innopac

La Sylphide

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Sounds like the dementor's kiss in Harry Potter.

I had that notion myself! She did indeed suck life and brain out of him by that kiss. There was not much tenderness in it. Like the dementors she maybe hoped to have him transferred to her world through that kiss, and when he dies instead, she despairs.

In the small video Alexander Kølpin has made about this very performance you can actually see that scene in a very short glimpse from a rehearsal room. I made a link to this video in an other post on this board earlier this summer on July 30.

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Despite the change in scenery and costumes, my impression of Bojesen's Sylph from just a few years ago was that it was bourgeois. I imagined her with a pink sweater set and a strand of pearls!

I can see your point. But somehow the sylph IS a bourgeois dream, a purely romantic figure. Today she would of course look different. But I think it's nice to be free to add these extra features to her in your mind instead of having them done for you on the stage. That makes her ONLY bourgeois and not bourgeois AND many other things.

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:angry2::P Madge in La Sylphide

There have been a number of different productions, where Madge has not only been played by a woman, but also by a man. So in a way their portrayal, will vary due to this. I can remember working with Ballet Rambert, in what must have been nearer to the Danish version, which was produced when the Company was unable to afford the fees for Taglioni and her Father.

In recent years Pierre Lacotte has revised the original production for the Paris Opera Ballet, which involved considerable research, in his production Madge is played by a Man. (DVD with Aurelie Dupont and Mathtui Ganio,) I do not get the impression Madge is anyway in love with James. To me she is a fortune teller and head of a coven who make spells and remedies In Act 1, when she enters the home of Effie to shelter, she tells the young couple, after reading their palms, they will never marry. But seems to favour Gurn's chances with Effie.

When James beguiled by The Sylph, follows her into the woods, he is desparate to catch her, and appeals to Madge to help him do so. Which she does by producing the fateful scarf. However, this is not without warning, as she firmly tells James how to use the scarf, and not to let it touch the Sylphs wings. In a way the Sylph submits to James, and tries to catch the scarf, but in his ignorance and desire to catch her, he accidently allows the scarf to knock off her wings. James is distraught, and weeps, tenderly holding the dying creature, as she is carried to the heavens by the other Sylphs, James sees Effie and Gurn making their way to church, broken hearted he turns to Madge, who reminds him of her warning and prophercy, and he falls to the ground in death. Madge almost seems to say " You were warned" but it is not evil or Mallicous.

with scorn, just the result of an old crone, who used her spells to help a desparate young man.

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I have seen Lacotte's La Sylphide on stage in Paris some years ago (with Isabella Ciaravola as the Sylph and a very young Mathieu Ganio as James), and and I noticed that in general his characters are less complex than the Bournonville ones. Lacottes witch is very much just a "standard witch", who would mostly leave you in peace if you don't come across her path or treat her badly like James does. One is wise to keep oneself out of her way. But the way she is characterized doesn't make you wondering who she "really" is or what her past might have been. She's probably born a witch and will stay like that for another 200 years. If she's offended she'll revenge herself and that's that, and in this case it's the end of James.

One thing I liked very much in the Paris version was the scene in the first act, where the Sylph mingles into the pas de deux of James and Effie, making it a pas de trois. Like a ghost she goes between them, only seen and felt by James. It is a real coup de theatre. I'm not sure if this pas de trois was in the original version by Taglioni or if it is an invention by Lacotte. But in any case it was a terrific moment.

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the interventional pas de trois is from the original Taglioni scheme so far as i can tell. it is a magical and mysterious in its way. the last act of LA BAYADERE originally included a similar pas de trois (or pas de deux a trois) when Nikiya comes phantomlike between Gamzatti and Solor in the last act as a Shade only Solor can see. the 'reconstruction' of this trio by Vikharev in his production of the ballet was one of its more memorable highlights: it's all shown in full light and yet one suspends disbelief and understands that only Solor can see this white-clad shadow; if mem. serves in this act Nikya's Shade is costumed with the sleeve/veils of the ensemble Shades from the Kingdom of the Shades scene.

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the interventional pas de trois is from the original Taglioni scheme so far as i can tell. it is a magical and mysterious in its way. the last act of LA BAYADERE originally included a similar pas de trois (or pas de deux a trois) when Nikiya comes phantomlike between Gamzatti and Solor in the last act as a Shade only Solor can see. the 'reconstruction' of this trio by Vikharev in his production of the ballet was one of its more memorable highlights: it's all shown in full light and yet one suspends disbelief and understands that only Solor can see this white-clad shadwo, if mem. serves in this act Nikya's Shade is costumed with the sleeve/veils of the ensemble Shades from the Kingdom of the Shades scene.

The Shade pas à trois in the Paris "La Sylphide" wasn't originally there. Yet it was interpolated some ten years after the premiere by Taglioni from his own 3-Act ballet "L'Ombre" created for St. Petersburg.

Nikiya does indeed appear in her Shade costume during the trio with Gamzatti and Solor in the Vikharev reconstruction.

Nanarina, of course the current Paris Sylphide by Lacotte involved a great deal of research, but choreographically it is still in essence a pastiche from the 1970's, while interpretation-wise it doesn't carry the same weight of tradition as the Danish version.

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thanks for the correction, Marc, about the 'history' of this trio. i should have checked my books instead of depending upon my imperfect memory.

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:clapping: Back to La Sylphide, I am trying to remember the production I worked on with Ballet Rambert, in the years before I went to The Royal Ballet. My memory is rather vague , but it can only be the Danish version I would think. I can remember that Madge was played by a Woman, and she was pretty scary, as were her associates. I think one could say they were evil. Certainly very different to Pierre Lacottes Madge. I must admit I do like the Paris version, the corp de ballet essemble's are beautiful, the music and steps converge as two rows of Dancers enter and move across , forming lines of different sizes, that finally meet in a wheel. the stage in gron jete

the well spaces groups, and clean lines of the choreography, is equisite.

I must admit I like very much the work of Pierre Lacotte. There is also another 20th century Choreographer I admire, that is Sir Peter Wright, formally Artistic Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet His Nutcracker is lovely, as well as Coppelia, and a production of Swan I I Lake., who has revived a number of the old classics, with great respect and authenticity to the original productions.

I must admit that I am not over keen on Nureyev's choreography, I find it a muddle of steps, too fussy, and lacking space and definition.

There seems to be no consideration foir the Dancers, to have breathing space, as he often put a step to every note, which must be almost inpossible to dance. I have read that many Dancers feel the same. Sorry if this has gone slightly off topic.

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Interview with Sorella Englund. Dance Magazine. April 2010.

You are famous for your interpretation of Madge the Witch in La Sylphide. Do you coach men and women differently in that role?

It’s about the personality of the human being dancing the role. There have been differences: Most men have a strong need to make it a power game, because their partner (James) is the same sex. Most women come with different ways of revenge, often more complex. I have never planned a different process for men and women. I could just see that it came out that way. Men have a huge dignity: “I am stronger than you, and you’re not kicking me out of this room!” For women, it is a sexual rejection: “I am not attractive.” I have wondered what it would be like for me as Madge were James to be danced by a woman. Then I might make it a power game. “Who are you with your skinny little waist to tell me what to do? I am older and wiser, so just go home and grow up!” It’s incredibly individual.

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Interview with Sorella Englund. Dance Magazine. April 2010.

You are famous for your interpretation of Madge the Witch in La Sylphide. Do you coach men and women differently in that role?

It’s about the personality of the human being dancing the role. There have been differences: Most men have a strong need to make it a power game, because their partner (James) is the same sex. Most women come with different ways of revenge, often more complex. I have never planned a different process for men and women. I could just see that it came out that way. Men have a huge dignity: “I am stronger than you, and you’re not kicking me out of this room!” For women, it is a sexual rejection: “I am not attractive.” I have wondered what it would be like for me as Madge were James to be danced by a woman. Then I might make it a power game. “Who are you with your skinny little waist to tell me what to do? I am older and wiser, so just go home and grow up!” It’s incredibly individual.

I always thought that Niels Bjorn Larsen was entirely successful as Madge and I have never been convinced by the characterisation of any female in the role including Miss Englund.

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Go and have a look at the video with Sorella Englund and Nikolaj Hübbe in La Sylphide, and I think you will be won over at the spot!

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Go and have a look at the video with Sorella Englund and Nikolaj Hübbe in La Sylphide, and I think you will be won over at the spot!

I have seen her live with the Royal Ballet on two occasions.

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Englund's interpretations of how the sexes interpret Madge is quite all right, when you think of it. It may not be the same interpretation as everyone's, though. I recall Roseanna Seravalli in ABT's first complete Sylphide, and she made the old woman a mighty adversary! After all, she's an earth spirit, the opposite of the Slyph, an air spirit. Remember, Enrico Cecchetti created Carabosse, in part because she had to be a strong character, and also because she had to be PHYSICALLY strong. That coach that she entered in had only three wheels, and must have required a good deal of muscle just to hang on while miming rant!

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Go and have a look at the video with Sorella Englund and Nikolaj Hübbe in La Sylphide, and I think you will be won over at the spot!

I have seen her live with the Royal Ballet on two occasions.

Well, then you can't be helped, I'm afraid :) . Did you ever see Jette Buchwald as Madge? She is a rather masculine witch with some of the wooden quality you also saw in Niels Bjørn Larsen (whom I have only seen on pictures, never live). Lis Jeppesen, the former sylph, also does Madge on stage nowadays, but she is maybe a too feminine and too fragile witch for my taste.

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