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on pointe in Sonnambula?Misremembering or not at NCYB?


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#1 ajsnyc

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 06:28 AM

A friend of a friend maintains that early on Sonnambula ended with the ballerina walking off with the man in her arms on pointe. Is this possible?

#2 Farrell Fan

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 10:13 AM

A friend of a friend maintains that early on Sonambula ended with the ballerina walking off with the man in her arms on pointe. Is this possible?

This is something that seems impossible, like a curve ball thrown by a major league pitcher. But it did used to happen. Not that the sleeepwalker ever went for a stroll, but she used to manage to carry the poet for three or four steps before disappearing on the way up to her room. For corroboration, there is the incontovertible "Repertory in Review," which says, "she carries his body, alone and unaided, back to the hidden retreat from which she has come." This appears to be one of those scenes, as in Scotch Symphony and Dances at a Gathering, for instances, which have been simplified to make them less taxing and/or dangerous.

#3 rg

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 11:23 AM

exaggeration appears to have piled on exaggeration regarding the sleepwalker's exit with the body of the lifeless poet in her arms. i think it peaked with a 'recollection' claiming that alexandrova danilova 'used to walk, backwards, up some stairs, on pointe carrying the "dead" poet.'
while there have been lengthier and less lengthy a spaces covered by the various ballerinas over the years who danced the sleepwalker, some traveling a few paces some a few more backward into the tower's doorway, i cannot imagine any of them pacing backward on any position other than flat footed, even demi-pointe would seem impossible.

i'm attaching a BALLET RUSSE DE MONTE CARLO publicity photo of A.Danilova's sleepwalker and F. Franklin's poet - sometime after the premiere of this ballet, b/c it's not Magallanes, but while it was still called NIGHT SHADOW.

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#4 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 08:28 PM

A friend of a friend maintains that early on Sonambula ended with the ballerina walking off with the man in her arms on pointe. Is this possible?

This is something that seems impossible, like a curve ball thrown by a major league pitcher. But it did used to happen. Not that the sleeepwalker ever went for a stroll, but she used to manage to carry the poet for three or four steps before disappearing on the way up to her room. For corroboration, there is the incontovertible "Repertory in Review," which says, "she carries his body, alone and unaided, back to the hidden retreat from which she has come." This appears to be one of those scenes, as in Scotch Symphony and Dances at a Gathering, for instances, which have been simplified to make them less taxing and/or dangerous.

Well, here goes, and I hope it won't be knocked down as "Hearsay." When Patty McBride retired, at a party at the end of the season, several friends and I asked her that specific question, "are you on pointe when you back out of the room?" because ALL of us remembered it that way......

And the answer was "No." She also said that many people THINK that that is what they see, but it has never been the case.

#5 rg

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:07 AM

it's just possible that the sleepwalker's memorable entrance and enounter with the poet- almost all of which is on pointe, memorably - acts to prompt those recalling the ballet overall into superimposing the pointe positions on the dramatic exit. but as noted, it's not plausible, once one really thinks about it.

#6 atm711

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 04:48 AM

I saw Danilova and Franklin many times in Night Shadow, and I can assure you I never saw her carry him while on pointe :sweatingbullets: She was very close to the exit when he was placed in her arms; she disappeared into the wings and what I could see from my usual seat (in the 2nd balcony of the City Center) was a candle light rising up a staircase through the small windows of the set.....


This is in the same category as Fonteyn's first SB in NYC...some claim (among them Robert Helpmann!) that during the Rose Adagio she never took the hand of the fourth prince...I did not see this---and the group of ballet Standees I was with would never have missed it......

#7 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 05:28 AM

it's just possible that the sleepwalker's memorable entrance and enounter with the poet- almost all of which is on pointe, memorably - acts to prompt those recalling the ballet overall into superimposing the pointe positions on the dramatic exit. but as noted, it's not plausible, once one really thinks about it.

That's it exactly........memory can play strange tricks!

#8 Farrell Fan

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 05:30 AM

I saw Danilova and Franklin many times in Night Shadow, and I can assure you I never saw her carry him while on pointe :sweatingbullets: She was very close to the exit when he was placed in her arms; she disappeared into the wings and what I could see from my usual seat (in the 2nd balcony of the City Center) was a candle light rising up a staircase through the small windows of the set.....


This is in the same category as Fonteyn's first SB in NYC...some claim (among them Robert Helpmann!) that during the Rose Adagio she never took the hand of the fourth prince...I did not see this---and the group of ballet Standees I was with would never have missed it......

I now accept rg's and atm711's accounts as definitive and think I must have been suffering from delusions. So I will change the subject to the matter of the candle light. Though the set is more ornate now than in Night Shadow days, one still follows the light from room to room, as atm711 says, until the curtain falls. But some years ago, before the more ornate set, the light ended up in the sky, promising an eternity of bliss for the sleepwalker and poet, rather than an episode of necrophilia. I wish they'd restore that ending.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 06:25 AM

I never saw a Sleepwalker carry the Poet on pointe, although I've read the accounts (and trust atm and rg's rebuttal!) but I have seen the Sleepwalker carry the Poet around the stage -- none of this stand at the back two inches from the tower and stagger backwards. The longer walk was the way it was staged in Copenhagen, and I saw a revivall in 1992 that kept this. Also, press reports of that production, at home and on tour, make a big deal of it. The Sleepwalker comes out, and when she gets to the body of the Poet, she senses him, and bends backwards (as she does n the ABT and NYCB productions I've seen) BUT instead of stepping over him, she stands still, and it's clear she won't take a step without him. Then the divert dancers come, pick him up and place her in his arms. She takes a few steps forward, then takes a stage right U-turn (towards the dancers and guests, then to the back of the stasge, then across the back and into the tower. Margrethe Schanne was the first Sleepwalker in Copenhagen, and she's tiny -- probably about 5 feet, 5'1" tops, and bird-boned, and she was very proud of this. (Kronstam was the poet, 6'1.)

I do have friends who claim they saw Danilova continue to carry the Poet across the bridge -- but they always say it with a smile.

#10 rg

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 07:14 AM

the memory is, as we all know, a funny thing: i recall one longtime nycb follower noting once or twice to charles france and me about g.kirkland's SWAN LAKE by balanchine and we'd have to say: but she never danced it, and he'd say: well i can SEE her dancing it!
indeed w/the esteban francÚs decor - i never saw the tanning - the light into the sky was clearly important - i recall arlene croce's dismay (to put it mildly) that when the vaes set came to nycb in the post-balanchine era, not only was there no light in the sky but before it was re-done the set showed no sky above the architecture. (the re-do shows the starlit sky above the clearstory, but still the light fails to leave the building and ascend to the sky, which it would seem it SHOULD do.)
in any case i was no great fan of the francÚs's setting but it did allow easily for the candle light to float into eternity.
the effect is still possible w/ the new nycb set all that has to be done is to arranage and direct the light from the 'bridge' to the sky.
when this same vaes prod. was first given another crucial detail was missing, that is, to have the entertainers return for the ending in a state of semi-undress - i.e. the women w/ their hair down and the men w/ out masks or full make-up, etc. - but that did get restored sooner than later - prob only b/c someone like croce pointed out the lapse.

#11 ajsnyc

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Posted 19 May 2007 - 05:25 PM

I expect to return to see this ballet on Friday the 25th. I've always thought that the orchestra played too loud throughout and wondered if the new music director at nycb, who impressed me very much conducting the opening R & J, might order a more sensitive rendering. Did that ever strike anyone else? It's lovely music. Once I think of it the jolly promenade music will not leave my head [the FIRST lively notes one gets after maybe an hour in the first act of Puritani from which it comes]. Then too...Rieti put in just the right 'wrong' notes making it so delightful.

Thank you all for your interesting replies. I am new here.


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