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ABT 2019 Sleeping Beauty

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Hard to believe this is the final week of the season. Looking forward to seeing Lane/Cornejo as well as the slew of soloist roles this ballet provides. 

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Ratmansky just posted on his public Facebook:

SLEEPING BEAUTY: no 'fish dives' in the Wedding pas de deux this time around. we found the original Petipa steps in Pavel Gerdt drawings stored at the Bolshoi Museum. you can see Fonteyn & Helpman taking the pose drawn by Gerdt, who created the role of the Prince in 1890. apart from the Wedding pas Gerdt also sketched all the partnering in the Vision scene and we are incorporating all of it! feels so good to finally get it right. what a treasure

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2 hours ago, California said:

Ratmansky just posted on his public Facebook:

SLEEPING BEAUTY: no 'fish dives' in the Wedding pas de deux this time around. we found the original Petipa steps in Pavel Gerdt drawings stored at the Bolshoi Museum. you can see Fonteyn & Helpman taking the pose drawn by Gerdt, who created the role of the Prince in 1890. apart from the Wedding pas Gerdt also sketched all the partnering in the Vision scene and we are incorporating all of it! feels so good to finally get it right. what a treasure.

Sigh. I'm going to have to plead guilty to felony hypocrisy. I'm not the least troubled by ballerinas who substitute a musical, well-executed manège for Odile's fouettés or who elect forgo arms held en couronne during their Rose Adagio balances in the interest of embodying a composed, confident, gracious young princess. But lordy I do love the éclat of those fish dives. 

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Major SNOOZE

There's a reason why those drawings are kept in a MUSEUM. You look at the photo of Helpman and it's obvious that he wouldn't have had the strength to do the one handed knee fish dive in the pas de deux. But the art and dancers evolve... and so do the audiences. If I wanted to see the original footage, I'd watch a video at the library.

I see the value of studying the notations and incorporating into the choreography, but I really don't understand why a reconstruction of the ballet done in the 1800s is something that should be in the permanent rep. There's a lack of understanding of what ABT needs today to keep fresh and relevant in the modern times. 

 

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41 minutes ago, onxmyxtoes said:

If I wanted to see the original footage, I'd watch a video at the library.

...

There's a lack of understanding of what ABT needs today to keep fresh and relevant in the modern times.

Such videos don't exist — that's what makes it a reconstruction. If we had videos of what the dancing in Petipa's original Sleeping Beauty looked like, Ratmansky wouldn't have needed to do all the painstaking research that has gone into his production. He's trying to show us something about the history of ballet that would otherwise be lost to us.

I'm not sure early-20th century step interpolations in a late-19th century ballet would be any more fresh and relevant for modern times. ABT does a lot of different ballets, and while they're interested in being fresh and relevant, they obviously see themselves as playing other cultural roles as well. I don't think that's due to a lack of understanding (i.e. I don't think they're trying to be fresh and relevant with their Sleeping Beauty and failing).

There's an aesthetic justification for leaving out the fish dives as well: if a PDD ends with a fish dive as its final pose, it potentially detracts from the effect to have three others added before that. (ETA: Ratmansky may now be planning to leave out even that fourth and final one, which he didn’t before in the alternate version danced by Lane and Cornejo. Not sure.)

That said, I'm certainly not against the inclusion of the fish dives — I don't have a strong enough inclination in either direction, so if an artist such as Ratmansky wants to show me something interesting about the history of this magnificent work, I'm quite willing to watch and appreciate what he's doing. (I enjoyed both versions in the previous runs of this production, with and without the fish dives, and I quite like the look of the pose in the image above, which I think is yet a third version.)

Edited by nanushka

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3 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Sigh. I'm going to have to plead guilty to felony hypocrisy. I'm not the least troubled by ballerinas who substitute a musical, well-executed manège for Odile's fouettés or who elect forgo arms held en couronne during their Rose Adagio balances in the interest of embodying a composed, confident, gracious young princess. But lordy I do love the éclat of those fish dives. 

Agreed. I don't care much about triple fouettes or head-to-leg extension extremes, but I just live for those fish dives that enhance the music's crescendos. It's so joyous for me, especially since they're closing the spring season. 

 

6 hours ago, California said:

Gerdt also sketched all the partnering in the Vision scene and we are incorporating all of it! feels so good to finally get it right. what a treasure


I might just have reconstruction fatigue but I find it very very hard to get excited about this. I think all the Auroras will make the new pose look gorgeous, though. 

Edited by Inge

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I do love the fish dives, but I'm also very curious to see how these new sources inform the vision and wedding pas de deux. Also, the move that Lane and Cornejo did in lieu of the fish dives was beautiful in its own right, so if this new (old) move is anything like that, I don't imagine I'll be disappointed. 

55 minutes ago, nanushka said:

There's an aesthetic justification for leaving out the fish dives as well: if a PDD ends with a fish dive as its final pose, it potentially detracts from the effect to have three others added before that. (ETA: Ratmansky may now be planning to leave out even that fourth and final one, which he didn’t before in the alternate version danced by Lane and Cornejo. Not sure.)

For what it's worth, Trenary and Gorak do the final fish dive in this recently posted video, but they are also just playing around, so who knows. (I can't wait to see these two!)

I adore the moment in the reconstructed vision pas de deux in which the ballerina faces away from the audience and does a deep backbend, with the prince in front of her. I hadn't been familiar with that move from other versions of Sleeping Beauty, so I hope it remains in the revised reconstructed version we'll see this season.

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1 hour ago, onxmyxtoes said:

Major SNOOZE

There's a reason why those drawings are kept in a MUSEUM. You look at the photo of Helpman and it's obvious that he wouldn't have had the strength to do the one handed knee fish dive in the pas de deux. But the art and dancers evolve... and so do the audiences. If I wanted to see the original footage, I'd watch a video at the library.

I see the value of studying the notations and incorporating into the choreography, but I really don't understand why a reconstruction of the ballet done in the 1800s is something that should be in the permanent rep. There's a lack of understanding of what ABT needs today to keep fresh and relevant in the modern times. 

 

While the fish dives have been typical in the west, I believe to this day the Russian companies do not do them. I don't think people call their versions a "snooze" or un-evolved for this.

I personally like the fish dives, but in the context of this version omitting them seems the obvious choice.

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8 minutes ago, aurora said:

While the fish dives have been typical in the west, I believe to this day the Russian companies do not do them. I don't think people call their versions a "snooze" or un-evolved for this.

I personally like the fish dives, but in the context of this version omitting them seems the obvious choice.

In this clip the fishdive music starts at 2:30 -- with different steps. Hallberg and Zhakarova in 2011 at the Bolshoi:

 

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16 minutes ago, aurora said:

While the fish dives have been typical in the west, I believe to this day the Russian companies do not do them. I don't think people call their versions a "snooze" or un-evolved for this.

Mariinsky uses very similar choreography to the Bolshoi clip above. I don't know when this was taped. Fishdive music starts at 2:30

 

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No, traditionally the fish dives are not done in Sleeping Beauty in the Major Russian Companies, and even in the US they are usually not done if it is being staged by Russian dancers.

 

i will say that the position in the photo of the newly discovered notes is not ‘pretty’ but it looks like it will be incredibly hard to execute from a technical standpoint, especially if the follow the pirouettes. The fish dives require timing but are not all that difficult, especially from the ballerina’s perspective as the just use force and gravity. This new pose will require quite a bit of ab and back strength from the female in order to keep from rolling out of the position, a major balance point adjustment, and quite a bit of force exerted on the standing foot. I don’t envy any of the dancers that will have to make that adjustment. Granted this is going by the photo and drawings, so it will be interested to see how it plays out. I’m tempted to play around with that in the studio next week after I finish teaching. Hopefully my husband will agree to experiment with it as well! 😂 Please report back on how it visually appears as I, sadly, am too far away to actually attend any of the performances. 

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7 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

i will say that the position in the photo of the newly discovered notes is not ‘pretty’ but it looks like it will be incredibly hard to execute from a technical standpoint, especially if the follow the pirouettes. The fish dives require timing but are not all that difficult, especially from the ballerina’s perspective as the just use force and gravity. This new pose will require quite a bit of ab and back strength from the female in order to keep from rolling out of the position, a major balance point adjustment, and quite a bit of force exerted on the standing foot. I don’t envy any of the dancers that will have to make that adjustment. Granted this is going by the photo and drawings, so it will be interested to see how it plays out. I’m tempted to play around with that in the studio next week after I finish teaching. Hopefully my husband will agree to experiment with it as well! 😂 Please report back on how it visually appears as I, sadly, am too far away to actually attend any of the performances. 

And please report back on your experiments! I was interested to read your thoughts on how challenging the pose might be.

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22 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

i will say that the position in the photo of the newly discovered notes is not ‘pretty’ 

You'll get no argument from me on that front! It looks decidedly awkward. I hope it looks better as part of an actual phrase than it does as a static image in a photo. 

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6 hours ago, Kathleen O'Connell said:

Sigh. I'm going to have to plead guilty to felony hypocrisy. I'm not the least troubled by ballerinas who substitute a musical, well-executed manège for Odile's fouettés or who elect forgo arms held en couronne during their Rose Adagio balances in the interest of embodying a composed, confident, gracious young princess. But lordy I do love the éclat of those fish dives. 

Have to agree-- I love them!  I have tickets to the performance of Lane and Cornejo. I thought I had read a few years ago that some dancers DID do the fish dives, maybe even these two.  I don't love  some of the bulky looking costumes, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Ratmansky's reconstruction for the first time.

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10 minutes ago, Marta said:

Have to agree-- I love them!  I have tickets to the performance of Lane and Cornejo. I thought I had read a few years ago that some dancers DID do the fish dives, maybe even these two.  I don't love  some of the bulky looking costumes, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Ratmansky's reconstruction for the first time.

Lane and Cornejo were actually the pair that didn't do fish dives when everyone else did.

Ratmansky's plan this year seems to be to have everyone forgo the fish dives and do the pose above (which is different from the pose that Lane and Cornejo did, as I recall) in lieu of them.

(It's also possible the pose above is the one he has planned for the end of the PDD, in place of the fourth fish dive, in which case the earlier pose may still be what Lane and Cornejo did.)

Edited by nanushka

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I don’t that fish dive in the video above of Trenary and Gorak looks particularly graceful or precise so if that’s what they look like, I have no problem with their omission. 

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This fish dive by Bolle-Vishneva is the one more likely to be seen in western productions. Note that he turns and then catches her with one arm, starting at 3:00

 

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4 hours ago, California said:

Mariinsky uses very similar choreography to the Bolshoi clip above. I don't know when this was taped. Fishdive music starts at 2:30

 

Baryshnikov and Makarova did the Kirov version in 1981 in the televised version, starting at 2:30:

 

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The whole restoration aspect is an interesting discussion. I've heard Kevin M vehemently defend the choice as an opportunity to see the original intent. I saw 2 performances it's first season and will never go again, I don't care who the cast is. Do first time viewers understand that this is a restoration from more than 100 years ago, and not a typical Sleeping Beauty that would be presented by most ballet companies? 

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3 minutes ago, vipa said:

The whole restoration aspect is an interesting discussion. I've heard Kevin M vehemently defend the choice as an opportunity to see the original intent. I saw 2 performances it's first season and will never go again, I don't care who the cast is. Do first time viewers understand that this is a restoration from more than 100 years ago, and not a typical Sleeping Beauty that would be presented by most ballet companies? 

I do understand it's a restoration, and frankly I'm not sure i'm going to like this restoration!  I have to admit I AM going for the cast so I'm trying to maintain my curiosity and an open mind.

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19 minutes ago, vipa said:

I saw 2 performances it's first season and will never go again, I don't care who the cast is. Do first time viewers understand that this is a restoration from more than 100 years ago, and not a typical Sleeping Beauty that would be presented by most ballet companies? 

What about it would make it so much more unappealing to first-time viewers than a more typical production? In either case, there’s a lot about the general idiom of 19th-century ballet that would require some getting used to. I’m not sure what it is about Ratmansky’s reconstruction that is so much more off-putting. (I’m genuinely curious why some find it so — I don’t at all mean to sound dismissive toward that perspective.)

I’d think that first-time viewers so inclined to be turned off by something so old would also be turned off by typical productions, which to such viewers must also look terribly old-fashioned. A reasonably traditional production of a 19th-century ballet is not really the thing to see if one is turned off by the idea of something from more than 100 years ago.

Edited by nanushka

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45 minutes ago, vipa said:

The whole restoration aspect is an interesting discussion. I've heard Kevin M vehemently defend the choice as an opportunity to see the original intent. I saw 2 performances it's first season and will never go again, I don't care who the cast is. Do first time viewers understand that this is a restoration from more than 100 years ago, and not a typical Sleeping Beauty that would be presented by most ballet companies? 

Yes they do. I like the restoration. It was certainly an improvement over the abomination that was the Kirkland production. That was horrific. I'll never forget the fairies being introduced by that dumb shower curtain. That was a disgusting production that never should have made it to the ABT stage.

Edited by canbelto

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After reading the initial reactions to the premiere in Costa Mesa, I expected the reconstruction to diverge quite a bit from modern-day versions of the ballet, but overall, I found it to be not that radically different. Yes, details may have been different, but the satisfying dance moments were all there. What I appreciate about the reconstruction is the perfect fit of the music with the dancing, action, mime, and scene transitions. The music is allowed to serve its purpose, and choreography isn't shoehorned into music that doesn't quite work.

If I were a ballet newbie, and didn't read the program notes, I truly don't think I'd find this particular production to be much different from any other 19th-century full-length presented by ABT. Perhaps it would seem less acrobatic and athletic than some of the other works, and certainly you can see that legs are held in lower positions.

My main criticisms of the reconstruction are more about the physical production itself. While I like the overall aesthetic of the production, there are some costumes I'm not so fond of (while not offensive, I find Aurora's Act I costume to be a bit of a letdown). Also, I think it's a real missed opportunity that the panorama was not reconstructed. I'm sure it came down to $$$, and perhaps moving backdrops wouldn't be exciting to modern-day audiences, but I think it could have been so magical. Perhaps it would have been an opportunity to use a modern-day technology -- projections -- to recreate 19th-century stagecraft.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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