Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thou art a Plebe.

So, rill quick, I wanted to share what we've been doing in my ballet class. We watch videos of ballets most of the time. Here are some of them:

A story ballet in which a puppet master with a wedding-cake for a hat makes three puppets-- a moor, a ballerina, and a clown (Petrouchka) dance around for eager villagers. The wedding-cake hat makes Petrouchka beat the moor with a stick for holding the waist of the ballerina as part of the act. Afterward they all three hold hands and jump up and down for the rest of the performance. Later, Petrouchka is shoved into his dark empty room, where he dances floppily around, explaining his disdain for wedding-cake. In comes the ballerina, which causes many leaps of ecstasy from P. until she just leaves, then P. continues to shake his fists at wedding-cake. Later we were told that the ballerina puppet had been fooling around with the moor puppet, and a broken-hearted Petrouchka is killed by the moor. The P. dancer did a good job looking floppy like a puppet. Kudos. Music by Stravinsky.

Les Sylphides:
Fokine's tribute to the Romantic period of ballet, so there was lots of floaty port-de-bras and the ubiquitous 3/4 length skirt. In this, a poet stands arm-in-arm with two pretty ballerinas in floaty white tutus, while the corps patters around en pointe in slow flurries. Then the pimp of a poet comes out and dances around with his main squeeze, then his other squeeze, trading off until they all get sick of each other, while the corps continues to flutter around. Chopin's music.

Spectre de la Rose:
A young girl returns from her first ball holding a large, red rose. She falls asleep and the rose turns into a trim guy in a pink unitard (the original costume was made of real rose petals) who proceeds to dance around in her dreams while she sleep-dances sort of on the side. The flower guy ends up jumping out the window.

Dying Swan:
A short solo Fokine wrote for his friend Anna Pavlowa to the music of Saint-Saenes' The Swan from "Carnival of the Animals". Basically she tiptoes around waving her arms around like fluid wings. It's actually kind of cool. When I saw it at the Ballet Trockadero do Monte Carlo, the tutu was a bunch of white feathers that fell off as he danced around.

L'apres-midi d'un Faune:
(The afternoon of a fawn) In which a fawn is reclining on a little hill and watches a group of nymphs that come to bathe in a little pool. One nymph starts to undress but stops when she sees the fawn right behind her. They dance together for a little bit, until she gets fed up with him and she and her nymphs-in-waiting slide off. She leaves her scarf on the ground, so the fawn picks it up and fools around with it until the dance is over. It started a riot back in the day when it premiered because the fawn supposedly starts really messing around with the scarf, pretending it's the nymph, but we watched it, and it doesn't really look like he's doing anything truly scandalous. What makes it really interesting though, is that it's danced in 2D if you can believe it...they never move forward and walk around looking somewhat like Egyptian wall paintings. Also, instead of what you would really consider ballet, it's mostly walking around on their heels with their arms waving around. But it's still very pretty. Debussy's music-- very cool.

Here 'tis if you're interested. Viewer discretion somewhat advised.

Lilac Garden:
This one is about a chick who's about to get married to an older rich man. She has a lover who is a soldier, and her fiancee has a mistress whom he used to be very fond of and who is still in love with him. They all get together for a little garden party (then the marriage), and there is a bit of scandal going on (-ish). The mistress sort of flirts with everybody, especially the soldier guy, but is really only interested in the fiancee. The guy who choreographed it, Antony Tudor, is/was famous for "psychological" choreography-- in which you can really tell exactly what everyone is thinking and feeling by the way the dance. And you REALLY can! This is probably the most beautiful bit of ballet I've seen so far. Yes. Since you really MUST watch it, and the embedding of the videos have been disabled, follow these links:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=d4v1vA1NcBg (part 1)
http://youtube.com/watch?v=Wt8cJSLioKs&feature=related (part 2)
It's about 17 minutes total, very beautiful, and very sad. Watch it.

Speaking of men dancing in feathers up there...this is from a version of Swan Lake choreographed and produced by a wealthy gay choreographer. I actually really like the choreography for the Pas de Deux (French for "Step of Two"), which is probably one of my favorites out of what I've seen.

Here is the original if you are interested. It's really pretty cool. Ignore the silly corps dance. Skip to 3:22 for the good part. Actually it's a little painful because the Russians like their tempos dang slow. This is the slowest I've actually ever seen it, but in the faster one I saw, the sound didn't work. Try to enjoy, tis quite beautiful really.

My second favorite pas de deux is from Le Corsaire. Here's a bit of it: (it's awesome!)

More later (not on ballet though, I promise)!


Janeite42 said...

Trés interesante, and I especially like the faun and the lilac garden. But my favorite of all was when you personally demonstrated the feather dance from Swan Lake. I hope to see more of your dancing in the future!

eric & adrien said...

"more later," she claims. "more later." hah. THOU art a plebe.