As far as I'm concerned, Theme and Variations is a direct descendant stylistically of The Sleeping Beauty and the leads in neither ballets are "lyrical" at all to me.
I responded to this and something else that Alexandra wrote:
Since you listed the Lilac Fairy as noble, does this mean that Aurora isn't? Would she then be the female equivalent of semicaractere classique? Or is it just that you didn't happen to list her here this one time ?
Lilac Fairy and Hilda (in Bournonville's Folk Tale) are two danseuses nobles roles.
Disclaimer: The next paragraph is about adagio/allegro, and yes, I do realize that this is not the same thing as formal emploi.
Leigh, why exactly don't you think that Aurora is adagio? She has some quick steps during the first act, but the rest of her
choreography is generally adagio, I think. For an extreme example (and this may very well not be an equal comparison, considering the very different training of these dancers), I think of Miranda Weese and then
Asylmuratova (though I have only seen her Aurora on video, and Marc may feel free
to step in and correct me at any time here ) dancing the part. From what I have seen, Weese is very allegro, while Asylmuratova is adagio, but Asylmuratova still dances the allegro section(s) with speed and precision, while Weese, from my experience of her, does not seem to have
the ability to perform the adagio sections with equal skill. Do you think that what you wrote about accounting "account for slow
change over decades and dancer generations" applies in this case--that Aurora may have started out as one or the other and changed over the years? (Then again, to that end, we probably have some people here who know
perfectly well what Brianza was like as a dancer--from reading, that is .)
Leigh responded, in an email:
It's an an interesting question - I think my answer will have somethig to do with the nature of the adagio (I know the Rose Adagio is slow, but I don't find it legato; perhaps it's because I've never seen a legato dancer
do it. . .but then again, I have - Letestu at POB. It gets further complicated by the fact that the Rose Adagio was changed in
emphasis because Fonteyn could balance like that and not be steely - but for every
dancer who has come after (with the exception of Gregory, for whom the balances were a specialty) it's been a swamp thing. Right now, you cast an Aurora who can get through the ballet (the best adagio dancers at NYCB have floundered in it, but NYCB isn't the best company to talk about when
dealing with Petipa.) I find the Act III adagio to be in sort of a "heroic" mold that can be done well by allegro dancers. I also
think my perception of the role is colored by her first entrance. There are two essays on my site on the subject (that now I have to reread, too!) One on Weese debuting in Beauty from '97 and one on allegro and adagio
ballerinas from '99.
I haven't had time to come up with a real response to this yet, but while I'm pondering, everyone is free to add his/her thoughts .