Thursday, November 02, 2006

Life as a Sugar Plum Fairy

Today started with a meeting with some of the other dance mucky mucks of San Diego. In just under two months, SDB will be moving into its new headquarters at Dance Place San Diego. We will be in residence at a building at the NTC Promenade in Point Loma, along with Malashock Dance and Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater. Today, we all met to discuss a collaborative flyer that will be sent out to announce our endeavor. To that end I have been putting my lesser known talent as a graphic designer to use. Luckily, no one hated what I had come up with and we can move forward.

If you are on our mailing list, look for it to come in the mail soon.

If you aren't... why aren't you?

Okay back to yesterday's post...

Let's start with the Sugar Plum Fairy, shall we?

With this part, as with most classical parts, there is a traditional series of steps that are associated with the charcter. Her variation was choreographed over one hundred years ago in St. Petersburg by Lev Ivanov. When presenting The Nutcracker, you have a choice...

"Do I go with the "traditional" version or do I create something new?"

Classical traditional choreography was not copyrighted. It is still difficult to copyright choreography. So pretty much anyone who wishes to do so, can perform Ivanov's version of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. While it is not as well known in ballet circles as say the Swan Queen's solo from Swan Lake or the Black Swan's famous series of 32 fouettes (turns) from that same ballet, it is still a rather lovely dance nonetheless.

Unlike some other dances which feature rising up and down on pointe, the traditional Sugar Plum variation stays up on point. Keeping things light. It also features a brilliant diagonal of a rarely seen step in ballet... the gargouillade. This flashy aerial step features the dancer jumping into the air and circling one leg in one direction while the other circles in the opposite direction. If it sounds is. It is also hard to make look good. But some dancer can look glorious when they do it.

So if the choreography is available. And it brings a piece of choreographic history to life. And it looks good on a particular dancer... why not just do the traditional version?

Well, while one choreographer may have the same response to the music as another, they may differ slightly in small area. Or differ vastly in large areas. They may wish to stress different aspects of the music or character than have been traditionally stressed. Likewise, in exploring the music, choreography and character with the dancer in rehearsal, they may discover something wonderful that is unique to this dancer. Dance is an art that is of the moment. Although you can video it, that video is then film, not dance. While it is important to learn traditional variations in a class situation, in a performance situation one cannot hold art to simply replicate what was done 100 years ago.

In the case of the Sugar Plum Fairy, at SDB, her variation features the choreography of my co-director Robin Sherertz-Morgan.

Tomorrow, I will talk about our current Sugar Plum Fairy, Chelsy Meiss, what she brings to the role and what we have discussed in the rehearsal of the role.

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