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R S Edgecombe

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About R S Edgecombe

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    scholar and writer
  • City**
    South Africa
  1. do wilis have wings?

    Not to worry, RG, I have been having such moments with increasing frequency ever since I turned 50 last year. Heather sweet-naturedly calls them my "senior moments"--as when I recently told Mel that I thought ailuros was the Greek word for mongoose, and found out today that the OED cheerfully glosses ailuros as cat. Though it must be Hellenistic Gk, because I can't find an entry for ailuros in my (abbreviated) Liddell and Scott, which was co-authored by Alice in Wonderland's papa (I think--another senior moment threatens!). Thanks for disconnecting the tunic from The Talisman. I looked at Nijinsky's Talisman costume as well, and it's nothing like. I'm not sure I would go with Jean de Brienne, though, because of the wig. It's closer to (but still not wholly congruent with) the Russian idea of Renaissance hair (ie Siegfried or Albrecht), whereas my photo of Fokine as J de B shows him in a "page-boy" of 1460ish vintage. I also think the tunic is a tad too ornate for a medieval setting. The name of those appendages has been eluding me all day--I want to call them tassets, but that's a kind of plate armour skirt (the original of the tonnelet?)--and seem to belong to a later era. I haven't any idea which, though--which is why I wanted to go the Indian subcontinent. I had never paid attention to Roslavleva's nearby photo of Clustine's Stars before, but, thanks to your Anton Simon info, I studied it with great interest for the first time--very appropriately, because it's a picture of Mars and his satellites, and today is being (jocularly) celebrated as Mars Day in SA. I haven't seen the planet yet because of all the cloud, but my mom caught up with it yesterday in the predawn sky over PE, as globular and pickable as a Seville orange!
  2. do wilis have wings?

    I think Mel makes an excellent point, RG, and I much prefer it to Keith Money's suggestion simply because the wing clasping IS so distinctive to Sylphides, and has no parallel in Giselle. I was so thrown by the Legat's tunic that I didn't think of making the connection. But I don't think the photo represents anybody IN anything, really. I have a sense that two dancers arrived in a studio with different costumes in their portmanteaux and Pavlova said,"Why don't you hold my wings as in Les Sylphides" and Legat obliged. Her arms are wrong for that moment, which I recall as a sort of aerial breast stroke, not bras adores. Could I ask either of you please to access the photo of the male dancer that RG posted in the Talisman thread and see if his tunic tallies in any way with Legat's? The changes in the Invision software mean that I can now only see the legs! Thank goodness I printed out Kchessinskaya while I could! And could you please tell me if you sound the terminal T in Legat? On the subject of photos, when I went back to the SB shot of Brianza and co, I identified, for the first time, the en traversi pages with their violins that RG and Doug mentioned with regard to the dance following the Rose Adagio. It had never before occurred to me to link them to Act I. Is the woman on the left a friend/maid of honour? Do we know her name? And is the woman protectively standing next to Brianza a sort of duenna?
  3. Massine's Mam'zelle Angot

    Thanks for the amusing and informative post, Mashinka. Well, I never! Where there's a will, there's a way. I know that Ivanov had some difficulty over miming the idea of a judge (I think it was in The Magic Flute). His solution was to let the hands move up and down and reach equilibrium--like the scales of justice. Like you, I would be very interested to see the symphonic Massine--or any Massine at all, for that matter!
  4. Massine's Mam'zelle Angot

    Jane, I didn't know about the tape, and shall email David Leonard as soon as I log off here. Thank you VERY much. I am as surprised as you to find out that Mam'zelle A wasn't a revival, though I should have been alerted by the Jacobs connection. It's unlikely that ABT would have crossed the Atlantic for an arrangement, though I don't know enough about American ballet to be sure who they would in fact have turned to. Rosenthal was French, I think, but Gaiete parisien prob premiered in Europe. And I wonder how Balanchine came to ask Rieti to give Bellini a make-over. Was Night Shadow originally a European work?
  5. Question about arms in Corsaire

    We could be talking about different versions though she does what I describe in my Bolshoi tape, and she did the same in the Cape Town version that David Poole based on the RB, and she did in the one RB performance I saw, except their she tended to brush her hands over her shoulder instead of planting them. I have just stumbled across a picture of Preobrajenskaya in Petipa's Bluebeard that might be the unconscious source of my Florine fantasy. She has a white dove (stuffed, I'm afraid) slung between her index and middle fingers, and two white wings on her head, making her both a bird and a bird observer at the same time (Cf. earlier post.) What is striking is that fact that her free hand is a l'epaule, which makes me think that the echappe moment in the var might have a representational meaning after all. The arched line of the hand as it touches the shoulder is like a bird's wing, especially if it droops slightly as Preo's does. It has also occurred to me that Ashton attempted a similar winged profile, much less successfully, through the hands-on-hip line in Les Deux Pigeons.
  6. do wilis have wings?

    Munch. Munch. That's the sound of my humble pie going down, Mel. BUT, thanks to your astute prodding and correcting, I now stand confirmed in my belief that Lormier meant us to read Carlotta's wings as moth wings. I have combed my butterfly encyclopaedia, and am 98% sure that no butterfly has, but many moths have, a marked flattening of the forewing apex, with a concave segment immediately below it on the wing's outer margin. It is a pretty defining morphological feature. As fate would have it, my researches turned up a butterfly that might be said to have, if not a concavity on the forewing inner margin, then at least an inward-tending irregularity--Symmachia mantinea, from Brazil. RG, could you please give us some idea of the setting for Les Caprices du papillon? I ask because I have found a picture in Roslavleva, unidentified as to the ballet, of Pavlova in a Romantic tutu with dorsal wings. Nicolai Legat is holding them gingerly, but he doesn't look as if he's in Albrecht mode. The costume has a faintly oriental look. Is this Papillon, Giselle or something along the lines of? Citrus, I forgot to check Roslavleva yesterday because she is filed away from my coffee table books. The title is The Era of the Russian Ballet, and it provides an excellent introduction to the subject.
  7. do wilis have wings?

    I think I might have to eat a huge wadge of humble pie in Mel's presence, but I shall defer the ritual until I have had time to leaf through a book of moths in the UCT library. There was no Luna Moth in my Consolidated Encyclopaedias--I must have been crossing lines with another set of books from my childhood, the Afrikaans Kinderensiklopedie, which I no longer possess. All I know is that I pored over a plate containing a Luna Moth for many hours as a child--not attentively enough, it seems, for an internet search for a Luna turned up a convex forewing, and so too a search for the SA Emperor Moth, to which family the Pine Tree Moth belongs. It seems as if I might have been confusing a concave forewing with the way in which some moth wings (eg those of Argema mimosae) display a quite noticeable flattening at the apex, and then a pronounced concavity below that on the outer margin--which does describe Carlotta's wings as well, though I would need now to go through my butterfly encyclopaedia to see if there are also butterflies that conform to this profile. If there are, then perhaps one should juggle with the idea of bat wings as a source for the mild disquiet that the wilis' unconventional apparatus were probably meant to generate. In my searches I went back to my Field Guide to the Insects of the Kruger National Park, which lists all the Linnaean orders, suborders and families, and I really don't know what possessed when I said that moths belonged the Hymenoptera (cf earlier post). That, of course, pertains to bees and wasps. Moths are just lepidopterids that (in general) fly by night, club their antennae, thicken their thoraces, limit their spectrum to dun, and fold their wings back in repose. Sorry, Mel!
  8. do wilis have wings?

    Exactly--conVEX, not concave! I think the Lunar Moth analogy is a good one, but I can't quite picture the line of the forewing. I'm sure it's illustrated somewhere in a curious old set of Consolidated Encylopaedias circa 1940 that my dad bought for my mom when they got married. They came with a free two- volume Webster. Some of the entries are nothing short of astonishing--that for "negro," for example. I shall see if I can turn up the moth in question in one of the colour plates.
  9. Question about arms in Corsaire

    Sorry, Hans, I have only just come across your post, having failed to activate the notification button. Ballet is never very logical nor very conscious of scale. Snowflakes danced in Casse, but they also carried wands with snowballs on them. They are snow personified, and yet snow literal falls from the flies, and snow literal is bobbing in their hands. Non sequitur logically, and non sequitur spatially--snow on three different scales. Ditto the roosters and hens in Fille in relation to the hawk that Mere Simon has so brutally nailed to the barn. It's enough to make the snowflakes and Osbert Lancaster's seem positively Picassan in their telescopic play with space! The answer to this and all other such dilemmas is to acknowledge that ballet requires a suspension of disbelief in all but its abstract manifestations, which, are in MacLeishian terms, pure being, not meaning. If Florine were listening to the bluebird, she would surely cup her ear as the Prelude Sylphide does. For me that main a l'epaule is not a mimic gesture. However the smiling up and warding off does seem to have a mimic content, and I think a bird at the wrist would make sense of it. Though it would probably be advisable,as you suggest, to remove it for the rest of the pas de deux. Mel--and this is the reason I have come back to this thread--I think I have found the source of my confusion regarding Eros and the crossbow. It's Caravaggio's Amore vincitore, which I happened to consult this morning. Amor doesn't have any weapon--only his arrows--but in the background is a viola d'amore with its bow laid across it. Clearly a visual pun, and a sort of paraphrase of swords being beaten into ploughshares.
  10. do wilis have wings?

    Mel, I was careful to specify the FOREwing of Carlotta's pair--by which I meant the line from the head to apex of the upper wing. Many butterflies have ragged profiles to their margins from the apex down the side of the wing, some so concave there, in fact, that they are called Commas. There is, however, no butterfly that I know of with a concave line like Carlotta's, but quite a few moth species, among them the SA Pine Tree Moth. Can't give you its Linnaean name because I have never studied Hymenoptera. You are quite correct about the Death's Head Moth in Keats. Its most famous iconological appearance in the C19 is in a hideous Tate painting either by Millais or Holman Hunt, called, I think, The Bad Shepherd. He is showing his mistress a Death's Head Moth while the sheep stray dangerously in the background. RG, are you implying that the moth is considered more macho in Russia because it is on the whole dowdier than the butterfly? If so, John Taras cocked a snook at this convention in Piege de lumiere.
  11. rg: La Bayadere, please

    Thanks very much, RG. I meant to see if the Music College had yr bk on Friday, but it slipped my mind amid all the other tasks I had set myself--which is often the pattern of my shopping. Clearly I must start taking lists to the library as well as to the supermarket. I shall certainly order it and read it if it isn't. Just to confirm, the title is Ballet 101, isn't it? The only Bayadere I know well is Nureyev's, though I did see the first BBC Kirov telecast with Komleva in the late 70s--an occasion when I tried so hard to commit as many of the steps to memory as I could while the ballet was unspooling that panic issued in virtual memory loss! In the Nureyev version, which mightn't tally with Makarova's ABT (oops, I've just remembered that I have also seen part of a tape of the RB version, which filled me with such musical revulsion that I had to abandon it. Lanchbery's text for Nureyev is less flagrantly dreadful)--to resume after that rude interruption, in Nureyev's version, the fakirs come to Gamzatti's wedding celebrations and do a dance in St Petersburg ethnic idiom, to tomtom accompaniment. That's the dance I mean. Seems too Dionysian for Petipa by far, though the music itself isn't so far removed, I suppose, from the A minor Magyar dance in the Act II divertissement of DQ. And, come to think of it, the blaring idol music could have come from the same hand that wrote the march episodes to the galop finale of DQ Act II. So I need to think long and hard about the whole matter. I shall email MH and ask him if he'd be kind enough to clarify what the music was that he identified.
  12. rg: La Bayadere, please

    Oh my prophetic soul (again!). I had always thought that the golden idol might not have been Minkus, or, if Minkus, very souped-up. Could you please give us Zubkovsky's dates, RG, if you have them? I shall listen again closely and see if I detect any non-Minkusian features that might point to a gusset. I also have me doobts aboot the fakir dance at the wedding. Is there any evidence of choreographic insertion here too? A Gorsky/Simon affaire, perhaps?
  13. Bournonville's Valkyrien

    Thanks for that correction, Alexandra. It seems, though, that Brenaa was a relatively scrupulous Bournonville archivist. He learned spotting from Egorova for introduction into the non-Bournonville parts of the RDB rep. I don't think he would ever have introduced more pirouettes than the master had dictated into any of his B revivals. His big fight with Fleming Flindt centred indeed on the very issue of fidelity to B's intentions--this after FF wanted to commission Riisager to make a "palimpsest" of the Helsted score for The Toreador--just as Tchaikovsly "overwrote" a Minkus original to forge the music that Balanchine used for his T PdD. There is a very funny anecdote in the Brenaa biography irrelevant to this thread, but worth repeating. The most authoritative Bournonville scholar in the fifties was one Vabs Borschenius, who used to carry a huge carpet bag of yellowing manuscript notations of the ballets to the theatre. At one revival that she was supervising, King Frederik IX had dropped by, and VB was so irritated when a dancer started executing wrong steps that she accidentally thumped the sovereign on his back (she happened to be standing behind him) and cried "That's FLAMING wrong." I suspect the king, although a constitutional kind of king, found the attention a touch too indelicate--in every conceivable sense of that word!
  14. do wilis have wings?

    Hi again, Citrus. Any excuse to avoid grading essays, so here I am again to tell you that I've just had another thought about Giselle's wings! The reason why they are shaped as they are, with points at the tip, rather than rounded like the Sylphide's, is almost certainly because the designer wanted us to think of moths. I know a little about butterflies, but next to nothing about moths, but even so, I am fairly sure that that concave line to the forewing (as opposed to the convex butterfly line of Sylphide's) can be found in some moths, but never in butterflies. The point of this is to stress the sinister nature of wilidom. The Romantic poet Keats lists a moth in his catalogue of gothic (=scary) objects at the start of his "Ode on Melancholy." That's because moths, like wilis, are largely nocturnal. Also, it's worth remembering that a good percentage of the first audience for Giselle would have had a classical education. They would have known how to "read" the wings because the Greek "psuche" can mean either a spirit or a moth or a butterfly (that's why Keats says let not "the death-moth be / Your mournful Psyche"). Butterflies were engraved on Greek tombstones as an emblem of resurrection. All of which shows that Giselle's wings have quite a lot riding on them, in addition to Carlotta's rather weighty (but very beautiful) thighs! Cheers!
  15. Bournonville's Valkyrien

    That was very kind of you, Jorgen. Thanks so much. I wasn't aware of your post when I added to thread headed "Photographs" a short while ago. I agree that the Ju:rgensen is a veritable treasure trove. And aren't the Bournonville backdrops almost unfailingly delicate and well-composed? The Russian equivalents seem v clumsy by comparison.
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