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New movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock!!

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Hey, wait a minute, that's impossible, Hitchcock is not around anymore. Your not fooling me! I don't believe it. So why should I believe that Petipa is the choreographer in a recent ballet?

Isn't a choreographer a bit like a director in that he (or she) directs the whole production on stage and gives structure to the storyline and music? If this is so, how can we still have Marius Petipa as choreographer long after he is gone? (Maybe I am mixed up about a director and choreographer and stage manager)

Choreography must be something on a document if we can still have Petipa as a choreographer today or maybe it is done from memory of what he once did when he organized the whole production. So as you can probably tell, I am a bit puzzled by these terms and how they really play out in the real world. So what's up with this choreography by Petipa... is it really true and if so, how is it done as he would have done it?

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Although a choreographer (usually) serves as his own director, he's also the playwright -- the writer of the ballet, the maker of steps. The steps are passed down from generation to generation of dancers -- often from dancer to dancer, sometimes from notation. Eventually new "choreographers" stepped in and fiddled with the ballet -- tossed out this section, put in a new variation, cut the mime, etc. So what you see today will not be what Petipa set.

In recent years, there have been a lot of stagings of Petipa ballets that have little or nothing to do with the original. They take the music and use the title.

The topic of how much change is permissible/desirable has come up here from time to time. Here are a few links to past threads:



Should 19th century ballets be updated?

Thanks, ronny. This is another good, basic question that most occur to a lot of people when they look in their program and see they're seeing a ballet that was originally done in 1890. Another one for our growing Discovering Ballet archive :D

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Well, initially the choreographer is the one creates and stages a ballet. Much as a film director is in charge of lighting, sound and direction.

But those original steps that are created are attributed to that choreographer.

As to whether or not steps are done as they were originally, well that's a whole can of worms

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OK, thanks. I kind of thought that this thing could be a promotional thing rather than a true reproduction of what Petipa would have done. But also I am sure that many companies try very hard to get it right also. Very interesting answers. Thanks a lot, that clears up the confusion.

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ronny, I"m not sure I'd call it a promotional thing -- although that's an interesting concept! "Sleeping Beauty" and "Raymonda" are still considered Petipa's ballets, even though they've been changed a great deal. Some productions will say "New Choreographer X after Petipa" which lets you know that he's diddled a bit. And some will be very detailed. The Royal Ballet, for example, would tell you exactly which dances had been changed: Garland Waltz by Frederick Ashton, etc. And then there's "Total Concept Conceived, Directed and Choreographed by Maestro X" and then you know you're going to get something a little different :cool:

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Alexandra, I just read through those earlier posts you gave links to! :eek: Talk about Calliope's "can of worms"!

This is a great topic ronny - I'm glad you posted it.

I think of "after Petipa" as giving credit, where credit is due...

Though having just read those posts from earlier threads, I am at a bit of a loss as to how someone who comes along in 2001-2002 can really know what is "original" choreography and what has been changed. This subject surfaced recently for me in reading some of the comments on the poll about ABT's artistic director...that morphed into a bit of a discussion about Swan Lake...

I suppose it might be wise to read the appropriate chapters in the book Ballet 101, in order to get the original "lay of the land" so as to, at least, be able to figure out if the performance is true to the original story... However, when it comes to ballet steps, how is a neophyte to know?

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BW, I think this is one of the many things that many people will never be troubled by -- and that's fine. And most of us will just assume that the first "Swan Lake" we see is the "authentic" one and be upset when the production is replaced, or something is changed.

I think I was always aware of the differences among productions because we don't have a resident company that does "the classics," and each visiting company had a different version. So I'd see what I assumed was "authentic" (the Royal Ballet, 1976) and then go to New York and see Erik Bruhn's for the National Ballet of Canada and wonder where the heck that Bad Queen came from. And I started reading.

But then, I've always been interested in the "where did it come from?" question. You can certainly enjoy ballet without every asking it! If you're interested, you can start reading and follow various trails, like a detective! One of the reasons I started Ballet Alert! was to provide a place for people to ask questions like these :cool:

ronny -- you post great questions! Keep 'em coming :)

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Will do, thanks for your comment and thanks for your thoughtful discussion. Its all VERY interesting. I have a tendency to ask things that people think about but are a bit shy to say. Now me, I don't embarrass easily.

Sometimes I think, gee, I should't have been so blunt, I should have refined the question a bit for these very refined people, but your comments here help me know I am not getting into trouble. That's a help. Thanks.

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