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Romantic balletsPerformed as Classical ballets!


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#1 MinkusPugni

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Posted 01 July 2005 - 11:34 PM

Something that I have noticed lately that is starting to frustrate me is that when people rechoreograph Romantic Ballets, they don't respect the Romantic style and change it into a classical ballet. They lose the Romantic "Tilt" (when people hear that the back is "tilted" in Romantic style they take it too literally. The back is pulled forward and up from the chest making the back come slightly forward but the mistake most people make is that they drop the back from the waist), they lose the well-rounded arms with palms facing down, legs go above 90!.

I believe it is because of people like Vaganova who create a technique and then expect all stagings of ballets to be in that technique which, in turn, bastardises the ballet. Romantic ballets never allowed the legs to go above 90 degrees. This was because it was "unladylike" to let the dress slip down your leg. Even in a penchee, the leg never went to 180 - it only barely went above 90 and the back was just pushed forward, not like the penchees we see today. People now are just losing respect for the romantic ballets and I can't work out why. I think that the style of the romantic ballet is much more elegant and pretty than classical ballet. Let me know what you think.

I know this doesn't directly fall under one choreographer but it is choreographers in general.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 07:02 AM

I agree it's gone -- even in Denmark, which kept it the longest. I saw a tape of a televised production of "Esmeralda" staged in Talinn (1999) by Dogulshin that kept that "tilt" for the ballerina and it was fascinating. She did everything slightly bent forward, and so the contrast between Esmeralda and Fleur de Lys (the classical ballerina in the ballet) was quite clear. There's a commercially available video of the National Ballet of Cuba in "Giselle" from the late '60s (but they're dancing like the '40s) where the tilt and rounded arms are there. BUT it's hard to believe they hadn't changed a great deal in 100 years.

In Denmark it went in the 1950s when Volkova came; by 1955, from photo evidence, it was gone. I think it is such a different way of dancing that it would be very difficult to keep it for two or three ballets, and then change your placement for the rest of the repertory. But the sky kicking -- that's a choice and shouldn't be allowed in Romantic ballets now -- nor in Petipa ones.

#3 bart

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 07:09 AM

I understand that this style is probably gone forever from the commercial stage. But do you think it is something that can be kept alive -- or at least revived -- in smaller doses by more academically oriented dance ensembles like those that specialize in baroque or 18th century dance styles?

#4 MinkusPugni

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 05:35 PM

Yeah, I think it will be revived but incorrectly. As I said before the "tilt" comes only from pulling the chest forward and up. I think people will realise that the Romantic Ballet isn't something to lose and will teach people to "drop" their backs forward, not up aswell. Anway, thanks for your replies you guys. This is something that has recently frustrated me.

Also, we must remember this: La Sylphide is definately a romantic ballet, Les Sylphides is a semi-neo-classical ballet (nice word, lol). Fokine was the one who started to straight back and body and is the choreographer of Les Sylphides. I have seen productions of Les Sylphides where they have tried to turn it into La Sylphide with the "tilt" which is completely incorrect! It is so strange that Romantic ballets are performed as Classical ones and in this case visa versa as well!

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 06:09 PM

According to dancers who worked with Fokine at American Ballet Theatre, Fokine required a "tilt" in "Les Sylphides."

I don't think it will come back -- when dancers of today try it, they look extremely awkward. The "clinging vine" line is gone, too, and the low, over-the-brow ports de bra.

#6 MinkusPugni

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 09:04 PM

You are probably right, but I read this article by Maina Gielgud about Romanticism in the programme for La Sylphide:
(only an exerpt)

"Only too often today, we see Les Sylphides (Fokine's ballet of 1909) performed as though it was La Sylphide - well, with little boes to Romanticism style let's say - an occasional forward tilt. Whereas, infact the Sylphs of Les Sylphides should have a completely different quality of movement.

"Fokine's inspiration has been forgotten. He was the first to free up the dancer's upper body and then of course Lifar, Balanchine, Nijinska all made use of a very upright torso and experimented with its possibilities into a very neoclassical style. Ashton meanwhile remained closer to the original Petipa with remendous and detailed use of the torso, epaulement, head and neck."

This is only a little bit and the article is very long but you are probably right. Can anyone else expand on this topic?

#7 amitava

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 11:06 PM

I don't wish to deviate the thread, but I am curious as to what factors bring about change in such cases? Please let me know if there is a thread in Neverneverland somewhere that has discussed this issue.

1) Choreographer egos and/or lack of research of a piece?
2) Change in taste of audience?
3) Changes in aesthetics?

This "loss" phenomenon seems to happen in all art forms. I have felt the pain in other forms of the performing arts I am more familiar with. I hope we are not just old nostalgic farts, who cannot accept evolution.

However in this case, the objective at a minimum should be to keep the original choreographer's vision as close to reality as possible.

#8 MinkusPugni

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 02:52 AM

I believe, as I said before, it is due to people that create their own technique and then expect every ballet staged by that company to be in that technique so the romantic ballet just left which is a pity.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 07:03 AM

I think MP's answer gets to the heart of it. I don't think it's the choreographer's ego as much as that an artistic director/choreographer has a certain aesthetic: the body is stretched, or it is not; extensions are high, or they are not -- or they are appropriate to the style. And that's what you see. Also, when dancers become used to a particular style of dancing, that creeps into everything.

Amitava, I know we've talked about these things in the past, but I couldn't find a thread. You might want to take a look at the Aesthetic Issues and the Discovering Ballet forum. I know there were lots of discussions of style in the latter.

I'm going to copy over your post to Aesthetic Issues now for discussion. It would be nice to have different opinions on this.

#10 bart

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 09:53 AM

In my occasional observation of teen ballet classes, I've noticed that the teacher usually demonstrates, corrects, or outright says: "This is how you do it. Leaving the young to internatlize just one style of step or gesture as the "correct" way of doing things.

Do teachers at School of American Ballet or the other very top schools ever say: This is how I do it, but this is how X does it? Or, this is how it's done in Balanchine but this is how it's done in Bourneville and this is how it's done in (fill in the blank)?

In other words, to what extend does top-level ballet teaching reflect the rich variation in ballet style over time and geography?

#11 artist

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 09:40 PM

Something that I have noticed lately that is starting to frustrate me is that when people rechoreograph Romantic Ballets, they don't respect the Romantic style and change it into a classical ballet. They lose the Romantic "Tilt" (when people hear that the back is "tilted" in Romantic style they take it too literally. The back is pulled forward and up from the chest making the back come slightly forward but the mistake most people make is that they drop the back from the waist), they lose the well-rounded arms with palms facing down, legs go above 90!.

I believe it is because of people like Vaganova who create a technique and then expect all stagings of ballets to be in that technique which, in turn, bastardises the ballet. Romantic ballets never allowed the legs to go above 90 degrees. This was because it was "unladylike" to let the dress slip down your leg. Even in a penchee, the leg never went to 180 - it only barely went above 90 and the back was just pushed forward, not like the penchees we see today. People now are just losing respect for the romantic ballets and I can't work out why. I think that the style of the romantic ballet is much more elegant and pretty than classical ballet. Let me know what you think.

I know this doesn't directly fall under one choreographer but it is choreographers in general.

I knew I was born in the wrong century! It should have been 1890 - not 1990!! Yes, this is exactly a huge reason why I still participate here because I know there are people still alive that understand and regard this issue as a problem. I think the new choreography is sort of disrespectful and insulting to romanticism. I think this is concerning as many people disregard old classics and try to generate new material. Where's the raw creativity and unique artstyle? Clearly, this has become a worldwide 'epidemic' and the audience currently views classics as a ballet 'improvement' as it has become recreational to the eye. I, too, believe the style of romanticism is more elegant and reflects true beauty. It is an irreplaceable loss.

I understand that this style is probably gone forever from the commercial stage. But do you think it is something that can be kept alive -- or at least revived -- in smaller doses by more academically oriented dance ensembles like those that specialize in baroque or 18th century dance styles?

I have many times asked older dancers if we would be able to go back to the early 20th century dancing where more focus was on emotive dancing than acrobatic technique and have many times gotten the reply, "No." But I think that (not only in my dreams) if enough people [who understand this] get together and try to flush the audience with art reality, maybe this style could disseminate and wouldn't be lost, rather, regenerated. If we could get with the few wise teachers of the past, view old videos, and learn and understand the true romantic style, maybe a small little company could form with dancers that have been trained to this degree. Of course, this means that this appreciation will have to be reestablished amongst the little ones and a new form of teaching and schooling would need to occur, but wouldn't it be for the better? But we'd have to do it right. We don't want to reinvent. We want to rejuvenate. Bring back the spirit of the past. (So much for dreaming.... :) )

After all, the audience is trained to see those classical styles. Now we have to re-train their puny little eyes and influence their ignorant brains to fit the standard of ballet as we once knew it long ago! :yahoo:

#12 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 06 August 2007 - 09:24 PM

Oh,God, this is a really old thread, but i just can't contain myself to respond...

I understand that this style is probably gone forever from the commercial stage.


No, bart, is not gone...IS VERY ALIVE IN HAVANA, and very shocking/pleasant to many people.

But do you think it is something that can be kept alive ...?


Yes, bart ,i do. One of the last 2 surviving "jewels", (as 4 prominent cuban ballerinas from the 60's were known) of the BNC, Mme.Araujo and Mme. Bosch, are likely to assume the tradition after Mme. Alonso :dry: and they are fully trained to do so, so the "tilt" will be secured in Cuba for the years to come.

I think the new choreography is sort of disrespectful and insulting to romanticism.

And i do too, but you know what?...i've even read, in another thread about this particular matters, that this sort of 40's romanticized cuban style, ("tilt", makeup and hair style included), has been said to be"shocking", "exagerated", "old fashioned", "passe", "hilarious", "ridiculous" and has even been compared with a caricature...EVEN with the "Trocks" themselves...isn't that ...just...?..well, well, no words...really.

If we could get with the few wise teachers of the past, view old videos, and learn and understand the true romantic style, maybe a small little company could form with dancers that have been trained to this degree. Of course, this means that this appreciation will have to be reestablished amongst the little ones and a new form of teaching and schooling would need to occur, but wouldn't it be for the better? But we'd have to do it right. We don't want to reinvent. We want to rejuvenate. Bring back the spirit of the past. (So much for dreaming.... :) )


Oh, Artist...you're just REPEATING ALMOST TEXTUALLY the Mme. Alonso's mantra..Only if more people would just try to be more receptive and open to the challenge, without the fear of being pointed at and compared, while in display of this old fashioned style, with the Trocks.

Now we have to re-train their puny little eyes.


They just need to study, to dig into history, to get the esence of the periods, to become a little more receptive to the old sources and to LISTEN TO THE MASTERS , REVERENCE THEIR WISDOM , BE HUMBLE AND KNEEL IN THE PRESENCE OF GREATNESS. Is that too much to ask...?

:(

#13 Amy Reusch

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Posted 22 October 2007 - 07:28 PM

meanwhile remained closer to the original Petipa with remendous


What is remendous?

I found this old thread looking for information on La Sylphide. I had just come from a disappointing uneven rendition (for instance the Reel was a pleasure). What disturbed me most was the Sylph's pointe technique. Her feet were so flexible and soupy (they would have looked beautiful and expressive in some other ballet) and weak that she was positively clunky on pointe... as if she were sinking into the muck rather than hovering above it. Effie was way more floating and light-footed than the sylph. Modern pointe technique seems to rely so much on the support of the shoe... and then the ballerinas dutifully wear soft shoes for La Sylphide... but don't have the strength in their feet to support themselve properly... so disappointing... and the petit allegro didn't hover above the ground either... Women aren't trained to jump as they used to be... it isn't just Firebird that requires a ballerina who looks at home in the air, La Sylphide needs it too. It seems like a weakness around the metarsal, comes into play both in the pointework and the petite allegro, but not the grand allegro. This ballerina accomplished some nice floating grand jetes... but not regular jetes.

And shouldn't it go without saying that a man in a kilt wouldn't lift his leg above a certain height? There must be something to romantic technique for the male too... this James needed to build more presence with his back and arms... sure, lots of focus on footwork, but none of it directed toward extensions. And such a nice dancer, it was a shame to see his role at all spoiled by an apparent coaching failure. Whose fault that might be, I'd have to watch the other casts to figure out.

Hmph...


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