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A Question for RG

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Hi there, Mr RG

I wondered if you could tell me what the mime is for the King when he dithers on whether to hang the peasant women in the Kirov reconstruction of the Sleeping Beauty.

I have always loved that scene but it's been so long since I saw it, I can't quite remember it.

Thanks for reading this.

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i suspect doug may know better if this moment is written into the stepanov notation(s), but my recall is that the king feels somewhat anguished at the realization that these knitting women have broken his degree against such activity and that he is quite direct at proclaiming a death (by hanging) sentence for them, and only when the queen pleads w/ him to show some compassion on this festive day of aurora's 20th birthday does he relent and recind the severe sentence.

meanwhile, wiley's translation in A CENTURY OF RUSSIAN BALLET of the original libretto indicates the intervention of princes:

After detailing the fact that catalabutte has arrested several village girls for working with needles in front of the castle, the libretto continues: "The king and queen are horrified. 'Let the guilty suffer punishment for this and never more see the light of day.' The princes beg mercy for the guilty. Not one tear ought to be shed in Florestan's realm on the day Aurora turns twenty. The king pardons the villagers, but with the condition that their work by burned by the hangman in a public place. General delight."

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I don't have immediate access to all of the notations of The Sleeping Beauty, including this particular section. Outside of the actual prose conversation being included in the libretto or balletmaster's plan (see Wiley), the only other potential source I am aware of is the Stepanov notation of this scene. Mime conversations are written in prose in Stepanov notation; gestures are not described. If the prose exists, translation into mime gesture would be editorial.

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Thank you, Mr Fullington for replying to my question. I wonder whether it would be possible if you could consult the notations at some point and write down the mime that is used because I tell you why. I sometimes act out mime scenes when I am listening to Sleeping Beauty.

Thank you so much for answering my question and I look forward to hearing from you again

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If you'd like to see the mime, I'm almost certain that in the Royal ballet's video of Macmillan's production the scene is included -- some women dance very tricky footwork while doing some kind of needlework with their hands, the king sentences them to death -- I BELIEVE he crosses his fists below his wais --, and the queen interevenes to rescue the poor women....

You could probably learn hte mime from the video more easily than from a written account, esp since the gestures would be timed to the music....

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Doug and Paul are right about the mime. The curtain opens on the first act with the waltz dancers dancing around three women dressed in black, and knitting like mad while they do pas de bourrées fleurets. Cattalabutte comes on, begins to lecture the women about the spinning ban (but they're knitting, not spinning). Then the king and queen enter with the princes, and Cattalabutte does the best he can about hiding the women behind the tails of his coat. The King finds them and confiscates the yarn and needles. He then mimes "I" "you" "hate", "you" "die". The Princes try to intercede for the women, but the King refuses. But when the Queen asks for their lives, he relents. This exchange is a more benign version of the mime between the Fairies and Carabosse in the Prologue. It demonstrates the magnanimity of an Absolute Monarch vs. the nastiness of an old Earthmother Fairy who is all bent out of shape because she wasn't invited to the Christening.

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MacMillan is the only person who is not listed as having contributed something to the Royal Ballet's current production of "The Sleeping Beauty." In it, three women are knitting away like crazy while dancing around, but they are not dressed in black. The King makes them kneel before him, and he mimes that their sentence is by hanging. (He runs one hand across his neck as if he's slitting his throat, and then he lifts it to indicate the noose. At that point the Queen intervenes, with praying hands (and I think she may have done a similar gesture for "no" that the Lilac Fairy does several times when mitigating the curse.

I wondered why they were knitting, when there was a ban on a spindle, but I guess it's "where there's smoke there's fire," logic, because how do you get the wool in the form to knit it if you don't have a spindle?

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the initial question here seems to request the mime as done in the kirov reconstruction, which i take to mean the vikharev version. this has not been put on commercial video.

as stated above, various other videos, including the kirov's k.sergeyev version, can be consulted to see and study the mime.

i don't see its being easy or convenient for any of us to try to spell out the mime in 'long hand' - BT members are generous but can't be expected to write out in detail such things as mime-o-logues.

or at least, i can't see my way to doing so.

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It might be well to recall that the first full-length ABT Beauty was a MacMillan staging, he having got the beta version out of the way in 1973. If I recall correctly, it had the Messel designs.

ABT's first full-length Beauty was Mary Skeaping's staging, in the mid-'70s. MacMillan did his number on it after having set his Romeo on ABT some years later.

Skeaping's had the virtue of letting the ballet describe itself. No editorializing or revisionist viewpoionts here. I want it back.

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Skeaping's ABT production, first seen in New York in the summer of 1976, was choreographically modest almost to the point of threadbare. It didn't help that most of the dancers look scared or clueless, whether in mime, solo variations, group dances or just holding the stage with conviction. Positive points of the production included Martine van Hamel's wonderful Aurora (she looked almost beamed in from another planet at times) and, if I remember correctly, a fuller set of court dances in the Hunt Scene than we usually get. I hold the clear minority view that the more of that scene we get the better; the music is great (Tchaikovsky loved inventing those mock-historical dances) and this is our only picture of the rather decadent, empty world inhabited by the Prince before his quest for Aurora.

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