pierre Lacotte is a dancer and choreographer who's been reviving (rechoreographing, really) a lot of 19th century ballets recently. I think "La Sylphide" was his first. I think Paris Opera Ballet wanted their great Romantic ballet back! It was choreographed by Marie Taglioni's father, and the choreography lost long ago. (The Bournonville one uses the Taglioni libretto, but is completely different choreography and a different score.)

Lacotte had access to Taglioni's notebooks and used some of the combinations in those books as the basis of his choreography, and the rest is made in the style of the time.

Here are two big ones, in addition to the choreography.

Pointework - in the first French production, only the Sylph was on pointe. To me, it looks odd that Effie and her friends are on pointe; I think they should be in character shoes, as they would have been in the 19th century and much of the 20th, but putting them on pointe is what a contemporary audience expects.

The Sylph -- the Sylphide is a grand ballerina role, a la Taglioni, and the choreography uses a lot of poses from drawings and lithographs of Taglioni. The dancer is also wearing the pearl necklace and bracelets that Taglioni wore.

So it's really a different ballet, as different from the Bournonville version as is, say, the MacMillan "Romeo and Juliet" is from Lavrovsky's.

I hope you'll write about all the DVDs once you've had a chance to watch them -- that's quite a haul!! :)

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where did you get these dvds???

Yeah, I'm curious too. Let me guess, they are not realeased in the US.

This all seems a bit arbritary which DVDs get released where.

For instance, I wanted to see the POB Sleeping Beauty, not available in the US

but released in Europe, and probably elsewhere, in PAL.

I did get an Ebay copy of a Chinese release, MAYBE in NTSC, but it really didn't play well and I sent it back.

I finally was able to get a DVDR copy, but a commercial US release would have been so much easier.

Richard

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Richard, the POB Sleeping Beauty release is a curious one. Because several other recent POB DVDs have been released here -- Coppelia, Paquita, Clavigo, Don Q and Ek's Apartment -- but not the Sleeping Beauty. These are "TDK" releases. TDK also has chosen not to release (yet, I hope) the Bolshoi's Pharaoh's Daughter. But patience is sometimes rewarded as the Kirov's Nijinsky program was on European TV years ago but has finally been released here.

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Richard, the POB Sleeping Beauty release is a curious one.  Because several other recent POB DVDs have been released here -- Coppelia, Paquita, Clavigo, Don Q and Ek's Apartment -- but not the Sleeping Beauty.  These are "TDK" releases.  TDK also has chosen not to release (yet, I hope) the Bolshoi's Pharaoh's Daughter.  But patience is sometimes rewarded as the Kirov's Nijinsky program was on European TV years ago but has finally been released here.

Dale,

But patience is so difficult!!!!!

Seriously, the market demand, in the US at least , seems to be very strong, so all kinds of "cultural" material is being released all the time. This is encouraging.

Kultur has on their site that they will be releasing the Kirov Corsair (with Altynai Asylmuratova and Faroukh Ruzimatov ) in April.

They are also releasing an ABT in San Francisco DVD.

www.kultur.com

Pharaoh's Daughter has a spectacular, large scale production, so that may make it

marketable. One can hope.

Richard

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Maybe Pharoah's Daughter will be released in the US to coincide with the Bolshoi's tour with that ballet this summer.

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Richard, the POB Sleeping Beauty release is a curious one.  Because several other recent POB DVDs have been released here -- Coppelia, Paquita, Clavigo, Don Q and Ek's Apartment -- but not the Sleeping Beauty.  These are "TDK" releases.  TDK also has chosen not to release (yet, I hope) the Bolshoi's Pharaoh's Daughter.  But patience is sometimes rewarded as the Kirov's Nijinsky program was on European TV years ago but has finally been released here.

You are correct, those POB releases are TDK and TDK has done a nice job of stepping thei rrelease, first in UK, then Japan, then US. And also to TDK's credit, their dvds are beautiful: nice, crips anamorphic picture with beautiful sound.

however, the POB Sleeping Beauty is an NVCArts/Warner dvd and they are not so good in their relesaes. apparently, they relese thru Kultur in the US. I've had my r2 PAL Kirov Le Corsaire for seemingly ever and it is only now that it is being released in the US? It does seem that Kultur (as of late) has set up a nice timetable of releasing 2-4 ballet dvds each quarter and so maybe there's hope after all..

-goro-

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I got these dvds from japan.

Here are the tdk pages:

Ivan teh Terrible: http://www.core.tdk.co.jp/gt/index01.asp?u...01/bal07200.asp

La Sylphide :

http://www.core.tdk.co.jp/gt/index01.asp?u...01/bal07100.asp

Bolshoi Ballet - Between Fame and Drill

http://www.core.tdk.co.jp/gt/index01.asp?u...01/bal07000.asp

so far, from what i've seen La Sylphide is aboslutely stunning. gorgeous production, gorgeous dvd (pristine video and audio). the dancing is excellent as is the acting. Mathieu Ganio and Aurelie Dupont are both sensational and the end of Act I gave me chills.

Nicholas Le Riche as Ivan the terrible is a vision. the produciton is unbelievable. i haven't had time to watch much of it though.

Between Fame and Drill is quite interesting, althogh, it's in russian with japanese subtitles (and my kanji reading is less than so-so :pinch: ). But it's still quite an interesting look into the selection, trianing, and achievements of these children.

-goro-

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Is all the DVD that way (respectful of the flow of the choreography)?

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This is an excellent dvd. The camera work is very good throughout. At times, it zooms in for reaction shots, but genereally when there is dancing, you have a good-to-excellent view of what you want to see. There wer only some times that i'd rather wish they'd have pulled back a bit more, but nothing terrible. It's the price to pay for watching on video instead of live, i suppose.

The video quality and sound are just great as well. The dvd is a bit pricey at 4800Y (abotu $50US), but worht it, imo.

-goro-

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POB's "La Sylphide" will be available commercially in the US in ten loooong days! (June 21) I can't wait! All those descriptions are mouth watering!

Best, iza

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Evilninjax, there's also an old POB la Sylphide, starring the amazing unbelievable Ghislane Thesmar and some awfully good-looking young man......

THe camera-work was st\range, and sometimes the sylph's image would widen strangely -- BUT mostluy, in fact, the photography was mysterious and made her look almost like the light was coming from inside her,as in a cartoon - -and her technique was so extraordinary htat she did seem weightless....... again, pearls and bracelets and that elicate/expensive look.

Sounds like you've got a lot to look at and study now, but if you ever get the chance, get the old video tape and compare the two. I'm sure it will be interesting, and I'd bet there will be moments of Thesmar's that even Aurelie Dupont can't match......

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Where do you think I could get "Between Fame and Drill?"

I also look forward to POB La Sylphide!

Thanks for all your great info, EvilNinjaX!

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Evilninjax, there's also an old POB la Sylphide, starring the amazing unbelievable Ghislane Thesmar and some awfully good-looking young man......

It was Michaël Denard, who had just become a POB principal a few months earlier (Thesmar, who is Lacotte's wife, was hired directly by the POB as a principal- before that she danced for the Ballets des JMF- and she still teaches there). Denard and Thesmar danced together a lot (there even is a book about them, "Thesmar/Denard", with a lot of nice photos), especially in Lacotte's reconstructions ("Coppelia", "Marco Spada"...) and "La Sylphide" was their "signature ballet", especially for Thesmar.

If I remember correctly, the video was filmed in 1971, a bit before the work was performed on stage by the POB (in 1972).

Anecdotically, one of the first books about dance that interested me in the early 1990s when I was a teen-ager was one about Michaël Denard. And I really regret that I became interested in dance too late to see Denard and Thesmar on stage together !

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Just saw Boston Ballet's La Sylphide, and was disappointed not to see the pas de trois between James, the Sylph & Effie... is that only in the Lacotte version? Serenade was on the bill as well, unfortunately before La Sylphide... which seems kind of unfair to Sylphide... Serenade seems sort of like Les Sylphides... it would have been lovely to see afterwards... whereas before it kind of stole some of the sylph's magic. The only other La Syphide I've seen live, I'm afraid, was Erik Bruhn's version for ABT many decades ago with Royes Fernandez as James. My memories of it are hardly photographic, but I remember it being a much bigger deal than Boston's... I remember a much bigger scarf floating up... and I feel the memory of the death of the sylph as being a bigger deal. Also, I prepared for Boston's Sylphide by reading the entry in John Gruen's The World's Great Ballets and missed some sections... such as Madge's big moment of scaring everyong and then disappearing up the fireplace. In Boston's she simply walked out the back door... rather quietly... th lighting hardly changed for her scenes... she was much more just a beggar in the Hall, never quite became a witch. Does the La Sylphide Erik Bruhn's set on ABT exist on film? (Other than archival, I mean?)

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The two productions of La Sylphide are very different. Both have the same plot but the choreography and the music have major differences. The Taglioni/Lacotte production has a different sense of choreography and the patterns are much more ornamental than in the Bournonville production. The both music scores have a different motivs regarding the caracterization of the roles. Both are beautiful and have their own special values. The Schneitzhöffer's score reminds me of a work between two musical ages because some pieces seem to have a slight classical touch and in other the romantic sense of music is clearly heard.

Lovenskiojd's better known work is more romantic (as it is also newer than Schneitzhöffer's). To me his music score is very joyful in the 1st act and very mystical and sensual in the 2nd. Bournoville's choreography is very conected to the score and makes alot of sense. As I hear the music I always visualize the steps. :rofl:

In the choreography of the two productions the big differences are that Taglioni's/Lacotte's version have Effie and her maidens dance in point shoes (in Bournonville's version they have character shoes). Also a big difference is that the Paris Opéra have alot of lifts in the dance sequences. Bournoville's choreography has very little partner work, it displays more solo variations in a divertisement sequence. I have heard the Bournonville didn't like lifts, he said he found them vulgar.

Dancecreature

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Please don't confound Taglioni with LaCotte. To the best of my knowledge, the original choreography survives nowhere. LaCotte's version of the ballet is a pastiche of style and pictures of groupings from Romantic ballets, not necessarily Sylphide. Bournonville's has survived more or less intact, with a continuous history of performance from its premiere.

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And the pas de trois where the Sylph keeps distracting James from Effie... is that in Bournonville as well? Or was it only in the LaCotte?

I see there is an Eric Bruhn with Carla Fracci video out there... will have to check it out.... hmmm... in that version the scarf is green... not the light gauzy thing I remembered...

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the pas de trois w/ james, effie and the slyph was a highlight from the taglioni version - one assumes the music is in the right place even if the choreog. is lacotte's invention. (the now-lost cataclysmic act, except for that in the little seen vikharev 'reconstruction' of BAYADERE, includes the pas de deux/trois for solor, gamzatti w/ nikiya intruding, and is likely a descendant of taglioni's SYLPHIDE pas.)

there isn't now (nor has there ever been?) a similar moment in bournonville. (alexandra will know for certain.)

i know fracci and bruhn were filmed in the pas de deux but i have no knowledge of the ballet's being on video complete, w/this cast, but perhaps something now is?

some of schnieitzhoffer's SYLPHIDE is recycled by riisinger for the czerny score of ETUDE(S). but it's not, if mem. serves, the trio's music.

also does someone in gruen suggest that madge exits through the fireplace? i've never noted this anywhere.

the fireplace is the way the sylph exits and some explain the rage of james at the sight of madge at the fireplace b/c he fears her presence will have an ill effect on the place where the sylph was known to go.

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This might interest some of you...

"I saw the Parisian
La Sylphide
only once," wrote Bournonville, "and my only good impression was Mme. Taglioni's extraordinary skill. And the fantastic scenery and machinery, both absolutely unobtainable for our own stage. Although I found the ballet very nice, I felt it would be better if I tried to do it in my own way. Besides, the score was too expensive [to obtain for Copenhagen], and James in the French version was only a pedestal for the 'prima donna'! The ballet's beautiful and poetical thought is that in pursuing an
imagined
happiness, he loses
true
happiness. This absolutely wonderful, poetical thought absolutely disappeared in the French version because we all looked at the virtuosity of the female dancers.

The King's Ballet Master: A Biography of Denmark's August Bournonville
by Walter Terry. page 42-3

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