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Ballet steps back into the Past


Amy

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Ah sorry Helene, I was not aware of that!

I really don't get it; I was able to access this without a problem... unless I have to share it via Google or Twitter, etc so people can read it without being FT subscribers...

Oh I give up! Lol!! If anybody here is an FT subscriber, I hope you enjoy the article.

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It's possible that over time this will emerge from behind the paywall.

Oh I hope so, it's a good article; it touches on very interesting issues in this field.

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Not the whole thing, but some thoughts on one of the main points (coming in at 247 words!)

This reconstruction movement is now going further than most had previously imagined possible by attempting to recreate the most elusive element of all: the style, the manner in which steps were danced a century ago. Later this month, when American Ballet Theatre introduces Alexei Ratmansky’s reconstruction of Petipa’s 1890 The Sleeping Beauty in New York, Princess Aurora will boast more demure leg extensions and other differences.

In asking such questions, the form is following other performing arts. “Ballet is catching up with opera and instrumental music in taking a more serious look at history, and seeing value in recovering,” says dance historian and reconstruction specialist Doug Fullington. Yet while music has largely embraced the use of period instruments, for instance, ballet can’t seem to decide what to make of reconstructions — and whether “authenticity” is achievable, or even desirable.

Lacotte found Fullington’s indications for The Pharaoh’s Daughter too different from the Petipa style he learnt from Lubov Egorova, a former Imperial ballerina. Lacotte deems his own Paquita, back this month at Paris Opera Ballet, “a homage to Petipa, informed by everything I was ever taught”.

Another specialist, Mikhail Messerer, ballet-master-in-chief of St Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Ballet and heir to a Russian ballet dynasty, calls himself an “editor”. When restaging Vakhtang Chabukiani’s Laurencia, …, he recalled hearing Chabukiani discussing changes to improve the ballet 40 years before. “If he were alive, he himself would have changed it, and I tried to do it for him,” Messerer says.

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One of the elements at play in these different kinds of reconstructions is the level of contemporary "editing" that goes on. Messerer's comment, that Chabukiani would have wanted to change things if he'd been able to, and so Messerer was going to "do it for him" is a fairly frank admission of his actions and intentions.

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One of the elements at play in these different kinds of reconstructions is the level of contemporary "editing" that goes on. Messerer's comment, that Chabukiani would have wanted to change things if he'd been able to, and so Messerer was going to "do it for him" is a fairly frank admission of his actions and intentions.

Thank you sandik for posting the main points! :)

You're right, this a fairly frank admission regarding Messerer's actions and intentions, but the question is, did he make the sort of changes that Chabukiani would've made? And that's something we'll never know; that's something we must always remember when people edit ballets - it'll never be known if they are making the changes the choreographer would've made because for all we know, they're probably changing dance passages that the choreographer didn't want changed.

And what do you make of what Lacotte says about the Petipa style and his Paquita for POB?

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The author of the article - somehow omitted - is the FT Europe dance reviewer Laura Cappelle who covered the restoration of Paquita in January -

"Mime and épaulement oppositions of shoulders and waist have been enchantingly restored. Legs stay firmly below hip level; the choreography boasts combinations you wont see on any modern stage, from the soft, plié (knees bent) finish of many variations to sequences of fluttering jumps in unexpected directions."

For me you could really see the logic of the variations - how they flowed out of one or two steps - after liberated from all the add ons... The problem often with "original instrument" restorations is that you have the score but you don't have the pencilled-in notes and handed-on tips on how to execute it - that is you're reverse engineering the instructions.

Re the FT if you sign up you can view three articles a month - and an inexpensive subscription - slightly less than the NY Times - is occasionally offered if you pay a year in advance. Lots of arts coverage.

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The author of the article - somehow omitted - is the FT Europe dance reviewer Laura Cappelle who covered the restoration of Paquita in January -

"Mime and épaulement oppositions of shoulders and waist have been enchantingly restored. Legs stay firmly below hip level; the choreography boasts combinations you wont see on any modern stage, from the soft, plié (knees bent) finish of many variations to sequences of fluttering jumps in unexpected directions."

For me you could really see the logic of the variations - how they flowed out of one or two steps - after liberated from all the add ons... The problem often with "original instrument" restorations is that you have the score but you don't have the pencilled-in notes and handed-on tips on how to execute it - that is you're reverse engineering the instructions.

My friend and I are going to see Ratmansky's Paquita reconstruction in July; I'm really looking forward to seeing the choreography in the style that he staged it in and I'll be sure to give a report on everything.

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Excellent that you'll see it live. In Seattle we were able to see it streamed on a cinema-sized screen.

Yes I'm really excited! smile.png

I missed the online live stream, although I was told that something went wrong with the sound on the online live stream, or at least it happened to someone from my university when she watched it...

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The author of the article - somehow omitted - is the FT Europe dance reviewer Laura Cappelle who covered the restoration of Paquita in January -

My bad -- sorry! (and I would still have been under 250 words!)

Re Lacotte and other examples of amended productions: I'm fine with having multiple versions of works available to us -- I always like to see what people feel is the central element, and what they chose to do with it. But that kind of variety assumes that we have easy access to the text of the work, to the original version. Without that, we're awash in questions. And when someone purports to be showing you the authentic goods, without telling you that they've mended one part and excised another, I'm really frustrated.

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My bad -- sorry! (and I would still have been under 250 words!)

Re Lacotte and other examples of amended productions: I'm fine with having multiple versions of works available to us -- I always like to see what people feel is the central element, and what they chose to do with it. But that kind of variety assumes that we have easy access to the text of the work, to the original version. Without that, we're awash in questions. And when someone purports to be showing you the authentic goods, without telling you that they've mended one part and excised another, I'm really frustrated.

Yeah, the thing about Lacotte is that he doesn't reconstruct anything - what he does is, he goes back to the original production in his research, but in the end, he always creates his choreography completely from scratch and therefore, there's nothing authentic about his works; although, it is all authentic Lacotte, not Petipa or Taglioni or Perrot.

Out of all his recreations of past works I've seen, his La Sylphide is by far the best one; it's not authentic Taglioni, but it's still an absolute masterpiece. His Ondine was good too, although it's interesting how, unlike La Sylphide, his revival was not a direct recreation of the original Perrot version from 1843.

And as another balletomane and historian pointed out, his revival of The Pharaoh's Daughter really was such a wasted opportunity to resurrect a great ballet of the past because his version is nothing compared to Petipa's Tsarist-era spectacle.

It seems that Lacotte has really added to the confusion of the differences between a reconstruction and a revival and I hope that everybody is now starting to understand more clearly what the differences are.

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That's a bit odd... I'm not a subscriber and I was able to read it...

Amy,

You've mentioned that you're working on a dissertation. You were probably able to access the article via your school's library subscription. Lucky girl.

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Amy,

You've mentioned that you're working on a dissertation. You were probably able to access the article via your school's library subscription. Lucky girl.

Lol, actually I didn't access it through my university library; a friend of mine sent it to me and I was able to get through... as Helene said, hopefully the payment wall will be soon lifted and everyone will be able to read it. ;)

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I'm an alumni of a couple places, and have noticed that I can get online access to EBESCO (big aggregator of serials and journals) through the alumni associations. This seems to be a relatively new service -- if you're an alum from somewhere, you might want to check and see if that's a possibility for you.

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The Financial Times paywall doesn't seem to come down, but you can read an artcle or two free each month if you sign up. Subscribers can share 10 articles a month with - since the word friend now has come to mean something else - I'd say with your email correspondents.

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sandik:

'Indeed -- I've been trying to find a couple substitutes, to use for what I keep thinking of as "real friends."'

Here in San Francisco/Silicon Valley the dictionary has been ransacked of small nouns and adverbs for the names of restaurants and tech/internet services - a kind of literary GMO-ing.

Chums, pals (as in Pal Joey) are old fashioned - - -

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