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Larissa Lezhnina


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#1 silvy

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 07:58 AM

I read in an interview to Larissa Lezhnina that she said to Marc Haegman (the interviewer) that she had to leave the Kirov because the director (Vinogradov) hated her.

I just would like to know WHY this was so, as Lezhnina, for me, was one of the most charming, promising, classically perfect ballerinas of the 1990s at the Kirov. Was it typecasting? If so, what could possibly be wrong with her?

Anyone knows?

astonished silvy

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 08:00 AM

I'm sure Marc does :) I hope he sees this.

#3 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 08:43 AM

Silvy, this is a rather complicated question, as you will understand. The Kirov’s management’s policy toward its dancers, even those about whom everybody agrees that they are something special or unique or whatever, is anything but logical. It never has been, I doubt it ever will be. Several talented dancers have left or were kicked out of the company at that point (Kunakova, Mezentseva, Pankova, Melnikov, Lezhnina, Polikarpova, Shapchits, Zavialov etc.) for various reasons.

In Lezhnina’s case there was definitely nothing wrong with her, except maybe that the times just weren’t right for her any longer in the Kirov, and eventually this clashed with her own ambitions. Physically, stylistically, as well as mentally Lezhnina belongs to a different era, and this is meant in the most respectable sense (“I left the Kirov, and I have a different style in my memory”, as she says herself). After having been promised heaven for some time, she found herself with nothing to do anymore. As we all know Vinogradov opened the door for another breed of female dancers, and we can observe the result of that today.

I hope this answers your question somehow.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 08:54 AM

To me, Lezhnina is the ideal Kirov Aurora -- very much in the Kolpakova mold. Pushing her out, and bringing in another "ideal," was one of the turning points in recent Kirov history, for me.

#5 silvy

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 10:52 AM

I happen to have seen Lezhnina dance Bluebird here in Montevideo around 1997, or 1998. I thought she classically perfect (maybe rather "cold" for what here in South America are used to). Of course, I had seen her on video previously.

then my last experience with the Kirov "live" was in Buenos Aires around 1996. There I saw Mahkalina as Dying Swan and Paquita, Diana Vishneva in Tchaikowsky pdd, Ruzimatov doing a solo by Bejart, Lopatkina with Zelensky in Swan Lake (they were incredible - lots of curtain calls then). Veronika Ivanova was a soloist in Paquita then.

Do you mean that the company has been so changed since 1996? If so, what changes, exactly?

silvy

#6 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:07 AM

Silvy, this is a much to complex matter (and deserves a separate thread) to deal with in a few words, but you have seen Diana Vishneva perform the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, right? Well, just imagine how Larissa Lezhnina would dance this and then you'll understand what has changed in this company :).

#7 Calliope

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:09 AM

Is she still dancing?

#8 silvy

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:57 AM

I just cannot imagine Larissa Lezhnina in Tchaikowsky's pdd - maybe it is too "modern" for her??????? I cud not imagine Irina Kolpakova in it either

Is that what you mean, Marc??

silvy

#9 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:11 PM

Larissa Lezhnina is still dancing, Calliope. She is a first soloist with the Dutch National Ballet, in Amsterdam since 1994 (for more details please check out her biography on the site of the Dutch National Ballet: http://www.het-natio...etail.php?id=47

It has nothing to do with "too modern", Silvy. Of course we can't imagine Kolpakova in Balanchine, because she never had the chance to dance it, yet many observers assume she would have been wonderful in it. But Lezhnina did and does dance Balanchine as well as many other "modern" choreographers. Her current repertoire ranges from Bournonville and Petipa to Balanchine, Robbins, Van Manen, Tharp and Forsythe.

What I meant is the difference in plastique, style, approach and manner of the current Mariinsky dancers compared to Lezhnina. That has changed, no matter what repertoire or choreographer they are performing.

#10 Roma

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:34 PM

Marc, this is a little off topic, but I was wondering if Pankova is still dancing?

#11 Alexandra

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 07:27 PM

I think she is, Roma, but my information is two years old, so......

Silvy, your question spurred me to put on line several interviews from past issues of DanceView. One of them, also by Marc Haegeman, is of Kirill Melnikov, another expatriate Russian dancer. He talks about changes he saw in the Kirov then -- the interview was done in 1999 -- and what he says may explain more.

Melnikov interview

There are other reviews -- Jane Simpson with Alexander Grant, talking about staging Ashton. Mary Cargill with former NYCB ballerina Juditih Fugate. Several by Marc of Paris Opera Ballet dancers.

#12 silvy

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 07:57 AM

Thanks Alexandra for having posted a link to Melnikov's interview. Though I have not seen the Kirov recently, I must say I agree 100% to his views about how ballet should be approached.

In the film "The Leningrad Legend" Makarova expresses some of Melnikov's same concerns: that she sensed the company were too young and that they did not have older dancers (still dancing, not as coaches) to mirror from which to learn. I thought that was SO IMPORTANT.

However, I must disagree with him about automatic teller machines: they are SOOO PRACTICAL!!!! :)

Silvy

#13 papeetepatrick

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 12:20 PM

To me, Lezhnina is the ideal Kirov Aurora -- very much in the Kolpakova mold. Pushing her out, and bringing in another "ideal," was one of the turning points in recent Kirov history, for me.


Was interested to see this old discussion just after watching Lezhnina, with whom I wasn't familiar, as Aurora on the DVD last night. Exquisite tiny doll she was, and simply mesmerizing and fairylike at all times. I had to remind myself that Aurora is still in a sense a 'mortal' compared at least to the Lilac Fairy and the others, because she is the lightest little thing imaginable. I love this production too, so someone please tell me if they think this is wonderful too--even things like Garland Waltz are better than I remembered them elsewhere, and much preferred to Royal Ballet DVD of 1994 with Viviana Durante. Gergiev makes the orchestra sound slightly sharper than Fedotov, but the music still sounds good here. And the Queen here is wonderful, as she tries to express distaste for Carabosse without seeming snobbish.

#14 papeetepatrick

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 06:34 PM

Okay, BT! Before I start rudely pm'ing experts and/or starting a new post, I will be happy to depend on the kindness of strangers. Maybe shoudl start one anyway regarding Soviet and post-Soviet Kirov 'Sleeping Beauty'. Because when I wrote the above I hadn't yet watched the 3rd Act. Well, I just think this is one of the most marvelous things I ever saw and heard, pure magic.

So, of 'Sleeping Beauty''s on tape or DVD, is this one of the gold standards? Because it's the best one I've ever seen IMHO. I just adore it from start to finish, and the only thing I like as well is the beauteous and more luscious Alla Sizove in the movie of the Kirov. But this production is something else. What also then interests me is: Was Sovietism responsible for this perfection? Has post-Sovietism and some of the discussion in this thread by Marc Haegeman and Diana Vishneva and new styles (and why Lezhnina was pushed out of Kirov) produced anything that equals this or surpasses it? I need to know, because if you can see a 'Sleeping Beauty' better than this, I need to see it to believe it. It's probably rude to say it, but my impression is that Kirov must be always known as the greatest of all ballet companies, with exception of certain special periods in certain other special companies. I thought this SB was in a different dimension from anything I've ever even seen live.

So tell me, EXPERTS, am I suffering from hyperbole and exaggeration caused by little knowledge (that dangerous thing)?

Answers are humbly requested...

#15 Hans

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 08:00 PM

Well I am by no means an expert, but I do think that aside from the Vikharev reconstruction, the Sergeyev Sleeping Beauty is easily one of the very best productions. There are aspects I do not like, such as the replacement of mime with bland, unimaginative choreography. It is also possible to quibble with Sergeyev's blatant departures from the Stepanov notation in the Bluebird pas de deux, particularly Princess Florine's variation, but overall, it is very strong, and the Maryinsky dancers (at least those of Lezhnina's generation and previously) can all act beautifully, the nobility conveying weight and grandeur without being heavy, and everyone with impeccably neat footwork, generally brilliant beats, and very pure, elegant port de bras. Dancers of that generation also had a notably pure line (Makhalina was sometimes an exception) which frankly I have hardly ever seen in the current Maryinsky dancers--instead of moderation, it's about extremes now.

You may also wish to get the Kolpakova DVD; although she is past her prime, you can see the wonderful panorama during the Act II boat scene, although be warned--seeing that makes just about every other treatment of that scene look insipid.

Lezhnina on the particular DVD you mention was very young (I have heard as young as seventeen, but I don't know if that's true) and so at times she is a little mechanical, but her beautifully elegant, clear technique and pure style shine through. Sizova is the best Aurora, of course, and I think that if Lezhnina had been allowed to develop at the Maryinsky she would have been very like Sizova. I think that maybe this DVD is the one that has Terekhova as Florine? That performance is another gem. The only one whose performance strikes a false note, for me, is Ruzimatov as Prince Désiré. That is a casting decision I don't think I will ever fully understand.


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