Birdsall

Mariinsky under Fateyev

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I read with interest in another topic thread, (but I can't find it) how the Mariinsky is no longer the best classical ballet company, and it is starting to do a lot of modern stuff. Is Yuri Fateyev at fault? Is he the one who makes decisions to focus on modern repertoire?

I would think everyone in the world who takes a trip to Russia is interested in seeing the Mariinsky Ballet in Swan Lake or Giselle or even a Soviet ballet, but I wonder if anyone really wants to see them do a modern piece. Their arms, etc. are perfect for the classics and their training has historically been for the classics.

How does everyone feel about the direction the Mariinsky is taking under Fateyev?

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[you may be opening a bag of worms] i will just express my humble personal opinion (of a biased lover of russian classical ballet).

I still consider Mariinsky the best classical ballet company, and took a trip on purpose to watch its classical productions in April this year (DQ, Bachtisarai fountains, Jewels, Nutcracker, Raymonda, 2 ballet concerts, and 2 Lopatkina galas in Moscow). They don't do a lot of modern stuff (they don't do a lot of anything - and that's [what i read from russian forums] the fault of Gergiev who can't care less for ballet, its' a foster child of Mariinsky company. The fault of Mr Fateyev (who's considered an expert in Balanchin staging there], so the fault of Mr Fateyev is poor casting and partnering decisions, favoritism of certain dancers and blocking opportunities for principal dancer - as a result, the outflow of lots of great dancers from the ballet company. My heart cries for casting in Costa Mesa,CA with Swan Lake as I would love to see some (Tereshkina, Kondaurova, alas Lopatkina is not on tour) but would avoid to see Skorik. How do i feel about the direction the Mariinsky is taking under Fateyev? I AM NOT HAPPY.

I wish and pray a more caring more accomplished and less selfish individual runs it as a REAL director (remind you, he's still an Acting director - but gosh how he act, or mis-acts)

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I'd like to second what YID has said. Under Fateev the Kirov has lost Sarafanov and Obraztsova and uber talented Smirnova didn't even consider the company a good career move. Casting and the promotion of certain dancers is a bad joke, and yes, he remains merely acting director with even ballet-phobe Gergiev recognizing that Fateev is second rate.

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Yuri Fateyev is responsible for many of the ills that have befallen the Mariinsky and the direction the repertoire is taking is just one example of his ill judgement, in my opinion. As if the truly dreadful Simonov Nutcracker wasn't bad enough, when there is a beautiful Vainonen Nutcracker in the repertoire, the humdrum Ratmansky ballets are featured at home and abroad. Personally I dislike Le Parc also and then we are promised Wheeldon, Forsythe etc. Mme Vaganova must be rolling in her grave. The Mariinsky is a wonderful classical ballet company with a centuries old tradition of purity in its style and yet its dancers are not showcased in ballets that would best show off their wonderful technique. Rather than bring in all these modern ballets, why not Coppelia or La Fille Mal Gardee, or Laurencia, or some Ashton or MacMillan is something "new" is required? Mr Fateyev is allowing this wonderful company to lose its direction. Furthermore, his dancers are leaving the sinking ship in droves. Not just Sarafanov among the men, but also Mikhail Lobukhin forced to go to the Bolshoi to get much deserved principal status, and the hugely talented recent graduates Lebedev and Strelkov who he "lost" to the Mikhailovsky. The amazing Andrei Batalov is allowed to stagnate as a First Soloist and has never been given the principal roles he deserved. Not to mention Obraztsova whowent to the Bolshoi to become the prima she should have been long ago and also recent graduates Smirnova and Shapran whose talent also should have graced the Mariinsky . The list of lost potential goes on and on.... What on earth is going on with the Mariinsky management? Why are they allowing this to happen? It spells disaster for the Mariinsky and all who love it. Yuri Fateyev has a lot to answer for.

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Mariinsky Theatre will become known as the morgue of classical ballet, instead of being known as the museum of classical ballet.

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Maybe Gergiev is also at fault for declining standards at the Mariinsky! I just went to see the September schedule of the Mariinsky online, and *My Fair Lady* is scheduled. That shocks me! That is an enjoyable musical, but it does not belong at a grand opera house, in my personal opinion. Others may disagree (Lyric Opera of Chicago tends to stage things like Showboat and this season Oklahoma), but I don't think the Met would stage *My Fair Lady*....maybe that is yet to come! I think La Scala has staged Westside Story. Maybe these "musicals" seem exotic to Europeans. I don't know, but to me it is not very promising to see that type of rep staged at the world's opera houses!

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Birdsall - well whoever is responsible, I hope they realize that the ballet public at least is very unhappy (And you are completely right - My Fair Lady in the repertoire of the world-class Mariinsky Theatre is just a joke - no matter how much I love "The Street Where You Live"!) It's as though the management is dumbing down the theatre as a whole in an attempt to reel in the paying public no matter what. But even worse is the feeling that the ballet management just does not care about the way in which it (mis)uses the talented dancers the Mariinsky has actually managed to keep. The list of crimes against dancers is endless. There are so many examples I can only mention a few here ... but worst is Andrei Batalov, who should have been a superstar with his virtuoso ability - sidelined and forgotten; wonderful First Soloists Novikova and Osmolkina only ever given, I think, one Swan Lake each, beautiful Anastasia Kolegova, who is underused and hardly ever dances Giselle on her home stage; Second Soloist Yana Selina, who is cast as the perpetual variation girl, sometimes twice in an evening, when she should have been given fewer but more important roles, which would then free up her many roles for others. Amongst the men, the best actor in the Mariinsky, Ilya Kuznetsov, is hardly ever used for principal roles, whereas Ivanchenko, who cannot act at all, is all too prevalent. Not to mention the corps de ballet, which is bursting with talent and contains several dancers which, if they had gone to the Bolshoi, would have been fast-tracked to stardom. Casting is just terrible. Principal dancer Alina Somova not given any role at all in the recent Midsummer Night's Dream? Tiny Maria Shirinkina paired with very tall Konstantin Zverev in Giselle? Shklyarov with statuesque Kondaurova? I really can't understand what the management is thinking. Even in the smaller roles - Prince's Friends in Swan Lake, or the Peasant Pas in Giselle, the same dancers are used over and over again without variation. Where is the drive and dynamism in management that that this magnificent company needs to keep it in its rightful place at the pinnacle of world ballet? To me it smacks of laziness, unoriginality and just plain uncaring. I truly feel sorry for the Mariinsky dancers.

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I just checked the Mariinsky website, and Mr Fateyev's title is actually listed as Deputy Director of the Ballet Company of the Mariinsky Theatre

Ballet Master.

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Tiara said almost all I wanted to say about Fateyev's policy. There's also ruining Mariinsky ballet tradition by promoting dancers who are not Vaganova trained. I mean especially two latest Fateyev's favourites, Skorik and Askerov, both getting roles they are not prepared to dance, roles they don't deserve. It would be understandable if Mariinsky was short of talents but it's not, among coryphees and corps de ballet there are some dancers with great potential, especially girls. There's also new name in roster, Kampa, and yes, I know she was trained two years in Vaganova but she's hardly on "full" Vaganova graduates level.

Another crime commited by Fateyev is losing Ayupova who would be great coach for young Mariinsky dancers.

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Anyone who goes to a Mariinsky Ballet performance and buys a program, often will find the name of Sergei Vikharev, among the coaches for that evening's ballet performance. Vikharev was an exceptional male dancer for the Mariinsky, for many years. Since he is still coaching in the company, Mariinsky is clearly his home company..Under the director, who preceded Fateyev, Makhar Vaziev; Vikharev was allowed to restage Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere to the original Petipa version. Reconstruction Bayadere has never been danced under Fateyev and Fateyev has only allowed reconstruction Sleeping Beauty, once or twice..Fateyev hates reconstruction ballets, probably a sign that he dislikes all classics, and the reconstruction Bayadere and Sleeping Beauty by Vikharev, seem dead, like the morgue I said in an earlier response.

Vikharev had to go to Bolshoi to stage his reconstruction Coppelia which would be highly desirable for the many soubrette type ballerinas at Mariinsky and would have been a great role for Obraztsova, who now will get to dance it at Bolshoi. Vikharev could not stage the reconstruction Raymonda at his home, but had to go to Italy and use a Mariinsky ballerina, Olesya Novikova, to dance the role of Raymonda. Even for those who prefer the Sergeyev version of Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere, there are many reasons to dance both versions and since Mariinsky has all the costumes and scenery for these reconstructions, there is no reason why they should not use it.

Fateyev is a great Balanchine fan and almost everyone will agree with the greatness of Balanchine. However, the Mariinsky training is in the classical Petipa tradition and although Balanchine trained at what is now known as the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, Vaganova, herself, began teaching the same year Balanchine graduated, so Vaganova trraining never affected Balanchine. Every time a Balanchine ballet or any other new ballet for Mariinsky is performed, the victim is always a classical ballet or one of the other Mariinsky beloved ballets, like Fountain of Bakhchisarai.These ballets are still performed, but the number of performances each year, gets smaller and smaller. As more Balanchine ( much better than the other new ones) enters and more Forsytthe, Wheeldon, Preljocaj and Ratmansky enters, there will be less classical performances at Mariinsky.

Yes, Mariinsky will become a morgue of classical ballet, when it should be a museum of classical ballet, using the training that Vaganova taught and all the former Mariinsky dancers specialized in..

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This is very depressing! I love Balanchine too, but NYCB and MCB are probably best at that rep since that is the training. Mariinsky is best at classical story ballets, so it is a waste to have them do modern things, when they are trained for the classics. I am sure the dancers enjoy doing some modern things to expand their repetoire personally, but everyone goes to the Mariinsky to see the classics. Most tourists will be disappointed if they are in Russia and the Mariinsky is doing Wheeldon!

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Vaganova was many things, but a pure traditionalist she was not. She slashed mime from the classical ballets, a 180 from the idea of reconstructions. She actively adjusted her methodology to support current changes in choreography, and only stopped when she thought the trend had gone too far in the direction of gymnastics/circus.

Somova's prominence in the company, her aesthetic, her technical weaknesses, and the years of awful, artistically suspect coaching of her were Vaziev's brain children.

If Fateev hates reconstructions, he would hardly be the only one: the company's prima, Uliana Lopatkina, leads that faction. The Mariinsky New Year's Eve celebration DVD, which, ironically, features the Wedding Act reconstruction, ends with the chorus onstage in formal wearing, crowned by Lopatkina, in elegant clothing, making a grand entrance worthy of Cinderella in the Ashton, and Gergiev defers to her like a suitor. She's on the record for not liking the reconstruction and not wanting to dance it, so it's easy to do the math.

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The Mariinsky has been using 20th century stagings of Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere, but there are no classical ballets in the repertoire for soubrette type of ballerinas, that would have been perfect for Coppelia. There is no Coppelia and no La Fille Mal Gardee. There are many ballet lovers hoping to see reconstructed Sleeping Beauty and Bayadere in their life, but that is not likely now. However, Fateyev most likely was responsible for Coppelia going to Bolshoi, but maybe it was all Gergiev's decision.

Lopatkina has never danced the full length Aurora on any stage, so she may not like the reconstruction Petipa Sleeping Beauty, but she has never danced Aurora in the Sergeyev version. Does that mean that since Lopatkina refuses to dance Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Gergiev will remove every Sleeping Beauty from the repertoire?

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She dances the Lilac Fairy. I've seen her. We're anyone to remove SB from the repertoire, they would lose her performance.

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I have read that Lopatkina's issue with the reconstructions are due to her loyalty toward the Sergeyev versions that she respects and probably loves. I like those versions too. She does an amazing Nikiya and the Slave PDD in the non-reconstruction Bayadere (not sure if that is Sergeyev or Ponomarev/Chabukian)......

I don't know about the others who responded to this topic, but I don't need to have totally faithful Petipa reconstructions (I do like later additions like the Nikiya and the Slave PDD and the Bronze Idol in later versions), but I hope that the Mariinsky will continue to show off their grounding in the classics whether reconstructions or other later versions.

I am not against modern ballet but I find it a bit sad what is going on at the Mariinsky.

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She dances the Lilac Fairy. I've seen her. We're anyone to remove SB from the repertoire, they would lose her performance.

She has not danced Lilac Fairy in many years, maybe not since 2005. It is almost a certainty that she will never dance it again.

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Interesting that Lopatkina is brought up at this point in the discussion. Whether or not she persohally likes the reconstruction Sleeping Beauty, I believe she cannot be blamed for its non-appearance on the Mariinsky schedule. Also, just because she has not danced Aurora herself does not mean that she would want Sleeping Beauty performances reduced. She is far too intelligent for that, an upholder of tradition, and knows that Sleeping Beauty is a cornerstone of Mariinsky repertoire and as such, must always be performed. Furthermore, she must know also that not every ballerina can or should dance every single role - Aurora is not her role and that is why she has never danced it in my opinion, but she has been superlative enough in so many other roles for her reputation as a great dancer to be assured without dancing Aurora. If she has danced Lilac Fairy in recent years, I would be astonished and have certainly not seen it.

Actually, the Mariinsky needs look no further than Uliana Lopatkina as a replacement for Yuri Fateyev if they want to see the Mariinsky steered back into calm waters and not allowed to sink entirely under the weight of trivial, modern ballets, a catastrophic situation into which Yuri Fateyev is "leading" the company - he is diluting the repertoire with ballets for which Mariinsky dancers were not trained and which are not worthy of this great company. Lopatkina is a pure Petipa ballerina and inheritor of Vaganova style - a wonderful ballerina who wishes to see tradition upheld, who chooses the ballets she herself performs with intelligence and care and would apply the same discernment to the repertoire of the Mariinsky. I doubt very much if she would ever have allowed the dreadful Ratmansky ballets to be seen on her home stage, let alone abroad. I believe as a classical ballerina herself, she would put the emphasis back where it belongs - on the great classical repertoire, the Petipa classics and the great classics of other traditions. As has also been mentioned above, ballets such as La Fille Mal Gardee and Coppelia would enhance the Mariinsky repertoire in a way far more in harmony with the training of its dancers than the Wheeldon, Forsythe etc ballets we are promised. This is the mistake Yuri Fateyev has made as he appears to have forgottten that the Mariinsky is *the* great thoroughbred classical company of the world, and not a mongrel of indeterminate parentage with a mish-mash of styles. He should pay attention to the wishes of the ballet-going public, who wish to see the Mariinsky returned to its former glory and not diluted in style and repertoire.

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As has also been mentioned above, ballets such as La Fille Mal Gardee and Coppelia would enhance the Mariinsky repertoire

The Mariinsky lost its Fille...? Wow...didn't know that. When did that happen...?

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As has also been mentioned above, ballets such as La Fille Mal Gardee and Coppelia would enhance the Mariinsky repertoire

The Mariinsky lost its Fille...? Wow...didn't know that. When did that happen...?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_fille_mal_gard%C3%A9e

This will answer your question and a reconstruction of the original Petipa is possible since the Sergeyev collection in Harvard, has all the information, as was used by Vikharev in Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadere and Raymonda. A reconstruction La Fille would be a great substitute for new dances at Mariinsky.

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Actually, the Mariinsky needs look no further than Uliana Lopatkina as a replacement for Yuri Fateyev if they want to see the Mariinsky steered back into calm waters and not allowed to sink entirely under the weight of trivial, modern ballets, a catastrophic situation into which Yuri Fateyev is "leading" the company - he is diluting the repertoire with ballets for which Mariinsky dancers were not trained and which are not worthy of this great company. Lopatkina is a pure Petipa ballerina and inheritor of Vaganova style - a wonderful ballerina who wishes to see tradition upheld, who chooses the ballets she herself performs with intelligence and care and would apply the same discernment to the repertoire of the Mariinsky. I doubt very much if she would ever have allowed the dreadful Ratmansky ballets to be seen on her home stage, let alone abroad. I believe as a classical ballerina herself, she would put the emphasis back where it belongs - on the great classical repertoire, the Petipa classics and the great classics of other traditions. As has also been mentioned above, ballets such as La Fille Mal Gardee and Coppelia would enhance the Mariinsky repertoire in a way far more in harmony with the training of its dancers than the Wheeldon, Forsythe etc ballets we are promised. This is the mistake Yuri Fateyev has made as he appears to have forgottten that the Mariinsky is *the* great thoroughbred classical company of the world, and not a mongrel of indeterminate parentage with a mish-mash of styles. He should pay attention to the wishes of the ballet-going public, who wish to see the Mariinsky returned to its former glory and not diluted in style and repertoire.

I would imagine an arch-conservative, which is what Lopatkina is rumoured to be, would be every bit as bad as Fateev, the one virtue he has is that he doesn’t see the company as a museum and although I believe a number of his repertory choices to be ill-chosen at least he is not preserving the Kirov in aspic.

It is the bad dancing of a number of featured performers that should be Fateev’s most pressing concern with the likes of Somova and Skorik relieved of principal roles ASAP.

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I'm sorry that I'm late to this discussion. I won't go over the many demerits of the Fateev regime or his predecessor's (Makhar Vaziev) here. They all can be found in this link and elsewhere on this site. The casting decisions are made by Mr. Fateev and rubber stamped by his Amen Corner, (the stage managers, subordinates i.e. ballet masters and ballet mistresses, and the sycophants of his favorites - people that he wants to promote), who tow his party line. Fateev considers himself a trailblazer - a prescient talent-spotter and strong developer of "future stars," and a (self-styled) Balanchine expert. Fateev's management is quite simply the continuation of his former supervisor's aesthetic and casting policies - on steroids. Also, I'm ITA with those who have posted here lamenting the fallen standards of the company, which is again a direct result of the current and prior management. For example, most of the world's major ensembles are able to cast and match, in technique, temperament and physically the little swans in "Swan Lake." For about five seasons now, Fateev has consistently failed to do this. I hope that these are just the casts that I've seen in this timeline. Now, this example may be nit-picking - but for this company? This never used to be thus. This is something that other directors seem to be able to handle. It used to be that an aberration like this was unheard of in the Mariinsky. This is just one example of Fateev's casting the supporting roles; there's no need to review his egregious miscasting of the major roles.

How did it come to this? As I've stated before, one of the main contributing factors is that the Maestro (who appoints the ballet's directors), is focused solely on the opera and the orchestra. For example, the Theatre's site reflects this fact and has evolved in recent years to reflect this fact. The ballet company remains on auto-pilot; and is seen by the Maestro as '... oh yes, they perform here too.' That's the attitude. What we see now is the result of these policies made manifest. I also won't get into the overt favoritism that's been practiced re the "faithful few" over vastly superior dancers; the ongoing snubs, the hiring of non-homogenous dancers, the blatant disrespect and loss of comparatively stellar (and potential) personnel. These subjects have been covered. Former Mariinsky primas who have much to offer re the Mariinsky's tradition (for example Ayupova and Makhalina), are driven to other theatres to coach like the former, or are barred from coaching the next generation like the latter. Dead wood at the top isn't removed (retired), subsequently there's little to no movement in the ranks, and promotions come as frequently as Halley's Comet. I always look to next year's harvest. Sure enough, there is usually a small handful (sometimes, just one) on whose shoulders the company's hopes are pinned. I don't know what the end game will be. I will contend that right now in Russia the epicenter, the creative momentum, and the cutting edge pendulum of classical ballet has swung back to the companies in Moscow, primarily the Bolshoi. That argument may be a topic for another thread. However, it's a fact that for the last few years the Bolshoi, the Stanislavsky, and the Perm company have taken top ensemble/production honors over the Mariinsky and it's entries (if nominated) re Russia's highest theatrical award, the Golden Mask. Finally, as for Uliana Lopatkina she doesn't make or influence casting policy, but she does wield great influence with Maestro Gergiev.

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Fateev considers himself a trailblazer - a prescient talent-spotter and strong developer of "future stars," and a (self-styled) Balanchine expert.

Fateev worked in Seattle on Balanchine stagings, and Francia Russell, one of Balanchine's earliest hand-picked (in the 60's) stagers and one of the ballet's most respected, said very good things about him, and she's not the easiest person in the world to please.

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Fateev considers himself a trailblazer - a prescient talent-spotter and strong developer of "future stars," and a (self-styled) Balanchine expert.
Fateev worked in Seattle on Balanchine stagings, and Francia Russell, one of Balanchine's earliest hand-picked (in the 60's) stagers and one of the ballet's most respected, said very good things about him, and she's not the easiest person in the world to please.
It's great that Russell said good things about him, but would she have considered, (or agreed) that he was her pedagogical equal re Balanchine style? Balanchine's repertory at the Mariinsky, (which is a short list of works), is in the same shape as the Petipa/Sergeyev repertory. It's the same issue for the entire rep that's on the active schedule - management policy and his casting decisions. We'll see what happens with the new season next month. He neglects in-house rank development and depends on the usual eggs in the basket to deliver the goods. As a result they fall short more often than not, but this doesn't stop him from casting them. The best suited are infrequently cast. A bright spot was the recent premiere of Balanchine's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" during the recent White NIghts Festival. This was thoughtfully and successfully cast. This should be the norm, and I hope this starts a trend. In the meantime, the company's nominal strength is being diluted as other posters have noted. To put this in perspective, POB excels in ecclectic variety and does so masterfully without sacrificing its traditions. The Mariinsky Ballet under Yuri Fateev's leadership doesn't do it nearly as well.

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No, I doubt Russell would consider Fateev her equal, but, then again, there aren't that many people on the planet who are. (Originators of roles who can coach them are another story.) Nor would she expect the Mariinsky to dance Balanchine in Balanchine style after having so little experience and training in it, and she would know from personal experience, having been one of the first two stagers, along with Suzanne Farrell ("Scotch Symphony"), sent to the Mariinsky to stage Balanchine ballets, in her case, either "Theme and Variations" or "Ballet Imperial."

If he claims expertise, which I wouldn't be aware of, it's not just "self-styled."

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Well, which "dead wood" would you peel away? Which dancers would you promote? Which pairings would you substitute?

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