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cubanmiamiboy

Fokine check list.

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In a recent ballet performance I attended by the ex AD of the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Le Spectre de la Rose was performed, and right then I realized that the last time I had seen this delightful jewel of ballet had been with the same exiled Cuban troupe, some years ago. Fokine has been largely neglected, definitely. Chopiniana will be part of the Cuban National Ballet next year program-(as it is usually included every year)-, so I would like to get reports on how the current Fokine ballets performances schedule looks like around America

Which Fokine ballets have you seen LIVE in your lifetime...?

Which company performed them...?

In my case, the list is quite short.

Chopiniana-Cuban National Ballet

Petroushka-Cuban National Ballet

La Mort du Cygne-Cuban National Ballet/Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami

L'espectre de la Rose-Cuban National Ballet/Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami

Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor-Cuban National Ballet

Firebird I've never seen in Fokine's original encarnation, so that's why it's not included, and from Schehrezade only fragments.

How does your Fokine list looks like..?

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You've asked some interesting questions here. Fokine's choreography, in different versions, was a staple of regional ballet ensembles in the 40s - 50s, taught by alumni of the Ballet Russe companies, but began to fade in popularity in the 60s and has been mostly absent from current repertories, at least in my experience, since the late 80s. The BR anniversary has brought focus back to that repertory, which I'm grateful for.

I think part of the difficulty is in the work itself -- Dying Swan, Spectre and Sylphides are relatively inexpensive to stage, but works like Petrushka and Firebird need a substantial cast and scenic resources that aren't always easy to muster. In many ways, they require the kind of staging that you usually associate with a program-length work, but they are meant to be just one part of a larger presentation. We don't really program like that in many companies today.

But aside from the monetary considerations, the stylistic requirements are a big challenge. Most of the ensemble works need a large cast that is comfortable with (or at least familiar with) character and national dances, and has lively acting skills. These aren't a significant part of most training today, and aren't found in most of the current repertory. There are roles in the Fokine rep that call for virtuosic classical technique, but for every Firebird or Rose (or the ensemble in Sylphides) you've got a Petrushka or one of the leads in Schehrezade, roles that ask for a wide variety of physical skills.

(I've often thought that the Slave in Schehrezade might be well cast with a break-dancer, based on the original description of the choreography)

My live Fokine list is even shorter than yours:

Sylphides

Petrushka

Spectre de la Rose

Dying Swan

Interestingly, I recently saw Donald Byrd's version of Petrushka for Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle, which he staged in and around the company's studio. The opening scenes at the fair were at an actual carnival, with food vendors, games of chance and some pretty raunchy side-show entertainment. We went inside to watch the central part of the work -- we saw the scenes in Petrushka and the Moor's cells over closed circuit television, like a security camera, and then went back outside for the ending, where Petrushka and the Moor struggled on the roof of the building, and Petrushka fell/was pushed over the edge. It was quite harsh, but very affective.

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Others I've seen, all in Russia -

CARNAVAL, which was revived by Vikharev at the Mariinsky 3 or 4 years ago. This was one of THE most beloved ballets of the Diaghilev troupe. It was one of 'the standards.' A ca-1988 DVD of an earlier staging (by Dudinskaya/Sergeyev, I think?), starring Vikharev as Harlequin.

PAVILLON D'ARMIDE, revived by Nikita Dolgushin for the Ballet of the St Petersburg Conservatory, which he headed during the 1990s. It was revived with the luxurious costumes but with simple backdrops. I'd love to someday see it in all of its glory.

EGYPTIAN NIGHTS, danced by the Mariinsky in the 1980s. There's a film/DVD 'studio version' of it starring Assylmuratov and Ruzimatov.

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Thanks for the video clips, Cristian! Nice stuff to watch on a Saturday morning! I love Spectre de la rose, and Polovtsian Dances are fun (and the opera Prince Igor is also good). But I only know these things from Mariinsky dvds. I wish more companies in the U.S. would do them.

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My pleasure, BB. I really mourn the abscense of Chopiniana from my city's ballet company. Being a permanent staple of Alonso's troupe, my ballet world vision is definitely highly influenced by it, and with no doubt I put it right after-(if not side by side if I think it twice)- Giselle. I can watch it at any time, probably even as a school performance and still find it fascinating.

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My pleasure, BB. I really mourn the abscense of Chopiniana from my city's ballet company. Being a permanent staple of Alonso's troupe, my ballet world vision is definitely highly influenced by it, and with no doubt I put it right after-(if not side by side if I think it twice)- Giselle. I can watch it at any time, probably even as a school performance and still find it fascinating.

It is a beautiful ballet. I saw that a school in Tampa was doing it, but I could not go see it. I have only seen Chopiniana/Les Sylphides on video and YouTube. There are so many wonderful things yet they are never done. It is strange. Everyone says that the ballet repertoire is not as big as opera so it is harder to do more things, but I don't think that is true when you see many things hardly ever done! If you google Petipa there are so many ballets listed that he choreographed that no company ever does. Granted many of these are lost to history (no documentation), but I bet some have a little bit of documentation that could be used to piece together some of them. Maybe I am wrong. I guess we should just be thankful YouTube exists to get so many things in that way.

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At various times and in various versions - all purporting to be genuine Fokine - I've seen:

Chopiniana/Les Sylphides - both Royal Companies, Festival Ballet, Kirov, Bolshoi.........

Firebird - Royal, Kirov

Dying Swan - any number of misguided ladies

Schehrezade - Festival, Kirov

Petroushka - both Royal Companies, Festival Ballet, Joffrey, POB, Kirov (but it didn't look much like any of the other "Fokine" versions)

plus any number of attempts at Spectre.

I also saw Danilova's staging of the pdt from Pavillion d'Armide with Baryshnikov and on film, the dances from Ruslan and Ludmilla - though I do wonder if these are actually entirely by Fokine.

Polovtsian Dances - Festival, Kirov

Carnaval - Northern, Scottish, POB

Le Coq d'Or- Festival

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Alymer, a gem of a colour (but silent) film of substantial parts of Fokine's Coq d'Or exists. It's from the 1930s and stars Riabouchinskaya as the cockerel and (I think) Baronova as the queen. If I find on YouTube, I will post.

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Natasha...here's Anna Volkova in the title role...

BTW....the way the female character dancers slide on the floor in straight and circular patterns,and even their stiff/cone-like costumes, is VERY similar as the way Alonso staged her Matryoshka dolls-(the Nutcracker sisters)-for the Act II initial parade

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRniCHjMBrI

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Fokine's choreography experienced a revival, I think, in New York City during the 70s. I remember a Carnaval performed by Elliot Feld's company, the only time I've seen this work. I also saw what I imagine to have been a sort of Fokine mini-season at American Ballet Theater. ABT did Syphides, Firebird (Gregory) and Petrushka (Baryshnikov) on a single evening at the Met. On other nights, Barykshnikov danced Spectre -- and Makarova, Firebird

The Joffrey's production of Petrushka -- with Gary Chryst -- was the one that thrilled me the most.

And then, of course, there were plenty of Sylphides and Dying Swans from the Trocks later on.

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Fokine's choreography experienced a revival, I think, in New York City during the 70s. I remember a Carnaval performed by Elliot Feld's company, the only time I've seen this work. I also saw what I imagine to have been a sort of Fokine mini-season at American Ballet Theater. ABT did Syphides, Firebird (Gregory) and Petrushka (Baryshnikov) on a single evening at the Met. On other nights, Barykshnikov danced Spectre -- and Makarova, Firebird

The Joffrey's production of Petrushka -- with Gary Chryst -- was the one that thrilled me the most.

And then, of course, there were plenty of Sylphides and Dying Swans from the Trocks later on.

Welcome back, bart..! Long time no see...! flowers.gifflowers.gifflowers.gif

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