printscess

Your favorite variations

36 posts in this topic

A topic from a newcomer in Everything Else Ballet, asked what is the first variation taught, which led me to think, what are your favorite variations, male or female and why? Can be classical or contemporary. (has this topic been on the board before?)

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A topic from a newcomer in Everything Else Ballet, asked what is the first variation taught, which led me to think, what are your favorite variations, male or female and why? Can be classical or contemporary. (has this topic been on the board before?)

Yummy thread!...

Male Variation: "Diane& Acteon". When properly danced, Acteon's variations gets a unique level of artistry. It's also very stamina-driven, and it brings back some of my best memories of the Bolshoi-influenced men of National Ballet of Cuba. :angry2:

Female Variation: "Don. Quijote". As a latin, I get specially attracted by the spanish flavor of Kitri's dance with her cute fan. :bow:

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I'm not sure it's technically a variation, but it's certainly a solo: the male solo George Balanchine created for Bart Cook in Square Dance in 1976. Runners up are any of the male variations in Chaconne or Mozartiana, and any part of Oberon's "Scherzo" from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I'll have to think more about women's variations.

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I'm not sure it's technically a variation, but it's certainly a solo: the male solo George Balanchine created for Bart Cook in Square Dance in 1976. Runners up are any of the male variations in Chaconne or Mozartiana, and any part of Oberon's "Scherzo" from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I'll have to think more about women's variations.

I love the male variation from Square Dance. I don't remember Bart Cook but I love Peter Boal...who did it for his last performance with NYCB. Boy did I cry like a baby. Stars and Stripes, although not one of my favorite ballets has a fabulous male variation - very high enegry.

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Does the Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty count technically as a variation? Paloma Herrera had me in goosebumps last season at ABT.

Otherwise, my favorites include the Goldberg Variations of Bach, the Diabelli Variations of Beethoven, the variation movement from the 12th Quartet of Beethoven - oops, we're supposed to be discussing ballet here. The disconcerting thing for me as a musical person is that the word "variation" in music has a specific meaning that may or may not accord with its meaning in dance. I'd be interested in exploring that.

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the Goldberg Variations of Bach... we're supposed to be discussing ballet here. The disconcerting thing for me as a musical person is that the word "variation" in music has a specific meaning that may or may not accord with its meaning in dance. I'd be interested in exploring that.

In this case, we turn out to be discussing both, and the Goldberg Variations is sublime. I don't remember seeing it on NYCB programs for some years, though, and I only saw it once. Someone here will be sure to know, though.

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the Goldberg Variations of Bach... we're supposed to be discussing ballet here. The disconcerting thing for me as a musical person is that the word "variation" in music has a specific meaning that may or may not accord with its meaning in dance. I'd be interested in exploring that.

In this case, we turn out to be discussing both, and the Goldberg Variations is sublime. I don't remember seeing it on NYCB programs for some years, though, and I only saw it once. Someone here will be sure to know, though.

I saw the Goldbergs - the Bach/Robbins, that is - two years ago at NYCB, and I believe it is slated for return in one of the upcoming seasons.

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I love the Diana and Aceteon variations and the variations from Don Quioxte.

I saw Angel Corella and Paloma do the variations and they were fantastic.

Angel's tours were brilliant.

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I have to make a distinction between variations that I like to dance and variations that I like to look at...let me see....What I like dancing is the fine elegant prince variations as Swan Lake,Sleeping Beauty,Nutcracker.....even Apollon Musagète,as my style (they tell me so...)is quite elegant and graceful when I dance,and I love dramatic or sad roles and variations,as I can be more interpretative.

What I like watching are instead the "braggers variations",let me name them so,as Diana and Acteon,Don Quixote,Le Corsaire,Bayadère,flames of Paris,Les Bourgeois that are pure masculine technique and are more "circus"(of course the nicknames are ironical!).

Let me say that I love more male than female ones even if I recognize that female roles have peculiarities and a depth that I don't find in male ones,which I find sometimes superficial and just a nice frame of women.That's bad for us:(

About female variations I love the white Swan (also the PDD!),Kitri(all of her ones),Sylphide,Esmeralda,grand pas classique.Then I like Carmen and Giselle not for a piece but for the role itself.

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I have to make a distinction between variations that I like to dance and variations that I like to look at...let me see....What I like dancing is the fine elegant prince variations as Swan Lake,Sleeping Beauty,Nutcracker.....even Apollon Musagète,as my style (they tell me so...)is quite elegant and graceful when I dance,and I love dramatic or sad roles and variations,as I can be more interpretative.

What I like watching are instead the "braggers variations",let me name them so,as Diana and Acteon,Don Quixote,Le Corsaire,Bayadère,flames of Paris,Les Bourgeois that are pure masculine technique and are more "circus"(of course the nicknames are ironical!).

Let me say that I love more male than female ones even if I recognize that female roles have peculiarities and a depth that I don't find in male ones,which I find sometimes superficial and just a nice frame of women.That's bad for us:(

About female variations I love the white Swan (also the PDD!),Kitri(all of her ones),Sylphide,Esmeralda,grand pas classique.Then I like Carmen and Giselle not for a piece but for the role itself.

dancerboy--that's the COOLEST OF THE COOL! Bravo!

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I love the "pot above the head" variation in La Bayadere.

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Nothing against the spectacular competition type variations - I love them. But I've seen them so many times that sometimes when they come up I think "oh dear - not again!", especially if the cast is not that good. I prefer variations where the technical demands are balanced with the demands in musicality, flow and style.

Sleeping Beauty: Miettes qui tombent, Violante, Aurora's entrance (sergeyev version), Aurora's variation after the rose adagio, Aurora's 2nd act variation but with the original music (as done in the vikharev version), Diamond fairy, the prince's variation and most of all the 3rd act Aurora variation

Paquita: the Pavillion D'armide variation. I've seen two versions of this - one from the Mariinsky slow, simplified but incredibly elegant and poignant. Another in a documentary as taught by Danilova. That one had more batterie and was way faster (and Danilova stopped the orchestra to make them hurry up more :beg: ) I also like Paquita's own variation (the Mariinsky version).

Swan Lake: Odile, the Bolshoi version

Raymonda: La claque, Henriette 1rst act variation (? or Clemence's, never sure which is which, in any case the one that comes first in the Kirov production), a 3rd act variation by either Henriette (or Clemence ?), Raymonda with the veil and the 3rd act male variation in the Grigorovich production

Don Q: Queen of the Dryads, Amour

Corsaire: Gulnare variation in Jardin animee, 2nd odalisque, 1rst odalisque

Giselle: village pdd female (Bolshoi version), Albrecht's variation

Ballo de la Regina: the 2nd solo (the one with pirouttes ending in arabesque)

Theme and variations: the female solo danced just before the pdd

La fileuse and la siciliene from Emeralds

Agon: the female solo in the second pd3 while the two men stand by

Stars & stripes: female var from the pdd

The female variation from Ashton's Les Rendezvous

Autumn variation from Ashton's Cinderella

Sylvia: male and female variations, both Balanchine and Ashton, prefer the Ashton one best though

Suite en blanc: la cigarette

Napoli's pas de six: the 3rd man's and the 2nd and 3rd women's

La vivandiere pd6: female variation

the 2nd act sylphide variation from Lacotte's sylphide and the 2nd river variation from his Fille du Pharaon

the solo Violette Verdy used to do in dance in dances at a gathering

ok, i should seriously stop now............ :wink:

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dancerboy--that's the COOLEST OF THE COOL! Bravo!

Thanks:) I'd add only the Bayadère female variation at the wedding before her death and the golden Idol one.And from sleeping beauty the cats and the bluebird ones.

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Does the Rose Adagio from Sleeping Beauty count technically as a variation? Paloma Herrera had me in goosebumps last season at ABT.

Otherwise, my favorites include the Goldberg Variations of Bach, the Diabelli Variations of Beethoven, the variation movement from the 12th Quartet of Beethoven - oops, we're supposed to be discussing ballet here. The disconcerting thing for me as a musical person is that the word "variation" in music has a specific meaning that may or may not accord with its meaning in dance. I'd be interested in exploring that.

There is a discussion of what defines a ballet variation here if anyone is interested.

I like Raymonda's Act III variation quite a bit.

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What a great topic, printscess. Thanks for starting it.

La fileuse and la siciliene from Emeralds

Now that I think about it, I love all the variations in Emeralds.

Suzanne Farrell’s variation in Act III of Don Quixote is amazing.

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Yes, indeed, Printcess. Thank you for this topic, which has gotten me thinking. It's difficult to come up with something, because the variations I've been looking at closely tend to become favorites for a while at least.

Hans writes:

Usually what people think of as a classical variation is a short solo dance that elaborates on the character's traits while also displaying the technique of the dancer. Many of them can be modified in various ways to either suit a particular dancer or be interpolated into a different ballet.
Sticking with that, I'd include the Russian folk variation in Raymonda that starts with hand claps.

Also, the 2 women's solos in Emeralds seem to quallify. They clearly elaborate on character.

Odile's variation (the one that has what sounds like an oboe solo) is remarkable for the suble way it conveys character and exotic feeling.

There was a Balanchine ballet called "Variations" in the 60s. It had a marvelous solo for Farrell. Would that count as a "variation"?

P.S. A young woman in my class has asked me to vote for the Diamond Fairy variation in Sleeping Beauty.

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Here's my short list:

"La Bayadere:" Nikiya's Act 2 lamentation, the 1st Shade in Act 3, and Gamzatti's Act 2 variation & her Act 2 Coda

> the Italian fouttees.

"Giselle:" Everything Myrtha. Giselle's Act 2 entrance and variation. If it's the right ballerina then it is one of the most exciting moments one can experience in the theatre. Ditto that for Odette's entrance and variation. And Odile? Well, that's a speciality. Usually you get more of one than than other, or simply the same thing. But, when you

get a great Odette and Odile that's a rare happening in nature. It's something you'll never forget, and something you'll always savor. These roles separate the good ballerinas from the great ones.

"Raymonda:" Raymonda's Act 1 Entrance, variation and the Scarf dance, her act 2 variation. Also, the 1st variation after the pas classique in Act 3, and Raymonda's Clapping Dance.

>(This one doesn't count, but for character dancing: The Gypsy Girl's dance from Prokofiev's "The Stone Flower.")

Balanchine's variation for Merrill Ashley from "Ballo della Regina," & Terpsichore's variation from "Apollo."

"Paquita:" The 1st, 2nd, 4th & 5th variations, and the ballerina's variation.

"Sleeping Beauty" Fairies: Miettes, Canari, Violente, Lilac, Diamond. Aurora's Act 2 variation (Sergeyev's, Ashton's & if it's done tastefully - Petipa's 1890 with the Gold Fairy music). Also, Aurora's Act 3 variation and coda combo.

"Don Q" - Kitri's entrance, castanet dance, Act 2's Dream variation, and of course Act 3's variation & the fouttes.

Manon's Act 2 variation: Beautiful, and seductive music by Massenet. >> This one is fool proof; (well theoretically).

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All the Sleeping Beauty variations people have named. How does Dances at a Gathering rate as variations? It probably reminds me of musical variations, but isn't quite. I saw it only once and long ago, but it was divine. Yes, good topic, it's interesting for musicians to find out that a ballet variation is like an aria (at least according to wiki). I couldn't connect to Hans's link nor find it by searching, so if someone knows where it is, I'd appreciate another try at the links to that thread.

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oh, well...can't help to add two more variations, both male BTW. Albretch II Act, for its dramatic impact and flamboyancy when well performed, and "Satanella", because i think is just lovely... Also, i truly enjoy a good "L'espectre de la rose" entrance (a la Misha) and subsequent solo before incorporating the girl into the dancing...

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I couldn't connect to Hans's link nor find it by searching, so if someone knows where it is, I'd appreciate another try at the links to that thread.
papeetepatrick, I also had trouble until I logged in on that page (though I was already logged in on the forum). Then, the thread appeared! Magic! :dry:

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For those who are not able to access the link, the thread is in the BT for Dancers "Cross Talk" forum. The last post on the thread was August 5th--currently it is at the bottom of the third page of the forum.

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This is Hans's definition:

"Usually what people think of as a classical variation is a short solo dance that elaborates on the character's traits while also displaying the technique of the dancer. Many of them can be modified in various ways to either suit a particular dancer or be interpolated into a different ballet."

And the ballet glossary at ABT contributes this:

http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/index.html

Variation

[va-rya-SYAWN]

Variation. A solo dance in a classic ballet.

But is any solo dance in ballet necessarily a variation? Are there exceptions?

Be that as it may, the term "variation" in music has a somewhat different meaning. In most cases, a set of variations (I can't think of any examples of a single variation) is based on a theme, which may be by the composer of the variations or by another composer - think of Brahms's Variatiions on a Theme by Haydn (which theme is actually not by Haydn at all), or Britten's Young Person's Guide (Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Purcell, better known in ballet circles as the music for Jerome Robbins's Fanfare). In music before the Romantic period, a primary feature of the variations is that they preserve the phrase structure of the theme, often but far from invariably in the same tempo and meter. This is true of the Goldberg Variations, Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, the Mozart set Balanchine used as the last movement in Mozartiana, and many others. One type of variations is known as "doubles," where each succeeding variation uses shorter note values while preserving the underlying tempo; a familiar example is found in the slow movement of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata. Other types of variations do more to develop motifs from the theme; this is true also of the Goldbergs and the Diabellis, which nevertheless preserve the phrase structure of the theme. But in music of the Romantic period and later, the developmental type of variation comes into play without keeping the underlying phrase structure. And so in the Britten Young Person's Guide / Fanfare / Variations and Fugue on Purcell, the form of each variation is quite free in relation to the theme, but each variation develops one or two main motifs from the theme: an ascending triad, or three notes ascending and then 4-5 descending. I think that once this pattern is recognized, it's easy to identify when hearing the music.

As for the fugue, it's quite common in variation sets to conclude with some section of this type. In the classic variation form, the repetition of the same phrase structure builds a kind of momentum (think of the Mozartiana variations), and a change of pace like a fugue is useful for breaking this momentum and rounding off the composition. Mozart / Tchaikovsky / Balanchine use instead a free cadenza, leading to a slow final variation, and then a final fast coda.

And so the upshot is that I don't think "variation" in the musical and the balletic sense are entirely analogous.

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And so the upshot is that I don't think "variation" in the musical and the balletic sense are entirely analogous.

I don't think they're analogous at all. That some musical variations have been made into ballets doesn't have anything to do with the difference remaining, even within the work choreographed to the musical variations, i.e., there are surely many ballet variations in the works choreographed to musical variations--existing simultaneously, but separately as kinds of variations. What I was interested in with 'Dances at a Gathering', which is various Chopin pieces, not all the same form, I believe, but don't remember too well, is if there are ballet variations within it. I would imagine some will know here if some of the solos are variations. In any case, the Chopin music used is not a set of literal musical variations, even if they are related and chosen so that they do almost seem a kind of non-literal set of them. Also, I wondered if the solos in 'Les Sylphides' are variations. This is the kind of distinction I'm still not versed on.

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Please note that I wrote "classical variation," meaning a variation from a Petipa-era/style work. I don't see why one could not refer to the solos in "Les Sylphides" as variations, but they might not be considered classical variations (the style is Romantic revival) for various reasons.

And no, the balletic and musical definitions of a "variation" don't really have anything to do with each other, even if there was once an overlap.

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And so the upshot is that I don't think "variation" in the musical and the balletic sense are entirely analogous.

What I was interested in with 'Dances at a Gathering', which is various Chopin pieces, not all the same form, I believe, but don't remember too well...

NYCB's website lists all the pieces used -

http://www.nycballet.com/company/rep.html?rep=54

- many of which are mazurkas and waltzes, thus in moderate 3/4 time and having a kind of family relationship, though none are variations in the musical sense. If I remember right, the A minor etude op. 10/2, blisteringly difficult for the pianist, is set as a bravura male solo. But I'm still unclear as to whether this or any other solo piece for a dancer can legitimately be described as a variation in dance terms, especially since many of the other episodes in DaaG are for small groups of dancers.

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