Jump to content
Helene

Spring 2015: The Sleeping Beauty

Recommended Posts

I watched from first row of Dress Circle. Perhaps due to distance, the overall production design appeared 'washed out' beige-on-beige, with occasional splashes of red or pink. The indoor court scenes looked a bit sparse and bare/-bones compared to the 1921 originals.

The lady who sat beside me is a Leon Bakst expert and has seen the fairy costumes of the 1921 production in person, saying that the originals are far brighter and colorful. These new ones are much paler. Hence, she was disappointed, while the rest of us sitting around were quite positive about the designs. Even if I like them, in general, they DO have a beige-on-beige feel to them. The aqua/mustard Garland Dance and the orangish/red Hunt Scene courtiers were the big exceptions.

By the way, as this is the 1921 Bakst version, where the heck are The Three Ivans?????

My own personal favorite costume among the 400 or so is the big orange Puss in Boots with that long bouncing tail. I've never enjoyed the Cats pdd more because of that crazy tail, practically bouncing on its own. ROTFL!

Share this post


Link to post

Lane and Cornejo didn't do this ballet in CA because Herman was still recovering from an injury and did not go on the tour. Whiteside also did not go on the tour due to injury.

Share this post


Link to post

I too love the 17 and 18 century wigs and the production. one cold argue they were tame!

independence-perruque.jpg

The outlines of the costumes capture the period to perfection - it would be strange with wigs missing - yet the costume detail is modern - it makes it very interesting, Just the opposite of what was done in the historical films of the 30ies, 40ies and maybe even 50ies , when the silhouette betrayed when the production was made while detail was true to period.

I don't know how the wedding attire for Desiree and Aurora could have been handled - going into more sumptuous would not work - as it is, they are almost virginal - or some such idea of purity - maybe not perfect but no complaints here, it needed a contrast.

I suspect seeing this production twice will not be enough - such wealth of detail, so much delight, I know I missed a lot the first time around.

Murphy and Gomes... I am addicted...

(It would be nice if they pared down the garland dance - those garlands need space. I am not partial to children and grown up dancing, there is something in change of scale that bothers me, so the scenes with children did not work for me.

Share this post


Link to post

What was reported on this site was that David Koch spoke at a reception held after the ballet not at the premier itself. However, I have no doubt he is...well...what he is.

Love reading these reports about the new production. Thanks to everyone writing. (And Laurel: I just looked up Edmund Dulac. Wow!)

Cannot wait to see it!

Share this post


Link to post

By the way, as this is the 1921 Bakst version, where the heck are The Three Ivans?????

The physical production is modeled on Bakst, the choreography is modeled on 1890.

Share this post


Link to post

Went to the Sat eve show, overall I liked this grand production but it seemed chintzy on the dancing compared to the Ronald Hynd version I'm used to at PNB. I hate to sound mean, but I didn't expect so much time spent on children on a Sat eve at ABT; this is no it Nutcracker!

Although technically sound, Isabella seemed a bit stressed during Act I, so it didn't really look like Aurora was enjoying her birthday. Mind you I was front row center so maybe not noticeable further back. Subsequent acts she looked more and more confident and did a lovely job. Fish dives were rock solid!

The Garland Waltz costumes were hideous. The fabric reminds me of that used to mock up costumes. And there were so many dancers!

The Quuen's costumes were my favorites along with Aurora party dress, silver and diamond fairies. Cassandra Trenery really took command of the stager as Diamond Fairy.

Other dancing that stood out: Joseph Gorak in Prince solo ; wish we could have seen more from him. Princess Florine (Misty) really different choreography (for me) including something like a step up turn with a low ronde de jombe. Gabe Stone Shayer I had never seen featured. Wow he flew so high as Bluebird but the most impressive feature was how soft and elegant his arms were during the diagonal of brise voles.

My question to all you historical costume experts: what were the white Mazurka costumes supposed to be? Looked like a bunch of nursing school graduates! What's with the hats especially?

Share this post


Link to post

As far as I know, there is a long history of children performing "the garland dance." I recall reading about them in older books written by former Kirov dancers. Anyone who's grown up at a residential ballet pre-professional school attached to any classical ballet company anywhere in the world has probably been a child in the garland scene. If not, they've certainly learned it as part of their repertoire training. Personally, I love this tradition.

Share this post


Link to post

Other dancing that stood out: Joseph Gorak in Prince solo ; wish we could have seen more from him. Princess Florine (Misty) really different choreography (for me) including something like a step up turn with a low ronde de jombe. Gabe Stone Shayer I had never seen featured. Wow he flew so high as Bluebird but the most impressive feature was how soft and elegant his arms were during the diagonal of brise voles.

One thing that makes me a bit sad about Gorak's rise into principal roles is that we'll probably never see his Bluebird again. His was the most gorgeous I've seen at ABT. I remember vividly how liquid and lovely his legs were in that diagonal at the start of the coda.

I'd also love to see his Bronze Idol again, though that may well happen this year yet at least.

Share this post


Link to post

As far as I know, there is a long history of children performing "the garland dance." I recall reading about them in older books written by former Kirov dancers. Anyone who's grown up at a residential ballet pre-professional school attached to any classical ballet company anywhere in the world has probably been a child in the garland scene. If not, they've certainly learned it as part of their repertoire training. Personally, I love this tradition.

I'm willing to put up with it primarily because I assume the chance to be in these productions is a big motivator for the students, who are, after all, the ones we'll be watching in decades to come.

Share this post


Link to post

And on a similar note, although he wasn't Hop-o'-my-Thumb, only one of His Brothers, little Justin Souriau-Levine (our Little Mouse at BAM the past 5 years) really stood out on Saturday afternoon. That kid definitely has a stage career of some sort ahead of him! You can tell he just eats it up.

Share this post


Link to post

(And Laurel: I just looked up Edmund Dulac. Wow!)

Though Hudson based his designs on the work of Bakst and his orientalism, the costumes reminded me very much of the work of Edmund Dulac, early 20th century illustrator of fairy tales who was strongly influenced by Bakst. Actually, I thought Hudson’s use of the Bakst color palette was rather conservative (I really love deeply saturated hues) but he has a great sense of balance and knew where to draw the line. What a pleasure not having to sit through yet another parade of lollipop-colored tutus! I never want to see that McKenzie production again. As you can see, the dancing was almost an afterthought for me today. This production deserves multiple viewings. Very happy I’ll be going to see Lane & Cornejo again in June and hoping they’ll be over their technical jitters and have a bit more joie de vivre by then. For me, this production belongs to Richard Hudson.

I looked up Edmund Dulac, too, and his illustrations are gorgeous. Thanks, Laurel, for bringing him up in your post and Bakst's influence on his art. It sounds like, despite mixed feelings and reviews, this production has a lot to offer. Perhaps I can squeeze in another ABT performance and see this SB, after all! Thanks to all for your excellent comments.

Share this post


Link to post

I’ve just started to follow this discussion. Because a lot of the comments have been about the costumes and sets I would like to add one observation that caught my attention immediately from the few photos that I've seen. I find one of the backdrops to be quite fascinating architecturally. Having greatly appreciated Bob Crawley and his associates’ brilliant backgrounds for “An American in Paris” this one has a similar attraction. I believe that Bob Crawley is noted for playing with perspective and creating interesting view points. In the Marina Haars New York Times article, scroll down to the third picture, entitled “The wedding set from Act III of Alexei Ratmansky’s “The Sleeping Beauty.” The handling of the perspective (the angle) of the middle background and the bringing it together with the foreground is quite inventive.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/arts/dance/the-sleeping-beauty-awakes-to-vibrant-ballet-costumes.html?_r=1

Clarification: These sets are not by Bob Crawley if my comment might have given that impression.

Added comment: Ditto for the backdrop at the top of this article.

http://dancetabs.com/2015/05/american-ballet-theatre-the-sleeping-beauty-new-york/

Also from the first review:

“Compared with the costumes, the scenic elements are relatively pared-down: Layered drop curtains denote fanciful Neoclassical interiors, airy rotundas, a formal garden and an autumnal mountain vista. The drops were made in workshops in Milan, Turin and outside of Venice, where the canvases were laid on the floor to be painted with giant brushes.”

They may be "relatively pared-down", but are still quite impressive. For one thing they are almost cubist in composition.

Share this post


Link to post

Lane and Cornejo didn't do this ballet in CA because Herman was still recovering from an injury and did not go on the tour. Whiteside also did not go on the tour due to injury.

I forgot about Cornejo's injury. Hopefully they'll work out their kinks by their second performance.

Share this post


Link to post

One thing that makes me a bit sad about Gorak's rise into principal roles is that we'll probably never see his Bluebird again. His was the most gorgeous I've seen at ABT. I remember vividly how liquid and lovely his legs were in that diagonal at the start of the coda.

I'd also love to see his Bronze Idol again, though that may well happen this year yet at least.

Not necessarily. Whiteside dances Bluebird and he's a principal. So does Simkin but because of his stature he can't lead many big ballets so he's not the best example. But there's still a chance for more Gorak Bluebirds in my opinion.

Share this post


Link to post

And on a similar note, although he wasn't Hop-o'-my-Thumb, only one of His Brothers, little Justin Souriau-Levine (our Little Mouse at BAM the past 5 years) really stood out on Saturday afternoon. That kid definitely has a stage career of some sort ahead of him! You can tell he just eats it up.

Good point nanushka about motivating kids to dance and to become future ticket buyers. I was shocked to see a mainly senior crowd at San Francisco ballet a few weeks ago.

And you've made it personal for me, I loved Justin the little mouse in Nut. I met his mother at the BAM cafe; she was very earthy, not a stage mom at all.

Share this post


Link to post

I totally forgot to mention how fun it was to see Marcelo as Carabosse!!! So funny to see that gorgeous man transformed with the makeup and costume. He even took his curtain call in character; he continues to amaze me with all the facets of his talent!

Share this post


Link to post

Gorak is dancing Bluebird at the June 12 performance with Boylston.

I completely missed that, thanks for pointing it out. Unfortunately, I would never pay for ticket to see Hee Seo dance in this of all ballets, with her undeveloped and unreliable technique.

Share this post


Link to post

I'm willing to put up with it primarily because I assume the chance to be in these productions is a big motivator for the students, who are, after all, the ones we'll be watching in decades to come.

And sometimes the choreography is really distinctive -- Doug Fullington's reconstruction of the Jardin Anime includes some quite young dancers, who do some really interesting things.

The commentary on this new production reminds me of a review by Deborah Jowitt several years ago, comparing her response to an evening length ballet as a young critic to her reactions later. As a young woman, she said she was impatient with what felt like dallying around -- bring on the dancing! Later on, she was happy to see the tableaux and extended mime sequences -- she said she had learned that some works take time.

Share this post


Link to post

And sometimes the choreography is really distinctive -- Doug Fullington's reconstruction of the Jardin Anime includes some quite young dancers, who do some really interesting things.

The commentary on this new production reminds me of a review by Deborah Jowitt several years ago, comparing her response to an evening length ballet as a young critic to her reactions later. As a young woman, she said she was impatient with what felt like dallying around -- bring on the dancing! Later on, she was happy to see the tableaux and extended mime sequences -- she said she had learned that some works take time.

Well, I totally agree that our opinions do change with time and being able to digest a production. In thinking about this new "SB" and reading so many opinions, I wanted to throw a few considerations out there for response. First of all, this, most likely will be the "Sleeping Beauty" that will be in the ABT rep. for many years to come. Given it's cost and extravagance, is it the production we had all hoped for? I know many didn't like (loathed even) the Kirkland production, but is this something we can live with and be really proud of? Are the stylistic changes something we can live with for a long time? Can the dancers sustain it? How will it affect their training for other works? Will we ultimately miss the more refined (if that is the right term) versions of the grand pas, for instance, or can we fully accept the bent knee arabesques and the demi pointe chainees. Remember this will be with us a very long time. As a signature work of a major company, is it the best one to represent this ABT? "R&J" has also been around for awhile and has certainly withstood the test of time. Will this "historically correct" version of "S.B." still be appealing in three or four years? More? I ask this for a few reasons, one of which is the example of "Nutcracker" which couldn't be sustained here in NYC (but will live another life in L.A.).

Also, and this is my other reason for opening this discussion. Who exactly is this production meant for in the current company, at least? Kent, Herrera, Reyes all gone, although I think Xiomara would have done really well with this Aurora. Part, who is a superlative Aurora, is not really right for this style, is she? OK, she's doing a Lilac, but let's face it, Lilac here is basically a mime role, not suitable for a ballerina. She got no Auroras this time out. Semionova? If she returns. Gillian and Boylston seem to be able to make this their own. Lane, I think is not able to rise to this occasion. Seo? Jury is out on her still. Gomes? He's actually better as Carabosse. Carabosse!!! Cornejo looks unhappy in this role. Gorak was OK. We haven't seen Stearns yet. In a production where almost the entire cast can easily be filled by corps members ( and a few coaches and teachers even),and is currently being done so, for the most part, I have to wonder what sort of vehicle this will be down the road. Will any of the "guest stars" want to learn this style, or is it just as fine to cast the ballet from our own.? I personally can see Skylar Brandt doing Aurora. She dances big and takes command of a stage, and she doesn't seem to be too affected by the "tweeness" of some of the choreography. Trenery also seems to be rising to the occasion. Shevchenko has turned in the best Lilac so far in her overall portrayal. So, there is is. Some stuff to ponder. (as if we didn't have enough on our plates!)

Share this post


Link to post

Semionova? If she returns. Gillian and Boylston seem to be able to make this their own. Lane, I think is not able to rise to this occasion.

Is there a doubt of Semionova's return?

I have to disagree with your sweeping judgment of Lane. Sure, her Rose Adagio had some problems, but the rest of the performance, I thought, was quite good. And it was her very first time dancing in this production!

Share this post


Link to post

Will any of the "guest stars" want to learn this style, or is it just as fine to cast the ballet from our own.?

Frankly, I'm all in favor of ABT's having an important work in its rep that isn't particularly amenable to an international airlift of guest stars.

Share this post


Link to post

The physical production is modeled on Bakst, the choreography is modeled on 1890.

Now that's ridiculous. THE recreated 1890 BEAUTY costumes & sets are in St Petersburg sitting in mothballs. Wouldn't it have been far more effective - and economical - to rent the Mariinsky's gorgeous 1890 production? That would have been perfect...not this half-baked experiment, nice as it is.

Share this post


Link to post

In his essay on Vikharev’s “Sleeping Beauty” reconstruction at the Mariinsky, http://www.for-ballet-lovers-only.com/Beauty5.html, Doug Fullington mentions that the choreographic notation includes a dance for the Gold and Sapphire Fairies somewhere within what’s now known as the “wedding pas de deux” of Aurora and Désiré. Thus, at the time, this pas de deux was in fact a pas de quatre. The 1905-1906 Yearbook of the Imperial Theaters includes, on pages 129-130, a report of a performance of the “Sleeping Beauty” on October 12, 1905 (old style), which lists this pas de quatre with the following performers: Ms. Trefilova as Aurora, Mr. N. Legat as Désiré, Ms. Gordova as the Gold Fairy, and Ms. Chumakova as the Sapphire Fairy.

This dance of the Gold and Sapphire Fairies is omitted from the Ratmansky production—perhaps because it seems unclear to which music this dance used to be performed?

Ratmansky’s decision to include Carabosse in the third act follows the performing tradition of the early 1900s, but could she really participate in Act III of the original 1890 production? Enrico Cecchetti danced both Carabosse and Blue Bird at the premiere, and therefore in order for Carabosse to have made an appearance in Act III together with Bluebird either somebody else would need to have performed Carabosse in Act III, or some really quick costume changes would have been in order. The first edition of the Yearbook of the Imperial Theaters (https://books.google.com/books?id=hGQhAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false) describes the season of 1890-1891—the next season after the premiere, during which there were many performances of the “Sleeping Beauty”, the first one on October 3, 1890 (old style). Carabosse was performed by Cecchetti on all occasions, and Cecchetti alternated with Legat in the role of Blue Bird. A drawing of the procession of the Fairy Tales, probably copied from the libretto, is accompanied by the following captions on pages 146-147. 1. Bluebeard and his wife. 2. Puss-in-Boots. 3. Marquis de Carabas (misspelled as Caraboss). 4. Fair Goldilocks and Prince Avenant. 5. Donkeyskin and Prince Charmant. 6. Beauty and the Beast. 7. Cinderella and Prince Fortuné. 8. Blue Bird and Princess Florine. 9. White Cat who is being carried on a pillow. 10. Little Red Riding Hood and Wolf. 11. Prince Riquet à la Houppe and Princess Aimée. 12. Tom Thumb and his brothers. 13. Ogre and Ogress. 14. Fairy Carabosse in a chariot driven by rats. 15. Candide Fairy and her genii. 16. Violante Fairy and her genii. 17. The chariot of Fairy of Canaries and her retinue. 18. Lilac Fairy, carried by four big genii.

It’s not entirely clear whether this prescription was literally followed during the 1890-1891 performances. For instance, Anna Johansson is listed as the only person who danced the Fairy of Canaries and also the Diamond Fairy. On the other hand, a ballerina named Kulichevskaya is listed as the only performer of both the Breadcrumb Fairy and the Gold Fairy, which is consistent with the Breadcrumb Fairy being absent from the Act III procession.

For the aforementioned October 12, 1905 performance, the procession is listed together with the performers’ names and ends with Carabosse—i.e., does not include any of the first-act fairies. The same dancer (Ms. Petipa the 1st) is listed in the roles of the Lilac Fairy and Cinderella, which suggests that perhaps the Lilac Fairy did not participate in the procession on that occasion.

Ratmansky excised most of the procession characters who do not have their own dance numbers in Act III, keeping only Bluebeard and his wife, as well as the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse. He added six additional procession characters from the 1921 Diaghilev production: Scheherazade, The Shah, and His Brother; and The Porcelain Princesses and The Mandarin. They all participate in the concluding Mazurka.

Another slight departure from the original and an homage to the 1921 Diaghilev production is that Aurora’s four suitors are called the Indian, English, Spanish, and Italian Princes (with corresponding costumes), rather than Cheri, Charmant, Fortuné, and Fleur-de-Pois, as in the original production.

The libretto related in the 1890-1891 Yearbook mentions a Sarabande, with Roman, Persian, Indian, American, and Turkish dances, and even has an accompanying picture of it. The 1905-1906 Yearbook is quite detailed in listing all the dances and their performers, and it does not mention the Sarabande, which could be taken as the evidence that by that time the Sarabande was no longer performed. Ratmansky’s production does not include it, as I suppose it must be absent from the choreographic notation which appears to have been made in the early 1900s.

The march at the beginning of Act III has been dropped, and the entrances of the courtiers, Jewel Fairies, and the Fairy Tales are all condensed into the Polonaise in Ratmansky’s production.

I will need to listen more closely to determine whether any of the “Panorama” music has been cut. The score calls for 2.5 repetitions of essentially the same musical material followed by a short coda. I do not recall if this was played in its entirety, or whether one repetition was skipped.

Finally, the original libretto abounds in very detailed mime some of which seems to have been omitted. Quoting the Playbill article “Sleeping Beauty Wakes Again”: “The ballet has, however, had to be cut somewhat to fit within the union defined time limitation, meaning that some of the mime scenes, much to Ratmansky’s regret, have had to go.”

Apart from these minor differences, Ratmansky’s production seems to follow the original libretto, cast of characters, and sequence of numbers very closely. I will leave the judgment of how faithfully it reproduces the notated choreography to the experts. I found the choreography fascinating. It oozes refinement, good taste, intricacy, and beauty. The entire company looks great in it, from the children and the corps to the principals.

The reconstructed choreography for the male variation in the wedding pas de deux in Ratmansky’s production is superb, and is completely different from the standard choreography danced in every production I have seen so far. Marcelo Gomes was fantastic in it, but Herman Cornejo was absolutely, astonishingly breathtaking. My command of superlatives in the English language is not good enough to describe how spectacular Cornejo was.

Fullington’s essay attributes the “standard” male variation choreography to Konstantin Sergeyev’s 1952 production. In connection with this I have a question for the experts who might be reading this forum. Does any company these days dance the original choreography of this variation, and if not, how could it be that Sergeyev’s choreography has so completely displaced the original? In fact, even David Blair in the 1964 Royal Ballet film of Act III dances something that looks quite similar to the “Sergeyev variation.” When putting that staging together, did Ashton really reproduce the steps from the then 12-year-old Soviet production?

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×