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Yvette Chauvire's Giselle. Acts I-II-(fragments)- clip.


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In my never ending search for Giselle material, I came across this clip of the great Mme. Chauvire dancing her farewell performance, which I think is priceless given the scarce material of her available on video. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQFujJbuppY

Can you point me toward any other video of her dancing not contained in the DVD Yvette Chauvire: France's Prima Ballerina Assoluta? It's amazing to me that given her career the French never thought of filming her--even for instructional purposes. And despite the fact that the 1937 La Mort du Cygne print is extant--it was shown several years ago at a film festival in California--they haven't come out with it on DVD.

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In my never ending search for Giselle material, I came across this clip of the great Mme. Chauvire dancing her farewell performance, which I think is priceless given the scarce material of her available on video. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQFujJbuppY

Her live performance conveyed more.

See:- http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0154421/ for other Chauvire interest.

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In my never ending search for Giselle material, I came across this clip of the great Mme. Chauvire dancing her farewell performance, which I think is priceless given the scarce material of her available on video. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQFujJbuppY

Christian,

I have to say I think those clips of Chauvire did her few favours, the second especially. I have no doubt that at her height she must have been great in a certain model, that romantic ballerina as typified by the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo aesthetic, but it is one I struggle with sometimes anyway. I have seen films of her one in La Peri comes to mind which is a piece of "contemporary" ballet from the 50s, it's that awful clunky Massine/Lifar type of melodrama (think Heart of Fire at the beginning of The Red Shoes.)

The first clip she was about 45, the second 55. In the second she is so far past her prime, and it is in fairness her final performance, so one can forgive the fact that everything has pretty much gone, but it does beggar the question why exit with Giselle? What I really find twee and nauseating is this ballerina as sacred goddess mentality, an infantalised woman who is an eternal virgin - the reference to her as Diva, Garbo etc And that teeth grindingly over anguished performance style. I just don't get it.

When you compare her to Fonteyn who'se career took a massive boost at around about that same age 42/43 the one thing that suddenly hits you is just how contemporary, modern and rooted in innovation Fonteyn actually was. She was quite a hip chick, there was nothing sacred about her, she was flesh and blood and there was no doubt she liked a roll in the hay or several. And that makes her for me, an eternal image of a ballerina. She doesn't run away from the real world, she uses it to bring flesh and blood to her women onstage. And I really believe that's essential if you're going to put on a pair of pointe shoes when you're past 40 and be convincing as a 15 year old virgin peasent Rhine maiden.

And also to be fair, Fonteyn in that last seven years or so of her extended performaning career was really pushing it, if you see her Forest of the Amazon it was pretty hokey, though there are brief flashes, that Sylphides she did with Nagy, the Sleeping Beauty Film, but again, what characterises her is that she never played a ballerina onstage.

When you think that in 1972 there'd been a decade of Nureyev, Fonteyn, Seymour, Ashton, Macmillan, the height of NYCB, Farrell, the emerging Kirkland, Jerome Robbins, the magnificent bravura of the Bolshoi & Kirov, Baryshnikov was soon to defect, Makarova, the cross pollination of ballet and modern - a true silver age of dance and there's Chauvire trying and badly so to conjure up some pre WWII image of what an 19th century Romantic Ballerina should look and behave like - well, if it's how she wanted to go out, fair play to her, but, it says very little about ballet as an art and much about where Chauvire stopped developing. For her, ballet is when she danced Giselle at the height of her powers, in a certain Romantic style, and with those powers so badly deteriorated I find it harsh, shrill and insincere.

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I see what you mean, Simon, but. We know now that Fonteyn was in some ways quite the bohemian there have been great ballerinas who were not such, in fact rather the reverse, and to say their art suffered for it would be to venture into very chancy territory, or so it seems to me. The recharging of her career in her early forties was due mainly to the advent of Nureyev (and I refer to what happened in the rehearsal hall, not the hotly debated bedroom question) and also, I suspect, because she had never really been pushed to her limits on the technical side.

......it does beggar the question why exit with Giselle?

I have the impression that Giselle is the role of choice for many older ballerinas as they drift toward the exit and if you compare it to some of the other classics that makes a certain amount of sense.

Thank you for the clips, Cristian. Not ideal, but we must be grateful for what's still out there.

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She doesn't run away from the real world, she uses it to bring flesh and blood to her women onstage.

But that's exactly what my eternal searching in ballet has been about ever since I saw my very first performance Simon...the incomparably pleasant, deliciously enjoyable feeling of running away from the real world. And for some reason I suspect that I'm not alone on this.

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She doesn't run away from the real world, she uses it to bring flesh and blood to her women onstage.

But that's exactly what my eternal searching in ballet has been about ever since I saw my very first performance Simon...the incomparably pleasant, deliciously enjoyable feeling of running away from the real world. And for some reason I suspect that I'm not alone on this.

Interesting. I like it for both, flesh and blood is good, but then sylphs don't have it, so ballet has room for both. There aren't any sylphs in 'Liebeslieder Walzer', but some of those dancers that act those sophisticated couples have done their share of ethereal types, and I remember liking the dVD of Fonteyn in 'Ondine' when I saw it a couple of years ago. Would that be a kind of flesh and blood sylph, Simon? We would like to hear your considered thoughts on this matter.

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You Tube also has a three minute clip of her dancing the dying swan--and it looks like it comes from La Mort du Cygne because her technique is very good and her bow at the end replicates the photo of her that appeared in Life magazine from 1937. That would make her 20 at the time.

As for her style, I haven't seen enough of her to make a statement of any kind.

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......it does beggar the question why exit with Giselle?

I have the impression that Giselle is the role of choice for many older ballerinas as they drift toward the exit and if you compare it to some of the other classics that makes a certain amount of sense.

Also, it seems to me that at the POB, "Giselle" is one of the favorite roles of female dancers for their farewell performances (and also "La Sylphide", but it entered the POB repertory only in 1972 so it might have been after Chauviré's retirement). And probably she had to choose a role among the works which were planned for the season... Also it probably was considered as her "signature role", along with some Lifar works ("Les mirages", "Suite en blanc").

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