It's pretty clear that Petipa wanted his heroines to "display their coquetterie." it's a phrase he uses over and over. The style of Pontois is much coarser than that -- she is not gracious at all; she's commanding, impressive, sexy, challenging, borderline dominatrix -- very Nureyev. it puts me in mind of Rudi's thigh-high crocodile boots. It's wonderful in its way -- the technique is of course mighty fine. But.............
Perfectly stated, Paul! In fact, the first time that I saw the POB version of the variation, by Guillem in one of the early Guillem documentaties, my first thought was "kinky"...not exactly what would have been seen in a gracious court (Romanov or de Doris).
How gracious a court would have the supposed de Doris "court" have been. There seems to be an extraordinary tone of relating Raymonda the ballet to some idealised real life experience.
The historic validity of Raymonda is lamentable even though based on actual persons.(This has been discussed elsewhere)
The reality would have been that the "court" would have continuously smelt despite floors strewn with rushes and sweet smelling herbs and flowers.
Bones and scraps were thrown on the floors for dogs to eat, men and women would have got up from the table to relieve themselves in a corner and this was still happening when the Sun King was in residence at Versaille and throughout Europe in general.
Ballets are fiction and often very good fiction and even at times great fiction. But I am sorry to say they always remain fiction.
The story telling however can and does, grab the imagination and that is why we enjoy performances especially when the dancing and acting is truly related to the formalities of academic classical ballet.
Is Raymonda truly a great ballet in the stagings we have seen. It can look spectacular, it can be danced marvellously well and the score carries it.
There is a definite rift between complete performances of the past and performances of today, especially in the case of the Kirov/Maryinsky ballet which began losing its way under Vinogradov.
But I do, look forward to seeing the production if not all of the dancers.
Not quite sure that Petipa wanted his dancers to "display their coquetterie" as he was an irascible old man who was quite unapproachable and rarely had a kind word that alone any word to say to most dancers.