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Male/Female Balance


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#16 grace

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:36 AM

i just accidentally stumbled across this thread, from an australian poster (i think), who i haven't noticed before. are you still around, photoguy? i had no idea that the AB had more ale principals than female...i wonder why. i think i'll pass this query on to a friend of mine, who might know more - although it is now a year ago, so the situation may not be the same, any more.

#17 Hans

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 08:04 AM

Just wanted to make the point that if you look at the original choreography of the classics, they actually did call for a great many men in the corps! For example, the garland waltz was originally meant to be danced by couples, as was the waltz in Act I of Swan Lake, and (I think) the Waltz of the Flowers in the Nutcracker. Not to mention the galop at the end of Sleeping Beauty, the mazurka in Act III of Swan Lake (which is listed in the score as a "general" dance for the court, not a Polish divertissement), all of which makes me wonder if perhaps the ballets were changed because of the lack of men when they were done by western companies, not the other way round.

#18 Alexandra

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 08:16 AM

The second act of Swan Lake had men, too -- one huntsman for every two swans.

In England, the lack of men definitely changed the choreography. There weren't many to begin with, and from 1939 to 1945 there were hardly any because of the war. (One touching story I read was when one young man did his last performance before being called up he got the typical front of the curtain calls usually reserved for stars -- after performing Wilfrid in Giselle.)

#19 Mel Johnson

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 08:27 AM

In Beauty, the Valse Villageoise was taken down rather completely. It was danced by couples and children. The kids not only danced, they carried on the little step units for one sequence. Holy Vaudeville! Early accounts of Swan don't have much to say about the Act I Valse, except to say that it looked rather like the other. It was not notated. Waltz of the Flowers had no men in it, and the original photographs of the mazurka in Swan show "Felix Kschessinsky and daughter (!)" as the first couple, who end up in the down right corner. Perhaps the mazurka was intended as a general dance in the 1877 production, but by 1895, it was four couples.

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 08:36 AM

Re Felix Kschessinsky and daughter, I can't resist an aside. It's one of my favorite stories. He was a great character dancer (and his daughter, was, indeed, THE Kschessinska). He danced until he was 80, when a fall through the trap door during Sleeping Beauty made him think about a career change. I've always wondered if it was an accident.....

#21 Farrell Fan

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 08:58 AM

A point of information that's not been mentioned yet: the current roster of NYCB lists 10 women principals and 12 men, 5 women soloists and 4 men. In the spring of 1982, there were 8 women principals and 10 men, 6 women soloists and 7 men. Not much has changed, except the dancing.

#22 Mel Johnson

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 09:09 AM

And then there was the old Harkness Ballet of the late 60s, where the men not only outnumbered the women, but on the whole were technically better! :rolleyes:

#23 Hans

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Posted 06 September 2003 - 02:43 PM

I read something about a waltz in a Petipa ballet calling for 60 couples but am not sure which ballet it was in. Imagine having a corps containing more than 120 men and women!

Does anyone know if the waltz from the betrothal scene of Bayadere called for couples?


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