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Lilac Fairy variation-Petipa or Lopukhov?

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I have come across an old article from a dance magazine (do not recall the name of such magazine now) in which is stated that the choreography for Lilac Fairy solo in the prologue as it is now performed by russian ballet companies (i.e.,the one that has the diagonal with sisonne, sisonne, releve, double pirouette from 5th) really belongs to Lopukhov.

I do know that Marie Petipa did not dance a choregraphically difficult variation, but that this was later changed when it was danced by better equpped dancers - however, the doubt still falls on me as to whether these "better equipped dancers" belonged to Petipa's era, or to Lopukhov.

Does anyone know?


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there has been some exchange on the different choreographic variations for the lilac fairy in turn-of-the-century russian productions on this site previously, if mem. serves.

the short answer to your question is that the now 'standard' variation for lilac out of russia is said to the be the work of lopukhov.

doug has written at various points about the difference between this variation and the two others notated in the 1900 sergeyev records, one of which has marie petipa's name identified with it.

tim scholl's book on BEAUTY goes into this somewhat as well.

certainly there were more virtuoso dancers in petipa's era than marie mariusovna.

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Doug, if you're reading this thread, could you please clarify the following paragraph of the article FauxPas linked:

The Kirov's Lilac Fairy variation follows neither notation, although claims have been made that their Lilac Fairy dances Marie Petipa's version. While the floor plan of the Kirov's variation follows that of Marie's, the steps differ from the notation. For example, the Kirov's Lilac begins with a diagonal of large jetés, traveling from upstage left to downstage right. The notation, however, offers the following first combination: after a starting pose with left foot tendu front, the ballerina steps forward on the left foot and piqués on the right foot in a low arabesque. Stepping through to plié on the left foot, she performs a pas de chat, leading with the right foot, to finish en face in fifth position, left foot front. She now steps to her right side, piqués on the right foot and brings her left foot to coupé front, while making a half turn to the left to face the upstage left corner. She pliés on her right foot, as her left leg moves to a low à la seconde, presumably while finishing the turn. (The lack of a left turn sign in the notation - indicated by a minus sign in parenthesis above the feet and legs stave - makes this turn slightly ambiguous.) She steps to plié-coupé on the left foot and is ready to begin again. The entire combination is performed three times. No jeté is indicated. The Kirov's final combination of penchée arabesques also is not given in the notation.

I assume when you mention the "Kirov's version" in this paragraph you are referring to the Sergeyev production? If so, I see a few differences between what you describe and what I've always seen the Kirov do, the most noticeable ones being that the Kirov's Lilac (as far as I've seen) has no jetés in her variation and she begins in the upstage right corner, not upstage left.

Also, the combination you describe as being notated for Marie Petipa I have trouble visualizing starting in the upstage right corner, but it makes sense when starting upstage left.

Thank you for all the work I know you've put into this, and thanks to Marc Haegeman for making it available online. :mad:

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i've not heard lilac's variation connected to egorova.

the only chronology i can find for her career, in the st. james press INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY OF BALLET (bremser, ed.) lists 2 fairy variations in a 1902/05 period: Breadcrumb, comes in this listing before Candide. 1911 is said to have marked egorova's debut year as Aurora. i note no indication that the ballerina did lilac in russia. Florine is also given as a role of hers, tho' this role is given in a general endnote, and not placed in the dated chronological list, so i can't attach a date to this debut. (the RUSSIAN BALLET ENCYCLOPEDIA also gives no indication of lilac as a role of hers.)

i'm post two photocards i have of Lubov Nikolaevna Egorova: one as florine and one as a member of the ensemble in the act 1 valse villageoise.

Lubov Egorova is associated with the Lilac Fairy and this was mentioned in early posts re Marie Petipa and the Lilac Fairy variation. Ludmilla Schollar and Anatole Vilzak in their book ' A Ballerina Prepares' confirms Egorova's association with the Lopukhov variation and gives a version of it written out. There are one or perhaps two photographs of Egorova in the role in the original production published in several books. As it is 06.32 as I write I do not have the time to check other sources of information I am sure another poster will confirm this information.

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i see.

here's what schollar says to introduce her breakdown for lilac's variation:

"choreography by feodor lopukhov, wo choreographed it for lyubov egorova, who danced it in the diaghilev production of 'the sleeping beauty' in london in 1921."

this date is footnoted to a ref. in clarke and crisp's BALLET, AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY as follows: 'the lilac fairy variation we know today derives from that composed by the famous leningrad choreographer feodor lopukhov (1886-1973) for the maryinsky ballerina liubov egorova in the early 1900s.'

it's interesting that this is not noted in the few russian sources i checked. tho' i have by no means checked such books exhaustively.

for all i know some book in my possession has an illustration of egorova in this role, but i don't know of any off hand.

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In Roland John Wiley's books on the Tchaikovsky ballets he mentions that Petipa in 1890 was somewhat divided on how the Lilac Fairy should be cast. Early notes and proposed cast lists include the blonde, delicate, lyrical Anna Christianovna Johansson as the proposed Lilac Fairy. She was a classically trained ballerina, taught by her father in the Imperial School. Later Petipa re-envisioned the role as more of a character dancer/mime role and gave it to his statuesque daughter, Marie Mariusovna Petipa who hadn't gone through the complete training in the Imperial School.

So the refashioning of the role for a soft, lyrical classical ballerina isn't really that far from Petipa's early plans for the role. Anna Johansson later danced the equivalent role of the Fairy Godmother in his "Cinderella" ballet with Pierina Legnani, who took over as Aurora after Carlotta Brianza returned to Europe after the 1890 season.

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I studied with Madame Shollar for two years when I was young...variation class every Tuesday! We always practiced "Lilac Fairy". It is pretty close to the version you see the Kirov dance today. silvy, instead of releve passe before the double piroette (the last diagonal), Madame set the second sissonne ouverte (land open) and then pique passe pas de bouree to fourth, double en dehors pirouette from fourth (arms fifth for turn) close fifth front. Our arms were in third arabesque for the sissonnes. For the step back arabesques before the dedans pirouette point back ecarte plie pose (middle section of variation), the hand comes to the lips and extends out palm up for each arabesque. She would say in her very lively, darling fashion, "Kiss, Kiss" sounding like "Keese, Keese!" for each porte bras... I teach some of Madame's versions of variations in my variation class. I tell the young dancers about her and Mr. Vilzak...I like to think that Madame would be so pleased to know her variations live on and her memory lives on...They were incredibly special teachers. Madame Shollar is listed as the original "White Cat" in the Diaghilev 1921 London production.

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Hi Hans, sorry to be slow reading this. Yes, upstage *left* corner, sorry about that. I was writing about the Kirov's variation in the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty, not the K. Sergeyev production. I had occasion to set both of the notated variations recently. The more difficult of the two is essentially what the Royal Ballet performs (although without as many pauses in the choreography as the Royal's version now has). The version the Kirov dances in their reconstruction matches neither of the notated versions of the variation.

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I know this is off topic, but I would like to share a story with you about the last time I saw Madame Ludmilla Shollar. She had been retired for quite some time, but Mr. Vilzak was still doing some teaching. He even set "Vilzak Variations" in the early 80s for San Francisco Ballet. It must have been late 70s because SFB was still at the 18th Ave. studios. I was walking down Geary Blvd. close to the studios during a break in rehearsals. There was a car parked in front of the Russian deli. I looked at the person in the passenger seat and realized it was Madame Shollar. I hadn't seen her in years. Her hair was completely grey (she had always dyed it bright auburn red!). I caught her eye and gave her an enormous, gracious reverance right out there on the sidewalk. Her face just lit up and beamed. It was the last time I saw her. She died a few weeks later. I just felt so grateful to have seen her again and to have given her honor and respect.

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