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Maria Tallchief, Balanchine, Raymonda and Pas de Dix

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It always amazes me the way choreography is passed and kept alive, particularly that of the XIX Century ballets. I've been recently watching this clip with Tallchief and Eglevsky, and can't help but to wonder what would had been to dance certain choreographies, certain dramatic roles that had a previous historical past for the first time with almost no visual references. A little on this subject can be found in Markova's "Giselle and I", in which she recounts being coached, when she first took up the role, by a man-(N. Sergueiev)- who couldn't offer much help either in a practical way-(he would not demonstrate)-nor vocally-(he didn't speak English), and just with the aid of some messy notations. Markova also had vague memories of having seen Pavlova, and much fresher ones with Spessivtzeva.

Pas de Dix was choreographed in 1955,and to the best of my knowledge, Tallchief couldn't possibly had witnessed any performance of de BRdMC's Raymonda-(correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was only danced overseas)-almost ten years before-(1946). Or ANY Raymonda, for that matters. Even when Balanchine choreographed his version for the touring company, a lapse of 30 years had passed since the time he would had seen the full length performed at the Mariinsky before he left Russia. So I wonder if Tallchief experience with the role, even for the short clap variation, was more or less like that of Markova...no previous visual clues whatsoever. Nowadays any dancer can watch a thousand clips of a given role online, and everybody is dancing everything everywhere, so there is a never ending supply of references.

So my curiosity goes as...Did Tallchief learned this variation-(which is obviously taken from sharp memories of Raymonda, as it is almost identical to those we know from modern references of the full length ballet)- from Balanchine himself...? Or Danilova..? Did Danilova coached Tallchief in Pas de Dix..? Could Tallchief had possibly seen Balanchine's full Raymonda at some point earlier in her life..?


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Tallchief herself danced with BRdMC as a very young corps dancer for five years, as of 1942. Balanchine was "in & out" of that company in 44-46 period. Tallchief wrote in her autobio that she had "a part" in that 1946 RAYMONDA.

So do you think she might even remembered bits from this variation by the time Balanchine included it in Pas de Dix...? Danilova is not credited as a co stager. Or maybe it was just Balanchine remembering, some three decades later, a piece of Petipa, just as he did with the candy cane variation. In that case, what a great memory, considering that he didn't danced it!

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