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Bayadère:shades interpretation


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#16 Mireille

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 05:50 AM

Thank you rg for posting Pomerantseva's picture!

#17 rg

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 06:57 AM

Maria Andreevna Pomerantseva seems (b. 1922) seems to have been a prominent soloist. tho' before i acquired this somewhat unique photo (what the soviets called a publicity card, i believe) - i realized this was a Shades soloist (variation dancer) and not Nikiya b/c of the gossamer veil/sleeves/wings of her costuming.
Her repertory included roles such as Florine, Lilac, Summer Fairy (CINDERELLA), Prelude (CHOPINIANA), Mazurka (SWAN LAKE), and Oksana (TARAS BULBA).
off topic: for some reason it was only w/ the latest outing ABT's Makarova staging of BAYADERE that i noted the absence of the veils/sleeves on the soloists' costuming. i can't now recall if the Prowse? costuming for Nureyev's 1963 staging of the Shades scene for the Royal Ballet included the veil detail that made the soloists look more like the corps de ballet than like Nikiya.
As shown in the Pomerantseva photo, Kirov tradition includes the veils on the soloist Shades.

#18 Dale

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:35 AM

I think some of the costumes changed this year. When I went to see it, Nikiya's costume appeared different than the one used last year.

#19 rg

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:47 AM

you are correct, D.
the costumes were rebuilt etc. very recently which is perhaps why i fixed on this detail now, but i have checked the nureyev royal ballet KINGDOM and makarova's royal and ABT stagings from the past, on video, and no veil/sleeves anywhere except in the kirov stagings. (i haven't double checked the bolshoi scheme.)
same 'bare arms' pertain to the POB nureyev staging.

#20 4mrdncr

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 07:39 PM

I always thought the Shade scene was Solor's opium-induced trance/dream. And like a mantra used for the same effect, REPETITION is the theme. Therefore, though I love Mel's image of the shades' entree as "descending on the fog that falls off the Himilayas", I believe that they are Solor's mantra: a repeated, refracted, reflection of Nikiya. But a Nikiya in some SERENE otherworld. Maybe it's Solor's vision of Nirvana, or just "in the middle, somewhat elevated", but wherever it is, it is REMOVED from the here & now. And because it is Solor's mantra/vision/dream, two things affect how the corps dance:

1) The required SYNCHRONOUS REPETITION of course, but maybe even more important...

2) When observed AS A WHOLE, the corps should not only be synchronous, but as if they are Solor's BREATHS in and out. Watch the choreography, there are hundreds of examples--eg. the first entrance: the arabesque is the exhale, the temps lie and efface (sorry my computer can't do accents) 5th arms the inhale. Up-inhale, step step down arabesque fondue-exhale. And later when they are all in their rows, again it should be very visible--each synchronous step like a simultaneous slow breath in and out; a visible manifistation of a trance/sleep/serenity...the most blatant example being when each upstage row does that temps lie, and then "lifts off' and bourres back: like taking a breath and then slowly exhaling. Even during the more allegro sections it's all up/inhale then down/exhale. (I don't think that circle on the floor is just imitating the wilis going up and down.)

3) So... because they are "otherworldly", because they are reflections/refractions of Nikiya repeated over and over like a mantra, their expression should be a serene (but enlightened, not blank) separateness.

IN THE PDD's:
Many times Nikiya and Solor MIRROR each other's movements and give the illusion of two parallel figures, not touching. --ie. SYNCHRONOUS REPETITION again. (Though of course, practically speaking, to dance it, the principals do touch). But visually, the only time Nikiya & Solor actually "touch"--or directly "communicate"-- is when the she "whispers" in (or actually it should appear more as a 'breath' beside) Solor's ear so that he follows her. The scarf is a connection, but again, impersonal. (I'm not sure if it has to do with the Hindu mythology, or simply a more tangible manifistation of a curling of opium smoke swirling between the two.)

AND FINALLY...
After observing numeous numerous rehearsals of this scene recently, I overheard a comment by the AD overseeing the rehearsal I think appropos to this discussion: when the girls in the corps pause in whatever step, they should not just look out blankly, their gaze should be slightly lifted to that otherworldly realm: serene & sublime.

Hope this helps and doesn't confuse the issue more. It's just my humble opinion (and some experience).

#21 87Sigfried87

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 01:59 AM

I always thought the Shade scene was Solor's opium-induced trance/dream. And like a mantra used for the same effect, REPETITION is the theme. Therefore, though I love Mel's image of the shades' entree as "descending on the fog that falls off the Himilayas", I believe that they are Solor's mantra: a repeated, refracted, reflection of Nikiya. But a Nikiya in some SERENE otherworld. Maybe it's Solor's vision of Nirvana, or just "in the middle, somewhat elevated", but wherever it is, it is REMOVED from the here & now. And because it is Solor's mantra/vision/dream, two things affect how the corps dance:

1) The required SYNCHRONOUS REPETITION of course, but maybe even more important...

2) When observed AS A WHOLE, the corps should not only be synchronous, but as if they are Solor's BREATHS in and out. Watch the choreography, there are hundreds of examples--eg. the first entrance: the arabesque is the exhale, the temps lie and efface (sorry my computer can't do accents) 5th arms the inhale. Up-inhale, step step down arabesque fondue-exhale. And later when they are all in their rows, again it should be very visible--each synchronous step like a simultaneous slow breath in and out; a visible manifistation of a trance/sleep/serenity...the most blatant example being when each upstage row does that temps lie, and then "lifts off' and bourres back: like taking a breath and then slowly exhaling. Even during the more allegro sections it's all up/inhale then down/exhale. (I don't think that circle on the floor is just imitating the wilis going up and down.)

3) So... because they are "otherworldly", because they are reflections/refractions of Nikiya repeated over and over like a mantra, their expression should be a serene (but enlightened, not blank) separateness.

Hope this helps and doesn't confuse the issue more. It's just my humble opinion (and some experience).


I like your Idea of the breath IN and OUT very much....it really makes sense now!also the idea of trance/sleep serenity and separateness is very good.However I think I'll have to do a big job on my pupils to teach them how to express such feeling of "serene and enlightened separateness",which is not easy to express for young dancers....but I will make it;-)!Thank You so much!

#22 dirac

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:00 AM

Thank you, dancerboy87, for starting this very interesting discussion.

I have always understood that the entire scene takes place not in heaven, or the beyond, but in Solor's drug-soaked brain, and the shades, as well as Nikiya herself, have no expression or emotions of their own; they are a reflection of Solor's pain and guilt. I believe that the shades are simply refracted versions of Nikiya rather than separate characters, so I imagine interpreting them has, to some extent, to depend on how Solor himself is being characterized. Doubly so with Nikiya. Directing the scene would, I imagine, begin with Solor and procede from there, which is a complicated business if you are really concerned with characterization as much as dancing. Personally, I think Makarova's emphasis on style is probably a good idea, leaving the response open to the audience's imagination.


I can't put it better than popularlibrary.

#23 rg

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 10:31 AM

it's interesting note that the opium element was not part of the original libretto.
in 1877, the following is how the libretto (according to Wiley's translation) describes the action that precedes Solor's sighting of the shade of Nikiya before he falls "unconscious on the divan" and then, in his dream(?) enters The Kingdom of the Shades:
"The fakir Madhavaya watches [Solor] with a look of profound pity, then orders snake charmers brought in (a man and a woman), to drive the evil spirit from Solor's body. (Comic Dance.)"
so NO opium hookha, etc.

#24 87Sigfried87

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 12:31 PM

Thank you, dancerboy87, for starting this very interesting discussion.


You are welcome!Who can help directing a scene better than the public who normally sees it?;-)That is why I ask in here when I have doubts on something concerning ballet.

#25 carbro

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Posted 15 August 2008 - 02:21 PM

Who can help directing a scene better than the public who normally sees it?;-)

:huh: Oh, I'm so glad somebody finally realizes that!

Please keep us posted on how your students are coming along. You've given them an ambitious assignment.

#26 87Sigfried87

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 01:31 AM

:huh: Oh, I'm so glad somebody finally realizes that!

Please keep us posted on how your students are coming along. You've given them an ambitious assignment.


ehehe!I'm just one and I think very different from how dancers and teachers usually think.Here teachers are only keen on extensions and good bodies,without taking care of interpretation and of understanding a role or a ballet deeply....dancers are even worse unfortunately!

For sure I'll keep you posted and yes,I always give them hard challenges,so that they can grow faster :o.I hope the director of the school will give me enough power to make my projects on them come true,and enough approval and support,too!This is hard to find and I'm a new teacher in the school,even if i collaborated with them last year!Let's just hope :wink: !

#27 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2008 - 07:35 AM

Sorry for not posting in here for such a long long time,but I've been away,studying with the Cubans;-).

I know it's :off topic: , but did you go to Havana to Mme.'s School...? How was it...?!

#28 87Sigfried87

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Posted 17 August 2008 - 01:29 AM

Sorry for not posting in here for such a long long time,but I've been away,studying with the Cubans;-).

I know it's :off topic: , but did you go to Havana to Mme.'s School...? How was it...?!


I knew you would have asked me :huh: !

I studied with Ramona De Saa,the director of the school of the Ballet Nacional and her daughter.They come here in Italy every summer near Turin,so I stayed there for a while.They also gave me a sort of scholarship to study more with them.

Well,I had never studied Cuban method,always Russian method, but I can say I really like it very much.The first week was very strange: I had pain anywhere (because of the tough lesson!) and it was quite hard to perfectly follow the lesson...I think you know they have different ports de bras,they don't have a plié excercise at the barre,they do hundreds of pliés-relevé also at the centre,they make you stop every jump,especially the jeté-en-attitude-croisé in plié with leg up and make you stay so for 24/8 ehehehhe :wink: .But then I have improved a lot!(and have already lost it,as my last lesson wa there three weeks ago....).
I loved when they put revoltade at the end of the Grande-Valse excercise.In Italy nobody does,it would look weird! :lol:

Anyway if I could study a whole year or just three months with those teachers I would be 100 times better,I'd have at least 5 pirouettes...Great method,really! I'm thinking about going to Cuba next summer and study there for 2/3 months....we'll see :wink: !

#29 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 August 2008 - 05:50 AM

I studied with Ramona De Saa,the director of the school of the Ballet Nacional and her daughter.They come here in Italy every summer near Turin,so I stayed there for a while.They also gave me a sort of scholarship to study more with them.

Well,I had never studied Cuban method,always Russian method, but I can say I really like it very much.The first week was very strange: I had pain anywhere (because of the tough lesson!) and it was quite hard to perfectly follow the lesson...I think you know they have different ports de bras,they don't have a plié excercise at the barre,they do hundreds of pliés-relevé also at the centre,they make you stop every jump,especially the jeté-en-attitude-croisé in plié with leg up and make you stay so for 24/8 ehehehhe :huh: .But then I have improved a lot!(and have already lost it,as my last lesson wa there three weeks ago....).
I loved when they put revoltade at the end of the Grande-Valse excercise.In Italy nobody does,it would look weird! :wink:

Anyway if I could study a whole year or just three months with those teachers I would be 100 times better,I'd have at least 5 pirouettes...Great method,really! I'm thinking about going to Cuba next summer and study there for 2/3 months....we'll see


Beautiful. You just made me feel green with the most indecent envy... :wink: Happy to have you home. Keep on the great work man...! :off topic:

#30 87Sigfried87

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Posted 17 August 2008 - 10:31 AM

Beautiful. You just made me feel green with the most indecent envy... :huh: Happy to have you home. Keep on the great work man...! :off topic:


Thank you!I hope to get the chance to take some lessons during the year,somewhere and with a cuban maitre....but here they only teach russian and try to teach french method....Let's just hope! :wink:


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