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Symbolism in Nineteenth-Century Ballet

"Giselle</I>, "Coppélia</I>, "The Sleeping Beauty</I> and "Swan Lake</I>

Margaret Fleming-Markarian

This book investigates allegorical meaning in the ballets Giselle, Coppélia, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, principally by examining their original librettos and costume designs, as well as considering their surviving choreographic legacy. Each ballet is examined scene by scene in order to identify occult symbols secreted within its structure. The names of characters, their costume details (form, colour, pattern and attribute) and the parts they play and dance (mime, choreographic step and staging) are individually searched for symbolic correspondences.
The author argues that the meaning of these symbols reveals a serious subtext embedded within each ballet and shows that these subtexts are all found to fable the spiritual journey of the soul towards a heavenly paradise. The distinctive set of symbols and the method of interpretation differ in each case: Giselle takes on a Swedenborgian slant, Coppélia hinges on Masonry, while The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake are steeped in mysticism.

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Bibliography Manuscripts and Other Primary Material Bibliothèque de l’Opéra de Paris Costume designs for Giselle, by Paul Lormier, folder D. 216 (13) Costume designs for Coppélia, by Paul Lormier and Alfred Albert, folder D. 216 (23) Library of the Benesh Institute, London La Belle au Bois Dormant, Act III, Aurora’s Variation, as remembered by Madame Cleo Nordi, to whom it was taught by Preobrajenskaya, Berlin, 1923 Unpublished, choreographic score of Coppélia, notated by Joan Benesh, Elphine Allen and Linda Pilkington, 1955–70 Unpublished, choreographic score of Coppélia, notated by Cherie Trevaskis, as repro- duced by Peggy van Praagh for Australian Ballet in 1978–9 Unpublished, choreographic score of Giselle, notated by Joan Benesh et al., 1955–70. Unpublished, choreographic score of The Sleeping Beauty, notated by Joan Benesh, Suna Eden and Linda Pilkington, 1955–70 Unpublished, choreographic score of The Sleeping Beauty, notated by Mary Garman, as reproduced by John Hart for the CAPAB ballet company, Cape Town, South Africa in 1971 Unpublished, choreographic score of Swan Lake, notated by Joan Benesh, Mary Garman and Linda Pilkington, 1955–70 258 Bibliography Library of Freemasonry, United Grand Lodge of England, London John Yarker, ‘Symbolism of Colours’ (1888), handwritten notebook State Theatre Library of St Petersburg Evgenii Ponomarev’s Drawings of Female Costumes for Swan Lake, inventory no. L332 Evgenii Ponomarev’s Drawings of Male Costumes for Swan Lake, inventory no. P563 Ivan Vsevolojsky’s Sketches of Female Costumes for The Sleeping Beauty, inventory no. 1465/1–60 Ivan Vsevolojsky’s Sketches...

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