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Hans

The Spindle Scene, Act I

38 posts in this topic

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?

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

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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!" :)

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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?) :)

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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.

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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 :) ).

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

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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.

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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:).

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

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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. :) )

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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I think I may do something like the Disney Cartoon. Where somehow Caraboose finds an actual spindle wheel (after they have been burnt) and maybe it can be on wheels or something; I don't know. Interesting arguments, Hans...

:lol:

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I'd say so. A spindle from a wool wheel would be about the size of a long pencil. The bearing end would be iron.

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

Ouch! I hope you're not pulling a guilt trip on me :) . I think I appreciate how much you love/d SB. But the event occurs at the official celebration of the princess' marriageability, right?

It's a SYMBOL. There's poetry there. Really.

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Hm...sometimes I wonder if we don't read too much sex into the classics at times. Is that really what people would have thought in 1895? This is, after all, a ballet in which she's awakened by a kiss...on the forehead. :shake:

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Yeah, that was their introduction. Not even first date!

I don't think we are a whole lot more preoccupied by sex, but I am very sure that we are less private about discussing it overtly and therefore don't allude to it through symbols and metaphors.

My grandfather was born in 1897, a bit before in vitro techniques were developed. SOMEONE was thinking about sex in 1896, if not 1895!

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I didn't say we think about sex more now; I said maybe we read too much of it into the classics. Sometimes, after all, a cigar is just a cigar (as the famous psychiatrist whose ideas keep popping up in Swan Lake and the Nutcracker said).

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Sleeping Beauty is my favorite ballet ever, and I feel there's nothing wrong with it. I think you people are taking things to seriously. Who cares how she pricks herself? Who cares what the spindle looks like? Who cares how she awakens? Just enjoy the freaking ballet!

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Actually, most of us do care about these details, Majinsky, and the site was set up so that there would be a place where people who do care about such details can discuss them. If you want to be a dancer, you might want to spend some time thinking about them too, because there's a hell of a lot more to ballet than the freaking dancing, much as we love that, too. :)

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Sleeping Beauty is my favorite ballet too.

The purpose of this particular forum is to discuss ballets in depth, and that's what we're doing. :) From my point of view, this type of conversation is enjoyable because I get to hear others' opinions and ideas as well as learn some of the history behind the ballet, which gives an already rich and detailed ballet an even greater depth and significance. Thus, I feel that such knowledge allows me to more fully, as you said, "...enjoy the freaking ballet!" :)

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Re the spindle and symbolism -- I'm one who thinks that the overtly sexual initerpretations are inappropriate. Read the diaries of people writing in the 18th and 19th century and most do not go into great detail about their sexual prowess, yearnings, or obsessions. More important, the spindle and the idea of spinning goes back to ancient myths - the Fates wove the cloth of life and snipped the thread when a life was over, is one of them. It's just as likely that the spindle has that connotation. (I think it could be a symbol of marriageable age, and spinsterhood, too, but that doesn't make it a phallic symbol.)

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