Natalia

9th MARIINSKY FESTIVAL: Performance Reports

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Opening this up for the actual performance reports from myself and other BalletTalkers who care to do so. In the meantime, there's another thread for pre-festival chat, predictions, casting banter, etc.

Official Announced Schedule (source: Mariinsky website)

Ninth INTERNATIONAL MARIINSKY BALLET FESTIVAL

March 14 - 22, 2009

14 MARCH - LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE (premiere) , 1st cast

15 March - LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE repeat, 2nd cast

16 March - VISHNEVA: BEAUTY IN MOTION

17 March - DON QUIXOTE

18 March - SWAN LAKE

19 March - ULIANA LOPATKINA GALA

20 March - BAYADERE

21 March - GISELLE

22 March - ALL STARS BALLET GALA

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RATMANSKY HAS ANOTHER HUGE HIT! TERIOSHKINA SUBLIME! 'BIG RED' RULES THE SEAS!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Opening Night: LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE (premiere, new production & choreography)

Mariinsky Theater

ballet in 2 acts

Music: Rodion Shchedrin

Сhoreography: Alexei Ratmansky

Ivan the Fool - Mikhail Lobukhin

Tsar-Maiden - Viktoria Tereshkina

Little Humpbacked Horse - Ilya Petrov

Tsar - Andrei Ivanov

Stable Master - Yuri Smekalov

Mare/Tsarina of the Seas - Ekaterina Kondaurova

Two Horses/SeaHorses - Kamil Yanguradov and Sergei Popov

Brothers of Ivan, Danilo & Gavrilo - Ivan Sitnikov & Konstantin Zverev

Their Old Father-Roman Skripkin

Gypsy Pas de Huit- Elena Bazhenova, AlisaSokolova, Tin En Ryu, Yulia Smirnova, Polina Rassadina, Fedor Murashov, Karen Ioannisian, Anton Pimonov

Nurse-women - Elizaveta Cheprasova, Yana Selina (main 2); with Chugai, Nikitina, Ivannikova & Romashova

Firebirds - 8 male-female couples

Sea Creatures, Villagers & Boyars - corps

Choreography Staged - Alexei Ratmansky

Set and Costume Design- Maxim Isaev

Lighting design - Damir Ismagilov

Conductor - Valery Gergiev

It was a gala night in every sense - a star-studded audience, including the composer & his great wife, La Maya, in the Tsar's Box. Ratmansky's new Little Humpbacked Horse (or "LHH") is a delightful ballet, even if the mime is a bit tough to follow for those with no prior knowledge of the Russian fairy tale.

Designs

The very sparse set and plain, if not downright dowdy, solid-primary-color costumes were hard to swallow at first, yet they grew on me. [Think POB Sylvia - nothing realistic; Martha Graham minimal-modern.] The stage is completely black throughout the work, with one or two highly-colorful pieces of flat scenery to mark every scene, e.g., red rectangle for the scene in the hut, large red cube for a palace, a big yellow circle is the moon in an outdoor scene, etc.

The costumes lacked the gaiety and rich ornamentation necessary for a Russian fairy tale. Kids in my box were restless and dozing off due to the dowdiness on the designs; this is definitely a staging for adults. Another reason to keep the kids home is the somewhat sickening way that the Tsar drowns in an aquarium-like cauldron, his cadaver remaining on stage in the 'tank' for the rest of the act...yuk.

ONLY the Tsar Maiden and Queen of the Seas look truly glamorous with their crowns and somewhat-decorated dresses. I am particularly miffed by the dowdy burlap-sack 'babushka' jackets-and-skirts for the six Nurse-Maids, who, in the tale, are supposed to be glamorous beauties wearing bejeweled gowns and pearl-encrusted kokochnik headdresses. Another costume blooper: Why-oh-why the green-vertical-stripped outfits for the villagers, including silly top hats for the men? Perhaps in honor of St. Patrick's Day, two days from now?

Dancers

The dancing was energetic and appropriate, with special kudos to the two top ladies, Viktoria Terioshkina (Tsar-Maiden) and Ekaterina Kondaurova (Mare/Queen of the Seas), for their musicality and dash. It will be interesting to see how 2nd-cast Alina Somova will tackle the tricky petit allegro and general brisk dancing on the beat of the music that is required here. Ratmansky gives the Tsar Maiden some fiendish solos with double-attitude pirouettes (smooth as silk with Terioshkina) and energetic stabbing jumps on pointe.

If not quite an Ivanushka boyish type, the mature-mannered Mikhail Lobukhin willed himself into a role that I bet is much more suitable for tomorrow's Ivan, Sarafanov. Lobukhin warmed up for his exciting final solo in which he feigned not knowing how to dance, then forgetting steps...a delightful mime!

The character dancers were all superb with special kudos to recent-transplant from the Eifman Troupe, Yuri Smekalov, for his hilarious Stable Master, whose job was given to Ivan by the grateful Tsar early-on in the tale. Whether dragging the Tsar's throne around the stage or taking a yoga position to calm his nerves, Smekalov very often stole the stage with his presence. Bravo!

Andrei Ivanov was quite good as the Tsar. However, he looked way too young for this role - diminutive but young, with all-brown beard. A no-no according to the Ershov tale, which calls for a very old, white-bearded monarch.

Ilya Petrov, a star of the most recent Vaganova Academy graduation class in '08, tripped the light fantastic as the little horse. What ballon this young lad possesses!

Kamil Yanguradov and Sergei Popov were effective, if a tad silly, as the two tall horses masquerading as Disco Kings in bell-bottomed trousers. Huh?

The group dances were masterfully handled, especially the scenes with the swirling female AND male firebirds, in mostly-white tulle and enormous red flaming hats. There were the obligatory gypsies, here wearing brownish ponchos with big smiley-faced photos on the front and back.

Antecedents

Ratmansky salutes his new home of NYC in at least two ways: (a) a group of Boyars fall down in line, one after the other, like the Radio City Rockettes and (b) the Queen of the Sea is accompanied by male & female sea creatures in romantic tutus in a group-pose straight from Balanchine's Serenade (backstage-right, rows of dancers bend back, each row inclining at a different level). Later, the sea creatures are again in graduated rows but facing forward, akin to the skinhead-goons in Prodigal Son...and those men in tutus wear skintight caps, too. Coincidence?

There is even a tip-off to Ashton in the petit-allegro steps of female Firebirds who, as a cluster, perform the choppy-skipping steps of the fairy corps in The Dream.

Bronislava Nijinska's fanciful groupings for the wedding parties in Les Noces are recalled in Ratmansky's compositions for the eight Boyars sorrounding the Stable Master, who coyly poses like the Bride of the older ballet - a hilarious touch.

Also interesting are the numerous general echoings of standard Petipa mime, e.g., the Stable Master slowly lowers the palm of his hand in the famous "He will die" gesture performed by numerous classical villains.

Music

Ratmansky's choreography makes me love the Schedrin score which I simply could not appreciate in the old Bolshoi version by Radunsky, even though that ca-1961 version starred Plisetskaya & Vasiliev. Particularly gorgeous is the Act II music for the Tsar-Maiden's "Yawning Solo," to which Ratmansky choreographs a very beautiful and difficult dance that, to me, is the choreographic masterpiece within this work. That alone should win Ms Terioshkina the Golden Mask Award next year.

Bravi, Ratmansky and Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet!

Natalia Nabatova

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This performance better be good! Shchedrin probably one of the best-known Russian classical composers of the latter half of the 20th Century and Ratmansky has done a lot of great choreographic work, especially his recent stint at the Bolshoi Theatre.

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It was, sacto. Read above. :)

Sounds like it was a great performance, though I'm not sure if Western audiences will appreciate the "minimalist" design of the new production, though. Use costumes and set designs more appropriate for a Petipa-choreographed ballet of the 1880's and 1890's would turn this into a major sensation, in my humble opinion! :(

Hopefully, we'll get pictures of the premiere on mariinka.org within the next few days. :)

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14/3/09

The Little Humpbacked Horse

Ballet in two acts, eight scenes

Music Rodion Schedrin

Choreography Alexei Ratmansky

Libretto Maxim Issayev after Pyotr Yershov's tale

Set & Costumes Maxiim Issayev

Lighting Damir Ismagilov

Conductor Valery Gergiev

Ivan the Fool Mikhail Lobukhin

Tsar Maiden Viktoria Tereshkina

Humpbacked Horse Ilya Petrov

Tsar Andrei Ivanov

Bed Chamberlain Yuri Smekalov

Young Mare Yekaterina Kondaurova

Horses Kamil Yangurazov, Sergei Popov

Danilo Ivan SItnikov

Gavrilo Konstantin Zverev

Father Roman Skripkin

Princess of the Sea Yekaterina Kondaurova

Sea Horses Kamil Yangurazov, Sergei Popov

Gypsy Dance Elena Bazhenova, Alisa Sokolova, Ji Yeon Ryu, Yulia Smirnova, Polina Rassadina, Fyodor Murashov, Karen

Ioanissian, Anton Pimonov

Wet-nurses Elizaveta Cheprasova, Yana Selina, Maria Chugai,

Anastasia Nikitina, Yekaterina Ivannikova. Xenia Romashova

Firebirds, sea people, people, boyars.

What a great opening for the 9th Mariinsky Festival Alexei Ratmansky provided

with his restaging and rethinking of The Little Humpbacked Horse!

What a great evening of dancing! Unfettered of formalism and consonant with the

richly textured musical score of Schedrin, Ratmansky provides a vibrant vocabulary of demi-caractere dancing- a heritage within the canon of l'ecole de danse, oddly neglected by other choreographers looking to express their vision in the context of the 21st century.

I think Ratmansky has hit the mark on how to deal with a popular Russian fairy tale and make it choreographically interesting for our age and our crises.

He's made a ballet for our times, that speaks to us, mindful of the music of another century and respectful of its beauties and sonorities, and when necessary, kindly placing tongue in cheek.

The highest praise I can bestow on this ballet, is, that it remains throughout its development interesting in its choreographic voice, true and vibrant. I enjoyed every minute of it.

And what a cast to realize this true and vibrant choreographic voice!

For start, my personal choice is the character and impersonation of the little humpbacked horse in the dancing of Ilya Petrov. Well nigh perfect in his insouciance and laissez faire attitude- this is a creature who can do magic and it works!

Central to the core meaning of the Yershov poem is the character of Ivan the 'fool'. Lobukhin embodies it beautifully. What keeps growing throughout the ballet is his likeableness. Lobukhin was spot-on.

The tsar of Andrei Ivanov is a buffoon. One looks for signs of malign behavior. There are none. The evil is his total lack of awareness. Ivanov creates a searing portrait of trivial, self-absorbed human behavior. The 'boiling water pot' of Yershov's tale becomes a gruesome bit of Grand Guignol theatre in this ballet

(that could be made briefer by judicious editing). And the briefer the better.

For malign behavior look no further than the portrait of the Bed Chamberlain, created by Yuri Smekalov. This is my first view of his work, and I am duly impressed; a very talented dancer.

The Tsar Maiden of Viktoria Tereshkina is a dance portrait of someone living in our times. Ms. Tereshkina creates a modern heroine, armed with independent thinking, directness of manner, and with resoluteness of action without any allusion to forces imposed from the 'outside'. She is her 'own' person.

The expansiveness of her persona in her variation sets new standards for wit, inventiveness and musical acuity. It was truly path-breaking. For a world premiere, her reading of the role is astonishingly fully developed. Ms Tereshkina continues to surprise with the range of her versatility.

The plasticity of equine and underwater creatures takes on new meaning with the

dancing of Yekaterina Kondaurova and Kamil Yangurazov and Sergei Popov- as a young mare and two horses in the first act, and a sea princess and two sea horses in the second act.

Like bold calligraphic designs, the double work of the dancers engraves imageries of astonishing originality and interplay as undulating lines in the retina.

The work of the two horses in the first act is, in my opinion, somewhat diminished by the heavy,' jokey' commentary provided by their costumes. Since the librettist and costume designer are the same person, this was obviously intentional.

Another noteworthy contribution of Ratmansky's choreography is the mastery of his groups dances. Among them, the dance of the wet-nurses was outstanding in achievement of dignified demeanor, economy of expression, and lyrical concision.

The six dancers are beautifully costumed, in white and sparse colors, suggestions of traditional garb, with heads covered, longish skirts, loose fitting tops, making altogether a harmonious ensemble that shows itself to the world as being at peace.

The gypsy dance on the other hand was more a commentary on gypsy dances, as we've come to know them and love them. Commentary on the 'hotness ' of gypsy dancing, commentary on the surprise-ness of gypsy dance, commentary on the exoticism of gypsy dance.

The dancers are wittily dressed in tops that have pictures of gypsy faces with 'fake' smiles.

Another group dance, less to my liking, is the people of the sea dance, with both sexes in unitards and romantic tutus. Their unitards have an 'alien' face on the chest printed upside down. The guy in tutu joke is tired.

From the opening scene introducing the father and his three sons, whose moves include 'air guitar' to the closing tableau of people (in green=hope?) coming forward in various reverences this was vibrant dancing from a gifted creative team and a gifted company. Bravi to all.

The Mariinsky orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev sounded masterful.

Unfortunately, I will miss the second performance of TLHH and will see instead the Mikhailovsky theatre's performance of Ruzimatov's new Corsaire.

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Thank you so much for this wonderful review, chiapuris, with its vivid depiction of both characterization and dance. It sounds like a delightful ballet.

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By the way, the pictures from the first performance of The Little Humpbacked Horse are now up on Mariinka.org's only English-language section. Natalia is right--the weird costumes and minimalist set design are quite unusual and not what I had quite expected, especially since I've seen the version filmed in 1962 with Maya Plisetskaya. I was hoping for a bit more "traditional" costume and set designs, which could have made this a wonderful ballet to watch.

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14/3/09

The Little Humpbacked Horse

Ballet in two acts, eight scenes

Great to have such a detailed report. By what you have told us, I know I would have loved to have seen this production.

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March 15, 2009

LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE, cast 2

ballet in 2 acts

Music: Rodion Shchedrin

Сhoreography: Alexei Ratmansky

Ivan the Fool - Leonid Sarafanov

Tsar-Maiden- Alina Somova

Little Humpbacked Horse - Grigori Popov

Tsar - Roman Skripkin

Stable Master - Islom Baimuradov

Mare/Tsarina of the Seas - Ekaterina Kondaurova

Two Horses/SeaHorses - Yuri Smekalov and Sergei Popov

Brothers of Ivan, Danilo & Gavrilo -Soslan Kulaev & Maxim Zuizin

Their Old Father- Andrei Yakovlev II

Gypsy Pas de Huit- Elena Bazhenova, AlisaSokolova, Tin En Ryu, Yevgenia Emelyanova, Polina Rassadina, Fedor Murashov, Karen Ioannisian, Anton Pimonov

Nurse-women - Elizaveta Cheprasova, Yana Selina (main 2); with Chugai, Nikitina, Ivannikova & Romashova

Firebirds - 8 male-female couples

Sea Creatures, Villagers & Boyars - corps

Conductor: Alexei Repnikov (a dead-ringer for ex-Gov. Blagojevic of Illinois, fluffy hair and all; the pre-announced Gergiev did not show)

Leonid Sarafanov proved that he was born to dance Ivanushka, far superior to Mikhail Lobukhin's very competent delivery yesterday. However, Sarafanov had the technical fireworks (four consecutive double-tours in each of his big solos, one per act), youthful looks and, most importantly, natural charm and fabulous comic timing. The audience went absolutely crazy for him. This was truly his night.

Beside Sarafanov, one other dancer in the house received a volley of 'bravos' and a standing-o: Maya Plisetskaya! The Bolshoi great -- and wife of the composer - sat at the front of the Tsar's Box on both nights...but only today received this unusual tribute at the start of the lone intermission when somebody in parterre shouted 'Brava, Maya!' prompting everyone else to commence cheering for quite a long time...and Maya thanked us back by standing and performing her 'swan wave arm movements' for several seconds.

Among the other on-stage dancers new to the ballet tonight, I must single out two: the sprightly Grigory Popov as the Humpbacked Horse - rivaling Sarafanov's ballon, as they leaped side by side -- and Islom Baimuratov as a truly snakelike villain, the Stable Master (the role that Yuri Smekalov essayed so magnificently yesterday).

Alas, I cannot report the same for tonight's Tsar Maiden, Alina Somova, for whom the choreographer seems to have supplied watered-down steps for both of her big Act 2 solos, e.g., gone are Terioshkina's double-pirouettes en attitude (tonight, tentative three-quarters....not even one full circle), as is the character's signature move of quick-stabbing hops on pointe (Somova did demi point hops). Similarly, series of back-traveling arabesques stopped at two. Furthermore, where was the series of eight (8) renverse-turns on one foot that Terioshkina did so grandly at the end of the 'Yawning Solo' (just before the Tsar-Maiden goes to sleep, at the start of Act 2)? Technique aside, Ms Somova totally lacked the charming acting ways of Terioshkina, e.g., mugging a big smile to the audience and hiking her chin constitutes her acting, it appears. As usual, she disregarded the music to make her extended points. [somova can thank her lucky stars that the fast-paced Gergiev decided to take the night off.] Finally, where was Somova's turn-out? This is a basic fault that can't be missed in her huge feet.

One of these days, Sarafanov-Ivanushka will be paired with his worthy partner, Viktoria Terioshkina.

The Mariinsky should think twice about touring this ballet to places like DC or London, where people expect grand sets and costumes when they pay grand prices in large opera houses. Like last night, kids were bored...but even more telling, I overheard adults around me state the same, i.e., where are the true Russian folkloric costumes and enamel-box sets? It's a shame because the choreography is splendid. These cheesy - even vulgar, at times - costumes do not cut it.

Natalia Nabatova

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Thank you Natalia for the wonderful report :( ! I am so happy that Ratmansky chose both Tereshkina and Kondaurova to take part in this premiere and open the 9th Festival. Also, it's wonderful that Plisetskaya and her husband Rodion were in attendance! What a rare

treat!

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Beside Sarafanov, one other dancer in the house received a volley of 'bravos' and a standing-o: Maya Plisetskaya! The Bolshoi great -- and wife of the composer - sat at the front of the Tsar's Box on both nights...but only today received this unusual tribute at the start of the lone intermission when somebody in parterre shouted 'Brava, Maya!' prompting everyone else to commence cheering for quite a long time...and Maya thanked us back by standing and performing her 'swan wave arm movements' for several seconds.

[text snipped]

The Mariinsky should think twice about touring this ballet to places like DC or London, where people expect grand sets and costumes when they pay grand prices in large opera houses. Like last night, kids were bored...but even more telling, I overheard adults around me state the same, i.e., where are the true Russian folkloric costumes and enamel-box sets? It's a shame because the choreography is splendid. These cheesy - even vulgar, at times - costumes do not cut it.

I'm REALLY surprised that the audience on the first night didn't realize that Maya Plisetskaya--the wife of composer Rodion Shchedrin and probably one of the two greatest Russian ballerinas of the 20th Century besides Galina Ulanova--was sitting in the Tsar's Box. Are they a little too chauvinistic about supporting the Mariinsky Theatre? :dry:

And it appears, Natalia, you agree with my opinion that the "minimalist" costume and set design might not be the liking of Westerners, either. (I was a bit shocked at the costume and set designs based on the pictures posted on Mariinka.org.) I really hope that if they do decide to tour this new production of The Little Humpbacked Horse in Europe and the USA, they go to more lavish costumes and a set design more appropriate for a Petipa-choreographed ballet as it was staged in the 1880's and 1890's, like I said earlier.

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......surprised that the audience on the first night didn't realize that Maya Plisetskaya.....was sitting in the Tsar's Box. .....

We did, Sacto1654. Everyone had their binoculars on her. The reason for the sudden erruption last night was that someone in parterre got the applause-ball rolling by shouting 'Brava, Maya!' as soon as the intermission lights went up. I suppose that 'the shouter' had not noticed her earlier, when she entered the box prior to the show.

During the opening night, a similar-but-smaller 'applause only' ovation had greeted Vishneva's entrance into one of the two boxes directly above the sides of the orchestra pit...and the night before, the same thing when Vishneva took her seat at the Mikahilovsky for the premiere of the new Corsaire.

It just takes one or two fans to begin these mini-ovations for VIPs in the audience.

Regarding the minimalist designs, I actually like the basic concept as 'total art.' I was thinking more a-la-Hochhausers who know that 'realistic luxe' is what the general opera-house-paying audience expects to see when shelling-out $100 a person for a night of 'Kirov-Mariinsky' or 'Bolshoi.' In today's economy, who needs a repetition of the July 2006 'Gergiev's Folly' of an all-Shostakovich season at the London Coliseum, when some performances sold only 30%...and the economy was rather good back then. This new Ratmansky ballet is delightful art for the seasoned ballet-goer but absolute box-office poison for international touring right now.

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Natalia -- I hope no programmers or tour managers get any ideas from your last post :dry: ! I've read the wonderful descriptions of the ballet on this thread and watched a few youtube excerpts as well. And it would be fabulous to have the opportunity to see it. (Fabulous enough to buy plane tickets and fly to D.C. or New York to see it should work allow. I will even say that given my limited resources for that kind of extravagance, I would be more inclined to spend the money for this work than for the nineteenth-century classics, which I DO love and respect/)

I vaguely thought Ratmansky's Bright Stream was something of a hit in London at least. Certainly, he is pretty much the most talked about choreographer in ballet right now. Macaulay is a huge admirer and it might be possible to get a big feature in the Times and other papers. If one was lucky (very lucky) in D.C. maybe a first family appearance on opening night. So, perhaps a marketing campaign to sell this ballet to the general public is not impossible to imagine -- 'lost masterpiece of the Soviet era brought back to life by the most exciting choreographer in ballet!'

Of course if I knew how to produce a successful ballet tour, I would probably not be reduced to fantasizing about it on ballet message boards.

Anyway, for my part, I would be very glad to see this.

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We did, Sacto1654. Everyone had their binoculars on her. The reason for the sudden eruption last night was that someone in parterre got the applause-ball rolling by shouting 'Brava, Maya!' as soon as the intermission lights went up. I suppose that 'the shouter' had not noticed her earlier, when she entered the box prior to the show.

During the opening night, a similar-but-smaller 'applause only' ovation had greeted Vishneva's entrance into one of the two boxes directly above the sides of the orchestra pit...and the night before, the same thing when Vishneva took her seat at the Mikahilovsky for the premiere of the new Corsaire.

It just takes one or two fans to begin these mini-ovations for VIPs in the audience.

Regarding the minimalist designs, I actually like the basic concept as 'total art.' I was thinking more a-la-Hochhausers who know that 'realistic luxe' is what the general opera-house-paying audience expects to see when shelling-out $100 a person for a night of 'Kirov-Mariinsky' or 'Bolshoi.' In today's economy, who needs a repetition of the July 2006 'Gergiev's Folly' of an all-Shostakovich season at the London Coliseum, when some performances sold only 30%...and the economy was rather good back then. This new Ratmansky ballet is delightful art for the seasoned ballet-goer but absolute box-office poison for international touring right now.

A couple of comments:

1) Thanks for the clarification of why the audience finally gave Plisetskaya that ovation. I was actually a little surprised that the St. Petersburg audience gave an ovation to Vishneva, considering how Gergiev has said publicly in the recent past about Vishneva doing a bit too much work outside of the Mariinsky troupe.

2) What you just said reinforced my view that the new version of The Little Humpbacked Horse was written for what I call a "hardcore" ballet audience--the dancing was great but the costumes and set design are definitely NOT what more casual fans had in mind when they think about ballet. Given that (in my opinion!) ballet fans in the West have a perceived standard for Russian ballet with its more lavish costumes and set designs, if the new ballet goes on tour in the West, they either have to go to type of costumes and set designs more akin to what Marius Petipa did in his heyday or write a really long explanation in the program guide why Ratmansky went to this "minimalist" design.

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Drew, I am sure that you and most other habitues of Ballet Talk would love Ratmansky's Little Humpbacked Horse. I absolutely love it and would sincerely hope that impressarios can throw caution to the wind. Maybe one or two of them have the wherewithal to make our dreams come true?

By the way, Bright Stream is totally different in that it does have bright (no pun intended) and luxurious designs, as well as a bouncy, tuneful score. LHH has a major problem with the minimalist 'look' and a secondary one with the "non-Minkusian" (!) score. Casual Western audiences would have preferred the lilting Pugni and Drigo tunes from the Imperial-Era version of LHH...think 'Animated Frescoes Pas de Quatre' or the 'Ocean and Pearls pas de trois.' Tsar Nicholas II wrote that his favorite moment in all of ballet was the performance of the March that opened Act IV of the St. Leon-Petipa version of LHH...I wonder where on this earth we could now see and hear that march performed live?

To enjoy the Ratmansky LHH, it is important to "turn off your inner Tsar" and stay in the 21st century. I did, so I enjoyed. :dry:

My "inner Tsarina" remains off, as tonight we'll have VISHNEVA: BEAUTY IN MOTION. Interestingly, it will feature an ensemble of dancers somewhat different from what toured the USA last year.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

DIANA VISHNEVA: BEAUTY IN MOTION

Mariinsky Theater

PIERROT LUNAIRE

Music by Arnold Shönberg

Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; Assistant of choreographer - Elvira Tarasova

NEW designs (since the US tour) by Tatyana Chernova

Performed by Diana Vishneva, Islom Baimuradov, Mikhail Lobukhin, Alexander Sergeyev

F.L.O.W. (For Love of Women)

ballet in three parts

Choreography and Direction by Moses Pendleton

Performed by Diana Vishneva, Yekaterina Ivannikova, Yana Selina

THREE POINT TURN

Music by David Rozenblatt

Choreography by Dwight Rhoden

Performed by Diana Vishneva/Alexander Sergeev (in red costumes)

Irina Golub/Anton Pimonov (green)

Yana Selina/Mikhail Lobukhin (blue)

The hall was packed with Vishneva's enthusiastic fans who bravoed like crazy but...but....this show was, to me, very much a mixed bag, much as it was a year ago when I saw it in NYC. The best part came first, with Ratmansky's minimalist-intellectualist Pierrot Lunaire; followed by a nice'n' easy set of three choreographic bon-bons by Moses Pendleton (For Love of Women); ending with a techno-loser that did no justice to six great dancers, Three-Point Turn.

Pierrot Lunaire

Keeping the all-black 'non set' and projection-screen of Little Humpbacked Horse, this heavy-going ballet for lone female and three men was nonetheless masterfully crafted by Ratmansky...his excellent norm. A series of 20 or so poems, the first half are lighthearted and the second group sinister, e.g., Vishneva mistreats all of the men, at one point stepping over one, another time walking another guy on an imaginary leash, like a dog.

Unlike the US tour in 2008, the dancers were dressed in new street clothes -- Vishneva in a knee-length black lycra dress with short sleeves, the men in black trousers and white shirts. While the new togs are elegant and truly show off Vishneva's 'beauty' more so than the unisex white clown outfits and pointed hats from '08, I am not sure that they enhance the theme of the work. Another lovely but nonsensical innovation was the large projected backdrop of pink roses and cherubs, a-la Fragonard or Watteau. Huh?

F.L.O.W.

This seemed to be the audience's favorite third of the show...three sweet and simple short pieces. First, we were treated to a trick-light-show in which three seated women (whose faces were not shown) maneouvered their blue-lit limbs into many cute figures, such as swans, smiley faces and a big heart. Next came Vishneva's slinky Mme Narcisse reclining on a tilted mirror, making sexy poses. (Lots of audience flash-cameras out for this one!) Finally came my personal fave -- a silver-gowned, bare-footed Vishneva twirling endlessly while sporting a huge hooped headress from which emanate floor-length streams of beads...the faster she twirls, the farther the strings fly out...a Beauty-Helicopter in Motion! Vishneva was particularly lovely during the bows following this piece, garbed only in the simple silver-lame sleeveless gown, barefooted, hair down, she conjured images of Isadora Duncan during her St. Petersburg debut ca 1905. A magical moment, simply standing still, hand to heart, soaking in our applause.

Three-Point Turn

Set to truly-ghastly techno-marimba music, this peel-off-the-clothing and see 'em sweat work did nothing for me. Three couples dance together, make love, switch partners, don't seem to ever care for each other, yadda-yadda-yadda. Nice muscle tone..but where is the art? Particularly so when the saving grace of this work on the US tour -- African-American King of Dance, Desmond Richardson -- was not here, although the wonderful Alexander Sergeev tried his best to substitute. I almost fell asleep, as did everyone around me, it was that bad. Oh well, it still got a bundle of bravos from the Vishneva Groupies, here in full force in the upper galleries.

Apotheosis

Ah...but the show was not quite over with the final ballet. As in NYC, the audience was held captive for several minutes awaiting the appearance of LA VISHNEVA in a fancy gown. What would she be wearing, we all asked...as we applauded, and applauded, and applauded. Corps dancers took at least three bows...then the musicians from Pierrot Lunaire came back out...then the marimba player from the last work...then all of them together. FINALLY La Vishneva emerged with a red-and-gold beaded gown, and a Makarova-style long red headscarf, also totally beaded. It was the most luxurious costume seen on this stage in three nights!

Although an official part of the Mariinsky Festival, the evening was, as per the playbill, a production of Danilian/Ardani Artists.

Tonight the 'three-day vacation' ends for the set, costume and prop departments with DON Q! Back to the type of ballet that made the Kirov-Mariinsky name. It's time to turn my 'Inner Tsarina' back on. :devil:

Natalia Nabatova

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FINALLY La Vishneva emerged with a red-and-gold beaded gown, and a Makarova-style long red headscarf, also totally beaded. It was the most luxurious costume seen on this stage in three nights!

:rofl:

That description just made my day!

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Glad that you liked it, Helene!

By the way, our Japanese fans will be happy to read that the LHH will tour Japan this coming November/December! I just ran into a nice Japanese journalist who confirmed it. No word yet on a North American or Western-Euro tour featuring this ballet. We already know that the big 2009 London tour will not include LHH; neither will the troupe's annual visit to Washington, DC, in 2010. Maybe NYC in 2010? Or perhaps Ratmansky may take it to ABT? Hard sell for the Met, though, especially with ABT's current troubles.

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Glad that you liked it, Helene!

By the way, our Japanese fans will be happy to read that the LHH will tour Japan this coming November/December! I just ran into a nice Japanese journalist who confirmed it.

The Mariinsky Ballet will have a Japan tour in November to December to perform LHH. I don't know how many performances of LHH will be done because tickets have not started booking yet. Other programs are Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and a gala.

I will introduce you the official blog of the impresario that reports about the premire.

http://ja-ballet.seesaa.net/article/115802765.html

Natalia, I have enjoyed your reports and that gives me a very positive expectation of the LHH with the Mariinsky. Hope we can see Tereushkina's Tzar maiden.

Also some pictures from the rehearsal.

http://ja-ballet.seesaa.net/article/115557127.html

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Dear Naomikage, thanks so much for this additional news and links about the upcoming tour of Japan. This may end up being the 'tour to see' next season. Let's all hope for an upswing in the int'l economic situation...so that we can book our tickets to Tokyo!!!

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Edited, 9am, 3-18-09: Ran into hotel internet glitches last night so couldn't write full report 'til today. Sorry!

SHE CAME, WE SAW, SHE CONQUERED! VIENGSAY'S KITRI AT THE MARIINSKY!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

DON QUIXOTE

Mariinsky Theater

ballet in three acts (six scenes)

Music: Ludwig Minkus

Choreography: Alexander Gorsky (1902)

Kitri – Viengsay Valdes (Ballet Nacional de Cuba)

Basil – Leonid Sarafanov

Espada – Konstantin Zverev

Street dancer – Yekaterina Kondaurova

Flower-sellers – Nadezhda Gonchar, Yana Selina

Dryad Queen – Tatyana Tkachenko (instead of announced Alina Somova...Tkachenko totally unannounced!)

Amour - Valeria Martinyuk

Gypsy soloists - Alisa Sokolova & Islom Baimuradov

Oriental Dance - Yulia Slivkina-Smirnova

Mercedes - Elena Bazhenova

Fandango leads - Ti En Ryu & Karen Ioanisian

Act4 Classical Variation - Anastasia Nikitina

Don Q - Vladimir Ponomaryev

Sancho - Stanislav Burov

Gamache – Soslan Kulaev

Lorenzo - Nikolai Naumov

Tavern Host - Alexander Efremov

You know that a magical performance is afoot when the babushki who tend the coat-check rooms enter the auditorium to witness the big pas de deux. That's what happened tonight when Cuban star Viengsay Valdez made her Mariinsky Festival debut in her signature role of Kitri, opposite the home troupe's bravura master, Leonid Sarafanov, as Basil. For afficionados of good, old-fashioned technique -- and a chance to see Cuba's Cechetti/Ballet-Russe de Monte Carlo charm paired with a Vaganova-style man-- this was one for the ages, even if it 'pushed the envelope' of highest taste, for some. It doesn't matter; they cheered like crazy and kept the theater personnel up way past the usual closing time.

Viengsay Valdez did all that we expected and more, e.g., balances to die for (one for about 30 seconds in the pdd adagio...then slowly lowering her leg...the theater erupted!), multi-fouettes (superb 1-1-3 series in the pdd coda, opening her fan for the triples), and plenty of natural Spanish brio. Ole!

Sarafanov also drove the crowd crazy...doing his now-signature "double-tour/double-pirouette x 4" sequence as part of his Act I solo. He lifted the ballerina securely most times but had one small glitch when trying to lift her onto his shoulder in the tavern scene (prompting a very cute improvisation and "Oh, don't worry...nichovo!" miming by her). We all held our collective breaths for the presage lift into throw-swan-dive in the Act 4 pdd...and it succeeded without a hitch!

Surprise of the night: a gorgeous, unannouinced, Tatyana Tkachenko as the Dryad Queen in place of Ms. Somova. Oh, my...let's just say "Vive la difference!" Tkachenko has so streamlined -- but still womanly - and now has straight darkish-blonde hair that I hardly recognized her at first. She performed her variation splendidly, with high degree of musicality and no strain -- repeat, no strain -- in her extensions and positions. Her diagonal of jetes in the coda was actually higher than that of Valdes, garnering huge bravoes.

Also, kudos to Konstantin Sverev's sharp Espada and, of course, the elan of our 'Big Red'!

Finally, one must mention the fine work by Anastasia Nikitina in the Act 4 Bridesmaid Solo, where she substituted the usual variation with the "jete variation" from Paquita. Much, much better than her forays into the traditional bridesmaid solo in Washington, DC!

The ensemble was magnificent, seemingly very happy to be back in its Comfort Zone of the classics. A standout among the demi-solo Dryads/Bridesmaids: elegant Oksana Skorik, of the recent Perm Ballet School DVD fame, in bright orange tutu in the last act.

TONIGHT: Swan Lake starring Terioshkina!

Natalia Nabatova

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Viengsay Valdez did all that we expected and more, e.g., balances to die for (one for about 30 seconds in the pdd adagio...then slowly lowering her leg...the theater erupted!)

This is just circus, I've seen this dancer in Don Q. pas de deux in London: vulgar beyond belief.

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17/3/98

Don Quixote

Grand ballet in three acts, six scenes with a prologue

Libretto by Marius Petipa after Cervantes

Choreography by Alexander Gorsky after Petipa

Gypsy and Oriental dances by Nina Anisimova

Fandango by Fyodor Lopukhov

Set design by Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin

Set restoration by Mikhail Shishlianikov'

Costume design by Konstantin Korovin

Don Quixote Vladimir Ponomarev

Sancho Panza Stanislav Burov

Lorenzo Nikolai Naumov

Kitri Viengsay Valdes

Basil Leonid Sarafanov

Gamache Soslan Kulaev

Espada Konstantin Zverev

Street Dancer Yekaterina Kondaurova

Flower-sellers Nadezhda Gonchar Yana Selina

Lady Dryad Tatiana Tkachenko

Amour Valeria Martynyuk

Mercedes Elena Bazhenova

Tavern Owner Alexander Efremov

Gypsy Dance Alina Sokolova Islom Baimuradov

Oriental Dance Yulia Smirnova

Fandango Ji Yeon Ryu Karen Ioanissyan

Variation Anastasia Nikitina

I looked forward with anticipation for yet another Kitri in this age of Osipova.

Ms Valdes from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba shone brightly.

Gifted with an open face and a forthright style, she developed her characterization in stages, showing us various facets of her theatrical demi-caractère personality.

I found the pairing of Ms Valdes and Mr Sarafanov entirely felicitous. His blond sleek looks and her dark-haired Mediterranean disposition created palpable synergy.

And just to get it out of the way in this review as early as possible, the as yet developing double-work skills of Mr Sarafanov notwithstanding, they worked very well together.

They were delightful in the first scene, generally carried out musically at a brisk pace, establishing the parameters of their growing relationship.

Konstanin Zverev made a fine Espada with his deeply arching backbends and acute rhythmic precision. He partnered the always glamorous Yekaterina Kondaurova with panache.

Nadezhda Gonchar and Yana Selina were flower-sellers of free spirited, stylish extroversion. Very smart.

The character and pantomimic parts, from Soslan Kulaev's Gamache to Don Quixote's team of Vladimir Ponomarev and Stanislav Burov maintained the high standards of the Mariinsky's 'grand' ballet traditions. It was a pleasure to see them all.

The same can be said of the male corps de ballet toreadors. What a fine showing they make!

The dream scene had a beautiful performance of Lady Dryad (as the program calls her) by the unannounced Tatiana Tkachenko (for the program's listed Alina Somova).

I checked the lobby at intermission to see whether they had listed the substitution on the poster as they've done at other performances -rather than announce it over the loudspeakers-, but there was nothing.

It seems to me a curious omission on the part of the Mariinsky management.

Ms Valdes exhibited a total conviction in the choreographic material she was exhibiting, a legacy of the Alicia Alonso tradition she has inherited.

Valeria Martinyuk was, as usual, as fresh as a spring bulb as Amour.

The female corps and the Vaganova academy students were a joy.

Ji Yeon Ryu and Karen Ioannisyan danced Lopukhov's Fandango

with precision and style. A stunning performance.

A standout of the third act was the wedding variation of Anastasia Nikitina.

She is another one to watch for in future performances.

The wedding pas de deux was a totally fulfilling experience.

The entrée and adagio were in the grand manner with some thrilling balances by Ms Valdes, and save for some double-work difficulties, in a clear style.

The variations were models of technical achievement.

The coda brought astonishing feats from both principals, contributing to a lovely evening of classical dance from the principals, and indeed, from the entire cast.

Audience applause was warm and long.

Pavel Bubelnikov conducted with zest and authority.

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I've only seen clips from last nights PDD, and it appeared as though Valdes had an off-night and was out-classed by Sarafanov. She seemed to be trying too hard and although her triples in the coda were nice, she failed to finish the fouettes with her typical multiple pirouette. Also, I though it was very awkward when she tried for the double turns a la seconde into the penche, while Sarafanov tried to catch her after one rotation. I thought she looked rather stiff in her variation as well. Sarafanov looked brilliant, especially in his variation. I think Valdes is a very entertaining dancer, but I am surprised that she isn't getting more negative reviews for being tasteless considering the lashing Somova typical receives. I was at the festival two years ago when Osipova lit up the stage as Kitri, and that remains one of the most magical nights of ballet I have ever seen.

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