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To dance it or not to dance it...

Trinidad Sevillano's Spessivtseva's Pas Seul   16 members have voted

  1. 1. Are you satisfied with the whole pas after the missing sautés?


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75 posts in this topic

OFF TOPIC --

Thanks, Quiggin. I am in agreement about the virtues of simplifying. It was just that I am not sure that this is something needed for Giselle, Act I. (Act II -- yes.)

Kyra Nichols has commented about having to pare back all the ornamentation that came with the roles she inherited from Suzanne Farrell.
Ouch!:smilie_mondieu::wink:

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Mme. Hermine posted a link to video tribute on YouTube to the late Berezhnoi in this thread.

In the section from the Wedding Pas de Deux from "Sleeping Beauty", Berezhnoi and Terekhova do not perform the fish dives. I don't think this takes anything away from their performances.

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I'm no expert on this, but isn't the fish dive an interpolation dating from the early 20th century? It is "iconic," indeed. But ... of what?

What Berezhnoi and Terekhova DO in this peformance is elegant, beautiful, and quite suited to the music.

The same cannot be said for Sevillano's set of pas de cheval, which create a choreographic dead spot in the midst of some of the most familiar music in the score.

Edited to add: This comment is not to criticize Sevillano. It's meant to address Christian's original question about what we think about changed choreography. Most dancers, at some point in their careers, have had to make last minute shifts in the choreography -- whether due to injury or other circumstances. The long history of "what to do after failing to complete the 32 fouettes" is an example of this.

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But this is Giselle...and the sautés are probably one of the most bare, exposed, naked series of steps in the whole history of balletic choreography. EVERYONE is watching her...both audiences on and offstage, and somehow this feels as the climax of the ballerina's level of technique. For some reason I doubt Sevillano acted out of a moment's injury...it looks to me as if the substitution had been carefully choreographed and rehearsed in advance. This is very different from a "night off".

And back to the iconic steps and Tchai. PDD. What about if instead of the variations-(which is well known Balanchine allowed in life to be reworked many times by different dancers)-the dancing couple decides that the two killer fish dives of the coda are simply too dangerous to do and instead decide to do something else...? Would we be as satisfied...?

1. There are many who saw Sevillano complete the hops, myself included on numerous occasions. You're basing your whole damning of her on 10 seconds of amateur film shot years ago. There's ample evidence of her technical virtuosity posted & on youtube, but that doesn't fit what seems to amount to a hustings against Sevillano.

2. You can't base a thorough knowledge of any dancer from one clip on youtube. Especially not great dancers who all have their off nights, off moments or in the case of late stage Alonso off decades. But I know that there's ample attesting to how great Alonso was and don't take certain phases of her career or performances as all she's about. I mean if that were so there's ample to damn Alonso as a deluded blind old woman who got it into her head that Giselle is Baby Jane Hudson with brittle bone disease. But let's not go there.

3. If the whole purpose of this thread was to say you think Sevillano is crap. Just come out and say it, it could be a good point for discussion about a beautiful dancer who you may not happen to like, again based on 10 seconds of film. But that's an honest point of departure for discussion.

4. "The Whole History of ballet choreography" that's a rather subjective and bathetic claim and implies you know every school and piece and choreographer and their work over several hundred years, all contemporary ballet choreographers and have done an academic comparison.

5. Ballet is live performance, people have off nights, off days. Sometimes they change stuff in advance to accommodate an injury, sometimes they do it onstage, sometimes new partners do ommit fish dives and dangerous lifts if they feel unsafe or uncertain, or one is injured, no you don't see the choreography complete, but that's not what dance is about, nor is it what great artists are about.

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Mme. Hermine posted a link to video tribute on YouTube to the late Berezhnoi in this thread.

In the section from the Wedding Pas de Deux from "Sleeping Beauty", Berezhnoi and Terekhova do not perform the fish dives. I don't think this takes anything away from their performances.

I notice that the Russians never perform the fish dives. According to Danilova the steps were added for Spessivtseva in the Diaguilev production of Beauty, a production that took place out of Russia, and then again the western hemisphere adopted them as one of the most iconic ones, this time thanks in part to Fonteyn. Apparently the steps were never incorporated into the Russian/Soviet production. The Sizova/Soloviev video and the reconstruction show exactly the same sequence of Aurora throwing herself in her back into Desiree's arms.

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If the whole purpose of this thread was to say you think Sevillano is crap. Just come out and say it

"Crap"...? Nope. That was not my intention. Wrong guessing, Simon.

"The Whole History of ballet choreography" that's a rather subjective and bathetic claim and implies you know every school and piece and choreographer and their work over several hundred years, all contemporary ballet choreographers and have done an academic comparison.

I know nothing...and I don't imply nothing, Simon...I believe I used the word "probably" to denote just that..that this affirmation points to a PROBABILITY, not to an absolute truth.

...there's ample to damn Alonso as a deluded blind old woman who got it into her head that Giselle is Baby Jane Hudson with brittle bone disease

Wow.

But let's not go there

No...better not, Simon.

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Okay then, but then what's this thread about? To take out of context one moment in time from one performace of a dancer from countless performances is meaningless. Just as if I were to take that video of Alonso at 78 dancing Giselle. But I know that's not Alonso, just as I know that's not Sevillano.

To answer yes I prefer the hops to the the pique, pose pas de cheval Sevillano performed here, but I know that Sevillano performed the choreography as is on every occasion I saw her dance Giselle, so for whatever reason she subsitituted a different passage here and may very well have worked it out before hand for whatever reason, but it's not her entire career nor her entire history of Giselle but one moment which had been recorded.

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... what's this thread about?

About my curiosity on how do my fellow Bt'rs feel about this substitution...one that is quite rare.

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I'd agree that one clip doesn't prove anything about any dancer, and I take Simon's point that this was probably an off night -- I also saw Sevillano many times (not as often as I would have liked!) but she was certainly technically competent (and, for me, a magical performer). The larger point of what one can change -- I think that's why solos were always called "variations." There are dancers who packed their variations in their suitcases with their costumes and it was expected. The St. Petersburg audience wanted to see Legnani's fouettes, and she was happy to perform them. I think this post straddled the line. I'm sure Cristian didn't mean to insult a dancer, and his question was about whether we thought the variation was acceptable -- but in this case, we'd need to see more of that particular dancer to know whether this was her version or a one-off.

It's the You Tube Curse. If it's on film, it's Truth. But sometimes it's not.

I think for the balance of the discussion, we should steer away from imputing motives and stick to the idea of what can be changed. Simon, I loved your account of Sevillano and am very glad to have it here. She's a dancer who did not become the star many of us thought she would be. I first saw her at 15, I think (?) as Ashton's Juliet, and I was stunned not only by the quality of her dancing and her acting, but that she was the only one of the then-LFB ballerinas who looked as though she were dancing ASHTON, with Ashton's musicality and Ashton's lines.

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... what's this thread about?

About my curiosity on how do my fellow Bt'rs feel about this substitution...one that is quite rare.

I'm sorry I insulted Alonso Cristian, I know she's very special to you. But that's the thing here, for whatever reason this interpolation on Sevillano's part was a one off, why she did it we'll never know, but she was a very special dancer, who had a pretty horrendous time of it and as Alexandra said never became the star everyone was sure she'd become.

I know you mean nothing underhand by the youtube comparison clips, but I have to admit I hate youtube for dance as it destroys the visceral thrill and immediacy of what ballet and live performance is about and sadly in the case of that Sevillano clip ill serves her legacy and ability. Which is why I pointed to several clips where she was more on form. Likewise those awful clips of an anorexic Kirkland at Wolftrap unable to complete even half her fouette coda or complete the little hops back in arabesque in the Don Quixote PDD make one strain to see what she was all about, but that brief clip with piano of her in Giselle let you know in a minute how great she was.

But please believe me Sevillano was something incredible when she was on, she shared the stage with some incredible virtuosos, of the three Schaufuss brought in Healy & Hogard, his baby ballerinas, Sevillano was the weakest technically but the only one who was considered a real ballerina. It is a real shame you never saw her perform a Giselle, with hops on pointe, at a live performance. She was fantastic.

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I'm sorry I insulted Alonso Cristian, I know she's very special to you.

She is indeed. No hard feelings, Simon. :tiphat:

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I've seen quite a few performances of different productions of Giselle over the past quarter century where the hops have been replaced with a different variation. It is the overall performance that matters to me - not the hops.

Trinidad Sevillano is an exceptional artiste and I have been thrilled to watch these Youtube clips as reminders of the days when I was able to watch her frequently.

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For some reason I doubt Sevillano acted out of a moment's injury...it looks to me as if the substitution had been carefully choreographed and rehearsed in advance. This is very different from a "night off".

In my experience (as an old, ex-dancer), many dancers will work out an alternative version of something weeks in advance when (notice I did not say, "if") they have been fighting with some injury or an unstable-joint or something; especially if a gruelling run of performances is coming up.

One never knows how the body is going to be "on the night", and esp. late in a season everything hurts and one does not necessarily want to risk a potentially careeer-ending injury for a few steps which could have been altered.

Therefore, yes, this probably was carefully choreographed; but for use "in an emergency".

Dancers almost always have a Plan B, you know.

We may look spontaneous, but that is part of the illusion; just as it should _look_ effortless. :wink:

-d-

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Therefore, yes, this probably was carefully choreographed; but for use "in an emergency".

Dancers almost always have a Plan B, you know.

Like decisions about what to do about leaving the 32 fouettes prematurely. Most seem to do what Balanchine did, move more or less smoothly into a series of pique pirouettes.

About this particular point in Giselle. Has anyone seen OTHER examples of dancers choosing not to do the hops on point? What did they do?

It's always seemed to me -- a non-dancer -- that it's not the hops that are so difficult. It is the need to counterpoint them with that lovely upper body movement. Most dancers I've seen manage to hop. Many do NOT manage to make the port de bras look like it is the the easiest thing in the world to do ... WHILE hopping.

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^^ True! The hops themselves are not "difficult"; it is the coordination of upper body, etc. And a reason for changing the hops is often because of some ankle-issue or something else in the foot, wherein repeated pounding would just make it worse for the rest of the performance.

-d-

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I have never judged an 'Aurora' by how long she can hold a balance, an Odile by how many turns she can spin, nor a Giselle's hops. My only regret in seeing the clips of Trinidad Sevillano is that I never saw her 'live'. I can only marvel at her womanly form and the beauty of her lush port de bras---a welcome antidote to today's prevalence of twiggy arms. Unfortunately, she was born too late---she is really a product of the 40's and 50's.

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One never knows how the body is going to be "on the night", and esp. late in a season everything hurts and one does not necessarily want to risk a potentially careeer-ending injury for a few steps which could have been altered.

PNB Ballet Master Otto Neubert, fielding a question in an Q&A about setting tempi for individual dancers for the recent "Giselle", answered to the effect that even when dancers had input, the dancer who asked for a certain tempo on Wednesday morning was a different dancer than the one onstage Saturday night. Energy, physical condition, adrenalin, pacing are only a few of the things that can impact a dancer from day to day.

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About this particular point in Giselle. Has anyone seen OTHER examples of dancers choosing not to do the hops on point? What did they do?

JMcN answered above. You may have missed the post.

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For some reason I doubt Sevillano acted out of a moment's injury...it looks to me as if the substitution had been carefully choreographed and rehearsed in advance. This is very different from a "night off".

In my experience (as an old, ex-dancer), many dancers will work out an alternative version of something weeks in advance when (notice I did not say, "if") they have been fighting with some injury or an unstable-joint or something; especially if a gruelling run of performances is coming up.

One never knows how the body is going to be "on the night", and esp. late in a season everything hurts and one does not necessarily want to risk a potentially careeer-ending injury for a few steps which could have been altered.

Therefore, yes, this probably was carefully choreographed; but for use "in an emergency".

Dancers almost always have a Plan B, you know.

We may look spontaneous, but that is part of the illusion; just as it should _look_ effortless. :wink:

-d-

Deinitely a very logic argument. Thanks Diane for offering the insider's input... :flowers:

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jane, i thought she had also danced ondine? but i don't recall that she was a regular member of the company.

MH, I can't find any reference to her doing Ondine, or - so far - anyone who can remember her doing it. Of course that doesn't mean it didn't happen, so I'll keep asking, but I'd be surprised if such a potentially memorable piece of casting had made so little impact!

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About this particular point in Giselle. Has anyone seen OTHER examples of dancers choosing not to do the hops on point? What did they do?

A few years ago on tour out here, Maria Riccetto slipped off pointe mid-hops and finished off the rest of the counts with traveling fondu releves. It was a seamless transition and if she came up with it on the fly I say bravo!

The fondu releves looked a lot better than Sevillano's replaced steps, but I would hazard the issue for Sevillano was her ankle, and she was probably trying to avoid excessive work on it so the fondu releves would not have been a feasible substitution.

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jane, i thought she had also danced ondine? but i don't recall that she was a regular member of the company.

MH, I can't find any reference to her doing Ondine, or - so far - anyone who can remember her doing it. Of course that doesn't mean it didn't happen, so I'll keep asking, but I'd be surprised if such a potentially memorable piece of casting had made so little impact!

I have a feeling that maybe Mme Hermine has mixed Sevillano up with Gelsey Kirkland who was supposed to dance the revival of Ondine for two performances at the ROH in October 1988, but pulled out at the eleventh hour due to tendonitis and was replaced by Maria Almeida.

Sevillano worked closely with Kirkland on Giselle and stated in several interviews that the two biggest influences on her and her dancing were Kirkland and Lynn Seymour.

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Maybe it would take an established ballerina with an important position in a given company to be given such range of liberty to be able to substitute such a flashy step in such a flashy ballet...? For some reason I don't think every dancer would have that kind of chance...meaning to do it in advance...(nor out of an extreme measure in the middle of a sudden injury mid-performance...)-which is where the mentioned examples of Sibley and Plisetskaya with the fuettes apply.

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I wonder what "Giselle" did before that solo was added (by Petipa, way after the premiere)? I don't mean to suggest that anyone today would be trying to be "authentic," but in almost every ballet, there are steps that we think are necessary to the role, or our enjoyment of it, but weren't part of the ballet originally.

I can't remember seeing a ballerina not do the hops on pointe, but I've seen Giselles who did not complete the hops on pointe, but would stop and go to Plan B, as Cristian put it, sometimes just skipping and skirt fluffing for the final few seconds.

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This debate reminds me of the debate over differences in one of Albrecht's solo. I just did a little googling and discovered that a full decade ago this discussion board was debating Nureyev's entrechats sixes vs. Baryshikov's flying brises:

I guess because I've seen the tape of Baryshnikov's version so much (the 1977 Live from Lincoln Center, with Makarova, later released on VHS) that I am jolted when I see Albrecht's doing something different.

I can't find a clip of Nureyev, but here's Baryshnikov (at 2:02):

I don't think I could find the source back, but I remember an interview with Baryshnikov right after his defection when he asked if the brises were "too much," suggesting he knew he was changing the usual choreography. (Indeed, it appears not all of Albrecht's solos appeared in the original versions.)

I just found a clip of Erik Bruhn from 1969. Perhaps this is what Nureyev did? The same passage starts at about 2:20:

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