Friday, November 20, 2009

Sweat & Leather & Resin = which scent?

toe shoes!
pointe shoes

There was a resin box, chunks of solid resin and powder in a wooden box ... an integrated part of the ritual of dance training and performing. (dance with shoes; not the barefoot modern dance).

We'd put our feet in the box, grind the resin powder into the soles of the shoes, especially the ball of the foot, or the pointe. The trick was to have enough so as not to slip on the floors of classroom, rehearsal studio or stage, and not so much as to stick when trying to accomplish five spins in one place on one foot.

The floors were often wet for we dancers sweat through and crystal beads spun off our bodies in spiral sprays. The wooden floors of old slanted theater stages, giving us literally upstage and downstage, were often watered down. In performance we, the performers, could look cool, removed, poised, what the audience didn't see was the poundage of water we lost during rehearsal. And with that, specific scents of sweat, leather from specially crafted shoes, and resin, imbue into the arts, fabric and perfume of dance.

Part of my love of dance was spending much of my life dancing, choreographing or training with music, often live accompaniment.

Anna Pavlova, dancer and world celebrity, had a line of toe shoes, a dessert and a perfume by Payot/ Five Star Fragrances named after her. Bourreeing through her signature piece, The Dying Swan. video here

Michel Fokine choreographed the dance in 1907, music by Saint-Saƫns, from Carnival of the Animals; on world tour, often played by David Sisserman.
A video here captures some of Pavlova's ethereality and extended balance.

And I tell you, years later, Maya Plisetskaya scorched The Dying Swan, with arms like liquid water about to fall to the earth, inspiring generations of youngsters in ballet training. video here about half a minute before movement starts

I saw Plisetskaya once, when I was young. She had fire, attitude, precision, strength, flirtation, wildness and beauty; a womaness, not waif, leaps that defied - laughing at us earthlings as she seared the air, she showed a flame I can still tap into. Another reminder to see, hear and smell things live.
It is said, Anna's last words were to her dresser to get her Dying Swan costume ready, now that's a swan song !
Pavlova, born in Ligovo, a suburb of Saint Petersburg, then the capital of the Russian Empire, Plisetskaya born in Moscow, got me on the search, so here, some wonderful and humorous articles on
Russian Fragrances ...
Part one
Part two
Red Poppy

Other ballet related perfume miscellany

Diaghilev is said to have worn Mitsouko/Guerlain and his ballerinas, Narcisse Noir/Caron.

I do know that in the "serious" companies, the star alone, such as the prima ballerina assoluta, was able to wear certain fragrances and the corps de ballet others. The same goes for the shows in Las Vegas, the stars were to wear certain glittery make-up, such as eye shadow and highlights and the corps were not allowed to compete. All contractual.

Other ballet related fragrances

Giselle - Carla Fracci
Odette - Carla Fracci (but no Odile!)
Cuir de Russie/Le jardin Retrouve

And, in case you were wondering, here are some answers about drinking champagne from sweaty toe shoes.

November 20, Happy Birthday Maya Plisetskaya and LT

worn toe shoe: LambtronPavlova dessert
Swan Lake: Paata Vardanashvili
tip o' the hat to: Vedat Ozan, Octavian Sever Coifan; inspiration for delving into my memory