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Helene

Spring 2015: La Bayadere

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I saw La Bayadère last night, with Kochetkova, Sarafanov, and Boylston dancing Nikiya, Solor, and Gamzatti, respectively. I'm not nearly as knowledgeable as many posters here about technique and history, but hopefully a different type of viewpoint can be of some interest.

Act I

One thing which struck me about this cast was the differences between Kochetkova and Boylston (especially in the first act -- but see below). Boylston seemed, to my eye, technically very precise and in control, whereas Kochetkova was much more expressive. Kochetkova's upper body movement (port de bras and epaulement, I guess?) was especially well done, showing us a woman swept up by events and emotions. I thought the two styles matched the characters very well. Gamzatti is the king's daughter, used to getting her way and being in control. Nikiya is negotiating a dangerous path between the wills of people much more powerful than her. I don't know how much of the difference is due to the intrinsic styles of the dancers and how much is due to the dancers' interpreting the roles. To the extent it's the former; it's good casting (even though Kochetkova was a last minute replacement). To the extent it's the latter; it's good dancing, on both dancers' parts.

Watching Sarafanov I was reminded of the discussion earlier in this thread about line. It seemed to me Sarafanov had good line in spades. He always seemed to be very elegantly posed, even while in motion.

Act II

I have a DVD of the POB doing La Bayadère, with a different choreography. The entrance of the shades in what is Act III there (Act II here) is one of my favorite dances in ballet. I was therefore looking forward to it a lot here. I was disappointed, though. It was sloppy. I don't know why; other dances by the shades weren't, but, for instance, there were serious timing differences among the dancers in lifting the leg.

Most of the Kingdom of the Shades was great, though. Kochetkova seemed to dance it with a lot of sadness. You get the impression that she still loves Solor, but is very aware that things have all worked out wrong due to his failure of courage. It seemed to me she barely looked at him during that act.

Act III

The high point of the whole ballet, to me, was Boylston's solo early in Act III. Boylston here combines precision and control she'd previously shown with real sensuality, as she tries to convince Solor to accept the choice he's made and realize all she has to offer him. It was one of those transcendent dances I always hope to see in a ballet.

Odds and Ends

This is the second time I've bought a ticket to a performance specifically because Natalia Osipova was performing, only to see a substitute. I'm a big fan of Osipova (whom I have seen live), but I may not do this again.

There's a dance with eight(?) women in Act I in turquoise with scarves. It seemed to be poorly choreographed and poorly executed. It just kind of stuck out as simply not working.

Kochetkova is tiny. Like 5'0". It didn't bother me, and I didn't see the problems with partnering others have, but you can't help but notice it. I think in another role it might make a difference, but I can't know that for sure without seeing it. I actually think that, as long as it does work, it's a good thing to have a little more variety in body types than what you usually see.

There's way too much pantomime in this ballet.

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There's way too much pantomime in this ballet.

Too much pantomime? Are you seeing the new "Sleeping Beauty" by any chance? Even more than in "Bayadere". One needs a special dictionary at times.. My favorite is how Aurora is shown to get older. Everyone gets in on the act on this one. Catalabutte, Carabosse, the King, the Queen, Lilac, maybe more. The "stair step" analogy is fun. But I do agree that at times in "Bayadere" we see that promise of true love over the fire pot once too often. I've often wondered what the Trocks would do with that piece of mime! Hahahaha.

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Sarafanov was trained in Kiev, not Vaganova Academy. He was trained by the same teacher who trained my husband, and also trained many other noteworthy male dancers.

Denisenko?

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It was indeed, which becomes somewhat comical in the case of my husband and myself... He being trained in Kiev, me being trained in the US with teachers directly from Vaganova Academy, and we argue over little details all the time, especially small inclines of the head and use of the upper back. Also Zalinsky or Zaklinsky (I always get them mixed up), who was also principal in Mariinsky, was trained in Kiev as well. So was Matvienko. All from Parsegiv. I think the training between the two schools is more similar for the men than the females... When I have worked with some of the female students, especially current, from Kiev, the difference is noticeable. I think it really falls in the middle of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky styles. To bring this back on topic, two summers ago I saw Kiev perform Makarova's staging of La Bayadere (in Kiev, before everything became too unstable to want to take my young son there right now). I can't remember who danced the leads, but I liked the dancer playing Nikiya much better than Gamzetti. I think the company was struggling a bit with this version, and the audience around me seemed to much prefer the more traditional. The costumes were some of the most luxurious I've ever seen, as most of them are in Kiev. Maybe ABT should hire their wardrobe!

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The night Part and Murphy danced, Makarova was in the audience and, lucky me, I scored an autograph. She was very gracious. I was surprised there wasn't more of a fuss around her, and wondered if people were just being polite and giving her space. Would there have been a fuss around Baryshnikov?

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The night Part and Murphy danced, Makarova was in the audience and, lucky me, I scored an autograph. She was very gracious. I was surprised there wasn't more of a fuss around her, and wondered if people were just being polite and giving her space. Would there have been a fuss around Baryshnikov?

I once saw Makarova inconspicously leave the stage door after an ABT performance and once people realized after a few seconds that it was her, they began calling her name and trailing after her. She kept moving as fast as possible to avoid them.

As an aside, I once saw Joey Gorak leave the stage door with a large bag of laundry in front of him to avoid contact with the crowd outside.

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The night Part and Murphy danced, Makarova was in the audience and, lucky me, I scored an autograph. She was very gracious. I was surprised there wasn't more of a fuss around her, and wondered if people were just being polite and giving her space. Would there have been a fuss around Baryshnikov?

I think people were just giving her space. I saw Makarova moving very quickly with Kevin at both intermissions at the Kochetkova/Sarafanov La Bayadere. One of the times she was carrying a bouquet.

Baryshnikov was sitting a few rows in front of us at the Monday night Vishneva/Gomes Sleeping Beauty. He tried to keep his head down when he got stuck in a crowd on the way back to his seat. I’m sure he was recognized by some people, but I didn’t see anyone approach him. Some years ago, I did see a few people approach him at a performance. I just admired him from afar.

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