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Aurora and Emploi


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 22 March 2001 - 11:56 PM

This has been fascinating, especially, for me, Andrei's answers, because it seems that Russian and French-English-American ballet have developed along such different lines. We're using the same words so differently. From everything I've read and been taught, long arms aren't "noble." It was Taglioni's long, long arms that created the Romantic silhouette, the revolution against the classical (evenly proportioned) silhouette. Her sloped, rounded shoulders and long rounded arms were so different than what had gone before. The 20th century version of employ that is used generally, especially for women, is "classical," "romantic," and "neoclassical," which would correspond, in roles, to Aurora, Giselle, and the Lilac Fairy (and many Balanchine roles) and, to dances, Fonteyn, Makarova, Farrell.

#17 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 07:23 AM

CygneDanois, Kolpakova first danced Aurora in her fifth season with the Kirov; she was 23. I don't know exactly when Asylmuratova made her debut in the role; I suppose when she was in her mid-twenties. Andrei, perhaps?

Sizova was 25 when they made the film.

#18 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 07:25 AM

dont know, marc, i have a film of her in it with zaklinsky in which she looks really really young, so it's hard to say....maybe someone will know when it was made?

[This message has been edited by Mme. Hermine (edited March 23, 2001).]

#19 CygneDanois

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 10:56 AM

Thanks, Marc, for the ages. So, do younger Kirov dancers learn it faster, or is the entire production of The Sleeping Beauty just going to get slower and slower through the years Posted Image?

Alexandra, your last sentence really helps, especially putting a dancer with each type, even if it is the 20th century American version. It may be another reason Ferri dances mostly romantic ballets--maybe she just has an amazingly strong sense of employ Posted Image.

Mme. Hermine, I've never heard of a film of Sizova other than the 60's "Beauty," but I might be able to ask her and find out about it. I thought Zaklinsky was rather younger than Sizova, but maybe not.

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#20 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 12:04 PM

OK, we got some confusion here with the names.

Mme. Hermine obviously means the Sleeping Beauty performance with Asylmuratova and Zaklinsky, filmed in Moscow in the late eighties/early nineties, and commercially available.

The famous Beauty film with Sizova and Soloviev dates from 1964.

Sizova was born in 1939; Zaklinsky in 1955.

#21 Jane Simpson

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 02:01 PM

What about Diaghilev's casting, I wonder, in the light of what's being said here? He seems to have ignored any tradition of a noble Lilac Fairy by casting Lopokova - surely a demi? - and confused things further by having her do Princess Florine in the same performances! And would anyone like to offer a view on Spessiva, Trefilova, Egorova? I'd always imagined Trefilova as a danseuse noble, but she was 49 at the time of Sleeping Princess - was she a classique when she was younger? And Egorova did the Songbirds Fairy when she wasn't doing Aurora, which is what you might expect from a demi...

#22 CygneDanois

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 09:54 PM

Whoops! Sorry about that. Actually, I have both the Sizova/Soloviev and Asylmuratova/Zaklinsky videos, so I should have figured that one out Posted Image. Yes, I guess Zaklinsky is "rather younger than Sizova"! I can be such an airhead sometimes Posted Image.

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#23 Andrei

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 11:12 PM

First of all, don't take my answers as the only one from Russian side, this is my particular opinion and of course in Russia somebody will be agree with me and somebody not.
Alexandra, I'm absolutely agre with you on XX century definition of female employ - classical, romantic, neoclassical. Only I would not put Lilac Fairy as neoclassical, I don't see any "neo" in the choreography for this part. Thinking of what part can fit the neoclassical term, I came up with may be subversive things - White Swan. Lev Ivanov created the image of the bird using classical ballet vocabulary, just slightly changing arms position, but I think we can see there the birth of a new ballet style - neoclassicism. Am I wrong?

#24 Alexandra

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Posted 23 March 2001 - 11:13 PM

Jane, I had been thinking about the Diaghilev production too. I don't have a good sense of any of those ballerinas, except Lopokova who seems to be the embodiment of a soubrette. I do remember reading that those at the time thought none of the Auroras were ideal -- and that this was generally known. Diaghilev also stuck the Chinese dance from Nutcracker into the third act divert, so he wasn't a purist (and presented Karsavina and Nijinsky in "Swan Lake").

Unfortunately, I don't think any of our posters got to see this one.....

#25 Drew

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Posted 24 March 2001 - 01:06 AM

Well -- I'm an amateur here -- but I very much like the suggestion that Ivanov's choreography for Odette looks forward to the neo-classical ballerina. I find it especially persuasive because it's a role in which (in my opinion) the neo-classical silhouette, including the high extensions popular today, doesn't seem to distort/change the choreography to the extent it does in Sleeping Beauty. Odette just seems to allow for an entirely different "plastique."

#26 doug

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 01:36 PM

Re: Odette's port de bras and neo-classicism, I would disagree that Odette's arm positions indicate a **particular** development or "looking ahead" beyond Ivanov's attempt to make Odette resemble a swan. Notated port de bras from the late -Imperial era is quite a bit different from what we consider classical or, more specifically, Vaganova port de bras today. Photos from the era jive with various notated arm positions: there seems to have been a lot of variety in port de bras and the aesthetic was also different from what we might think. For example, palms were often turned toward the audience when arms were raised, wrists were often flexed, arms in high fifth were sometimes crossed over the head, etc.

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#27 Alexandra

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 03:54 PM

First to Andrei, I'm very sorry, I only just now saw your post. A look at the times indicated that you were writing your reply at the same time I was writing mine -- I didn't mean to ignore it.

I'm glad you made the distinction between your view and what may be a contrary general view -- I've been trying to do the same, of saying what I think is generally accepted here, and where I disagree with it, but it seems to change with every generation, and my "teachers" in this area are people in their 60s and 70s.

I've always been troubled by "neoclassical" too. I think it's another term that's misused. It originally meant a sort of classicism-by-the-rules and referred to Noverre's era, the Enlightenment, as we call it, when artists and philosophers were rediscovering classicism and, instead of "reinventing it," as we like to think we're doing, they were very concerned that they try to copy it as exactly as possible. In the 20th century, at least in America, "neoclassism" came into being, I think, because writers had to deal with Balanchine and didn't see his works as "classical" in the way they saw "Swan Lake" as classical. Hence, it means New Classicism. (I think writing about Balanchine came first here, but I may be wrong. It's later you hear the little voices saying, "And Ashton's own version of 20th century neoclassicism." I'll bet they both thought they were just doing ballet.)

Doug, thank you for your information on port de bras -- I hope you'll continue to have the time to read these threads and comment, because you have a perspective none of the rest of us have. As late as the 1940s, Bournonville port de bras was very rounded, the arm at brow-level, shading the brow (like the big picture hats women wore at the turn of the last century). The tiny pieces of film evidence I've seen of older Russian classical dancers -- like Spessitseva's Giselle -- are rather wild, certainly not controlled and neat.

A friend of mine who's watched "The Dying Swan" molt over the decades thinks that Odette got more "swanny" after "Dying Swan." To further confuse "employ," the way the terms "classical" and "romantic" are popularly used now, a "classical" Swan Queen (as Gregory and Fonteyn were) were less overtly swanny than a "romantic" Odette (Makarova).

#28 Andrei

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Posted 26 March 2001 - 10:58 PM

I'm still backing my opinion, then more I thinking of it. What is the neoclassicism? It's attempt to create a new shape using the old form. In "Swan Lake" it's not just port de bras. Look at Odette variation. All movements there are classical, but the same time new from the very beginning. Ivanov refused to make any virtuoso combination for the sake of the character. Besides, it's realy techniqually challenged even now. The first part - developpé, double rond de jamb, tombé, which perfectly fit the image of the bird trying to soar, I never saw in any other ballet. The second - two fermé, pas de bourré and fast battement passé in arabesque, commonly used, but pas de bourré done unbeat and it makes all sequence unstable, like this creature run to you and freeze, waitng for your tenderness. The last part looks like normal tours piqué en dehors, but Ivanov doesn't allow to ballerina go off the pointe after double tour and it takes off all bravura effect, usually associated with finished pirrouettes. I'm sorry, but it's clearly a new approach to build a character. Of course, as Alexandra mentioned before, Ivanov, probably didn't know, what he did come up with, he "was just making dances", but he opened window for Fokine with his "Dying Swan" and late on for Lopuhov and Balanchine.

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 27 March 2001 - 12:06 AM

I wouldn't quibble that it's a new approach to building a character, although we don't have the whole repertory to look at. (I will say that I think there are things like this in Bournonville. The only one I can think of at the moment are James's solos in the second act. The first is similar to the steps in the first act reel, more ground-rooted. The second is almost a trying out of flight, and the third is much more wild, and free and open, so that James is flying with the Sylph.) On the term "neoclassical," I don't know if that was used in 19th century Russia at all, but that doesn't mean that Petipa and Ivanov (George Jackson wrote an article for DanceView long ago suggesting that Act II is really Petipa), or Bournonville, or Saint Leon, weren't using classical vocabulary to express emotions; I think they were. I'd also suggest that that's what the "new" genre (semicharacter classical) added in the early 19th century was for -- to combine classical steps with acting or character steps.

#30 CygneDanois

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Posted 25 April 2001 - 10:23 PM

About Odette and employ, does anyone know if Odette was nobility before she came under Baron von Rothbart's spell? I ask because I remembered Alexandra's writing on another thread the comment of a French person that the liberal use of arched backs in Russian ballet is a throwback to folk dancing (this is a paraphrase; my apologies for any inaccuracies). Therefore, if Odette was not nobility, perhaps this is a second, although not necessarily the chief reason for her unusually flexible port de bras/corps. (One could also infer that being turned into a swan during the day gradually chips away at her noble mien, but that doesn't seem very nice to swans, which are very majestic creatures, IMO.) I notice that Odile doesn't seem to use her back the same way Odette does (Odile has one or two attitudes to the back while looking up at the ceiling, but it doesn't appear to me to be a natural position for her--more like something she affects to fool Siegfried).


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