Our first premiere of this season is the Repertoire La Sylphide by Peter SchaufussLa Sylphide is a romantic ballet in two acts and it is known as one of the
La Sylphide is a romantic ballet in two acts and it is known as one of the world’s oldest’s surviving ballets. The first version ever made premiered on March 12, 1832, at the Paris Opera. It was choreographed by Filippo Taglioni with music by Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer. Taglioni choreographed this ballet to showcase his daughter Marie, and it was the first time in history where dancing on point had an aesthetic to it, rather than just being an acrobatic stunt. In fact, Marie developed such excellent pointe work that in order to showcase it she shortened her skirts for the performances, causing quite a scandal at the time. Taglioni’s original choreography has since be lost.
Luckily, on November 28, 1836, August Bournonville premiered his own version of the Ballet inspired in the original Libretto but with music by Herman Severin Løvenskiold. It is said that Bournoville tried to bring a revival of Taglioni’s original choreography to the Royal Danish Ballet but was unwilling to pay the very high price Paris Opera wanted to charge for the original music scores. This version has been danced in its original form by the Royal Danish Ballet ever since its creation and it is one of his most famous works.
Our version of La Sylphide has been choreographed by the danish dancer Peter Schaufuss. Schaufuss was trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and after a short time with The Royal Danish Ballet, he was invited to join London Festival Ballet, now known as English National Ballet, where he staged his first version of La Sylphide in 1979. Schaufuss has worked as a dancer, director, and choreographer worldwilde, and for the next couple of weeks, we have the honor to be working with him and his son Luke Schaufuss on La Sylphide.
The ballet tells the story of a young Scotsman, James, who in the morning of his wedding day, falls in love with a vision of a magical sylph (a mythological air spirit). An old witch appears before him, predicting that he will betray his fiancee. Although enchanted by the sylph, James disagrees, sending the witch away. All seems fine as the wedding begins. But as James begins to put the ring on his fiancee’s finger, the beautiful sylph suddenly appears and snatches it away from him. James abandons his own wedding, running after her. He chases the sylph into the woods, where he again sees the old witch. She offers James a magical scarf. She tells him that the scarf will bind the sylph’s wings, enabling him to catch her for himself. James is so enamoured by the sylph that he wishes to catch her and keep her forever. James decides to take the magical scarf. He wraps it around the sylph’s shoulders, but when he does, the Sylph’s wings fall off and she dies. James is left all alone, heartbroken. He then watches his fiancee marry his best friend.
To have a better look of the ballet here is a video of Carla Fracci and Peter Schaufuss from 1987. Fun fact, Carla Fracci was a youthful 51 year old at the time of filming 🙂 Have Fun!