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Aurelie Dupont's Aurora


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#1 hunterman0953

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:00 AM

I'm continually drawn to Aurelie Dupont's Aurora's entrance in the POB DVD overall, but particularly as regards her steps on the return trip across the stage R to L. It fascinates me so much, that I'm wondering if some kind soul will take pity on this ballet ignoramus, and 'talk me through' her steps.It's that tricky leg work which propels her across the stage. It seems to me like incredible virtuosity, which gives me major 'goose-bumps' every time I see it. My tired old eyes just can't unpick what's happening, and the eye surgery I'll be having in six hours time will doubtless not help all that much. Is the choreography in this solo a succession of standard movements, or are some of them unique to this production? Yep, that's how little I know about choreography! I don't mind spending money on this passion of mine (ask my wife), so can anybody recommend a book which takes a comprehensive look at choreography?

#2 Simon G

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:02 PM

I'm continually drawn to Aurelie Dupont's Aurora's entrance in the POB DVD overall, but particularly as regards her steps on the return trip across the stage R to L. It fascinates me so much, that I'm wondering if some kind soul will take pity on this ballet ignoramus, and 'talk me through' her steps.It's that tricky leg work which propels her across the stage. It seems to me like incredible virtuosity, which gives me major 'goose-bumps' every time I see it. My tired old eyes just can't unpick what's happening, and the eye surgery I'll be having in six hours time will doubtless not help all that much. Is the choreography in this solo a succession of standard movements, or are some of them unique to this production? Yep, that's how little I know about choreography! I don't mind spending money on this passion of mine (ask my wife), so can anybody recommend a book which takes a comprehensive look at choreography?



Pas de chat, petit jete with working leg in low retire, she then steps back onto the working leg fully on pointe which becomes the supporting leg and the front leg goes up into a high attitude devant. (She repeats this six times)

She then comes off pointe, what was the supporting leg becomes the working leg as she does a low ronde de jambe, she piques backwards, which means the back leg does sharp little percussive points as the front working leg does little pas de cheval (She repeats this three times) Then bourrees backwards to the back of the stage.

Then - Pas de chat en avant, pas de bourree with the working leg ending in a low degage a la seconde, soutenu up on to pointe and a high ronde de jambe of the working leg, temps de fleche (the two little kicks to the back with legs in low attitude) pas de chat, pas de chat pas de bourree (repeats this four times to bring herself from upstage left to downstage right)

Then soutenu up onto pointe four little grands jetes en tournant, then chaines turns ending with a reverance to her parents.


You don't need to buy a book, everything you might want to know about steps is here:

http://www.abt.org/e...nary/index.html

#3 hunterman0953

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:17 PM

Golly gosh! I don't know what to say! Thank you so much for that amazingly rapid, and formidably comprehensive reply, Simon G.

I know a virtuosic showpiece in classical music when I hear one, but I'm only guessing that this is the balletic equivalent, so to speak. Is it as horrendously difficult to perform as it appears to be, even for a dancer of Aurelie Dupont's stature?

#4 Simon G

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:16 PM

Golly gosh! I don't know what to say! Thank you so much for that amazingly rapid, and formidably comprehensive reply, Simon G.

I know a virtuosic showpiece in classical music when I hear one, but I'm only guessing that this is the balletic equivalent, so to speak. Is it as horrendously difficult to perform as it appears to be, even for a dancer of Aurelie Dupont's stature?



The thing is what you're looking at with Sleeping Beauty is one of the great ballets of Marius Petipa. The choreographic text of his ballets is set and has been since the 19th century, Petipa is the basically the greatest genius of ballet.

The steps of ballet are academically set, it's the way they're put together with the music that distinguishes each individual choreographer.

The opening solo of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty is indeed fiendishly difficult, but it's not so much that in itself if it came with a break right after, it's exhausting, but immediately after that solo comes the Rose Adagio, which is considered by many to be the most difficult passage written for any ballerina in both the classical and modern canon of ballet. So the ballerina has to go straight from that cardio vascular workout into the hugely challenging balancing act of rose adagio - Sleeping Beauty is seen as one of the great tests as to whether a ballerina is indeed cut out to be a classical ballerina.

You should maybe look up Petipa on Wikipedia and then check out books about Marius Petipa and his ballets on Amazon.

#5 puppytreats

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:55 PM

Simon,

Please explain what you mean by this statement: "The steps of ballet are academically set, it's the way they're put together with the music that distinguishes each individual choreographer."

For example, I have seen many versions of the Act III pdd from "Swan Lake", all credited to the same choreographer with similarities but major differences. This has led to confusion for me.

#6 Simon G

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 03:02 PM

Simon,

Please explain what you mean by this statement: "The steps of ballet are academically set, it's the way they're put together with the music that distinguishes each individual choreographer."

For example, I have seen many versions of the Act III pdd from "Swan Lake", all credited to the same choreographer with similarities but major differences. This has led to confusion for me.



What I meant in a literal sense is that a pas de bourree is essentially a pas de bourree whether it's the Vagaonova, Bolshoi, Royal, RDB, POB school, whether it's put in Sleeping Beauty, In The Middle Somewhat Elevated, Month in the Country etc. Ballet is a universal language though there are variations in how steps are performed, the technique which lead to those steps being mastered, the use of port de bras etc depending on which company, school of ballet or what the choreographer is doing with that step. But the academic form translates from one country to the next.

When it comes to staging ballets, of course the technique has changed considerably since those ballets were first set. But variations exist and certain companies perform certain choreographic texts, and individual dancers may add a variation to suit there technique.

Swan Lake in Act 3, sometimes Odile lets herself be carried aloft while she does a supported split in second, other times she developpes a la seconde before going into arabesque, but both end with her coming into a high retire bending over to the side her arms in third. Bourmeister did a completely altered version of Petipa's choreograpic text with different music.

Spessivtseva introduced a solo in act 1 in the 1920s into Giselle which is now widely performed in most Giselles though other versions stick to earlier texts based on Corelli-Perrot and later Petipa. Mary Skeaping staged a radically revisionist version of Giselle for English National Ballet based on earlier stagings than the Royal Ballet.

Sleeping Beauty especially keeps the petit allegro entrance of Aurora followed by the Rose Adagio in pretty much every version I've seen from every country, but later divertissements such as the garland dance alter depending on who choreographed the divertissements based on Petipa. Ashton did the Royal's.

In some versions of Giselle there's a peasent Pas de deux, the Royal has a pas de six.

When you're talking about variations you're basically talking about the classics of Petipa which are open to alteration, or where certain stars can put in more technical tricks if they want to show off. Nureyev was very big on adding stuff to show off. But with modern choreography, where there are foundations ensuring that absolute faithful reproductions are adhered on foreign stagings you can't do this.

But what I essentially meant is that the opening section of Aurora's petit allegro is basically an assembly of academic steps, petit allegro, terre a terre linking steps which are taught in every ballet class and which every classical choreographer knows - it's how that choreographer assembles the universal steps that gives his unique language.

#7 Edith

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 11:57 AM

Aurora's entrance seems to have the same sequence of steps in all productions, but looks quite different (to me, anyway) in Russian productions because the Russians do a different style of pas de chat. The Russian-school pas de chat appears to bring the feet outward, away from each other, rather than in towards the knee of the opposing leg (sorry if I'm describing this badly!). You can see the difference here at the beginning of this video: Aurora entrance I think the kind that the Paris and Royal Ballet dancers do is called a Cecchetti pas de chat. Someone more knowledgeable than myself might be able to help me out here.

There is a book called Ballet 101 by Robert Greskovic that goes methodically through the choreography of the major classical ballets in some detail, although not quite the level of detail that Simon gave in his description. It also has an extensive glossary of ballet steps. I've found it helpful in trying to understand more of what I'm seeing.

As a side note, I love Aurelie Dupont's Aurora, so I think you have good taste. :wink:

#8 Simon G

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 01:27 PM

Aurora's entrance seems to have the same sequence of steps in all productions, but looks quite different (to me, anyway) in Russian productions because the Russians do a different style of pas de chat. The Russian-school pas de chat appears to bring the feet outward, away from each other, rather than in towards the knee of the opposing leg (sorry if I'm describing this badly!). You can see the difference here at the beginning of this video: Aurora entrance I think the kind that the Paris and Royal Ballet dancers do is called a Cecchetti pas de chat. Someone more knowledgeable than myself might be able to help me out here.

There is a book called Ballet 101 by Robert Greskovic that goes methodically through the choreography of the major classical ballets in some detail, although not quite the level of detail that Simon gave in his description. It also has an extensive glossary of ballet steps. I've found it helpful in trying to understand more of what I'm seeing.

As a side note, I love Aurelie Dupont's Aurora, so I think you have good taste. :wink:



Hi Edith,

There's actually no pas de chat in the Vishneva version, it's actually quite different to the POB version and indeed a much quicker tempo.

Vishneva's variation is:

Attitude devant, petit jete en avant, pas de bourree with the back foot coming into the coup de pied position before stepping back on it - this repeats six times before stepping back on to pointe and a developpe at 90 degrees before chasse-ing back upstage.

Then she does a grand jete, chasse back, then a demi pirouette with the working leg doing a high grande ronde de jambe from the high retiree position placing back in alongee in fourth, she repeats this four times, a double pirouette, soutenus en pointe, three small grande jetes en tournant, chaines turns upstage to her mother, where she ends with a double pirouette and takes her mother's hand.

It's very different from the Dupont.

A pas de chat movement, where both feet come up in high retiree position is fundamentally the same regardless of school, but a Checchetti pas de chat in the most technical sense means that the step must be performed from fifth position and end in fifth position.

#9 Edith

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 07:45 PM

OK, thanks for clearing that up. Initially I thought it was a different step, but after reading that the Russians did the pas de chat differently, I thought perhaps it was a different kind of pas de chat - since I noticed that that step is frequently used in Russian choreography where the POB or Royal productions would use a pas de chat. Did wonder why they would give such different steps the same name, though!

Yes, I can see the difference now, comparing the cygnets in Swan Lake.

#10 bart

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 07:59 AM

I have to thank you, Simon, for your detailed and very helpful explanations. (And to the others for raising the questions and adding their comments.)

I watched several times the Vishneva clip (linked by Edith) and went back to my POB dvd to isolate Dupont's Aurora entrance and variation. I'll bet that I am not the only reader here who has done this.

Ballet Alert is lucky to have so many members who are or have been serious students and performers. However, many of of us who love and support ballet have not been trained in studios -- or, as in my case, have had only a small amount of "adult" classes. We benefit from those of you who have "walked the walk" (or should I say "danced the steps"?).

I understand that ballet critics in the mainstream media don't have the space or readership to go into this kind of technical detail in performance reviews. But Discussion Boards like Ballet Alert DO have readers who want to know these things -- and space and time to analyse and explain things in depth. (Ballet Alert seems especially blessed with ballet experts who are also good writers.)

Hats off to all our experts. :tiphat:

#11 Edith

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 08:14 AM

I have to thank you, Simon, for your detailed and very helpful explanations. (And to the others for raising the questions and adding their comments.)

I watched several times the Vishneva clip (linked by Edith) and went back to my POB dvd to isolate Dupont's Aurora entrance and variation. I'll bet that I am not the only reader here who has done this.

Ballet Alert is lucky to have so many members who are or have been serious students and performers. However, many of of us who love and support ballet have not been trained in studios -- or, as in my case, have had only a small amount of "adult" classes. We benefit from those of you who have "walked the walk" (or should I say "danced the steps"?).

I understand that ballet critics in the mainstream media don't have the space or readership to go into this kind of technical detail in performance reviews. But Discussion Boards like Ballet Alert DO have readers who want to know these things -- and space and time to analyse and explain things in depth. (Ballet Alert seems especially blessed with ballet experts who are also good writers.)

Hats off to all our experts. :tiphat:


Amen. :tiphat:

#12 Simon G

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 02:28 PM

Actually the Dupont version is much much harder. Vishneva opts for the "more bang for your buck" high leg extension variation, which in fairness is the Mariinsky version, it's flashier in an obvious way and also much less taxing on the ballerina - and let's face it if you had the Rose Adagio coming up you'd want to conserve as much energy as possible.

The Dupont version, choreographed by Nureyev for POB is typical Nureyev choreography and is full of killing petit allegro and terre a terre work, those pas de cheval, temps de fleche, full pas de chat repeated over and over may seem somewhat more mincing in scope but use huge amounts of energy and build up the fiendish lactic acid in the calves like there's no tomorrow And then you have the full on horror of the Rose Adagio to get through. Nureyev also liked to slow the tempo down which makes it all the harder as all those steps must be performed there's no speed to fudge and hide behind.


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