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Neumeier ballets at Kirov

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3 ballets by John Neumeier were premiered on april 28-29 at Kirov (Mariinsky) ballet (St.Petersburg).

I will translate some postings from Russian forums later. So far, most of dancers (Lopatkina, Vishneva, Fadeev, Zakharova, Sologub) were praised both by spectators and critics.

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I heard that one of the Neumeier ballets is called "Now and Then". It was also danced by the Royal Danish Ballet several years ago.

[ 04-30-2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

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As far as I know the premiere of Neumiere's ballets at Mariinsky Theatre included:

Spring and Fall (Dvorak)

Now and Then (Ravel)

Sounds of Empty Pages (Shnittke)

Each dancer appeared in more than one piece, but it seems the highest acclaim went to Lopatkina and Vishneva in Spring and Fall.

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Cast on April 28th (premiere):

Spring and Fall (Dvorzhak) - Vishneva, Fadeev (29th - Hrebtov, Sologub)

Now and Then (Ravel) - Zakharova, Sologub, Fadeev

Sounds of empty pages (Schnitke) - Lopatkina, Vishneva, Fadeev

Spectators were pleased to see star cast both for premiere and 29th morning show.

Vishneva was ever said "too perfect", since the difference in class hurted a bit

Neumeier's choreography, oriented to well-leveled cast.

Sologub was preferred over Zakharova, the last being "too classical" for these

ballets. Sologub, instead, tried to follow the style. "Born to dance Neumeier", in

one opinion.

Fadeev expressed his artistic skills, by creating two very different roles. In Sounds

of empty pages (the world premiere), he was partnered by sublime Lopatkina (in black)

and Vishneva (in cherry). For Lopatkina, it was the first appearance on stage in new

millenium. Even if it's a bit too late, she could't have started it better.

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Interesting to read that Zakharova is already considered "too classical" now :)

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Some of Neumeier's dramatic ballets are, well, dramatic, at least, but as a choreographer, his charms elude me. The choreography is so...awkward. Not deliberately ugly in the provocative avant-garde sense, which can often be very interesting, but just plain awkward when he seems to be trying to be lyrical. (His Romeo and Juliet pas de deux, for example. They run down the stairs from the balcony, stop, grin at the audience, and then he flips her over his shoulder.) I keep thinking about the "born to dance Neumeier" line. I suppose it was meant as a compliment.

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Originally posted by alexandra:

I keep thinking about the "born to dance Neumeier" line.  I suppose it was meant as a compliment.

Considering the context (the Kirov Ballet), I wouldn't think of it this way.

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Marc, obviously *I* wouldn't use it as a compliment, but I thought in the context of the new, improved Kirov it might have been so intended. :)

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I see, Alexandra. Well, it's "new" alright, but I still have to find out about that "improved" part :).

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Hi everyone!

"Born to dance Neumeier" was clearly stated as compliment in Russian text (opposing to "being too classical" which was clearly a criticizm). But I wouldn't conclude from this that Sologub is better than Zakharova. A dancer cannot suit perfectly all ballets.

Another interesting thing that could have been missed by not-Russian speakers: Vishneva's family name means "Cherry-ish" in Russian. I wonder if Neumeier made her dancing in cherry because of that...

BTW, there're no other news about these ballets on Russian forums since Sunday.

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Isn't this the world turned upside down? There is something I've missed here, but can somebody please explain me why "being too classical" is (in the contect of the Kirov Ballet) all of the sudden a shortcoming?

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Well, Marc, I think "being too classical" in Kirov context means the following: "A dancer is suited for classical choreography ("Swan Lake", "Sleeping Beauty"), but not for Neumeier's modern choreography".

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Interesting discussion!

We have quite a lot of Neumeier ballets here in Munich (what surprise - with Ivan Liska as AD... ;)), but I haven't seen any of those performed by Kirov now.

Personally, I prefer Neumeier's older ballets (I ADORE his "Nutcracker"!) - I have found it a bit difficult to follow his recently sometimes quite mystique approaches to themes and music...(lots of running and walking, as you said, Alexandra)

I have been wondering if the "born to dance Neumeier" was meant as a compliment, as his style is so different now from pure classical ballet - but in general, I believe it is something that cannot be judged objectivly but is an expression of personal taste...? Just similar as calling someone "too classical"...

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Another opinion, translated from Russian forum:

"Performance of April 28th. I liked "Sounds of empty pages" and "Spring and Fall". Neumeier used very skillfully Vishneva's soft grace and Lopatkina moved like a lionness. But I was deceived by "Now and Then". I felt pity for Zakharova. I don't know what she thinks about this role, but I think she was out of luck. I don't think Ravel ever intended this slow music to be danced. Powerful Kuznetsov was in harmony with "gym" ambiance, but nothing more. To resume, these ballets did leave me with mixed feelings".

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A.M., thanks for your very interesting updates on this Neumeier programme. Do you think the Kirov will tour in future with this programme?

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Kevin, as far as I know Kirov never toured abroad with modern choreography. They staged "Goya" (by J.Antonio), "Young Man and the Death" (by R.Petit), "In the Night" (by J.Robbins), but did you see any of those in the West? (If someone did, please let me know!). So I guess it would be the same with Neumeier's.

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A.M. They used to tour with Eifman, Petit, Vinogradov, and things like that in the eighties, but that's definitely from another era.

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Another article from St.Petersburg Forum:

"Sounds of Empty Pages" is the best Neumeier's result with the Kirov. The composer Alfred Schnitke was a very good friend of Neumeier, and the choreographer used his music for "Peer Gynt" staged with Hamburg Ballet. "Sounds..." - what is it all about? "About a human being the center of everything," - says Neumeier. It cannot be explained by words, just like Leonardo's "Joconda" cannot be. It's a pure choreography. The protagonists have no names. The young man (Andrian Fadeev) is surrounded by mystic strangers. Who is that girl in black (Uliana Lopatkina) - Destiny? Line of Life? Music? And another one, in cherry (Diana Vishneva) - Muse? Love? There's no answer; spectators are free to interprete it.

Neumeier praised all Kirov dancers collaborating for his ballets. A very rare case with the Kirov: all dancers (including corps-de-ballet) were listed by name in playbill. Diana Vishneva participated in all three ballets, and became a real Neumeier's ballerine.

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"Sounds..." - what is it all about? "About a human being the center of everything," - says Neumeier. It cannot be explained by words, just like Leonardo's "Joconda" cannot be. It's a pure choreography. The protagonists have no names. The young man (Andrian Fadeev) is surrounded by mystic strangers. Who is that girl in black (Uliana Lopatkina) - Destiny? Line of Life? Music? And another one, in cherry (Diana Vishneva) - Muse? Love? There's no answer; spectators are free to interpret it.

Gotta hand it to Neumeier, he sure knows how to do PR that sounds like it came straight from Delphos. Is it just me, or does anyone else resent the "it means whatever you want it to mean" line? I think that's a given. When someone asks me what my work means, I've stopped giving that answer. It feels like a cop-out, or like I don't have a clue how to make something that says what I have to say, or worst of all, that I don't even know what I have to say.

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After the actual quote from Neumeier "about a human being the center of everything," I couldn't quite tell from A.M.'s original entry whether or not the rest was also a a paraphrase of Neumeier, or, rather a quotation or paraphrase of the author of the newspaper article (or even perhaps A.M.'s own thoughts about the ballet) so it seems a little hard to judge, especially since we're dealing with multiple translations (Neumeier into Russian? Russian into English?)

[

[ 05-07-2001: Message edited by: Drew ]

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To Drew: in fact, the rest (after "human being the center..." phrase) does not belong to Neumeier, but to the author of the original Russian article. Please be sure that I am merely translating those, and I cannot give my own opinion because, based in Paris, I didn't see these Neumeier ballets.

I'd agree with Leigh Witchel: it seems to be a bit of "I-won't-tell-you-what-is-it-all-about, clue-yourself" approach. I personally do prefer a "plot" ballets, where dancers have to tell a STORY by dancing CHARACTERS and give DRAMATIC impressions. I think Neumeier is opposing to that by giving AESTETIC impression that spectator can "fill in" with his (spectator's) own story.

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A.M. wrote :

I think Neumeier is opposing to that by giving

AESTETIC impression that spectator can "fill in" with his (spectator's) own story.

I didn't see this particular work either, but in my list of choreographers, Neumeier is a direct descendent of Petipa. He'd like full lentgh ballets, he used the same structure, some times the old stories, some times he's inventing his own, but doing this he emphasis not on illustration of actions, but on inner motivation of heroes.

Leigh, as I know, Nuemeier is a great spokeperson, he'd like to talk and he leads an educational program in Hamburg, so, it's no way for him to say "think what do you want to think" or something like that. I heard that press-conference with him in St.Petersburg became the lecture of ballet's history - so full were his answers.

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I thought it interesting, Andrei, that you count Neumeier as a descendant of Petipa. Syvil Shearer, the American modern dancer with whom he studied before going to Europe and who is a great supporter of Neumeier (and a very interesting woman) has written that she thinks he's in the Noverre-Fokine line -- the story is more important than the steps. (My objections to Neumeier, aside from, as is often written, "He talks a good ballet" -- meaning that the program notes are often more interesting than what's going on on stage -- is that much of the choreography I've seen is so awkward -- in places where, it seems, he's trying to be beautiful.)

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certainly the kirov brought a balanchine program on their last tour, doing 'symphony in c', 'tchaikovsky pas de deux' and i don't remember what else, and in 1992, i seem to remember 'leaves are fading' on another program not composed of the classics.

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