Sunday, September 14, 2008

Poetry Train Monday - 66 - The Poetic Perfection of the Cinderella Ballet

On Saturday I attended the Empire Theatres High Definition broadcast of Cinderella.

As you may be aware by now, I define myself as a ballet freak.

ballet - "a classical dance form demanding grace and precision and employing formalized steps and gestures set in intricate, flowing patterns to create expression through movement"

freak - "a person who has withdrawn from normal, rational behavior and activities to pursue one interest or obsession" -

Dance speaks to my soul more powerfully than any other form of artistic expression. The unspoken language of choreography says everything I could ever hope to say. The dancers express the deepest, most moving aspects of what it is to be human and alive. The pas de deux especially brings me inside the passions of romantic love in a way that the most moving of romance novels could never do.

I was thinking about this post for the Poetry Train, wondering if I should write a poem about the ballet, or my feelings about ballet, or the way Prokofiev's score makes me feel. Or how fantastically in synch the two principal dancers were, and how I could see the level of trust between them when Agnes Letestu literally threw herself into the arms of Jose Martinez, how he caught her so smoothly and with such self-assurance.

I thought about the meaningful dialogue that is possible between myself - the audience - and two masters of their art forms, Sergei Prokofiev and Rudolph Nureyev, both passed away now. Apparently Prokofiev shared the same feelings about romantic love as I do, as I can hear his understanding of love as scary through the minor notes, the low rumbling notes that play alongside the trembling hope of sweet high notes. His soaring phrasings speak of passion, while his mix of dissonance and resolution describe the whole earth-shattering vulnerability a person feels when he or she is ready to open up to love.

I clearly heard Rudolph Nureyev as he used the passing of time as a subtext for the choreography he gave to this version of the ballet. By staging part of the ball as a fashion show, with four seasons of designs for Cinderella to choose from, and by having corps members represent the twelve hours of the day and how quickly time flies (as shown above,) Nureyev gave Cinderella the choice of seizing life while she could, rather than have Cinderella's experience at the ball magically disappear. As a dancer whose career on stage is short, and as a dancer who defected to the west from Communist Russia when he had the chance, Nureyev's feelings on making the most of life, grabbing opportunity fearlessly, called out loud and clear from his ballet.

I found myself drawn to the term poetic.

poetic - "possessing the qualities or charm of poetry"

For today's Poetry Train, I'm sharing the poetic truth of Prokofiev's score, the eloquence and passion of Nureyev's choreography, and the unmistakable bond between dancers Letastu and Martinez, whose off-stage relationship makes their on-stage partnership pure bliss.

Below is the pas de deux between Cinderella and the Prince from an Argentinian version of the ballet. Just listen to this soaring, gorgeous music by Prokofiev. This version is danced by the Teatro Colon Ballet from Buenos Aires, and features Karina Olmedo and Dalmiro Astesiano.

Next is a scene from the Paris Opera Ballet version of Cinderella, choreographed by Rudolph Nureyev. This is the version I saw at the theatre, although it featured different dancers than the ones in this clip. Cinderella is danced by Sylvie Guillem here.

Finally, here are the two dancers who performed in Saturday's broadcast of Cinderella. This clip shows them dancing in Swan Lake - Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez.


Anonymous said...

Hi Julia,

I am Pam Langille's sister, Barb, I wonder if you can contact me please at 827-4540 - evenings are best.

Thanks, Barb

Amy Ruttan said...

Fun Poetry train! :)

Annette Gallant said...

I love the ballet but it's been years since I've gone.

Thanks for sharing this, Julia!

Akelamalu said...

Thanks for sharing this Julia. :)

Shelley Munro said...

They're so graceful. I admire that because I'm a real klutz!

Karina said...

Julia, as you know, I too think dance is the epitomy of art, and in fact is poetry in motion, so I think this choice to show us some dance as poetry is perfect!

Loved this, thank you for sharing it with us.

Jill said...

Just came to say hi...I will come watch the clip later...

Unknown said...

I've never been much into ballet - except for the Nutcracker at Christmas. But you make it sound fun. We have a ballet company in the largest town closest to me; maybe I'll have to give it a try.

Ire said...

I have never been for a ballet performance. Thanks for sharing this and yes...I love dancing!

Anonymous said...

i look forward to coming back and watching these with my son--he's fascinated by ballet and we're going to do a mommy and me class then he's going to be in a nutcracker class where they will make masks and costumes and then do a modified version which should be very fun--he has a cartoon version of the movie which he loves, and he sings the music all the time!