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


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#61 bart

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Posted 14 July 2007 - 11:29 AM

From Jann Parry's Dance Now review of ABT's London appearances:

[Gillian] Murphy was technically secure, unleasing a plethora of fouettes. Impressive, until Tamara Rojo raised the bar at the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake the same weekend with a seemingly effortless seriee of quadruple fouettes, while remaining in touch with the music.

A SERIES of quadruples! And in time! Now that would be something to see.

#62 popularlibrary

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 10:41 AM

It seems to me that some of this discussion misses a couple of basic points. Since the infamous 32 were not choreographed by Petipa, but added to suit the virtuosity (and maybe the dramatic ideas) of a particular ballerina, we are not dealing with something written in stone. Let's face it, even much of the genuine Petipa choreography that survives isn't written in stone from one production to another, or why are companies still doing Chaboukiani's Bayadere instead of Petipa's.

The situation strikes me as similar to the matter of vocal decoration and improvisation in 18th and early 19th century bel canto opera. It was part of the singer's skill set to be able to provide virtuostic embellishments, and one singer was not bound by what another did, though of course a particularly skillful piece of decoration would be copied by more than one singer. The 32 (or whatever) fouettes were added by a dancer and I would think they can be changed by a dancer with a better or more personally effective notion to substitute. If they've become tradition, I'm not sure it isn't because too many dancers have let themselves be lazy or unimaginative.

Then, of course, there's the question of the music now used itself, which wasn't intended for the Odile/Siegfried pas de deux. For one thing, as Alastair Macaulay has pointed out, the music isn't especially suited to the 32 whirls. So - do we ask for the music Tchaikovsky actually wrote to be restored (isn't it the music now used for Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux?), which would more or less put an end to 32 anything, or accept that with all the various substitutions in score and choreography, the rather unmusical fouettes can give way to other possibilities?

It gives one furiously to think, as someone or other once said.

#63 Helene

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 11:03 AM

I personally would rather see adherence to style than to a well-established trick. However, certain aspects of a ballet become iconic, like high notes or ornamentation in opera, and when they aren't performed, even when they aren't written -- like the high note at the end of "Celeste Aida," -- there's a sense that something's missing, and people feel cheated somehow. (I wouldn't miss the fouettes one bit, but then I don't miss the little cygnets one bit either in Balanchine's version.)

#64 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 01:01 PM

Since the infamous 32 were not choreographed by Petipa, but added to suit the virtuosity (and maybe the dramatic ideas) of a particular ballerina, we are not dealing with something written in stone.

Now that we're back to the SL mood, ( :yahoo: ) and the 32 fouettes, i hope to find out how it is possible that the first time that the steps were done in this ballet was by Legnani in the february 1894 Ivanov staging ...of the likeside act!! :dunno:

Then, of course, there's the question of the music now used itself, which wasn't intended for the Odile/Siegfried pas de deux. For one thing, as Alastair Macaulay has pointed out, the music isn't especially suited to the 32 whirls. So - do we ask for the music Tchaikovsky actually wrote to be restored (isn't it the music now used for Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux?), which would more or less put an end to 32 anything, or accept that with all the various substitutions in score and choreography, the rather unmusical fouettes can give way to other possibilities?

I've seen clips of Fonteyn and Nureyev doing the BSPP using the Adagio from the original music (TPDD) and the Coda from the "Pas de Six", and she does 27 fouettes followed Nureyev doing pirouettes a la second.

#65 popularlibrary

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 02:23 PM

[I've seen clips of Fonteyn and Nureyev doing the BSPP using the Adagio from the original music (TPDD) and the Coda from the "Pas de Six", and she does 27 fouettes followed Nureyev doing pirouettes a la second.


Good God! Talk about torturing a score! They might as well have stuck to the original substitution. (And if I remember the Kavanagh's Nureyev bio correctly - I'm too lazy to go check - Margot was not at all happy about it.)

#66 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 02:49 PM

[I've seen clips of Fonteyn and Nureyev doing the BSPP using the Adagio from the original music (TPDD) and the Coda from the "Pas de Six", and she does 27 fouettes followed Nureyev doing pirouettes a la second.


Good God! Talk about torturing a score! They might as well have stuck to the original substitution. (And if I remember the Kavanagh's Nureyev bio correctly - I'm too lazy to go check - Margot was not at all happy about it.)

Yep...the Adagio was from the "Tchaikowsky Pas de Deux", Sigfried's variation from the "Pas de Deux for two Merry Makers",Odile's solo is one of the variations from the "Pas de Six", and the Coda from the "Pas de Six" too...so yes, talk about torturing a score...! :yahoo:

#67 Hans

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 06:56 PM

For one thing, as Alastair Macaulay has pointed out, the music isn't especially suited to the 32 whirls.

I think it works very well.

As for dancers being lazy and unimaginative; most of the time ballet dancers are not allowed to choose which steps they will do.

#68 popularlibrary

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 12:06 PM

From Macaulay's 7/15/07 Times article on ABT and the Black Swan coda :
"What's both bizarre and fascinating is that the music's rhythmic emphasis changes entirely after her first 16 turns. Yet despite the suddenly jarring disparity between what we see and hear, she just goes on turning."

He's right - the music does change, yet the dancer keeps doing the same thing with the same rhythm. Audiences may or may not find this bothersome, but there is a definite and unmusical disparity.

As for dancers not being allowed to choose what they will do in a big classical role, I think stars often have options they would not have in dancing, say, Balanchine or Kylian. Solos and codas in the grand display pieces tend to vary from dancer to dancer, and this is often the choice of the dancer involved rather than the will of the company. Baryshnikov does not do the same solo for Albrecht in the second act of Giselle as Nureyev, neither of them did what Bruhn did, and today Legris is not dancing the same steps as Malakhov. Makarova's Odette/Odile differed considerably from Fonteyn's - and so forth. The fouettes remain because they're expected and a challenge rather than because they ideally belong there.

#69 dirac

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 01:43 PM

Thank you, popularlibrary, for reviving this remarkably vigorous thread and bringing the passage from Macaulay to our attention.

I think the fouettes stay because they are generally liked (and expected, as already noted). Even audience members who know little else about ballet know about those turns, look for them, and appraise them -- for once, everyone can feel a little like an expert, a nice inclusive feeling and a Good Thing in my view. I agree with those who've said they like them when they are well done and don't care for them when they're not. I see yours and Macaulay's point about the music, but I think it works just fine even if it's not ideal or what was intended.

#70 Hans

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 02:00 PM

Actually, the dancer's rhythm should change along with the music.

The choices dancers have regarding choreography often depends on the company. At, for example, the Maryinsky, even principal dancers are usually told what to do. Western companies are less strict.

#71 carbro

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 07:34 PM

From Macaulay's 7/15/07 Times article on ABT and the Black Swan coda :
"What's both bizarre and fascinating is that the music's rhythmic emphasis changes entirely after her first 16 turns. Yet despite the suddenly jarring disparity between what we see and hear, she just goes on turning."

He's right - the music does change, yet the dancer keeps doing the same thing with the same rhythm. Audiences may or may not find this bothersome, but there is a definite and unmusical disparity.


Actually, the dancer's rhythm should change along with the music.

And often does. After count 16, most Odiles who do multis (single-single-double, etc.) revert to straight singles.

#72 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 08:37 PM

From Macaulay's 7/15/07 Times article on ABT and the Black Swan coda :
"What's both bizarre and fascinating is that the music's rhythmic emphasis changes entirely after her first 16 turns. Yet despite the suddenly jarring disparity between what we see and hear, she just goes on turning."

He's right - the music does change, yet the dancer keeps doing the same thing with the same rhythm. Audiences may or may not find this bothersome, but there is a definite and unmusical disparity.


Actually, the dancer's rhythm should change along with the music.

And often does. After count 16, most Odiles who do multis (single-single-double, etc.) revert to straight singles.

Give me an old fashioned ballerina that can deliver good 32 singles with a perfect 90 degrees a la second, and i'll be happy. If well done, they go perfectly with the 4/4 tempo


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