aurora

Odile Variation Hops on Pointe

28 posts in this topic

Hey all,

I tried to find an answer in here, but maybe I'm just missing it.

I remember someone mentioning in a forum (on here? Im not sure!) that the hopping backwards arabesques in the coda of the black swan pdd are meant to be on pointe. I had never seen it done that way, but sure enough I did while looking on youtube tonight--first in the born to be wild ABT boys dvd--where Carreno does the PDD with his cousin from cuba (i'm sorry, I will mangle her name so I'm omitting it), and then i found it again (after some looking) in a video of Lorna Feijoo.

Is this a cuban thing? most of the russian videos ive found leave the hops out altogether in favor of a series of turns, and at ABT (not accurate, I know), they are done on flat rising up to point every few hops (maybe every 5th).

does anyone know the source of the hops on pointe in this variation and why only cuban dancers seem to do it?

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Hey all,I tried to find an answer in here, but maybe I'm just missing it.I remember someone mentioning in a forum (on here? Im not sure!) that the hopping backwards arabesques in the coda of the black swan pdd are meant to be on pointe. I had never seen it done that way. Thanks!

Aurora a little while ago i posted the same question here, but in the opposite direction. My only knowledge of the segment contains the series os sautees sur le pointe en arabesque penchee, and when i came to US i found the other versions....

Does anyone know the source of the hops on pointe in this variation?

This is the link to the thread i started on that matters...i hope it helps you find the answer to your question.

http://ballettalk.in...showtopic=25032

Is this a cuban thing?

I think it is...at least i haven't seen it in any complete production of any big company. For some unknown reason, cuban balletomanes (me included), call the step "vaquita", ( "little cow", God knows why biggrin.gif ), and there are always a big expectaction among the Havana public for the Black Swan , in the same level of the 32 fouetees. Aren't they lovely...?

and why only cuban dancers seem to do it?

I was told once that it was a "cuban choreographic irreverence"

Share this post


Link to post
Hi, Aurora.. :) .a little while ago i posted the same question here, but in the opposite direction. My whole life i just had seen the series os sautees sur le pointe en arabesque penchee at the BS coda, and when i came to US i found the other versions....

I think it is [a cuban thing]...at least i haven't seen it in any complete production of any big company. For some unknown reason, cuban balletomanes (me included), call the step "vaquita", ( "little cow", God knows why ), and there are always a big expectaction among the Havana public for the Black Swan , in the same level of the 32 fouetees. Aren't they lovely...?

This is the link to the thread i started on that matters...i hope it helps you.

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=25032

:tiphat:

thanks! i looked at that thread now. :rofl:

it is still a bit confusing though, especially as the version ABT does, which i love, is not the only other one out there that subs for it.

from what i can tell there are basically three versions.

The cuban where i believe she comes out right after his short coda after her turns and goes straight into those hops back on pointe (the name you provided is hillarious, unfortunate! but funny).

the ABT (western?) version where she enters from stage left with a series of low flashy arabesques with a twisting back (god my ballet terminology is GONE) and then after a triumphant arabesque right in siegfried's face does the hops back in arabesque, but NOT on pointe.

And then various russian versions which seems to sub pique turns for the arabesque hops.

since there seem to be at least 3 substantially different versions I had trouble linking them up to the 2 versions mentioned in the other post.

In any case, i cant say i think the hops on pointe are the most elegant of steps, but VERY VERY impressive--especially at the end of all that dancing :wub:

Share this post


Link to post

The first thing that comes to my mind is from the point of view of the technician -- the dancer who must execute the hops on point. For some ballerinas with (naturally) overly arched feet, it is a very difficult step! They fall off point because the flexibility of their feet won't allow a whole series of hops. I've mentioned before that my daughter has one of Anna Antonicheva's pointe shoes in which she had just performed Giselle (Giselle's Act I variation also has a diagonal of hops on point). Antonicheva has über-arched feet. The shank of her shoe is granite hard, even after dancing in it. She needs special made-for-her shoes to accommodate her foot's bendiness. So, perhaps the Odile choreography was partially influenced by this practical consideration? In the early 20th century, Russian ballerinas really had to have feet of steel because their pointe shoes were only hardened at the tip. Today's shoes offer so much more support and are made to fit any kind of foot. Dancers have their pick of many styles, not just one government-supplied issue.

May I also suggest that, usually, Cuban dancers have feet that are more suited to hopping on point. They are not as long as the typical Russian foot, are wider and have shorter toes -- as a genetic rule, I hazard to submit. My own daughter has such a foot (I call it the foot of an Estonian peasant) which enables her to hop endlessly on point. Her Russian friend, however, has a long, elongated, super arched foot, and, despite being an accomplished dancer, she has trouble hopping on point because of the makeup of her feet.

Personally, I'd love to see the hops on point done more frequently. It would lend a little comparative spice to the variation.

Share this post


Link to post

According to Mme. Alonso , she based her Swan Lake choreography for Ballet Nacional de Cuba on "what was being done on the ABT during the 40's", where she boosted her career. Now, i know that she has also based a lot of her choreographic works in her close past collaboration with the Fokine/Fedorova team and her Ballet Russes experience. IIn the "Ballet Russes" documentary there is a little, almost hard to detect, moment in the movie when Baronova is talking about Toumanova , and while describing her technique some short clips are shown. Ond of them is from the Black Swan coda, and it clearly shows Toumanova finishing her fouettes, then her partner's pirouettes in passe position and right then a little snippet of her getting into arabesque position in the left wing, facing the camera, and starting to jump, obviously on pointe, backwards. I will try to find a clip of this.

Share this post


Link to post

I have a hard time imagining ballerinas in the late 19th century performing the arabesques voyagés en arrière sur la pointe given what pointe shoes were like back then, but if they could do 32 fouettés, maybe the shoes (or their feet?) were strong enough to permit it.

Share this post


Link to post
May I also suggest that, usually, Cuban dancers have feet that are more suited to hopping on point. They are not as long as the typical Russian foot, are wider and have shorter toes -- as a genetic rule, I hazard to submit. My own daughter has such a foot (I call it the foot of an Estonian peasant) which enables her to hop endlessly on point. Her Russian friend, however, has a long, elongated, super arched foot, and, despite being an accomplished dancer, she has trouble hopping on point because of the makeup of her feet.

Marga, you have much more dance experience than I, so I'm only humbly going to react to this! I think it's much more about the ankles/instep/bendy feet issue you mentioned earlier, than the foot shape (in terms of toes, etc...)

I only say this because I myself have a very narrow, compressible foot with tapered, longish toes - very fine, boned. And hops en pointe are one of my favourite, most comfortable steps to do. But I think this is because although I have a basically nice pointed foot, my ankle is not super-bendy and I initially had to work a lot pre-pointe to build up strength and articulation.

Ugh, my words aren't being articulate at all. I'm agreeing with you about the difficulty for hops for a super arched/bendy foot, but not necessarily due to foot shape of toes/width? Does that make sense?

And of course, exceptions apply....

Share this post


Link to post

I just got around to checking the Carreno video referenced by aurora in the first post. When you actually look at it, it's a rather big and dramatic set of steps -- not the rather dainty movements I had been imagining.

Marga and ami1436, since you're familiar with the step, I have a question. Alihaydee Carreno seems to be hopping on the outer side of her pointed toes, which is quite different from her other pointe work in the video. Is this the way these hops are usually done? The sickle effect is rather strange when seen from the wings, where the camera was placed.

Share this post


Link to post

However, there is another option. Siegfried does his grands pirouettes à la seconde and Odile emerges from the up right corner at the return of the A theme in the music and does a pas de chat-pas de basque sauté and a battement cloche to first arabesque, then chassé through first and continue making six repetitions in all, THEN comes center stage and does 32 very rapid echappés changés, 16 traveling upstage then 16 traveling downstage with some rather extravagant port de bras. That, to me, seems likely from an historical point of view, again considering the earlier generation of pointe shoes.

Share this post


Link to post

On the DVD of Nureyev's Bell Telephone Hour performances, Svetlana Beriosova does some very wide grands changements at just the moment you mention, Mel. I definitely had not seen that before!

Bart, watching that video I notice what you mean about A. Carreno's foot--it is actually pronated (the opposite of sickled) which is no less a flaw than sickling. I am quite afraid for her ankles!

Share this post


Link to post

I found there is a video of alicia alonso doing the step...its really *quite* impressive. It is on youtube.

Share this post


Link to post

Compare with Viengsay Valdes performing the step on the 'Tube. Type in "Valdes [Joel] Carreno" in the search field, and it's in Part 2 of the Black Swan pdd. You can also watch her hold some very long balances in Part 1!

Share this post


Link to post
Compare with Viengsay Valdes performing the step on the 'Tube. Type in "Valdes [Joel] Carreno" in the search field, and it's in Part 2 of the Black Swan pdd. You can also watch her hold some very long balances in Part 1!
This was worth the trip to YouTubeland-- despite the murky (and oddly greenish) lighting.

The hops seem to be right on point. It looks like she falls into demipointe near the end but gets back up to finish.

If you've been following our thread on the 32 fouettes, you have to see her sequence: starts with a quadruple and ends with a ... sextuple!!

I've never seen sexier, more seductive arm and hand movements -- especially at the very beginning of the pdd. Flamenco influence?

And the very last bit (right before the fish dive) -- what can you say about those powerful swan wings flapping rapidly, triumphantly. :) This performance, as Alonso has said in general about the Black Swan role, is full of powerful and rather sardonic allusions to Odette.

Share this post


Link to post

You know, I was considering something very like this question today at work. Is Odette something like the "sweet old-fashioned girl" whose work is flavored with the Romantic, and Odile something like the "Red Hot Mama" (sorry, Sophie Tucker) who dances at the very extremity of the Imperial?

Share this post


Link to post
I found there is a video of alicia alonso doing the step...its really *quite* impressive. It is on youtube.

They are indeed impressive. happy.png

Share this post


Link to post
I remember someone mentioning in a forum (on here? I'm not sure!) that the hopping backward arabesques in the coda of the black swan pdd are meant to be on pointe. I had never seen it done that way, (...)Is this a Cuban thing?(...) does anyone know the source of the hops on pointe in this variation and why only Cuban dancers seem to do it?Thanks!

Aurora, I've always wondered myself about this and many other steps sequences in some of Alonso's choreographies which she always claim to stage carbon copy upon those that she danced during the 40's and 50's at BT and Ballet Russes. Specifically about this backward sautees sur le pointe en arabesque penchee, i just had a wonderful glimpse today while looking at the extra footage on the "Ballet Russes" movie. If you click on the the clip of Mia Slavenska's Kitri variation, you'll see the same exact sequence of steps being perfectly performed, leg raised the whole time at a perfect 90 degree, smiling face, fierce hops. It really gave me the chills to see, for the first time aside from the cuban company, this step performed by such a legend and way so back in time, and to realize how carefully has been Alonso in the preservation of such an old fashioned, but lovely, technical oddity.

Share this post


Link to post

I just want to say that it was those backward hops by Mia Slavenska in Ballet Russe DVD - i saw it last year - that startled and intrigued me so much and caused my re discovery of the glorious world of ballet. I couldnt believe that someone could make something SO difficult look so beautiful.

Share this post


Link to post

I found there is a video of alicia alonso doing the step...its really *quite* impressive. It is on youtube.

Going back five years on this thread, here's a comparisson of the step in question as performed by Alonso, compared to an easier version in flat position as performed by Bessmertnova.

Alonso's at 3:00

Bessmertnova's at 8:50

Share this post


Link to post

Interesting comparison. Thanks, Cristian, for the links.

Naturally, the Bessmertnova version allows for greater speed. But there is another difference. Alonso, as she hops rather stiffly backwards, seems to tighten her upper body and allow her head and torso to move downward. Is this a way of compensating for tiredness? Or is it, do you think, intentional?

Share this post


Link to post

Interesting comparison. Thanks, Cristian, for the links.

Naturally, the Bessmertnova version allows for greater speed. But there is another difference. Alonso, as she hops rather stiffly backwards, seems to tighten her upper body and allow her head and torso to move downward. Is this a way of compensating for tiredness? Or is it, do you think, intentional?

Oh, that's WAY intentional. Getting into a penchee on pointe from those sautees in arabesque while doing all that AFTER the fouettes must prove quite exhausting-(and then the ever present nightmare of falling on your face!). Actually the most of the ballerinas I've seen doing this just travel a bit and always keep their body into the arabesque position, sort of secure-(as in the next clip with Barbara Garcia). Only Rosario Suarez-(the divine "Charin")-could challenge Alonso by lowering her body, arms to her back, while still staring devilishly at Siegfried as if to put him on trance. She would then change into a spectacular pose into attitude derriere/cambre while laughing her heart out, all in pointe, BEFORE throwing herself into that series of pique turns and the killer final fish dive. Oh It was WONDERFUL! Not even Viengsay Valdes has ever surpassed what Alonso and Charin did with this feast of pyrotechnics...

Incidentally, I want to mention I just saw a video of the pas-(from one of those PDD's compilations on VHS), danced by Lupe Serrano and Jacques d'Amboisse from around 1961, and she does a carbon copy of the choreo danced in Havana, including the sautees. The only substitution is that Serrano, just like Bessmertnova, doesn't go on pointe either. She does the whole traveling in flat feet.

Barbara Garcia @ 6:05

Charin, @ 4:45

Share this post


Link to post

I love the cambre at the end when Suarez does it! That adds an impressive touch!

We still don't have an answer to the original question. Even if Alicia Alonso learned this version of the coda at ABT during her time with ABT, who taught it that way? Where did it originate? No one seems to know. It had to be an addition at some point, since people say pointe shoes used to make hops on pointe much harder. But I wonder who originated it and when. It looks so hard that it is no wonder that it was thrown out, but let's hope some ballerinas will see these old videos and copy this little bit of choreography from time to time! It is quite exciting. I would love to see it done this way in the theatre and not just on video!!!

Share this post


Link to post

I love the cambre at the end when Suarez does it! That adds an impressive touch!

We still don't have an answer to the original question. Even if Alicia Alonso learned this version of the coda at ABT during her time with ABT, who taught it that way? Where did it originate? No one seems to know. It had to be an addition at some point, since people say pointe shoes used to make hops on pointe much harder. But I wonder who originated it and when. It looks so hard that it is no wonder that it was thrown out, but let's hope some ballerinas will see these old videos and copy this little bit of choreography from time to time! It is quite exciting. I would love to see it done this way in the theatre and not just on video!!!

BB, from what I've seen, I got to the conclusion that this was being done in NYC during the 40's and 50's, and highly probable after Toumanova, given what what we got from that that snippet of the pas from the Ballet Russes documentary, which clearly shows her getting into the position and rising on pointe and even jumping a couple of times before it gets cut out. Then I guess it kind of faded out during the 60's-(probably it proved to be too challenging unless you were a fierce technician)- and finally completely erased after the Soviet version was adopted by ABT post Baryshnikov.

In Miami we get them from time to time when Suarez present the pas in her performances. Last time it was Hayna Gutierrez, fresh from defection, when she danced the whole ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

It would still be interesting to know who started it and if it was a ballerina who did the hops backwards on pointe or if a choreographer decided on the steps. It was probably created for the first time for a very "fierce technician" as you mention. Maybe during a gala occasion and then ballerinas loved it and continued to dance it that way but then, as you say, it was thrown out when other influences came into play.

Maybe since so many ballerinas from Cuba are teaching in Florida one day these steps will become popular! Did you read my review of the Carreno Dance Festival? In Giselle Sulma moved her leg completely around her body during her short variation, and I believe that is the Cuban way, if I am not mistaken. Everyone else tries to lift the leg behind them as high as they can so there is no way to circle it around so it simply comes back down behind them instead of circling all the way around. So that is an example of how the Cuban step is being taught to young ballerinas. Maybe other things will be taught too eventually (like the Black Swan coda)!

Share this post


Link to post

It would still be interesting to know who started it and if it was a ballerina who did the hops backwards on pointe or if a choreographer decided on the steps. It was probably created for the first time for a very "fierce technician" as you mention. Maybe during a gala occasion and then ballerinas loved it and continued to dance it that way but then, as you say, it was thrown out when other influences came into play.

Maybe since so many ballerinas from Cuba are teaching in Florida one day these steps will become popular! Did you read my review of the Carreno Dance Festival? In Giselle Sulma moved her leg completely around her body during her short variation, and I believe that is the Cuban way, if I am not mistaken. Everyone else tries to lift the leg behind them as high as they can so there is no way to circle it around so it simply comes back down behind them instead of circling all the way around. So that is an example of how the Cuban step is being taught to young ballerinas. Maybe other things will be taught too eventually (like the Black Swan coda)!

Zulma's step is a grand renversee. Usually the Zulmas I've seen just do it half way, with the leg no so bent, very quick and with the uper body really never getting into a deep twist. Also, after the renversee, the Cuban Zulma gets into a deep penchee on pointe, whereas others usually finish the step in arabesque.

Share this post


Link to post