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Raked Stage

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Well, a raked stage slopes down ever so slightly towards the auditorium. I could imagine it's one reason why one talks of upstage and downstage.

Apparently U.S. stages aren't raked, but Russian stages are. When the NYCB went on its first Cold War tour of the Soviet Union in 1962 dancers were apparently terrified of the raked stages at first, as one can tell from both Villela's and Kent's delightful memoirs.

Allegra Kent notes that even the studio floors in the Bolshoi were raked at the same angle as the main stage.

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The Academy of Music, in Philadelphia, was raked until just a few years ago. Sure made those bourre circles in Waltz of the Flowers interesting. It always took a few days to adjust when we first moved into the theater... pirouettes during company class became much more frustrating!

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Yes. Tanaquil LeClercq also mentions raked stages and says it's interesting when one jumps: "it's hard coming up but coming down, you're a goddess." LOL

Villella says of his Donizetti Variations solo, which he had to encore in Russia, that the diagonal coming back up the second time was a "major problem".....

Gelsey Kirkland also talks about them. I believe the time she slid across the stage in Giselle Act II all the way to the feet of "the astonished Martine von Hamel, Queen of the Wilis" occurred on a raked European stage.

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The stage is raked for the benefit of the audience, not the performers. A raked stage gives a better view for patrons seated in the orchestra, especially if the seats are considerably lower than the stage, as is the case at City Center (although much improved since the renovation).

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The stage of the Palais Garnier in Paris is raked (and I think that of the Opera Bastille isn't, which sometimes makes things a bit difficult for the dancers, but I'm not sure). Also one studio in Garnier is raked the same way as that of the stage.

I wonder if the stages of the previous Paris Operas (e.g. that of the Rue Le Peletier) were raked too ?

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I have often wondered whether dancers who are used to raked stages don't find it equally hard adapting to flat stages as the other way round. After all, their bodies have learnt to compensate for the rake.

By the way, if a dancer has difficulties or falls on a raked stage, this is referred to as "the rake's progress" :)

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Just to confirm that many Russian stages are raked. Speaking from experience, they do provide a problem for non-Russian dancers as, for example, it is hard to prevent oneself moving downstage during unsupported pirouettes. The same applies to fouettes, only more so. Coming from a background where I worked on flat stages, raked stages were a culture shock. But you soon get used to them, although the Mariinski stage seemed very difficult to me at first.

I am inclined to think that most of the difficulty is psychological, specially as the myth of Russian stages is rife, certainly in the UK. They really are NOT the precipes I was led to believe, but initially they did seem harder to come to terms with in my mind rather than in reality.


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Massine writes in My Life in Ballet that the Paris Opera's

"raked stage, which is unusually steep, made my long solo dance even more difficult. I found it very difficult to keep my balance as the dance progressed, and I was always afraid of falling into the orchestra pit." page 58

Wouldn't Massine have been use to dancing on raked stages, coming from Russia? Why would the Opera's stage be considered "unusually steep"?

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