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Fonteyn/Somes "Firebird" clips@ the Edimburgh Festival, 1954.


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 06:53 PM

More little treats for all of us...!! :clapping:



#2 Bonnette

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 07:20 PM

Oh, how delightful to see this clip - and in color! Firebird has always been one of my favorite ballets, and to witness the sublime interaction of Fonteyn and Somes is indeed a treat. Thank you!

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 January 2011 - 09:23 PM

...and more to come...! :thumbsup:

#4 bart

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 11:27 AM

This is an extraordinary treat. I've never seen Fonteyn in a role like this. How different she looks, and moves, as compared with the Auroras, Ondines, Juliets, and Marguerites of her more familiar repertoire.

At points she is almost unrecognizable: for example\
-- her face, with cheekbones much sharper than I remember
-- those the huge eyes, as she looks backwards towards the Prince who has captured her;
-- The sudden, sharp movements of head and arms.

Fonteyn's Firebird is a wild thing, indeed. And quite different from Vishneva's on the Return of the Firebird dvd..

Cristian, do you by any chance have a clip of Fonteyn dancing the berceuse? It would be fascinating to observe the differences.

#5 richard53dog

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Posted 02 January 2011 - 12:31 PM

This is an extraordinary treat. I've never seen Fonteyn in a role like this. How different she looks, and moves, as compared with the Auroras, Ondines, Juliets, and Marguerites of her more familiar repertoire.

At points she is almost unrecognizable: for example\
-- her face, with cheekbones much sharper than I remember
-- those the huge eyes, as she looks backwards towards the Prince who has captured her;
-- The sudden, sharp movements of head and arms.

Fonteyn's Firebird is a wild thing, indeed. And quite different from Vishneva's on the Return of the Firebird dvd..

Cristian, do you by any chance have a clip of Fonteyn dancing the berceuse? It would be fascinating to observe the differences.



Fonteyn was coached by Karsavina when she undertook the Firebird, I've seen photos of the rehearsals with Fonteyn modeling her poses and movements on the famous creator of the role.

A few years after this performance, Fonteyn and Somes were filmed in the complete Firebird. At the same time the complete Ondine was filmed as well as a chunk of Swan Lake Act 2. As far as I know the film is not commercially available, hopefully someday it will be.

In the Firebird film, this same section is very similar except Fonteyn's makeup is a bit more subtle. This stands to reason, the Edinburgh performance was a stage performance caught on film, the later film at the ROH was geared to the film audience and so the effects were a bit more subtle.

I looked on youtube, no sign of either the 1959 Firebird or Ondine. But the Swan Lake excerpt is there. So as a little consolation prize, here's a bit more of Fonteyn and Somes filmed during the 1950s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYNOHWZ4ZnA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAR44qvg_Q4&feature=related

Note that the Swan Lake has the famous "pdd" done as a "pdt" with Benno's assistance, certainly a throwback from a different era!

#6 Simon G

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 05:40 AM

Fonteyn in Ondine, the shadow dance. I found it on a Japanese channel it takes a while to load and you have to sit through an advert for Japanese Kentucky Fried Chicken. Konichiwa!

http://v.youku.com/v...U2NTM1OTYw.html

Final pdd. Again takes a while to load and there's a Japanese KFC advert.

http://v.youku.com/v...U2NTM3NDI4.html

#7 bart

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:22 AM

Thanks, Simon. I had not seen this video, which is extraordinary. I fits perfectly into a thread that began with Fonteyn's Firebird. I especially love the first selection: Ondine's discovery of the world beyond the water. Those quick emotional shifts -- alternating hesitancy, delight, fear, and wonder -- are conveyed so well by movement. Ashton's Ondine is so quickly defined, using every part of her body.

And, as in the Firebird video -- those eyes. After watching I opened Meredith Daneman's biography of Fonteyn and found the following in her discussion of the Ashton-Fonteyn collaboration on Ondine:

"Take, for instance, the way he made her use her eyes. Ner had she widened them to more eloquent effect than when she rose through the fountain as Ondine taking her first, hesitant steps on dry land.
"Dancers today don't understand what eyes are for," Ashton persistently complained. "With your eyes properly used you can distract everybody from your technique. You draw the public to yo with your eyes," And you reduce your colleagues to sobbing wrecks. "At the first full rehearsal," says Annette Page, "when we saw Margot for the first time as Ondine, the whole room was in tears, not only because she was so wonderful and moving, but because we all felt that this was going to be her last thing."

I also discovered -- by clicking our Amazon link above -- that the Paul Czinner film from which Simon's clips were taken is available as a bonus on a video of Margot, a movie about the life of Fonteyn.

Here is a customer review by Ivy Lin, someone who obviously knows ballet rather well and whom I have relied upon quite often when considering videos.

I am not going to comment much on the biopic, because I feel that there isn't much to say. It's nice, a bit cheesy, but there are several documentaries and books about Fonteyn that capture the woman much more vividly. Instead, my review will focus on the "bonus" that is included in the dvd package, that is the real treat for dance lovers. It is the 1960 film Paul Czinner made of Margot Fonteyn in three of her most famous roles: Swan Lake, Firebird, and Ondine. Michael Somes is her stolid partner in all three ballets.

[ ... ]

Ondine was a ballet closely associated with Fonteyn. Czinner's film is a truncated version of the ballet, but nevertheless it preserves quite well both the positives and negatives of Ashton's valentine for Fonteyn. The negatives: Hans Warner Henze's score, which has its moments of beauty, but also at times seems dissonant with the delicate fairy tale that's being portrayed by Ashton's choreography. Also, the ballet has long dull stretches (Act 3, which takes place on a ship, is particularly weak). It is only strong as a ballet when Ondine is dancing. But one sees, without a shadow of a doubt (pun intended) why Fonteyn was such a success in the role. From the first she is an enchanting water nymph. The shadow dance is simply beautiful -- Fonteyn smiles that special smile of hers, and then proceeds to play with her own shadow in a way that's mischevious, alluring, and finally seductive. Fonteyn was never great at the big jumps, or the majestic poses, but her portrayal of Ondine showed how "enchanting little steps" can make a magnificent whole.

(Please Don't Forget: purchases from Amazon after we have clicked the box at the top of Ballet Alert pages help keep this Discussion Board going. :thumbsup: )

#8 CM

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:44 AM

" The Rank Organisation presents The Royal Ballet" - DVD, ref 7952616, running time 130 hours plus extras including Firebird, Act II Swan Lake and Ondine -is listed on Amazon co uk however it is PAL - region 2 only

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 08:55 AM

re: Margot's eyes.

The first time I noticed how beautifully she puts those to work was during the final fish dive in the SB clip. She has a particular way to keep looking at Somes even her face being almost on the floor. It was like she was saying "You KNOW I'm watching you, so you better keep me safe...!" or "Oh, I'm so in love with you...look at you, all uncomfortable and still trying your best to make me look pretty..." :clapping:
Her distinctive blinking gives her innocent portray a cute amount of naughtiness... :wub:

#10 richard53dog

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 11:13 AM

I also discovered -- by clicking our Amazon link above -- that the Paul Czinner film from which Simon's clips were taken is available as a bonus on a video of Margot, a movie about the life of Fonteyn.

(Please Don't Forget: purchases from Amazon after we have clicked the box at the top of Ballet Alert pages help keep this Discussion Board going. :thumbsup: )



That's really good news. In a way it's a bit of a shame that the Czinner film is just an extra on the Fonteyn documentary because it's availability isn't as obvious as it would be if it were the main title and not just a bonus but I'd welcome the release in whatever form it comes in.

The Firebird film is very fine. I was a bit disappointed in the Ondine. I had been familiar with the shadow scene for a long, long time and always thought it was just very strikingly beautiful. A lot of the rest of it is rather dull though. So overall, the Ondine material is a bit uneven.

Still this is a wonderful documemtation of Fonteyn and gives much more of an idea of what she was like on stage than the Nureyev Swan Lake film, which I've never been all that fond of.

#11 CM

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 11:31 AM

The 1954 Firebird clip comes from the same British Pathe feature that included footage of the Diaghilev exhibition. Leonid commented on the Firebird clip some time ago in the Diaghilev thread. I think Fonteyn looks much more feral and spiky in this clip than in the Czinner film (which is currently available - al 130 minutes of Firebird, Ondine and Swan Lake Act II- plus special features of archive interview with Fonteyn, image gallery and a PDF document. However it is region 2, PAL. Search "the royal ballet" on Amazon co uk to find it)

#12 sandik

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 09:05 AM

At a point several years ago this Royal Ballet program was available on VHS tape -- I've had a copy for many years, and often used the Swan Lake pas de deux "plus one" when I taught dance history.

#13 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 06:37 PM

This is an extraordinary treat. I've never seen Fonteyn in a role like this. How different she looks, and moves, as compared with the Auroras, Ondines, Juliets, and Marguerites of her more familiar repertoire.

At points she is almost unrecognizable: for example\
-- her face, with cheekbones much sharper than I remember
-- those the huge eyes, as she looks backwards towards the Prince who has captured her;
-- The sudden, sharp movements of head and arms.

Fonteyn's Firebird is a wild thing, indeed. And quite different from Vishneva's on the Return of the Firebird dvd..

Cristian, do you by any chance have a clip of Fonteyn dancing the berceuse? It would be fascinating to observe the differences.


I recently saw the bio-pic, Fonteyn, that others have mentioned here, and there is a discussion on her careful make-up application, plucking of her hairline, and other techniques to change her appearance, so what you have said about her altered cheekbones, etc, does not surprise me.


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