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      One of the great crimes and tragedies of our world is how we treat the animals we eat (or whose milk or eggs or other products we eat and use.) Factory farming keeps them in tiny enclosures, feeds them monotonous foods, and then when they’re slaughtered it’s a terrible experience: they’re terrified and die in […]
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Ballet Season: The Sleeping Beauty

Ok, you know the drill. I’m not a fan of story ballets. The plots are silly, the choreography too stagey and everyone moves way too slowly. But that’s like saying that I don’t like dark chocolate as much as milk chocolate. I love chocolate. Same with ballet.

The Sleeping Beauty has its good moments and tedious quarters of an hour. I mean, the finger fairy. What was Petipa thinking? Did he just have too much coffee that day? But the Aurora and prince pas de deux is sublime. So, what goes into creating the perfect pas de deux? I have two videos for you on the subject.

The first is a rehearsal of the pas de deux by The Royal Ballet. Aurora is danced by soloist Yuhui Choe, a lovely and talented dancer. Director Anthony Dowell gives some specific instructions about “breathing” with the hands and emphasizes the difference between the Russian and English dance technique. Margot Fonteyn did not do Russian. Choe’s partner is Artist Benjamin Ella. In the US, he would be a corps de ballet member, so, several ranks below Choe and just learning to partner well.

The second is the full pas de deux by two talented young dancers in San Diego. Brittany Geoghehan joined the San Diego Ballet this winter. This rehearsal was recorded about a year ago when she was still a student of ballet teacher and San Diego principal dancer Max Tchernychev. Her partner is Peter Kurta. He seems to be more attentive and proactive than the Choe’s partner above and demonstrates how a good partner can make a difference. I’ve seen Kurta partner other dancers and he makes everyone look good. This is clearly a work in progress but I love the way these two dance together. And Britt has the longest, most fairy like legs I have ever seen on a ballerina. The last few seconds are not to be missed.

Here’s the Royal Ballet working out the steps:

And here is Brittany and Pete: