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Mariinsky Bayadere KennCen Oct 22-17, 17

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5 hours ago, cubanmiamiboy said:

AND...let's keep in mind that, as per the video of the recon I just provided, Gamzatti had, originally, her share of 32 fouettes during the pas de trois coda, now eliminated in favor of the re invented italian fouettes/20 regular fouettes.  

 

Sometimes I wonder what if Petipa could be brought back to be a witness, for one night, of his Soviet "re-imagined" ballets. And poor Vikharev. All his efforts...and all that labor of love put into such magnificent production, which would had been a unique item in the ballet world...all for...nothing.

 

Cristian, Petipa's definitive 1900 La Bayadére and Vikharev's reconstruction don't originally have fouettes in the 4th act Pas de Trois, the Mariinsky management asked Vikharev to include fouettes because, well, Russians love fouettes and they must have fouettes in everything....(even in new-versions of Nijinska's Les Noces, oh boy) 

 

 

2 hours ago, Drew said:

 

Vikharev's productions included many modifications and/or compromises vis-a-vis Petipa.

 

I'm actually in favor of some recognition and acceptance of performance traditions, so I don't really mean that as a criticism of Vikharev. God knows I wish I had seen his Bayadere!! I am very curious what Ratmansky will do, though I am not persuaded a return to exact nineteenth-century performance practice might not end up being unnecessarily pedantic in a ballet that needs to pack a theatrical punch. But maybe it will reveal new pleasures...

 

If we're going to talk about modifications then you should talk about those pastiches of style and guesses that Ratmansky is now selling as so-called "reconstructions" that are just the copy of someone else's work + modifications and what he is selling as "19th century dancing" as if the dancers of those days didn't actually dance faster and higher than the dancers of our time....not to mention Ratmansky never reconstructs sets and costumes, a production can(should) only be referred to as a "reconstruction" if it contains reconstructed: Choreography+Mime+Music+Sets+Costumes, something that Ratmansky doesn't do.

Vikharev reconstructed everything there was in the notations, and if there were modifications when the aforementioned reconstructions were being performed, it's thanks to the management who asked for fouettes and mainly, to the lovely(sarcasm intended) Mariinsky dancers who decided, once on stage, to perform the Soviet choreography they were used to, not like the delightful dancers from Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Moscow and Milan, who always performed what they were told to, and so there were no modifications.

 

Sorry, but I get very sensitive when incorrect comments are done about someone's work (and my work) especially when that someone is no longer around to defend his legacy.

 

 

 

I have problems quoting Cristian, but he also wrote 

 

"Sometimes I wonder what if Petipa could be brought back to be a witness, for one night, of his Soviet "re-imagined" ballets. And poor Vikharev. All his efforts...and all that labor of love put into such magnificent production, which would had been a unique item in the ballet world...all for...nothing" 

 

Also Drew 

2 hours ago, Drew said:

It is unlikely, but perhaps there are also people with the will to find a way to revive Vikharev's efforts as well, though they would need tremendous resources. 

 

Please don't say "efforts" say "work" or "accomplishments" because whenever I read "efforts" it sounds as if Vikharev's work had been just ideas and the work had never actually took place, and god knows his many many many reconstructions did took place. The Mariinsky might not perform them but the Ekaterinburg ballet does and the Bolshoi will (Coppelia) shame on the Mariinsky only.

And Cristian, would you really like to see Petipa suffering thanks to the Soviets? Poor old Petipa already complain out loud at what Gorsky did to his Don Quixote, let's just thank heaven he wasn't around to see what was done to Raymonda, Beauty and Bayaderka

 

 

2 hours ago, Drew said:

Perhaps something like the resources of the Bolshoi --  you know, if only the Bolshoi had a director who had a history of working with Vikharev...:wink:

 

Finally, Vaziev isn't going to bring any of Vikharev's reconstructions of Petipa to the Bolshoi as long as the almighty Yuri Nikolaevich is still around. When Vaziev arrived at the Bolshoi he implied he would like to bring some reconstructions..... He was almost fired just for saying that 😂

Edited by Gnossie
too many typos (as usual)

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51 minutes ago, Gnossie said:

 

....

 

 

 

If we're going to talk about modifications then you should talk about those pastiches of style and guesses that Ratmansky is now selling as so-called "reconstructions" that are just the copy of someone else's work + modifications and what he is selling as "19th century dancing" as if the dancers of those days didn't actually dance faster and higher than the dancers of our time....not to mention Ratmansky never reconstructs sets and costumes, a production can(should) only be referred to as a "reconstruction" if it contains reconstructed: Choreography+Mime+Music+Sets+Costumes, something that Ratmansky doesn't do.

Vikharev reconstructed everything there was in the notations, and if there were modifications when the aforementioned reconstructions were being performed, it's thanks to the management who asked for fouettes and mainly, to the lovely(sarcasm intended) Mariinsky dancers who decided, once on stage, to perform the Soviet choreography they were used to, not like the delightful dancers from Novosibirsk, Ekaterinburg, Moscow and Milan, who always performed what they were told to, and so there were no modifications.

 

Sorry, but I get very sensitive when incorrect comments are done about someone's work (and my work) especially when that someone is no longer around to defend his legacy.

 

 

 

 

And please don't say "efforts" say "work" or "accomplishments" because whenever I read "efforts" it sounds as if Vikharev's work had been just ideas and the work had never actually took place, and god knows his many many many reconstructions did took place.

 

 

 

Finally, Vaziev isn't going to bring any of Vikharev's reconstructions of Petipa to the Bolshoi as long as the almighty Yuri Nikolaevich is still around. 

Quote function doesn't allow one to quote within quote. Gnossie is responding to things I said--though I think I was not always exactly understood:

 

But I'm happy to say "accomplishments" or "works" rather than "efforts" regarding Vikharev's productions. (I was thinking of the resistance he faced at the Mariinsky when I chose the word "efforts.")  As far as the Bolshoi goes -- yes, the shadow of Grigorovich looms large--so any sort of "reconstruction" Bayadere there is, as I also wrote, "unlikely"... at least at the present time. Perhaps you prefer the word "impossible?" I always try to be a little hopeful--and in this case precisely out of my respect for Vikharev's legacy.  (Though, honestly, the first Grigorovich production I would like to see the Bolshoi change is Swan Lake.)

 

Re modifications: I do have a question perhaps you can answer about the Vikharev Raymonda --I had thought from something I read here and also elsewhere online that Petipa brought Abderrakhman into the scenario earlier than Vikharev did in the La Scala Raymonda, and the difference between the scenarios always puzzled me. Perhaps you can help...is this not the case?

 

 

 

 

Edited by Drew

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I know Drew, is just that Russia leaves one in a paranoid state and after fighting for so many years whenever I read something that might imply wrong information...I get defensive, there is so much wrong information on the internet, so many ignorant people spreading incorrect facts, as a professional art historian and a pupil of Vikharev I feel I have to set things clear immediately. 

 

59 minutes ago, Drew said:

Re modifications: I do have a question perhaps you can answer about the Vikharev Raymonda --I had thought from something I read here and also elsewhere online that Petipa brought Abderrakhman into the scenario earlier than Vikharev did in the La Scala Raymonda, and the difference between the scenarios always puzzled me. Perhaps you can help...is this not the case?

 

 

See, what we're talking, wrong information, Madonna santissima! I think our Raymonda conversation would be off topic here so I've sent you a PM. 

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I have a question and an antidotal comment both reguarding La Bayadere. First, doesn’t the Mariinsky and Bolshoi still use blackface when performing this at home? Although I don’t believe the Russians have ever thought of this as ‘blackface’ in the sense that we do here as Americans.

 

my second note is an interesting point my husband made when a lot of controversy arose over the Bolshoi’s broadcast of Bayadere and the black paint. He had no idea why people would be offended as this was never meant to be offensive or degrading. It was used, especially during the soviet period because a) there were no people of color in the major ballet schools or companies, and b) out of wanting to accurately portray the setting. In the story the children with the bronze idol were young black slave children. So most people never gave it a second thought to using makeup and paint to fully portray the characters. The same goes for the idol, himself. 

 

I am am not using this as an excuse or am I saying that in our culture this is anything but ok. Just trying to note the differences when living in a closed of, nearly homogeneous society that had to use makeup when playing anything but Caucasian characters. It was not in an effort to demoralize or make fun the way blackface was in the US. I just found his observation interesting and it gave me another point of view to think about. Not agree with but at least to understand.

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2 hours ago, Fraildove said:

I have a question and an antidotal comment both reguarding La Bayadere. First, doesn’t the Mariinsky and Bolshoi still use blackface when performing this at home? Although I don’t believe the Russians have ever thought of this as ‘blackface’ in the sense that we do here as Americans.

 

my second note is an interesting point my husband made when a lot of controversy arose over the Bolshoi’s broadcast of Bayadere and the black paint. He had no idea why people would be offended as this was never meant to be offensive or degrading. It was used, especially during the soviet period because a) there were no people of color in the major ballet schools or companies, and b) out of wanting to accurately portray the setting. In the story the children with the bronze idol were young black slave children. So most people never gave it a second thought to using makeup and paint to fully portray the characters. The same goes for the idol, himself. 

 

I am am not using this as an excuse or am I saying that in our culture this is anything but ok. Just trying to note the differences when living in a closed of, nearly homogeneous society that had to use makeup when playing anything but Caucasian characters. It was not in an effort to demoralize or make fun the way blackface was in the US. I just found his observation interesting and it gave me another point of view to think about. Not agree with but at least to understand.

 

Yes, the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi still use blackface when performing this at home. So does the Paris Opera Ballet.

 

Thank you for sharing your husband's comments. I think you (and your husband) are right that it is helpful to remember (or, for some of us, learn and study) the specifics of Russian history when thinking about these problems. Still, though I'm far from an expert, I think one can say the history of ethnic diversity of all kinds in the Russian Empire and, later, the Soviet Union is not without its complications and ....uh...troubling side.  (Which does not relieve U.S. history of its burdens, obviously.)

 

As far as Bayadere is concerned, or this production anyway, I think there is a hierarchy of types of humans (including ethnic/racial types) in the staging as well as a hierarchy of humans over the non-human animal kingdom.  And I view the make-up issue in that context. And, for example, I don't tend to think classical ballet is one dance form among a happy multicultural mix at Solor and Gamzatti's wedding--rank is involved: the upper class characters dance the classical grand pas at the wedding because they are the 'highest.' (And, above them, in the next act, heaven is the purest of pure ballet--even if it's a mere dream.) Too harsh? Maybe.

 

But to get more specific about the children: the gestures the black/blackface children make, their way of walking and holding their hands out flat, here and there find echoes in Fokine's foolish, violent Blackamoor (obviously a stereotype) and both Fokine and Petipa look back to earlier visual images of Blacks that are, shall we say, not complimentary. So, to stick with the children: let's say the make-up is done for pragmatic, artistic reasons because there were "no people of color" in Russian or Soviet Ballet schools--which doesn't explain the peculiar character of the make-up, but put that aside--that absence still wouldn't fully account for the way those black figures are deployed by the ballet. You raise the argument that the children and other characters are shown that way for the sake of historical accuracy--there were such slaves etc. But Bayadere is not remotely a serious documentation of India and its customs, so why is that something that it was important to Petipa to include?


Great works of art complicate and can even transcend what may be historically troubling about them. I LOVE this ballet, and loved these performances, which is why I keep pondering them, and I think that, as with Sleeping Beauty and its view of absolutism, it is very hard to separate out the ballet's greatness from what is (one hopes) outdated, disturbing, or offensive in its worldview. One can't really purify it away without changing the ballet. Though I think one can modify some of the more egregious elements. And perhaps time will eventually make those elements seem less poisonous than they are now anyway.   (Who really cares if Sleeping Beauty idealizes Versailles? No-one thinks absolute Monarchy is coming back anytime soon--at least not in that form.) But arguing that all the ethnic/racialized elements of Bayadere are really benign is not convincing to me even allowing that that the history behind the ballet and its productions must be a great deal more complex than I, at any rate, am knowledgeable about. And this is still to say very little about the orientalizing fantasy aspect of Bayadere at a time (1877) when Russia was involved in the so-called "great game" right on the edge of the border with India!

 

A ballet like this is so obviously a fantastical, unreal spectacle, it may seem absurd to take it so seriously. What can I say? I do take it seriously...:blushing:

 

By the by, I did a google search and found this story from earlier this year in the Guardian--Russian use of blackface isn't just a matter of debate for ballet fans:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/30/sochi-parade-blackface-bananas-confederations-cup-cameroon

 

 

Edited by Drew

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With respect, I don't think the Guardian story is relevant to this discussion as it is an out and out example of the often appalling racism in sport that is present in eastern Europe.  Not just against African teams as the England and France teams are very diverse racially and have reported similar abuse when they play in eastern Europe.  A small fine is usually imposed when far tougher measures such as an outright ban from competing in international matches could in theory be imposed.

 

A better example where malice is not intended but jars with modern sensibilities would be the Dutch tradition of 'Black Pete'.  This character dates back centuries and hands out sweets to children in Christmas parades usually dressed in a medieval style, nowadays there are a lot of people that want this practice dropped.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/netherlands/11996588/Dutch-Black-Pete-makes-annual-arrival-to-howls-of-protest.html

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Well. I grew up with blackface characters. They are an important pilar within the vernacular Cuban theater, and , far for trying to make it disappear, its study and legacy is encouraged within theater careers alumni. 

http://www.habanaradio.cu/articulos/teatro-bufo-costumbrista-vernaculo/

 

I went back last night to compare the current versions. Ponomarev vs. Vikharev vs. Makarova. All I can say is that..boy...Petipa really knew his stuff. He was a genius.

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