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The original Russian Dance?


Amy

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Hey everyone, look at this:

Someone drew my attention to this on YouTube today - this is notation of the original 1892 Russian Dance (aka Dance of the Jesters), as danced and choreographed by Alexander Shiryaev. This dance is not recorded in the Sergeyev Collection, but Shiryaev made his own notation of the dance with the use of animation and this is it. This footage is taken from a Russian documentary on Shiryaev, which is also uploaded on YouTube.

This is the choreography that Yuri Burlaka and Vasily Medvedev used in their revival of The Nutcracker for Staatsballet Berlin and it's almost exactly the same as Balanchine's Russian Dance and of course, Balanchine choreographed his version of The Nutcracker based on his own personal recollections.

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this clip comes from a Russian film, more or less translated as BELATED PREMIERE, made by Victor Bocharov.

Anna Kisselgoff addresses the film and Shiyraev's work in a NYT Critics Notebook in 2005:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E0DD1438F937A25752C0A9639C8B63

similarly Burlaka likely used Shiryaev's film of his wife Natalia Matveyeva as she performed the dance of the Petite Korsar for his 2007 staging, with Alexei Ratmansky, of LE CORSAIRE for the Bolshoi Ballet.

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this clip comes from a Russian film, more or less translated as BELATED PREMIERE, made by Victor Bocharov.

Anna Kisselgoff addresses the film and Shiyraev's work in a NYT Critics Notebook in 2005:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E0DD1438F937A25752C0A9639C8B63

similarly Burlaka likely used Shiryaev's film of his wife Natalia Matveyeva as she performed the dance of the Petite Korsar for his 2007 staging, with Alexei Ratmansky, of LE CORSAIRE for the Bolshoi Ballet.

Thanks rg!

The Petite Corsaire variation is notated, but yes you're right, there's also a film made by Shiryaev of his wife dancing the variation, making it one of the first ballet pieces ever to be filmed. I would love to see that film of Mme. Matveyeva!

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Fascinating! The choreo is almost COMPLETELY identical to that of Balanchine. I placed two windows side by side to compare with the film of the ballet, and the only little difference I see is that, on the second round of the main theme right after the dancer's entrance, the sketches seem to place a grand ecarte by the dancer within the hoop, where the film shows a different jump...with his legs crunched and bent together at his knees. I think this is really the first time I sort of "see" a dancing right from the imperial era.

The steps in question are seen here both times at 53:36 and 53:43.

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Unlike music, where we seem to have settled on a couple of standard notation systems, there have been a number of movement notation systems developed over the last few hundred years. One of the major organizational distinctions is in the use of stick figures or other pictorial images -- the solution that Shiryaev developed is a lovely example of that approach.

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Just a note on Balanchine's relationship to the Nutcracker character dancing:

Balanchine‘s career as a dancer was relatively short, having been injured during a performance at Ballets Russes. Geva said that he accidentally hit himself on the knee while performing a lezghinka, a warrior‘s dance with two knives, (Geva 1991, 12) resulting in a wandering cartilage which caused his knee to lock back sometimes. After an operation in Monte Carlo, he was able to dance sometimes, but was more interested in choreography. Geva said he didn‘t push it when he danced. (Geva 1976) She recalled that he was not a strictly classical dancer, but was very wiring(sic) and quick, and Doubrovska mentioned that he had an enormous elevation. (Doubrovska 1975) He himself said, ― I was myself a dancer, and I wasn‘t bad either. When I was twenty I could jump and I was a good acrobat. I did everything better than maybe lots of people now." (Gruen 1975, 285) His talent as a dancer was confirmed by reviews he received for his performances at the Maryinsky, in particular for his performance of the Harlequin Hoop Dance in The Nutcracker. He hardly touched the ground ― …jumping several times through the hoop, moving forward toward the orchestra." (Geva 1976) Danilova said that he ― was popular and well respected. He was given solo roles, most of them demi-charatère. In The Nutcracker, he always brought down the house in the Candy Cane variation, with his sensational jumps through a hoop. His distinguishing features, I would say, were speed, musicality, a big jump, and a sharp attack." (Danilova 1988, 58)

-- taken from Elizabeth Kattner-Ulrich's dissertation The Early Life and Works of George Balanchine (1913-1928)

Presumably, Balanchine's recollection of these roles (from his youth at the Mariinsky) remained pretty sharp when he restaged The Nutcracker for NYCB.

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