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Maria Alexandrova as Odette / Odile


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#16 bart

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Posted 18 June 2005 - 07:17 AM

Thank you, Mikhail, Natalia, and all. I've heard of claques at La Scala in the past, but did not know how powerful they are in Russia. :)

I have so many questions and hope some of you can answer at least some.

Since money seems to be central to their motivation and power, where does this money come from? Is there so much cash floating around in Russian ballet?

Do individual dancers have managers or protectors who can afford to pay for the claque's approval?

Why does the management of the theater permit it?

Have dancers -- especially those attacked by the claque -- ever spoken out or taken action against it?

How does the ordinary, regular ballet audience feel about this -- and respond to it when the claque is in action?

And finally (thanks for your patience): are there any notable examples of claque-like organization and behavior in theaters outside Russia today?

#17 Mashinka

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 04:33 AM

Since money seems to be central to their motivation and power, where does this money come from?  Is there so much cash floating around in Russian ballet?


In the past the claque would be happy to accept tickets which they could then sell on the black market, but I don't know if that is still the case

Do individual dancers have managers or protectors who can afford to pay for the claque's approval?


Yes some do: there are a couple of female dancers with lovers/family with mafia connections.

Why does the management of the theater permit it?


Very good question: extortion is illegal in the rest of the world.

Have dancers -- especially those attacked by the claque -- ever spoken out or taken action against it?


According to a UK newsarticle I've kept from 1993, Gediminas Taranda once "poleaxed" a claque member who set off an alarm clock while he was dancing.

How does the ordinary, regular ballet audience feel about this -- and respond to it when the claque is in action?


No idea. But I doubt if it would be tolerated outside of Russia.

And finally (thanks for your patience):  are there any notable examples of claque-like organization and behavior in theaters outside Russia today?


Never come accross any.

#18 Natalia

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Posted 20 June 2005 - 05:49 AM

My answers are in bold type.

Do individual dancers have managers or protectors who can afford to pay for the claque's approval?


Yes some do: there are a couple of female dancers with lovers/family with mafia connections.


Only a couple, Mashinka? (wink)


Why does the management of the theater permit it?


Very good question: extortion is illegal in the rest of the world.


This assumes that the "management of the theater" is innocent.....



How does the ordinary, regular ballet audience feel about this -- and respond to it when the claque is in action?


No idea. But I doubt if it would be tolerated outside of Russia.


Please re-read my reviews/log of the recent Mariinsky Int'l Ballet Festival. Go to the report on the Tsiskaridze/Nioradze Manon for a clue. The rest of us know why every such performance is met with loud non-stop screams of 'Bravo!' no matter how weakly danced. The average audience at the Kirov-Mariinsky and the Bolshoi have learned to filter out or understand the yelling. Every now & then (Cojocaru-Kobborg's Don Q, for example) the yelling is genuine. Not always.

And finally (thanks for your patience):  are there any notable examples of claque-like organization and behavior in theaters outside Russia today?


Not really. Perhaps at competitions (Varna...trying to influence the judges, as if they depend on an applause-meter). That's about it.

#19 Mikhail

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 11:19 PM

Bart,
you can also find answers to some of your questions at http://www.clacker.ru/ - a new site in Russian affiliated to the old one, bolshoi.net / adagio.ru. As is clear from the name of the site the point of view you will be introduced there is the one of the claque. Well, it's also some information… Natalia, please have a look at it - may be, you will find it possible to give some comments.

They pretend to help dancers but evidently you will never learn from there about shameful incidents when they prevented performances. The last one happened two days ago, on Monday, at the performance of La Bayadere with Svetlana Zakharova, Igor Zelensky and Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti (the ballet was shown in the scope of the opening of the Moscow ballet competition). Just before Alexandrova's variation in the Grand Pas of the 2nd act, when the audience and the orchestra were silent and the ballerina was already standing in preparation, somebody cried out “Oh” - loudly in an unnatural foolish (but already familiar!) manner. This produced a slight, but noticeable wave of laugh in the audience, to which Ms. Alexandrova only smiled back and demonstrated such skills and drive that earned sincere and real, not organized ovation. All this happened in the presence of Mr. Grigorovitch and the members of the jury - Natalia Makarova, Natalia Bessmertnova, Ludmila Semenyaka, Mikhail Lavrovsky, Heinz Spoerli, Alex Ursulyak and others. The only reason for this barbarous behavior is that the claqueurs are just desperate to show their fading importance.

In addition to Mashinka's information: many years ago there was an article in "Pravda" by Irek Mukhamedov against the claque. About three years ago Maria Alexandrova gave two interviews expressing strongly negative opinion concerning the claque's actions what produced the current war with her. This is mentioned by a claqueur himself at the beginning of the article which Natalia couldn't read to the end.

#20 bart

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:09 AM

All this happened in the presence of Mr. Grigorovitch and the members of the jury - Natalia Makarova, Natalia Bessmertnova, Ludmila Semenyaka, Mikhail Lavrovsky, Heinz Spoerli, Alex Ursulyak and others. The only reason for this barbarous behavior is that the claqueurs are just desperate to show their fading importance.

In addition to Mashinka's information: many years ago there was an article in "Pravda" by Irek Mukhamedov against the claque. About three years ago Maria Alexandrova gave two interviews expressing strongly negative opinion concerning the claque's actions what produced the current war with her.


Thanks, Mikhail. Delighted to hear about the clacque's "fading importance." Sounds like the increasing internationalization of Russian ballet -- and an increasingly open cultural press -- is gradually breaking down the power of this dinosaur of an institution. I hope that as more and more Russian ballet people develop careers outside the country, and more westerners go there to perform at least attend performances, tolerance for organized clacquing will decline.

#21 Mikhail

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 04:57 AM

Bart,
I guess, the large number of foreign tourists at the Bolshoi does not improve the situation with the claque but influences just in an opposite direction.


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