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Carla Fracci's Aurora


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Carla Fracci is a dancer I remember from her frequent appearances with ABT in New York. I always loved her. Recently, I came across (by accident) this performance of the pas de deux (adagio) from Sleeping Beauty. Her Romantic-era musicality -- dancing off the beat, but always with clarity and elegance -- reminded me of her Giselle with Bruhn.

And what about that series of triple pirouettes ending in a swoon into the Prince's arms at 2:27? On the third set, she throws in a fourth turn in mid-air just before her Prince catches her. We've had threads on BT about the advantages and the dangers of virtuosity, but that fourth turn is an example (to me, anyway) of subtle virtuosity (the kind that doesn't call attention to itself). The thrill is in the long, sustained flow of the performance, not in the this or that isolated movement.

Does anyone know anything about the original of this performance and/or video? The brief voice-over at the start suggests that it might be from a documentary on Brianza.

P.S. Richard Cragun is a surprise here, too, for those of us who remember his work in very different roles, partnering a very different kind of ballerina, Marcia Haydee.

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This is from a program called The Ballerinas starring Fracci and Peter Ustinov. In the series Fracci played ten great ballerinas, from Taglioni to Spessivtseva. The second half of the program was centered around Diaghilev (Ustinov) and preparations for the Ballets Russes revival of Sleeping Beauty. He lures Brianza out of retirement to play Carabosse and coach Spessivtseva. The pas de deux is a flashback to the original production (hence no fishdives). Fracci as Spessivtseva performs the Rose Adagio at the end.

Fracci's partners were also very impressive: Peter Schaufuss, Michael Denard, Vladimir Vasiliev, Richard Cragun, Stephen Jeffries, Charles Jude and Jose Antonio. I'm very sorry it hasn't been reissued on DVD.


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