Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

What do you REALLY think about Benno?


  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 23 June 2001 - 07:35 PM

Benno had been giving his walking papers by the time I got to ballet. The only glimpse I have of him is on a video of the Royal Ballet from the 1950s.

Some companies still keep a character named Benno, but have him dance in the pas de trois. (WRONG. Benno is a seconde danseur noble and does not dance. The male role in the pas de trois is classique.)

And, of course, some companies junk him altogether and replace him with a Jester. (Not the place to bash Jesters; he'll get his own thread later.)

Who is Benno? Why was he there? Is there any way for him to be brought into the 21st century, or will he fade off into the mists?

#2 doug

doug

    Bronze Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 324 posts

Posted 23 June 2001 - 09:01 PM

For one thing, I don't think Benno was introduced to help Pavel Gerdt with the rigors of partnering. This is often the rationalization of the first lakeside scene's pas de deux a trois. Gerdt was still partnering on his own five years later. His Solor was notated in 1900 and his partnering included many lifts, some one-handed! You go, Pavel!

#3 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 24 June 2001 - 01:27 AM

Thank you, Doug! I agree, absolutely. I think this nasty rumor was started by Americans and Englishmen who saw Swan Lake and couldn't figure out why the "star" wasn't dancing a lot, people who thought of "dancing" only as allegro dancing.

Several writers have pointed out that Benno's presence in the pas de trois is a structural parallel with the "black swan" pas de trois -- where Von Rothbart once had a major role. More of what Petipa's ballets used to look like, when they all looked slightly different.

#4 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 24 June 2001 - 07:17 AM

And Benno doesn't spare his principal much; he does promenades with Odette, while Siegfried does all the lifts!

#5 dirac

dirac

    Diamonds Circle

  • Board Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 25,474 posts

Posted 27 June 2001 - 02:25 AM

Benno is Ralph Bellamy.

#6 Mme. Hermine

Mme. Hermine

    Emeralds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,757 posts

Posted 27 June 2001 - 06:01 AM

do you mean in the sense that odette is rosalind russell and siegfried is cary grant? :)

#7 cargill

cargill

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 645 posts

Posted 27 June 2001 - 08:23 AM

The only Benno I have seen is the Trockadero's, so I am certianly not qualified to make any judgements, but I would love to see him back, just to see what it might have been like. Someone, I forget who, said that with him, Siegfried stood back more and looked adoringly at Odette, which would help focus the audience's attention on her and her reactions. Two people partnering her might also make her look more fragile, which would help characterize her.
I think I remember seeing or reading that in the original Swan Lake, the hunters partnered the swans during the second act. (Presumably dropped in the early English productions because of lack of men.) Having real men, in real shoes--not the fake ballet boots--contrasted with the swans in point shoes would make them look more magical, I should think. It certianly worked in the Kirov new/old Sleeping Beauty, when Desiree was wondering around the vision scene in heeled boots.

#8 doug

doug

    Bronze Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 324 posts

Posted 27 June 2001 - 09:56 AM

Cargill, in the notations of Swan Lake, the hunstmen are present throughout the lakeside scene. Doesn't Balanchine's one-act SWAN LAKE include hunters?

#9 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 27 June 2001 - 11:23 AM

I believe in "The Red Shoes," the white act includes the huntsmen. They were cut from the British production because of the War (they had very few men during those six years.)

Doug, I can't remember huntsmen in Balanchine's, but I may just not be remembering correctly. New Yorkers who see it regularly will know (I just didn't want to ignore your question :) )

#10 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 27 June 2001 - 11:28 AM

Yes, indeed, the Balanchine one-act Swan had huntsmen, and they were more active than are the ones in the present redaction of the work.

#11 felursus

felursus

    Bronze Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 250 posts

Posted 30 June 2001 - 12:50 PM

OK, I'll date myself. The very first Swan Lake (Act II) I ever saw was the Balanchine 1 act with Maria Tallchief and Nicholas Magallanes. There WAS a Benno and he was there for the pas de deux (ok, pas de trois). I think the Royal Ballet had a Benno for a while - my memories of that are dim.

As for who Benno is: Siegfried's best friend? assigned companion (spy for the QM)? just another high-born guy who's grown up around the palace? My secret theory is that Siegfried and Benno are "friends" in the intimate sense of the word, and that's why Siegfried is so dismayed at being told he has to get married - or else Benno is his partner in extra-curricular escapades outside the palace walls, and Siegfried doesn't want to give up his freedom. :rolleyes:

#12 Jane Simpson

Jane Simpson

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 947 posts

Posted 30 June 2001 - 03:55 PM

Benno was in the RB production up till 1963, I think, and in the touring RB version later than that - though he may not have assisted in the pas de deux. Also, I'm almost sure I've seen the huntsmen partnering the swans in Act2 in the 50s and 60s, though I may just have been so deeply imprinted by photographs that I'm imagining it. The current RB production has a Chief Friend who is Benno in all but name, and the BRB's production has a Benno - he dances the pas de trois.

In my own 'harmless modifications' production, Benno would be Siegfried's younger brother - the extrovert one, who does all the things that Siegfried (introverted, serious, conscious of his future responsibilities) doesn't dare.

#13 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 30 June 2001 - 05:35 PM

I had never thought of it that way - Benno is sort of a Mercutio cognate to Siegfried's Romeo! A good idea!

#14 FauxPas

FauxPas

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 521 posts

Posted 11 July 2005 - 12:59 PM

In the 1958 Paul Czinner film of Act II of "Swan Lake" with Margot Fonteyn (who also does Firebird and Ondine in the other two segments) and I think Michael Somes, there is a Benno and he assists in the PDD.

#15 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,330 posts

Posted 11 July 2005 - 01:14 PM

Was Benno not in the ABT/Blair production in the early 70's? I don't have the original program, but I seem to remember a Benno, although not in the pas de deux.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):