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Rose Adagio balances

The Rose Adagio balances   85 members have voted

  1. 1. Is it necessary for Auroras to make the "crown" 5th position over their heads?

    • Yes - an Aurora who can't hold the balances shouldn't dance Aurora
      55
    • No - it's only 5 minutes out of a 2 hour ballet
      15
    • I don't care either way
      15

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131 posts in this topic

Whenever I watch Sleeping Beauty I always think of how much better it is when Auroras can make the "crown" over their heads. When you watch Sleeping Beauty do you think it's necessary for Auroras to do that? I don't think it's absolutely necessary but I do enjoy the performance so much more when they can bring down the house with those long balances.

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I don't think it's necessary for ballerinas to raise their arms to 3rd position between partners. The point, for me, is that they are supported by each prince in turn, with a secure, regal (however short the duration) balance in between.

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I think it's part of her character -- she's going to be queen someday, she's got to be sovereign, able to stand on her own without collapsing -- it's a metaphor for that.

But she can't just go for it. She's also got to be gracious in the midst of all these difficulties; she can't just look "Excuse me can't you see I'm busy."

It's not necessary, and in fact it's kinda vulgar, to MILK the balances, make the conductor slow down, though the right dancer can work that to her advantage if she's being adorable in the process, and maybe just saves it for the last one. It's also OK if she is in transition from one to another -- she doesn't have to get the other arm all the way to high fifth (or 3rd as you call it Hans) every time, so long as her aplomb is solid through the torso and we aren't WORRIED about her, she can be using that hand to greet this guest from a far-flung land -- she MUST look intelligent, at least a little curious ("Have you come far?"), her eyes are at least as important in these moments as getting that arm en couronne.

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I voted "don't care," not because I don't but because my idea of what Aurora should do wasn't there.

I think her eyes must meet each those of each suitor -- not the floor three feet behind him. She should appear calm and impervious, moving slowly. The worst thing an Aurora can do -- worse than falling -- is grab anxiously for the next guy's hand. If anyone should panic, it's not Aurora. She's a princess and nothing bad has ever happened to her (that she can recall), so why should gravity mess up her party? Aurora must be confident and serene.

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The worst thing an Aurora can do -- worse than falling -- is grab anxiously for the next guy's hand.

I think I have seen this, even though not every guy's hand, and that gives the artificial quality--something like a test she's got to pass.

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The worst thing an Aurora can do -- worse than falling -- is grab anxiously for the next guy's hand. If anyone should panic, it's not Aurora. She's a princess and nothing bad has ever happened to her (that she can recall), so why should gravity mess up her party? Aurora must be confident and serene.

I also voted "don't care," and largely for carbro's reasons (though I could never have expressed them so clearly and cogently).

Nowadays the audience seems to approach and the balances as a kind of acrobatic test. This, rightly or wrongly, undercuts some of the larger metaphoric significance of this particular port de bras.

Paul's discussion of the different possibilities facing the ballerina makes a great deal sense and should be taped to dressing room mirrors wherever SB is being danced. Thanks, Paul.

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For me, the "test" of "Sleeping Beauty" is how Aurora's Vision is danced.

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I once saw an Aurora who had obviously been cast for the Vision Scene. The rest of the performance was one of the most nerve-wracking evenings I've ever spent in a theater.

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Beautifully written

I still think of a clip of...someone, (BW so probs Fonteyn), whom I saw on television when I was about 10 or so. After the 3rd balance, she did not take the partner's hand, but just posed, smiling serenely at the 4th partner--it was as though they were having a conversation just via their eyes. She never once looked down at the floor, and it just seemed so natural that he would wait for he to finish, and then theywould go through the last pose together. So beautiful

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I still think of a clip of...someone, (BW so probs Fonteyn), whom I saw on television when I was about 10 or so. After the 3rd balance, she did not take the partner's hand, but just posed, smiling serenely at the 4th partner--it was as though they were having a conversation just via their eyes. She never once looked down at the floor, and it just seemed so natural that he would wait for he to finish, and then theywould go through the last pose together. So beautiful

Here's a 1955 clip of the early part of the passage which appears to be shot in a studio, for tv. It cuts off before the final balances.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmbI8azLrS8

It's not Fonteyn at her best, and the tv camera of the day does not flatter her, especially in one closeup shot of her legs. However, as the passage proceeds, Fonteyn does seems to become more secure -- and therefore radiant.

Although the quality of the picture doesn't allow you to look closely at her eyes, you can see that she is making eye contact with those around her. This is especially striking towards the end of the clip where, as she receives each rose, she actually LOOKS at it with delight as she transfers it to her other hand, and even appears to smell its perfurme. I've seen other Auroras who don't look at the flowers at all, possibly because they're so focused on performing the balance impressively.

It is in details like this, I think, that the viewer gets an impression of the character -- and the destiny -- of Aurora. More than any specific port de bras, this quality of being entirely engaged in the action, of paying close attention to what is going on, is what separates the best Auroras from the rest of the field.

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And

is the rest of Fonteyn's Rose Adagio (apparently later in her career than the video Bart posted), including the balances at the end, which I think she does perfectly. The arm stays in 3rd long enough to tell us that she is perfectly on balance, it moves up and down calmly, without any desperate grasping, and she appears to always be looking at her partners' eyes, although it is a little bit difficult to tell given the film quality.

Edit: Ok, I just watched two of my favorite ballerinas (Zhanna Ayupova and a very young Larissa Lezhnina) dance the Rose Adagio, and I would really like to hear from someone who knows more about how this role is generally danced at the Mariinsky because while both ballerinas were extremely courteous with their partners throughout, they both distinctly looked away from them during the balances. Is it just a matter of different characterization?

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'm pretty sure that color footage is only about 4 years later than the b&w tv footage, from 1959.

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Wow! Thank you Hans! This is thrilling! Look how she takes that pique -- she steps INTO that atttitude like a diver in Acapulco taking off -- from then on, everything else is just finishing out the phrase! Unbelievable!

I'd seen this before, but not for years, and the black and white 50s one was more familiar. She's so musical -- and very different from the earlier interpretation, glorious in another way. Quite abstract, or Caroline Brown -- the Cunningham company had been there, this video is from the 60s, Ashton had made or was making Monotones in response to the Cunningham revelations.... It also looks more like Allegra kent, without of course Allegra's mannerisms, but more like Allegra's way of being musical, but still, more like a musical instrument than an actress, and less like a singer than like a violin. Of course, the camera angles tend in hte same direction, eschewing close-up details and emphasizing the perfection of the grand design -- but it IS perfect, and it IS grand, it is GRAND. Nobilissima visione.

Who was conducting? Is that Lambert?

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(Zhanna Ayupova and a very young Larissa Lezhnina) dance the Rose Adagio, and I would really like to hear from someone who knows more about how this role is generally danced at the Mariinsky because while both ballerinas were extremely courteous with their partners throughout, they both distinctly looked away from them during the balances. Is it just a matter of different characterization?

All of the Maryinsky ballerinas that I've seen (live or canned), look away. My guess, (and I stress this), is that it's company tradition. Aurora is being presented to her court on the day of her coming of age, in that very old fashioned sense of the word "debutante." In that sense, the balances may be Aurora's 'curtsies' to each Prince. Consider the era in which this ballet was created: Debutante events were the norm for young women of royalty and high birth. As a debutante Princess it would have been considered forward or unseemly to look her suitors directly in the eye. So, my theory is that the balances are her

special display of both regal modesty and pride. MO.

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[it's not Fonteyn at her best, and the tv camera of the day does not flatter her, especially in one closeup shot of her legs. However, as the passage proceeds, Fonteyn does seems to become more secure -- and therefore radiant.

I wondered if it's the costume too, because this is the only time I've ever seen Fonteyn look downright chunky.

And
is the rest of Fonteyn's Rose Adagio (apparently later in her career than the video Bart posted), including the balances at the end, which I think she does perfectly. The arm stays in 3rd long enough to tell us that she is perfectly on balance, it moves up and down calmly, without any desperate grasping, and she appears to always be looking at her partners' eyes, although it is a little bit difficult to tell given the film quality.

It's wonderful, but since this has been singled out from the rest of the context of the ballet as the feat that it is, I wonder if anyone has ever seem the arm really move calmly, i.e., I agree Fonteyn's doesn't seem at all grasping or desperate, but it does still move quite rapidly. I know this sounds a bit too much 'sports' to talk about it like this, but there might be other (and even lesser artists, of course) ballerinas who have managed to get the balances and let the arm float down a bit more relaxedly still; I can see it having a very wonderful imperious quality to it if it worked. I'm not sure I've ever seen that, but somebody must have; and to be able to do so would, I would think, completely remove all sense that there is some thought of the difficulty going on. What I really don't like is a ballerina who snatches the roses earlier, and that's not difficult not to do, because the best don't.

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One might say that by looking down, the Auroras are expressing modesty. One might also say that it helps a person balance. Fixing on something stationary helps, because we orient visually as well as with the inner ear and the "feeling" of alignment.

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If Odile starts skipping the 32 fouettees, and Aurora her balances, and all due to lack of technique...what's next...? We might as well start skipping pointwort and keep making changes, so maybe one of this days we will be able to see Britney Spears dancing the roles...why not!

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If Odile starts skipping the 32 fouettees, and Aurora her balances, and all due to lack of technique...what's next...? We might as well start skipping pointwort and keep making changes, so maybe one of this days we will be able to see Britney Spears dancing the roles...why not!

Well, Plisetskaya didn't do the fouettés, and life went on. :) I don't think anyone's talking about removing the balances (équilibres), just doing them differently.

Cygnet and carbro, I was actually thinking it was probably an expression of modesty (as well as being much easier to balance that way). I notice even Fonteyn looks away during the promenades.

Papeetepatrick, in my opinion, the ballerina doesn't actually have to lower her arm slowly so much as calmly. One can be both calm and swift, and in addition to the practical concern of staying on pointe, there is also that of the music, which has to be slowed down if she is going to raise her arm to 3rd because it takes more time to get to that position, and also she will need more time to prepare for each balance. If we add to that the prescription that the arm must move slowly up and down, the music would be a dirge! :o I do think that the ballerina with the calmest, most regal movement in this section is Sizova. Her movements are not really slow, but there is a secure regularity to them. The arm goes up, the arm goes down, without any hint of either insecurity or showing off. It is easy to find her rose adagio by searching "sizova rose". It includes her entrance and variation as well--and she doesn't snatch the roses, which I also can't stand. :clapping:

By the way, to watch a few ballerinas who do not raise the arm all the way, Lezhnina's and Ayupova's performances are online. Certainly no one can say they lack technique, and I definitely prefer their restrained performances to that of some other ballerinas who bite off more than they can chew.

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I do think that the ballerina with the calmest, most regal movement in this section is Sizova. Her movements are not really slow, but there is a secure regularity to them. The arm goes up, the arm goes down, without any hint of either insecurity or showing off.

Thank you, Hans, for that Link. These are indeed very serene and secure balances. The camera angle (shooting from above) seems to heighten the appearance of difficulty, or even peril, and create an intrusive feeling of suspense. The look is, to me, awkward and distracting.

In your post you mentioned tempo. It seems to me -- though I don't have a metronome -- that the tempi in parts of this were very languid indeed. Fonteyn's speed created a sense of adolescent excitement. I'm not sure exactly what the tempi here are meant to convey.

As for the roses, Sizova seems to accept them with equanimity, as her due, and registers no response. The problem of what to do with them in the end is resolved in an interesting fashion, I think. She tosses them gently at her mother's feet and we see a young page pick them up and present them quite gallantly to the Queen. Unfortunately, this requires the camera to cut away from Aurora.

A question: What's with that long, excruciatingly slow harp passage? Is this telling us something about Aurora? about Tchaikovsky? or about Soviet taste when filming ballet for the general public? :clapping:

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I recall reading that Petipa asked Tchaikovsky to insert that harp passage, but I don't know if that is 100% true. I don't really like it, to be honest, although it does give Aurora a moment to express her shyness--she walks to the center of the stage, poses in preparation, then gets nervous and runs over to her mother for encouragement.

Different ballerinas do different things with the roses--the original production, I recall reading, had Aurora throw them onto the ground. I like what Sizova does, and Asylmuratova is particularly gracious, actually kneeling (or coming close to it) and carefully spreading the flowers at her mother's feet.

Re: tempo, yes, the Mariinsky is never exactly perky at this point, which is why I'm concerned that if it slowed down any more, I'm afraid some of the wind instrument players would faint!

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I'm having a lot of fun watching these videos all you "oh-so-well-informed" BT'ers are posting. Lately I've been trying to educate myself on some of the great dancers of the past, so these videos fit me to a tee.

One small thing that has struck me is how the suitors costumes have become less and less cumbersome over the years. In one of the oldest clips given in posts above I simply couldn't believe that the production folks would have put those male dancers in such huge costumes (they nearly looked like a bunch of firefighters in asbestos suits.....OK, I exaggerate :clapping:). Even though the suitors don't dance per se, I would have thought such costumes would be in Aurora's way during the Rose Adagio.

Interesting how aesthetics change over time.

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I do think that the ballerina with the calmest, most regal movement in this section is Sizova. Her movements are not really slow, but there is a secure regularity to them. The arm goes up, the arm goes down, without any hint of either insecurity or showing off. It is easy to find her rose adagio by searching "sizova rose". It includes her entrance and variation as well--and she doesn't snatch the roses, which I also can't stand. :clapping:

Oh, what a lovely continuation of an already beautiful autumn day, Hans! (I hope it's nice there too). Not that I watched it on the clip yet, but this gives me the right to watch the regal Sizova movement yet again. Or anyway, I'm going to look at it that way. I'm not going to watch the clip because now I'm going to get the movie out and watch it again and enjoy the aniticipation within the context of the whole movie. Oh, what license and indulgence--yes, I always like what you say about Sizova, and when I first saw the movie I'd never seen a more enchanting ballerina. And I still haven't. But now I get to watch the whole thing again because I must see these regal movements in context...it would simply be unseemly any other way... :o

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Oh, well, Sizova, hands down, please. A while ago, before ABT came over with their Beauty, i asked some advice to BT'rs on who to watch to get some comparison, being the Soloviev/Sizova film the only SB that i ever owned-(which i have memorized from the thousand times I've seen it). Taking some advices, I did some digging around Youtube-(Durante, Bussell, Zakharova, and some others)-just to reaffirm my total devotion to those glorious soviets Aurora/Desire.

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THough I actually prefer Fonteyn in the adagio, there's NOBODY who can do Aurora's first solo like SIzova -- that is the most beautiful, thrilling, , unbelievably light performance of those leaps and turns I can imagine -- the amplitude,the timing is unbelievable. Unbelievable nautural gift.

Oh, well, Sizova, hands down, please. A while ago, before ABT came over with their Beauty, i asked some advice to BT'rs on who to watch to get some comparison, being the Soloviev/Sizova film the only SB that i ever owned-(which i have memorized from the thousand times I've seen it). Taking some advices, I did some digging around Youtube-(Durante, Bussell, Zakharova, and some others)-just to reaffirm my total devotion to those glorious soviets Aurora/Desire.

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