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la sylphide/les sylphides

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even the most basic of ballet reference works should give the particulars of these two different works.

a web search should also yield a good amount of background information.

in short, here's what the new york public library for the performing arts gives in its catalogue:

Sylphide, La

Chor: Filippo Taglioni; mus: Jean Schneitzhöffer; lib: Adolphe Nourrit after Charles Nodier; scen: Pierre Cicéri; cos: Eugène Lami. First perf: Paris, Opéra, Mar 12, 1832, Paris Opera Ballet with Marie Taglioni as the Sylphide.

Sylphides, Les

Original title: Shopeniana.

Chor: Mikhail Fokin; mus: Frédéric Chopin, orchestrated by Aleksandr Glazounov; lib: Mikhail Fokin; scen & cos: various artists including Leon Bakst (Waltz). First perf: Russia: St. Petersburg, Marinsky Theatre, Feb 10, 1907, Marinsky Ballet.

Performed: St. Petersburg, Marinsky Theatre, March 8, 1908, Marinsky Ballet; mus. orchestrated by Maurice Keller and Aleksandr Glazounov (Waltz).

Performed: St. Petersburg, Marinsky Theatre, April 6, 1908, Marinsky Ballet School's annual performance, plotless with Taglioni style tutus.

Renamed Les sylphides for first Paris perf: Théâtre du Châtelet, June 2, 1909, Ballets russes de Diaghilev; mus.: orchestrated by Igor Stravinsky, Aleksandr Glazounov, Anatol Liadov and Nikolai Cherepnin; scen & cos.: Alexandre Benois.

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Les Sylphides is a romantic ballet using Chopin's beautiful waltzes and mazurkas, preludes and a nocturne. The large group of dancers in their long white romantic tutus move as a corps and also form tableaus in the background, posing behind the soloists during their variations. There is one male dancer (the "poet") who dances a pas de deux with a lead sylphide. The ballet is known as a "white" ballet, a quintessential romantic ballet with its soft lines, lilting jumps, port de bras and seamless patterning. The dancers wear the romantic hairstyle associated with "La Sylphide" as well as with the Wilis in Giselle.

Les Sylphides was premiered at the Maryinsky in St. Petersburg in 1907, as noted above. It is referred to today as either Les Sylphides or Chopiniana. Russian dancers and teachers typically still call it Chopiniana.

La Sylphide was originally choreographed by Filippo Taglioni in 1832 and featured his daughter, Marie Taglioni (also noted by rg above). The version we are familiar with today is a Bournonville ballet and it was choreographed in 1836.

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It's a narrow distinction, but both ballets are of vital importance in the history of ballet. Taglioni's work introduced a whole new way of moving to ballet - prolonged pointe work.

Fokine's work was a retrenchment. I don't believe I've read anything that he wrote saying, "I wanted to take a step back from where ballet was when I made it, and then start over again," but that was the effect it had.

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