Ceeszi

Diana Vishneva - Dialogues

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I have not been to the ballet since November, when I saw Nina Ananiashvili at Lincoln Center. I bought tickets to Dialogues a few months ago. I had tickets for Saturday night - March 17th at 8:00 pm and I had front row seats at City Center.

For some reason, Saturday night's performance was CANCELLED. Now part of this was my fault, because I had not checked my e-mails in a few days (City Center told me they sent me an e-mail). But, I went downtown and I knew something was up when I saw no one outside of City Center.

Never in my life have I bought a ticket to something (play, ballet, concert) and it has been cancelled. Someone in the lobby (another disappointed fan) said that the ticket sales were not good and the management decided to cancel rather than have Diana play to a half-empty house.

I know I'm venting, but it was a combination of driving down to the city, having front row seats, disappointing my friend (it was a Christmas present for the friend I was with) and just really looking forward to this for months - I was gutted.

Did anyone see this show on either the 16th or the 18th? I would like to know what I missed.

Signed - a very disappointed Diana fan!! mad.gif

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I noticed that very cheap tickets to this program were on sale for the last few weeks on the Theatre Development Fund site (the people who run the 1/2 price ticket booth: http://www.tdf.org/). Even with that bargain, they couldn't get a decent audience!

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I'm sorry it was cancelled, Ceeszi, after you went all the way in to see it.

I have a similar story: I was working in Ireland in 2000 and had a pre-paid cell phone there that only worked in Ireland. On my way back to the US, I spent a weekend with a friend in Barcelona, and decided instead of connecting directly through Copenhagen to stay in Copenhagen the night before and to see the Royal Danish Ballet on February 29th.

I bought a ticket online and entered my Ireland phone number, and between the Friday I left Ireland and the next Tuesday, the box office left a message on my no-longer-working phone to tell me the performance was cancelled. I remember walking almost an hour from the hotel to the theater, only to have the very nice box office person tell me what had happened.

I then went back to the hotel and watched three different episodes of "Ally McBeal", which I had never seen before: one with Danish subtitles, one with Swedish subtitles, and one with Norwegian subtitles!

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I have had many cancellations over the years, but mainly with star singers canceling (Ceclia Bartoli, Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Mirella Freni, etc). Most of the time I got enough warning, but it is a big disappointment when you've looked forward to it. It does seem to be more rare to have the entire show cancelled though. Usually they will bring in someone else to substitute and in most of the cases I've experienced it is often a star of equal or almost equal status, but in your case this show was all about Diana Vishneva (her show), so putting someone else on stage in a totally different show would not have worked. Hope you can get your money back!!!

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Very sorry for your experience, Ceeszi. Bummer. (My only similar experience involved cancellations of POB ballets in Paris due to strikes.)

Well, there we have it. Another Ardani project - one performance only? - bites the dust (along with recently-cancelled Mikhailovsky-Nacho Duato Lincoln Center summer 2012 season). I, too, saw last week's email 'blitz' offering deeply-discounted tix. Not a good sign. Hopefully not all performances were cancelled.

Maybe if Diana Vishneva and Ardani Artists would realize early-on that the majority of the American ballet-going public chooses not to spend it's hard-earned money on barefooted vanity projects, it wouldn't have to make cancellations. Vishneva in tutu, pointes & tiara, dancing an evening of Petipa excerpts staged by Vikharev or Burlaka, with a corps de ballet and other fine classical soloists? Many of us would be on a plane or train in a NY Minute. Mikhailovsky Ballet in the reconstruction of LAURENCIA instead of Nacho Duato works? We would have lined up for that, too.

Stupid, stupid planning.

p.s. - 'Dialogues' remains on the schedule for the upcoming Mariinsky "Festival." No further comment.

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I'm ITA with you Natalia. Ceeszi, that's a horrible ordeal to go through. Everyone lost here:

  1. The audience: Will patrons get their refund? That remains to be seen.
  2. Ardani Artists & its reputation
  3. Diana Vishneva

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I absolutely agree with Natalia. I (and I do that often) go to SEVERAL performances of Petipa ballets (the one coming being Toronto Swan Lake by Bolshoi), and i only went once to Dialogues, and NO desire to see it again. We lucked out (sort of), the Cancelled Saturday allowed me to buy tickets for Friday with 20% discount from Fall for Dance booklet. About the performance, I give a lot of credit to Diana for trying to "dance" outside of the box, I admire her as an artist. Do I care to see someone staging "insanity" - nope. And (imho) in Martha Graham piece, i felt as if a "golden" fork was used to mulch the hard soil. Diana's body and technique were too refined and too pure to be contained within rigid (no offense) style of MG that does not require 8 years of Vaganova rigorous training. During all the pieces, I admired the artists, and their bodies, and could not care less about "choreography" (in my humble opinion of Petipa crazy). With regard to Ardani company, i find them TOO greedy with too high prices for all of their 3 engagements at City Center.

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Some of the problem had to do with injuries to her dancing partner, which required a shift from a Neumeier ballet to one by Mario Bigonzetti. Here is Alistair Macalay's take on that:

A central problem here, however, is that following an injury to Ms. Vishneva’s co-dancer Thiago Bordin the centerpiece of the program, John Neumeier’s “Dialogue,” had to be replaced by the Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti’s “Vertigo.” Mr. Bigonzetti not only recycles movement within this duet — part of which is a reworking of the one in his 1996 “Kazimir’s Colors,” danced in 2008 by Pennsylvania Ballet — but also recycles shticks from other ballets of his own. (Several Bigonzetti works are danced by American companies.)

Question: when a great ballet dancer nowadays wants to dance other kinds choreography (as Nureyev and Baryshnikov did a generation ago), what are their realistic options?

If they just assume that their name will bring big audiences to big venues, they may be wrong -- as is apparently the case here.

Vishneva clearly wants to express herself in other kinds of dancing, and feels she has something to say in a different kind of repertory. It worked in 2008. I admire her for choosing Graham in 2012. Is there a better route that she could have chosen to reach out to NYC audiences this time around. Perhaps working with an established modern company as a guest? Inviting well-known modern dancers to join her? Choosing a smaller theater?

Russian Ballerina Beyond the Ballet Domain

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Peter Boal created a company for himself while he was still dancing, and he presented in small venues as far as I know. There are very few dancers that can pull of experimental or vanity projects in large venues and sell huge amount of tickets. I'm not even sure White Oak Project with Baryshnikov -- and with dancers like Mark Morris and Rob Besserer on the same program -- booked huge venues.

I think it's a matter of pricing and venue: audiences might be happy to Vishneva in non-ballet rep if it were at a small venue for reasonable prices.

No matter how you slice it, ballerinas, maybe with the exception of Guillem, have it much harder than men: you get five great male dancers to take their shirts off and do aerobics dance , and there might be snickers and complaints about how vapid the rep is, but people still buy tickets to it, and I don't think events like "Kings of the Dance" are meant to be great exhibits of artistic expression.

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Peter Boal created a company for himself while he was still dancing, and he presented in small venues as far as I know. There are very few dancers that can pull of experimental or vanity projects in large venues and sell huge amount of tickets. I'm not even sure White Oak Project with Baryshnikov -- and with dancers like Mark Morris and Rob Besserer on the same program -- booked huge venues.

I think it's a matter of pricing and venue: audiences might be happy to Vishneva in non-ballet rep if it were at a small venue for reasonable prices.

No matter how you slice it, ballerinas, maybe with the exception of Guillem, have it much harder than men: you get five great male dancers to take their shirts off and do aerobics dance , and there might be snickers and complaints about how vapid the rep is, but people still buy tickets to it, and I don't think events like "Kings of the Dance" are meant to be great exhibits of artistic expression.

Never thought of this perspective. Sad that a field that elevates women as an ideal still has a glass ceiling.

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Sad that a field that elevates women as an ideal still has a glass ceiling.

I don't know, if dance lovers who will pay to see shirtless male stars in bad choreography won't pay to see a female one in lowest common denominator work and work she's not trained in, maybe that's the ultimate compliment, an unwillingness to settle for mere entertainment or middling work from a true artist.

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Sad that a field that elevates women as an ideal still has a glass ceiling.

I don't know, if dance lovers who will pay to see shirtless male stars in bad choreography won't pay to see a female one in lowest common denominator work and work she's not trained in, maybe that's the ultimate compliment, an unwillingness to settle for mere entertainment or middling work from a true artist.

Maybe so. There are different ways to look at it. I think people like male dancers in almost anything as long as a lot of athletic jumps are involved.

But women are probably held to a higher standard and expected to be ethereal and more artistic.

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I too am very sorry to hear about your experience, Ceeszi!

I actually had a great experience with CityCenter regarding my tickets for the canceled Sat night show. I bought my tickets back in November using that Fall for Dance discount that YID mentioned, and I received an email on January 3 notifying me that the Sat evening performances had been canceled. After conferring with my friends, I switched half the tickets to Friday and half to Sunday. CityCenter simply mailed me the new tickets; I didn't even have to go to the box office. Then, a few weeks ago, my friends who wanted Friday tickets realized they could no longer make it, and even then, I was able to get refunds/switch them to Sunday tickets.

You must be lucky, Ceeszi, because I've had about 5 canceled performances in the past 2 years (including one I went to London for!)--so now I religiously check and check and check before I venture out to a theater. sweatingbullets.gif

So I went to the Sunday matinee with three friends, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the show!

Unlike "Kings of the Dance," which I thought was an *utter* waste of my time and money (even with the shirtless men!) and a complete waste of the dancers' talent, I thought "Dialogues" showcased Vishneva's considerable physical talents, though not necessarily her taste. I walked out of "Kings of the Dance" thinking "Gee, even I could do what they did! I can twitch and convulse like Cote, and flap my hands and fingers, and play with a pants/skirt a la Hallberg!" After seeing "Dialogues," however, we all agreed--Vishneva can't be human!

The show opened with a video documentary that discussed the three pieces that were supposed to be on the program. Janet Eilber, artistic director of MGDC discussed "Errand in a Maze," and we got to see some clips of Martha Graham in the role, along with clips of Vishneva rehearsing. Then Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot discussed "Subject to Change," which was dedicated to a family friend who had suffered brain damage and was in a coma. (It is called "Subject to Change" because their friend's condition was still evolving--they did not know the "ending" to the story so it was subject to change.) Finally, John Neumeier discussed "Dialogues," which ironically was not performed at all--despite lending the program its title--since Thiago Bordin is injured.

I saw the Martha Graham company for the very first time last Wednesday at the gala performance where Vishneva danced "Errand in the Maze," so I cannot really comment on how well she performed the technique. In that piece, I felt very much like a lot of symbolism and iconic poses were lost on me. (Why is that entryway shaped like a pelvis bone, and what is that supposed to mean??) That being said, I did feel like Vishneva was sharper and more staccato in the performance on Wednesday than on Sunday. I remember thinking that this was one time when having recorded music was useful, because it allowed her to match the contractions to the beats and with extreme precision.

Second was Bigonzetti's "Vertigo." I must admit, I was actually thrilled that "Dialogues" had been replaced by "Vertigo"--and with the magnificent Marcelo Gomes to boot! This is because 1) the Russian reviews I've read of Neumeier's piece via GoogleTranslate sounded pretty lukewarm, 2) Marcelo and Diana are an amazing partnership, and 3) I *LOVE* "Vertigo." I've adored the piece since it first appeared on YouTube in late 2010, and I was thrilled to be able to see it live.

Anyone who is interested can check it out here (with Vishneva and Gomes):

Ok, I do admit that I do not love the first 5 minutes or so, which is what Bigonzetti added to make it different from "Kazimir's Colors."

(You can compare the stuff in "Vertigo" from 5:20 or so in with this:

)

There is a little too much of that frenetic arm folding and unfolding that I despised in "Kings of the Dance."

But I think the second part (set to the Lento from Shostakovich's piano concerto #1) is gorgeous. I love the sharp contrast between the un-balletic, bent-over poses and the fully-extended arabesques. One second, Vishneva is twisted around in a pretzel-like flexed-foot supported turn, and then the next moment she stretches out into a luscious developpe. She shifts from wet noodle to steel in a fraction of a second, from completely lethargic to completely alive. And of course, she has Marcelo to help her make it look effortless. They simply sizzle together.

Yes, I am a huge fan of their partnership and would happily travel up and down the East Coast to see the two of them together--in anything! I also had the pleasure of watching them rehearse "Onegin" a few weeks ago--I cannot wait to see this at the MET!

Needless to say, I loved, loved, loved seeing this piece live, as did my friends.

Finally (after two lengthy intermissions), we got "Subject to Change." This featured Vishneva in this little white lace dress/nightgown-ish costume, Merkuriev in black pants, and 4 men wearing black pants and jackets with red linings (no shirts). (Despite this not being "Kings of the Dance" there were six shirtless men in this show! Perhaps they should have put pictures of them on the posters. wink1.gif )

For those who have not seen pictures or clips, this piece involves a large red carpet that is unrolled at the beginning. People dance on it, roll themselves into it, they spin it, etc. Yes, perhaps it's gimmicky. I don't really know how to describe the movement in this ballet except to say that it is frenetic, fantastically fast. And in the middle when the 4 men danced (while yelling in Russian), it looked martial arts-like.

With Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" playing in the background (a piece I love), I found the whole thing rather dramatic and exhilarating, though I certainly wouldn't call it ballet. The partnering looked incredibly difficult--and it wasn't the lifts--but rather an awkward handgrab or position change that had to be pulled off at exactly the right moment and exactly the right way or else someone would surely fall. For example, at one point, Merkuriev knelt down behind Vishneva, stuck his neck between her legs and lifted her up onto his shoulders in one smooth movement. The pace of the movements was lightning fast, and I definitely thought, "there's no way I'd ever be able to do something like this!!" The speed and precision were amazing.

At several points in the dance, Vishneva mimed smearing on lipstick on her face with a glassy-eyed look, and I was reminded of Leon & Lightfoot's friend who suffered brain damage. If I hadn't seen the explanatory video, I'm not sure I would have had such a favorable impression of this piece, but knowing the back story certainly lent it a certain gravitas--at least to me. However, there were certainly some audience members who did not enjoy it, including one lady who was sitting near the very front of the orchestra and got up in the middle and walked out, yelling loudly in a foreign language and then in English as she went. (How rude!)

All in all, I had a great time, though I surely wouldn't choose a performance of "Dialogues," over, say, Vishneva & Gomes in "Giselle"!

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I think that women in ballet have a glass floor, from being held up on all of those pedestals.

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I think that women in ballet have a glass floor, from being held up on all of those pedestals.

It does seem to be a tricky thing in ballet. On the one hand the women are often the most important dancers (in the 19th century Petitpa and even 20th century Balanchine ballets), yet it seems the men are more likely to become household names even among non-ballet lovers (Nureyev, Baryshnikov). I think we ballet lovers know Lopatkina, Osipova, Vishneva, etc., but I don't think any of my friends (who don't follow ballet) know these stars. But they know who Nureyev and Baryshnikov are! Even when I mention Fonteyn very few people (who don't know about ballet) have heard of her.

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You have a similar problem in opera. Often the vast majority of opera lovers go to see the star soprano and how she interprets Violetta, Norma, Leonora, etc. but it seems to be the male singers who become the super stars in the mainstream world (Pavarotti, Domingo). The soprano is often the most important role, and many operas succeed or fail depending on the soprano (Bellini's Norma can succeed even with a lousy Pollione but you can not have a lousy Norma), yet the males become the super stars.

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Nureyev and Baryshnikov were high-profile defectors during the cold war and got a lot of non-ballet press: I think that is a large part of the reason non-ballet-goers know their names. Still, I don't think Makarova ever acquired quite the same kind of fame and from a purely "ballet" point of view she was just as high profile. Of course great male ballet dancers were seen as rarer -- and rightly so. That may still be the case today, but much less so, in part because of Nureyev and Baryshnikov.

However Makarova did do a Broadway show of the kind we are discussing, albeit running for a month and with two at least partially different programs alternating. This was the height of the "dance boom."

The programs included Petipa: a setting of the Paquita finale with young dancers filling out the ensemble and solos. (I think some were advanced students from SAB or the ABT school--someone else might remember more exactly). There were also largely uninteresting new works. I can't remember if the program included any 'chestnuts'...

Makarova had to withdraw at least two nights, but instead of cancelling the performance -- I don't even know if that was an option permitted by the producers -- she chose young, entirely unknown dancers from the ensemble to replace her. They got nice press too. But having come in from out of town for one of the performances she cancelled, I was very disappointed and I have to say that I found the evening quite dull. I felt this way despite Pacquita, which the young dancers were not really up to, and despite Anthony Dowell (one of my all time favorites--one of the all time greats I should say) in one of the new works on the program. With Makarova I think the program would have been well worth my while, but still not one of the more memorable ballet-going evenings of my life.

(The audience was full of empty seats. I think they had let people trade tickets for other nights once Makarova cancelled. Since I was in from out of town I could not do so--to make matters worse I had convinced a non-ballet going friend and her ALREADY skeptical father to attend, thinking: "Makarova: they have to love it." No Makarova and they did not.)

Vishneva is a great ballerina: no evening spent watching her could be a complete waste of time. But, as I felt after seeing her dance Carmen in July, it is possible for such an evening to come very close to being one.

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To be fair, I would say the "Kings of Dance" performance that I attended (Sat night) was just as poorly attended as the Vishneva show, even with the discount offers--the orchestra section may have been full, but the mezzanine where I sat was about half empty; only the center was full. They did not cancel a performance like Vishneva did, however.

I also think it is unfair to compare the attendance of "Kings of the Dance" (with five big ballet stars) with that of "Dialogues" (arguably a solo show). I would guess that if Ardani organized a similar "Queens of the Dance" with--say--Vishneva, Osipova and Semionova, it would be at least as well attended, if not more so.

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I also think it is unfair to compare the attendance of "Kings of the Dance" (with five big ballet stars) with that of "Dialogues" (arguably a solo show). I would guess that if Ardani organized a similar "Queens of the Dance" with--say--Vishneva, Osipova and Semionova, it would be at least as well attended, if not more so.

They already did this (sans Vishneva)...it was called Reflections and it was AWFUL. And seeing as how it never went beyond SCFTA and then to the Bolshoi who co-produced it, it seems pretty much DOA, thank god.

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I also think it is unfair to compare the attendance of "Kings of the Dance" (with five big ballet stars) with that of "Dialogues" (arguably a solo show). I would guess that if Ardani organized a similar "Queens of the Dance" with--say--Vishneva, Osipova and Semionova, it would be at least as well attended, if not more so.

They already did this (sans Vishneva)...it was called Reflections and it was AWFUL. And seeing as how it never went beyond SCFTA and then to the Bolshoi who co-produced it, it seems pretty much DOA, thank god.

My point was more about attendance than artistic merit. I have no doubt that Osipova and Semionova et al could have participated in a show with equally dreadful modern choreography as Kings of the dance.

However, others on this thread have used the low attendance at Vishneva's show to posit some kind of glass ceiling in ballet. I'm merely arguing that 1) attendance at Kings of the Dance was also low and 2) it is not really fair to compare the popularity of a show with 5 star dancers to that of a solo show.

Would Reflections have sold as well as Kings of the Dance in NYC, where Semionova and Osipova are fairly well known and admired from their guest appearances at ABT? My guess is yes.

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My point about "Kings of the Dance" was to compare the quality of the choreography.

Would Reflections have sold as well as Kings of the Dance in NYC, where Semionova and Osipova are fairly well known and admired from their guest appearances at ABT? My guess is yes.

My guess is, possibly once.

I also think a solo show with Carlos Acosta or Ivan Vasiliev, for example, doing similar choreography to what Vishneva attempted, would not have been seen as a vanity project and not have to be canceled.

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