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State Ballet Theater of Russia's Swan LakeA bitter review .


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#1 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 04 January 2011 - 09:40 PM

So there I was, all bitter already after almost having given up to the West Palm's trip. Getting out of Miami Beach was a nightmare...the traffic didn't move, so I told my mom that if I couldn't make it to I-95 by 6:30 pm, I would then turn around and give up-(the performance was to be at 8:00 pm, and I didn't even had tickets). So finally I'm on the highway, and by 7:50 I was already in my seat-(don't ask me at which speeding did I get there...).bart...you know about the traffic situation down here, so I'm sure you can "feel" me.. :thumbsup:
The Kravis-(love that building...way more than the Brodward Center and even more than that absurdity/monstruosity called Arsht Center)-was packed, and soon enough, the performance started.
So I'm listening to the overture-(or course, canned music...by now a too common feature in ballet performances, so nothing that I wasn't expecting)-and when the curtain rises, I'm already dreaming-(c'mon...this is Swan Lake after all!)-,but too soon, I'm afraid to report.

Act I

Act I revealed a troupe that wasn't too engaging in the dancing and an uninteresting choreography that almost put me to sleep. Of course, there was the expected jester-(is he part of the Konstantin Sergueev' legacy?)-, but to be honest, he was one the highlights of this production. Benno was there also, as the male lead on the bland Pas de Trois. There's not a lot that I can think of to make this review more interesting, for which there was NOTHING more interesting presented. Perhaps-(actually I’m positive)- this have to do with the fact of having seen probably hundreds of Swan Lakes in the course of my life span in the island, via a choreography that still retains many great chunks of the one choreographed and premiered in its four acts in Havana in as early as 1954 by Mary Skeaping-(also responsible for the even earlier Nutcracker premiere). Since then, Swan lake has been a staple of the Cuban repertoire, and along with Giselle, one that I got to see all year around, all the time, every year. The choreography of the first act's waltz is one of those chunks, in the form of a great pas de six for six couples, whith very daring lifts and a an spectacular triple fish dive-induced grand finale. So then, when I saw the Russians’ version with all those little, obscure, busy steps, I was almost in the verge of yawning. Another miss-(not the last one, and not an uncommon one in some productions I've seen)-was the unchanging light pattern for the end of Act I, where it should be suggested by darker tones that the sunset is happening, so the night-where the next act takes places-is approaching.

Act II

The lake scene backdrop was way too bright, with shades of blue for the water, nothing in the romantic line. Then Von Rothbart appeared, one sorcerer that was too small and short winged-(and with almost no makeup)-to be properly scary. Here I must say that I would definitely take The Swamp Thing at any time over this poor little bird. And THEN one of the major absurdities happened. Some swan-maidens got out! Right there, along with Rothbart's presentation, some corps girls made an impromptu appearance, which according to the choreographed moves was apparently supposed to give the audience clues as what had happenned to them in terms of being under the spell and captivity of this evil entity. The sad result was that the much anticipated and beautifully choreographed entrance of the corps of swan-maidens-(one of the few pieces of Ivanonv' choreography that seems to be respected in almost every Swan Lake on earth)-was completely diminished…its magic totally broken.

To be continued. I’m tired, but I really want to write some more, if you guys still want to read it... :thumbsup:

#2 Drew

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 12:24 AM

So here I am, all bitter already after almost give up to the trip to West Palm. To get out of Miami Beach was a nightmare...the traffic didn't move, so I told my mom that if I couldn't be on I-95 by 6:30, I would then turn around and give up-(the performance was to be at 8:00 pm, and I didn't even had tickets). So finally I'm on the highway, and by 7:50 I was already in my seat-(don't ask me at which speeding...).bart...you know about the traffic situation down here, so I'm sure you can "feel" me.. :thumbsup: The Kravis-(love that building...way more than the Brodward Center and even more than that absurdity called Arsht Center)-was packed, and soon enough, the performance started.
So the overture starts-(or course, canned music...by now a too common feature, so nothing that I wasn't expecting), and when the curtain rises, I'm already dreaming-(c'mon...this is Swan Lake!). Too soon, I'm afraid to report.

Act I

Act I revealed a troupe that wasn't too engaging and an uninteresting choreography that almost put me to sleep. Of course, there was the expected jester-(is he a Konstantin Sergueev' legacy?), but to be honest, he was one the highlights of this production. Benno was there also, as the male lead on the watery Pas de Trois. There's not a lot that I can think of to make this review more interesting, for which there was NOTHING more interesting presented. Perhaps-(actually I’m positive)-that this have to do with the fact of having to have seen probably hundreds of Swan Lakes in the course of my life span in the island, in a choreography that still retains many great chunks of that one which was choreographed and premiered in its four acts in Havana in 1954 by Mary Skeaping. Since then, Swan lake has been a staple on the Cuban repertoire, and along with Giselle, one that I got to see all year around, all the time every year. The choreography of the valse of the first act is one of those chunks, in the form of a great pas de six, which very daring lifts and a triple fish dive at the end for the three couples. So then, when I saw the Russians’ version with all those little, obscure steps, I was almost yawning. Another miss-(not the last one, and not an uncommon one in some productions I've seen)-was the unchanging light scheme for the end of Act I, where it should be suggested by darker tones that the sunset is happening, so the night, where the next act takes places, approaches.

Act II

The lake scene backdrop was too bright, with shades of blue for the water. Then Von Rothbart appeared, one sorcerer that was too small and short winged-(and with almost no makeup)-to be properly scary. Here I must say that I could take The Swamp Thing with no doubt over this poor little bird. And THEN one of the major absurdities happened. Some swan-maidens got out! Right there, along with Rothbart's presentation, some corps girls made an in promptu appearance, which according to the choreographed moves was apparently supposed to give the audience clues as what was happening to them in terms of being enchanted and captivated by this evil entity. The sad result was that the much anticipated and beautifully choreographed entrance of the corps of swan-maidens-(one of the pieces of choreography that seems to be respected in almost every Swan Lake on earth)-was completely diminished…its magic totally broken.

To be continued. I’m tired, and I really want to write some more, if you guys till want to read it... :thumbsup:



Thank you Cubanmiamiboy. I would be happy to read more, though I don't want you to torture yourself. What I had hoped for when I bought tickets to this production (coming to Atlanta next week) was not a first (or even second) tier production, but a third-fourth tier one where I could at least enjoy some elements of good classical training in the dancers and the main outlines of the choreography for the white acts and maybe, if I was lucky, a decent principal or a few decent soloist performances or some good character dancing (which Russian dancers often 'get' in a way Americans don't)...Anyway, any other thoughts or reactions you had would be welcome.

#3 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 04:37 PM

Well, Hope Springs Eternal in the human breast.

Speaking of touring companies stopping at smaller towns (including mine) , has anyone heard of this one:

TCHAIKOVSKY'S ROMEO AND JULIET

[size="3"]Russian Classical Ballet Theatre[/size]


"This unique production is currently being created in Russia for American premiere. The music for this new ballet is a fusion
of the composer’s Sixth Symphony and his Romeo and Juliet Overture. Artistic Director, Sergei Radchenko brings this company of 50 artists to the stage."



Last year we got one of the WORST touring Russian companies I've ever seen... the dancers kept slipping off point and the story was totally altered from the summary they put in the program ("Cinderella")

(edited to emphasize description)

#4 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 07:53 PM

OMG! I had COMPLETELY forgotten that I hadn't finished this review...!...until I saw violinconcerto's post.

So here is part of the other night's writing, that I saved to finish it later on, but because it is not really worth to devote that much time to this performance, I just decided that I will comprise and speed up the rest of the review. Honestly there's not a lot to talk about.

"Odette came over. Another low point, for which she didn’t do the “grand entrance” in that characteristic grand jete that, if well done, gives one the illusion of a flying bird landing from the sky to start its transformation into the Swan Queen. She appeared by burreing onstage, and then she actually jumped, but it was more like a little saut de chat in place. I don’t have major complains about Odette-(Marta Filippova)

Act III

The third act started in a high point, being the jester’s dancing to the now almost forgotten “Dances of the Corps de Ballet & Dwarfs”. The national dances were also nice to watch, although just the mazurka and tarantella were performed –(they deleted the czardas and the Spanish dance came later on, with in interesting twist)
Then we had the waltz, which was danced by the prospective brides, and THEN came the interesting twist..."

(From here on, I'm just writing right now...)

Rothbart/Odile's entrance, Odile wearing a black and red tutu-(please, let's make note of this)

Spanish Dance-(mm, weird...the National Dances segment is already over...)

Black Swan PDD-(nice, but not great, although Filippova did her 32 single fuettes quite nicely, but with that unnerving to me habit to finish them in fourth position instead of on pointe)

Red alert!!!: Odile's mocking of Albretch sequence...general confusion, DURING WHICH THE SPANIARDS ARE TO BE SEEN STANDING STILL AROUND ODILE, LOOKING QUITE TRIUMPHANT, WITHOUT RUNNING FRANTICALLY LIKE EVERYONE ELSE...(mmm...how weird...)
Odile and Rothbart exit, and here comes the interesting twist...WITH THEIR ENTOURAGE...THE SPANIARDS!! Yes, Ladies and gentlemen...Odile is Spanish...she traveled all the way from the Iberian Peninsula!...I always suspected we had something in common... :wink:

Anyway. Act IV, "Andante con Molto" from the deleted Pas de six as a new PDD for Siegfried and Odette-(quite successful according to the clapping) and soviet finale with Rothbart agonizing on the floor after loosing a wing from Sigfried's heroic attack....

Curtain down.

Me, all bitter and cranky all the way down on I-95 south. aaaggh!! :wallbash:

#5 Drew

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 10:20 PM

Thank you for completing your review--I know it's depressing to write about things one did not like. I confess that some of the problems you describe are not so different from what I would have expected from a bus-and-truck touring Russian group and may not irritate me as much as they did you. (I can't quite tell from what you say--or don't say--how weak you thought the dancers were...)

By the by, the Messerer version that was danced by the Mikhailovsky in London this summer (and which dates back to the Soviet era) also had the Spanish dancers accompany Rothbart and Odile as part of their entourage. And there may even have been a bit of red in Odile's costume if I remember correctly...Do you remember who was responsible for the "State Ballet Theater" staging?

#6 bart

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 05:20 AM

:smilie_mondieu:

Thank you for completing your review--I know it's depressing to write about things one did not like.

Cristian, I want to support Drew's thanks AND commiseration. You confirm my bad dreams about this company's Nutcracker last year.

I have mixed feelings about what you saw and reported.

-- (a) relief that I did not bother to get tickets for this, thus sparing myself much grief;
-- (b) strained ambivalence about the fact that it was a virtual sell-out all three performances at the Kravis Center at HIGH ticket prices -- and that the audience seemed to be quite happy about what they were being served.
-- © fear for the future of classical dancing, since audiences are being led to believe that the annual or semi-annual resurrection of only one or two famous ballets in inferior productions and with dispirited and unevenly-trained dancers is what "ballet" is all about.

I understand the economics of booking decisions like this. Full houses for even the worst Swan Lake help subsidize more adventurous, and less popular, programming on other evenings. But, given the current depressing economic environment for the higher arts, I think we can expect more (rather than fewer) such performances in the future.

CONSUMER WARNING: Your purchase of this "Swan Lake" product does NOT guarantee that what you will be seeing is Swan Lake as it CAN and OUGHT TO be.

#7 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 08:25 AM

I can't quite tell from what you say--or don't say--how weak you thought the dancers were...


I'm glad you made this comment, for which to be fair, Filippova was very pleasant, as both Odette and Odile. Not impressive-(let's make this clear)-but not deppressing to watch.
I can't say the same of Sigfried...one of those danseurs that seems to be always over preocuppied about showing his perfect turnout, pointed toes and fifth positions than the dancing itself. The National Dances didn't have enough panache, and went on without any glory.

Do you remember who was responsible for the "State Ballet Theater" staging?


I promise I'll get back to you on this as soon as I get home. I don't have the programme with me right now.

-- (a) relief that I did not bother to get tickets for this, thus sparing myself much grief;


Tell me about it! I gave up the Arsht's New Year Concert "Salutte to Vienna" for this...BIG mistake. :wallbash:

#8 Natalia

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 08:43 AM

Thanks, Cubanmiamiboy. I am so sorry that you and your mom went through this torture! You brought chuckles in your writing, though. (Better to laugh than to cry.)

The Jester comes from one of Gorsky's versions, I've heard.

Several Russian versions, most notably Bourmeister's edition for the Stanislavsky Theater (repeated in Paris, Milan & elsewhere), include the Spanish contingent in Odile's entourage. For example, during Odile's 32 fouettes in the coda of the pdd, the matadors are twirling their red capes in time to the music! It's a stunning effect that hasn't yet been properly captured on film, i.e., the matadors are usually neglected as the camera focuses on the ballerina doing the 32 fouettes.

Since you mentioned Marta Filippova, this must be the Voronezh company (large city in south-central Russia). I read good things about her, competition winner and all that.

Violinconcerto mentioned an upcoming tour by Radchenko's Russian Classical Ballet Theater. I've had mixed results with them. Some good dancers but (to me) truly tacky production values, such as last year's Coppelia tour of the US. I'd probably rate a large-ish Russian State (public-funded) troupe like Voronezh (what cubanmiamiboy saw) above a tacky private enterprise, when we're talking about Russia. In other words: Buy ticket at your own risk!

#9 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 09:55 AM

Thanks, Cubanmiamiboy. I am so sorry that you and your mom went through this torture! You brought chuckles in your writing, though. (Better to laugh than to cry.)

The Jester comes from one of Gorsky's versions, I've heard.

Several Russian versions, most notably Bourmeister's edition for the Stanislavsky Theater (repeated in Paris, Milan & elsewhere), include the Spanish contingent in Odile's entourage. For example, during Odile's 32 fouettes in the coda of the pdd, the matadors are twirling their red capes in time to the music! It's a stunning effect that hasn't yet been properly captured on film, i.e., the matadors are usually neglected as the camera focuses on the ballerina doing the 32 fouettes.

Since you mentioned Marta Filippova, this must be the Voronezh company (large city in south-central Russia). I read good things about her, competition winner and all that.

Violinconcerto mentioned an upcoming tour by Radchenko's Russian Classical Ballet Theater. I've had mixed results with them. Some good dancers but (to me) truly tacky production values, such as last year's Coppelia tour of the US. I'd probably rate a large-ish Russian State (public-funded) troupe like Voronezh (what cubanmiamiboy saw) above a tacky private enterprise, when we're talking about Russia. In other words: Buy ticket at your own risk!



Yes, Natasha...this is indeed the Voronezh Company.

http://northrop.umn....-theatre-russia

#10 Drew

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 12:04 PM

Violinconcerto mentioned an upcoming tour by Radchenko's Russian Classical Ballet Theater. I've had mixed results with them. Some good dancers but (to me) truly tacky production values, such as last year's Coppelia tour of the US.


I believe I saw the Radchenko company in a mediocre (but not disastrous) Cinderella which had a few pleasant moments--I was bored but people who see no classical ballet would not have been damaged by the experience. (Choreography by Vasiliev though revised from what he had done earlier for Maximova--still I could not help thinking as I watched that with Maximova this would indeed have been very charming! I could see her doing the steps.)

I also saw a touring company with "Moscow" in the title a few years back (maybe another touring name of Radchenko's?) in Sleeping Beauty. The second half was hugely cut and awkward but the prologue and parts of the birthday scene were traditional and, to me, seemed well prepared (the dancers knew what it was supposed to look like) and that was quite worth the price of admission for me.

If I lived in New York--or Miami or Seattle etc.-- I probably would not have felt that way. But I don't. Of course, I'm fortunate, in that (for NOW) I can afford travel to New York and, occasionally, elsewhere to see quality ballet. But I am very limited in the range of what I see.

In the last few years, I 'introduced' someone to classical ballet (adult, male, very much likes classical music, good taste all round--but in terms of 'activities' mostly a serious jock and huge sports fan): my strict rule for our first dozen performances was only the BEST--meaning nothing we could see in Atlanta--with the somewhat hilarious result (to me hilarious) that now when he sees anything or anyone--even something or someone very, very, very good--his reactions are often some version of "she's no Cojocaru" or "it's no Sleeping Beauty grand pas de deux" -- Of course I have pointed out to him that even if everyone cannot run as fast as Usain Bolt, sports fans have still been known to enjoy the local high school track and field championships...Anyway, he is coming with me to the Voronezh Swan Lake and I will be interested to see his reaction.

#11 bart

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 12:18 PM

I .. saw a touring company with "Moscow" in the title a few years back (maybe another touring name of Radchenko's?) in Sleeping Beauty. The second half was hugely cut and awkward but the prologue and parts of the birthday scene were traditional and, to me, seemed well prepared (the dancers knew what it was supposed to look like) and that was quite worth the price of admission for me.

Perhaps you are thinking of the Moscow Classical Ballet. This is a legitimate company which toured a beautiful production of the Vainonen Nutcracker last winter. Unfortunately, it was lamentably danced.

I posted my impressions of the performance at the Kravis Center, which led to a discussion. One of the posts (though this might have been on another thread) mentioned that the company's first team was touring in Spain at the same time. What we had was a legitimate company, with a good production and with choreography that was the real thing -- but which was performed by what was VERY much a second team.

That thread is here:
http://balletalert.i...nutcracker-huh/

#12 Drew

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Posted 07 January 2011 - 01:16 PM


I .. saw a touring company with "Moscow" in the title a few years back (maybe another touring name of Radchenko's?) in Sleeping Beauty. The second half was hugely cut and awkward but the prologue and parts of the birthday scene were traditional and, to me, seemed well prepared (the dancers knew what it was supposed to look like) and that was quite worth the price of admission for me.

Perhaps you are thinking of the Moscow Classical Ballet. This is a legitimate company which toured a beautiful production of the Vainonen Nutcracker last winter. Unfortunately, it was lamentably danced.

I posted my impressions of the performance at the Kravis Center, which led to a discussion. One of the posts (though this might have been on another thread) mentioned that the company's first team was touring in Spain at the same time. What we had was a legitimate company, with a good production and with choreography that was the real thing -- but which was performed by what was VERY much a second team.

That thread is here:
http://balletalert.i...nutcracker-huh/


Thank you Bart--the thread was informative and rather entertaining (all over white body make-up in Swan Lake? hmmm...). I suppose if I hate this Voronezh performance as much as Cubanmiamiboy I, too, will give up on the touring companies for a while...

#13 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 06:07 AM

Here's another piece of this mis-matched puzzle:

The Russian National Ballet Theater -- performing in Kalamazoo MI, with a modern version of "Romeo and Juliet" and a classical version of "Les Sylphides."

The name "Radchenko" appears again, but this time:

The Russian National Ballet is directed by Elena Radchenko, a former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer.


Weren't we just talking about a Radchenko? Wasn't the name "Russian Classical Ballet Theater?" Wasn't the Radchenko a man?

Are there two Radchenkos?

Maybe we should draw up a little chart with all the names of the many companies touring the world that have "Russian," "Moscow," or "State" in their names, see what productions have been around, and figure this out!

#14 richard53dog

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 06:30 AM

Maybe we should draw up a little chart with all the names of the many companies touring the world that have "Russian," "Moscow," or "State" in their names, see what productions have been around, and figure this out!



We could end up with quite a mosaic there!

Over the weekend, I was looking at the NJ Ballet schedule , they are performing at a local college so I migrated towards looking at all the events which will be appearing at the college during the winter/spring.

And there i found a Sleeping Beauty, performed by the Moscow Festival Ballet. So this falls under Violinconcerto's criteria, we have an appearance of the keyword "Moscow".

I think I may stick with NJ Ballet, they are a bit more of a known quality to me with a more genuine energy if not having such a glamorous "cachet".

#15 Drew

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 09:37 PM

The performance of the State Ballet Theater of Russia in Atlanta has been canceled (weather related problems).

We have all had dreary experiences with touring companies, but I at least have also had a positive experience and I would not assume by any means that all of these companies give shoddy performances as a matter of course. For myself, I was quite curious to see the Voronezh production of Swan Lake (Soviet-isms and all which may bother me less than Cubanmiamiboy as long as I know to expect them).

(I also wonder if the rather low key ballerina entrance he described may be the company ballerinas' response to dancing in a different theater for every single performance--some with good floors, some with bad; some with good wing space, some with bad, etc. etc. It's only a guess on my part, but they may have decided discretion was the better part of valor.)


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