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Q: theatre / ballet ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: theatre / ballet
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Performing Arts
Asked by: jonboke-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 09 Mar 2005 15:01 PST
Expires: 08 Apr 2005 16:01 PDT
Question ID: 490325
What famous ballets are about the subject of "dreams"?  Any
synopsis would be helpful.

Request for Question Clarification by markj-ga on 14 Mar 2005 13:42 PST
jonboke --

Would ballets that contain substantial "dream sequences" (i.e., action
that occurs in a dream) meet your needs?  If so, I can give you
synopses of three such ballets that clearly qualify as "famous."

If you are looking for something else, could you clarify what you mean
by "about the subject of 'dreams'"?

Also, would three such ballets be sufficient, or do you need more,
even if they might be substantially less "famous"?


Clarification of Question by jonboke-ga on 15 Mar 2005 09:14 PST
Regarding an answer, I think three ballets would be fine.  

No, they don't have to be terribly 'famous' ballets, just not obscure
ones.  In fact, any kind of stage show that involves 'dance' would
work for me.

What I mean by 'ballets about the subject of dreams' is this: I'm
looking for stories in which the body of the ballet is a metaphor for
dreams.  For example, I believe ''The Nutcracker' is about a girl's
dream of Christmas morning - she wakes up to discover that her dream
has come true.  Another example (although a movie) is 'The Wizard of
Oz'.  Here, Dorthy goes on a wild adventure and wakes up to discover
she is safely at home.

I'm looking for other examples like this.  Perhaps you could submit
your three examples and a true synopsis of 'The Nutcracker'.

Does this answer the question?

Request for Question Clarification by markj-ga on 15 Mar 2005 12:05 PST
jonboke --

Thanks for your post, and it does answer my question.  The Nutcracker
is indeed one of the ballets that I had in mind, and I can certainly
provide you with a good online synopsis.  The other two (actually
three) that I have in mind do, as I said, include substantial "dream
sequences," but they are not written as occurring *entirely* within a

Finally, now that you have expanded your question to include any stage
production that includes substantial dancing, I am confident that I
can come up with at least a few additional examples.  I will get back
to work on it later today.

Subject: Re: theatre / ballet
Answered By: markj-ga on 16 Mar 2005 05:17 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
jonboke ?

Again, thanks for your clarification.   Let?s get right to the ballets
and the synopses that I think will meet your needs:


The first, and by far the most famous, example of the prominent use of
dream inn ballet is ?The Nutcracker,? which is based on a book by
E.T.A. Hoffman titled ?The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.?  The music
was written by Piotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky, and the first performance
was in Russia in 1892:

Nutcracker Ballet

Here is a very good synopsis of the ballet:

Royal Winnipeg Ballet: The Nutcracker: Synopsis


This ballet has music composed by Carl Maria von Weber.  It was first
produced by Diaghilev?s Ballet Russe in 1991, with Vaslas Nijinsky and
Tamar Karsavina.  It is based on a poem by Theophile Gautier.

I have not been able to find a complete synopsis online, probably
because it has only one act and ?is a simple story, [] a story so
slight that we must refer to the actual dancing for an impression of
the ballet.? Balanchine?s New Complete Stories of the Great Ballets,
Francis Mason, ed.(Doubleday, New York) at p. 393.

Here is a link to a one-paragraph summary of the ballet that focuses
on the central element of the ballet, the heroine?s dream:

New Jersey Public Television: Le Spectre de la Rose

In order to meet your need for a synopsis, though, I will quote one
short except (in order not to run afoul of copyright protections) from
the above book, which I own.   I will then tell you how you can access
a more complete synopsis at the website, using its ?Search
Inside the Book? feature.

Here is a representative excerpt of the synopsis:

?[The spirit of the rose] touches the girl, and now ? awake in her
dream ? she dances with him.   .   .  The dream cannot last.  The
waltz melody fades .  .  .   The spirit of the rose hovers gently over
her head in farewell .  .  .  The light of the sun disturbs the girl. 
She moves in her sleep, then wakens lazily.  .  .  .  She sees that
she is alone in her room and must have been dreaming. .  .    .?

As noted above, you can read Balachine?s entire synopsis from another
edition of the book that is available at, using the ?Search
Inside This Book? feature.

The version of the book available there is called ?101 Stories of the
Great Ballets,? by George Balanchine and Francis Mason.  Here is a
direct link to the first of the three pages devoted to Le Spectre de
la Rose:

In the event that this link doesn?t work for you (it may not), you can
get to the synopsis using the following steps:

1.  Here is a link to the ordering page for the Balanchine book:

2.	Clink on ?Search Inside?

3.  Enter ?427? in the search box, and you find links to that page in
the book, which is the first of three pages devoted to the ballet. 
You can then scroll forward to read the other two pages of the


?Raymonda? is another prominent ballet that features a dream as a
central element in the plot and not as a stand-alone ?dream sequence.?
 The ballet?s music was composed by the Russian composer Alexander
Glazunov, and it was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia  in

Here is a portion of a synopsis of the play that confirms the central
role of the heroine?s dream and the ?Magic Garden of Dreams? in the

ACT 1 ? Ludmila Semenyaka is magnificent as the youthful, charming
Raymonda, niece to the Countess Sybil de Daurice of France. Raymonda
is engaged to the gallant knight Jean de Brienne, who is superbly
portrayed by Irek Moukhamedov. Because he must immediately depart on a
campaign with King Andrei II of Hungary, the youth comes to the castle
to bring his fiancée gifts and to bid her farewell. That night as
Raymonda muses on her beloved, a statue of the White Lady, patroness
of the House of Daurice, appears in a vision. She beckons the girl to
the Magic Garden of Dreams, where Jean awaits her. But the apparition
suddenly disappears, and in Jean?s place there is an unknown, exotic
Eastern knight, who makes a passionate declaration of love to the
bewildered Raymonda, when she faints, the knight vanishes. As dawn
breaks, Raymonda awakens in the belief that her dream has been a
terrible omen of her destiny.

ACT II ? A celebration is underway at the castle. Among the guests is
the Saracen knight Abderakhaman, performed by the electrifying
Gedeminas Tarands. In him the terrified Raymonda recognizes the
mysterious stranger she saw in her dream. Though he promises to give
her riches and power in return for her heart and hand, she rejects
him. Aberakham tries to abduct Raymonda. Unexpectedly however, Jean
and the other knights return from their mission. To resolve the
differences between Jean and Abderakham, King Andrei proposes a duel
of honor. Aberakhman is defeated and Jean reclaims the overjoyed

ACT III ? Raymonda and Jean are married at the court of King Andrei.
In honor of the monarch, Hungarian dances are performed during the
wedding festivities. Ballet Performances


There have been several ballet adaptions of this Shakespeare play,
essentially all of which include timeless music by Felix Mendelssohn. 
Neither the play nor most of those adaptations explicitly use a
?dream? as a central element of the work.  As Balanchine says about
his version in the book I initially cited at the outset of the answer:

?It is called a ?dream? because of the unrealistic happenings that
occur to the characters .  .  . real yet unreal events such as crossed
loves, meaningless quarrels, forest changes and magic spells woven by
the infamous Puck.?  Balanchine?s New Complete Stories of the Great
Ballets, Francis Mason, ed.(Doubleday, New York) at p. 393.

However, in my research I have come across one recent, updated version
by a respected British ballet company and choreographer David Nixon
that does indeed use the ?Dream? in the title in a much more literal
way.  Indeed, this production may well be of special interest to you
for the way it integrates a ?dream? metaphor into a classic story. 
Here are especially relevant excerpts from its synopsis, along with a
link to the complete summary:

?As Theseus sleeps, he dreams. His status alters and he is Oberon,
King of Fairyland, warring with his Queen, Titania, mirroring the
problems of real life. Everyone, including the audience, enters his
dream. Oberon is intent on punishing Titania and sends his henchman
Puck to find the magical juice that will cause her to fall in love
with the next live creature that she sees, preferably a wild animal!

"Puck, discovering Nick Bottom in his dream rehearsing as Romeo with
the crew, transforms him into a donkey and leads him to the sleeping
Fairy Queen. The charm works and Titania takes the delighted donkey to
her bower, deleriously in love.

.  .  .  .

?Arriving at their destination the next morning, the company awake to
the new day, sleepily recalling their dreams and leave the train for
the theatre in wonder, at their reconciliation and new found

Northern Ballet Theater: Midsummer Night?s Dream: Synopsis

It seems to me that the above examples of the prominent use of dreams
as a plot device in well-known ballets are the best ones available,
and I hope that they will meet your needs.

Search Strategy:

This question proved to be surprisingly difficult, which may explain
why it remained unanswered for several days.  I used many Google
searches to find the information and to gain reasonable confidence
that it is accurate and complete.  Here are just a few of more useful

ballet "dream sequence"

ballet "wakes from her OR his OR the dream"
"takes place" ballet OR musical dreams

I also used my copy of Balanchine?s book as a resource.

Based on your clarification, I am reasonably confident that this
information is what you are seeking.  But, if anything is unclear,
please ask for clarification before rating the answer.

jonboke-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Some very well researched answers.

There are no comments at this time.

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