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not long enough

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There are segments in Sleeping Beauty and in Swan Lake that are short but very brilliant and that is why the question came to mind. I wish I knew enough about it to be able to name the segements, but I don't.

There is a section in Swan Lake... its just before the black swan makes her appearance and the 6 maidens are dancing for Seigfried... its a waltz I suppose, and it is so beautiful that I hate to see it come to an end so quickly. I sort of wish that he would fall in love with one of them for a short time at least, so I could hear more of it!! But, we don't want to get the black swan mad, and we sure don't want to get Odette more upset than she already is!!

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This will sound strange, but my choice is Liebeslieder Walzer. Yes, yes, I know it's already 75 minutes long. Yes, yes, I know there is even a "pause" in the middle of the ballet. Yes, yes, I know it's a bunch of Brahms waltzes written as hausmusik to amuse amateur musicians.

Nonetheless, I always become so enveloped by the mood the piece creates, that I feel a genuine pang of nostalgia when I see the first couple come back in gown and gloves. (Well, truth be told, I know the last duet very well, but I resist accepting the end until I have to.)

A summary for people who have never seen the work. It's set to two suites of chamber music written for an era when "home entertainment" meant playing the piano and singing. Both are scored for piano four hands (Balanchine places all the musicians on stage and insists that the pianists be one woman and one man), plus the usual modern vocal quartet (baritone, tenor, mezzo, soprano). The text consists (with the exception noted below) of Hallmark-style poems about love. Brahams wrote the second suite entirely at his publisher's insistence, to cash in on the popularity of the first.

The ballet is set in a ballroom of the Hapsburgh era, which may or may not be real. The first suite is clearly set in a literal ballroom, and draws almost entirely on the traditions of ballroom dancing. The women wear near-flat ("character") shoes, long gloves, and long tutus; the men are in formal wear with white gloves. The women's gowns are similar in hue but different in cut and decoration. (Alas for the budget, only silk looks right.) They dance in various groupings, and the dancing is, for the most part, quite formal. Eventually, the dancers run out the doors, exposing the ballroom to moonlight. The curtain drops for a few moments, then rises again.

In the second suite, the dancers reappear only in couples. The dancers have all shed their gloves; the men have doffed jackets, the women have replaced flats with pointe shoes, and dancing becomes more complex and resonant.

After the last couple leaves, the musicians start to sing the last waltz, a setting of a Goethe poem that begins, "Now, muses, cease..." Candlelight replaces moonlight. Dancers return, in full costume from the first part, and assume seats watching the musicians on stage. There is no dancing. When the music ends, the dancers appauled, quietly, with their gloved hands.

When the magic stops, the rest of us keep on cheering.


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Originally posted by Farrell Fan

When Patricia McBride and Edward Villella danced Balanchine's Tarantella it always ended much too soon.

Maybe we audience members didn't want it to end, but trust me the dancers did! It's a killer! :)

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