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Must Odile do fouettees?


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#1 Jane Simpson

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 04:08 PM

(I seem to remember we did this on another thread some time ago - but maybe we should include it here too for completeness.)

Should a ballerina who would make an outstandingly good Odette/Odile but can't reliably do 32 fouettees be allowed to do something else instead, or should she struggle, or should she not be given the role at all?

#2 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 04:30 PM

Plisetskaya did not do them :) If she would be an outstanding Odette/Odile but does not do fouettés well, then I would change it. Personally, I don't believe that any "tricks" are sacred, and the male dancers change their variations and codas at will, ALL the time! :rolleyes:

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 05:24 PM

To speak up for the male dancers for a moment, our variations aren't anywhere near as well-documented as the women's, but you're quite correct, even the ones that are properly recorded get changed regularly; it rather annoys me.

But to return to the thread question: sure, if the ballerina is otherwise outstanding, change it.

#4 Juliet

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 06:09 PM

I have seen a number of them change it, especially if they realize that something is going awry...
the idea of the fouettees is, partly, a device to entrance/draw into the web of deception and if the dancer feels that the characterization is being harmed by something that night, I think that most will do something else.

I love when they are strongly and cleanly done, but I don't count them or care if somethiing is substituted for good artistic reason.

[ 06-30-2001: Message edited by: Juliet ]

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 30 June 2001 - 08:30 PM

I'm always torn on this question. (Plisetskaya, of course, didn't cut them because she couldn't do them. She did them, beautifully, elsewhere.)

I once would have argued that you should keep them for the reason Legnani put them in -- it kept away pretenders (those who wanted the Ballerina's Crown without having the technique necessary to wear it). But nowadays, when probably everyone in the corps can do the 32 fouettes, but perhaps not much of the rest of the role, I'd say, chuck it if necessary.

As always, if I have a balletmaster I trust, I'd trust him/her to make the right decision. When it's "The third caller to guess the right number of jellybeans in the jar gets to dance Odette Tuesday!" casting, that's a different story.

#6 Steve Keeley

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 01:46 AM

OK, I'll be the stickler here. If you can't do 32 fouettes, you don't dance Odile. If you can't hold a balance in attitude without falling off pointe, you don't dance Aurora. And so on...

~Steve

#7 sylvia

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 06:13 AM

So what have dancers used to replace the 32 fouettes? I've wanted to know the answer to this for the longest time.

#8 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 06:35 AM

Plisetskaya did piqué en dedans turns in a circle. While this is not at all the same thing in terms of difficulty, I would rather see well done piqués than badly executed fouettés. Not saying that Plisetskaya could not do good fouettés, however I have seen far too many otherwise good Odiles not be able to execute what I would consider GOOD fouettés. While it is true that most corps dancers today can do 32 fouettés, doing them WELL, at the end of that long and very difficult pas de deux, is another story. Sorry, Steve, but I just don't think any one trick should determine the value of a role like Odette/Odile. I do not see the balances of Aurora as the same thing, and would expect anyone dancing that role to be able to do those, as they are much more a part of basic technique, involving strength, control, and focus, which every dancer should have. I don't consider that a trick. AND, it doesn't happen in the third act after the ballerina has already done a long and difficult second act, and another long and difficult grand pas de deux in the third act!

#9 Melissa

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 09:24 AM

I think the fouetees are key from a charactization point of view. They're the ultimate weapon in her technical arsenal and she uses them as the coup de grace in her seduction of Siegfried.

#10 ralphsf

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 07:22 PM

Sorry, I don't buy that Plisetskaya couldn't do the 32 turns. Look at her in the Little Humpbacked Horse video, and you'll see that she tosses them off without so much as a drop of perspiration. Where do you get this idea she couldn't do them? I think this idea was spread in Makarova's book in the 70's. If anything, Makarova had a hard time doing them... she was a magnificent dancer but not the strongest technician. Correct me if I'm wrong but, as I understand it, the version of Swan Lake Plisetskaya danced was the version by Gorsky from the 1920's which didn't use the 32 fouettés and that this had nothing to do with Plisetskaya.

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 07:34 PM

Ralph, I don't think anyone said that Plisetskaya COULDN'T do them. It is that she DID NOT do them.

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 01 July 2001 - 08:20 PM

The Conventional Wisdom runs that she had an unhappy experience with the Swan Lake 32 early in her career, and regarded them as a Jonah ever after. Any confirmation or denial of said CW is entirely welcome! She'd do them other places; just not in Black Swan.

#13 felursus

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Posted 02 July 2001 - 12:27 AM

Other ballerinas dancing the same production did the fouettes. For whatever reason, Plisetskaya chose not to do them. Re: Makarova - she had problems doing pirouettes. I saw her last class with the Kirov, and she went off into the corner at one point and was working on them with one of the then young up-and-coming soloists. Then when I worked on the Nureyev and Friends gala, Nureyev spent a lot of time working on pirouettes with her. He kept patting her stomach - seemingly telling her to use her abdominal muscles (she had a tendency to lean back), but perhaps he was doing that because he knew she was pregnant!

Fonteyn was another dancer who cut out the fouettes - at least at the end of her career.

#14 4Ts

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Posted 03 July 2001 - 02:45 PM

I read this story in Diane Solway's Nureyev biography.
Nureyev had arrived in London and was stirring up the pot. He had just done Albrecht and had replaced whatever was the traditional 2nd act "dance 'til you die" step with entrechat six, which got him a lot of play.
Soon after, Nadia Nerina, knowing Nureyev was in the audience, replaced the fouettees in Swan Lake with 32 (could that be?) entrechat six, as if to say "We girls can play that game!"
Solway said that Nureyev immediately left the theatre in a rage.

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 03 July 2001 - 03:22 PM

They don't make 'em like that anymore :) Wit and chutzpah. Everything Odile needs.


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