cubanmiamiboy

Reconstructions: Pros, Cons, Why, Impacts

72 posts in this topic

What about the recent PNB Giselle...? Having brought back nice chunks that had fallen into oblivion certainly makes it for it to be included in the list. The one ballet I would love to see being revived is La Fille Mal Gardee. Although I feel really lucky to have Alonso's staging after Nijnska-after-Gorski/Hertel engraved in my head, I wish I could see a major revival/reconstruccion of it one day.

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What about the recent PNB Giselle...? ....

That's a good one, cubanmiamiboy. Thanks for the reminder. To its credit, the Mariinsky mainstains a rather decent GISELLE, too. I read somewhere that GISELLE is perhaps the one ballet that stayed truest to Petipa during the Soviet era(tampered-with the least). Of course, it wasn't a 'Petipa' ballet to begin but most of the world knows it in the Petipa-after-Perrot/Coralli version.

Quite a bit of Petipa/Ivanov's Fille (to Hertel's score) exists in the Harvard Collection so, why not?

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"Giselle" was a different case, in that it used sources from the original, non-Petipa version particularly for the mime and story, Peter Boal filled in places on his own without source, like the opening scene where three children enact a rivalry for a girl's affection, and even with the notated choreography, Boal made his own choices, like keeping the big overhead lifts in the Act II pas de deux and slower tempo where the notation shows an ephemeral lift at a faster tempo. The resulting production was a hybrid of sources, which made it very rich, and a continuum of collaborative choices.

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So Boal did not use Petipa's A2 Grand Pas des Willis and other well-known Petipa 1884 additions?

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So Boal did not use Petipa's A2 Grand Pas des Willis and other well-known Petipa 1884 additions?

The dancing was primarily based in the Stepanov notation, however, the notation did not always indicate arm movements, and Peter Boal made pointed choices about the notated choreography, such as the lifts in the Act II pas de deux. I would have preferred the original lifts, maintaining the tempo as written and reflecting the music more, but he said in Q&A's and presentations that he didn't want to lose the big lifts.

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Helene...and what did they use as the coda of Giselle's Pas Seul...did they used the diagonal of pirouettes...?

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The one ballet I would love to see being revived is La Fille Mal Gardee. Although I feel really lucky to have Alonso's staging after Nijnska-after-Gorski/Hertel engraved in my head, I wish I could see a major revival/reconstruccion of it one day.

Well, remember that whoever's version of Fille is going to be a revival of one sort or another. Ashton's followed Jean Aumer's 1828 staging at least roughly, and even Petipa and Ivanov were working from Paul Taglioni's version for the Berlin Opera! That's the version Gorski revived. Remember, Petipa once said of Gorski, "Will somebody tell that young feller that I ain't dead yet!" Anyway, they all spring from 1789 and Jean Dauberval, although we would barely recognize that presentation.

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"Giselle" was a different case, in that it used sources from the original, non-Petipa version particularly for the mime and story,

Would Ondine at the Mariinsky (which seemed to last about one year...) count as well then? I had the impression Lacotte was trying to revert to a pre Petipa era version of the ballet.

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Ashton's Sylvia....ok, so it's not Petipa Era but certain has the 19th-C 'perfume' and look...and the lovely Minkus-Delibes score!

You may be thinking of La Source. Sylvia is all Delibes. And it is a lovely score. Tchaikovsky loved it!

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'Atys' I certainly agree with you there:

Ravishingly beautiful.

This topic has so many facets. It's fun watching it develop. Thanks, Eric, for taking us beyond Giselle and even beyond ballet. I especially appreciate your comments as to design.

I love that there's a venue to discuss this kind of thing. I remember as a kid falling for ballet in the late 80s, I would try to find everything I could about the original productions of many of these ballets, and come up with scattered articles, booklets, and photographs--with descriptions that nearly always contradicted each other. And I have many friends and family members who love ballet, but frankly, questions of authenticity have no importance to them as long as they enjoyed the dancing and performance (which is probably true of most balletgoers, understandably). I've always had a fascination with theatre design, and it does seem to sometimes get forgotten when discussing ballet productions (unless it's particularly awful or ill suited, and distracts from the performance).

But watching something like the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty, I had an entirely different reaction. I imagined this would come across as impossibly fussy, over-dressed, cluttered with design elements. Instead, these works seemed rich, colorful, vibrant, alive. Modern lighting and fabric technology may have something to do with this, but on the issue of design. I have become a convert. You write elsewhere of these ballets as collaborations in terms of choreographer and composer. Obviously those responsible for the "look" of the piece were important collaborators as well, and essential to the success of the work. And this is pre-Diaghilev, pre-Bakst.

Good point! For a long time, the general impression was that this never existed until Diaghilev, I'm sure many people still think this. It's true that he probably took it to a higher level--hiring famous artists, etc--but it's obvious that a lot of thought from the start went into the design. I know that for the ballets Vsevolozhsky actually designed the costumes for (which include Beauty, Raymonda, and I think Nutcracker and the '95 Swan Lake, but am not sure), he did so as early as when the ballet would be comissioned and a libretto worked out.

And speaking of Diaghilev, it was Benois who wrote rapturously about how Sleeping Beauty re-awakened his love for ballet, partly because he saw every element, includig the designs, as a complete whole for the first time, a ballet "Gesamtkunstwerk". So there are several direct connections there.

I admit, I also always thought that one reason these ballets would never have restored productions was that to a modern eye, judging from the photographs, it would look fussy, over-dressed and cluttered, as you say. Also, audiences would have to get used to longer tutus, even more wigs than the Soviets used (;)), those 'modesty shorts" for the men, etc. But when you actually see the results, for the most part the design simply *works*.

Much musical entertainment today -- music videos, Cirque de Solel extravaganzas, the new type of Hollywood musical, etc. -- seems obsessed with richness of color, light, detailing, pageantry. Bodies move in all directions, becoming elements of a constantly changing picture. In this kind of theatrical world, where the pursuit of the exotic becomes the new norm, reconstructions of the 19th century ballets don't seem out of place,

That's a good point I hadn't thought of. It's true the pendulum of what people like tends to swing one way or the other, and currently I think many audiences going to the ballet appreciate, and maybe even expect, the spectacle--which for a while seemed to be the opposite where people felt it took away from the purity of dance. Probably another reason why story ballets, even brand new ones, seem to currently have by fair the most mainstream appeal. For non regular ballet goers, it's so expensive to go to a major production nowadays anyway, that, for good and bad, it might be a bit like the Megamusical trend--people want to see some of their money up on the stage.

As for the future, I suspect that historical reconstructions of much loved works like Giselle and Sleeping Beauty will fade away, to be revived only for special occasions and specialist audiences. Of course there is always the chance that they will leave behind certain elements to be added to or imposed upon the contemporary versions. Our emotional and financial investment in this works is already very strong.

Unfamiliar works -- like Atys as revived recently by Les Arts Florissants, or rarely produced ballets like Raymonda -- do have a chance of survival or at least playing a role in re-defining our idea of what these works should look like.

(I would have killed to be able to see that revival of Atys). I think you're right. These things go in trends, and to repeat myself, the pendulum will probably swing back again. But I suspect a few companies will keep them in their repertoire, if only to pull them out occasionally for special occasions. (This is why I hope the rumours of Raymonda being filmed are true--and I'm still greatly annoyed that we never got a commercial release of the three Vikharev/Mariinsky Petipa reconstructions, back when they were briefly being regularly performed). I hadn't been to the Mariinsky's website in about a year, and they DO still list The Awakening of Flora and Sleeping Beauty in their repertoire (along with the Sergeyev Beauty which they seem to be doing exclusively now), so that gives me a tiny glimmer of hope--Flora certainly would be a good vehicle to show off students. On the other hand, both versionfs of la Bayadere used to be listed, but the 1890's reconstruction has been now removed... No big surprise I suppose (I know the standard version uses many of the same set designs).

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It just dawned on me...it's time to celebrate the 12th year of the current Golden Era of ballet! Just think of how many Petipa-era ballets have been reconstructed or 'recovered' in various ways in only the last 12 years. Until about 1999 -- the year of the Mariinsky/Vikharev's Sleeping Beauty and the Bolshoi/Lacotte's Pharaoh's Daughter -- the closest that any of us could get to seeing something similar to what the Romanov court saw while Petipa was alive were Soviet or Royal Ballet reworkings, i.e., ca-1946 ballets.

In, say, 1997 or 1998, did ANY of you ever dream that you would one day be seeing all of the following Petipa Era ballets, let alone having DVDs of some or all of these ballets in your video libraries?

This is a great post--and so true. I can remember as a kid obsessed first with the Tchaikovsky ballets, and then the Petipa ones in general, I never thought we'd see anything close to these reconstructions. It just seemed to not interest any of the companies that had the resources to attempt it. I used to continuously have the Wiley Tchaikovsky's Ballets book out from the library, just trying to imagine from the notation descriptions what the ballets were like. I have to say while there's a lot to celebrate, I am still really disappointed that the Mariinsky reconstructions (particularly Sleeping Beauty--with the exception of Act III and some clips) were never professionally filmed, and I hope the ballet returns to the repertoire and is filmed at some point.

I think in a way, it was time for these extravagant original productions to come back--audiences seem to want to see these kinds of ballets more now than they have for a while--although I naively would have never thought about all of the political issues and concerns these reconstructions would bring up, particularly with people prefering more modern interpretations, though I think I understand the sentiment now (even if from my outside perspective, I can't agree).

It's great to see your list--a number of these ballets (like an attempt at a reconstructed Don Quixtoe), I didn't even know about, although I know the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Don Quixote's seem to be pretty faithful to the early 1900's Gorky revision, and as mentioned, Giselle also seems to exist in a fairly close to the Petipa version.

I am really surprised that we've gotten a non Russian company's recreation of Raymonda, before we've had any similar version of Swan Lake anywhere. But I suppose nearly every company already has a production fo Swan lake in their repertoire--it feels like it must be just a matter of time, though... I'd also love to, obviously see a recreation of Nutcracker but that's obviously more problematic. The original production wasn't a success, and it seems like a lot of the Act I elements in particular aren't very well notated--and some elements like the "Beehive" apotheosis would probably be seen to confuse the family audience that Nutcracker attracts in most countries. Still, I admit I'd be ost curious to see it (back when I was first obsessing about thse ballets, Nutcracker was the one that was the hardest to find information on the original production of). We do have a number of important numbers, more or less--thanks to the 80s Royal Ballet the Snow scene, more or less, and in various other productions the Pas de Deux and trepak. It's a topic for another thread, but for whatever issues people have with Nucracker, I do think that all modern reinterpretations have proven that following the original, perhaps simplistic story ultimately works the best.

As for other ballets--while I would be curious to hear about oddities like the Petipa/Cecchetti Cinderella (does the music even exist, let alone the choreography?), the two that immediately spring to mind, are Glazunov's two one act ballets from 1900--Ruses d'Amour (aka Lady Soubrette) and The Seasons. I have no clue if either was notated--Ruses d'Amour in particular seems obscure, I had to find a random Soviet recording to finally hear it (it's gorgeous, as one would expect from Glazunov music). The Seasons has lived on much longer, but more as a piece of music it seems. I used to always think if these did exist in some way, they'd make a nice night long of three short ballets for the Mariinsky along with The Awakening of Flora.

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Eric...there's thread somewhere asking for which ballets one would love to be brought back to life, and I remember I mentioned both the Ceccett/Ivanov/Baron Vietinghoff-Scheel/Pashkova/Vsevolozhsky's "Zolushka"-(Cinderella), supervised by Petipa and with the gorgeous set designs of Matvey Shishkov ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cinderella_-title_role_-Pierina_Legnani_-1893.JPG

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3b/Cinderella_-Fairy_Godmother_-Maria_Anderson_-1893.JPG

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cinderella_-Set_Design_-Matvey_Shishkov1893.JPG

...and the Petipa/Golovin/koreshchenko "The Magic Mirror"-(Snow White, which I believe was the last role created by Petipa for Kschessinskaya...No photos available online).

I always think of this two ballets as the long lost sisters of Sleeping Beauty :)

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If you haven't already seen Helene's report on the recent PNB lec-dem on changes pre and post Petipa, you might want to take a look

here

Doug Fullington did a stellar job of collecting and framing examples of reconstructions from old notation scores of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, and comparing them to contemporary productions of those works. The evening was very illuminating, but my particular favorite was the side-by-side Princess Florine example, with Sarah Ricard Orza and Rachel Foster performing the woman's solo from the Bluebird pas de deux, Orza dancing the original choreography and Foster dancing the Ronald Hynd/English National Ballet staging. The thing that was the most thrilling, as Helene points out, is that both versions are theatrically satisfying, and I think her observation is an important one for the conversation here. The older versions of these foundational works are not only museum pieces, they are legitimate theater.

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Eric, Russes d'Amour's notations (and related documents) exist in the Harvard Collection but, alas, not Les Saisons.

Here is a fairly detailed list of the contents of the collection, folder-by-folder:

http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/deepLink?_collection=oasis&uniqueId=hou01987

There is LOTS on Little Humpbacked Horse...the Dream is Alive that we won't have to put-up with only the Schedrin score forever! :)

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If you haven't already seen Helene's report on the recent PNB lec-dem on changes pre and post Petipa, you might want to take a look

here

Doug Fullington did a stellar job of collecting and framing examples of reconstructions from old notation scores of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, and comparing them to contemporary productions of those works. The evening was very illuminating, but my particular favorite was the side-by-side Princess Florine example, with Sarah Ricard Orza and Rachel Foster performing the woman's solo from the Bluebird pas de deux, Orza dancing the original choreography and Foster dancing the Ronald Hynd/English National Ballet staging. The thing that was the most thrilling, as Helene points out, is that both versions are theatrically satisfying, and I think her observation is an important one for the conversation here. The older versions of these foundational works are not only museum pieces, they are legitimate theater.

It is good news that Gorsky's choreography is interesting not only to those who live in Moscow.

I would like to show for comparison my variant of the same Swan Lake male variation composed by Gorsky which is being prepared for future Moscow presentation on Gorky because 2011 marks the 140th anniversary of his birth.

I've also animated the exercises from his manual on Stepanov, f.e.

sergek26

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It is good news that Gorsky's choreography is interesting not only to those who live in Moscow.

I would like to show for comparison my variant of the same Swan Lake male variation composed by Gorsky which is being prepared for future Moscow presentation on Gorky because 2011 marks the 140th anniversary of his birth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zsW5dyQtn8

I've also animated the exercises from his manual on Stepanov, f.e.

sergek26

A warm welcome to ballettalk sergek26.

Thank you for posting these examples. I was most interesting to see your realisations and especially found the Swan Lake variation extremely curious and fascinating.

I was first introduced to. "Two essays on Stepanov Dance Notation" by Alexander Gorsky in a translation made more than thirty years ago by Wiley and published by CORD.

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It is good news that Gorsky's choreography is interesting not only to those who live in Moscow.

I would like to show for comparison my variant of the same Swan Lake male variation composed by Gorsky which is being prepared for future Moscow presentation on Gorky because 2011 marks the 140th anniversary of his birth.

The Swan Lake excerpt certainly has a familiar feel. May I ask what animation software you're using?

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A warm welcome, as well! Those are fascinating to see.

I admit, Gorsky has always fascinated me. Photos from some of his productions (didn't he do a Giselle all in costumes that were naturalistic and made it look almost like Martha Graham?), are amazing. I get why Petipa was so put off by his stuff, but I admit, as huge a Petipa fan as I am, I'd love to be able to see some of his reinterpretations. I gather that a good deal of the Don Quixote productions we see come from Gorsky's revised version, as well as some of the Swan stuff in the Soviet era Swan Lakes? Is there any word on what of his work will be done by the Bolshoi for his anniversary?

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Eric, Russes d'Amour's notations (and related documents) exist in the Harvard Collection but, alas, not Les Saisons.

That's interesting, as I always got the feeling that Saisons was performed more (maybe because the music has become one of Glazunov's more familiar pieces--as it should, the part where Autumn fades away into the apotheosis representing the stars and constellations is absolutely thrilling and ethereal, reminding me in a way of some of Prokofiev's Cinderella). I'd love to see someone try to do something with Russes D'Amour--it's great to know that notation exists. As I said, it might make a nice pairing with Aurora, or a piece for students. The music seems so little known (I believe Balanchine used some of it in some work), but is, as all of Glazunov's ballet music is, gorgeous and very "dansant". The story, from what I gather, sounds amusing, and the pas de deux is sweet with an element of yearning.

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Eric, the Vaganova Academy staged a 'Petipa-esque'-looking Les Saisons ca 1974, with then-students Konstantin Zaklinsky and Irina Chistiakova among the leads. It was choreographed by Konstantin Sergeev & utilized the complete Glazunov score. The four winter solos (frost, etc.) were supposedly based on the Petipa originals. The costumes and scenery were very traditional (beautiful). Alas, the existing film is in b&w but may be on YouTube, as it was re-telecast on RTR Planeta a couple of years ago, even to US-based cable users.

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A warm welcome to ballettalk sergek26.

Thank you for posting these examples. I was most interesting to see your realisations and especially found the Swan Lake variation extremely curious and fascinating.

I was first introduced to. "Two essays on Stepanov Dance Notation" by Alexander Gorsky in a translation made more than thirty years ago by Wiley and published by CORD.

Thank you for good words. I understand that it's "work in progress" and hope to improve it.

Did you study "Two essays..." as a dancer or a scholar?

The Swan Lake excerpt certainly has a familiar feel. May I ask what animation software you're using?

DanceForms, clone of LifeForms, by CredoInteractive. It is brilliant dance notator Rhonda Ryman who develops it (this information is also provided on youtube together with both animations).

Photos from some of his productions (didn't he do a Giselle all in costumes that were naturalistic and made it look almost like Martha Graham?), are amazing. I get why Petipa was so put off by his stuff, but I admit, as huge a Petipa fan as I am, I'd love to be able to see some of his reinterpretations. I gather that a good deal of the Don Quixote productions we see come from Gorsky's revised version, as well as some of the Swan stuff in the Soviet era Swan Lakes? Is there any word on what of his work will be done by the Bolshoi for his anniversary?

Oh, yes, it was Gorsky who revised Giselle in pure mime style and you gave me idea to translate the description of this staging made by Vera Karalli. As for Don Quichotte the Bolshoi dancer and teacher Anatoly Kuznetsov wrote in one of his article comparing Gorsky and Petipa that "Now (in 1960s), Don Quichotte is the staging of the whole Moscow company but it was developed on the principles of Gorsky". Some of the Gorsky's ideas on Swan Lake was actually used by choreographers in Soviet era, f.e. jester which is so hated by ballet critics in the West. Gorsky liked to do such things to animate abstract classical compositions by mime and make it more real and playful. Also, Gorsky was the first choreographer ever created symphonic ballet – to Glazounov’s Fifth Symphony in 1916.

The site of Bolshoi was upgraded to the opening of historical stage and old links doesn't work now. Of course, it is pity that none of the works will be revived to 140th Anniversary because Don Quichotte is still in repertory, another titles as Swan Lake, Coppelia and La Fille Mal Gardee made by other choreographers are also in repertory and cannot be substituted and there is delusion shared even by fans of Moscow dance school that a little of his original works was survived. On the other side Bolshoi has restored the memorial table (plaque?) on the building of New Stage, devoted one of the Quichottes performances to Gorsky, re-opened museum exhibition on Gorsky and supported some researches, f.e. new book of Elizabeth Souritz which includes chapters on Gorsky's first stagings in Moscow and presentation on Gorsky on EADH conference in London.

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