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doug

Character dances in Coppelia

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Coppelia includes a number of national dances: czardas and mazurka in Act II, Spanish and Scottish in Act II. Am I missing some?

Is there traditional choreography for these dances and, if so, from where does it derive - Paris or St. Petersburg? Is it possible to trace its authorship?

The Stepanov notations of Coppelia include what was intended to be very elaborate documentation of the Act I mazurka but, sadly, the notation was not completed. I believe the mazurka called for 20 corps couples and 2 soloist couples (I'd have to check my notes).

[ 05-20-2001: Message edited by: doug ]

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In the little bit I have been reading about Coppelia, I remember people writing that this was the first ballet which used the czardas, and that Delibes used folk motifs in the music. This doesn't answer Doug's question, of course, but it would seem that right from the start, there was an attempt to get an authentic folk flavor.

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Guest never says all that much about the choreography. About the character dancing, he gives only this story: (Ivor Guest, "The Ballet of the Second Empire, 1858-1870)

"Saint-Leon's skill at adapting national dances and weaving them into his ballets was turned to good account in the czardas in Act I, which repeated the success he had obtained with the hongroise in Nemea. He had hoped to infuse some authentic Hungarian fire into this dance, and had written to Nuitter [his librettist] in September 1869: "One of these days you will receive a card of mine which will be brought to you by one named Bekefy, a dancer of Hungarian and Slav pas -- in whort, of pas de genre. He is not a bad mime, and is gay enough in comic things. There is a shortage of men in the ballet personnel; perhaps use could be made of him. If he comes, please speak to M. Perrin abouthim. I do not think he will ask for much, and he has chic, which our own Zephyrs have not, in pas slaves....I was forgetting--as danseur noble, not strong.'

Bekefy was not engaged, but the czardas was received none the less warmly. It was danced, wrote Gautier, "with a verve and energy that reminded us of the great evenings in St. Petersburg. . . .An unusual success for a pas d'ensemble."

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It should be noted that this M. Bekefy was a participant in both the Moscow and St. Petersburg versions of Swan Lake, and was the original leader of the Russians (Candy Canes) in Nutcracker. He was the grandson of Cesare Pugni, the composer.

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