Ivanov -- did he or didn't he?
Posted 02 July 2001 - 10:50 AM
I recall reading in Beaumont's Swan Lake book of contemporary newspaper accounts explaining that Ivanov had choreographed these acts because Petipa was indisposed at the time. It certainly sounds like a pretty well-documented historical fact to me.
I would love to hear some details from anyone familiar with any attempts to downplay Ivanov's contribution to the ballet in recent years.
Posted 02 July 2001 - 11:16 AM
Two other points I remember were that if you look at Act II as it WAS, before it became a ballet blanc and had huntsmen and mime, it looks very much like a Petipa ballet. Those who've only seen the ballet blanc version, especially as it's become swannier and swannier, see the contrast between that and Acts I and III and assume they're by different hands -- but the same contrast is in Bayadere. Act IV comes from Outer Space, after the parrot dance and the Red Indians Tom Tom Extravaganza.
Also, the question of "what exactly did the assistant do" is always knotty. There are assistants who think they do all the work (and may put in the bulk of the time), and there are chiefs who take all of the credit. I don't know what it is in this case. It is feasible that if Petipa weren't in rehearsals because of illness, he gave Ivanov specific instructions -- he was noted for blocking out everything before he came into the rehearsal room.
I revere Beaumont, but a lot of his work has been superseded simply because he didn't have access to all of the papers that later historians, like Wiley, had (and I can't remember if Wiley addressed this, although I think Jackson's article points out that Wiley omitted some of the information that was available.)
I think other people besides Jackson have raised the question that Ivanov's place in Russian ballet history became somewhat exaggerated during the Soviet era. That theory is that Petipa was French, a foreigner, and it was an embarrassment to have a Western imperialist/capitalist whatsit be the main choreographer. Another side to this might be that some clever Maryinskians (soon to be Kirovians) thought they might have a better case for keeping the Petipa repertory if there were a Russian angle.
Personally, I've always been bothered by the question that, if Ivanov really did write those beautiful second and fourth acts, why don't we have more of him? There's nothing in "Nutcracker" (as seen in the recent British revival, with Wilely and Stepanov notation help) that matches it. But Petipa did produce "Shades."
My guess is the jury is still out on this one.
Others may well have more information.
Posted 02 July 2001 - 03:39 PM
In short, Wiley discusses this issue at length. His evidence generally favors the traditional attribution of work, although it seems that Petipa had outlined the lakeside scenes and even contributed written descriptions of certain choreography, including the entrance of the swans.
A number of Ivanov's ballets were notated, particular the one-acts. His larger works like TULIP OF HAARLEM appear to be lost. Some didn't continue in rep and some have been preserved simply because they were in rep during the notation period.
Wiley has made a couple of attempts to compare Petipa and Ivanov and has used Petipa's Shades compared to Ivanov's Snowflakes. In my opinion, this is like comparing apples to oranges. A better comparison might involve Petipa's waltz from LE JARDIN ANIME and Ivanov's Snowflakes, which are both large waltzes using minimal properties (no stools, but either garlands or wands). The SLEEPING BEAUTY waltz could also be used but it is less "dancy" than the other two. This comparison reveals a choreographic similarity, but possibly the similarity is a result of the normal choreographic response of the time to music of the same genre (a waltz).
All in all, Ivanov was the assistant, Petipa was more famous and was doing more work. He was the dominant figure at the Maryinsky. Petipa also appears to have been much more driven than Ivanov, who liked to play cards during rehearsal (even rehearsals he was running ). If Petipa felt the newspaper had printed an incorrect attribution of work, he would write to the editor and say so.
SWAN LAKE wasn't the big deal in its time that it has since become. I think the contributions of the choreographers have been magnified and more importance has been attached to Ivanov's reputation based on SWAN LAKE than is warranted in view of his entire ouevre. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but simply that SWAN LAKE is/was not the make-or-break ballet of Ivanov's career.
[ 07-02-2001: Message edited by: doug ]
Posted 03 July 2001 - 10:10 AM
Of course, this is not unnecessarily an unbiased account, but it seems to suggest that crediting Ivanov more than a Soviet idea to build up the Russian angle.
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