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Rebellion at the Maryinsky


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#16 Ann

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Posted 13 May 2000 - 07:35 PM

Marc

I'm sorry if my reference to 'Soviet-influenced' choreography was a little off the mark. I love the Kirov's 'Bayadere' and 'Corsair' as much as anyone, but the fact remains that they simply cannot afford to ignore Balanchine and it is worrying that their dancers seem to have a problem with his work. It is quite beside the point that they are 'as attuned to Balanchine as NYCB is to Yakobson or Zakharov', since NYCB hardly needs the latters'work while the Kirov, in the absence of any choreographer of anything like the significance of Balanchine, or indeed Ashton, Tudor or McMillan, are desperately in need of Balanchine.

If the Kirov wants to keep its status as one of the greatest ballet companies in the world, it needs new works, and they are incredibly lucky that Balanchine is 'new' to them. They shold stop whining and get on with it.

#17 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 May 2000 - 08:20 PM

Ann -

Substitute the words "Royal Danish Ballet" for "Kirov".

Substitute the word "Bournonville" for "Petipa".

It just happened there. They're bringing in lots more Balanchine. And not doing any Bournonville for 3 years.

I think I can say I love Balanchine as much as any other board member here. But did we really need another company to do respectable Balanchine at the expense of being the repository of another genius?

If the Kirov finds its identity in its native works, that's fine by me. They don't need to trade them for ours.



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Leigh Witchel -dae@panix.com
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#18 Ilya

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Posted 13 May 2000 - 09:57 PM

This is interesting. I remember reading (not too long ago) interviews with Vaziev and Ruzimatov where both said they had been closest friends since their first year at the Academy (early 70s). It's very sad that ballet politics is so destructive.

Marc, is either of these two articles (in "Dancing Times" and "Moscow Commercial Daily") online?

By the way, my hunch is that "too much Balanchine" was very low on the list of complaints: I would think that the main one was "favoritism for the youngsters".

#19 Guest_Intuviel_*

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Posted 13 May 2000 - 10:33 PM

If the Petipa repertory is dated and stale, so is the Balanchine. Petipa looks like the 19th century, and I can tell which Balanchine ballets were created during what decade just by looking at them. For that matter, what if dancers at NYCB rebelled against "too much Petipa?" They'd be supported because they look awful doing Petipa, and they should conserve the great Balanchine works. Same thing with the Kirov, but the other way round. Since when is Balanchine unquestionably the greatest choreographer ever, to be worshipped by all ballet companies?

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#20 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 02:45 AM

I don't think either that the complaint about the choice of repertoire was the main problem in this whole affair. Although (as has been already discussed here once on this board), it seems to be true that some dancers are less then happy with the increase of works by Mr. B. (no matter what they state in public). And once again, it is not necessarily because it is Balanchine (some of them like Petit or Béjart as much, for that matter Posted Image), it is because they feel their own repertoire (Petipa and many of the usually despised Soviet choreographers) is neglected. Some of these young dancers still need and want to develop in their own repertoire, which is really in their blood (to use Kirill Melnikov's wonderful line), before they want to pay attention to other choreographies.

Ann, I'm sorry, but are you suggesting now that a ballet company needs new works or does not need works? The Kirov needs Balanchine to develop, you say; but you also imply that NYCB has enough with Balanchine only and doesn't need to develop by acquiring other choreographies!? Or maybe you consider Balanchine the universal miracle-choreographer of all times Posted Image. As shocking as it may sound to you, but it does occur that dancers consider a ballet like "Apollo" an unbearable, dated bore.

Ilya, I don't know about Moscow "Commercial Daily" being online. "Dancing Times" has a site although I fear it hasn't been updated in ages and it never contained all the printed articles anyway.

Ilya, Farukh Ruzimatov and Makhar Vaziev were buddies and do you remember that in 1995 they were BOTH named co-director (deputy, or whatever the exact title was) by Oleg Vinogradov? So, what's left of that? Right!

#21 Dale

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 03:13 AM

I agree with you Marc that the Kirov should not chuck all of its heritage to turn into NYCB-East but I don't agree about Apollo. Do the Kirov dancers get tired of dancing Giselle until they drop? Or Swan Lake? No, they always say the more they perform a part, the greater their understanding becomes etc... Well, Zelensky has said that dancing Apollo is one of his greatest joys, and never fails to renew his love of ballet. I'm sure other artists feel the same way.

Of course, with your knowledge of the troupe I will usually defer to you, but after watching the Kirov dancers' reaction to I. Fokine, I have come to the conclusion that they are extremely set in their ways and loath to try anything new that might push them to extend themselves.

And while it is true, NYCB does not perform Jacobson or Zakhovov, they do put on at least two new ballets a season (around four a year), and without debating the merits of said choreography, they do try. ABT has tried Duato and Graham.

I'm definitely not for a homogenizing of ballet companies and the jack-of-all-trades-master-none style rep, I do think companies can expand their base of ballets without betraying their style. I mean, the Kirov is being asked to perform Jewels, not Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir! Posted Image

Marc wrote:
"As shocking as it may sound to you, but it does occur that dancers consider a ballet like "Apollo" an unbearable, dated bore."

Maybe what they don't like is being told that they can't change steps to suit themselves and perform at whatever tempo they like (usually a dirge) no matter what the composers' markings are.

[This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 14, 2000).]

#22 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 04:28 AM

Yes, Dale, Zelensky likes “Apollo”.
He also once declared in a 1997 Daily Telegraph-interview by Ismene Brown, that dancing Albrecht in “Giselle” doesn’t “inspire” him. When asked for his opinion about performing classical ballets, Zelensky answered: “You just don’t look human in those classic stories. When my grandmother sees me do a prince she says, ‘What on earth’s going on there on stage, why are you doing this with your legs, why don’t you have a name?’ And it’s true. You look like another world. Classic ballet is like space, full of aliens. I prefer to do more real stories, Manon or Romeo and Juliet.”

All this sounds pretty ominous to me… (or never trust your grandma Posted Image )

#23 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 05:15 AM

Isabelle Fokine “working” with the Kirov corps de ballet was a rather funny, but in the end unfortunate piece of film, because it made both parties look like fools and it made people believe that this is the usual way of working in the Kirov – heaven forbid.

Let’s put it this way. If you have been dancing a certain piece for ages and all of the sudden somebody appears in front of you, declaring: “Sorry girls, you were wrong all the time, starting today I’m gonna tell you how it should be done, because I am the granddaughter of the great Fokine and I’m the only person who knows how” (even if I don’t speak his language), I don’t think you would buy that so easily either. Besides, it wasn’t even anything “new”, it was just another reading/interpretation - you know, I say tomato, you say tomahto - and it wouldn’t have “extended” them in any way.

#24 eugene

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 05:26 AM

I would just like to add that if the Kirov is going to do new works I think it is better that they did say Apollo or Glass Pieces then "Daughters of the Phaoroah". Even the name puts me off!!

Now I remember it was Olga Moiseyva who said Kirov should be a museum. It is apparent that given her last comment that "if you do not like do not come" she has not shed Soviet attitudes to customer services!

#25 Dale

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 05:37 AM

I've also read interviews with coaches from the Balanchine Trust talk about the difficulties in mounting productions at the Kirov. Not just the ever-changing casts and politics but the dancers' stubbornness to do something a different way. In an interview in Ballet Review a few years ago, one the Kirov's own ballet coaches spoke about how difficult it was in trying to get the dancers to observe the proper tempos in Symphony in C, saying "Our ballerinas are ladies of leasure."

And yes, I would at least try what Isabel Fokine was asking for. Just because you've done something for 100 years one way doesn't mean it is the right way. If I suddenly had a new Editor in Chief, who wanted copy to have a different style than the one we were using I'd have to go with the new style. I would have to respect his/her authority no matter if I was the second coming of Red Smith. If the Kirov's brass thought Fokine was worthy enough to come in and teach a different interpretation of a ballet, than as a dancer I might complain a little privately with my fellow dancers but I'd act professionally and listen to what she had to say.

[This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 14, 2000).]

#26 Alexandra

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 10:43 AM

We published an interview of Isabelle Fokine (by Robert Greskovic) in DanceView a few years ago. Her experience in staging her grandfather's work, and working with her father staging Michel Fokine's work, was extremely minimal. There was nothing she said in that interview that made me look forward to her stagings, or think that she could restore anything of importance to the international repertory. She sounded, as do so many restagers, like someone who thought staging ballets might be a pretty nice job.

I agree with Marc and Ilya that the real reason for the "rebellion" is far from an aesthetic one. It's more likely to be disagreements over casting and the way they are treated generally by the director.

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited May 14, 2000).]

#27 Andrei

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 01:19 PM

Wow! I didn't turn on my computer yesterday, otherways I wiil be in this hot topic aldeady.

eugene, I think your idea about cold war can be dissmissed. First of all, because we don't think about Balanchine as a foreigner. His name is Georgy Melitonovich Balanchivadze, his was born in St.Petersburg, he had our education, nis first choreographic expierences were made in Mariinsky and in the West he came as creative firmed person. Did he develop further? Of course. Did he change the main components of classical ballet? No. So, I don't see any problems here.

Dale, corps de ballet in Mariinsky is really tough, they know their true value and you have to really to gain their respect during the work. And if you are lack of professionalism or showing some haughtiness (as was in Mrs.Fokine case) consequences will be pitiable.

About the revolt. They didn't win because they didn't know what they want! They said to much touring, but it's impossible to survive without touring's money. To much Balanchine, but I know a lot of them eager to dance in new pieces, even Forsythe. To much given to youngsters, but they didn't think this is a wrong, when they got their first role in 18-19.

So, I think everything goes to personal issue and this a very delicate matter, I believe.

Andrei.

P.S. Marc, I hope Zelensky will never be an Artistic Director of this company Posted Image.

[This message has been edited by Andrei (edited May 14, 2000).]

#28 Guest_Intuviel_*

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Posted 14 May 2000 - 08:10 PM

Dale, try looking at it this way: What if NYCB were to mount a new production of Giselle, with the steps all the same as the Kirov's, even at the Kirov tempo? That, for me, is a truly frightening thought. So why would you want the Kirov to do the same with a Balanchine ballet?

Yes, the Russians dance slowly, but it's no worse than the NYCB dancers speeding up Tchaikovsky to a hyperactive sugar~rush tempo just to suit them. I don't think a single ballet has ever been written and performed while keeping the tempi the same.

eugene, some of us would not put Apollo and Glass Pieces in the same class Posted Image.

And will someone for once PLEASE tell me just what is so wrong with museums here? Did somebody have a bad experience at Metropolitan Museum of Art as a child or something? Is the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo Evil? If not, then why are Petipa and his ballets? Picasso studied the Renaissance artists before embarking on Cubism, and Balanchine certainly had watched a great deal of Petipa before he started choreographing, and I'm sure Christopher Wheeldon had seen many Ashton ballets before he did Scenes de Ballet. The Royal Ballet does Ashton and life goes on. The Danes still dance some Bournonville. Paris Opera dances Nureyev and the world hasn't ended. So why can't the Kirov dance Petipa and leave Balanchine to the company that does his ballets best~~PNB...uh...I mean NYCB Posted Image? And for that matter, could NYCB please please please leave Petipa to the Russians? If they don't always do the mime, at least their sets don't look as though they came out of a kindergarten finger~painting class and their dancers know what to do with their arms.

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~Intuviel~

#29 Dale

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Posted 15 May 2000 - 03:07 AM

Intuviel, I abhor bad tempi in any company or performance. And I love museums too.

Unfortunately, Petipa doesn't have an active foundation to preserve his works, but Balanchine, Tudor and Robbins do. And if a representative goes to a company to mount one of the trusts' ballets, then I think they have a right to ask or insist on the proper performance practice of those ballets, including the tempi. Having read articles, attended symposium, and seen documentaries with coaches for the Balanchine and Robbins trusts, I can say they sound sensitive to artists' needs without sacrificing the ballets. So when Francia Russell goes to St. Petersburg to teach Svetlana Zakahova Apollo and says that she was difficult, I'll take her word for it.

And while we've touched on this topic, as a musician, I find it interesting that people in ballet think nothing of changing choreography or tempos to suit themselves ("Well, the choreographer would want me to look good, right?") while in music that just doesn't usually happen. I just couln't go up to the conductor and say, "You know that high B in the horn solo in Beethoven's 7th? We'll high notes aren't my specialty. I'm going to take it down an octave. And those trills in the Academic Overture? I don't do trills so well, so I'm doing arpeggios. I've got my own version of the solo in Tchiak 5 too." I'm sorry, I'd have been replaced. Now, I'm not saying changes are never made in the music world or ballet should be the same way, but could you imagine a La Boheme where Mimi doesn't die at the end but goes off with the doctor?

[This message has been edited by Dale (edited May 15, 2000).]

#30 Manhattnik

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Posted 15 May 2000 - 04:38 AM

Originally posted by Dale:
If I suddenly had a new Editor in Chief, who wanted copy to have a different style than the one we were using I'd have to go with the new style. I would have to respect his/her authority no matter if I was the second coming of Red Smith.


Don't you mean "if one was the second coming of Red Smith?"

Sorry, couldn't resist.


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