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ABT 2017 Tchaikovsky Spectacular

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nanushka   

Does anyone have info about the "Aurora's Wedding" that is coming to ABT in two weeks? The NYT article that will appear in Sunday's paper mentions the following:

 

"His [Ratmansky's] new 'Aurora’s Wedding' contains two dances added (to 'Nutcracker' music) in 1921."

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nanushka   
2 minutes ago, ABT Fan said:

It's an excerpt from his SB. 

 

What info are you looking for?

 

The article seems to suggest it's not simply Act III of the SB we've seen the last two years. What are the "two dances added (to 'Nutcracker' music) in 1921"? The SB reconstruction followed closely the structure of the St. P original, in terms of music and dances, while using the later Bakst designs.

 

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This thread from 2006 suggests that the two additional dances are the Arabian and Chinese:

 

I've been wondering whether ABT would completely recreate Act III of their current Sleeping Beauty production for "Aurora's Wedding." There are a lot of dancers to put onstage in the Ratmansky production.

 

The Ratmansky production does have walk-on roles inspired by the 1921 Chinese and Arabian dances. Some details from the OC Register review of the premiere:

 

"Equally inspired by Bakst, Ratmansky chose to include some expendable, but loveable walk-through characters from the 1921 production (Mandarin, Porcelain Princesses, Scheherazade, Shah and his Brother) based on the vividness of their costume designs."

 

In the Ratmanksy production at the Met, I seem to recall that these Chinese and Arabian characters were portrayed by hired dancers rather than ABT's company members. Maybe Ratmansky has choreographed dances for these characters, now to be portrayed by ABT's own dancers? Will they use the same costumes that were used for the walk-on roles?

 

I think it's pretty safe to assume that they will not insert the Chinese and Arabian dances from Ratmansky's Nutcracker. They would be so out of step with the style of his reconstructed Sleeping Beauty .

Edited by fondoffouettes

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Drew   

I was wondering if they would insert Nijinska's 3 Ivans...

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8 minutes ago, Drew said:

I was wondering if they would insert Nijinska's 3 Ivans...

Well, if it looks anything like this, I can imagine Ratmansky relishing the opportunity...

 

 

Can anyone recommend a source to learn more about the Ballets Russes' Sleeping Princess and subsequent "Aurora's Wedding"? I'd really like to read more about those productions and understand what exists of Baskt's designs.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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vipa   

As a person who won't go to see the Ratmansky SB ever again will I quote Acocella from New Yorker magazine (moderators if this is inappropriate do what you have to do. I'm not sure if I'm breaking any rules)

 

"But Ratmansky is a great choreographer, one who can make thrilling modern ballets to modern music. That being the case, can't someone else go sit in the archives."

 

As far as I am concerned, I don't care what went into SB in 1921 and what went out whenever. I don't want a lecture I want a ballet. 

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19 minutes ago, vipa said:

As a person who won't go to see the Ratmansky SB ever again will I quote Acocella from New Yorker magazine (moderators if this is inappropriate do what you have to do. I'm not sure if I'm breaking any rules)

 

"But Ratmansky is a great choreographer, one who can make thrilling modern ballets to modern music. That being the case, can't someone else go sit in the archives."

 

As far as I am concerned, I don't care what went into SB in 1921 and what went out whenever. I don't want a lecture I want a ballet. 

I dunno -- I think there's something beautiful about honoring ballet's heritage. That's not to say I want carbon copies of what was produced in the late nineteenth century. (I'd love to see a Swan Lake that's informed by Ratmansky's reconstruction, but not necessarily the reconstruction itself.) And to his credit, Ratmansky wasn't dogmatic in adhering to the dance notation; he allowed for the fish dives in Act III, and he reinserted the overhead lift in the Bluebird pas de deux.

 

For me, it was a revelation to see choreography that actually fit Tchaikovsky's music for Sleeping Beauty. There were no extra supported pirouettes shoe-horned into music that wouldn't accommodate them. And the music for mime, action and scene transitions was used for just that.

 

The Sleeping Beauty reconstruction made me want to see more ballets stripped of their acrobatic Soviet accretions. I don't need to see Aurora scratch her ear with her big toe. 

 

Edited by fondoffouettes

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nanushka   

I think there's an important place in the ballet world for the type of work that Ratmansky is doing and has done. It's not the only type of work that I want to see, but it's work that I view as valuable and important.

 

Ballet is a paradox. On the one hand, it is an art that is so much about adherence to tradition. (Even those aspects and artists that have departed from tradition have still been defined by it.) And yet, on the other hand, it is an art in which we have such a fragile hold on tradition and the past. For the most part, we have only a history of subsequent performances, lost as soon as finished, and a history of direct relationships between teacher and student, and their student, and their student, etc. Ballet is not truly preserved in museums or in libraries. The past is all-important and yet nearly all lost. Video (from the portion of ballet history for which it exists) and scholarship and personal testimonies and other records capture only fragments of that past. A production such as Ratmansky's Sleeping Beauty puts us back in fuller contact with that past. It sends ripples into the rest of the dancers' work, into the audiences' perceptions of others things they see. I think it's important, for ballet as an art, that such work is done.

 

That said, I do sympathize with those who don't actually want to pay to see the result, or who wish that their home company's scarce resources of time, money, energy and calendar space weren't the ones being expended on it (the NIMBY! sentiment). Personally, I haven't loved all of Ratmansky's reconstruction work, though overall I do really love his Sleeping Beauty. But even when I haven't loved the result, I've persisted in thinking the work is important.

 

As for Acocella's comment––well, this work requires a passion and commitment that Ratmansky clearly has, and if it's going to go anywhere it also requires a skill for execution that he has as well. I think he's right for the job, and it's a job that deserves to be done. I'd join her in wishing there were a second, identically gifted Ratmansky who could focus on "mak[ing] thrilling modern ballets to modern music." But at least the one we've got still does some of that.

 

Edited by nanushka

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nanushka   
9 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Can anyone recommend a source to learn more about the Ballets Russes' Sleeping Princess and subsequent "Aurora's Wedding"? I'd really like to read more about those productions and understand what exists of Baskt's designs.

 

I suspect that Tim Scholl's Sleeping Beauty: A Legend in Progress might include at least some discussion of that, though I haven't had a chance to read it.

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Natalia   
10 hours ago, Drew said:

I was wondering if they would insert Nijinska's 3 Ivans...

 

The season brochure clearly states that this version will add the recons of two of Nijinska's 1921's creations: Three Ivans and Porcelain Princess/Mandarin (Chinese). There's no mention of Scheherazade (Arabian) but maybe  it'll be added as a surprise? On the flip side, they'll likely eliminate some of the 1890 dances that didn't make it to the 1921 London version, such as Hop o my Thumb and Cinderella?

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Natalia   
10 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Well, if it looks anything like this, I can imagine Ratmansky relishing the opportunity...

 

 

Can anyone recommend a source to learn more about the Ballets Russes' Sleeping Princess and subsequent "Aurora's Wedding"? I'd really like to read more about those productions and understand what exists of Baskt's designs.

 

I'm currently on the road working, so cannot offer specifics on a very thorough booklet about the 1921 Diaghilev production that appeared in Dancemagazine in the early 1970s. My home library has most of the wonderful scholarly inserts that used to appear in the magazine during 60s/70s....on specific ballets or dancers. Those were the days.

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30 minutes ago, Natalia said:

 

The season brochure clearly states that this version will add the recons of two of Nijinska's 1921's creations: Three Ivans and Porcelain Princess/Mandarin (Chinese). There's no mention of Scheherazade (Arabian) but maybe  it'll be added as a surprise? On the flip side, they'll likely eliminate some of the 1890 dances that didn't make it to the 1921 London version, such as Hop o my Thumb and Cinderella?

 

I think any excuse to excise Hop o' My Thumb is fine by me: in this production at least, the dance is entirely charmless despite the JKO kids dashing about hither and thither. And ugh, that big ol' papier mache head ...

 

If I recall correctly, the Porcelain Princess was a walk on in last spring's full evening SB. 

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nanushka   
30 minutes ago, Natalia said:

The season brochure clearly states that this version will add the recons of two of Nijinska's 1921's creations: Three Ivans and Porcelain Princess/Mandarin (Chinese).

 

Thanks, Natalia, I didn't notice that in the brochure. I see on the Met website it says the following:

 

"Aurora’s Wedding from Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty, including Bronislava Nijinska’s dances of The Three Ivans and Porcelain Trio"

 

If Nijinska's 3 Ivans danced to the PDD coda, that means the complete PDD may not be danced by Aurora and the Prince. That would be a shame. But Macaulay mentioned two pieces from Nutcracker. Is it possible that Ratmansky is only evoking the spirit of Nijinska's 3 Ivans and in fact using his formerly choreographed Russian dance? (I assume Nijinska's "Porcelain Trio" was to Nutcracker's Chinese dance.)

 

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ABT Fan   
1 hour ago, Natalia said:

 

The season brochure clearly states that this version will add the recons of two of Nijinska's 1921's creations: Three Ivans and Porcelain Princess/Mandarin (Chinese). There's no mention of Scheherazade (Arabian) but maybe  it'll be added as a surprise? On the flip side, they'll likely eliminate some of the 1890 dances that didn't make it to the 1921 London version, such as Hop o my Thumb and Cinderella?

 

You just reminded me that I never received any brochures this year on the Met season. I always get several. Hmmmmm.....

 

I didn't realize Ratmansky was going to tweak or add anything to Aurora's wedding for this program. Is he making permanent changes that'll be incorporated into the ballet, or just for this program?

Edited by ABT Fan

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nanushka   

I really hope they bring back the Act III introduction (Marche). I love that exciting music before the curtain rises and really missed it when Ratmansky's Act III instead began with the Polacca.

 

I would guess that these changes are just for the "Aurora's Wedding" program and will not be used in the full-length when it returns –– but that's just a guess.

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Natalia   

If memory serves - and I'm truly working from memory's way from home for a while - the 1921 Three Ivans was danced to the Russian Trepak of Nutcracker & not the SB pdd coda music...so the pdd should be intact. 

 

In 1890 the pdd coda music went to a totally different set of characters altogether...two sets of fairies & their princes? Something that may not have been in the Stepanov notes...so neither Vikharev nor Ratmansky could stage...so we got a much-later Airora/Desire pdd coda.  Back to my beach near Notfolk.. Virginia Beach! Perfect day so far.

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15 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

Ratmansky wasn't dogmatic in adhering to the dance notation; he allowed for the fish dives in Act III

 

 

The fish dives were inserted in the London production for Spessivtzeva, as per Danilova's autobio. 

Vikharev had already created his full fledged luxurious reconstruction of the iconic XIX century production. I remember reading that Ratmansky then chose to revive the also iconic London XX century one. What I am not sure about if is two different set of notations exist for this two productions. I must confess I had no idea that the London production had been notated. I thought that ballet notations had stopped after 1917. I believed that Ratmansky's had been a mere recreation using choreographic passages from Vikharev's recon.

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nanushka   
29 minutes ago, Natalia said:

If memory serves - and I'm truly working from memory's way from home for a while - the 1921 Three Ivans was danced to the Russian Trepak of Nutcracker & not the SB pdd coda music...so the pdd should be intact. 

 

In 1890 the pdd coda music went to a totally different set of characters altogether...two sets of fairies & their princes? Something that may not have been in the Stepanov notes...so neither Vikharev nor Ratmansky could stage...so we got a much-later Airora/Desire pdd coda.  Back to my beach near Notfolk.. Virginia Beach! Perfect day so far.

 

Here is some of what Roland John Wiley writes in Tchaikovsky's Ballets about the PDD as recorded in Stepanov's choreographic notation [CN]:

 

The CN of the pas de quatre of Aurora, Désiré, and the fairies Gold and Sapphire poses the same problem within Act III that the court dances did in Act II––there is little clear description, and the authenticity of what survives is open to question. The dance performed to Tchaikovsky's wonderful duet is only sketched, in a series of alternating poses and lifts of the ballerina with short mimed episodes. ...

 

...

 

What happened immediately after the adagio cannot exactly be determined. The libretto refers to all of No. 28 as a pas de quatre; the CN preserves two variants of a 'Dance after the Pas de Deux/Adagio.' Two women, identified in one of the variants as the fairies Gold and Sapphire, perform a dance of about 38 bars in 6/8 time. ...

 

To this extent the CN agrees with the libretto: the pas de deux Petipa requested of Tchaikovsky was made into a pas de quatre by the addition of a variation for the fairies Gold and Sapphire immediately after the adagio. But to what music did they dance? The variations and the coda are assigned to Aurora and Désiré. ...

 

...

 

The coda aims for bravura effect. ... Aurora enters, first with pointe work in a slashing zigzag, then circling in light pirouettes. Désiré comes on and joins her in a combination of pas balloons and arabesque. Both then travel in a diagonal towards rear stage left, with short jumps on the right foot, the left extended to the back en arabesque. Aurora retraces her path alone in a series of turns and runs across the front of the stage to meet Désiré, whom she encircles with pirouettes, coming to rest in a final pose on pointe. 

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nanushka   
6 minutes ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

 

The fish dives were inserted in the London production for Spessivtzeva, as per Danilova's autobio. 

Vikharev had already created his full fledged luxurious reconstruction of the iconic XIX century production. I remember reading that Ratmansky then chose to revive the also iconic London XX century one. What I am not sure about if is two different set of notations exist for this two productions. I must confess I had no idea that the London production had been notated. I thought that ballet notations had stopped after 1917. I believed that Ratmansky's had been a mere recreation using choreographic passages from Vikharev's recon.

 

I believe that Ratmansky's version is only inspired by the London production in terms of its physical production; in terms of choreography, order of music, etc. it's not based primarily on that production.

 

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Drew   
1 hour ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

 

The fish dives were inserted in the London production for Spessivtzeva, as per Danilova's autobio. 

Vikharev had already created his full fledged luxurious reconstruction of the iconic XIX century production. I remember reading that Ratmansky then chose to revive the also iconic London XX century one. What I am not sure about if is two different set of notations exist for this two productions. I must confess I had no idea that the London production had been notated. I thought that ballet notations had stopped after 1917. I believed that Ratmansky's had been a mere recreation using choreographic passages from Vikharev's recon.

 

I expect you are right about the notations--I guess we will find out. As far as Ratmansky's relation to Vikharev goes, my understanding is that Ratmansky worked directly from the same notations and made his own interpretation of those notations--he was not recreating Vikharev's work except in so far as he was following in Vikharev's footsteps. He also used other historical records (photos, drawings) including, apparently, looking at recordings or other records of early Royal Ballet productions by N. Sergeyev which were also based on those same notations but had some living memory behind them too.  (On his public Facebook page Ratmansky is constantly posting nineteenth-century photos and drawings of works he is staging.)

 

Ratmansky also wasn't working with dancers who refused to do what he asked and so was able, one infers, to make fewer compromises than Vikharev. And he was a stickler on the music and on recreating what he judged to be a 19th-century style of dancing. Vikharev was a great visionary--and was able to recreate the original sets and costumes--but Ratmansky was not just reproducing Vikharev's work regarding the choreography. The approach is too different. And as people have mentioned above, the notations do not nail down every detail.

 

Ratmansky did turn to the Diaghilev production as a source for sets and costumes as if trying to layer two histories into his production--plus some little additions to the procession of guests in the last act to allude further to that later production. (This is based on my memory of articles/interviews.)  This certainly complicates the degree to which his production can serve as a time machine to 1890, but though I like Ratmansky's Sleeping Beauty I at least agree with Vipa that ballet performances shouldn't be lectures.

 

I gather this Aurora's Wedding production will be a little different--genuinely trying to capture choreographic aspects of the London Aurora's Wedding (which I assume was still very close to the nineteenth-century Act III even if it had additions.)

I suppose, for that Diaghilev production, even if there aren't notations there may be other sources for recreation--however inexact--including film of early Royal Ballet productions like that posted above. Reconstructions, even when there are notations, are an art, not a science.

Edited by Drew

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vipa   
21 hours ago, fondoffouettes said:

I dunno -- I think there's something beautiful about honoring ballet's heritage. That's not to say I want carbon copies of what was produced in the late nineteenth century. (I'd love to see a Swan Lake that's informed by Ratmansky's reconstruction, but not necessarily the reconstruction itself.) And to his credit, Ratmansky wasn't dogmatic in adhering to the dance notation; he allowed for the fish dives in Act III, and he reinserted the overhead lift in the Bluebird pas de deux.

 

For me, it was a revelation to see choreography that actually fit Tchaikovsky's music for Sleeping Beauty. There were no extra supported pirouettes shoe-horned into music that wouldn't accommodate them. And the music for mime, action and scene transitions was used for just that.

 

The Sleeping Beauty reconstruction made me want to see more ballets stripped of their acrobatic Soviet accretions. I don't need to see Aurora scratch her ear with her big toe. 

 

The Aurora scratch her ear comment made me laugh fondoffouettes. I don't disagree in many ways. I guess I just think that musicality and taste can be choreographed and coached without going whole hog into an attempt at recreation. Especially when dancers, dance technique, and audiences have changed so much.  Acocella says it better than I, in the same New Yorker piece I cited before.  She comments on the Ratmansky project of recreating "Les Millions d'Arelequin." She writes  "Balanchine, who had danced the ballet in Russia as a boy, also revisited it. But he didn't reproduce the original steps - Who remembers them, he said. Instead, he reimagined Petipa's creation as a new piece, "Harlequinade, " with at least two marvelous roles. I have faith that the steps he created out of his idea of the old ones are as interesting as the original and  better suited to modern audiences and dancers."

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nanushka   

While we're on the topic of reconstructions, here are two videos of Carla Fracci recreating the Auroras of, respectively, Olga Spessivtseva and Carlotta Brianza. These are from 1987, when she was 51 years old!

 

Those balances are better than some we see from ballerinas in their prime these days at ABT.

 

And she does the thing at the end of the PDD adagio where she rises up completely on pointe –– so beautifully.

 

 

 

 

 

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nanushka   
39 minutes ago, vipa said:

Acocella says it better than I, in the same New Yorker piece I cited before.  She comments on the Ratmansky project of recreating "Les Millions d'Arelequin." She writes  "Balanchine, who had danced the ballet in Russia as a boy, also revisited it. But he didn't reproduce the original steps - Who remembers them, he said. Instead, he reimagined Petipa's creation as a new piece, "Harlequinade, " with at least two marvelous roles. I have faith that the steps he created out of his idea of the old ones are as interesting as the original and  better suited to modern audiences and dancers."

 

Balanchine was a great choreographer –– one of the greatest –– but so was Petipa. How can we know until we compare, based on whatever evidence Ratmansky can dig up? And won't it be interesting to do so?

 

Ratmansky has a passion for the archives, while Balanchine most assuredly did not. ("Who remembers them?" is so Balanchine.) Every artist has his or her method. Ratmansky has his ups and downs, as did Balanchine. He's earned my trust to do his thing. Sometimes it'll pay off, and sometimes it won't. But I'll be curious to see the results, no matter what.

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