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Kirov Don Q


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#1 Manhattnik

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 08:34 PM

I'm too pooped to write much, but in a word, "Wow!"

Amazing energy and character dancing. Just amazing...

#2 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 15 July 2002 - 09:43 PM

I'll second that. It was just more fun than a barrel of Russo-Spanish Monkeys. Although the principals were very fine, it was the corps that made the evening for me. I've not seen this ballet ever look as vibrant; (especially in the crowd and character sections) I've never had so much fun watching Don Q - the production is tight and the dancers performed it with verve and love.

#3 BW

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 02:48 AM

Thanks you two - can't wait til tomorrow night! I'm glad I took the advice to choose Don Q.!:D

#4 Michael

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 07:05 AM

I'm sure it's the Second Coming of "The Greatest Show on Earth." And I'm just amazed by how this company will suddenly trot out a dancer from the Corps whom you've never heard of Who then proceeds to peform beyond anything you could ever wish to see. (I'm not surprised that Katya Shelkanova, a former corps girl here, reached soloist at ABT and a fine one at that).

For example. Who is this Tatiana Tkachenko, who performed the Street Dance in Act I, and where can she come from? Is she even human? My God, What an incredible performance. The archetypal soubrette pushed beyond the boundaries. That step where she whips out of a chainee turn by extending her perfectly pointed right foot to the limit and then tombees into the broadest fourth position in history before reversing on a dime and then back across the stage the other way . . . I'm not sure if it's classical but it sure is wonderful.

And all the unnamed in the program Corps girls who dance those beautiful pure variations leading up to Kitri's and in between the pieces of the Grand Pas in the last act and the fireworks elsewhere. And the groups of pastel costumed corps dancers who entertain at the wedding banquet. And the dance for the entire corps at the end of the first scene.

I'm struck by how the choreography in so many of those pure variations for the female corps dancers are a lesson in how "less steps are often more" -- in how two beats or entrechats and a perfect landing in fifth position can be so much visually clearer than six beats (or whatever number) and a rushed landing. The simpler choregraphy allows you time to see the steps. I loved it. I don't ever remember a company that made me really "SEE" poses like attitude en avant like this company lets me see them. There are a host of phrases, such as ending a diagonal with a soft pliee in tendu front, the arms gesturing down, before taking off the other way -- of which I can say the same.

Interesting that, with Vishneyva, the female roles were such a range of emploi. In ABT's Don Q, Kitri is a soubrette. Not here. Here it's the Street Dancer and the flower girls (Xenia Dubrovina and Yana Serbriakova -- stunning dancers both of them) who are the soubrettes. While Kirti, as danced by Vishneyva (who is taller) is more of a Classique role. She gets the grand pas. Then you have Natalia Sologub's beautiful performance as Queen of the Dryads (also Classique, and cleaner lines then Vishneyva, her performance appropriately brought down the house) and Elena Chmil (demicharacter) as Amour.

By the conclusion, the people sitting to my left were laughing out loud in sheer good spirits, as I was. This may well have been the best thing the Kirov has done here.

#5 Natalia

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 08:17 AM

I'm in the midst of packing up for a long sojourn...but let me sum-up last night:

WOWWEEEEEE!!!!! The culmination of 40-plus years of watching ballets. Simply spectacular. The ultimate. And the Divine Diana was just the tip of the iceberg. If I get run over by an Al-Qaida tank tomorrow I can say that I died a happy camper. That's all I have to write.

Da svidanya!

- Jeannie

#6 Guest_nycbound_*

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 01:10 PM

I truly enjoyed the Kirov's performance of Don Q. Before I say my impressions, I have a comment to make. The Kirov is not perfect. They are wonderful, but they have their shortcomings just like the rest of the world. I wonder why so many are quick to criticize most companies but think that there is something about the Kirov that makes it perfect. The performance last night did not make my life worth living, surpass everything else I have ever seen put together, or make me unappreciative of the NYCB performances I have been seeing and will see over the next two weeks.

Here are my comments about the performance, starting with the negative:
The dancers were not always turned out. Often they landed a jump or finished something with their back feet not turned out at all. Their fifth positions were not perfect. The women's shoes made too much sound when they landed and the noise was distracting. Also, I like the idea of the corps getting some recognition. They were wonderful, but not only were their names not listed in the program but they didn't even get any kind of curtain call. They just stood in the back as though they were part of the scenery.
The positive- Diana Vishneva's fouttes were amazing, the most precise I have ever seen. The men had incredible elevation and they all landed softly. The corps was always in unison, and like everyone else, their extension was amazing. Also, their character dancing was joyful and they were always fun to watch. They were also very fast. I have been watching NYCB my entire life and they are known for their speed, but they certainly didn't invent it! Plus, the Kirov was extremely precise.

I am lucky to have seen the Kirov perform and I hope to see them again (maybe in Russia if I ever get there!). They were truly wonderful.

#7 Juliet

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 01:43 PM

Dear nycbound,
I don't think anyone says, thinks or implies that the Kirov is perfect....if you follow or research the history of posts on this board, you will find that this is very definitely the case!!!! All companies have their strengths, their lapses, their runs of not-so-great matches between repertory and dancers.

What I think has been stated here, emphatically, is that the performances we have been seeing in New York are so refreshing and yes, uplifting, because of the calibre of the dancing in the repertory they performed. It is a difference in training and a difference in emphasis--equally valid, but different.

I must beg to differ with you on the issue of placement--I thought that, as a whole, the line and placement of the dancers was exemplary--usually the very *last* thing the Kirov dancers are criticised for is lack of turnout!!!

The Met stage is notorious for noisy shoes--unfortunate, but true. There was an amusing thread here last year on the thundering Wilis in Giselle.....;)

I think it is great that we have such an enthusiastic reception for the company---it doesn't negate the accomplishment of dancers in other companies or imply criticism of other types of training---the cadre of SAB summer program students there for Don Q last night were shrieking as loudly as anyone---
it is GOOD to see other styles, other treatments, other dancers---more power to them: that is one of the aims of art--a heightened awareness through a shared experience.

#8 NO7

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 07:15 PM

Michael, Tatiana Tkachenko was the prize winner of the International Ballet Competition. I think it's Vaganova-Prix 2000.
I saw her last year in St Petes during the 1st Mariinsky Ballet Festival. She was quite good and the audience loved her especially in Suite from Laurencia.

#9 ina

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Posted 16 July 2002 - 11:30 PM

I wonder which version of DQ is being disputed here - nobody mentioned Basil. :) Who was partnering Vishneva? By the way, did she do any manipulations with her fan while doing foettes? I've heard that in May, while she was dancing this part with Paris Opera company( a rare occasion for foreign dancers!), she brought the house down with this trick.
And again speaking of male dancers - who was Espada? Once I saw Islom Baymuradov in this role and he was wonderful.

#10 Manhattnik

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 12:21 AM

The fan? Single, single, double snapping the fan open over her head, single, single, double with fan, etc. Much as we've seen Irina Dvorovenko do with ABT, but, well, snappier. After doing this a few times (with fast, rock-solid turns), she held the open fan tightly to her chest, and finished her run of fouettes without using her arms at all.

Yes, it brought the house down.

#11 Natalia

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 04:07 AM

Ina - Andrei Merkuriev was Espada. He brought down the house with his tavern-scene solo! The highest, airiest leaps I've ever seen in that solo. I actually preferred his overall performance to that of the Basil, Vyacheslav Samodurov, who is no slouch & had a huge following of fans in the upper galleries (quite vocal).

And the Gypsy Leader was stupendous - Nikolai Zubkovsky. My goodness, I could go on and on. It was a performance for the ages, truly.

After the giddiness...I find one tiny complaint: too bad that the Kirov could not bring over the Vaganova Academy kids. The Act II 'marionettes episode' - the row of little cupids - the kids in the Act I toreador scene - ALL were cut. But it is preferable to cut those performances than to bring in under-rehearsed local children & try to plop them into the scenes. But I did miss that heavenly line of Little Cupids in the Dryad Scene!!! One has to go to the Mariinsky Theater to see this.

#12 cargill

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 06:20 AM

I guess it is a matter of de gustibus, but I was not overwhelmed (at least artistically) by the Kirov's Don Q. I found Vishneva quite one note--very loud and strident and without charm. Samodurov was charming in the comedy, but had trouble with the dancing, cranking out those supported pirouettes and putting his hand down from some extraneously difficult jump. The whole performance (except for some of the side roles) seemed designed only to impress the audience, not to tell the story, and I felt like I was being smacked on the head. That said, the production is gorgeous, and the character dancing is really terrific.

#13 Juliet

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 08:01 AM

Well, I know what you mean...

"The whole performance (except for some of the side roles) seemed designed only to impress the audience, not to tell the story, and I felt like I was being smacked on the head."

But this is how I generally view Don Q, and it is not a ballet in which I ever find much depth--not that I expect it...I go for the circus. (Which means that I seldom see it willingly)--however, I was sorry to miss this as I am sure the character dancing was wonderful.....

in any case, it seems to have been a popular choice for presentation on this tour

;)

#14 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 03:57 PM

It seems we mostly saw the same details, but added them up differently. I'd agree with Mary that the production ruthlessly shaved the story to the point where we essentially had three acts of set-pieces and character dancing. I also agree with her comments about the principals; Samodurov had some trouble with partnering and bobbled a jump, and Vishneva wasn't particularly clean with her lines (especially compared to Sologub doing the Dryad Queen)

However, I've never seen a 1000-volt performance of Don Q before. I've only seen tepid Spaniards and miserable, uncomfortable Gypsies. The Kirov makes a real case for the Gorsky production - they look like they love every moment of it, and it shows. I was more than willing to forgive the issues with both principals, because I think they might have been a by-product of the emotional "pitch" of the evening. In a crazy way, it reminded me of a completely fierce Drag performance; there's meticulous professionalism underneath, but the magic seemed to be all about belief in oneself and in the material. The character dancers particularly the male gypsy and Mercedes (Galina Rakhmanova, I think) exemplified this; they hurled themselves into every step.

Mercedes in this version is reduced to a cameo role in the Inn scene in Act III; in other versions she might also do the pointework the Street Dancer does in Act I. Instead of acting as if she had a diminished part, though, Rakhmanova made it into a show-stopping number. She's got one trick, which she also used as one of the Spanish dancers in Swan Lake, which is the ability to practically fold herself in half to the back, but it's a doozy. And she uses it. And when Espada lifts her up on the table, she performs some sort of Flamenco/Character/Who-knows-what freakout that was a dance of the joyously possessed. I really loved the excessive nature of the production.

To consider our discussion of mime and story in full-length ballets, it's interesting to note that the Kirov brought two mid-century productions as well as the Bayadere. In Swan Lake and in Don Q, the mime is pared out. I miss it tremendously in Swan Lake, but I think they make a better case for the deletion of the story in Don Q, perhaps because the Don is a peripheral character to the action of the ballet. For me, in Swan Lake the deletion of the mime made Siegfried and Odette opaque. In Don Q, I don't feel like I'd get a different picture of Kitri and Basilio, and part of the energy of the production was the wave of one dance after another and the energy of the crowds.

#15 Manhattnik

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Posted 17 July 2002 - 04:05 PM

Apropos of nothing, I suppose, I couldn't help but notice how nicely the Kirov dancers make use of various accoutrements to their dancing. So I think perhaps we should be seeing them doing doing Emeralds with fans, Rubies with whips or perhaps castanets (or both), and Diamonds with spurs and capes.


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