Sunday, May 24, 2015

La Sylphide

I found this photo posted on Twitter by an enthusiastic guest on opening night. Oddly, there are no photos of the set on the NYCB website. 

What a thrill to finally see Susan Tammany’s sets and costumes for the New York City Ballet’s production of La Sylphide in all their gloriousness the other night.

Set in Scotland, the 1836 ballet by Danish choreographer August Bournonville, is a classic boy-meets-sylph-on-his-wedding-day story. Unable to resist her flirtation, the groom-to-be, James, a poet, chases the alluring wood nymph straight into her otherworldly forest habitat. Needless to say, it all comes to a tragic end when James attempts to possess the ethereal creature. Her capture, of course means her demise. The ballet ends with James collapsed in despair, and we can see, off in the distance, the wedding of his jilted fiancé to his best friend.

For Danish-born NYCB-master-in-chief Peter Martins, the ballet holds special significance. He writes in the program notes:
La Sylphide is the first ballet that I ever saw. I danced in it when I was a student at the Royal Danish Ballet School, and more than a decade later, I graduated to the role of James, the male lead. Working my way up through the various corps roles, I came to know this ballet very well, and whenever I look at the cozy domestic scene that provides the setting for Act I it is as if I’m staring into my own living room.
The costumes were produced from Tammany’s designs in the NYCB’s costume shop under the direction of Marc Happel.

The following photos are samples from some of the wonderful slideshows about the production from around the web and social media.

It takes many wings to propel a flock of sylphs …

Above, Elle magazine slideshow backstage at the opening performance. Below, NYCB and Women's Wear Daily slideshows of the costume production.

And custom-woven tartan to outfit a Scottish wedding party …

Women's Wear Daily and NYCB  slideshows of the costume shop.

And Scenic Art Studios' massive industrial facility in Newburgh, NY to create the farmhouse where James first encounters the sylph…

and the beguiling woodland into which he is lured.

Photos from Scenic Arts Studios and Susan Tammany.

Michael Cooper tells an even more surprising story behind the scenes in the New York Times about Tammany's other role at Lincoln Center's Koch Theater ...

NY Times photo by Sam Hodgson

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