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Ballet within a ballet..?


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Hello all!

I've been absent for quite a while.  I'm truly sick of this COVID thing.  No ballet...no nothing. I truly hope at some point of our lives we will be able to walk around again without the annoying masks.  Truly sickening.

Well...there have been no live performances, and I'm not into the whole streaming thing.  I rarely watch TV, let along computer or phone streaming.  I don't even watch films at home.  Well...let me rephrase that.  I actually just started watching some...but I am truly a cinema guy.  Well...things are very limited now and so I decided to venture a bit into the whole online world, mainly for clasic films and ballet videos. 

So today I was watching Grand Pas Classique...a pdd I love very much, and that sadly...we don't get to see performed much nowadays.  Yes...it is a gala performance piece, and as such...only at galas can we only enjoy it.  But then...there are many other pieces on that same category.  Classical, beautiful pdd's and even a pas de quatre. Gala pieces that are all but disappearing from our balletic memory.  Those by Balanchine are the most fortunate, given that they are periodically revived by Balanchine-based companies.  I'm thinking of Tchaikovsky PDD, Le talisman PDD and Sylvia PDD.  Maybe others...?  Then, out of Balanchine context, there are others, like the aforementioned Pas de deux Classique, Le Carnival de Venezia pdd-(aka Fascination pdd ) or even the Grand Pas de Quatre.  And I was thinking....would it be possible, legally speaking, to attempt to fit this pieces into new full length creations...? 

Could, for example, Tchaikovsky pdd be included in a new production of Swan Lake with the necessary trademark and Trust permissions and requirements...? Could Grand Pas Classique be included in a totally new ballet...maybe a "revival" of an old text, with totally  new choreo for the whole thing, but including said pas in its entire form...? If you saw the Mariinsky Paquita, you know what I'm talking about.  For that that Paquita Smekalov took the Grand Pas just as we all know it from Petipa's time, and reworked the whole rest of the ballet into a totally different thing from, let's say, Lacotte's....both choreographically and libretto wise.  I would love for choreographers to do the same with this "forgotten" pieces, so a well known, exciting element can be used as bait for...maybe a wonderful night at the ballet...?

I could definitely watch a whole neo-romantic ballet in which the last act is a party with a set of divertissements made for four distinguished guest Romantic-era ballerinas! -(wink wink Anton Dolin)

A good or a terrible idea...?  😉

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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Vaganova's "Diana and Acteon" pas de deux was an insertion into Esmeralda, which Yuri Burlaka and Vasily Medvedev retained in their production.

I think it sticks out like a sore thumb, which is why I generally wouldn't be in favor of the practice. But then I dislike gala pieces in general, so their inclusion in a full-length narrative ballet wouldn't be a draw for me.

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The Bolshoi used to program a performance called "Highlights." Here's a link to a review of one of these performances, https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/06/arts/ballet-the-bolshoi-in-highlights-programs.html&ved=2ahUKEwjE7-e12OfuAhUKwVkKHYubAi4QFjAFegQICBAB&usg=AOvVaw0k9wq1NGLYLju1ovWoFJwH.  

The unending stream of gala pieces was sandwiched between Act I of "Romeo and Juliet" and Act I of "Spartacus." There was no attempt to create a plot or even a theme to tie the works together dramatically.

Edited by lmspear
Fix typo.
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The Staatsballett Berlin also continues to perform the Pas de Quatre.

These days the Bolshoi's "highlights" programs appear mostly on tours to smaller venues. But in Moscow as recently as 2015 a selection of "divertissement" pieces was sandwiched between ballets that otherwise didn't sell well, in this case Ek's Apartment and Possokhov's Classical Symphony. The theater doesn't seem to regard the concept very seriously: the divertissements aren't entered into its online performance archive.

Edited by volcanohunter
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4 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Pas de Quatre was also part of Boston Ballet's digital season. 

I could DEFINITELY see a two acts neo-Romantic new creation by Ratmansky with the second act made of Dolin's piece. Maybe something on Taglioni....? And then she can mingle with her peers in act II.😎

6 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Vaganova's "Diana and Acteon" pas de deux was an insertion into Esmeralda, which Yuri Burlaka and Vasily Medvedev retained in their production.

I think it sticks out like a sore thumb, which is why I generally wouldn't be in favor of the practice. But then I dislike gala pieces in general, so their inclusion in a full-length narrative ballet wouldn't be a draw for me.

In that Esmeralda, the D&A pas is shown as a "tapestry becomes alive" event, with the court observing. I quite liked the idea.

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20 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Another pas de deux I like is Papillon. Olesya Novikova dances it in galas at the Mariinsky:

It comes from a complete Papillon staged by Pierre Lacotte for the POB in 1976. These days it's the only section that's performed.

Ronald Hynd also staged a full-length Papillon in 1979 for the Houston Ballet.

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How about Tchai Pas? I know ...it is sacrosanct Balanchine, but.... wouldn't you like to see it , aside from a gala piece, as part of a Swan Lake ..? (Given that it would be ok by the Powers that Be). For instance... considering that there's already a Petipa Black Swan across the plaza, I think the past could had certainly fit well in Martins ballroom act of his SL. AND keeping Karinska's costume could also be an interesting alternative to the ever present black tutu'ed Odile. Yes...? No....? 😎

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10 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

How about Tchai Pas? I know ...it is sacrosanct Balanchine, but.... wouldn't you like to see it , aside from a gala piece, as part of a Swan Lake ..? (Given that it would be ok by the Powers that Be). For instance... considering that there's already a Petipa Black Swan across the plaza, I think the past could had certainly fit well in Martins ballroom act of his SL. AND keeping Karinska's costume could also be an interesting alternative to the ever present black tutu'ed Odile. Yes...? No....? 😎

Uh ... the choreography just doesn;t fit Swan Lake. It's more a 9 minute virtuoso display and thus the perfect gala piece. I also couldn;t imagine anyone doing the Tchai pas in an Odile costume,

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13 hours ago, canbelto said:

Uh ... the choreography just doesn;t fit Swan Lake. It's more a 9 minute virtuoso display and thus the perfect gala piece. I also couldn;t imagine anyone doing the Tchai pas in an Odile costume,

Oh...there would be no changes whatsoever. My idea includes the notion of respecting ALL aspects of the gala piece, including the original costumes. I would certainly welcome Balanchine's creation within a SL. The audience would had a double treat. 1- The Choreography by Balanchine and 2- The opportunity to listen to this deleted and now almost unknown 1877 SL music, along with the little Sobeshchanskaya/Minus/Tchaikovsky/Petipa story on the how and why it got created and eventually deleted. With the actual vast array of endless black tutu'ed carbon copy Odiles around the world, the Tchai Pas would be quite a refreshing contender! As per being a virtuoso piece. Well....every pdd of the classical repertoire I can think of is surely a virtuoso piece. Some of them EVEN MORE "showy" than Tchai pas-( as with everything where we expect 32 routes).  Tchai Pas has, to my eyes, really nothing that moves away from the classical language. It's pure classical ballet to pure "musique dansante".

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22 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

Does the Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux strike you as even remotely seductive? It doesn't seem that way to me, so I can't imagine how it could be made to work dramatically in that context. 

Choreography wise...? Well of course! At some point there's even a little hand playing between the dancers! And many ballerinas do a lot of eye flirting while in the entree/adagio. Ashley Bouder, for instance.

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I couldn't say the music is unknown. Several productions of Swan Lake I've seen use the adage, but not Balanchine's choreography, obviously. Other productions use the male variation for Siegfried. In a few cases the female variation is used, although not for Odile. And practically every audio recording of the score includes it, because musicians are interested in what Tchaikovsky composed, not how Petipa reordered the score afterward. 

Intricate hand grips are extremely characteristic of Balanchine, used in ballets that don't imply any seduction whatsoever. And we can't claim to be respecting Balanchine's intentions if we drop the piece into a context he never intended.

There is so little of Petipa in most productions of Swan Lake. I would be against removing whatever after-Petipa choreography remains.

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

I couldn't say the music is unknown. Several productions of Swan Lake I've seen use the adage, but not Balanchine's choreography, obviously. Other productions use the male variation for Siegfried. In a few cases the female variation is used, although not for Odile. And practically every audio recording of the score includes it, because musicians are interested in what Tchaikovsky composed, not how Petipa reordered the score afterward. 

Intricate hand grips are extremely characteristic of Balanchine, used in ballets that don't imply any seduction whatsoever. And we can't claim to be respecting Balanchine's intentions if we drop the piece into a context he never intended.

There is so little of Petipa in most productions of Swan Lake. I would be against removing whatever after-Petipa choreography remains.

Well....this is a fantasy. If we go against "dropping the piece in a context they never intended", this whole thing makes no sense of course. Dolin would probably say no about Grand Pas de Quatre as part of a full length. So would Gsovsky and everybody else, including Balanchine.

My point is that some of this pieces are so little performed nowadays that it is a shame that being so wonderful and exciting, they are constricted to gala performances...and quite disappearing-( like Grand Pas de Quatre).

And then...in many new creations we see, the pdd's are... so forgettable, that I believe it would be probably better to re use an existing material that has gone successfully thru the test of time.

How about Satanella pdd...? (I know...it comes from a pre existing full length...but..it has been by itself for so long...! )

Or...Grand Pas Classique..?

 

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On 2/15/2021 at 8:40 PM, canbelto said:

I could see if they did a ballet about, say, Anna Pavlova or Marie Taglioni that they'd interpolate some of their most well known numbers into the ballet.

Bingo! Like "La Mort du Cygne" on a 1 act ballet ! I mean, even if we love the piece as a gala item.... wouldn't it be more... exciting to see it as part of a larger work...? My point is that, given that the pieces are 1- Popular, for which they have survived as solos, and 2- that they are quite not much seen given their restricted frame of gala nights, they could be of better use!

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On 2/15/2021 at 1:09 PM, volcanohunter said:

If you want to get some idea of what Grand Pas Classique in a full-length setting would be like, try Marco Spada. I won't speak for anyone else, but I found 2+ hours of Auber's music to be unbearable. :pinch:

But THAT'S the thing...it doesn't has to be necessarily the same composer! You see...I'm thinking more on the lines of what Petipa's ballerinas did, and many times with his own approval, which was to interpolate dances from other ballets....in many cases pieces that were good enough to survive on their own without the rest. Pieces that they knew had tested the balletomannes waters and would be safe tickets to new creations.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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On 2/18/2021 at 3:41 AM, cubanmiamiboy said:

pieces that were good enough to survive on their own without the rest

The key thing here, I think, is the "rest" which was discarded. The new ballet into which the popular pas de deux is inserted may prove to be no more enduring than its predecessor. A gala setting requires only a costume or two, no backdrops, and often even the music is canned. But a new ballet involves enormous production expenses, and if it's a flop, a company is left holding a white elephant. A choreographer with carte blanche and a hefty state subsidy, like Petit had in Marseille or Neumeier has in Hamburg, can pursue a big personal project about a favorite dancer. (Although from the clips I've seen from Ma Pavlova, it comes across more as a tribute to the sublimely schooled legs of Dominique Khalfouni rather than an homage to Pavlova.) For everyone else, it's too big a gamble, so a gala it will have to be.

Edited by volcanohunter
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