Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • Helene

      2018 Joint Fundraiser for Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers   02/03/2018

      We have launched our 2018 Fundraiser.  To donate, please see the instructions on our home page for checks (US dollars only) and credit card donations via PayPal.  We close the fundraiser as soon as we raise enough to sustain us for the next year, and we thank you for your support!


Senior Member
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by volcanohunter

  1. Natalia Bessmertnova danced Şirin, which ranks pretty high on the prima scale. So did Nadezhda Pavlova and Lyudmila Semenyaka. Mind you, Maya Plisetskaya was Mehmene Banu.
  2. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    I'll admit I don't know all the details, but today I watched Roman Abramov and his crew counting large numbers of 1,000-rouble bills stuffed into envelopes right inside the Bolshoi Theatre. They were also discussing who they'd be applauding at tomorrow's performance (Maria Vinogradova and Artem Ovcharenko). Again, it may not mean anything, but in the stage door area this same group swarmed around Artemy Belyakov as soon as he emerged and left when he did, even though the principal dancers in the cast and the other dancers with honorific titles hadn't yet come out. (Honestly, I would tell Belyakov that he doesn't need the claque. He makes a better Pechorin in "Taman" than either Ovcharenko or Vladislav Lantratov.) The spectacle was revolting.
  3. Anthony Dowell

    Today, 16 February 2018, Anthony Dowell turns 75. So I just had to post this video of him performing the variation Frederick Ashton created for Peter Wright's production of The Sleeping Beauty in 1968. Half a century later, this performance still hasn't been bettered. Not even close. (If I've missed a Dowell thread somewhere on this forum, my apologies for starting a new one.)
  4. Dancers' heights — known or estimated

    A Daily Telegraph story on Tereshkina listed her as 5'7". http://www.telegraph.co.uk/dance/ballet/ballerina-viktoria-tereshkina-motherhood-helped-career-tell/ In the press Letestu was routinely identified as 177 cm tall, which is a fraction under 5'10".
  5. National Ballet of Canada 2018-19 season

    Sorry to have been imprecise. i meant that from Karen Kain's perspective, there seems to be little appetite for Tetley's works in the National Ballet of Canada's target markets, namely, Toronto and perhaps New York-Washington, San Francisco-Los Angeles. If I recall correctly, the company used to perform Tetley's Sphinx, Voluntaries, Daphnis and Chloe and Rite of Spring, as well as the works he created for the company: Alice, La Ronde, Tagore and Oracle. Alice and La Ronde were filmed by the CBC. Strange that it never did PIerrot Lunaire.
  6. National Ballet of Canada 2018-19 season

    I suspect she's motivated primarily by box-office considerations. Three decades ago Tetley's new works took the National Ballet of Canada back to the Met sans Nureyev. Now I fear there is no market for his ballets.
  7. National Ballet of Canada 2018-19 season

    There is a telecast of Tetley's Alice somewhere in the CBC archives. And the National Ballet of Canada has employed choreologists for decades, so I'm sure the whole ballet is recorded in Benesh notation. Furthermore, three of the original lead dancers, Rex Harrington (Lewis Carroll), Karen Kain (Alice Hargreaves) and Peter Ottmann (Reginald Hargreaves), work for the company in senior positions. Kimberly Glasco, the original Alice Liddell, parted ways with the company on very bad terms, but apart from that I think all the necessary elements for a revival are there. Unfortunately, there's zero interest in doing it. Incidentally, I was never a fan of Kain's dancing, and at every opportunity I would point out that Veronica Tennant, Nadia Potts, Vanessa Harwood, Mary Jago, Gizella Witkowsky or Sabina Allemann were preferable in any given role. But Kain was really very good in Tetley's ballets. She danced his work with a freedom and a physical and emotional commitment that was glaringly absent most of the time. (Though invariably Witkowsky was better still.) It's a shame she doesn't seem to have greater affection and admiration for those ballets.
  8. National Ballet of Canada 2018-19 season

    Yes, Tetley created the ballet for the company in 1986. One of the reasons I was unhappy about the company becoming co-producer of the Wheeldon version was the understanding that it would probably never do the Tetley version again, and I am opposed to companies discarding their history, because I'm oppposed to a disposable attitude toward choreography. But Karen Kain is completely unsentimental about these matters, even, as in this case, when you might expect her to have a stronger attachment to a piece. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1987/04/01/glen-tetley-and-the-staging-of-his-alice/bcae46cc-af1b-4c21-be02-0e220b98863f/?utm_term=.cc344fe3498e
  9. National Ballet of Canada 2018-19 season

    Uninspiring overall. The returns of The Dream and Apollo are very welcome. An all-Forsythe program is terrific (if not very innovative at this point). But is the grand pas from Paquita really going to be the only example of (quasi) 19th-century ballet? Not a whole lot of work for the male roster there. Alice's Adventures again? (Better than Le Petit Prince or PInocchio, I suppose.) And given that the company has a lot of forty-something ballerinas, i can (sort of) understand reviving The Merry Widow, but it is a cotton-candy ballet, and I would have thought Xiao Nan Yu would rather have retired with something more substantial. The Ottawa program may be the most appealing overall, perhaps saving me a couple of trips to Toronto.
  10. Akram Khan's Giselle/Cinema

    It sure is! My February trips to Chicago have always gone wrong on some level, but that's when the Harris Theater seems to schedule marquee ballet tours.
  11. Flamenco at 5:15

    The YouTube channel of the National Film Board of Canada includes Cynthia Scott's Oscar-winning 1983 documentary Flamenco at 5:15. It follows flamenco classes taught by Susana and Antonio Robledo at the National Ballet School in Toronto. The group of students is notable for including Martine Lamy, Ronda Nychka, Owen Montague and Rex Harrington.
  12. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    Charisma is an element that can't be discounted. A hodge-podge gala with Lopatkina will have something that a beautiful Bayadere without her will not. Believe me, I know where you're coming from: I have a very long track record of being less than enamored of the most popular dancers of the day and loving many of their less starry colleagues fervently. Nevertheless, ballerina aura and star power are real things.
  13. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    No, it doesn't. Applause is an indicator of audience response to the performance, obviously.
  14. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    A claque cannot force an audience to go where it doesn't wan't to go. That's why their behavior can stick out like a sore thumb. If a few people are yelling until they're hoarse, but applause is otherwise restrained, then there's a good chance a claque is at work. Cheers coming from every corner and a reaction that is universally immediate and enthusiastic are beyond the capacity of a claque to simulate. The woman sitting next to me wasn't sure she'd enjoy Skvortsov's performance, but in less than a minute he won her over completely, because he was that musical, that elegant, that high-flying, that dashing and that romantic. So she applauded and cheered with all her might through the second half of the evening, but certainly not because she'd been paid to do it or because she was part of a fanbase. On the other hand, I went in with very high expectations, and they were surpassed. I don't know when I'd last seen such a persuasive prince, so I'm not surprised others were bowled over. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I'd venture to guess that Stepanova's entrance applause was generated by her fans, not a claque. They seeed to be sitting in the same part of the hall, whereas claquers try to spread out in an attempt to get others to follow their lead and so that their behavior is less obvious. But the admiration for her didn't seem to be widespread. I am neutral on Stepanova. I don't see what her fans see, but I also don't find her offensive. Her Lilac Fairy was commanding to the point of being stern, and I found that interpretation peculiar, or in any case not very munificent. I have to disagree. Gulnare or Marie Stahlbaum are one thing, but Aurora is a role of entirely greater magnitude and complexity. Zhiganshina had technical difficulties, like falling out of diagonals of turns and barely holding on to balances, although her prince and her suitors did everything possible to help, her ankles were wobbly and her wrists were very tense. (I was reminded of how Pierre Lacotte criticized Agnès Letestu for her spoon-like hands, because the bend at the wrist was very pronounced. Zhiganshina's hands also resembled ladles.) She attempted a glacial tempo for the vision scene, which she couldn't sustain, and in its coda she couldn't keep up with the speed. But more importantly, she didn't seem to have anything to say. Her dancing was monotonous, and I couldn't say her Aurora had a distintive character, let alone personality development as the ballet progressed. She would grit her teeth, stare at the floor and just try to get through it. I don't blame her. It was insane to think that she could pull off the role at her age and level of experience.
  15. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    Etudes is performed on the smaller new stage, and there the front row is closer to the edge of the stage.
  16. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    And yet when Skvortsov took to the Bolshoi stage on Wednesday night, the audience roared with approval from the beginning of his performance to his last curtain call. On the applause level, the whole evening was very telling. First Stepanova's Lilac Fairy appeared to entrance applause from a small group seated together, but it didn't catch on through the house. The other prologue fairies, all corps members being advanced by Vaziev, most wobbly, could barely muster any applause at all. I felt terrible for those young women and ended up starting the applause for nearly every variation, and I was the last one still clapping as they made their exits. In Act 1, Zhiganshina began her extremely premature debut as Aurora. There was basically no entrance applause, her performance was very nervous and stiff, and whatever bravos were heard came from the same claqueish voices heard during every Bolshoi broadcast. Then Skvortsov came flying onto the stage in Act 2, and the theater just exploded. Perhaps after the tenseness of Zhiganshina's performance during the previous act, the audience felt like: "Finally! Now we'll get some real dancing." In his case, the audience was enraptured. Practically every time he emerged from the wings, there was applause. Every time he completed a diagonal or a manège, there were cries of "bravo!" coming from every corner. He received lots and lots of rhythmic clapping, and it was entirely deserved. Prior to the performance, the woman seated next to me was having a conversation with a friend who had come by to say hello. "So what did you think of Onegin?" "Oh, Skvortsov was sensational. I don't care for Lantratov in that ballet. And Rodkin is a big zero. He just doesn't understand the character. But Skvortsov was magnificent. Today he's playing a prince, and I don't know whether he's a prince. We'll see." She was among those who poured on the entrance applause; after all, she'd loved him in Onegin the week before. And by the end of his entrance variation she was beside herself, and so she continued hollering and applauding through his performance. Amazing to think that she hadn't known him as a ballet prince, but Vaziev hasn't cast Skvortsov in Giselle or Swan Lake for a long time. Maybe the thunderous reaction to his entrance was a collective realization: "Heavens! That's how a ballet prince looks! We'd almost forgotten." Meanwhile Vaziev sat alone in a box scowling and kneading his knuckles. It should be said the audience reaction to Act 3 was miles away from what it had been during the prologue. All the storybook characters, most played by company veterans, received loud ovations. Anastasia Stashkevich as Florine was particularly well received. Perhaps consciously or unconsciously the audience felt that she should have been the one making her debut as Aurora. So from where I stand, Vaziev's approach is mistaken and pigheaded. Evidently he thinks that by sidelining, for example, Nina Kaptsova and not giving her Aurora to dance, the audience won't have a basis for comparison, and they may be fooled into thinking that Zhigashina is doing a good job out there, even though she's barely managing. Kaptsova should be out there dancing Aurora and showing Vaziev's young favorites how it's done, and Zhiganshina needs to spend a few more years dancing fairy variations and Princess Florine. And honestly, you'd think Vaziev would be thrilled to have artists like Alexandrova, Kaptsova, Shipulina and Skvortsov in his ranks. But he's not. What a tragedy.
  17. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    Come now. It stopped even before she returned to the wings.
  18. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    Yes, tepid. It lasted less than ten seconds, and you hear the same claquer over and over again.
  19. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    No, not really. I think if you were to go back and count performances, you'd see that her workload was smaller than that of other dancers because her repertoire was narrower. It made sense to take her to New York in 2014 precisely because the rep also included Spartacus. The company hadn't taken her to London the year before even though most of the ballets were in her repertoire, and she wasn't injured. In the five years that Filin was nominally director, she made debuts in nine roles. Vaziev has been director for under two years and she's made debuts in six roles already. I remember Tsiskaridze making a strangely backhanded observation about her Giselle, something about young artists today being unafraid to look ugly on stage. It doesn't matter what Rodkin thinks of her. He's assigned pretty much permanently to Zakharova. Grigorovich loves both Nikulina and Rodkin, so they dance together frequently in his ballets. Otherwise, not so much.
  20. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    It's a pity that she doesn't dance like Bessmertnova. I think Nikulina has gotten very far on the length of her extremities. It's difficult to understand why else the company would have given a gawky 19-year-old Odette-Odile to dance if not for the fact that the Bolshoi likes its Swan Queens as elongated as possible. The tragedy is that 14 years later she's still gawky. Etudes, Diamonds, Carmen, Kitri, the Sylph?! With that footwork? All this has been under Vaziev. And she was cast in Etudes before that dreadful broadcast, so it couldn't have been the leverage used against Vaziev.
  21. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    You mean like this? I've deliberately chosen Anna Nikulina's most recent performance as Medora, not her debut, after quite some time under Ms Chenchikova's tutelage. Under Vaziev many beautiful dancers get only scraps, while Nikulina is cast in all sorts of roles to which she is patently unsuited. Do her extremely long arms and legs really outweigh her obvious shortcomings?
  22. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    I find Smirnova angular and mannered, with ungainly hands, bumpy pointe work (the rises onto and descents from pointe are not smooth) and an ugly à la seconde. I hate that so often her arms are held behind her back because it gives them an insect-like appearance. Of the roles I have seen her dance--Odette-Odile, Lilac Fairy, Nikiya, Kitri, Tatiana, "Diamonds"--I found her "Diamonds" the least bothersome, and I think it's because she received better coaching from Merrill Ashley. The same was true of her partner Semyon Chudin, who has a tendency to disregard the music, although in "Diamonds" his timing was right on. Normally, though, it would appear that Smirnova's coaching reinforces her worst instincts. I remember watching the cinecast of Don Quixote and how Marina Kondratieva hovered over her during the intermission, issuing corrections until the last minute. It didn't seem to help. Her Queen of the Dryads that day was pretty terrible, and she received tepid applause. With that sort of overbearing, micro-managed coaching, it's not surprising that Smirnova comes across as studied, laboured, unnatural and completely unspontaneous. Her Tatiana, for example, looks and behaves as though she were 40 years of age. I imagine she's quite good as Marguerite Gautier. I could see her as MacMillan's Manon Lescaut. But in the 19th-century classics I find her performances poor, vaunted Vaganova training notwithstanding.
  23. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    I also saw Smirnova's Kitri in London. Well, I saw two-thirds of it because I abandoned the performance before the final act. I'd say the fault for that was about 50% Rodkin, 40% Smirnova and 10% their terrible chemistry together. The performance wasn't convincing, and Smirnova in particular looked miscast. I generally try to pass over things I dislike in silence, but both Smirnova and Rodkin are dancers who really stick in my craw, so I can't restrain myself in their cases. Needless to say, their current prominence at the Bolshoi doesn't leave me jumping for joy.
  24. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    Alexandrova is not short and she isn't fat. The other day she was standing about a foot and a half from me in her evening civies, and she looked slim by "normal people" standards, but certainly more robust than the average ballet dancer. She has broad shoulders and a muscular build. The conventional "strapless" classical tutu doesn't do her any favors. Sometimes the musculature of her thighs seems to rival that of some of her male partners. Presumably this is the source of her enormous jump. Alexandrova also doesn't try to move in a particularly delicate or "feminine" sort of way, which also influences the way audiences perceive her body. If you look back at films of her from her early 20s, you can see that she strove to dance in a more conventionally "graceful" sort of way, perhaps conscious of the fact that by ballet standards she was considered "big." But somewhere along the way this disappeared and her manner of moving became more brusque.
  25. The Bolshoi under Vaziev

    It makes a difference, because if the leg is raised directly to the side, and the pelvis is tilted sideways, the spine will necessarily be more off-center, hence the line is more distorted. This is obvious in Zakharova's Carmen photo. (Also, the alignment of Guillem's supporting leg is better.) I won't make arguments for anyone else's position lest I should misrepresent it, but when I mention context I mean that some ballets are more tolerant of deviations from proper technique than others. But just because a 190-degree split is less glaringly out of place in Carmen Suite than it would be in Sleeping Beauty still doesn't mean it looks any less vulgar there. Only in Carmen Suite it could be argued to fit the character. There is no possible way it suits Princess Aurora.