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Yes, you knew it was coming sooner or later. Partly to satisfy TC's obsession with superlatives, and partly to satisfy my own curiosity...here's the big question we've all been waiting for:

What is your favorite ballet? And if you have one, why is it your favorite?

Taking in both music and dance, I'd have to say my favorite is Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. That, or Stravinsky's Petrushka. What's yours?
 

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The only ballet I have actually seen (as opposed to "listened to") is Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. I would have to say that it was surprisingly good. The music was, of course, beautiful. The choreography was terrific. And, I'll admit, I liked all the pretty ballerinas. All in all, Tchaikovsky can make for a magical evening.
 

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Petrushka, hands down, as the score most perfectly married to the libretto, with the original stage setting and choreography.
All elements enhance the other elements, all the way through.

This makes it a near miracle in the world of musical theater, because, just as with opera, there are so many elements to get right that the likelihood they will all come together at the same level is that much less than an orchestra performing a piece of music.

Tchaikovsky, whose works Stravinsky admired and loved, I think came relatively close with his Sleeping Beauty, as did Prokofiev with his Romeo and Juliet -- neither though produced scores which are so listenable as independent pieces of music, which Petrushka is; the Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev need the support of the stage activity, the Stravinsky does not.
 

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Swan Lake is my personal favorite. It is a masterpiece and one of my favorite works of classical music. I certainly love stage-adaptations, but I've listened to the music on its own often.

My other favorite ballets are Sylvia and Tchaikovsky's other two ballets :)
 
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Taggart & I have only seen a few ballets, as we have to take whatever comes to our heavily-subsidised local theatre. We both like Swan Lake best, for the music and the story and the imagery and the tragic climax.

But after reading about Petrushka up above, I'm wondering whether it would be worth travelling to .... *London*?? :eek:
 

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Ok, now his is a tough question. Because ballet music covers, always under the same name of ballet music, more than 350 years, including Lully, Rameau, and other French composers at the cour du roi, the romantic (not only Delibes, Lakmé, Tchaikovsky, but also Beethoven-a good Prometheus music if you ask me!-, the fruitious early 20th, and the modern (Glass, notably).
I luckily had the opportunity to attend a performance of Les Siècles, a wonderful french orchestra, during the summit of the Radio Festival in Montpellier. They played the usual Rameau Indes Galantes Suite, Lully as well, Delibes, Lakmé, and the Rite of Spring. I was quite thrilled by Rameau, and I had the confirmation that Romantic ballet, at least the popular one, is just, musically speaking, sweeties and ruins of delicatessen from a wonderful era. Of course, the Rite is more mind-crushing than any other musical piece - still to this say!-, but in terms of musical beauty, choregraphic poetry, public acceptance, and yet modernity and shivering light, the Firebird seems pretty hard to beat, and Prokofiev's Suite Scythe comes close with those criteras. I know, musically speaking, it's almost Haydn, put together even with Pétrouchka. But the stylistic and formal "gaps" of the Russian Tradition, including Rimsky's heavy basses and codas, are here transcendented by orchestral variety, an attention not to musical form but to the story! Not a "dumbening" ABA form...

But if there is something even greater than this, It's Debussy's Jeux.
Musically, a storm, it does not have the structural and popular appeal of Images, the assumed colorism of Nocturnes, but shares images with Pélléas, it does not have the comfort of La Mer, works and grows by exaltant convulsions. The height of Debussy's genius, modernism, even in the "drama"; no musical rule is here "applicable" (formally quite obviously, but in the little melodic shapes, even the orchestration, Debussy goes WILD and almost INSANE). Plus, the argument is... Well you know, it's one of those little stories, almost anecdotes, that makes the listening of the music absolutely delicious, like Cosi Fan Tutte. "The scene is a garden at dusk; a tennis ball has been lost; a boy and two girls are searching for it. The artificial light of the large electric lamps shedding fantastic rays about them suggests the idea of childish games: they play hide and seek, they try to catch one another, they quarrel, they sulk without cause. The night is warm, the sky is bathed in pale light; they embrace. But the spell is broken by another tennis ball thrown in mischievously by an unknown hand. Surprised and alarmed, the boy and girls disappear into the nocturnal depths of the garden."
The argument is "nothing", everything is about the mood, the atmosphere, a Turner of the tennis court, just three people, and mysteries surrounding, themselves lost ina city. There is no sacrifice, nor a devil to destroy, just an anecdote that could happen to everyone. And at the same time, a vast quantity of images is offered to us. Van Goghian modern images, some kind of non-mystical (but mist-ical!), subtle erotism that everyone can experience, here the flirting of Pélléas an Mélisande seems less exclusive but as orgasmic. Plus, some ideas are really what Debussy was into, generally speaking! A new type of light, a new type of darkness, of night, and yet images of love are here: the moon bathed, embraced by the coulds, lonely lovers surrounded by civilization, still, blessed by the moon (or is it an electric light?^^). And, for Debussy, this is the ultimate Ode to a new time, when, as the nights are lit up by man, and consequently days are not days anymore, love and attraction is to be found and expressed through little gestures, not in "special" moments, not in the middle of a lonely dark night where the lovers, unable to seeing each other, swear solemnly their undying love for half an hour (don't get me wrong, I love Tristan and Isolde), and flirt is now a pleasure to create, seems to be a special sign of attention between those people.
These three people, in the argument of the ballet, are friends. They're young and beautiful.

Let the Games begin.
 

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Woot! So glad this is a subforum!

I'm not sure I have a favorite ballet. I have a favorite dozen. :D

But it's on my bucket list to see a Glazunov ballet, here in the US. I just might see Swan Lake this winter, but if I ever see Raymonda or the Seasons as a ballet, that would be awesome. Also, Firebird would be great to see.
 

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I love ballet. There are so many I am very fond of, but, a favorite?

de Falla's El amor brujo, Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, and Stravinsky's Petrushka first come to mind.
 

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My favourite is La Bayadere...now currently being danced at Covent Garden by The Bolshoi, I believe.....
Wish I could go.....though having a couple of excellent performances available on dvd suffices to give me the necessary 'fix' of it, two or three times a year. But I do wish that I could zip down to London, sit in a nice Box...with a bag of boiled sweets?!.....

I really enjoy the ballet score too, you see. Ludwig Minkus isn't to everybody's taste but it was my budgie's favourite & we whistled-along to the tunes, together....2 old birds together, one might say?
 

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I have to say the Nutcracker.
I think the music, the melodic invention, makes it one of the greatest works ever written.
 

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I agree. I read somewhere that Tchaikovsky despised it though...is that true? And if so does anyone know why? My fave is probably Swan Lake but I really enjoy all 3 of his ballets, well the music that is...I've never seen the actual ballets.
Tchaikovsky was very harsh on his own compositions, and I believe the Nutcracker was one in particular that he didn't care much for. I will have to completely disagree with Pyotr Ilyich, however, as I completely agree with what you all are saying about it. It is certainly in my top-10 greatest works of classical music. "Swan Lake" was his personal favorite, though.
 

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Definitely Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe for me. Colourful, passionate, magical, incredible.
Pretty much. If forced to choose one, which, thankfully I am not, it would be Ravel - perhaps the sexiest piece of music ever written.
 

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For me, absolutely Rite of Spring. I never grow tired of the extraordinary music and really enjoy a sleek, modern interpretation.

Of course, Rite isn't technically "ballet" as much as modern dance, but this section is labeled "Ballet" which is meant to incorporate modern classical dance, not precisely "ballet" by accurate definition. Rite may in fact bridge the gap between the two genres.

I actually find "classical" ballet a bit tiresome occasionally. Mainly because of the misuse of male dancers, I suppose. Let's consider the point... for ages, males were trained to "dance like girls" because there was simply no concept that a male should behave differently onstage. Men were therefore taught to execute arm and leg movements that are quite specific to female anatomy.

Please understand, I'm NOT talking about gender roles or sexuality or homosexual vs heterosexual dancers, nor of societal images. I'm just talking about the physical anatomic structure of male vs female bodies. Males have wider shoulders, proportionately larger arms, thicker thighs, etc. Their height/weight ratios are also different. But for years, male dancers were essentially forced into female molds, where their movements duplicated female. And this sadly made them appear effeminate. Now I really don't give a damn whether a male dancer is gay or not. This isn't the issue. It's how the dancer appears in form and movement and how the choreography needs to be different for males vs females.

For me, this takes half the joy away from the dance. It wasn't till the 20th century that roles were coreographed specifically for male physiques (Agnes Demille, etc) and male dancers began to take their own rightful place as equals, but different, onstage.

Which is why I strongly prefer modern classical dance over traditional ballet. And so do the dancers, by a large margin. It's not that they don't like the gorgeous music of the 19th century, but they simply don't feel that they can express themselves as well within the constraints of traditional choreography.

For someone who'd not a dancer (ha ha, I can't even pretend to dance!) I've been around dancers a lot, as a result of my involvement in classical music and also finding myself marrying a dancer ages ago. She was pretty good, too -- studied with a full scholarship to National Ballet of Canada under Eric Bruhn, then was in the corps of the San Francisco ballet for 4 years, not too shabby.

While dating and then marrying her, I met plenty of dancers and learned a lot about what they wanted and what disappointed them. #1? Nutcracker. #2? Male dancers being required to dance like girls (arm movements and such). Even gay men I knew felt it was a misuse of their physique and structure.
 
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