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Who is your favorite Odette/Odile?


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#46 Sacto1654

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 08:30 PM

Alas, I've never seen a live performance of a complete Swan Lake. :)

But I've seen several different complete versions on tape and by far the best ballerinas in the role of Odette/Odile are (in my humble opinion! :bow: ) Fonteyn, Makarova and Plisetskaya. Especially Plisetskaya--her amazing arm movements that strongly resembled a flapping wing just mesmerized Western audiences in 1959, the first time she toured with the Bolshoi Ballet outside the Soviet Union.

Lopatkina could be a great Odette/Odile but her height (5' 10") makes it a bit difficult to find a danseur to work with her (I noticed that issue with the 2006 Maryinsky Ballet performance that was released on DVD in 2007).

#47 87Sigfried87

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Posted 24 May 2008 - 06:37 AM

I have seen many......but many....because Swan Lake is my favourite ballet. I don't like Odettes without very good extensions.I think that it is more appropriate in the style,especially in the variation of the second act and in the two pdds.Also the physical attitude is fundamental in this more than in other ballets;you need a longiline,very thin body,with very good lines(very good arch,long arms and legs...).So I don't like ballerinas such as Plisetskaya;maybe very good for a Dying Swan,but not as Odette/Odile.

Thinking of the style,the arms,the fine lines,and very long and thin body etc I would say that Lucia Lacarra is the best Odette on earth.Take a look on youtube.She has the perfect style,especially in the movements of the arms,which is quite lost nowadays or limited to a banal wing movement,as a child would do.Second place is for Zakharova,which is even better than Lacarra in the variation of second act,but hasn't got a special way of moving the arms,nor a good dramatic impact on the public.Third place for Uliana Lopatkina,which is the most moving Odette on earth now,but isn't as physically gifted as the other two ballerinas.And she is the best Dying Swan of these years.

The best Odile is hard to find.Nowadays It seems as if there is no(or a few?)ballerina who is able to give a good portrait of Odile,who must be sexy,very proud,very seductive,vamp maybe,brillant and very very snob;and NASTY!However,The best Black Swan PDD from the past is the one with Gregory-Bujones.She can really interpret the role perfectly.In the present I don't usually find special Odiles,a very convincing one is Agnes Letestu,from POB;but more about interpretation than for other reasons.

#48 Sacto1654

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Posted 22 September 2008 - 09:14 PM

By the way, when she dances alone Ulyana Lopatkina is probably the best Odette, in my opinion. (This is based on the 2007 DVD video release and older performances I've seen via online videos). What makes her so good as Odette is that unlike most other ballerinas, Lopatkina perfectly captures the vulnerability of the Odette character when she dances alone. The only downside is that because of her height, it makes it really difficult to find a danseur in the role of Siegfried that matches well with her to make her the overall best Odette, hence my post earlier. I wonder has she tried to dance this role with Ivan Kozlov lately?

#49 Anne

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 08:14 AM

By the way, when she dances alone Ulyana Lopatkina is probably the best Odette, in my opinion. (This is based on the 2007 DVD video release and older performances I've seen via online videos). What makes her so good as Odette is that unlike most other ballerinas, Lopatkina perfectly captures the vulnerability of the Odette character when she dances alone.


I agree with you that Lopatkina is a very good Odette (I have only seen her on video with the Kirov), and I love her ability to make beautiful lines and arches with her body, she's so flexible! As Odile, though, I prefer Agnes Letestu with the POB, who is the most dangerous Odile I have ever seen. Her contemptuous smiles and expressions could make one's heart freeze. As Odette I missed some more warmth, though her interpretation is absolutely comitted. It's only a pity that Nureyevs Swanlake is so deadboring in any other aspect!
Someone mentioned Nathalie Nordquist from the Swedish Ballet, whom I have seen both live and on video, and I aggree that she's the most lovely Odette ever, all vulnerability and sweetness, but as Odile she's just not dangerouos enough - yet!

#50 Sacto1654

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 07:01 PM

One thing I LOVE about Ulyana Lopatkina as Odette is that in what some call the "Odette Variation" from Act II (or Act 1 Scene 2 as it's known in Russia), when she does the leg extensions at the beginning of the piece she has an amazing ability to stop halfway for a split second with her knees way up in the air before fully extending her leg, something that I have not seen from any other ballerina--not even the legends like Fonteyn, Alonso, Ulanova or Plisetskaya--come anywhere close to achieving.

#51 Hans

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 07:54 PM

I'm having trouble visualising that...do you mean that when she does the rond de jambe en l'air, she doesn't fully extend her leg before doing the rond?

#52 printscess

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 07:32 AM

I am planning on seeing Oregon Ballet Theatre in October perform Swan Lake with 3 casts. I hope to report on that.

#53 EAW

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 09:29 AM

Single best Odette/Odile I ever saw: Natalia Makarova in her only appearance with ABT in New York 35 summers ago. Arlene Croce wrote about it as a truly great performance. Makarova had a public falling-out with Nureyev earlier that summer (caused, I believe, by a literal fall, a partnering mishap) and there was a sizeable pro-Rudy contingent in the New York State Theater who loudly booed her first entrance. It seems she may have prepared for that, mentally and technically. This was Makarova at her simplest, largest and purest - amazingly clear, fluid, expressive dancing unflawed by calculated and self-dramatizing effects (and supported superbly by Ivan Nagy). Her Odile, too, seduced Siegfried (and us) through beauty, not the crude vamping one often sees. I haven't forgotten it and hope I never will.

#54 Cygnet

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 02:21 PM

I'm having trouble visualising that...do you mean that when she does the rond de jambe en l'air, she doesn't fully extend her leg before doing the rond?


Lopatkina completes four ronds de jambes per leg, each time, fully extended on the beat.
I've seen it live and canned. She has this down to a science. It's no fluke: She's technically perfect
as Odette. She has complete control of her limbs, and at the same time she is a supreme mistress of
nuance. From first entrance to final curtain she is the Swan. The only other ballerina I've seen execute
four ronds per leg in this variation, (live or canned), was Maximova on tape. Lopatkina's Odile is of the
Asylmuratova School of Odiles: A quiet storm - subtle and technically brilliant, but without femme fatale
fireworks.

#55 Sacto1654

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 06:07 PM

Lopatkina completes four ronds de jambes per leg, each time, fully extended on the beat.
I've seen it live and canned. She has this down to a science. It's no fluke: She's technically perfect
as Odette. She has complete control of her limbs, and at the same time she is a supreme mistress of
nuance. From first entrance to final curtain she is the Swan.


What particularly impresses me about Ulyana Lopatkina as Odette is when she dances alone as Odette, she perfectly captures the vulnerability of the Odette character with her dancing skills, unlike Galina Ulanova or Maya Plisetskaya, which project the vulnerability of the Odette character more through their acting skills. One other thing I noticed: when she makes her first appearance early in Act II (or Act I Scene 2), note the way she moves her head--it's almost like watching a real swan stretch and move its head.

#56 bart

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 04:40 AM

What particularly impresses me about Ulyana Lopatkina as Odette is when she dances alone as Odette, she perfectly captures the vulnerability of the Odette character with her dancing skills [ ... ] One other thing I noticed: when she makes her first appearance early in Act II (or Act I Scene 2), note the way she moves her head--it's almost like watching a real swan stretch and move its head.

Sacto1654, your comments make me want to look again at this performance.

Another thought: dancers who are most effective as Odette tend to make me listen to the music more carefully, often discovering (or re-discovereing) small phrases or emphases that, in a score so familiar, you tend to forget over time. Musicality at the highest level is central to a memorable Odette. I'm not sure that this is so central to Odile.

#57 EAW

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 05:18 AM

--it's almost like watching a real swan stretch and move its head.

Reminds me of another great line from Arlene Croce: "If it's swans you want, go to the zoo." Doesn't the poignancy and intensity of the lakeside scene, especially the pas de deux, come from the fact that right now Odette and her court are temporarily released from being swans, that they're struggling and suffering young women? I find ballerinas who emphasize the swan moves less convincing than those who let the occasional birdlike passages just flow with the rest of their choreography.

#58 Sacto1654

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 05:58 AM

EAW,

I actually kind of disagree with that because when Maya Plisetskaya first performed in the West in 1959, Western audiences were totally awed by her really flexible arm movements that mimicked a bird's wing in both The Dying Swan and Swan Lake.

I still think Lopatkina's bird-like movements at the beginning of Act II (aka Act I Scene 2) is much of the charm of her performance as Odette. I would LOVE to imagine her in the Odile role in the Vladamir Bourmeister choreographed version, which is quite demanding to dance (and which Svetlana Zakharova did wonderfully), because Odile is so totally different in style from the Odette character.

#59 EAW

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 02:43 PM

I actually kind of disagree with that because when Maya Plisetskaya first performed in the West in 1959, Western audiences were totally awed by her really flexible arm movements that mimicked a bird's wing in both The Dying Swan and Swan Lake.

Yes, her bird imitations were amazing and world-famous, but to me they're more like stunts than organic parts of Swan Lake. I prefer the high-flying, death-defying Maya of Laurencia and [i]Don Quixote.


#60 Hans

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 10:34 AM

I can forgive some bird-like movements at Odette's entrance because some ballerinas like to use that moment to show us her transformation from swan to human. (Although to be nitpicky, the transformation occurs offstage--that's what Siegfried is seeing before he runs away, so by the time Odette has entered, she is already human.)

I went to watch Lopatkina's double ronds de jambe en l'air in the variation, and her technique is ok, but it does annoy me that she feels the need to do the ronds de jambe with her knee in her armpit. From a technical standpoint, while it is very difficult to do en pointe, what the dancer should be striving for is to do a full rond de jambe each time, and that cannot really occur if the leg is raised above 90 (because the working foot is too far away from the supporting leg to come anywhere near the supporting knee at that speed) although there is nothing wrong with extending it higher once the ronds are completed. For comparison, I watched Asylmuratova, Makhalina, and Mezentseva, and they all do the ronds at 90 and then raise the leg. Makarova does a single rond de jambe en l'air (on the video I watched) and that was a nice effect as well--her foot makes a big swirl in the air on the way up.

Lopatkina's version seems to me another example of technique sacrificed to extension that is all too common these days--the thinking that higher=better.


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