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Why Does Marius Petipa Matter?


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Why Does Marius Petipa Matter?
Alastair Macaulay lecture first given at Houghton Library symposium “In Pursuit of Petipa”, Harvard University, in November 2018

"Or does Marius Petipa matter at all? He has become the most enigmatic and ambiguous choreographer in history.

Much of the choreography we now see that’s called Petipa is not Petipa. Many of us watched for decades something called the Le Corsaire pas de deux before we came to realise that a more authentic version of this was a pas de deux à trois. It then took another decade or two before we discovered that none of that was by Petipa anyway: it was added in 1915, five years after his death, by Samuil Andrianov. In the case of Swan Lake’s Odile-Siegfried grand pas de deux - often erroneously called the Black Swan (she’s not a swan; Petipa never dressed her in black) - I’ve spent over forty-seven years years watching Odile’s choreography change out of recognition. In the 1950s, Balanchine remarked that Siegfried’s solo in that pas de deux had been changed decades before. It took ages before I found that one of the most crucial moments in the Odile adagio, its ending, had been edited away in the early 1940s."


Edited by pherank
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