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The La Sylphide’s story Essay

The ballet performed today and the ballet performed before are actually two different performances. The word or term ballet was originally used to refer to the dances performed by men, in the Italian court during the Renaissance period because it was thought to be disgraceful to women. The part of the ballet dance that should be performed by women is played by men instead while wearing women’s clothes. In addition to this, the earliest definition of ballet states that it is a group of people who are dancing together in a geometric pattern that often come with an array of harmony coming from different instruments playing together.

However, this early definition of ballet forgets to include the stories which ballet dances convey to its audience. Ballets are thought to be French, though the first ballet was performed in Italy. It was the French who pioneered in the innovation of the modern ballet that we know today. Nowadays, ballet is a technique and a form of dancing, gracefully performed as an art by both men and women while rendering a story to its audience. The techniques and form are often taught in different ballet schools, as such, there is a variation of form and techniques from one ballet dancer to the other, or from one type of ballet dance to the other.

The La Sylphide and Swan Lake are two famous ballets of different times, that seem different at first, but in the end, they become correlated with one another. The La Sylphide’s story tells about the wedding of James Ruben and Effie, then later on, tells the love story between James Ruben and a sylph or forest fairy. The Swan Lake is also a love story that takes place in Germany on a fairy-tale time, about Prince Siegfried and the swan princess or fairy, Odette. Both plays have their own villains that stir up the plot or the love story that occurs between the characters. In La Sylphide, the old witch Madge plotted to marry Gum with Effie.

She used the love of the sylph to lure James out of the wedding and have Gum propose and be accepted by Effie. On the other hand, an evil sorcerer named von Rothbart was the villain in the Swan Lake. The villain is a genius and he was able to capture Odette and turn her into swan by day and woman by night. The old witch Madge was able to bring together or wed James and Effie with the sylph and Gum, respectively. La Sylphide ended in a tragedy where James and the sylph died and evil triumphed. In Swan Lake, von Rothbart was able to turn Odile, his own daughter, to look like Odette.

Siegfried was fooled and announced the marriage with Odile and soon learned the true Odette. The announcement was a betrayal of his love to Odette and this condemned her to be a swan forever. Since the curse couldn’t be reversed nor removed anymore, Siegfried and Odette decided to die together, thus they leaped and drowned themselves in the lake. Von Rothbart also died because of the death of the lovers. In the end, both stories of the two ballets ended in a tragedy. Swan Lake is considered to be a romantic classical ballet while La Sylphide is considered as a ballet embodying the ideal.

La Sylphide being regarded as one of the world’s oldest romantic ballets has four main versions. In addition to this, it is the first ballet wherein the ballerina dances or makes steps while the tips of her toes are raised. On the other hand, the Swan Lake is handed to the audience in four acts, and had already been presented in a lot of versions. The Swan Lake includes series of choreographies and musical scores. Both of the story’s play includes antagonist and protagonist in themes of love, despair, hope and tragedy or death; romantic combinations for true love.

Act II in La Sylphide and Act III in Swan Lake, though presented two different developments of plots and twists, certain similarities can still be observed. In Act II, the event which occurred was a wedding while in Act III, the occasion was just an announcement or proclamation of marriage. The method which the antagonists used to lure the protagonists as pawns also differs from one to the other. However, both Acts II and III, is a foreshadowing of the end. Both of the acts also tell about the betrayal of love or the cancellation of the supposed marriage, thus leading to tragedy.

The pantomimes in the ending parts of the both stories gracefully displayed the events of the tragedy, the continuation of the climax in the story. There are pantomime scenes or acrobatic gymnastic displays in the end of both stories. In the case of La Sylphide, the pantomimes elegantly showed an emphasis on the death of James Ruben. The death of the sylph was also performed well by the pantomime and it is successful in infecting the audience regarding the story. On the other hand, the pantomime in Swan Lake showed more of the lake, splashes of water and the death by drowning of the main characters.

It is similar to La Sylphide in the sense that the choreography of the pantomimes was effective and elegantly performed. Even if the Sylphide and Odette were both fairies, their costumes still differ. The Sylphide wears a circlet of flowers on her head and a corsage of flowers, illustrating the connection of nature to forest fairies. The dress or costume of the Sylphide is generally longer and reaches below the knees. On the other hand, Odette’s costume includes a dress with feather quills as if mimicking the feathers of a swan.

She also wears a tiara with feathers giving emphasis that she is a swan princess. Odette’s dress, just like the Sylphide’s dress is long and reaches up to the knees. The La Sylphide and Swan Lake are no doubt famous ballet performances with very interesting stories, characters and themes. It seems as if they are two different performances, but examining the end of the story, characters, elements, acts, pantomimes and costumes, one would see that they are indeed similar.

Works Cited

Greskovic, Robert. Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving the Ballet. New Jersey: Limelight Editions, 2005.

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