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Kirov, or Mariinsky?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 04:24 PM

I just noticed that my ticket for last night read "Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet." The company once tried just "Mariinsky" (right after glasnost) but brand names being what they are, "The Kirov" has stuck.

Since we have so many posters from around the world, I wondered two things:

First, what does the company call itself when paying a call in your home town.

And second, will the company ever be able to get back to "Mariinsky" (which I gather is its goal) and does it matter?

#2 Natalia

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 04:35 PM

When in Russia, I hear my Russian friends talk about the 'Kirovskyi Balyet'. I suppose that it takes a while for the new names to stick, especially with the older folk. At least they no longer call the city 'Leningrad'! smile.gif

#3 Patricia

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Posted 14 February 2002 - 05:02 PM

Several years ago the theatre reverted back to its original name - "Mariinsky." "Kirov" is used exclusively for touring and marketing purposes.

At the earliest, I probably won't see the company dance until late May. The current discussions of the company are enthusiastic and loving, but remain rather one-sided. No one has ever discussed the praciticality of having Maestro Gergiev placed in charge of the ballet. Having a non-professional as artistic director tore up the Graham company. Even having a former star pose as 'ballet master' is no guarantee of a creative, productive future.

Excessive touring has started to take its creative toll on the Mariinsky's opera company, orchestra, and artistic director (Gergiev's recent Met DON CARLOS was less than stellar). The funding is starting to fall in place for great things...but will it be better? More of the same? Something new and exciting? The best theatrical traditions/training preserved?

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 01:11 AM

I think we have talked about Gergiev's directorship on prior occasions. I certainly agree (at least in theory) that it's best for ballet companies to be directed by artists -- if not a choreographer, then a balletmaster with an artistic vision and the means to carry it out.

It's almost impossible to judge the state of a company's health in a one-week tour. We're not getting all the dancers, we're only seeing two ballets (one in a touring production). One can ceratinly make judgments and comparisons -- comparing what we're being offered to other companies -- but I wouldn't dare try to make detailed comments on the health of ballet company without seeing it many times over several seasons.

I think there's a crisis in directorship generally, and the reason is that there's the artistic equivalent of a power vacuum. Previously, there was always an obvious choice: the promising young choreographer, the star or balletmaster who was respected by the dancers. Now, it seems that boards and search committees are making the decisions and that means that favoritism, cronyism, power plays, and well-meaning, though perhaps ill-informed, choices are likely.

Arlene Croce wrote that the great crisis of the 1990s was the collapse of what she called "the great fortress companies," the five to seven (depending on who's counting) great institutions that once had very distinctive, individual profiles. I second that. What's replaced them might as well be called the Wall-Martski Balyet. Is this a trend? Like political nationalism, will tribal warfare break out in the world's rehearsal rooms and, after dreadful power struggles, a new artistic order emerge? Or will we keep on going down the road of Just In Time Inventory (rehearse? they danced it last year) and Out-Sourcing (do what you see on the video).

Back to the (real) name issue, I wonder if Kirov-Mariinsky is the first step in trying to break free of the marketing power of "Kirov." I think this is a good sign. A company that cares about its name still has some individuality running through its blood.

#5 Manhattnik

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Posted 15 February 2002 - 12:03 PM

I rather liked Don Carlos. But when it comes to opera, I'm a philistine. Anytime I can hear Sam Ramey and Dmitir Hvorostovsky going at each other, I'm a happy camper.

Anyway, to get back on topic, yes, it's great they're going back to their original name (or was it?). I also think constant touring has to take a toll on any company -- I remember how exhausted so many of the Kirov (oops, Mariinsky) corps looked at the Met a few years ago. I remember a friend calling the Kirov (oh, nevermind) corps a sweatshop with toe shoes.

I am sorry I can't fly down to DC tonight and see them, though.


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