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Neumeier's NijinskyAny reports from Orange County?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 01:03 PM

Has anyone seen Hamburg Ballet's "Nijinsky"? It got raves in both the L.A. Times and Orange County Register. I'm curious what you all thought.

#2 Giannina

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 02:28 PM

Have 2 subscriptions to OCPAC dance series. Didn't go Thurs. because...well, I was apprehensive. After the very positive LA Times review I decided hubby and I would celebrate Valentine's day with "Nijinski". One of us is looking forward to it.

Giannina

#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 14 February 2004 - 03:15 PM

Please report in, Giannina!

It's coming to NYC and I'd love to know what someone thought of it.

#4 Giannina

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 12:08 AM

Sat. night at OCPAC.
Hamburg Ballet's "Nijinsky", choreographed by John Neumeier.

I almost didn't see this ballet and now I'm glad I did. This was a 2 act ballet. I loved the 1st act; you lost me in the 2nd. It's the story of Nijinaky's madness; a flash-back with scenes of his roles and his dance style and his relationships and his family and WWI. Act I. Dancing the leading role was Alexandre Riabko. It's a bravura role, and though I have no one with whom to compare him he did a very good job. Two other dancers were even better. Jiri Bubenicek, who danced the lead opening night and got raves, danced the Golden Slave and the Faun. He was spectacular as the Golden Slave, a sensual, graceful, exotic dance. As the Faun he struck "the pose" over and over again, crossing the stage slowly with "the walk". Best of all was Lloyd Riggins as Diaghilev. Didn't we just have a thread about cliche's such as "words fail me" which indicate the writer can't write? I'm struggling for words here. Riggins was in command of every situation; he was strong and self-confident. His duets with Riabko/Nijinsky were beautiful, and their deep relationship was evident. His dancing was superb. In making his dancing show strength and seriousness I cannot say Riggins made it look easy, as many dancers do, yet that style was perfect in this situation. He was masterful. The first act was a feast for the eyes, both for the dancing and the setting. I was either in tears or had a smile smeared across my face; great stuff! Act II was a lot more serious and not much fun. It dealt with Nijinsky's madness. WWI was a constant theme, and the focal point was the death of his brother, danced by Yukichi Hattori; his madness/death was a dance of contortions and gyrations showing his agony, and it was hard to watch because of its intensity.

The dance style was modern. Yes, the ballerinas wore pointe shoes but what they danced was rarely classical ballet. Scenes from various ballet, i.e. Petruschka, were included in Nijinsky's memories; one such memory that almost made me laugh was the Shades scene from LaB which got progressively more bizzare.

I enjoyed it once; I'm not sure how I'd feel seeing it a 2nd time. I recommend it. The audience went bananas; standing ovation. I sat (check thread on same subject) because from my seat I could see a standing ovation seated.

Giannina

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 01:42 PM

Thank you, Giannina -- it does sound interesting. Several European friends who've seen this (and liked it) described it as more a theater piece than a ballet. It's coming here -- for a week -- week after next, and going to New York next week, so I hope we'll have more comments. Neumeier is so highly regarded in Europe and virtually unknown here, it's time we got to see some of his work.

#6 Jacqueline

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 06:47 PM

Giannina, I just returned from the Sunday afternoon performance and I couldn't agree with you more. The first act was extraordinary, and the second, a bit "overlong" for me with all the contortions and convulsions. (And at one point I thought that the "slow walkers" would never exit the stage!)

But the dancing was beautiful and I really loved the costumes -- period, yet stylized. Anna Polikarpova as Romola Nijinsky was quite lovely.

I chose to leave my dd's at home for this one and take a few fellow ballet moms with me. I think it was a wise choice. On the whole, though, very exciting to see something different.

#7 Giannina

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 07:06 PM

Ohmygosh, Jacqueline...that is so true (and so funny) about the slow walkers. I was just beginning to relax as the last ones rose and started out when they started coming back in on the other side!

Who danced the roles of Nijinsky and Diaghilev?

Giannina

#8 OCBalletMom

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 07:06 PM

I attended the Saturday evening performance at OCPAC.

Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the performance. The acting (and dancing) ability of the dancers was amazing. I also really enjoyed the choreography and how well the dancers movement expressed the "story". A lot going on the stage at times and perhaps you really couldn't take it all in just watching the performance once . . .

#9 Andre Yew

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 11:57 PM

I just saw the Sunday afternoon show with Jiri as Nijinsky, Hattori as Stanislav, Otto (Jiri's twin brother) as the golden slave, and Riabko as Le Spectre. What an amazing work! It is complex, dense, multi-layered and -dimensional with references to so many things coming out of every pore, and not gratuitously either. For example, the crazy Shades scene I thought tied in very well to Stanislav's mental break, by reducing to disorder the most orderly scene in classical ballet. The Petrushka references (ie. unrequited love) are clearly directed at Nijinsky's confused sexuality and its consequences. Etc. I wish I could see it again, and I have a feeling it's going to reward repeated viewing. It's a very intense work, and demands active participation from the audience.

I also have to say that this is the single strongest collection of male dancing I've seen. Ivan Urban was amazing as Diaghilev, and Jiri made me feel the awe audiences in Nijinsky's day may have felt at his technical prowess, as well as expressing the pain, frustration, and joy of his character (the family ballet class was especially touching). Hattori was scary. Otto and Riabko danced their roles very well, enough to make me wonder what they'd be like in the actual ballets.

--Andre


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