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Balanchine's Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux


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#1 Terry

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Posted 22 June 2001 - 02:14 PM

I'm sorry to interupt the discussion going on about "Coppelia" but I would like to ask some NYCB fans something about Tchaikovsky pdd. I understand that there isn't really a plot to this pdd, but when Balanchine created it, did he perceive at least somekind of a "relationship" between the female and the male performer? It seems to me like it could be a sort of "love" pas de deux, where the couple is having fun, glancing at each other, chasing each other, simply playing together...I'm just curious to know -- what do you think it is or it could be? Thank for all your help.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 22 June 2001 - 03:28 PM

Terry, it's a great question, but I'm going to move it into Aesthetic Issues. I want to keep this forum dedicated to specific ballets, not ballets in general :)

IMO, this pas de deux does not have a specific story, but falls into the category of many of Balanchine's ballets (paraphrase): "You've got a man and a woman. How much story do you want?"

#3 dirac

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Posted 22 June 2001 - 06:27 PM

My understanding is that Balanchine thought of this piece primarily as a technical showcase for his stars. (I think the music was a rewrite forced on Tchaikovsky by a temperamental ballerina who wanted different counts, so maybe he was considering the source.) After all, when you're building a repertory you need all kinds of ballets, and I wouldn't be surprised if he thought of this as a crowd-pleasing bonbon for galas and whatnot, although it's a cut above, say, "Tarantella."

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 22 June 2001 - 07:46 PM

The music for Tchaikovsky pas de deux was originally in the third act of Swan Lake (where "Black Swan" is now). The music for "Black Swan" was originally in Act I. As far as I know, however, there are no swan references intended in Tchai pas.

#5 felursus

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Posted 22 June 2001 - 11:48 PM

I THINK it was choreographed to show that American dancers could do glitzy movements as well as the Russians. There is even a "catch" in it (only the last time I saw it done somehow this moment is glossed over).

My most singular memory of it was sitting in the orchestra of the City Center right next to a friend who babysat for Melissa Hayden's (then) young son. He piped up in a very loud voice: "That's my mother up there in pink, and that's Jacques in blue," just as though the only way you could tell them apart was by the color of their costumes. There were not a few guffaws in the audience.

#6 Lukayev

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 12:43 AM

I thought this would be interesting to bring up - in my video on Japanese ballet, there's a tiny excerpt from Swan Lake, and when I saw Odile doing the fouettes to weird music, my ears were thrown off and I was like, "What.. is that Tchai pas?" Sure enough, it was. Another thing that I think was discarded from Swan Lake along the way was a variation for the black swan - it's mainly an oboe showcase, then the entire orchestra comes booming in for a flurry of piques. One of the Japanese competitors sort of threw off the panel of judges at Prix de Lausanne by performing this for her 'free' variation.

--Luka

[ 06-23-2001: Message edited by: Luka ]

#7 Terry

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 01:08 AM

Many Many thanks for all the wonderful information. I think the adagio, male variation, and the coda from Tchaikovsky pdd is used in Bourmeister's version of Swan Lake (there's a recording of it by POB with Patrick Dupont and Marie Claude Pietragalla -- a great recording). Luka, are you talking about the one that Yoko Morishita does with her company Matsuyama? I actually like the Tchaikovsky pdd music used in the Black Swan pdd. I think it works. (It doesn't work with the female variation music, but everything else seems to work!)

#8 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 05:35 AM

.

[ 06-23-2001: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]

#9 Paquita

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 08:44 AM

I've never seen Tchai pdd. Is the choreography very grand, with fouettes and tours a la seconde? I can't really imagine fouettes without a tutu. I saw on TV once, Swan Lake, with Nureyev and Fonteyn with the RB and the music they used for the black swan pdd was different... is that the music for Tchai pdd? They did not use the "familiar" black swan music in the 1st act- it wasn't in the ballet at all. But I do have a Swan Lake CD where the "familiar" black swan music is in the 1st Act. The music that Fonteyn danced Odile's variation to, has been used in Act 1 before. In NBoC's version, it's the music for the "wench".
And just a bit off topic, what is the history of the music for the russian character dance in Act 3? I heard somewhere that it was added later. How many times has the score for Swan Lake changed?!

[ 06-23-2001: Message edited by: Paquita ]

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 12:18 PM

Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux has a turn sequence in the coda, but it's not a continuous brace of fouettés, and Balanchine had several different versions of it, each one tailored to an individual ballerina, i.e., Hayden's was different from McBride's, which was different from Farrell's, which was different from Verdy's, and so on.

The Danse Russe in Act III was a sort of oddity in the course of the ballet. The original ballerina, Pelagia Karpakova, wanted to dance a demi-character Russian dance, so Tchaikovsky indulged her. According to the original program, it was in the 1877 version of the score. There are two principal versions of the score, the 1877, and the edited-by-Drigo 1895 version. Almost all the rest are derived from these two.

[ 06-23-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]


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