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Neumeier ballets at Kirov

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#31 Guest_amalinovski_*

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Posted 14 May 2001 - 06:28 AM

There were nothing like this in Mariinsky, since Balanchine's "Symphony in C" premiere.
So handsome is "Spring & Fall" young soloist Maxim Khrebtov! So beautiful is Svetlana
Zakharova, moving her body precisely in "Now and Then"! So revealing is Andrian Fadeev,
portraying an artist going crazy in "Sounds of Empty Pages"! So perfect is, finally, the
whole cast - dancing with emotional and technical "freedom" unheard of in Mariinsky,
some years ago momified in its classical heritage.
The post-Soviet Mariinsky was obsessed with the idea of bringing in modern choreographers. Balanchine, Petit, McMillan were not exactly so; Mariinsky needed a living and acting person. Like Normand Knights, invited to rule Russia at the beginning of time, there was a need to
invite someone to get the world's best ballet out of the aestetic stagnation. Bejart seemed
to be adequate: there would be an assured international notoriety, large media attention, tied-to-dollar ticket prices, new Russian elite coming to be seen, not to see, etc.
Neumeier does not seem able to get such attention. Russian fans had hard time learning his name's spelling. He has an image of a liberal high-school teacher, using a bicycle to get to his home Hamburg Theatre. His art is non-aggressive, well calculated, stylistically perfect, accepted by "comme-il-faut" public. But this isn't what was important to Mariinsky.
Neumeier's art is focused on the dancer. Not any one, but this one, who is present now and
here, waiting for choreographer's directions. Neumeier writes down a several pages' notes
about every corps-de-ballet dancer, let alone soloists. He gets inspired by this or that
unique person he works with.
The Death in "Sounds of Empty Pages" is "Uliana Lopatkina by Neumeier". He does not evaluate whether the dancer is beautiful or not; he's just mesmerized by this one-woman natural phenomenon, showing off her almost painfully thin arms and legs in positions emphasizing, not covering, the disproportions. Neumeier invents the role of a crazy artist for Fadeev, a blond with childish face and non-childish expression; because no other dancer can simultaneously
express the vulnerability and the force of an artist tormented by its own imagination. Neumeier dresses a big and slow Kuznetsov in a strong steel-coloured suit, hiding everything but the dancer's enormous hands. And an entranced spectator sees a senseless daemon, sadistically playing with the tormented artist.
Neumeier loves his dancers passionately, but never blindly. He creates them himself. Strongly speaking, the cast of his ballets is not a typical Mariinsky's cast. It's modeled by Neumeier. He loves short, feminine, brunette female dancers, whom he carefully chosed, and who are not exactly the type one is used to see today. Maybe this is coming from old postcards of 1900s, largely present in Neumeier's private collection...
An admirer of Dyaguilev's belle epoque, Neumeier uses the reminescences of that time as well. The bucolic "Spring & Fall" with its nymphs and young men falling down, recalls Anna Pavlova's plastic and Nijinsky's Faun. The sporty "Now and Then" resembles the "urbanistic" style of Ballets Russes; young men in swimsuits play joyful sensuality of physical training.
Neumeier's art is the capability of being liked by everyone, still playing by his own rules. This is the art of getting interested by twenty- or thirty-years-old things, as if they were discovered just yesterday.
Mariinsky is in luck with Neumeier. Neumeier is in luck with Mariinsky.

#32 Alexandra


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Posted 17 May 2001 - 01:53 PM

Thank you, A.M., for your reports, and for taking the time and trouble to translate for us. There are many readers of this board interested in the Kirov (Maryinsky) and who don't have access to Russian reviews. It's wonderful to keep up. This reviewer sounds very interesting and very perceptive -- I don't happen to agree with her, but I take her seriously :)

What she writes about Neumeier and the dancers is exactly what the Danish dancers say about him, by the way. That part could have been written by a Dane -- where Neumeier has long been the favorite modern choreographer. I see his value as a director and I understand why they like working with him, but I don't think being a good director is the same as being a good choreographer. Where he fails, for me and many others, is in the actual movement. It's a limited and often very awkward vocabulary.

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