Sacto1654

A modern "reference" version of Swan Lake?

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Here's a link to Ismene Brown's interview with Yuri Fateev, the Kirov/Mariinsky's new ballet director, referred to by leonid in an earlier post.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml.../13/btdance.xml

The following portion of the interview is especially relevant to this discussion. (I've put some interesting information regarding Irina Kolpakova in boldface.):

But, I say, what about the fact that the Kirov keeps throwing up dancers of extreme flexibility who distort classical line - 20 years ago it was Yulia Makhalina, then Svetlana Zakharova, and now Alina Somova is the latest hyper-bendy Kirov ballerina dismaying purists.

Fateev is at ease with such variations. His approach appears to be accommodating but not lax, given that he wants (supported strongly by Gergiev) to lure the iconic Kirov classicist Irina Kolpakova back as coach from America to re-establish shapes and lines. For well over a century, St Petersburg has regularly produced physically amazing dancers, the ones who redefine the "look", from Anna Pavlova and Olga Spessivtseva on, and Fateev adores Zakharova.

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A couple of comments:

1) I've LOVE to see the Royal Ballet do a true reconstruction of the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov version of this ballet. Given that several people here say the Royal Ballet version is closest to the 1895 original, it wouldn't take much to pull it off. The Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet could do it but given Fateev's dislike of "historical reconstructions" and the fact the dancing style of the 1895 original is quite different than the 1950 Sergeyev version, that could be a bit of a challenge.

2) I wouldn't be surprised that Fateev has his way and Irina Kolpakova returns as a coach. Kolpakova is a highly-respected name in the history of the Kirov/Mariinsky company and she would be more than welcome to return as coach to the ballet company by almost everyone there.

3) Mel, you wrote "Perhaps the time has come for a museum company, which could stage the "reference" versions of classics and historically important ballets, and perform them in ways that would both enlighten AND entertain a modern audience." All I can say is :clapping: The Kirov/Mariinsky company was during the latter half of the 19th Century the most influential ballet company on Earth, and I would love to see them revive many of Petipa's old ballets, NOT in the original dancing style of the period, but in a more modern dancing style that today's balletomanes can appreciate.

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That's why I recommended a "curator" mentality for the ballet masters. Being a curator myself, I know that I'm always seeking new ways of extracting information from a subject artifact, and that should be the objective of a "keeper of the flame" production. The metaphor is not lightly used!

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A couple of comments:

.... and I would love to see them revive many of Petipa's old ballets, NOT in the original dancing style of the period, but in a more modern dancing style that today's balletomanes can appreciate.

We do not know the original dancing style of the Petipa Classics and in the case of Swan Lake perhaps the nearest measure today would be from those who remember the Sadler’s Wells production with Alicia Markova staged by Nicholas Sergeyev. I saw Margot Fonteyn dance Swan Lake on numerous occasions with a variety of partners and with a wide variance in her technical ability.

It is my personal opinion, that in all probability Fonteyn at her best, danced Swan Lake in a style not too dissimilar from earlier St. Petersburg exponents of Odette/Odile but perhaps some distance from the style of Legnani.

I have in the past had friends who saw both Vera Trefilova and Fonteyn in the role(s) and gave fulsome praise to them both without particularising a gulf in performance style only in personality.

I would be quite happy to see Odette/Odile performed in the manner of Fonteyn at her best in a reconstruction, but extremely unhappy to see it danced in such a production in the current manner of either Lopatkina or Zakharova.

I am of the opinion that serious followers of the classical ballet tradition would welcome a reconstruction of Swan Lake. For a new audience who had never seen Swan Lake it would become their "reference" version. I however remember balletomanes and fans complaining about Swan Lake and Bayadere reconstructions as they were too long and not as exciting as other productions.

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I would be quite happy to see Odette/Odile performed in the manner of Fonteyn at her best in a reconstruction, but extremely unhappy to see it danced in such a production in the current manner of either Lopatkina or Zakharova.

I am of the opinion that serious followers of the classical ballet tradition would welcome a reconstruction of Swan Lake. For a new audience who had never seen Swan Lake it would become their "reference" version. I however remember balletomanes and fans complaining about Swan Lake and Bayadere reconstructions as they were too long and not as exciting as other productions.

If any ballet company were to try to do a "historical reconstruction" of the original 1895 Petipa/Ivanov version, the way Odette/Odile is danced by Ulyana Lopatkina or Svetlana Zakharova is out of the question--their dancing styles are too modern for a "historical reconstruction."

By the way, the old Sergeyev Collection at Harvard University does include a full dance notation for the 1895 production of Swan Lake, so doing an authentic historical reconstruction is quite possible.

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I seem to recall an interview from a couple of years ago in which Alexei Ratmansky (then A.D. of the Bolshoi Ballet) expressed an interest in staging the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake from the Stepanov notations. He and Yuri Burlaka (the current AD of Bolshoi) were considering it together, at the time that they were staging the "reconstructed" Corsaire. I recall that Ratmansky said something to the effect of "It's a shame that this greatest version of Swan Lake isn't performed anywhere in the world.." which prompted me to write in one of the on-line fora -- perhaps BalletTalk -- "Go to London!" In sum, it was considered for the Bolshoi. It's a shame that this came to nothing.

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I seem to recall an interview from a couple of years ago in which Alexei Ratmansky (then A.D. of the Bolshoi Ballet) expressed an interest in staging the 1895 Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake from the Stepanov notations. He and Yuri Burlaka (the current AD of Bolshoi) were considering it together, at the time that they were staging the "reconstructed" Corsaire. I recall that Ratmansky said something to the effect of "It's a shame that this greatest version of Swan Lake isn't performed anywhere in the world.." which prompted me to write in one of the on-line fora -- perhaps BalletTalk -- "Go to London!" In sum, it was considered for the Bolshoi. It's a shame that this came to nothing.

I posted a link to a Ratmansky interview you refer to http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol...icle2073183.ece in Ballet Talk on July 28 2007 which the reference to ‘Swan Lake’ and Ratmansky which you responded to knowledgeably as follows (in full), “Perhaps Ratmansky should go to London to see the Royal Ballet's 'Swan Lake,' which is the 1895 Petipa-Ivanov, with the exception of David Bintley's Act I Waltz and Ashton's Act III Neopolitan Dance. It's not as if the Bolshoi would be the only company out there doing the 1895 Swan Lake.

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I posted a link to a Ratmansky interview you refer to http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol...icle2073183.ece in Ballet Talk on July 28 2007 which the reference to ‘Swan Lake’ and Ratmansky which you responded to knowledgeably as follows (in full), “Perhaps Ratmansky should go to London to see the Royal Ballet's 'Swan Lake,' which is the 1895 Petipa-Ivanov, with the exception of David Bintley's Act I Waltz and Ashton's Act III Neopolitan Dance. It's not as if the Bolshoi would be the only company out there doing the 1895 Swan Lake.

Let's try this corrected link:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol...icle2073183.ece

I would LOVE to see Ratmansky attempt this with the American Ballet Theatre--if he can find the right dancers!

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Speaking of the "reference" version of Swan Lake, I'm really glad the Mariinsky Ballet doesn't perform the Vinogradov version from 1988. I've had someone describe to me the choreography of the Vinogradov version and the end of the ballet had a scene that looked a bit too much like the average large-scale Las Vegas production. :crying: All the more reason why I think the Konstantin Sergeyev 1950 version is the closest thing to the "reference" version of the ballet, with the Sir Frederic Ashton version for the Royal Ballet being a close second (some would say the closest because it's almost identical to the original Petipa/Ivanov 1895 version).

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Speaking of the "reference" version of Swan Lake, I'm really glad the Mariinsky Ballet doesn't perform the Vinogradov version from 1988. I've had someone describe to me the choreography of the Vinogradov version and the end of the ballet had a scene that looked a bit too much like the average large-scale Las Vegas production. :crying: All the more reason why I think the Konstantin Sergeyev 1950 version is the closest thing to the "reference" version of the ballet, with the Sir Frederic Ashton version for the Royal Ballet being a close second (some would say the closest because it's almost identical to the original Petipa/Ivanov 1895 version).

I first saw the Kirov's Sergeyev version as a teenager in 1961 and subsequently on a number of other occasions. It can only be called a "reference" production for the Kirov Ballet alone, as it is not an "authentic" version of the Petipa/Ivanov original and I do not know on what basis you can elevate its status to that of "reference" production as I understand that it included inherited material later than the origiinal . Please elucidate further in respect of actual choreographic content of the Sergeyev production as this subject is considered important, as shown in earlier postings.

As referred to earlier by others, the latest RB choreographic version is closer to the Petipa/Ivanov production and has a greater claim to being a "universal reference" production than any other current production in spite the two clear amendments it contains, as mentioned elsewhere.

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As referred to earlier by others, the latest RB choreographic version is closer to the Petipa/Ivanov production and has a greater claim to being a "universal reference" production than any other current production in spite the two clear amendments it contains, as mentioned elsewhere.

As I said earlier, I would agree because other than a few changes here and there, the current Royal Ballet version is pretty much what Petipa and Ivanov envisioned in the 1895 production. I think if Petipa were alive today he probably would recognize the Royal Ballet version easily.

However, ballet fans east of the former Iron Curtain would probably prefer the Sergeyev version, if only because that version has been performed pretty much unchanged all over Eastern Europe since it premiered in 1950. Petipa might not recognize the Sergeyev version, especially since (I believe) it integrated the major changes in the corps de ballet choreography in Act II (or Act I Scene 2 as it's known in Russia) by Agrippina Vaganova introduced in 1933.

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Petipa might not recognize the Sergeyev version, especially since (I believe) it integrated the major changes in the corps de ballet choreography in Act II (or Act I Scene 2 as it's known in Russia) by Agrippina Vaganova introduced in 1933.

Please tell us how Sergeyev could possibly have known about the Vaganova production?

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there seems to be a confusion here between Konstantin Sergeyev and Nicholas Sergeyev.

but in any case don't most soviet versions of SWAN LAKE refer more to Gorsky's first lakeside scene than to Ivanov's?

i suspect Gusev's 'sense' of Act 2 for Burmeister also came through a 'Gorsky' line, if memory serves today's Burmeister stagings look very Gorsky for this lakeside and much less Ivanov-esque.

Swan lake : Burmeister and Gusev after Ivanov and Petipa, M)

Original title: Lebedinoe ozero. Chor: Vladimir Burmeister (Acts I, III, IV) and Petr Gusev (Act II) after Ivanov and Petipa; mus: Petr Chaikovskii; lib: Vladimir Begichev and Vasilii Gel'tzer; scen: A. Lushin; cos: E. Arkhangel'skaia. First perf: Moscow, Stanislavskii and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, Apr 25, 1953, Stanislavskii and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater Ballet.

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Does anyone happen to know which production is performed on the 1968 video with Yevteyeva as Odette? I just received this DVD today, but it contains precious little information. Yevteyeva is marvelous, though. :)

I think we may have to come to terms with the idea that no Swan Lake today is really all that similar to the original 1895 production. Perhaps the general choreographic outline is still there as well as some of the steps, but unless someone takes the notations and reconstructs the ballet à la Sleeping Beauty, what we see today is not a reproduction of Petipa's and Ivanov's work. Even the Royal Ballet's production differs in major ways from what is known about the Petipa/Ivanov version, although it is probably the one that adheres most closely to it.

Edit: I found the answer to my question...in plain sight on the back of the DVD case :wink:. It says 'Screen Adaptation: Konstantin Sergeyev', so now I know who to blame.

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I think we may have to come to terms with the idea that no Swan Lake today is really all that similar to the original 1895 production. Perhaps the general choreographic outline is still there as well as some of the steps, but unless someone takes the notations and reconstructs the ballet à la Sleeping Beauty, what we see today is not a reproduction of Petipa's and Ivanov's work. Even the Royal Ballet's production differs in major ways from what is known about the Petipa/Ivanov version, although it is probably the one that adheres most closely to it.

I believe that the notations used to reconstruct Sleeping Beauty in the original 1892 version could be used to do an almost exact match of the original 1895 version of Swan Lake. Now that Alexei Ratmansky will work for the American Ballet Theatre maybe we might just see such a reconstruction, given that Ratmansky has stated openly in the recent past he does want to do an exact reproduction of the 1895 original.

As such, if you want a version of Swan Lake currently performed that is probably closest to the original, the Royal Ballet version first performed in 1988 is probably the best you can get.

By the way, getting back on topic, I have to make a clarification: what I mean by "modern reference version" of Swan Lake is the version--even with all the changes in choreography since the 1895 original--that has lasted the longest and is still regularly performed today essentially unchanged since its original performance. The 1950 Konstantin Sergeyev version probably meets this criteria, in my humble opinion. :wink: (Interestingly, the Vladimir Bourmeister version from 1953 almost qualifies for my definition if the Stanislavsky Ballet is still performing it today.)

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That does indeed sound like a possibility, and it would certainly be an enormous improvement over ABT's current 'Swan Lake'.

I do have a question, though--according to your criteria, then, a 'modern reference version' of Swan Lake could have absolutely nothing in common with the Petipa/Ivanov as long as it has been performed regularly and remained unchanged for a long time?

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The Royal Ballet's version which I saw first in 1970 remains the most satisfying version I've ever seen --

It had the enormous advantage of being Ashton's setting of sergeyev's notations, with Ashton's own rather considerable and extremely beautiful modifications to the last act -- it is the ONLY version of hte ballet that to my mind achieves simplicity, monumentality, and tragedy in its culmination, and that makes it my candidate for the version of record.

(It also included, and htis is not a small thing, Odette's mime scene ("I'm hte queen of the swans, yonder is the lake of my mother's tears"

as demonstrated here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHkqnIMKjHc

by Sibley and Dowell; "all the story is there in that lake."

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The Royal Ballet's version which I saw first in 1970 remains the most satisfying version I've ever seen --

It had the enormous advantage of being Ashton's setting of sergeyev's notations, with Ashton's own rather considerable and extremely beautiful modifications to the last act -- it is the ONLY version of hte ballet that to my mind achieves simplicity, monumentality, and tragedy in its culmination, and that makes it my candidate for the version of record.

(It also included, and htis is not a small thing, Odette's mime scene ("I'm hte queen of the swans, yonder is the lake of my mother's tears"

as demonstrated here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHkqnIMKjHc

by Sibley and Dowell; "all the story is there in that lake."

I first saw this too in 1970! Getting old, I guess. But I agree this was a very beautiful version.

It's great to see Sibley and Dowell coaching the mime scene, although some find the mime old fashioned (Makarova was particularly vocal on this point), I find it fits in very well with the notion that the ballet is based on a fairy tale. I'm always disappointed when it is cut. I find it interesting that Nureyev, roughly a contemporary of Makarova, was also unhappy with performing the mime scene when he first came to the West, included a detailed version of the scene when, later, he staged his version for the POB.

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I can't understand people who want to cut the mime from Swan Lake--it tells the story. A bunch of relevés in attitude derrière most certainly do not.

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I can't understand people who want to cut the mime from Swan Lake--it tells the story. A bunch of relevés in attitude derrière most certainly do not.

I can't understand it either. It's not like we are dealing with an art form that is realistic in nature. But often the versions that cut the mime have a dancing Rothbart. I dislike having Rothbart and Siegfried hopping around like two crickets chasing each other in Act 4, leaving Odette to take a quick nap.

Also this kind of "improvement" seems to be a clash in styles, much more mid-20th century type material inserted into the framework of the earlier Imperial

type structure.

I'm not sure I understand the meaning of a "reference" version of Swan Lake but if we are talking about a version that maintains an integrity of preserving as much as possible of the 1895 version while remaining in continuous use for a significant period of time, ABT sure took a wrong turn here. My first exposure to ABT's Swan Lake was the Blair version back in the late 60s. If ONLY they had held onto this and keep it in use it might fulfill something of this kind of reference , or maybe definative, version.

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I'm on your side, richard. The Blair was a one-off of the then-current RB version, and as such, was closer to the Petipa/Ivanov than even today's RB version. It compared admirably with Beaumont's letterpress descriptions of the choreographic content.

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i hadn't previously seen the query about the kirov film led by Yevteyeva and Markovsky.

if mem. serves this project was meant to be filmed with Makarova but these plans were scuttled when she defected in London in the summer of '70. i don't know if Markovsky was slated to be her Siegfried or not. she didn't dance with him at all that can recall in the london season that i attended at royal festival hall before she defected.

here's what the NYPL cat. gives for info. i don't know if it's any more than what's on the commercial release, i see there is some indication of a '69 dating for the film, which would seem to contradict any sense that the project was moved to feature Yevteyeva over Makarova. maybe someone more familiar with leningrad's behind-the-scenes activity will know more. i can say that Yeveteyeva was hardly featured widely during the London season. Makarova, Kolpakova, Komleva and Sizova were:

Swan lake / a Lenfilm/Sovexportfilm production ; directors, Apollinari Dudko and Konstantin Sergeev ; camera, Anatoly Nazarov ; choreography by Konstantin Sergeev after Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa ; music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky.

U.S. : Kultur, 1984?, [c1969](90 min.) : sd., col.

Motion picture originally released (?) in 1969 as a Lenfilm/Sovexportfilm production ; distributed as a videotape in 1984 (?) by Kultur.

Scenario, Isaak Glickman, Apollinari Dudko, and Konstantin Sergeev.

Performed by members of the Leningrad Kirov Ballet: Yelena Yevteyeva (Odette/Odile), John Markovsky (Prince Siegfried), Valeri Panov (Jester), and Makhmud Esambayev (Baron Von Rothbart).

The first and third acts are shortened in this version.

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i hadn't previously seen the query about the kirov film led by Yevteyeva and Markovsky.

if mem. serves this project was meant to be filmed with Makarova but these plans were scuttled when she defected in London in the summer of '70. i don't know if Markovsky was slated to be her Siegfried or not. she didn't dance with him at all that can recall in the london season that i attended at royal festival hall before she defected.

The first and third acts are shortened in this version.

In Makarova's A Dance Autobiography she talks about this. The film was made a year or so before her defection. She claims she had artistic differences with the director and left the set of the film.

It's too bad but at least she has a recording of her O/O made while she was still in her prime. (The ABT telecast, not the later Royal Ballet film). I like Yevteyeva a lot so I'm glad she got the opportunity. It's heavily cut though, I want to say that all of the acts are shortened, not just 1 and 3 but I haven't seen the film in a year or two and don't trust my memory.

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I just watched it yesterday--all of the acts are shortened.

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i have not seen the NYPL print of the SWAN LAKE w/ yevteyeva noted here, what i posted from the NYPL cat. is for its copy, i suppose it's just possible that the version it owns is longer than the one released on home video.

it's also possible that the NYPL notes are inaccurate.

i mostly posted this data to give the credits that were being sought.

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