What Is A Perfect Ballerina Body?

perfect ballerina body

Are you a ballet dancer who is thinking about taking ballet dancing to the next level as a possible career? Are you wondering if you have the perfect ballerina body type for this?

As you probably already know, ballet is a visual art, and the more aesthetically pleasing your body is the better you will look on the stage. A lot of companies take this into consideration when hiring their dancers.

First, let me say that I truly believe that whatever you put your mind to, and if you become completely focussed on that goal, you can achieve it. This article is just highlighting some of the centuries-old beliefs as to what constitutes an ideal physique for a ballet dancer. If you are lucky enough to own the perfect ballet physique, you are halfway there already.perfect ballerina body

The Perfect Ballerina Body

It is well recognized that a ballet dancer MUST possess a physique that can be trained to the finest degree of coordination combined with complete flexibility, endurance, and great strength from head to toe. A lot of this obviously boils down to having the right genetics.

In spite of this all-important fact, some students train till well on into their teens before being defeated by some physical characteristic which undoubtedly existed at ten years old but was overlooked or ignored by their trainers at that time.

So what is the perfect ballerina body, you ask?

Ideally, a ballerina will have a small head, long neck, long arms, long legs, and a slender figure. But this isn’t the only thing to look at when auditioning a dancer, as very few great dancers fall within all those parameters.

Well, most experts agree that your body’s proportions are critical to having an ideal physique.

Apart from aesthetic considerations, a well-proportioned body will weather the stresses and strains of the exacting work required of it with greater ease than one in which there is some disparity in the relative length for instance, of limbs to torso, of width to length of the body, or of the relative size of shoulders to hips and so on.

Unlike the musician, the ballet dancer cannot tune their instrument by lengthening or shortening their strings, increasing or decreasing the tension until the exact pitch is achieved. In the world of ballet dancing, your body is your instrument. It is infinitely complicated and it becomes your servant only after many years of desperately hard training.

At best it becomes an instrument of great beauty, but it will fall short of this if it is endowed with that extra inch here or too short a length there to fall into that perfection of line and form that the art demands. In the well-informed, well-proportioned physique there is less likelihood of muscles thickening in unwanted places, and less proneness to the minor and sometimes major mishaps caused by the effort to overcome obstacles that are inherent in the build of your body.

The neckline is important, rather more on aesthetic grounds than from an anatomical point of view. To conform to the ideal physique the neck should not be too square, and above all not too short; the head should not be disproportionately large nor too small.

The perfect ballerina body embodies a perfect balance between the upper and lower halves of the body. A good guide for the best proportions may be taken from ancient Greece where the length from the crown of the head to the pubic arch or fork is equal to that from the fork to the ground. Following the same pattern, the length from the fork to the lower border of the knee cap should be equal to that from the lower border of the knee cap to the ground.

According to the classical tradition, the shoulders of the man are broader than the hips, in the woman they are somewhat narrower. Here we diverge somewhat, for it has been found by experience that the ideal ballet figure is the better for some slight extra width across the shoulders, whether male or female.perfect ballerina body

Limbs are next on the list. Pretty arms and hands are naturally an asset; extra arm length or lack of it is not really a problem, but for the lower limbs the standard of beauty is set high. The ideal leg will of course be straight and shapely, showing little or no muscular development when standing, with a smooth line from the back view, and knees which do not protrude too much from the front.

There will be a straight line down the center of the thigh, through the center of the knee, down the front of the leg to about the middle of the foot. The foot will be flexible, showing at least a potential arch. With toes of medium length only and preferably with the first two or three approximating the same length.

Finally, the perfect candidate will have an upright carriage and well-poised head.

In reality, the ideal physique for a female classical dancer is slim, with a long neck, a shortish to medium length torso, long legs with complimentary long arms and high insteps. The height requirements of dancers are really designated by the ballet companies hiring.

Misty Copeland is one of the world’s best dancers at the moment, and she has been criticized over and over in the past about not having the perfect ballerina body, but look how far she has come through sheer guts and determination.

So even though there is the perfect ballerina body that is a guideline as to how you should look to dance professionally, there have been countless great ballerina’s in the past who have fallen short of some of these and have still had wonderful careers. One great example of this was Olga Preobazhenska.

The good news is that everyone can enjoy their ballet classes and dancing, no matter what their body shape is. Ballet is there for everyone to enjoy.

Hopefully, this gives you a little insight into some age-old views on the physique of ballet dancers in the art of ballet dancing.

How To Use Zoom Video Conferencing To Teach Dancing

how to use zoom video conferencing

In this article, I would like to look at Zoom and how to use Zoom Video Conferencing to teach your dance classes.

I teach various dance forms, and some classes are easier to teach than others. I find that ballet works best, followed by contemporary dance. Hip hop is difficult because of the speed, and stretch and strengthen classes work really well because you don’t need to move too much.

As dance teachers, we are living in weird and unprecedented times. If you, as a dance teacher, have like most of the world been in quarantine, then you have by now no doubt experimented with teaching your pupils online in an attempt to keep them dancing and moving forward while they are not allowed in a studio environment.

So while the virus is spreading across the world, we have to completely reinvent how we deliver our classes.

I have been doing online teaching with varying degrees of success on Zoom and although it is not ideal, it is definitely better than nothing.

So now as we as dance teachers are trying to embrace the new normal which is virtual teaching for most of us, let’s look at how to use Zoom Video Conferencing as a tool to deliver our online classes. As far as I can gather from various teachers groups that I belong to, Zoom seems to be the most popular choice for dance teachers, and not surprisingly as it is easy to use for both the teachers and the pupils.

So even for those of us who don’t have any talents when it comes to the technological, here is a breakdown of how you can be successful using Zoom Video Conferencing as a tool to teach your dancing classes.

How To Use Zoom Video Conferencing App

how to use zoom video conferencing app

Let’s Get Started

First of all you need to download the app. I use Zoom on my IPad, but I think a laptop would be even better as the screen is bigger. As long as the device that you choose has a built-in camera and microphone. Go to zoom.us to join up. Write down your user name and password, so you don’t forget it.

You can use the app for free, but I found the free version a bit cumbersome as you can only do 40 minutes at a time. I opted to do the monthly $14.99 which enables me to run classes of unlimited length. There is a limit of 100 pupils in the class at the same time, but my classes are mostly small so this isn’t an issue.

This works well for me as I have a code and password for each day. I stay logged in and the children get put in a waiting room as they arrive until I let them in at the time that their class starts. This eliminates the need to log in with a new password for each class, and you can let your classes run as long as you like.

Once you have your Zoom account sorted you will see options when you open the app:

  • New Meeting
  • Join
  • Schedule
  • Share Screen

You can use the Zoom App or work through the website at zoom.us to set up and hold your classes. I find using the app far easier.

I started off by scheduling my classes and then sending out the invite links to all my students. The system pretty much takes you through how to schedule your classes.

Once your classes are scheduled, you simply go to meetings on the sidebar of your Zoom App and you can simply press start to start the class from the choice on your list.

I strongly advise you to make use of the password and maybe have a different one for each day to make your classes that much more secure. You can always schedule a new class if you feel you need to with a new password if you feel unwanted people are getting access to your classes.

Also, make sure you enable your waiting room. In this way your pupils have to wait there until you let them into the class, otherwise, you will have lots of interruptions during your classes. Once you are ready for the next class you simply click on participants and admit them all.

The Zoom Video Conferencing App also gives you the opportunity to pre-record your classes if you need to. I haven’t used this option yet, as I prefer to chat with my students face to face. If you click on the three dots you can choose where you want to save your meeting for later use.

If you want to record your meeting you would need to click new meeting and then it will start recording you. Make sure that your audio and video are both turned on by clicking on the icons at the bottom left of the Zoom Video Conferencing App screen.

Once you are happy that your lighting, background, and audio all seem to be working properly click the record button and choose where you would like to save it on your device or on the cloud.

You will have some cloud storage included with your Zoom account, but this gets used up quickly so it is not always ideal.

While you are recording you can hit the pause button so that you can stop gather yourself or find new music and then hit resume to continue where you left off.

The entire video will begin to save once you have ended the meeting by pushing the ‘end’ button.

Did you know that there is a setting in the preferences > video which can touch up the appearance of your face and make you look better, softer, and slightly retouched? This is great for those of us who are self-conscious about getting in front of that camera to record.

Other Settings

zoom video conferencing app

Down under settings, there are a few other things you can do besides touch up your appearance to improve your overall experience with Zoom.

You can mute participants in the call by selecting ‘manage participants’ from the bottom of the screen. This allows you to mute and unmute and turn the video on or off for any given participant.

You can also achieve this by hovering over their video screen and selecting those options from the blue menu at the top right of your screen. This especially helps if you have a big class of younger children. Sometimes all the background noises in their houses or them all trying to talk to you at once can be overwhelming, so in this case, it is best to mute them or ask them to mute themselves.

By clicking on the grid icon, you can change the way that you view your class. You could choose to make your screen big and your participants smaller or make everyone smaller to fit on your screen.

On my Ipad, I can fit eight at a time onto my screen view. If I have eight in a class I simply toggle until I am gone and then all my students show on the screen without me having to scroll from page to page. I tell them to let me know if they can’t see me, as I won’t be able to check my screen to see if I can still be viewed while demonstrating.

If I have a private lesson, I simply make myself smaller and my student big so I can see her better.

You need to make sure that you step well away from the screen so that your pupils can see your entire body when you are demonstrating so you need to set up your screen before class to allow for this. It thus helps to have a room that is quite long to teach in, as the further you go away from the screen, the more you can move around and stay in the screenshot.

I haven’t used the screen sharing either yet, but you may find it useful if you want to show a video to your pupils.

During the meeting, click the green ‘share screen’ button. You will be given a selection of screens to choose from. If you have a video with sound you will need to click on ‘share computer sound’ so that the sound for the video plays through as well as the video.

The main downside that I find when I teach on Zoom is the delay. If I play my music, my students always only hear it about two seconds later so they always look like they are dancing out of time with the music, and sometimes you have eight bodies all dancing at different times, so it can be difficult to watch.

All the best with your online dance classes teachers. We are all in this together, and who knows it could be a new way of attracting students to your studio for the future that stay in remote places and can’t get to a class. The possibilities of technology are endless.

Vaslav Nijinsky Biography – His Life In a Nutshell

vaslav Nijinsky biography

Vaslav Nijinsky Biography

vaslav Nijinsky biography

Vaslav Nijinsky is one of the most famous male ballet dancers to ever have graced our planet, so that is why I couldn’t have a ballet blog without at least having a Vaslav Nijinsky biography somewhere on it.

Even though we have only the testimony of eye-witnesses and the frozen images of a few photographs of Nijinsky from the past, with absolutely no video footage of him actually dancing, with the evidence that does exist there can be no doubt that Vaslav Nijinsky raised the art of dance to a whole new level and turned the development and the direction of ballet into fresh and fruitful new avenues.

This is a shortened Vaslav Nijinsky Biography, although it is still quite a long article.

Vaslav Nijinsky

His Early Childhood:

The Vaslav Nijinsky Biography starts with his birth in Russia, Kiev in 1890. At this time in history, Russia was an ideal spawning ground for dancers and choreographers with genius minds.

At this time ballet had a history of about 300 years, from its courtly beginnings in Renaissance Italy to France where it moved from the ballroom into the theatre. Their ballet acquired a set of basic principles from influential teacher and ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre.

A while later ballet creativity shifted to St. Petersburg, the capital of Imperial Russia.

The Imperial School of Ballet that Nijinsky attended was established in St. Petersburg in the eighteenth century with a corps of teachers recruited from Western Europe.

This school along with the ballet company at the Maryinsky Theater which it nourished became the great pride of Russia’s aristocracy, and lots of money was spent to make Russian Ballet the greatest in the world. By the 1870s its supremacy was unchallengeable.

In continuing with our Vaslav Nijinsky Biography, when he was ten years old in August 1898, he applied for admission to the St. Petersburg ballet school.

Nijinsky was the second of three children born to Thomas and Eleonora Nijinsky. They were both Polish and both dancers.  The family led the life of nomads, as they journeyed from one engagement to the next across the vast extent of Imperial Russia.

Vaslav Nijinsky had an older brother, Stanislav, who was mentally retarded, and a younger sister Bronislave, who also became a distinguished choreographer in her own right.

Nijinsky’s parents separated shortly after his sister’s birth and his mother settled in St. Petersburg and took in boarders to make ends meet.  Vaslav’s only hope to escape his poverty-stricken life was to enter the Imperial School of Ballet and train for a career at the Maryinsky Theater.

Life At the Imperial School of Ballet:

Nijinsky was accepted as a pupil in 1898 and almost at once, he showed the promise of a potentially great dancer.vaslav Nijinsky biography

The discipline at the school was strict and spartan and Nijinsky couldn’t wait to finish there.

He displayed rare gifts for dancing and mime and he studied under Legat, Gerdt, Oboukhov, and Cecchetti.

The picture on the right is him in his School uniform at age fourteen.

He was first noticed in 1905 when he danced a faun in a student performance of Fokine’s Acis and Galatea. Three years later at his official debut, he created a great impression in Mozart’s Don Giovanni after having already created the part of the slave in Fokine’s Le Pavillon d’Armide.

When he was in his early teens he started appearing in small roles at the Maryinsky. One of these as that of the mulatto slave in Petipa’s ballet Le Roi Candaule. He was eighteen at the time and danced during the Christmas season of 1906. His boyish grace illuminated a series of photographs done at the time and contrasted sharply with a picture of Nijinsky in his street clothes.

On his graduation the following spring, he was described by Alexandre Benois as a short, thick-set little fellow with the most ordinary and colorless face. It was only on the stage that Nijinsky was transformed and came alive.

After his graduation performance, Prima ballerina Matilda Kchessinskaya came to congratulate him backstage and requested him as her new partner. With her patronage, it meant that many doors would open for the nineteen-year-old prodigy.

Now that he was free from the chains of the school and when the Maryinsky closed from May to September, he could now do as he pleased, and even the remaining eight months of the year, in the evenings that he didn’t have to dance he could do as he wished. This new-found freedom went to his head, and he started burning the candle at both ends with his new aristocrat and millionaire friends.

Vaslav Nijinsky Biography Early Adulthood:

It was during this time that Vaslav took an interest in two girls from the Maryinsky corps de ballet, but even with these flirtations, it was with a well-known homosexual, Prince Paul Dmitrievitch Lovov that Nijinsky formed his first close relationship. They were seen together in all the best places.

It was through the prince that Nijinsky met Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev. This man would provide focus to his life and set him on the course to immortality.

Diaghilev was Nijinsky’s elder by sixteen years. He was born in 1872 into an aristocratic family. He had already made his mark in St. Petersburg as a catalyst, organizer, and patron of the arts, and he had edited and published an influential magazine with the latest artistic news events.

By the time Diaghilev and Nijinsky met in 1908, Diaghilev had come to appreciate ballet. His first loves had been music, painting, and poetry, but Alexandre Benois had convinced him that ballet was an art form worthy of serious attention.

Diaghilev started working on the forthcoming ballet season with his collaborators Benois Fokine, the painter Leon Bakst and Igor Stravinsky the composer. His genius for marshaling great talent was coming into full bloom. He specialized in making painters, musicians, poets and dancers work together to make the magic happen.

During this time Nijinsky was still just one of the several talented Maryinsky soloists and he was not yet the toupe’s undisputed star. After the close of the St. Petersburg season on the 1st of May, Nijinsky and his colleagues set off by train for Paris. On the 19th of May 1909, Paris got its first glimpse of the Russian Dancers and it was instant adoration.

The vitality and virtuosity of the male soloists stood out for them as it was new to them, and Nijinsky in particular elicited gasps of astonishment. Before this the female dancers had gotten all the acclaim, now it was finally the turn of the male dancers.

By June, Nijinsky and Diaghilev had formed a special attachment, and at the end of the Paris season when Nijinsky fell ill with typhoid fever, Diaghilev rented a furnished flat and took charge of nursing the patient back to health. From then on they were inseparable. The relationship blossomed into a creative partnership of far-reaching consequences.

Vaslav Nijinsky Biography Continued – He Becomes A Star!

With Nijinsky’s increasing popularity, Diaghilev had a problem. All the graduates of the Imperial Ballet School were obligated to dance at the Maryinsky for a minimum of five years after leaving school. He was now Diaghilev’s most acclaimed star and constant companion.

When Nijinsky danced Giselle for the first time at the Maryinsky in January 1911 his costume caused offense. To our eyes today, Benois’s design hardly seemed daring at all, but in those eyes back then it appeared excessively revealing.

vaslav nijinsky biography
Gizelle

Nijinsky refused to alter it in any way and the next day he was given an ultimatum – apologize or resign. He resigned of course. To this day we are not 100 percent sure if this was planned by Diaghilev to get Vaslav out of his contract early.

Les Ballets Russes de Diaghilev made its debut on the 9th of April 1911 at the Opera House in Monte Carlo.

Diaghilev had imported dancers from all over Europe, including teacher Enrico Cecchetti. Enrico’s classes imposed a new style and attitude on the dancers that weren’t drawn from the Imperial Theaters.

Fokine’s Le Spectre de la Rose was the most popular piece in the Diaghilev repertory and Nijinsky gave the perfect illusion of something non-human in his portrayal of a rose spirit.  The dancer made his final leap through an open window and it was described as ‘a jump so poignant, so contrary to all the laws of flight and balance, following so high and curved a trajectory, that I shall never again smell a rose without this ineffaceable phantom appearing before me.’

Nijinsky answered somebody who asked him if it was difficult to stay in the air when doing his jumps – ‘No! No! Not difficult. You have to just go up and then pause a little up there.’

vaslav nijinsky biography
Nijinsky and Karsavina in Le Spectre de la Rose

He and Karsavina made this role famous.

In June the same year, another of Fokine’s finest creations was given birth to – Petrouchka. In his role of the ungainly puppet, Nijinsky achieved a miracle of transmutation. He seemed to enter the very soul of the character when he put on his costume – and this was Nijinsky’s greatest gift. He had now made the transition from feted prodigy to that of a serious artist.

In his role of the ungainly puppet, Nijinsky achieved a miracle of transmutation. He seemed to enter the very soul of the character when he put on his costume – and this was Nijinsky’s greatest gift. He had now made the transition from feted prodigy to that of a serious artist.

Diaghilev’s company now began making the rounds of Europe. Nijinsky got the highest praises as the Sunday Times reported: ‘ He seems to be positively lighter than air, for his leaps have no sense of effort and you are inclined to doubt if he really touches the stage between them.’

Because running the world’s most prestigious ballet company was never a good financial endeavor, Diaghilev was forever attending elaborate receptions with Nijinsky in order to meet and flatter potential backers.

Other outrageous ballets were performed around this time that were not so popular with the public. These included LAspres-midi d’un Faun and Le Sacre du Printemps. Diaghilev almost seemed content that the public found the work distasteful. He was quick to understand the publicity value in hindsight. Even bad publicity is good publicity.

Fokine had by then departed from Ballet Russes due to artistic differences with Diaghilev, and Nijinsky was given the go-ahead to choreograph. The dancers battled to understand the young genius’s choreography and he and Diaghilev had many arguments in front of the company over this.

Vaslav Nijinsky Biography – His Rise and Fall From Grace

During the four years that Nijinsky worked under Diaghilev’s thumb, one has to wonder if he was content with his lot in life. To some, he seemed but a puppet of a master manipulator. He was constantly on the move through a world of posh hotels and even posher society, as well as being totally immersed in the problems and politics of the Ballets Russes.

He didn’t seem to have any true friends, as his relationship with the head of the company isolated him from comradeship with dancers within the company.

He seemed exhausted after putting on three path-breaking and unappreciated ballets and perhaps he longed for some form of escape which he showed in his works.

On the ship going to South America, Diaghilev stayed behind, and by the time the ship reached America, Nijinsky had formally proposed marriage to Romola de Pulsky who was traveling with the dancers in first class.

Four days after the ship docked on the10th of September Vaslav and Romola became man and wife.

Diaghilev took the news badly and he fired Nijinsky.

Unfortunately, his abrupt marriage to Romola and Diaghilev’s rejection was indirectly responsible for pushing Nijinsky across the borderline of insanity.

After he was rejected by Ballet Russes, a lot of propositions came his way, but none seemed to satisfy him. In the end, he took an eight-week season of ballet at a London variety theatre. He was to get his own dancers and choose the repertory.

Running a ballet company was unfortunately not Nijinsky’s forte, and the enterprise was plagued by mishaps from beginning to end. Nijinsky fell apart during the second week and his contract was canceled.

The Nijinsky’s returned to Budapest to await the birth of their first child, a daughter Kyra. They were overtaken by the outbreak of World War 1.

As a Russian subject, Nijinsky was technically a prisoner of war. The family was released in April 1916 and he and Diaghilev were reconnected in America. Even though Nijinsky seemed withdrawn, on stage he was better than ever.

Nijinsky acted as Artistic Director for Ballet Russes and his fourth and final ballet Tyl Eulenspiegel was created. There are very few photos that survived of this one, and it was followed by four months of travel across the length and breadth of the United States.

In June 1917, Nijinsky rejoined Diaghilev and the company for a series of performances in Spain. There was a lot of tension between Diaghilev and Nijinsky during this time as Diaghilev pressured Nijinsky to take tours that he didn’t want to do.

Nijinsky danced for the last time with the Ballet Russes in Le Spectre and Petrouchka on the 26th of September 1917 in Buenos Aires.

Vaslav Nijinsky Biography – Mental Illness

Signs of mental instability are said to have surfaced in South America, but it is not proven. A year later the Nijinsky’s had settled in St. Moritz to await the end of the war. Here Nijinsky was completely isolated from the ballet with its regular routines and structure. He began to sink into depression.

Early in 1919, Nijinsky agreed to give a private dance recital for friends and neighbors. Romola wrote that it was like watching a tiger that was let out of the jungle to destroy everything in its path.

Shortly after that he was examined by the distinguished Swiss Psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler and was diagnosed as an incurable schizophrenic.

vaslav nijinsky biography
Vaslav and Romola in 1945

Nijinsky was 31 years old and the next 31 he lived both in and out of asylums, sometimes better and sometimes worse, but never restored to what he once was.

Romola turned out to be a great support for him over the years, and she tried everything to move him out of his mental darkness. She even tried moving him to Paris in the hope that old association may help.

Nijinsky sadly died of an unsuspected kidney condition on the 8th of April 1950.

No other dancer, except Taglioni and Pavlova, has become so legendary during and after his lifetime, and no other male dancer of his generation could match him in the range of his powers though some, like Bolm, might make more impression in a particular direction.

His astonishing ballon, elevation, beats, and the quality of movement were unsurpassed, providing Fokine with the matchless material from which he fashioned the Golden Slave, Harlequin, Les Sylphides, Petrushka and the Spectre de la Rose.

Most especially, Nijinsky had the gift of merging himself completely in all his roles.

“The fact that Nijinsky’s metamorphosis was predominantly subconscious,’ wrote Benois of this phenomenon, ‘is, in my opinion, the very proof of his genius.”

To read more about other famous dancers, click here.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet – Still Famous Over A Hundred Years Later

le spectre de la rose ballet
le spectre de la rose ballet
Photo of Nijinsky and Karsavina in the first performance of “Spectre de la rose”, 1911

Le Spectre De La Rose is a ballet in one act (choreographic tableau) about a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a souvenir rose from her first ball.

Jean-Louise Vaudoyer based the ballet story on a verse by Theophile Gautier.

The Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet was originally choreographed by Michel Fokine to music by Carl Marie von Weber’s piano piece Aufforderung Zum Tanz. (Invitation to the Dance), which was orchestrated by Hector Berlioz.

The original sets and costumes were designed by Leon Bakst.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet was first presented on the 19th of April 1911 at the Theatre de Monte Carlo by Ballets Russes.

Vaslav Nijinsky danced the part of the rose, which became his most famous role, and Tamara Karsavina danced the part of the young girl.

The ballet was a huge success, and it especially became famous for the spectacular leap that Nijinsky made through a window at the end of the ballet. At the time critics praised this seemingly superhuman feat.

Unfortunately today we have no way of knowing just how high Nijinsky did in fact jump. It is possible that it was no higher than many dancers who have followed him in the role over the years, but the effect that he created through the quality of his elevation was immense and unforgettable.

When choreographer Mikhail Fokine was working on the storyline for Le Spectre De La Rose, there was little to suggest that the ten-minute ballet was destined for fame. Nijinsky’s sister, who was also a great choreographer in her own right, felt disappointed when watching rehearsals at the mundane looking enchainements without any innovation. However as the rehearsals progressed, it became increasingly apparent that Nijinsky’s instinctive and total understanding of the role would illuminate the ballet in an extraordinary way.

The first Le Spectre de la Rose was not acclaimed exclusively for Nijinsky’s performance, but also the interaction of the dancer with his ballerina, the serene and beautiful Tamara Karsavina, who ignited the richly romantic aura of the ballet. Karsavina created a gentle balance to Nijinsky’s bounding, swirling spirit, and both of them shone.

Le Spectre de la Rose has been revived regularly by many ballet companies in all parts of the world and remains a challenge in which dancers of each new generation continue to set their sights upon.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet Story

The story unfolds in a young girl’s bedroom, painted in white with its windows open to the summer night. The girl has just returned from her first ball holding a rose to her lips and breathing in its scent.

Dreamily, she removes her cloak and sinks into a chair and falls asleep to dream of the ball.

Suddenly a spirit, half-youth, half-rose, floats into the room through the open window. Like a petal, blown in by the wind, he barely touches the floor as he dances. As he dances he bends over the sleeping girl and draws her into the dance.

But the dream cannot last and he leads her back to her chair, brushes her lightly with his lips, and is gone.

Her eyes open, and she stoops to retrieve the rose whose scent recalls her dream.

Tribute to Nijinsky: Petrouchka / Le Spectre de la Rose / L’ Apres-midi d’un Faune [VHS]

This is one of the only resources that I could find today, and believe it or not only on VHS. Really strange.

This composition in the style of the romantic ballet illustrates exactly Fokine’s contention that the technique of the classical ballet should be used only where it is appropriate.

Le Spectre de la Rose is a classic pas de deux with the dancing used in leaps and bounds to evoke an ethereal being, the spirit of the rose, rather than to display an extraordinary technique.

The arm positions used in this ballet are far from the ‘correct’ port de bras arms used in ballet as they are meant to be alive and speak and sing, and not just execute positions. So even though the legs are purely classical the dance style suggests the product of a young girl’s romantic imagination.

Here is a video of the ballet for you to enjoy.

Petrushka Synopsis And A Brief History

petrushka synopsis

If you are looking for the Ballet Petrushka Synopsis, you can scroll down a little, but first a little history.

Petrushka is considered a Burlesque ballet and it is done in one act and four tableaux. It was first performed by Ballets Russes at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on the 13th of June 1911.

The choreography was done by Fokine and the music was composed by Stravinsky.  The scenery and costumes were designed by  Alexandre Benois.petrushka synopsis

Of all the masterworks that were created by the Diaghilev Ballet, Petrushka is generally considered the greatest because it is the supreme example of the perfect collaboration.

Butterweek Fair was recreated from the childhood memories of Alexandre Benois and stimulated by Stravinsky’s short piece, Petrushka’s Cry, which had first roused Diaghilev’s interest in the ballet theme.

This ballet is a great example of a plot within a plot. It is filled with national and traditional dances of the people at the fair. The music that Stravinsky composed was music within music. The second part of the music describes the principal characters, both their outer appearances and their inner feelings.

Petrushka also shows quite vividly the motivating principle of Fokine’s revolution. He sought to make ballet a powerful art in its own right, not just spectacular entertainment. To do this within Petrushka he used images and symbols like poetry.

Petrushka portrayed the downtrodden, the Ballerina was a symbol of empty womanhood and the Moor personified all smug, self-satisfied people.

So all in all Petrushka was a perfect fusion of music, design, and dancing to communicate a message with meaning.

This process is clearly shown through Petrushka himself. Benois created his outer form in the costume and grotesque make-up of the puppet. Then the torment of his inner personality is revealed in Stravinsky’s music. His relations and conflict with the outside world are portrayed in the choreography. His turned in position depicts his introvert nature while the Moor’s turned out second positions depict him being an extrovert.

The corps de ballet creates the seething life of the fair and nothing in the dancing is virtuoso. Everything is expressive and the principles of romanticism are translated into this character ballet.

Petrushka Synopsis

Scene 1:

This scene takes place in Admiralty Square, St Petersburg in 1830, during the Butterweek Fair.

Hawkers, dancing girls, gypsies, and showmen of all kinds and their customers fill the square. One of the showmen is dressed as a magician and calls attention to his curtained booth with a drum roll.

petrushka synopsisHe shows the crowds three of his puppets, a pretty doll-like Ballerina, a sad-faced insignificant Petrushka and the foolish, but splendid Moor.

With a touch of his wand he seems to bring them to life and they dance and chase each other around the square.

Scene 2:

Petrushka is in his cell inside the booth. He bemoans his fate and his hopeless love for the Ballerina. He complains about his subservience to his master the showman and his suffering inside his puppet’s body. When the Ballerina visits him, his agitation frightens her away.

Scene 3:

In the Moor’s cell, the Moor plays idly with a coconut. He is stupid and coarse and thinks only of his material needs. The ballerina visits him and exerts her charms to arouse his interest. She succeeds but in the midst of their duet, Petrushka forces his way into the cell. The Moor attacks him, stamps on him and kicks him out.

Scene 4:

At the fair the crowd becomes aware of tumult behind the curtains of the showman’s booth. Petrushka runs out, pursued by the Moor and the Ballerina. Cut down by the Moor’s scimitar, Petrushka dies in the snow.

The crowd is horrified by the tragedy and angrily summon the Showman, but he picks up the body and reveals it as only a puppet of cloth and sawdust.

The crowd drifts away and the Showman turns for home, dragging the puppet behind him. Suddenly he hears a cry. Above the booth appears the ghost of Petrushka, defying him for the last time.  The Showman is terrified and he runs from the scene as the figure of Petrushka falls inanimate once more over the edge of the booth.

That’s it for a short and sweet Petrushka Synopsis.

Here is a full copy of Petrushka for you to enjoy.

For the Firebird Synopsis, click here.

How To Dance With Pointe Shoes – Tips For The Class Room

How to dance on pointe shoes

how to dance with pointe shoesHere is a post dedicated to the subject on how to dance with pointe shoes, as it is not as easy as ballerina’s make it look.

It is the dream of every little girl who does ballet to dance in pointe shoes.  In fact, all my pupils at some stage of their training ask me when they can buy their first pair of pointe shoes. Ballet is the only dance form that uses pointe shoes, although I have seen other dance forms lately attempting to adopt dancing on their toes for various shows or competitions.

Of course, the reality of dancing with pointe shoes is quite a different story and not a glamorous one at that.  There are blisters, ingrown toenails and varying degrees of pain to deal with. Learning to dance ‘en pointe’ is a long training process that takes years.

Pupils have to work slowly to develop the required strength in their feet and ankles before they start to do the complicated steps that they see the stars doing. There are no short cuts here, otherwise, you could be putting yourself in danger of getting permanent injuries.

Here is some practical advice for teachers and pupils who are learning the art of pointe work.

How To Dance With Pointe Shoes

How To Strengthen the Feet

If you want to know how to dance with pointe shoes, you must know that you won’t be able to do this properly until you have strong feet.

When doing your normal ballet class, make sure all your movements are with your feet using the floor.  There should be a feeling of pushing the floor away from you whenever you do a tendu. Your feet and the floor need to become good friends, and your feet need to use the floor with pressure in order to get strong enough over the years to master pointe work.

Here are a few more great ways to strengthen the feet:

  • While sitting curl foot into a c-shape to strengthen arch and hold for a while.
  • Walk while rising and lowing through the demi point, preferably working with no shoes.
  • Write the alphabet in cursive with your feet, one foot at a time.
  • While sitting push toes into the floor with pressure to arch feet (like pushing a towel underneath foot).  Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Scrunch up a towel with the feet.
  • Keep the heel on the floor in one spot and push the towel side to side with the toes.
  • Sit flat on knees to stretch the front of the foot.
  • Put the front of the foot against the wall with the foot flat and slowly stretch the knee and try to keep the top of the foot on the wall.
  • A good exercise to start with is standing parallel facing the bar.  Place foot on the calf and step up to 1st before lowering through the feet.  You can also do plies and rises then straighten legs turned in or out.
  • Do multiple rises and releves every week, on two feet and one foot.

Notes For Teachers

What Exercises Should I Start My Pupils  With En Pointe

When you dance in your pointe shoes for the first time, walk, run, and skip in the shoes first to get used to them.  They will feel totally different from the normal ballet slipper, and your foot will have to work a lot harder to make the shoes point and look good.

All pointe work should be done with the support of a barre or a partner, to begin with.  Gradually the student places less weight on the bar and more on his or her toes.

Many repetitions of rises and releves on two feet and then moving from two feet to one foot are required here. This is how to dance with pointe shoes in the beginning until your feet get stronger.

Be very careful of the overarched foot – the sole of the shoe must first be softened.  Make sure the knuckles of the toes don’t bend when standing on pointe.  The overarched foot will need more strengthening than the average foot in general.

Rolling feet in or out places strain on the ankles and knees, so insist on the student/dancer getting this right.

Here are some exercises for teachers to try with their pupils:

  • Stand parallel 1st on point and go from one foot to the other through demi point.  One foot goes down as the other goes up.  Both feet are ¾ point at the same time.
  • Facing bar, do battements tendus to each position and releve in each position.
  • Releve 5th and then retire devant 3 x, then retire passé to repeat on the other side.
  • Releve 5th and release back foot to do petit pas de bouree piques.
  • To teach courus do small foot changes on point.  Little courus on the spot with slightly relaxed knees.  Then go along bar facing it leading with the back foot.
  • Do walks up on toes.
  • Echappe to 2nd, not too wide and hold for 3 counts before closing to strengthen the feet.
  • Echappe to 4th and hold.  Make sure they stretch through the backs of knees.
  • Once they are stronger  you can bring them into the centre for echappes.

Once your pupils are more experienced try:

  • Rises through ¼, ½, ¾, and up in 1st, 2nd and 5th.  Show resistance in heels when going down.
  • Demi Plies and rises.
  • Tendu’s and Echappes.
  • Echappes and Detournes.
  • Releves two feet to one foot.
  • Pas de bourees Piques and Courus.
  • Courus on the spot with coupe over.
  • Up in 5th and move one leg at a time back, front, back and rest on point changing weight.
  • Walk along bar and back by bringing feet over, over, over and then under, under, under. (emboites)

Centre:

  • Releves devant and derriere with Echappes.
  • Walks with developes coming down through the feet.

Try to always work beyond your syllabus requirements. The process is slow and tedious, but this is how to dance with pointe shoes as you gradually get stronger and the idea is to make dancing on pointe look effortless.

How Do You Know If You Are Ready To Dance In Pointe Shoes?

Never start a beginner on pointe.  Even an adult should have a minimum of two years of dancing experience first.

The normal age varies between 11 and 14 years, although later is better.  Rather start later than earlier when learning how to dance with pointe shoes as the bodies must be mature and strong and growth in the foot must be settled. Never start pointe work before puberty.

The pupil should have even turnout, and be able to control the turnout from the hip.  She or he should have a good understanding of transfer of weight, and should be able to do releves and rises strongly on demi pointe.  The pupil should be able to rise and releve with ease on one foot.  Posture and balance must also be secure.

Other Pointe Shoe Problems

For the overarched foot, get them to sew a thick piece of elastic over the shoe for support until the feet have strengthened and the pupil has learned to support the feet.  Don’t allow them to go too far over as this will weaken the foot.

If one foot is bigger than the other, buy shoes for the bigger foot or buy 2 pairs.

A broken shoe means that muscles are weak and the student is not pulling up off the foot or she is sitting into the foot, thus putting undue pressure on the shoe and her feet.

Before starting point treat the feet with meths or camphrey or canyon herbal cream.  This helps to reduce the incidence of blisters.

If shoe twists off the heel then it is too big.

If the shoe is too small, the toes will be squashed. How to dance with pointe shoes

The heel should stay in the shoe on demi point and foot mustn’t slip in the shoe.

To fit a pointe shoe, stand in 2nd  and demi plie.  Relax foot and spread toes, as this stretches foot to its longest point.

Toes should be slightly touching the block with no pressure on the sides or top.  The shoe must be tight-fitting, but not the foot shouldn’t be squashed.  Be careful the shoe is not too pointy on the toe area.  Make sure that ribbons are tied correctly to support the ankles.

The other important aspect of how to dance with pointe shoes is choosing the right pair of pointe shoes for you.  The choice nowadays is vast, and there is a shoe type to suit every foot.  Go Here To Find Out More About Types of Shoes.

Scheherazade Ballet Story And History

Scheherazade ballet story

The Scheherazade Ballet is another one of those old Russian Ballets that has stood the test of time. In this article, I will be looking at both the Scheherazade ballet story and history, as I love to see how these old ballets originated and were put together.

A Bit Of Ballet History

The original Scheherazade ballet premiered on the 4th of June 1910 at the Opera Garnier in Paris and was danced by Ballet Russes. Michel Fokine did the Choreography and libretto. Leon Bakst did a lot of the design work and the ballet was famous for its traditional and dazzling costumes, opulent scenery, and erotic choreography.

Nijinsky who danced the golden slave was painted gold and eroticism was highly present in the orgiastic scenes played out in the background.

Controversially, Scheherazade was one of the first stage and ballet instances of people simulating sexual activity. Nijinsky was short and androgynous but his dancing was powerful and theatrical. Scheherazade flipped the conventions of classical ballet through the redirection of audiences’ focus from the grace and beauty of female bodies to male prowess and sensuality.

As opposed to the classical ballets of the time, the choreography of Scheherazade included more sensuous movements including body waves and closer contact. The Golden Slave also incorporated more rippling and slower, sultry movement as opposed to the large, jump, and turn heavy male solos audiences were used to seeing in classical ballets.

Fokine’s choreography was based on the study of Persian miniatures and he managed to realize the feeling and thought of each of the characters expertly.

This ballet needs artists of the quality of its original performers to interpret the subtleties of Fokine’s style and achieve a proper suspension of disbelief. For this reason, it is a work by which to remember the Russian Ballet rather than to revive today.

No revival has managed to achieve more than a bogus Orientalism, which seems crude and feeble and very far from the power of the original.

Scheherazade Ballet Story

In the video above you can see the entire Scheherazade ballet done by the Russians.

This ballet is based on the first tale in the book of The Thousand And One Nights. Although creating a tremendous impression through the performance of its principal artists with Ida Rubinstein as the first Zobeida, Cecchetti as the first Chief Eunuch and Nijinsky as the first golden slave, the honors go chiefly to the decor that was done by Bakst.

His skillful mix of violent glowing color with the cunning use of perspective created exactly the atmosphere of sensuality and passion with the theme required. Bakst’s designs were so successful that they influenced Parisian fashions at once and continued to influence interior decoration for many years thereafter.

The Scheherazade storyline runs as follows:

Shahryar who is the king of India and China is seated in his harem with his favorite wife Zobeida on his left-hand side and his brother Shah Zeman on his right.Scheherazade ballet story

Shahryar is angry because his brother has hinted that is wives are unfaithful. To test the harem, Shahryar departs on a hunting expedition.

As soon as he is gone the wives adorn themselves with jewels and bribe the Chief Eunuch to open two of three blue doors at the back of the room where the male slaves live.

The Chief Eunuch is about to depart when Zobeida demands that the third door too shall be opened. Deaf to his warning and entreaties she insists and bribes him.

There is a flash of gold and a Negro leaps from the open door to Zobeida’s side. Together they fall upon the devan.

Immediately young men, musicians, and servants bring in food, wine, and music.

They dance lead by the Golden Slave, joined by Zobeida.

In the midst of this party, Shahryar returns. The slaves and women seek blindly to escape only to be cut down by the Shahryar’s soldiers.

The Chief Eunuch is strangled and Shahryar himself destroys the gold-clad Negro.

Our Scheherazade ballet story ends with Zobeida. Proudly, she confronts the Shah, then preferring death to public dishonor, she snatches a dagger and takes her own life.

Ballet Tips For Beginners

ballet tips for beginners

If you are looking at starting ballet classes, especially as an adult, you will probably be looking for ballet tips for beginners, so these are some of my tips on how to start training for ballet, especially if you start when you are older than the normal age of five.

If you are an adult wanting to get good at ballet you will need to be spending at least three hours a week in class, especially if you are an adult beginner, as your body has set, and the movements will be a little more difficult to master than a child whose body is still soft and pliable.

You will also need a lot of work in the beginning so that your body can learn the muscle memory required for ballet so be patient with yourself during the first year or two while your body learns what it should be doing.

Learning your basic arm and leg positions is a good idea to do before you attend your first official ballet lesson.

Ballet Tips For Beginners

ballet tips beginners

These ballet tips are designed for the older beginner who would like to take his or her dancing to the next level, and not just somebody who is doing ballet for fun and exercise purposes.

Ballet Tip Number One:

Don’t Be Obsessed With Your Body Shape

The body shape is really important in ballet and some people are born with that perfect ballerina body. But for the majority of us, we have to make the best out of what we are given. Learning ballet will give you grace and improve your posture, so already you will have a major advantage over the majority of the population.

Work hard in class and concentrate on what muscles should be activated at what times, and in this way, you will always improve on what you have.

Supplement your ballet training with some yoga and Pilates as this will strengthen and tone all the right muscles.

Ballet Tip Number Two:

Learn To Take Correction

Your teacher is there to give you help and correct your technique. Sometimes it may feel as if she is picking on you, but this is not the case, and you will most likely find that she is only trying to help you to be the best dancer that you can be.

If you get corrected, try to absorb and work on the correction as the smaller details are what is going to make you the better dancer in the end.

Ballet Tip Number Three:

Do It Often

Ballet is not something you are going to improve in if you choose to take one lesson a week. The more you do it the better you will get. One lesson a week students generally are in the class to get some exercise and not to actually improve their dancing skills in a hurry.

Ballet Tip Number Four:

Listen To Your Body

Ballet is a physically demanding art that requires your body to do all sorts of things that are not normal.

Don’t try to get there in a day. Work consistently to strengthen your muscles and don’t force your joints to do things that they are not ready for.

Some of the most common mistakes beginners (and even more experienced dancers) make that can cause damage to their bodies are:

  • forcing their feet to turn out instead of using the hips to turn out the legs and feet.
  • trying to do dangerous leaps and jumps without learning to land properly first.
  • going into pointe shoes before the muscles are sufficiently trained.
  • doing backbends without supporting them with your core muscles.
  • forcing or bouncing stretches. Consistent gentle stretching will get you there in the long run.
  • only do what your body feels comfortable doing, so if you have bad knees, don’t do full plies, or if you have back problems don’t kick your leg too high behind you.

ballet tips for beginners

Ballet Tip Number 5:

Stretch Often

Try to do some stretching every day, as having a flexible body will leave you less prone to injury, and your dancing will also look better if your body can move freely.

For some great stretching routines I highly recommend this stretching article and the course recommended at the end of it.

Ballet Tip Number 6:

Practice, Practice And Then Practice Some More

During class time, take advantage of the time you have in the studio and with a teacher.

Put in your best effort all the time and don’t be tempted to do anything half-way because you are getting tired. If you channel your energy into the right places, you will get the results you are wanting.

More Ballet Tips For you:

Here is a great video to give you more tips on the actual ballet steps that you are learning and doing.

If you have any more ballet tips for beginners, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.

Are You Dancesafe?

dancesafe

dancesafe

As a dancer, you need to respect your body by being dancesafe and practicing safe dance practice at all times.

Believe it or not, dancing is great for your body and dancers tend to live long lives in superb health. They seem to maintain their strength, suppleness and good posture well into old age.

Let’s look at Margot Fonteyn for instance who danced professionally well into her sixties or Frederic Franklin who performed with the American Ballet Theater when he was ninety.

But dancers, just like all elite athletes need to look after their bodies in order to perform at their best and avoid injury.

How To Remain Dancesafe

Luckily most qualified teachers and professional companies know more now than ever before about safely training the dancer’s body so that it performs at its best.

Knowing about your own joints and muscles and being able to heed their warnings is the crucial first line of defense against overuse injuries along with making sure you have the proper footwear and are dancing on sensible floors.

Even though this is all common sense, it is easy to let things slide, especially when there are many demands on your time.

It is tempting to confuse hard work, discipline and occasional discomfort entailed in ballet with unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior.

You won’t be able to dance if you discipline yourself into illness or injury.

Being dancesafe includes:

  • working on decent sprung floors or floors that have ‘give’ in them to protect the dancer’s bones and knees.
  • training the correct muscles in the correct alignment to avoid long term injuries.
  • avoiding risky behavior that shortens a dancer’s career. This includes doing steps and tricks before a dancer is physically ready for them.
  • getting enough rest in between dance classes and rehearsals and maintaining a consistent schedule.
  • last but not least practicing good nutrition.

Let’s look at nutrition in the quest to being dancesafe, as this is something that many dancers don’t think is that important.

Being Nutritionally Dancesafe

Nutrition is obviously a fundamental part of being dancesafe, and often this is where dancers fall short as they are trying so hard to remain slender they tend to under-eat.dancesafe

Whatever body shape or type that you have, your dancing will improve if you are strong and lean. You also have to learn not to stint on nutrition, as real, vibrant long-term health relies on what you put into your body.

Food is more than just fuel, it is the construction material with which your body builds and repairs itself.

High-level athletic performance requires first-rate nutrition as you need the energy. You may feel that you are surviving quite well on a diet of junk food, but it will catch up with you. You will also feel so much better when you eat wisely.

Strive to get a good balance of fresh, non-processed foods that are free of additives, and organic where possible.

Rather than count calories, make your calories count. For instance, an orange and a soda both provide sugar for energy, but the orange is full of vitamin C while the soda is virtually nutrient-free.

Also, make sure that as a dancer you are eating enough. Insufficient calorie intake reduces muscle strength, endurance, speed, and coordination. You increase your risk of injury and prolong recovery after an injury.

Low blood sugar impairs your concentration, decision-making and mood. You will feel more angry, anxious, irritable and even depressed. Ultimately your health and your performance will suffer.

How To Eat Well

dancesafeThere is no miracle one food that has everything in it that we need, but it’s the sensible balance that makes the body run like a well-oiled machine.

We also require water, fiber, and our vitamins and minerals. Don’t rely on your supplements to get all your micronutrients because our bodies absorb nutrients much more efficiently and fully from real whole foods.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best sources for many crucial micronutrients, and they are low in calories and high in fiber. As a dancer make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates and lean protein into your diet. This includes whole grains and cereals, brown rice, meat, poultry, dairy, legumes, and nuts.

Diet don’ts include:

  • fad diets
  • eating extremes of any kind
  • refined and processed foods
  • food grown with pesticides, antibiotics or hormones
  • junk food
  • excessive caffeine
  • sodas – both regular and diet

The Secret Nutrient: Water

Hydration is also part of keeping our bodies well-nourished. All the body’s systems require enough water to function properly.

Because dancers and other athletes lose water through perspiration, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. No one can tell you exactly how much water your body needs because it varies from day to day, but every dancer should have access to water at all times.

If your urine is dark yellow rather than clear of light yellow, this could indicate dehydration, so make a water bottle part of your regular dance kit.

Smoking

dancesafe

There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t be smoking and the top ones are cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. As a dancer, you need to have lung capacity which will be reduced if you are a smoker.

Other reasons not to smoke include smelly hair, unhealthy skin, weak finger, and toenails. So if you want to dance to your full potential, its simple, don’t smoke.

Well, there you have it in a nutshell. I believe everything in moderation, and if you stick to the 80/20 percent rule you should be ok. So if you need the occasional treat make sure that it is less than 20 percent of the time, and 80 percent of the time you should be eating healthily.

Le Carnaval – What Happened To This Ballet?

le carnaval

Le Carnaval was a pantomime ballet which was one act long written and danced in the early 1900’s.

Lebretto and choreography was by Fokine

Music was written by Schumann and orchestration was done by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Scenery and Costumes were done by Leon Bakst.

Le Carnaval ballet was first performed after three spontaneous rehearsals as a charity performance in the Pavlov Hall in St Petersburg on the 20th of February 1910 by the Ballets Russes, then again in Western Europe at the Theater des Westens in Berlin on the 20th of May 1910.

le carnavalOn 14 September 1933, the ballet was revived again in London by the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo (staged by Woizikovsky) for Alexandra Danilova (appearing as Columbine).

In 1937, it was staged by the Vic-Wells Ballet with Margot Fonteyn dancing the role of “Columbine

This ballet has no real plot or storyline, it is merely a series of light, humorous, and joyous incidents combined with some moments of poignancy and an undercurrent of satire.

Le Carnaval The Ballet

Characters:

le carnavalColumbine

Chiarina

Estrella

Papillon

Harleqin

Pierrot

Eusebius

Pantalon

Florestan

Waltzers and Philistines

The Ballet Story:

The scene takes place in the ant-chamber of a ballroom and its only furniture is two small striped settees.

Columbine, Harlquin, Pantalon, the wistful Peirrot, and other characters from Commedia Dell’arte, intrigue, frolic and suffer with the characters of Schumann’s youthful imagination in a succession of dances and situations linked by the antics of Harlequin.

Le Carnaval had no great success with the Parisian public who saw it a month after Berlin in 1910.

Le Carnaval became beloved elsewhere and is recognized as one of Fokine’s more important works.

It is another exercise in his romantic revival, another restoration of the male dancer through the roles of Harlequin, Pierrot and Pantalon, first danced respectively by Nijinsky, Bolm and Cecchetti (with Karsavina as Columbine). Le Carnaval is  another ballet of contrasting moods evoked through dances which extend the range and forms of the pas de deux, pas de trois and pas seul which it uses.

The elusive combination of gaiety, sadness and precise timing required for the total effect is extremely difficult to achieve and the main reason why satisfactory performances of this ballet have very rarely been seen since the end of the Diaghilev Ballet.

Why Don’t We See This Ballet Much Anymore?

Le Carnaval seems to have been the most delicate, most exquisite ballet Michel Fokine ever created, as well as the most difficult to pinpoint.

As was the case with many of his works, the roles depended to a large degree upon the talents of the original performers, and if one looks at just the steps (except for the one Harlequin solo) they are almost simplistic. It was the infusion of lightness, gaiety, coyness, and self-absorption, combined with an underlying sadness, all of which must be contributed by the dancers themselves. That resulted in what most critics of the time regarded as a most effective adaptation of Schumann’s music and characters.

Recent attempts to reconstruct the work in England, Sweden, and the United States have had varying degrees of success. This is because the roles must be created from within each individual performer, not from externally imposed steps or gestures. They require someone like Fokine himself to elicit this from the dancers, which is unfortunately an almost impossible task for our more modern choreographers.