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Infantilizing adultsAre there no grownups in ballet?


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#31 dirac

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 02:02 PM

I didn't mean to imply that Tschaikovsky was psychologically transparent nor, that with all great artists, that his temperament was anything like his art.


For what it's worth, Quiggin, I didn't put that construction on your post at all.

#32 Mel Johnson

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Posted 31 December 2008 - 03:48 PM

I didn't construe your post so, either, Quiggin. Perhaps my feelings about Tchaikovsky as a person may be related to my feelings about Robert E. Lee, as expressed by Stephen Vincent Benet:

For he will smile
And give you, with unflinching courtesy,
Prayers, trappings, letters, uniforms and orders,
Photographs, kindness, valor and advice,
And do it with such grace and gentleness
That you will know you have the whole of him
Pinned down, mapped out, easy to understand—
And so you have.
All things except the heart
The heart he kept himself, that answers all.
For here was someone who lived all his life
In the most fierce and open light of the sun,
Wrote letters freely, did not guard his speech,
Listened and talked with every sort of man,
And kept his heart a secret to the end
From all the picklocks of biographers.

Perhaps it takes ineffable poetry to describe an ineffable human.

#33 dirac

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 03:28 PM

Thanks for the poem, Mel. (Although Lee guarded his speech carefully, speaking with spare candor only to a very few, and wrote the most discreet correspondence of any public figure I can think of offhand -- and he wasn't really famous until quite late in his life and career.) Off topic, of course.

#34 Mel Johnson

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 04:46 PM

And he never believed that he was a great man, in that respect, like Tchaikovsky.

#35 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 07:38 PM

beautiful poem, Mel :thumbsup:

#36 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 12:21 PM

Ok...I finally found a clip of Alonso's rendition of the party scene. Be the judge of the "infantilizing" issue here.
Clara is Primera Bailarina Annette Delgado.
http://www.youtube.c...feature=related

#37 bart

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 12:29 PM

Thanks so much, Cristian. The video supports your position very well indeed.

I was delighted to see that this version is almost identical to Ballet Florida's. At BF, the Clara's grand battements are not so ddramatically high, and the preparations for pirouettes are not so visible. I guess you could say that the choreography has been toned down rather than up, which makes for a more convincing (to me) young girl.

Ballet Florida employs a mix of adult company members and advanced students as both parents and kids, which I prefer to all adults or to all kids-as-kid and all adults-as-adults.

#38 Hans

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 01:17 PM

For me, that clip illustrates exactly why it is not advisable to have adults pretending to be children: they look like adults whose minds have failed to mature. Mary Day's version had, I think, the best of both worlds--girls and boys of varying ages, very well rehearsed, with Clara danced on pointe by a girl young enough to look like a child but with clean, strong technique so that she could execute steps such as double pirouettes, have attractive extensions, &c. While the other girls were not on pointe, they still had plenty of ballet steps to do, for example during the march, and as they were all well trained at WSB, the effect was lovely.

I mostly like the way the dancers in the above clip mime, though. :off topic:

#39 Helene

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:17 PM

I agree with Hans: I don't find it convincing or attractive when adults pretend to be children. Or toys for that matter. ("The Steadfast Tin Soldier" comes to mind.)

I prefer children of a range of ages in the party scene of "The Nutcracker", and while a toe shoe is a more likely weapon than a ballet slipper, untying one, breaking the stitch tacks, and unwrapping the ribbons to take it off to throw does not look like a spontaneous response to danger, in my opinion. (More like "Hold that thought while I get this thing off my foot.") Not to mention having to be careful with one's aim.

#40 Hans

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 07:04 PM

You know, I don't remember how Day had Clara get a shoe to distract the mouse king--maybe one of her dolls surreptitiously handed her one--but she didn't remove her pointe shoe. I'll have to ask around.

#41 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 07:44 PM

You know, I don't remember how Day had Clara get a shoe to distract the mouse king--maybe one of her dolls surreptitiously handed her one--but she didn't remove her pointe shoe. I'll have to ask around.

CCBM had Clara pretending to take off her shoe, but didn't do it for real. During the confusion during the battle she subtly retrieved to the left wing and bent over simulating the act, when in reality she took a third shoe that had been placed on the floor for her-(hidden to the audience). She threw in to the mouse and then kept on dancing...

#42 bart

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 05:29 PM

About the issue of Clara's age: Wiley's Tchaikovsky's Ballets says the following about the St. Petersburg premiere.

In contrast to the casting practices of many modern revivals, students [Belinskaya, Stkukolkin, and Legat] were assigned the roles of Clara, Fritz, and the Nutcracker. p. 207

Does anyone know what "students" means here? Advanced students of in their late teens?

I was interested to read (p. 200) that Petipa originally wanted some of the children at the party to receive national costumes as gifts and then to perform a divertissement of six national dances. One of the Russian scholars quoted by Wiley mentions:

Children's dances were loved in the highest circles ... for which reason Petipa, in practically all his new works, included a children's divertissement.


I gather that this was never performed. The national dances went to older dancers of higher technical accomplishment.

#43 Mel Johnson

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Posted 09 January 2009 - 05:36 PM

The children's divertissement in that form didn't even make it to the cutting room floor. The reason that the male variation in the grand pas de deux is so wheezy is that the music was originally intended for an Italian entree in the proposed entertainment, but Petipa changed his mind. The music is, when I think about it, more appropriate for a children's dance, and lacks the gravitas usually associated with male dancing.

Belinskaya was twelve years old at the time of the show's opening.

Sergei Legat was, if I remember correctly, seventeen. He was a sort of Jonas Brothers all wrapped up in one. A sort of Tiger Beat pinup favorite for the 1890s Petersburg bubblegum set.


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