Pas de Quatre in December

15 Jan

Anton Dolin reconstructed the Jules Perrot creation to Cesar Pugni’s music featuring four Romantic era prima ballerinas dancing together in London in 1845 before Queen Victoria. No record I know of records how Dolin accomplished this feat. It was a gentle tour de force in 1845 creation; today Dolin’s contribution remains a remarkable feast of period style.

On the occasion of Alicia Alonso’s 91st birthday the classical TV channel, 32.5 in San Francisco showed a 1960 performance featuring Alonso as Marie Taglioni, Nora Kaye as Lucille Grahn, Melissa Hayden as Carlotta Grisi and Mia Slavenska as Fenny Cerrito. Scheduled on Saturday evening December 20 and shown again Sunday, December 21. The footage credit was given to Alonso.

In checking with Wikipedia to make certain I had dancers and roles rightly identified, I found YouTube had a Ballet Nacional de Cuba version, so I watched it. So correct! So loaded with ballon and grand jetes! So lacking in the gentle satire present in the 1960 version where personalities were clear, touches of simpering and come-hither were generously dispensed and the technique, quite classical, didn’t push the envelope at the expense of the ballerina aura, the point of the entire piece.

A colleague informed me earlier this year in response to one of my gushing enthusiasms that I could see x,y and z on You Tube and keep current on various interpretations. I found it informative, but not nearly so much fun as sitting with knitting in my lap in front of a larger, but still modest sized TV screen.

At one point in time, Alonso, Kaye and Hayden were all in Ballet Theatre. Slavenska was the only one with her own production unit.Having seen all four dancers in the 1960 version in some production or another, it was a reminder what interpretation can bring to a performance in lieu of gravity-defying grands jetes and a la secondes at six o’clock.

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