Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Kirov Ballet in D.C. -- Swan Lake


  • Please log in to reply
35 replies to this topic

#16 Ari

Ari

    Gold Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 887 posts

Posted 02 January 2004 - 05:18 PM

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

My gold standard for Swan Lake has always been the old Royal Ballet version, with traditional choreography adapted to RB style by Ashton, and additional choreography by Ashton and de Valois. That production had just the right balance of dancing and mime, and careful attention to everything that happened onstage. You never saw courtiers just wandering on and offstage in the ballroom scene, for instance; if someone entered of left there was a reason for it, and you could see the reason. The national dances had the flavor of the countries they represented. There were opportunities for dancers from all levels of the company to shine onstage and grow into new roles. It also had the bonus of not one but two fourth acts (never given at the same time!). There was the traditional Ivanov-channelled-by-Aston one, and the all-Ashton one. Both gorgeous. If I were the Royal, I'd revive this production pronto and alternate fourth acts every year. :D

#17 Marc Haegeman

Marc Haegeman

    Platinum Circle

  • Editorial Advisor
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,027 posts

Posted 03 January 2004 - 05:11 AM

Ah, I thought we were talking about what is acceptable or not - but you're basically talking about taste. Both (RB/Ashton and Kirov/Sergeyev) are company-adapted versions of a classic with their merits and flaws, not to mention the fact that years of performing eroded the initial ideas. But I don't see why the current Kirov production would be anywhere less acceptable than the old RB version. Personally I feel much closer to a Russian "Swan Lake" than to an English one (at least the Russians still know how to do the character dances), but that's only a matter of taste again.

#18 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 03 January 2004 - 06:01 AM

It's also a matter of what one is used to -- if you grow up with a Jester, then he must seem "right." The old RB version is the gold standard for me, too -- and I would make the case for the mime. There is no story in the Sergeyev -- no command to marry, no explanation of who Odette is or what is her plight, no oath, and so the two-seconds of betrayal that happens in the ballroom scene doesn't make sense. And then there's the happy ending which, as has been mentioned, is at odds with the music.

The character dance issue is a good point -- though when I first saw the RB production in the 1970s (slipped, I know, from the 1960s) their character dancing was at least as strong as what we saw here this week from the Kirov -- the Venetian was lovely (though that's not really character dancing) but the Spanish was more classical than character in delivery, and the czardas and mazurka were rather palid.

I am glad they do character dances and not semi-classical ones, though.

Another comment on the Jester. Having him be "sweet" on one of the pas de deux girls to the point of following her around with a rose is in the worng key, for me, as is having him comment on the suitability of each Would Be Bride. I don't find any of the additions to the old Royal production anachronistic or inappropriate to the ballet.

So yes, that's the one I'm used to, but I do think there are differences.

Now, compared to the Grigorovich, the McKenzie, the current Royal, I'd take the Kirov's in its current state.

#19 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,290 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 05:46 AM

This is sort of a minor point, but I remember really loving the Spanish dance in the Sergeyev version...I recall a moment when the women somewhat suddenly stretch/curve their bodies way over to the side with a fan-wielding arm overhead -- and, as they reach the extreme point of the curve, they open their fans. It looked as if their bodies were doubling the movement of the opening fans. I also thought that this version of the Spanish dance was more or less kept in the Vinogradov version -- though someone may correct me. I do hope no one will tell me that my memory is inventing this altogether, since it's one of the highlights of my Swan Lake recollections!

When I saw the Vinogradov version, I had been warned how dreadful the ending was, but actually liked it a little more than...well...than anyone else did. I semi-joked to a friend that, conceptually, it was perfect for post-Soviet Russian since evil (Rothbart) was defeated, but even so, good (Odette and Siegfried) did not triumph. I won't fill in the dots on the political allegory, since we try to keep politics off the board, but I assume it's obvious enough even to people who disagree with me. I also found it visually effective to see the swans exit as they had entered -- and I felt that it captured a melancholy, dark tone while leaving the future still a little uncertain.

To return to the thread topic -- thanks to everyone for reports on these performances (and more please). I had hoped to come to Washington to see some for myself, but in the end was unable to do so...

#20 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 08:52 AM

I wish you had been able to come up, Drew -- I saw three of the performances and even though I didn't care for two of the ballerinas, the performances as a whole were very strong.

A word to the side about my request not to discuss politics here: what I want to avoid is partisan politics in the sense of having comments like, "of course, any country that would go to war..." followed by, "watch it, my son is in the army" followed by "of course, only a Republican would say something like that." I've seen that happen on other (nondance) boards and I just don't have the time or patience to deal with it here. What you refer to is, in my book, history -- of course, an American view of Soviet ballet in a political context might be quite different than a Russian view, and a Pole may have something else to say about that, but I think we should be able to handle that.

Back to Swan Lake, I couldn't figure out what Ari meant by the groupings of three, and saw them last night (I had been sitting close earlier; not a good vantage point for seeing patterns). In the fourth act, there's a cross-mirror image pattern: a group of three swans at the back stage right mirrored, on the diagonal, by three in the front stage left; and the reverse with four swans. I don't much care for the fourth act choreography, but only in comparison to either the Ivanov or the Ashton (or the Nureyev; I like his fourth act). Compared to the Grigorovich, not to mention the 70-11 dozen minor versions bobbling around, I think it's a bit dull, but not bad.

The Mazurka dancers must have heard that some idiot was saying the Royal danced the character dances better -- they were splendid last night. (only joking about the first part of that sentence)

I saw both performances yesterday -- Gumerova/Korsuntsev in the afternoon and Sologub/Sarafanov in the evening. The audience seemed to love both Gumerova and Sologub, and I do not understand why. I thought both were technically adequate and absolutely empty. Gumerova was stronger than Sologub, whose attention to the finer details is not very rigorous. One of the glories of the Kirov school, for me, is the way the instep of the working leg cuddles the knee in passe She seemed to swat her knee -- front or back, who's looking? Both women got through the fouettes -- Sologub throwing in a double here and there, which made her lurch forward -- and both traveled. But more importantly, there was nothing individual about their dancing or their portrayal. I liked Korsuntsev very much and wish he'd have been paired with Pavlenko. Sarafinov is too slight and light a Siegfried for me, and he was off-form in the solo, but his carriage, deportment and investment in the role were flawless. I hope he grows into it physically.

#21 Ari

Ari

    Gold Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 887 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 03:49 PM

I caught today's matinee, and liked Pavlenko very much indeed. She had oodles of technique, making it look like this was something she did for relaxation, and her stage presence has warmed up since I saw her last. I was also very grateful that she did not bend her knee in arabesque as many Russian women do. Only her hyperextensions marred the performance.

The girls in the first act pas de trois were the same as on Thursday (would someone who knows tell us who they are?) but the boy was different. It was a better performance than Thursday's, too.

I think the first and third acts (excepting that dratted jester) are stronger than my first impression of them, but I still find the swan acts unlovely and unpoetic.

#22 Thalictum

Thalictum

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 265 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 08:33 PM

Sunday afternoon the pas de trois was sheer delight. The girls were Golub and Tkhachenko. The boy was Scherbakov, who also danced it at Saturday night's performance (with Gonchar and Osmolkina). He was spectacular both times, with unsurpassed elevation and ballon. At the Sunday matinee Scherbakov and Zelensky were standard bearers for male classical dancing, Kirov style: exquisitely polished, devoid of flash, overkill and gimmicks.

At Saturday's matinee, Mikhail Lobukhin, who graduated in 2002, danced the pas de trois with Golub and Tkhachenko. He was a little rough but definitely promising.

Alexandra had said it was also Scherbakov for Thursday night's performance (first Sologub/Sarafanov performace]. I wasn't there.

Zelensky was much more expressive and involved than the last time I saw him dance Siegfried in 2000 with Part.

Sarafanov is much too immature for Siegfried. Odette/Odile would seem not to be Sologub's role at all, but it is hard to gauge her potentials in this performance because Sarafanov's partnering was adequate at best; I sat close to the stage and during the White pas de deux it was clear she was in places in and out of lifts she never intended to be. Some of Sarafanov's variation was gorgeous, but he was turned in in the grand saute a la seconde and sometimes his landings were needlessly violent. On the other hand, he was calmer and less overstated than he had been as Solor. This time his arabesques were 90 degrees, whereas in Bayadere he was hiking everything to around 150.

The corps was magnificent, the male corps considerably better than even a few years ago, while the women are the gold standard for classical ensembles today, in my opinion.

I thought this was Gumerova's best White Act ever, and Korsuntsev was dignified, stalwart, and even technically impressive.

Pavlenko is not as tall as one usually pictures Odette/Odile, but she was eloquent and beautiful.

Alexandra Iosifidi in the Big Swans made me want to see her dancing the lead, but she is even taller than Gumerova and it might be hard to find the right partner.

#23 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Diamonds Circle

  • Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,311 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 08:48 PM

This is sort of a minor point, but I remember really loving the Spanish dance in the Sergeyev version...I recall a moment when the women somewhat suddenly stretch/curve their bodies way over to the side with a fan-wielding arm overhead -- and, as they reach the extreme point of the curve, they open their fans.  It looked as if their bodies were doubling the movement of the opening fans.  I also thought that this version of the Spanish dance was more or less kept in the Vinogradov version -- though someone may correct me.

Not I.

This passage is more or less artifactual. It goes back even to the 1895 version, at least from what I can tell from still photos taken of the Spanish dancers in what must have been staged studio shots. Beaumont also records it in his print description of the dance. Most companies have forgotten this accent, and it's too bad.

#24 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 10:12 PM

quick note -- Thalictum, I didn't go Thursday; I went Wednesday, and both Saturday performances, so I don't know who danced Thursday night.

#25 Thalictum

Thalictum

    Bronze Circle

  • Inactive Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 265 posts

Posted 04 January 2004 - 10:29 PM

Sorry -- in your earlier post you'd said a friend had told you it was Scherbakov at the first Sologub-Sarafanov performance, which was Thursday.
But maybe Loboukhin danced that performance and then the Saturday matinee was his second.

#26 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,290 posts

Posted 05 January 2004 - 02:27 AM

Thanks Mel -- I didn't know any of that. It's a very effective moment. (One can only guess how many other such moments have been lost even in the Russian/Soviet versions, though if someone could do more than guess, then I might vote in favor of a full scale 'revival' of the original -- Benno partnering Odette and all...)

#27 coda

coda

    Senior Member

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 102 posts

Posted 05 January 2004 - 03:30 AM

Referring to Alexandra's posting on 4 Jan.:
Natalia Sologub, in fact, is not a product of the Kirov school. She graduated from the Bashkirian Ballet School in Ufa (the Nureyev's hometown) in 1998 and joined the Mariinsky the same year.
I find her a very talented dancer - for modern ballets.

#28 Ari

Ari

    Gold Circle

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 887 posts

Posted 05 January 2004 - 05:38 AM

Thanks, Thalictum, for identifying the pas de trois dancers at Sunday's performance. As I mentioned, the girls were the same as on Thursday, but the boy was different. If anyone knows who danced the pas de trois on Thursday, I'd like to know.

#29 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 05 January 2004 - 07:16 AM

Referring to Alexandra's posting on 4 Jan.:
Natalia Sologub, in fact, is not a product of the Kirov school. She graduated from the Bashkirian Ballet School in Ufa (the Nureyev's hometown) in 1998 and joined the Mariinsky the same year.
I find her a very talented dancer - for modern ballets.

Thank you, Coda -- yes, I know Sologub is not a graduate of the Academy. I mean "Kirov school" in the sense of the company's style/technique. (I write that because this often comes up as a misunderstanding; someone writes "American Ballet Theatre has no school" and someone else, quite understandably says, "Oh, yes they do, they've started a training program" and that's not what was meant.) Wherever a dancer is trained, if he or she is dancing a leading role at a company of the level of the Kirov, I expect the dancing to exhibit the company's school. In modern roles, the disparaties wouldn't show as much. Having seen Sologub's Nutcracker, I can imagine she would be quite interesting in modern roles. (I also liked her very much in "Serenade".

#30 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Board Founder

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,258 posts

Posted 05 January 2004 - 07:56 AM

Ari, regarding pas de trois casting (or "Prince's Friends" as the program unhelpfully put it, listing six dancers,a at least one of whom did not dance, and with no dates) there was no one official to ask after opening night. If the company sent a press representative, I did not see him/her. The Kennedy Center usually puts in program slips; it didn't this time. And they used to post cast changes, or casting that was not specified in the program, but that didn't happen eiither. The Kirov has been notoriously bad about casting announcements, at least here -- on one earlier visit, the Kennedy Center press person would go back stage and ask the person listed in the program if they really had danced and, even though that dancer might be in street clothes, eating a pizza, s/he'd say, "Yes," while the Mystery Dancer, seating and in costume, standing a foot away, would say s/he hadn't danced.

I don't think the casting would be retrievable from the Kennedy Center press office at this point, since the company has gone home. I've now heard/read three different nominations for one performance, so I'm not going to try to sort it out. You all are welcome to!

It's a shame for the dancers. Also, it undermines the point of having the Kirov be a regular visitor -- presumably to provide a standard for ballet, a measuring stick for developing a new audience for ballet, and educating that audience. If that audience isn't told who the dancers are, it won't get to know the company.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):