Jump to content
Amy

Aurora's Act 2 variation - Traditional version vs. Original versio

Recommended Posts

As far as performances goes, I agree with Ratmansky: "You don't show your underwear to the Tsar."

LOL!!!! Ratmansky said that?! That's actually a very good point! No wonder Petipa was concerned about Virginia Zucchi shortening her skirt! Lol!!

Share this post


Link to post

It was in an interview with Wilfried Hoesl during the "Paquita" staging in Munich. Those of us who went to PNB's free screening of the internet transmission from Germany -- at 9am, Pacific Time -- were given a copy of the interview, plus articles by Marian Smith and Doug Fullington. They may have been program material.

Looking back at the printed copy, I realize I misquoted him. Ratmansky said, "You can't show your underwear to the Tsar!"

Share this post


Link to post

It was in an interview with Wilfried Hoesl during the "Paquita" staging in Munich. Those of us who went to PNB's free screening of the internet transmission from Germany -- at 9am, Pacific Time -- were given a copy of the interview, plus articles by Marian Smith and Doug Fullington. They may have been program material.

Looking back at the printed copy, I realize I misquoted him. Ratmansky said, "You can't show your underwear to the Tsar!"

Ah right lol! I'm going to Munich to see Ratmansky and Doug's "Paquita" reconstruction in July; I'm certainly looking forward to it! :)

Share this post


Link to post

Well when you put it like that, you make a very good point, but in ballet, I still think we should be more open-minded since a lot of things are open to change i.e. different versions of ballets we love; we always have to look out for those and be prepared in case we have to say goodbye to a certain dance passage and/or music piece that we've always loved.

Speaking with my dance historian hat on, and as someone who has taught and reconstructed from notation, I do not agree. Yes, I think it's possible to create new material to an old score, and to replace older choreography with a newer version, but the idea that we "say goodbye" to the original material is not acceptable. The history of the artform, as expressed by the works themselves, shouldn't be held so lightly.

I don't think, given what you've said in other posts, that you meant to sound this cavalier.

Share this post


Link to post

Speaking with my dance historian hat on, and as someone who has taught and reconstructed from notation, I do not agree. Yes, I think it's possible to create new material to an old score, and to replace older choreography with a newer version, but the idea that we "say goodbye" to the original material is not acceptable. The history of the artform, as expressed by the works themselves, shouldn't be held so lightly.

I don't think, given what you've said in other posts, that you meant to sound this cavalier.

Well I was trying to say that it is always possible that when a new production of a ballet replaces an old one, there is a chance that variations or other dance passages that we grew to love may be taken out and that's something we should be aware of. Like the Royal Ballet has just retried Sir Anthony Dowell's Swan Lake production and I don't know what they're planning to do next for Swan Lake. One thing I would hate to see them remove from the ballet would be the mime; I personally like the Swan Lake mime, so it would be a real shame if the new production excluded all that.

Share this post


Link to post

Only relying on notation to reconstruct Petipa classics is problematic for a few reasons:

1. Many of the Petipa classics have VERY LIMITED roles for the male leads. If one were to use notation, Solor, Siegfried, Desire, Jean de Brienne, would have practically nothing to dance. This wasn't an artistic choice exactly -- the leading Mariinsky dancer at the time, Pavel Gerdt, was at a rather advanced age and probably couldn't do much more than partner.

2. Certain popular and "iconic" performance traditions would have to be nixed: for instance, the fifth position crown balances for Aurora are not notated.

3. Even if you were to follow the costume designs and notations slavishly, I don't think you can recreate the style that Petipa ballerinas were expected to dance. To raise a leg in high arabesque was considered immodest, so the famous lunging penchee arabesques of Odette would have to go. Pointe shoe technology has changed -- over 100 years ago it was considered "cheating" by Anna Pavlova to reinforce her pointe shoes with hard blocks. Ballerinas were expected to maintain toe work on the very strength of their toes. For a ballerina to balance on pointe, then to raise her free leg to a high passe, would have been unthinkable. Overhead lifts would have been considered immodest as well.

4. Evenings were LONG. This was before union rules and bosses demanded 8:00 worktimes. An evening at the ballet meant exactly that -- four, maybe five hours at the theater. In fact, ballets were often preceded by operatic performances. Nutcracker was paired with Iolanta, a 1:45 opera.

Share this post


Link to post

I take it you haven't seen the notated version of Desire's Wedding Act variation or the performance of it during Doug Fullington's Works & Process presentation.

The first time I saw it performed was in a PNB lec-demo in Seattle. The dancer, one of the finest men I've ever seen at PNB, had had a full day of rehearsals, and he performed the variation in two parts, it was so difficult and exhausting.

Share this post


Link to post

Because as Doug Fullington pointed out in the "After Petipa" presentation, the notated versions date back to the first years of the 20th century, when the male roles were being performed by the next generation of dancers, and their variations are crazy hard.

Share this post


Link to post

It's impossible for a ballet to look today the same as it did generations ago even if we use exactly the same choreography. Dancers's physiques are so different today and are we going to say we can only use 5 foot ballerinas and far chunkier looking men so that the choreography "looks" exactly the same? It can never look the same with the longer, leaner bodies of today's dancers. The choreography was written on far different bodies from those of today. Even the speeds used for the music reflects this as of course allegro was possible at even faster speeds for a small, short legged ballerina. An exact reconstruction which took into account technical aspects, such as the far lower extensions, would be a curiosity or a museum piece. Photographs of the time also show men had rudimentary arms, women with unstretched knees, lesser turnout, sloppy feet, etc etc, none of which would be tolerated in any company today. We have to use the dancers of today.

Share this post


Link to post

It's impossible for a ballet to look today the same as it did generations ago even if we use exactly the same choreography. Dancers's physiques are so different today and are we going to say we can only use 5 foot ballerinas and far chunkier looking men so that the choreography "looks" exactly the same? It can never look the same with the longer, leaner bodies of today's dancers. The choreography was written on far different bodies from those of today. Even the speeds used for the music reflects this as of course allegro was possible at even faster speeds for a small, short legged ballerina. An exact reconstruction which took into account technical aspects, such as the far lower extensions, would be a curiosity or a museum piece. Photographs of the time also show men had rudimentary arms, women with unstretched knees, lesser turnout, sloppy feet, etc etc, none of which would be tolerated in any company today. We have to use the dancers of today.

You're absolutely right; an exact reconstruction of Petipa's works is impossible, but we can get close to what he staged, as Alexei Ratmansky proved with his Sleeping Beauty reconstruction.

In regards to what you say about the photographs of Petipa's dancers, you should be aware that none of those photos were taken during performances; they were actually taken in a photography studio, so the dancers are deliberately posing for the camera and modelling the costumes in those photos. They didn't take photographs during performances back then; that started much, much later, I think some time during the late 20th century.

However, there are photos of each act of the original Sleeping Beauty production, but again, they wouldn't have been taken during a live performance.

Share this post


Link to post

Because as Doug Fullington pointed out in the "After Petipa" presentation, the notated versions date back to the first years of the 20th century, when the male roles were being performed by the next generation of dancers, and their variations are crazy hard.

I love those male variations that Doug showed in the "After Petipa" presentation! Out of all the notated male variations from Petipa's time that I've seen so far, the Nikolai Legat variation for Prince Desire is one of my favourites!

I really like how the 19th century and early 20th century choreography for the men has so much more material than the Soviet era choreography; I actually find some of the Soviet variations for the men in the classics very boring, especially Prince Siegfried's variation.

My main problem with them is because they're all in grand allegro, they do the same things over and over again in one ballet, whereas when you look at the 19th century and early 20th century male variations with both grand and petite allegro, it gives the men a variety of different things to do. I find that really refreshing; it just goes to show that the men don't always have to do big jumps and turns in order to be entertaining and absolutely fantastic.

Share this post


Link to post

You're absolutely right; an exact reconstruction of Petipa's works is impossible, but we can get close to what he staged, as Alexei Ratmansky proved with his Sleeping Beauty reconstruction.

In regards to what you say about the photographs of Petipa's dancers, you should be aware that none of those photos were taken during performances; they were actually taken in a photography studio, so the dancers are deliberately posing for the camera and modelling the costumes in those photos. They didn't take photographs during performances back then; that started much, much later, I think some time during the late 20th century.

However, there are photos of each act of the original Sleeping Beauty production, but again, they wouldn't have been taken during a live performance.

Yes, I do know that ... but if you look at early films, or even films from a few decades ago, you can see the lack of turnout and stretch and poorer arms in execution even years later.

Share this post


Link to post

Yes, I do know that ... but if you look at early films, or even films from a few decades ago, you can see the lack of turnout and stretch and poorer arms in execution even years later.

Well decades ago, they focused a lot on speed, but 19th century and early to mid 20th century dancers had excellent turnout, stretch and arm positions; they just didn't focus so much on flexibility like dancers do today. This was after all before gymnastics started to mix in with ballet... training has changed a lot in recent years.

Just look at this photo of Pierina Legnani; see how strong looking her feet and ankles are and how well turned out her right leg is. Also, notice how relaxed she looks in this pose:

Legnani-whitepearl.jpg

Share this post


Link to post

This is a question of Petipa vs. Tchaikovsky, more or less in the same line that the Swan Lake ballroom pas. I personally prefer the "original" (Tchaikovsky or Drigo?) music (TchaiPDD) instead of the Petipa favored original Act I Merry Makers one. Every single version I've seen of SB has the Sergueev choreo, so I guess the reconstructed one is a foreign animal to me. Then, there is the question of the music. I like to see the original score in the form it was intended by Tchaikovsky, for the characters it was intended, but obviously, that wasn't Petipa's idea, so we have always the problem of "original music vs. original choreo". The reconstructed developes are very pretty though....

Share this post


Link to post

What a gorgeous photo of Legnani, Amy! Thanks for posting.

Share this post


Link to post

What a gorgeous photo of Legnani, Amy! Thanks for posting.

You're very welcome, Natalia! :)

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×