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Ballet Talk for Dancers

La Bayadere dance?


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I just heard what we will be performing at the end of Finnish dance camp. The upper level will be doing a dance from Giselle. I'm in the lower level group, and we will be doing a dance from La Bayadere's first act. We'll be temple dancers celebrating the sacred fire.


We will be doing the dance en demi-pointe, and the teacher told me she'll probably replace some of the more difficult bits. :)


I have seen La Bayadere, but all I can remember from that dance was that I thought it was pretty and that it involved arabesques and turns with the dancers in a circle. I couldn't find a video La Bayadere in the local library.


Has anybody here done this dance? What is the dance like? Are the turns hard?


(Is there a good way to practice turns outside class? I'm generally a bad turner. :D )



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Bayadere is a funny ballet. It's almost as big a mish-mash of choreographies and stagings as Le Corsaire. The oldest versions are certainly the ones most academically grounded. The Bayaderes are not demi-caractere roles. Getting a role for a classic is a lot like buying a used car. It helps to know who had it before you, and where they got it!;)

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Guest piccolo

If your teacher will be changing choreography, I wouldn't worry too much about difficult turns. As far as improving your turns, it is always best to practice under the watchful eye of a good teacher but that said, I like to practice balancing. Fifth releve, bring one leg into retire, and balance. See if you can continue to balance by lengthening all your muscles while in the position as opposed to "holding" everything in place. Just a thought.

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Thank you for that bit of information, Major Johnson. :) However, your answer raised new questions. What do you mean by academically grounded?


Also, I'm unclear on that bit of classic and demi-charactere roles. Are demi-charactere role choreographies somehow more stable? Or did you mean that choreographies for the "classic" classical ballets are generally always unstable? :confused: (I'm sorry, english is not my native tongue, so I don't always catch everything even if I understand all the words. :) )


I think the dance might be from the Makarova after Petipa version. The other La Bayadere dances/variations which my teacher coached for the school's spring recital are according to the brochure from Makarova after Petipa version. (Which the Finnish National Ballet also dances - I've never seen other versions)


Thanks for the balancing tip, piccolo. I'll try it.



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Paivi, what I meant by the Bayaderes being not a demi-caractere corps is that they dance classical vocabulary, using classical technique. The more classical the choreography appears, the more likely it is to be closer to the original.


The most famous demi-caractere dance in Bayadere could arguably be the "D'jambe" in Act II.


Bayadere remained in the repertoire of the St. Petersburg Ballet, whatever it was called over history, and received periodic choreographic revision by Vaganova, Tchabukiani, and a host of others. Makarova learned this version in Russia, but has now added her own touches - whether these are restorations or just revisions will have to be shown by further scholarship.

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Thank you, Major Johnson. I'm clear now. :)


(Incidentally, the adults of my school's highest class did the D'jambe dance in the spring performance. I tried the arabesques traveling backwards at home. Surprisingly, the balancing was the easy part. Keeping movement smooth and that arabesque leg stable on the other hand... :) )

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