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What did you learn about Sleeping Beauty from the new/old Kirov Versio

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For those who have seen the Kirov's new/old production, what did it tell you about the ballet?

I was struck by how much it looked like (what I've read about) an 18th century court ballet. Not only all those processions and court dances (which we used to call "character dances," but they're not; I did notice the dancers used a much deeper plié in those than in other parts of the ballet. Coincidence, or genre?) but the dominance of the King, to a lesser extent the Queen, and a far greater extent, the Lilac Fairy.

The Royal production seemed to me a hierarchy headed by Aurora, The Ballerina. Good and evil, Carabosse and Lilac, were opposing forces on either side. The King and Queen, and Catalabutte, were side characters. In the Kirov production, the King was much more important -- even though they've cut two of his mime scenes (explaining to Aurora what the Rose Adagio is about, and banning spindles from the kingdom). And the Lilac Fairy is Queen of the Night -- she's in every act, she presides over the Apotheosis, she's mistress of ceremonies, solver of problems, an old-time danseuse noble.

Did anyone else come to think about "Sleeping Beauty" differently, or learn something about the ballet from this production?

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I learned to appreciate how important it is, in a narrative work, to have a good relative "fit" between the actual passage of time and action on the stage and the action which is supposed to be passing in the fictional narrative. Tchaikovsky's score develops at a leisurely pace in the Vision, the Violin Passage, and the Awakening (if I've got the order right), and in particular the flow and length of those passages as presented by the Kirov allowed me beautifully to assimilate the action in that part of the Ballet.

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I felt that, however much the choreography resembled the old much loved Royal Ballet version, the emphasis was different. In the Royal Ballet version, there was a sense of some over arching good (Lilac) who could defeat evil (Carabosse), and the rest of the court were to some extent not players in the drama. In the Kirov version, I felt for all its grandeur, that the work was more personal--the King agonizing between justice and mercy was an extension or an example of the choices all of us face. And having Carabosse come to the wedding (even though carefully guarded in the apotheosis) reinforced the lesson. I came out of it thinking, yes, I can make a choice myself, whereas I come out of the Royal Ballet version thinking something good is watching out for us all. I wonder if the timing of the Royal Ballet version had anything to do with the shift of emphasis (assuming I am not completely wrong!). It was produced right after the end of WWII, when evil had in fact been defeated.

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One thing that struck me upon seeing this restaging a few years ago at the Met was how much, despite all the highfalutin' reverence we all have for The Sleeping Beauty, parts of this production looked like they could've been plucked from some nineteenth-century chorus line. I'm particularly thinking of the dances for Aurora's friends -- it's almost as if Petipa were saying, "Enough of this refinement -- here are the dancing girls!"

I'm reminded of Balanchine's rationale for reworking Coffee in Nutcracker into the refined cheesecake we see today, as something for the husbands and fathers (presumably ones dragged by their spouses/kiddies to the performanc) in the audience. I wonder if Petipa had something of the same rationale for these girls in Beauty.

Certainly this was the last thing I expected to see in Beauty, but it reminded me that it was of a time when grandiose, somewhat balletic "entertainments" were popular all over Europe.

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I think Michael's point of narrative time needing to equal stage time is a good one -- not always; sometimes distillation works. But if you're going to do a three-act ballet, then do it. Usually, I'm bored with the divertissements in the third act, and I wasn't looking forward to seeing ALL the divertissements. But in this production, I was never bored. When a produciton cuts them, it's as though the directors are saying, "Good grief, I can't stand to see these. The audience will hate it. We have to get out by 11:00, and 10:15 would be better. All right. We have to do Bluebirds and Cats or they'll notice we've changed it. Little Red Riding Hood is cute and would be good for Nellie. The rest we'll cut, and the Mazurka people can rush in and then we can all go home."

But having all the divertissements not only shows us Petipa's way of having a classical, demicaractere, character, demicaractere, classical balance, but having all of them, to me, made the act actually seem shorter. "Cindrella" is so sweet and gentle it provides breathing room.

I also agree with Mary's point about the English version (which I took for "pure Petipa" for years). Maybe this was the answer, in 1946, to "Dante Sonata" (which, created during the War, left the conflict between good and evil unresolved). Part of it, too, was that the early Western stagers apparently could not believe that the Lilac Fairy wore heeled shoes. Putting her in a tutu throughout changes the balance, diminishes her role, somewhat, rather than enhancing it.

Manhattnik, Bournonville felt that Petipa's ballets were "lascivious." All that skin (and, as George Jackson pointed out in a review, with the heavy costumes, the naked shoulders of the female dancers really look naked)! But as for 19th century chorus lines, we haven't seen any. We don't know if what we're seeing in chorus lines from the 1930s comes from ballet, or if Petipa was taking material from the girlie shows of his day. (Maybe Doug knows smile.gif )

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I agree with Manhatnick about the variety of types of dances. Aurora's friends, especially. There were three group in completely different costumes, which I realized matched subtle changes in the music--I suppose most companies put the girls in the same costumes to save money. My favorite moment were the little girls in flat shoes and short little bloomers, which I suspect were quite popular among a certain older male clientel! I also was struck by how differet the vision scene looked with the Prince in heeled shoes. The contrast between the human and the dryads was so marked and it made the scene so much more magical.

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