CriticalDance Forum

14th International "Stars of the White Nights" Fes
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun May 21, 2006 1:51 pm ]
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Novikova's arabesques were above 90 degrees but they weren't penches. However, in the developpe's a la seconde (that sequence she does, one with each suitor and then she lets go of the hand and balances) those were close to 180 (i'd say 175 or 179) degrees -- so yes. Makhalina's legs, needless to say, rarely got above 90 degrees. In my opinion, hers is the problem in reverse. It was quite scary to see her on stage.

I have to say though, that the manner in which Novikova displayed these developpes was not grotesque. I think a lot depends on *how* the dancer delivers the extension. I've seen the "whack" -- which looks a lot like girls in school do when they want to get "their leg up high" and that shows total disregard for line, tempo, and often choreography. This wasn't that, namely because the tempo is so slow for most of these movements. It did display her range of motion. I should add that the de rigeur flexibility within the company is for those sorts of a la seconde extensions -- the hip (bones) are not level, the torso is pushed aside to accommodate the raised leg, the foot of which is above the head. All of them can do this. Some just do it more than others.

Personally I prefer the Sergeyev version for a number of reasons, probably not obvious ones. I'm used to it, know the choreography, grew up seeing it (on tape mostly), it's shorter, it's less "bright".

On that note, it's hard to imagine those bright colors in costumes back in the late 1800s. Perhaps they are all accurate, but to me, the nature of the ballet is one of an old fairy tale, and dimmer, more tame hues tend to portray that notion (whether or not historically accurate) better on stage. The technicolor treatment is VERY effective but a strange combination for a production over 100 years old IMHO.

I definitely think the reconstruction is a must-see for any is amazing in the length, depth, number of cast members -- the detail work that went into it is commendable. But I wouldn't insist on seeing it more than once. I have heard there are those who actually prefer it. I'll also be interested to hear what other readers/posters think.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun May 21, 2006 2:59 pm ]
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Thanks Catherine - as you say, it depends the way they are executed, but we know they didn't do this in 1903 and for this revival, the primary interest is surely to see how the piece looked then.

A note on the costumes, I have a memory that I read that when the Kirov were touring the US with the Sergeev version they used the 1903 costumes, which I also find over-bright.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon May 22, 2006 12:15 pm ]
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Over-bright. Nicely described.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed May 24, 2006 2:33 am ]
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For any Semionov fans, Dmitrii will be dancing the role of Solor in Bayadere on the 26th.

Tomorrow night is Don Q, with Elvira Tarasova as Kitri, Andrei Batalov as her Basil, and Alexander Sergeev as Espada.

Unfortunately I won't be able to attend, but if anyone hears news of these performances, please do post it here.

Author:  fedora [ Wed May 31, 2006 9:56 am ]
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Author:  Cassandra [ Wed May 31, 2006 10:52 am ]
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Seeing as the Kirov is edging towards dancing the entire rep in slow motion, maybe maestro Gergiev's tempi are just what the company needs.

Author:  fedora [ Wed May 31, 2006 1:03 pm ]
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Jun 21, 2006 7:32 am ]
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Just a note on further Festival developments. Last night, while those from the DC tour were getting settled, the dancers in the reserve troupe treated St Petersburg audiences to a wonderful performance of "La Sylphide". Elvira Tarasova and Andrei Batalov danced the leads -- a formal review to come shortly.

Additionally, apparently as part of a "test run", as of late last week several performances have been held at the Musical Comedy Theatre on Arts Square (next to the Maly). The program will repeat itself tomorrow night with Chopiniana, Prodigal Son and Apollo at 7pm, while The Nutcracker will appear on the Mariinsky stage at 9pm. (some dancers have been double booked for both performances, you can imagine the chaos).

The word from dancers is that the Musical Comedy stage is too small to dance on. But it will have to make do for the 18 months+ of theatre closure.

More news to come.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:38 am ]
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“La Sylphide”
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
20 June 2006
St. Petersburg, Russia -- By Catherine Pawlick

In the previously announced replacement for an initially cast Zhanna Ayupova, the rarely seen Elvira Tarasova took to the stage on Tuesday night alongside Andrei Batalov for a sparkling performance of Bournonville’s “La Sylphide”. As the White Nights Festival continues, the Kirov is showing that it need not go overseas to prove high quality dancing – the same can be found at home.

On the heels of Daria Pavlenko’s stunning rendition of “Giselle” this past weekend at Kennedy Center – lauded by both the Washington Post and the New York Times -- the question arose as to what the reserve troupe would hold in tow. The answer is encouraging: both Batalov and Tarasova demonstrated keen understanding of Bournonville style and technique, making for a poignant and highly artistic performance.

Elvira Tarasova is an overlooked soloist who never, it seems, quite received her due within the Mariinsky. In Ayupova’s heyday Tarasova was still within the company ranks, and now more mature, she remains merely a soloist, and one who is rarely cast at that. Only this year have we witnessed her Kitri and one other role.

Blessed with supple feet, a light jump and fluid arms, Tarasova seems as technically capable as anyone else to perform principal roles. In this performance her understanding of the character’s emotional elements allowed her to present a Sylphide full of warmth and playful mischief who tried to steal James’ heart. Tarasova offered several statuesque poses, photograph-worthy, that demonstrated the dipped elbows of romantic port de bras. And yet in the Bournonville petit allegro sequences, with her arms and shoulders serenely held in fifth low, the batterie of her pointework and jumps attested to her strength.

Batalov’s talents have already been chronicled, and as James he too revealed a remarkable capacity for sharp batterie and airborne jumps. While tamer in the first Act, by Act Two his petit allegro was on fire. He is a supreme example of idyllic Bournonville technique, and can be matched perhaps only by Sarafanov within this company in terms of cleanliness, accuracy and ballon. His upper body relaxed and well-positioned, he performed a dazzling display of battu and jetes, finishing on time with the music at every turn.

While Yulia Kasenkova was listed in the program for the role of Effie, instead an unconfirmed Polina Rassadina danced the role with bright facial expressions and snappy footwork. Despite the soft shoes that the entire corps de ballet wears for “La Sylphide”, every manner of step, beat or pointed foot was clearly articulated by all.

The impactful score by Loevenskjold was conducted by Alexander Polyanichko.

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:31 pm ]
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Does the 'sylph' corps wear soft shoes? In Copenhagen, the sylphs are all on pointe, while Effie and 'the Scots' are in character shoes or the like.


Author:  KANTER [ Thu Jun 22, 2006 1:53 am ]
Post subject:  Adolphe Nourrit


based on the above account, could someone enlighten us as to which version of the ballet this may be ?

Adolphe Nourrit was a celebrated tenor (1802-1839) and friend of Bournonville's, who, so far as I know, never composed anything save a pretty ditty or two.

The score to Bournonville's version of the Sylphide is by H. Loevenskjold, that to Lacotte's, far longer, is by J.M. Schneitzhoeffer.

Bournonville commissioned a fresh score from Loevenskjold, because the rights on Schneitzhoeffer's were too costly for the Danish purse. He ended up with a better score though!

Pierre Lacotte most definitely does favour a "dipped elbow", it's a tic with him, whereas Bournonville does not - indeed, he points to the dipped elbow as his own worst flaw, along with unstable turns.

Was this Lacotte's, or Bournonville's ballet?

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:11 am ]
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My apologies, I meant Nourri's *Libretto*. The music is still, as it always was (here at the MT that is), Loevenskjold's.
There were, however, dipped elbows, which I didn't find disturbing -- they did make the Sylphide appear more graceful and ethereal.

Kate -- yes, the entire corps here wears soft slippers (some of them black with the black ribbons tied way up the calf, like..I suppose like the Scots do or used to do). But only in Act One. I think only one female onstage had character shoes, the rest were soft shoes aside from Tarasova. Act Two sylphs are all en pointe.

Kate, I wanted to ask -- does the RDB school still teach Bournonville style? (ie is all petit allegro done with the arms down, lots of pas de couru sideways, "bournonville" jetes, etc) Or do they have typical classes w/o that emphasis? It occurred to me when watching this ballet that aside from, well, this single ballet, there isnt much exposure to Bournonville, certainly not here, but even in the USA...

Author:  ksneds [ Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:22 am ]
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In re shoes: That makes sense, since the sylph corps doesn't appear until the second act. In the first act, all the 'Scots' are either in character shoes or character heels. BTW, ghillies (shoes for Scottish/Irish dance) don't lace very far up - the lacing is more on the foot and ankle actually. You can see Highland (Scottish) ghillies here.

You can see pictures - unfortunately none from Act I - of the RDB version here.

As to Bournonville - YES!!! There was a period when Bournonville style was not taught in the school much at all, but now it's an integral part of the training. Though of course the students also learn the technique needed for the rest of the ballets & styles in the repertoire, and thanks to Volkova and Balanchine, there's a Russian influence.

I believe that Frank Andersen wants all the students to have done all the Bournonville Schools (classes) while they are training. During the Bournonville Festival last year, the students took part in the daily lecture-performance of the Bournonville schools and there is now a superb DVD/book/score set of the complete Bournonville Schools. The students also did a stunning performance of some of the schools at the Gala Performance at the end of the Festival - this I have on DVD. I believe it was the complete school, and as the steps progressed, the younger kids would file off, class by class. But the overall style and presentation, from the littlest kids (7 perhaps?) up to the 16 year old aspirants, was breathtaking.

Apprentices and all new company members who did not come through the school also are supposed do Bournonville classes, usually once a week - often taught by Thomas Lund of Anne Marie Vessel, though the regularity depends on the rehearsal schedule. I think it does help them to catch up on what they've 'missed' in their non-RDB training.

But I think mainly the dancers learn by watching and being coached by the older dancers and company teachers. The oral tradition is very much alive at the RDB. And it shows in the superb, quick footwork - there's nothing like seeing Thomas Lund or Mads Blangstrup or Gudrun Bojeson or Caroline Cavallo with their feet flashing at a million miles per hour.


Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:57 am ]
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Thanks Kate. Wow, I had no idea such staunch traditions were still being upheld in Denmark. And here the Kirov gets so much credit -- RDB deserves at least as much!

From the photos, its hard to tell how long those ribbon/ties are. In this "Sylphide", think black ballet slippers with black pointe shoe ribbons sewed on and then criss-crossed twice up the leg, to the calf. They do go rather high up and the ribbons are wide. I think its just the costume-effect.

Not to stem too far from the topic but I'm curious what makes a class "bournonville" versus not. Certain steps, or is it all placement?

Author:  ksneds [ Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:37 am ]
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There are actually set Bournonville classes which were created by Hans Beck - one for each day Monday through Saturday, with (I think) three different barres that can be done. Each class runs through a series of clearly defined steps and enchainments, often ending in excerpts from ballets like La Sylphide and Konservatoriet.

The classes for the students and the new company members usually are a mixture of steps and enchainments from the different days, but they work their way through all the classes eventually.

You can read up at, which has an extensive section on the Bournonville style along with tons of pictures.

As to the shoes - what you see is what is there. The lace wraps once around the ankle, but doesn't usually go any higher. This is a better picture.


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