Bolshoi in DC -- Nutcracker
Posted 12 December 2002 - 10:54 AM
I had to miss the opening (a combination of a bad cold and an ice storm) so I'm hoping others went and will report.
Posted 16 December 2002 - 09:20 AM
I'll say this for him. When Yuri Grigorovich reworks a 19th century ballet, you don't think of the model -- he really reworks it. He creates a world. That said, this particular world was drab, depressing, and dull. A real museum piece -- Soviet Era Exhibit A, from the goose-stepping, tankard-weilding, potbellied, fatuous Germans in the "party" scene (well, you have to call it something) to the rubber wigs worn by the men (armed with candlelabras) in the last act.
This "Nutcracker" is very inconsistent -- bits of 19th century charm (the cotton balls on wands for the snowflakes, the pretty, curvey girls-dressed-as-boys in the party scene) plunked down, stripped of charm, into a cinderblock mid-century world; a party scene that teeters on the brink of depravity but stays disappointingly bourgeois; hints of darkness -- who is the Rat King and why does Drosselmeyer drag him along into the -- well, whatever the second act is? -- that never amount to anything. There's a big tree, but it doesn't really grow, it creeps, like a vertical oil slick. (The white tree in the snow scene is gorgeous, but underlit, like the whole production, so you have to look hard to see it's gorgeous.)
Friday night the dancing was as dull as the production -- not bad, just not exciting. The character dances were delivered without an ounce of brilliance. The leads were....well, maybe a matinee cast the third week into the run, but far from etoiles. The audience (from the orchestra front perspective) did not seem to be enjoying it.
Saturday afternoon, with Goriacheva (I don't have my program so may be mangling that) and Filin was much better danced, and the pair pulled the ballet together by sheer stage presence. The audience was more into it, too (although one little girl, as we were leaving, glared at her mother and said, "They changed the plot!"). There was a standing ovation at the end, and hearty clapping throughout, and the dancers responded to this -- the character dances were much brighter, but there's only so much dancers can do with that choreography.
The choreography itself was depressing. Both "snow" and "flowers" was choreography by the yard -- not a single interesting combination, nothing sophisticated or complex, and I'd say the same for the character dances. As for the pas de deux, who but Grigorovich would make a ballerina do pirouettes in arabesque and have her partner grab her extended leg and hoist her onto his shoulder?
The Drosselmeyer was quite good, I thought, very elegant, very precise. I didn't know whether he was supposed to be a demon or a magician, but I don't think that was his fault.
Posted 16 December 2002 - 11:05 AM
Just a couple of comments -
GRIGOROVICH AND GOOSE-STEPPING: I don't know what it is about goosesteps but Yuri Grigorovich never fails to insert at least one passage of it into every ballet, e.g., the Roman troops in 'Spartacus' or the fan-bearers in 'Bayadere'! Or the oriental guys in 'Legend of Love'!
ANASTASIA GORIACHEVA: She is all-the-rage here in Moscow. I'm happy that she managed to get herself onto the USA tour roster...not a simple feat! The Kultura television channel did a nice mini-documentary on Goriacheva last week, including footage of her dancing a number of roles made famous by Maximova...Kazyan Goleizovsky's 'Mazurka' miniature, for example.
Posted 16 December 2002 - 11:53 AM
I liked Goriacheva-- I had not seen her before. Do you know how old she is, Jeannie? The choreography doesn't give her much to do except jump and turn, but since she has a lovely, light, fast, HIGH jump and beautifully centered turns, one could say the choreography suited her
Posted 16 December 2002 - 01:24 PM
Posted 16 December 2002 - 01:47 PM
Posted 16 December 2002 - 01:57 PM
Posted 16 December 2002 - 02:08 PM
Now I know why the Bolshoi audiences go gah-gah whenever the youngest pupils of the Moscow Ballet Academy enter the stage doing goosesteps, in the classic children's piece 'Suvorovsky Quadrille'. (That is the Bolshoi's answer to the Vaganova Academy's 'Paquita Children's Mazurka'.) THE highlight of every kiddie performance is the Quadrille - the trumpet blares, the kids goosestep onto the stage, the audience stands up & claps in time, moms shed tears...it all has to be experienced to be believed!!!
The kids now wear Tsarist-era costumes (girls in frilly pale dresses and boys in tsarist military uniforms). During the Soviet era, they all dressed in Young Pioneers outfits, complete with red kerchiefs.
Vaganova Academy performances are tame compared to these.
Posted 16 December 2002 - 02:40 PM
Jeannie, I've seen photos of the Quadrille, and had no idea it was named for Suvorov, an old favorite General of Catherine the Great in her wars against the Turks and for Pavel II, Revolutionary France. He had been defeated by Pro-Napoleonic forces at the Second Battle of Zurich which defeat launched him into a depression which weakened him so, he died shortly thereafter, leaving the Field Marshalship vacant, and the Russian army under the capable but underrated command of General Kutuzov, who eventually annihilated the Grande Armée under Napoleon himself at Beresina.
Anyway, the boys look very handsome in their high-collared tunics and smart white gloves, with the the saucer hat tucked properly into their left arms. The girls are dressed equally beautifully, in a sort of Empire-Revival short petticoat, with flowers in their hair. Since this picture I see, clearly labeled "Bolshoi School" is black-and-white and practically grainless, I'd say it was either very old or very new.
Posted 16 December 2002 - 07:37 PM
Adults playing children never works for me, and when you have grown women trying to be little boys, all attempts at suspending disbelief go out the window. Grigorovich tells the story so poorly (or, more likely, is so uninterested in telling it at all) that it's impossible to differentiate Fritz (also played by a girl) from the other kids. Marie herself was just barely distinctive. In this version, Drosselmeier (the program billed Alexey Loparevich on Thursday and Vladimir Moiseev on Friday, but they looked like the same dancer to me—and he was fine ) seems to give the nutcracker to both children, which makes us not quite as shocked as usual when Fritz breaks it. Moreover, Drosselmeier comes on carrying the nutcracker, unwrapped, in his arms—and it's another young woman, in an orange costume. So, at the end of the first act, when the orange woman suddenly becomes a red-clad man, it's, well, confusing. I wonder if people seeing the ballet for the first time will understand it. And after the snow scene, the stage is suddenly populated by strangely costumed people who are not explained. When you return for Act Two, you discover that they're the divertissement dancers (whoever or whatever they're supposed to be—the place where Marie and the Nutcracker Prince go is not spelled out). Well, the program does call them "the dolls revived in Marie's fantastic dream," but I didn't notice that until just now. These are just some examples of Grigovorovich's poor dramatic sense, but I'll spare you the others.
He's messed with the divertissements, too, of course. As in Baryshnikov's version, they're all duets, which is monotonous. The Arabian dance is now Indian, a ludicrous contrast to the music. The Waltz of the Flowers is absurdly stodgy and undancey. No Sugar Plum Fairy, of course; their pas de deux goes to Marie and the Prince. I saw Goriacheva and Elena Andrienko. The latter was okay although her legs shook badly after the pas de deux; I liked Goriacheva quite a bit (but, Jeannie, first movement Bizet? I would have said third), she had a soft, gracious quality to match her lovely dancing. Dmitry Gudanov, partnering Andrienko, had the kind of attractive danseur noble manner that you don't always see these days, even if his dancing didn't quite equal it.
The designs, by Grigorovich favorite Simon Virsaladze, were drab and didn't quite fill the stage, making me suspect that this was a downscale touring version.
I would really, really like to see the Bolshoi in something untouched by Grigorovich. :rolleyes:
Posted 16 December 2002 - 08:01 PM
Posted 16 December 2002 - 09:58 PM
Ari, thanks for your review -- anyone else see it? If so, please write.
AND I agree -- after three Grigorovich ballets in six months, I'd love to see the Bolshoi in something else. A rerun of the Lavrovsky "Romeo and Juliet" would be nice. They looked like a different company. I'd still like to see the full "Spartacus" -- I've only seen one act of it live, though of course I've seen the videos. But "Bayadere," "Swan Lake" and 'Nutcracker" to me looked old and shopworn. And his "Raymonda" (danced here last summer by his own Grigorovich Ballet) was a 5-star Shocker -- he moved the grand pas classique INTO THE FIRST ACT, which made an already long act excessive, and ruined the structure, the build of the ballet.
All of this is not to discourage anyone who LIKED this production from writing, please.
Posted 17 December 2002 - 04:15 AM
More can be found on
http://users.skynet....Goriacheva.html and (for those who master the language of Pushkin): http://www.ballet.cl...goriacheva.html
Posted 17 December 2002 - 04:12 PM
On the plus side, for the most part the women's pointe shoes were quiet… a considerable accomplishment when compared to the noise they made when the Bolshoi danced La Bayadère at KC in June.
The 1st tier was full and the audience seemed appreciative although there were no wild demonstrations of enthusiasm. Actually the audience was very good as there is usually a rush to depart before the dancers have taken their final bows. This time everyone waited until the company had been thanked. Perhaps this was due to the earlier start time of 7:30 or the fact that the weather was miserable, or both.
Posted 17 December 2002 - 04:59 PM
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