I wrote a review of last night's SOLO FOR TWO performance in London for another web Forum that you might find of interest -- as it specifically makes reference to at least two of the referenced 'major critics'.you note, abatt .... At any rate, here she blows: ...
I remember MANY years ago sitting in a Broadway theatre with my mother. We were watching a (not particularly good) musical by Andre Previn about Gabrielle Channel entitled 'Coco'. As the curtain came down after a rather lengthy first act my mother whispered in my ear: 'It's a good thing she's Katherine Hepburn.' It was. While Hepburn's singing abilities were oftentimes doubtful there was no question but that she was every inch a star. (Cecil Beaton's costumes were ravishing too I recall. Indeed both of these entities remain vivid in my mind's eye even now.)
In some moments of SOLO FOR TWO - even occasionally in Ohad Naharin's PASSO which I must confess oft dumbfounded me (largely because I'm almost totally unaware of Gaga short of a certain lady and even then only remotely connected) I had a kind of 'far away' response. During such parts I fleetingly felt as if I was again that child visiting a then (to me) strange Manhattan from a country then popularly - and legally - referred to as 'Great Britain'. My ground shifted here as surely as it must have for Vasipova. Somehow at times we both seemed shrouded in a (not always unpleasant or frightening) mist. (And, no, I must confess I've never - even at children's parties - been made to walk like a duck much as Vasiliev had to in time to 'Greensleves'.*) Still, certain goalposts were swaying. That too can sometimes be revealing. At certain points in SOLO FOR TWO I found my mind's eye casting itself upwards as I made to whisper to my mother: 'It's a good thing that they're 'Vasipova'.. Tit for parental tat I suppose. I then imagined that I winked and thought I heard my mother snort - politely - in return.
The only thing is, my mother would not have had the good fortune/opportunity to be realistically initiated unto the reality of Vasipova's heady (balletic) charms previously. She would never have (as I fear many in this far from capacity audience had not) seen them together glorify Don Q, Giselle, Corsaire, Flames of Paris, Laurencia, etc. Indeed, the woman next to me had never seen either of them (together or apart) before .. EVER. In many ways I could understand when she turned to her friend after the second interval (both of which were considerably longer than the dance works they preceded) saying: 'I was so relieved when I heard the women in the loo saying they were confused and unhappy. Thank Christ it wasn't just me.'
Still I found myself blurting out in joy as Osipova strolled away in dismay at Vasiliev's pseudo 'he-man' display in the aforementioned piece much as I later did when she reattached her wayward groom's 'bunny bow' - this time with sparkles - from the depths of her own burnished (if painful) fantasy buried in Arthur Pita's bemusing FACADA. The ladies next to me remained 'stoney' faced throughout I fear. They didn't even seem to be moved by Osipova's outstanding tabletop dance of death over the final remains of her strangulated and literally strangled Portuguese pain below - for me the single most outstanding feature of the entire evening. Still, they applauded politely and even remained in place for the one front of curtain appearance by the mighty duo. If Sergei Danilian (the producer) had combined, say, two of the three pieces presented (say, Cherkaoui's MERCY and the Pita) with the vision sequence from 'LA BAYADERE (as had been originally promised in the Segerstrom Center's promotion) - or even placed those aside Petit's CARMEN with Ballet San Jose and the magnificent Jose Manuel Carreno in tow as Espada as had been itemised at one point in the production's press release - those ladies I thought - and many like them - might well have been offered a more balanced perspective via which to catch onto/alight (in terms of Vasipova's historic/histrionic strengths) during their journey into this seeming wonderland.
I had one additional point of concern this morning. Am I alone in being somewhat troubled by the fact that the two most prominent and positive reviews of this programme are written by reviewers - and in The Daily Telegraph's case the woman who is the overall Arts Editor - who have previously had dinners with and, in the Guardian's case, shared a preparatory class aside the two stars of this production? Years ago I remember chatting with Clive Barnes and his saying that he felt it was "mandatory" - in order to keep an objective critical stance on behalf of his readership - that he not do interviews, other features or in any way socialise with any of the personnel responsible for any of the productions (be they dance or theatre) he would be reviewing. "Other people can write those," he quipped. He even said that he turned down social invitations if he was aware that any such would be attending. I must confess I was myself concerned when Sarah Crompton (ref The Daily Telegraph) showed up to do the pre-class interview and commentary with the Mariinsky Acting Director during their live class relay feature. Other people (if I recall correctly) took those roles for the Telegraph last year when the paper featured similar video outings with the Bolshoi. (Perhaps she won't be reviewing any of the other items of the Mariinsky fare to be presented. That would, in my estimation, be prudent.) Indeed, neither of these women made ANY reference to their associations in their SOLO FOR TWO reviews - and both, I believe, have additionally written features. Perhaps this is just a sign of our times. They may well now be right (I don't know) and certainly must be (rightfully I think) fearful for their positions given the overwhelming and current industry trends. Within the next decade or so such posts may well be entirely non-vocational. The internet does offer such wonderful succour in terms of alternative resource. Just look at Bruce Marriott's gloriously rich DanceTabs!!! We are, I think, so lucky; so very blessed.
* I adore Vasiliev in part because he can often appear as if he wants to break out in glee. While doing that duck walk (repeated four times) this dancer who succeeded in making even SPARTACUS palatable for me (and that takes SOME doing) looked (to me) for all the world as if he wanted to tell a joke. I, myself, had wanted to hear it as I have this hunch it might well have been superior (i.e,, come as a relief) to his rather awkward haunch at that particular moment in time.