Barbara

That Jump Into Swan Lake

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This is something I've been wanting to ask the experts for a long time. I've always wondered about the backstage magic that allows dancers to jump into Swan Lake unharmed. Now I know some dancers daintily lean off the cliff but last ABT Met season David Hallberg took such a bold jump with such velocity that the audience collectively gasped. He literally flung himself off the cliff, head inclined upward (in beautiful form of course) and I feared for his life :off topic: Is there simply a huge mattress on the floor? It has to be more than that or injuries would surely take place. Do tell!

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The sight of Jose Carreno bouncing back up behind the rocks :off topic: (at least twice in my experience) vaguely suggests that there's something other than a lake back there.

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From My Source At ABT:

The Siegfrieds (and the Swan Queens) jump onto a mattress. Typically, there are a few crew members there to spot them, and they also hold up cardboard signs rating the dives from 1-10. This is true.

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From My Source At ABT:
The Siegfrieds (and the Swan Queens) jump onto a mattress. Typically, there are a few crew members there to spot them, and they also hold up cardboard signs rating the dives from 1-10. This is true.

That is hillarious. I'd love to get the backstage view sometime!

Does your source say who tends to get the highest ratings? :off topic:

inquiring minds want to know!!

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Really? That mattress must be VERY cushy and the spotters VERY strong! That is so funny about Carreno - I must admit I've never seen anything like a double-bounce! And the 1-10 rating is hilarious. Thanks!

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I must admit I've never seen anything like a double-bounce!
Then have a look at Le Train Bleu on the 1994 Paris Opera Ballet dvd, Picasso and Dance. The "Handsome Youth" exits by belly-flopping into what appears to be the sea, then emerging and doing a somersault in the air before diving off again. Really thrilling! :off topic: (Of course that effect is intentional.)

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In 2005, I don't know if he did it before, Marcelo Gomez did a fantastic leap. It was the last defiant act of a Prince totally commited to his love and destroying Von Rothebart. Marcelo rose majestically & arched his back, with perfectly pointed feet, with his arms spread out, with total abandoment. The audience gasped. A definite 10. Carlos Acosta did a similar jump, another 10, and more gasps from the audience.

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Was it Mirella Freni, who, taking her final leap off the wall in her farewell performance of Tosca, bounced back up into audience view with a very surprised moue on her face? I remember the debate afterward, among those who claimed she meant to do that as sort of "closing night follies" and those who disagreed.

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Was it Mirella Freni, who, taking her final leap off the wall in her farewell performance of Tosca, bounced back up into audience view with a very surprised moue on her face? I remember the debate afterward, among those who claimed she meant to do that as sort of "closing night follies" and those who disagreed.

Here is another story of a leap gone wrong -- again during Tosca. (Tosca, City Centre, New York, 1960)

And perhaps a warning to Divas that they should be kind to theatre staff!

Whereas most such disasters depend on some element of misunderstanding and incompetence among the stage-management, this catastrophe is -- delightfully -- due entirely to ill-will, in this case between the stage staff and the soprano. With diabolical cunning they permitted her, after several stormy rehearsals, to complete her first performance without mishap until the very last moment, when Tosca throws herself off the battlements of the Castel Sant'Angelo. What normally happens is that on her cry 'Scarpia, davanti a Dio' she hurls herself off and lands on a mattress four feet below (who but Callas has ever looked totally convincing at that moment? -- Her out-stretched hands haunt the memory). But in this case it was not Callas but a large young American who landed not on a mattress, but -- perish the thought -- on a trampoline. It is said that she came up fifteen times before the curtain fell -- sometimes upside down, then the right way up -- now laughing in delirious glee, now screaming with rage...

Great Operatic Disasters
by Hugh Vickers. page 12

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I was backstage as a Super in Tosca, they used a mattress and several stagehands. We called it....

Diva Diving!

A dancer can pick up more speed than a Opera Singer, is a single mattress used or perhaps a track and field high-jump "pit"?

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