Silliness: So what do people DO in those ballet villages?
Posted 02 November 2001 - 11:46 AM
[quote]the dancers were Ballet Spaniards, with nothing to do all day but swish their skirts, stamp their feet, and flare their nostrils
As everyone here knows, Ballet Alert is passionately interested in economics, especially the economics of local ballet villages? So how do these happy denizens survive anyway? What do they do all day? Everyone in Giselle's village seems to pick. . .something or other that they harvest (some productions will show us a grape or two.) In Coppelia, it's wheat. With plenty of time out to do mazurkas and czardases, which is what most peasants that I know do when harvesting wheat. Lord knows what they do in Don Quixote. Something involving windmills and a few of them sell flowers. The ballet village that I can think of with a diverse economy is in Napoli, where macaroni and lemonade sellers abound.
So, being very current events oriented, let's discuss the local economies. How do those nobles and peasants in our favorite ballets eat anyway?
Posted 02 November 2001 - 12:16 PM
In the Bolshoi production that I saw about a decade ago, it still had a pre-glasnost aroma. Hilarion was overdressed and looked as though he earned his keep by squealing on poachers. There, the Duke of Courland spent his days going from village to village, enjoying the free wine tastings and ravaging maidens.
In the Danes' production of Coppelila, there's an old woman who vigorously sweeps the stage with a broom. Swanilda is too young to work -- but Franz? He should have a job. We all know what Coppelius does biggrin.gif (I have a theory that Coppelius is James grown old, who wandered through Europe and ended up in Hungary where nobody knew him, and has tried to realize his passion for fantasy ladies in a more concrete form.) There's real money in this village, though. The Mayor pays off Coppelius with a bushel of gold at the end.
In Don Q there is a tavern scene, complete with Tavern Wenches. And a flotilla of Toreadors -- I guess that's a job.
James hunts and owns a farm.
Gennaro (Napoli) is a fisherman, with a real catch which he's selling. There are other characters with definable occupations -- backstage lore has it that Giovanna, the Flirt who goes after Gennaro, is the cook for a rich man's house. And then there's the priest, always on the lookout for the odd donation. The dancers in the ballabile, though, look as though they have nothing to do except dance ballabiles and tease Peppo. (There are tourists and townspeople along the side of the stage, eating and drinking at outdoor cafes.)
Sleeping Beauty -- the peasants are just brought in to dance and entertain. We can imagine that they spend sun up to sun down toiling in the fields, but it's better not to. Ditto for Swan Lake -- are they invited to Siegfried's birthday party, or do they sneak in? It doesn't seem as though they're there to clean up.
Nice topic, Leigh. More socioeconomic observations?
[ November 02, 2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]
Posted 02 November 2001 - 03:09 PM
Posted 02 November 2001 - 07:02 PM
Then, of course, the people left at the village have to dance all of the time, to keep their figures for when the menfolk come back for a visit. Riiight. . .
Posted 02 November 2001 - 07:50 PM
Posted 02 November 2001 - 09:14 PM
(Another, related query: why is the population of ballet peasant villages 98% in the 17-24 year age bracket? Or, where are the children and adults of both genders?)
Posted 02 November 2001 - 10:20 PM
Posted 03 November 2001 - 12:30 AM
One of the greatest of the Danish Madges, though, Sorella Englund, danced her first Madge at 29, and was a young witch. There's a Danish theory (to which I do not subscribe) that Madge and the Sylph are sisters, and Englund's youth was used by some to make that point.
Posted 03 November 2001 - 08:17 AM
Also, it's difficult to ask a possibly attractive senior woman dancer to "ugly herself up" to play a character part of great age. Most men are halfway there already and make pretty homely women before they even start! wink.gif
Posted 03 November 2001 - 03:53 PM
One way to explain the presence of peasants in royal courts [Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, et al] is to think about the palace at Versailles, which among other things provided a place for the noblemen and women to do peasant things like milking cows for entertainment rather than employment. Slumming, if you will.
[ November 03, 2001: Message edited by: BalletNut ]
Posted 03 November 2001 - 04:02 PM
Posted 03 November 2001 - 07:15 PM
Posted 03 November 2001 - 08:43 PM
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