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Rose Adagio balancesa poll


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Poll: The Rose Adagio balances (70 member(s) have cast votes)

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

  1. Yes - an Aurora who can't hold the balances shouldn't dance Aurora (45 votes [64.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 64.29%

  2. No - it's only 5 minutes out of a 2 hour ballet (12 votes [17.14%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.14%

  3. I don't care either way (13 votes [18.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.57%

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#1 canbelto

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 09:36 AM

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.

#2 Hans

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 10:10 AM

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.

#3 Paul Parish

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 02:11 PM

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.

#4 carbro

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 02:16 PM

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.

#5 papeetepatrick

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 02:54 PM

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.

#6 bart

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 02:59 PM

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.

#7 Helene

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 04:31 PM

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

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 04:52 PM

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.

#9 ngitanjali

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Posted 14 September 2008 - 07:11 PM

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

#10 bart

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 06:17 AM

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.



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.

#11 Hans

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 07:10 AM

And here 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?

#12 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 09:16 AM

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

#13 Paul Parish

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 09:42 AM

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?

#14 Cygnet

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 09:54 AM

(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.

#15 papeetepatrick

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Posted 15 September 2008 - 10:13 AM

[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 here 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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