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Mayerling and the Royal Ballet

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OK, great. I think I am starting to get the picture.

This is how I learn, one question at a time.

Guess I have to start thinking about choreographers in a different light, maybe more like great composers. There is only one Tchaikovsky, I understand that. And it sounds like there is only one Ashton as well.

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Ronny and I have discussed this point offboard, and my opinion is that when you have 800-pound gorillas of choreographers looking over your shoulder, it's probably best to leave a given score alone, if they've staged a successful version that still exists in recent memory. Now, before Raymonda was well-known in the west, Ashton staged a pas de deux for Svetlana Beriosova and Donald MacLeary from it as a separate specialty, but that's Ashton working with music that Petipa had set, and somebody knew what the original looks like! (Actually, I liked the Ashton a lot better in places than the Petipa!) It's not ME trying to stage an Ivanov-free Swan Lake!

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Estelle wrote

"That must have been Darsonval's reconstruction"

It was indeed. However, there were two problems with it; one minor, one major and I guess this is why it has never been done again.

The minor problem was the designs which were very elegant but far too 20th Century.

The more important problem was that, according to Verdy who was director of the ballet at the time, when it came down to it, Darsonval could remember quite a bit of the ballet, but there were sections of which she had no recollection at all. And these sections were filled in by (I think) Verdy herself. So while some of it was clearly original, or close to it, other parts were totally modern and of no great choreographic distinction.

It was however, wonderfully danced by the entire cast. It was also the first time I saw Denard in a comic role and realised just how versatile a dancer he was.

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Thanks for the precisions, Alymer. Probably the problems with the designs could be corrected, but the choreography problem is quite big indeed... I wonder if at that time there still were other people still alive who could have remembered some parts of the choreography?

Darsonval passed away a few years ago, so it would probably be even harder to make a reconstruction now.

I'm a bit jealous that you could see Denard when he still was active, as it was partly a book about him which made me pay attention to dance ten years ago (I saw him a few times on stage, but for open rehearsals or in acting roles).

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I saw quite a number of Denard's performances Estelle, and he really was something. As well as having all the attributes you would want for an etoile, technique, partnering skills, etc. he had tremendous glamour. Bejart made the role of the Firebird for Denard in his version of the ballet, and with him the piece was really quite memorable. Denard was also good in the classics - I remember seeing his Albrecht and being really impressed by the original detail he put into his portrayal - none of it out of tune with the ballet.

But I think it tends to be overlooked just how impressive the top ranks of the Opera were in the 1970's. There were some really fantastic dancers leading the company at that time. It's not a recent phenomenon.

Sorry - this all way off the original topic.

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