Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

The Dying Swan: As De Valois remembered it


  • Please log in to reply
22 replies to this topic

#1 Mashinka

Mashinka

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,200 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 06:55 AM

In a centre-spread article in today€™s Independent Extra, there is a remarkable assertion that Ninette De Valois was able to notate the original version of Fokine's Dying Swan, before Anna Pavlova altered it over a period of time. It seems she taught it to Marguerite Porter who is now passing it on to Marianela Nunez.

Balletic archaeology?


http://enjoyment.ind...icle2574444.ece


[size=1]Moderator's note: When I tried the above link today, it didn't work. If if doesn't work for you, try this: [/size]
http://arts.independ...icle2574444.ece

Edited by carbro, 27 May 2007 - 09:21 AM.


#2 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 07:36 AM

Thank you so much, Mashinka. A fascinating article, which makes me wish I could see this danced -- but only by a dancer of "purity of style," as the article says of Nunez.

So what is it that makes this original version, created 100 years ago, so special? Porter explains: "The creature is drowning, swept along by currents and tides, pulled, pushed, carried against its will, doing it best to stay above the water but dragged down towards it. So much of it is in the mind. Madam said there were thought processes behind every single movement. The feet do very little but these desperate bourres - though it is agonising to stay on pointe throughout. There is no flapping about, or collapsing. It is very pure, very unsentimental..." And, she might have added, extraordinarily moving.

I like the advice, "wait until the right dancer comes along." Though possibly waiting all that time was taking it a llittle too far.

#3 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 09:10 AM

This is a wonderful story. Imagine that the original piece as Fokine envisioned it is preserved.

I'm curious what audiences will make of the performance. After all so many ballerinas have modified the piece over the years.
We could have the ironic situation where the original is disappointing to today's ballet goer.

I am really looking forward to hearing about Nunez's performance

#4 Dale

Dale

    Emeralds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,077 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 09:28 AM

Isabel Fokine once put on an "authentic" version of The Dying Swan. The movement of the swan was much more ragged than we are used to seeing at the galas. I saw it on that Fokine doc. - both versions were shown and it was quite interesting to compare.

#5 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,918 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:02 AM

Isabel Fokine once put on an "authentic" version of The Dying Swan. The movement of the swan was much more ragged than we are used to seeing at the galas. I saw it on that Fokine doc. - both versions were shown and it was quite interesting to compare.


I remember that documentary, too. Isabel Fokine's version was indeed very different - fascinating to watch.

( I dont mean to take a morbid view, but what if something had happened to Porter while she was waiting for Ms. Right? This version would have been lost altogether. I'm sure Porter will be hale and hearty for years to come, but I'm glad she didn't hold off too long.)

#6 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,460 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:14 AM

I remember Marguerite Porter's Odette/Odile from a Royal Ballet tour in the early 80's, which I loved for its simplicity and directness and its notable lack of flapping, but for which she got one or two lukewarm lines in the New York Times review.

It's no wonder that de Valois chose her for this Dying Swan.

#7 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,458 posts

Posted 23 May 2007 - 11:55 AM

In a centre-spread article in today’s Independent Extra, there is a remarkable assertion that Ninette De Valois was able to notate the original version of Fokine's Dying Swan, before Anna Pavlova altered it over a period of time. It seems she taught it to Marguerite Porter who is now passing it on to Marianela Nunez.

Balletic archaeology?



Having read this article at my breakfast table, I absentmindedly reached out for a large pinch of salt.
I will return to this article and its statements shortly.
Leonid

#8 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 24 May 2007 - 03:18 AM

If there is any question of strictly academic step content, Fokine himself wrote out the choreography, term by term, with additional photographs for illustration modeled by wife Vera. I believe the copyright date was 1925.

#9 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,459 posts

Posted 24 May 2007 - 04:41 AM

indeed as mel notes above the following is in the NYPL dance coll.:

Fokine, Michel, 1880-1942.
"The dying swan," music by C. Saint-Sans; detailed description of the dance by Michel Fokine; thirty-six photographs from poses by Vera Fokina.
New York, J. Fischer & Brother [c1925]
14, [1] p. illus. (incl. port.), diagrs. 30 cm.
Fischer edition, no. 5526
At head of title: Choreographic compositions by Michel Fokine.
The music is transcribed for piano solo by Alexander Pero.
Drexel Musical Fund.

incidentally i've located this devalois card i have which one might assume shows her in the swan solo in question here.

Attached Files



#10 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,458 posts

Posted 27 May 2007 - 02:15 AM

[quote name='Mashinka' date='May 23 2007, 09:55 AM' post='204447']
In a centre-spread article in todays Independent Extra, there is a remarkable assertion that Ninette De Valois was able to notate the original version of Fokine's Dying Swan, before Anna Pavlova altered it over a period of time. It seems she taught it to Marguerite Porter who is now passing it on to Marianela Nunez.
Balletic archaeology?

Dear Mashinka,
Remarkable indeed!


I do know that Dame Ninette never saw Pavlova's first performance of "The Swan" in St.Petersburg in 1907 or even perhaps, her first performance at the Palace Theatre 1911.

As to original, much choreography gets changed by both choreographer and performers subsequent to first performances. "The Swan" choreography was a hurried affair to which Pavlova undoubtedly contributed, as is often the way.

When Fokine published a book on "The Swan" in 1925 with many photographic illustrations of his wife (a dancer of a different physicality. technique and style) in the role as an act of copyrighting it is highly probable that it differs in a number of ways to the Fokine/Pavlova "original".

There are at least three filmed versions of Pavlova dancing "The Swan" and I have yet to hear comments on her changing or simplifying the choreography as she got older. I know Sir Frederick Ashton(who adored Pavlova and held her in his mind when creating ballets) has alluded to a diminution of Pavlova's technique at her last performances at Golders Green, her last performed work being the Grand Pas Classique from "Paquita". At this time Pavlova was in great pain from a bone spur on her knee and had sought consultation with a leading surgeon who lived two doors from her Ivy House home. I believe Dame Ninette was present at those performances and may have formed a general opinion of Pavlovas technique as mentioned in the article and she was on occasion anti Russian dancers.

The reference in The Independent article to the Victoria Palace before 1914 is an obvious error (and should read Palace Theatre) further compounded at the end of the article with the mention of the statue on the Victoria Palace. Ms Gaisford should have done undertaken some research to avoid this and then, she would have also avoided the awkward mention of Tennyson instead of Balmont as the poetic inspiration.

I cannot remember having heard of Dame Ninette saying she played piano for Pavlova to either me or others and she would have been a very young teenager at the time.

Ninette de Valois never learnt "The Swan" from either Fokine or Pavlova. If she plagiarised this, I am wondering if this is the version she "danced up and down the piers of England." In any case I am sorry to say that the version to be performed will be spurious if it doesnt closely match the films made over 90 years ago or the published Fokine version.

Isabel Fokine staged an "authentic" version of "The Swan" some years ago which was not by all accounts the Fokine/Pavlova version as genrally known.

As to what makes the century old version so important is it is an outstanding dance miniature realised by Fokine and Pavlova based on Saint-Saens music and Balmont's poem each contributor/inspirer a significant historic name.

Ps
The Lazzarini's book on Pavlova gives the following information that Fokine was inspired by the poem “The Swan” written in 1895 by Konstantin Dmitrievich Balmont(1867-1942). On charity concert programmes in Russia, there often appeared the famous actor Nikolai Nikolaevich Hodotov(1878-1932) performing a melodeclamation with the actor reciting to a piano accompaniment. Pavlova and Fokine had appeared in such concerts when Balmonts “The Swan” had been given. A parallel can be drawn between the vocal/musical expression and the dance/musical expression.

#11 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,458 posts

Posted 27 May 2007 - 02:19 AM

indeed as mel notes above the following is in the NYPL dance coll.:

Fokine, Michel, 1880-1942.
"The dying swan," music by C. Saint-Sans; detailed description of the dance by Michel Fokine; thirty-six photographs from poses by Vera Fokina.
New York, J. Fischer & Brother [c1925]
14, [1] p. illus. (incl. port.), diagrs. 30 cm.
Fischer edition, no. 5526
At head of title: Choreographic compositions by Michel Fokine.
The music is transcribed for piano solo by Alexander Pero.
Drexel Musical Fund.

incidentally i've located this devalois card i have which one might assume shows her in the swan solo in question here.


Thanks for the photograph which depicts a 'child' dancer, De Valois in this instance, one of countless
children who studied ballet and imitated Anna Pavlova.

#12 rg

rg

    Emeralds Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,459 posts

Posted 27 May 2007 - 05:57 AM

if you haven't already done so, Leonid, have you considered sending your thorough message above, as a letter to the editor, to the paper that published the article in question?

#13 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,792 posts

Posted 27 May 2007 - 06:48 AM

was it not at one point the fashion for child 'toe dancers' to be billed as a 'child pavlova' or something to that effect?

#14 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 27 May 2007 - 07:30 AM

was it not at one point the fashion for child 'toe dancers' to be billed as a 'child pavlova' or something to that effect?

The young Alicia Markova, for example?

Alicia danced in pupils' displays - her first stage appearance was on February 21 1919, in a solo eastern dance, which she had arranged herself; but she always dated her first professional engagement as being in Dick Whittington at the Kennington Theatre the following year. Lily Marks became Little Alicia, and was billed by the enthusiastic management as "the Child Pavlova", a sobriquet which was to lead to trouble later.

Convinced, by now, that their daughter should have the best training, her parents decided to take professional advice. Her mother accordingly took her to see Princess Serafina Astafieva, a former member of the Imperial Russian and Diaghilev ballet companies, who had a studio in Chelsea. Innocently, she handed in her daughter's card. Astafieva read the "Child Pavlova" inscription and flew into a rage, almost driving them away.


http://arts.guardian...1365455,00.html

The word "Pavlova" was a synonym for "ballerina" in the 20's and for quite a while after that. I remember as a child hearing the phrase "she's a budding [or equivalent] Pavlova" to describe a variety of exceptionally graceful young females, just as "he's a Nureyev" became a not uncommon phrase for any energetic kid dancer, trained or not, in the 60s.

#15 leonid17

leonid17

    Platinum Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,458 posts

Posted 27 May 2007 - 08:43 AM

if you haven't already done so, Leonid, have you considered sending your thorough message above, as a letter to the editor, to the paper that published the article in question?


Thank you.

I had thought of doing this, but one can only rock so many boats in one's life.

On second thoughts, I will.


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):