Sylphs in White at the Opera House
It’s SOOOOOOOOO romantic!
Once upon a time Russian ballet evenings were prefaced with a Ballet Blanc, or a small piece where the performers were in white. The Dying Swan excerpt from Swan Lake was a favorite. And thus Chopiniana came into being. The choreographer Fokin got Glazanov to compose a suite using Chopin’s piano pieces and choreographed a white piece of five segments that grew to 8 when he presented it to Diagalev and his foundling Ballet Russes in 1909. Originally named Chopiniana, when Nijinsky and Pavlova danced it under Diagalev it became Les Sylphides and, although poetic and lyrical, was probably the beginning of Diagalev’s rebellion against established traditional ballet techniques.
It’s a plotless tale of a young poet dancing in a romantically moonlit glade with his perfect ideals that are represented figuratively by the mythical sylphs. The male, in white tights with his black vest, the only color in the tableaux of white, always conjours up visions of Nijinsky or Nureyev and the muscular Vietnamese principal is well on the way and would probably be welcome in a lot of international companies.
Nowadays it’s a ballet that ballet-struck girls swoon about and they all want to be part of that ethereally corp de ballet, dressed in swathes of snowy tulle and wearing coronets of white roses. To be a sylph en pointe is almost as romantic as being a lead sylph and being swept into the air by the handsome poet in a pas de deux. And the three principal ballerinas were gorgeous.
In most choreographed pieces the sylphs are fluttering and flowing and swooping across the stage. This version had a few too many static tableaux that had me saying, very lovely but so what!
The sound system used was reprehensibly bad…a bit scratchy and staticky and the technician had a few sequencing problems.
The adoring fans had their mobile cameras out in force when the curtains parted onto the opening scene that was so white it made you gasp. They were holding their phones above their heads like illuminated flowers as they snapped away or recorded all the beauty for their friends. Thankfully most got tired muscles by the end of the second piece of music and it became an intermittent annoyance until even the most hardily muscled gave in.
When it comes on the National Ballet Company’s program again grab a ticket for your preteen daughter or the nearest young girl. They’ll adore it. Your older daughters and their friends will really swoon over the gorgeous poet in tights with those muscled thighs. And you’ll enjoy it vicariously through their eyes.
It’s SOOOOOOOOO romantic!
|Not a reviewer, not a critic, “Kiếm Văn Tìm” is an interested, impartial and informed observer and connoisseur of the Hanoi art scene who offers highly opinionated remarks and is part of the long and venerable tradition of anonymous correspondents. Please add your thoughts in the comment field below.|