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 Post subject: Silmarillion Ballet
PostPosted: Fri 22 Jan , 2021 9:19 am 
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In the past, when considering a dramatization of the opening chapters of Tolkien’s “The Silmarillion” it’s become apparent that the Mythological Creation story is something that takes up too much exposition, or would probably best work in animated form, rather than live action drama. Particularly the Ainulindalë strongly leads towards a visual and musical interpretation rather than spoken word in many respects.

With that in mind, I have recently been considering a Tumblr blog which presents the idea of the Ainulindalë and other scenes from the early chapters of The Silmarillion captured by ballet dancers and I think that is a fantastic idea…

Here, for example, is the Manwë picspam:
Image

Obviously the Ainulindalë would make a fantastic single act ballet by itself (think along the lines of “Rite of Spring”!) but one could go bigger and better! Looking at the Tale of Years, I thought I would try and construct the outline for a possible 3 or 4 Act ballet:

Act One: Ainulindalë

- Eru Ilúvatar creates the Timeless Halls and the race of the Ainur.
- The Ainur create the Music of the Ainur before Eru
- Melkor tries to corrupt the theme 3 times, but ends up enriching it even more
- The Music leads to the vision of Eä; Eru subsequently creates Arda with the Secret Fire at its centre
- Some of the Ainur choose to enter Arda as the Valar and Maiar.


Act Two: Valaquenta/Shaping of Arda

- Manwë, Aulë and Ulmo are introduced and we see them begin shaping the landscapes with their control of the elements and manipulation of the fabric of Arda.
- Enter Melkor who disrupts their work with Lightening and volcanic eruptions,etc.
- Tulkas enters Arda and chases off Melkor beyond the Wall of Night.
- The other Valar extinguish the fires, finish shaping Arda
- Aulë creates the Lamps whilst Yavanna plants her seeds that sprout in new light.
- The Spring of Arda begins and the first plants and forests grow, and animals are awakened.
- Wedding of Tulkas and Nessa


Act Three: Marring of Arda

- Melkor secretly returns to Arda, raises the Iron Mountains, and delves Utumno;
- The rebel Maiar enter Arda following the summons of Melkor, including Sauron and the Balrogs.
- Melkor blights and poisons the bliss of the Spring of Arda.
- Melkor overthrows the Two Lamps, Almaren is destroyed. In order to preserve life on the earth, Yavanna sets most living things into a long sleep. The Pelóri mountains are raised and the Valar withdraw to Aman.
- Yavanna creates the Two Trees.


Act Four: Children of Illuvatar

- Melkor is seen sleeping in Utumno. Oromë hunts throughout Middle-earth. [Melkor raises the Hithaeglir to hinder his efforts?]
- Aulë secretly creates the 7 Fathers of the Dwarves. Eru is angered but agrees to spare them and they are put to sleep until after the Elves have awakened. Yavanna is promised the Ents in response.
- Varda creates the Great constellation [The Sickle of the Valar] The first Elves awake in Cuiviénen.
- The Elves are discovered by Melkor who sends his servants to terrorize and capture them.
- Oromë discovers the Elves and invites them to live in Aman with the Valar but they are afraid of Oromë and blame him for Melkor's actions.
- The Valar go to War against Melkor. The Battle of the Powers ends as the Valar storm the final defenses of Utumno.
- Tulkas captures Melkor, binding him with Angainor. [Sauron evades capture?]
- Melkor is brought back to Valinor, judged and cast into Mandos. Oromë brings the three Elven ambassadors, Ingwë, Finwë and Elwë to Valinor


This is obviously only a quick first draft, and I’m wondering what other ideas you guys might have – do you like the idea or are there obvious pitfalls? Have I tried to pack too much in? What about the cut-off point - I feel we need to draw the line before getting into Feanor and the creation of the Silmarils, but is the ending climatic enough?

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 Post subject: Re: Silmarillion Ballet
PostPosted: Sun 24 Jan , 2021 9:43 pm 
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This sounds like an interesting project. My first thoughts are that the Ainulindalë would work best as a stand-alone one-act work.

If you're set on doing the rest of the Silmarillion, then I would take the creation of the world as a given and skip the Ainulindalë entirely, and even most of the Valaquenta. The rest of what you've outlined here is substantial enough to fill an entire full-length production.

Also, "The Children of Illuvatar" would be a good title for the work (parallel to Beethoven's "The Creatures of Prometheus"?). I wouldn't call it The Silmarillion unless you're prepared to set the entire work, in which case you'll end up with a production to rival the length of an Uberwald dwarf opera.

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 Post subject: Re: Silmarillion Ballet
PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan , 2021 1:37 am 
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I was going to say it could be the ballet equivalent of Der Ring des Nibelunge. There are some amazing possibilities.

If we were doing the Silm as a single ballet, then we'd probably skip the creation of the dwarves. And maybe combine some of the events - skip the lamps, go directly to the trees and their destruction, because I will not stand for Ungoliant erasure. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Silmarillion Ballet
PostPosted: Mon 25 Jan , 2021 8:20 am 
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Thanks for your responses!

Yes, I hadn't really go round to thinking of a title... I certainly agree the Ainulindalë would work best as a single act, stand-alone ballet. But my fledging idea was simply to try and see if the whole creation part of the Mythology could be included to make a multiple act ballet. I wasn't anticpating the suggestion to do the "whole" Silmarillion - so that title would definitely be out!

That's why I said I wanted to stop before getting into Feanor and the Silmarils...but I can see that it might be weird to stop where I have. I like Jude's suggestion for "the Children of Illuvatar". The trouble is, that Men didn't awaken until after the Destruction of the Trees. As much as I think the creation of the Sun and Moon would be fabulous balletically, how could we take the storyline up that far without leaving too much open-ended?

ETA: With regards to Frelga's "Ring Cycle" idea, a Silm Cycle is a nice idea, in that I can totally see the three Great Tales working as multiple act ballets but the Quenta Silmarillion is the huge, multi-layered framework that connects the separate stories and I can't quite see how that could be made to work.

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