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22 hours ago, canbelto said:

Anyone see the afternoon cast with Kovaleva in Diamonds?

I did. Was kicking myself that I didn't plan to take in a performance and missed the opportunity, but on Friday evening a couple of seats miraculously opened up (donated back, I suppose) and I grabbed one. I'm thrilled that I did.  I have never seen POB and I saw the Bolshoi only once, at Saratoga for DQ three years ago; I also saw Eugenia Obratzsova in R&J at ABT.   So this was a real treat, regardless that the two guest companies had some issues with Balanchine's choreography, which IMO is to be expected - Balanchine is not in their DNA, although it is indeed unfortunate that the Russians' Rubies was as bad as it was.  I read everyone's comments here and I must say, what interesting and provocative observations and insights, as always.  Canbelto, I also enjoyed your review in your blog and title - Superjewels - what fun!   My husband took to calling it The Supernova, as an in a very bright celestial event. 

 

Emeralds:  I agree that this was the weakest section, although I cannot quite put my finger on why, probably because I don't intimately know the French style.  The dancers were impeccable and all elegance, but without that Balanchine look.  Ould-Braham is a beautifully lyrical dancer - I  loved her dancing in the Pelleas and Melisande Sicilienne - that music is so gorgeous!  I agree about  the odd moves of Pujol, but she is lovely.  Fabian Revillion danced the Pas De Trois in Francois Alu's place.  I've been casually following Hannah O'Neill since her win at Prix de Lausanne in 2009 and it was great have the opportunity to see her.  Both she and Park were lovely and I thought the trio had good chemistry.  Gnossie mentioned in the POB discussion that 'Park and O'Neill are outsiders' - does that speak to the discussion of the French style being neglected at POB?  I'll ask that on the thread Gnossie posted with a quote.  These are things I can't readily discern, however, any dancer coming into a company with a distinct style and training (e.g., the French school, or Balanchine's)  from the outside must learn that company's style.  Perhaps O'Neill and Park aren't there yet? Although I didn't see anything wrong with their dancing - I thought they were soft and elegant and fit into the company's aesthetic and style, which seems to be cool, classical, refined and very restrained. 

      

I didn't really like the costumes - too much turquoise and forest green (someone else mentioned these colors, too, here) - they actually jarred with the emerald green NYCB set, and I didn't like the bodices of the tutus. Perhaps they look better with POB's sets.  Other than that, I enjoyed the performance very much and I am thrilled to have finally seen the  French!  On to the other reviews of this unique event.

 

 

     

Edited by KarenAG
clarification and grammar

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25 minutes ago, KarenAG said:

I did. Was kicking myself that I didn't plan to take in a performance and missed the opportunity, but on Friday evening a couple of seats miraculously opened up (donated back, I suppose) and I grabbed one. I'm thrilled that I did.  I have never seen POB and I saw the Bolshoi only once, at Saratoga for DQ three years ago; I also saw Eugenia Obratzsova in R&J at ABT.   So this was a real treat, regardless that the two guest companies had some issues with Balanchine's choreography, which IMO is to be expected - Balanchine is not in their DNA, although it is indeed unfortunate that the Russians' Rubies was as bad as it was.  I read everyone's comments here and I must say, what interesting and provocative observations and insights, as always.  Canbelto, I also enjoyed your review in your blog and title - Superjewels - what fun!   My husband took to calling it The Supernova, as an in a very bright celestial event. 

 

Emeralds:  I agree that this was the weakest section, although I cannot quite put my finger on why, probably because I don't intimately know the French style.  The dancers were impeccable and all elegance, but without that Balanchine look.  Ould-Braham is a beautifully lyrical dancer - I  loved her dancing in the Pelleas and Melisande Sicilienne - that music is so gorgeous!  I agree about  the odd moves of Pujol, but she is lovely.  Fabian Revillion danced the Pas De Trois in Francois Alu's place.  I've been casually following Hannah O'Neill since her win at Prix de Lausanne in 2009 and it was great have the opportunity to see her.  Both she and Park were lovely and I thought the trio had good chemistry.  Gnossie mentioned in the POB discussion that 'Park and O'Neill are outsiders' - does that speak to the discussion of the French style being neglected at POB?  I'll ask that on the thread Gnossie posted with a quote.  These are things I can't readily discern, however, any dancer coming into a company with a distinct style and training (e.g., the French school, or Balanchine's)  from the outside must learn that company's style.  Perhaps O'Neill and Park aren't there yet? Although I didn't see anything wrong with their dancing - I thought they were soft and elegant and fit into the company's aesthetic and style, which seems to be cool, classical and very restrained. 

      

I didn't really like the costumes - too much turquoise and forest green (someone else mentioned these colors, too, here) - they actually jarred with the emerald green NYCB set, and I didn't like the bodices. Perhaps they look better with POB's sets.  Other than that, I enjoyed the performance very much and I am thrilled to have finally seen the  French!  On to the other reviews of this unique event.

 

 

     

 

Karen, thanks for your thoughts! I'm so happy you got to see this Superjewels! I think maybe in retrospect I'm being too hard on the POB's Emeralds. In recent years NYCB has had Tiler Peck do the Violette Verdy role and dancers like Ashley Laracey and Sara Mearns the Mimi Paul role. But I do remember when Peter Martins himself seemed to have trouble casting this ballet in a way that he never did for Rubies and Diamonds. I remember some real miscasts as well. 

 

I was thinking that some of the oddities of the Bolshois' Rubies seemed to come from a place of being overly scrupulous. It's as if they wanted to avoid ANY accusation that they were overacting, hamming it up, distorting the music or steps, so it was as if they were afraid to actually dance. But risk-taking is part of Rubies' DNA -- it's not supposed to look tasteful.

Edited by canbelto

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Getting back to the discussion of Smirnova and Chudin in the Diamonds Pas de deux, since I did not attend any of the performances, I watched it (thank you, canbelto) on YouTube. In fact I watched two different videos of it, followed by a clip of Mearns in the same role. To me, Smirnova was textbook perfect and Chudin's partnering seamless. I admire every perfect placement of legs, feet, liquid arms, flexible back, every pose perfectly executed. But I was not mesmerized. I wondered, is there supposed to be some passion? Aha, I then watched a short clip of Mearns in the role, and found the passion I was looking for. So I apologize to those of you who think the Bolshoi version is the be-all and end-all, and maybe I would have thought so too if I had been there in person, but these clips reminded me of how much I love NYCB and am counting the days until fall season and Swan Lake, more Mr. B ballets, and a smattering of new choreographers. Oh for Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, Teresa Reichlen and Megan Fairchild (so sorry to have missed their Rubies), and the magnificent Mearns.

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26 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

 

The issue is, in the old Soviet Union, people were forced to declare their ethnic group and stick to it, so something like what you suggest could have been easily done back then. Thankfully, this practice has been abandoned since the 1990s, and now people are free to choose for themselves what type of ethnicity they feel they most belong to, and to even refuse to be categorized and judged based on their ethnicity. You can still more or less figure out people's backgrounds based on their names (except for the ladies who get married, and take their husbands' last names), as well as sometimes (and this is a VERY slippery slope) their appearance. But you may find that this topic is a lot more complex and diverse than simply slotting people into white, black, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander boxes, which, unlike some people in the US might think, does not come even close to covering all the ethnic diversity that exists in the world.

 

 

Ethnicity is complex in the US as well. People here often do not neatly fit in one box either, and despite your assertion, no one (or very few) Americans would argue that those boxes you listed cover all the ethnic diversity that exist in the world. For one thing, you omitted Native Americans...

 

 

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7 minutes ago, CTballetfan said:

Getting back to the discussion of Smirnova and Chudin in the Diamonds Pas de deux, since I did not attend any of the performances, I watched it (thank you, canbelto) on YouTube. In fact I watched two different videos of it, followed by a clip of Mearns in the same role. To me, Smirnova was textbook perfect and Chudin's partnering seamless. I admire every perfect placement of legs, feet, liquid arms, flexible back, every pose perfectly executed. But I was not mesmerized. I wondered, is there supposed to be some passion? Aha, I then watched a short clip of Mearns in the role, and found the passion I was looking for. So I apologize to those of you who think the Bolshoi version is the be-all and end-all, and maybe I would have thought so too if I had been there in person, but these clips reminded me of how much I love NYCB and am counting the days until fall season and Swan Lake, more Mr. B ballets, and a smattering of new choreographers. Oh for Tiler Peck, Sterling Hyltin, Teresa Reichlen and Megan Fairchild (so sorry to have missed their Rubies), and the magnificent Mearns.

 

I agree, the Smirnova/Chudin interpretation is rather chilly. I do, however, think that's one quite valid take on the PDD. It worked for me –– but it's certainly not the only way I'd ever want to see it.

 

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the Farrell/Martins video, if you've seen that one.

Edited by nanushka

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Farrell/Martins at least in the video are also very remote and chilly.

 

Actually Mearns' take on Diamonds isn't even the orthodox NYCB take on Diamonds. Wendy Whelan, Teresa Reichlen, Maria Kowroski also all less emotive than Mearns.

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19 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Farrell/Martins at least in the video are also very remote and chilly.

 

Actually Mearns' take on Diamonds isn't even the orthodox NYCB take on Diamonds. Wendy Whelan, Teresa Reichlen, Maria Kowroski also all less emotive than Mearns.

I absolutely agree with this statement.  I have seen each of these dancers, as well as Suzanne Farrell years ago, dance the role and Mearns' interpretation is not quite the chilly, remote goddess.  She is a queen, however, but with more fire than ice.   I love her interpretation, but also love Tess Reichlen's. Farrell's will probably always be the standard. 

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Smirnova/Chudin's take on Diamonds is quite a lot more impactful in the theater. Video doesn't do it justice at all.

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24 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Hmm FWIW I once was at a Home Depot and a Russian guy came up to me and spoke nearly perfect Chinese. He said he grew up in an area where the majority of people had Chinese descent and picked up the language as a child. There's a lot of Russian ballet dancers (past and present) who have a central Asian look that is not anywhere near what I'd call looking "white."

 

One example: Ana Turashvilli:

 

 

That's Turazashvili.

 

Couple of more examples: Eric Swolkin and Bruna Cantanhede Gaglianone from Brazil. Both were among the Bolshoi cast in Diamonds yesterday, too bad some people here have missed them. The Bolshoi was apparently more diverse than the NYCB last night. Though their path has not been an easy one.

 

ETO4124-Editar.jpg

Bruna with Brazil's then-president Dilma Rouseff

 

 

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45 minutes ago, aurora said:

 

 

Ethnicity is complex in the US as well. People here often do not neatly fit in one box either, and despite your assertion, no one (or very few) Americans would argue that those boxes you listed cover all the ethnic diversity that exist in the world. For one thing, you omitted Native Americans...

 

 

 

My mistake, I was only reciting from memory the ethnicity questionnaire from the multiple forms one gets to fill out in the USA. But I never encountered a box for "Tatar" or "Georgian" on any of those forms. Wonder why this may be. Is it because there is not enough diversity in America?

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I actually did not like Bolshoi's Diamonds until yesterday evening when they finally performed it in the "NYCB tempo"- except pas de deux. The tempo for pas de deux was still so slow for my taste. Chudin once again missed his timing to kiss Smirnova's hand on time at the end. Other than that I loved every moment, especially the scherzo section. Smirnova managed to do most of the steps on time with the music (especially the chaine turns! She looked more confident with the faster tempo yesterday than Thursday). She didn't have the time to luxuriate her port de bras in each movements but I do appreciate the fact that Bolshoi at least performed with the standard tempo. The demi soloists were very musical and they only got better after each performance. 

 

Enough has been said about Emeralds and Rubies so I won't elaborate more. I thought all PoB dancers looked too cautious. I actually felt a little nervous watching them.

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This is my 500th post! :clapping: It took me some time to get there as I hardly posted last year.   Continuing with my thoughts on Jewels.....

 

Rubies:  Not sure I have anything much to add that hasn't been said already about NYCB's fantastic Rubies at yesterday's matinee.  Except they had to repeat the performance in the evening. Wow!  I thought they were spectacular.  Tess Reichlen is a fabulous tall girl, scintillating and sexy.  She's so cool and contained but definitely in charge. It's apparent she really loves to dance this role. I'm increasingly delighted with Megan Fairchild's dancing these days.  I find her more musical and her technique is lovely.  Perhaps that long stint on Broadway contributed to growth and maturity in her classical dancing.  She is more assured, perhaps more daring even. She looked like she was having the time of her life yesterday.    When I saw her at Saratoga in Jeu de Cartes, she was the best thing in it; she was commanding and dynamic and truly fun to  watch in an otherwise problematic ballet (for me) . Back to Rubies, Joaquin is amazing!  I can't believe he's 41.  He has so much energy and joy in his dancing.  He was the same in Tarantella a couple of weeks ago.  The whole performance Rubies, I mean) was just sublime and I loved it.

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2 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

You can see in my other comment that the Bolshoi dancers that you saw could actually be a lot more diverse when you might think once you actually look deeper into who they are and their backgrounds. I suggest we leave it at that.

 

Thank you, but again I was not talking about depth and background; I was commenting on a visual phenomenon.

 

25 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

Both were among the Bolshoi cast in Diamonds yesterday, too bad some people here have missed them. The Bolshoi was apparently more diverse than the NYCB last night. Though their path has not been an easy one.

 

I suppose you must be referring to me, since as far as I recall I'm the only one who has commented here about my visual perception that the Bolshoi ensemble yesterday was overwhelmingly white. So much for "leaving it at that."

 

I'll simply repeat that my comment was not meant to suggest that the Bolshoi should look as racially diverse as a U.S. company nor that they should strive to do so or had failed to reach some standard.

 

(Interestingly, your last sentence above suggests to me that you think the company has made an attempt at racial diversity –– though I readily admit I may be misinterpreting you. It's easy to do that in an online forum such as this.)

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53 minutes ago, KarenAG said:

She is a queen, however, but with more fire than ice.

 

Very nicely put!

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Well, while we're talking about whiteness, I found the Bolshoi's costumes blindingly white. I mean, obviously it's perfectly valid to go with bright white for a ballet called Diamonds, but the ivory tops in Karinska's costumes provide a bit of a relief for the eyes, while also making the dancers' white-tight-clad legs stand out. And Smirnova's bodice was so encrusted with crystals that I had to force myself to not focus on it as she began the PDD. The Karinska bibs are heavily decorated, as well, but a variety of materials are employed so that it doesn't become overwhelmingly blingy. The Bolshoi bodices also seem to have virtually no heft to them; they read like stretchy gymnast/figure skater tops. I guess the idea is to make the dancers look as thin as possible. The upside: the corps women wear perfectly fitted opera-length gloves, complete with fingers, in the final movement -- no cut-outs for the fingers, like in the Karinska costumes, which I always think looks sort of odd.

 

Agree with what others have written about Smirnova and Chudin. It was a treat to see a male dancer really make the most out of the turns a la seconde, which has not been the case the last several times I've seen Diamonds at NYCB.

 

Also, I agree with canbelto that the Bolshoi men are looking very good. When they visited back in 2005, I remember thinking many of the men looked positively gaunt, and some seemed to lack the strength to execute lifts. But that wasn't the impression I got last night.

 

And regarding race, I think it's completely normal for an American audience member to look at a Russian company and remark upon the overall whiteness of the dancers. Especially after weeks of watching ABT, which has become increasingly diverse in the past couple years, it is a stark contrast to see a practically all-white company. I'm not expecting anything different from a Russian company; it's just a reality.

Edited by fondoffouettes

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3 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

The upside: the corps women wear perfectly fitted opera-length gloves, complete with fingers, in the final act -- no cut-outs for the fingers, like in the Karinsky costumes, which I always think looks sort of odd.

 

Yes! So much better.

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13 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

Very nicely put!

Thank you, nanushka.

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4 minutes ago, fondoffouettes said:

And regarding race, I think it's completely normal for an American audience member to look at a Russian company and remark upon the overall whiteness of the dancers. Especially after weeks of watching ABT, which has become increasingly diverse in the past couple years, it is a stark contrast to see a practically all-white company. I'm not expecting anything different from a Russian company; it's just a reality.

 

That is exactly what my comment was intended to express. It was visually striking.

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Idk why this has become so contentious. I think part of the uniformity one sees in the Russian companies' corps is also the way their companies have a feeder school and in those schools kids as young as 10 are vigorously selected to have the "right" proportions, looks, face, everything. Russian ballet dancers are also told very bluntly that they must be "perfect weight" which apparently is your height in cm - 110 = kg. 

 

With that being said both the U.S. and Russian ballet companies have issues about accepting diversity within their ranks. It's not a problem unique to one country.

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I think what has become more striking is that the Bolshoi was traditionally more physically diverse -- something I remember as late as the Berkeley and DC performances in the 00's -- both among men and women, which had been more of a Mariinsky thing, and I mean from the auditorium, not in perusing the head shots or names/bios on the website for actual ethnicity and race.

 

I haven't seen the Bolshoi since those 00's performances, and I can't speak to how they differ today from then, if there's been a difference in the way children have been selected, if the changes in leadership and their preferences have made a difference, or whether this is a fluke of selection from the very large corps for this particular tour.  

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18 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Idk why this has become so contentious. I think part of the uniformity one sees in the Russian companies' corps is also the way their companies have a feeder school and in those schools kids as young as 10 are vigorously selected to have the "right" proportions, looks, face, everything.

 

In addition, there are 80 women in the Bolshoi corps and 75 in the Mariinsky's. It's simply easier to put sixteen women who are the same height, weight, body type and coloring on the stage at the same time. What stood out the most for me the last time I saw the Mariinsky's Swan Lake was the corps' absolute uniformity of height, weight, and body type. I assumed that the company's sheer size gave it the luxury of filling the stage with a flock of look-alike swans. I also assumed that this was intended as an aesthetic and theatrical effect.

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The idea that they selected similar dancers for this tour makes sense. Otherwise I was wondering how on earth they have so much uniformity - I was even wondering if they choose children based on the parents' height and attractiveness!

I too found the costumes too white, especially the men. When the male soloists came out I thought they looked like nurses. 

The militarylike precision of the corps and soloists in the polonaise was striking, and brought out the complicated and shifting patterns with remarkable clarity (way more than NYCB). Even the simplest line, like when the men line up along the sides of the stage, was astonishing in its perfect straightness. 

I also appreciated the corps' complete lack of wandering eyes, or even any sense that an eye might wander, when they were standing still as the principals danced. I see that occasionally at NYCB, and more so at ABT. 

Edited by cobweb

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I was looking at the program and noticed that it listed Russell Janzen, Lauren Lovette, and Andrew Veyette as the participants in the Lincoln Center Festival. I guess they are the 2nd cast on Rubies and Diamonds (Janzen's partner is probably Reichlen). 

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AFAIK the selection process in the elite Russian schools do look at your parents, your siblings, etc. But it was apparently the same for gymnastics or figure skating. These children were being funded by the state to be the best in the world. 

 

I understand it's a bit different now and that parents' incomes is now an important factor about whether you get accepted to these schools or not.

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[Admin hat on]

 

Members don't get to decide when a topic is over.

 

Discuss the topic, not each other.  If it's over for you, don't post about it.

 

[Admin hat off]

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