Azlan, your point about taking the production on its historical merit is key. We can not and should not compare this to how "new" it looks or if it is better than another "revised" version by a living choreographer. Part of the charm (and in my book, impressiveness) of (m)any Russian versions is that they've managed to maintain historical integrity where American companies have seen fit to "freshen" the work up. As we know (Baryshnikov's "Swan Lake" comes to mind) -- newer isn't always better.
Well, to be precise, many Russian versions are actually a revision of the "original" choreography, and are actually quite historically corrupt. Somewhere between Petipa and the 1950s (when Russian productions of "Sleeping Beauty" - and even "Swan Lake" began to tour), somebody changed the choreography into what we now know of as "The" choreography for Beauty and Swan Lake. Case in point: the White Swan pas de deux in Act II of "Swan Lake" was actually a pas de deux a trois, for the Prince, Benno and Odette. This remained true for a long time, staying in such versions as the early Royal Ballet versions (Margot Fonteyn is on video doing the White Swan pdd as a pdd a trois). Then when the Russians came touring to the West (ok - the Bolshoi and Kirov to be specific) and used a version as a strict pas de deux, that eventually trickled into Western productions (not to mention countless other changes).
Now, as for "Sleeping Beauty," the new-old Kirov production that played the Met in New York a few years ago shows that what we know of as the "real" Sleeping Beauty choreography is much altered and much changed as well. So what IS the real "Sleeping Beauty" choreography? I suppose what we see from the Perm company is the choreography that most people know of and are used to from the altered Russian productions of "Beauty" ... I've read somewhere that Anthony Dowell's version of "Sleeping Beauty" for the Royal Ballet (before the new Makarova one that just premiered) is the modern version that is closest to the historical choreography - but even that version incorporates a few of the newer variations, etc. (the Dowell version - with its oddly proportioned sets, bold costumes and all - is available on video). The Royal Ballet versions of "Sleeping Beauty," with the exception of the most recent Makarova one, have actually been more historically sound than many other versions - especially the Russian ones. Apparently, someone (I'll have to look it up in the textbook) left Russia with a notated copy of the "Beauty" choreography, or remembered the original plans of the choreography, and used that to stage versions at the Royal Ballet; same goes for their earlier "Swan Lake" with the pas de deux a trois.
But, anyhow, I don't really think that was the exactly gist of the post I quoted. I agree that we shouldn't try to compare these more traditional productions with newer ones, and that the traditonal versions have a charm all their own.
<small>[ 14 April 2003, 04:25 AM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>