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Watch "La Bayadere" build

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I wanted to start a thread for this, in the hopes of keeping the film clips together, and I wanted to put it here, rather than on Videos, because it's not professional level, and also I hope it will spark discussion.

These are students of the Kirov Academy of Ballet, where I teach and direct the academic program. But I'm really not posting it to shill the school, but to share what I get to see every day smile.png I asked Martin Fredmann, our director, if we could film bits of the rehearsals and put them on line, so that we could watch it build from week to week. I also suggested they film bits of the coaching, when it gets to that stage.

These are students aged 13 to 18 (nearly every girl in the school is in it, as they want 32 Shades as well as the 3 Soloists, Nikiya and Solor.) This first clip is the third or fourth rehearsal -- I think fourth, but am not sure. They rehearse for several hours once a week on this; the performance is in late December, but they started a few weeks ago. (The students are of all different levels, and come from different backgrounds. Most, though not all, have Vaganova training prior to coming to KAB. Some students have only been here since September, some for four years.)

The coach/teacher is Elena Tenchikova, of the Kirov and Stuttgart Ballets (and the man in the pink sweater is Martin Fredmann). The gray-haired woman is also a teacher at KAB, Mariana Lobanova.

I've always been interested in the process, and I hope and expect we will be able to see it change from week to week (one hopes it will keep getting better, of course!) Right now, it seems they know most of the steps, but they need to clean it, and standardize arm and hand positions, etc.

Here 'tis.

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Thanks, Drew. I didn't have anything specific in mind, actually. I just thought it might be interesting to watch rehearsals over time, since we so seldom get to see them. I always find students' dancing touching, because they want to do it perfectly and work so hard to get it right and they all think it is a privilege to be in the ballet.

I know what you mean by "as if the vision scene were an allegory for ballet itself." On the DVD of Paris Opera Ballet's rehearsals for this ballet, Elisabeth Platel talks about dancing Nikiya at the Bolshoi, and saying that when they brought in the tutu for the final act, she almost cried, because it hit her what that tutu symbolized (bad paraphrase). After all that drama and melodramatic mayhem, you had the essence of classical ballet.

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Of course this is exactly what I did when I filmed Corella Ballet from the first rehearsals in April '08with Susan Jones helping to set/coach it, with Angel and Carmen, and later (Aug-Sep '08) with Makarova. I have nearly 40hrs of footage to edit. Wish I could show it to you.

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I loved watching this and am looking forward to future episodes. Thank you, Alexandra.

A question: The productions of Bayadere I have seen perform the entree of the Shades differently from the dancers in your video..

Your students repeat identical arabesques allongees, from first girl to last girl. -- left arm/right leg extended.

The three production I've seen over the past couple of years have the Shades alternating this step, so that each girl extends a different arm and leg from the girl in front of her and behind her.

Who is right? Or is it a case of both ways being right?

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I've watched it twice, fascinated. Lovely kids, VERY interesting process....

2 things about the taping --

1) can't hear what the teachers are saying

2) the camera-person isn't interested in seeing how the girls negotiate turning the corner-- the first one did it well, , I couldn't see how she did it -- but the cameraman [busby Berkeley, Jr.? ]started panning down the line looking for a more interesting girl

I know I can't have everything I want, but that pivot is a tricky moment, and I wanted to see how they did it...

that's me.

Interesting to see at the end that they're learning the upper body before adding the feet.

When Massine was here setting one of his ballets on Oakland Ballet, Michael Lowe told me Massine wouldn't even show the feet till the plastique of the upper body looked good....

I love the idea of watching the process of 'bringing it up'

Thanks for posting this. I'll be following it, and recommending it to friends who don't normally follow BA.

Oh, and BArt -- i THINK I noticed that towards the end of the line there were some girls who were on the other leg -- at least one. Maybe she had an injury and was learning the dance but they didn't want her to blow out her knee in practice, so she learned hte rhythm and breatheing on the other leg....

or I may have hallucinated it -- this ballet induces a hypnotic state.

edited -- nope, I was right -- check out 4;25- 4:50 THE GIRLS ARE ON OPPOSITE LEGS

Edited by Paul Parish
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re Bart's question.

I've watched it again, and now I think they do the Shades entrance BOTH WAYS. Obviously there whave been edits in the tapes used, and a splice of tapes was made somewhere after the first couple of minutes; the passage that we're looking at around 4 minutes in is coming from hte back of hte studio rather than from the mirror, AND they're doing the other version, with dancers alternating which foot they step out onto.

ALso, it's curious, when they break from the opening phrase and run into place, there's a dancer who has to run past several others to find her right place in the front line. THey'll probably fix THAT before opening night.....

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ALso, it's curious, when they break from the opening phrase and run into place, there's a dancer who has to run past several others to find her right place in the front line. THey'll probably fix THAT before opening night.....

Yes -- I hope so! (I'm sure they will.) I was surprised there weren't more misses like that, as they're only rehearsing once a week at this point. It's one of the reasons I thought it might be interesting to see this "build," to see what changes are made, in what order they make the changes, what mistakes are corrected, etc. There are differences among productions, of course, and I'm not posting this as a definitive production (although I think it aims to be a serious, accurate one).

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He does, Cristian. They really LIKE this. I've been showing several classes -- nearly the whole school -- the full DVD of "La Bayadere" and you can see, as they watch it, they love it -- the character dancing, the classical dancing and the mime. They think it's worth keeping and they wouldn't cut it.

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Cristian, they're doing more than Shades, but I'm not sure how much. They'll do a matinee with bits from Gamzatti's wedding (KAB often does danse manu, and I think they'll do the parrot dance as well as the pas de deux). And then in the evening they'll do Shades -- that is not official, and could change, but that's what I know now. They'll also do a piece for the 11 and 12 year olds, and a few solos and pas de deux.

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Thanks, Cristian. They're getting there. They really are serious about it. I think that's the beauty of student performances -- no matter what the school!

To those new to this thread, I wanted to put up videos that the school is posting on youtube because I thought it might be interesting to see the rehearsal process, and to see the ballet build -- see how it might change from week to week. I'm not sure how much does show. They started filming about the 4th rehearsal, and they already knew the steps. They're cleaning now, and the changes are subtle.

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I don't know how many rehearsals they've had since the last post, but this was the first one in the performance studio. There's a lot of marking; I think this rehearsal was for spacing. At the beginning, they're meeting their sleeves for the first time. And this is the first time we'll see the 3 Shades (who mark), and a bit of Nikiya and Solor. All the soloists are seniors.

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I loved the sight of the girls arranging their veils. There was something very iconic on it. It made me remember a pic of Kssesinskaya as Nikiya I've seen somewhere with some corps girls in the background. The very fact of seeing all this modern young women repeating once again what those others did so many years ago amazed me, as it does every time I see am imperial ballet chunk being passed on, repeated, rehearsed, preserved, taking care of with love and respect. It is a relieve to see that those veils and those arabesques and tendus are well kept. Thanks, Alexandra, for the videos. I really wsh them well.

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I love rehearsals. It's even better when you can watch a series of rehearsals, observing the miracles that happen as the participants go further and further through the process. In your latest video, the combination of marking and all-out dancing has a choreographic power of its own.

This has been a fascinating project, Alexandra, and thank you for it. I love the trend of "opening up" the classical arts to the audience -- allowing us to join the artists in the studio or back-stage to observe first hand the way creation happens. Material like this de-mystifies ballet and other performance arts, which -- paradoxically -- and makes me feel the mystique all the more when the curtain rises.

I look forward to seeing what things are like on opening night. Good luck to your students and to the teachers and coaches who have guided them through this process.

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I have not had a chance to watch all the videos yet, but I am saving them as a special treat. Thank you so much! Bart is absolutely right--it's so wonderful to see a series of rehearsals. It was also good to have the reminder that the performance is coming in time to get tickets.

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Thanks, Natalia, Cristian, Bart and koshka for watching, and for your comments. Cristian, I agree -- I get shivers when I think of how many dancers have performed this piece, and it's one of the reasons I love classical ballet. I also liked seeing the girls meeting their costumes. Tonight was the opening, and you would have thought they'd been wearing them for years. There were some wobbles, but no "mistakes" and considering that many of these girls have only been at the school since September, they coped very well with the style. Bart, there is something about marking, isn't there? I checked, and they did have them mark because they hadn't had class for a week. But, even though marked, the idea comes through. Natalia, the blue lighting does make magic -- I wish we could have seen it in the gas light, but this is much safer! For those in DC, they'll be dancing it both Friday and Saturday nights. There was also a brief clip on TV4 (NBC) news tonight, for those interested:


Thanks again for all who watched. I think those videos will be left up on the KAB site for awhile.

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