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Les Sylphides Music

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In Les Sylphides, there is a short little female variation near the beginning of the ballet, maybe only 4 minutes into the ballet. It is actually less than a minute in length. Does anyone know which piece of Chopin's beautiful music it is taken from? I believe it's a waltz. Thanks!

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My first memory of “Les Sylphides” is from my music teacher. She thought it was awful that the piano pieces had been orchestrated.

I liked the extracts from Ansermet's “ the early days” - I believe they are from the 1916 New York recordings of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes Orchestra.

I also enjoyed the music and style of the performance of “ Les Sylphides” - maybe staged by Irina Baronova - on the Australian Ballet's DVD “Firebird and other legends” The same DVD includes “a thousand encores” - a documentary on the ballet russes in Australia.

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I watched the Bolshoi version of this ballet and was disappointed by the choreography, the male dancer, and, mostly, the music. I usually am brought to tears by Chopin. Does anyone have an opinion on this piece?

Russian productions of "Les Sylphides", practically always called "Chopiniana" after the original suite of dances, have been noted over the years for a curious lack of vaporousness and airiness which characterizes the usual post-Diaghilev product. From the outset, the frequent use of the "Military" Polonaise as overture and a light plot which seems more broad daylight than moonlight have worked against the Romantic feeling which is desired by many. The male variation is not a bravura one, and some people are put out with even the thought of a male dancer in a legato solo. As to the music, the arrangements have, to my ear, been mostly inoffensive, but sometimes conductors can make the selections seem most unpianistic.

This latter flaw is not limited to Russian productions alone.

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Whilst some of the dancers were in costume for Chopiniana for the Bolshoi opening, they didn't perform the piece on the night. The performance on the 1986 “Bolshoi in the Park” is fine –

l couldn't find anything on youtube from the Bolshoi that I disliked.

The poet in the Australian ballet performance has similar arm positions to Serge Lifar in the Montreux footage. His arms don't meet above the head – one is curved above the other – not sure what the arm position is called. I haven't seen this arm position in any other filmed performance.

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The poet in the Australian ballet performance has similar arm positions to Serge Lifar in the Montreux footage. His arms don't meet above the head – one is curved above the other – not sure what the arm position is called. I haven't seen this arm position in any other filmed performance.

...meaning "In couronne" but with one hand sort of "dropped" below the other one...? If this is, then it is the same position of the Willis of the Cuban Giselle. The two hands are situated at different heights above the head

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The poet - Yosvani Ramos - was trained in Cuba but it may be more driven by the staging as I think I can see some of the same style with the ballerinas.

I've checked my DVD - the staging is by Irina Baronova, rehearsed by Valrene Tweedie, Anna Volkova and Wendy Walker.

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Les Sylphides was one of the first ballets I danced in Japan. I have many many fond memories of it, and the music. I also remember working hard to convince the authorities at my local USAF base to schedule a performance, watching the auditorium fill (surprise surprise to macho soldier/pilots) and reading the very funny translations (from french to japanese to english) in the press previews and reviews. I think it is one of the few ballets I can watch any company dance and still find something to enjoy, even if it is not a perfect performance.

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re: Les Sylphides staging. I just checked the sources and the Cuban Sylphides staging dates from 1948, and it was brought from what was being danced at BRdMC. That specific arms position-(which I just noticed is still done in Cuba)-is certainly from back then, which makes it around the same time that Baronova was dancing it. Talk about continuation in two different directions...smile.png

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Anna Volkova, who rehearsed the production, was one of the dancers stranded in cuba during the Ballets Russes strike.


In the DVD the poet holds his arms in the position shown at 14 seconds of the British Pathe film


He and his partner also show the position you mentioned.

I ordered the double CD “ Royal Ballet Gala” by Ansermet which includes lots of different ballet music including “les sylphides”. I haven't had a chance to really listen to it , but the notes accompanying the CD are great:

“Giselle came to the Old Vic in a thick fog which blanketed London New Year's night, 1934. Balletomanes struggled to reach the theatre in time to see the curtain rise on the first major classical ballet production to star Alicia Markova”

On Petipa and Sleeping Beauty

The former would write: “Aurora pricks her finger. Screams. Blood Streams. Give 8 measures in 4/4 wide”

The booklet has very interesting notes on casts and history including quite a few references to Lydia Lopokova

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Irina Baronova talks about working with Fokine on “les Sylphides”and other ballets in a recorded 2007 interview with Lee Christophis:


(Third Session 9:15 – 28:15)

She talks about her admiration for Lubov Tchernicheva's style and its influence on her development (it is also an influence on the staging)

“beautiful arm movements – whole top of body lived and expressed so much, the arms and the wrists and down to the nails”

The arm and hand movements of the corps at 14 seconds of the British Pathe footage are close to the style of the staging.

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