By Jack Anderson
Publication via Anderson, Jack
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Extra resources for Choreography Observed
However, since we have no ballets at all by lean-Georges Noverre or Salvatore Vigano, and since Giselle, our sole surviving ballet by lules Perrot, is a collaboration with another choreographer, we should feel lucky to possess nine works. Come to think of it, how many more ballets have survived by Marius Petipa? And, surely, only a few more ballets by Michel Fokine are now revivable-even though Fokine was a choreographer of our own century. Bournonville's nine ballets are therefore quite a lot.
Again, reason and logic cannot account for this. At one point, the limbs of some young women twitch happily in response to the viol, although these girls have just been pining over their absent boyfriends. And in the ballet's great final scene, the whole town dances wildly, madly, and deliriously about. Even the condemned tied to the stake cannot refrain from tapping their feet. This is totally irrational behavior, and in such scenes Bournon- Out of the Past I 49 ville may be reminding us that we do not always know the sources of our feelings or why feelings may suddenly come and go without warning.
Since, presumably, it is choreography-and not just plot or musicthat gives a ballet the status of a classic, I usually champion the traditionalist approach to staging old ballets. Yet other approaches are possible. What is important is that company directors know exactly what they want-and how to obtain what they want-when they decide to stage a classic. Many productions may be called Swan Lake, but not all of them will be the same. Any company that hopes for one sort of production and, through lack of knowledge, gets another instead may find its Swan Lake a dead duck.