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Le Corsaire at The Kennedy Center

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I am relieved to find that so far, Alexandrova is still listed for the Tuesday opening. I implore the ballet gods not to change it. :wink::beg: :beg:

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I am relieved to find that so far, Alexandrova is still listed for the Tuesday opening. I implore the ballet gods not to change it. :wub::angry2::excl:

I'm with you, carbro. This is now the only performance that I'll attend. I've given up the ticket to the 19th and, alas, will be out of town during the weekend, so cannot attend the Osipova matinees at the KennCen.

Ceeszi - What could be worse? OK, I can think of something worse: If neither Osipova nor Alexandrova show up and are replaced by a guest from the Mariinsky -- Somova!

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Just a note, the yanking of Osipova from the 6/19 "Sylphide" happened some weeks ago and was at the behest of the Bolshoi's new director who felt that the Bolshoi had first call on Osipova's services and all guest appearances should go through him for approval. The interview was linked here.

As for Schipulina, what I saw of her during the 2005 Bolshoi visit to NYC I liked. She did one of the River variations in the "Fille du Pharaon". Maybe not on the level of Alexandrova but quite good. Several enjoyed her Aegina and Kitri during that visit. I can't imagine that her Medora would be a total write-off.

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Just a note, the yanking of Osipova from the 6/19 "Sylphide" happened some weeks ago and was at the behest of the Bolshoi's new director who felt that the Bolshoi had first call on Osipova's services and all guest appearances should go through him for approval. The interview was linked here.

That was very clear at the time, although at the time, it was a direct conflict.

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Just a note, the yanking of Osipova from the 6/19 "Sylphide" happened some weeks ago and was at the behest of the Bolshoi's new director who felt that the Bolshoi had first call on Osipova's services and all guest appearances should go through him for approval. The interview was linked here.

That was very clear at the time, although at the time, it was a direct conflict.

WHoops, sad, there will be no Nikulina - sad....

Well, i might end up watching Osipova & Vasiliev twice.

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....

As for Schipulina..... I can't imagine that her Medora would be a total write-off.

Not at all. She is competent...a nice "house ballerina" but, IMO, not in the league of Alexandrova and Osipova or even Krysanova.

YID, I too noticed that the Osipova switch to the Saturday matinee meant that Anna Nikulina's big chance as medora was not to be. Honestly, I would have preferred Nikulina in place of Osipova on the night of the 19th. So, in the end, Schipulina gets three Medoras and Nikulina gets zero. Bummer.

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I'd like to remind everyone who is going to see "Le Corsaire" in Washington, DC next week about Mikhail's great posts on the production from 2007:

Synopsis with dances and composers

List of links to MP3 files for "Pas des eventailes"

More details on the music

and Marc Haegeman's photos:

http://www.for-ballet-lovers-only.com/bols...rsaire2007.html

http://www.for-ballet-lovers-only.com/bols...aire2007-2.html

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....

As for Schipulina..... I can't imagine that her Medora would be a total write-off.

Not at all. She is competent...a nice "house ballerina" but, IMO, not in the league of Alexandrova and Osipova or even Krysanova.

YID, I too noticed that the Osipova switch to the Saturday matinee meant that Anna Nikulina's big chance as medora was not to be. Honestly, I would have preferred Nikulina in place of Osipova on the night of the 19th. So, in the end, Schipulina gets three Medoras and Nikulina gets zero. Bummer.

Why bummer? Count your blessings, America.

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[....

Why bummer? Count your blessings, America.

Schipulina Overload, that's why. And I now see that Shipulina replaces Nikulina in Chapel Hill, too (Swan Lake of 13 June).

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Quick note that I attended last night's chat with Yuri Burlaka, moderated by DC critic George Jackson.

During the course of the long but interesting chat and Q&A, Burlaka divulged that he plans to recreate the complete ca-1900 SLEEPING BEAUTY by Gorsky-after-Petipa for the reopening of the main Bolshoi Theater during the 2010/2011 season. [He specifically said 2011...so the latter part of that season.]

Also, in response to my question, Burlaka said that the upcoming ESMERALDA reconstruction (currently planned for early December 2009) will be the 1899 2nd Petipa edition of St Petersburg, in which Mathilde Kchessinskaya first danced the title role. It's the version for which Burlaka could find the most information/notes to allow a full reconstruction. As much as Burlaka would have loved to have been able to recreate the 1844 Romantic version by Perrot that opened in London and starred Grisi, or the 1880s 1st Petipa version for V. Zucchi in St Petersburg, he does not have sufficient materials to do so. Hence, it's the 1899 'Petipa 2 version' that we will be seeing in Dec '09. This is the version that formed the basis for the Gusev-Vecheslova-Boyarchikov editions of the 1950s/60s that could be seen at the Maly-Mikhailovsky Theater of StP until fairly recently. However, as he did in the 2007 CORSAIRE, Burlaka will aim to strip-out all Soviet additions, e.g., I am guessing that we will NOT be seeing the 1935 Vaganova 'Diana and Acteon' episode in Act II.

p.s. In a few minutes I'm heading to the Dress Rehearsal at the KennCen, followed by tonight's opening CORSAIRE with Alexandrova/Tsiskaridze. I am very eager to find out who'll be dancing the important secondary roles of Pas d'Esclave, three Odalisques, etc. For example, will Osipova dance her amazing 3rd Odalisque tonight, with the diagonal of 2ple-pirouettes en l'air, as I saw her do in London 2007? Will Vasiliev/Kaptsova dance the Act I Pas d'Esclave?

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What would be the difference bet the Marynsky-Vikharev reconstruction and the Gorsky-Petipa version?

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I had a ticket and bus reservations and had eagerly looked forward to tonight's performance. Fate intervened, and it ain't gonna happen, so I will devour your report, Natalia, as well as those of others who attend.

Thanks for the notes on Burlaka's talk.

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Sorry about that, carbro! You'll surely get reports not only from me but also at least three other BTers who I saw this afternoon at the rehearsal, incl. YID, Jack Reed and new member Karen, who I just met.

Bingham, that's the subject for a thesis and I have about 5 minutes to write a report on this afternoon's dress reh, so it will come later. Promise.

Dress Rehearsal -

We were treated to a complete (3 acts, all scenes) rehearsal with all dancers from the 2nd cast ('my' Ekaterina Schipulina as Medora and tall Ruslan Skortsov as Conrad), all sets, full orchestra, partial costumes but no wigs and make-up. Most of the main numbers were danced fully, with some marking from the male soloists. Yuri Burlaka called-out orders through a mike. A female coach could be heard directing the female corps, during the Jardin Anime. Alexander Petukhov corralled the extras and assisted Burlaka, all the while miming the role of the chief eunuch.

I've seen this production live in London/2007 and the KennCen stage's dimensions are comparable to the London Coliseum and, in fact, the New Bolshoi stage. In other words: Cramped! Nonetheless, the big set pieces were very impressive, including a 'tight' Jardin Anime with at least 75 people and foliage on the stage. Local kids did a great job in the Jardin and other scenes that call for children.

We all knew that there would be cuts but Burlaka has done major surgery on Act III, deleting Ratmansky's masterful Pas d'Eventails in its entirety!!! (That's the Pas of the Fans to Drigo music, for Medora, Gulnare, a cavalier and a corps of ladies. In London, only the male variation was deleted.) What's more, as in London, the Act I Pas d'Esclave is missing the adagio that usually precedes the variations. Even with the 20-25 minutes worth of cuts, the production runs about three hours, counting two 20-minute intermissions.

Schipulina was fine, if off-axis on her pirouettes. To be fair, I love her 1st arabesques -- like classical sculpture! She danced a delightful 'petit corsaire' variation en travestie, during the cave scene; this is a gem of a varietion that is cut from almost all other versions, e.g., Mariinsky, ABT, etc. Skvortsov had problems with the slow tempo, making him seem very tired at the end of his variations. I am sure it will be fixed by performance time. We had two Gulnares this afternoon -- a brunette with blue eyes and bangs (maybe Anastasia Meskova?)* in most scenes BUT a divine Nina Kaptsova in the Jardin Anime. The Pas d'Esclave was nicely performed by blonde Anastasia Stashkevich and bravura soloist Dennis Medvedev. The three Odalisques included Olga Stebletsova in the 1st variation; the other two not readily recognizable although I will guess Anna Tikhomirova in #2 and Anna Leonova in #3. Kudos to Andrei Merkuriev as Birbanto, with tall blonde Anna Antropova as his lady. Gennadi Yanin is precious as Lankedem, the old merchant and keeper of Medora.

It was a wonderful dress rehearsal...much more than I had expected. In the past, we sometimes got to see just two acts of a ballet in such rehearsals. Here we saw it all, including the impressive storm and ship-sinking finale.

Edited to add: In the playbill obtained at tonight's program, only two Gulnares are listed for this run -- Kaptsova and Krysanova...but the lady who danced at most of the dress rehearsal did not look at all like Ekaterina Krysanova. Krysanova DID dance 2nd Odalisque tonight, though...looking like herself. So who was the mystery Gulnare at the rehearsal?

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During the course of the long but interesting chat and Q&A, Burlaka divulged that he plans to recreate the complete ca-1900 SLEEPING BEAUTY by Gorsky-after-Petipa for the reopening of the main Bolshoi Theater during the 2010/2011 season. [He specifically said 2011...so the latter part of that season.]

Now THAT is something I want to see. And unlike the 1890 reconstruction done at the Mariinsky Theatre, hopefully the reconstruction of the 1900 Gorsky version will actually STAY in the Bolshoi repertoire for a while--please? :)

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Just back from tonight's performance starring Maria Alexandrova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze -- both superstars in today's international Balletic Pantheon. They did not disappoint -- Alexandrova's Medora displaying a secure technique and poetic flow that made everything look almost too easy. Effortless beauty. Tsiskaridze exuded star charisma to the hilt and lots of energy in his few dancing segments. The famous pdd solo contained some altered steps to fit his needs but it was beautiful nonetheless. I prefer to see slightly watered steps to a huff-and-puff struggle. Tsiskaridze is a wise performer.

My personal fave of the night, though, was Nina Kaptsova as Gulnare...surely the Bolshoi's most under-rated female soloist. She almost stole the show from Alexandrova in the Jardin Anime, IMO, due to her angelic charm -- the Bolshoi's answer to Obraztsova! -- and crisp technique, playing with the orchestra. The most musical soloist of the night, by far. Anastasia Stashkevich and high-flying Denis Medvedev wowed us in the Pas d'Esclave, despite some iffy swan lifts. The three Odalisques were all crisp and secure -- Stebletsova, Krysanova (ending her variation with a gorgeous 3ple pirouette), and Leonova -- in that order. Chinara Alizade and (again) Anastasia Stashkevich led the Jardin's choryphees in a delectable and rarely-performed pizzicatto number.

The Bolshoi's female corps de ballet really came into its own in this production...finally coming closer to the Mariinsky's, while the latter gradually loses its edge. Their Jardin Anime and other group numbers were admirable. The male corps was as passionate and energetic as ever. Andrei Merkuriev led the pirates as a Birbanto with brio.

Those 'in the know' will lament the excision of Alexei Ratmansky's gorgeous 'Pas d'Eventails' (Dance of the Fans) from the original 2007 edition of this production...but there was still plenty of grandiose dancing on view to make everybody happy.

Welcome Back to DC, Bolshoi!

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(from Washington, DC) Agreed, right through. Kaptsova, it might be added, is a little on the small side, compared especially to Alexandrova and Tsiskaridze; somehow, this made her just that much more taking, for me. This entire production, from top to bottom, is of such admirable quality of craftsmanship, that the cut of half of III is something of a shock. After all the effort to restore or recreate in the most authentic manner, etc., then to leave it out -- is somebody not clear on the concept? Is it an absolute requirement the performance not run past 10:30? If you didn't know there were a 20-minute cut in III, you would still notice -- well, the perfect cooking metaphor isn't coming to me, but the ingredients are of similar quality to the first two acts but the subtle balance and inspired variety in the mix is all off in III. I'm glad we got what we got, though. Very impressive.

Do I need to see it again? No, not really. I get more from less, from the work of another choreographer, who took up sometime after the people who made this, or something very like it, left off. Just a thought, for those who know my Balanchine addiction and might wonder how such a person would take to this. I was more than impressed, I had a very good time in the theatre this evening!

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So glad that we agreed, Jack. By the way, the Pas d' Eventails in Act III was one of the brand-new additions to the ballet when this revival premiered in July 2007 in Moscow. The choreography is totally Ratmansky to Drigo's music for the one-act ballet Enchanted Garden. However, Ratmansky crafted it very much in the Petipa manner, Ratmansky being so in tune with the esthetic. In particular, the entree waltz for female corps and a lilting pas de quatre galop for some of the choryphees could fool the wisest Petipa specialist into believing that it is 'genuine Petipa.' Ratmansky was almost the balletic equivalent of a master forger of Rembrandt paintings! Hence, I am extremely saddened by the excision. And, as you say, there is a mime-only rushed feeling to the present Act III..."Let's race towards the big boat-sinking scene!" So much academic dancing in Acts I and II and, suddenly, practically no dancing in the last act.

I believe that the Pas d'Eventails is a victim to today's economic hardships. The Kennedy Center would have had to pay overtime to all of the unions if the show went past a certain time, as per union contracts. With unionized backstage crews, dressers, prop men, orchestra, etc....well, you do the math. I absolutely do not buy the argument by some that the 2007 shows contained "too much dancing." One idiotic comment by Clement Crisp ("too many dances..it could use some judicious editing...") should not have ruined the party for the rest of us. In London 2007, I heard nothing but praise for that Pas d'Eventails from theatergoers who sat around me at performances.

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So glad that we agreed, Jack. By the way, the Pas d' Eventails in Act III was one of the brand-new additions to the ballet when this revival premiered in July 2007 in Moscow. The choreography is totally Ratmansky to Drigo's music for the one-act ballet Enchanted Garden. However, Ratmansky crafted it very much in the Petipa manner, Ratmansky being so in tune with the esthetic. In particular, the entree waltz for female corps and a lilting pas de quatre galop for some of the choryphees could fool the wisest Petipa specialist into believing that it is 'genuine Petipa.' Ratmansky was almost the balletic equivalent of a master forger of Rembrandt paintings! Hence, I am extremely saddened by the excision. And, as you say, there is a mime-only rushed feeling to the present Act III..."Let's race towards the big boat-sinking scene!" So much academic dancing in Acts I and II and, suddenly, practically no dancing in what's left of Act III.

I believe that the Pas d'Eventails is a victim to today's economic hardships. The Kennedy Center would have had to pay overtime to all of the unions if the show went past a certain time, as per union contracts. With unionized backstage crews, dressers, prop men, orchestra, etc....well, you do the math. I absolutely do not buy the argument by some that the 2007 shows contained "too much dancing." One idiotic comment by Clement Crisp should not have ruined the party for the rest of us. In London 2007, I heard nothing but praise for that Pas d'Eventails from theatergoers who sat around me at performances.

Would the Pas stand as a one-act ballet?Maybe, Ratmansky can expand it for ABT.

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Many, many thanks for your Bolshoi posts. I adore the Bolshoi's Corsaire and consider the Alexandrova /Tsiskaridze cast by far the best, as they really brought a sense of romantic era poetry to the roles when I saw them in London. Hopefully the Pas d' Eventails exclusion is just temporary as it is a thing of great beauty regardless of who choreographed it.

One idiotic comment by Clement Crisp should not have ruined the party for the rest of us.

Agreed. Crisp is very far from infallible.

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Bingham, it could certainly be a stand-alone gala piece, IMO. It calls for two female and one male principals/soloists + a small corps of ladies.

By the way, it wasn't until I saw the tour's roster on the Palybill last night that I realized that ONLY THREE Bolshoi Principals have made the tour and we saw two of them last night: Alexandrova and Tsiskarize (who will not appear again). The 3rd one is Volchkov. All of the rest -- Osipova, Vasiliev, Shipulina, etc. -- come from the various Soloist ranks. Where are Zakharova, Lunkina, Antonicheva, Gracheva, etc.? Another indicator of today's economic woes, I suspect. [However, Gracheva is listed as a coach on the tour, so she may be around.]

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Zakharova and Gracheva danced Nikiya in Berkeley two weeks ago, before Chapel Hill.

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(from Washington, DC) Natalia, your post (I mean #42) made me wince again at what we were deprived of, even while explaining the economic basis for it, which helped lessen the trauma (thank you). Maybe I do need to see this once again, when I can see it intact and with leads, at least, the equal of last night. Or better? If there are such! I repeat, I had a good time, until that suddenly-ungainly last act.

I might even have done without the shipwreck, although having gone to the trouble to bring it, they would want to use it, and I must say, it was impressive in its own way, a little too much for comfort, as such a catastrophe should be. I am an open-water swimmer, and I have got into scary heavy waves some times. There were a couple of moments when I started to panic, realizing that we in the Orchestra seats were below the apparent water-level on stage! Of course the musicians in the pit would drown first... But, more seriously, this sort of thing is not why we go, I think.

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..... Where are Zakharova, Lunkina, Antonicheva, Gracheva, etc.? Another indicator of today's economic woes, I suspect. [However, Gracheva is listed as a coach on the tour, so she may be around.]

I saw Gracheva but didn't know that it was her (confirmed after checking her photos). I talked with a wonderful Anastasia Goryacheva, who hopes to still dance in DC (there was a minor mishap with a leg (or foot) in NC, but doctors confirmed nothing serious), and she said that Nikulina didn't go due to some ailment/ minor injury ;-((.

I adore Burlaka and his direction for the company, what a blessing for me (a CLASSICAL (Petipa preferred) story ballets with dancers from HARD-core centuries-old-traditions ballet schools)) more later

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I wasn't sure that all of the timing was going to work out for me to see last night's performance, but it did, albeit in a seat that was as much of a tease as the abbreviated Act III, which was like going to dinner and being sent home after the soup course. I've learned my Kennedy Center lesson, which is to call if they don't allow individual seat selection on the website, and now I know what to avoid. The head of the man in front of me took out about one-third of the stage, and I gave up on seeing anything close to the full stage picture or the Odalisques. (I noticed that the extras who played slave women who sat on the floor next to Pasha, had the same issues :)) Nonetheless, it was well worth the stop on my way to see the ABT "Sylphide"s.

I thought Maria Alexandrova was spectacular, so majestic and strong, like the steel cables in suspension bridges: flexible but with a core of strength. I love, love, love her energy and presence, which was front and center in the scene en travestie and the Act III solo with the pistol and dagger, but was behind her character from her first entrance in a short, tightly curled red wig. It was almost a surprise when she dropped the pistol and didn't shoot the Pasha. Her solos were strong and vibrantly danced. Although some of the Jardin Anime scene was obscured from my seat, in the context of the geometry of the work, the flip side of her squarish upper body, her extraordinary upright posture, was as effective as a more perfumed approach. Nina Kaptsova's smaller, more delicate Gulnare, worked for me as a contrast of type with Alexandrova, and her dancing was the distillation of her character, too.

Alexandrova was no wimpy girl: if there was ever a female version of Spartacus, she is it. Not because there is anything masculine about her, but there is something fearless and heroic. She could lead the pirates, and I suspect that without the shipwreck, she would have had to, because Conrad is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier: a band of horny pirates in their cave is going to be just thrilled with their leader when he sends all of the girls away, but keeps one for himself. (Right.) Nikolay Tsiskaridze acted Conrad with an endearing, goofball quality, and scruffy, dark good looks. His dancing was smooth as silk, and I could not believe the ease with which he lifted Alexandrova and walked across the stage: from the fourth row, there wasn't the slightest evidence of strain.

I recognized Denis Medvedev from the Pas d'esclaves from the drum dance in Berkeley, and he was terrific here as well, partnering the lovely Anastasia Staskevitch (an announced change); Staskevitch and Chinara Alizade were superb as a feature duo in Jardin Anime. Unfortunately, I could see little of the Odalisques, which was very disappointing, since Krysanova is scheduled for Gulnare on Sunday, and I won't get a second chance to see her Odalisque from a seat with good sightlines.

Was it Anna Antropova who danced with Birbanto in the blue and white vertical striped costume? (I don't remember her being blond.) After Alexandrova's, hers was my favorite performance, full of brio and character, with her upper body and arms proud and still during those tricky small steps on the diagonal. Andrey Merkuriev's dancing was smooth yet crystal clear as Birbanto, a fair foil for Tsikaridze's Conrad, and he danced with great spirit. In a profession of beautiful people, Merkuriev stands out for being one of the most drop-dead gorgeous men on stage or screen, a bit like Liepa's Crassus to Vasiliev's Spartacus. (If I were decades younger, I'd be besotted.)

Merkuriev stalked and plotted and sulked, but the "How many ways can I pout and wheedle" award goes to Irina Zibrova, the Zulmea. She did not stop working it for a second. Alexey Loparevich, such an excellent rajah in "La Bayadere", showed his range as a character actor as the butt of the joke as Pasha, and Gennady Yanin was note perfect as Lanquedem.

The corps was splendid, even in the cramped confines of the Kennedy Center stage. The women had an underlying energy that linked the beautiful patterns they were making on stage, and the men were a convincing set of pirates. How can the Bolshoi identify that a boy of 8 or 10 is going to grow so tall? The Bolshoi has a seemingly limitless supply of tall men. In a recent Q&A, Peter Boal said that the average height for a woman in the PNB corps is 5'8", and that the average height for a man in the PNB corps is 5'8". We need a little bit of whatever is in the water in Moscow in the Pacific Northwest.

The costumes and sets were fantastic. I'd never seen the full-length before, and didn't know where any of the set pieces fit into the story, and I was shocked when the famous music came on for the Medora/Conrad Pas de Deux, because Conrad was fully clothed. I loved these costumes, designed by Yelena Zaitseva after the 1899 Ponomarev sketches, and I much prefer them to the half naked versions. The designs were catnip for the eye.

I can't wait to see this a second time.

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Zakharova and Gracheva danced Nikiya in Berkeley two weeks ago, before Chapel Hill.

They're not in the DC-KennedyCenter tour roster; I was referring to that, not the US tour in general. Glad that other parts of the country got more principals than did DC! :)

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