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New-old 'Corsaire' reconstruction news?


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 07:23 AM

As part of the Petipa Year of the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich, a new-old "Corsaire" was to have premiered on January 27, 2007. According to the troupe's website, Doug Fullington was scheduled to have used the Nikolai Sergeev/Stepanov notations (a.k.a., 'the Harvard notebooks") in this restaging of Petipa's version of this ballet. Did this come to pass? Any news?

I'm also wondering if anybody from our forum attended the two-day "Petipa Reconstructions" symposium last week in Munich?

#2 Jasper

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:26 AM

Long time no hear, I admit... and still not really sure what to write about this reconstruction as my personal view differs from that of most of my friends... Trying to be objective:
It's been an enormous task for a company not nearly the size of Maryinski or Paris Opera Ballet - and it's stretching the company to its limits, given only the fact that you need five male principal dancers (while we only have four of them listed with this title - as long as noone is injured...)

But trying to start from scratch:
What has mainly been "reconstructed" using the Harvard documents are girls' variations plus the jardin animé. And there are little precious parts - my personal favourite is "The little corsaire" danced by Medora in act 2 - not sure if I have seen this in any other versions. [NB: I have only seen ABT's and Kirov's old version on video, some time ago.] A lot of the male variations have been done by Ivan Liska, as well as many ensemble scenes. The programme lists exactly which music is used for which part and whose choreogrephy it is - and that's fantastic! [Don't have it at hand now, sorry.]
Sets and costumes are very colourful - some people find them too much, I like them - well, the jardin animé I believe has to be in pink, and there's quite a lot of pink in it, and we're no more used to such crowded stages, but somehow it's fascinating as it looks at least in my imagination like old Russian ballet may have looked.

A note on the dancers: Lucia Lacarra was first cast Medora but has been injured - therefore Lisa-Maree Cullum stepped in. 5 (!) performances (including the fully danced dress rehearsal) in 9 days - good stamina to her and her partner Lukas Slavicky! Alen Bottaini is a brilliant, ever stage-present Birbanto, and Tigran Mikayelyan a very impressive Ali. Natalia Kalinitchenko as Gulnara has lovely variations, and the three Odalisques are my personal favourite in the last act - Petipa's ladies' variations at its best.

So... I LOVE the production, it's fun and great dancing, plus a lot to watch and look at (many details); but I'm also addict of Minkus and his ballets, so that may be a reason why.

I'm also wondering if anybody from our forum attended the two-day "Petipa Reconstructions" symposium last week in Munich?

Sorry, did not attend - maybe someone else with a deeper understanding and more insight?

#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:39 AM

just wanted to pipe in here, when anna-marie holmes' staging of corsaire was done in boston originally in 1997, it did include the 'little corsaire' variation.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 08:46 AM

Thanks so much for your big report, Jasper! In addition to the Boston version cited by Mme. Hermine, I recall that the Maly Theater-St. Petersburg's version of 'Corsaire' also included the 'Little Corsaire' variation for Medora when I saw the production in the early '90s, although I was told that it has since been excised.

#5 rg

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 09:25 AM

another 'sighting' of the 'petite corsaire' solo is the silent film clip - with sound added - of the dance, performed by a lone, unidentified dancer on a bare, outdoor stage as filmed by shiryaev in the early 20th c. and included in BELATED PREMIERE - a russian-made documentary about the amateur films made by Maryinsky/Soviet dancer Aleksandr Viktorovich Shiryaev (1867 - 1941).
i've added the following scan of the following Enrichetta Grimaldi as the "Little Corsair." Grimaldi danced at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater from 1901 - 05 - and to the best of my knowledge, not at the Maryinsky - so she is likely documented here in the Moscow staging of Petipa's KORSAR, as mounted for the Bolshoi troupe in 1888.

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#6 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:16 AM

i've seen that one, rg, i remember that it had been badly synchronized as the music went at about twice the speed of the film, but interesting nonetheless.

thank you for the picture!

#7 leonid17

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 02:47 PM

Sorry, did not attend - maybe someone else with a deeper understanding and more insight?


I don't know about a deeper understanding and more insight, but here is a link for Clement Crisp's review.

The Financial Times

Sorry the link did not work but if you visit the Financial Times site and search Clement Crisp you should be able to get it for a few days before it disappears and you have to pay for it. I can email this direct if I can be informed to whom.


[size=1]Moderator's note: Edited to insert link. Thanks, leonid![/size]

Edited by carbro, 31 January 2007 - 03:31 PM.


#8 leonid17

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Posted 04 February 2007 - 08:16 AM

As part of the Petipa Year of the Bavarian State Ballet in Munich, a new-old "Corsaire" was to have premiered on January 27, 2007. According to the troupe's website, Doug Fullington was scheduled to have used the Nikolai Sergeev/Stepanov notations (a.k.a., 'the Harvard notebooks") in this restaging of Petipa's version of this ballet. Did this come to pass? Any news?

I'm also wondering if anybody from our forum attended the two-day "Petipa Reconstructions" symposium last week in Munich?


I understand the symposium was filmed and more than interesting exchanges took place. I am hoping that the text of the various contributions will be published as it is reported that some controversial statements and challenges to the Stepanov texts were made.

I have been led to understand that the tragedy of the contributions made by some of the Russian's who attended, is that they may unwittingly be victims of the received Soviet history, of the type that blighted the possibility of more authentic reconstructions of the Kirov's Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere productions.

The other important thing to remember is that the authentic Petipa tradition began to die in Russia during that great old man's lifetime and was almost completely abandoned some seventy years ago with the impact of the Vaganova method upon the execution of the choreography and many changes in story presentations.

Clement Crisp a critic with an almost ancient memory of ballet, in his review of the Munich Ballet’s Le Corsaire (the link appears earlier in this forum) in his opening sentence says, “Ballet is an art written on air and on unremembering muscles.” Wrong Mr. Crisp, muscles do remember through the retention of motor skills via neuromuscular facilitation and this is why older dancers have over the years made many important
contributions to revivals of ballets.

What made the reconstruction of an authentic Petipa ‘Le Corsaire’ from the Stepanov notation almost impossible, as I understand it so far, is the fact that approximately only one third of the production exists in the Harvard Collection notebooks.

Liska has attempted it would seem, to immerse himself in the history of the type of dancer of the original production and examined the teaching of the period and execution the choreographic steps of that time and apply what he has learnt. This is something which I believe very few Russian ballet masters would be brave enough say they wanted to do, or, be allowed to undertake. I understand that Vikharev's noble work was interfered with by older Soviet dancers faithful to Vaganova and Konstantin Sergeyev(et al) amendations to Petipa's ballets.

Clement Crisp writes, "... Le Corsaire, a celebrated old extravaganza that has an impossibly vexed theatrical history, from its creation in Paris in 1856 by way of no fewer than 14 recensions in Russia? “ Of course the production that Liska was looking at had no such recensions (and I do not think the Soviet productions were recensions in the meaning of the word) but instead he was attempting to create the first rescension.

We have discovered in the Kirov Sleeping Beauty reconstruction many similarities with the Sadlers Wells /Sergeyev (not entirely authentic) production both using the Stepanov notation as the skeleton for a fairly fleshed out copy of the original production. Interesting enough the Kirov ballet's earlier Beauty production, confirmed in many places despite a number of hands changing the production, many obvious chureographic similarities to the notated productions.

What Lacotte created with his La Fille du Pharoan was like Vinogradov’s Le Corsaire, an entertaining romp with no serious claim to Petipa authenticity with only Vinogradov exhibiting the kind of 'theatrical verve' that Mr Crisp craves.

Ivan Liska it appears has attempted to open a window to mid-19th century Petipa style without 180 degree arabesques, which among other modern thuggeries, entirely fails to respect Petipa as a choreographer of genius creaing his own style of fully integrating story-telling with dance with its own aesthetic.


Edited: 06.03pm

#9 DanceMusicandHistoryInterest

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 12:44 AM

does anyone know what specific dances were restored for this version? will the company film thier production for commercial release?


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