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Farewell, Reconstructions?

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Here's an interview with Yuri Fateev, in which he says pretty clearly that there will be no more "reconstructions." So I guess no more 1890 Sleeping Beauty, 1900 Bayadere, or Awakening of Flora? And I never even got to see them. :thumbsup:

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I think the problems with the "reconstructions" are 1) they are very expensive to perform (I can't imagine the cost of doing the original version of Sleeping Beauty with its authentic period sets and costumes) and 2) the dancing style is probably not what most Russian balletomanes alive today are used to, since most of them are used to the Konstantin Sergeyev versions of various evening-long ballets that were first performed in the 1950's.

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And they aren't available on DVD either.

The main problem with these reconstructions has always been that the company itself never really believed in them. The dancers disliked and distrusted everything about these productions, from steps to costumes, from mime to length, considering them far inferior to the productions they knew. Dancing style? In "Beauty" and "Bayadère" there was never any concession towards a different style, they just kept on dancing them in the same way as they dance the older productions. (Not everything is lost though - I have seen the sets of the Kingdom of the Shades Act from the reconstructed "Bayadère" used for the old Soviet production.)

It's a great shame as these Petipa reconstructions are among the most remarkable achievements of the Makhar Vaziev era. But for Gergiev they are incompatible with his view of a "modern" image. It's moreover ironic that the Mariinsky is dumping them, while the Bolshoi is now taking serious efforts to revive important chunks of the Petipa/19th-century heritage, as recently with "Le Corsaire", "Paquita Grand Pas", and later this season "Coppelia" (in the reconstruction by Vikharev...).

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Another problem with international tight money is that the funding for academic exercises (which the reconstructions arguably were) and artistic explorations (another component of their beings) dries up. We can only go with the sports teams, who "wait until next year (and hope!)"

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It's a great shame as these Petipa reconstructions are among the most remarkable achievements of the Makhar Vaziev era. But for Gergiev they are incompatible with his view of a "modern" image.

It wasn't just Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere though. There was Awakening of Flora, Ondine, and Carnaval of Venice. I suppose they're all going to be junked as well?

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Another problem with international tight money is that the funding for academic exercises (which the reconstructions arguably were) and artistic explorations (another component of their beings) dries up. We can only go with the sports teams, who "wait until next year (and hope!)"

I do not believe the reconstructions were either academic exercises or artistic explorations alone. For me they were an extraordinary attempt to recover an historical period of the St.Petersburg ballet of which these two ballets have become a cornerstone of the repertoire of academic classical ballet companies. They also initiated an extraordinary exchange of Russian and American know how. The productions were revelatory in as much as we saw the master choreographer Marius Petipa's works almost as they were intended.

As Marc pointed out, these attempted achievements engendered animosity which I believe originated from the older communist coaches who probably felt that their contribution as performers in the previous production was being devalued and would perhaps even become discounted which in some cases, they certainly should be. I think this decision also reflects something of the current climate in Russia of turning the clock backwards.

Were these productions superior to the Sergeyev Beauty of 1951 or the Ponomarev/Chabukiani Bayadere of 1941 I would say yes in possibilities, but no in practicalities. On the one hand there was the opportunity in Bayadere to recreate a seminal work that bridged the gap between the Romantic Ballet and Petipa's classics, but as Marc states, "The main problem with these reconstructions has always been that the company itself never really believed in them. The dancers disliked and distrusted everything about these productions, from steps to costumes, from mime to length, considering them far inferior to the productions they knew. Dancing style? In "Beauty" and "Bayadère" there was never any concession towards a different style, they just kept on dancing them in the same way as they dance the older productions." As we know they chose athleticism of ballet, instead of aestheticism of academic classical ballet.

I am grateful that I saw both reconstructions and I feel at present that I no longer wish to see other productions. I only hope that Vikharev wants to continue in these reconstructions and I hope he gets his deserved recognition and rewards for making such an extraordinary contribution to the history of 19th century ballets. I

If you are lucky enough to have a pirate copy of the productions it is likely that you may in the future feel quite smug about having them.

As regard the expense of staging them, especially abroad, it seems there are always sponsors somewhere at hand and now as we have recently seen in London, there are Russian sponsors ready to dip their toes into the pond.

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It's a great shame as these Petipa reconstructions are among the most remarkable achievements of the Makhar Vaziev era. But for Gergiev they are incompatible with his view of a "modern" image.

It wasn't just Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere though. There was Awakening of Flora, Ondine, and Carnaval of Venice. I suppose they're all going to be junked as well?

I know there's no video of it, but "Ondine" doesn't fall into the same category. "Ondine" is no reconstruction in the same vein as Vikharev's work, but is a pastiche (enjoyable as it is) from Pierre Lacotte.

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As Marc pointed out, these attempted achievements engendered animosity which I believe originated from the older communist coaches who probably felt that their contribution as performers in the previous production was being devalued and would perhaps even become discounted which in some cases, they certainly should be. I think this decision also reflects something of the current climate in Russia of turning the clock backwards.

This has also seems to have been an issue within the Bolshoi when Alexei Ratmansky wanted to stage ballets from the pre-Grigorovich era: the coaches and through them their pupils. Creativity is limited to the familiar repertory. Anything different, whether it is going back in time or new work, is tantamount to sacrilege.

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Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm a little confused. Does this mean that that there will be no more NEW productions of reconstructions created, while still dancing the ones that have been introduced (eg 1890 Beauty), or does this mean that the reconstructions that exist will be scrapped?

Also, I think it's interesting that the Bolshoi, with the more 'modern' outlook provided by Ratmansky, is the company going back in time. Funny how things change, huh?

I also didn't know that the Mariinsky is trying to lure Irina Kolpakova back to Russia--what role do you see for her within the company?

Thanks!

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Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm a little confused. Does this mean that that there will be no more NEW productions of reconstructions created, while still dancing the ones that have been introduced (eg 1890 Beauty), or does this mean that the reconstructions that exist will be scrapped?

Also, I think it's interesting that the Bolshoi, with the more 'modern' outlook provided by Ratmansky, is the company going back in time. Funny how things change, huh?

I also didn't know that the Mariinsky is trying to lure Irina Kolpakova back to Russia--what role do you see for her within the company?

Thanks!

Quote from the interview, linked above: "Fateev is not, to my deep regret, a fan of the reconstructions of 19th-century period performance. "Their time has gone," he says firmly."

If we have to go with this quote then the existing new/old ballets will no longer be performed.

Quote from the interview: "His approach appears to be accommodating but not lax, given that he wants (supported strongly by Gergiev) to lure the iconic Kirov classicist Irina Kolpakova back as coach from America to re-establish shapes and lines."

In any case they won't lure her back in order to reconstruct 19th century ballets....

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Kolpakova was a marvelous dancer and is an excellent coach, but if the Mariinsky and Vaganova Academy can't, between them, find someone who understands what classical line is supposed to look like, that is a sorry state of affairs indeed.

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Perhaps these "Russian sponsors [who are] ready to dip their toes in the pond" can spare $2 million to reconstruct Antony Tudor's Romeo and Juliet, which, in terms of its creation date, is now closer to Petipa's time than our own. :wink:

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Maybe I'm missing something here, but I'm a little confused. Does this mean that that there will be no more NEW productions of reconstructions created, while still dancing the ones that have been introduced (eg 1890 Beauty), or does this mean that the reconstructions that exist will be scrapped?

Also, I think it's interesting that the Bolshoi, with the more 'modern' outlook provided by Ratmansky, is the company going back in time. Funny how things change, huh?

I also didn't know that the Mariinsky is trying to lure Irina Kolpakova back to Russia--what role do you see for her within the company?

Thanks!

Quote from the interview, linked above: "Fateev is not, to my deep regret, a fan of the reconstructions of 19th-century period performance. "Their time has gone," he says firmly."

If we have to go with this quote then the existing new/old ballets will no longer be performed.

Quote from the interview: "His approach appears to be accommodating but not lax, given that he wants (supported strongly by Gergiev) to lure the iconic Kirov classicist Irina Kolpakova back as coach from America to re-establish shapes and lines."

In any case they won't lure her back in order to reconstruct 19th century ballets....

Thanks for the clarification, however, I do wish that these beautiful ballets would be released on DVD, from what little I've seen on youtube, the 1890 Beauty seems absolutely lovely.

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The Soviet versions are back. Kolpakova's career was tied to them. Lopatkina - possible future 'permanent' AD -- is their champion. It all gibes.

So it is 'back to the future' with Russia's two great ballet troupes, Mariinsky and Bolshoi, as the Bolshoi has recently reconfirmed Yuri Grigorovich's stagings of the main classics -- Swan, Beauty, Nut, Bayadere, Raymonda & Giselle -- by bringing back Grigorovich to an official high-level position. True -- Burlaka is doing a great job bringing reconstructions of certain classics (Coppelia, Paquita G-P, Corsaire)...but remember that these are not THE 'Big Six' Grigorovich Classics. NEVER will the Bolshoi touch the Grigorovich's 'Sacred Big Six.' So forget any thought of the Bolshoi somehow taking over the Mariinsky's 1890 Sleeping Beauty or spearheading a reconstruction of the 1895 Swan lake, as Ratmansky had tried to do.

So we are Back to the Future:

Soviet Grigorovich stagings at the Bolshoi

Soviet K. Sergeev stagings at the Mariinsky

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The Soviet versions are back. Kolpakova's career was tied to them. Lopatkina - possible future 'permanent' AD -- is their champion. It all gibes.

So it is 'back to the future' with Russia's two great ballet troupes, Mariinsky and Bolshoi, as the Bolshoi has recently reconfirmed Yuri Grigorovich's stagings of the main classics -- Swan, Beauty, Nut, Bayadere, Raymonda & Giselle -- by bringing back Grigorovich to an official high-level position. True -- Burlaka is doing a great job bringing reconstructions of certain classics (Coppelia, Paquita G-P, Corsaire)...but remember that these are not THE 'Big Six' Grigorovich Classics. NEVER will the Bolshoi touch the Grigorovich's 'Sacred Big Six.' So forget any thought of the Bolshoi somehow taking over the Mariinsky's 1890 Sleeping Beauty or spearheading a reconstruction of the 1895 Swan lake, as Ratmansky had tried to do.

So we are Back to the Future:

Soviet Grigorovich stagings at the Bolshoi

Soviet K. Sergeev stagings at the Mariinsky

Thank you Natalia for your clearly and importantly stated post.

Some ballets are of their time and some are for all time. Minor works of art keep the pot on the boil, but major works are the examples that fuel the fire, that heats the pot, that keeps an art genre alive an.

I have no problem with Grigorovich’s original works, as they met the artistic credo of government policies and to his credit; they exhibit a talent at work.

His ballets do have a problem however and that is the original casts were exemplary in performance and have never since been totally equalled. Without great performances, the ballets of Grigorovich do not get off the ground and we are aware of the choreographic weaknesses.

The value that Grigorovich original choreographic ballets have is in the provision of powerful characterisations of roles and as such, is a memorial to Soviet Russian theatrical history.

Grigorovich re-staged, “The Sleeping Beauty” (1963, 1973),”The Nutcracker” (1966), “Swan Lake” , “Raymonda” (1984), “La Bayadere” (1991),”Don Quixote”, “Giselle” (1987) and “Le Corsaire” (1994) all jewels of Imperial Russian Theatrical history.

I have never heard it said that any of these productions were recognised as having any authority in respect of the original staging and have no standing amongst authorititave critics. These backbone works of the classical repertoire have frequently been cast with Bolshoi dancers unable to meet the standard of legendary casts of an earlier soviet Russian or Russian period.

Natalia quite clearly states the sad current state policy of the arts in Russian ballet in which no independent Russian based ballet authority appears to be ready to state a revisionist view of Grigorovich’s contribution to Russian ballet, which led to stagnation of the Bolshoi repertoire by the 1990’s.

As regards the iron rule of Konstantin Sergeyev and Natalia Dudinskaya at the Kirov, it was a period when dancers of extraordinary talent were kept down and Sergeyev versions of the classics were interpreted to fit the communist ideal in theatrical production.

Sergeyev’s stature as a dancer is unassailable until he reaches forty years of age in 1950 (he would perform leading roles for another 10 years or so) when he first stages “Swan Lake”. Here he made revisions to the Vaganova version (and Lopukhov’s 1945) increasing the technical role of Siegfried giving the character more opportunities to dance. He did however relax the political ideology of Vaganova’s 1933 production. He retained Ivanov’s Act II choreography but as before the mime was omitted. In Act III he had Odile throw a bunch of white flowers (a symbol for Odette) in Siegfried’s face. In the final act like Vaganova he wanted to use the allegorical ending of the libretto, but had to give instead a happy ending due to political pressure. Too many interpreters of Odette by Kirov dancers have resulted in an athletic display and what is now vulgarly referred to as gynaecological exhibitionism.

In 1952 he tackled The Sleeping Beauty, (he had earlier altered Desire’s Act III variation (1942), which was later to appear in Act II.) The vision scene was given a pas de deux with Aurora that included lifts which did not exist in the original production. In Act III, Sergeyev also added a complex technical variation for the prince. He extended the male roles in the classics producing versions that were far removed from original productions and these regrettably it would appear are the productions that the Mariinsky Ballet will now perform.

What Sergeyev clearly exhibited was the opportunity to show his own particular style of dancing at the expense of the tradition which as a danseur noble he clearly belonged.

Sergeyev’s original works have not lasted the test of time.

It has to be said however, that the very best of the dance legacy of the Kirov ballet we have today, is also undoubtedly, a result of the Sergeyev/Dudinskaya era inextricably supported by the products of that extraordinary academy named after Vaganova.

Why is it important that original Petipa productions be restored and retained? For the simple reason they are the raison d’être of academic classical ballet which exists in itself as the oeuvre of Marius Petipa who himself learnt (and sometimes borrowed) from earlier masters and reigns supreme among choreographers.

Yes Natalia, we are, “… Back to the Future: Soviet Grigorovich stagings at the Bolshoi-Soviet K. Sergeev stagings at the Mariinsky.

Amended: Sergeyev's first name as pointed out by Marc Haegeman

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Why can't they keep both at the same time...? Definitely future generations should be able to know about what was being done during that era which was, at the end, a top winner time in Ballet. As i see it, the more is preserved, the better. The more ballet options, the more visual pleasure...

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I wouldn't see it so dramatic. It's not back to anything: the Bolshoi has always kept the Grigorovich ballets in the rep (some of them like Spartacus were even given a second youth in the last 4/5 years, something that even Grigorovich himself would never have expected to happen at this point), just like the Mariinsky always kept the Sergeyev versions (leonid of course meant Konstantin, not Nicolay Sergeyev), even alongside the new/old reconstructions.

What will matter, though, in the near future is how much attention and playtime these Soviet productions will be given in respect to the newer (let's call it the reconstructed) work. In the Mariinsky's case it looks rather bad, but it remains to be seen how much they will weigh in at the Bolshoi.

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It's amazing how what was "new" at a time then became increasingly "old", and now it's back to be fasiohable after the "new-old" is loosing it's "new" aura... :wub:

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I refuse to give up hope until I hear about the original Panorama for SB being dismantled or the sets sold or burned ;) But this is sad news. I wonder if they realize how excited in these productions international balletomanes are?? I mean, at first I thought they weren't filming the Reconstructed SB because they wanted to save it only for live showings--which made sense--but now, you'd think they could stand to make a decent amount of money makign a DVD or showing of it. Yeah ballet DVDs don't sell much but I know that'd be one of the best selling new ballet releases among the ballet DVDs we get. Hell they could do a box set of SB, Bayadere and Waking of Flora, charge 100 or 150 bucks and I'd happily buy it... Maybe not many would tho' :wub:

I also wonder with how many of the Fokine/Diaghilev ballets they've done, and even most of the Balanchine, which I love all of, but they are almost all pretty much reconstructions of the orginal productions. Why is this different? For msot modern audiences something liek Sheherazade doesn't seem all that more modern than Sleeping Beauty...

People have said that this was spearheaded in many ways by the oh so modern Valery Gergeiv. I'm a modest opera fan but no very little about the Mariinsky's current opera company. I DO know they've done a lot of modern opera works, modern styled productions, and co-productions with the Met and others lately but do they still have some of those old Soviet style "stand and sing" warhorses? And do they have any reconstructions or old productions of operas like they were trying with ballet? I noticed Rusland and Lyudmila by Glinka uses designs reconstructed from 1904, Prince Igor in the old production with the Fokine dances, Maid of Pskov is a 50s traditional production. I also noticed the three biggest Tchaikovsky operas, Queen of Spades (my personal fave opera), Eugene Onegin and Mazeppa all have traditional and modern stagings in the repertoire--I imagine this was done partly to appease people upset that Tchaikovsky's operas might be so radically staged in his hometown. However with the majority of the operas listed on their homepage, it seems, the stagings look quite modern (with Gergiev credited with conception for a number of them).

Of course opera and ballet and how they're staged and viewed are pretty different--the often avant garde stagings of classic operas have NOT (despite some successes and some attempts) ever become mainstream ways for major ballet companies to stage the classics, for a variety of reasons between the art forms but...

Another difference of course is the Marrinsky ballet seems content to go to their old (Sergeyev) ballet stagings (which for the record I largely love), while the opera company has a huge number of brand new productions from the past 8 years.

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