Posted 06 March 2007 - 08:36 AM
From my experience, it wasn't an emotional (acting) approach at all; it was simply a difference in technique. And for a dancer, I think the distinction was more an "adagio" vs. "allegro" dancer. Today our well-trained technicians should be familiar with both techniques, though as said previously, body type may limit somewhat what roles they are given. Below is what I was trained and experienced as the difference in techniques of Romantic vs. Classical...
1) Romantic was always...
a) ROUNDED ELBOWS, softened shortened (think round circling) port-de-bras;
b) RELAXED neck as if the head is a small weight (dandelion tuft) that bends that neck (stem) like a reed/grass; and yes cambres that bend first, rather than being pulled up and then bending as in classical.
c) Pointe shoes were always SOFT so you slowly worked thru foot and FOLDED up or down, not immediately hit it & balanced like now.
d) Equated with a lightness, elevation, airiness in jumps;
and extensions or developes that UNFOLDed upwards/outwards slowly leading the eyes up too--even though the dancer's gaze may have been lower.
e) In Romantic, the gaze is almost always DOWN (meek, shy--Act 1 Giselle, ethereal caressing subservient-to-Myrta Giselle Act2). Even that famous pic of 'Taglioni in the window as the Sylph' is gazing head tilted and slightly down.
f) Bournonville contributed the quickness and "sprightly" (sorry not the best term) lift in jumps--balon that BOUNCES always upwards rather than lifted/suspended mid-jump like now. Bournonville's pdb's too are important and different from "classical".
g) Romantic phrasing is always LENGTHENED, even in allegro, where it's stretched, and then cut quickly to give that 'caught breath' suspension effect.
For Romantic ballets (Giselle, La/Les Sylphides etc.) I am constantly thinking: round, circles, down, like everything is a big slow ronde de jambe inside each movement.
2) When I think Classical, I tend to think Russian--mostly because that's how I was taught--as in:
a) VERY pulled up, high carriage emanating from center up/out, with again
b) STRONGER, longer arms, and head/neck held HIGH. Even chinlines emanate UP first, then out to follow the line.
c) Lines extend out, NOT insular rounded as in Romantic.
d) And as others stated before, classical is much more legs/feet attack & grounded (ie. attached to earth, NOT necessarily weighted, AND always pulled up!)
(The lyricism of Odette is in bent/rotating wrists/elbows, not necessarily rounded ones. Aurora of course is the epitome of "pulled up" high carriage, long extended-out lines, an attack to phrasing, and "steely" pointes.
In Classical technique, (all that Petipa, and even off-centered Balanchine) I'm always thinking of that string attached to my head pulling me up, tight/controlled, giving me lift, helping me balance.
In short, Classical= UP, STRONG, OUT... Romantic= DOWN, SOFT, IN.
It DOES NOT mean lyrical--lyrical is the adagio version of CLASSICAL, NOT Romantic. If the look, extension, port-de-bras reach OUT and up it is Classical, however willowy the elbows/wrists are.
And not mentioned in earlier posts but important for the women: The Romantic hairstyles reflect the 19th century chignon at the NAPE of the neck, or the looping braids under/around the ears before attaching at back to that lower chignon, while Classical is our dear 'bunhead': small and tight and higher up, and no braids unless you're Juliet, or hair-challenged (too thick, straight, long to hold bun tight) like me.
Of course, those long "Romantic-length" tutus/skirts got their name for a reason too.
Just my thoughts, and by no means historically expert.