cubanmiamiboy

Le Spectre de la Rose. Considerations.

13 posts in this topic

Le Spectre de la Rose is with no doubt one of my favorite ballets.  I have seen quite a few performances of it-(mainly back in Havana), some better than others, and some plainly disastrous.  I realize that more and more that this gem of ballet is quite fading away from the modern stages, and that the younger generations of ballet goers are less likely to see it at all. I usually look for videos of older and newer renditions, and keep analyzing the possible reasons for its progressive absence.

The very first thing that I believe happens to this ballet is the matter of how to portray the Rose.  And then...how to cast the right dancer to dance it.  It is not hard to realize that the task of bringing the character onstage could be quite difficult.  As I said...i have seen MANY dancers fail miserably at trying to give live to Nijinsky's role.  How should the ideal dancer  be and act here...? Well.  First and uttermost he needs to have a formidable jump, for which La Rose just keeps jumping and jumping from beginning to end....and enough strength to make it look as effortless-like as possible.  But...having a great jump can't make for the absence of the right Art Nuveau "perfume" as this magnificent miniature requires.  Classic example of this is Ivan vasiliev, who might jump like no one else...but that's about it for his take on this role. Vasiliev is just to hyperactive and rough edged.

  

 

 

La Rose can also be dangerously mannered, which is another of its dancers' most common mistakes, and one that can really ruin the allure of the role.  Yes...La Rose might be sort of androgynous-looking, and his arms and hands need fluidity. , but they should not be feminine...or overly done with oh-so-extreme broken wrists.  Case scenario # 2. Igor Kolb.

 

And the list goes on and on.  La Rose can't be too tall-(I believe very tall dancers are less effective with high jumps)-too mannered...too masculine...too showy-(The Girl is still there...poor thing gets almost nothing after the dancer makes his window exiting grand jete...people don't even wait to clap thundersly while completely interrupting her very last moments along with the music)

I think ABT did a wonderful job by bringing the ballet back a while ago.  I was lucky to see one of the BEST Roses I have ever seen, danced by the amazing Hernan Cornejo, partnered by his old time ballerina Xiomara Reyes. His has probably been the best portray I have ever seen live, although to give the laurel wreath to the one dancer i believe has been able to reunite all the right qualities required to honor this ballet without having the feeling of watching a curiosity of the past, then here I call Monsieur Manuel Legris.  Legris' Rose is a state of the art craftmanship of a role.  It should be preserved as a way for future dancers to be rightly  inspired for this role. Here is the clip, in which he dances with the equally magnificent Claude de Vulpian.

 

Share this post


Link to post

My favorite Rose is Yuri Soloviev's:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

There are so many Spectres!!!  I also think Vasiliev is horribly miscast as the rose - like a bull dressed as a rose in a china shop, and horribly sloppy and even falls off one of those attitude turns, but I quite like Kolb's interpretation!   I agree Legris gives a beautiful interpretation - and he does the double en dedans arabesque into attitude into pirouettes sequence, and also does the double assembles en tournant both ways.  He has beautiful arms also.  I think Soloviev was severely hampered by that tiny stage space - he only does  single assembles en tournant - although I think he did them both ways, but undoubtedly he could do doubles, but just not here.  Like I said, just from his jumps, which clearly have nowhere to go, he was hampered.  That space is ridiculous for this piece - like dancing in a cake tin.  That is such a shame, because he of al dancers had that once in a lifetime unbelievable jump.  I think his arms and fluidity do not compare with either Legris or Gudanov though.

For me, my favourite Spectre is the one below, Dmitri Gudanov of Bolshoi.  He has suppleness and fluidity of body and arms, beautiful lines, sensuality and expression.  Amazing.  He does double en dedans arabesque/attitude/pirouettes, but he does all his double assembles the same way - but they fabulous!   Well, he is MY favourite, and yes, Cuban, I think he has the right "perfume" also!  But no doubt this is going to be a long thread of personal favourite Spectres!!!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

I agree that Herman Cornejo is exquisite in this role. Gorgeous, airy, light jumps and perfectly shaped arms. Just sublime.

Share this post


Link to post
26 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

I agree that Herman Cornejo is exquisite in this role. Gorgeous, airy, light jumps and perfectly shaped arms. Just sublime.

I am also a fan of Herman Cornejo in this role. Seeing him leap out the window at the end made me gasp; it was the first time I understood what all the fuss was about that jump.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you for your responses! Helene...it is quite a shame that we don't have a proper stage clip of divine Soloviev in this role.  The tiny studio and bad shape of the film, although we all know he owned that rare quality on muscular dancers to have such plush, soft landings and huge jumps. Eglevsky seems to had it too. La Rose also can become quite a One Man Show, where the dancer completely takes total control of the ballet, outshining The Girl-(classic example...Nureyev). Too showy for my taste.

 

And yes, Cornejo. I think he will come down in ABT history as one of the finest in this role. As I said...he carefully crafted a perfect mix in between androgynism, masculinity, technical skills and stage-share with his ballerina.  Oh yes...and THAT jump. ;-).

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

I grew up listening to George Jellinek play very old, scratchy, poppy rare and precious opera recordings, so I'll take what I can of Soloviev, even if lesser visual quality is more frustrating than bad audio quality for me.  And, yes, Eglevsky had that same plush quality, if not the same fluidity in his upper body and shoulders, at least on the film clips I've seen.

 

While Soloviev is probably still more finished than Folkine's original casts, there's still the emphasis on organic movement, phrasing, characterization, and style in his performance.  I love Maris Liepa, but he makes it more of a technical feat, pulling us out of the continuous dream.

Share this post


Link to post

Posted (edited)

My favorites were ABT's Baryshnikov [ Wolf Trap with Tcherkassky],  Shlyarov [dress rehearsal with Shapran], and ABT's Cornejo video.  Note the variation in costumes from ABT to Mariinsky etc.  Having seen the same dancer go full out with and without the Mariinsky costume - headdress and more body suit floral appliques-  the ABT costume and the lack of the headdress are my favorites for capturing the essence of the poem.   Baryshnikov with ABT :

These 3 are not androgynous in the role but to me exemplify the poem.  There's a video of Baryshnikov with Fonteyn and again he doesn't come off as androgynous.  That Mariinsky run I also saw Kim and Latypov .  Kim was androgynous.  

Edited by maps

Share this post


Link to post

I have seen two performances of Le Spectre de la Rose - Kimin Kim of the Mariinsky and Herman Cornejo of ABT. Kim's was my first live experience with that ballet, coming on the heels of having seen Nijinsky's original costume in the Ballets Russes exhibition that the National Gallery of Art held a few years ago. I found the piece beautiful.

 

Of course after seeing Cornejo, who is bar none my favorite dancer at the moment, I could see all that was lacking in Kim's performance in terms of expression, height, etc. I never thought of Cornejo as androgynous, not in the way Nijinsky was anyway, but he is absolutely marvelous in the role. I hope ABT will let him dance it again soon!

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you all for your responses and video sharing.  One of the subjects I find most fascinatings in ballet viewing has been to try to uncover the roots of a given staging or production.  Le Spectre has had quite an interesting performance history, given that Fokine was still around way into the XX century-(he died in 1942)-, and by joining the de Basil troupe in 1937 he was able to give continuity to his old ballets.  The are two sources I know of how the ballet has been staged.  One is its insertion in the Soviet repertoire at the Bolshoi in 1966 by Maris Liepa.  He learned the role by a dancer who had worked under Fokine himself, and by so I guess his approach to the piece can be considered quite close to the original.  I also saw this ballet many times in Havana.  Alonso had known the role since her years in NYC-(since the early 40's)-, while Fokine was still around, and she staged it for her troupe in Havana in 1949, along with "La Mort du Cygnet" .  She had also previously imported Fokine's "Petroushka", "Prince Igor's Polovtsian Dances" and Les Sylphides" in 1948.  All this ballets had had a carbon copy continuity ever since their insertion in the Cuban repertoire, as it is well known Alonso doesn't allow for re stagings or changes.-(she has been very vocal and fierce as to what she think should be kept as it was danced during her tenure with BT).  Then there is POB, another troupe that has kept this ballet pretty much alive.  What is its source...? .  And how about ABT...? I don't have the booklet for those ABT performances some years ago, but I don't think there was a historic reference to its staging in its notes.  I believe that much of ABT's current takes on many ballets are the product of Baryshnikov re stagings.  I pretty much suspect ABT had been dancing older versions of many historic ballets up until his arrival.  If so...what would be the ground of the current staging of Spectre...? Misha and how he learned the role in Soviet Union...? Or maybe Makarova...? Or Kolpakova...? (and if that was the case, then they would be all derivatives of Liepa's historic re staging) .Any thoughts...?

 

Here is a staging in Havana. Giusseppe Picone and Annette Delgado.

 

And here is a performance of Liepa's staging. Liepa and Kondratieva are the leads. Notice how much faster and difficult the choreography is here.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

Posted (edited)

cubanmiamiboy:

 

I dug up an old ABT program from 6/22/05 and that performance attributed the staging to Kirk Peterson with the help of Maria Youskevitch. Peterson joined the company in '74 the same year as Misha; Youskevitch left the company that same year so Peterson may have been influenced by Misha's experience with the role, if he had any prior to defecting.

 

ABT's first performance of Le Spectre was on 10/31/41 with Fokine himself having taught the roles to Annabelle Lyon and Ian Gibson. Igor Youskevitch (who joined the company in '46, five years after Fokine died, and who was Maria's father) was one of the earliest interpreters of the Rose alongside Alicia Alonso as the Girl. Lyon and Andre Eglevsky staged the company's premier at the Met in '72, according ABT's website, but Eglevsky is given credit as the sole original stager at the top of the credits for some reason. 

 

There is no credit given to Misha either in the program or on their website. Given the info above, the current staging holds a nearly direct link to the original choreography.

Edited by ABT Fan

Share this post


Link to post

Posted (edited)

4 hours ago, ABT Fan said:

cubanmiamiboy:

 

I dug up an old ABT program from 6/22/05 and that performance attributed the staging to Kirk Peterson with the help of Maria Youskevitch. Peterson joined the company in '74 the same year as Misha; Youskevitch left the company that same year so Peterson may have been influenced by Misha's experience with the role, if he had any prior to defecting.

 

ABT's first performance of Le Spectre was on 10/31/41 with Fokine himself having taught the roles to Annabelle Lyon and Ian Gibson. Igor Youskevitch (who joined the company in '46, five years after Fokine died, and who was Maria's father) was one of the earliest interpreters of the Rose alongside Alicia Alonso as the Girl. Lyon and Andre Eglevsky staged the company's premier at the Met in '72, according ABT's website, but Eglevsky is given credit as the sole original stager at the top of the credits for some reason. 

 

There is no credit given to Misha either in the program or on their website. Given the info above, the current staging holds a nearly direct link to the original choreography.

 

What a great source of information, ABTfan!  Thanks for it.  I think Kondratieva mentions in the above video the name of Misha as one of those who benefited from Liepa's reconstruction. So it looks like the choreography is well rooted both in NYC and Russia, as well as in Havana. I wonder how and when the parisians got the ballet.  To be honest...the staging with Legris and de Vulpian is my favorite.  It certainly shows the poses we see in the old Nijinsky/Karsavina photos more than other takes, and like no other it really takes you into the feeling that The Girl is feeling the presence of La Rose during her somnambulism.  The particular segment where they are facing each other and La Rose suddenly opens her arm in front of The Girl, "hitting her" with his perfume, to which she kinds of tilts her torso back, also opening her arms is particularly beautiful. Liepa's take is also wonderful.  He is the one that really pays the highest homage to Nijinsky's surreal makeup, making his character less human-like, which I think is EXTREMELY important for this ballet. 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy

Share this post


Link to post

Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

 

I wonder how and when the parisians got the ballet. 

There are 2 possible options, and I haven't done serious research to see which is the true origin of the current version that the PoB dances today.

 

Serge Lifar was of course with Les Ballets Russes before he joined the Paris Opera Ballet in 1929. Lifar's French Wikipedia page lists Le Spectre as one of his roles/ballets in 1931. I assume that this was still Fokine's choreography, or at least something very close to it. 

 

The other most recent source I have found is Nureyev - here is a link to a page about Nureyev and Le Spectre: http://www.nureyev.org/rudolf-nureyev-main-roles-ballets/le-spectre-de-la-rose-fokine-rudolf-nureyev. I would assume that the version that he brought with him when he defected was the by then classic Soviet Liepa version. I didn't find a video, but he must have been astonishing in this role.

Edited by lacdescygnes

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.