Les Sylphides - ABT Question
Posted 29 May 2001 - 01:41 PM
I know many great companies have staged this ballet throughout the years - does anyone have a favorite cast or production that comes to mind??
Posted 29 May 2001 - 02:44 PM
I saw the Kirov do it when the company came to Wolf Trap in the mid-1980s and loved them in it.
It actually was everybody's repertory staple for eons, and perhaps it was done to death. By the time I got to see it (in the mid-1970s) it was pretty lifeless, I thought. I used to have fantasies that someone would slip the conductor 25 bucks to speed up the tempo. Dah...DAH....dum.........dah dah dah DUM........................dah dah dah DUM......DAH......et cetera, et cetera, and so forth.
I'd love to see a good revival of "Les Sylphides." I've heard balletmasters say that it is extremely difficult to stage -- one of those ballets that looks easy, because there are no tricks in it, but is quite difficult, and especially difficult stylistically.
Posted 29 May 2001 - 07:18 PM
Posted 29 May 2001 - 07:40 PM
Posted 29 May 2001 - 09:45 PM
Posted 29 May 2001 - 11:00 PM
P.S. If I'm not mistaken, ABT traditionally did the ballet as Fokine last set it; the Kirov's version is a bit different and I think (??) that as director of ABT Baryshnikov had them dance the version he knew and took some criticism for it. What I loved about the Kirov version, however, was the way they danced it, not this or that detail in the setting. If ABT were to revive it now, I think it should stick with the version that belongs to its own history, and also gives Fokine's last thoughts.
[ 05-30-2001: Message edited by: Drew ]
Posted 30 May 2001 - 12:13 AM
Supposedly, every version of this ballet is a little bit different, because Fokine was an inveterate tinkerer. Not surprisingly, I agree with Drew that: "If ABT were to revive it now, I think it should stick with the version that belongs to its own history, and also gives Fokine's last thoughts."
There's a very interesting section in Charles Payne's ABT book that discusses the style of "Les Sylphides" that helped me understand why the "oldtimers" when I started seeing the ballet felt that it had deteriorated. I would often hear, "They dance it as though it's second act 'Swan Lake.'" I think this is one of the naturally occurring aspects of balletic erosion -- unless it's stopped by a coach or director. Everything "old" gets lumped together in the "old" bin. "Romantic" and "Neo-Romantic" become blended. Fokine's soft arms and curly line (and curved lines, in the choreography) become straightened to be "Petipa's" straight line (for the dancer) and straight lines and diagonals (for the choreography). And so when audiences say that "all those ballets look alike," they're not wrong -- but it doesn't have to be that way.
Posted 30 May 2001 - 12:59 AM
Posted 30 May 2001 - 09:27 AM
Your post could start a new topic -- would you do that? I'm sure there were obvious stylistic distinctions not only between Petipa ballets -- "Sleeping Beauty" and "Swan Lake" once looked very different -- but WITHIN the ballets (the distinction among character, classical and demicaractere dancing). Most people going to the ballet today would have no way of knowing about these differences -- could you give us a few examples (on another thread, something like, Petipa's Ballets, or style, or whatever you'd like.)
Posted 06 February 2004 - 08:14 AM
I'm breathing some brief life into this old thread just to say I'm a total sucker for Les Sylphides. Recently I purchased the ABT dvd mentioned above, and I just have to keep myself from watching it twice a day.
Even the music is fascinating. Who ever thought of turning the rather cynical A flat Nocturne into a dreamy prelude? And the orchestration of the C# minor Waltz is just so wonderful.
One of the reasons I got the Barysh dvd is I have kind of given up on seeing this piece ever again. Ages ago, when I was a kid, me and my mother (who used to run a school) saw a Sylphides and that was it, apparently.
I saw La Sylphide recently (great part for Larissa Lezhnina), I saw Robbins' The Concerto - so the inspiration and the satirical commentary seem to be in circulation. No Fokine, however.
Perhaps Les Sylphides is out of fashion* not just because it's very hard to do right, while it looks easy, but also because it's impossible to pin down what it is about? To me that's perhaps the biggest fascination of all. It's completely elusive. In fact one might say that's what it's about.
*There is very little talk about it on these boards, too.
Posted 06 February 2004 - 07:28 PM
t great -- but few do have the depth of fonduthat Baryshnikov (and he young Nureyev) had, that makes that part so distinctively soft -- the jumps don't go high, but hte landing should go very low. THe Kirov in their recent visit made hte boy's part way too heroic, it was not beautiful. and indeed, the corps hardly seemed to be breathing, except for Pavlenko nobody else did either (she was wonderful).
THere was a little dancer, whose name I CAN'T remember, and it kills me, for she was SO beautiful in hte prelude, I can't tell you, how airy she seemed, it was ALL breath, so soft, so melting....
(PS Nobody has mentioned the Royal Ballet video, with FOnteyn and Nureyev and I think Merle Park in hte mazurka, but it's really wonderful, VEY musical dancing.)
Posted 06 February 2004 - 07:41 PM
Posted 06 February 2004 - 10:41 PM
Posted 13 April 2004 - 10:00 AM
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