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Helene

Kirov-Mariinsky Forsythe Program in DC, June 13-15

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The Kirov-Mariinsky is performing a Forsythe program from June 13-15, and both carbro and I just receive emails from the Kennedy Center, with a 20% discount offer for this program. To get the discount, you must use promo code "14515." The offer can be closed at any time, so to take advantage of it, you might want to order soon.

From the Kennedy Center website (from which tickets can be ordered)

WILLIAM FORSYTHE MASTERWORKS (JUNE 13-15)

William Forsythe's unique choreography both embraces and challenges the conventional ballet technique. Set to a fragmented recording of a Bach violin work, Steptext begins with the houselights up and the audience still conversing. Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is performed by three women and two men to Schubert's Ninth Symphony. In the middle, somewhat elevated demands quicksilver movements from the dancers. And Approximate Sonata comprises a sequence of four duets. Through this stirring program, "it's not only clear that the Kirov can do Forsythe, but that the seriousness of their traditions are an advantage" (London's The Guardian).

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I got this as well. The Giselle tickets are still at the regular price, but I'd have to guess that the Forsythe programs are not selling as well.

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Tonight was opening night (the Forsythe program) and the house was not well sold, especially for an opening. I hope anyone who's on the fence about going to this one will go -- if Washington won't go see the Kirov, then I worry about the future of the ballet subscription.

This program is all-Forsythe -- four of his works made for ballet companies. It's a very good chance to see a lot of the dancers. The people who were there seemed generally happy, although I have to say I don't think the company looked its best. They're too calm for Forsythe and smoothed everything -- tempi, dynamics, steps -- out. But they got a good response.

I hope if others go you'll report.

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Tonight was opening night (the Forsythe program) and the house was not well sold, especially for an opening. I hope anyone who's on the fence about going to this one will go -- if Washington won't go see the Kirov, then I worry about the future of the ballet subscription.
And any hope for the Mariinsky and Bolshoi to tour with anything but Swans and Don Q's...

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Tonight was opening night (the Forsythe program) and the house was not well sold, especially for an opening. I hope anyone who's on the fence about going to this one will go -- if Washington won't go see the Kirov, then I worry about the future of the ballet subscription.

It will be interesting to see how well the Royal Ballet's mixed bill sells next week. Isn't it a bit unusual to have two companies back to back like this? I'm sorry to have to miss "Giselle" this weekend, but I'll be driving in three times next week for three or four performances. The Kirov comes to town every year, it seems. Not the Royal.

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The people who were there seemed generally happy, although I have to say I don't think the company looked its best. They're too calm for Forsythe and smoothed everything -- tempi, dynamics, steps -- out. But they got a good response.

I hope if others go you'll report.

That's my impression too, Alexandra. they were just too civilized, especially during "In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated." Needed more edge, more "attitude" (street attitude, I mean). Warm response but no S.O. I imagine Giselle will be more successful, artistically and attendance-wise.

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This is interesting - The Forsythe programmes in London last year didn't do too badly (although they weren't Swan Lake), and many people *loved* them.

I was not one of those many. Some of it was too 'neat'. And, unfortunately in my eyes, some dancers seemed so concerned with throwing their leg up behind their ears as often as possible that it actually ruined it - even for the high extensions seen in some of this work. Particularly, I hated how the front leg in grand jetes were thrown so high that the jump never seemed to take off and just landed flat - ka-clunk.

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Isn't it a bit unusual to have two companies back to back like this?

Maybe at other venues, but the Kennedy Center ballet season is very "clumpy"--this year the performances were concentrated in (I think) Feb-March and the schedule was similar last year. I don't know why this is--maybe the Opera House has to be reconfigured somehow for ballet and it makes more sense to have the ballet companies in one right after the other.

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The season is always clumpy alright, and perhaps one troupe has followed another the very next week and I just don't remember it because I haven't gone. But I'd think that this would keep some casual fans away. Also, if memory serves, weekday tickets for Forsythe's own company were discounted the last time it was here. And if that's so, it's a little surprising the Kirov were scheduled with his ballets.

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Ballet goes into the Kennedy Center Opera House based on the dates that the Washington Opera is not using it - I believe they are principal tenants similar to NYCB, the NY Philharmonic and the Met are principal tenants at their respective theatres in New York. Could be wrong. But the Opera does tend to stick to its established 'seasons' - a Fall and Spring season, so ballet falls in between there in concentrated 'clumps' when the opera house is not in use by the Opera or a touring Broadway musical (usually July/August).

As for programming the Kirov doing Forsythe - there's something to be said for putting on artistically interesting program, even if it doesn't sell. I believe this program switch occurred right after the raves arrived from London for the same program. The Kennedy Center can certainly shoulder a few under-sold houses, and its good that they risk that so that we can see it. One can always see Giselle, Swan Lake and Your Favorite Classical Story Ballet on the weekends.

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As for programming the Kirov doing Forsythe - there's something to be said for putting on artistically interesting program, even if it doesn't sell. I believe this program switch occurred right after the raves arrived from London for the same program. The Kennedy Center can certainly shoulder a few under-sold houses, and its good that they risk that so that we can see it. One can always see Giselle, Swan Lake and Your Favorite Classical Story Ballet on the weekends.

I'm all for new and varied programming, and I certainly don't mean to second guess Michael Kaiser, but I would think that the Kirov has plenty to offer besides Forsythe and the classics.

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I went last night (Wednesday, June 14) and it was a dull, flat program. NOTHING like the sparkling two performances that I witnessed in London, one year ago, and in St Petersburg in '04 and '05. It is amazing how a switch in one or two dancers can 'kill' the energy of a ballet. For me, the 'first downer' happened right away with 'Steptext,' when kewpie-doll-faced Irina Golub batted her eyelashes and posed oh-so-carefully as if she were dancing 'Fairy Doll.' The edge was deflated -- like the puncturing of a balloon. Pavlenko, Sologub and Vishneva are miles, miles ahead of Ms Golub in this interpretation.

The second 'downer' was the over-careful (non-risk-taking) dancing of the three girls in 'Vertiginous Thrill.' The absence of Tatiana Tkachenko among the group was noticeable. Oh...and that was Svetlana Ivanova dancing in place of the absent Ekaterina Osmolkina, even though it was not announced to the public.

And what can we say about the 'hissy fit' thrown by Olesya Novikova at the start of the curtain calls for 'Thrill'? Did anyone else notice how all five dancers held hands at the start of the bows, began walking to the footlights, then Novikova angrily shoved Andrian Fadeev's (to her right) hand out of the way...prompting Fadeev and Sarafanov (to her left, still holding the other of her hands) to laugh out loud and visibly. Second curtain call, the entire group was smiling and laughing as Novikova kept a diva face. Hmmm...I don't care what happens backstage but, as an audience member, I should not be witnessing such unprofessionalism on the stage, methinks.

'Sonata' was fine, although Alexander Sergeev didn't come close to matching the greatness of Andrei Ivanov in the leading role of the 'first boy.' I was at the premiere of this ballet in St.P in March 2005 & also saw it in London. The entire gist of the ballet is that the first couple is 'too short & squat,' the second pair 'too tall & lanky,' the third are 'average,' and the fourth 'exemplary.' (Thus the word 'YES' -- or 'DA" in Russian -- lights up when the 4th pair begins to dance.) Sergeev, unlike Ivanov, is too tall and lanky for the leading role, thus upsetting the entire theme of the ballet: imperfectly-proportioned, hard-working dancers trying to exist in this often-cruel and unforgiving world of ballet.

I did not bother to stay to the last ballet, the evening was so flat and mediocre, compared to multiple London & St Petersburg presentations that I had so enjoyed. It's the first -- and hopefully the last -- time that I walk out on the Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet.

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Natalia, thanks for the very interesting review! The curtain call drama reminds me of the spectacle during the filmed Giselle with Mesentzeva, Zaklinsky, and Terekhova, in which Terekhova is thrown a HUGE bouquet of flowers. She has a HUGE smirk on her face, as Mezentseva gets a smaller bouquet. She smirks through the rest of the curtain calls. It's funny. The performance is set to be released on dvd -- check that out.

As for Novikova, did you notice any partnering mishaps that might have prompted the hissy fit?

Hope the Giselles are better ...

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kfw -- an acute observation, as usual!

Natalia -- I had the same feeling, generally, as you, but Wednesday night was twice as zippy as Tuesday. :)

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....but Wednesday night was twice as zippy as Tuesday. :)

Yikes! :) That's scary.

canbelto - I'm assuming that it was a partnering mishap. The ballet is so speedy that I honestly don't recall where the mishap occurred. Most of the ballet involves solo, not pair-couples, work. All three girls were off -- trying to play 'catch-up' to the music.

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Audience was warmer last night, too. Steptext got three calls. I only remember one Tuesday. I did miss Mercuriev in that. I thought he was quite good.

I have to say that four Forsythes on a program is three too many for me. The repetitions, the stop/starts, the lack of dynamics, all the clever little Sixties avant-gardisms....too much of a muchness for me. I'd seen all of these before except for Vertiginous. "He looks like he's trying to prove that he can do it [make a classical ballet] and he can't!" a friend said at intermission. And I'd second that.

The program is a good chance to see a lot of the dancers in soloist roles, though. (The house looked about as full/empty Wednesday night as Tuesday. Which is good news, actually. Usually the opening night has the largest audience.)

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Thanks for pointing-out the absence of Merkuriev in 'Steptext' last night! I was wondering if that 'third guy' (after Kolb and Khrebtov) was a somewhat-heftier Merkuriev. So that's yet another unannounced casting change, beside Svetlana Ivanova dancing in place of Osmolkina.

I'm wondering if Osmolkina appeared on Tuesday? Is Osmolkina even in DC? If not...then who-on-earth will dance the four Peasant pdd's with Shklyarov? It's not Obraztsova, by the way. She will be returning to St. Petersburg on Friday afternoon.

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I can't answer about Osmolkina, I'm afraid. Two cast changes were announced, very quickly, and I missed them. I thought they announced the Merkuriev change last night -- but I didn't catch the substitution. (Very unprofessional, I know, but I wasn't covering. :clapping: )

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Alexandra - The one change that they announced last night was that Alexei Nedviga would dance '3rd movement' of 'Approximate Sonata,' in place of Anton Pimonov. Nothing on Merkuriev.

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Thanks. Hmm. Now I hope I"m right and Merkuriev didn't dance Wednesdays. Apologies to all in advance if I'm wrong. :clapping:

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I saw the Forsythe program Thursday night and the house was far from full. I haven’t seen much Forsythe and this was my first time seeing this program so I can’t comment on whether or not the dancers “got” his style – but they are such gorgeous dancers! I was not that impressed with Stepext or Approximate Sonata and completely missed the joke/scenario that Natalia described (wish I’d read her post before the performance!). For me the program took a major turn for the better starting after Sonata – I loved both Vertiginous and In the Middle.

The Kirov casting mysteries continue, the only substitution they announced was Tkachenko replacing Golub in Vertiginous and Gumerova in In the Middle. But surely that small, pretty brunette in Vertiginous wasn’t Osmolkina? I don’t know the Kirov dancers well enough to recognize most of them, especially not the men. I’m not even sure it was Pavlenko in the last piece last night - she didn’t look the way I remember her but I could be wrong. Anyway, whoever the lead brunette was in In the Middle was wonderful, but the real star of the night for me was Kondaurova. What a standout! If she does Somova’s Myrthas as rumored this will be a very interesting weekend!

Susan

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I got two reports this morning, one from a Forsythe hater, another an admirer, who both thought Thursday night was very well danced. Both had seen earlier evenings and thought that Thursday was the best. We often have jet lagged openings, and this may have been one of them.

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I was also there last night (Thursday). There were many empty seats, and more as the night went on, even though (IMO) the program improved with each piece. If my second ticket were to the same show (rather than Giselle), I'd likely go to see a different cast.

Now for a bit of "name that dancer": in the second-to-last piece (green leotards, black tights), there was a blond dancer who, relative to the others, was downright zaftig (meaning, of course, that she is likely a size 2 rather than a size 0) with fantastic presence. Who was she?

For that matter, who was the tall redhead?

And finally, why oh why are minimalist leotard costumes for women designed with absolutely no support in the front (a problem with Balanchine ballet costumes too)? And why, in this event, could the Kirov costume shop not come up with a set of appropriately cut or sewn-in liner leotards for the dancers who wanted or needed them? In the green leotard piece, a couple of dancers had bra straps that did not even approximate the lines of the leotards. That's bad enough at a school performance, but for the Kirov??? Come on.

Of course, I look forward to any news about the SUnday cast for Giselle....

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Now for a bit of "name that dancer": in the second-to-last piece (green leotards, black tights), there was a blond dancer who, relative to the others, was downright zaftig (meaning, of course, that she is likely a size 2 rather than a size 0) with fantastic presence. Who was she?

Tatyana Tkachenko? She always brings a glamorous presence to any piece, with her beautiful face and hour-glass figure.

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