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Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky


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#16 richard53dog

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 04:16 PM

The (mis)casting on this DVD (as Natalia also pointed out) becomes an issue as soon as you have seen several different performers in these Kirov productions before. When this is your first glance of these productions, it won't matter that much.

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Well. I have seen many , many performances of different genres of performing arts.
I will admit that I haven't seen that much of the Kirov.

But I find in general that casting according to "spec" is often very limiting, narrowing down options.

There as been much of what has been called "miscasting" in opera, ballet, and theater that has surprisingly "worked". Of course, it can also fail miserably.

If you don't take risks, you limit your horizons.

Would Gelsey Kirkland have been thought a natural for Balanchine's Firebird?
I don't think so, but eventually, after struggling with it for a while, I thought she evolved it into an amazing performance.

Now Balanchine's version was certainly different from Fokine's. Stravinsky was said to like Balanchine's version more. But there was much synergy between the two men.

I think part of this whole discussion is is that people tend (myself included!) to have very strong opinions about their preferences in casting, this is a mix of subjective and objective components .

Richard

#17 canbelto

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Posted 08 February 2005 - 05:56 PM

Not to mention, would Margot Fonteyn be thought a "natural" Firebird?
And specific to the Kirov, was Altynai Asylmuratova a "natural" Aurora?
I think miscasting is miscasting when clearly the dancer is unfit for the role. Like, can't dance the steps. Or is personally so wrong that it becomes overwhelming.
Otherwise, if a dancer can make something new of the role, put a personal stamp on it, even if he/she isnt "stereotypical", I think that's part of the joys of ballet.

#18 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 02:33 AM

Otherwise, if a dancer can make something new of the role, put a personal stamp on it, even if he/she isnt "stereotypical", I think that's part of the joys of ballet.

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Exactly, that's why this DVD is so disappointing. The casts make nothing new of the roles.

Herman, if you are thinking about the Kirov performances in Amsterdam in previous years (RAI, Carré) than I have to agree with you that overall there was nothing much to write home about. Yet this is something that has become part of their touring regime - not every place is considered as important to give their very best, and I am afraid that Amsterdam is just one of those places.

#19 richard53dog

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 07:36 AM

Otherwise, if a dancer can make something new of the role, put a personal stamp on it, even if he/she isnt "stereotypical", I think that's part of the joys of ballet.

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Exactly, that's why this DVD is so disappointing. The casts make nothing new of the roles.


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But Marc, this is really two different issues. I agree that any performance is a disappointment if the performer(s) don't put a personal stamp on it.

But this can occur with casting by type as well as casting against type.

I would rather see a "miscast" dancer take a role and make it their own rather than one cast according to specs that adds nothing personal or new.

richard

#20 Natalia

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 08:28 AM

Not to mention, would Margot Fonteyn be thought a "natural" Firebird?
....

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I was thinking exactly such, as I write my bits yesterday. BUT....Fonteyn had the greatest coach imaginable in that role: Tamara Karsavina, the original Firebird herself!

#21 canbelto

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Posted 09 February 2005 - 08:45 AM

I was thinking exactly such, as I write my bits yesterday.  BUT....Fonteyn had the greatest coach imaginable in that role:  Tamara Karsavina, the original Firebird herself!

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Well, coaching IMO only goes so far. For instance Svetlana Zakharova, Galina Mezentseva, and Altynai Asylmuratova were all coached by Olga Moiseva, but they're very different ballerinas.
I also agree with Richard53dog that there's a difference between "casting against type" and "miscasting." To stick to Fokine, MISCAST I'd say would be Mikhail Baryshnikov as the Spectre. His blond, wholesome persona looks awful as the dreamy Spectre, and there's way too much blatant showboating to make this piece work. Herman Cornejo was perhaps cast against type in Spectre -- after all, Herman is also known for his puckish grin and boyish persona. But he made the Spectre unforgettable, and brought out the very best in Xiomara Reyes.
But in the case of this video, I really failed to see either casting against type or miscasting. No one looked instinctively "wrong" here. If they failed to be as memorable as past Kirov interpreters, that;s: 1. dancing badly, or 2. being new to the roles (and thus not as comfortable).

#22 Thalictum

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 10:51 PM

[snip] Someone close to the company says many performances in St. P are now danced by the ensemble "with indifference."

Edited by hockeyfan228, 12 February 2005 - 01:29 AM.


#23 Alexandra

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 02:26 PM

Herman, if you are thinking about the Kirov performances in Amsterdam in previous years (RAI, Carré) than I have to agree with you that overall there was nothing much to write home about.  Yet this is something that has become part of their touring regime - not every place is considered as important to give their very best, and I am afraid that Amsterdam is just one of those places.

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I'm afraid Washington, D.C. is another "one of those places." The Kirov corps here, in Swan Lake or in Shades, for example, has been up to Kirov standard, but not, for the most part, the soloists, the recent gala here being a screaming example of that. And this does no honor to the Kirov, if they think it makes them "cool" to show such disrespect to a city, whether it's Amsterdam or D.C. or Podunk, Alaska. (Not meaning to imply that anyone said otherwise!)

The DVD goes to all cities, though, and I don't think it shows either the company or the ballets at their best. (But I'm still not sorry I bought it :angry2: )

Edited by Alexandra, 12 February 2005 - 04:14 PM.


#24 mohnurka

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Posted 16 February 2005 - 10:01 AM

I have just watched the DVD as well... Since I haven't seen any other Kirov dancers in these ballets, I can't really compare, but still, I thought that the video was definitely worth having.

In Sheherazade, Zakharova's lines were gorgeous. Perhaps it was not THE "warmest" dance, but it was really enjoyable to watch. In 'Spectre', Kolb had a nice, sweet "aroma".

I just wish more videos would be published!

#25 BalletNut

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Posted 18 February 2005 - 01:01 AM

Well, my copy arrived a few days ago, but I only found time to post about it now, so here goes.

Sheherazade:I thought the costumes and lighting were gorgeous, but I have a feeling that this ballet is supposed to be sexy, and I didn't get that from this performance at all, except from the three harem dancers; the rest of the cast looked too proper, restrained, and virginal to be convincing in the choreography, which I could still tell was first-rate. Zakharova looked particularly miscast in this, in my opinion. First of all, it doesn't seem to fit her temperament at all, she's too "cold" for it; secondly, it really doesn't look good for a dancer as painfully thin as she is to be wearing a bare midriff. :beg: Ruzimatov may have been good in this five or ten years ago, but he wasn't at his best when this was filmed. And I would have liked some clarification, perhaps in the liner notes, of what the story was in this ballet, if there was one. However, the score is wonderful.

Le Spectre De La Rose: This was very well-danced, very pretty. Kolb gives quite a different interpretation of this from Baryshnikov or Legris, but it's equally good. He's more lyrical than pyrotechnical, and has very nice lines. Ayupova is a lovely dancer, very delicate and feminine and innocent, so this is also a good role for her. I'm not sure I like the shiny fabric on her costume; I prefer it to be more matte, more lacy, but that's a nitpick. The orchestra sounded kind of sluggish.

Polovtsian Dances: The first way for me to describe this ballet is "over the top." The second is to say that, for some reason, it reminds me of the Mike Myers SNL sketch "Lothar of the Hill People," for some reason. All snarking aside, I really enjoyed the choreography; Rassadina has such beautiful, expressive arms and hands, and Baimuradov is very powerful technically. My main beef with this one is the camera work; the photographers would cut over to the chorus during the most virtuoso, climactic passages. What the bleep were they thinking? :) If the cameras had stayed on the dancers, I'd have liked this a lot more.

Firebird: I'm used to the Gontcharova [spelling?] designs for the Royal Ballet, so the designs for this production took a little bit of getting used to, and I still prefer the Royal's designs, but the Kirov designs are actually still quite nice. Vishneva is a very good Firebird. Yes, there are probably several dancers who would have been even better, but there are also dancers who could have been much worse. Be that as it may, Vishneva is very easy on the eye, and has the warmth in her dancing that Zakharova lacked in Sheherazade. Yakovlev, as Ivan, was perfectly adequate, but the role really isn't much of a showcase for a male dancer. Serebriakova was a very sweet, pretty, innocent princess. Ponomarev as Kotchei [spelling?] gave me the creeps, which, given the nature of the character, must mean he did a pretty good job. Overall, not bad.

So, this isn't the world's best ballet DVD, but it could be worse, and since there really aren't many recordings available of Sheherazade and Polovtsian Dances, it's worth having for that, and the other two, which have been filmed in other productions before, are well worth watching. Plus it's not that expensive; I paid $15 for it on Amazon.

#26 mohnurka

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 08:20 AM

Oh, yes, the camera work drove me a bit insane... Who films ballets? Do these people know what they're filming?? :) In Sheherazade, Zakharova and Ruzimatov are dancing a DUET. TOGETHER. So why does the camera constantly go from one person to the other? That breaks up the overall flow. Grr.

Sorry, but I just had to vent :wub:.

#27 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 09:58 AM

Who films ballets? Do these people know what they're filming??  :)
Sorry, but I just had to vent  :wub:.

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No, I'm afraid not (at least in the few cases I was nearby the filming of a tv-broadcast of a ballet). The cameramen are no balletomanes. They receive a list of what is going to happen on stage, and that's what they film, but it's the editing afterwards which can ruin everything.

#28 atm711

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 05:50 AM

I bought this video because I was curious about 'Scheherazade'. The last time I saw the ballet it was performed by the Denham Ballet Russe with Danilova as Zobeide and Frederic Franklin as the favorite slave. The Kirov production appears to have more solo dancing for Zobeide; I do not recall Danilova in a long solo; but then, she performed in very high-heeled shoes. The Odalesques are just as I remembered. What I did miss, however, was the famous 'spin-on-the-neck' of the favorite slave, just before being slaughtered. Franklin accomplished this beautifully and he and Danilova were quite passionate.

#29 Mashinka

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Posted 23 February 2005 - 06:02 AM

I bought this video because I was curious about 'Scheherazade'.  The last time I saw the ballet it was performed by the Denham Ballet Russe with Danilova as Zobeide and Frederic Franklin as the favorite slave.  The Kirov production appears to have more solo dancing for Zobeide; I do not recall Danilova in a long solo; but then, she performed in very high-heeled shoes.  The Odalesques are just as I remembered.  What I did miss, however,  was the famous 'spin-on-the-neck' of the favorite slave, just before being slaughtered.  Franklin accomplished this beautifully and he and Danilova were quite passionate.

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In productions mounted by Isabel Fokine the famous neck spin for the golden slave's death is omitted and a rather inappropriate and lengthy romantic pas de deux occupies the middle section. I remain curious as to why the golden slave's death scene is watered down in this way, is Ms Fokine unable to teach it or are the Kirov dancers unable to perform it? Surely not the latter?

Apart from the Kirov I've seen this ballet danced by English National Ballet and the Monte Carlo Ballet and both had far more accurate productions than the Kirov's with the dancers performing the neck spin impressively.

#30 canbelto

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Posted 27 February 2005 - 03:23 PM

I was thinking that Diana Vishneva's Firebird is only appropriate if you think the Firebird is really "afraid" of the Prince. Leanne Benjamin's Firebird is -- she writhes and struggles, and her eyes bug out in fear. Nina Aniashvilli is also afraid. Diana is not. She plays the Firebird as the eternal siren. Knowing, cunning, firy, sexy, and above all, elusive. Her natural personality perhaps doesnt include a kind of stark fear, but still, I think her portrayal is in its own way extremely compelling, if not completely literal. Of all the Firebirds I've seen she's the most birdlike, always out of grasp by a hair. Her sharp, flirtatious expression enhances this effect. I am very glad I have this memento of Diana, as I'm rapidly turning into a huge Vishneva fan.


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