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Alexandra

Question #6: Entrechats or Brises?

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Or nothing at all. Around the 1960s (if anyone knows of it earlier, please post) Albrechts began to insert a solo. Nureyev performed 36 entrechat sixes; Baryshnikov crossed the stage twice, on the diagonal, with a series of brises.

Which do you like? Or should Albrecht just be (mysteriously) off in the wings. (The question of, if Albrecht can fly off with Giselle into the wings, why doesn't he just get the heck out of there, could perhaps be a different topic.)

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Alexandra, the solo was introduced by Lifar in the 1930s (when he danced it at the Paris Opera with Spessivtseva). He performed the apparently endless series of entrechats.

I don't really prefer any of the two, as long as the result is the same: exhaustion (and not like Baryshnikov who continues to look like an athlete...).

It's also quite important that there is an interplay between Albrecht and Myrtha at this point. She commands him to dance.

In the recent Giselles from the Kirov I saw there was none. Most of the Albrechts performed their diagonals of "brisés" like madmen, without ever waiting for Myrtha's signal to continue. It looked downright silly to see Myrtha raise her arm when Albrecht was already gone.

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At POB, in old time they make brisés diagonale now they make entrechats more and more higher to seem to be attracted by dance power imposed by Myrtha. They stop it, go to see Myrtha which obliges them to continue to dance. They make a manege at this moment of famous Nijinsky'sauts - I dont know exactly the name, but one of his photography is token, in this position - and they catch Giselle who issued from the backstage. Sometimes old etoile make brisés, when they make the both. Charles Jude began with brisés diagonale and continued by Entrechats to finish by the manege to recuperate Giselle.

[ 04-18-2001: Message edited by: Françoise ]

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Françoise, I think that manège is made up of "temps (saut) de papillon."

I prefer entrechats six to brisés (probably because I'm better at them myself), but I also saw a combination of double sauts de basque to the knee, facing Myrtha. Each time he lands, she tells him to get up and dance some more.

And Albrecht can't just run away once he is in the wings because he's following Giselle, who must return to Myrtha and her grave.

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I wonder if anyone in Russia did them before Lifar? There were huge changes in all the ballets there, too, in the 1930s.

One of my best Nureyev memories is of his entrechats in the National Ballet of Canada's production (I think it was Bruhn's). As he continued, his chest and shoulders sagged, yet the legs seemed to beat even faster, conveying quite clearly that his body was enchanted.

(I definitely agree about the tendency of some to turn this into a trick and forget about Myrtha.)

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Actually, the most effective thing I saw was a series of brise voles switching direction but staying in place. That Albrecht was able to use a slow, beseeching port de bras directed at Myrtha contrasted with the seemingly involuntary rapid movement of his legs to make it clear she was forcing him to do this.

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When I saw ABT perform Giselle a long time ago. I think that Albrecht did brises, and by the end he was exausted, not acting, which made the entire scene more belivable, because you could tell that he was veeeeery tired. So I would have to say brises.

Luv,

Heather

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Leigh, do you mean brise dessus-dessous?

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I'm not sure, Andrei! We always called them brise voles when I studied. It's the same step as in the Bluebird variation, but in the version I saw, they were made more interesting because Albrecht also changed his direction to face the downstage left corner, then the right.

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When Nureyev introduced the entrechats to the Royal Ballet production in 1962, many of the establishment were very shocked, There is a well-known story that Nadia Nerina, when she came to perform the 32 fouettes in Act 3 of Swan Lake not long afterwards, grinned wickedly at the audience and proceeded to perform 32 entrechats instead - if he could mess about with RB tradition, so could she! Nureyev, who was in the audience, was reportedly furious.

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but they wouldn't be brisees volees because they all go in one direction, right? so it would be dessus or dessous (i guess dessus because that is over and "sous" is under?) and as they travel, it seems they're being done through fourth position and not fifth more or less, which i suspect would make them easier (though not less spectacular)...going back into the box now

:cool:

[ 04-22-2001: Message edited by: Mme. Hermine ]

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But if you put a coupé between each pair...after all, that's what coupé is for - to change feet! :cool:

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No coupe as I recall - the dancer just switched his hips as he brought the leg out for jete so his body was facing an opposite direction. David Howard used to give stuff like this in combinations all the time.

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Ah, so then it moved between a croisé and an effacé/ouvert line? Have to be the right dancer for that to work right - a lot of people don't look as good in the latter as the former positions. Obviously, the one you saw must have been; the image has stuck with you! :cool:

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Leigh, it's mean that he finisfed every brise with cou-de-pied in front, right? Did he travel forward a little bit? It sounds very demanding!

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Oh dear, this is 16 years ago! As I recall it (which could be wrong) he did a few brise voles front, back, front. . . drat! I had to get up and do the step in my apartment to figure it out! My guess is Medhi threw in a jete battu after a brise to switch directions.

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Maybe someone can help me out here: the first person I recall having personally seen doing the entrechats was Eric Bruhn. But I'd also hate to hazard a guess at the year! I remember being bowled over at the sight. He seemed to be enchanted - almost as though Myrtha was making him do more and more in the hope his heart would break. :cool:

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Helena -- I LOVE the story about Nadia Nerina. Actually, I found it so hilarious I couldn't help wondering if it was the ballet equivalent of an urban legend. Very much hoping it's true though!

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felursus, I don't know whether Bruhn or Nureyev did them first -- I thought Nureyev, but they may both have gotten them from someone else (What did Youskevitch do? Bruhn said that he was very influenced by Youskevitch.)

Like Drew, I love the Nerina story. I thought it was a true; I think it made it into at least one of the Nureyev biographies. Of course, this was at a time when people CARED when they changed what was considered a standard text :cool:

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I'm sure the Nerina story is true. I wasn't at the performance, but I did live in London at the time and I think I heard about it first hand. It's mentioned in Diane Solway's book, and also in John Percival's much earlier (1976) biography. Percival was the respected and reliable critic of the Times. He wouldn't have invented stories.

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I cast my vote for brises. I find the entrechat sixes really boring, I don't care how much faster or higher they go. Brise is a GORGEOUS step when the line is perfect and you're doing it desperately at the command of a Veronika or Stella. Ballet is most of all about "line."

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Entrechats for me, and if they are divine a la Soloviev, then...

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Alastair Macaulay's comparison of three Giselles danced last week by American Ballet Theater (Vishneva/Gomes; Osipova/Hallberg; Cojocaru/Corella), says the following.

The lucidity with which Mr. Hallberg criss-crosses his feet in the entrechat-six jumps of Act II (he does a series of 24 of these) is unparalleled.

[ ... ]

When [Gomes] does that series of entrechat-six jumps, he shows with the gradual ascent of his arms the strange exaltation of spirit Albrecht attains as he nears the love-death end for which he hopes.

[ ... ]

Neither [Cojocaru nor Corella] won any Giselle competition in terms of technical display; yet everything seemed about the beating of their brimful hearts. In his biggest Act II solo, Mr. Corella chooses to perform the two more overtly passionate diagonals of brises -- traveling jumps in which the legs aim forward while rapidly crisscrossing -- instead of the more sensational entrechat-six.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/arts/dance/osipova-vishneva-and-cojocaru-3-giselles-at-ballet-theater.html?_r=1&ref=dance

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I think it is the element of traveling through space that gives the brises the edge, IMO. The entrechat-six stays in one place (except vertically, of course), and therefore has more potential for "repetitive stress" in the viewer, whereas the sense of flying (fleeing?) through space engages the viewer on another level besides technique.

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