Birdsall

2014 White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky

139 posts in this topic

I am not "referring to the fact that Sergei Vikharev wasn't allowed to restore the choreography documented in the Stepanov notation 100%". (Not allowed by whom?)

If you are interested in the issues surrounding the reconstructions and Stepanov notation, it is best to study the works written by professionals on the subject. Start from articles by Doug Fullington who has been a prime authority on the Sergeev Harvard Collection. Detailed critical analyses appeared in Russian balletological publications.

The Mariinsky didn't allow Vikharev to restore the notated choreography 100% e.g. they didn't allow him to reconstruct the original Sleeping Beauty Wedding Pas de deux or the original Kingdom of the Shades act. This is because the Mariinsky doesn't like admitting that they haven't been using Petipa's original steps all these years - even though everybody knows they haven't - and then when they do admit it, they come up with the most ridiculous excuse where they claim that this is what Petipa probably would've done if he had lived until he was 200 years old.

Vikharev also wasn't able to restore the original Bluebird Pas de deux 100% because he got endless complaining from the dancers and their coaches about the steps "not being what they were used to" - and that is the oldest excuse in the book.

I already know about Doug Fullington, I have read his article regarding the Sleeping Beauty reconstruction and I've seen his lectures on Works and Progress. Fantastic man he is and I'm looking forward to reading about his upcoming reconstruction of Paquita. :)

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Where is doug when we need him over here...? (I miss his posts a lot...they were wonderful to read)

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Where is doug when we need him over here...? (I miss his posts a lot...they were wonderful to read)

Well he's on Facebook if that helps...

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Good to know..!

Yeah, maybe you could get onto his profile, chat to him and maybe try and persuade him to come back here if he's not too busy... though with the Paquita reconstruction coming up, he might just be... but he is usually on Facebook quite a lot actually.

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The Mariinsky didn't allow Vikharev to restore the notated choreography 100% e.g. they didn't allow him to reconstruct the original Sleeping Beauty Wedding Pas de deux or the original Kingdom of the Shades act. This is because the Mariinsky doesn't like admitting that they haven't been using Petipa's original steps all these years - even though everybody knows they haven't - and then when they do admit it, they come up with the most ridiculous excuse where they claim that this is what Petipa probably would've done if he had lived until he was 200 years old.

This is totally inaccurate. The person who was in charge of the repertoire policies at Mariinsky at the time was very much pushing the reconstructions and was against continuing using the traditional Kirov versions. Vikharev's versions (as they should have been called) were discontinued essentially because the "reconstructions" have been questioned by professional ballet historians on multiple points.

endless complaining from the dancers and their coaches about the steps "not being what they were used to" - and that is the oldest excuse in the book.

Mariinsky dancers are highly trained professionals. They are following instructions given by a choreographer to the minutest detail, certainly not "questioning" or entering into discussions with the choreographer.

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The Mariinsky didn't allow Vikharev to restore the notated choreography 100% e.g. they didn't allow him to reconstruct the original Sleeping Beauty Wedding Pas de deux or the original Kingdom of the Shades act. This is because the Mariinsky doesn't like admitting that they haven't been using Petipa's original steps all these years - even though everybody knows they haven't - and then when they do admit it, they come up with the most ridiculous excuse where they claim that this is what Petipa probably would've done if he had lived until he was 200 years old.

This is totally inaccurate. The person who was in charge of the repertoire policies at Mariinsky at the time was very much pushing the reconstructions and was against continuing using the traditional Kirov versions. Vikharev's versions (as they should have been called) were discontinued essentially because the "reconstructions" have been questioned by professional ballet historians of on multiple points.

endless complaining from the dancers and their coaches about the steps "not being what they were used to" - and that is the oldest excuse in the book.

Mariinsky dancers are highly trained professionals. They are following instructions given by a choreographer to the minutest detail, certainly not "questioning" or entering into discussions with the choreographer.

Well then my advice would be to speak with Mr. Lopez 2681 (YouTube account) on this topic and see what he says; you might also want to ask him where he gets all his information from and he's an excellent historian.

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I value what he has been doing, I am also very well aware of his personal bias. He is very knowledgeable in the area of the history of ballet music but not in the history of choreography, Stepanov notation, "Harvard manuscripts", etc. The professional ballet historians involved in the debate are anything but against reconstructions, they are against simplistic approaches, and they are offended when questionable work is presented to the public as "authentic" and "original version".

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Lopatkina is on the record as being opposed to the reconstructed version of "Sleeping Beauty," just as Tsiskaridze is a "highly trained professional" and was outspoken against the reconstructions presented by the Bolshoi.

Doug Fullington is a very busy man, not only with ballet -- as Peter Boal's assistant, preparing "Giselle" for June, working with Ratmansky and Marian Smith in Munich on the new "Paquita," planning future stagings, reconstructions, lec demos, etc. -- and with his Tudor Choir, with upcoming performances on July 24-25 in St. Benedict, Oregon at the Abbey Bach Festival, then in Portland on July 26, and finally in Seattle on July 27. I'm not sure when he sleeps.

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I can think of a lot of roles I might like to see Shirinkina dance--though I must say Odette-Odile was not on my list--and was disappointed not to see her in Ratmansky's Cinderella last year during the White Nights Festival due (as I understand) to injury at that time.

(Regarding the reconstructions: being opposed on grounds of support/admiration for earlier Soviet productions also is a different matter from being opposed on 'historical' grounds. (I write this as someone who thought the Sergeyev Sleeping Beauty, as seen on tour, was admirable.) I found much to admire in the "reconstruction" Sleeping Beauty, but even as an amateur (that is, a fan not historian) it would not have occurred to me that the company could literally recreate every detail of a 19-century production or that that would even be entirely desirable. What surprised me most watching it though was that the Mariinsky dancers in NY, when the production was first being done at least, were making little attempt to "fit" a more 19th-century approach even in a very general kind of way. (The young Zakharova was particularly egregious...). The responsibility for this problem, I could not say. A reconstruction I did think was pretty sensational whatever a historican had to say about its historical (in)exactitude would be the Bolshoi Coppelia--I have read that criticized as a "museum piece" but the performances I saw were anything but...)

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I was responding, Helene, to

Vikharev also wasn't able to restore the original Bluebird Pas de deux 100% because he got endless complaining from the dancers and their coaches about the steps "not being what they were used to" - and that is the oldest excuse in the book.

You have in mind, I suppose, what this primaballerina or that premier had to say in an interview in response to questions about their own attitude to certain works presented as "reconstructions". And because Vikharev's "reconstructions" at some point generated so much debate, it is obvious that every ballet personality in Russia was supposed by media to have the opinion. In the case of Bolshoi, instead of "reconstructions" I would rather employ the term: "re-creations" or "stylizations". I love them a lot, and I am delighted each time I have an opportunity to watch any of them, yet it would never occur to me to mistake them for the "authentic original versions". And at Bolshoi they are not presented as such as far as I know. Vikharev, at least initially, aimed at genuine reconstructions, and not of lost works, but of the staple of the classical repertoire. The actual results were only partially successful. Some parts were pure guesswork, as later research showed — done under mistaken assumptions. That would be fine if the results were not heralded left and right as the "authentic original versions". According to my knowledge, such claims zealously advanced in the media and attempts to discredit the critics damaged the credibility of the "reconstruction movement". On the other hand, the amount of discussion Vikharev's efforts generated I consider to be very beneficial. It certainly led to some serious research into all aspects of the transmission of the choreographic text by competent ballet historians, and this can only be welcome. This work is still continued by Fullington in the West and certain balletologists in Russia.

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I love the idea of reconstructions, but if you look at just the prologue of Sleeping Beauty, for example, the entrance of the fairies is totally different. They walk on with male attendants baring gifts in the reconstruction. No magic. In the Sergeyev version they enter on pointe and do so much GORGEOUS dancing that fits the music so well. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw the fairies enter in the Sergeyev version in the gorgeous Mariinsky Theatre. It was like Heaven opened up and let angels out!

I think there is always a push/pull between "authentic" and "tradition" (changes over time which become tradition). You have this in opera too. Cecilia Bartoli recently recorded and also performed Norma. This is sacrilege for longtime opera lovers for a mezzo instead of a dramatic soprano to sing the role. She claims the originator really had a mezzo voice if you examine Giuditta Pastas roles, and that might be the case but tradition requires a dramatic soprano. Then, you also have a history and tradition of cutting operas, especially baroque operas, cuts that were sometimes approved by the composer, sometimes not. There was a time when it was sacrilege to embellish Mozart's arias, but now singers often do. Some conductors demand more rubato even if the score doesn't indicate it.

There is no black and white. And there are always arguments or debates about what is or is not correct.

What is very hard to do is go against tradition (changes that happened and became tradition) and suddenly rewind the clock and present things exactly as if we lived in the 19th century and erase the changes over time. The changes happened (whether those changes are good or bad are up to the individual), and it is impossible to pretend those changes didn't happen, especially when several generations grew up with the changes and fell in love with those versions.

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The Prologue is one of the most questioned parts of Vikharev's "reconstruction".

Returning to your earlier "impressions". Nadezhda Gonchar is a veteran. She graduated from the Kiev Ballet School in 1996 and then danced at the Kiev National Theatre of Opera and Ballet. In 2002 she joined the Mariinsky ballet troupe. Expecting in such circumstances that she would develop characteristics of the Saint Petersburg's school was not realistic.

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Yes, I knew Gonchar came from elsewhere, and you are right that I shouldn't expect someone to suddenly change her style. But I would have preferred a Vaganova trained Sylph. Shirinkina comes from Perm so she is not Vaganova trained but somehow has the fluttery, flowing arms that I love.

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Yes, I knew Gonchar came from elsewhere, and you are right that I shouldn't expect someone to suddenly change her style. But I would have preferred a Vaganova trained Sylph. Shirinkina comes from Perm so she is not Vaganova trained but somehow has the fluttery, flowing arms that I love.

The current Acting Director in his 6 years at the helm of the Mariinsky Ballet has not contributed to developing the career of even a single graduate of the Saint Petersburg school. Except for Batoeva (nominally, promoted to Second Soloist; in reality given only inferior parts to dance), every other one is still buried in the corps de ballet. "Green light" and support are exclusively for graduates of other schools (Perm, Kiev).

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Do you know why he doesn't seem to promote Vaganova grads?

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I am holding my breath waiting whether the Acting Director is going to promote Stepanova before she goes on stage at Covent Garden in three weeks time as Odette. At the moment he is risking of being remembered in the future as, I guess, the only director in history who dared to come to the Royal Opera House with a corps de ballet girl dancing «Swan Lake». That could truly create a world wide sensation.

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I also like Maria Shirinkina very much, although it is certainly true that she is suited for limited roles. However, she is essentially a lyrical ballerina with particularly beautiful port de bras, charming presence and expression and when confined to these roles she is very effective.

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Stepanova, Marchuk and Nikitina all deserved promotions long ago, and there are many others who are also woefully overlooked, such as Margarita Frolova. At least Yulia Stepanova is now getting the roles she should have had long ago - some of them - but when one considers the shocking fast-tracking of ballerinas such as Chebykina and Skorik before her, then management really should account for this. It is not acceptable and downgrades the company.

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I love the idea of reconstructions, but if you look at just the prologue of Sleeping Beauty, for example, the entrance of the fairies is totally different. They walk on with male attendants baring gifts in the reconstruction. No magic. In the Sergeyev version they enter on pointe and do so much GORGEOUS dancing that fits the music so well. It brought tears to my eyes when I saw the fairies enter in the Sergeyev version in the gorgeous Mariinsky Theatre. It was like Heaven opened up and let angels out!

The prologue of the Sergeyev version has always been considered as one of the parts of that version that needed a good bit of tidying up and after seeing Mr. Lopez 2681's recorded performances of Vikharev's "reconstruction", it really made me wonder why anybody would've even considered changing Petipa's original Sleeping Beauty prologue - then again of course, even Vikharev's staging didn't follow the notation 100%, but it's the closet to the original followed by the Royal Ballet's current version.

The biggest problem I have with Sergeyev's revivals of Petipa's ballets is the lack of mime and storytelling because it really does take away the narrative flow. Even for people who've seen the productions many times, the lack of mime prevents the production from making sense e.g. the unnecessary duet for Odette and Siegfried's first meeting in Act 1, scene 2 of Swan Lake and it's much better to have the Lilac Fairy miming to the Prince instead of prancing about in front of him in Act 2 of Sleeping Beauty. Too much dancing and not enough mime is always going to be a problem.

The Prologue is one of the most questioned parts of Vikharev's "reconstruction".

Questioned in what sense exactly?

I can think of a lot of roles I might like to see Shirinkina dance--though I must say Odette-Odile was not on my list--and was disappointed not to see her in Ratmansky's Cinderella last year during the White Nights Festival due (as I understand) to injury at that time.

I was supposed to go see Shirinkina in Ratmansky's Cinderella in London next month, but of course that's not happening now.

Well her beautiful, fluttery arms would certainly be perfect for Odette, but as I said if she is ever given the chance to dance these roles, she'd be better as Odette than Odile. I think she'd also make a good Ondine, though that version by Lacotte could probably do with a bit more action scenes.

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Lopatkina is on the record as being opposed to the reconstructed version of "Sleeping Beauty," just as Tsiskaridze is a "highly trained professional" and was outspoken against the reconstructions presented by the Bolshoi.

Doug Fullington is a very busy man, not only with ballet -- as Peter Boal's assistant, preparing "Giselle" for June, working with Ratmansky and Marian Smith in Munich on the new "Paquita," planning future stagings, reconstructions, lec demos, etc. -- and with his Tudor Choir, with upcoming performances on July 24-25 in St. Benedict, Oregon at the Abbey Bach Festival, then in Portland on July 26, and finally in Seattle on July 27. I'm not sure when he sleeps.

Yeah, why were they so opposed to the reconstructions? I mean, you'd think that these dancers would be wanting to dance in the original versions, wouldn't you? But then again, I'm not so sure old Maestro Petipa would've cast Lopatkina in any of his ballets because of her diva status.

You know I have to say, Sergei Vikharev would be an excellent choice for Fateyev's job, but then again, so would Tsiskaridze.

Aww poor Doug! Goodness me, I hope he gets some sleep! Lol! Amazing guy he is, completely inspirational; if I ever get a career in the ballet world, I'd love to work with him. smile.png

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I'm not so sure old Maestro Petipa would've cast Lopatkina in any of his ballets because of her diva status and as Mr Lopez 2681 pointed out, she's the most boring ballerina ever to be made a prima.

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Wouldn't care to speculate on what Petipa would have done in the 21st century, but the opinion you quote is perhaps not universally shared as there are those who find her to be as riveting a ballerina as we have ever seen in 50 years of dance going...something reflected already on this thread and what it says about her recent performance in Marguerite and Armand.

(We do know that she has been cast by today's leading Russian choreographer in two of his works: Anna Karenina and Little Humpbacked Horse...)

Regarding her opinions: I assume Lopatkina could have had any number of reasons for her loyalty to older productions that reflected the knowledge and labor of her teachers and were, additionally, an important part of the company's historical heritage and long-standing traditions. We don't have to share her views, but that doesn't mean they didn't reflect a thoughtful response or raise important issues.

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(We do know that she has been cast by today's leading Russian choreographer in two of his works: Anna Karenina and Little Humpbacked Horse...)

Regarding her opinions: I assume Lopatkina could have had any number of reasons for her loyalty to older productions that reflected the knowledge and labor of her teachers and were, additionally, an important part of the company's historical heritage and long-standing traditions. We don't have to share her views, but that doesn't mean they didn't reflect a thoughtful response or raise important issues.

Yeah I heard Anna Karenina went well for her, though the ballet itself didn't get great reviews and I know a few people who want Ratmansky's works completely dropped from the Mariinsky repertoire.

You see, even loyalty is still an excuse and not a very good one. I actually do not understand why the Mariinsky is loyal to Sergeyev because truthfully, he doesn't deserve it. They should be more loyal to Petipa because he was the choreographic genius and he was the one who forever changed ballet. But of course while Fateyev is still in charge, we're never going to see any more reconstructions. As well as Swan Lake, which is my favourite ballet, I would really love to see the Mariinsky staging a reconstruction of The Pharaoh's Daughter - that is the one ballet that needs to be brought back to the Mariinsky Theatre.

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The problem is that the notations are supposedly only certain parts and the rest has to be guessed. Lacotte makes up and totally creates most of his "reconstructions" from what I understand. I have enjoyed his work on DVD (Pharoah's Daughter, Ondine, La Sylphide, Marco Spada), but they are probably nothing like the original ballets. Much is guesswork and a lot of creativity. Everything I've read about the notations says that the Harvard Collection really only gives some of the picture and was intended to be used by people who were familiar with the works so gaps could be filled.

Essentially, a reconstruction could be more "wrong" than what was passed down foot to foot and changed over the years!

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I know of some factors that contributed to this "aversion" of his but I will refrain from talking about it in public.

I am holding my breath waiting whether the Acting Director is going to promote Stepanova before she goes on stage at Covent Garden in three weeks time as Odette. At the moment he is risking of being remembered in the future as, I guess, the only director in history who dared to come to the Royal Opera House with a corps de ballet girl dancing «Swan Lake». That could truly create a world wide sensation.

Bolshakova was only 19 and in the corps when she danced Odette/Odile in London at the end of her first MT season.

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