Giannina

Vishneva (continued)

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Paul Parish posted this response to jps on the Welcome Forum and I have moved it here, using a very un-professional method (but it works!). To wit:

I've been fascinated by people's responses to Vishneva. Did you see Joan Acocella's thoughts about her Giselle in the New Yorker? Really inrteresting -- did you feel what she felt? What was it YOU felt? Can you be more particular? There's something about her that gets way under people's skin. I sure wish i could see her myself...

Giannina

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Giannina

Well, I didn't see the same performance of Giselle Acocella reviewed but I saw many of the same components of Vishneva's Giselle in the earlier performance I did see.

Without going into details, I would take a step back to a basic level and say that I feel Vishneva has a tremendous magnetism on stage. She draws your eye to her. I find it difficult to look away from her when she is on stage and look at someone/something else.

This is all fresh in my mind; I just saw her last night with ABT in Romeo and Juliet.

There is much, much more that could be said; what she does, how she does it, etc. but I thought to start off I would throw out my thought on what I feel is her great magnetism.

Richard

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I also saw Diana Vishneva's "Giselle" with Vladimir Malakhov. I was "Mind Boggled" as usual. ("Mind Boggled" means I liked it.) Still her claim to immortality as I have mentioned before, for me, is her performance in Ratmansky's Cinderella. I've seen this performance 2 1/10 times. (The 1/10 was the pas de deux performed at the Mariinsky Winter Festival Gala this year. All performances were equally spectacular in my opinion. Below is my lifting of my previous posting at the ABT Giselle topic.

In the New Yorker Joan Acocella discusses Diana Vishneva's "Giselle". Ms. Acocella has some rather different ideas about the nature of the character than I do, but I definitely share her sentiments about Diana Vishneva's abilities. Two quotes below.

"Diana Vishneva, a principal dancer at the Kirov Ballet and at American Ballet Theatre, once told Francis Mason, of Ballet Review, that in any ballet she always tried to find “a particular thing that allows me to know what I am doing with the role, not just to do it beautifully.” She needed, she said, to find her own “secret.”

"Her versatility is huge. So is her scale. She has the hundred-and-eighty-degree extension that ballerinas, worldwide, now cultivate, but she uses it for dance purposes—to carve the air, broaden the arc—rather than for the merely visual purpose, so strange and fundamentally vulgar, of raising the foot to the ear. Also, she has the celebrated Kirov back. When she turns around, you can see all the movement emanating from the lumbar spine. But you don’t have to see it. Always, you can feel that generator working, and this gives the movement force and unity, which read as spiritual qualities—the body as soul."

http://www.newyorker.com/printables/critic...710crda_dancing

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I've seen her in many ballets, and she is always amazing, even when she's having an off night. Memorable ones include the first time I ever saw her, which was Nikiya in La Bayadere: amazing range of movement and contrast of speeds as well as an emotional complexity in her character. She's also done the only perfect Rose Adagio I've ever seen. It looked almost too easy. Her Rubies is fantastic, too. She has an incredible stage presence. When she comes out, it's almost like someone turned on some extra lights.

--Andre

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If you're interested, we have two earlier threads devoted to Diana: here and here. :huh:

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Hi Andre,

We meet again from earlier Diana "discussion" days. Good to have you back! Cheers!

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I saw two of her Giselles--last year with Corella and this year with Malakhov. What I can't get out of my mind is her Act 2 performance this year. From the moment she emerged from the grave and went into a frantic spin which was so fast it r eminded me of one of those artsy blurred photographs--a mass of white emanating wisps of white--I knew I was in for a very different Giselle. Most Giselles look like complacent phantoms, already of another world, but her Giselle was seeking peace. I found her return to the grave so poignant when she purposely avoided Albrecht's touch, finally embracing her death. I did not have these same thoughts when I saw her Giselle the year before with Corella; then I was overwhelmed with her Act 1; and felt, at the time, that she did not blend well with Corella---which, from recent postings, has improved this season. But, make no mistake about it--this is one of the great Giselles.

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What most impressed me about Vishneva's Giselle was her manic energy. Especially in the second act. There was something so implacable about her. It was as if she was purging her own inner demons. She was going to battle Myrtha and she was going to win. From her frenzied spins to her enormous grande jetes, she used every bit of movement to delineate her strength of character. Her face was stern, staring Myrtha down, and only softening during the pdd with Malakhov. When daybreak came, she gently lifted Malakhov's arm, to remind him that he was alive. Suddenly, she radiated serenity and peace, and a desire to descend back into her grave. She gave Malakhov one last flower, and then she disappeared. It was unforgettable.

Vishneva's petite (certainly not a part of the Kirov Basketball Team), but her super-long arms and enormous eyes give her a huge stage presence. Her feet are not Paloma Herrera pretty, and unlike many American dancers she doesn't seem afraid to absolutely pound her shoes into the stage floor. She has such enormous elevation, which is why she's such a good partner for Malakhov. The way they were able to jump to the exact same height was something to watch.

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...certainly not a part of the Kirov Basketball Team...

Thanks for the image, Canbelto! But in basketball there is a place for a shorter player with long arms and speed, and INTELLIGENCE. I think she's a point(e) guard, that's the player in charge, the emotional leader who orchestrates the attack, who determines the line of play. That is a lot of what Diana does for a ballet performance, that makes it fresh and new and gives it an arc of logic.

(Admittedly it isn't a virtue easy to recognize in NYC: We have the Knicks...)

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canbelto, I did see the same performance that you did. I also have the video from Japan, which can only be obtained by someone in Japan. This is a real shame. I actually e-mailed Diana Vishneva at her site asking her to try and get the video released worldwide.

In any case I have watched this video a lot, especially from the Act II Grand Pas De Deux on to the end. It is even a sort of lulliby for me at bedtime. The problem there is that it keeps me awake at early hours thinking about it. Also as an excellent contrast and perhaps my favorite video until the arrival of this one (now I have two 'perhaps favorites') is the Makarova-Baryshnikov "Giselle". (This VCR is 'out of print'(?) ), but can be purchased on the internet for a lot of money. I paid about $60 a few years ago. Not bad at the time.

"In any case I have watched this video a lot" (Diana V version)...and I will have to study your description of what you saw word for word, but...

first viewing of what you wrote seems Absolutely "Right On". Thanks.

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drb, Diana as a pointe guard! :yahoo: I'm totally stealing that from you :) She does have the long arms and agility of the best point guards. When she grande jetes (which are something you just have to see live), it's such a "fast break." Ok I have to stop now, before I start sounding like a dork.

Something more about Vishneva and Malakhov: at the end of their pdd, it was amazing to see their arms and bodies lined up perfectly. The only other time I've seen such a perfect alignment was the Fonteyn/Nureyev tape.

There are so many great touches to Vishneva's Giselle, but one great moment is how when she realizes Albrecht has betrayed her, she furiously RIPS off Bathilde's necklace and flings it into the air with disgust. This Giselle is not a pretty pushover. She's passionate and strong-willed, and she wasn't just heartbroken, she was MAD. So it wasn't a surprise that she'd be such a formidable, implacable presence in Act 2.

Interestingly, Diana on her website said that she originally wanted to be a figure skater. I am glad she chose ballet instead, because while I'm sure Diana would have brought grace, passion, and fierce athleticism on the ice, it would only be 4 minutes of grace, passion, and athleticism.

Buddy, the video from Japan is is obtainable I believe from Japanese websites.

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Vishneva's physical attributes make her effective in a wide variety of roles that sometimes are thought of as separate emploi. She seems to be both tiny and large at the same time and in different ways in each ballet. She also blends the sensuous and the austere in her movements. Her lower body is very strong and virtuosic with a strong level of technical ability but her upper body is very flexible and expressive. Her long arms, flexible back and long strong legs make her a very good romantic dancer in "Giselle". However, she is also an excellent Kitri in "Don Quixote" and not in the soubrette tradition either. Except for Ekaterina Maximova not many ballerinas excel in both roles. She also has the radiance and technical control to be a great Aurora in "The Sleeping Beauty". I have seen her dance Balanchine's "Rubies", "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux" and "Ballet Imperial" to fine effect.

Her "Manon" and Juliet in "R&J" in the MacMillan ballets shows her to be expert at detailed theatrical portraiture with minimal virtuoso brilliance in three act story ballets.

The revelation of her recent ABT appearances is her dramatic ability which is seen at its best with Vladimir Malakhov. When they are together onstage every moment is a fascinating revelation and you don't know where to look. If you look at Diana realizing a moment or creating a fascinating dramatic gambit you miss a heartbreaking reaction or revealing gesture from Vladimir. I saw her "Giselle" and "Don Quixote" with the Kirov on tour in New York - her ABT performances were vastly more fascinating and brilliant. The difference was her dramatic portraiture and artistic interpretation - I always loved her dancing but the acting is really something now.

The only great classical role she hasn't as of yet completely synthesized all the elements of is Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake" which is a recent addition to her repertoire. I think that in two or three years probably with Malakhov she will conquer the role. Oddly, as I see her as naturally an allegro dancer, her Odette is currently better than her Odile. Her performance at ABT in 2005 showed a fascinatingly willowy vulnerable Odette but a brittle small-scale Odile. This year her Odette wasn't as fragile and more staccato but her Odile was more of a ballerina and siren and generally more effective despite tiny technical glitches. She is still exploring "Swan Lake" but I am confident of her eventual triumph. Her first Giselle in NY with the Kirov was nothing in comparison with what she achieved with Malakhov this year.

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In today's links there was a review of the Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty by Robert Gottlieb, in which the last paragraph began,

I don’t as yet sense in Cojocaru an understanding of all this, but it will surely come. She is, with Diana Vishneva, one of the two most satisfying classical ballerinas in the world today.

There are artists, like Luciano Pavarotti in his pre-Three Tenors days, who always play themselves. That's not to deny that a Pavarotti had a golden, honeyed voice, and in his early-mid '70's recitals had the patience to treat every song like a precious jewel. But there is no doubt that the artist supercedes the material. I've seen Vishneva live once, in Sleeping Beauty, and didn't for a moment think I was watching Aurora. There were some very lovely things that she did in that performance, but I felt like I was watching The Diana Vishneva Show.

(Someone has to be Scrooge...)

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"The Diana Vishneva Show." :yahoo: That was the impression I had with her 2005 Giselle and her 2006 Swan Lake with ABT. I'm willing to grant special dispensation that, by common consensus, the recent Swan was just one of those bad nights, but I am very sorry I was out of town and unable to see her Giselle. So many intriguing reviews.

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"The Diana Vishneva Show." :yahoo: That was the impression I had with her 2005 Giselle and her 2006 Swan Lake with ABT. I'm willing to grant special dispensation that, by common consensus, the recent Swan was just one of those bad nights, but I am very sorry I was out of town and unable to see her Giselle. So many intriguing reviews.

You thought that of her Giselle last year? I thought I was the only one. :)

I liked it, it wasn't in any way bad. But I wasn't blown away by it. I have to say the Giselle I saw this year with Dvorovenko and Beloserkovsky was much better in my opinion.

I think I made my feelings regarding the Swan Lake somewhat obvious.

That said, I did *really* enjoy her Juliet this week. I thought it was really lovely, powerful, different, yes, but within the confines of the role (maybe pushing them a bit, but it was to my eyes, a valid interpretation of Juliet)

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Actually, I'm on the same page in that I've preferred the interpretations of others in Giselle, Swan Lake and R&J, the roles I've seen her in. But I'm interested in what she does, and her facility is huge. It's true she doesn't disappear into a role, but she announces herself as a ballerina, where others don't seem to do so no matter how satisfying their individual performances are. It's a certain arrogance, or confidence, they seem to instill at the Maryinsky.

Faux Pas mentioned the question of emploi. I'm not sure she has any emploi in the traditional sense—she is a singular performer and has to find a unique way into each role. She has a creaturely, wild animal quality. For example, when her Juliet meets Paris, she allows herself to be coaxed toward him like a doe learning to eat from a human's hand. She's a beautiful ugly duckling throughout the whole thing; even when she falls in love she doesn't lose all of her awkwardness. I think she comes off as calculating when she tries to be more generic and traditional. So I think it's a tough balance for her.

I think I'll continue to be intrigued and want to see her performances, even if I don't fall in love. Sometimes that's the way it goes, right?

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This is a very interesting thread, but then Vishneva is a very interesting dancer, to say the least!

... Still her claim to immortality as I have mentioned before, for me, is her performance in Ratmansky's Cinderella

Buddy, I wonder if you could elaborate a little on why you felt hat Cinderella is Vishneva’s best role. I haven’t seen the Ratmansy version but having seen the Ashton and the Kudela I’m having trouble picturing this role being anyone’s best

...

There are artists, like Luciano Pavarotti in his pre-Three Tenors days, who always play themselves... But there is no doubt that the artist supercedes the material. I've seen Vishneva live once, in Sleeping Beauty, and didn't for a moment think I was watching Aurora. There were some very lovely things that she did in that performance, but I felt like I was watching The Diana Vishneva Show.

(Someone has to be Scrooge...)

Interesting observation. I’ve certainly felt an element of “The Vishneva show” each time I’ve seen her dance but I felt it the least in Sleeping Beauty. I think one of the reasons she gives this impression is that a common thread each time I’ve seen her is her extrordinary stage presence and the huge scale of her dancing. As beck_hen points out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Actually, I'm on the same page in that I've preferred the interpretations of others in Giselle, Swan Lake and R&J, the roles I've seen her in. But I'm interested in what she does, and her facility is huge. It's true she doesn't disappear into a role, but she announces herself as a ballerina, where others don't seem to do so no matter how satisfying their individual performances are...

I'm not sure she has any emploi in the traditional sense—she is a singular performer and has to find a unique way into each role.

I’ve seen her in Ballet Imperial, Rubies, Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and R&J and I also prefer other dancers interpretations of everything I’ve seen her in -with the exception of Sleeping Beauty ( I’m with Gottlieb on that one!) But her technique is so powerful, her phrasing and line so beautiful and expressive and her artistic vision is so uncompromised that I think the fact that I may ultimately prefer someone else’s interpretation is completely beside the point. The point is that she provides such a unique experience that to miss a Vishneva performance is unthinkable in the same way that 30 years ago it was incomprehensible to miss a Makarova or a Kirkland performance. You go if you can get there.

I also think that the scale of her dancing and the unconventionality of her interpretations are the only things that are the same about the way she approaches different roles. That’s one point where I guess I disagree with Helene. Unlike many dancers who never seem able to submerge their personalities to the demands of a role Vishneva seems to approach each role differently. Her Aurora couldn’t be more different from her Giselle, who is completely different from her Juliet etc. Which is the way it should be. Not to mention the fact that she never seems to do the same role exactly the same way twice. She is endlessly fascinating. She may never be my favorite Odette or my favorite Giselle but she is well on her way to becoming my favorite among the current generation of ballerinas

Susan

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... Still her claim to immortality as I have mentioned before, for me, is her performance in Ratmansky's Cinderella
This is a very interesting thread, but then Vishneva is a very interesting dancer, to say the least! Buddy, I wonder if you could elaborate a little on why you felt hat Cinderella is Vishneva's best role. I haven’t seen the Ratmansy version but having seen the Ashton and the Kudela I'm having trouble picturing this role being anyone's best

nysusan, thank you for your very interesting comments.In regard to your question above, I was thinking after I posted it that someone might wonder "Why? Being relatively new to ballet I don't really know technical descriptive terms that might make the picture much clearer in your mind, so I will try and use enthusiasm instead.

What immediately comes to mind were the 'Overhead Lifts'. Call it "athleticism", "pyrotechnics", etc., but just for starters. It was as if Igor Kolb (seemingly very good for this sort of thing) was throwing her all over the place and she was just breezing through it!

No Physical Challenge Seemed Too Great! The physical control and the way she would throw herself into each challenge was amazing and 'Flawlessly Executed' to my eyes. But lets remember that this is ballet and not a gymnastic event. I Can't Possibly Just Call It Great Athleticism And Leave It At That.

The balletic 'Grace' with which she accomplished all this was truly amazing to me. I was thinking last night as I was watching her "Giselle" video (a nightly ritual these days), that she seems to have an 'Ethereal Safety Net' when she 'Soars Into Space'. It's Beautiful What She Does----Very, Very Beautiful!!!! I might describe this aspect of her Ratmansky's Cinderella as... Pyrotechnics As Might Be Performed By An ** Angel ** ' 'Stage Presence'----My eyes hardly ever left her, even when she was sitting in the furthest corner of the stage during someone else's performance. I saw two other fine ballerinas perform the same ballet and they were very good, but it wasn't the same. I saw her perform it twice----equally good both times. Total Control.

I saw her perform the Pas De Deux a year-and-a-half later and it was just as good. For me. "It Is Just One Of Those Super Special Things." I Never Expected To Ever See Anything Like It And I Don't Expect To See Anything Like It Again----Except By Her.

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I have just found out today, July 13, is Diana's Birthday. I Wish Her All The Best!

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Thanks for these very helpful comments. I saw Diana Vishneva for the first time last Fall when the Kirov brought Sleeping Beauty to Berkeley. I saw two performances of the Kirov's Sleeping Beauty; Diana was in the second performance only. The first night's performance, without her, was a night of small pleasures: the company as a whole was not particularly inspiring. But on the second night, when Diana appeared, it's as if an electrical current went through the house. The entire company's dancing became more elegant, stronger, more beautiful, as if to reflect hers. She is not a self-absorbed performer: she has a way of making almost everyone feel more alive (including the audience, which that night in Berkeley was rapturous; the previous night it was simply warmly appreciative). For a long time I had been feeling that I had come to ballet too late—too late to see Gelsey Kirkland, Suzanne Farrell, Margot Fonteyn, Anna Pavlova. But that night in Berkeley I felt I had finally seen one of those once-in-a-generation dancers.

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But on the second night, when Diana appeared, it's as if an electrical current went through the house. The entire company's dancing became more elegant, stronger, more beautiful, as if to reflect hers.

jps, I felt the exact same way with the Cinderella performances. The two nights that she performed everyone seemed to perform better and I saw all the performances.

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but she announces herself as a ballerina, where others don't seem to do so no matter how satisfying their individual performances are. It's a certain arrogance, or confidence, they seem to instill at the Maryinsky.

Back in the late 80s, when Russians started showing up here every year, the critic Keith White used to say you could smell the difference when the Russian ballerinas were in town. The dancers exuded something (he called it musk, but he didn't mean to be taken literally), and the audience's hormonal levels changed acordingly. "They look at us as if to say 'I am magnificent; you may adore me.'"

It might be arrogance, but I think of it as a sense of responsibility to the public -- not in a pious way, but as the legacy of Pushkin and Vaganova, the determination to put your will and imagination and soul in service, in order to conquer the heroic difficulties of presenting everything the public needs to see and NOTHING ELSE.

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...

It might be arrogance, but I think of it as a sense of responsibility to the public -- not in a pious way, but as the legacy of Pushkin and Vaganova, the determination to put your will and imagination and soul in service, in order to conquer the heroic difficulties of presenting everything the public needs to see and NOTHING ELSE.

Joan Acocella, in her recent New Yorker review of the Vishneva/Corella Giselle mentioned as part of Diana's method the need to find her "secret" about the role. More of Diana's method was revealed in the May 2004 issue of Pointe as Nina Alovert interviewed Ms. Vishneva and asked how she prepared for a new role. Diana replied:

I always have the music inside me, but I begin to work on a role with the first steps during rehearsal. After beginning the rehearsal process, I start to understand what I need to see and read. For me, every step is a word. When I dance, it’s like I’m reading poetry to the people. I discover when to “say” something loudly, when to keep silent, when to make my tone lower—every step is looked at like this. Then, when I start to perform, I have a vast supply of research and imaginings, and I try different things to see what the people understand better. I never stop trying to know more.

Italics mine. As you say, Paul... responsibility to the public.

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For a long time I had been feeling that I had come to ballet too late—too late to see Gelsey Kirkland, Suzanne Farrell, Margot Fonteyn, Anna Pavlova. But that night in Berkeley I felt I had finally seen one of those once-in-a-generation dancers.

jps, I have also felt the same as you once again. I pretty much felt that the 'Greats' ended in the 50s with Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya with Natalia Makarova and Altnai Asylmuratova doing admirably in the meantime. I love the way I can finally throw these mega-syllable names around without rushing for my DVD covers. I once told a friend that the reason they have such long names must be because they are so incredibly talented. Would you agree? jps and nysusan, may I please go off topic for a moment and "With The Greatest Of Pleasure Announce The Arrival Of"...Uliana Lopatkina and Alina Cojocaru...along with Svetlana Zakharova and Daria Pavlenko...along with...Zhana Ayupova, Svetlana Lunkina, Maria Alexandrova, Veronika Part, Natalia Osipova...and off into the horizon.

My mind is actually beginning to be allowed (in all honesty) to think Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya when I view some of the current wonders. I don't think that I am alone. Anna Pavlova--well maybe not this time. All I am trying to say is that I think that 'Diana' is absolutely wonderful and should be discussed to the limit until she comes to town again---but 'Happily, Happily, Happily' look who else we have as well! I hope one day to see equally long topics on at least several of these other artists.

I close again with the salutation suggested by our wonderful bard, drb..."Long Live The Daughters Of St. Petersburg!" and all the other historic cities from whence they come and all the wonderful folks here, who keep them alive in our mind. Thank you all!

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. . . Nina Alovert interviewed Ms. Vishneva and asked how she prepared for a new role. Diana replied:

... "For me, every step is a word. When I dance, it’s like I’m reading poetry to the people. I discover when to “say” something loudly, when to keep silent, when to make my tone lower—every step is looked at like this . . . "

Thanks, drb, for this (to me) incredibly revealing quote. These are the words not only of a reader of poetry but of a poet. "Every step is a word": her dancing is poetry, and she works with movement the way poets work with words. "Every step is a word" also reminds me of another phrase Joan Acocella used to describe Diana's dancing (it's the one phrase from her essay I won't forget): "the soul as body."

This is such a great thread! (thanks too to Paul and Buddy and nysusan for your earlier comments---sorry I've been so late in responding. Isn't there some way to be notified of replies?).

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