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There's nothing wrong with reversing a section as long as you don't mess with the variation's choreographic integrity. If reversing a section would mean the variation was danced mostly on one side of the stage, for example, or if you had to do some convoluted changes of the feet to make it work, I wouldn't recommend it. But if it's an easy change to make and preserves the feeling of the variation, I think it's fine.

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I agree with Hans. I once saw a Swan Queen who started the sissone section of her variation in Act II from the "wrong" side, and when I asked her why she'd reversed it, she said she wanted the later version of the audience's picture of her in that phrase to be on her stronger side! It just required a little manipulation to get her to the up left corner to start her next-to-last diagonal of turns (the lame ducks before the manège of piqués) on the correct track.

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Hey Silvy,

to: paul Parish

Thanks for your congrats!!! I agree with you in that the Prelude is one of the most difficult dances - not to show the tension anywhere, not to exaggerate the feeling - especially when performance nerves make you tense, and interfere with the sense of calmness you have to convey...

I did dance the bradcrumb (it is the one with all hops on pointe, right? - I enjoyed it, because I have strong feet)

The only version I have seen of Ashton's pas de quatre is the 1982 video of Royal Ballet (starring Makarova and Dowell)- I do not know the name of the dancers of the pas de quatre. I cannot help but to find it odd danced in short tutus -maybe I would have dressed the dancers in long dresses. But that is very personal. -by the way, the same it happens to me with some Balanchine danced in short tutus - I cannot help but to find it odd in that dress....

I agree with you in that Antoinette Sibley is unsurpassed as Princess Florine (in the "quick" version - the slow one as danced by the Russians, for me, is another matter altogether)

Oh, how privileged you are to be able to see San Francisco Ballet, and all.....

thanks for everything!!!




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FYI, you all --

and especially Silvy --

the video of Festival Ballet's Swan Lake stars Peter Schaufuss and Evelyn Hart, both of whom are worth seeing; the porduction as a whole is, I agree with Robert Greskovic, rather a hodgepodge -- but hte pas de quatre is extremely vivid, beautifully danced, and full of surprises.....

On ht other hand, given hte roles you are attracted to, Silvy, these 2 don't offer that much..... they aren't ballerina roles, they are very much court-ornament solos..... But they ARE real dances, unlike, say, the the variation from Grand Pas Classique

There's a FABULOUS variation, very short, great for a tomboy, all jumps, from Bournonville's William Tell (music is Rossini) -- tons of little beats alternating with floating grand ecartes, with a diagonal of brises, cabrioles, and pas-de-chat turns.....

The greatest ballerina variation ever danced, though, may be the one you can see young SUzanne farrell dance from Balanchine's DOn QUixote on that Suzanne Farrell TV bio.... She's like smoke, or a genie come out of a bottle, it's like looking at an emotion....

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So many variations, so little time.... I just wanted to put a quick word in for the Ashton pas de quatre. I thought the same thing, Paul. The pas de quatre Makarova/Dowell version looks stilted to me, and very quirky; dead Ashton. The dancers on the Festival Ballet video are DANCING it. You can tell they're rooted in ballroom dancing. I would imagine they'd be very hard to dance, though, if that was one's first brush with Ashton. I also loved your description of Farrell's dancing of the Don Q solo. My thoughts were less poetic, but similar. I thought she was dancing what was in Balanchine's brain, that there was nothing between thought and action.

Silvy, you seem to have good instincts of what suits you!

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The problem with the Farrell Don Q variation is that it's part of the forest pas d'action, and even though I think that's the best part of the ballet, that variation doesn't work all that well outside of the dramatic context of the ballet. Sort of like the soliloquoy in Carousel.

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Alexandra, thanks for your words - however, I do not know if I have good instincts or maybe I am choosing my roles more carefully now: taking into account my age, and my injuries....

Yesterday I watched Ashton's pas de quatre again - and still got the same feeling: I cud not help but find the ballerinas rather "stiff", while I very much enjoyed the male dancers duet: I found the latter to be a great showpiece for technically strong male dancers. I also liked both the adagio and the coda, and was pleased NOT to find the ballerinas "stiff" at all at those moments, .

By the way, Paul, the dancer Leanne Benjamin you mention appears in Blue Bird pdd in Royal Ballet's version danced by Viviana Durante as Aurora, but I prefer Sibley as Princess Florine.

Sadly, I never saw Suzanne Farrell in Balanchine's Don Q (only the short fragment shown in the film "Suzanne Farrell - elusive muse". sorry!!!


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re 'stiff"--

it is old-fashioned, but there was a tradition of dancing like sculpture -- Aurora in "that attitude" (i.e, hte Rose Adage) looked like a figurine being rotated......

Check out ALla Sizova's FANTASTIC performance -- she freezes like a piece of sculpture in those moments --

But while you're out it, check out her unbbelievable performance in AUrora's first variation -- to see what those pas dechats OUGHT to look like you've GOT to see hers -- she does saut de chat, with a cambre at the top of the jump that is like hte white cap on a wave, it is so beautiful you CAN'T believe it ,and nothing like the drab pas de chats one normally sees in htis variation.... SIzova's Aurora hits the stage flying, more fairy-like than her fairies.....

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to Paul Parish:

Oh, then, do you mean that Ashton was sort of "making fun" of that "dancing like sculpture" tradition? If so, of course, then the variations do make sense!! Nevertheless, I still find them odd in the middle of a very classical Swan Lake (as it is the case of the version I have seen). If the pas de quatre was presented in isolation, I guess I wud enjoy it much more.

I never saw Sizova in Beauty - I have seen her on video with Nureyev in Corsaire, when they were both students at the Vaganova School, and she is quite amazing: those high arabesques, the Italian fouettes with an en-dedans pirouette after the attitude, AND above all, her PREPARATION for the a la seconde jete!!! The latter is so clear-cut that it is almost unbelievable


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To everyone, and especially mr Paul Parish:

I finally got hold of the London Festival Ballet video of Swan Lake, in which the pas de quatre choreographed by Ashton is danced. I must say that I completely agree with those who said that dancers there were really "dancing" it - I was amazed at how different my impression was from the one I got from the Makarova/Dowell version. It was even hard to recognize that those steps were the same!!! I definitely like both variations, and would love to dance some of them, but I wud be very afraid of the danger of looking "stiff"

I think that Ashton wud be very pleased if he cud have seen these dancers (I think he was already dead at that time, right?)



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Hey, Silvy, thank you!! I'm SO glad it was worth your trouble -- I thought from the kinds of things you were sensitive to, that you'd like hte way these dances give them something to get their teeth into.....

And look at this thread! all these variations -- since i looked in last, the replies have really multiplied!!

That's great -- a whole library of ideas here.

Let me add, that -- well, Blackbird ballerina, this probably would NOT work well for you, since it's petite allegro --that Cupid;'s variation in the Dryades scene of Don QUixote is stealing hte show here every night in the new production of DOn Q in San Francisco -- it's is incredibly effective, specialy because hboth dancers Ive seen do it have looked SO comforable and happy in the role....

It probably helps to have a petite build -- you need to run on pointe and have a delicious temps de fleche and a good balance in attitude front -- I can't remember the last time i saw a pique balance be so effectiveas as hers. It's just a wonderful dance, it fits its music so naturally,it's sparkling and vivacious and pretty, it's just the PRETTIEST thing....

She is dancing while everybody else onstage is still, and htey're arranged in complex patterns while she darts about -- mostly on the diagonal up-left to down-right -- so the variation would be less effective as the ONLY thing going on on-stage... but it should be still effective.

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I am glad that you are glad, Paul!!! You are right: that video placed a sort of challenge to me now - let's hope I do not look terrible in that variations, if I decide to tackle them. By the way, I thought that Benjamin was a tall dancer? Or am I wrong?

Oh, how privileged you are of living in San Francisco and be able to see Don Q!!! The last time I saw the cupid variation danced here in Uruguay by our national ballet company it was danced by Maria Ricetto (about year 1997, I think), who now is a soloist with ABT in New York.

By the way I did dance that variation once, but as one of the solos in Paquita - the steps are fairly the same, but the arms are different, of course. People said it suited me, but now I want to dance variations more according to my age - I mean, I feel "old" for that Cupid!!! (I am 36)

I am also amazed at the huge amount of variations discussed on this thread!!! :) And there are still SO MANY MORE to discuss....


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I was thinking about Paquita the other day and it struck me that the choreography is really a hodge-podge of all the other classical ballets. For example, the principal ballerina's variation in ABT's production is very similar to the Kirov's Lilac Fairy. There are also segments from Les Sylphides (Chopiniana.) Has anyone else noted this?


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the only ABT version of Paquita I have seen is the video starring Cynthia Gregory and Bujones. If the variation is still the same (the "harp" variation), then I am afraid I see no resemblance to the Kirov's Lilac Fairy.

concerning Paquita and Sylphides, do you refer to the corps parts?


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Blackbird b,

It occurs to me to mention for you the Queen of hte Dryades variation fomr DOn Q, which Muriel Maffre has been dancing here -- and she's EXTREMELY tall -- she looks magnificent in it.....

It's GRAND -- though it's not really a dance, it's too formal and square... starts with a petite jete, releve in a huge ecarte, from which you tombe and jete sideways, from there releveinto a huge ecerte that mirrors the first one -- repeat that..... you know, it's probably GOrsky, its ideas are all retreads, very reminiscent of other variations (lilac Fairy's sissonnes and pirouettes from 5th), but it's a tremendous display of aplomb and line, and it has a lovely manege, and it could be satisfying to DO....

But both you and Silvy should consider Aurora's wedding variation -- I've seen dancers of all sizes make something of it, and the thing about it is, it really does have a power to move you. Diaghilev was enchanted by it.... there's such a variety of angles and plastique to it, such possibilities for phrasing, for contraposto in hte upper body -- short dancers with good turnout

can look FANTASTIC in it, for the lines are full of spirals -- and you can/may decorate it almost at will -- or at least, I've seen it done that way so much -- the balances after the sissonnes-changes I've seen in sous-sus, passe, attitude, various head positions, just so long as you look like a gold statuette that belongs at Versailles in every one of the balances, you're doing just fine --

But hte thing that gives you the MOST room is the Russian-dance passage -- the steps forward on pointe to hte violin solo, with the corkscrewing wrists; when Joanna Berman did that here in SanFrancisco, she did it with so MUCH feeling, it made me cry -- her arm movement was so full of feeling, it came from deep in the back and wasn't just a matter of wrists but had a great deal of heart in it, and it felt so passionate-- it put me in mind of the way Isaac Stern used to play Juliet's dances (Prokofieff's) as encores, with SUCH feeling and love well, Russian,but it also brought to mind the ecstatic arms-overhead dancing of Jews and Palestinians and Uzbeks... you've got a lot of room to cool it down or let it well up in your own way.....

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Regarding similarities between the Lilac Fairy and the Harp Variation from Paquita: I'm referring to the same video of ABT as you and the Kirov's Sleeping Beauty with Irina Kolpakova as Aurora. There is a diagonale traveling backwards of pique attitude croisse on the right leg with right arm opening, pique 1st arabesque on the left leg, double pique turn w/ arms in high 5th on the right leg landing in tendue side in allonge plie.

Regarding Paquita and Les Sylphides: I was referring to a variation that isn't included in Makarova's Paquita staging for ABT and to Les Sylphides in An Evening With the Royal Ballet in one of Margot Fonteyn's passages.


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Thanks for your suggestion of Aurora's wedding variation!!! I have always wanted to do it, but I have not yet had the chance for someone to teach it to me. I tried thru video, but somehow the first part eludes me (the part of the passes).

Oh, but I do LOVE Queen of Dryads variation (or Corsaire, for that matter). Would you say that it is ONLY for tall dancers?? It happens to me that I love variations that are normally danced by tall dancers, like, say the "harp" variation from Paquita, or Gamzatti, or Raymonda 1st and 3rd act...


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Silvy, you might want to try a different version of that variation--the Russians do it with attitude derriere instead of retiré. You sissonne en pointe in attitude derriere effacé, close 5th back, sissonne simple en pointe raising the same leg and changing it from back to front, then take a step forward in effacé en pointe. HTH

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thanks for your advice regarding Autora's Wedding variation. However, I have not seen Sizova. I have seen: Asylmulatova, Lezhnina, Maximova, Kolpakova, Semizorova - but I do not recall the cambre back. I think they do it straignt upwards?

How about Sizova's performance as Aurora?


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Silvy, you've got a fabulous experience ahead of you, if you haven't seen SIzova dance Aurora --

the only version I know of is the video of Sleeping Beauty where she dances with SOloviev -- it's a little weird, since one of hte great dancer-teachers -- Dudinskaya, I think -- dances Carabosse, and there's TONS of extra choreography for Dudinskaya in a grotesque mode which mostly comes off OK(but somehow the filming process makes her look small and prevents her from making any truly tremendous effects)...

But SIzova is astounding -- her first variation, all 20 seconds of it, is simply heart-stopping -- she absolutely flies through hte air, more fairy-like than any of her fairies, the sauts de chat are unbelievable-- I've watched them over and over in slow motion, never seen feet like that, nor such beautiful co-ordination of every aspect of a jump into something that looks as natural as the white-cap on a wave, and as artificial as a statue of gold by Cellini....

and hte wedding variation is very beautiful, also -- though I find it not very moving; for some reason she does a version of it that truncates the Russian dance, adding extra soutenus and such with baroque arm gestures rather than hte corkscrew wrists....

I THINK this is what people are referring to as he wedding pas de deux, rather than an "Aurora's Wedding" variation --

for "Arora's Wedding" was just a western European/USA 1-act version of Sleeping Beauty, useful for performing on tour, etc. IT's a Ballets Russes thing, invented by DIaghilev-- htey don't use it in Russia, (Again, I'm not SURE of this, but I don't think so.)

So what you're looking for is hte Kirov Sleeping Beauty, 1964--

F0nteyn did an Aurora's Wedding, not a great moment for her -- though SIBLEY is on that tape in Bluebird-- which i think you've seen

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