Jump to content


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


  • Please log in to reply
106 replies to this topic

#76 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,248 posts

Posted 24 May 2014 - 02:51 PM

My question is why are the fouettes sacred when so much else of the ballet is not?



#77 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,577 posts

Posted 25 May 2014 - 12:20 PM

My question is why are the fouettes sacred when so much else of the ballet is not?

 

A good question, but I'd like to pose another -- is there anything else in Swan Lake in the actual vocabulary that is a "requirement," aside from the fouettes?

 

Going back a couple of messages to your previous post

 

 

I think the only reason we are having this discussion is that women kept to the text long enough so that we have a semblance of what it was, even with distorted tempi to allow them to "get the notes in," and that the virtuoso elements retained and that have become iconic intersect nicely as body types and training have changed over the years.

 

I think you've put your finger on something essential here.  Are we still the most attached to the elements that are still a challenge to perform (O/O fouettes in the Black Swan pdd, Aurora's balances in the Rose Adagio, the brise vole sequence in the Bluebird pdd, Giselle's second act allegro ...) while letting material that used to be a challenge but is now more commonly done slide by?



#78 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,260 posts

Posted 25 May 2014 - 12:47 PM

I think the answer is easy.  The 32 fouettes have been talked about extensively ever since their insertion, and like it or not, people still expect them.  They are still sought after because they show up in just a couple of ballets.   It is also widely known that they are sometimes suppressed or poorly done out of inability-(Kirkland herself confess to some of this in her memoirs).  Audiences are still curious to see if their favorite ballerinas are still up to the task.   We can be condescending when age plays a part in diminishing technique-(just as Helene notes with her opera examples)-but when the dancer is young and apparently fierceless, then we-(I)- don't like to see a travesty of a sequence of steps, of even worse, its suppression, again, due to inability.  Then, of course, even if the fouettes are a disaster the rest of the ballet can be completely and sublimely interpreted.

Not my cup of tea though...



#79 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,248 posts

Posted 25 May 2014 - 01:19 PM

In Swan Lake, a lot of the Act II Pas de Deux is still considered sacred:  the developpes, promenades in attitude penche, the swoons backwards, the beats into developpe pirouettes, where Odette leans back on Siegfried and wraps his arms around her.

 

There's a difference between what we recognize easily as difficult and what is difficult.  As Doug Fullington and Peter Boal have said, bodies are different now and trained for different things.  Most of the women in the most recent Petipa program were among the shortest in the company.  The fast floor work doesn't fit taller leaner bodies very easily, and much of it has been tossed in favor of bigger movement, often to slower tempi.  Those lost things weren't common in style, tempi, and construction: they just weren't big tricks.

 

One of the Royal Ballet dancers in "Striking a Balance" talked about how everyone taking one of the RAD exams at the time of the interview had to do 32 fouettes to each side.  This showed that they could master a difficult set of sustained turns, but not much about the quality of either their Odette or Odile, as countless competition videos have shown.  It certainly doesn't show a mastery of many of the things that were lost due to the trade-offs.



#80 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,577 posts

Posted 25 May 2014 - 01:54 PM

Points taken, both of you.  I think Helene's comment

 

 

This showed that they could master a difficult set of sustained turns, but not much about the quality of either their Odette or Odile,

 

helps me articulate what I'm trying to get to -- the fouettes are indeed a technical challenge, and more dancers than just Kirkland have admitted that they were less that stellar turners.  When they are performed by a dancer that can incorporate the thrill of mastery into her performance of the character, they can really knock us flat, but more often than I care to think about today, they are just a test, and whatever dramatic arc that was being created in the act grinds to a halt while everyone counts under their breath. 



#81 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 838 posts

Posted 25 May 2014 - 10:40 PM

I don't really mind them though they don't add a whole lot. Weren't the 32 fouettes originally done by the Italian ballerina Pierina Legnani in Cinderella to show off her skills and the skills of the Cecchetti school (which lacked some of the grace and dignity of the Russian school according to Nikolai Legat).

 

So if they were put into Swan Lake by Petipa as a divertissement for Legnani, could they not be treated somewhat like cadenzas in concerti that have become standard but could be substituted by something else? As Helene says, lots of other things have been dropped from Petipa – and from Balanchine.



#82 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,577 posts

Posted 25 May 2014 - 10:53 PM

So if they were put into Swan Lake by Petipa as a divertissement for Legnani, could they not be treated somewhat like cadenzas in concerti that have become standard but could be substituted by something else? As Helene says, lots of other things have been dropped from Petipa – and from Balanchine.

 

An interesting question -- I think they probably could have become 'one option of many' if that had started earlier, but they've become a cornerstone of the work now -- it would be a tough transition for someone to make.
 



#83 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,261 posts

Posted 26 May 2014 - 05:48 AM

A little bit off topic, but I wanted to go on record as saying I saw Kirkland do brilliant (super fast, clean, controlled, FUN) fouettes in Baryshnikov's Don Quixote: roughly first half in place and second half, just as music changed, controlled traveling forward in a steady straight/centered line, and I also saw her do consistently brilliant turning of other kinds in his Nutcracker in performance after performance. Maybe others who saw her more may feel she wasn't always a brilliant turner--at any rate, we know she was always a perfectionist and very self-critical--but I when I think of brilliant fouettes her Don Q performance is on my list.  (Alas, I did not see her one Swan Lake which came after a long period of not dancing or dancing, as Croce wrote, like a shadow of herself, due to her problems with weight loss. I would not be surprised if she was not in her best bravura shape at that time, though I have read the performance had many beauties.)

 

I agree with Helene that much of the Act II pas de deux is pretty sacred text for the ballerina in Swan Lake. I would be more appalled by a traditional Swan Lake that messed with some of that choreography (eg the swoon) than with the fouettes. But sure, I prefer the fouettes to be there and...uh...well done.



#84 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,577 posts

Posted 26 May 2014 - 02:05 PM

But sure, I prefer the fouettes to be there and...uh...well done.

 

As opposed to medium rare?  (sorry, couldn't resist)



#85 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,260 posts

Posted 26 May 2014 - 04:16 PM

My question is why are the fouettes sacred when so much else of the ballet is not?

 

But then...that is IF there's a ballet being performed.  The Black Swan PDD and DQ PDD are strong staples of mixed bills.  No way to bail out on those scenarios.  It is just a black and white matter of being able to perform the thing or not.



#86 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,261 posts

Posted 26 May 2014 - 11:39 PM

 

But sure, I prefer the fouettes to be there and...uh...well done.

 

As opposed to medium rare?  (sorry, couldn't resist)

 

 

laugh.png -- Undercooked is what we often get--slow and cautious. Or oversauced--doubles and triples, but not fully controlled.

 

(Kirkland in Don Q did fast and brilliant singles, fully controlled. At least that's how I remember it. I actually think fast,powerful singles can be the most exciting. If I were Siegfried that's what would make me dizzy.)

 

Anyway, as a fan, do I want to see the Fouettes? Heck yeah...and I think their now iconic value and the expectations they arouse are not entirely trivial aesthetic matters even if they are partly or even mostly imposed on the ballet due to the history of its reception and contingent factors such as Legnani's particular skill. But if I had a chance to see an otherwise great Odette/Odile who left them out? I would still run, not walk, to the theater -- and be grateful.  

 

I agree with Cubanmiamiboy that at a gala they should be there or one should pick another pas de deux.



#87 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,577 posts

Posted 27 May 2014 - 07:45 AM

Mulling this over, I realize that I think of the pas de deux quite differently when they're presented in excerpt form.  They are already detached from the dramatic continuity of the full work -- they're being used almost exclusively as a technical showcase, so you want to see something extraordinary.



#88 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 838 posts

Posted 06 June 2014 - 10:55 PM

I came across this today, what could be Paul Valery's opinion on the matter. From Poems in the Rough, section one of Diamonds:

 

 

A ballerina: a cascade of pirouettes, of a marvelous precision, brilliant as the facets of a diamond...

 

Thirty-two fouettes! (Karsavina)

 

A very fine image.

 



#89 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 838 posts

Posted 06 June 2014 - 10:57 PM

[double post]



#90 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,429 posts

Posted 07 June 2014 - 01:07 AM

My question is why are the fouettes sacred when so much else of the ballet is not?

 

My question is why are the fouettes sacred when so much else of the ballet is not?

The simple answer is the historical context.

 

The 32 fouettes are not merely a test of technical skill and strength, they have become central to the deceitful character of Odile exhibiting the the dominating magical strength of her personality confirming in the process, her underlying personification of her nature as being evil.

 

Odile's impersonation of Odette creates a taunting and seductive version of Odile to which Siegfried submits beguiled by the magical impact of the thrillingly sexual fouettes.

 

The Prince's mother is delighted that Siegfried is taken with Odile. He announces that he will marry her and kisses Odile's hand. The Prince's mother and von Rothbart join their hands. The scene darkens, an owl cries out and von Rothbart is revealed as a demon. Odette appears helplessly at a window as the white swan, while Odile laughs loudly. Siegfried is horrified, and flings away the hand of his newly betrothed.

 

Clutching his breast, he rushes out of the castle.

 

Academic classical ballet drama at its best.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):