Natalia

Flames of Paris coming to Bolshoi in 2008!

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The Bolshoi continues its wonderful reconstructions kick! Next season will bring the complete four-act 'Flames of Paris' (1933-Vainonen version for Bolshoi). The revival will premiere in July 2008 in Moscow. Just imagine Ivan Vasiliev in the Vachtang Chabukiani role...or Yuliana Malkhasiants as Therese, stomping her way through the famous march...or the corps singing the Marsaillese while lifting rifles & pitchforks. It's a balletomane-historian's dream come true!

See press announcements within the www.bolshoi.ru site.

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And NYC probably still won't see it because ABT will be hogging the Met during Bolshoi and Royal touring season. I wonder if anybody has thought of setting up Madison Square Garden with a stage at the end, the way Hurok used to?

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Is this going to be the 1933 choreography or a Lacotte-like "reconstruction" with the same plot and completely different choreography?

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Flames of Paris has a cherished place in my memory. In the 1960's the Bolshoi brought a highlights tour to Constitution Hall that included a "Flames of Paris" pas de deux danced by Yuri Vladimirov and Nina Sorokina -- I was a tiny little girl and my memory (which, admittedly, is not perfect) tells me that my parents did not buy me a ticket because I was...well...a tiny little girl. But other family members had tickets and someone could not attend at the last minute. I was allowed to use the ticket, accompanied by a long lecture about sitting still in my seat and not talking during the performance (which was unnecessary since I was mesmerized by all ballet) and considered myself very lucky to attend. Without question the "Flames of Paris" pas de deux was my favorite -- I was absolutely convinced Vladimirov could fly. About ten years later--when I was a slightly less tiny--I saw another highlights program of the Bolshoi at Wolftrap in which Vladimirov and Sorokina danced the same pas de deux (I'm guessing it was their 'set piece'), but at that time I thought it looked appallingly vulgar, and Vladimirov, in particular seemed heavy and effortful. Although my taste had undoubtedly changed over time, I am guessing the years had also taken their toll on Vladimirov's and Sorokina's technical brio. But the bottom line is that now, much more than ten years later, I am thrilled the ballet is being revived in toto and very eager to see it. I assume from Natalia's allusions to the Marseillaise that the "flames" of Paris at issue are those of the French Revolution not the 1871 Commune--that's something I always wondered about since I have never been able to find a libretto...(?)

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Is this going to be the 1933 choreography or a Lacotte-like "reconstruction" with the same plot and completely different choreography?

Mr. Ratmansky, in contrasting the situation with that of Bright Stream, says he has available the original steps for Flames of Paris. In an interview last August for Dansomanie:

...The Flames of Paris, we will look back into the original steps. Actually, this ballet stayed in the repertoire until the early 70’s, and many of its dancers are still with us, coaching for example. They are not very old! So it’s a real possibility.

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As drb states, this will be THE original Flames of Paris. I suspect that, as with the current revival of the Petipa Corsaire, Ratmansky may make an emendation or two for modern audiences - but surely not a wholesale dumbing-down of a full-length ballet, a-la ABTSleeping Beauty.

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I can't help wondering if this is being revived to showcase the astonishing talents of Natalia Osipova. She danced the famous pas de deux in Nottingham last year and was amazing. I'd put money on her being the first cast in this revival.

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I can't help wondering if this is being revived to showcase the astonishing talents of Natalia Osipova. She danced the famous pas de deux in Nottingham last year and was amazing. I'd put money on her being the first cast in this revival.

Absolutely, Mashinka, with Ivan Vasiliev in the Chabukiani role. I could also picture an Alexandrova/Tsiskaridze casting in those roles. And I seem to recall an interview a couple of years ago with the Bolshoi's top female character dancer, Yulianna Malkhasiants, stating that she wished that she could dance Anissimova's great role (Therese) before retiring.

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Just for interest, a synopsis and other snippets here at Wikipedia.

There is on video somewhere a film of the actors' pd2 with Marina Kondratieva. The music is rather lovely.

Edit: Why do I recognise the music for the female variation?

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....

There is on video somewhere a film of the actors' pd2 with Marina Kondratieva. The music is rather lovely.

Edit: Why do I recognise the music for the female variation?

Scherzo, the Versailles pdd danced by the actor-couple is part of the 2-CD compilation Stars of the Russian Ballet. The female solo may be familiar because it is often staged in ballet academies that teach Vaganova technique, e.g., it is an 'oldie goldie' at Washington, DC's Kirov Academy of Ballet concerts.

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Aha! Yes, that's it, it's used in the film of Karsavina doing exercises. Thankyou! :lightbulb:

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What a stupid idea to revive this travesty of a ballet. It's vulgar and campy in the "best " tradition of Soviet ideological approach. It's true that the PDD was quite popular, but only thanks to some marvelous performers like Baryshnikov,who performed it in concerts shortly after graduating from ballet school, and which I was fortunate to see.Ballet itself ? !

Who at this time would want to sit through 4 acts of a very banal chreography and music that qiute matched it in its banality.

The Bolshoi should wake up.It's 21 st century for crying out loud.George Balanchine happened, and many others, Boris Eifman in Russia for that matter.It's insane since the Soviet Union does not exist animore.Do they have to go back to this,have they not learned anything?

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Wait, whoa, hold it!

We haven't even seen this ballet except in very limited selections, and stills from whole performances. OK, it's agitprop, but what about "Les Miz"? Do we invalidate, sight unseen, just because a work is about Revolution? Judged that way 1776 is practically as politically and socially dangerous as the document it's about!

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Its not the topic I object. " Les Miserables " is a great novel and the musical was done very tastefully,with great humour and lovely music. If the " Flames " is revived with completely new choreography, then there might be a chance. Some works remain classics and some not. That was never the case with " Flames " to start with.

" Spartacus " is another matter. When it first premiered with choreography by Grigorovich it seemed like a revelaion.And what a cast! But when a few years ago I got a video and watched it for the first time since I left Russia, it didn't have the same impact,which is to be expected. I still loved some parts, and there were many,that I was not thrilled about at all.

And " Spartacus " has absolutely great music,no comparison with " Flames.

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Moderators "fixit" note:

Anin, you don't have to quote the previous post to answer it. If there's no intervening post, your point will be immediately taken by readers. If you respond to a few posts up the thread, then maybe you would want to quote the part you respond to. No harm done, anyway.

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The Bolshoi should wake up.It's 21 st century for crying out loud.George Balanchine happened, and many others, Boris Eifman in Russia for that matter.It's insane since the Soviet Union does not exist animore.Do they have to go back to this,have they not learned anything?

Surely Bolshoi is not sleeping and developing very different projects. As to the 21st century policy I think one of it's trends is to return some of the things which were carelessly lost. Not only in ballet. It doesn't mean that "THe Flames" should be returned. This decision is really arguable. But... I would rather have Vainonen than Eifman, who to my humble opinion should never be placed near Balanchine's name. Especially after his "hommage" to Mr. B named "Musaget", which was quite a risky and unworthy experiment for NYCB on the centenary of Balanchine.

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What a stupid idea to revive this travesty of a ballet. It's vulgar and campy in the "best " tradition of Soviet ideological approach.

I have watched the Chabukiani film a good number of times and I have never found it campy. It reflects a heroic style that was meant to encourage Russian people of a post revolutionary period.

This is not a pro Soviet communist statement it is a historical fact. I don't think it portrays any more ideology than an Abel Gance film does and has to be appreciated in its context. The question is surely, is there art present and does it result in excellent performances of the choreographic material? For me the answer is emphatically yes.

I do not understand what you mean by the "best " tradition of Soviet ideological approach." Are you an 'expert' in this era of Russian Theatrical history, if so, please offer us a weightier argument.

Unashamedly I like to see myself as a connoisseur of ballet and contextualisng all periods of its history can only add to my knowledge, understanding of what followed on from what.

I recently discovered a performance of Kondratieva in the pas de deux for Mirielle de Poitier and Mistral from "The Flames of Paris" on youtube. It harks back to a gentler age, less starkly obvious than MacMillan for instance and more romantic. I was stunned because it showed what must have been one the earliest examples of overhead lifts of Soviet choreography(1932) which would remain a feature in ballets at the Bolshoi at least, well into the Grigorovich era.

Ratmansky has said he wants to show works by Gorsky, Lavrovsky and Vainonen to show the Bolshoi is not just Grigorich because and because it is part of their company history. I welcome this whole-heartedly.

Next year will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the "The Flames of Paris" on the Bolshoi stage and they will also celebrate the centenary of the living legend Marina Semyonova who was the first Mirielle at the Bolshoi in 1933.

ED: Spelling and word omission

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I'd love to see it, even if I found it not to my liking today. It's a part of the corporate memory of ballet, not only in Russia, but anywhere excerpts have been presented.

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I can't help wondering if this is being revived to showcase the astonishing talents of Natalia Osipova. She danced the famous pas de deux in Nottingham last year and was amazing. I'd put money on her being the first cast in this revival.

Absolutely, Mashinka, with Ivan Vasiliev in the Chabukiani role. I could also picture an Alexandrova/Tsiskaridze casting in those roles. And I seem to recall an interview a couple of years ago with the Bolshoi's top female character dancer, Yulianna Malkhasiants, stating that she wished that she could dance Anissimova's great role (Therese) before retiring.

I don't think either of the two men you mention have a hope of recreating the beefy panache of Chabukiani.

The Bolshoi can no longer cast Spartacus in the manner of Vasiliev/Mukhamedov or Liepa. Whilst the Boshoi have two very good dancers for prince roles the tough sort of masculinity required for Jerome I believe would elude the current roster.

I would hoped to be wrong in this matter and that is why I always go to every performance expecting to be moved, excited or elevated.

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Leonid, what could be a greater tribute to Chabukiani than a performance by a fellow-Georgian of ssimilarly-pectacular tachniche and charisma -- Tsiskaridze?!

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[ ... ] the beefy panache of Chabukiani.
Sorry to be :thumbsup: , but this is a great phrase which captures in two words an entire generation or so of Bolshoi males. Thanks!

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[ ... ] the beefy panache of Chabukiani.
Sorry to be :thumbsup: , but this is a great phrase which captures in two words an entire generation or so of Bolshoi males. Thanks!

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Right now Tsiskaridze couldn't possibly dance this part,since he is still feeling the effects of an earlier surgery. As for Chabukiani, he was never a Bolshoi dancer. He danced in Moscow many times,but as a member of the Kirov ballet,where he stayed until 1941.Since 1941 he was associated mostly with Georgian Ballet Theatre in Tbilisi and the ballet school there, and which produced some of the most illustrous names today like Ananiashvili,Nioradze,Zelensky,Tsiskaridze.

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