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Are 32 fouettes performed re: Imperial Russian Ballet


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#1 pasmaroo

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 08:56 PM

G'day,

I have seen Swan Lake performed many times in 4 Acts. I am about to see the Imperial Russian Ballet perform Swan Lake and for the first time for me, I will see it in 3 Acts. However, my curiosity has the better of me.

In understanding that there can be variations to the structure of any ballet from one choreographer and ballet company to another I ask the following question.

In the 3 Act presentation of Swan Lake by the Imperial Russian Ballet are the 32 fouettés and thus the Grand Coda of the Grand Pas de six included in their structure of their performance?

PASmaroo

#2 rg

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 04:32 AM

i know nothing now of this company or its production of SWAN LAKE.
SWAN LAKE began its long and varied history as a 4 act production in Moscow.
the famous Petipa/Ivanov production from St. Petersburg in 1895 reduced the 4 acts to three, with the first lakeside scene set as act 1, scene 2, that is, no act was 'cut' but the libretto was rearranged to put the meeting of Odette and Siegfried before the first intermission.
This '95 staging remains the one that so many current productions use as the basis of their choreography, however slightly in many cases.
Some recent productions, at NYCB by Peter Martins and the one at ABT by Kevin McKenzie, for instance, play SWAN LAKE in 2 acts, i.e. one intermission, but this does not mean that 2 acts have been cut, it simply means that the intermissions have been reduced to one.
i suspect the production in question here will be a vaguely standard, traditional one based on the Petipa/Ivanov/Gorsky choreography long used as the basis of 20th c. Soviet/Russian productions.
i'd expect to find the 32-fouette coda for Odile in the Ballroom scene in place.
i'm unsure what you mean by "Grand Coda of the Grand Pas de six."

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 09:40 AM

...maybe the arranging of Odile's fouettes to the Princesses Pas de Six Coda...? (a la Fonteyn in the video with Rudi...? :sweatingbullets: )
I think the OP meant the PDD Coda...

#4 Simon G

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 01:04 PM

Pasmaroo,

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I have a feeling that although you love attending ballet and dance you're not completely au fait with ballet history, especially Swan Lake, which is probably the most mucked about with and revised by modern choreographers, ballet of all?

Firstly The Imperial Russian Ballet, is one of those satellite troupes which sprang up after glasnost when soloists and corps members from the existing Russian companies started their own small-scale touring companies around the world. There's one in Wales in the UK, called Swansea Ballets Russes (I know, could you be more classy?) - the standards, soloists etc are varied. They're basically trading on the Mariinsky and Bolshoi's fame, the fame of Russian ballet without adding to it. There hasn't really been an Imperial ballet per se since before the Revolution.

If you want to see Swan Lake, the classic work or art in its original or integral whole then your best bets are, Mariinsky, Bolshoi, Paris Opera Ballets and the Royal Ballet has a choreographically extremely faithful version to the Russian productions, (sadly Anthony Dowell, for reasons best known to himself, decided to let Yolanda Sonnabend, a very estravagant theatre designer have free reign with the production design in 1986 and it now looks like it was designed by a gay teenager on crack.)

Pasmaroo, as rg stated, the ballet Swan Lake choreographed by the greatest classical choreographer of all time Marius Petipa in 1895 for the then Kirov is the format choreographically that exists till today. The fouettes all 32 have been existant and an integral part of the ballet since the very first Odette/Odile a ballerina named Pierina Legnani - and were indeed conceived to show off her technique. It was one of those moments in an art form which pushed the technique of the art foward.

The classic format of Swan Lake remains the same regardless of production, in terms of dramaturgy, choreography the pas de deux etc with of course some variations in court dances, use of classical mime, divertissements and production design - but the essential white scenes, big swans, cygnets, pas de deux in all three acts between Siegfried, Odette and Odile follows the choreographic format as laid down by Petipa - (or near damn, as)

As rg pointed out some productions push the prologue and act 1 together, actually most do, some companies for time issues may only have one interval but the story remains the same:

Act 1: Prince Siegfried, a tedious, self-involved mummy's boy (and possible latent homosexual) overcomes his Oedipus complex when he discovers the pleasures of poultry and falls in love with Odette, a princess turned into a swan by evil von Rothbart. He pledges his undying love to her and promises to help her break the spell.

Act 2: Siegfried has a birthday party. He's not very bright, as when Von Rothbart turns up with a very slutty looking Odette-a-like, he doesn't ask himself why she's acting that way or why she's suddenly so pally with the bad guy. He asks her to marry him and dooms Odette.

Act 3: Siegfried asks Odette's forgiveness and they enter into a suicide pact. The End.

Pasmaroo, did you actually mean the pas de deux which ends in the coda in Act 2 before Siegfried asks Odile to marry him? All a pas de six is, (and I'm really being literal here) is six people dancing together in a divertissement.


Now, I was wondering about when you said lots of choreographers change Swan Lake for productions. It's true there are endless reworkings, reimaginings of Swan Lake, which is a pity because Petipa's Swan Lake is perfect. But the prevalent ethos of a lot of modern choreographers towards the classics seems to be, that if something's not broke, bludgeon it into bloody submission with a sledge hammer until its a pulped, bubbling choreographic mess of cheap tricks and dodgy juvenile subtexts.

There's the homo-neurotic Matthew Bourne "all male" version, the Mats Ek version, Monument for a Dead Boy and indeed in Australia you have Graeme Murphy's really really really bad version which imagines Swan Lake as a love triangle based on Prince Charles, Lady Di and Camilla Parker Bowles - which is totally reworking it, it's Swan Lake, not Horse Lake. And those are the few I can remember off the top of my head, but the things is NONE of them are Swan Lake. It's a load of self-indulgent crap to the music of Tchaikovsky, and none of them have the fouettes, pas de deux etc because it's not classical ballet.

Sorry rambling a bit, but from what I can see the Imperial Russian Ballet is performing the classical text of Petipa which I'm 100% certain will have the fouettes, the three grand pas de deux, the cygnets, big swans etc as laid out by Petipa and Tchaikovsky.

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 02:42 PM

Now, I was wondering about when you said lots of choreographers change Swan Lake for productions. It's true there are endless reworkings, reimaginings of Swan Lake, which is a pity because Petipa's Swan Lake is perfect. But the prevalent ethos of a lot of modern choreographers towards the classics seems to be, that if something's not broke, bludgeon it into bloody submission with a sledge hammer until its a pulped, bubbling choreographic mess of cheap tricks and dodgy juvenile subtexts.


Simon, I loved your post, but especially this paragraph. I don't think I've ever read it described so perfectly.

I know your synopsis is a satire, but, for those who have only seen the reimaginings, I would add that Odette is not a bird when Siegfried sees her, but a woman, and in the goodolddays, Odile did not spend the entire act trying to make herself look as different from Odette as possible, but was Odette to life, but with a different personality. It could be taken as the lakeside Odete is the private woman and the ballroom Odile is her public face. Harder to do, of course, and so it's gone. (Letestu, on the latest POB version of Swan Lake, uses an old trick that works, at least for me, by being warm to Siegfried and turning to the audience, as an aside, growling and seeming to say, "stupid boy. Now, watch this.")

#6 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 05:10 PM

...NONE of them are Swan Lake. It's a load of self-indulgent crap...

:sweatingbullets:

#7 rg

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 05:50 PM

to prevent unnecessary confusion concerning the re-written 1877, Moscow libretto for the 1895 production in St. Petersburg the Petipa/Ivanov staging, it should be stressed that the '95 first act combines, with some adjustments, the story '77 line from acts one and two.
to say 'Prologue' might lead to confusion with much later productions - Burmeister's? Ashton's? etc. where the overture is staged as 'prologue' to the action of act 1, that is, the prince's coming of age festivities.
the '95 prod. calls this 2-part segment of swan lake, act 1 scene 1 and act 1 scene 2. (the idea of a prologue is not part of this scheme.)

#8 pasmaroo

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 08:22 PM

[font="Verdana"][size=2][font="Verdana"]I must admit, I had to have a bit of a chuckle at your post Simon, particularly the synopsis which I found quite amusing. Your descriptive ways are an "eye opener."

[/font][font="Verdana"]You are correct in your suggestion that I am "green" as I have only discovered ballet in recent times, fell in love with it and I take any opportunity I can to see it. So, my knowledge and history is not extensive by no means, thus I stand corrected on any statement I made while referring back to your query, RG, re: the "Grand Coda of the Grand Pas de six."

[/font][font="Verdana"]What is it that I am thinking of here? Perhaps this is the section of the score where I had believed the 32 fouettes are performed.

[/font][font="Verdana"]Simon, your remarks about The Imperial Russian Ballet has led me to seek a little more info about the point you were making regarding, "...after glasnost..." and, I am slowly starting to understand that indeed as you put it so eloquently...LOL, that some choreographers, "...bludgeon it [Swan Lake] into submission..."

[/font][font="Verdana"]Though I did see Graeme Murphy's version, I was never prepared to actually pay the money to see[/font] [font="Verdana"]it and I had always refused to see what Matthew Bourne had done to it.

[/font][font="Verdana"]Not sure if you are aware of Graeme Murphy's version of The Nutcracker which has got a very distinctive Aussie flavour to it. For me, watching it was like seeing Pavarotti sliding across an open door way in white socks and shirt miming to the song "Old Time Rock And Roll." Some how, it just doesn't gel, risky business, that is!

[/font][font="Verdana"]But, here in [/font][font="Verdana"]Australia and particularly in some States and cities the ballet or ballet companies do not frequently visit and added to this, Aussies tend to be a little more layback and less conservative so I believe they will support a ballet (any ballet) deviating from the original.

[/font][font="Verdana"]I don't think we [/font][font="Verdana"]have the same "level" of culture or finesse as do the American or European ballet fraternities. It is not unusual to witness [/font][font="Verdana"]patrons dressed in T-Shirts, jeans and thongs at the ballet much to the disgust of some others who are beautifully and elegantly dressed and are a sight for sore eyes.[/font][/size][/font]

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 08:44 PM

It is not unusual to witness patrons dressed in [...] thongs at the ballet ....

:sweatingbullets:
but...
:wacko:

re: the "Grand Coda of the Grand Pas de six." What is it that I am thinking of here? Perhaps this is the section of the score where I had believed the 32 fouettes are performed.


pasmaroo, it is possible that you were digging here and there about the different variations of the score from 1876 to 1895 and got things mixed up. Originally, there was indeed a Pas de Six in Act III-(four acts design)-, for the 6 Princesses/potential girlfriends in the 1876 Tchaikovsky/Reisinger ballet, which was to be replaced by a Grand PDD in 1877 to the request of a ballerina-(the now so-called Tchaikovsky PDD, which was eventually dropped by Petipa and didn't make it to the '95 score). So in 1894, Drigo arranged a former Act I PDD and inserted it in the Ballroom Act for Odile and Siegfried, hence suppressing the '76 Pas de Six and the '77 Pas de Deux. They all have Codas, but the 32 fouetees that have survived 'till today are those that were performed for the first time in this ballet by Pierina Legnani in a special performance presented in 1894 to Drigo's arrangement. About the Pas de Six, there are some companies that have rescued the Princesses and some of their music, while some others have sticked to the Petipa/Drigo 95 design. I, for once, never saw anything from this former Pas performed live until I came to US.

#10 pasmaroo

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 12:57 AM

cubanmiamiboy you are correct with regards to, "...digging here and there about the different variations..."

Misinformation and confusion can be such a dangerous thing, thanks for the explanation which has shed a little more light on it for me.

#11 Mashinka

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 02:16 AM

The Imperial Russian Ballet was originally called Pilgrim and presented either gala programmes with the most amazing line up of Russian stars drawn from The Bolshoi and Kirov, or they presented programmes made up of a good deal of new work. When Maya Plisetskaya joined them in her twilight years and the company provided a backdrop for her appearances, the company name changed to Imperial Russian Ballet, possibly at Plisetskaya's instigation. At the same time they went down the convention touring Russian Ballet Company route of presenting the classics.

I saw them dance Swan Lake (in Marbella of all places) a couple of years ago and the dancer I saw did not perform the 32 fouettés, but that was probably the choice of that dancer and not company policy. Having watched a number of touring companies in the UK, I would rate this company a bit higher and they often secure the services of established Russian stars, though their own dancers are generally very good too.

:sweatingbullets: Thongs: these mean something very different in the UK than in Oz. In Australia they are what we call in Britain 'flip-flops' (nee Roman sandals) whereas in Britain they are undergarments of er.....flimsy appearance. Not sure what they are in the US.

#12 Simon G

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 09:17 AM

Simon, I loved your post, but especially this paragraph. I don't think I've ever read it described so perfectly.



Hey Alexandra, I aim to please. I must admit I was in a playful mood when I made that post.

A couple of things though about Swan Lake in particular, it's such a moneyspinner and to the world at large it's synonymous with ballet. I suppose it's no surprise that modern choreographers are so keen to reimagine it - it trades off the glamour/public preconceptions etc about dance.

Also for ballet companies, I remember a couple of years ago reading an interview with Rachel Moore, executive director, in which she said the only way that new work can be programmed or commissioned is if it's run in conjunction with 80% Swan Lakes in a season.

In regards to Graeme Murphy's "Swan Lake" when I saw it I just wondered why??. Australian Ballet is a fine classical company with a host of exciting and skilled classicists and technicians who are completely capable of performing the Petipa text as is. Australian Ballet have a Swan Lake in their rep, they certainly didn't need what amounted to a vanity project on the part of Murphy. It was most odd - especially the committing of Odette to an insane asylum. One kind of wonders what exactly the subtext was supposed to be - it's fairly safe to assume that a woman with a deeply entrenched victim complex, who's being forced to live as a bird and who makes inappropriately intense emotional connections with strange men might have a few mental health issues. It didn't need to be spelt out.

I have a feeling that if Petipa and Tchaikovsky had had a crystal ball and looked 100 years into the future and watched Matthew Bourne's and Graeme Murphy's they might have just decided to stop with Sleeping Beauty and quit while they were ahead.

#13 Hans

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 09:54 AM

:( Thongs: these mean something very different in the UK than in Oz. In Australia they are what we call in Britain 'flip-flops' (nee Roman sandals) whereas in Britain they are undergarments of er.....flimsy appearance. Not sure what they are in the US.

Flip-flops here, too. :(

#14 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 12:26 PM

:( Thongs: these mean something very different in the UK than in Oz. In Australia they are what we call in Britain 'flip-flops' (nee Roman sandals) whereas in Britain they are undergarments of er.....flimsy appearance. Not sure what they are in the US.


A larger G-String.

#15 pasmaroo

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 02:03 AM

The Imperial Russian Ballet was originally called Pilgrim and presented either gala programmes... I saw them dance Swan Lake (in Marbella of all places) a couple of years ago...


Thank You Mashinka. And I look forward to seeing them perform here in Australia next month.


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