• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    katiebird on We’re Royals and other…
    bernard jenkins on We’re Royals and other…
    churl on We’re Royals and other…
    r u reddy on We’re Royals and other…
    r u reddy on We’re Royals and other…
    mitzimuffin on We’re Royals and other…
    Sweet Sue on We’re Royals and other…
    Sweet Sue on We’re Royals and other…
    abc on We’re Royals and other…
    katiebird on We’re Royals and other…
    katiebird on We’re Royals and other…
    riverdaughter on We’re Royals and other…
    Monster from the Id on We’re Royals and other…
    cwaltz on Give Democrats a piece of your…
    Mr Mike on We’re Royals and other…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare occupy wall street OccupyWallStreet Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    August 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « Jul   Sep »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Attack In Ottawa will be used to justify losing more rights
      Prime Minister Harper pretty much confirmed it: ‘Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened’ Yup.  Never let a crisis go to waste. I’m very sad that MPs and their staff were scared, and I’m sadder that a soldier lost his life.  But one attack does not justify increasing the police state.  However, if [...]
  • Top Posts

Boy meets swan

I know what you’re all thinking, Swan Lake has got to be the most boring ballet on the planet.  There are several full length Swan Lake ballets available on youtube including ABT and Kirov versions but I can’t get past the scene where the queen stupidly gives her son, Siegfried, a crossbow to play with.  All the silly dancing around a maypole in the first act just puts me to sleep.  Literally.  I wake up somewhere around one of the many zillions of pas de deux he and the white swan have and wonder when it’s ever going to end.  And what’s up with that weird little quartet of swans that has been the butt of ballet jokes for years?

As for the story, Romany Pajdak of the Royal Ballet lays it out for us, first in mime and then with a narrator interpreting:

But Sigfried blew it.  The evil sorceror (there’s always one but I prefer Kashchei from Firebird) sends a black swan lookalike, Odile, to seduce Siegfried. He doesn’t realize he’s been tricked until it’s too late.  Many more endless pas de deux follow before he and Odette crash and burn.

It’s a mystery why so many ballerinas say they want to play this part.  If the black and white swan parts are danced by the same person, the whole thing must be just grueling.  Is it like singing Wagner?  Once you’ve done it for a season you’ve pretty much shot your vocal cords? Maybe it’s the last big role principal dancers get, if you know what I mean. Theoretically, it’s more fun to dance the bad swan but in so many interpretations, the ballerinas don’t differentiate the two parts very well. Except for the 32 fouettes in the black swan’s coda, the swans are pretty much indistinguishable but for the costume.

But here’s a version of the black swan pas that is a bit more edgy.  This one is danced by Alys Shee at an International dance competition in Helsinki where she won gold.  She’s something like 17 or 18 yrs old, a very young dancer and just after this performance joined the Birmingham Royal Ballet in the corps, so she won’t be dancing this part professionally for a looooong time.  While Alys is still lacking the finish of a principal, she nails the black swan attitude.  I love the “Hey, buddy, Pay attention!” tap on the shoulder she gives Siegfried when he starts daydreaming about Odette:

All well and good, you say, but meh, it’s just ballet.  Ok, well, check this video.  This is a snippet of a white swan pas by the acrobats of a Chinese circus.  I have no idea how the dancer does what she does without wires.  Seriously.  Most professional dancers of even the highest caliber can’t stand on pointe like this for more than a few seconds.  Maybe some of the world’s best ballet schools should make a trip to China to see how they do it. The rest of the Chinese choreography looks out of place in a ballet with Tchaikovsky’s music but at least they don’t make it boring.

I can’t remember the NYCB doing Swan Lake when I was a kid.  From what I can recall, Balanchine only choreographed a part of it, probably because he found it stilted and melodramatic.  He preferred to choreograph ballets without stories, which is how the Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux I posted before came to be.  According to legend, the music for the Tchai PDD was requested for the original Swan Lake in Moscow so Tchaikovsky wrote up yet another pas de deux.  In the end, some editor mercifully decided it was one pas over the line and took it out of the final ballet.  Balanchine found the music in an old score for Swan Lake and choreographed a pas without all the frou-frou and feathers.  Divine.

About these ads
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 468 other followers

%d bloggers like this: