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Calliope

Kirov in NY

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This is in response to Leigh, way back up at the top of page 2 of this thread, who wrote that the Kirov's production doesn't seem that different from the one the Universal Ballet was touring last year.

I haven't seen the Kirov's, unfortunately, but from what I'm reading, both here, in the press and in the press kit materials, it sounds quite different. The Universal's doesn't have the fourth act, and, like every production I've seen, moves dances from the fourth act into the second. The Universal's first act, however, did emphasize rather than apologize for or delete the mime, and made the whole ballet, to me, seem more serious, a classical tragedy consciously written after Greek models.

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I'm not quite sure why everyone is in such shock about the heavy use of mime in Acts I & II of the 1900 Kirov 'Bayadere' vis-a-vis the 1941 Soviet version that it replaces. The '41 version's Acts I & II/sc i contained almost as much mime! The only additional 'pointe dancing' in Act I was the Circle-Dance of the Bayaderes (around the fire)...which is now performed in sandals. Ditto Act II/sc i "Jampe Dance" which is now in sandals, instead of the latter-version pointe shoes.

Honestly -- I recall the many similar, negative comments on the 1941 version of the Kirov's 'Bayadere' during the first intermission at the Met, when it was presented on a tour in 1992 or 1993. Same old-same old comments on "Doesn't this ballet contain any dancing?" Did anyone else attend the Met's 'Bayadere' performances on that early-1990s tour?

Compared to the 1941 version, the 1900/2002 version's mime is much more intelligible & clear. The story is more intriguing; the characters are further developed, especially the High Brahmin.

Bottom Line: I'm amazed that so many folks are just now discovering that 'Baya' is a mostly-mime ballet...should be no surprise if you've seen the 1941 Soviet version performed for so many years by the Kirov (& long-available on commercial video-cassette from 1977 telecast, by the way...Terekhova's Gamzatti on that video is to do for!). Watch & compare.

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Jeannie, I agree. Perhaps we're so used to seeiing such pared down versions of Petipa that I can understand why the longer, older versions are so shocking. I'm also interested that so many people think the second act isn't dancing because it's off pointe. There are still classical sections, as well as character sections; to me, that's dancing. And it's interesting how Petipa organized his ballets, with each act having a different character -- the same for Swan Lake and Raymonda, at least.

Hearing from a friend about those off-pointe dances in the second act, I wondered where Fokine's complaints came from? It seems that Petipa was using shoes appropriate to the characters' situation and dance form.

I also have a suggestion, for those who are about to encounter this Bayadere for the first time, or for anyone who didn't like it the first time and is going back for a second look -- it helps to look at what IS there instead of what isn't. I can remember my first year or two watching ballet, I'd also "wait for the dancing to start" -- and, in some cases, this would mean that I missed the whole ballet. When I started to watch what WAS there, and try to understand why -- if only virtuoso dancing is important, then why are they doing all this other stuff? It must mean something, there must be a reason. I want to find out what it is -- that I began to understand it, and then my definition of what dancing was began to become more broad.

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Couldn't agree more with Jeannie and Alexandra.

Although I don't have insight knowledge and experience in ballet, I still believe 'much mime&less dance' is fit quite well to any dramatic ballets. Take Fokine's Scheherazade as an example..where are pointe shoes? But I really love it (please..

don't throw eggs on me! :o ). I think this is how the story is told.

When I encountered La Bayadere (by POB) for the first time, the only scene that struck me was the mime in ACT II. While I found Shades scene a bit tedious (just like Kirov's Swan lake Act III).

Now back to the Met Season. It's very discouraging to hear that 1/3 of the audience left the hall. It's too bad if they were only looking for excitement.

Can anyone kindly describe me the reaction of the rest of the audience during the curtain calls? And how about the casting for Wed. matinee and eve.?

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Wow. What a great performance Wednesday night! I don't know much about Gumerova, but she's wonderful. Bigger and taller, it seems , than Zakharova or Vishneva, and dances with that "big-girl" amplitude I love.

Kolb was even better than opening night, and the corps was finally the Kirov corps I'd come hoping to see. No wobbly ecartes tonight! Just heavenly dancing.

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Manhattnik, you posted only a second after me.

Thank you for the info about the cast for Wed. night (although not intentionally!;) )

So glad you like Gumerova, a girl from Moscow. She is definitely taller than Vishneva and Zakharova (approx 5'8"). Don't miss her in Rubies. Great techniques and stylish. But I still doubt with her Odette/Odile. She wasn't quite into the character. Hope she will improve. And if you've got a chance. Try to see her in Le Corsaire as Medora. Simply wonderful.

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Thanks for that report, Manhattnik. Before it slips away, we have a question on the floor (from No7) about audience response and curtain calls.

Do those who remain seem happy :o Were the curtain calls demonstrative?

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Those who remain in the audience are happy and clapping for the dancers through the curtain calls!

And to the comment on being prepared for what La Bayadere is before going by Alexandra...I think she has a point. My husband went to watch last night with full knowledge of what to expect in the first two acts from my reports to him and from reading these boards! The result was that he actually told me during his intermission reports that it wasn't as bad as I described it and he enjoyed it. Perhaps what we have here is a need for dance education. Not everyone is as well versed in ballet lore as most of the posters here and do not know what to expect when they walk in to see La Bayadere and are taken aback by what they see as a lack of dancing.

Does anyone know why there is such a huge pause when Solor goes off in Act IV before he comes back on...is it that he can't find his bow????

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only a guess:

i think it's a russian tradition to be good and ready before you dance a big solo. perhaps the readiness means catching a deep breath, doing some extra stretches/plies, or whatever. russian men have traditionally quit the stage more obviously and for longer periods of time than male dancers from other traditions: they just leave, sometimes when the ballerina is bowing after a pas de deux to 'prepare'. i once wondered this aloud to arlene croce and she thought maybe the went in the wings to spit. (not to be taken literally necessarily.)

i don't think in the case of solor's pas d'action solo that finding the bow can be the reason: neither fadeyev nor samodourov danced w/ the bow and each took his sweetnatured time before showing himself ready to launch into his dance.

in sum then i think it's just the way the russians do things, or at least the way russian men do their thing.

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I noticed that happening when the Bolshoi was here, too, both in Bayadere and Swan Lake -- I haven't seen this Bayadere, so this is only a guess, but....does this happen after applause for another dancer's variation? If so, my guess is that Solor is catching his breath -- and that there wasn't the amount of applause he's used to. When Russian troupes dance to video, there's always an ENORMOUS amount of time left for applause, and our audiences seldom rise to the occasion :o

This is only theory, mind you -- someone else may actually know :)

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I attended Tuesday night with a ladylike personage who would not leave until the lights came up after the last curtain calls. Having plenty of time, I looked about and at my estimate about ten full rows of the house were still there--but spaced out.

Odd notes: I know where the tulles are. They used them to stuff the tiger. (A friend remarked at intermission that the tiger looked as if it would squeak if stepped on. The ladylike personage, upon his entrance, leaned over and whispered "Poor Tony" in my ear. )Moving on, about those parrots--the ones in the hand, not the ones on top of the flower arches. They have little perches to hold onto, but the third parrot girl from the right had been dealt a perchless parrot, and thus was clutching hers around the body just about the tail. This was apparent because in all over the head arm movements, hers was the only curved wrist in evidence. She reminded me of Julia Child with a recalcitrant dinner chicken. (Just grab it here, raise it up, and....) Next up: the water urn was somehow attached to a flat plastic disk on top of the dancer's head. Question: Why has no one mentioned the hats? The hats were astonishing in their profusion. Now, lastly, a few serious remarks: First, this was the single most ridiculous ballet I have ever seen. You can't go home to the original, and part way just doesn't work. Time travel this was not. However, it was of great interest to see a ballet more or less as Balanchiine would have seen it, and wonder if some of it stayed with him--Oberon and Puck/Solor and his fakir. Doubled female principals, particularly in last act. Etc. Also, interesting to see Russian version of noble savagery via India. Sets thus of extreme interest,intellectually. Also costumes, what with Victoriana mixed into Orientalia. I bet you the tulle in the shades is nylon or its cousin, though, and I bet it wasn't in 1900. I'm glad I saw this, but I am not racing back to see it again. I'd go for the Shades, though, even with the reduced number of girls. Also, that greenish scrim RG mentioned must have looked very different in the original, when theatrical lighting was so different. Ditto the scrim at the back, through which the Shades stepped just after entering from our right, way upstage amidst "rocks." It looked like ripped pantyhose, that scrim. The overall front scrim effect was difficult to assess in its intention; the result was that the shades, at least from mid-front part of the house, downstairs, seemed to be dancing behind window screening. The reason given for the reduced number of girls in this act was that it was too expensvie to bring them all....this is a production about the production.

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Gumerova from Moscow? Perhaps she was born there but she studied at the Vaganova Academy in St Pete & graduated in 1995 (same class as Vishneva, Dumchenko, Kuznetsov, Fadeev, etc, etc, etc). Taught by Lyudmilla Kovaleva.

For NO7 - the final curtain calls on Monday night were tepid (by NYC standards) until Zakharova came out for her bow & then the loud 'brava's' errupted. Strangely, Igor Kolb was paired with the Gamzatti (Tarasova) for all of his bows. So the sequence of bows saw the Nikiya (Zakharova) have the crowd all to herself. Of course, I was cheering loudly for Igor! ;)

After the Shades act (Act III) there was huge applause for the corps de ballet, as soon as the curtain went up.

Alexandra - Yes, the in-between-dances pace is slower in Russian theaters, where union concerns do not exist. (hint-hint...in the West, stage managers RUSH matters, to avoid having to pay double-time/overtime pay to the dressers, prop men, etc. It's a different world in Rus. I'm assuming that the same rule is in effect at the MET, i.e.,I believe that US-union dressers are backstage at the MET & not Russian dressers? Doesn't matter - the Russian dancers are used to taking their time, as long as they need, backstage. They're not about to be rushed now because they are on tour!

p.s. - When does "overtime" for payment of extra-wages kick-in at the MET? Is is 11 pm? Midnight? If 11 pm, then the backstage folk must be very happy whenever the Kirov is in town.

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i THINK the overtime clock starts at 11:00

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Nanatchka, what is the "reduced number of Shades" that appear in this production? Is it 24? I don't see why it was too expensive to bring them all; there were certainly 36 in the version they brought in '91 or '92. And the Bolshoi provided 36 here a few weeks ago (for the opening procession only; the rest of the act was performed by 24 girls).

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the number in question here is 32: typically after entering down their incline(s) russian shades number 32, 4 rows of 8, (or 8 rows of 4 depending on how see the rows) tho' in speaking at a lincoln center symposium yesterday makhar vaziev said he wished he could have brought the 48 used in st. petersburg (jeannie i believe has confirmed this from may 31), ideally, he said he'd like to fill the stage w/ 64! (i think a moscow prod. once actually used 64.)

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Manhattnik's signature says it all:

"Every dance is too long, but some are more too-long"

This was definitely the latter. I saw Daria Pavlenko (was expecting Gumerova) It was a good 2 hours before there was any real dancing on the stage. During the first act, if any of the dancers had suddenly erupted into the Hebrew Slave's Chorus from "Nabucco", I would not have battered an eyelash. I sat through their 4-hour "Sleeping Beauty" and as far as I was concerned it could have gone on forever. That was a wondrous production--and it had Tschaikovsky's score to boot.

Pavlenko is a beautiful dancer to watch but I was put off by a lack of depth in her portrayal. Her Solor was Viacheslav Samodorov, and the Gamzatti, Ekaterina Osmolkina, who really broke loose in Act !V when she finally got out of those low-heeled shoes.

I remember seeing the Golden Idol being carried aloft on a large pillow, but that was the last I saw of him--I know they omitted his solo, but why have him parade in and then disappear? I swear I was fully awake during the entire performance.

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I saw Tuesday evening and Wednesday matinee performances.

Vishneva is a beautiful dancer, and I have always liked her in the past, but Nikya is just not her role. She is much too earthy for it--I was half expecting her to pull out a fan, and break out in a Don Q variation. Also, at times, she seemed more than a little mannered--all that chest arching, and so on. The ballet as a whole didn't come together around her. Fadeyev was a poetic, if meek Solor. Perhaps he and Pavlenko would have made a better match.

Daria was simply stunning yesterday, and I thought her portrayal very convincing, deeply felt, well thought-out, and most importantly--completely honest. I am so looking forward to her Swan Lake this Saturday. Samodurov was her somewhat coarse Solor, but then he is somewhat coarse in every role. He is a good jumper though--doubles of everything, to the knee, thank you very much. The little old ladies around me discussed this ability of his loudly and at length throughout his variation. Glad they enjoyed it, but just because they can't hear, doesn't mean no one else can.

As far as the production itself... I did enjoy the first two acts very much. I don't mind that it was off pointe--it gives the ballet a little variety, and underscores the hierarchy (i.e. only princesses and priestesses deserve toe shoes;)) The Shades act was just amazing, I can watch them forever, and from the Grand Tier the scrim created a misty effect, so it worked for me:). It was so beautiful in fact that on Tuesday I left before the last act, because I wanted to carry away that vision.

All that said, having the grand pas in act IV is completely anticlimactic, and the scenes in which Nikya's shade appears in "the real world" simply don't work. The dancers looked very uncomfortable in the pas de deux a trois, or whatever you want to call it, of the grand pas. All of a sudden, Nikya turns into this psycho ex-girlfriend, who even in death can't leave the poor guy alone. All that was missing was a boiled stuffed rabbit, sorry, tiger.

Nevertheless it was really interesting to see this ballet closer to the way it was conceived, and realize that most changes that have been made, have been for the better.

(The costumes and wigs, for the Shades especially, were gorgeous. I'd keep them, and go back to 1941;))

The reception at both performances was rather tepid except after principles' variations and the Shades. On Wednesday, the dancers took their final bows in a nearly empty theater. The few of us that remained gave them a standing ovation. It was so sad.

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I was there for Wednesday night's Bayadere and enjoyed the evening very much. Having been forewarned that there was little or no "dancing" in the first two acts, I thought it would be boring. But Act I and II were like historic photographs come to life. The scenery in particular was executed beautifully, and at times I thought I was looking at a painting come to life. The pagentry was surprising moving; the costumes were beautiful. It was fun to think that this might have been what the Tsar and his court might have seen, and to see what a ballet audience enjoyed 100 years ago.

I will say though that none of the principals stood out for me, with the exception of Igor Kolb. The evening's Nikiya, Sofia Gumerova, seemed to me to have awkward phrasing. I'm hoping for something more at Saturday matinee's Swan with Daria Pavola.

And I will say, as an aside, that given the choice of sitting through another almost four-hour Kirov Bayadere and sitting through an evening of Diamond project ballets, I'll take the 100-year-old ballet hands down.

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I've been away from a computer, so I'm a bit late on adding to this, but...

I've always been a sort of Balanchine person, so it surprises me that I really do love the reconstructions. Although we can quible as to whether the Kirov should keep the men's solos that were added later or not or thowing the golden idol solo out, I appreciate the return of so much of the original Petipa choreography.

And though there is little pointe work in the first acts, I was delighted by original lute solo for Nikiya in Act I, the Jampo Dance in Act II. In the Jampo dance, the dancers are wearing heeled shoes, but such invention...Petipa does every thing he can with the, I don't know what the proper word is, but dancers had long colored scarves attatched to their calves and they manipulated it around while kicking their legs high, or behind them. Lots of little jumps. A perfect example putting a limitation and that exploring just what you can do with it.

There also was such beauty in just the way Petipa moves the dancers around, even between divertisments, he'll have the corps move in a processional from the back to the side. Act II, scene 2 was a joy for me for all the different variations. And the Dance of the Lotus Blossoms (yes, under-rehearsed) is a wonder. I'd love to see SAB do it out of context as a lesson in Petipa :)

And if you're a lover of Balanchine, you just have to see these ballets. You can see, from the two dances in La Bayadere, where Mr. B got his garlands from.

And now I can see all the connections between this ballet and Giselle (which was pointed out here and in some reviews), Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. Watching SL on Thursday, I saw that both Nikiya and Odete reveal themselves to the hero from behind screens after he inadvertantly betrays them. And Nikiya jumps out in Act III, scene 1 while Solor and Gamzatti are together in a little bit of the same way as Sleeping Beauty, when the Lilac Fairy shows Aurora to Prince Desire before the vision (a little bit of a stretch, maybe).

I adored the costumes...reds, olive green velvet, oranges, dark blue and more stripes! And the headresses...little pill boxes, caps, Russian-inspired crowns; and pearls everywhere.

I saw both Zakharova and Vishneva. Both were very beautiful, but different..Vishneva is more earthy and is good at showing off the character's passionate side. Zakharova (more about her when I post about her Swan Lake) was lovely during the first act and in her dance before the court. I found her very spiritual, but, as in Swan Lake, I just didn't feel any connection between her and her partner.

Elvira Tarasova was interesting to me. Maybe the role calls for more of a bitchy aspect, I'm not sure, but Tarasova played Gamzatti as a beautiful daughter of the Rajah who knew her place and what she could expect from life. She expected, from her position in life, that she would marry Solor and anything else was unacceptable.

A note about the audience, the Lincoln Center Festival as its own crowd. I find them not quite adventuress as a group as the BAM crowd, but they are not strictly a ballet audience. Still, up in the balcony, the house was sold out and filled until the end, although some people did scoot out during extended bows.

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I saw the July 8th performance of LA BAYADERE and was so impressed with it that I came back on Friday. It wasn't the dancing per se that impressed me (the company was good but not quite as good as I expected) but the production. Ballet is the only art form (witht the possible exception of operetta) in which future generations aren't only allowed to make substantial changes in an original production but are actually praised for doing so. It was a delight to see a production of LA BAYADERE which, if probably not an exact reproduction of the original, came much closer than later productions. Markarova's overrated version for ABT with Lanchberry's pretentious heavy-handed orchestration of the music particularly paled to this version. I was unable to attend the reconstruction of SLEEPING BEAUTY in '99 which I'm sure I would have preferred but I would say that the Kirov's new LA BAYADERE is one of the most moving, exciting, and opulent dramatic ballets I've ever seen. Several times it moved me almost to tears from seeing such a poetic work of art.

First, there's the music. Minkus is no Chaikovsky (who is?) but, contrary to popular belief, he's not at all a bad composer and his delightful sparkling score for LA BAYADERE doesn't disappoint. The ballet is a breathtaking flow of lilting operetta-like melodies... charmingly tuneful and danceable in the dance sections and clear and dramatic in the mime sections. I would say that it's only slightly less successful than the scores of Adam, Delibes, and Glazunov and the Kirov Ballet Orchestra did it full justice.

Then the costumes and sets are unbelievably gorgeous and give us an idea of the courtly spectacles that the Tsar and his court were privileged to see. Contemporary audiences are brainwashed into believing that old-fashioned spectacle and pageantry are somehow vulgar and crude. The richly imaginative designs for this ballet prove otherwise and transport one for nearly four hours into a make-believe exotic world. I don't know how I'm going to go back to ABT's threadbare productions after this.

The choreography for the ballet is a masterpiece. We already knew that the Kingdom of the Shades scene is probably one of the most beautiful vision scenes in all ballet. Now we see the power and majesty of the rest of the ballet unvarnished with the plot actually making sense and the classical dances gaining added luster from their juxtaposition with mime and processions. Granted, "grand ballet" isn't to everyone's taste. I happen to prefer it to abstract ballets. But if the classics of the 19th century are to be revived one hopes that, as with this production, they'll be more authentic than that which we usually see. If these ballets in their original forms aren't considered conformable with contemporary tastes... they weren't intended to conform. Create new ballets that do so and allow the works of Petipa to give tribute to his genius instead of rechoreographing them to be virtually plotless ballets.

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I was also disappointed by how little dancing there was. I'd been looking forward to seeing kirov dancing since i heard they were coming (of course I got to see it in the other three ballets later). They production was so theatrical, and there were so many people on stage with so many gorgeous costumes. The dancers were so elegant. But I do have to say that the ballet was much too long for those of us in standing room, as I was very tired after standing for almost 4 hours (after dancing all day as well). Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so tired. I do think it's important to preserve these ballets in their original form, and enjoyed the performance.

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