Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Alexandra

1946, Sleeping Beauty -- a book

20 posts in this topic

Carbro and I were discussing "Sadler's Wells Ballet at Covent Garden: A Book of Photographs by Merlyn Severn" on another thread -- about how the photographs in this book show a different image of the [company that would become] the Royal Ballet. No neat, small, prim dancing -- it flows, I think you can see in these photos; it MOVES. And there's an emphasis on drama. (We were discussing it in the context of whether Sleeping Beauty was an abstract ballet or not. Not in this version!)

This book is long out of print. It is available through Alibris -- there were several copies yesterday, anyway, and cheap! You might also do a search for Merlyn Severn in Google.

I'll leave these up for a few days for educational purposes :) NOT to say that this is the way dancers should dance today, but just to show you how they did in those stodgy 1940s. :)

Prologue: Gerd Larsen

post-66-1060104738.gif

Share this post


Link to post

Carabosse [Robert Helpmann, who you'll also see as The Prince in the next posts] and The Court: the curse.

post-66-1041373085.gif

Share this post


Link to post

The Grand pas de deux:

Fonteyn [note her hideous foot and lack of flexibility :) ] and Helpmann.

post-66-1041373189.gif

Share this post


Link to post

The Florestan pas de trois:

Anne Negus, Henry Danton, Gerd Larsen. [Lolly, is it you who had Danton as a teacher? I think someone here studied with him.]

post-66-1041373643.gif

Share this post


Link to post

The fairies beg Carabosse to lift the curse:

Gerd Larsen, Robert Helpmann, Margaret Dale, Joan Sheldon

post-66-1041377553.gif

Share this post


Link to post

And there's a certain candor about these photos that would never be published by today's dance photography publishers. Very refreshing!

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you so much for these photos! Next to having my family together for once, looking at my favourite ballet is the best start to a new year I can imagine--

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy year.

Juliet

Share this post


Link to post

There is a candor about it, and it's related to their having fun, I think. It's what struck me most about the Victor Jepsen film (he's the guy who snuck a camera in for ten years at the Met and filmed Sleeping Beauty.) They danced as though they weren't being filmed -- totally candid, like watching brilliant children who are supremely confident because they don't know any better, and yet totally innocent of competition. Obviously neither the dancers nor the company "censored" the photos, or that pas de trois shot would never have made the cut, and these don't have the frozen-in-time perfection that we're used to, but God, they MOVE.

Share this post


Link to post

i feel the same way about that film of gaite parisienne, alexandra; i've told people that one of the reasons i like it so much, regardless of its being badly synchronized and filmed, is that the dancers are dancing with great life, and don't look self-conscious about it.

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, not at all self-conscious. (Jepsen also filmed that Gaite) I kept wondering why, what the difference was not only with today's live performances, but from the 1956 Royal Ballet film, which is very decorous. And it's that they didn't realize they were being filmed, so they just danced.

Share this post


Link to post

Great pics! I'm so used to Gerd Larsen as the Queen Mother and those sort of character parts. She looks great in the first picture of this thread.

Take her out of that tutu and put her in a black leotard with pink tights and she might be in a position from "Concerto Barocco".

Share this post


Link to post

Alexandra, these are even more wonderful than I had imagined! The photos seem to pulsate with energy. Thank you so much!

A Happy New Year to all!

Share this post


Link to post

Lovely photos. That ballet doesn't look like a "museum peice" to me.

Share this post


Link to post

It is so wonderful to see that picture of Danton. I studied with him and he became not only a mentor, but a second grandfather to me. Pictures of him are so hard to come by. Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post

wonderful pictures -- such supple upper bodies, such vivid dancers --

are these from the war years? THose days seem to have been incredibly charged for the Saddlers' Wells group, they were not just part of the war effort, they performed like heroes, under unbelievable conditions, air raids, all that.....

and i have to agree with Glebb, it's wonderful to see Larsen in DANCING form....

Share this post


Link to post

The pictures appear to be either from the war years or just immediately prior to the Oliver Messel production. I don't recall Florestan having a hat, or Desiré a headpiece in the Messel. And yes, the Sadler's Wells folk had a vigorous and vibrant part to play in the WWII effort. I was doing some research into Operation Overlord (D-Day) and found a dispatch from an RAF station, sent by a "Flight Officer F. Ashton"! It was only passing along weather, but it was something!

Share this post


Link to post

No, I think it's the Messel production - they never did the earlier one at Covent Garden. No doubt bits fell off it over the years!

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0