Ballet Stories - My favourite story ballet: Onegin

by tybalt
(Francfort Germany)

Ballet Stories - My favourite story ballet: Onegin

Hi Odette, you say, the majority of ballets are set to stories....I would say, the majority of famous and most popular ballets is set to stories, but there are many choreographers especially in modern ballet who are no story tellers. Many modern ballets are l'art pour l'art just beauty of movement and body.
I myself was brought to ballet by "Onegin" by John Cranco. It's the story of Alexander Puschkin with the great characters, the dandy Onegin, the poet Lenski, his friend, the serious girl Tatjana and her more light-minded friend Olga.
Onegin rejects Tatjana's love and tries to make Olga betray Lenski, the strife on a party in Mme Larina's house leads to a duel between the former friends, Lenski dies.
Years later when Tatjana is married with a high officer, Onegin who is aware the voidness of his life tries to win back Tatjana, but although she still loves him it is now she who rejects his approaches and sends him away in despair.
This is my first and still my favourite ballet. The great wonder is Tatjana's dream, expressed by the Grand PDD in the first act, which shows her illusion seeming truth. It's a great choreography in different stages of time with several recallings of past time and expression of thoughts in movement. The dramaturgy in the 3 acts is perfect. Tatjana's humilation by Onegin in the 2nd act is followed by Onegin's self humilation in the 3rd. It's the tragedy of a useless and waste life.


Reply by Odette

Ballet Stories - My favourite story ballet: Onegin

Hello Tybalt,

Thank you for contacting me on ballet stories, it is a great pleasure to hear from you. I find it especially interested to hear your views and analysis on ballet. I love to hear about how dancers are able to interpret expression into movement.

You bring up a very fair point about ballet stories. I can see now that it is far too general to say the majority of ballets are set to stories. You are absolutely correct in saying the majority of famous and most popular ballets are set to stories. Tybalt, you outdo me with your perfect wording! I have altered my page as I feel what you say is greatly significant, thank you.

I agree with you that many modern ballets are l'art pour l'art just beauty of movement and body. There have been many artistic movements over history, one of which was the Aesthetic Movement. This was a literary and artistic movement that expanded in England during the 1880s. It was committed to "art for art's sake" and didn't believe that art should have a social or moral purpose. I am still researching to discover more about these artistic movements. I find it very interesting to see how art has evolved.

Dancers have to be so versatile and able to interpret movement, expression, characters. I am particularly interested in collaboration of the arts and all the elements to make an intense, powerful performance. I always believe dancers should be aware of all the many ways you can express and perform as a person, as this all enhances your clarity and depth as a dancer. Take a look at my new page on Collaboration of the Arts. I feel you will agree on the expression in art and diverse creative talents. I am always so intrigued by your submissions so I would be interested to have your opinion.

"Onegin" by John Cranco sounds like an intriguing ballet. I must watch it. Your analysis reminds me greatly of the young artist Olivia Holland, who I have recently interviewed and been fascinated by her beliefs in ballet. Olivia has some parallel views in appreciating the expression and meaning in ballet like you do. It makes an interesting read, so take a look at her interview, I think you will enjoy reading it.

Best Wishes,


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