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canbelto, September 14, 2008 in Sleeping Beauty
87 members have voted
Yes, the Rojo video is grotesque.
I wonder what you all think of this? She's certainly not a natural Aurora type, being so tall and regal looking, but I'm impressed with the control she exhibits here ...
I've heard so many peoeple describe Guillem as the root of all evil and the mother of ugly hyperextension but in this video she strikes me as almost demure compared to the current generations. I think her balances are quite lovely but she's not an Aurora in my book. She has a certain hardness and strenght (not physical srenght but something from inside, like a really steely determination) that aren't ideal for Aurora in my opinion.
I agree. Of course, technically Guillem "could" dance any role she chose, but whether or not she should have done is another question. Uliana Lopatkina "could" have danced Aurora but never did, having said in an interview that she did not consider herself as the right type or "emploi" for the role. What a tragedy. I think Guillem was far less suited to the role than Lopatkina.
Guillem also was capable of very high extensions without generating distortion or strain in the rest of her body/line and without losing control of the quality of her movement. Most who have followed in her wake...not so much.
Just before Rojo became artistic director of ENB she gave an interview which was published in About the House in which she said that she did not really understand Aurora's character. This did not come as much of a surprise although I think that it would have been more accurate for her to have said that she did not understand the Sleeping Beauty and its structure.
I know that Rojo has many admirers but it always seems to me,at least as far as the nineteenth century classics are concerned, that she is one of those dancers who uses them as an opportunity to display her technique rather than putting her technique in the service of the choreography.To me her dancing of the Rose Adagio shows a complete lack of musicality and an indifference to its purpose and its place in the overall structure of the ballet.If you dance the Rose Adagio as if you are engaged in an Olympic competition then the rest of the ballet is something of an anti climax and the Grande pas de Deux is nothing more than a damp squib. I began to wonder how long it was going to be before she issued stop watches so that her adoring fans, of which there are many, could time the duration of her balances and the number of suitors she managed to ignore. Interestingly,or do I mean worryingly ?Kevin O'Hare is recorded as saying that he admired her dancing of Aurora.I know that there are some here who are not that sad to see her leave the RB because of the effect that she seemed to be having on other dancers.
There was a programme shown here not that long ago Black Swan, White Swan in which Cojocaru and she discussed a number of filmed performances of Act 2 Swan Lake danced with various degrees of musicality by Ulanova, Markarova and others. They both spoke enthusiastically about Markarova's account and clearly thought that the slower that it was danced the greater its beauty. It has to be said that by the time that Rojo left the RB she was dancing Act 2 so slowly that the contrast between the sections danced by the corps and the principals was so marked that you would be forgiven for thinking that they were from different ballets.
I think that some people have a very unrealistic idea of what aspects of performances the artistic management and coaches at the RB want or feel able to control. I think that in part it is a generational thing.The MacLeary generation who believed in ballet as a theatrical art form rather than an opportunity to display school room steps,are no longer a regular part of the coaching team.Then there is a feeling that the current generation of dancers are so much stronger technically than the coaches were and the acknowledgement by a lot of former company members, including some truly great dancers of the past, that they would not have got into the company at all if the standards that apply now had applied then. Those ideas must effect how far coaches feel able to lay down the law about speed,musicality and style. I also wonder how much Polunin's departure has affected their approach.One of the most interesting current developments is that the biggest name currently on the company's rosta clearly does listen to the coaches and is interested in stylistic accuracy rather than paying lip service to it.
There are a number of interviews in Barbara Newman's "Striking a Balance" in which the speakers, who danced 50 years ago said similar things about technique: (paraphrasing): "Now they need to do 32 fouettes on either side to pass the RAD exam" and "Nureyev came and raised the technical bar for men and what I had no longer sufficed."
There's not much argument that high extensions and other extensions of technique are built into most neoclassical and contemporary works, but adding these "improvements" to classical rep instead of maintaining distinct styles in ballet is a big issue. In theater during various times, people mashed up Shakespeare, abridging, changing the endings and extrapolating other text and poetry into the performance, and there have been plenty of periods where original musical style has been superceded by contemporary aesthetics, made possible by the increasing number of highly trained musicians.
I'm sure a lot of people found Shakespeare performances dull when the original endings and the text were restored. I think it's a valid argument that some of the additions/substitutions served the same purpose as the original text, speaking to many levels and in the vernacular, the same way that a deliberately virtuoso showcase part could be changed to show off more advanced technique, but in ballet, most of the contrast and context has been lost. I'm not a fan of emploi by body type, but rather by style, and the contrast in style was cooked into classical ballet, whether by contrast in dancers/part or within a ballet, like Dream Act Kitri vs. the rest of the ballet Kitri.
That there is text to which to return for Petipa ballets allows the ballet world to reclaim if not always the original score, at least the first written records of it, like the originally oral epic tales. I think some of the reconstructions are hitting people the same way the restoration of Shakespeare's text and original instrument performances are, which is a step back from forward progress, since our bias tends to equate advances in technique and moving forward as progress which should be unilaterally applied. It's also early in the performance stage, where dancers across-the-board are not close to mastering the style and technique and the comfort and ease that comes with that mastery.
The Rose Adagio is meant to have meaning. It is too often danced as if it is an out-of-context exhibition or exam piece. Similarly, the Lilac Fairy variation. Technique "in service of" is a lost concept.
As far as Rojo's performance, every balance check/adjustment as she prolonged the balances made her look less and less competent, aside from the distortion of style. When all a dancer is selling is technique, this is not a good thing.
Just before Rojo became artistic director of ENB she gave an interview which was published in About the House in which she said that she did not really understand Aurora's character.
Wow. Imagine an about-to-be director of a theater company admitting to not understanding the characters of Hamlet or King Lear. Never mind even if she planned on staging the plays. Would she get the job? If Rojo has so little feel for classic material that's classic in part because it's so universally understandable, should she even be dancing the role, much less direct a company that stages it?
I ask this not knowing a thing about how the ballet has looked under her direction, so perhaps I'm all wrong. But the concept boggles the mind. I also ask this having stopped watching today's Bayerische Staatsoper livestream of Manon Lescaut after one act. Are characters from previous eras really so hard to relate to without cheesy "updatings" to make them relevant?
It's too bad you didn't continue to listen: the vocal were terrific.
It's not unusual for dancers to have difficulty with Aurora's character: she doesn't have an emotional evolution which even Swanhilde has, if only temporarily.
Helene, with the greatest respect, I'd disagree with your last comment. It's all there in the choreography for Aurora, but it's not "underlined" as it is with say, Juliet or Manon and certainly not Swan Lake where the ballerina is essentially playing two different characters.
I agree that the maturation is in the choreography, but it's a result and a leap: she's been asleep for 100 years, and the catalyst for the change is symbolic and happens while she is sleeping. Whereas with Odette -- aside from Odile -- Juliet, Manon, Tatiana, Marguerite (any of them), Hagar, Caroline, The Woman from His Past, Sylvia,Marie/Clara is some "Nutcrackers", even Swanhilde and Kitri, however light and comical -- there's a precipitating incident/turning that we've seen and in which either the character has participated or to which she is reacting, and the dramatic arc is graspable.
Whereas with Odette -- aside from Odile -- Juliet, Manon, Tatiana, Marguerite (any of them), Hagar, Caroline, The Woman from His Past, Sylvia,Marie/Clara is some "Nutcrackers", even Swanhilde and Kitri, however light and comical -- there's a precipitating incident/turning that we've seen and in which either the character has participated or to which she is reacting, and the dramatic arc is graspable.
I hadn't really thought about it in quite that way, but I see your point. And that's quite a list!
I didn't see this mentioned in this thread, but apologies if it has been -
I didn't see this mentioned in this thread, but apologies if it has been -
I don't know how I missed this video in this thread, but I think this may be my favorite Rose Adagio ever. Stunningly beautiful!
yes, she really is the gold standard (or pink standard?)
Gregory always seemed to be able to use her considerable technical strength to support the overall effect -- it has a kind of modesty that just knocks me flat every time.
Absolutely stunning! The sheer breadth of her movement, her musicality, the way she re-acts and responds to her Princes and to her parents are truly amazing. Her technique, while astonishing, never seems forced. She attains the "look at me" moments in the most naturalistic of ways. She "is" the 16 year old Aurora; her awareness of this very special moment is breath taking. While the "new" old version of "Sleeping Beauty" currently on view with ABT may be historically accurate, I find it to be cluttered, over wrought, and has far too much going on when all we should be seeing is the freshness and beauty of this young woman, coming of age. To see Gregory present this in such an open and easy fashion is to see the purity of the choreography. The story telling is clear. This is all about Aurora, as it should be. Thanks for this video. It brought back to me all the reasons I used to love seeing this ballet.
Gregory's ability to roll through her foot while she's in a la seconde and in arabesque is astonishing. Even today very few dancers have that kind of control. I was trying to make out who the other dancers were but at least on my iPad the quality was very grainy. Was that Sally Wilson as the Queen Mother?
Yes, that's Sally Wilson, under that really large hat!
Yes ABT fan, I'm pretty sure it was Sallie Wilson as the Queen Mother. I also noticed Kevin Mc Kenzie and Michael Owen as two of the suitors. I just love the way Cynthia Gregory starts her last attitude balance- just goes for it with no fear. It is wonderful seeing a ballerina enjoying dancing the Rose Adagio. Does she do any coaching at ABT?
I don't know about ABT -- she had an official relationship with the Cincinnati company for awhile, and was just in Kansas City coaching their production of Swan Lake.
I'm fairly certain she doesn't coach at ABT - what a loss! Thanks to all for confirming that was indeed Sally Wilson.
Sigh. It's a birthday party, not a final exam. I know I'm on the radical fringe here, but every time I watch that video (or any video of the Rose Adagio, frankly), I can't help but think how much nicer and more musical the choreography would be if each suitor just took Aurora's hand in turn and presented her in a lovely promenade with out the requirement that she get both hands up over her head and back down again first. Heck, I'd be just fine with a nice musical descent off pointe and a pretty relevé in between, too. I simply cannot stand to watch all the "Can I let go now? No? OK, I won't let go yet ... Now? ... Now? YES! NOW! WHEW!" fiddling around between Aurora and her suitors while they try to pull it off. The final effect is never worth it, IMO, and stre-e-e-e-e-tching the music out until everyone is secure makes my heart hurt.
OK. Rant over.
Completely agree, Kathleen! I have seen so many ballerinas struggle when they would have been much better not even attempting to lift both arms in 5th. It is such a shame. What is the point of teetering en pointe, forcing the conductor to wait a ludicrous length of time only to snatch the arm back down again the moment it is raised? None at all. It is not beautiful, not musical and only makes the ballerina herself look technically deficient, attempting to do what she cannot do. Just ..... DON'T!
It is when aurora rocks in her balance that spoils it for me.--that makes it about balances not youthful joy.
I love it when Fonteyn pitches the second gift of roses as if to say "lm so happy I dont have time to smell the roses!"
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