I've really enjoyed reading the diversity of opinions expressed above. We all seem to agree on one thing that classicism is all about balance. Divine logic, math if you will, harmony and order. I very much enjoy the post-Petipa choreography of Blanchine, Grigorovich and Forsythe. But like for many of you, to me Petipa remains the pinnacle of creative choreography and yes, most certainly, it is based on balance.
Of course they were, because most of the audience would not know the difference between an arabesque and a penchee arabesque if it hit them in the face.
I can't agree more with this statement. Most certainly there is a difference and as I remember the element in the descent of the Shades is 1st arabesque
rather than arabesque penche
. I can't see a reason why Kirov had to modify the choreography just to display the extraordinary extensions of its corps. On the other hand, if the choreography had called for arabesque penche
, I would have expected to see 180 degree penche
, because in my opinion, it creates the most geometrically perfect alignment. And this is how it is done today.
As for 6 o'clock
being executed for a gymnastic effect, I beg to differ. Zakharova and Vishneva use 6 o'clock to accentuate the movement or to emphasize the phrase. Is it correct to do so? To me, the manner in which Nadezhda Pavlova used to execute her amazing develope
- like if in a single breath of air, without stopping even for split of a second, without ever breaking her phrasing, is most beautiful. This is not what we often see in dancers today. Perhaps she was one of a kind. But remember that even in Petipa's times there were rather flashy dancers. Take Pierina Legnani, who executed her movements with certain aplomb. And it matters not whether her develope
never crossed 90 degree mark. It appeared vulgar to some then and probably still would have now.
But as Tahor has noted, much depends on the contest.
Take grand foutte renverse
, aka Italian foutte
. It's a big flashy movement and high extension is very appropriate. I like the way young Kirov dancers execute this element. In Swan Lake
, I enjoy to see the prolonged and extended movement of larger than life develope a la seconde
when it is carried out with perfect control. I like to see how Zakharova turns her working leg into a wing of a bird ready to take off. While in the The Sleeping Beauty
it might very well be misplaced.
It's great to have all these discussions. This only means that classical ballet still moves us very deeply. I just don't believe it is necessary to turn every discussion into some kind of anti-6-o'clock Jihad call. There are more to choreography than a degree of the angle to which the working leg is raised off the floor.