Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Ostrich

Kings of the Dance

61 posts in this topic

I wanted to enjoy this show, but didn't. It didn't show why men should be dancing ballet by showing unique things that only the guys can do: their unique stage presence, gesture, etc. If this was a regular show, then it may have been OK, but to put together 4 guys who are billed as among the best male ballet dancers in the world dancing fairly mediocre choreography that had nothing to say (Wheeldon's "For 4" and Christe's "Wavemaker" for Steifel) about anything, much less male ballet dancing, showing a misogynistic relationship as the only partnering demonstration with women in the show ("The Lesson"), and having an amazingly convincing cross-gender dance ("Carmen") really does a disservice to the public image of the male ballet dancer. Show us why men should be in ballet in the first place. Only Kobborg's Faun, and to a lesser extent Corrella's solo, demonstrated this. I found the old videos of Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Dowell, Vasiliev, etc. being shown in the lobby far more compelling arguments.

I attended the Sunday OC performance with Tsiskaridze dancing the teacher.

--Andre

Share this post


Link to post

While I cannot disagree about the mediocre choreography, I wasn't expecting any great choreography, only great dancing. And that we got.

The film started the evening off here as well, giving tempting snippets of Kobborg's beats, Tsiskaridze's jumps, etc. along with some "interview" type chatter with all four men.

The Wheeldon ballet is a Party Piece, but a good one, showing off The Kings, their similarities & their differences.

The Lesson was, indeed, a revelation for Corella's committed & intense performance. In fact, he was wonderful all night, keeping his razzle dazzle moves to a minimum & only one multiple floor turn doing its usual "tilt" because he went for one too many turns. This was in his solo, which was charming.

Ethan's solo was solid angst. I can only handle so much angst but it was danced beautifully.

Kobborg's Faun may be a good ballet but, tonight, it was difficult to tell between the dancer & the dance. He is such a gorgeous & musical dancer, he could make almost anything look good.

Tsiskaridze is totally back in shape now. Wonderful as he was this summer in Pharoah's Daughter & Bright Stream, he still had a bit of extra fleshiness above the waist. That's gone & he has as much "luft" as ever in his astonishing jumps. His Carmen solo had him in full ballerino form, Bullfighter, Zesty Temptress with a fan & despairing lover (who kiills himself!) all. It doesn't make much sense, but neither does Petit's morphing of Escamillo & Jose, so why not?

Great fun!

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, Maggie, but since Zerbinetta is from New York I assumed she was seeing the performances there and I wondered if Cojocaru had traveled with the production. Maybe I'm jumping the gun here.

Giannina

Share this post


Link to post

No, Giannina, Cojocaru was not scheduled for NY. Gudrun Bojeson was the student here. A big, healthy girl & a strong dancer. More than Cojocaru the physical type called for in the play by Ionesco upon which the ballet is based. She was very good. Deirdre Chapman was the menacing pianist.

Of course, I still would have liked to see Alina.

Share this post


Link to post

I bought tickets to all 4 of these NY performances when they were first announced because Jeune Homme is one of my favorite guilty pleasures and I didn't want to miss any one of these great dancers in it. With the substitution of The Lesson I regretted my initial enthusiasm a little but not entirely, because I could have watched Kobborg's Faun and Tsiskaridze's Carmen 100 nights in a row. I especially loved Tsiskaridze. I can see why he's so controversial, but he won me over completely. His line, his high, easy extensions, the expressive arms and back and above all his artistry really floored me.

I have some reservations about the program, but my overall response was very positive. I thought it was so interesting to see these 4 extraordinary dancers perform in works of their own choosing, pieces that in most cases were very different from what I’d guess they usually dance with their home companies.

Though I thought Stiefel & Corella were both wonderful I was most impressed by Kobborg & Tsiskaridze. I’d seen them both before, but only once or twice each and I always felt that the material I saw them in didn’t show the full range of their talents (Tsiskaridze with the Bolshoi last year in Pharaoh’s Daughter & Bright Stream, Kobborg with Cojocaru in the Royal’s Cinderella as well as in a couple of gala performances with her). Of course, the fact that their solos were much much stronger than Stiefel's and Corella's may have been a factor, too. Faun & Carmen were unforgettable, and really showed both dancer’s unique attributes to great advantage

I think The Lesson was a poor choice for this program. I understand that it was a last minute substitution and it may be fine on your average mixed bill, but when it’s the only narrative dance of the evening and the only piece to include female dancers the misogyny on view is pretty shocking. Despite disliking the material the differences in interpretation Kobborg, Corella and Tsiskaridze each brought to the role of the teacher was fascinating to watch. Kobberg's approach was the most naturalistic, you could tell that he had a strong theatrical background. His teacher was very nerdy, a real social misfit, and very, very scary from the start. He seemed barely able to look the student in the eye until he snapped. Corella was equally effective but different. This character is just such a stretch for him, so alien to his sunny persona that it was riveting watching him in the role. He was kind of like a cross between Snidely Whiplash and Peter Lorre - scary, but over the top campy at the same time.

Tsiskaridze danced it at the last performance and his approach was the least nerdy and the most sexual. His teacher was a misfit, but an arrogant, controlling one with uncontrollable desires- a lethal Svengali. In his bows he really bent over backwards to dispel the illusion he had just created as if to say, hey, I’m really a nice guy. A fan threw him a bouqet, which he split into 2 and gave to his 2 ballerinas. They kept trying to step to the back of the stage and let him take his bows but he kept grabbing them, hugging them and bowing to them. It seemed to be a very sincere and touching exhibition on his part.

I saw Bojeson a couple of years ago in La Sylphide - this was a very different side of her. As much as I would have loved to have seen Cojocaru again, I can’t imagine a more perfect “student”. Eager, innocent, yet stubborn and flirtatious and a wonderful, wonderful dancer. Deidre Chapman also made the most of her role as the pianist.

I was intrigued by the different interpretations Kobborg, Corella and Tsiskaridze each brought to the role of the maniacal teacher, and also really enjoyed watching Bojeson & Chapmen. Still, I had to force myself to focus on the dancers rather than the dance and would have MUCH preferred to watch them all in Jeune Homme or just about anything else. The audience gave The Lesson an enthusiastic round of applause each night, but when the lights came up there were lots of shudders and negative comments.

Stiefel was quoted as saying that he hoped this program would bring in a new audience. Although I found a lot to enjoy here I’m not sure what impression a new audience would have gotten from this program that included something as dark as The Lesson and completely ignored the classical variations that most of the world thinks of as bravura male dancing. The NY program did not include pre-performance archival footage or the encore that the California posters described. It ended with Corella’s solos and despite his phenomenal technique and charm, the end was anti climatic. The evening would have benefitted from some kind of ending that featured all 4 men dancing together, even if it was just brief encores.

Share this post


Link to post

A wonderful and vivid account, nysusan. As were so many on this thread. I feel almost as if I were there. (And wish I had been.) Thanks to all.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for the pics, drb. "WOW" indeed!

Share this post


Link to post
Four of today’s greatest dancers take center stage for an incomparable display of the power and prowess of the male dancer. American Ballet Theater’s Angel Corella and Ethan Stiefel, Johan Kobborg of The Royal Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet star Nikolay Tsiskaridze will each dance world premiere works by some of today’s most sought-after choreographers, as well as breathtaking solos from beloved classical ballets. Additionally, all four stars join in a brand new work by Christopher Wheeldon.

While I'm dying to see Kings of the Dance, I have serious doubts about whether such a performance will really be good for ballet as an art. Won't it turn into a virtuosity competition? Comparisons between the 4 dancers will be inevitable and the result could be very much the same as the "3 Tenor" situation - lots of technique, but not much art.

You are quite right to point out the marketing comparison with the 3 tenors and I agree with your

evaluation of those performances. I doubt if many seasoned ballet goers would consider any of the four dancers to be 'great' in historical terms. I think 'very fine'. 'exciting'. 'most interesting' would be better. Perhaps only Kobborg might be considered, ' important ' or 'serious artist'. The others dancers, most entertaining in their way and very well received by audiences, but 'Kings of the Dance', surely not. However I have to confess I am more familiar with the work of Kobborg than I am with Corella, Stiefel and Tsiskaridze.

Share this post


Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0