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doug

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Everything posted by doug

  1. Has anyone mentioned yet that perhaps the 'reconstructed' choreography does not have to be wedded to reconstructed sets and costumes, or even reconstructed style? My interest in recovering the notated steps from the Stepanov notations is to see what steps were danced. I continually find more variety, objectively speaking here -- actual variety , in the notated dances than in later versions of the same ballets. I am interested in what was danced, but feel that is a different question from how it is danced. Sure, I don't think the highest extensions work really well in Petipa ballets, but I don't think today's dancers should look 'faux' in them either. I think it might be possible to dance Petipa-era steps in todays classical styles - Vaganova, neo-classical, English, French, etc. This certainly was done early in the 20th century as Russian ballet was disseminated to the West. Re: the musicality issue, some of the reconstructions have suffered because of the difficulty of setting notated steps to music. The Bluebird pas de deux in the new-old Kirov BEAUTY is a good example. In the coda, Florine's first entrance is mistakenly taken at half speed. This meant the stagers ran out of music (taking cuts into account) before running out of steps. They therefore opened a cut in the music, ended up needing only half of the music in the cut, then filled the rest of the music with running around that is not notated. They were mistakenly unable to reconcile the notation and music. In Florine's variation, what is notated as the downbeat is actually the second beat in the music - Tchaikovsky often composed music in which the second beat felt like the first. Anyone listening, i.e. a notator without sufficient musical training, would be unaware of this. If a reconstructor today tries to reconcile this anamoly, he/she must have sufficient musical knowledge to understand the differences between the bars of notated choreography and bars of music in order to reconcile them. By the way, I do support the reconstructions, generally speaking.
  2. I believe they were intended to be together in the end. The 1877 libretto states: "APOTHEOSIS: Through the rain the peaks of the Himalayas are visible. Nikia's shade glides through the air; she is triumphant, and tenderly looks at her beloved Solor, who is at her feet. THE END" The creators dont'; seem to have been concerned with as much analysis and logic as we seem to be today.
  3. According to the 1877 libretto, Nikiya and Solor and a conversation during what is now the first pas de deux of the Shades scene. She showed him a castle in the sky that would be theirs if he didn't betray her. Probably by 1900, and possibly, earlier, this scene was replaced by the first pas de deux. I can't confirm this from the dance notations, however, because this first pas de deux is not notated. But that doesn't mean it wasn't danced. Hope this bit helps.
  4. I'm not able to lay my hands on many contemporary writings about the characters in Bayadere. Most of the reviews that I have access to mention the spectacle and dances. Parts of Ekaterina Vazem's (the first Nikia) memoirs have been translated. She doesn't mention character motivation, etc. There is a contemporary (late 1870s) drawing of the destruction of the temple, entitled "The Revenge of the Gods," so it appears that the destruction and murder of those in the temple was at the hands of the gods and not willed by Nikia in some Carrie-esque fashion. Perhaps our post 20th century viewpoints encourage us to credit to Nikia with more aggression that was intended by the creators? I think, as Leigh suggested in one of his options, that Nikia was part of a plan ordained by the powers that be. Her statements to Solor, as given in the 1877 libretto, support this take.
  5. Roland John Wiley has translated the 1877 libretto. The subtitle for Act IV, Scene 7, is "The gods' wrath." That the curse is Nikia's own is not mentioned in the original published libretto. During the apotheosis, Nikia's shade "tenderly looks at her beloved Solor." I've always thought of the ending as moralistic, the sort of ending that would have been thought inevitable at the time the libretto was written. Vengeance was brought about by the gods on Nikia's behalf. To my mind, the difference between GISELLE and BAYADERE lies in the difference between Bathilde and Gamzatti. The former was an innocent, while the latter brought about the heroine's death.
  6. Try Elizabeth Souritz's "Soviet Choreographers in the 1920s" (Duke University Press, 1990).
  7. The first thing to know about the collection of notations at Harvard is that they were made by a variety of notators, some were even students, and they vary greatly in level of detail, sometimes even within a particular ballet. In the case of PHARAOH, at least most of the ballet is in Nikolai Sergeyev's hand, and most of his notations provide only ground plans with steps/movements for legs and feet. This makes it possible to recover the "steps", but requires editorial port de bras, etc. Frankly, I also don't blame Lacotte for not basing his version of PHARAOH on the notation. He doesn't read the notation, so it would have ended up not really being his production. But certainly, a more "authentic" (realizing that word is a Pandora's box in itself) version is possible. But Lacotte's is probably more exciting to watch for today's audience. My colleague and I recreated the river variations and some of the (I believe) Act II divert dances. Only bits and pieces were actually used by Lacotte. I found the river variations fascinating. Even in Sergeyev's hand (which regularly includes wrong time signatures and a very quirky sort of shorthand for certain steps), the choreography was actually quite clear - these are character variations (very little pointe work though the ballerinas wore pointe shoes) and a lot of fun.
  8. This post is pretty rambly, so apologies in advance. Realizing I am coming to this discussion very late, and wondering if my post wouldn't better belong in the splintered-off heritage topic, my comments, having seen the Kirov very little, but being very aware of their recent reconstructions (time out to breathe in midst of very long sentence), is that they are realizing their classical heritage is very convoluted. Many steps performed in their productions of 19th century ballets were created in the 20th century. Attributions to Petipa and Ivanov are no longer taken seriously. Reconstruction projects have been acclaimed internationally but scorned at home. Two productions of the same ballet are retained in order to appease? Ballerinas, now serving as coaches, are being told that what they grew up knowing as Petipa is really that work of so-and-so, the less than famous (or even infamous) ballet master. Has the recent international success of reconstruction projects cast a pall over non-reconstructed works, at least for purposes of international touring? How much will financial profits from touring play into repertory decisions? Seems to me they've turned a corner with regard to their classical hertiage and now have a number of decisions to make. (The rest of the world seems content with Soviet-era stagings by famous Russian dancers who defected to the West, despite very real questions of authenticity even on the most general level - another topic altogether.)
  9. Mel - in order to clarify, the choreographic script of DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH lies in the Harvard Theatre Collection (and partially in my closet). In the end, Lacotte decided to create his own choreography, save for one or two brief dances, so his production is a pastiche "in the style of..."
  10. The original LE PAS DE FLEURS was intro-waltz-adagio-interlude-variation-interlude-variation-coda. By 1899, variations from other ballets (PYGMALION and ADVENTURES OF PELLEUS) were being interpolated by Legnani and Olga Preo... Other variations have since been used. Today we hear Delibes' waltz, adagio, some of the interludes, and coda in a radically different orchestration than originally made in 1867.
  11. I agree with the assertion that arrangements of many of the ballets scores being discussed plays a part in their condemnation. I don't think Delibes has been mentioned here, but his score for LA PAS DES FLEURS (now usually called LE JARDIN ANIME in LE CORSAIRE, or referred to as the "Naila Waltz -based on a subsequent arrangement of tunes from the original LA PAS DES FLEURS divertissement) is heard only in arrangements today - and those that I have heard do not do the music justice in any way. Nor do they reflect the subtlety of the original.
  12. This is so interesting. In the notation, the corps indeed does the turns with the 3 soloists, rather than just passes. To me, the turns done by everyone become much more dynamic. Some of the metronome markings in the piano scores used by Nikolai Sergeev after he left Russia indicate faster-than-usual tempi for a several of numbers in the scene, including the corps' entrance and the third Shade's variation. How about Nikiya's coda? For her first entree in the coda, the notated steps include 3 saute arabesques with Solor walking behind her (rather than lifting her), followed by the lift with beats. This is repeated three times all on the same diagonal (takes less room becuse fewer lifts), rather than crossing the stage three times, as done today. This is followed by a number of steps performed in a manege - I think it is saut de basque, petit jete en tournant, grand jete - all done 3 times - followed by chaines turns. We usually see only tour jetes today. Nikiya's second entree comes right down the center of the stage - sissonne arabesque - actually leaping onto pointe - followed by by rond de jambe en l'air. This combination is done very quickly and is repeated over and over to the alternate side. This is followed by a backward diagonal moving toward upstage left - two hops on pointe in fifth, hop to a flat-footed echappe (forgive my terminology here) and another hop to pointe in fifth. Repeated several times while travelling backward (reminds me of a similar step for the ballerina in SYMPHONY IN C, first movement). Then, grand emboites forward, followed by a double pirouette into Solor's arms, followed by a swoon (the position is notated) as, I believe, the curtain falls. At the very end, the corps comes running in from the sides, but their final positions aren't given (might be a semi-circle). Any comments on what was performed by Nikiya in the coda?
  13. It seems to be mostly Nikiya's solos that weren't notated. None of her Act I and Act II dances are notated. In the Shades scen (Act III, Scene 5), only the grand pas de deux and her coda entrances are notated. In Act IV, the pas d'action is notated, but no solo variations.
  14. Thanks, Alexandra. I can be more specific. There are some differences in the Shades' entrance, once the corps is all on stage level in their lines. Solor and Nikiya's first entrance/first pas de deux is not notated. The third Shade variation (the one that is performed at slow tempo now) appears to have been danced at a pretty fast tempo, with jumps at the beginning rather than the slow developpes. The backward diagonal prior to the final pas de courou diagonal is also different in the notation - passes and single pirouettes. The grand pas contains many differences, both for the principals and corps, including some unusual lifts. Nikiya's variations is not notated. Ekaterina Vazem's memoirs state that the veil flew up in the air after the final arabesque - I wonder if this means the final arabesque of a certain sequence midway through the variation (maybe the same place at which Solor runs off with the veil in modern productions) or at the end of the variation. Karsavina confirmed the upward flying veil in her remembrances in Dancing Times in the 1960s. Her comments also confirm other difference between modern productions (specifically Nureyev's for the Royal) and what she danced while at the Maryinsky. The coda is more elaborate for the corps and significantly different for Nikiya. The Kirov's notes stated that Nikiya's coda entrances had been restored. Could anyone describe the steps in her two entrees?
  15. Having not seen the Kirov's new-old BAYADERE, but having worked with the 1900 notations of the ballet, I am interested in hearing what was new/different/changed in their Shades scene. Could some of those who saw the production fill me in?
  16. Exactly. I wasn't thinking of the musical issues. Minkus composed many more ballets than Tchaikovsky. Pugni contributed many scores as well, including DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH, and I think he was a less talented composer than Minkus. We're not used to their sort of music today, most finding it dull or worse, but theirs was the norm in late 19th century Russian ballet. Makes us grateful for Tchaikovsky and Glazunov, and maybe even Drigo, but nonetheless, Petipa and his dancers were most used to the Pugnis and Minkus's of the day. Doesn't mean we have prefer them or even like them (personal preference being a different issue than appreciation), but they can be appreciated for being involved with a large part of Petipa's output.
  17. LA BAYADERE is very representative of most Petipa full-length ballets (lots of pantomime, character dance, use of children, melodrama, score by a house composer, long running time). It's interesting to read the various reactions to the Kirov's reconstruction (which, btw, I have not seen). SLEEPING BEAUTY was a special case - Tchaikovsky was on the team and Vsevolozhsky made a lot of contributions. It suceeded, overall, whereas NUTCRACKER did not, despite the work of the same team. SWAN LAKE has morphed into something it was not when it was revived in 1895. Many people today might have the same reaction to a reconstructed SWAN LAKE as they have to the new-old BAYADERE. So, in this light, I might agree that, of those ballets which are still in rep today, BAYADERE is most representative of late 19th century Russian ballet.
  18. In addition his nearly-full-length Raymonda in 1946, Balanchine choreographed three more ballets to music from Raymonda. PAS DE DIX was choreographed in 1955 for a principal couple and 4 supporting couples. This is essentially the "Pas Classique Hongrois" from Act III. The choreography is a mixture of Petipa and Balanchine. Nearly every number was "refreshed" by Balanchine and several of them are completely Balanchine. RAYMONDA VARIATIONS (originally, Valses et Variations) was made in 1961. Most of the music is from the Act I, Scene 2 vision scene. Roles include a principal couple and 12 corps women. Comparing Balanchine's choreography to the notated Raymonda, I find that all of the material in Raymonda Variations is new Balanchine, although he does quote Petipa in the opening steps of the harp variation, sans scarf. CORTEGE HONGROIS was choreographed in 1973 for Melissa Hayden's retirement from NYCB. It is essentially Act III, with a pas de deux from the Act II pas d'action and the Waltz from Act I, Scene 1. Roles include a principal classical couple, principal character couple, 8 classical couples and 8 character couples. I believe this ballet is very important in Balanchine's output for two reasons. First, Balanchine quoted Petipa often, but frequently set Petipa's steps to different music than originally set by Petipa (for example, Raymonda's famous accelerating passes). Second, Balanchine rechoregraphed the Czardas, so we have an extended example of character Balanchine. [ March 21, 2002, 03:12 PM: Message edited by: doug ]
  19. I completely agree that Raymonda requires wit and command. In my opinion, modern productions don't require what was required of Raymonda originally. According to the story of the ballet, she had will and pep to spare. She's the center of attention in Act I and clearly enjoys it. After reading the letter announcing the return of Jean de Brienne, she orders a cour d'amour to be prepared stat for the next day. She's not too courtly to resist dancing a solo in the middle of a waltz by a bunch of peasants. She enjoys spending time with her friends. She accompanies their dances on a lute and has enough energy after a long day to show them a new dance of her own. In her nightmare vision scene with Abderrakhman, she stands up to him and rejects his advances. She doesn't faint until the end of the conversation (and maybe fainting was the proper way to indicate that the conversation was over). In Act II, she doesn't faint a second time when Ab shows up instead of Jean. In fact, she's so feisty that Aunt Sybille has to remind her of her manners. So she dances with Ab, just to be polite, but doesn't give an inch. In the final act, she jumps on the Hungarian band wagon and delivers the hottest number of the night. That's our girl!
  20. Did anyone see the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo's (nearly) full-length Raymonda staged by Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova? I would love to hear about it.
  21. Mary, you've brought up a great point about the relationship of the story to the music and dance. Both Tim Scholl and Roland John Wiley have made the point that Raymonda seems more about dance than story, that the story simply links together the various dance suites. I generally agree with this, although Act I, Scene 1 is mostly about story. From there, the ballet is mostly a series of dance suites: Act 1, Scene 2 is a classical suite; Act II includes both a classical pas d'action and a character suite; and, of course, Act III is the amalgamation of classical and character dance. But, Raymonda has MORE story than we've seen in any modern productions. To my knowledge, each is missing the character development originally given to Sybille (in Act I Scene 2) and Ab (Act I, Scene 2), and most definitely the character development of Raymonda (in the original, she conversed with everyone - Sybille, her friends, Ab, etc.). With mime essentially gone by the wayside, all her character development has to be expressed through her variations, and this was something never contemplated by Petipa or his late-19th century audience. By the way, the White Lady does appear later in the ballet, during Jean's fight with Ab. She must have made a pass across the stage or appeared or something during the third part of the battle. Her theme runs quickly therough the orchestra, just before Jean kills Ab. But she is certainly much less present than the Lilac Fairy or Sugar Plum, etc. I am not fully convinced that an emotional thread is necessary for the music and choreography, or the full-length ballet, for that matter, to be successful. I wonder if that notion is more a modern one. Or perhaps this view was held by most back in 1898, but not by Petipa? (Bach was thought to be outdated by the time he reached old age, too.)
  22. Mel, you've got a treasure there. Do you know if the transcribed piano reduction is related to the 1946 Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo version of Raymonda by Balanchine and Danilova? The NYPL holds musical sources for that production, as well.
  23. The notations do not generally indicate anything about character of movement. This is particularly true with the Raymonda notations, which were mostly made by Nikolai Sergeev. A couple other ballet sin the repertoire were notated in more detailed fashion and offer more instruction on movement and partnering, but these notes really can't be said to relate to "character" of movement.
  24. I thought it might be helpful to layout the cast and structure of Petipa's 1898 Raymonda. From this base, we can discuss the production itself and subsequent Raymonda productions. This is a little long, but hopefully worthwhile. * * * * * CAST LIST Raymonda, Countess de Doris (Pierina Legnani) The Countess Sybille, canoness, Raymonda's aunt (Mme Cecchetti) The White Lady, protector of the House of Doris Clemence, girlfriend of Raymonda (Mlle Kulichevskaya) Henriette, girlfriend of Raymonda (Preobrazhenskaya) The Knight Jean de Brienne (Sergei Legat) Andrei II, King of Hungary Abderrakhman, a Saracen knight (Pavel Gerdt) Bernard de Ventadour, a troubadour or Provence (Georgi Kyasht) Beranger, a troubador of Aquitaine (Nikolai Legat) Seneschal, in charge of the castle of Doris * * * * * ACT I, SCENE ONE - Raymonda's Name-day Scene I: A hall in the castle of Doris. Raymonda's 4 friends are onstage (Henriette, Clemence, Bernard and Beranger). The Senescahl issues order re: name-day celebrations. La Traditrice: dance of 4 friends and 12 [older, I think] students. Scene II: Sybille enters with 8 ladies in waiting. Scolds everyone for their idleness. Reprise de la danse: No one pays any attention and they dance again. Scene mimique: Countess demands pages put away their instruments. La Recit de la Comtesse: Countess tells story about White Lady, protectoress of the castle, whoe statue is upstage center. The White Lady will bless them if they fulfill thei responsibilities, but not if they are idle (!). La danse: Everyone makes fun of the superstitious old woman and dances around her. Scene III: Servants announce arrival of messengers. Countess goes to get Raymonda. Scene IV: Entrance of Raymonda (with variation in which she picks up flowers that girl students have put in a trail on the ground). Scene V: Raymonda reads the letter stating Jean de Brienne will return tomorrow to marry her. [At this point, Petipa added an entrance for the Saracen knight, Abderrakhman, who offers Raymonda gifts in honor of her name day. She is not interested and he plans to abduct her at a later time. Glazunov composed only 8 additional bars of music for all this action.] Scene VI: 8 vassals enter and congratulate Raymonda. 24 peasant couples follow. Grande valse: 24 peasant couples. Pizzicato: variation for Raymonda. Reprise de la valse: Waltz resumes with peasant couples and entree for Raymonda. Scene mimique: Raymonda asks the seneschal to arrange a cour d'amour for the next day's wedding festivities. Everyone departs, except Raymonda and 4 friends. It is evening. Prelude et la Romanesca: dance for 4 friends (Alexandra Danilova referred to this dance as a "character mazurka" although the music is in 4/4 time and not a mazurka.) Prelude et variation: Harp variation for Raymonda with scarf. Scen mimique: Raymonda lies down, fanned by pages. Clemence plays the lute. All magically fall asleep except Raymonda. Scene VII: Apparition de la Dame Blanche: The White Lady descends from her pedestal. Raymonda is petrified but follows her out onto the terrace. Curtain falls. * * * * * ACT ONE, SCENE 2 - Visions Entr'acte Scene VIII: A park outside the castle. White Lady is followed by Raymonda (actually Raymonda's doubles, who will watch the real Raymonda in the subsequent dances). A mist covers everything. When it lifts, Jean de Brienne and 12 knights are surrounded by 48 corps women and also children. The women crown the knights. Raymonda runs to Jean. Grand Adagio: Raymonda and Jean pas de deux with corps groupings. Valse Fantastique: Corps waltz. Variation 1: Female soloist. Variation II: Female soloist. Variation III: Raymonda [Petipa did not use the music Glaznuvo composed for this variation. Instead, he used an arrangement of the waltz from Glazunov's "Scenes de Ballet".] Coda: Everyone. Scene IX: Raymonda goes back to the White Lady, who mimes, "Look, and learn what awaits you." Raymonda turns back to Jean and find herself face to face with Abderrakhman. Everyone else has disappeared. Extended mime conversation ensues. He wants her, she rejects him. She faints (either here or after children's dance). Scene X and Ronde des follets et des farfadets: student will-o'-the-wisps and goblins appears and dance around Raymonda. Scene XI: The sun rises. Scene XII: Friends from the castle come out onto the terrace, see Raymonda, and try to revive her. * * * * * ACT II - Cour d'Amour Entr'acte Scene I - March: A courtyard at the castle of Doris. Everyone congratulates Raymonda, but she is worried that Jean has not yet arrived. Trumpets announce special guests ... Scene II: Abderrakhman arrives and Raymond recognizes him from her dream. Sybille reminds Raymonda of her duty of hospitality. Scene III (Grad pas d'action): Dramatic adagio in which Abderrakhman tries to woo Raymonda. 4 friends also participate. Variation I: Henriette or Clemence. Variation II: Henriette or Clemence (I'm not sure who danced which variation). Variation III: Bernard or Beranger (this variation is now often used for Jean in Act III). Variation IV: Raymonda (horn solo). Coda: all. Scene mimique: Abderrakhman presents his retinue to Raymonda and a character suite begins. Entree des jongleurs: 30 men and 30 women. They hit sticks on the ground during the dance. Danse des garcons arabes (Arab boys): 12 student boys. Balanchine danced this role in 1917. Entree des Sarrazins: Saracen couple. Grand pas espagnol: Lead couple and 12 women (this was later changed to 8 couples; the notation was first made for 16 women, then crossed out to change to 8 couples). Danse Orientale: This was intended as a variation for Raymonda, but from all I can gather, this number was omitted in 1898. Bacchanal: The coda of the character suite. Everyone participates and at the end Ab tries to adbuct Raymonda. Scene IV: Jean and King Andrei arrive in the3 nick of time. Brief fighting. The king calms everyone down. Jean and Ab receive swords and prepare to duel. Le combat: The fight itself, which has three short parts. In the third part, the White Lady appears (along with her musical theme) and Jean kills Ab. Andrei joins the hands of Jean and Raymonda. Hymne: Everyone is relieved and celebrates. * * * * * ACT III - Le Festival des Noces Entr'acte Le cortege hongrois: Outside at Jean's castle somewhere in France. A procession in which Raymonda and jean are congratulated by wedding guests. Grand pas hongrois: a Hungarian divertissement in honor of the present of King Andrei II of Hungary. Petipa seems to have re-arranged the order of the dances, but I'll give them in the order in the score. This particular number is a czardas for a lead couple (Preobrazhenskaya and Bekefi) and 20 additional couples. Dance des enfants: Children's dance for 12 student couples. [Mazurka]: Petipa added a mazurka, from Glazunov's "Scenes de Ballet", for a lead couple (Marie Petipa and Kchesinsky) and 12 additional couples. Entree: 8 couples plus Jean and Raymonda. Pas classique hongrois: addagio for 8 couples, Jean and Raymonda. Variation I: Female variation (don't know how danced it). Could have been Clemence or Henriette because both neither of the dancers portraying those roles danced in this section of the divert. Preobrezhensakaya was dancing character dances during this act. Variation II: Female variation (don't know who danced it). Variation III: Men's pas de quatre for Jean, Bernard, Beranger, plus Alexander Gorsky (!). Quite the line up of dancers! Variation IV: Raymonda's piano variation. Coda: All classical participants. Galop: Everyone. Apotheose: The apotheosis depicted a tournament. The back of the stage opened to reveal an open square in which a tournament is taking place. END OF BALLET
  25. The libretto is the story of the ballet as printed in the audience program book. Sometimes it differs from the ballet master's notes (which usually contain many more details). The libretto does not generally contain any information about steps. The Raymonda libretto has been translated by Roland John Wiley and is printed, along with an original cast list and list of dances (including how many dancers performed each dance), in his book, A Century of Russian Ballet (Oxford, 1990), pages 392-401.
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