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Personally, I like the Raymonda's varaition in act three, but it would probably seem odd out of context without the sets and the court around. Then there are all the classics like Don Quichotte, Le Corsaire... Actually, it's difficult to choose ONE. I can understand why you ask!

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Kitri's variation from Don Q -- the one with the "hops on pointe" shows off both style and technique quite nicely and is short. The fairy variations from Sleeping Beauty of course, Paquita, they aren't used often for this, but what about Balanchine's Divertimento variations? One hint, if you are performing to recorded music opposed to an accompanist, take time to listen to several different recordings to find the one that best suits your dancing before buying -- sometimes music recorded for listening is not the tempo you want for dancing. Good luck!

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It's "Divertimento #15" and I'd hate to cross swords with the Balanchine estate over using his work for any purpose. This use might fall within the "fair use" doctrine, but then again, it might not, as a student could realize "real and valuable considerations" from its use. I'd hate to find out whether it does or not in a courtroom. Students using Balanchine for competitions have had to obtain permission to use the material.

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I believe that the best is to judge yourself honestly to identify where your strengths (and your weaknesses) lie. For instance, if you do not have a nice jump I wud not recommend the variation of First Soloist in Don Q grand pas.

If you tell which these good and bad points are, then I shall be better equipped to give you some advice, as I am constantly dancing variations at guest appearances and I know quite a few


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As mentioned before, Sleeping Beauty has a great many variations from which to choose--not just the fairies in the prologue, but Aurora has a variation in each act, Princess Florina, and the Fairies of the Precious Stones and Metals in Act III have variations as well. Paquita has many variations, and so does Le Corsaire--the Odalisque pas de trois, the Pas d'Esclave, Medora's variations from the Act II pas de trois and Le Jardin anime, not to mention Gulnare's variation as well. Don't forget La Bayadere. You really have a lot to choose from! My advice is to find one that suits your technical strengths well while not really exposing your weaknesses, but try not to change the choreography to cover anything up. Also, find one that's fun and has enjoyable music.

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Ok, then –here are my suggestions:

1) Gamzatti of “la Bayadere”: it has: grande allegro (grand jetes stuff). There is also a diagonal with waltz en tournant followed by an attitude turn. There is also a diagonal of turns: pique en dedans single, pique en dedans double, soutenu, chaines, and over again. If you cannot tackle this, you can do high developpes a la seconde instead (Nina Ananiashvili does this).

2) Raymonda 1st act (“dream” act): lots of developpes a la seconde, piques arabesque, etc. But you need good balance on pointe – I dont know if that is one of your strenghts. Also a sort of romantic quality.

3) Queen of Driads in Don Quixote – somewhere else in Ballet talk I have wrote down the choreography I am dancing.

4) Don Quixote – first soloist of the grand pas: the one with the big jumps. It has a diagonal of waltz stuff followed by chaines.

Any doubt, you can PM me!!!

Good luck


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Hey! I'm looking for variations too. Maybe Silvy can help me out.

My strengths are: TURNS, waltzy stuff, fast stuff with some "attitude", grande allegro

My weaknesses are: Pettite allegro, adagio

The variations I have considered are Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Raymonda (not sure which one) and Giselle Act I. I would appreciate any replies!

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HI Swan Queen

Well, the Tchaikowsky pas de deux does have some petite allegro – plus I dont know if you do not have to ask fo permission, because it is Balanchine – better find out first

Let me see:

1) As to Raymonda, the one with the bourres is nice- You need a good leg line to show in those bourres, and to have enough stamina to get to the fast end. And to get the style, which is quite difficult. If you feel up to it, then tackle it: it is wonderful to dance!!! Then you have Raymonda in second act, which has a lot of turns: en attitude, and a great deal of point work. You need to be able to hop on pointe well to do it.

2) Giselle Act I. VERY SUITABLE, provided you can get the style correctly as well, because that is the most difficult par of it – getting the style.

3) the third odalisque in Corsaire (I wish I cud do it, but I am not a good turner!!!): LOTS of turns.

4) Gamzatti: do the diagonal with all doubles if you can!!! (envy, envy....)

5) Black Swan: full of difficult turns en dehors, and renverses, and attitudes (depending on version)

6) Don Quixote first soloist (or Kitri's as danced by Tatiana Terekova of the Kirov). It has jumps, and you can end it like Tatiana: with a diagonal of all doubles en dedans.

If you wish, you can PM me

Good luck!!!! :)


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Guest lil_dega

Hi! i'm a dancer myself and i can honestly say that out of the variations i have danced, i found the Sugar Plum Fairy and Coppelia variations the easiest. i mean, modesty aside, but yeah, compared to other variations like the Black Swan, they're okay! Sleeping Beauty's Aurora or the Lilac Fairy should be fine for a dancer who likes slower music. You can choose Le Corsaire's slow variation instead of the fast one. i hope that helped!

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Two good choices for petite allegro are the first Shade from La Bayadere and the first Odalisque from Le Corsaire. Also, Cupid's variation from Don Quixote.

For adagio, there is a slow variation in Paquita, as well as the third shade in La Bayadere.

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to Mr Mel:

Of course - I did not count on Les Sylphides - I have danced the 3 of them, and I can tell you that you need to be on top form to tackle the Mazurka and the Waltz, since the combination of jumps with pointe work (or turning combinations) is really hard. But they are beautiful, provided the ballerina has a romantic quality about her.


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One of my favorite variations is the Lilac Fairy (Kirov w/ Kolpakova as Aurora.) If you are a legato dancer with good balance and a nice arabesque line, this solo provides a great canvas for artistic interpretation: adding nuances and playing with musicality.

The second Odalisque is a good variation for the dancer with a strong technique but who lacks an obvious strong point. There are turns, attitudes and arabesques, and petite allegro.

I also love Aurora's variation from the Wedding Pas de Deux. The port de bras is so fluid and delicate, and it's a great opportunity for displaying good feet.

Esmerelda is an overall fun, lively, and bravura variation. Each section of the variation ends in a pirouette, and the music definitely allows for multiples. It also requires some lengthy balances. The tambourine and seductive gypsy movements really allow some character to come through.


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Speaking about variations, would you say that a slow variations are only for tall dancers? I ask this because i am very short, have strong pointes, but also have very good balance on pointe and a nice arabesque line (as Rachel points out above), and a good "a la seconde" positions. I also love "stretching" the movements to the music, exploring the nuances the music allows.

would you say that I shud limit myself to allegro because of my height?

Hear comments / feedback!!!


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Nobody is mentioning variations that show your musicality, so I'll mention a couple-- since it's such a pleasure to see someone with good technique who can actually DANCE.....

A) If your sissonnes are good, Bournonville's Sylphide's variation from act 2 is an enchanting dance -- floating, lyrical, playful -- with a lot of interesting lines to it. It's very airy, not super-hard technically, but the LINE has to be continuous, and the rhythm and the flow of movement timing, and style are all-important....It's supposed to be a petite dancer's role, but I've seen Muriel Maffre succeed in it, and she's 5' 10", inches tall.....

B) If you've got some sass and brass in your soul, there's a fantastic variation from Macmillan's Elite Syncopations that is all about rhythm, insinuation, line... and "attitude" in the club-dancing sense -- it's kind of a British music-hall version of Chicago, to a Scott Joplin rag-- a sure-fire variation, one of hte best-constructed little dances I've ever seen.

C) Also dancey-- either of the two variations from Ashton's Swan Lake pas de quatre, one based on hte twist, the other on the cha-cha -- full of surprises, , equiring neat footwork, very good entrechat-quatres -- they give you the opportuiity to make standard steps look unfamiliar becauses of the timing.... Very classical, but really refreshing

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Dear Paul:

Oh, thank you for your feedback!!

In fact, people who have seen me say that the solo I look best in is the "Prelude" from Fokine's "Les Sylphides" (I got first prize once with that in a ballet competition - it was my ONLY first prize ever)

I have learnt the "Sylphide" variation you mention, but I feel it cannot be danced in a concert presentation without a partner, because the Sylphide's dances are followed by James's dances, and then she again, etc. Nevertheless, I love it, and it suits my style very well.

I have seen Ashton's Swan Lake, but I cannot help but to find the pas de quatre variations quite odd. The seme I think of the fairies in Ashton's Cinderella, I am afraid.

Never seen Elite Syncopations- do you know if there is any version on video?




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I agree with Paul that perfect technique is NOT everything. You have to pick a variation that you really enjoy dancing and that will show off not only your technique, but also your heart.

I chose Raymonda Act II and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux for my variations. I especially love Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux because of the music and I think it really suits my style. Raymonda is nice too.

Also, quick question: Is it okay to reverse part of a variation if you're only doing it for a very small local scholarship audition? I need to change the first part of Raymonda to be to the left instead of the right. Is that acceptable?? Thanks!

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to Swan Queen:

Good of you to show such versatility!!! It speaks well of you as a dancer. I say so because Raymonda Act II and Tchaik. pas are so different.

I dont see why you cannot reverse the order (or change the side - I do not have it clear what you are enquirying, but, whatever, both are ok as far as I know). I have seen that done by professional companies - in fact, I have never seen one variation danced identically from one version to the other. For instance, you can do fouettes to the left if that suits you better, of lift the other leg if that works better for you. Of course, it would be better if you get reassurance from some of the experts of this board (I am not one at all!!!)

good luck


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Hey Silvy,

Congratulations on your first in hte PRelude to Les Sylphides -- that is a beautiful, poetic,and difficult dance, and if you can make that one sing, I'd say that must mean you can DANCE... that argues some wonderful qualities.....

The breadcrumb fairy from SLeeping Beauty might be a good one for you, especially at a flowing andante; Shannon Lily used to dance it SO beautifully in San Francisco, the flow was wonderful...

Sorry you don't like the Ashton pas de quatre -- that dance has a secret, and done wrong, it CAN look strange, so before you dismiss it altogether, let me recommend you see if you can find the London Festival Ballet version (which Makarova staged), with Leanne Benjamin and another marvellous dancer as the 2 girls.... their TIMING is what makes it so thrilling... BUt maybe it's just not to your taste....

Princess Florine's dance with the pique fouettes to arabesque is a wonderful birdlike dance -- the best i've ever seen it done is Antoinette Sibley's performance on the old Royal Ballet Aurora's Wedding -- everybody should see it, the liquid shimmer of her arms begins in hte back, and you can't MISS seeing how totally involved her whole body is in hte dance.... again, hte timing is so musical....

Re Elite Syncopations -- I think there IS a video, I'v never seen it -- San Francisco Ballet just danced it here, and the whole town just went crazy over it.....

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