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Poll: Ballet Time Traveler



  1. 1. Poll: Ballet Time Traveler

    • [b]Versailles/Fontainbleu, 1670s[/b]: court ballet of Louis XIV—Lully, Moliere's comédie-ballet Le Bourgois Gentilhomme, Psyche by Moliere, Lully, Corneille, and Quinault; Beauchamps as maître de ballet
    • [b]Paris, 1840s[/b]: Coralli's Giselle and La Peri; Perrot's Esmeralda; Mazillier's Paquita and Le Diable à Quatre; Taglioni, Grisi, Petipa as dancer
    • [b]Copenhagen, 1860s[/b]: Bournonville in full flower—all his works being danced except Life Guards on Amager
    • [b]St. Petersburg, 1890s[/b]: Petipa in excelsis—Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda, Halte de Cavalrie, and (with others) Cinderella; Ivanov's Swan Lake and Nutcracker
    • [b]Paris, 1910s[/b]: Diaghilev's Ballets Russes—Firebird, Petrushka, Carnaval, Scheherezade, Spectre de la Rose, Faune, Parade, etc.
    • [b]Other[/b] (before 1930)

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The more I read this thread, the more I appreciate the historical interests of its participants. We have, perhaps, become too comfortable with the institutionalization of ballet -- home theatres, home studios, video records, illuminating books -- to appreciate the amazingly evanescent nature of dance in the '30s and '40s.

My own mother, who studied ballet with Edvard Caton, was offered an apprenticeship with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo -- the only possible route to a professional career in that pre-war era. But neither she nor her parents could accept the idea of a 15-year-old girl joining the gypsy life of what was then the world's leading classical dance company. So she would later become a housewife, and much of the company's history would be lost.

Thank heaven for The Red Shoes, which at least preserves cameos of the great dancers of the '40s.

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"An idea for another poll would be which single historic performance would you attend if you were handed the keys to a time machine but only allowed one trip. (I have a hunch which performance would win; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if half the audience at the premiere of "Le Sacre du Printemps" *were* time travelers.)"

I also chose Paris and the Ballets Russes. I"m still thinking about which single historic performance I would attend. To see that fateful opening night of "Sacre", or for that matter, of "Faune"! It would be fascinating to be able to experience the impact of ballets such as these within the climate of their own time. I think they must have been so startling, so evocative, tumultuous in a way that is difficult for us to imagine nearly 100 years later.

I guess I should stop, as someone may want to turn this suggestion into a thread.

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I chose Ballets Russes too. But this got me thinking. Yes, dance is ephemeral and many ballets have disappeared. But how exciting it is to live in 2002 and have ***some*** information about ***all*** these eras to call upon when we're making our dances! What better time machine exists than the music steps and costumes of a 200-year-old ballet?

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