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For those who, like myself, tried fruitlessly to look up "ananchreonic," I think the word Jeannie meant may be "Anacreontic," which I did find:

Anacreontic (e-nàk´rê-òn´tîk) adjective

Of or in the manner of the poems of Anacreon, especially being convivial or amatory in subject.

noun

A poem written in the style of Anacreon.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright © 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

~Steve (Upset now that Jeannie has joined Leigh and Nanatchka in always using big words that I don't know.)

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Mea culpa, Steve. I type with utmost dispatch, often failing to check my errancy.

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Estelle: I didn't mean that the danseur noble disappeared the day the Bastille fell smile.gif, but that category was replaced by the "classique" (semicharacter classical) in Paris after the Revolution. The heroic ballets stopped after the Revolution (which took longer than a day, I think smile.gif) There were lots of mythological ballets, but not the heroic mythological ones. Anacreontic is used to mean "pastoral" I think. The very early 1800s were a romantic-neoclassical period, a bridge period, analogous to naturalism (don't know if that's a period in French literature; it is in English literature) It's a time when the peasants and ordinaiy people were ennobled, given the leading roles, but not portrayed realistically. In painting, I think it's the difference between David and Fragonard.

Which reminded me of going through the National Gallery here on a guided tour a few years ago that included the French neoclassical room, and the art historian who was taking us around said, notice the bodies. They're a bit odd by our standards: small head, long neck, long arms and legs. Click! They're not odd! They're the bodies ballet was created on! (I couldn't help but point this out smile.gif)

Flore et Zephyr and those ballets were the first that used the classique type in the leads, I think. I think it was also around this time that the commedia lost its noble characters (I never can remember their names) and Harlequin and Colombine became the leading characters.

As for later danseur nobles. Hmm. Does Pavel Gerdt help? There must have been something extraordinary about him that transcends the pudgebucket photos we have, else Petipa wouldn't have used him so frequently. Smakov calls him "Petipa's Blue Knight;" blue was the nobles' color, the color of the Prince's jacket (clear, beautiful "French blue," the color of Nureyev's jacket for Florimund in Sleeping Beauty). The danseur noble did survive in Russia, because Petipa brought him there. It may have been out of fashion in Paris, but the Russian absolute monarchy, and that culture, didn't mind a bit.

I think the danseur noble genre really died then, in any meaningful way. I agree with Alymer that the "most useful" dancer is the one that can do anything, and there are slightly shorter, and slighter, dancers who are quite convincing Princes -- at least to our eyes. Don't know what the Gardels would think. (Nureyev, Bruhn, Dowell would all be "classiques" BUT they had the weight, not only the deep rich plie, but the gravamen, to be wonderful Princes.]

Maybe the true danseurs nobles of more recent times would be Nikolaj Fadeyechev (he's on videos), Peter Martins--not to say that he danced those roles very often, but as a body type. Michael Somes, and his role in "Ondine" is a real danseur noble role. The only American dancer I'd put in that category was Patrick Bissell. I don't know enough about the current Russian crop of dancers to even make a stab at mentioning anybody. Of the dancers I've seen a lot of, Konstantin Zaklinsky. In Denmark, Kenneth Greve, today, and it really made a difference in the Martins' Swan Lake. When he walked on (in a blue costume) he created the court by his presence, not like a lost pizza delivery boy. Kronstam (6 foot 1) was a danseur noble, and there were actually two or three danseur noble roles created on him early in his career in the restoration of a few 18th century French opera-ballets (at a Festival in Aix-en-Provence). There are pictures of him in a tonnelot (sp) and gorgeous plumed helmet. I started exploring the genre question in depth when I started working on my book, because Kronstam's contemporaries (dancers) kept saying, "Now, he was a real danseur noble," and because they kept stressing that he could be very light and quick in certain roles, but had a weight that other dancers didn't have; it's what made him able to do modern dance when he was in his 40s.

Alymer (good to read you again) I remember DeValois talking about this, too -- interesting that there are usually only three genres, the noble, demicaractere and character; I think this is because by the 1930s the noble had been completely replaced, at least in the West, by the classique. In her "Invitation to the Dance" she also has the prescription for forming a ballet company. Take two classical ballerinas and two demicaractere ballerinas, etc. (But in Joan Lawson's writing, she describes the four genres quite thoroughly).

Michael, I loved your summary of history -- I agree totally. I would add that the Monarchist Russian ballet produced its greatest art in the late 19th century, when the ballet of the people in Paris had become decadent and produced nothing of lasting value smile.gif

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited March 02, 2000).]

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Libby -

I can only say that in Agon, the "types" cast in all the roles changed drastically in Balanchine's lifetime, ranging from Diana Adams originating the pas de deux and successors as diverse as Farrell, Kent, McBride and Watts to Bolender in the first pas de trois (suceeded by Villella, Blum, Cook, Duell and Boal) to the second Pas de trois (Hayden originating, shared by Verdy, suceeded by Patricia Neary, Gloria Govrin, Karin von Aroldingen, etc.) that although there is definitely a world of different dispositions envisaged on stage by Balanchine, he definitely did not stick with his original conception in any of these cases.

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