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Lise and Swanhilda


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#1 Lovebird

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Posted 25 May 2001 - 10:04 PM

I often find many similarities between Coppelia and La Fille Mal Gardee.Both Lise and Swanhilda are witty,funny countrygirls and both are roles for soubrettes.Colas and Franz are both jaunty peasant yokels.Both ballets are heavily influenced by character dancing.Both are comic ballets.Even Dr.Coppelius and Coppelia have counterparts in clumsy Alain and Widow Simone.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 25 May 2001 - 11:12 PM

I agree there are similarities. There used to be a lot of ballets of this type, but most have been lost, so they're a bit isolated in the repertory.

If you were dancing both roles in the same season, how would you make them different?

#3 Lovebird

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Posted 26 May 2001 - 12:24 PM

If I were to dance Lise and Swanhilda in the same season I would first of all show their stylistic differences.By this I mean that with Lise I emphasize the Ashton style:light,a bit jumpy,no dramatic overkill.With Coppelia I suppose I would dance it in a much earthier way than Lise,more paesant like.Coppelia is hungarian and as a hungarian she is more emotional,more csardas,very witty,almost latin.Lise is more naive,more clog dance,very light and a decidedly very english countrygirl.Asshton had Devon in mind when he recreated this ballet.

#4 MinkusPugni

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 12:07 AM

I don't think there are similarities between Lise and Swanhilda. Swanhilda makes it painfully obvious that she wants Franz and when he goes off with Coppelia she gets very upset. Lise is coy and pretends she doesn't want Colas but occasionally lets it show. Swanhilda gets angry when things don't go her way, but when something doesn't go Lises way she gets upset and either cries or submits. Swanhilda is strong. Lise is not.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 July 2005 - 03:51 AM

But they're both soubrettes. The details of their characters are different, but still, they're both fairly frivolous young comic leads.

#6 Gina Ness

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Posted 13 August 2005 - 11:57 PM

John Hart set "Fille" for SFB in the late 70s. Everyone was surprised at his choice for first cast Lise. It was not the light, sweet, charming and very wonderful principal dancer (Diana Weber) that everyone assumed would be first cast. He picked the earthy, dramatic, and also lovely soloist/principal (Anita Paciotti) to dance opening night. I wonder if this is what Ashton envisioned for his Lise...wasn't it Nadia Nerina? I never had the pleasure of seeing her dance...

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 06:50 AM

Gina, that's an interesting point. I have suspicion (that I can't prove :cool: ) that there's a lot more to demicaractere dancing than being light, sweet and charming -- and I think Ashton knew this. Reading some 19th century reviews, one gets the sense that the demis were the "sexy" genre (think of Gautier's "Christian/pagan" differentiation). I've only seen Nerina on film, but she looked more on the earthy than sweet and charming side to me.

There may also have been other considerations. Nerina had a JUMP -- huge jump, for example; it's an important component of the role. And there's also musicality. Of the dancers I saw as Lise in the 1980s, only Dawn Ciacamo (sp?) phrased the role in an Ashtonian way, and she wasn't at all the "right" type.

#8 leonid17

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Posted 11 January 2009 - 12:01 PM

Gina, that's an interesting point. I have suspicion (that I can't prove :off topic: ) that there's a lot more to demicaractere dancing than being light, sweet and charming -- and I think Ashton knew this. Reading some 19th century reviews, one gets the sense that the demis were the "sexy" genre (think of Gautier's "Christian/pagan" differentiation). I've only seen Nerina on film, but she looked more on the earthy than sweet and charming side to me.

There may also have been other considerations. Nerina had a JUMP -- huge jump, for example; it's an important component of the role. And there's also musicality. Of the dancers I saw as Lise in the 1980s, only Dawn Ciacamo (sp?) phrased the role in an Ashtonian way, and she wasn't at all the "right" type.


Nadia Nerina was my first Swanhilda and has remained my favourite. Never really considered a truly classical ballerina she brought this role to absolute life as she did as Lise. I see little similarity between Lise and Swanhilda as each character is delineated quite differently in their relationships with Colas and Franz as are the situations that arise.
The Royal Ballet production has evolved via Ninette de Valois in 1954 from the earlier staging in 1933 of the Petipa/Cecchetti/Ivanov version(1894) produced by Nikolai Sergeyev using the Imperial Theatre's notated score. The Sadlers Wells production was graced by Lydia Lopokhova a true demi-caractere dancer as Swanhilda and I think it fair to assume that the playing of the role by the RB originates from her performance. I think I am today, after being attracted to Coppelia by the dancing in this ballet, become more aware of the darker side when Coppelius gets Franz drunk and then attempts to steal his soul or life-force to animate Coppelia. Fortunately alls well in the end and we all go home with the feel good factor.
The music of Coppelia is an exceptional theatre score underpinning the story telling perfectly and it joyous nature adds to our feeling of well being. I often play a recording when I have a tedious job around the house or the garden because its joyousness lightens the load.
The role of Swanhilda can be danced by soubrettes or demicaractere dancers as she is down-to earth given her status in a bucolic setting. But, Swanhilda has also been danced by many classical ballerinas (Legnani, Kschessinkaya, and Geltzer. Trefilova, Semyonova, Fonteyn, Chauvire, Makarova etc) and it was in this role that Anna Pavlova made her 1910 USA debut in New York. Coppelia was earlier staged in 1887 at the Metropolitan Opera House by Mamert Biberyan.


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