Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Short or long tutus for lakeside scenes in Swan Lake?

Recommended Posts

I was wondering, do you prefer Classical or Romantic length tutus for Swan Lake Act 2 and 4? I think that I actually like the longer ones like the Royal Ballet uses, the flow of the fabric and the illusion it creates seems more in keeping with the spirit of the lakeside scenes, I almost wish that Odette's dances could be modified so that she could where a long tutu also. :) On the hand, the shorter tutu does allow us to see the lines of the choreography better, so I can understand why people would prefer this look. I would love to hear your opinions on this! smile.png

Link to comment

Despite Ivanov's romantic references, Swan Lake is a classical work, and for me that implies the shorter tutu rather than the longer skirt. I'm fine with the almost-to-the-knee length, indeed, I like the movement inherent in it, but anything longer makes me look for my scissors.

Link to comment

"anything longer makes me look for my scissors" LOL! smile.png

You and Alexandra make a good point that the tutus originally used in Swan Lake were probably closer to knee-length or maybe a little longer. There are some pictures from revival productions of 1895 on the Royal Ballet Swan Lake page, the one with Pierina Legnani features tutus just above the knee and the one with Olga Preobrazhenskaya has tutus a few inches below the knee: http://www.rohedswan...story.asp?id=13 After looking at the latter, I think that these might be the length that the current Royal Ballet production based there costumes on, it is not quite Romantic-length like I thought, but it is still below the knee, maybe it needs its own classification! smile.png

Link to comment

Sobeshchanskaya's tutu from '77 look somehow similar as the Russian recreations being made nowadays -(SB, Raymonda, etc..). They are sort of knee lenght, and they move a lot when the ballerina is jumping but without being completely free as in Romantic skirt-(thus I believe there are wires and other stuff underneath). There seems to be a strong return now to the shape/lenght of what I call "Pavlova's tutu", but they certainly hide much of the upper legs, particularly during arabesques and attitude poses-(sometimes when the ballerina goes for a deep penchee, the skirt can be seen almost falling over her head). For my SL, give me a short, high crispy tutu that stays hard no matter what the movement is.

Link to comment

I wouldn't mind a longer tutu for the swans if they were nice and flattering (thinking the slightly extended length tutus the corps wear in Diamonds, perhaps), but those Royal Ballet ones always look like they are molting to me. It's not a good look.

Link to comment

Thank you all for your opinions! This has been very interesting. So far, the shorter tutu appears to the prefered costume.

Cubanmiamiboy, thanks for all of the pictures! They were very helpful and informative. :)

Kathleen O'Connell and ksk48

"feather earmuffs"

"Royal Ballet ones always look like they are molting to me"

LOL! biggrin.png

Link to comment

Thank you for starting this topic, polyphonyfan. I would say you can't go farther down than just below the knee for Swan Lake. As you say, the choreography is better seen that way (and Alexandra's comment explains why).

Link to comment


I went back and looked at the Royal Ballet swan tutus again, and I think you make a good point about the "molting" look. The tapered way the "feathers" are cut does kind of give that impression. On the other hand, cutting "feathers" from tulle without giving them a tapered edge might look cartoonish, so maybe it would be better just to add faux feathers as accents or forego the suggestion of feathers on the skirts. I think that the ABT Swan Lake from the 1970s with Natalia Makarova had the corps in long plain white tutus.

Link to comment

You mention Makarova. I don't recall what the corps wore in those 1970s ABT performances but the look of Makarova's own pancake tutu -- as shown in performance with Ivan Nagy -- seems ideal to me.


I love what happens when you expose the knee and upper thigh, and am willing to sacrifice historical authenticity for that.

Maria Tallchief, in the 50s, and subsequent NYCB Odettes wore pancake tutus that were simple on the top but plush and thick in the skirt. The corps wore softer tutus ending just below the knee. This practice continues at NYCB, at least it did the last time I saw them dance the ballet, about 10 years ago. Tallchief's corps had large awkward-looking wings springing from the waistlline. Those did not last long.

In the interest of inclusiveness, we might want to mention an alternate white swan costuming from one of the most popular productions of the late 1990s ...


What would you call this look? Knickerbockers-plus-four?

Link to comment

if mem serves Freddy Wittop's costumes for ABT's Swan Lake had long skirted ones for the swan maidens and a short, stiffer one for the Swan Queen - and, again, if mem. serves when Makarova was responsible for re-working a staging of stand-alone lakeside scene for ABT, she had all the women in shorter,stiffer tutus; the Wittop long look was discarded.

the wings at the back of the Swan Queen's bodice in Balanchine's Tallchief-era Swan Lake were part of Cecil Beaton's designs, the swan maidens has these as well as the Swan Queen; the longer, softer swan maiden tutus with an extra 'tail-like' length at the back were Rouben Ter-Arutunian's designs for a subsequent NYCB production of Balanchine's staging.

the current NYCB designs (post-dating Balanchine's direction) are the work of Alain Vaes.

Link to comment

Thanks, rg. I was looking around for Tallchief/NYCB photos that could be linked here and came across this 1954 television clip of Tallchief and Eglevsky in the Act II pas de deux. The costume is different from those in the Martha Swope photos I've seen, i.e. those shot on the City Center stage. The top part seems to have a satiny sheen, not the case at NYCB. Possibly something to do with the deamnds of those early, unflattering tv cameras? Anyway, the look is quite different from the Swope performance shot on p. 131 of Repertory in Review.

The pas de deux begins 25 seconds into the clip.


Link to comment

the whole 'look' of the telecast is something quite apart from what Balanchine's first run of NYCB Swan Lakes looked like.

i wonder if the point here is more post-Ballet Russe than current NYCB. or as you say something 'made for tv' and/or for the tv studio.

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...