MinkusPugni

Entrance of the Shades

84 posts in this topic

I know it is traditional and you can't remove it but the entrance of the shades with the penchees is SO BORING! From a dancer's point of view, watching it may be slightly interesting as you can see who has a bad technique but from everyone I have ever talked to who doesn't dance finds it boring. If I was ever staging it, I would have two ramps from either side of the stage, not just one and have the shades coming on in pairs holding the same hands as their supporting leg and always alternating between legs. This means four people are coming on at one time and it would be over four times as fast (maybe even in time for the next phrase of music) and then you could have a proper dance of the shades.

What do you think? Would it be too risky?

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That's one way to do it, and you could also up the tempo a bit, but how would it suggest the hypnotic quality that reflects Solor's drug-induced stupor?

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I've watched it with people who weren't dance-knowledgeable, and they said they found it quite hypnotic, and were fascinated.

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I love the entrance of the shades, and I'm not exactly new to ballet, although I'm no big expert.

It's probably because it is hypnotic that I love it, a time you can just sit back and relax and reflect on things. Of course, some companies do it better than others.

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And while we're at it, why not replace those tatty white tutus with red leather bustiers and sequined thongs. That wouldn't be boring either. :blink:

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:blink: Mel!

I saw the Kirov perform Kingdom of the Shades live with someone who is very quick to point out anything boring. She loved the whole thing; it moved her to tears. Said the entrance of the shades was delicate and beautiful.

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With apologies to John McEnroe: MINKUS PUGNI, YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! :blink:

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the entrance of the shades is unquestionably structured with repeated effects, but the most notable of the moves/postures doesn't really qualify as arabesque penchee. such penche moves take the dancer's torso lower in equal measure to the raising of the arabesque leg, a sort of strong leaning, tilt - think of such moments and moves in the Act 2 of GISELLE for both Giselle and Myrtha. what the corps de ballet does in the 'entrance' sequence climaxes more in a pose that could be called arabesque allongee, plie a quart.

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And imagine how much more boring it must have been in the original version: 64 shades instead of "only"32!!

It think that Lopoukhov mentions in his chapter on the shades scene that the collective frontward and backward movement is reminiscent of the waves movement, and add to this a new wave at the horizon for each new measure, it could not be more perfect.

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The very first time I saw this ballet, it was on tv. I was probably about 10 and watching it with my mom, and neither of us had seen it or knew anything about it. We didn't find this section boring at all. On the contrary, we found it absolutely hilarious. After about 10 girls came out, it became "Look mom! ANOTHER one! Surely that's the last one!" and then 4 counts later, out popped girl number 11. And then 12, and so on. Each time another girl came out, we laughed even harder. By the time girl number 32 made her appearance, I don't think either of us could even see the tv anymore. :blink:

Of course, that was in a much different environment than a theater. The first time I saw this done in a theater, it definitely was not boring. Nor was it funny. I was, as several of you have said before, absolutely mesmerized. It's now one of my favorite scenes in all of ballet. But still, every time I watch it, I have to smile and remember my first experience with the scene, and think "Look mom! Another one!"

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I've only seen this twice --once live (ABT), once on video (Royal). The effect was completely different. On video, I did -- as MinkusPugni says -- spend much of my time looking for technical variations and problems. Couldn't help myself. :blink: With repeated viewings, I began to "see" what was really there and found it beautiful.

On stage, the effect was mesmerising. I found myself thinking that these women were trapped in a kind of purgatory where their penance was to do this repetitive move -- and their reward was to be able to dance the beautiful corps material that comes immediately after.

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Not to pile on MinkusPugni (and thanks for starting the topic and expressing yourself freely), but I agree with bart -- "mesmerizing" is exactly the word. It could go one twice as long as I'd be perfectly happy.

I first saw it as a kid going to see "The Turning Point" -- it's a great start to the movie, as each girl steps in to the camera frame, and then you see them all in full stage view. I thought it was beautiful. I saw it live later with San Francisco Ballet, and it was even more impressive -- moved almost to tears.

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Well, to me it is one of the signature moments of classical ballet...of dance in general...of the arts altogether!

I was told about it by the person who "introduced" me to ballet and thought it sounded intriguing; I finally saw it {as BAYADERKA - National Ballet of Canada @ NYS Theatre...late 1970s...Mary Jago (hurrah!) and Frank Augustyn (bravo!)} and it made a profound impression. Now even hearing the music brings tears to my eyes. Hypnotic? I'll say!!

And yes, that opening shot of TURNING POINT is a very beautiful way to draw a movie-going audience into the world of ballet.

If there are wobbles or flaws, I just don't care. It is the structure of the piece, the idea behind it, and the bloody gorgeous music that speaks directly to the heart and soul.

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I think an important component to whether one enjoys this or not is how it is performed. If the dancers do it as if they're robots, and just keep repeating, of course it's boring! But watching the Kirov entrance always places me in a state of trance...Each penchee is so short, and I love the music, so only by the end I'm satisfied. That said, I agree with the way everyone else explained it -- mesmerizing, hypnotising...

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Personally, I LOVE this part of the ballet. The last time I saw this done by Kirov, there were a number of company members out with the flu and the stage was a bit cramped with the ramp that they had brought on tour with them, so I am kind of remembering that they did this with fewer dancers than normal. I felt cheated!

oberon, I totally agree with you!

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[ ". . . watching the Kirov entrance always places me in a state of trance."] I agree with you Mohnurka! :P When the corps has unanimity of impulse, it's an awesome thing to behold. They're mirror images of each other. My favorite part is when the last corps member completes her penchee, and they all close ranks and step into 5th to begin the centerwork. IMHO an excellent corps makes Act 3 fool proof. Act 3 would be 'boring' if the principals are ill-matched, or especially if the Nikiya is miscast. I think A. Croce said it best: "I know Nikiya is supposed to be dead; but blind?!"

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I feel so strongly about this that I will not resist piling on. Whoever is bored by the entrance of the shades is bored by ballet.

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I <3 Shades. :P

I've never seen Bayadere performed live, but watching the Nureyev production for POB on video was a life altering experience. Haha, not really, but like everyone else has said, I also find the entrance hypnotic and mesmerizing. Watching the POB corps girls coming down the ramp one by one with their lovely hyperextended knees and high insteps creating those beautiful lines was enough to convince me this must be one of the most brilliant moments ever created in ballet, regardless of the repetition.

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I do always feel sorry for the shades in front who have to do so many of those little arabesques...

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I am glad to hear your responses but you obviously didn't read what I wrote. I wouldn't be taking out the penchee entrance (by the way, only originally were they not penchees - now every company (except ones who suck) do penchees) I would merely be adjusting it to make it shorter. I am surprised that all of you are so against the idea. To me, all that is attractive about the entrance of the shades is the beautiful music which I think should be expressed through more than just penchees but through mournful dance.

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I wouldn't be taking out the penchee entrance (by the way, only originally were they not penchees - now every company (except ones who suck) do penchees) I would merely be adjusting it to make it shorter.

I don't want to flog a dead horse, so I'll leave the aesthetics out of it, but the Shades scene isn't just a bunch of pretty girls dancing. If you make the entrance shorter, you lose the hypnotic-hallucinatory quality which establishes the fact that this is Solor's pipe dream.

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Exactly GWTW. Having the dancers come down two ramps would ruin the simplicity too.

As for what the step actually is, the British would call it first arabesque fondue. In Vaganova technique, when performing this movement it is appropriate to lean the body forward slightly and raise the leg. This is not a penché, and I've never seen it performed as a penché (which would look terrible).

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isn't it sort of an allongee?

Exactly GWTW.  Having the dancers come down two ramps would ruin the simplicity too. 

As for what the step actually is, the British would call it first arabesque fondue.  In Vaganova technique, when performing this movement it is appropriate to lean the body forward slightly and raise the leg.  This is not a penché, and I've never seen it performed as a penché (which would look terrible).

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When the corps has unanimity of impulse, it's an awesome thing to behold.  They're mirror images of each other.  My favorite part is when the last corps member completes her penchee, and they all close ranks and step into 5th to begin the centerwork.

1) I like that word "impulse," cygnet -- their IS a sort of "pulse" to the movement when well done. And maybe that's what makes it hypnotic in effect. Like slow-motion film of pulsing ina line through a tiny capillary. It becomes something beyond -- and emotionally much larger than -- the individual choices, efforts and even technique of the dancers.

2) I really agree with your "favorite part" -- the entree is a preparation for the lovely corps work that follows, and is too often discussed in isolation. Imagine how strange it would look if the corps merely arabesqued their way across the stage and exited on the other side. An entry without something to enter FOR is incomplete.

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I'm now getting shivers down my spine just reading this thread.

And how fantastic that I will see the Kirov's Bayadere on the 30th!

(Sorry if this is showing off. :wub::wink: )

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