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How important are Odile's 32 fouettes?and what do they add to the ballet?


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#16 bart

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 10:11 AM

Of course, history is rife with heads of state with significantly sub-genius IQs.

Carbro, you are destroying one of the last of my illusions! I guess, however, your statement is also true of HEIRS to thrones and other kinds of office. A short story about the Siegfried and his ladies from the point of view of the Queen might be very interesting. :)

#17 drb

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 11:00 AM

....Of course, history is rife with heads of state with significantly sub-genius IQs.


While Great Leader Stalin did not attend Maya's performance with Chairman Mao, Vladimir Putin did accompany guest G. W. Bush to the Nutcracker. And President Bush did invite the American Ballet Company to perform Nutcracker at the White House. It is good that our leaders can take a break from the pressures of State.

#18 scherzo

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 11:38 AM

She said she liked to emphasize the similarity between the two Swans, because, after all, how stupid do you think Siegfried had to be?


Now that I come to think about it, I'm kind of hazy on this bit. Does Rothbart cast an Evil Spell on the court, the Queen Mother and/or Siegfried? Or does Odile have to do most of the spadework herself, as it were, which is what the fouettes are in aid of?

#19 carbro

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 12:11 PM

Does Rothbart cast an Evil Spell on the court, the Queen Mother and/or Siegfried? Or does Odile have to do most of the spadework herself, as it were, which is what the fouettes are in aid of?

That would depend largely on the production. In ABT's McKenzie staging, there's little doubt that Rothbart runs the show, but I think that is a very anti-traditional take.

Since Odile is Rothbart's daughter, it seems logical that she'd have a few magic powers of her own.

#20 sandik

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 12:20 PM

Of course, history is rife with heads of state with significantly sub-genius IQs.


Oh ouch!

#21 canbelto

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 12:36 PM

I don't know, they've become a tradition, like it or not. It's kind of like the penchee ending to the White Swan pdd. It wasn't always like that, as footage from anything before the 1970s show. But now audiences have come to expect it, and it fits the music so well, so anything other than the penchee looks funny.

#22 dirac

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:50 PM

I don't know, they've become a tradition, like it or not. It's kind of like the penchee ending to the White Swan pdd. It wasn't always like that, as footage from anything before the 1970s show. But now audiences have come to expect it, and it fits the music so well, so anything other than the penchee looks funny.



I’ve spoken to people who don’t know ballet at all, but two things they do know are “Swan Lake” and the 32 turns, and they’re disappointed on those occasions when they don’t get them.

Speaking for myself, I enjoy seeing them unless they’re really botched, although if they are left out I won’t demand my money back.

#23 Hans

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 03:54 PM

I do think the fouettés are important to Swan Lake's tradition, and hopefully there will always be ballerinas who can do them well. However, I don't mind substitutions, as long as whatever step the ballerina chooses is executed brilliantly.

As far as the type of fouettés goes, I do have to say I find the Cecchetti way boring, as the type of movement it produces is too slow. I like a smaller rond de jambe that emphasizes second (but I don't like going directly to second). And I would prefer some restraint in Swan Lake as opposed to Don Q, Kitri, &c. A double on every 8th turn looks nice, anything much beyond that strikes me as vulgar.

#24 Mel Johnson

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 07:37 PM

For me, anyway, the thing is artifactual. I generally don't like it when other things are substituted, no matter how well they're done. And if the Odile can't do them well, then she shouldn't be doing that part. HAARRRUMPH!

#25 canbelto

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 02:26 PM

It's kind of like the Spessivtseva solo of Giselle. Yeah it wasn't always there, but now it's become of the Giselle tradition.
However in some versions it's still omitted. For instance in the recent video with Svetlana Zakharova the Bournmeister version was used and the last fouettes become supported pirouettes.

#26 volcanohunter

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 02:44 PM

It's kind of like the Spessivtseva solo of Giselle. Yeah it wasn't always there, but now it's become of the Giselle tradition.

I think it's a bit more than that. For historical reasons I also don't like steps being altered or substituted. So many changes have crept into Swan Lake over the years that it's becoming increasingly difficult to know how much of the original choreography remains. At least we know for certain that the 32 fouettés were present in Petipa's original, so let's not hurry to toss them out.

#27 Treefrog

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 07:12 AM

re: why Siegfried falls for Odile. In this thread from 2002 Alexandra explains that it's his Fate, his Destiny. In the modern context, it's hard to understand it as a tragedy unless Siegfried knowlingly betrays Odette, but apparently the fact of betrayal is sufficient tragedy in the Classical interpretation.

For the record, I represent mid-level ballet-watchers and I like the 32 fouettés. And I'm with Mel; if the dancer can't do them, she ought not be cast.

#28 beck_hen

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 07:35 AM

Truthfully I don't see why any dancer with the technical ability to do Odette/Odile can't just learn to churn out 32 fouettes! It it not a super human trick, It can be taught.


Forgive the bad pun, but somehow I feel this discussion has come full circle. If there is a consensus, it is that the fouettes are both fun and irreplaceable. In that case, Vipa's advice is best. It is true I've seen videos of corps members performing spectacular fouettes (Zhong-Jing Fang!)—there is no shortage of dancers who can do them. Meanwhile, I'll continue to enjoy some of the dancers who can just barely get through them.

#29 4mrdncr

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 08:21 PM

Why does no one remember that Odile is supposed to be the "image of Odette" ie. look like her? The "evil twin" incarnate who wears black for the same reason the 'evil cowboy' wore a black hat, and the good cowboy a white hat. So some swan-arm movements, and even a white costume would be apropos. AND... Rothbart shows up at the ball TOO EARLY for Odette to be transformed yet to human form, so that that weeping Odette in the window is not some figment of Siegfried's imagination, but the poor swan vainly trying to attract his attention in the window--which is why almost concurrently with that image, and musically in the score, Odile imitates Odette's 'swan arms' to capture Siegfried's attention. In an RB version I saw, Siegfried is actually 'transfixed/frozen' by Rothbart so he doesn't see what's happening at the window.

RE: The 32
Yes it's a tradition passed down from Legnani (sp?) days, and I do like traditions. Multiples work if they enhance the musical accent, but not to excess, not as a gymnastic exercize, and not as a gloat at the audiance to "look at me, look at me, the great dancer" instead of a mesmerizing act of centrifigal force like a whirlpool or "black hole" drawing Siegfried and the Court's attention and attraction to her. I too remembe Plisetskaya and being surprised she avoided them, and guessing why that was so, and not missing them.

When I was at Tokyo Ballet, O/O was performed by two different dancers, because each had strengths they wanted to show off and weaknesses they wanted to avoid. I didn't see too much a problem because it was better to see them do well, than not when performing a difficult step, but it did negate the "twin" aspect of the plot I mentioned above.

#30 volcanohunter

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 10:01 PM

the poor swan vainly trying to attract his attention in the window--which is why almost concurrently with that image, and musically in the score, Odile imitates Odette's 'swan arms' to capture Siegfried's attention.

:huh: I've encountered this comment on the musical reference more than once, and no doubt Petipa intended Odile's port de bras to mirror Odette's in the window. But it's worth remembering that Tchaikovsky wrote this adagio for the first act, when neither Odette nor Odile were on the scene yet. I may seem musically obvious to us, but Tchaikovsky didn't conceive it that way.


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