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Le Corsaire at The Kennedy Center


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#61 Jack Reed

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 07:58 PM

I'm glad to have zerbinetta's clarification about the ABT production. That seems to me like a good introduction to the sea as a theme, and makes the catastrophic return to it at the end a sharply pointed contrast. And it makes a better introduction of the pirates into the scenario than we saw (unless I missed something) when they simply turn up in the bazaar along with nearly everybody else under the sun.

I agree with Hans that Kaufman's reference to the length of the ballet is part of her (justified) praise for Alexandrova. I found another reference to it in her third paragraph, though:

In short, this production, which opened Tuesday and runs through Sunday afternoon, fairly bursts with dazzling ingredients. But most exciting of all, for its entire three (!) hours it runs on a current of extraordinary energy.


Here she praises the whole production. And she's right! It never flags. Some lapses in it there were that even this neophyte noticed, but, that said, it maintained his interest throughout. "Never a dull moment", that's for sure.

#62 Natalia

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 06:30 AM

Kaufman's only reference to the length of the ballet was this sentence:

At two hours, and then three, into the ballet, she was still stretching those legs and feet like rapiers.


...


Earlier, Kaufman wrote:

"...for its entire three (!) hours it runs on a current of extraordinary energy."

And this, too, was definitely a compliment. My peeve is that, even in a positive manner, the mere fact that one has to place an exclamation point in front of the "three" is as if to say "Gee -- this is long!!!" With something so beautiful, length should not be a problem. Bring it on, Burlaka! The more the merrier, I say! :D

Jack Reed is absolutely correct -- Because the first two acts were replete with delicious classical dancing, one misses 'The Full Monty.' At least Londoners got to see the Pas d'Eventails on tour, minus the solo for the male.

This Corsaire is a landmark production for the Bolshoi, just as Vikharev's Sleeping Beauty -1890 was for the Mariinsky. How ironic that the Mariinsky now prefers the simpler Soviet version of SB, while the Bolshoi is planning the 1899 Gorsky-after-Petipa version, which was very, very similar to Petipa's 1890. So Moscow -- not Petersburg - will be (is already?) the place to go for beautiful, languid ballets of the Tsarist Era, e.g., this Corsaire, Petipa/Ceccheti's Coppelia, Petipa's Paquita Grand Pas and soon Petipa's Esmeralda. Who'd have thunk? [According to the programme, Burlaka has even restored portions of Petipa's last production, The Magic Mirror, for a choreographer's workshop. How I'd love to see that!]

OK - I just cannot get enough of this Corsaire. I'll be there tonight for 'my' Schipulina and Volchkov, after all. One more for the road! Bring it on, Burlaka! I'm only sorry that I'll be out of town for the Osipova/Vasilievs during the weekend.

#63 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 07:02 AM

Regarding the length -- I went to opening night with a friend who is relatively knowledgeable about ballet, and she left at the second intermission. She said the ballet felt long, and that the story wasn't engaging enough to make her want to stay for the last act, the way Swan Lake does for example. And she likes Wagner, so I wouldn't generally classify her as an impatient person.

I found Alexandrova surprisingly cold -- but maybe that was just in comparison to Kaptsova, who was so bright and charming. The cramped stage was also unfortunate, since Alexandrova and Tsiskaridze in particular have a very expansive quality to their dancing, and the scenery kept cutting them off.

And a question for our Russian speakers, what is the word shouted at the end of the Petite Corsaire? I assume it means something like "Let's drink"?

#64 Hans

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 07:11 AM

It really seemed to me that what she meant was that most ballets would drag in even less time, but we could go back and forth for weeks. :D It was definitely a positive review of a beautiful performance, and I know we are all happy about that!

#65 YID

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 07:57 AM

Regarding the length -- I went to opening night with a friend who is relatively knowledgeable about ballet, and she left at the second intermission. She said the ballet felt long, and that the story wasn't engaging enough to make her want to stay for the last act, the way Swan Lake does for example. And she likes Wagner, so I wouldn't generally classify her as an impatient person.

I found Alexandrova surprisingly cold -- but maybe that was just in comparison to Kaptsova, who was so bright and charming. The cramped stage was also unfortunate, since Alexandrova and Tsiskaridze in particular have a very expansive quality to their dancing, and the scenery kept cutting them off.

And a question for our Russian speakers, what is the word shouted at the end of the Petite Corsaire? I assume it means something like "Let's drink"?

It was not "let's drink" it was "NA ABORDAZH" (На Абордаж), which is from the dictionary - "a way to attack a hostile sail boat, by means of closely approaching, docking at and boarding the hostile ship. The attacking crew jumps over/board the other ship"
About your friend (no offense), but may be she was off that night. I personally can watch the classical Petipa (or a-la Petipa) steps over & over, especially so perfectly & musically executed. where every musical tone & beat has a step or movement to it. Bravo Burlaka!!

#66 rg

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 08:40 AM

regarding the shout-out uttered by the Petite Corsaire, BT has had an entire thread on just what the original French 'cry' should be in English-speaking countries.
Mel had much background on the phrase and its alternative(s) in languages other than French.

#67 Alexandra

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 10:05 AM

The word from the company via the press people is that the phrase, in this production at least, is "All aboard."

Regarding audience reaction/length, etc., I went both Tuesday and Wednesday, and Wednesday night, the left side mid-orchestra was not happy. Several people left after the second act, one man YAWNED loudly -- really, as though he hoped they would hear him and stop -- at every mime scene, they didn't clap for the character dances, and one heard, "Don't worry. These things are always over by 10." Part of it could be that the weeknights here are usually triple bills, and the subscribers could be of the I Hate Full-Lengths persuasion, and part of it, I think, is that our audience here is simply not used to full-length productions and especially mime scenes. We seem to hate character dance here -- not sure why (back in the bad old days of the Cold War, when the Eastern Bloc national companies appeared here regularly, they danced to full houses in the Concert Hall, but perhaps those people don't like ballet.) Tuesday night's audience seemed happier -- I was closer to the front, right side.

#68 bart

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:09 AM

I just want to second ngitanjali's an carbro's comments: for those of us who cannot get to performances like this, your posts -- the production critiques, the responses to individual dancers, the reports on audience behavior and company news, EVERYTHING -- are fascinating and somehow consoling. Thank you. :D

#69 Ceeszi

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 12:22 PM

I attended Thursday night's performance with Alexandrova and Volchkov.

I have mixed emotions. In the summer of 2005 I saw the Bolshoi at the Met when they did Don Quixote and I was blown away. Thursday night I kept telling myself - THIS IS THE BOLSHOI!!!, but I wasn't really that blown away by them. To be totally honest, I saw Le Corsaire a few weeks ago at ABT and I liked that just as much. This was not better by leaps and bounds. The one part of the ballet that I thought the Bolshoi did superbly was the Act II Garden ballet. Now - that was spectacular.

Maria Alexandrova got better as the night went along. I felt that she was a little wobbly in Act I. She was radiant in Act II ad she was the only one who really danced in Act III. In the Pas de deux, she did the 32 fouettes, but then Aleksandr Volchkov had a bad wobble going into his turns and lost his momentum.

Nina Kaptsova was delightful as Gulnare and (I'm sorry I don't have my program with me) the Slave pas de duex was well done.

#70 OKOK

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 01:24 PM

I went to this afternoon's performance. It was is my first time seeing Le Corsaire and altogether I enjoyed it although I did not leave saying WOW as I have with other ballets. A few thoughts:

Natalia Osipova was 90% as good as I had hoped she would be from reviews I have read and videos I've seen. She is a very effective actress and able to convey humor without approaching a slapstick feeling.

Vasiliev did swaggering very well. It had the right blend of elegance and machismo.

I have mixed feelings about corps scenes in most ballets. The visuals are so impressive, and then so often the shoes are *so* noisy! The garden scene was beautiful but very noisy. It was noticable even when only one or two were dancing and made a startling contrast with Osipova whose shoes I could hear on only two or three occasions.

#71 Natalia

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 04:58 AM

Quick thoughts on Friday night's performance, starring soloist Ekaterina Schipulina and principal Alexander Volchkov. Schipulina has some lovely moments (her poses and arabesques, in particular) but I could not help but notice that she was merely competent compared to the Medoras who I've seen in this production from performances in either London or Moscow. It's too bad that Washington, DC, got more of her (3 performances...make that FOUR performances after Sunday's substitution of Osipova!) than of the other two Medoras here, Alexandrova and Osipova. What's more -- as a neighbor pointed out -- Schipulina's overly-heavy make-up bordered on the grotesque.

I had not seen Volchkov in a starring classical role before and was pleasantly surprised by his liveliness -- a real man and not just actor -- if not his technique, which included many substitutions for the usual steps in the famous pdd of scene ii. Then again, as Tsiskaridze did on opening night, it's best to water the steps than to leave a bad impression by dancing the more traditional steps.

The best soloist of the night, as far as I am concerned, was again Nina Kaptsova as Gulnare (substituting for indisposed Krysanova...apparently Kaptsova has danced every Gulnare on this tour so far?). The Pas d'Esclave was nicely rendered by (again) Stashkevich (sub for Kaptsova, now Gulnare) and the wonderful 'whiz' Vyacheslav Lopatin. The three Odalisques were fine if not extraordinary -- in order, Stebletsova, Tikhomirova (what a lively face!) and Alizade.

The production still packs a punch even on a slightly off night -- particularly the Act II Jardin Anime and the final storm/ship-sinking scene -- garnering an instant standing-o from the Orchestra seats audience at the end...and not a pocket of departed folks could be seen as I gazed down at the Orchestra seats, Alexandra. Wednesday night's yawning gang must have been an oddity. And not a soul left from my area of 2nd Tier until the final curtain call had ended...amazing for the DC crowd. (Well, it was Friday night and few people had to run to work the following morning.)

Still, compared to three London and one Moscow performances of this production that I have seen in my travels...and compared to Tuesday's KennCen opener, this was the more mediocre performance that I've seen. This is due to the Medora; the ballerina can carry the show or keep it from rising above the merely good. Which is not to say that this was a bad night at all. It was, overall, still very, very good.

#72 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 06:15 AM

Krysanova must have danced at least one Gulnare. -- George Jackson reviewed her in danceviewtimes, in a cast with Shipulina and Skvortsov. He also mentioned an exodus, particularly after Act II. Some audience members must have thought that they were in for another one-hour act. Little did they know they'd be up almost as soon as they hit their chairs, Act III felt so short.

Lopatin was a wonderful Golden Idol in Berkeley. Thank you for your review of him. Staskevitch is getting a lot of substitutions on the US tour and a lot of good exposure. I look forward to seeing her this afternoon and on the next tour.

#73 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 03:05 PM

The big news today, much to the chagrin of almost everyone I spoke to before the performance, was that Osipova and Vasiliev did not dance today. Shipulina and Skvortsov, who are at least listed in the printed program for last night's performance, too, danced Medora and Conrad. Nina Kaptsova replaced Ekaterina Krysanova as Gulnare, and Anastasia Goryacheva, who was replaced by Anastasia Stashkevich on Opening Night, danced "Pas d'esclaves" in place of Kaptsova with Denis Medvedev. I was hoping for a pair of up-and-comers in the lead, but it was not to be.

George Jackson's description of our Conrad, "Ruslan Skvortsov looked plausible as Conrad, the pirate hero, and danced smoothly but tended to fade from view when not active" is entirely on the money: I forgot Skvortsov existed unless he was making an entrance or dancing a variation, although he was more engaged in the escape scene in the third act. Shipulina has long, long legs, and when she uses them smoothly, they can be mesmerizing, but her upper and lower bodies seem detached, and her upper body does not have the same impact as her lower. I also didn't see much unity in her character; it was like a montage of characters from a gala of greatest hits, depending on the scene. Although her dance en travestie was wonderfully spirited, I wouldn't have followed Shipulina; earlier in the week I would have followed Alexandrova anywhere. Nina Kaptsova did steal "Jardin Anime" from her.

I finally did get to see the Odalisques from a really great seat in the first tier. I thought that Anna Leonova's third Odalisque was a bit harsh. Olga Stebletsova's First was finely danced, but it was Anna Tikhomirova's Second that was a standout of musicality and expansiveness. She spun the variation, despite a quick slip in the opening diagonal. (At least according to the program it was: another Ballet Talker at the performance questioned whether it was she who danced.)

I was glad to have seen Goryacheva's "Pas d'eclaves"; she gave a joyful interpretation, and it was a privilege to see Denis Medvedev again, with his soft, catlike jumps out of deep plie, and the way he almost seem to go into slow motion on the corkscrew turning jumps, which seemed to nudge higher after the initial leaps.

Andrey Merkuriev and Anna Antropova lit up the house in "Danse des forbans", beautifully supported by Anna Nakhapetova, Ksenia Sorokina, Evgeny Golovin, and Alexander Vodopetov.

:lol: to Gennady Yanin, Alexei Loparevich, and Alexander Petukhov for the beautiful characterizations and mime as Lanquedem, Pasha, and Eunuch.

Part of it could be that the weeknights here are usually triple bills, and the subscribers could be of the I Hate Full-Lengths persuasion, and part of it, I think, is that our audience here is simply not used to full-length productions and especially mime scenes. We seem to hate character dance here -- not sure why (back in the bad old days of the Cold War, when the Eastern Bloc national companies appeared here regularly, they danced to full houses in the Concert Hall, but perhaps those people don't like ballet.)

Today's audience tried to prove you wrong, by giving quite loud ovations to all of the pirate dancing and the "Danse des forbans", enough so that the orchestra started to play before the clapping ended. The first scene of the first act flew by. Even the character actors seemed to be appreciated, with all of their mime. The kids around me loved the Pasha and the head eunuch, in blue, who I don't remember getting a bow, and the young twenty-somethings to my right seemed mesmerized and clapped enthusiastically.

The distinction you made about weeknight audiences may be key to this.

#74 Solnishka79

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 07:00 PM

When the announcement regarding the replacement of Osipova/Vasiliev was announced, there was an audible groan from the audience. I was very taken by the opulent sets, costumes, and shipwreck. Shipulina didn't quite do it for me; arms flailing about, very forced acting, and as my neighbor said "well, isnt she full of herself". She is very striking when posed but looked very unsteady during turns and many transitions.
I'm a new fan of Nina Kaptsova! She was most adorable and really did steal the show.
Other highlights for me: The Odalisque pas, the Pasha, Eunachs, and the Jardin. I really felt for the girls going around the "grass" fairly blindly due to the width of their tutus.

#75 Helene

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 07:04 PM

It sounded like a number of people in my section had seen other Shipulina performances and commented that weren't happy to see a repeat of most of the same performers (and could have done XYZ instead). The women behind me left as soon as the announcement was made, but they at least gave their tickets to some other people for Acts II and III.


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