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Alastair Macaulay @ NY Times


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#211 aurora

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 07:55 AM

It's not even the Bolshoi. MacCauley seems dismissive of the entire ballet. How is that possible, as a dance critic? A ballet that was so important in ballet history, and that was so important to so many ballet greats? As I said, this is the ballet that Mathilde Kschessinska gave to Anna Pavlova, convinced that Pavlova would be a total failure. She was of course wrong. It's the ballet that Tamara Karsavina fondly recollects as the last ballet she danced with the Mariinsky before being forced to flee Russia with her husband. It's the ballet that made Nureyev a star in 1961 and then it was the last project he devoted himself to, before he passed away. The Kingdom of the Shades scene remains the ultimate test of a ballet company's corps. The pas de deux between Solor and Nikya after they are reunited in the Kingdom of the Shades is one of the most beautiful in all of classical ballet. Sorry, but I find MacCauley narrow-minded.


OT--But WQXR radio is playing selections from Bayadere just now as I read this!

#212 Jane Simpson

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:23 AM

MacCauley seems dismissive of the entire ballet.


The way I read it, it's the full-length versions he's complaining about, compared with the Shades scene done alone.

#213 canbelto

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:31 AM

That's akin to saying, "I really only like Act 3 of Sleeping Beauty." Yes there are campy cheesy parts of La Bayadere but I find the overall tone of the article to be extremely condescending towards the ballet, and that's my problem with his review.

#214 carbro

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 08:54 AM

I disagree. MacAulay was dismissive of the staging and performing but not of the ballet itself. As I read it, he thinks the Bolshoi owes the world -- and is capable of -- a better Bayadere.

#215 kfw

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 10:37 AM

The Kingdom of the Shades scene remains the ultimate test of a ballet company's corps.

MacCauley writes that "transcendence" is what it's all about. I rather doubt he dislikes transcendence. :off topic:

I agree with carbro that he thinks the Bolshoi can mount a better production. While he notes, for example, that the ballet was seen widely in the West in 1978, it's only in "the last several years," as versions have multiplied, that he's begun to think that ignorance was bliss. As I read that, he's finding fault with some recent versions.

#216 bart

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Posted 07 August 2007 - 11:10 AM

Thanks, carbro, for reminding us that Macaulay is willing to be controversial. This has apparently been the case for a long time. In 1999 he wrote a similar review of the Bolshoi's Bayadere for The Spectator. There's even a similar criticism of the inappropriateness of the scene with the children in black-face.

Macaulay may be guilty of repeating himself, but I have to agree with Jane and carbro that the criticism seems directed at the way the Bolshoi does the ballet, not at the ballet itself. He extends this to a critique of other recent productions. In support of this, here's his introduction to the 1999 piece, which focuses on the Kingdom of the Shades scene:

The people in Heaven watch the Shades scene of La Bayadere as it used to be danced (on either side of the Iron Curtain) up to 20 years ago. The people in Hell watch all the other scenes of La Bayadere as they are danced (it matters not where or by whom) today.


Maybe this matter should be the starting point for a thread of its own.

(I was unable to copy the link to this article. I located it by typing in "macaulay" + "bayadere" on Google, which turned up the piece at FindArticles. com


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