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Ekaterina Osmolkina guests in RB Swan Lake


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#16 Cygnet

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 09:00 AM

Thank you Leonid for the beautiful report :unsure:! Osmolkina is one of the Maryinsky's high caliber ballerinas "marking time" in the soloist ranks. She is one of the Maryinsky's purists, and I am ecstatic that she had such an important success at Covent Garden!

And this girl isn't even a principal at the Kirov? Time to take the Kirov staff to visit the men in white coats I think.


The management's judgement continues off the chart. IMO it's a disgrace that bona fide ballerinas such as Osmolkina, Obratzova, and others must go abroad, or "guest" with other companies in Petersburg, (such as the Hermitage Ballet), to
get exposure and experience. If they score a major success abroad, and if they're not on the Artistic Director's "Preferred Short List," when they return, they're "rewarded" with the bench, or no tours, for weeks, months, even up to a number of seasons. Unfortunately, if we consider all the notable exceptions extolled in the Mariinsky-Kirov link, the reality is
that non-expressive, turned-in, flexnastic, anti-classicists are in vogue at the House of Blues.

#17 leonid17

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Posted 27 March 2009 - 12:24 PM

I have not only watched something in excess 250 performances of Swan Lake by various companies having different traditions, I have constantly researched the history of academic classical ballet since the mid 1960's. I have a wide range of knowledge of 'so called' history books written in some five languages which often get their facts correct, but have little understanding of performance practice in the past, or show that they know how to contextualise what facts they are re-recording.

The manner, in which the Royal Ballet "Swan Lake" performed the dances in "Swan Lake" today, is quite different to the inherited style established by Nikolai Sergeyev for the Sadlers Wells which I believe I am entitled to say I have some contact. I first saw "Swan Lake" with the company in 1960, then again in 1961 and 1962 before major changes in the production were established. I also should say that I saw Royal Ballet dancers who performed in a manner that entitled them to call themselves the only inheritors of the ballet of the St.Petersburg Imperial Theatres.

There is no such thing as a fully, authentic notated performance in the Sergeyev notations and I think no "interpreter" of the notations would claim so and as casting and choreography changed fairly frequently. Not only were interpolations frequent, variations, solos and groupings of classical, demi-caractere and character dances were changed according to casting and the current members of the company.

There is today, a great deal of difference in performing dance material not perfectly recorded a hundred years ago in terms of; actual steps, a good number of stylistic aspects, physical attributes, the prevailing aesthetic in the performing those steps and the huge pool of different dancer types to choose from to fit the choreographer or company directors ideal.

In my opinion, the Royal Ballet has betrayed their own inheritance in the manner of both arrangements of the choreography, the casting of roles and the performing style, not once, but on a number of occasions and that may seem obscurantism to current fans of the Royal Ballet, but as someone who loved the company very much I am here to make my statements based on fact and knowledge.

I am sorry to say Natalia that your comments, "Disgraceful? Kindly read your history, Leonid. The RB is the only troupe on this earth that performs the original Ivanov/Petipa choreography. True, the sets and costumes are absurd. Perhaps you meant to write 'disgraceful design' and not 'disgraceful production'? I, for one, am delighted to have read elsewhere that this production has been filmed for DVD release later this year, on the Opus Arte label, starring Nunez/Soares. Hip-hip, hooray!", are in the first case somewhat too personalised, in the second contain no substantive evidence and you then end with a fan like response which shocks me when so much serious discussion takes place on Ballet talk.

The production design impinges space needed to set off the dances which is disgraceful and the costumes ignore every traditional sense of how the ballet should be presented which is again, disgraceful.

No work of art needs updating. If we are serious about academic classical ballets as a work of art we should respect their integrity and let the audience move towards appreciation as was the case in the past. Academic Classical Ballet does not need to be "dumbed down" with an intrusive 'modern' design for a "modern audience" as if the audience themselves cannot appreciate an old work of art for what it is. To do so is patronising.

#18 Alymer

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 09:27 AM

Going back several posts to the "authenticity" of the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake, one thing to note is that the choreography of the first act pas de trois was substantially changed for this production. Dowell brought in Irina Jacobsen to help with the staging and so this number is now very much "fancier" than the version originally done by the Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet.

And I'm pretty sure that there have also been changes to the second act - even leaving aside the omission of Benno. I'm fairly sure there have been changes to the choroegraphy for the "big" swans and as we no longer have the huntsmen supporting the corps de ballet swans, there are obviously changes there.

There have also been some minor changes to the choreography of the last act making it more elaborate. But here the story always was that there was a gap in the notation which de Valois filled. However, I also remember being told that the missing part was only a matter of around a minute or so.

I first saw the Royal Ballet Swan Lake back in in the 1950's and there have been constant changes in all the productions since then. Dowell's version I find particularly unattractive; wrong-headed designs, rudeness, drunkeness and no sense of classical style. I couldn't say whether it is the most "authentic" version on the stage today, but I can state from my own observation that it has changed considerably in the past 50 years.

#19 Jane Simpson

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 10:06 AM

I happened to be watching the film of Fonteyn and Somes in Act 2 of Swan Lake this morning, and noticed another change: in the bit where Siegfried supports Odette as she hops in arabesque down the diagonal line of swans, Somes isn't supporting Fonteyn - he's hopping too, in an exactly parallel arabesque. Does anyone still do this any more?

#20 leonid17

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 11:43 AM

Going back several posts to the "authenticity" of the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake, one thing to note is that the choreography of the first act pas de trois was substantially changed for this production. Dowell brought in Irina Jacobsen to help with the staging and so this number is now very much "fancier" than the version originally done by the Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet.

And I'm pretty sure that there have also been changes to the second act - even leaving aside the omission of Benno. I'm fairly sure there have been changes to the choroegraphy for the "big" swans and as we no longer have the huntsmen supporting the corps de ballet swans, there are obviously changes there.

There have also been some minor changes to the choreography of the last act making it more elaborate. But here the story always was that there was a gap in the notation which de Valois filled. However, I also remember being told that the missing part was only a matter of around a minute or so.

I first saw the Royal Ballet Swan Lake back in in the 1950's and there have been constant changes in all the productions since then. Dowell's version I find particularly unattractive; wrong-headed designs, rudeness, drunkeness and no sense of classical style. I couldn't say whether it is the most "authentic" version on the stage today, but I can state from my own observation that it has changed considerably in the past 50 years.


As far as I know, the Sadler's Wells four act 1934 production changed little if at all until 1952 when de Valois revised the production with Ashton choreographing a pas de six to the Act I Valse and in Act III a new version of the Neapolitan Dance in Act III.
In 1963 a major revision took place with added theatrical inventions by Robert Helpmann and the four acts becoming three including a Prologue, with various choreographic contributions by; Ashton, Nureyev and
Maria Fay (too many details to remember and list) but including a major revision of Act four with imaginative patterning for the corps which could only really be seen to best effect from the balcony or amphitheatre.
In 1965 the Royal Ballet Touring Company gave a new production going back to the atmospheric Leslie Hurry designs staged by John Field and Ashton which was performed at the Royal Opera House.
In 1971 The main Royal Ballet adopted the Touring Company version but not so long after Ashtons last act was dropped and Ivanov's restored, Petipa's Pas de trois was also restored to Act I and the Ashton's Pas de quatre moved to Act III.
Norman Morrice staged another production in 1979 in which I think some dances reverted to earlier amendations.
1987 Anthony Dowell production which later included Ashton's Neapolitan dance.
I was interested to read Jane Simpson's comment on the film of Dame Margot and Michael Somes. The described unsupported hops were a shock to me as I had never seen them or remembered if that is the excerpt on the film which also included "The Firebird" I saw decades ago.
I am not at home so cannot be exact but I hope not too far wrong as I wrote a history of Swan Lake for my own use sometime ago and know the productions well.

#21 Mel Johnson

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 03:09 PM

I must confess that I never much liked what RB did to its Swan Lake during the sixties. They had a nigh-on perfect show, and then lumbered it with a lot of useless (for the most part) excrescences. The Waltz, Neapolitan Dance and Act IV corps parts by Ashton are not included in this evaluation. (I wondered what the Neapolitan had looked like before Ashton's version. I found out - jolly good thing he repaired it, the original was actively boooorrrrrrrring, even to dance.)

#22 Helene

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Posted 28 March 2009 - 04:24 PM

I am very happy to hear how well Osmolkina performed in "Swan Lake". I admired a number of performances she gave at City Center last spring, and I hope this means she'll guest a little closer in the future.

#23 Rosa

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 02:38 PM

Thank you very much for the report on Osmolkina's performances in RB's "Swan Lake," leonid! I'm very happy for her.


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