rg

Giselle's act one solo

22 posts in this topic

somewhere on ballettalk of late mention was made of Bessone? - as in Emma Bessone? - and in connection with her, the non-Adam-composed act one solo, probably? by minkus.

was it mel's post?

i'm blanking out now and trying to see if i can find out from the person providing this tid-bit of lore where this connection is made in Giselle's historical literature.

perhaps in the dancemagazine Giselle supplement by frank reis?

all leads welcome, w/thanks.

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Not I, rg, although thanks for the notice. What I do know is that Spessivtzeva was the one who added the hops on pointe to that variation, ca. 1916.

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what about that statement that dolin made in the portrait of giselle documentary that makes it sound as though the entire variation were spessivtseva's import?

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I knew both of them, and they didn't give me that impression. Spessivtzeva herself was rather careful about what she said about the part, but Dolin could be more voluble, sometimes changing whole stories just by changing emphases. He was that way with choreography, too.

It was funny to work with him, because he'd blow up in rehearsal for somebody not knowing a part, then would demonstrate a completely different way of doing it. After about 50 years of doing all those Giselles, every staging seemed to run into every other one, I guess. He wasn't the "absent-minded professor" - all those memories were all very present. It's just a question of which one he'd recall when! :D If you politely pointed out that he'd shown a different version in a previous rehearsal, he could be gracious and relent. "Did I? Oh, well, yes, perhaps I did!"

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After I looked at these comments I went back to several of the threads on the ballet, trying to figure out if anyone has attributed Spissetseva's solo to a particular choreographer. There are so many threads and so many comments that I really couldn't untangle the mystery.

So who choreographed her solo?

I brought this post from the "Portray of Giselle" thread, thinking more convenient to have it here. This topic has been widely discussed on this board, being the general idea for the music to be by Minkus and for Spissevtseva to be the first ballerina to dance it. Ivor Guest's notes for Bonynge's recording of the full, un-edited 1841 score states that Minkus likely composed the variation for the ballerina Emma Bessone's 1887 debut in Petipa's production. Rodney Stenning Edgecombe's article "Notes on Giselle and Paquita"-(which a friend gave me in a photocopy, published in Dance Chronicle, Vol.22/No.3, 1999)-also agrees with Guest about Minkus being the composer. However, there's another name attached to the dancer who created the pas, and is not Bessone, nor Spessivtseva. I wrote down from an article-(can't seem to find the source...sorry about it)-stating that the orchestral parts used by the Royal Ballet title the variation as "Variation for Elena Cornalba" )-, while the Sergueyev Collection-(from the same article)- also mentions a "Variation for Elena Cornalba" among its Giselle materials. The main reason to doubt of Minkus as the author of the piece is the simple reason that he had already retired almost 2 years before Cornalba came to dance at the Mariinsky Theater in 1887, at a time when Drigo was in a full working stage, so could Drigo be the choreographer...? I think that Spessivtseva was merely the way for which this variation reached the west.

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After I looked at these comments I went back to several of the threads on the ballet, trying to figure out if anyone has attributed Spissetseva's solo to a particular choreographer. There are so many threads and so many comments that I really couldn't untangle the mystery.

So who choreographed her solo?

I brought this post from the "Portray of Giselle" thread, thinking more convenient to have it here. This topic has been widely discussed on this board, being the general idea for the music to be by Minkus and for Spissevtseva to be the first ballerina to dance it. Ivor Guest's notes for Bonynge's recording of the full, un-edited 1841 score states that Minkus likely composed the variation for the ballerina Emma Bessone's 1887 debut in Petipa's production. Rodney Stenning Edgecombe's article "Notes on Giselle and Paquita"-(which a friend gave me in a photocopy, published in Dance Chronicle, Vol.22/No.3, 1999)-also agrees with Guest about Minkus being the composer. However, there's another name attached to the dancer who created the pas, and is not Bessone, nor Spessivtseva. I wrote down from an article-(can't seem to find the source...sorry about it)-stating that the orchestral parts used by the Royal Ballet title the variation as "Variation for Elena Cornalba" )-, while the Sergueyev Collection-(from the same article)- also mentions a "Variation for Elena Cornalba" among its Giselle materials. The main reason to doubt of Minkus as the author of the piece is the simple reason that he had already retired almost 2 years before Cornalba came to dance at the Mariinsky Theater in 1887, at a time when Drigo was in a full working stage, so could Drigo be the choreographer...? I think that Spessivtseva was merely the way for which this variation reached the west.

As always, Christian, thank you for your research and information!

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After I looked at these comments I went back to several of the threads on the ballet, trying to figure out if anyone has attributed Spissetseva's solo to a particular choreographer. There are so many threads and so many comments that I really couldn't untangle the mystery.

So who choreographed her solo?

I brought this post from the "Portray of Giselle" thread, thinking more convenient to have it here. This topic has been widely discussed on this board, being the general idea for the music to be by Minkus and for Spissevtseva to be the first ballerina to dance it. Ivor Guest's notes for Bonynge's recording of the full, un-edited 1841 score states that Minkus likely composed the variation for the ballerina Emma Bessone's 1887 debut in Petipa's production. Rodney Stenning Edgecombe's article "Notes on Giselle and Paquita"-(which a friend gave me in a photocopy, published in Dance Chronicle, Vol.22/No.3, 1999)-also agrees with Guest about Minkus being the composer. However, there's another name attached to the dancer who created the pas, and is not Bessone, nor Spessivtseva. I wrote down from an article-(can't seem to find the source...sorry about it)-stating that the orchestral parts used by the Royal Ballet title the variation as "Variation for Elena Cornalba" )-, while the Sergueyev Collection-(from the same article)- also mentions a "Variation for Elena Cornalba" among its Giselle materials. The main reason to doubt of Minkus as the author of the piece is the simple reason that he had already retired almost 2 years before Cornalba came to dance at the Mariinsky Theater in 1887, at a time when Drigo was in a full working stage, so could Drigo be the choreographer...? I think that Spessivtseva was merely the way for which this variation reached the west.

As always, Christian, thank you for your research and information!

Oh, it is MY pleasure, ViolinConcerto. You know...everything for Giselle!! :wub:

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This variation, including the hops on pointe, is included in the Stepanov notation of Giselle Act One, which was made circa 1903, the year Pavlova first danced the role. The music is included in both the piano score (a manuscript interpolation) and full score of Giselle that are also part of the Harvard Collection.

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i have a feeling that dolin misunderstood what she said, as he did in a few places; i actually don't think she was saying so much that she was the first one to do it as she was saying that she brought it with her to do in that production ("my" solo).

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to my way of seeing, in his role as host/narrator of A PORTRAIT OF GISELLE, Dolin qualifies as another sad and sorry example of chatty celebrities posing as authoritative commentators: these individuals, and Dolin has had many such 'heirs' in the meanwhile, spout the little, random, personal knowledge they gained over the years practicing their art from artistic directors who are often as quick-study-prepared as the dancers they direct, as researched scholarship and near-definitive information. Add to this in the case of A PORTRAIT that poor Spesivtseva was at the time of the Dolin 'interview' less that sharp of memory, etc. and you have the interviewer more or less putting words in the interviewee's mouth.

Dolin and his fellow celebrities are best encouraged to speak of their experiences with this or that work and not about the work itself, especially historic ones like GISELLE with a history that is still being revealed and studied to this day by scrupulous historians and scholars.

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Thanks for that, rg---the Spesivtseva clip on that tape has always has always bothered me---it is so invasive.

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I guess that by the time Dolin did this the notations were not that available or known. I wondered why he didn't clarify this question with Karsavina. I assume that she had danced Giselle in Russia before the 1911 Diaghilev production-(which she did along with Pavlova)-, or at least would remember details of how was it danced at the Mariinsky during the turn of the century. I also suppose that Markova would have some clues about it, having danced the ballet and rehearsed it with Sergueyev and his notations as back as 1934 at the Savoy.

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I guess that by the time Dolin did this the notations were not that available or known. I wondered why he didn't clarify this question with Karsavina. I assume that she had danced Giselle in Russia before the 1911 Diaghilev production-(which she did along with Pavlova)-, or at least would remember details of how was it danced at the Mariinsky during the turn of the century. I also suppose that Markova would have some clues about it, having danced the ballet and rehearsed it with Sergueyev and his notations as back as 1934 at the Savoy.

Anton Dolin partnered Olga Spessitseva in Giselle for The Camargo Society in 1932 which was staged by Sergeyev who also used the Maryinsky notations for the Vic-Wells Ballet production of 1934 when Dolin partnered Alicia Markova.

Anton Dolin's efforts to bring Spessitseva back into the limelight, was an act for which most people I know applaud and which benefitted Spessitseva herself.

As well as studying with with Seraphima Asatfieva and having appeared in at least 14 Diaghilev ballets(including The Sleeping Beauty) he became imbued with the Russian School tradition.

Dolin became noted as partner in Giselle with not only Spessitseva and Markova but that other outstanding exponent of the role Alicia Alonso.

I knew Dolin from the late 1960's as a casual acquaintance who was always friendly and generous in answering questions and discussing historic ballet events.

His version of the "Pas de Quatre" has remained continuously admired in Europe and I treasure memories of seeing the original casting for the Kirov Ballet.

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Alonso always talks of Dolin with such reverence, and considers him her main source of her learning of the romantic style, alone with her other idol Markova. Agree with Leonid about remarking of his efforts leading to Miss Spessiztseva's placement in the Tolstoy's state to end her life in a dignified way. A lovely action.

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i don't think anyone here is criticising Dolin's efforts to help situate Spesivtseva in Nyack's Tolstoy residence.

the point here is the filmed interview with her in Nycack about Giselle and specifically, in the case of this thread, about Giselle's act 1 solo, which is notes, accurately, as not being in Adam's score, but which in the presentation of a casual exchange for "Portrait/Giselle" leads one to believe that Spesivtseva was the first to have danced it, calling it "her solo," which we know is not so.

a good deal of the conversation turns out to be Dolin's talking about Dolin.

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That last is what Dolin was like. He'd tell stories about things he'd been present for, whether they were favorable to him or not. His telling of being presented to the Queen Mother made him look VERY bad, but he relished telling it as much as any story that made him sound very good. Raconteur, I guess, would be the best title for him. I think this quality compromised the documentary, as they needed to edit him.

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Alonso always talks of Dolin with such reverence, and considers him her main source of her learning of the romantic style, alone with her other idol Markova. Agree with Leonid about remarking of his efforts leading to Miss Spessiztseva's placement in the Tolstoy's state to end her life in a dignified way. A lovely action.

Thank you Cristian.

As I did not introduce Sir Anton Dolin into this thread, but knew and liked Sir Anton when others were unsure of him,

I would like to add some further comments arising from my experience.

There was an effort by Sir Anton Dolin to bring Olga Spessitseva back into the limelight with the film in question. There is no doubt as to his sincerity in this matter, but we find ourselves today evaluating a former aged ballerina in a state of confusion, making statements within a context that was problematic.

Having had some experience with former dancers and those associated with dance in states of dementia, it is always difficult to keep a conversation flowing without prompting. What follows, can be confused response in some areas but entirely accurate statements in other areas.

I have found such an experience may seem to be an invasion into a world which the subjects have retreated from, sometimes by their own volition, but also because cognitive impairment is present.

It becomes difficult when all one wants to achieve is to resurrect the subjects earlier life, not for ones gratification, but to illuminate their achievements and this, in the hope, that they will recognise them and somewhat rejoice in them.

When elderly persons are institutionalised, their language dysfunction is exacerbated by inabilities in their retrieval

functioning. I have found that proactive interference works in some respect, but not necessarily over periods of time.

When Doug states, This variation, including the hops on pointe, is included in the Stepanov notation of Giselle Act One, which was made circa 1903, the year Pavlova first danced the role. The music is included in both the piano score (a manuscript interpolation) and full score of Giselle that are also part of the Harvard Collection.

When rg wrote, somewhere on ballettalk of late mention was made of Bessone? - as in Emma Bessone? - and in connection with her, the non-Adam-composed act one solo, probably? by Minkus. There should be no assertion that Minkus wrote the music, which Cristian has clarified.

Far from being sad as RG suggests when he writes, Dolin qualifies as another sad and sorry example of chatty celebrities posing as authoritative commentators. Dolin has in fact, a status beyond mine own and no doubt many other commentators.

As to,GISELLE with a history that is still being revealed and studied to this day by scrupulous historians and scholars, my breath is bated.

Edited 28.04.2011

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What seems interesting in this regard is the way the 1956 commercial film of the Bolshoi London Ulanova/Fadeyechev GISELLE was edited into a commercial Paul Czinner film before the era of videotape or VHS. One gathers the entire ballet was filmed but not included in the final print. The edited version includes multiple cuts, one this solo. It was assumed that because UIlanova danced with Sergeyev at the Kirov/Maryinsky as early as 1930, years before this solo was standard choreography in GISELLE, it is possible Ulanova did not dance this solo in her many GISELLES in Russia and later when the Bolshoi just began touring. If anyone has the takes for this film before the final version was edited researching this might be valuable to statting this particular solo.

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Ulanova did dance the solo, I found this little snippet on video:

It is the Bolshoi's production.

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How lovely -- thanks so much for the clip!

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I think that there is a very simple explanation for the variation being described as "Spessivtseva's variation" by Dolin which has nothing to do with any suggestion that she had been the first to dance it. Years ago I saw a programme in which Markova said that when the Vic Wells Ballet were preparing to stage their first performances of Giselle (late 1933) with Nikolai Sergeyev as Ballet Master, he had discussed the variations that she might dance at this point in Act 1. There were two variations recorded in the Stepanov notation. Sergeyev let her choose the.variation that she would like to dance. She unhesitatingly selected the one that she had seen Spessivtseva dance which is why it is that version that is invariably danced in the West.

I do not recall that she described it as the "Spessivtseva variation" but it would have been understandable had she done so.It seems quite natural to me that any one who had seen Spessivtseva dance it;someone who had danced with her in Giselle or who knew that Markova had chosen the variation in preference to other options and the reason for her choice might come to describe it as Spessivtseva's.

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