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A New Yorker at the Bolshoi BalletViewing "le style royale"


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#31 YID

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 09:41 AM

..This production makes me realize once again the genius of Balanchine, to peel away all this frou-frou and have his company class practice tendus. Stripping away all the ornateness to display the choreography and immaculate technique. He was a true original; he came from this Russian imperial tradition, he drew from it but discarded it....

Sorry, let me remind you that what's broadcasted is Mr. Grigorovich interpetation of the Sleeping Beauty. As Natalia mentioned, i wish we could have seen a true Petipa reconstruction (as Burlaka hoped to accomplish).
I'll try to see this ballet at Lehman college this Sunday

#32 Natalia

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 09:52 AM

... I also noticed the girl in yellow (chicken?) who glistened. ...


The character is the Fairy Canari...as in Canary bird. Not the Funky Chicken, sorry. :)

#33 Helene

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 10:49 AM

Zakharova's first Act tutu. Hers was a full blown crotch exposure situation. Her tutu was too short, too high on the waist, so her undies were fully exposed. That plus her over the top extensions, well, do the math. During the Rose Adagio every time she passed a suitor in the diagonal of arabesque penchees , the one left behind had her butt right on his nose.

I don't think you would have had the same impression had Cojocaru been wearing that tutu.

When the Bolshoi brought its Corsaire to the Kennedy Center ca 2009, then-AD Yuri Burlaka mentioned, during his 'backstage chat' event, that his future plans included the reconstruction of the original ca-1899 Bolshoi version of Sleeping Beauty (Gorsky-after-Petipa), for the reopening of the new Bolshoi Theater. Somewhere between 2009 and today, Beauty was taken out of Burlaka's hands and given to Grigorovich.

:wallbash:

YID and (I think) nysusan also attended that chat. I remember how thrilled YID and I were at the prospect of this Tsarist-era production being revived...then we got 'Grigorovich Rehashed and Cut' instead.

That is why I've been confused by comments about how long the ballet was. Peter Martins didn't use the scene before the Garland Dance with the four knitting girls -- ABT's current production does -- and I've only seen Russian productions with "Cinderella", but I always thought his felt so short because the tempi were taken at Eurostar speed, and not because he cut so much.

#34 Natalia

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 11:25 AM

Exactly, Helene. What we saw yesterday from the Bolshoi was one of the shortest, speediest Sleeping Beauties on records. The tempi were so fast at times that I could swear that Gergiev had taken over the batton! Of course, it was a combination of the tempi and the numerous (and often jarring) excisions that made the performance portions of the event clock-in at under 2 hrs. Act I began around 10:10 am, following the backstage intro chat, and ended at 11:05 am. After the 30-minute intermission, Act II began after 11:35 am and ended by 12:35 pm, followed by 10+ minutes of bows. I stayed for the bows and it was 12:45-12:50ish as I got up.

Perhaps the length of each act (1 hour) gave the impression that the entire ballet was long? This was not unusually long at all. If anything, it was short for a Sleeping Beauty.

Another thing: Perhaps it felt longer for American audiences because of the prolonged applause between each segment of the Bluebird & Grand pdd's? However, by Russian standards, the bows between segments were not 'milked' as long as usual. There must have been someone in the wings screaming "Keep moving! Keep moving!"

#35 EricHG31

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 06:28 PM


This production makes me realize once again the genius of Balanchine, to peel away all this frou-frou...

I had the same thought. I enjoyed the performance thoroughly, but when I thought about bringing friends, I couldn't help but feel that ballet -- this ballet, anyway -- is an acquired taste. I kept thinking about the Mariinsky Jewels. It strikes me as more immediately appealing to the modern eye, and if I were bringing non-ballet friends, it would be Balanchine all the way.


I admit, this viewpoint is almost the opposite of mine, so it's fascinating to read. I love Balenchine, but I love the old Imperial ballets for different reasons and I've always considered them (the extreme length of many of them to modern audiences aside), as *more* accessible to someone who doesn't know ballet than the more abstract works. I will also admit that recently I've had a friend, with no dance background except for a little Broadway style stuff, into seeing ballets with me, and at first she couldn't get over the mime--even the little bit of mime that we saw (in the San Franscisco Ballet's Giselle). I had almost forgotten how it's a technique one does need some background in, the same way that when I was being educated about classical opera I found the formal stylist elements (long recitative for plot, then often even longer arias that often express one thought over and over) initially alienating.

That said, I thought for such a complete Beauty it went by AWFULLY fast, which is why I suppose I am so surprised by any complaints of length--I can't imagine ever being satisied with the NYCB production, which admittedly I've never seen.

I saw the local cinema showing of Sleeping Beauty here in Victoria, BC, where it was time delayed to 1pm. The theatre was surprisingly full, more so than for any past ballet I've managed to see there, and everyone seemed to be really into it--particularly by the Rose Adagio.

I really don't have many thoughts to add to the great discussion already. Sleeping Beauty is my favorite ballet, and I'm someone who can't get enough of it, so while I get the complaints about length, for me I was even disappointed that they didn't include the charming Hop O' My Thumb wedding divertissement with the kids. I expected this, as the Grigorovich production has never included it to my knowledge--the only place that I know for sure does is the Mariinsky both in their 1890 "New/Old" reconstruction and in the currently performed 1950s K Sergeyev staging. That Sergeyev staging drops the Cinderella divertissement, which the Bolshoi does do, so I guess it's rare to get a more or less complete version.

I admit, I've never seen David Hallberg dance before, except in a few youtube clips, and I *really* enjoyed him in the role. It made me grateful for Grigorovich's amped up male choreography. I'm always on the fence with La Zakharova--I'll echo the thoughts that her over-extensions were distracting, but I thought she really came into hte part for the Vision scene and the final act. Overall I thought the dancing was splending, although I was hoping Grigorovich would have added back some of the mime he removed earlier when Soviet ballet was much more "anti-mime".

I thought Carabosse and Lilac were both fine, if slightly unexceptional. I know that Grigorovich, in an old 1980s Soviet book I have (in awkward English) about his previous production goes on at huge length about the importance of juxtaposing their two roles to the entire ballet, and I didn't really get that sense this time.

I need to compare it to the DVD of the previous Bolshoi production, which I haven't watched in some time, but staging/choreography wise I think it was basically the same. I admit to being mixed on the designs--I think Virsaladze's designs for the previous version look dated and too abstract for such a classical ballet (I prefer his earlier designs still used at the Mariinsky), but I do admit I missed his use of colour. The deep violet's of Act I, the browns of the wood scene, all seem to go with the musiuc more--I found the settings here often gorgeous but a little flat and "same"--and no real sense of the shift in eras (which no production ahs done better, I feel, than the original). I was also disappointed by the Panorama, but I remember finding it disappointing in the previous Bolshoi production as well. And I share nearly everyone's belief that the floor design was too distracting, even if I appreciated them adding that element.

Anyway I was thrilled to see it, and found it to be largely beautifully filmed. The production isn't perfect, but as people on here probably know by now my idea of a near perfect Beauty is the Mariinsky reconstruction--so...

Oh, and I thought the orchestra sounded stunning in the theatre--and was also pleased to see the Bolshoi looking so incredible.

#36 EricHG31

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Posted 21 November 2011 - 06:35 PM

Natalia--I remember reading that they planned on reconstructing the Gorsky Beauty as well. I had forgotten about that, but how fascinating it would have been to see! (Speaking of cuts, the current Sergeyeev/Mariisnky version dropes the Knitting scene in Act I as well, doesn't it?)

I think Helene brought up a fair point about N American audiences not used to how long the bows for major dances can sometimes be in Russian performances, but as she said, this was much less excessive than usual.

Again, from Grigorovich's book about his previous version (I have a similar book in the same series about his Raymonda--I'm not sure how many were done in total), he mentions wanting to make ALL of the mime "danced"--something Sergeyeev did to a slightly lesser degree at the Kirov, and I admit I missed it, especially after seeing performances of the reconstruction, or even the current Royal Ballet production which seems to have more mime. It just always seems so obvious to me in the music what was intended as mime and what as dance, and it throws the balance off.

Forgot to mention--while I was iffy on the sets, I found the costumes, mostly, *gorgeous*.

#37 Natalia

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 04:31 AM

Last night, I watched my DVDs of the previous Frigerio-designed Beauties (POB 1997/98 commercial disc with Dupont/Legris and La Scala 2002 telecast with Vishneva/Bolle, both of the very different Nureyev staging & choreography). I compared these with my memories of Sunday's screening & still photos of the new Bolshoi version.

Sets - Very, very similar in concept and style but with a few marked differences. All 3 productions are baroque-rococco-ish 'indoor-outdoor spaces.' The Bolshoi's is closer to the POB version, in that both of those settings are more 'outdoor' than 'indoor.' The POB's set changes more between scenes; Bolshoi's is basically the same backdrop, with changes of light and/or a different piece of furniture in the middle (cradle, then bed, then dais with thrones). Also, the POB had a greater variety of 'wings,' such as trees for the Forest-Vision scene. Bolshoi's wings seem to be those curly-baroque colums, all the time. La Scala, while similar in concept, is more of an indoor room, with 'walls' & windows on the sides and huge ornate doors on the sides of the backdrop. At La Scala, only bits of the 'outdoors' can be seen in the center-back (in between the big doors). For the smaller 'interlude scenes,' there is a golden gate with a black background in all 3 productions...but the Bolshoi's is the darkest and least ornate. Only the Bolshoi has a darn patterned floor; the POB and Scala's floors are completely clear (hence, less headache-inducing).

Costumes - similar in ornateness & basic-glitz style, always with cute feathered headgear, but actually quite different. In the case of the costumes, the POB and La Scala are the most similar, as the Nureyev version employs different characters, numbers of corps & soloists, etc. POB and Scala's Nereids, for example, wear romantic-length tutus, whereas the Bolshoi's ladies wear the short classical style. Nureyev had a female Carabosse; Grigorovich a male en travestie. Nureyev had a Lilac Fairy 'mime artist' in long gown and heels throughout the work; Bolshoi has a dancer in pointes and classical tutu. Only in the Bolshoi do the we see long poles with candelabri at the ends...custom-ordered by Grigorovich, no doubt! Posted Image

In sum - The basic concept of the Frigerios' design is the same -- a highly-ornate baroque-rococco world, set in an indoor-outdoor space with gilded architectural elements.

The best? Honestly, my head is spinning after seeing so much gilt rococco...I would give the nod to the somewhat 'airier' POB. Worst is definitely the Bolshoi's due to the patterned floor covering AND those awful curvy-columned wings constantly in place. The Bolshoi may have been the 3rd Frigerio design; three was not the charm, I'm afraid.

My wish? That if 'Team Frigerio' is ever asked again to design a Sleeping Beauty, it develops something completely original, rather than tweaking the 1997 POB edition. [size=2]Team Frigerio is the 21st-C equivalent to Georgiadis, who designed nearly-identical Sleeping Beauties for various companies in the 1960s/70s/80s.[/size]

#38 Birdsall

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 06:02 AM

My wish? That if 'Team Frigerio' is ever asked again to design a Sleeping Beauty, it develops something completely original, rather than tweaking the 1997 POB edition.



Totally agree with this!!! If I ran the Bolshoi I would feel robbed! It is like they plundered the Paris production and tried to make it work for the Bolshoi, when the Bolshoi deserves a production all its own created completely new and specifically for the re-opening. It is like the design team went on auto-pilot and did not want to think too hard.
I suppose it could be worse. The new Sleeping Beauty could have been some weird concept production. I am enjoying how ballet seems to be fairly immune (knock on wood) to wild, crazy productions. The opera world has lost its mind. I do enjoy some crazy productions that make me think, but things have gone too far in that direction in opera. Ballet seems to be much more traditional (as far as sets go). I'm glad. Hope that continues. I don't want a Sleeping Beauty where Aurora makes her entrance in a 60s mini-dress and the Prince is a hippie!!! LOL

#39 Helene

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 08:47 AM

Given the rush to get the theater done, and that the punch list isn't finished, it's not clear what was changed to get the opening back on track. I'm willing to give the set designer the benefit of the doubt on this one: the specs might not have been clear and they, and the choreographer's requirements, might have been changing as the set was being designed, and getting very fancy with set changes and using all the bells and whistles would have been risky. Frigerio may have been trying to balance the required opulence with a more of a moving target than usual.

I'm not sure what the dimensions of the Bolshoi Theater are, but the Bastille is an enormous stage. I saw "Raymonda Act III" (Nureyev version) there a few years ago, and it looked like the guests hadn't show up yet, despite the number of dancers on stage. (Melancholic in "4T's" looked like he was swimming in the ocean.)

#40 puppytreats

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 09:01 AM

Did I see things? I though Nic. Tsis.'s name was listed in the opening credits. If so, what was his role?

I don't understand how a pancake style tutu can truly be too short or give more coverage, even if placed lower on the hips. Were you saying that a different style of tutu would be more appropriate?

#41 Natalia

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 09:24 AM

Tsiskaridze is one of the company coaches. It could very well be that one of the male soloists in the Sunday performance is his charge. [size=4]Hallberg is coached by Alexander Vetrov & Ovcharenko by Nikolai Fedeyechev, so it would be somone else.[/size]

#42 Helene

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 09:33 AM

i just realized that I hadn't mentioned Hallberg at all. I thought his dancing and demeanor just beautiful to watch, and it made me kvell. I loved how after the curtain calls, when the dancers were posing for cell phone pictures behind the curtain, he made a Charles Atlas pose.

#43 Natalia

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:32 AM

[size=5] Did anyone else notice Zakharova's coach, the great 'prima' Ludmilla Semenyaka, snapping shots of Zakharova with her cellphone? Precious![/size]

#44 Helene

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:38 AM

I didn't realize that was she -- then it was for Semenyaka that Hallberg did his Charles Atlas pose?

#45 Natalia

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:52 AM

It must have been Hallberg posing for the cameras but I did not see him. I saw only Semenyaka -- one of my favorite ballerinas of all time -- photographing Zakharova backstage, after the bows.


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