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The Romantic Ballet Era


Dear Friends,

Here are some of the thoughts that have prompted me to devise this new workshop on the theme of Coaching for Coaches -  specifically focused on discussion and work on authentic Romantic Style.It is vital to pass on to the younger generation, detailed knowledge of the intricacies of a style which is different from the academism of the Petipa classics such as The Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere Shades scene (while Swan Lake is of course different again).   The extraordinary ability to render the Romantic style in all its beauty was perhaps (after it’s first interpreters)at its peak with the great Spessivtzeva, Pavlova, Karsavina, followed by the no less ideal, Alonso, Markova, Fracci, Chauvire, Vyroubova and Evdokimova. Anton Dolin was responsible for passing on this great tradition,  having been taught Giselle by Spessivtzeva, dancing the role of Albrecht to her Giselle, and then staging it for many companies. Mary Skeaping was another guardian of Giselle’s great tradition, and staged the ballet for the National Ballet of Cuba’s production as well as English National Ballet’s, where the stylistic nuances are perhaps  better preserved then anywhere else. Pierre Lacotte is also a great guru of the true Romantic style.  His rendition of the original La Sylphide (not the later Bournonville one), and other works from this era, are always lovingly cared for.  

There are wonderful stagers from the Royal Danish Ballet going round the world, but sadly, all too often, the rehearsal time they are allocated is insufficient, because the dancers they work with often have had little or no preparation during their student years. For these works to be totally relevant, they need to be danced with respect for the original style, which has to be assimilated and digested so as to appear completely natural and spontaneous, not something put on like an overcoat.   In this way the dancers can bring their individual interpretations as well as recreate the magic of the ethereal movement quality and spirituality which these works were made to show.

So - it seems important to pass on some of the great coaching I had the great good fortune to receive from the likes of Tamara Karsavina, Anton Dolin, Mary Skeaping and Rosella Hightower amongst others, and some of the ‘discoveries’ I made along the way, while dancing, watching, coaching and staging these great works, as well as  the famous Pas de Quatre rechoreographed by Anton Dolin.  Each individual dancer and company I have worked with, has assisted me in discovering more ideas and images to explore, and more ways of transmitting these to others.  

No two coaches will coach the same way, just as no two dancers should dance the same way.  But certain elements remain, and even for the romantic style there are certain enabling rules.  Once the rules are known, it is occasionally permissible for dancers to break them! The wonderful Olga Iakovlevskaya is joining me for this event.  Her knowledge of the Vaganova School is unparalleled and I am delighted to announce that she will be teaching the class and then some repertoire from the romantic era.

We will have the invaluable benefit of live piano accompaniment throughout the day, with the lovely pianist from the Royal Ballet School, Elvira Gavrilova!

Please join us, and let us know if you are doing so  - as soon as possible! 

With affection, 

Maina Gielgud