bart

Nureyev Swan Lake/ what's the music in Rothbart's variation?

34 posts in this topic

It's the music to Odile's variation that I can't stand: such a boring, inconsequential piece from a musical standpoint.
I know this is off-topic, but -- coming from a position of relative ignorance about ballet music -- I find it very effective. Especially the parallels to the instrumentation in Odette's earlier solos. Or am I just confusing "effective" with "familiar"?

Share this post


Link to post

I'm implying my opinion that Nureyev often had a severe case of misplaced priorities (there, I think that's the gentlest way to say it), and 1966 was right in the midst of when those priorities were asserting themselves. And I don't know whether he would have deigned to enlighten anyone else on his thought processes. On that subject, he was about as talkative as Mt. Rushmore and about as likely to move when told he was wrong.

Share this post


Link to post

as stated above, we'll never know what was in nureyev's mind (unless some assistant ballet-master comes forward to tell the world what was said and intended in the process of making this ballet) when he inserted this solo here, but i'd say we can tell that the oddity, to put it politely, of re-inserting the solo that tchaikovsky composed for a dance of a different 'stripe' goes to reinforce what an odd, again to put it politely, balletmaster/choreographer nureyev was.

all the things pointed to - the urge to give the rothbart 'character' solo stage time, to give the company's male contingent another opportunity to dance, and to use more of the pas de deux's music - shows at best an 'e' for effort on nureyev's part, but beyond that very little in the way of 'a' for authority, theatrically or dramatically.

i can easily understand why this solo would stand out and/or stick in one's mind as a kind 'huh?' but nureyev's choreographic hand frequently prompted such questions in my own mind over the years, so much so, i guess i just stopped wondering and thought: oh well, that's nureyev.

Share this post


Link to post

That's just it, rg. When it came to modern dance, he could subordinate himself to direction, if it came from Paul Taylor or Martha Graham themselves. In ballet, it seemed to me that he was operating on the Divine Right Autocracy philosophy: "I AM Nureyev!"

Share this post


Link to post

Wonderful responses, rg and mel, and I thank you sincerely. You've resolved it for me -- at least as far as such things can be unresolved in the absence of Nureyev.

Share this post


Link to post

CORRECTION!!!

I need to correct what I said. I went back to the source and, somehow it was "lost in translation" before. This is what Maya Plisetskaia is saying in that interview:

In "Swan Lake", Odile used to be just the daughter of a wicked magician and not a swan at all. So it was the part of a female demon. A woman as a demon, like her father Rothbart, who may even have cast a spell on her so that she looks like Odette and can trick the prince. It's all a great plot. So it's the role of a female demon. But in the West -I don't know who thought this up but it goes back a long way- it was thought that Odile was a black swan. And we took this over. Odile was staged like this and I played it very differently. If she's not a demon but a black swan then she moves differently and she dances like a swan, only she looks different. People think she's evil, so she's a negative character.

As we can see now, Maya is not talking about white or black but about woman or swan. I bolded the words where the confusion must have come from. So the switch I was talking about was not from white to black but from a female character to a swan.

I'm sorry I brought the incorrect information, that's why I need to correct it now, but at the same time I'm glad I'm bringing a new interesting point.

Share this post


Link to post

Some years ago, one company which I can't recall, but saw the photos of how the sequence was accomplished, did a transformation onstage for Odile. Her first appearance was done by raising her (in tutu) behind von Rothbart on an elevator trap. So far, so good. What made this production different was that once Siegfried has mimed, "I swear!", and the ruse is disclosed, Odile went behind Rothbart again and disappeared down the elevator trap. At the same time, another dancer in a unitard and hood was hauled up, the purpose of which was, I guess, to show Odile in her true form, which was hideous in the extreme. Exposed muscles, blood vessels and nerves. She is revealed as a shapeshifter.

Share this post


Link to post
Or am I just confusing "effective" with "familiar"?

Well, bart, i guess this is a tricky question, ( :wink: ), but i remember reading an opinion about it in another thread in which somebody stated that everytime the Odile's variation comes, he kept thinking :"but i just saw this in the II Act", as an analogy with Odette's previous act mannerisms. In that case, i guess the idea is just that one, to create an effectively familiar feeling to make Siegfried think ( and maybe even the inexperienced public?) that she is the woman that he met at the lakeside. As Mme. Alonso :bow: states, the ideal ballerina for this role is the one that wants not to portray Odile as a vulgar caricature of a "femme fatale" in a case of identity theft, ,but otherwise a more sleek character whose ultimate purpose is TO SEDUCTIVELY LOOK AND ACT LIKE ODETTE...

:tiphat:

Share this post


Link to post

I have to say that I disagrea with most of you. I really like what Nureyev did in his later productions for the Paris Opera Ballet, in terms of the male dancing. I really believe that adding more variations for Prince Siegfried and that variations for Rotbart in the Act III pas de deux, which originally was a pas de trois (and still is)!!Remember the pas de deux is not the same in a gala, as in it's full context..!!Rotbart's participating all the time, so it seems fair that he's given a variation.

The same thing in Nureyev's Sleeping Beauty!! It's wonderful he made those beautiful variations for the Prince in the second act, since the second act really is about the Prince. It ads a nice dramatic balance.

I don't really understand why people get so upset by these additional variations! In Petipa's time, it was all about the ballerina. There were no male dancing parts at all, except the bluebird in sleeping beauty. Male dancing has evolved, and thank god someone fought it just as important for the male dancer to dance in the classics, as the women.

Also, almost none of the variations danced by male dancers today were choreographed by Petipa. I just wonder what is it that bother people so much? Don't you think the dance of the cygnets, for example, breaks the dramatical flow just as much? :)

Share this post


Link to post