Hand positions in Raymonda Variations
Posted 19 February 2007 - 06:32 AM
It just happens that, on the same program, the same gesture was repeated once or twice, I think by the woman from His Past. However, the left hand was on top in that one.
I know that in very hierarchical societies in the past, this was a gesture assosciated with supplication (as from an inferior to a lord) Perhaps it expressed willingness to accept the lord's power to put chains around the wrists. However, the supplicant was kneeling in those situations, and the fingers were closed into a fist, palm down..
I suppose that supplication -- or subordinance -- might be a subtext in Lilac Garden. But the lead ballerina in Raymonda Variations is smilling and is very much on top of her game. (I don't recall the context in the full-length Grigorovich after Petipa version.)
Can anyone help with an explanation of the history and meaning of this gesture? Or what it'ss called? Also, where else one might find it?
Posted 19 February 2007 - 08:05 AM
when he did something specifically it was because he wanted it THAT way for some reason.
to the best of my knowledge there is no demonstration/explication about this hand/arm position in crossed wrists with hands open/palms down on the one video demonstration document i know, MIME MATTERS from the royal ballet - but then again i haven't watched this in a while.
Posted 19 February 2007 - 08:42 AM
Posted 19 February 2007 - 08:59 AM
Whenever I see this move, I always think "the princess-debutante shows off her diamonds" as if she is admiring a precious bracelet-and-ring set given to her by a male admirer. Perhaps a clue can be found in the DVD/video 'Balanchine Essays' in which Merrill Ashley explains that Balanchine asked the girls to imagine that they are "reaching for diamonds" whever he wanted to see sparkling faces?
Posted 19 February 2007 - 12:04 PM
the 'reach' for diamonds (or money or ice cream!) is a anecdote suki schorer tells about balanchine's teaching, when he was seeking real reach for allongee-accent in first arabesque and other enlivened, lengthened positions that he schooled.
Posted 19 February 2007 - 12:21 PM
Based on reminiscences by dancers like Schorer, Ashley, and (in my experience) Villella, it's clear Balanchine liked to use imagery (diamonds, helicopters, etc.) as a heuristic device to help dancers enter into the choreography. In other words: it's post facto assistance, not necessarily something that he had in mind when actually doing the choreography. Is there something perhaps in 19th century choreography that might have come to Balanchine's mind when making the ballet? Or how about the music (Glazounov for RV; Glinka for VF): could there be something in Russian tradition, perhaps from Russian folk dancing, that is being alluded to?
P.S.: the crossed wrists are used many times in Raymonda Variations, not only in the lunges. I'm not even sure the ballerina looks at them, but they are clearly her "signature" and the gesture that gives her individuality and personality. No other woman in the ballet has this movement.
P.P.S: the position like a variation on what I've seen described as "romantic-style arabesque a deux bras," although the arms are closer together (wrists almost but not quite touching) and the eyes are gazing beyond them.
Posted 19 February 2007 - 12:56 PM
Not to mention Serenade and Mozartiana (1981), just two that spring instantly to mind.
yes, the position of the arms in the caught lunges of RAYMONDA V can also be seen in VALSE FANATASIE - both versions ('53 & '67) if mem. serves.
Given B'chine's habit of tailoring ballets to both flatter and challenge his dancers, perhaps this was a position that accentuated Patricia Wilde's charm?
Is there something perhaps in 19th century choreography that might have come to Balanchine's mind when making the ballet?
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?
Also -->here.. Same photo, I (too lazy to reach for RiR) presume.
Thanks for your responses! Sure enough, on p. 145 of Repertory in Review there's a photo from Valse Fantaisie: Diana Adams, Patricia Wilde, and Tanaquil LeClercq all with the same arm position (though caught on camera at different stages of movement). In this they ARE looking at their hands. LeClerq, especially, might be admiring a ring from Mr. B.
Posted 19 February 2007 - 07:34 PM
Posted 20 February 2007 - 12:10 AM
Neither of these are preceded by the reaching hands, though.
It would seem to be a versatile gesture.
Posted 20 February 2007 - 02:10 AM
Posted 20 February 2007 - 06:59 AM
yesterday, watching a clip of WRENS (from UNION JACK) there was m.calegari in farrell's role doing a kind of teasing, diving, move that ends in a smiling penchee arabesque on flat foot and, as many will likely be seeing in their own memories, she leads the move w/her hands crosssed at the wrists.
the examples, as these various posts show, could go on'n'on.
Posted 20 February 2007 - 08:30 PM
Posted 21 February 2007 - 04:17 AM
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