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Anna Marie Holmes Answers Questions on Le Corsaire


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#1 Helene

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 09:40 PM

On behalf of Ballet Talk, I would like to thank Anna-Marie Holmes so much for taking time out of her teaching and staging schedule and her summer to answer our questions about Le Corsaire. When I received Ms. Holmes' email today, I could not put it down, and I left my poor boss pacing outside my office door until I finished :) When you read it, you'll see why we owe her our gratitude. And she has kindly offered to answer any follow-up questions you might have.

This Q&A session was arranged through the graciousness of pmeja, who also brings you your weekend Links.

:off topic:


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Ballet Talker: Was the production modified from the Bolshoi's version to suit ABT?

Anna-Marie Holmes: The production was taken to Boston Ballet and then ABT, and then modified the next year for ABT and the filming for PBS.


BTer: Who choreographed the "bedroom" pas de deux between Conrad and Medora?

A-M: That was choreographed with love by Constantine Sergeyev with help from his wife Dudinskaya.


BTer: Have changes been made from the "original," and, if so, what has been changed, and what is the reason behind those changes? (The use of the term "original" can be interpreted however you like :))

A-M: Corsaire was first produced for the Paris Opera with choreography by Mazilier in 1856. It was then taken to Russia and premiered by Petipa in 1899. The so-called original by Petipa was changed by Gusev at the Kirov, and then Sergeyev did a version after Petipa, but not Gusev.

When they were going to remount Corsaire at the Kirov, they decided to do Gusev again, so Sergeyev went to the Bolshoi and mounted Corsaire after Petipa, not Gusev, for them. It was a big success, but Grigorovich wanted to mount his own Corsaire with a bigger boat etc., so Dudinskaya contacted me and told me that the Corsaire that they had done for the Bolshoi was sitting in Moscow and that they already had a new Grigorovich production, so we could probably buy it very reasonably. I went to Moscow and bought the Sergeyev/Petipa production and brought Dudinskaya and Disnitsky (he assisted Sergeyev) to Boston to stage it. I staged it with the help of Legat Terekhova and Bereznoi for ABT initially. Then I went back to ABT and restaged the new version myself.

We had to cut time for the filming, and Victor Barbee and Kevin McKenzie had some other ideas. I refused to cut Jardin Animee, but I did put the Odalisques in the first act to give more dancing and more woman for Lankadem to sell to the pasha. I also refused to cut the Petipa character dances in the first act and the Forband in the second. I did cut the Pashas wife solo that was choreographed in the 3rd act by Sergeyev, and reluctantly cut the character dance for Medora in the 2nd act choreographed by Petipa.



BTer: What is the music and composer for the pas de deux between Conrad and Medora at the end of the second act, after the departure of Lankadem with the rose, beginning from their entrance into the cave together? It is so beautiful!

A-M: This was music by Prince Oldenburg and choreographed by Constantine Sergeyev.


BTer: What seems to have come down to us today is a comic ballet. Not only do the "good guys" win at the end, but the mime passages are shot through with how dumb the Pasha and his court are. Do you think that this has been modified by a trip through "Marxist-Leninist Realism", or is this the Old Way, persistently making fun of the Turks, the Russian ancestral enemy? Or is it just a one-act, swelled by the inclusion of all sorts of other stuff?

A-M: There were not to be any political shots in this ballet. Just a lot of fun and I made the fat Pasha a funnier character trying to imitate Medora's dancing etc.


BTer: What sections of music are each of the composers credited responsible for?

A-M: I do not have the score in front of me now, but I know the Jardin Animee is Delibes. The big pas de trois is Drigo and Adam. Actually Adam composed most of Corsaire with these other additions. There is a CD out of Corsaire by Adolphe Adam played by the Zapolsky Philharmonic Orchestra. It is the complete three act ballet. It is a three compact disc set by Slovadisk. Mikulas Klimcak-Bordjov is the conductor.


BTer: Why is the incidental music of the Boston Ballet/American Ballet Theatre version so completely different from the music of the Mariinksy staging?

A-M: The music that was chosen for Boston and ABT was the choice of Sergeyev and Petipa. The Marinsky is that of Gusev.


BTer: What is the history of "Le Corsaire" from its very first staging until now? What of the history of what was interpolated, when, by whom, and for whom?

A-M: Corsaire was first performed by the Paris Opera Ballet Jan 23, 1856, and the choreography was by Mazilier. Carolina Galetti Rosati danced as Medora and Domenico Segareli was Conrad. Two years later Jules Perrot did a Corsaire in Russia adding pas d'esclave by Petipa, and then five years later Petipa did a Corsaire and added the enchanted garden by Delibes, as there was not enough dancing for the women. Petipa then added music by Pugni and the pas de deux by Drigo for the 1899 production at the Marinsky.

Gusev did his version of Le Corsaire for the Kirov. which was performed at the Met in NY July 3, 1989. Then I brought Le Corsaire to Boston Ballet March 27, 1997. Natasha Akhmarova danced Medora (she now is artistic director of the Perm ballet), Robert Wallace was Conrad, Lazlo Berdo was Birbanto, Patrick Armand was Ali and Arthur Leeth was Lankadem. ABT premiered Corsaire June 19, 1998.



BTer: Why are the character dances from Act I Scene 2 (the Slave Market) in the Mariinksy staging absent from Western productions?

A-M: Gusev did the character dances in the Marinsky staging, and Petipa did the character dances in my version.


BTer: Why was the waltz variation by Ludwig Minkus from "Don Quixote" chosen for the solo of Medora in the scene 'Jardin Anime' in place of the traditional variation of Medora that is danced at the Mariinksy?

A-M: The waltz variation you are speaking about was added by Dudinskaya for herself.


BTer: Who composed the traditional variation of Medora's 'Jardin Anime' variation?

A-M: Petipa, but it has been changed a lot by Gusev and Vinogradov.


BTer: Who composed Gulnare's variation for the same scene?

A-M: Gulnares by Delibes (these two variations have been credited to many different composers in various sources.)


BTer: Why do the orchestrations of the 'Pas d'esclave' and the 'Trio of the Odalisques' differ so much from that of the Mariinksy staging? Who did the re-orchestrations?

A-M: Orchestrations are from original, but some reorchestrating was done by Kevin Galie.


BTer: Will there ever be a recording on CD of the music of this ballet? There is no recording available of the full-length "Le Corsaire" on CD. (There was a recording done by Richard Bonynge, but only of fragments of Adolphe Adam's original score and the 'Flower Waltz' of Delibes for 'Jardin Anime'.)

A-M: You can get the Adolphe Adam recording by Slovadisk. I am thinking about recording this.


BTer: What role did Natalia Dudinskaya play in the staging of this ballet?

A-M: Dudinskaya was like my Mother- she played a huge role in the staging and in all the changes.


BTer: Does this staging for Boston Ballet/ABT stem from the Bolshoi or the Mariinksy? Did the Bolshoi version come from the Mariinksy?

A-M: Sergeyev first did Corsaire after Petipa for the Kirov and then took it to the Bolshoi. It was the last ballet he restaged before he died.


BTer: I would like to ask about the character dance that Medora had during the pirate scene. I saw it in Boston, and thought it was just charming, and seemed to be a real breath of the 19th century. Is there any chance it will be revived?

A-M: When I restage Corsaire for another company, I will do the little character dance for Medora again. I also loved it.


BTer: Ditto the dance for Zamora (the Pasha's favorite) in the last act.

A-M: I am not sure I would put this back in. It would depend on the company and dancers. This was choreographed by Constantine Sergeyev. It needs a really gorgeous long-legged, high extension ballerina.


BTer: I would like to ask some general questions about the process of "staging" a full-length ballet like Le Corsaire. What aspects of the production are you responsible for when you undertake to stage something like Corsaire? What aspects of the production are you NOT responsible for? Does this differ from company to company?

A-M: I am responsible for staging all the choreography. I present a breakdown of scenes, hours, individual dancers and group scenes and how long to stage each piece. Corsaire Scenery and Costumes were bought by Boston Ballet from the Bolshoi, who sold them to ABT. I was not involved in the initial design of this production but hope to be involved when I do it again.

Companies do differ with their rehearsal process. Some only do the ballet that you are staging and other have three or four ballets going on at the same time.



BTer: In what order do you address the various parts of this task?

A-M: I usually start at the beginning and go to the end, but rehearsals sometimes do not work that way, and I have to do all the principals first and then do the corps, or visa versa.


BTer: What has to be done first, before actually showing up at the rehearsal hall? In other words, what do you "bring" to your first meeting with the dancers? Are there other members of the company's artistic staff with whom you meet with before you meet with the dancers?

A-M: I meet with the artistic director, and the casting has to be decided first. Then I have complete notes and music to work from. Usually a company will ask for the piano scores months in advance so their pianists can practice the music.


BTer: What develops during the process of working with the dancers? Do you find yourself changing things in any significant way during the course of actually setting the ballet on dancers? If so, what kinds of things tend to have to be adjusted?

A-M: There are some ballets and variations where it has to be as was done originally, and then there are principals that have a favorite side or a favorite step that they would like to add. If it enhances the ballet to do so, such as in a ballet like Corsaire -- then I am usually in agreement, but not change just for change's sake.


BTer: What influence do you have on casting? Is this only for the first cast, or do you set guidelines to be followed with other casts?

A-M: I usually work with the artistic director on the casting for his or her company. There are politics in every company in the world, and this cannot be avoided, but I try to put my influence in as delicately as possible.


BTer: What kind of records must you keep about process of staging a ballet? In what form? How are they preserved and accessed by the company after you've left?

A-M: I have extensive notes, diagrams and videos of the productions I have staged. I also have all the old Nicholas Sergeyev notes of all the ballets that he brought out of Russia.


BTer: What is it like to sit in the audience and watch the first performance(s) of something you've created in this manner? Can you sit back, let it go, and enjoy it? Or do continue to work on things that should be changed?

A-M: I cannot sit back- I am always looking for ways to improve the ballet or the dancer and make it more enjoyable for the audience, and, at the same time, preserving as much taste and integrity as I can.

#2 vrsfanatic

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 04:09 AM

Thank you so much Ms Holmes for your kindness in answering the questions that have been posed to you. Wow, it is most informative and interesting. Your love of ballet comes shining through! We are most fortunate to have had this opportunity. :thanks: :) :) :off topic:

#3 Hans

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:29 AM

Yes! Thank you!

#4 BalletIsLife

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:45 AM

Ballet Talk is truly a "twenty-first century" resource.... What an amazing opportunity. Thank you Ms. Holmes.

#5 bart

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 09:21 AM

Thank you for your responses. The process of putting together a complicated work of art for the stage is fascinating. I'd love to see your experiences with Corsaire -- or another production, if you prefer -- documented in a book or on film.

#6 BalletNut

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 03:28 PM

I'd like to add my heartfelt thanks to Anna Marie Holmes for taking the time to provide such thoughtful and informative answers to all of our questions.

And thank you to Helene and Mme. Hermine for making this Q&A session possible! :thumbsup:

Now, a follow-up question for Ms. Holmes, if I may be so bold:
You mentioned your plans for future stagings of this production, such as adding a character dance for Medora. Are there any concrete plans yet for it to be staged elsewhere, or to be "re-staged" where it has already been performed?

#7 carbro

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 07:31 PM

I will add my grateful thanks to A-MH, Mme. Hermine and Helene, and also to those posters who submitted such thoughtful questions. This was very interesting.

#8 Solor

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 11:07 PM

Unknown to some, I'm sure, the recording mentioned by Ms. Holmes is actually a bootleg. It is from the Chritopher Seminars site, and, like the rest of the discs on his site are already existing recordings or out-of-print CDs that have been copied and re-packaged.

The orchestras and conductors credited are not the people that participated in these recordings. I don't even think that these ensembles even exist! For example, the recording up for purchase on his web page of "La Bayadere" (one of 3 recordings available of "La Bayadere") that is said on his page to be out-of-print is really Bonynge's recording with the English Chamber Orchestra. It is the music revised by Lanchbery for Makarova's production. The real realease is in print and available on Amazon.com. Compare the tracks and you'll see what I mean. Here's the link -

http://www.amazon.co...nce&s=classical

The same thing goes with the recording offered on his site of "Paquita", this one being the one by Spassov with the Sofia National Orchestra.

The "Le Corsaire" recording spoken of by Ms. Holmes is actually of the Decca 2-CD out-of-print set, conducted by Richard Bonynge with the English Chamber Orchestra. That set contains the whole of Adam's score as performed in 1867 for the Paris revival (not the 1858 original), along with the 'Jardin Anime' additions of Delibes, (though the numbers of this set included on the original release Bonynge/Decca disc are only the Flower Waltz and the Adagio of Medora with the Corps de Ballet and their garlands). There are additions on this 'christopher seminars' CD, such as the music for the 'trio of the odalisques',whic was taken from the film of ABT's "Corsaire", and it has had the applause in the background taken out, professionaly I'm sure. Heres the link to the original release:

http://www.amazon.co...nce&s=classical

The other recording is the Kirov Ballet's version. Again, the music is taken from the film and professionally edited (taking out of applause etc.).

http://www.christoph...corsairehtm.htm

I'm am not condemning the Christopher Seminars site. I think its great that good out-of-print ballet is made available.

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 02:50 AM

I'm very grateful to Ms. Holmes for being able to explicate in detail the sources of content for not only the choreography, but the narrative processes as well.

#10 Helene

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 03:04 PM

Solor,

Many thanks for the painstaking comparison you did on these recordings to establish their origin.

#11 doug

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 09:35 PM

I was very interested to read the many questions and responses. As a result of my own research, as well as reading of other scholarly work, I'd like to offer the following further information.

A-M: Corsaire was first produced for the Paris Opera with choreography by Mazilier in 1856. It was then taken to Russia and premiered by Petipa in 1899.

and further down

A-M: Corsaire was first performed by the Paris Opera Ballet Jan 23, 1856, and the choreography was by Mazilier. Carolina Galetti Rosati danced as Medora and Domenico Segareli was Conrad. Two years later Jules Perrot did a Corsaire in Russia adding pas d'esclave by Petipa, and then five years later Petipa did a Corsaire and added the enchanted garden by Delibes, as there was not enough dancing for the women. Petipa then added music by Pugni and the pas de deux by Drigo for the 1899 production at the Marinsky.

In order to clarify:

Le Corsaire was indeed first produced at the Paris Opera on January 23, 1856 with music by Adolphe Adam and choreography by Joseph Mazilier.

The first Russian production followed on January 12, 1858, produced by Jules Perrot at the Bolshoi Theater, St. Petersburg. Perrot incorporated elements of the Mazilier production and added a "pas d'esclaves" to music by Prince Oldenburg (see Lynn Garafola, The Diaries of Marius Petipa, p. 82).

The Paris Opera revived Mazilier's Corsaire on October 21, 1867. Mazilier came out of retirement to supervise the production. Young Leo Delibes was commissioned to compose a "Pas de fleurs," which in Russia would later be called "Le jardin anime" (see Ivor Guest, Ballet of the Second Empire, pp. 102-104).

Marius Petipa staged Mazilier's production of Corsaire at the Bolshoi Theater, St. Petersburg on January 24, 1863, apparently with additional music by Cesare Pugni (see Garafola).

Corsaire was revived again by Petipa at the Bolshoi Theater, St. Petersburg on January 25, 1868, this time with Le jardin anime (see Garafola). It is possible that Jardin was based on Mazilier's choreography, but I cannot confirm this.

Petipa revived Corsaire a third time on November 10, 1885 and a fourth time (this last production was at the Maryinsky Theater, St. Petersburg) on January 13, 1899, for which production Drigo provided music for a new pas de deux for Pierina Legnani, choreographed by Petipa.

A-M: I do not have the score in front of me now, but I know the Jardin Animee is Delibes. The big pas de trois is Drigo and Adam. Actually Adam composed most of Corsaire with these other additions. There is a CD out of Corsaire by Adolphe Adam played by the Zapolsky Philharmonic Orchestra. It is the complete three act ballet. It is a three compact disc set by Slovadisk. Mikulas Klimcak-Bordjov is the conductor.

and

A-M: The waltz variation you are speaking about was added by Dudinskaya for herself.

and

A-M: Petipa, but it has been changed a lot by Gusev and Vinogradov.

and

A-M: Gulnares by Delibes (these two variations have been credited to many different composers in various sources.)

Adam composed the entire ballet for the Paris premiere. The Delibes music was added for the Paris revival and the rest of the interpolations were added for Russian productions.

Even before the 1899 revival, some of Delibes' music for the by-then-called Le Jardin anime was substituted out. Gulnare's variation was replaced by a variation that is as yet unidentified, but possibly by Pugni (my best current guess, based on musical style). This is confirmed by the choreographic notation of Jardin anime(which includes the two-violin repetiteur) that was begun prior to 1899 but finished after that date and is the work of at least two scribes.

The violin repetiteur of the entire ballet that is part of the collection at Harvard Library includes two interpolated variations for Gulnare and Medora. The first variation is from The Adventures of Peleus (music by Leon Minkus) and was danced by Olga Preobrazhenskaya, as Gulnare. The second variation is from Pygmalion (music by Prince Trubetskoi) and was danced by Pierina Legnani, as Medora. The music of the former variation is, to my knowledge, no longer performed. The music of the latter variation continues to be performed by the Kirov in the Gusev production.

A-M: Orchestrations are from original, but some reorchestrating was done by Kevin Galie.

A-M: You can get the Adolphe Adam recording by Slovadisk. I am thinking about recording this.

The Jardin anime scene has long been performed in a re-orchestrated version. Delibes' original is preserved in an autograph score in Delibes' hand and in the 1867 Paris Opera performance score. This has been recorded by Richard Bonynge along with Adam's full score, also from the 1867 performance score.

A-M: I have extensive notes, diagrams and videos of the productions I have staged. I also have all the old Nicholas Sergeyev notes of all the ballets that he brought out of Russia.

The Stepanov system notations and musical scores of many ballets from the repertoire of the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg are housed at Harvard Library. The majority of these documents, including most of the choreographic notations, have not yet been photographed for microfilm and so are not available to be copied for use outside the library. However, the choregraphic notation for Le Corsaire has been photographed for microfilm.

Not all of the notations are in the hand of Nikolai Sergeev. A number of them pre-date Sergeev's involvement with the Stepanov system. These include the (roughly) first half of Le Jardin anime, which is one of the most detailed and elaborately-notated sequences in the entire Harvard collection.

* * * * *

I would be very interested in a closer comparison of the Konstantin Sergeev and Pyotr Gusev productions of Le Corsaire with the choreographic notations and violin repetiteur that essentially documents Petipa's 1899 revival of the ballet. Claims that the K. Sergeev production more closely resembles Petipa's final conception than does the Gusev production can be called into question.

For example, Balanchine and Gusev each staged his own production of Petipa's Harlequinade - Gusev in Russia and Balanchine at New York City Ballet. Scholars have commented on the many choreographic and structural similarities between the two productions, yet the choreographers did not, to my knowledge, consult each other about their stagings. It is therefore possible that both were remembering fairly accurately (or at least similarly) what they danced/saw danced in their youth.

We also know that Konstantin Sergeev's choregraphic changes to Petipa's Sleeping Beauty were very significant, particularly in the Prologue and Act II vision scene and these changes were not widley acknowledged, or at least their attribution to Petipa was not corrected in the West until fairly recently.

That said, the Jardin anime scene in the Boston/ABT productions of Le Corsaire more closely resembles what is documented in the circa 1900 choreographic notation of that scene that does the current Kirov production. However, the resemblance essentially ends with the choreographic structure (ground plan) of the scene - most of the actual steps in the Boston/ABT productions are different from those in the choreographic notation.

#12 Helene

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 10:33 PM

Not all of the notations are in the hand of Nikolai Sergeev.  A number of them pre-date Sergeev's involvement with the Stepanov system.  These include the (roughly) first half of Le Jardin anime, which is one of the most detailed and elaborately-notated sequences in the entire Harvard collection...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Is there any indication of who made the notations that are not in Sergeev's hand, and on whose choreography they were based?

If only we had the video equivalent of the early 1900's recordings by Sobinov, Medea Mei, and other great singers from Imperial Russia, or the notational counterparts to Hassidic scholars, whose job it was to memorize the sermons of the Grand Rebbe until after the Sabbath, when they could be written down.

Many thanks for your thoughtful and insightful post.

#13 doug

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 06:58 AM

The best info on the St. Petersburg notators is found in Roland John Wiley's "Dances from Russia: An Introduction to the Sergejev [sic] Collection," published in the Harvard Library Bulletin, January 1976. Vladimir Stepanov developed the system in the early 1890s. He died in 1896. Some ballets had been notated by that time. The notations are very elaborate - in ink, in cursive, including violin rehearsal scores. These may be in Stepanov's hand but I cannot verify that at this time.

Alexander Gorsky, still working in St. Petersburg, succeeded Stepanov as teacher of notation in the school (where the system had been adopted). When he was transferred to Moscow in 1900, Nikolai Sergeev replaced him as notation teacher. Sergeev had two assistants, Chekrygin (from 1903) and Rakhmanov (from 1904). The majority of the notations collected at Harvard are in the hand of these five men who notated much of the repertoire of the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg - choreography by Petipa, Ivanov, Perrot, Cecchetti, Gorsky, etc. Yuri Slonimsky (now deceased) stated that St. petersburg held no additional notations; Wiley surmises that unless some notations are held privately the Harvard Collection includes all extant notations in the Stepanov system.

I have an idea that Sergeev's early work is written in a much neater hand than his later work. The earlier notations are works of art in and of themselves while the later notations are more like ballet master's notes. The whole collection really runs the gamut.

In the case of Corsaire, the majority of the ballet is very casually notated, though much is usable for reconstruction. The first half of the Le jardin anime scene, however, is very wonderfully notated - ink, cursive, etc. The second half is also elaborate, but in a different hand, in pencil, and without the care lavished on the earlier part of the scene. A second notation of the opening of the scene exists but cuts off abruptly. I theorize that the notator of this second document subsequently discovered the earlier, more elaborate notation and left his current work to complete the unfinished earlier work. Additional, very scribbly notations of the children's choreography for Jardin mention Legnani's variation and therefore can be dated after the 1899 revival. I date the elaborate portion of Jardin circa 1894/1895 because it is notated in the same manner as other ballets in the collection that can be dated around that time.

#14 Helene

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 07:28 AM

Now, a follow-up question for Ms. Holmes, if I may be so bold:
You mentioned your plans for future stagings of this production, such as adding a character dance for Medora. Are there any concrete plans yet for it to be staged elsewhere, or to be "re-staged" where it has already been performed?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I received the following reply from Ms. Holmes:

A-M: "I have been asked by numerous places about staging it again. I cannot say now as they want to make it a surprise."


That said, the Jardin anime scene in the Boston/ABT productions of Le Corsaire more closely resembles what is documented in the circa 1900 choreographic notation of that scene that does the current Kirov production.  However, the resemblance essentially ends with the choreographic structure (ground plan) of the scene - most of the actual steps in the Boston/ABT productions are different from those in the choreographic notation.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Ms. Holmes has the following question:

What is different in the choreographic steps of Jardin Animee from the notes [you have]?

#15 doug

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 08:11 AM

This can be answered broadly or in detail. To begin, the forces are different. Forces are larger in the notated version held at Harvard Library (the only Imperial-era notated version of Le Jardin anime that is extant): 2 ballerinas, 6 demis, 12 korifeiki (between demi and corps), 12 corps couples, 12 little girls and 12 little boys - these forces match those listed in performance programs from the Maryinsky into the second decade of the 1900s. Apart from the opening step of the entire scene and part of the section during which the corps with garlands walks in snaking lines performing arabesques, nearly every step is different. Each of the two ballerinas' entrees are different from any recent version I have seen. The passage still danced that is closest to what is notated is the beginning of the adagio during which Medora is supported by the demis. But even here the step she performs is different - in the notation it is attitude front, fast bourree, attitude front, fast bourree, then two turns (with bourree) while the demis pass flowers, etc.

Corps steps that were traditional in Petipa's time are not, in large part, performed anymore (although they crop up in Balanchine ballets, interestingly enough). Bayadere Shades is an exception, plus one or two large-scale dances and some character dances in the repertoire. The major changes were likely made during the 1930 and 1940s (some as early as the 1920s). By the time the current older generation of dancers were coming up in the 1950s, most of the changes had been made and they were dancing a repertoire of 19th-century ballets that had, on the whole, been significantly altered from what had been originally choreographed. Developments and advancements that were made in the school were worked into the choreography of 19th-century ballets (as well as new works, of course). I suppose that by this time 19th-century choreography may have seemed quite passe. The problem for the West has been the assumption that these ballets were original Petipa, etc., when, in fact, they were after-Petipa in many cases and sometimes not Petipa (et al) at all.

A striking example of the difference between Imperial and Soviet era versions of older ballets is the female variation from Pavillon d'Armide that has worked itself into the Paquita grand pas. Watching Alexandra Danilova's fleet and space-covering setting alongside the Kirov's more compact but technically more difficult version illustrates some of the change from White Russian times to Soviet times.


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