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Differences among Petipa ballets


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#31 Alexandra

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Posted 08 June 2001 - 02:11 PM

Okay! It's much better than Kool Aid. :) The point that I think Drew, Doug and I have been trying to make isn't about whether something is enjoyable or not. I think that often happens when dance reconstruction topics come up. They were trying to get at what is actually being constructed, or reconstructed, or made up out of whole cloth and passed off as something it's not.

#32 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 08 June 2001 - 03:24 PM

I totally agree with this attribution problem (I guess the 19th century ballet composers suffer the same problem - Adam, Minkus, Drigo and the likes, the attributions often turn out to be inaccurate). Former Kirov soloist Kirill Melnikov once suggested to set up a Petipa Trust in order to protect his work. Yet (thinking about what the Mariinsky had recently done), almost with the same breath he didn’t consider it a good idea to go all the way back to the original "Beauty", disapproving not so much of having "the original steps", I guess, but more of all that goes along with it and which, in his opinion, makes it look old-fashioned (mime, costumes, head dresses).

I am all for reconstructing the original (in music as in ballet) and I have enormous admiration for people working on it. But not the way the Mariinsky has handled the reconstruction of Petipa’s "Sleeping Beauty". Far too much of: "We have the notations and we could have changed that too, but we still preferred to keep the other variation" and all that. Sorry no, that’s a museum of candles and oil lamps, advertising in neon.

If you decide to go back to the original and you possess the proper sources, means and knowledge, then you have to go all the way through with it, otherwise it falls between chairs and still isn't what it pretends to be. And if you can re-produce everything as it was originally done, then I would like to see it performed as it was originally performed. Not just the steps, also the style and the aesthetics of the time.

This will demand extra research, but only then we will have our 5th Symphony as Beethoven intended it. :)

#33 doug

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Posted 08 June 2001 - 06:15 PM

These are such good points - thanks, everyone. Thanks also, Jeannie, for the list of ballets.

My initial point had been to discuss the differences within Petipa's oeuvre - how one ballet differed from another when originally presented. As we all know, a variety of changes have been made to the ballets over time. Distinguishing characteristics of individual ballets have been blurred. Part of the benefit of research into original or early productions is finding what made each ballet 'tick' in its time. If I were able to reconstruct ballets on a regular basis, I would certainly approach each one somewhat differently based not only on the available sources but on the particular aesthetic of each work and when/where it was created.

#34 Drew

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Posted 08 June 2001 - 09:51 PM

I was very interested in Jeannie's list -- do we know enough to have a sense of how Petipa developed into the Petipa of Sleeping Beauty? One comment I overheard about Lacotte's Pharoah's Daughter (putting aside, for now, the "steps" question) was that the choreography occasionally looked more French/Bournonvillesque than Petipa, and the person speaking speculated that this was because the ballet was an "early" Petipa spectacle and that was what Lacotte had in mind.

This is really third hand information; I'm not kidding when I say I overheard this conversation...but I notice Doug made some analogous remarks early in this thread, and I am curious if ballet historians have a sense of when and how Petipa developed into the distinctive geometry and pointe work of his later choreography?

Related question re Vivandiere; I saw the Vivandiere pas de six many, many years ago in a Joffrey II production; I vaguely thought it was St. Leon or some other French, pre-Petipa choreography and it certainly looked (to my eye) somewhat Bournonvillesque, with fleet and bouncy footwork. Is this a case, like Giselle, where the version we have is based on a Petipa revival? Or is Jeannie referring to something different?

Croce (to the best of my memory) once alluded to Petipa as having developed the ballerina's adagio (and developed point work accordingly) and she specifically contrasted this to Bournonville. I'm curious what sense we have of when and where this happened in Petipa's work -- of where, when, and how his version of the French tradition diverged from Bournonville's.

P.S. I'm a little nervous that I've just betrayed some appalling ignorance of well known ballet history...so apologies ahead of time.

[ 06-09-2001: Message edited by: Drew ]

#35 Natalia

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 09:21 AM

Drew - Now that you mention it (or 'overheard' it)...the variations of the male soloists in the Act II Gnd Pas Classique (set in courtyard of a big temple) are quite Franco-Bournonvillean. Ditto the Markitanka-Vivandiere pas de six.

The marked change in 'Russian' technique--to incorporate Italian virtuosity and style-- came about (mostly) ca. 1886/87/88, after the initial appearances of the Italian virtuosi (in private Petersburg theaters, such as Kin Grust). This is a huge simplification...but I'm trying to get to the heart of the matter quickly. By the time that 'Sleeping Beauty' appeared in 1890, the Petiopa/Imperial Theaters style was quite different - it had evolved into the 'Petipa' that you & I recognize as such. I'm sure that Doug and others can elaborate on this 'Italian Revolution' in late-19th C. Petersburg ballet.

#36 doug

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Posted 10 June 2001 - 11:08 AM

I provided one of the male variations in DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH in the temple courtyard scene (it comes after the variation for two women that has all the chugs - the double tour at the end was added, btw). All of the Russian male variations that I have seen notated are of the French-Bournonville sort - and these were notated mostly in the first decade of the 20th century. I have examples from Petipa ballets (though not neccesarily choreographed by him?) and Gorsky.

I think Petipa 'as we know him' ultimately dates from the 1930s/40s/50s, during which time his ballets were revived and altered in Russia (although this process of alteration began earlier with some ballets) - again, a simplification, but this is what I am finding.

The only male variation that comes close to the sort we generally see today in classic full-lengths is Desire's variation from BEAUTY Act III, but even there the notated version seems to be a mix of old and new (it was the version danced by Sergei Legat). It is a ***very*** difficult variation, stamina-wise, and I've never seen it danced, although it is similar in part to some versions danced today.

All in all, I think Russian balletic style in the late 19th century was still very French and the Italian influence was incorporated to the extent it could be compatible with the French style. When I first started working with the notations, I kept thinking how like Bournonville so much of the dances looked. That is, of course, because the Bournonville style retains so many elements of the old French, and the style of 'Petipa' (via the Vaganova school, et al.) has lost much of that.

I am still trying to sort out these ideas and impressions, and I really appreciate all the input. :)

[ 06-10-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

#37 K2356

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Posted 04 January 2002 - 10:32 PM

In the January 1967 issue of Dance Magazine
there is a artical that states that Fedor Lopukhov
claims the credit for the Lilac Fairy Variation
in sleeping beauty.The artical tells a story told
by Mariinsky balletina Elizaveta Pavlovna Gerdt
(who later trained M.Plisetskaya,E.Maximova and other dancers)
the story goes on to say the first interpreter of
the Lilac Fairy was Petipa's daughter Maria.Gertd states Maria Petipa
..."she was no longer young and her plump,heavy
torso was in striking contrast to her slender
beautiful legs in heel shoes.I knew from my
father that she never was a classical dancer and
never danced on pointe.The variation of the
prologue was therefore omitted,restricting the
part of the Lilac Fairy to a mine character.Later
when i took the this part from Lubov Egorova,
about 1910-12,she taught me the variation.Egorova
told me then that she asked Fedor Lopukhov to
produce the variation,which he did very skillfully......"
the artical goes on to say that this variation
known everywhere as a work of Petipa,was really
the work of Lopukhov.


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