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Blue Bird pas de deux

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I have noticed that the Kirov version of this pdd (from "Sleeping Beauty") differs from the Royal Ballet one in one important aspect. While, as far as I know, in the pdd the bird is the man, the ballerina is a princess (Princess Florine). The Russian ballerinas portray her as a princess, while the English ballerinas move as if she were a bird too (arms and all). Does anyone know what is the basis for the English to dance Florina like a bird? Is it really correct to do it like this? Which would be the "correct" version?

puzzled silvy :rolleyes:

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Silvy--I don't know why English ballerinas perform the Princess Florine with fluttering hands and arms, but it probably goes back a long way. Moira Shearer did much fluttering. My favorite Florine has always been Alicia Alonso, who danced it in a very classical manner. She was like a diamond, brilliant and regal, and her variation was done with much attention to small transition steps, a quality she seems to have passed on to Annette Delgado and Barbara Garcia in the recent Cuban ballet performances of Black Swan and Swan Lake.

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Another subtext I've heard is that the princess admires the bluebird, and wants to be like him. The bluebird (perhaps nefariously --- can't trust those bluebirds! :P) slowly transforms the princess into a bird without her knowledge. Apparently, this is visible in the pdd, with the princess getting more bird choreography until her complete transformation at the end.


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I was struck the first time I saw the Kirov dance "Sleeping Beauty" how classical Florine was -- because I'd seen the fluttery British one first. I've read that Florine IS a Princess, not a bird. (So the Russian would be the more correct.) I don't know whether the Royal Ballet is a misreading, a performance tradition, or a conscious change -- and would like to, so if anyone does, please tell us.

I'd never heard what Andre wrote (about the Princess being changed into a bird) and wonder if that's come from dancers who are trying very hard to make sense of yet another human who has a thing for a bird in Ballet Land. (Surely the possible subject of a dissertation?)

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I believe I remember reading that when Antoinette Sibley was first dancing Princess Florine she went to C.W.Beaumont to ask him what it was about, and he told her that the Princess is imprisoned at the top of a tall tower and the Bluebird is trying to teach her how to fly so that she can escape. So that would explain the fluttering.

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Hi, Andre, and thanks for bringing that story up.

I'll try to give you the short version:

The Princess Florine was imprisoned in the top of a tall tower by her cruel father, and no one came to visit her except a bluebird, whom she would feed with crusts of bread, and would talk to him. After awhile, she discovered that if she listened carefully, she could hear the bluebird chirping to her, and soon learned that it was his language, and she began to speak it, too. She would spend hours listening to her bluebird tell her of faroff places and wonderful things that she would never, ever see, for she was locked in her tower with no hope of release or escape. "But why," asked the bluebird, "don't you just fly out the window?" She replied, "If I did that I would fall to the earth and be killed. My kind cannot fly!" The bluebird then said, "Oh, there's nothing easier! If you will listen to me, I will teach you how to fly as a repayment for your troubling to learn to speak bluebirdish. Life was very dull before I had someone agreeable to tell my stories to." So, she did as she was told, and before long, she had learned to fly from the bluebird, and they flew happily away from the tower forever together.

(Ever wonder about that sort of atypical ending where both dancers grand jeté offstage? There's why!)

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Which also explains all the "listening" Florine does, and the brisés and pas de chats they do together in the coda. In fact, that story helps a lot of the pas de deux make sense; the choreography seems to me even more masterful now than it did before!

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ah, synchronicity... just yesterday I was posting on the "Royal Ballet style" thread about Antoinette Sibley in the Bluebird (on the video An Evening wit hte Royal Ballet)....

" Antoinette Sibley is probably THE MOST BEAUTIFUL Princess Florine I shall ever see, and there you’ll see everything you could want t o see about Royal Ballet style -- the accuracy, the strong pointes, the beautiful correct action, AND also the pliancy -- she does the passage with the toe-hops (where the leg folds through from devant to arabesque) with an incredibly beautiful, bird-like shimmer in the back and arms, and continues with the most astonishing dancing: double ronde-de jambes leaning, with the MOST beautiful carriage of the upper body, probably, that I've ever seen. It's all over in a flash, but it's like with the Nicholas Brothers, you just want to scream and make her do it over and over till you can believe you've actually seen it..... And of course with video tape, you CAN encore it over and over again, run it in slow motion, check out her timing, LOOK at those tilts in the upper body while the lower body is doing such difficult things...."

Have to thank Mel for posting the story. It makes it make so much sense. I think all Aurora's wedding guests were the characers in the other Perrault stories, right?

IMO the Sergeyev version that the Royal Ballet uses is a much more beautiful dance than the Soviet one. It's nobler, simpler, more exacting, and more expressive. The ballerina's pelvis remains at the same angle, from echappes through to arabesque in the Sergeyev -- and as she passes from croisee devant through into arabesque effacee the image remains so clean, which makes the action in the back and arms is so much more telling, and hte whole phrase reaches such a beautiful fulfillment, in its geometry and in its character. In the Soviet version, she changes feet as the working foot arrives at passe -- but to me it always just ends up looking like a fumble, and the attitude croisee at the end is never a beautiful position, no matter who does it, it just seems to bobble.

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