Sunday, 24 July 2016

La Bayadere - where it all took place

Author Haseeb1608
Creative Commons Licence
Source Wikipedia

Throughout the 19th century Russia was fascinated by India. Such fascination was perceived by Britain as a diplomatic and military threat which prompted several Afghan wars.  However, that fascination found dramatic expression in Sergei Khudekov's libretto, La Bayadère or "temple dancer".

In an article on the history of La Bayadère, Gerard Charles explains that in the early 19th century a librettist (nowadays we might call such a person a dramaturge) penned the story and then left it to the composer and choreographer to the rest:
"It is important to understand how ballets in this period were traditionally put together. The librettist (or author) would select a story or legend that suited his fancy and transpose it into a ballet in five or six acts, regardless of weather it had sufficient dramatic content to support this length. The librettist would also have little acquaintance with either the music, choreography or design."
There is no evidence that Khudekov or any of the creators of La Baydere ever visited India but then it is unlikely that Shakespeare ever visited Italy or even Scotland but that did not stop him from setting plays set in both of those countries. Khudekov seems to have done some work for the Rajah whom Solor served ruled over Golconda which is a real place. In fact, it is an important archaeological site just outside Hyderbad, in South West India.

Now I have no idea what Jane Tucker will teach us at the Bayadere intensive next month but central to the story is the wedding between Solor and Gamizatti at which Nikiya is forced to dance.

It is there, you will remember, that she is presented with some flowers in which  someone (most likely Gamzatti or her sidekick) had accidentally or on purpose concealed a venomous snake.  Now we all know that Indian weddings go on for days even in Hendon, Cheadle and Bradford.  So elaborate, in fact, that Anaish Parmar made a ballet on the theme called Shaadi Magic a, review of which you can see here.   Imagine the extravagant affair that the rajah would  have staged for the wedding if his daughter to his conquering commander.  You get the picture.

According to Wikipedia Hydrabad is famous for its palaces but also for its food:
"Hyderabadi cuisine comprises a broad repertoire of rice, wheat and meat dishes and the skilled use of various spices. Hyderabadi biryani and Hyderabadi haleem, with their blend of Mughlai and Ara cuisines,have become iconic dishes of India. Hyderabadi cuisine is highly influenced by Mughlai and to some extent by French, Arabic, Turkish, Iranian and native Telugu and Marathwada cuisines. Other popular native dishes include nihari, chakna, baghara baingan and the desserts qubani ka meetha, double ka meetha and kaddu ki kheer (a sweet porridge made with sweet gourd)."
There us in fact a whole Wikipedia article on  Hyderbadi Cuisine. Yum!

Jane and Karen can't promise us any of that but we are bound to build up an appetite from Jane's warm up, her 90 minute class, her wall to wall rehearsals until 16:00 and cool down after all that.  And Rusholme with all its culinary delights is only a mile down the road from the Danceouse where the intensive takes place.

 So if you want to take part call Karen on 07783 103 037 or get in touch through her contact formFacebook page or twitter.

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