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Black Swan costume..


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#1 Lukayev

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 01:24 AM

It seems to me that as the years pass in ballet, the feather plumes atop Odile's tiara are shrinking in size. From Natalia Dudinskaya's Quaker-worthy feather quill flaunters, to Cynthia Gregory's tiny little turtledove backside tailfeathers, there's so much of a variation. In regards to costumes..
  • Should Odile's costume be onyx-black or with intricate gold patterns, like I've seen on some ballerinas?
  • A feathery, fluffy tutu or that straightforward, starchy one (I'm thinking the latter, because of Odile's "Siegfried, baby, you are my prey" direct approach and her distinct motives)?
  • Ornate tiara, with jewels to dazzle and blind Siegfried, or a plain one made out of some cheap village mine gold?
Help me think of some more. :D

--Luka

[ 06-27-2001: Message edited by: Luka ]

[ 06-27-2001: Message edited by: Luka ]

#2 cargill

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 08:31 AM

Since in the real Swan Lake, von Rothbard is a magic owl, the headress was originally, I have been told, intended as an echo of the owl, so the two-pronged feathers. I supposed dancers prefer tiaras! I think the style of the tutu really depends on the period. Our taste has changed so much. But what I think most people forget is that Odile isn't in there to vamp and seduce Siegfried, she is there to trick him into thinking she is Odette. There are echoes of Odette in her dancing, and she is trying to mimic her, she just isn't able to be as soft or lyrical. She is not up there bumping and grinding. This is yet another reason I think the new ABT version is so wrongheaded, because von Rothbart is not a symbol of sex, he is an evil force, and so is Odile. Playing them salaciously, a la MacMillan, is just taking the easy and sensational way out.

#3 Juliet

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 08:51 AM

Very good point, cargill--I think many lose sight of the malevolence....sex is much easier than subtlety, after all....

As regards costume and ornamentation, it is entirely up to the designer and overall gestalt of the production. I have seen everything from the bunny-ears feathers to spiky tiaras to the traditional feather headpiece.....if she is supposed to mimic Odette, the latter would make the most sense, but frequently the scale has been tipped in favour of tiaras.....
For tutus, I do black--all black with a variety of iridescence, but again, it is a matter of preference.....

#4 Lukayev

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 05:17 PM

So Odile is not like a distraction away from Odette, she's literally trying to impersonate her? Neat! :D I learned something new today.

And as for the feathers -- in a Kirov version I saw a few months back, von Rothbart is an Owl, so I suddely saw the connection.. the feathers are either a link between Rothbart and Odile, or.. ?

--Luka

#5 LMCtech

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Posted 27 June 2001 - 07:33 PM

I've seen a couple of variations all of which were basically mentioned. I always thought the most effective deciscion was the black version of whatever Odette was wearing. The symmetry always made the most sense to me.

#6 Melissa

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Posted 28 June 2001 - 02:41 PM

In my opinion, simplicity is the key to an effectively costumed Odile. I hated the flamboyantly plumed headdress that Plisetskaya wore. Her characterization was so magnetic she didn't need it. A starchy, jet black tutu without any gold embroidery is more my taste, but if I were designing it, I'd put in a little silver patterning as a sort of echo of Odette's costume (getting back to the idea that Odile is impersonating her). Then I'd finish off the look with a simple diamond tiara -- again mimicking Odette's headpiece.

#7 Autumn7

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Posted 28 June 2001 - 04:17 PM

I hope this isn't too far off the topic and if it is please feel free to scold. In a POB production of Swan Lake I saw in which Sylvie Guillem was dancing Odile and Nureyev was dancing Seigfreid, he was spinning her. Suddenly her black costume with the golden trim split open down one side. Nureyev seemed to take it all in stride and Sylvie made as discreet a dash as possible to the wings. In no time at all she was back in a plain black swan tutu. I have always wondered if they keep a costume close by just in case something like this happens. I was amazed at how quickly she was back on stage but it's something I'll never forget!

#8 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 June 2001 - 05:05 PM

Good story, and one that would have gone well on the old "Great Saves" forum. Thanks for sharing.

#9 LMCtech

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Posted 28 June 2001 - 09:00 PM

Having worked wardrobe for a time I can just hear the stage manager screaming into the headset. Most principals will have some kind of back up or there may be someone else's costume (i.e. tomorrow's cast) there that might be temporarily comandeered.

#10 Mel Johnson

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Posted 07 July 2001 - 04:21 PM

Backtracking a bit to the 1895 version, I've always had a distinct partiality to the midnight blue color that was selected for the original costume for that production. It's a blue that used to be popular for men's evening dress, as in the right light it appears "blacker than black". It is the true Navy blue, and used in US sailors' winter uniforms, dress jackets, and overcoats.

#11 MissChristine

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 12:02 AM

  • Should Odile's costume be onyx-black or with intricate gold patterns, like I've seen on some ballerinas?

  • A feathery, fluffy tutu or that straightforward, starchy one (I'm thinking the latter, because of Odile's "Siegfried, baby, you are my prey" direct approach and her distinct motives)?

  • Ornate tiara, with jewels to dazzle and blind Siegfried, or a plain one made out of some cheap village mine gold?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


IMO I think the tutu should be black with *maybe* some slight silver embroidery, very minimal. The point is to confuse S. into thinking he will pledge his love to Odette not to a girl in a party dress who looks sorta like her.

I also prefer the straightforward, starchy tutus for both roles. Just a cleaner looking line. I'm not partial to floppy tutus that bounce about when the dancers move.

As for the head piece I prefer the feathers with a very small jeweled center/crown...something no bigger than the palm.
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#12 rg

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 01:04 PM

the sketch reproduced in a number of sources, mostly russian ones, shows the 1895 odile in a kind of aurora borealis tutu designed with multicolored rays that fan over the bodice from the waist and that shoot from the waist to the tutu's edge. the headpiece for the legnani design decidely shows two little points or horns, tho' not nearly so large-scale as those of later russian/soviet odiles.
i think it's important to recall that odile was not always 'the black swan' - this 'black' designation seems to have come around the 1940s when fedorova's 'magic swan' ballet (encapsulating the action of the odile/ballroom scene into a `1-act' ballet) needed distinguishing from the 'white swan' act also being performed during the 20th c. as a 1-act ballet.
i understand that british odiles were known before the 40s to wear red, or chartreuse, or some such color.

#13 carbro

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 02:12 PM

i understand that british odiles were known before the 40s to wear red, or chartreuse, or some such color.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I can't make up my mind on this one. First response was, Wow! That's neat! Some color other than black would be much more subtle in differentiating the qualities of the O's. But then, I've never seen a chartreuse swan. (I don't think I've ever seen a black one, either, but they do exist.) Of course, Siegfried falls in love with Odette in her human form, so why should Odile have to be swan-colored?.

Balletos being as passionate as we sometimes are, though, I can't imagine a company costuming Odile in anything but black and living to see its reviews!

#14 rg

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 07:52 PM

baryshnikov's short-lived prod. of SWAN LAKE had an odile dressed in white, v. similarly, but not identical to odette's white. (beaumont makes the point in A BALLET CALLED SWAN LAKE that white would make the 'disguise' element of von rothbart's scheme seem more sensible.)
additionally odette and odile are not swans at all; they are the woman that princess odette is allowed to be from midnight to dawn. the only swans in SWAN LAKE are the property swans meant to be shown gliding on the lake at the start & end of the first lakeside scene.

#15 MissChristine

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 08:20 PM

additionally odette and odile are not swans at all; they are the woman that princess odette is allowed to be from midnight to dawn. the only swans in SWAN LAKE are the property swans meant to be shown gliding on the lake at the start & end of the first lakeside scene.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Very true, but since there isn't time for a costume change for Odette from Swan tutu to Maidens gown they stick with the swan themed tutus (feathers and all.)

I think sticking to black and white just goes with the whole evil vs good base of the story...though seeing someone have an Odile in red could be very interesting.
I've yet to see a Swan Lake with vibrant colors anywhere in it.


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