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80th Birthday Gala for Yuri GrigorovichRoyal Opera House celebration


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10 replies to this topic

#1 leonid17

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 09:19 AM

Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph raises some questions that might seem controversial to some on below and the venerable Clement Crisp is left dispirited by the event in the Financial Times.

Links also include the Evening Standard Review.

http://www.telegraph...btballet127.xml

http://www.thisislon...viewId=23383428

http://www.ft.com/cm...00779e2340.html

#2 richard53dog

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 09:40 AM

Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph raises some questions that might seem controversial to some on below link.

The Telegraph




Could you post the link? Thanks

#3 leonid17

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 09:49 AM


Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph raises some questions that might seem controversial to some on below link.

The Telegraph




Could you post the link? Thanks

Done plus one more.

#4 richard53dog

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Posted 10 February 2007 - 12:17 PM

Done plus one more.


Thanks , Leonid!

#5 Mashinka

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 05:22 AM

and the venerable Clement Crisp is left dispirited by the event in the Financial Times.


The venerable Clement Crisp was not left dispirited by the event as the venerable Clement Crisp didn't write that particular review.

The reviewer was someone called Gerald Dowler, whose thoughtless scribbling seemed to damn Simon Virsaladze and Dmitri Shostakovich as well as Grigorovich. The FT has always had a terrific arts page but that particular review damages the paper's reputation for objective reviewing.

I was at this gala and it was a fabulous evening with Grigorovich getting storms of applause at the end, dispiriting is the last word I would use.

#6 bart

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 06:25 AM

The Dowler piece may have been ungracious, considering the 80th birthday tribute. But is the following generalization about Grigorovich's choreography all that off base? (I ask this as a complete non-expert, who hasn't seen a stage performance of one of his ballets in over 20 years and has to rely mostly on video performances.)

The Busby Berkeley of ballet, Grigorovich is deft at moving huge numbers of dancers about the stage in ballets more than a little cod and often overly camp. [ ... ] [T]he evening also highlighted the limitations of his choreographic vocabulary – endless repeated phrases, constant leaping about for the men and crutch-splitting for women, when the poor dears are not hulked around the stage like sacks of coal – his musicality is limited to slavishly following or ignoring the rhythm in the score.

The thisislondon review puts Grigorovich more in the context of his times and the taste prevailing therein:

Perhaps that doesn't matter so much for this well-deserved celebration. What does is the valedictory mood. Not to Grigorovich himself, but to his era of balletic absolutism, when drama-ballets were pushed to their technical and theatrical limit, and that was all we wanted.

The phrase "that was all we wanted" is rather cryptic and provocative.

#7 Mashinka

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 10:01 AM

I haven't heard that strange expression 'cod' for a long time, nor to I care to hear dancers called 'poor dears' it's very inappropriate for classical ballet and rather as if the late Kenneth Williams had written the review.

I suppose the reviewer was referring to Spartacus, a work that depends more on charismatic dancers than his other ballets, but Grigorovich handles large numbers well and is a master of the effective tableau, e.g. end of 2nd & 3rd acts in Spartak and the finale of Ivan the Terrible. He has created beautiful love duets in most of his ballets too. His works are very Russian of course and I'm not sure the themes are always to the taste of western audiences, but performances of Grigorovich's ballets are always guaranteed an ecstatic response in Moscow.

The Bolshoi soloists dancing at the gala performed very well, though Matvienko was seriously miscast as Spartacus in my view but Antonicheva, Allash, Lunkina and Yanin were all fantastic. Have to agree regarding the orchestra though - they were awful.

Grigorovich fans came from far and wide for the gala and all left as happy bunnies; I agree with Bart that these were "ungracious" responses to what was after all a birthday celebration.

#8 bart

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 10:05 AM

I must confess that I was also thinking primarily of Spartacus.

I also have to confess that I've never heard of the word "cod (except in fish circles) and assumed it was some sort of typo. :)

#9 leonid17

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 11:47 AM

and the venerable Clement Crisp is left dispirited by the event in the Financial Times.


The venerable Clement Crisp was not left dispirited by the event as the venerable Clement Crisp didn't write that particular review.

The reviewer was someone called Gerald Dowler, whose thoughtless scribbling seemed to damn Simon Virsaladze and Dmitri Shostakovich as well as Grigorovich. The FT has always had a terrific arts page but that particular review damages the paper's reputation for objective reviewing.

I was at this gala and it was a fabulous evening with Grigorovich getting storms of applause at the end, dispiriting is the last word I would use.


Thank you for the correction. After almost 40 years of reading Clement Crisp in the FT I am still not used to someone other than Clement Crisp writing for the FT. I offer sincere apologies to both Mr. Crisp and Mr. Dowler.

#10 volcanohunter

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 01:20 PM

The Dowler piece may have been ungracious, considering the 80th birthday tribute. But is the following generalization about Grigorovich's choreography all that off base? (I ask this as a complete non-expert, who hasn't seen a stage performance of one of his ballets in over 20 years and has to rely mostly on video performances.)

The Busby Berkeley of ballet, Grigorovich is deft at moving huge numbers of dancers about the stage in ballets more than a little cod and often overly camp. [ ... ] [T]he evening also highlighted the limitations of his choreographic vocabulary – endless repeated phrases, constant leaping about for the men and crutch-splitting for women, when the poor dears are not hulked around the stage like sacks of coal – his musicality is limited to slavishly following or ignoring the rhythm in the score.

My experience is limited also, but I don't think it's off base. I first saw the Bolshoi as a child in New York. I was taken to Grigorovich's Romeo & Juliet and I absolutely detested it. Now, you may think that I had been too young to appreciate the ballet or the score, but my earliest memory of ballet was of watching the Fonteyn/Nureyev film of MacMillan's Romeo & Juliet; my uncle had prepared me for that Bolshoi outing by giving me a recording of the score, which I listened to over and over again and enjoyed very much; and by then I was taking ballet lessons, so I had developed some idea of what ballet was about. The fact remains that I thought Grigorovich's version was hideous and ludicrous, and that I giggled during Tybalt's death throes.

Alexander Godunov and the Kozlovs defected during that tour, so it would be 11 years before the Bolshoi visited New York again, and in the meantime I could only watch Grigorovich's ballets on television. For someone raised on Balanchine and Ashton, with a healthy dolop of Cranko, MacMillan and Kylián thrown in, I would watch all that stomping around in unison completely incredulously. This qualifies as choreography?, I'd ask myself. Admittedly, when I did see the company again in 1990, my reaction was a little different. The energy of so many dancers stomping around in unison to very loud music does produce a strong visceral effect, but that doesn't alter the fact that the choreography they're performing may be simplistic and repetitive. It seems to me that Grigorovich has very little movement invention. The solos of his heroines are practically interchangeable. Frankly, if I want to get the Busby Berkeley effect, I watch the man's films. Berkeley's choreography is much more interesting.

I don't know if I'd agree with Ismene Brown's comment about hidden dissidence in Grigorovich's work, but I do think that his ballets may have provided Soviet audiences with a guilty pleasure. For one thing, Soviet ballet is just about the most decadent thing around: dancers running at each other with outstretched arms from opposite ends of a diagonal to swelling music, followed by some outrageous lift or throw. All that's missing is a wind machine and a 50-foot piece of silk. I can think of few faster ways of reducing ballet to an acrobatic spectacle. But beyond that, Grigorovich's ballets give audiences a chance to be seduced by potent, glamorous villains, invariably more interesting than his heroes, and to view the occasional orgy. That the excesses are conducted by nasty Roman imperialists or recidivist Soviet capitalists is beside the point: it's still an officially sanctioned means of seeing an orgiastic spectacle.

#11 leonid17

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 02:31 PM

My experience is limited also, but I don't think it's off base. I first saw the Bolshoi as a child in New York. I was taken to Grigorovich's Romeo & Juliet and I absolutely detested it. Now, you may think that I had been too young to appreciate the ballet or the score, but my earliest memory of ballet was of watching the Fonteyn/Nureyev film of MacMillan's Romeo & Juliet; my uncle had prepared me for that Bolshoi outing by giving me a recording of the score, which I listened to over and over again and enjoyed very much; and by then I was taking ballet lessons, so I had developed some idea of what ballet was about. The fact remains that I thought Grigorovich's version was hideous and ludicrous, and that I giggled during Tybalt's death throes.

".... I would watch all that stomping around in unison completely incredulously. This qualifies as choreography?, I'd ask myself. Admittedly, when I did see the company again in 1990, my reaction was a little different. The energy of so many dancers stomping around in unison to very loud music does produce a strong visceral effect, but that doesn't alter the fact that the choreography they're performing may be simplistic and repetitive. It seems to me that Grigorovich has very little movement invention. The solos of his heroines are practically interchangeable. Frankly, if I want to get the Busby Berkeley effect, I watch the man's films. Berkeley's choreography is much more interesting."

I don't know if I'd agree with Ismene Brown's comment about hidden dissidence in Grigorovich's work, but I do think that his ballets may have provided Soviet audiences with a guilty pleasure. For one thing, Soviet ballet is just about the most decadent thing around: dancers running at each other with outstretched arms from opposite ends of a diagonal to swelling music, followed by some outrageous lift or throw. All that's missing is a wind machine and a 50-foot piece of silk. I can think of few faster ways of reducing ballet to an acrobatic spectacle. But beyond that, Grigorovich's ballets give audiences a chance to be seduced by potent, glamorous villains, invariably more interesting than his heroes, and to view the occasional orgy. That the excesses are conducted by nasty Roman imperialists or recidivist Soviet capitalists is beside the point: it's still an officially sanctioned means of seeing an orgiastic spectacle.




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