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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Pennsylvania Ballet’s La Slyphide

Reviewed by Sojourner Ahebee
June 12, 2009

You may think your average T.V. teen drama has lots of love intrigue, but so do most ballets. Yesterday evening, I attended the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of La Sylphide at The Academy of Music. La Sylphide, a ballet set in Scotland, is a wonderfully choreographed and composed ballet. It is also a ballet that challenges you to consider what should be followed-one’s heart or a promise made out of a sense of duty. La Sylphide tells the story of a man named James who will soon be married to his fiancĂ© Effy. But, in the process of their wedding date, James starts falling in love with a sylph, which is a forest fairy.

One day, Effy and her friends beg Madge the witch to tell Effy’s fortune for her wedding day. The witch informs them that James loves someone else and Effy will get married to Gurn, James’ best friend. Effy is upset by this fortune, but James reassures her that is not the truth.

On the day of James’ wedding, he is about to put the ring on Effy’s hand, but the sylph enters the room, grabs the ring, and runs into the forest with the ring in her hand. James then runs after the sylph in the forest, and Effy starts crying in her mother’s arms, thinking James has abandoned her and the wedding.

Deep in the forest, Madge and her companion witches dance around a cauldron. They add all sorts of filthy ingredients to the brew. When the cauldron starts to glow, Madge pulls out a magical scarf from the bottom of the cauldron. The witches then scatter.

While the sylph shows James her charming, woodland home, wedding guests search the woodland for James. They then enter the glade. Gurn finds James' hat, but Madge urges him to say nothing. She then urges Gurn to propose to Effy, which he does, Effy then accepts the proposal. The wedding party then leaves the woodlands and James enters. He is met by Madge who tosses him the scarf. Madge instructs James to put this around the sylph so she can not runaway anymore. He is delighted by this idea! He sees the sylph and she lets him wrap the scarf around her. He then hugs her, her wings fall off, she shudders, and then dies in his arms. Her sisters then enter and lift her dead body off the ground.

Suddenly, a joyful wedding crosses the glade, lead by Gurn and Effy. James is surprised. He then collapses. Madge rejoices over James’ lost. . Evil has won.

The personality of each main character was magically conveyed by the dancers’ skills, sense of drama and the costumes. The scenery was amazing. I felt I had been transported deep into the Scottish forest. La Sylphide wasn’t too long or too short time wise, which makes it easier for a young person to attend this ballet and still enjoy it. La Sylphide will be at the Academy of music until Sunday. Everyone should go see it!

Also, you can go to the Pennsylvania Ballet website and see what ballets will be performed next season. Plan, now, to go. Also on this site is the Outreach and Education section. Click on Kids, Parents and Teachers. You’ll learn a lot about ballet in a fun way.
It’s up to us –young people, to become informed about our cultural institutions like the Pennsylvania Ballet and to support them. I was so impressed during last night’s performance when a couple was recognized for their huge support for the Pennsylvania Ballet. See you at the ballet.

La Sylphide
The Pennsylvania Ballet
June 5-13, 2009
The Academy of Music
Broad and Locust Streets
Philadelphia, PA

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