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


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#46 bart

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:28 PM

The music is already pretty intense while Siegfried is dancing and Odile is waiting upstage to take her turn.

Hans got me thinking about which "different steps" you could insert at the beginning of the musical passage. Pique pirouettes, with their expansive, sweeping travelling, strike me as having a very different dramatic impact from fouettes, which are controlled and have a limited range of movement across the floor. Could you start with piques and end up with fouettes? It might be rather difficult to transition quickly and smoothly from one to the other without losing a few counts.

So what steps could be substituted? What alternatives were you thinking of, Hans?

#47 Hans

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 08:08 PM

Well, almost any type of turning step either done on a diagonal or traveling forward would work as long as it works rhythmically with the music. It would just have to be engineered so that the ballerina either does a pas de bourrée en tournant or lands in fourth position in time to start the fouettés. One could even alternate pas de bourré en tournant with fouetté and then change to only fouettés after a while, or do pirouettes from 5th finishing with a developpé to the front or side as in Coppélia and Satanella. In that case the dancer would stop four counts early to have time to pas de bourré suivi and plié in fourth in preparation for continuous fouettés.

Those are pretty conventional, but I'm sure others could come up with something more interesting!

#48 vipa

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 08:14 PM

The music is already pretty intense while Siegfried is dancing and Odile is waiting upstage to take her turn.

Hans got me thinking about which "different steps" you could insert at the beginning of the musical passage. Pique pirouettes, with their expansive, sweeping travelling, strike me as having a very different dramatic impact from fouettes, which are controlled and have a limited range of movement across the floor. Could you start with piques and end up with fouettes? It might be rather difficult to transition quickly and smoothly from one to the other without losing a few counts.

So what steps could be substituted? What alternatives were you thinking of, Hans?


Just do the fouettes. Yes, your leg gets tired but it's something you have to practice. On the other hand I guess everyone could just pick out a favorite step and do it and that might be OK and even fun. At the same time I think it is good for dancers to measure themselves against the test of time. If dancers in the past could do technical feats (fouettes, rose Adagio balances) why not now, given the idea that ballet technique has advanced. I'm sure Sarah Means could go into a studio and work her way up to 32 if she wanted to. Not a priority and maybe it shouldn't be, but I fall into the camp that this step is a requirement of the role. Just like a note in opera that may have been written for a particular singer.

#49 vissi d'arte

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:56 AM

:clapping: Well Plisetskaya actually did pique turns in manege but at a great speed though, it's also very affective I think!

#50 drb

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 02:36 PM

In practice, most Odiles that I've seen do go for the 32 fouettes, but there is the issue of embellishment. Irina Dvorovenko was an embellisher before giving birth, but on her return did it straight, 32, in place. But in her second performance this season she did interpolate a triple in the middle and another for her finish. Diana Vishneva's choice is obviously based on the dramatic interpretation she's planned for any given performance.

Gillian Murphy, surely one of the most spectacular 32'ers, she reached 32 at the age of 11, has given embellishment and the place of spontaneity serious consideration, and has reached different conclusions for different ballets. Regarding Odile, in an interview given to Finis Jhung last year she says

... I plan ahead of time, but leave it open to last minute spontaneity. What I try to do is have different combinations of turns for different ballets. I do basically the same combination (fouetté, fouetté, fouetté-triple pirouettes) for Black Swan.


For more:

http://www.danceart....lian_Murphy.htm

#51 vipa

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Posted 07 July 2007 - 06:49 PM

Diana Vishneva's choice is obviously based on the dramatic interpretation she's planned for any given performance.


I don't think that is so obvious. When I saw her with ABT in June. I knew her turns would be a failure as soon as she began. She started out with a lot of energy but I soon worried that she would not be able to get back on pointe. She got through in a way but I did not see any dramatic intent.

She does the Russian style fouettes which take a lot of muscle to get throught because the mechanics of the movement do not help.

Anyway she got throught the fouettes (I am not a counter so I don't know how many) but assigning dramatic intent is a stretch in my opinion.

#52 Myrtha

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 05:49 AM

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.


Actually there's some doubt about that. In the book Tchaikovsky’s Ballets by Roland John Wiley, it states on page 247 (and footnote on page 317):

"In Zolushka [Cinderella] she [Legnani] performed two triple turns on pointe four times in succession, and, in the last act, thirty-two fouettes, for which her Swan Lake became famous.

Footnote: According to Solyannikov (‘Vospominaniya’, p. 86). Legnani performed not thirty-two but twenty fouettes at the first performance of Swan Lake in 1895 and won an ovation after repeating the number."

It was typical of the time to give encores of variations, so I'm guessing Legnani encored the section with 20 fouettes after resting during the audience applause for the first batch. It seems that everyone knew she could do the fouette trick by that time and she was concentrating on executing the "plastique" of the Russian classical style

Anyway, what is certain is that Odile's variation was fairly simple when first choreographed and later choreographers like Vaganova increased the difficulty by cramming in more turns to show off her students' technical ability, plus individual ballerinas who liked to turn added in yet more revolutions per turn.

#53 Hans

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 07:24 AM

She does the Russian style fouettes which take a lot of muscle to get through because the mechanics of the movement do not help.


Actually, when done properly, they do not require more effort than the Cecchetti style. I actually find them easier.

#54 bart

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 09:48 AM

Hans's post got me thinking. I've seen men do fouettes, but I was wondering whether there is any significant choreography in which the man does a long series a la Odile's and which has the same kind of bravura effect?

#55 leonid

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Posted 08 July 2007 - 01:24 PM

Anyway, what is certain is that Odile's variation was fairly simple when first choreographed and later choreographers like Vaganova increased the difficulty by cramming in more turns to show off her students' technical ability, plus individual ballerinas who liked to turn added in yet more revolutions per turn.


I would like to see evidence that Kschessinskaya's Odile's variation was fairly simple 20 years before Vaganova's students danced Odette/Odile. There is evidence that the terre a terre technique of the late 19th century was established with formidable execution of multiple pirouettes and fouettes.

#56 Hans

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 05:59 PM

Bart, in the Vainonen Nutcracker, Prince Coqueluche sometimes does a series of sixteen double fouettés at the end of his variation instead of the diagonal of cabrioles.

#57 atm711

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 03:16 AM

Getting back to topic---any ballerina worth her salt would have dazzled the Prince in the preceding PDD. The fouettes are the cherry on top of the cake; nice to look at but it has nothing to do with the taste of the cake. :off topic:

#58 leonid

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 12:28 PM

Getting back to topic---any ballerina worth her salt would have dazzled the Prince in the preceding PDD. The fouettes are the cherry on top of the cake; nice to look at but it has nothing to do with the taste of the cake. :off topic:


As in good wine after one has smelt the 'nose', savoured the taste and identified the various
flavours, the fouettes are the "after taste' before the final statement is made and all is emphatically revealed in expressive discussion.

#59 Mel Johnson

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Posted 13 July 2007 - 01:56 PM

Excellent metaphor, leonid, heartiest agreement!

#60 atm711

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 10:14 AM

As in good wine after one has smelt the 'nose', savoured the taste and identified the various
flavours, the fouettes are the "after taste' before the final statement is made and all is emphatically revealed in expressive discussion.




I must stop gulping my wine......


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