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Showing posts from June, 2011

From Russia, with microfiche, a Giselle arrives in Seattle

Author's confession: I spend a lot of time in the PNB conference room talking to dancers and choreographers. But Smith's story was the only one that I thought would make a good spy novel. The roots of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Giselle might go back to the 1840s Paris productions, or the 1860 notes of stager Henri Justamont, or the 1890s Stepanov notations recorded in St. Petersburg to preserve the Marius Petipa choreography. But for University of Oregon professor Marian Smith, who has served as a historical advisor to PNB for this production, it started with an amazing fax in 1994. “I had been to a Verdi conference in Italy and met an archivist from Leningrad,” recalled Smith. The two chatted and exchanged contact information. Smith had seen a page of ballet notations reproduced in “an obscure theater journal.” The page, possibly part of the oldest preserved notes about Giselle , supposedly was stored in a Leningrad collection. After her return home to the