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Jean de Brienne's variation


Amy

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Here is the variation for Jean de Brienne used in the Raymonda reconstruction by Sergei Vikharev, performed by Friedemann Vogel. I wanted draw attention to this variation because it has quite an interesting history.




History of this variation

Interestingly, this variation is not Jean de Brienne's variation - it is actually Beranger's variation and is supposed to be performed in the Act 2 Grand Pas d'action before Raymonda's variation. It was Konstantin Sergeyev who transferred this variation to the Act 3 Grand Pas Classique Hongrois and gave it to Jean de Brienne when he revived Raymonda in 1948.


Jean de Brienne did not dance a solo in the 1898 production; he actually danced in the Variation for Four Danseurs, which was danced at the 1898 première by four legendary danseurs - Nikolai and Sergei Legat, Georgy Kyaksht and Alexander Gorsky. Unfortunately, this variation was not notated and it really is such a shame that we will never get to see four of the greatest danseurs of today dancing that variation together in its original presentation.


The Variation of Beranger/Jean de Brienne was originally danced by the great Nikolai Legat in 1898 and I should also say that I don't know who actually choreographed the Beranger variation - it was either Petipa or Legat. Interestingly, Petipa did not actually choreograph much for the men, at least not their variations - he would either send them to the great Bournonville teacher, Christian Johansson to have their variations choreographed or they would choreograph their variations themselves, which was very common in Petipa's day. I would say it is very likely that Legat choreographed his own variation as Beranger and maybe he, his brother Sergei, Georgy Kyaksht and Alexander Gorsky all collaborated on the choreography for the original variation for four danseurs, but that is just a guess and I doubt we will ever know for sure.


The Variation of Beranger is actually not notated, but it has survived through the memories and recollections of great Russian dancers of the past such as Anatoly Kuznetsov and Nikolai Fadeyechev, which is where the variation has been restored from. I believe these dancers learned some of Petipa's choreography from Sergeyev and his wife, Natalia Dudinskaya, who often taught variations of the great dancers of the old Imperial stage to their students during class. As far as I know, the only other company in the world who follows this choreography very closely is the Bolshoi Ballet, although in their production, the variation is danced by Jean de Brienne in the first act.


Sergeyev and Dudinskaya both had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Petipa's choreography, which they obviously acquired from Agrippina Vaganova, who according to Dudinskaya, taught original Petipa choreography to her students as part of class. Dudinskaya is quoted as having said:


Of course, Vaganova had received the roles in their original form from the hands of Petipa himself... As she always did, Vaganova taught us the original version staged by Petipa, without any simplifications, adaptations, deviations or changes...


Sergeyev and Dudinskaya continued this work of Vaganova's by teaching genuine Petipa variations to their students and there are even films of Sergeyev doing this. Dudinskaya would often resurrect variations of the great ballerinas of the Imperial Ballet and would perform them in the classics in place of the more traditional variations; the alternative Dulcinea variation that the Mariinsky Ballet uses sometimes in their Don Quixote production is one such variation - it's one of the many variations that was created by the great Pierina Legnani.


Enjoy! smile.png

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Amy, to my knowledge, the Act Two pas d'action male variation in Raymonda is not notated. It is not part of the Raymonda notation housed in the Sergeev Collection at Harvard, of which I have a copy. I know of no other holdings of Stepanov notation besides copies of the 1899 Gorsky publications. Do you have further information about this?

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Amy, to my knowledge, the Act Two pas d'action male variation in Raymonda is not notated. It is not part of the Raymonda notation housed in the Sergeev Collection at Harvard, of which I have a copy. I know of no other holdings of Stepanov notation besides copies of the 1899 Gorsky publications. My understanding is that the version you include in your video is a pastiche variation, some of which represents the style of male variations in St. Petersburg circa 1898. Do you have further information about this?

Well if that's the case, then my source was incorrect and probably wasn't aware of it. I'm afraid I don't have much further information on this, Doug - I was informed that Sergei Vikharev restored the choreography for Beranger's variation and gave it to Jean de Brienne, but that's really it.

I do know that this variation very similar to the one used by the Bolshoi Ballet in the first act of their production. I actually don't know where my source got his information from; all he said is that he knows a lot about the Sergeyev Collection and what's notated, but that's about it. We'd probably need to ask Vikharev where he got this choreography from.

But if my information is incorrect, I'm glad I brought it to your attention.

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The performance of the Sergeyev was so slow and plodding that after I dropped a knitting needle, I was able to spot it and retrieve it while he walked from place to place.

The beginning and end of the Vikharov with the high working leg looked out of proportion to me.

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Here is the answer. Page 124 of the La Scala Raymonda program book states: "The choreography of the variation of the troubadours is absent from the notes of Nikolai Sergeev and was restored according to the recollections of Anatoly Kuznetsov and Nikolai Fadeechev and is transferred to the third act for Jean de Brienne."

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Here is the answer. Page 124 of the La Scala Raymonda program book states: "The choreography of the variation of the troubadours is absent from the notes of Nikolai Sergeev and was restored according to the recollections of Anatoly Kuznetsov and Nikolai Fadeecev and is transferred to the third act for Jean de Brienne."

That's exactly what my source told me when I asked him where he got his information from - this is what he said:

"Although the variation is not notated, it did survive in the memories of the dancers in Petersburg/Leningrad. For all of their tinkering & endless changing of the old ballets, Konstantin Sergeyev & Natalia Dudinskaya both had encyclopedic knowledge regarding the original choreographic texts of Petipa & would often teach it to their students, but they never intended these things for use in performance. The Beranger variation is one example, some others are Taor's & Ramzé's respective variations from the Act II Grand pas d'action of Pharaoh's Daughter. Another example is Pierina Legnani's variation from Petipa's "Les Caprices de Papillon" (this was Petipa's one-act "insect ballet" - there is a famous caricature by the Legat brothers of Cecchetti in this ballet as the grasshopper); while others are the cupid variation from Petipa's "La Vestale" that turns up in the Bolshoi's "Paquita", while yet another is Legnani's variation from "The Little Humpbacked Horse" that occasionally pops up in the dream scene of the Mariinsky's "Don Q".

My good friend Peter Koppers told me that Sergeyev would teach the male students the authentic choreography of various male solos while giving class. There are even films of him doing this! My friend Peter knows the variation as taught by Sergeyev that was danced by Legat & all of Sergeyev's own male teachers in the very early 1920s."

I hope this has all come in handy for you, Doug - the mystery is solved. smile.png

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Just to let you know everyone, I've made a few edits to my original post because it needed some serious tidying up, but here's some more information.

In the performance clip shown above, Friedemann Vogel has actually changed some of the choreography, primarily the final section. According to a friend of mine, who has access to a film of Konstantin Sergeyev teaching this variation to his students, the final section for this variation is the following:

"Three times simple sissonne ouvert en efface coupe assemble, travelling towards part 6 (according to the Vaganova system), finishing with tombe pas de bourree sissonne ouvert en arabesque and then a preparation jump for pirouettes to finish"

Apparently, these steps are lovely on the melody and I have no doubt of that. My friend also went to the second cast Raymonda performance at La Scala and not only did he say that the Italian ballerina who danced Raymonda was much better than Novikova, but that the danseur who danced Jean de Brienne danced the original choreography for this variation, including the final section I've described here.

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