Kennedy Center - Week 2
Posted 16 March 2003 - 10:22 AM
Posted 16 March 2003 - 10:26 AM
Novamom, what did you think of 4Ts and Sea of Troubles? And how did "Shades" look to you overall? (And anyone else who saw this cast, or other performances over the weekend. Please! Chime in. We're getting a variety of viewpoints and differences in seeing ballets and dancers, which is always interesting -- more, please.)
Posted 16 March 2003 - 11:44 AM
I did not mean to cast Mr. Korsakov in poor light. Actually, I found him to be wonderful to watch. I hope to see him again in the future, and I will certainly be on the lookout for his name. A little maturity may be all he needs. I wonder how old he is. I tried to find out some information on him over the web. but was unsuccessful.
My daughter and I sat in the back of the theatre, slightly to the right. From our vantage point, we could see every dancer in "Shades" well once they were all on that tiny stage! Perhaps because I see a limited number of ballets each year, I may not be as critical as some. I thought the performance was quite beautiful. Even if on a small scale. I had thought the lack of a ramp intentional due to the size of the stage. Shame on the K.C.!
I still loved it. I did not notice too many wabbly legs!
My daughter and I both loved seeing MCB. Actually, she also saw the opening night performance and preferred that nights cast. A few of the dancers seemed to be a bit over-the-top extension wise, but for the most part I thought they looked quite strong. We try to see MCB whenever they come to town, and I have yet to be disappointed. It's nice to see a company with so many female dancers who are not rail-thin. Some of the movements in this ballet are extremely fast and I thought they were danced very well.
I did not particularly care for "Troubles", although I loved the dancing. Samba38,( I believe it was your post) you are so right about the taupe dresses. They were lovely and added such dimention to the dance.
Posted 16 March 2003 - 12:53 PM
More later--it's nice out there, go outside!
Posted 16 March 2003 - 01:23 PM
Posted 16 March 2003 - 03:43 PM
Thank you for that info. Actually, he is a little older than I would have suspected. I would love to see him dance again. May I also ask, how tall is Ms. Gumerova? My daughter, who studies dance, is very interested in the careers of the taller dancers, as she is now 5'8". She hopes to dance professionally, as so many of these lovely young dancers do!
Posted 16 March 2003 - 08:14 PM
I had mixed impressions of the Kirov. On the one hand, the corps was just about perfect; I had complete confidence in the dancers' technical strength and shared sense of musicality; the opening was breathtaking, and they provided a beautiful complement to the rest of the dancing. The three soloists looked mostly very good in the first waltz; the first two variations (Golub and Zhelonkina) were quite clean, but the third was weakly danced by Ostreikovskaya. Danila Korsuntsev made a very good Solor--tall and dark, with a high jump and good but not overpowering flexibility. However, the costume was hideous--an awful shade of blue with what appeared to be a woman's bikini top. The blue rubbed off on Daria Pavlenko's white bodice, which was distracting and surprising--was Solor's costume colored with chalk? I've never heard of a costume's color coming off before. Pavlenko was technically strong, but there were moments in which she concentrated more on raising her legs than dancing the steps; she got her feet mixed up a few times, and her position a la seconde was not good, with the leg too high and the torso moved to one side to accommodate it. Also, she gave the impression of being peeved or bored, more like a runway model than the calm, remote shade of someone who used to be alive.
I was surprised at how "un-Russian" the company looked--the port de bras and Úpaulement were clean, but the use of the back in every movement was not evident, and head positions and movements were not clear--they were an afterthought rather than being an integral part of each movement. It was disappointing; the style was bland. They looked more like competition medalists, with good technique but no flavor besides a grin; the port de bras was polished and boring. It made me kind of sad to see the Maryinsky look that way. I noticed that Alla Sizova was in the audience, and I wished she would go up there and show them how it should be done! (She could do it, too.) Hopefully they will improve for Swan Lake later this year.
Fun Anecdote: During dinner in the Terrace Restaurant, who should come sit at the next table with a group of other Maryinsky dancers but Daria Pavlenko! She is very tall and lovely in person, and was dressed very stylishly, down to those pointy shoes that are fashionable these days, though I have no idea how she could wear them after being in pointe shoes for so long. Then as I was leaving the restaurant, I came upon Danila Korsuntsev, who graciously gave his autograph (I hadn't wanted to disturb Pavlenko during her post-performance meal, even though she seemed dressed to receive fans). Korsuntsev is really, really tall and intimidating, but seemed very nice. I hadn't known before that the Terrace Restaurant was such a good place to find Maryinsky dancers--I will remember this when I come back for Swan Lake!
Posted 16 March 2003 - 10:57 PM
I did not see the program the first week, and I do not know how the companies may or may not be similar to each other, but I could not help but to feel that this week offered three distinctly different companies and three distinctly different pieces. Of the three, one was more of a "dance" piece than specifically ballet, but still offered a look at an aspect of dance as expression.
I do think that the program order was strange, and would have been more satisfying in reverse, but I suspect that the "powers that be" saw what looked good on paper. How could anyone else close when the Kirov is on the program? Considering the audience's reaction today, they made the right choice.
While the reviews indicated that La Bayadere suffered from the "concert" staging, small stage and loud shoes, I found that they were absolutely beautiful. I have only seen the Kirov once before- this past summer, in St. Petersburg in Simonov's new Nutcracker- so if I seem overly en thusiastic, that is why. This week I watched whenever I had the chance, starting with the dress rehearsal. They got better every time- fewer wobbles, better lines, quieter shoes, so by today (Sunday) they were breathtakingly together. Such perfect unison- how do they do that ? (I enjoyed watching the girls watch each other on stage every time they changed a position). The periodic wobble didn't even bother me- it merely looked like a ripple on a pond- or an image flickering as in a dream. I wondered what might be going through their minds through each held arabesque, each softly undulated port de bras. I suppose some might think certain moments mechanical and without feeling, but these moments would suddenly soften into a unified breath that would make me melt.
I saw each cast of principals- one of those in rehearsal. Ekaterina Kondaurova danced the stage rehearsal with Danilo Kortsuntsev, and I understand that this was her first, or one of her first Bayaderes. (I also saw her name in the list of Shades in the program- maybe there are two girls with that name.) She was beautiful to look at the minute she walked out on stage. I could have been happy watching her do tendus, probably. I did not see her performances, though, but I have no doubt that she was very watchable. The first performance I saw was Sofya Gumerova with Anton Korsakov. I found myself enjoying her performance- the way she would linger in a moment, extending her arms. She kept her eye contact with her partner, seeming to draw him to her. Whether he really responded I don't know as I really only watched her, but I did notice that he seemed to have a little trouble partnering her. He danced his variation beautifully- those enormous jtes with such soft landings. Both of the men I saw (Korsakov and Kortsuntsev) were so fluid in their upper bodies- I loved the way their hands seemed to unfurl as their arms would open. The second performance by Gumerova and Korsakov was much the same as the first, though I felt that she became haughtier somehow... her gestures at the end of supported pirouettes seemed to suggest some sort of triumph outside of the realm of La Bayadere.
Sunday afternoon, the leads were Kortsuntsev and Pavlenko.
They, too, were beautiful- Pavlenko I would call exqusite. She danced with a perfection found in the finest etched crystal. She was very clear, very precise, but I thought also rather cold. A vision of heavenly beauty that is untouchable. Kortsunsev, however brought a subtle drama to the opening of the pas de deux- a reaching for that unattainable beauty. I enjoyed their chemistry. He also seemed a more experienced performer than Korsakov, playing off of Pavlenko's unearthliness (yes- I think this could describe her as well). I can hardly believe that he managed to fit himslf onto that stage- he is so tall and long. I have to say that he was one of my favorite's- so big and powerful, yet moving like a cat. Irina Golub was my next favorite, dancing the first variation and all of it's difficult steps at the speed of light.
As for "Sea of Troubles"- well it was interesting. I only saw it in it's entirety for the dress rehearsal. To put it into a "ballet" festival is a stretch, I think. I approached it like a puzzle, trying to figure out who was who, what they were doing and which part of Hamlet the scene was from. Then, the program notes helped a little by explaining that much of this work was more of a "nightmare" as Hamlet might experience. The biggest clue was provided by one of the cast members, who told me that the key was in the costumes. A woman in a wreath was Ophelia, a crown- Gertrude. A man in a crown-Claudius, the white smock- the ghost, and nothing- Hamlet. The man falling from behind the curtain with the bloody handkerchief was Polonius. While the story was hard to follow and the movement hardly ballet, the performers were intensely involved in what they were doing, offering a very dramatic performance.
Four Temperments offered yet a third view of dance as energetic athleticism and freedom- roles that are open to interpretation and personality input from the dancer. There is no story to tell- only a mood to convey through the steps and their relation to the music. (I hesitate to say more as I am associated with the company.)
In looking at the total equation of the program, it does work out to be very balanced and satisfying, taking the viewer on a journey from the more recent neo-classicism to the intensely felt, deeply dramatic to perhaps the origin of all dance in the sublimely beautiful. And while some audience members may have thought they perceived a competitive atmosphere (somewhat encouraged by the media in their attempts to name the best/worst/most successful, etc.), it was most inspiring to watch the way the dancers from the different companies watched each other backstage. The Kirov girls would crowd the wings for Four Temperments with their rapt expressions, and the MCB dancers marvelled at the Kirov in their perfect, beautiful unison. We all admired the english dancers for their dramatic intelligence. Everyone was able to respect the abilities of the other companies, knowing that we each have our essential place in the ballet world.
Posted 17 March 2003 - 08:51 PM
Originally posted by novamom
May I also ask, how tall is Ms. Gumerova?
I don't know about the exact height of Sofia Gumerova, but I don't think that Anton Korsakov is too short for her. Korsakov is nearly 5'11". Korsakov actually made his debut as Solor in Washington, he had never danced this role in St. Petersburg before.
I am glad to hear about Gumerova dancing. She was indisposed last month, and didn't dance a single performance in the Mariinsky Festival.
Posted 17 March 2003 - 09:12 PM
leibling, thank you for that. I envy you being able to watch those rehearsals, and so many performances! I imagine it would take quite a bit of adjustment for the Shades to be comfortable in that space. I would have liked to have seen Kondaurova's second performance, to see if she was less tentative.
I figured out the costume-indicates-character idea in Sea of Troubles, but the work still didn't hang together for me. (And I agree it was odd to stage it on a ballet festival.) I found the dancers very likable and very committed -- and that's one of the reasons I found the work frustrating. It was so detailed -- it wasn't just thrown together, and from what I know of MacMillan he was very precise and knew exactly what he wanted. And I'll believe the dancers delivered that -- and so the confusion was more confusing. Perhaps it was an experiment -- can I stage a nightmare?
Posted 17 March 2003 - 11:39 PM
Ray - To me it's really interesting that the original cast of both the first pas de trois in Agon (and probably who you saw on the films) and Phlegmatic was Todd Bolender. The movement quality you describe I've always thought of as being not just their physical facility and training but even mirrored in the timing and carriage of the vernacular dance of the time. I saw Arthur Mitchell coach a few of his dancers in the pas de deux in Agon. He had a fascinating, specific timing and carriage, light on the balls of the feet with a spring upwards, that none of the men could imitate, and perhaps they didn't even notice it to copy it. I think it's because for Mitchell, jazz and soft-shoe were part of his vernacular. I'd actually like to see some of this preserved. I like the increased facility of the later decades, but the earlier musicality feels more incisive to me. It says more about movement then shape.
Interesting also that the first pas de trois-Phlegmatic correlation did not persist in repertory. Bolender was a "squishy" dancer - (my own term for him, but quoting Barbara Walczak, "Todd couldn't hit a note if you begged him.") Phlegmatic stayed "squishy", but the role became taller and more exotic (Mel Tomlinson, Adam Luders). The correlation now (at least at NYCB) is first pas de trois-Melancholic.
Posted 17 March 2003 - 11:48 PM
Posted 18 March 2003 - 02:06 AM
Posted 18 March 2003 - 02:40 AM
Posted 18 March 2003 - 05:36 AM
Marc, thank you for your clarification on Ms. Gumerova's height. My daughter always delights in finding taller dancers!
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