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Ballet in Sochi's Closing ceremony...(shameful camera work)

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What a failure was the NCB 6 camera work in the ballet section of the ceremony. At the most times, it was the chandelier what the guy was pointing at, and many up shots-(I'm pretty sure they had the vague idea that this was some type of visual pattern thing, and so that's where they headed...). Oh, so shameful...

I wonder if a decent telecast will be available on Youtube from a Russian source...

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Canadian television has been doing a much better job, but I'm not convinced that the dance material was really a good choice for this kind of event. As a television viewer, I get a lovely, close view of their work, but I cannot imagine that it shows up particularly well in person.

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The NBC camera work was dreadful--I don't think it could have been worse. Of course, this type of performance isn't easy to capture, but they could certainly have gotten better images of particular moments. When they went close on a dancer they didn't stay long enough; when they went far away they picked peculiar moments and sometimes went too far; mid-shots cut off legs or heads ...

I also wished they had given general viewers a bit more explanation/commentary. I know they didn't want to "bore" viewers -- as Pozner said when explaining why he wouldn't identify the photos of the writers being featured in the literature section--but would it have been too much to say that each of the woman soloists was wearing the costume of a famous Russian ballet leading role -- Swan Queen [edited to say, dying swan], Firebird, Scheherazade? (If they wanted an American 'hook,' then they could even have noted that the Scheherazade music/story also are what inspired American gold medalists Davis/White in their free skate.)

Generally, I'm not a fan of a lot of talk, but still think they could have done more to explain the images than murmur the name Diaghilev which surely meant nothing to anyone who didn't already know who he was...Of course since they were doing such a lousy job showing the images in the first place--other than the chandelier--I suppose it didn't make a difference.

I was pretty disappointed when I learned, via twitter, there would be no Lopatkina. But after I saw it...less so.

That said, I thought a lot of the ceremony was very beautiful--and beautifully shown on television--and enjoyed the dancing depiction of the malfunctioning snowflake from opening ceremonies.

I was also mildly surprised (not in a bad way) Bach went as far as he did in commenting on violence going on right now in the world.

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Canadian television has been doing a much better job, but I'm not convinced that the dance material was really a good choice for this kind of event. As a television viewer, I get a lovely, close view of their work, but I cannot imagine that it shows up particularly well in person.

I'm inclined to agree. The camerawork could have been better and ballet can project farther than just about any other dance form, but one or two dancers striking poses, or even a whole corps, just isn't going to have much impact in the performance space of an Olympic ceremony, a stadium event on the largest scale.

I know they didn't want to "bore" viewers -- as Pozner said when explaining why he wouldn't identify the photos of the writers being featured in the literature section

A bizarre remark on several levels. God forbid he should be informing viewers on what they're watching.

You gotta love the Russians, though. In both the opening and closing ceremonies at a gargantuan sporting event -- art, literature, ballet, great music....what a magnificent culture on display. I did think they could have made a little time for their chess champions. I imagine a lot could have been done with a chess board projected on the stadium floor....

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I loved the return of Misha the bear. He was very popular in Cuba during and after the '80 games. I had a huge poster of him hung in my room as a kid. happy.png

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Can anyone identify the lead dancers from the closing ceremony?

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I couldn't tell who the leading men were because of NBC's extremely irritating coverage of the segment. I could be totally wrong, but the ballerina who was Pavlova looked like very much like the Bolshoi's Nina Kaptsova. There's no way I could identify the Slave, Zoebide, Karsavina (Firebird) or Diaghilev. In retrospect, it looks like the Opening ceremony featured the 'A' Team of Russia's ballet elite (the United Russia Party girls), and the closing ceremony the 'B-' Team (the "Not So 'In' Crowd"). Lastly, IMO it was unconscionable that Uliana Lopatkina was absent from both programs. That said, brava Sochi, brava Russia !!clapping.gifflowers.gif

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One of the female dancers was Obratsova (I'm pretty sure). Was there a separate section that honored the great composers? If there was then nbc did not show it!

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The following was reported on the Balletco Forum:

“Sheherazade”: Golden Slave - Denis Rodkin (Bolshoi), Zobeide - Alisa Sodoleva (Mariinsky)

“The Dying Swan” - Maria Semenyachenko (Bol)

“La Spectre de la rose” - Anton Korsakov (Mar) ?

“The Firebird” - have no idea.

Diaghilev - Yuri Smekalov (Mar)

I also saw Anastasia Kolegova’s face (Mar) among soloists.

A big ballet gala-concert took place in Sochi last night. Among those who took part were Zakharova, Polunin, Zagrebin, Ryzhkova, Sarafanov, Bondareva and other Russian dancers.

There were also dancers there from New York and Germany
Another post notes: The Firebird was danced by Anastasia Kolegova

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Ulbricht and Bouder from NYCB performed Balanchine's Tarantella. (Photo in the above link.)

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Canadian television has been doing a much better job, but I'm not convinced that the dance material was really a good choice for this kind of event. As a television viewer, I get a lovely, close view of their work, but I cannot imagine that it shows up particularly well in person.

I'm inclined to agree. The camerawork could have been better and ballet can project farther than just about any other dance form, but one or two dancers striking poses, or even a whole corps, just isn't going to have much impact in the performance space of an Olympic ceremony, a stadium event on the largest scale.

There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between a performance that works for a stadium-sized venue, with seating on all sides of the space and all the acoustical challenges that you get in an arena, and a performance that is designed for a camera or a proscenium theater. The challenge for the team who is designing and choreographing an event like this is that they have to consider both audiences -- the one in the stadium and the one in front of the television. I've read very intriguing descriptions of the work Rudolph Laban and Mary Wigman did for the controversial Berlin Olympics -- their movement choir for the opening ceremony was cancelled at the last minute when the Nazi producers managed to figure out it didn't actually glorify National Socialism -- and I've wished that contemporary ceremonies worked with some of the same choreographic tools they used. As disturbing as Leni Riefenstal's Triumph of the Will seems to us today, it's a great window into that kind of group choreography.

It's certainly a treat to see some of the current members of the pre-eminent Russian companies (as we say in my family, "dancers are working"), and I'm always pleased when an event in popular culture makes references to heritage danceworks, but looking at this as a spectacle on its own I don't really think the ballet sections of either the opening or the closing ceremonies were the strongest part of the program.

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Lastly, IMO it was unconscionable that Uliana Lopatkina was absent from both programs...

I'd like to believe the absence of Lopatkina was by her own choice--perhaps she opted against appearing in this kind of spectacle? And, in fact, she has been dancing these past two weeks -- at least as best I can tell from photos and announcements (Corsaire at Mariinsky & gala bits in Sochi), so I trust she isn't injured. But if it was an official decision not to include her in the ceremonies... well, then, I'm too appalled for words.

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I know they didn't want to "bore" viewers -- as Pozner said when explaining why he wouldn't identify the photos of the writers being featured in the literature section

A bizarre remark on several levels. God forbid he should be informing viewers on what they're watching.

You gotta love the Russians, though. In both the opening and closing ceremonies at a gargantuan sporting event -- art, literature, ballet, great music....what a magnificent culture on display. I did think they could have made a little time for their chess champions. I imagine a lot could have been done with a chess board projected on the stadium floor....

I watched the full program on Canadian television, and so was in and out of the room when the NBC coverage was on. I was out of the room when I first heard Pozner's voice and was really surprised -- I didn't know he was still in the commentary business. My memories of him are all of the USSR days -- where has he been for the last several years?

And yes, where were the chess masters?

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On US television, I guess they assume that average viewers are too dumb to enjoy ballet. The camera work frequently went to shots of athletes in the stand watching the performance instead of the performance itself. Also, during the opening ceremonies the announcers identified some of the lead dancers by name. No such info was provided in the closing ceremony. Well, hopefully these ceremonies inspired someone out there to go to the ballet or see a dance performance live.

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How about the American commentarist asking "why is the house upside down?" ,to which Pozner proceeded to explain Chagall's ways of painting..? Was he playing dumb or just plainly dumber...? "Oh...I knew that!"...(response post Pozner's elaborated explanation...geez...an even dumber late night comedy cliche...)

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I'd say in this context that's not a dumb question - we're talking about an audience of millions, and I'll bet most of them didn't know why the house was upside down, either. And these are sports commentators, so I'd cut them some slack. That's what Pozner was there for - supposedly.

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There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between a performance that works for a stadium-sized venue, with seating on all sides of the space and all the acoustical challenges that you get in an arena, and a performance that is designed for a camera or a proscenium theater. The challenge for the team who is designing and choreographing an event like this is that they have to consider both audiences -- the one in the stadium and the one in front of the television.

I think of the dazzling show created by Zhang Yimou for the Beijing Olympics,a feast of grand-scale movement that worked on every level.

Thank you for that list, meunier fan.

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Russian TV announced that the leading role of the student Pavlova was danced by the Mariinsky's recent graduate, Ksenia Zhiganshina. They also announced Yuri Smekalov as Diaghilev and as the choreographer of the piece.

The camera work on Russian TV was fantastic, by the way. Perfect angles and blend of close-ups and distance shots. Of course, they 'know' ballet. :)

A friend in the US tells me that NBC did not show the full ceremony, e.g., the big colorful Circus segment that closed the cultural portion (after Literature).

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There seems to be a fundamental disconnect between a performance that works for a stadium-sized venue, with seating on all sides of the space and all the acoustical challenges that you get in an arena, and a performance that is designed for a camera or a proscenium theater. The challenge for the team who is designing and choreographing an event like this is that they have to consider both audiences -- the one in the stadium and the one in front of the television.

I think of the dazzling show created by Zhang Yimou for the Beijing Olympics,a feast of grand-scale movement that worked on every level.

Thank you for that list, meunier fan.

I was thinking about that as well -- a great example of what you can do with a truly large venue and a significant number of performers. I've often wondered what someone like Alwin Nikolais would have done with this kind of project.

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