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The Spindle Scene, Act I


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#1 Hans

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 08:19 AM

I've been thinking about this scene for a while now, have seen it done essentially two ways, neither of which satisfies me.

The way most ballet companies handle this scene is to have Carabosse simply hand Aurora the spindle. Aurora, not having seen one before, is enchanted with it and dances about as the courtiers try to take it from her until she pricks her finger. I don't like this approach as the courtiers have to sort of halfheartedly snatch at the spindle (it would be rather embarrassing if one of them successfully took it from her...I wonder what would happen in that case!) while standing in a nice neat semicircle, and it never looks very realistic.

The Kirov takes a different approach--Carabosse hands Aurora the spindle hidden in a bouquet of flowers, so the courtiers don't suspect anything until Aurora pricks her finger and Catalabutte finds the needle. However, my problem with this version is that Aurora has just been given a total of eight flowers during the rose adagio, which she either handed off to her mother or tossed on the ground. Why then would she be so enamored of a bouquet given to her by some old lady she doesn't know?

Has anyone seen this scene done more effectively?

#2 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 08:24 AM

Maybe she was trying to tell her parents that she really didn't care about the princes or what they had given her?

#3 Hans

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 08:34 AM

Well yes, I know she doesn't really care about any of the princes, and giving/throwing away their flowers communicates that, but then why does she suddenly adore that bouquet? If one considers Aurora's internal dialogue, she's essentially saying, "Eh, roses. Here mom, hold these for me would you?" and then a few minutes later, "OOH! Flowers! Thank you Humpbacked Crone!" :)

#4 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:21 AM

Well it's hard to say, unless you clearly were to see that it was a bouquet with a spindle in the middle, isn't it? (Mom, Dad, what a funny looking flower?) :)

#5 Helene

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 09:30 AM

Or that she thought that a bouquet of wildflowers presented by a poor old lady was more precious than the flowers she received from the princes.

#6 Hans

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 10:15 AM

Haha, that's a good point, Mme. Hermine. :lol:

Helene, I agree with your viewpoint as well, but at the Kirov, Carabosse appears to be handing Aurora...roses. However, I will file away your wildflower suggestion for When I'm an Artistic Director. :) I also like that it shows how Aurora has grown up to fulfill the gifts of her fairy godmothers--she appreciates sincere generosity (well...it's not actually sincere, but she thinks it is :) ).

#7 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 10:39 AM

And of course it doesn't hurt that she seems to understand the importance of being nice to feeble old ladies!

#8 rg

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 11:02 AM

actually, what aurora finds in the kirov bouquet is a knitting needle, no? not a spindle.
i find that an actual spindle, with lambswool twining around it, more to the dramatic point and aurora's little manege has a succession of 'wound around the spindle' movements in most versions of the choreography for this moment.
true there is the act's opening knitting scene but as wiley's book makes clear - i THINK - it's a distaff that causes the prediction to come true not a knitting needle.

#9 carbro

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 11:14 AM

I also like that it shows how Aurora has grown up to fulfill the gifts of her fairy godmothers--she appreciates sincere generosity (well...it's not actually sincere, but she thinks it is :lol:).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Oh, it's sincere all right! Has anyone wanted more avidly than Carabosse here that their gift be "enjoyed"?

#10 Hans

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 11:21 AM

Yes rg, it is a knitting needle in the Kirov's production...which reminds me that knitting needles are not exactly sharp! But maybe at one time they were.

Good point, Carbro. :lol:

This may be another thread entirely, and I know that there's no realistic point in asking a fairy tale to be logical. But for the sake of talking about it: Why a spindle? Surely Carabosse could have thought up a nastier way for Aurora to die. (Maybe she intended for Aurora to get gangrene. :) )

#11 carbro

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 01:13 PM

I always read it as a symbol of sexual awakening -- puncture, bleeding, etc.

Well, not always, but, . . . you know.

#12 Dale

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 02:27 PM

I've seen some productions where she just receives the spindle. Since they've been outlawed since her birth, she is facinated with the object. That makes sense, since a spindle itself isn't an appropriate gift for a Sweet 16 party :lol:

I also prefer the productions where Aurora hands over the flowers (both times) to her mother. It's not that she doesn't like the flowers, but that it is easier to dance without them.

#13 b1

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 03:03 PM

I believe in our 'libretto', we used the term 'enchanted bouquet' or magical bouquet. Carabosse puts some sort of enchantement on the bouquet that enticed Aurora to take the bouquet.

#14 Mel Johnson

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 04:05 PM

It is a spindle from a spinning wheel that gets handed to her; it is appropriate as a coming-of-age gift, because another name for it is a "maiden". It would also mark her accession to "spinsterhood", as a marriageable single woman.

#15 Hans

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Posted 25 July 2005 - 05:44 PM

Oh goodness carbro...I don't think this is my favorite ballet anymore... :lol:

Dale, I'm pretty sure that in the original libretto, Aurora throws them on the ground the second time, so I don't mind it so much.

b1, I like that explanation.

And mel, thank you for the history :) so I suppose that pretty much dictates that we're stuck with the courtiers trying to take away the spindle but not trying too hard lest they succeed? :)


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