midnight

Russian stages

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After discovering many videos on youtube of the mariinsky, I was wondering how raked the stages are? And do the dancers have any special preporations to dance on the slanted stage. As an american dancer I have only danced on level stages. I imagine dancing on a raked stage would be hard and take some getting used to.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk, midnight, and thank you for your topic.

Coincidentally, I was just reading an article by Ismene Brown about Darcey Bussell's guest performance in the role of Nikiya at the Mariinsky in 1998.

The Maryinsky rake is one of the chief reasons for the sinuousness of Kirov dancers in comparison with English ones -- taught lin sloping studios, they learn to counterbalance the rake in their bodies with more flexible angles and curves.
I'm not a dancer, so I have to admit that I can't visualize what she is talking about. Perhaps, while answering your questions, some of our members might also respond to Brown's comment. Thanks.

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I'm not a dancer either. When we visited Russia in 1986 (yes I glow in the dark!) on a Friends of London Festival Ballet trip, we were told that all the stages in Russia are raked at the same angle and so are the rehearsal studios.

The touring companies of Britain have no such luck! The audience sees a variety of rakes and no two seem to be the same. I guess the dancers have a lot to contend with!

Before the Empire Theatre in Sunderland was refurbished, Friends of Birmingham Royal Ballet saw a rehearsal of Coppelia in which the chair the dolls is wheeled out on kept on rolling forward and would not stop! Fortunately, whatever the stage technicians were able to achieve worked and the performances were fine.

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The Russian children grow up already coping with the rake in their ballet studios in the academic academies. Imagine, the lack of a rake in the US takes some getting used to for the Russian dancers when they are touring. :)

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The Russian children grow up already coping with the rake in their ballet studios in the academic

That's exactly what Gelsey Kirkland noted-("Dancing on my Grave")- when she first when on tour to the Soviet Union and visited the Marinsky and the Vaganova Academy. She realized with some distress that both stages were raked, and began wondering how did the soviet dancers coped with their backs by dancing like this.

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There have been many stories of American dancers having to adjust to raking. I remember an account of an 1950s New York City Ballet tour, beginning (I believe) in Barcelona), where they got the knack only at the end of a one-week run.

Ismene Brown suggests, however, that there are aesthetic differences -- way sof using and presenting the body -- that develop depending on whether or not one has been trained with the rake, and that these seem to go beyond issues of maintaining balance.

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Is the entire stage raked or just the back portion?

Giannina

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My experience is with the Vaganova Academy studios which are raked according to the Mariinsky Theatre stage. I do not know the grade, but it is a consistent rake. Perhaps the last 5 feet of downstage is relatively flat. :) When one gets accustomed to working on a rake it really becomes no big deal.

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i was wondering if anyone had any idea the degree of the rake. or any approximation or anything. on youtube someone who claims to be an ex-dancer and who is very knowledgeable about the history of ballet says that it is a little below 45 degrees. but that seems impossible to me.

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A bit below 45 degrees, I think is a bit of an exaggeration. Still I was at the Marinsky school and also performed in various places in Russia years ago. Everyone in the company hated the raked floors. It's fun to jump downstage, the jumps look and feel at great height with less effort than on a flat stage, but landings can be dangerous. Large jumps going upstage are extremely difficult -- the floor meets you much sooner than you'd want. It's a nasty, heavy feeling.

All that is dealt with, but I found that any sort turning steps were terrifying; either on one leg or in a series circle around the stage. One's balance is hard enough to adjust constantly on a flat stage.... I've spoken with a couple of Russian dancers over the years, and they all hated turning on raked stages too even though they were schooled young on them. Dancers tour a lot, so good floors are always a big deal and compared (along with having good shoes).

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