Ratmansky’s Bayadere in Berlin (4 Nov. 2018 premiere) in Other European Companies Posted November 13, 2018 · Edited November 13, 2018 by Ashton Fan Amy, Thank you for your detailed account of Ratmansky's La Bayadere. From what you have written it would appear that Ratmansky has staged a work which is recognisably a mid-nineteenth century ballet in the balance which it strikes between narrative and dance content. Whether we shall all like a version of the work which is a genuine attempt to stage a pre-Revolutionary version of the ballet is another matter which will depend on our own personal tastes and preferences and in particular whether we regard the ballets of the nineteenth century as technically demanding works of narrative and mood or merely as opportunities for technical display. I can't help thinking that whether or not a genuine attempt to reconstruct a nineteenth century ballet retains its place in a company's repertory has far more to do with how much professional capital has been invested in the version which a company danced before the reconstruction was staged than anything else. It would seem that a reconstruction has a much better chance of surviving as a repertory piece where a company makes no claim to having a continuous performance tradition of the work than where it does. The Bolshoi's reconstructed Le Corsaire and Coppelia did not displace much loved versions of the ballet and have retained a hold in the company's repertory whereas the Mariinsky's Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere reconstructions were replacing stagings for which continuity and an unbroken performing tradition were claimed, and the reconstructions have not survived . Part of the problem is that the audience may have to get used to a text which has no place for familiar characters or traditional mid twentieth century display pieces another is the dance vocabulary used in the earlier versions.The familiar mid-century much modified "traditional " versions tend to emphasise steps of elevation whereas earlier versions often emphasise petite batterie. If you then add period appropriate performance style to the mix there is a great deal for an audience to get used to seeing. Now I think that an audience, even one that is emotionally,attached to a particular version of a text, has a far greater capacity to adapt to the sort of culture shock which changes in performance style and text represent than a company's coaches who have a professional stake in the purported authenticity of what they are handing on to the next generation. Ratmansky is one of a number of pioneers in the world of textual authenticity and early ballet performance practice and we are currently where the advocates of the early music movement were fifty or sixty years ago. Should any of us be surprised that the movement seems to be of more interest to some companies than others? It is far easier to gain acceptance of the new approach when a company has no emotional attachment to a text because it has no recent tradition of performing the work which is to be restored than it is for a company which makes claims to be the custodian of a ballet's "true" and "authentic" text. If a company claims that it has lovingly preserved a text in an unbroken performance tradition, passing the text down from coach to dancer, generation after generation then a restored text is a threat not only to the company's claims to custodianship but to the professional standing, credibility and authority of its coaches as their professional reputation is dependent on their professional attachment and investment in the text danced locally as "true" and "authentic". I know that there is currently a debate about whether or not a reconstruction which does not use the original designs can be a true reconstruction. Here I think we have to be pragmatic. Three act ballets are expensive to stage whatever their theatrical history. These Imperial works are particularly expensive because of the resources which a staging in the original style would demand. Arguing that any attempt to restore an authentic performing text for La Bayadere, Swan Lake, or Sleeping Beauty performed in period appropriate style has to be accompanied by authentic imperial style sets and costumes puts the whole enterprise beyond the reach of all but the most well financially endowed companies such as the Mariinsky. Bolshoi and POB none of which are likely to embark on such a programme in the foreseeable future. It seems to me that trying to stage an authentic text is far more important than dressing the dancers in authentic style, if only because, it is doable and professionals and audiences alike need to see what these works look like when danced at the right speed with Petipa's musicality. Seeing them performed in a more authentic style is what is needed to persuade the dance powers that be that authenticity is the only route to take in performance. As things are at present we will have to wait until hell freezes over before we see an authentic text performed in period in appropriate style in a Mariinsky staging of these ballets. It certainly has the resources to stage the works in Imperial style but, apart from staging the third act of its reconstructed Sleeping Beauty for its Petipa Gala it seems most disinclined to stage the major works itself in anything approaching authentic style and equally disinclined to co-operate with those who wish to do so. I believe that it even went back on its promise to make the original Minkus score of La Bayaderer available to Ratmansky for his Berlin staging. I could easily accept a La Bayadere in which the score of the ballet is played at a speed both composer and choreographer expected; Petipa's musicality is restored and the entrance of the Shades is quicker and more dynamically interesting and there is no Golden Idol. But then I have just seen McRae's Solor and I know that I really can do without bravura technical display for its own sake. It's astonishing but his performance as Solor was more like a circus act than an account of the role or the character. So for me as far as an authentic Bayadere is concerned it cannot come too soon. Ratmansky is one of a number of pioneers in the world of nineteenth century ballet text and performance style and we are currently where the advocates of the early music movement were in the 1950's and 1960's. That movement achieved its ends with committed performances by pioneer musicians who transformed taste as far as eighteenth century musical performance style is concerned. It will be performances of authentic texts in appropriate style, almost certainly without authentic sets and costumes, that will do the same for Petipa's ballets.