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Radchenko Troupes of Moscow (RNBT, MFB, etc.)reports on various incarnations, tour performances


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 03:47 AM

Sergei and Elena Radchenko, both former dancers (soloists) with the Bolshoi in the '70s, now head several Moscow-based private troupes that tour around the world under various names. They appear to tour the USA every spring, usually alternating the names Russian National Ballet Theater (at present - 2011) and Moscow Festival Ballet (last year, 2010, and next spring 2012). Both of these troupes are of a good size - varying from 40 to 60 dancers. They also have toured smaller ensembles (20 or less dancers) under the title "Stars of the Bolshoi," "Stars of Moscow and St Petersburg," or similar. The soloists are almost always the same regardless of name of venture. They perform to taped music. As Ballet Master Alexander Daev explained at a 4/10/2011 pre-performance talk before the RNBT's 'Swan Lake' in Fairfax, VA, they exist to perform only classical ballets "not modern, because so many modern ballets are performed on tours and in Moscow, and our audiences prefer to see colorful sets and costumes, and see purely classical dancing."

All of the Radchenko troupes are represented by Columbia Artists Mgmt, Inc. (CAMI): http://www.cami.com/?webid=418

Later today, I will post my report of the RNBT's Swan Lake in Fairfax, VA. For now, I wanted to open a thread for the various Radchenko company names and 'copy' my own reports of the various ventures (e.g., last year's Coppelia by MFB and this year's "Stars of the Bolshoi")...because this is what it is - basically one company touring the US year after year with various names, taking live classical ballet to all corners of the country. They have quite a following in the hinterland, much like, I suspect, the Tachkine St. Petersburg Ballet Theater has in the UK, South Africa, and other places where they regularly tour.

If the Admins know of an earlier centralized thread for the various Radchenko troupes, please let me know its location and we can close this one. For now, I could not find a centralized locale for the many existing reports on the various Radchenko ventures. This troupe is around and will be around for a long time to come, touring across the USA and elsewhere, for years to come, it seems. They deserve their own thread (and folks should know that it's basically the same troupe).

#2 Natalia

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 05:42 AM

originally posted March 10, 2011 on its own; Admins, feel free to close the 'stand-alone' thread for this performance, if you wish

"Stars of the Bolshoi" (should honestly be titled "Two Bolshoi Corps Members and Friends")
March 9, 2011
Robert E. Parilla Center for the Arts - Montgomery Country Comm. College
Rockville, MD

Mystery solved! This is indeed a 'gala excerpts' spin-off (about 20 dancers) of Yelena Radchenko's Russian National Ballet Troupe (40 dancers) which, in turn, is a spin-off of her husband, Sergei Radchenko's, Moscow Festival Ballet (60 dancers). How do I know? Not by the paltry playbill which gave few details about this group and didn't even mention Radchenko or CAMI, their tour managers...but because a VERY loud-clapping Russian lady sat next to us, near the back of the theater. She was, in essence, acting as a clacque, getting the applause started to cue the rest of the audience. When I asked, "Why are you applauding so loudly (almost busting my eardrums)?", she answered, "I am Yelena Radchenko, director of company."

So this was a small version of the larger Russian National Ballet that is touring bigger U.S. university campuses, including, in mid-April, the DC-area's George Mason University.

So who exactly are these so-called "Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet"? A bit of a misnomer...if not downright False Advertisement. There were two (count 'em, two) Bolshoi artists on the stage last night, as per the real Bolshoi's website, and they were, by far, the very finest dancers on the stage:

Maria Mishina, a 20-yr-old Bolshoi corps member http://www.bolshoi.r...roupe/cdballet/
and
Alexander Smolianikov, about 27/28, a very strong corps member.

Mishina/Smolianikov's Le Corsaire pdd -- marked in the playbill as danced by two other Bolshoi "stars" who did not show up, Joo Yun Bae and Andrei Bolotin -- was the undisputed highlight, although she was a bit lackadaisical in her finishes, seemingly tired or didn't care. He, on the other hand, gave 101% of himself, garnering the loudest bravos of the night, by a mile. One would think that Ms Radchenko would have taken the microphone to let everybody in the audience know just who were the dancers of this pas de deux, which garnered the loudest accolades of the night? So we were made to believe that this European lady was "Joo Yun Bae" of Korea? Uh, OK...if they say so.

Mishina/Smolianikov were also listed in the programme as performing the Diana & Acteon pas de deux from Esmeralda...but, instead, we got only the solos, first his (fantastic!), then hers (heavily cheated, single pirouetttes when normally doubles occur...steps normally performed on pointe done on demi or flat feet). Maybe she thought that the audience doesn't know the difference? Uh, not in the DC area, missy.

It went way downhill from there, alas. Some of the corps ladies reminded me of the Trocks...except that these were female, I believe.

While a backstage announcer told us that a modern work listed in the first half of the program would be replaced by Black Swan pdd (prompting applause from the audience), nobody announced that the Sylphide PDD in the 2nd half would be dropped, with nothing replacing it. No announcements were made about the non-appearance of two out of four originally-announced Bolshoi dancers, or of the switches.

The unexpected comical highlight was the tall and lanky gent who 'starred' in the final work of the night, Nutcracker Valse and Pas de Deux. He may have landed all of his jumps like a truck driver and not finished his pirouettes...but he sure was enjoying himself, with the "Ahhhh! Smile" and "Tah-Dah! Pose" down pat. My husband & I almost had heart attacks trying to stifle our laughter so that Mme Radchenko would not hit us, as she sat next to my husband throughout the night.

I believe that this is the same group that our Chiapuris reviewed in January 2010 from Detroit, as many of the names and excerpts -- such as 'Ocean and Pearls Pas de Trois' from Humpbacked Horse -- are the same. He was far more diplomatic than I could ever be. http://balletalert.i...ballet-theatre/

#3 Mashinka

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 06:05 AM

They have quite a following in the hinterland, much like, I suspect, the Tachkine St. Petersburg Ballet Theater has in the UK, South Africa, and other places where they regularly tour

.

Tachkin's company is a bit of an exception to the mediocre rule as they tour with an orchestra and appear at venues like the London Coliseum and the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris, but the UK is plagued by tacky touring groups such as the Siberian Ballet and Moscow La Classique to name but the two I've seen this year, though to be fair the former company had a decent orchestra and an acceptable leading couple whereas La Classique's Coppelia featured a Swanilda who found performing just too much trouble and never even attempted the fish dive at the end of the pas de deux. I question the value of these companies in the long run, my first sight of ballet as a child was in a provincial theatre seeing the likes of Alicia Markova but if I had first seen either of the companies I've just mentioned I'm pretty sure I would have been put off ballet for life.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 06:29 AM

SWAN LAKE
Russian National Ballet Theater (RNBT) of Elena Radchenko
April 10, 2011
George Mason University Center for the Arts
Fairfax, VA

The RNBT troupe and its sister company, Moscow Festival Ballet, collectively are annual visitors to various theaters in the Washington, DC, area. They've already danced in Rockville, MD, and Fairfax, VA, this spring and will perform their Sleeping Beauty in the 1,200-seat Hylton Center of Manassas, VA, next week (which has been Sold Out for some time).

This year's stop to Fairfax, VA, included two different ballet evenings, Chopiniana (not advertised at all!) with Ms. Radchenko's Romeo & Juliet on April 9 and Swan Lake yesterday at 4pm. I attended the latter. Considering my big disappointment in the earlier 'Stars of the Bolshoi' stop in Rockville, I was quite pleasantly surprised with their complete Swan Lake yesterday.

It was a pleasant, sometimes wonderful, performance. The usual four acts are compressed into two here, with one intermission after the first lakeside scene (usually Act II). The Tchaikovsky score is canned but it is a good-quality tape. The costumes are beautiful and tasteful -- very similar to the designs of the Bolshoi Grigorovich version -- while the sets, while a bit flimsy-looking, are serviceable and very pretty. The troupe numbers about 40, with the corps doing double or triple duty, e.g., the end of the Act I Valse des Coupes is danced only by 8 or 10 corps men plus solo men, as the ladies rush off to change into their swan tutus.

As the troupe's ballet master and character soloist, Alexander Daev, explained in a pre-performance chat, the corps and many soloists are recruited from academies of the opera houses of former USSR republics, particularly from Almaty, Kazakhstan. What's more, most (all?) of yesterday's male soloists are from Kazakhstan.

Odette/Odile was danced by the young Muscovite dancer, Ekaterina Egorova. A slender, medium-height brunette with elegant proportions and no affectations, she was most effective in the lyrical swan scenes. Her Black Swan, Odile, was perhaps too shy and gentle, but she performed the 32 fouettes (all singles except one double at the end) and other well-known steps beautifully. Her Black solo was the Bolshoi Grigorovich edition.

Alas, we did not see Egorova's White Swan solo. The main problem with this entire production -- yesterday's big disappointment -- is that the crucial first lakeside act was missing three important components; not only was the audience cheated of seeing the White Swan's solo but there was no Waltz of the Swans and the Dance of the Big Swans. So the Entree of the Swan Corps was immediately followed by White Swan Pas de Deux, followed by Cygnets, then followed by the Coda. (Huh???!!!) Zipedeedoodah!

Prince Siegfried was tall Kazakh danseur Ruslan Mukhambetkaliev, displaying a wonderful long line and soaring leaps. His downfall comes in performing arabesques and other poses requiring flexibility. On the positive side, he was very much in character and not at all constantly smiling and silly-looking as I reported last month in the 'Stars of the Bolshoi' show at Rockville. His solo in the Black pdd was danced to the Balanchine 'Tchaikovsky pdd' music (originally composed for Swan Lake)....and, to my eyes, appeared to be the Balahchine choreography...certainly two of the three (1st and 3rd) main enchainements appeared to be Mr. B's. Hmmm. Then again, is there any one choreography for this solo?

The Von Rothbart in this production dances a lot...in fact, it appears to be 100% the Grigorovich choreography. Hmmmm again. It was very well danced by Samat Abdrakhmanov.

The Pas de Trois in Act I gave us a wonderful male soloist (Marlen Alimanov) dancing the traditional Petipa solo....and two rather weak females (Maria Klyueva and Ekaterina Pankovskaya) dancing totally new, watered-down choreography. In fact, one of the female solos was almost taken over by the Jester -- more on him soon -- performing extraordinary double-tours as he following the boureeing girl....so all eyes were on Jester and not on the weak female.

I've saved the best for last: the Jester. THE star of the show for many in the audience: Didar Sarsembaev [size="3"][/size] of Kazakhstan, a man who can jump his own height and possesses electrifying charisma. The audience went wild with applause and bravos for him after every solo -- and he had MANY, even taking over the Neapolitan dance in the ballroom -- and, at the end of the show, the sold-out audience of about 2,000 (it's a huge theater) instantly rose to accord the Jester a standing ovation. [I was so disappointed at last month's 'Stars of Bolshoi' show that I failed to mention that his one little solo turn at that time, the 'Gopak' from Taras Bulba, had brought down the house and he had to repeat it. Now I remember that the great Taras Bulba dancer is the same jester of last night. Bravo to him!]

The smallish corps (about 16 swan maidens, including Cygnets) was well rehearsed and in synch. Lovely arm movements from all.

I recommend catching this troupe if they come to your neck of the woods, particularly in the 'safe' Petipa classics...even if some important parts may be cut. Sarsembaev is reason #1 to see this company/companies. This weekend in which I saw 3 troupes performing in 2 days, Sarsembaev was to RNBT/Swan Lake what Brooklyn Mack was to WB/Corsaire and Ashley Bouder was to NYCB/Square Dance: The Three Gems! :clapping: :clapping: :clapping:

#5 Natalia

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 08:56 AM

As I continue to compile Radchenki reviews, I found several entries, in backward-chronological order.

From the current season (2011) comes this 'classic' report by Emilienne of the Chopiniana/Romeo & Juliet program, last January:

http://balletalert.i...388#entry281388

...and Emilenne's take on Cinderella, also January 2011:

http://balletalert.i...__1#entry280800

Chiapuris' report of their "Stars" mixed bill in 2010:
http://balletalert.i...ballet-theatre/

From 2007: Buddy and Artist101 wrote this about their Sleeping Beauty & Cinderella:
http://balletalert.i...__1#entry196627


From 2004, a set of comments from several BalletAlerters who first saw them then:
http://balletalert.i...__1#entry131187

From 2003, when one of the Radchenko companies had a different name ("Russian National Ballet"):
http://balletalert.i...__1#entry109959

From 2001: http://balletalert.i...h__1#entry13095

#6 Natalia

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 10:06 AM

....the UK is plagued by tacky touring groups such as the Siberian Ballet and Moscow La Classique to name but the two I've seen this year, ....



Sorry that I didn't acknowledge this earlier, Mashinka. For sure, the Tachkine troupe (SPBT starring Irina Kolesnikova) is a cut above the other Russian companies that exist mostly to tour. The full Radcheko groups aren't quite as good but definitely better than the others that you name or the group that Cubanmiamiboy saw in Miami earlier this year ("Russian State Ballet").

St. Petersburg State Ballet Theater WAS on the road to becoming tacky (the infamous Romeo & Juliet by Yuri Petukhov with 'Queen Mab' comes to mind) but recently has undergone some changes to turn it around. For ex., they acquired Andrian Fadeev as A.D. in place of Petukhov (though Petukhov apparently is refusing to leave & making a big stink, as per Russian newspapers http://www.fontanka.ru/2011/03/31/115/ ) and changed their name to Jacobssen Ballet of St. Peterburg, to pay tribute to its most famous director of the past, Leonid Jacobssen, as well as to distinguish it from the Tachkine St-P Ballet Theater.

#7 bart

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 08:36 AM

Many thanks, natalia, for your investigative reporting. AND for your review of the Swan Lake.

There are so many different titles for so many different Russian ballet companies touring the U.S. and the rest of the world. As one who lives in an area where a couple of these troupes make annual stops, usually with one of the safer of the Top Five classics, I've been puzzled by

(a) the vast unevenness from company to company,
(b) significant unevenness even WITHIN a single performance by a single company, and
© the near impossibility of finding detailed reliablel information about these "companies."

Some serve a useful purpose, as your experience with the "Russian National Ballet Theater" performance shows. Others give classical ballet a bad name.

Maybe we need a kind of Consumer Report forum on Ballet Alert to help each other out. If so, you've given us a fantastic start.

#8 Natalia

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 01:01 PM

Thanks, bart. I wish that there would be a way to get to the bottom of this. I think that the companies that are presented by the more reliable, long-standing producers, like CAMI, are usually safe. [The crazy "Stars of the Bolshoi" in Rockville, MD, was not presented by CAMI, even though it was within the orbit of the Radchenki. CAMI may not have even known about this offshot; if they did, they would have instructed the Radchenki in the legalities of false advertising.]

Even so, it's odd that the "Radchenki" and most of the other Russian private touring groups don't have their very own websites. Some do, such as SPBT (Tachkine/Irina Kolesnikova's) and the Jacobssen, with wonderful photos and bios of all soloists and names of corps. It's sad that most, like the Radchenki, do not have their own webs because I'm sure that the dancers would love for the public to know more about them, e.g., photos and bios. I'd love to know the story of this amazing Jester from Kazakhstan (Didar), for example. All I know is that he "recently graduated from the National Ballet Academy of Kazakhstan in Almaty." [This is his first season with the tour. They had another regular Jester intil 2009/10]

What's more, many of these companies do not even bother to let the public know exactly WHO is dancing on a given night. Just read Chiapuris' report on the "Stars" gala in Michigan last year, e.g., "I believe that I saw either Mr.xxxxx or Mr. xxxxxxx in the role." They simply hand-out the same playbills (programs) at all stops! There are multiple names for most leading roles and rarely will there be an announcement or a slip of paper letting the audience know exactly who is dancing that night. Wanna know why I can name the soloists for the Swan Lake? Because I asked the question to the ballet master, Mr. Daev, during the pre-performance Q&A! He actually seemed a little perturbed that I asked but then he gave us the names of the Odette/Odile, Siegfried, Von Rothbart and the Jester. So he gave the names and told us that all of the men were from Kazakhstan. Then a fellow-audience member blurted out "Where is Egorova (the O/O) from?" Daev looked puzzled and asked "You want to know? She is from Moscow."

Yes, we want to know. (grrrrr....)

Maybe the Radchenki are afraid of emphasizing the names & histories of the dancers for fear that they'll become too famous and ask for a raise? I really don't get it. I hate to see wonderful individual dancers not get their fair share of the spotlight.

#9 Mashinka

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 01:48 AM

I think you are opening a real can of worms here Natalia, Iíve only braved two touring Russian ballet troupes this year, but over in the UK the experience is identical to yours with glossy brochures (a good money spinner) offering no real chance of identifying exactly who you saw dance. Of the two companies I saw recently, one had a good leading couple and one or two competent soloists and the other had a good male dancer; both had a very adequate female corps de ballet but rather poor male dancers. Interestingly one of those companies had been performing in Italy earlier and some friends of mine; both experienced ballet goers, were hugely enthusiastic about what they saw there but were very disappointed by the UK leg of their tour. Clearly there was a turn around in personnel with a low rent team sent on to Britain.

Some of the impresarios involved in these tours are nothing more than pirates forcing dancers to criss-cross the country on coaches dancing one night stands for months on end, staying in basic hotels with barely a day off and not even paying the air fare home sending them back and forth to Russia by coach instead of by air: no wonder standards slip. Some people are making a lot of money out of this.

Going off topic a little, itís surprising just how many excellent dancers hail from Kazakhstan, watch out for the dancers from the Nureyev School in Ufa too as the graduates there are of a consistently high standard. Perm is also a hot spot of teaching excellence.

#10 Natalia

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 06:04 AM

I think you are opening a real can of worms here Natalia, .....


...itís surprising just how many excellent dancers hail from Kazakhstan, watch out for the dancers from the Nureyev School in Ufa too as the graduates there are of a consistently high standard. Perm is also a hot spot of teaching excellence.



I'd better weld the can shut!

Beyond StP and Moscow, I knew about Perm & Ufa and, to a lesser degree, the Novossibirk academy's excellence. I had no idea that Almaty, Kazakhstan, was such a 'hothouse' for male dancing excellence! Of course, we all know that Assylmuratova hails from there.

#11 puppytreats

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 06:47 AM


I think you are opening a real can of worms here Natalia, .....


...itís surprising just how many excellent dancers hail from Kazakhstan, watch out for the dancers from the Nureyev School in Ufa too as the graduates there are of a consistently high standard. Perm is also a hot spot of teaching excellence.



I'd better weld the can shut!

Beyond StP and Moscow, I knew about Perm & Ufa and, to a lesser degree, the Novossibirk academy's excellence. I had no idea that Almaty, Kazakhstan, was such a 'hothouse' for male dancing excellence! Of course, we all know that Assylmuratova hails from there.


Borat starring in the remake of "Black Swan" instead of Natalie Portman....that is quite a thought to ponder, Natalia.

#12 emilienne

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 09:49 AM

Despite my campaign efforts, Krannert Center in Champaign-Urbana is again hosting the Moscow Festival Ballet, directed by Sergei Radchenko, in both Swan Lake and the Sleeping Beauty. :dry:

The prospect of 'enjoying' this company ad infinitum in the future has become a driving force in finishing my dissertation and escaping the area. I wish I were kidding.


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