Thu, Aug 16, 2018 - Page 13 News List

A taste of the classics

Kaohsiung City Ballet founder Chang Hsiu-ru has assembled a sampler of 19th century dances that offer a primer of ballet history, with help from rehearsal assistant Constantin Georgescu

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

The Kaohsiung City Ballet opens a three-city tour with examples of 19th century ballet classics, including Pas de Quatre, on Saturday at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center.

Photo courtesy of Liu Ren-haur

While balletomanes are familiar with the names Giselle, La Sylphide, Pas de Quatre, August Bournonville, Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa, others outside the dance world might not be. Kaohsiung City Ballet (KCB, 高雄城市芭蕾舞團) founder and artistic director Chang Hsiu-ru (張秀如) wants to rectify that situation.

With this latest production she focuses on several of the romantic works from the 19th century that not only remain in the repertoire of ballet companies the world over, but are considered to have been crucial to the development of ballet.

For help with this project, she turned once again to Romanian dancer/choreographer/multimedia artist Constantin Georgescu, who began working with the company for its 2014 production of Coppelia, another 19th century romantic classic.

The show, 19th Century Romanic Ballets (世紀浪漫芭蕾—仙女—吉賽兒—四人舞), premieres on Saturday at the Kaohsiung Cultural Center, followed by two more shows, one in Pingtung County the following Saturday and then at the Taichung National Theater on Sept. 11.

Linking the works — La Sylphide, Giselle and Pas de Quatre — together is not just their age, but that the versions dance lovers know today are actually recreations by other famous choreographers, because either the original versions were lost or later recreations became more famous.

For example, Milan-born Filippo Taglioni first created La Sylphide — a story about young love and fairies, set in Scotland — to showcase the talents of his daughter, Marie Taglioni, and the production, which premiered at the Paris Opera on March 12, 1832, was the first to make pointe work a key focus of the choreography. The score was by Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer.

Performance Notes

WHAT: Excerpts from 19th Century Romanic Ballets

WHEN: Saturday at 7:30pm

WHERE: Kaohsiung Cultural Center’s Chihteh Hall (高雄市文化中心至德堂), 67 Wufu 1st Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市五福一路67號)

ADMISSION: NT$600 to NT$1,200; available at the door, online at www.artsticket.com.tw or at convenience store ticketing kiosks.

ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES: Saturday next week at 7:30pm at the Pingtung County Art Center (屏東縣藝術館), 427, Heping Rd, Pingtung City (屏東市和平路427號) and Sept. 11 at 7:30pm at the National Taichung Theater (台中國家歌劇院) 101, Huilai Rd Sec 2, Taichung City (台中市惠來路二段101號). Tickets are NT$350 and NT$500 for the Pingtung show and from NT$400 to NT$1,200 for the Taichung show, available as above


However, the version of La Sylphide that most people know today is by Danish ballet master Bournonville, who wanted to restage Taglioni’s work, but the Paris Opera wanted to much money for the rights to Schneitzhoeffer’s score, so Bournonville created his own version for the Royal Danish Ballet to a score by Herman Severin Lovenskiold.

His 1836 version remains in the Royal Danish’s repertoire and is considered the one of the oldest surviving ballets.

Pas de Quatre, which was choreographed by Perrot, premiered in London on July 12, 1845, is not a full-length ballet, but a divertissement. Its claim to fame lies in that Perrot centered the choreography on four of the most famous ballerinas of the time: Maria Taglioni, Fanny Cerrito, Carlotta Grisi and Lucille Grahn, putting them onstage together for the first time. The show was a huge success and a lithograph of the four ballerinas posing in their costumes became iconic.

However, Perrot’s original choreography was lost over the years, so what dancers and ballet goers know now is a 1941 version created by British choreographer Anton Dolin for four well-known ballerinas in London.

Giselle was created by Coralli and Perrot, to a score by Adolphe Adam, with Grisi dancing the lead role at the Paris premiere on June 28, 1841. It was a huge success and became so popular that it was quickly staged around Europe, in Russia and in the US.

However, the version most performed today is based on a revised version choreographed by Petipa for the Imperial Ballet in St Petersburg in 1899.

As a dancer with the company, Petipa had helped Perrot, by then the ballet master at the Imperial Ballet, stage a revival of the work in 1850. Almost five decades later he made the work his own.

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