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Kirov Ballet in D.C. -- Swan Lake


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 08:55 PM

Did anyone else go to Swan Lake (Konstantine Sergeyev's production). I thought the company as a whole looked very good; no opening night jitters or bobbles (I don't count that one swan fell).

Pavlenko and Zelensky danced the leads. Their second act was very fine -- it was the kind of performance where you could sense the tension and expectation in the house. The third act wasn't as strong, and the happy ending ruins it -- Pavlenko seems made for a tragic ending; there was so much pathos in her portrayal, the thought of her Odette living happily ever after seems incongruous. So not a completely satisfying evening for me, but one I'm glad to have seen.

Edited by Alexandra, 30 December 2003 - 10:58 PM.


#2 nysusan

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 08:43 AM

My Christmas present to myself was a weekend trip to DC and 4 performances of Swan Lake (I’m so sick of McKenzie’s version, such a shame that there’s no decent version in NY anymore).

The first perfomance I’m going to is Friday night and I have an extra ticket - First tier, row D in the 200’s, $80. I figured I’d try to sell it before the performance but if any Ballet Alertnicks are interested, let me know by tomorrow night - I’m catching the bus Friday morning & won’t have access to email while I’m away.

Susan

#3 Ari

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 08:15 AM

I attended last night's performance, with Natalya Sologub and Leonid Sarafanov. Sologub is a vivacious dancer who takes naturally to Odile, and she charged right into the role. She seemed so happy that she risked dramatic credibility -- surely even a dim bulb like Siegfried should have grasped that this was not the gentle girl he'd fallen in love with -- but her delight in performing had its own charm. Odette is too tame for her temperament, and her second act was dull. She's allowed to be more animated in the fourth, which closed her performance on a more satisfactory note. Her technique was perfectly acceptable without being exciting. She does have beautiful feet. (Her hair, incidentally, is still definitely red but was subdued, perhaps by some dark netting.)

Sarafanov would seem to be ideally cast as Siegfried right now because he is so young and boyish, but he worked hard not to look that way. His technique is pure and he has the makings of a virtuoso, but is as yet too green to be able to carry off the pyrotechnics as he would like. The audience wanted to like him, but seemed a bit puzzled that he didn't deliver all that he promised. His partnering was often clumsy.

I'm not a fan of this production, which dispenses with the mime, includes a jester (although, to be fair, he doesn't take over the proceedings as much as he does in other productions), and uses unattractive arrangements of swans in the white acts. And then there's the happy ending. Why this Soviet-era version has survived into the new century is a puzzle. The company had a decent version by Vinogradov that they performed in New York in 1992, but I suppose it was a victim of the new regime. If the rumors of a change in direction are true, perhaps we'll see a new production before long.

#4 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 09:28 AM

and uses unattractive arrangements of swans in the white acts.  And then there's the happy ending.  Why this Soviet-era version has survived into the new century is a puzzle.  The company had a decent version by Vinogradov that they performed in New York in 1992, but I suppose it was a victim of the new regime. 

Thanks for the review, Ari. Could you possibly say what you mean with "unattractive arrangements of the swans"? Why is it so puzzling that this version has survived into the new century? Why wouldn't it have survived? And do you really think that Vinogradov's version was an improvement over the Sergeyev? How so? Funny, but you are the first person I met who seemed to like that one :D.

#5 koshka

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 09:29 AM

I too attended last night's (Thursday's) performance and will see the Pavlenko/Zelensky cast on Sunday.

I liked both leads very much, but they are not a good pair. The partnering was not-so-good, and Sarafanov looks _much_ younger than Sologub.

Sologub's scary hair was mostly hidden by headpieces, mercifully. She does have amazing feet, and after seeing her doing the frustrating Nutcracker choreography, it was great to see her just dance.

Sarafonov is fabulous, but seems to be not fully grown. He looks to be about 18 (if that), though bio information at the Mariinsky site indicates that he is at least 21. He was a bit jittery in a few of his solos, but he is just a stunning dancer and I hope to see much more of him in the future.

The Spanish costumes look identical to those used in Sleeping Beauty.

#6 Alexandra

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 10:37 AM

Ari, I was curious about the Vinogradov too -- I've never seen it, and I'd be interested what you thought of it, and how it compared more specifically.

#7 kfw

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 10:59 AM

Thanks for the reviews, folks. The partnering was indeed a little rough at times. I thought Sarafanov looked about 16 as a character compared to everyone else, especially with Korsakov (or did Scherbakov have the solo?) onstage. Even his mother was was taller and larger-boned. I couldn't think of him as a prince in Act One, especially with that constant, irritating grin, and rather than watching a story unfold, I found myself studying a performance. But I thought he danced and mimed with real nobility afterwards, and Sologub came alive after the first act as well, where she danced well, didn't seem to have much personality. I'd love to see them do this again in a few years.

As the jester, Ivavnov's pirouettes began at high speed and soon went supersonic. I didn't hear a boom, but the audience gasped. Popov was an impressive Rothbart as well. The national dances have always bored me, but the performances last night won me over.

Ah, but in 28 years of going to the ballet, this was my first live Swan Lake. :D

#8 koshka

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 11:05 AM

especially with Korsakov (or did Scherbakov have the solo?)


Must have been Scherbakov. Korsakov looks all of about 19, or at least he looked that way in Oct 2002.

By the way, one thing I found very irritating was that the program named only the dancers in the most major roles, which made it a lot harder to identify dancers in the minor roles.

#9 Alexandra

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 11:39 AM

I wasn't there, but I was told by a friend that Scherbakov did the pas de trois in the Sologud-Sarafanov performance. (I agree, having the names in the program would help. Opening night, one of the women who danced hadn't even made the "menu").

#10 Hans

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 12:46 PM

I saw the Sarafanov-Sologub performance, too. Even considering its flaws (lack of mime, dancing Rothbart, happy ending) I think it's one of the best Swan Lakes being performed today. By the way, every member of that corps de ballet should receive flowers. They are truly the best in the world.

Whoever danced the third variation in the pas de trois was wonderful--beautiful lines, could pirouette for days, and she actually projected, which was more than I can say for the leads. While Sarafanov and Sologub were technically just about impeccable, I'd be surprised if they "read" past the footlights--they certainly didn't make it up to the front of the second tier. I didn't mind so much that they looked like children, Sarafanov especially, but even though they pulled out a lot of stops technically (consistent single-single-double fouettés from Sologub), they left me completely cold, even bored, and a weak performance (dramatically) from newbie soloists was the last thing I expected from the great Kirov-Mariinsky, especially on tour. I'm sure they'll both grow up to be quite beautiful artists--they are both certainly built for it--but they were just not ready to take on Swan Lake (which is of course not their fault but that of the director). Where have all the Kirov's stars gone? Even Daria Pavlenko would have been preferable.

#11 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 02:04 PM

I understand your disappointment, Hans, about the non-star casting, but it is a fact that this has been the case for years with them. The only difference is that when a few years ago they still could offer their biggest names in the major ballet centres (because that difference was being made), even that became a treasurable rarity now :D .

#12 Ari

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 02:50 PM

About the Vinogradov Swan Lake, I really don't remember much about it except some swans in deep burgundy velvet tutus in the fourth act (they looked black unless you were up close). I just remember having thought it was an acceptable production, which I would not say of the Sergeyev version.

Marc, I thought the swan corps was deployed in awkward and unpleasing ways. There were a lot more straight lines than I recall from other productions, and when the corps was arranged in small groups, the overall picture from above (I was in the second tier) was assymetrical and unharmonious. At one point, for instance, there were three girls downstage right, four girls downstage left, four girls upstage right and three upstage left. The right and left groups, both front and back, were arrayed in different formations, and it made for a confusing stage picture. I also didn't like the fact that the big swans were four in number, matching the number of cygnets, and the way these two groups were used as almost supernumerary to the 24 "main" swans, who did most of the big dances.

Of course, the beautiful and harmonious dancing of the Kirov corps went a good ways towards easing my pain! :D

#13 Thalictum

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 03:13 PM

This is written Friday evening, so I don't know who dances tonight, but

At every Swan Lake so far, Scherbakov has danced the pas de trois, as well as the Spanish dance alongside Baimuradov.

Korsakov injured his back in Russia two weeks ago and isn't here at all, although listed in the program.

The opening night pas de trois girls were Golub and Tkhachenko.
Since then Gonchar and Selina may also have danced. Zhelonkina is not here.

A friend told me the opening night pas de trois was the best she has ever seen, so I am eager to see them this weekend.

#14 Cygnet

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 03:15 PM

I saw Vinogradov's "Swan Lake" too. It premiered in Los Angeles in May 1992. Makhalina and Zaklinsky danced. The scenery was very gothic. I'll never forget what Martin Bernheimer said in his review - that the ballroom scene for Act 2, ". . . would cause guilded feelings in King Ludwig of Neuwanstein." :D The scenery was very heavy and covered in gold. Act 1 scene 1 was in pale pink, but the scheme looked alot like the scenery and costumes that were in the Yevteyeva/Markovsky film from 1970. Act 1 Scene 2 had a chapel ruin on stage and was equally dark in style - everything awash in blue moonliight. He didn't change Act 1 Scene 2's choreography. The choreography for the Act 2 was the same too. In Act 3 there was (IMO) an inferior opening and Dance of the Swans to the Valse Brillante. He did away with the farewell pas de deux to "Un Poco di Chopin" and replaced this music with the music from the 1877 score that accompanies Odile's, Siegfried's and Rothbart's entrance pas de trois in the Grigorovich production. After Rothbart gets his wing torn off, he dies. Siegfried? I don't remember: I think he either died or left the lake. (Ari do you remember?) At the end, the swans, repeat their first entrance in Act 1 Scene 2 in reverse and leave the stage, and Odette follows them the same way. Then curtain. I agree with Ari it was decent and it was a different way of looking at the work. But,
IMO it doesn't compare to the Sergeyev version at all. I believe the Kirov should look into reconstructing the original 1895 "Swan Lake," - ideally with the 1877 music for the apotheose - uncut. The music just begs for the tragic ending.

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Edited by Cygnet, 02 January 2004 - 03:26 PM.


#15 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 04:01 PM

I just remember having thought it was an acceptable production, which I would not say of the Sergeyev version.

:D But what do you call an acceptable production of "Swan Lake" then, Ari?

The arrangement of the corps in the white acts of the Kirov's production never struck me as being unharmonious - seen from above or from below. Could this have been caused by possible limitations of the stage at the Kennedy Center? Did anyone else notice this too?

Siegfried doesn't die in Vinogradov's version, but he is left alone by Odette who disappears with the swans. It's true the last act is a total mess and nobody seems to remember exactly what's going on. In a review Alastair Macaulay picked on the absurd Vinogradov choreography for the black (or burgundy) and white swans in the final scene, where the whites hit the upbeat and the blacks the downbeat - "as if 'you say potato, and I say potahto' had reached Swan Lake" he joked :D.


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