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.
Kirov in NY
46 replies to this topic
Posted 20 July 2002 - 09:05 PM
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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