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Raymonda's "Hungarian" variation


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#1 Paul Parish

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Posted 30 June 2005 - 09:02 PM

Which do you think has the most of what you like the best?

I recently saw Sylvie Guillem's performance in JUST the variation on an old tape -- which I both admired and found creepy, over-refined.

Her detailing is awesome, but the phrasing is ..... je ne sais quois. I preferrred the way it was DANCED -- this is going to sound weird -- recently here live in Berkeley by both the Bolshoi AND the Trockaderos, in terms of timing, the moment when the falling backwards turned into bourrees, etc.

Guillem's by contrast seemed contrived and superficial.... though, good lord, WHAT a surface! Those feet, the petite batterie she did WITH them! The porte de bras! the hauteur! Do you like her loud handclap? (Yes, I say) Do you li8ke her hip-thrusts (no, I don't). Are they authentic?

It IS a magnificent performance. But is there one better? Which do you like best?

#2 carbro

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 08:21 PM

For me, Martine vanHamel owned the role. She had regality (in buckets), beautiful line, phrasing. And, my god, those feet! Then I saw a video of Kolpakova in it and decided Kolpakova deserved the right to share with Martine.

Michele Wiles doesn't have the physique of vanHamel or Kolpakova, but she has a wonderful temperament for the variation and illluminates it, bringing a suspense -- or suspension -- between the changes of direction in bouree. I expect she'll have a valid claim on it before long

#3 Juliet

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 06:18 AM

Monique Meunier.
Sofiane Sylve.
And, of course, Nina Ananiashvili!!

#4 Paul Parish

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 08:19 AM

THanks, guys -- keep it coming. I seem to be fascinated with Raymonda right now and would love to hear about great performances anyone has seen.

It would also be great to hear of videos/dvds of real contenders. Is there a great version available? More than one? of the whole ballet, or of "Raymonda Pas de Dix"?

And has anyone one this board DANCED it? (GINA NESS, how about you?) What's it like to do it? I love the fusion of character movement and advanced classicism.......

#5 atm711

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Posted 06 July 2005 - 10:04 AM

In the 'eat-your-heart-out-category' if you did not see them---there are just 2 for me---Danilova and Ananiashvilli.

#6 Mireille

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 08:52 AM

Paul, I believe that the video mentioned by Carbro also features the pas de dix with Kolpakova, and at the beginning of the variation, one of the dancers forgets to allongé his arms in third. I have not seen it on other videos. It's called "Russian Ballet, a Glorious Tradition" (3 vol.) and it might be on vol. 3.

#7 carbro

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 12:35 PM

Actually, Mireille, the video I saw was the complete ballet. It was available only briefly in the US at the dawn of the video era. Its owner made me swear to protect his/her identity. :wink:

#8 Paul Parish

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 06:13 PM

atm, you've really got me this time -- it DOES make me ache to think of seeing Danilova in that role..... Ananiashvili as well.

Curious, you remind me that when I saw Ananiashvili in the ABT Swan Lake a couple of years ago, her Odile reminded me of how Danilova might have done it -- she looked down her nose(!), she kept looking around as if thinking "who ARE these people? Am I in Zagreb?" She didn't overdo it, but it was unmisunderstandable -- one of the most interesting characterizations I've ever seen.

By hte way, has anyone seen that video where Danilova is talking about Raymonda? She did some flourishes with her arms, lifted her chin, said "is Arab song." Or was that Makarova? There's one that's clearer in my mind where Makarova is teaching the variation, and is very particular about a creamy quality she wants -- "is this kind of suh-tenu, goes goosh," and did most of the turn in plie and then went all glorious on pointe..... What was that called?

#9 Thalictum

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 07:40 PM

Carbo, Wiles has a much more perfect classical physique than Kolpakova, who had a short torso and very long legs, long but not arched feet. What did you find superior about Kolpakova's physique?

The video Carbro must have seen is a ca. 1980 Raymonda live at the Kirov that was shown over the BBC. It's at the Library of Performing Arts in New York.

#10 carbro

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 08:53 PM

Thal, I feel very uncomfortable discussing (as opposed to glossing over) matters over which dancers have no control. Let's just say that Michele just might be the anti-Kolpakova!

#11 nysusan

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 09:05 PM

Paul, have you seen the excerpt of Dudinskaya & Sergeyev from the old Kirov film of Raymonda? It's wonderful. Dudinskaya approaches the variation with such zest. It's on one of the Kirov compilation tapes and is my co-favorite along with the Kolpakova excerpt. I just got the Bolshoi Bessmertnova tape but haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

#12 carbro

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Posted 07 July 2005 - 09:29 PM

atm, you've really got me this time -- it DOES make me ache to think of seeing Danilova in that role.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Count me in!

By hte way, has anyone seen that video where Danilova is talking about Raymonda? She did some flourishes with her arms, lifted her  chin, said "is Arab song." Or was that Makarova? There's one    that's clearer in my mind where Makarova is teaching the variation, and is very particular about a creamy quality she wants -- "is this kind of suh-tenu, goes goosh," and did most of the turn in plie and then went all glorious on pointe.....  What was that called?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There's a film of Danilova coaching Zip Karz, then at SAB, in the variation. It was in the Wiseman documentary on ABT, Makarova was coaching Cheryl Yeager(?) as Gamzatti, where she analyzes the soutenu. Wrong ballet, Paul, but I'd never considered the similarity of these two (ahem) Petipa roles before -- both classical but tinged with a certain exoticism.

#13 Helene

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Posted 16 July 2005 - 06:13 PM

It would also be great to hear of videos/dvds of real contenders. Is there a great version available? More than one? of the whole ballet, or of "Raymonda Pas de Dix"?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There's version of Raymonda Pas de Dix on the Art of Maria Tallchief (VAI) DVD. VAI has discontinued the NTSC version of the VHS tape -- where it appeared originally -- called Maria Tallchief in Montreal. amazon.com doesn't have the tape version now, although it may become available through a third party, but there are various other sources on the Internet where it is available.

This afternoon I've even put aside my brand-new copy of the 6th Harry Potter book for a Raymonda-fest of two versions of the Bolshoi Grigorovich/after Petipa and Gorsky version of the ballet. The first is with Ludmila Semenyaka, Irek Moukhamedov, and Gedeminas Taranda, and the second with Natalia Bessmertnova, Yuri Vasyuchenko, and Taranda. As I found out, it's impossible to have too much Taranda. Algis Zhuraitis conducted both live performances at the Bolshoi Theatre.

The first DVD, issued by Kultur, has no credits other than for the three leads and the conductor, and doesn't even have a date on it, although the www.kultur.com website shows that the VHS NTSC version was released in 1980. However, the booklet with the second version states that Grigorovich staged Raymonda in 1984, as does the Bolshoi Ballet's press release for the performances last year at Cal Berkeley, and I suspect this is a typo.

The second, issued by Arthaus musik, has a booklet, and with each scene and running time listed, and a release date of 1989. (Both versions, though, only let you select the Intro, Act I, Act II, and Act III from the menu.) It also includes an essay that gives a brief biography of Petipa leading up to the creation of Raymonda, Petipa's relationship with Glazunov during the creative process, Glazunov's attempt to protect Petipa after he fell out of favor, and a discussion of Raymonda's place in history, as well as short bios of Grigorovich and Bessmertnova, and a printed cast short list. (The rest of the performers except corps are listed in the closing credits.) Arthaus' packaging is far superior.

Semenyaka is a beautiful woman and a long-limbed dancer, and she has a lovely smile that warms the production. Her arms have a soft quality throughout much of the performance, and her upper back was very expressive. Sometimes, though, this put her a bit out of position, from which she had to recover. Bessmertnova, by contrast, had rather angular arms and hands, and a straight back, and it wasn't until the coda of the "Pas classique Hongrois" that her smile relaxed. However, Bessmertnova gave a lesson in dance professionalism, in her pacing, her way of modulating the dance phrase to build, and by defining a technical frame that she never distorted. And what technique she has -- beautiful bourrees, impeccable hops on pointe, impeccable pointe work in general, clean precise legwork, and juxtapositions of adagio and speed with no visible preparations. She approached each step will full confidence that it would work, and there was no noise -- no adjustments, no wobbles, no weight in the wrong place, no break from the waist to "heave" into a jump. She also looked perfectly confident in her partner and went straight for it, without fear that he wouldn't be there. (Of course, dropping the boss' wife is a bad career move :wallbash:) I looked her up on the web to learn more about her, and found out she was born in 1941, which means she would have been 47-48 when this video was made in 1989 -- I didn't even see her breathing in this video :wallbash:

I would describe Semenyaka as an Odette/Lilac Fairy Raymonda, and Bessmertnova as an Odile/Kitri Raymonda.

I also preferred Vasyuchenko to Moukhamedov. Vasyuchenko is so ardent -- he appears to look deep in Bessmertnova's eyes during each pas de deux -- that he convinced me he wasn't just the aristocratic hero stiff. He has a very soft, elegant style, and he also doesn't force it. At the same time, he doesn't have any "character" to his Act III variation, which Moukhamedov has in spades. While I prefer the humble heroes, I suspect not everyone would prefer Vasyuchenko.

Taranda was magnificent in both, but I think the camera work in the Arthaus video is better overall, and he was awesome in that version. (The exception is in the men's pas de quatre in the "Pas classique Hongrois," which I think is filmed and danced better in the Kultur version.) Did I mention how absolutely fabulous Taranda is?

There's also wonderful dancing both versions from the soloists, although for most I prefer the Arthaus, which seemed to have more energy overall.

There is an interesting review of the Berkeley performances by Allan Ulrich on the Voice of Dance site. (He doesn't like Grigorovich's version.) If you saw this version in Berkeley and liked it, as I did, I think you would like these videos.


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