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What do you REALLY think about Benno?


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32 replies to this topic

#31 Alexandra

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 06:25 PM

Leonid, I agree with you completely about the Russian Imperial era idea of the danseur noble, but what I wrote above I have read in several British and American reviews and books, including ballet history texts, and in interviews with dancers. (That there was a view that Siegfried did not have virtuoso steps because Gerdt was in his 50s when he created the role, and that Benno took part in the pas de deux because the aging Gerdt needed the assistance.) I"m not saying this view is correct, but it is in many books and articles.

Unfortunately, I think "Swan Lake" has changed so that it can't be put back, and each generation seems to misunderstand it more and more. I hope I'm wrong on that one.

We had many discussions on this board when it was younger about employ, in both 19th century works and 20th century neoclassical works. The specific definitions of each genre have changed with each century, but, I agree with Leonid, the tradition is depleted.

Edited by Alexandra, 07 October 2008 - 07:28 PM.


#32 Mel Johnson

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 03:15 AM

The 1877 production made quite a bit out of Benno, having him provide mime dialogue with Siegfried, even to the point already mentioned in Act III, where a newspaper article made a humorous speculation on what they were talking about, along the lines of,

"Look at her, does she not look like Mlle. Karpakova?"

"I don't know, Siggy, she looks different. Do you think it's her dress or something?" :)

#33 Helene

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 09:24 AM

Princes did not dance flamboyantly, simply because it would not be in keeping with their 'noble' station in life which they were portraying. The Russian court audience would most definitely have disapproved to see a parallel to their own position without the dignity and decorum which their station in life required. Choreographers of the time would have been fully aware of what could offend and set variations accordingly and rarely with the degree of exhibitionist “allegro” dancing which it is suggested that Englishmen who saw Swan Lake wanted.

The French had a long tradition of wanting exhibitionist "allegro" dancing, and it was the strength of the Italian School. Was this limited entirely to demi-charactere dancers?

I wonder how the transition to communism, which produced ballet rife with the contradictions of the glorification of aristocratic heroes and the aristocracy, and the religious sacrifice of the peasant girl to the cad aristocrat, influenced what the hero/protagonist could and should be seen doing. As Doug Fullington pointed out in his great presentation on "Balanchine's Petipa", the biggest changes to "La Bayadere" happened in the 40's, and Western audiences assumed that the touring productions were original Petipa choreography, when, in fact, they were quite different, as the reconstructed versions he did showed.

Notable examples that broke the rules were Perrot and Saint-Leon who both were unsuitable in appearance for danseur noble roles, but then of course they were appearing in their own created ballets.

Certainly Nureyev was no aristocrat, and he extended the exhibitionist allegro dancing to the limit or beyond in his own choreography and stagings.


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