2014 was a good year for Fille, thanks in no small part to the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg, with a standout performance by Angelina Vorontsova:
Across the Atlantic, Fille was produced on March 28 by the Maywood Fine Arts Association at River Forest, Illinois. Here’s a posed still of the smacking:
And if you want to see her jump, here’s the video, complete with appreciative audience response:
Seven smacks, just like Fiona Tonkin got: I wonder if that’s the limit? You’ll also have noticed that the costumes are completely different in the actual performance, and that Lise has a much smaller, sexier little skirt. This means that every smack effectively lands on her panties… so, on the downside, when we get to the spanking, it doesn’t feature the climactic lifting of her skirt that makes such an occasion of it. But on the upside, because Simone is being danced by a woman, Lise isn’t physically carried across the stage to the seat: she’s walked there, and gets smacked as she goes!
And if we’re keeping count, that’s a second smacking with four smacks, plus another three in the curtailed spanking. Olivia Renteria might just be the Lise with the sorest bottom of them all…
We certainly can’t say the same about Ada Gonzalez, who danced the role in the production at Sibiu in Romania, because it didn’t use the standard Ashton choreography, and indeed there was nowhere on stage for the Widow to sit down and put Lise over her knee. But they did manage to work some incidental smacked bottoms into the mother-daughter business, two of which are seen in this compilation of extracts from a performance in April:
April also saw the latest Royal Ballet revival, including the debut of Natalia Osipova as Lise, which I already wrote about here and here. But to refresh your memory, here she is across Philip Mosley’s knee:
May 16 saw another two performances from Indiana Ballet Conservatory, who had also produced the ballet in 2014. May it become an annual event! Once again each performance had a different Lise. For the matinee, the performance of the smacking was very exciting:
And her spanking was even more exciting!
I think that second one is especially nice!
The cast reconvened the same evening for another performance with a different Lise. Here she is being smacked…
… and spanked:
The Widow’s splayed fingers suggest that this was a production in which her hand never made contact with its pretty target, but things were different further west the following week, when South Valley Dance Arts staged the ballet in Morgan Hill, California. Again there were two performances and two different Lises. First, on May 22, the smacking…
… and the spanking:
And this time, as you can see, Lise wasn’t saved by an early entrance!
For the following day, May 23, we have just a single relevant shot, but we’re in luck, because it’s the spanking:
June saw the usual crop of Italian ballet school productions, which often leave only photographs of the smacking, not the spanking – perhaps because of a nervousness about showing a fullscale spanking scene, but probably mainly out of a wish to show off some difficult dance steps:
Here’s another, from Ganxe Arte Danza in Volta Mantovana in Lombardy:
Next to Viterbo, and the Scuola di Danza Tersicore, where Valeria Fredduzzi is smacking Gabriella Dono on June 15:
And still in Italy, still in June and still at school, this next production is only included here as a curio. Much of the ballet’s action is simplified or jumbled up, and one thing that is pointedly avoided is any hint of spanking as part of Lise’s relationship with her mother. There is a moment where she has the same steps as in the smacking sequence, much later in the story than in the Ashton choreography… but it’s Simone’s boot, not her hand, that’s making contact with the naughty girl’s bottom:
It’s comical, of course, but it still looks more aggressive and abusive than maternal – the adapter’s evident aversion to spanking has been counterproductive. (But then I’m biased, aren’t I?)
There’s better to be seen south of the Equator, where the Youth Ballet of Mauritius also staged the ballet in June. The smacking got some excellent photographic coverage:
And the photographer proceeded to favor us thus:
The smacking also featured in the production’s pre-publicity photoshoot:
And you’ll have noticed that this is yet another production where Simone is played by a woman – which is why one of the publicity shoot’s more whimsical ideas can still find a place here.
How often do you see Simone being smacked by Lise?!
Another female Simone next, in a ballet school production at Alcanede in Portugal on July 12. It has a rather young cast, so it’s important to say that the girl dancing Lise is of age. Her performance is notable for two things. She kicks very vigorously right up to the moment when the widow’s hand is about to administer the first slap, then stops as if finally acknowledging that resistance is futile. And secondly, she is wearing black panties! Not something you often see in a Lise, though you do see a lot of them in this Lise, because they are really quite obvious through her diaphanous skirt, even before it is lifted for the spanking.
(For the smacking, go back to 17.26.)
In August, another Russian production was lined up at the Bolshoi, another company that, regrettably, doesn’t use the Ashton choreography. Here’s a preview snippet with a very stylized non-contact smacked bottom for Lise:
In September, West Australian Ballet produced a version of Fille with the period setting updated to the 1950s; the pony and cart was replaced by the widow’s Vespa. But time travel can’t save a naughty girl from getting what she deserves, as Sarah Hepburn found out from Robert Mills:
And despite further productions later in the year, including a high-profile one at the Vienna State Ballet in November (which you can read about here), we have to leap forward to December, when Fille was produced by a ballet school in Maceio, Brazil. Mariana Alves was Lise and the splendidly named Wallison Melquisedec was Simone:
We stay in Brazil for another school performance, this one on December 17 in Pelotas, by the Escola de Ballet Diclea Ferreira de Souza. This is one where the photographer served the smacking well…
… but then totally lost interest when it came to the spanking.
Never mind, Brazil has still more to offer, this time on December 19 and 20 in Campina Grande and therefore the last Fille of the year. Here’s Bianca Araujo’s Lise being smacked:
And being spanked:
Here it is in motion. Watch for a wonderful performance of the widow’s dilemma as the visitors arrive: should she spank Lise or save her modesty? This dancer shows how torn Simone is as she visibly considers both courses of action before opting for (from our point of view) the wrong one!
And the best of the year? My vote goes to the naughty girls of Indiana, whose work was so astonishingly good that one can only say… ‘Encore!’
For 2016, go here.