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Choreography of Swan LakeWho choreographed part of Act IV of Swan Lake?


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#1 BallettomanefromCanada

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Posted 05 April 2010 - 06:17 PM

I have a ballet question for you. It concerns:
Swan Lake, Act III (formerly Act IV), as danced by the Mariinsky Ballet Company.
Do you know who choreographed the following 2 interpolations:
1) Valse des cygnes (a.k.a Waltz of the White and Black Swans), orchestrated by Drigo from Tchaikovsky's Op. 72 for Piano - No. 11 (Valse Bluette)
2) Scène dansante, orchestrated by Drigo from Tchaikovsky's Op. 72 for Piano - No. 15 (Un poco di Chopin).
I have not yet located a source that will explain when these two interpolations were first used by the Mariinsky. I would guess that it's Lev Ivanov, but it depends if they were added much later.
Even though the choreography blends beautifully with Ivanov's for this act, somehow, it doesn't appear to his style. Maybe it's Nikolas Sergeyev?

#2 Amy Reusch

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 07:09 PM

I just came to this forum hunting for the same answer...

Who choreographed the Cygnets? It seems so Petipa to me, and yet it's part of the white act. Is there any evidence indicating who it was?

#3 Natalia

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 03:18 AM

I've just found my 1990 souvenir programme from the April 1990 Paris tour of 'Le Ballet du Theatre Kirov de Leningrad.' It includes a thorough write-up on the history of the 1895 version of Swan Lake, plus a column detailing the provenance of each and every number of the current (1950, Konstantin Sergeev) Kirov-Mariinsky version that all of us see on tours.

Here is the provenance for various sections of Scene 4 (Act III in this version):

First scene, waiting swans - K. Sergeev

Valse (the 'Valse Bluette') - L. Ivanov

Variations of Dancers ('Un Poco di Chopin') - L. Ivanov

Recitative of Odette, Storm & Finale - K. Sergeev [this includes the 'new Happy Ending']


There are other interesting relevations in this graphic, such as:

The ONLY remaining portions by Petipa are the Act I Pas de Trois (everything else in Act I is Konstantin Sergeev/1950), and, in scene iii, the Mazurka and the short Entree to the Black Swan pdd.

The remaining pieces of Vaganova's 1930s version are three: the very beginning of Scene ii up to the entrance of the swans, the Fiancees Waltz in sc iii and one segment of the Black Swan pdd (I am assuming Odile's variation?). EDITED to add: Vaganova also reworked the last few measures of the 'Entrance of the Swans' segment, so that it ends with two long rows of swans.

The only portion by Gorski -- taken from his Bolshoi version -- is the Spanish Dance of scene iii (with Neapolitan by K. Sergeev, Hungarian by Ivanov and Mazurka by Petipa).

#4 Amy Reusch

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 07:44 AM

For some reason I had thought the character dances were by Shiraev... not sure that's spelled correctly, the one who is considered a father of character dance and set many of the character dances attributed to Petipa?

Thank you very much Natalia, that's fascinating!

Do I understand that the Cygnets pas de quatre is Valse Bluette?

Wikipedia had the original ending has happy, turned tragic with Modest Tchaikovky's permission after Pyotr's death. It's an interesting article. I had no idea what we hear today is Drigo's version of Tchaikovsky's score.

#5 Natalia

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 08:05 AM

For some reason I had thought the character dances were by Shiraev... not sure that's spelled correctly, the one who is considered a father of character dance and set many of the character dances attributed to Petipa?

Thank you very much Natalia, that's fascinating!

Do I understand that the Cygnets pas de quatre is Valse Bluette?

Wikipedia had the original ending has happy, turned tragic with Modest Tchaikovky's permission after Pyotr's death. It's an interesting article. I had no idea what we hear today is Drigo's version of Tchaikovsky's score.


Amy, the current Mariinsky version -- that is, the 1950 K. Sergeev cobbling together of various old segments + his original parts -- did not include dances by Shiryaev, although I'm sure that Shiryaev danced in and taught the Petipa Mazurka.

Cygnets is in Act I-sc ii, i.e., the first lakeside scene. Valse Bluette for swan corps, 2 solo swans and a cluster of '4 Big Swan' choryphees is near the beginning of the final scene (in the Mariinsky, known as 'scene iv'). Both the Cygnets and Valse Bluette are still performed in the original Ivanov choreography. [Sorry, Amy, I just realize that I didn't answer your own question but only those of Balletomanefromcanada.]

To add to the 'fun' - I just realized a small error in the earlier information that I provided. Another Vaganova 'bit' that survives in the current Mariinsky version -- that K. Sergeev retained -- is the 'lining up' of the swans into two rows, at the end of their Entrance. The 1990 Kirov-in-Paris programme failed to note that. The 1895 Ivanov entrance of the swans ends with all of the swans clustered to the right of the stage (audience view), as the hunters try to shoot them from the left of the stage. Odette and her accompanying 'baby swans' (child dancers) then intervened to keep the hunters from shooting. [We see this in the current Royal Ballet version, which is the closest to the 1895 'Imperial Petersburg Original' still performed.] As Vaganova did away with the hunters, she created the new ending of that section, with the swans lined up in two rows, in the middle of the stage. Odette enters running in between the two long rows of swans, toward Siegfried.

#6 rg

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 08:09 AM

if wikipedia has a 'happy ending' in the original scenario, it's way off.
Modest Tchaikovsky changed some of the details from the '77 libretto, for example the owl/rothbart's tearing off of Odette's crown - which M.T. considered disrespectful of the Russian royal family, etc., but both versions of the libretto include storm scenes, with tragic endings followed by the apotheosis that's part of both the '77 and '95 versions of the score
the 'happy ending' was a Soviet twist not part of the original or revised libretto.
the 'iconic' pas de quatre of 'cygnets' in the first lakeside, presumably by Ivanov, is very different from the swan maiden dance to the Valse Bluette which was part of the last scene (act 3) in the Petipa/Ivanov production from 1895, and additionally used by Balanchine in his one act version of SWAN LAKE. (the Valse Bluette music, btw, while orchestrated by Drigo, is still Tchaikovsky's.)
Wiley's TCHAIKOVSKY'S BALLETS spells out the musical revisions and adjustments in much detail, which my recollections off the top of my head may or may not have accurately here.
Shiryaev's choreography is part of NUTCRACKER (the Trepak) but not to the best of my knowledge of SWAN LAKE.

#7 Amy Reusch

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 07:08 PM

Thank you rg, I was hoping you'd sound in... I thought some point was made at the time of the showing of the Shiryaev Trepak animation that Shiryaev had been responsible for many of the folk dances in Petipa's ballets but had not been given credit.... but my memory is always full of misty areas...

Thanks Natalia, I was wondering how Cygnets could be a waltz, but the "4 big swans" calls to mind different music... I see my eyes misread cygnes as cygnets in the first post...

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 07:24 PM

About the "happy" vs. "tragic" finale I notice that in many sources the very fact of Odette and Siegfried being reunited in heaven post suicide is generally considered a validate data for the production to be said to carry a happy ending, unlike other versions-(like Nureyev/Fonteyn)-where the whole finale is turned into a very tragic affair with no reunion whatsoever. So then it could be confusing to read that this or that version has a happy finale just because the lovers end up being reunited in spirit, even after having commited suicide-(interesting how this is indeed a very happy thing if looked thru religious eyes, which is probably what the creators of the ballet had in mind) . So then I try to go easier by defining a "tragic" ending just when the physical death of Siegfried or Odette occurs, with or without the heavenly sequence, and then the "happpy" ones-(like the one still danced in Havana and also seen in the Ulanova/Dudinskaya/Sergueyev film)-where only Rothbart dies and Siegfried joins Odette on earth along with her entourage of newly transformed human maidens .

#9 BallettomanefromCanada

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 10:22 PM

I've just found my 1990 souvenir programme from the April 1990 Paris tour of 'Le Ballet du Theatre Kirov de Leningrad.' It includes a thorough write-up on the history of the 1895 version of Swan Lake, plus a column detailing the provenance of each and every number of the current (1950, Konstantin Sergeev) Kirov-Mariinsky version that all of us see on tours.

Here is the provenance for various sections of Scene 4 (Act III in this version):

First scene, waiting swans - K. Sergeev

Valse (the 'Valse Bluette') - L. Ivanov

Variations of Dancers ('Un Poco di Chopin') - L. Ivanov

Recitative of Odette, Storm & Finale - K. Sergeev [this includes the 'new Happy Ending']


There are other interesting relevations in this graphic, such as:

The ONLY remaining portions by Petipa are the Act I Pas de Trois (everything else in Act I is Konstantin Sergeev/1950), and, in scene iii, the Mazurka and the short Entree to the Black Swan pdd.

The remaining pieces of Vaganova's 1930s version are three: the very beginning of Scene ii up to the entrance of the swans, the Fiancees Waltz in sc iii and one segment of the Black Swan pdd (I am assuming Odile's variation?). EDITED to add: Vaganova also reworked the last few measures of the 'Entrance of the Swans' segment, so that it ends with two long rows of swans.

The only portion by Gorski -- taken from his Bolshoi version -- is the Spanish Dance of scene iii (with Neapolitan by K. Sergeev, Hungarian by Ivanov and Mazurka by Petipa).



#10 BallettomanefromCanada

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Posted 15 May 2011 - 10:27 PM

Thanks, Natalia. I just read your comment today (May 16, 2011). I had given up trying to find an answer to my question. After reading Roland John Wiley's "Tchaikovsky's Ballets". I concluded that is was Ivanov. Now, thanks to you and your 1990 souvenir program, I have the answer. You are a God-send. Thank you.


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