volcanohunter

Mariinsky's Firebird, Rite of Spring, Les Noces

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Thus far Emerging Pictures' ballet screenings in cinemas have featured performances already available on DVD, such as the Mariinsky's Swan Lake and Nutcracker, the Bolshoi's Pharaoh's Daughter and Bolt, and La Scala's Mediterranea.

Now I think there's finally a triple bill to get excited about: the Mariinsky Ballet performing Fokine's Firebird, Millicent Hodson's reconstruction of Nijinsky's Rite of Spring and Nijinska's Les Noces.

http://www.emergingpictures.com/stravinsky...lets_russes.htm

The screening dates presently listed are:

May 14 in Seattle, WA

May 17 in New York, NY

May 31 in Brooklyn and Kew Gardens, NY

May 31 & June 4 in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Encino, CA

June 3 & 7 in Cleveland Heights, OH

June 13 in Coral Gables, FL and Napa, CA

June 28 in Wilmington, DE

June 29 in Brunswick, ME

July 5 & 8 in Cary, NC

July 21 & 23 in Fort Lauderdale, FL

July 23 in Campbell, CA

August 19 in Tewkesbury, UK

http://www.emergingpictures.com/opera_dates.htm

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Thanks for the heads up on this -- the Seattle date is being presented by the Seattle International Film Festival

SIFF Ballets Russes

but they don't have much information about the film on their website.

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Firebird is already available on the recent 'Kirov Dances Nijinsky' DVD, with Vishneva in the title role, though this may be a different cast. The photo in the ad could be that of Vishneva; hard to tell.

Sorry to be the one to throw the bucket of cold water here but let's get real. Ballet or Stravinsky specialists will enjoy Rite of Spring and Les Noces, though I'm amazed that this is being marketed for the American cinematic public...even for the artsy-independent film cinematic public, this is heavy going. Anybody home? Hello???? I am afraid that this triple-bill (particularly Rite and Noces) may turn more potential audiences OFF than ONTO ballet.

In St. Petersburg, this is a 'dud' of a program - much maligned by the habitues of the Mariinsky. I've seen ballet regulars walk out of both Rite and Noces...especially Rite, despite the colorful designs. In fact, I believe that the Mariinsky re-instated Ratmansky's production of Rite last summer, after the weak reception for the Hodson reconstruction of the Nijinsky.

How about Sleeping Beauty 1890 or Raymonda or Ondine or Flora's Awakening or...or...or... Those are the ballets that would turn people onto the art form.

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It looks like a risky program for the general or even the art-house audience, all right. Natalia's concerns reminded me of a ballet film that bombed badly in theatres a few years ago:

IIRC, the few people here in Chicago who went in to the theatre to see George Balanchine's The Nutcracker in the 1993 Christmas season had mostly left by the end. I didn't rush to see it myself, naively assuming it would run at least the usual week like every other film I'd ever heard of (except for the odd revival house, where there may be a new double bill every day or something) so I can't report on the experience of seeing it with other members of the public, because, the only instance of this in my experience (and possibly in Warners Brothers' as well?), it closed here in mid-week, and theatre owners brought in something else (I don't remember what) to help pay the rent.

When I finally got the DVD, I could guess what killed it: Macaulay Culkin's air of utter disinterest and the insulting voice-over, although for a nut like me, Kyra Nichols, Darci Kistler, and the snow scene, not to mention some of the other divertissements, are worth the purchase price. And then sometimes, concentrating hard, I can manage to hear Tchaikovsky but not the narrator and admire the way Balanchine took instructions from his great collaborator, but watching ballet shouldn't be such hard work.

But anyway, these showings we're talking about here are more cautious, just one or two days, and, at least in the Cary, NC theatre, which I checked because a dancer friend lives nearby, the theatre mainly seems to show films for narrow interest groups. I'll certainly read with interest how people take to this, or don't.

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It certainly is a curious program to promote to the general public, but who knows? It's only showing 1 time in Manhattan - during a very busy weekend in a very busy and ballet filled stretch here but I am going to try my best to make time to see it. I am curious about the Ballet Russe versions of Rite and Les Noce, but what sealed the deal is that when looking at the website I found a series of photos from the film. The flaming red hair of the Firebird is unmistakable - none other than our own BIG RED!!!!! Take a look at the multi media section at the bottom of the page:

http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/5866-st...source=calendar

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It is indeed Big Red, nysusan...and with Ilya Kuznetsov! OK - that does it. I will go, if it ever plays somewhere close to Washington, DC.

Are ANY of these ballet films scheduled for the Metro DC area? I do NOT count Wilmington, DE, as being in the Metro DC area.

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I'm not sure it's such a big risk, and I certainly don't think it's aimed at the general public. In most cases the triple bill will receive one screening only, and movie theatres don't fit nearly as many people as opera houses. The program is playing at cinemas that have been screening operas and the occasional ballet for some time, so the presenters are probably fairly confident that an audience for this programming is already in place.

I'm glad that someone is finally taking a chance on a triple bill. Where I live we've been getting Opus Arte programming for a little over a year. We've been offered the San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker; the Royal Ballet's Sylvia, Romeo and Juliet, Tales of Beatrix Potter, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, La Fille mal gardée and Manon, with La Bayadère screening this weekend and, I'm guessing, Swan Lake coming soon; the POB in Cinderella and La Dame aux camélias, the Bolshoi in Spartacus and the National Ballet of Cuba in Don Quixote. To be honest, I am beginning to worry about what will happen once Opus Arte, which has been "borrowing" ballet programming from other distributors already, "runs out" of evening-length narrative ballets to screen. The ballets alternate with opera presentations, and while the operatic repertoire is nowhere near exhausted yet, there are only so many story ballets out there. So I'm very curious to see how this bill fares because I would very much like to see more programs like it.

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Volcanohunter, even one-night-stands have to sell tickets.

It's not a matter of being a triple bill...it's a matter of it being the most obscure, non-audience-friendly triple bill imaginable.

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It's not a matter of being a triple bill...it's a matter of it being the most obscure, non-audience-friendly triple bill imaginable.

I, for one, love these ballets, all of which I first encountered as a teenager, and wouldn't hesitate to buy a ticket to see them live or filmed. But while I'd like to think that Emerging Pictures is paying tribute to a Ballets Russes anniversary year and counting on the relative popularity of Stravinsky, at least in comparison to other 20th-century composers, to sell tickets, the simple reality is that this program was available, having been filmed by French television.

http://www.arte.tv/fr/art-musique/Maestro/2090356.html

If relatively few Mariinsky and Bolshoi productions have been filmed in recent years, this limits the options of distributors, who may be happy enough to screen the ballets, but probably wouldn't put up the money needed to film them in the first place.

I think much the same situation surrounds the La Scala ballet presentations. I hardly think that Mediterranea and the forthcoming Pink Floyd Ballet are the most obvious audience grabbers, but since that's what RAI is filming, and since Emerging Pictures distributes La Scala performances, that's what we're going to get. Had it been up to me, I would have filmed their new Coppélia, but there you have it.

http://www.teatroallascala.org/en/stagioni...elevisione.html

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Well, I think part of the mix is the presenters involved -- here in Seattle it's playing one weeknight (and one showing, I think) through the auspices of the local film festival -- a fairly arcane niche. They haven't really promoted it outside of their own audience and I will be interested to see who else is in the audience.

Interestingly, the screening hall is in the same building that the ballet performs in, but there wasn't any promotional material for the film at the ballet's last program (Swan Lake even...). An opportunity wasted.

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Mr. Reed,

When Miami City Ballet and Nederland Dans come to Chicago will the different times also do different programs, e.g., Program A and B as MCB did in NYC or will they all be the same?

Thanks.

Allegromezzo

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In NYC, it's playing at Symphony Space on May 17. As I scrolled through the page for that date, there was an announcement that they'd also be screening, earlier in the day, the Maryinsky's Swan Lake starring Lopatkina.

http://www.symphonyspace.org/calendar/2009/05/17

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I went this Thursday -- the camerawork seemed busy to me (with more closeups of pretty faces than I really need, and an overhead camera that was very reminiscent of the June Taylor Dancers) but the it's always a treat to see these works, and the dancers did a good job overall. I'm curious to hear what others think of the film.

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Oh, MAN I wish this was playing by me. is there any hope for a DVD release after the fact? The only chance I've had to see Nijinsky's Sacre, is the youtube posting of the Joffrey ballet reconstruction.

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How about Sleeping Beauty 1890 or Raymonda or Ondine or Flora's Awakening or...or...or... Those are the ballets that would turn people onto the art form.

Agreed! I am looking forward to seeing Kondaurova in Firebird, but since I already have the Vishneva Firebird, I would be much more excited to see a Mariinsky classic that hasn't been released in the last decade. I would die for Raymonda, Ondine, LA BAYADERE, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle....

And as far as triple bills go, I would rather see their Forsythe or a mixed bill with Etudes, or Balanchine...

And I really hope Obraztsova gets a starring role in a DVD at some point.

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Just a few random thoughts:

I thought the costumes and sets for "Firebird" cost as much as the PNB's entire production budget for about a decade. The costumes for the two bugs were amazing.

It's great to see Kondourova do anything. The woman who played the Princess had an oddly smug expression. The Prince looked like Luke Wilson ("The Family Stone"/"Legally Blond") and was strangely pouty. New York Theatre Ballet did a Folkine version that I saw in the 80's with professional dancers backed by what was then a semi-professional (and growing) company, and the balance and humanity were more appealing.

"The Rite of Spring": the things that caused riots back then!

I love the music to "Les Biches" and it sounded great, and Nijinska's ability to create tableaux was fascinating. I'd never seen this or "Rite" before.

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New York Theatre Ballet did a Folkine version that I saw in the 80's with professional dancers backed by what was then a semi-professional (and growing) company, and the balance and humanity were more appealing.
I don't doubt it. This staging was (ahem) credited to Isabelle Fokine and Andris Liepa, suggesting (at least by the former) pretty good authenticity. The choreography didn't look so authentic to me, especially the absence of a still tableau for Scene II. Still, this was easily the best of the three segments, thank you Ms. Kondaurova.

The cinematography, for the most part, was pretty good. Not too many quick-cuts. My big complaint was that many of the shots, even when they did contain the whole figure of the dancer/s, would have benefited by pulling back just a bit to give a better spatial context.

I wish the dancers in both primitive works, Sacre and Les Noces, had had more weight. Even in Firebird, the tautly pulled up torsos of today's dancers seemed out of place.

Still, the film, whatever its flaws, is a valuable document, and I'm glad I saw it.

By the way, the audience was very sparse, probably no more than 50 or so, if that. Disappointing.

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For anyone who saw this, you might want to take a look at this clip from the Paris Opera Ballet in Sacre with Marie-Claude Pietragalla as the Chosen One. I think she's more convincing in the part (the journey from terror at her selection to frenzy and death) but I also think the camera work supports the choreography much better than the Maryinsky version.

(edited to add) I am so embarrassed -- I forgot to add the link!

it is.

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For anyone who saw this, you might want to take a look at this clip from the Paris Opera Ballet in Sacre with Marie-Claude Pietragalla as the Chosen One. I think she's more convincing in the part (the journey from terror at her selection to frenzy and death) but I also think the camera work supports the choreography much better than the Maryinsky version.

No kidding! Thanks for pointing out this POB clip. I completely agree with you on both counts. In fact, I am taken aback by how "lifeless" the Mariinsky maiden is compared to how the POB did it. Marie-Claude Pietragalla's movement is so much more free, creative, dramatic, and "into" the power of the situation.

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You can also find video of the Joffrey's performance (from the Dance in America program) on YouTube

here, part 1

part 2

and part 3

I think it's an excellent performance and television production.

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What an amazing production by the Joffrey! From the first stomp, it was clear that the dancers understood the style. Hodgson is credited in both the Joffrey and Mariinsky versions.

The Mariinsky's version was pretty and bland. The Mariinsky dancers did not grow up exposed to modern dance in the way that every Joffrey dancer could have been and it's hard to imagine them not, by virtue of having lived and worked in NYC.

It was amazing seeing the names on the credits :Le Blanc, Gates, Rodriguez, Maynard, Wheater, Corbin, Goldweber, Stierle, and on. I still don't know how Rodriguez could move after standing in a frozen pose for 10 minutes before she had to explode.

Thank you, sandik!

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This a fairly recent BelAir Classique release that can be purchased in either DVD or blu-ray formats. It contains two ballets: the complete Fokine version of the Firebird and Le Sacre du Printemps. The version of the Firebird is identical to a version released a few years ago on a DVD titled "The Kirov Celebrates Nijihsky" (though it was really a celebration of Fokine, since every ballet on the DVD was choreographed by him). On the earlier DVD, the role of the Firebird was danced by Diana Vishneva. On this newer release, it is performed by Kondaurova,with Ilya Kuznetsov as Ivan, Marianna Pavlova as the Princess and Vladimir Ponomarev as Kashchei. Personally, I prefer the version with Vishneva (she has more spirit and sparkle in her dancing) but the sound here is much better and the orchestra is conducted by Gergiev.

The version of Le Sacre du Printemps is the supposedly original version; some may have seen it performed in the 70's and 80's by the Joffrey Ballet. The Kirov's is a very good performance of the work and for those who never saw the Joffrey version, it is probably well-worth watching. Again, the sound is terrific.

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