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Mary Skeaping's 1954 Swan Lake


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 08:29 PM

The thread of which productions has one seen of SL made me dig in my shelf to look for a book that I have with tons of pics of the starting days of Mme. Alonso's company. There I found what I was looking for, the data and pics that make Mary Skeaping the hand that brought SL to Cuba, back in 1954. Now, there had been precedents, like the staging of the II Act by Alonso herself in 1948, brought from BT, and the Black Swan PDD, taken from the Ballet Russes version and staged by Alonso too. Then, Skeaping staged the Act I Pas de Trois in 1952, before coming back in 1954 to stage the full length work in 4 acts. This is essentially the version that the Company still dances, with the 1948 Black Swan and the soviet happy finale. I have some questions, like...

1-Where does Skeaping version comes from..?
2-Are there any Sergeyev background on them...?
3-Is Skeaping version still danced anywhere else...?
4-How is Skeaping regarded among ballet choreography history scholars...?

Thank you in advance... :innocent:

#2 leonid17

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 11:22 AM

The thread of which productions has one seen of SL made me dig in my shelf to look for a book that I have with tons of pics of the starting days of Mme. Alonso's company. There I found what I was looking for, the data and pics that make Mary Skeaping the hand that brought SL to Cuba, back in 1954. Now, there had been precedents, like the staging of the II Act by Alonso herself in 1948, brought from BT, and the Black Swan PDD, taken from the Ballet Russes version and staged by Alonso too. Then, Skeaping staged the Act I Pas de Trois in 1952, before coming back in 1954 to stage the full length work in 4 acts. This is essentially the version that the Company still dances, with the 1948 Black Swan and the soviet happy finale. I have some questions, like...

1-Where does Skeaping version comes from..?
2-Are there any Sergeyev background on them...?
3-Is Skeaping version still danced anywhere else...?
4-How is Skeaping regarded among ballet choreography history scholars...?

Thank you in advance... :wink:


Mary Skeaping was an extraordinary woman of charm and intellect whose background in understanding and performing Russian ballet came from her background of teachers who included Lavrenty Novikov Vera Trefilova, Lubov Egorova and her experience of being a member of both Anna Pavlova's company and the Markova Dolin Company.
She came into contact with the Nikolai Sergeyev notated version of Swan Lake when she was ballet mistress for two years with the Sadlers Wells ballet from 1949 to 1951.
She staged her four act version for the Royal Swedish ballet which was given its first performance on March 12 1953 with the 18 year old Marianne Orlando as Odette/Odile.
This production she then staged for Alicia Alonso's company in Cuba the following year. Not long after this staging Alonso altered much of the choreography making the dances more virtuosic in nature.
Mary Skeaping has an international reputation as a choreographer and teacher and was an authority on ballets performed during the 17th and 18th century. Skeaping became Artistic Director of The Royal Swedish Ballet in 1953 raising the standard considerably holding the post in often difficult circumstances until 1962. In that gem of Swedish history the Drottingholm Court Theatre built in 1766 which has survived as if in a time capsule, she employed all of the traditions of staging that had taking place using the extensive material kept in the Royal Archives recreating she recreated ballets and dances from two hundred year old operas in a style assumed to be as close to authentic as it could be which Ivo Kramer her collaborator carried on. In England she continued to reproduce extracts from early ballets especially those associated with the Sun King. She returned to Drottingholm on occasion to stage other works. In England she achieved extraordinary esteem with her production of Giselle in 1971. Mary Skeaping is both the author of books and many articles. She was highly approachable and spoke to everyone with warmth and a smile you would never forget.
Regrettably Christian I am not aware of any extant productions of “Swan Lake” which Skeaping set and the production which she had copied ceased to exist soon after she left the Sadlers Wells Ballet.

PS
Mary Skeaping was born in Woodford, Essex England in 1902 and died in 1984 in London.

#3 Alymer

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 11:27 AM

I can offer some clues. Mary Skeaping staged Swan Lake for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 1953 and from what I read it followed pretty closely the version staged by Nicholas Sergeyev for the then Sadler's Wells (now Royal) Ballet. So it seems likely that this is the production she staged in Cuba, although the Sergeyev version has no happy ending.
She was later appointed director of the Royal Swedish Ballet and her production of Swan Lake formed part of the company's repertory until Brian MacDonald was appointed ballet director in 1964 when he brought in a "Russian" production by Natalie Conus which was still being danced in 1998 according to my source.
(Cristian, Leonid must have been posting at the same time as I did and his reply is much fuller so I hope some of your questions have been answered)

#4 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 20 May 2009 - 12:04 PM

Thank you so much Leonid and Alymer for the valuable info on Skeaping. I e-mailed a friend in Cuba who's very knowledgeable about everything related to Mme's company, and he just e-mailed me back to tell me all he will try to give me a feedback on what he believes belongs to Skeaping's 1953 staging. (I know he has seen A LOT, and has tons of footage of the company).


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