MakarovaFan

Gediminas Taranda

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Like many who have seen the Bolshoi videos of RAYMONDA starring Bessmertnova and Semenyaka, I was wowed by the performance of Gedminas Taranda as Abdulrakhman. I would love to find out more information about this remarkable dancer: age, other roles, what he is doing now, etc.

Thanks!

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Markarova Fan, I've yet to meet anyone who wasn't impressed by this dancer. He was quite remarkable, but because of prevailing politics of the time he was not seen in the west as often as some of his contemporaries. On stage and off he was quite a character and has a very warm, extrovert personality.

He was born in Kaliningrad on 26th February 1961 to a Russian Cossack mother and Lithuanian father and began dancing in his hometown of Voronezh before joining the Bolshoi Ballet. He was successful from the very start of his career and created the role of Yashka in Grigorovitch's Golden Age. He appeared in most of Grigorovitch's ballets and a lot of his roles are preserved on video. He was, I believe the only dancer to appear as both Crassus and Spartacus. Sadly he fell out with Grigorovitch in the 90's getting sacked from the Bolshoi, and went on to form his own company, The Imperial Russian Ballet, along with Maya Plisetskaya. They have also set up a school. The company dances regularly in Russia and Europe and recently appeared in New Zealand. Every year in September/October the IRB dances at a festival in Finland – here’s the link.

http://www.balletmikkeli.com/eng/taranda_eng.php

When the company started out he was joined by a number of his friends from both the Bolshoi and Kirov and the guest roll call has been very impressive, though the company has also nurtured principals of it's own. Last year I saw them in Germany and was very impressed by Kiril Radev, a Vaganova trained dancer who appeared in The Nutcracker. Gediminas's younger brother, the irrepressible Vitautus, danced the role of Drosselmeyer. Sadly I had missed seeing Gediminas himself as he had flown back to Moscow two days before.

In addition to his dancing he has appeared as an actor on numerous occasions and was recently involved in Moscow's bid for the 2012 Olympics. My one regret is that his company never dances in the UK.

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Hi Mashinka,

Thank you for all the information on Taranda. I would love to see more of his dancing on video.

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Even though this article about Taranda is from 2006 I am posting the link because the interview is so informative.

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Markarova Fan, I've yet to meet anyone who wasn't impressed by this dancer. He was quite remarkable, but because of prevailing politics of the time he was not seen in the west as often as some of his contemporaries. On stage and off he was quite a character and has a very warm, extrovert personality.

He was born in Kaliningrad on 26th February 1961 to a Russian Cossack mother and Lithuanian father and began dancing in his hometown of Voronezh before joining the Bolshoi Ballet. He was successful from the very start of his career and created the role of Yashka in Grigorovitch's Golden Age. He appeared in most of Grigorovitch's ballets and a lot of his roles are preserved on video. He was, I believe the only dancer to appear as both Crassus and Spartacus. Sadly he fell out with Grigorovitch in the 90's getting sacked from the Bolshoi, and went on to form his own company, The Imperial Russian Ballet, along with Maya Plisetskaya. They have also set up a school. The company dances regularly in Russia and Europe and recently appeared in New Zealand. Every year in September/October the IRB dances at a festival in Finland – here’s the link.

http://www.balletmikkeli.com/eng/taranda_eng.php

When the company started out he was joined by a number of his friends from both the Bolshoi and Kirov and the guest roll call has been very impressive, though the company has also nurtured principals of it's own. Last year I saw them in Germany and was very impressed by Kiril Radev, a Vaganova trained dancer who appeared in The Nutcracker. Gediminas's younger brother, the irrepressible Vitautus, danced the role of Drosselmeyer. Sadly I had missed seeing Gediminas himself as he had flown back to Moscow two days before.

In addition to his dancing he has appeared as an actor on numerous occasions and was recently involved in Moscow's bid for the 2012 Olympics. My one regret is that his company never dances in the UK.

Just to agree with Mashinka, for me Gediminas Taranda as Abderakhman was one of the greatest performances I have seen on the ballet stage. Offstage a strikingly handsome figure, exceedingly polite and a great sense of fun disguising the absolute seriousness of the man.

Ps

Thank you innopac for the link you posted. The interview opens the door slightly, to that fairly dark world in which Russian ballet existed.

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Oh dear, I wasn't able to open the link this time. :(

For anyone interested, Gediminas Taranda's company appears in Madrid this July at the Teatro Gran Via. The repertoire is Swan Lake, a rather unseasonal Nutcracker and Don Quixote.

Taranda continues to run a very talented company although Kiril Radev whom I mentioned in an earlier post is now a soloist with Angela Corella's company, whilst another of his discoveries, Aliya Tanykpaeva is a leading dancer in Vienna (a Viennese friend of mind still rhapsodises over her Manon). The present star of the company is Nariman Bekzhanov, an impressive technician with a sensuous stage presence. Marguerita Camish and Yaroslava Araptanova (a guest from Perm), proved to me that the Kirov and Bolshoi aren't the only companies with top class dancers and among recent guests was Yan Godovsky of the Bolshoi.

We may before too long see another dancing member of the Taranda family as Gediminas's little daughter Diamante regularly goes on stage as an extra even though she is only about six years old. :D

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I want to add my thanks, innopac, for this link. The interview is long and remarkably detailed.

As in so many of these stories of Soviet-era repression, the obsessive pettiness of it all is ... amazing!:

Like other dancers, he was forbidden from going out after 10 pm, watching political movies or gathering in groups of five or more. Taranda was discouraged from talking to foreigners and KGB spies regularly shadowed his dance troupe, he says.

Did they really imagine that this sort of thing would work forever?

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I remember that for a Bolshoi tour of the early eighties--when the company brought Raymonda and The Golden Age--Taranda was featured on the cover of the souvenir program. The photograph was just sensational (at the time I assumed it was his Abdulrahkman but honestly I have no idea). He looked terrific--very much what I thought of as the "Bolshoi" at its most exciting (dramatic, intense, daring). Well, imagine our dismay when we learned that he had been kept from the tour! ("Our" -- that is, ballet fans in Washington D.C., and elsewhere too probably.) He was obviously supposed to be a, if not THE, featured star of the tour and then...

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I remember that for a Bolshoi tour of the early eighties--when the company brought Raymonda and The Golden Age--Taranda was featured on the cover of the souvenir program. The photograph was just sensational (at the time I assumed it was his Abdulrahkman but honestly I have no idea). He looked terrific--very much what I thought of as the "Bolshoi" at its most exciting (dramatic, intense, daring). Well, imagine our dismay when we learned that he had been kept from the tour! ("Our" -- that is, ballet fans in Washington D.C., and elsewhere too probably.) He was obviously supposed to be a, if not THE, featured star of the tour and then...

He also participated in the Russian skating show Ice Age, where celebrities are paired with champion skaters and they create new routines approximately each week. His partner was Olympic silver and bronze medalist and world champion Irina Slutskaya. You can watch the programs online here http://www.1tv.ru/ice2/prv=27&pg=1&pro=1#pr_27 though you have to do a bit of searching for them.

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Did they really imagine that this sort of thing would work forever?

Until the shock of the Berlin Wall coming down, didn't the Cold War seem endless? I never expected to be able to set foot on the ground where my grandparents were born.

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Did they really imagine that this sort of thing would work forever?

Until the shock of the Berlin Wall coming down, didn't the Cold War seem endless? I never expected to be able to set foot on the ground where my grandparents were born.

Yeah, but it seems almost like there is some nostaglia for the Cold War days in some quarters. Ick. I remember going through attack alert practice when I was in grade school and being very frightened. It sure doesn't seem like the "good old days" to me.......

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:) I felt I really must join the rest of you to comment on this wonderful Artist, I think he was fantastic in Raymonda, talk about putting Nureyevs production, with the same character to shame. He was every inch, the Saracen Warrior he was meant to be. I think I also have seen him in Spartacus, with Irek Muk. as the slave he had to fight with unto death.

It would be really marvelous if he brought his company to London, who knows perhaps the Coliseumi n St Martins Lane, wouldi nvite them. That is the home of The English National Ballet and Opera Co's.and they do have visiting companies. I have seen the Bolshoi, (Raymonda), ABT, NYCB there.

Thank you for all the information, he has been a truly wonderful Star.

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I've posted this before, but since there's renewed interest in this great dancer, and given his comments about sport in the linked article innopac generously provided, here are two YouTube links to Taranda and Irina Slutskaya from Ice Age, a "Skating with the Stars" show in Russia, coach/choreographer Alexander (Sasha) Zhulin's "Swan Lake" parody:

(First two minutes are Taranda and Slutskaya talking, with some practice footage.)

(Kiss and Cry and judges' comments)

It got perfect 6's across-the-board in both technique and artistry, and although I don't recognize all of the judges, the woman in the middle with perfect hair and the fur collar is the great coach/choreographer Tatiana Tarasova, and the slender man in the suit jacket and light blue shirt is SLC pairs gold medallist Anton Sikharulidze. The first judge even managed to get a smile out of Zhulin, by thanking him (the only part I understood).

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What I find interesting about Taranda's political troubles was the contrast with what happened to Maya Plisetskaya during the same period in the 1980's. If I remember correctly from postings here, Plisetskaya--was spending time in Spain by the 1980's--wanted to attend a ballet gala in New York City where Mikhail Baryshnikov and (I believe) Rudolf Nureyev danced, but was told not to go by the the Soviet Embassy in Spain. But somehow she did did attend that gala, probably because it would have caused an ugly PR mess if the Soviets tried to stop her from attending that gala.

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:lol::) I have just duscovered the link to the "Swan Lake" episode, and thought it was very funny, it really made me laugh. Bless you for cheering me up....

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to Makarovafan:

You're right about Gediminas Taranda in Raymonda. He is the best of all the Abdulrahkmans in any of the productions. and he was also terrific in Golden Age, sent chills down one's back.

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Taranda is amazing in the Raymonda.....I think the Bolshoi's Raymonda is really the only Raymonda that gives Abderakhman any kind of thrilling choreography, so that is part of the reason, but he is amazing period.

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...I think the Bolshoi's Raymonda is really the only Raymonda that gives Abderakhman any kind of thrilling choreography, ....

Nureyev's final version for POB could almost be subtitled "Abderakhman" it has so much new dancing and 'funky-modern' solos for that character. I happen to love it because it is so Nureyev...totally what RN was all about! Besides, RN was smart enough to maintain most of the existing Kirov-Mariinsky portions -- building & adding to them, in his fashion. It is THE longest production of Raymonda, beside the La Scala...most complete use of the music, I mean.

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...I think the Bolshoi's Raymonda is really the only Raymonda that gives Abderakhman any kind of thrilling choreography, ....

Nureyev's final version for POB could almost be subtitled "Abderakhman" it has so much new dancing and 'funky-modern' solos for that character. I happen to love it because it is so Nureyev...totally what RN was all about! besides, RN was smart enough to maintain most of the existing Kirov-Mariinsky portions -- building & additing to them, in his fashion. It is THE longest production of Raymonda, beside the La Scala...most complete use of the music.

Oh, I forgot about that! I have only seen it online, but you are right. I liked watching the new choreography too, although sometimes it doesn't blend as well. I keep hoping a commercial (clean) copy of the Nureyev Raymonda will be released. Agnes Marie Gillot's Wikipedia entry lists it as one of her videos (in preparation), but it has been "in preparation" for a long time while the La Scala Raymonda came out within the same season as it was performed! I wonder what the hold up is. Dorothee Gilbert's solos are the main reason I want that version. But at this point I guess the Nureyev Raymonda is not going to be released. I also love the way the corps moves in wild circles interweaving among each other at the apotheosis. That was a Nureyev invention, and I like it.

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...I think the Bolshoi's Raymonda is really the only Raymonda that gives Abderakhman any kind of thrilling choreography, ....

Nureyev's final version for POB could almost be subtitled "Abderakhman" it has so much new dancing and 'funky-modern' solos for that character. I happen to love it because it is so Nureyev...totally what RN was all about! Besides, RN was smart enough to maintain most of the existing Kirov-Mariinsky portions -- building & adding to them, in his fashion. It is THE longest production of Raymonda, beside the La Scala...most complete use of the music, I mean.

The old Kirov production has Abderakhman from the very beginning. He's constantly on. In this production he looks and acts like in the movie Thief of Bagdad. Anyone agree or think otherwise?

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...I think the Bolshoi's Raymonda is really the only Raymonda that gives Abderakhman any kind of thrilling choreography, ....

Nureyev's final version for POB could almost be subtitled "Abderakhman" it has so much new dancing and 'funky-modern' solos for that character. I happen to love it because it is so Nureyev...totally what RN was all about! Besides, RN was smart enough to maintain most of the existing Kirov-Mariinsky portions -- building & adding to them, in his fashion. It is THE longest production of Raymonda, beside the La Scala...most complete use of the music, I mean.

The old Kirov production has Abderakhman from the very beginning. He's constantly on. In this production he looks and acts like in the movie Thief of Bagdad. Anyone agree or think otherwise?

Yes, he is in a lot in the Kirov version. It is fun to compare and contrast. I think I like his dancing best in the Bolshoi version.

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...I think the Bolshoi's Raymonda is really the only Raymonda that gives Abderakhman any kind of thrilling choreography, ....

Nureyev's final version for POB could almost be subtitled "Abderakhman" it has so much new dancing and 'funky-modern' solos for that character. I happen to love it because it is so Nureyev...totally what RN was all about! Besides, RN was smart enough to maintain most of the existing Kirov-Mariinsky portions -- building & adding to them, in his fashion. It is THE longest production of Raymonda, beside the La Scala...most complete use of the music, I mean.

The old Kirov production has Abderakhman from the very beginning. He's constantly on. In this production he looks and acts like in the movie Thief of Bagdad. Anyone agree or think otherwise?

Yes, he is in a lot in the Kirov version. It is fun to compare and contrast. I think I like his dancing best in the Bolshoi version.

yes, i agree with you.

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Thank you so much for the heads up, JMcN!

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