Wednesday 17 August 2016

La Bayadere Intensive Day 2: Idols and Disembodied Shades

There is a mirror at the front of the studio where we train. I glanced at it yesterday as I entered our notional stage from the top of its imaginary ramp. Try as I could to incline towards the audience with my arms in fifth and my right leg extended there was just no way that I could pass as a disembodied shade.  I did my best to be ethereal and dainty but I am big boned and my frame is now upholstered with more than a generous accumulation of middle age spread despite my attempts to mitigate it through exercise and diet.

On the other hand I might just pass as an angular statue though I lack the strength and virtuosity of Ivan Vasilev in the YouTube clip. Because everyone else in the class is young and nimble Jane had prepared the workshop around the shades. That was sensible because my classmates can dance those roles so much more convincingly than I can. At the start of the programme I asked Jane whether we could do the golden idol which had been danced so impressively by Andrei Federkov in St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's production at the Coliseum last year (see Blown Away - St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's La Bayadere 24 Aug 2015). There is something very dramatic and chilling about a statue that comes to life. It is the statute that leads Dom Juan to hell at the end of Moliere's play.  She replied that she would see what she could do but I knew it would be a big ask because she would have to adapt the choreography considerably for us.

To my great delight and surprise she did just that and we learned it yesterday as well as another piece for the corps. Learning the idol was great fun for we had to move in a quite non-balletic way which is what I do anyway.  We did some assemblés and chaînés  though not the tours en l'air or multiple turns shown in the video clip in substitution of some of the tours en l'air that only a powerful dancer trained in the Russian style can do well.

Today is our last day and I can barely crawl to the bathroom let alone dance this morning but I will try. This has been a great experience and I am grateful to Jane Tucker for teaching us and KNT for giving us the opportunity to learn the choreography of this beautiful but relatively little known work.

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