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Ballet Tidbits from Moscow (Nov. 23 - ???)


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 09:59 AM

Greetings from snow-covered Moscow, where I'm chilling out (figuratively & quite literally) from a long working period in Uzbekistan. Nothing planned ahead of time - just hanging out & buying ballet tix as interesting performances occur. So far I've seen a delightful 'Don Q' at the Stanislavsky (Tatiana Chernobrovkina as Kitri...how this 'prima ballerina' was omitted from the Kennedy Center tour of two years ago is beyond me...then again, there is no rhyme or reason to some Russian ballet intrigues); a ghastly 'Napoleon Bonaparte' full-length ballet at the Kremlin by resident choreographer Andrei Petrov (...and you thought Eifman was bad...); and an always-exciting opera (Boris Godunov) at the Bolshoi.

But the highlight, thus far, was last Sunday night at the Bolshoi, when I attended something billed as "Gala Jubilee Tribute to Mikhail Lavrovsky," the former Bolshoi premier danseur (1960s/70s Spartacus, Albrecht, Basil...and first husband of Natalia Bessmertnova) & now a choreographer and director-founder of one of the better-known private ballet academies in town. The program consisted of three one-act ballets by Lavrovsky: two premieres ('Nijinsky' starring the magnificent young Bolshoi star Dmitri Gudanov in the title role and Lavrovsky as Diaghilev; and 'The Matador') and one older work ('Fantasy on a Theme of Casanova'). In all three cases, banal choreography was overcome by wonderful dancing and adoring enthusiasm from the sold-out gala audience. It was all worth my while just to see the septagenerian Lavrovsky prance on stage in the jota from 'Don Q' - delivering some eye-popping multiple-revolution pirouettes that had us hooting & hollering for more...and he kept giving us more & more & more. [Sorry, Americans - nothing beats a Russian audience for healthy rowdiness!!]

Interesting note for videophiles - a new batch of historic Soviet-Era videos (1960s & 70s) has been released, including a number of movie-theater films on ballet themes starring Maris Liepa ('Galatea'), Katia Maximova ('Fouette') & others. Most of you know about the recent Russian-commercial videos of the reconstructed 1902 'Don Q' (Ananiashvili, et al) and the latest 'Giselle' (Lunkina/Tsiskaridze)? Well, now there is a follor-up documentary on 'The Making of Giselle' which captures on film the great Ulanova coaching Lunkina for her debut as Giselle, 3-4 years ago. Ulanova died a few months after this event.

Lots of great ballet news on TV. Vishneva won a Merited Artist of Russian Federation award. Nina Ananiashvili's recent new ballet ('Leah' by Ratmansky) premiered at the operetta theater instead of the originally-announced Bolshoi...not a big hit, acording to my friends who, on the other hand, love the new Roland Petit ballet at the Bolshoi ('Queen of Spades' to Tchaikovsky, based on the opera).

More later. Nina A.'s 20th anniversary gala is next Friday. I'm going to try to stay here through that event, then go back to Tashkent for 10 days before returning home for Xmas.

[Sorry that I haven't been able to answer all e-mails...I am sans-computer and am writing this note from the internet cafe at Okhotnij Ryad Mall in front of the Bolshoi Theater.]

- Jeannie Szoradi, writing from Moscow, Russia

[ November 29, 2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]



#2 Alexandra

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 10:54 AM

Thank you very much for taking the time to write that report, Jeannie. Lots of interesting news! I do hope you'll write more on the Napoleon Bonaparte ballet. Perhaps it will become a big international hit, considering the height of the hero smile.gif

Good news on the videos, too. I hope you'll have time to write about the gala, too.

#3 Mashinka

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 12:43 PM

I'm so envious! I had heard about the tribute performances for Lavrovsky and Ananiashvili, but there is also a third coming up around this time A Tribute to Maris Liepa, organized by his son Andris, but I don't know if is being held at the Bolshoi or another theatre. Could be at the Operetta Theatre around the corner. Several Bolshoi principals are appearing.

I have the Galatea video - it’s a gem. A danced version of My Fair Lady with Maximova as Eliza Doolittle and Liepa as Henry Higgins. It lifts my spirits every time I watch it.

The Stanislavsky Ballet dances in London next month so I am crossing my fingers that Chernobrovkina will appear, one critic has already called her the best dancer in Russia.

I was delighted to hear that Lavrovsky still performs, I doubt he looks as good as I remember him from the 70's now, but he's not reached HIS seventies yet, 59 or 60 by my reckoning I think.

Thanks for that Jeannie, I wish I was there

#4 rg

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 03:29 PM

good to hear all the good news from moskva. (and even the not-so-good news about not-so-top-flight new ballets).
'galatea' was for sale (in ntsc) at one point at kamkin here in nyc but the store has since shut its doors and now only operates from down near balletalertland, in VA, i think. now if only DVD would take off bigger than video and digitalize all these video rarities for the open market world-wise! goodness knows the quality of the performing sounds top notch. still, just knowing these things are making their way around russia means they stand a chance of being 'picked up' by our distributors, either as ntsc videos or as dvds.
thanks for the window on the ballet happenings taking place in historic moscow.
re: napoleon ballets, after seeing julio bocca in eifman's 'russian hamlet' one nyc wag thought it might be apt for eifman to fashion a napoleon ballet just for bocca, since the argentine dancer looked a lot like corsican general as portrayed russia's paul.
hope the snowy winter affords you a dashing ride in a cozy troika.
on dasher, on dancer, on donner!
(oops, should have included rudolf in that trio!)
rg

#5 vrsfanatic

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 07:31 PM

Jeannie, thank you so much for the update on Moscow! I was hoping someone would see the Lavrovsky Gala and write about it on the Internet.

I am glad to hear Misha is still thrilling the audience, even after a hip replacement in 1991 and he is on his way for another one this winter! He was a very dynamic performer, teacher and coach. Misha was always the one to take the chances. He loves to dance! He turned 60 in October (the date in Koegler is incorrect by one month).

Nice to see his private ballet school is working out! He does come to the US periodically to teach, coach and stage a piece or two. He is a very dear person who would be an asset to any school or company in the US!

I was unaware that he was married to Bessmertnova. I knew of Semanyaka, the Georgian wife and his present wife. The things one learns on the Internet!

#6 Kevin Ng

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Posted 28 November 2001 - 11:22 PM

Jeannie, thanks for your update from Moscow. I hope that you can attend Nina Ananiashvili's 20th anniversary gala next Friday. Re Ratmansky's new ballet "Leah" I heard that Ananiashvili was partnered by Giuseppe Picone.

#7 Natalia

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Posted 29 November 2001 - 04:36 AM

Gee...it's really great to hear from all of you. I figured that the bit about the videos would pique your interest, rg!!! Well, believe it or not, I *did* get to ride in a troika two days ago, in the village of Suzdal. It is pure 'Doctor Zhivago'...you can't put a price on this experience. Sure beats listening to the fighter jets over Uzbekistan (ha-ha).

Other recent ballet honorees: The slick Russian ballet magazine ('Balet') recently named the honorees of its annual 'Spirit of Dance' awards. It is usually an interesting barometer of 'who-is-in/who-is-out.' Highest prize (a Lifetime Achievement Award of sorts) goes to....YURI GRIGOROVICH. wink.gif Other awardees were Mikhail Lavrovsky & Gabriela Komleva. Komleva, by the way, recently published her memoirs. Too, she was the subject of an interesting mini-documentary on Russian TV a couple of days ago...I just happened to turn on the TV as it began.

Eat Your Hearts Out - Russians enjoy a regular weekly TV program on ballet, every Sunday afternoon at around 4 pm. In addition to giving ballet news, a full-length ballet is shown every single week....it was the RDB's ca-1988 'Napoli' this past Sunday. Neat, huh? If only America's PBS would give us this sort of thing instead of 'Antiques Roadshow.' wink.gif OK, OK, now I'm getting catty...sorry!

Non-balletic p.s. - Everyone is in a tizzy here over Russia's involvement in Afghanistan (the TV news kept replaying the landing of the first Aeroflot on Afghani soil in 12 years, the other day)...it seems that, despite the laurels bestowed on Vlad Putin in the western press, he isn't enjoying quite the popularity here. Judgement is still out on whether or not it was a good idea for 'Vlad' to become so chummy with 'Dubya.' CNN doesn't quite have it right. Honeymoon is over in the Kremlin, I fear.

Another non-balletic p.s.s. - After a brief thaw last weekend, it is below-freezing again in Moscow & the ponds have frozen. Last night, I actually went skating (yes!!!) with a Russian friend at the lovely large pond in Gorky Park...dodging the guys who were ice-fishing. My Russian friend showed me the 'secret local way' to enter the park for free, avoiding the 20 rouble charge...walk under a bridge 'til you reach a fence, then suck in your stomach & going through the fence at a spot where the bars have been pulled apart(picture this....I've lost weight, thank God). I swear - I offered to pay but there was no way to convince my friend to not try the secret approach. Again, these are the priceless moments, albeit scary ones.

It's 'Spartacus' at the Bolshoi tomorrow--Antonicheva/Belogolovtsev/Gravtcheva, et al. Yes, Mashinka - I saw that Maris Liepa is to be honored...the day before Nina A's own gala. Odd...almost as if to take away from her own big night?? Something is fishy. - Jeannie

[ November 29, 2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]



#8 Roma

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Posted 07 December 2001 - 03:57 PM

Hi Jeannie, please let us know how Nina's Gala went today. I heard that she couldn't dance due to a serious injury and there were a lot of last minute changes.
Also, did you get a chance to see Petit's new ballet?

#9 Natalia

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Posted 08 December 2001 - 06:31 AM

Very quick note from Sheremetyevo (Moscow) Airport, where I'm waiting for delayed flight & just happened to log into Ballet Alert! from internet cafe, 12 noon Dec 8 -

Yes, Nina's gala was last night & it was a bit of a disappointment in that (a) Nina did not dance -- although she made a nice speech in front of the curtain, thanking her supporters -- and (B) neither President Putin nor any other high-ranking government official bothered to show up.

On the positive side, the theatre was rocking with hyped ballet enthusiasts, particularly for current Bolshoi 'darling' Anna Antonicheva (and Jackson 1998 gold medalist), who danced a spectacular Kitri/Act I, replacing Nina. Antonicheva was omitted from the last Bolshoi tour of the USA; she better be on the roster this coming June, or else there is no justice in this Bolshoi Ballet world! Also, many top international guests performed, including a much-improved (since spring '01) Paloma Herrera, dancing a sublime 'Sylvia pdd' with Jose-Manuel Carreno.

I'll post more when I return to terra-firma but I think that they're calling my flight....

- Jeannie

[ December 08, 2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]



#10 vrsfanatic

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Posted 11 December 2001 - 07:05 AM

Thank you Jeannie for the news from Moscow. It is interesting to see Lavrovsky is back in favor after a number of years of being on the outs! Did you get to see the performance honoring Liepa? Glad to hear Herrera is looking better. It would be interesting to hear the Russian reaction to her work.

Looking forward to hearing more.

#11 Natalia

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Posted 12 December 2001 - 08:10 AM

As it turns out, the Maris Liepa Tribute was to have been held three days *after* Nina's night, so I am missing/have missed it. [Did any of our Moscow-based readers go??]

A Bolshoi Opera soprano was honored the evening before Nina's jubilee. Lots & lots of jubilees happening at the Bolshoi these days...almost as many jubilee nights as there are regular performances! Maybe they're trying to squeeze-in jubilees before the theater closes down for three years of repairs...now scheduled to commence around October 2002. Not too many months left before the Bolshoi Theater closes. And it needs it...there is a definite lean on the fifth-tier boxes...scary!


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