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The Spindle Scene, Act I

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Details are nice and everything, but I'm just hoping people would be fascinated more by Aurora's dancing and her acting than by if the spindle she's holding really even looks like a spindle.

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After a while, steps are just steps. Even in ballets like Agon or Symphony in C, if there isn't feeling, or a sense of some meaning behind the steps, there's no interest in seeing the same ballet time after time. Dancers who don't understand this bore me to tears.

In SB, the Rose Adagio is different from the Vision Scene. Not because the steps are different, but because one is a teen on the brink of womanhood and the other is a figment of Desire's imagination. Great Auroras show the difference.

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Oh, I think people do care about all of it, details, dancing, acting, history, tradition, everything. :)

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the most beautiful and effective way of dealing with the spindle scene that I've ever seen was Fonteyn in Nureyev's original Sleeping Beauty production in Milan. The disguised Carrabosse gives her a bunch of long-stemmed roses. She pricks her finger, looks concerned - she's clearly been told about dangerous spindles. Oh - it's only a thorn. No need to worry, so she's all smiles again. She unties the roses and starts to distribute them among the people around her and there, hidden in the middle is the spindle. So she knows what is about to happen to her as the danse du vertige begins. I made some enquiries and I was given the distinct impression it was something she had worked out for herself. But you can imagine the play of emotions...

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In the Sylve DVD, she tosses the flowers all over the stage -- like someone voraciously tearing the wrapping paper off the baby shower presents -- making me fear she or someone else was going to trip over them.

What a lovely gesture to give out the flowers.

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What a lovely gesture to give out the flowers.

Sounds like the Fairy of Generosity did her thing on the princess!

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I don't know if this is at all relevant to Sleeping Beauty but a teacher once told me that spinning in the Middle Ages was a sign of purity; he was talking about pictures of the Virgin Mary, who is often, apparently, holding a spindle. Bournonville's A Folk Tale, which does have echoes of Sleeping Beauty (or rather the other way around, since it came first--as I recall, Petipa knew of Folk Tale), shows Hilda holding a spindle as well. Of course, purity and Aurora's spindle don't quite match!

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That's certainly the opposite extreme from carbro's interpretation.

At the Paris Opéra Ballet, Aurora has to find the spindle in the middle of a bouquet and hold onto it as she pulls it out of the flowers and throws them down...all in the middle of a double pirouette at the end of a manège. Really, it's enough to make one wonder why choreographers feel the need to make the role even more technically challenging than it already is.

Alymer, how does the Milan production work musically? I take it that she must prick her finger rather soon after receiving the bouquet and then find the spindle on what is traditionally the ominous "prick" chord?

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If I remember correctly, in the original Perrault tale, the spindle incident has nothing to do with the evil fairy (who has no name, by the way- well, most characters have no name), it's just a matter of chance (one day when her parents are away, the princess visits some rooms of the castle and meets an old lady with a spindle and, as she doesn't know what it is, she touches it). Also the prince doesn't even kiss the princess... And there are a few humorous touches (for example when the prince thinks that his bride has the same old-fashioned clothes as his grandmother, but doesn't dare to tell her).

[Edited to add:]

I wonder if the spindle might have something to do with the Greek myth of the three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos ?

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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.

So, if I understood you correctly, the spindle that she gets as a present should represent that she is old enough to become a woman? It would be like a tradition, or something like that?

Thanx in advance for the answer! :(

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That's correct. Actually, that she has become a woman and is now of marriageable age. Of course there are other interpretations out there, too, but that's mine.

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That's correct. Actually, that she has become a woman and is now of marriageable age. Of course there are other interpretations out there, too, but that's mine.

There are according to Russian ethnological studies superstitious prohibitions connected with a spindle and to receive one could lead to misfortune (and death of cattle).

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Thank you, Mel!

Leonid, I didn't know about that Russian superstition. Knowing that, the tale becomes even more interesting.

It is fascinating how some fairy tale like this one, intended to be for the kids, carries so much information and tradition, and historical background!

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