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 Post subject: Bournonville, tell me more please
PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 5:37 am 
I live in England and have never see a full length Bournonville ballet, as they are few and far between over here.

I'm keen to understand why these ballets continue to be performed and whether they are an interesting footnote in the history of ballet or whether they remain important in their own right. Also I'd like to understand how they are different from the ballets of Petipa and the other choreogrphers from the second half of the 19th C.

Help, please!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 3:03 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 9645
Location: Paris, France
It's seems that Bournonville is more closed of the mime and the theater, the dance moments are less numerous than in Petipa's ballets. Male dancer doesn't have the same style of variations. In a documentary narrated by Peter Schauffuss and called "Dancer", he said that the dancers must have "ballon" and all the jumps are near the high because the stage was small, they don't have manege of jumps, but they dance from left to right or to right to left. For the girls it's not variation with leg extension, it's also little jumps, it's especially a feet work. But my english is poor to explain completely the difference :cry:

In VHS existed Napoli and his Sylphide, I know that in the past year they broadcast several full lenght ballet as Kermesse at Bruges, Fairy Tale (two broadcasted version exist, one in the older presentation and one in the sets and dress designed by the Queen Margarethe), Far from Denmark, Life of Amager Guards. For me the best one is Napoli, I love also his Sylphid.

It seems that Denmark is proud of his past and desserves it with love :lol: , what it's not the case in all the other countries, where they lost their tradition :? .


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 3:48 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
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Location: Canada
Thanks Cathy for attempting to answer this not-at-all easy question. I'll try to add some points.

For me, what makes Bournonville ballets so special and worthy of a continuing place in ballet history, is the years of ballet & Danish tradition embedded within in them.

Though they have changed over the years, the ballets represent 150+ years of unbroken ballet history that is passed down from dancer to dancer. I've not seen any other company that publishes lists of every dancer who has ever danced each principal role (and the date of their debut), and can track (almost) every production done of each ballet. And because so many dancers stay on as character dancers, coaches & teachers, there is usually a wealth of knowledge available from those who have danced roles before. It's rare to have so many dancers staying on in such capacities American companies or in a lot of other European companies.

And, the mime roles that those dancers often take on, are a major part of what makes Bournonville ballets so special. While there is certainly mime in other ballets, it is central and vital to Bournonville's creations. When well done, the mime often seems to speak - in fact I've heard people referring to "telling the story" or "saying" when they are talking about the mime.

As to differences from ballets of other choreographers.... I'm not sure what Petipa's ballets were originally like, but it is my impression that Bournonville's ballets contain much less actual ballet, that is pointe-work and classical pas de deuxs, than those of his contemporaries. Often most of the dancing is of the folk variety, done in heels, soft or character shoes. There's often one or two sections for the female corps, a pas de six/sept/etc and then a pas de deus for the main couple.

For instance in 'A Folk Tale', the only women en pointe are Birthe, Hilda and the dancers in the closing pas de sept (which I believe was added in from another ballet). And you have solos for Hilda, Birthe, the corps work for the troll maidens (in soft shoes), then pas de deux for Hilda & Ove and the pas de sept.

And in "Napoli", you have the naiads on pointe, and Teresina in Act 2, the bridesmaids briefly and then the pas de sept. in "Kermessen", only Eleonore is on pointe, and has the big pas de deux with Carelis. And there's the divertissement, with the women en pointe. Even in 'La Sylphide', the sylphs are the only ones en pointe.

Kate


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2005 6:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 24, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
A couple of points that come to mind. Kate, you mention the small number of women on point in "A Folk Tale". I wonder if part of the reason is that it was created in 1854 when point shoe technology was still developing. For the same reason, the original "Giselle", by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot from 10 years earlier, had restricted pointe work which was extended in Petipa's version from the 1880s, when point shoes gave much more support to the dancers.

My second point is the strength of Bournonville training. Erik Bruhn, one of the greatest male dancers of the 20thC benefited from this background. Today in England, Johan Kobborg is seen by many as the leading male dancer at the Royal Ballet and again Bournonville training has given him an excellent basis for dancing a wide range of work.


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