I want to thank everyone who came out to the La Sylphide seminar this past Monday evening. It was, for me at least, a very interesting night. We did not get to cover everything I had intended, but I guess that’s just the way live debate goes. Many of you have emailed me questions and comments and I’d like to address some of those here. And for all my readers who were unable to attend, I’d like to share some of the things I learned—both in the process of rehearsing and performing the ballet, as well as in my research for the seminar—about this fascinating subject. It is a massive topic, so I will tackle it in two posts. This first post will cover the historical context of the ballet.
La Sylphide, I recently discovered, is the ballet that set in motion the stereotypical notion of the ballerina: pointe shoes, tutu, fairy dust. It kicked off the fruitful Romantic Period in ballet and enabled such repertory stalwarts as Giselle and Swan Lake. With the invention of the pointe shoe, which was first used to great effect by Marie Taglioni at the premiere of La Sylphide in 1832, ballet blossomed into a form of allegorical poetry. Despite the strict, hierarchical codification inherent in ballet from its basis in the royal courts, the pointe shoe managed to transform female dancers into
For those of you in the NYC area who may be interested, I am moderating a discussion of August Bournonville’s La Sylphide at the David H. Koch Theater tonight at 6pm. Panelists include NYCB Artistic Director Peter Martins, Danish coach Petrusjka Broholm, dancers Sterling Hyltin, Georgina Pazcoguin, and Joaquin De Luz, designer Susan Tammany, and stage manager Marquerite Mehler. Very Excited!