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Le Spectre de la rose...?


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#1 87Sigfried87

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 11:38 AM

As i'm going to play this role very soon for a gala,i'd like to ask you a question:is this famous pas de deux a part of a whole ballet that is no more danced as a whole,or is it only the pas de deux on his own?as i've always seen the pdd,so i was wondering...just as for "Diana and Acteon" etc.
I'm also working on the style and expression,as the steps themselves are quite easy.I've understood that i have to be ethereal and my movements have to be very aerial.About the expression i am a bit perplexed....i am trying to have a deep expression but looking evanescent and calm especially in the pdd moments.Anyway i don't wanna be banal and taken for granted.How do you think one should depict the character?Thanks for your answers.

#2 richard53dog

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 12:03 PM

As i'm going to play this role very soon for a gala,i'd like to ask you a question:is this famous pas de deux a part of a whole ballet that is no more danced as a whole,or is it only the pas de deux on his own?as i've always seen the pdd,so i was wondering...just as for "Diana and Acteon" etc.
I'm also working on the style and expression,as the steps themselves are quite easy.I've understood that i have to be ethereal and my movements have to be very aerial.About the expression i am a bit perplexed....i am trying to have a deep expression but looking evanescent and calm especially in the pdd moments.Anyway i don't wanna be banal and taken for granted.How do you think one should depict the character?Thanks for your answers.



dancerboy87,

As far as I know, Spectre is the complete piece Fokine set choegraphy to. It's not part of a larger piece.

As for expression and style, think of this as a Romantic ballet ; a character falls asleep and dreams of a vision like character, very dream like. Usually the male would be the sleeping character and the ballerina would be the sylph like characer but here it is reversed.


For me . the Spectre needs to have a geat jump, since Njinsky did it originally but also great softness and very ethereal. Also grace is mandatory.

The upper body is also extremely important. The Spectre has magical arms that entice the girl from her nap and get her to follow him.
aavoid those pitfalls.


Lately I've seen Herman Cornejo at ABT, he was very good with his jumps and lower body but a bit stiff with his his upper body and especally his arms. No one is perfect and I did enjoy his performance.

I've seen other Spectre's on video and TV and of these, I would rate Manuel Legris as the best out of a strong group of competition. I usually find him a cold dancer but here it works. But what really attracted me to his performance is his use of arms. With them , he wills the girl out of her chair, and shedances with him without waking up

Try watchink some of the video performances if you can get yours hands on them. But for me the worst is the Faruhk Ruzimatov - Nina Ananiashvili one, that
looks like they are making up the steps as them go along with Nina throwing in jumps here and there. And Farukh has a dreadful outfit. Camp the nth degree.


But let me also wish you will have a wonderful success with this

#3 carbro

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 01:00 PM

Hi, dancerboy.
Spectre begins when The Girl enters. I have seen shortened versions of the ballet, but only a few seconds can be cut.

To me, the style is extremely important. Fokine was deeply influenced by Art Nouveau, which was such an important movement of that time, so the body should emulate curlicues. Maybe you should think of your arms as vines or smoke. How far to take it is crucial, though. I hope you have a very good coach. Also, you should remember that the Spectre is not a rose but a dream -- a memory of a rose. It (as distinct from a "he") exists only in the girl's mind. In a sense, the role is not unlike Giselle in Act II -- something sensed and intangible.

I would disagree with Richard, above, in that I did not find Cornejo's Spectre stiff in any way. I thought he was absolutely perfecto. :)

#4 87Sigfried87

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 01:48 PM

Thanks guys for your advices.I found interesting the thought of the arms as smoke.The one I am taking inspiration from is Malakhov's.The worst I've seen is Baryshnikov's.The problem is that I have to prepare it in a week time.So i'm a bit nervous and at the same time i want to be in the perfect style as the technique is here sacrified.I'll do my best.Thanks again.

#5 dirac

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 01:57 PM

I would also suggest looking at some photographs of Nijinsky in the role. Canít help you with the steps, but there is no dancer who comes across more powerfully in stills, in this role (and Scheherazade) especially.

I would rate Manuel Legris as the best out of a strong group of competition. I usually find him a cold dancer but here it works. But what really attracted me to his performance is his use of arms.


I admire Legris, too. He comes very close to my idea of Nijinsky in the part, although Iíd think the latter would indeed have a warmer presence. Legris achieves the desired tendril effect with his arms without looking as if heís semaphoring.

The trickiest things about the role, it seems to me, are expression and flow. You need to worry about upper and lower body continuously and avoid starting and stopping.

My very best wishes for your success! Good luck.

#6 richard53dog

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 03:21 PM

.The one I am taking inspiration from is Malakhov's.The worst I've seen is Baryshnikov's..



I think Malakhov is a fine performance to get a sense of what the piece is all about. I thought he was very good although I've only seen him on video.

Baryshnikov, ugh, he's not really a favorite of mine. And this piece isn't actually a natural for him.

Again, all the best of luck with this.

#7 Mel Johnson

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Posted 31 October 2007 - 04:49 PM

I saw Edward Villella do this once. And that was enough. He had been taught the role by Andrť Eglevsky, and it just didn't fit him. "Smoke" isn't quite it - I would go on record as favoring an interpretation of a rose's fragrance suspended about the girl's body, but easily fragile and wisped away by any sudden movement she might make. And yes, the rose is an "it".

#8 bart

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 09:20 AM

I hope the performance goes well, dancerboy87. Please keep us informed. :)

It just happens that I've been reading Kavanagh's biography of Nureyev, which contains a glimpse of how NOT to prepare for this role. Not long after his defection, Nureyev travelled -- travelling with Maria Tallchief, as it happens -- to Frankfurt to appear in Spectre de la Rose for German television.

His mood darkened when they flew to Frankfurt and he discovered that there had been a misunderstanding: He was expected to dance ... without being taught the choreography. Apart from the few poses he had learned from Pierre Lacotte in Paris, he was forced to improvise the rest -- a travesty of the real thing, with Rudolf, absurdly girly wearing a headband of roses, swooning in the chair vocated by the Young Girl Gisela Deege, adding a lot of frilly business when his arms drooped above his head, and inserting an incongruously virile manege of chaines and barreling jumps. But what strikes on most is the deterioration in his classical placing, the lack of rigorous, daily Kirov training resulting in a performance as shoddy as those he would give while paying "Homage to Diaghilev" thirty years later.

:angry2: :D :FIREdevil:

#9 Paul Parish

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 09:34 AM

I'd join those in praise of Legris -- the most wondreful thing about him is that he seems to like being the rose. It's so clean -- he's strong, soft, silken, beautiful, delicate, fluid, and musical -- it's especially the musicality. And he has a real feel for chasse. He reaches down into the floor, the downs are deep and rich and velvety, so the ups really come up from he downs, like temps lies that leave the ground -- which may be why he never seems to have a problem with breath. It must be a puffer, but his breathing seems just to keep on expanding, to get easier and easier.

So i'd concentrate on getting the breating to feel easy.

#10 87Sigfried87

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 11:01 AM

Today I tried the PDD parts and found it quite easy.Tomorrow i'm learning my solo parts;then in the week-end I'll improve the style and clean up the technique to make it as much precise as possible.

"a rose's fragrance suspended about the girl's body, but easily fragile and wisped away by any sudden movement she might make."

I liked that ;-).

#11 innopac

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 01:21 PM

Hi Dancerboy,

Another interpretation you might enjoy watching is Igor Kolb's. This Spectre de la Rose is from the dvd The Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky but there are also clips on youtube. For me he creates the atmosphere that Mel Johnson put so beautifully into words "a rose's fragrance suspended about the girl's body, but easily fragile and wisped away by any sudden movement she might make."

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 03:36 PM

An interesting interpretation of the work, if your idea of a curse is, "May you live in interesting times," was Red Skelton's version with Patricia McBride. He entered by trampolining off the window-seat, and things just went downhill from there. In particular, this rose had rose fever, and when he sneezed, half the petals fell off his costume. McBride played it ever, ever so straight, thus making Skelton's cavorting seem even more outrageous. Oh, and I also can recall Jimmy Durante doing a sort of La Sylphide pas de deux with Lynn Seymour!

#13 popularlibrary

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 04:07 PM

Oh God! to have a dvd of the McBride-Skelton Spectre! I tried to find it via Amazon, but there are too many RS dvds with too little description of what's on them. Does anyone happen to know where this might be lurking?

I loved Edward Villella - a wonderful, wonderful dancer - but letting him at the Rose Spirit strikes me as getting a pit bull to play a dove. As for Legris, Paul Parish said it perfectly. What I wouldn't give to have seen him on stage! (A lot of frustration in this post...) The more I see him just on film, the more remarkable he seems. Not only the musicality, but the ability to use dance as a language, to fulfill Balanchine's remark to Villella that "we are poets of gesture." He can convey more depth of emotion, more richness and complexity of feeling, in the turn of a hand than most dancers seem to in full dramatic spate. A great artist, and from what I have been able to read from fans and critics who have been fortunate enough to see him live (which sometimes requires translation), the films do not give a false impression.

#14 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 07:01 PM

I would also suggest looking at some photographs of Nijinsky in the role. Canít help you with the steps, but there is no dancer who comes across more powerfully in stills, in this role (and Scheherazade) especially...........

My very best wishes for your success! Good luck.


I think it is quite an honor to be asked to do any role that Nijinsky danced! Much luck.... I hope to hear that you loved it and the audience did, as well.

If you get to look at photos of Nijinsky (the best book for that is Lincoln Kirstein's "Nijinsky Dancing") you will notice that for this, as for every role he played, he totally transformed his face with makeup. In this case, it seems to me (from the black and white photos, which always made me think that the costume was green, until I saw the original at the Hartford Atheneum and discovered it was pink) that he made his features very androgynous verging on the effeminate, especially in the eyes. It seems to me that he elongated his face as well, but I don't know why. The pose with his arm draped over his head seems telling in its softness.

I just checked a book called (without French accents) "Les Ballets Russes a l'Opera" and there are two quotes about his performance (I think the dress rehearsal), one by Jean Cocteau, but it's in French, so I can't convey to you the meaning. But just in case one or more of you speaks/reads French, here it is (again without accents- forgive any typos):

"C'etait en 1910. Nijinsky dansait Le Spectre de la rose. Au lieu d'assister au spectacle, j'allais l'attendre dans la coulisse. La, c'etait vraiment tres bien. Apres le baiser a la jeune fille, le Spectre del a rose s'elance par la fenetre... et retombe parmi des aides qui lui crachent de l'eau la figure, le bouchonnet avec des serviettes-eponge, comme un boxeur.

Que de grace et de brutalite jointes! J'entendrai toujours ce tonnerre d'applaudissements; toujours je re-verrai ce jeune homme barbouille de fard, ralant, suant, comprimant d'une main son coeur, et se retenant de l'autre au decor, ou bien evanoui sure une chaise. Apres, gifle, inonde, secoue, il rentrait en scene, saluait d'un sourire" Jean Cocteau

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 08:43 PM

.The one I am taking inspiration from is Malakhov's.The worst I've seen is Baryshnikov's..

HI, dancerboy...i really wish you the best luck. This is one my favorite ballet pieces, (Fokine is my idol), and i hope you can capture the esence of the romantic feeling that lies deep inside this short but lovely story...
He,He...BTW, seems that we always have opposite views about certain topics. I can't contain myself to declare that my role model for this part is Misha,(i find his mannerisms on this piece fascinating, (giving the obvious masculinity that usually caracterize his dancing), and the last one on my list would be your first one, Malakhov ...Talk about personal taste..! :speechless-smiley-003: Still, i sincerelly hope you the best...Keep us informed and again, good luck!!


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