Jump to content
Birdsall

Mariinsky in London 2017

Recommended Posts

Possibly everyone would agree that it’s so much of the beauty within the art form that draws us to the ballet. This beauty has its own spell. Couldn’t/shouldn’t the ‘literary content’ be worked with as much as possible to elicit/reinforce the exact same response ?

Edited by Buddy
spelling correction

Share this post


Link to post

Perhaps I could clarify what I’m trying to say. I’m talking about the pure beauty of the dance and I’m thinking primarily about the Mariinsky, which possibly exemplifies this best. As good a focus as any is its Swan Lake. I’ve mentioned before that when I watch the Mariinsky’s performance, all my attention centers around the famous White Swan duet. It stands by itself as perhaps the most enchanting passage of pure dance in all ballet. After that, all I want to do is to conserve and continue that experience. I focus primarily on whatever follows that maintains and reinforces this. I truly appreciate any aspect of the story line and its interpretation that accomplishes this.

 

Is this an abstract approach? Maybe. Is it a case for abstract ballet? Maybe it is. As in pure instrumental, there are no words. The pleasure is the pure dance. Why look at it this way? Because companies like the Mariinsky do it with such remarkable beauty. 

 

The Bolshoi is a slightly different matter. Its pure dance can be just as fine, but the importance of expression and characterisation is also very evident. Thus the ’story line’ and its interpretation have more impact. I think that ultimately I value the pure dance of any company the most. The Bolshoi never overwhelms the dance with the drama and the message. As an example, I recall Svetlana Zakharova (I believe) once saying that the Bolshoi actually tries to smooth out the Odile character. And I would add that the Bolshoi’s Maria Alexandrova performed one of the most delightful Odiles that I’ve ever seen and for me it worked just fine. In addition it helped to maintain the gentle, delicate and uplifting aura that for me is the essence of this work and perhaps all of ballet.

 

Edited by Buddy
several words added for emphasis

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Buddy said:

Perhaps I could clarify what I’m trying to say. I’m talking about the pure beauty of the dance and I’m thinking primarily about the Mariinsky, which possibly exemplifies this best. As good a focus as any is its Swan Lake. I’ve mentioned before that when I watch the Mariinsky’s performance, all my attention centers around the famous White Swan duet. It stands by itself as perhaps the most enchanting passage of pure dance in all ballet. After that, all I want to do is to conserve and continue that experience. I focus primarily on whatever follows that maintains and reinforces this. I truly appreciate any aspect of the story line and its interpretation that accomplishes this.

 

Is this an abstract approach? Maybe. Is it a case for abstract ballet? Maybe it is. As in pure instrumental, there are no words. The pleasure is the pure dance. Why look at it this way? Because companies like the Mariinsky do it with such remarkable beauty. 

 

 

You only focus on the White Swan pas de deux? I think the beauty of Swan Lake is the juxtaposition of the poetic lakeside scenes with the earthiness of the "colored" scenes. To only focus on one aspect of the ballet is not really getting the ballet at all.

Share this post


Link to post

It sure did.But who else has his power to distill the essence? 

Edited by Olga
Typo

Share this post


Link to post

And a one-act "Swan Lake" was not one of Mr. B's most successful works.  

Share this post


Link to post

Measured by what criteria?  I know it didn't make many fans of his black-and-white ballets, who thought he was selling out, but it's live side-by-side with those ballets for decades and was programmed often enough, until Martins did his own full length at least.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Olga said:

It sure did.But who else has his power to distill the essence? 

 

Isn't the point perhaps that what one defines as "the essence" is in large part a result of one's own interpretation of the work?

 

2 hours ago, canbelto said:

You only focus on the White Swan pas de deux? I think the beauty of Swan Lake is the juxtaposition of the poetic lakeside scenes with the earthiness of the "colored" scenes. To only focus on one aspect of the ballet is not really getting the ballet at all.

 

"I think" may be the key phrase there, then. To only focus on one aspect could indeed be "getting" the ballet, if that aspect is "the essence."

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post

One could say the "essence" was most of the only original (Ivanov) choreography that existed continuously, even if there were changes, and most of the rest is whatever whoever is staging.

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, Helene said:

One could say the "essence" was most of the only original (Ivanov) choreography that existed continuously, even if there were changes, and most of the rest is whatever whoever is staging.

 

That would definitely be one viable interpretation, based on one set of reasonable criteria.

Share this post


Link to post

I pretty much agree with Buddy's view of the white swan duet. And also, the way his Swan Lake was danced in Balanchine's day was truly other worldly. Did more for me than many full length versions. But it is to some extent personal. And may possibly also be related to whether you grew up on Balanchine or the full length versions. There are some full length versions out there now  for which less of them would be an improvement. As for Balanchine's version, the change to black costumes is awful.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. I guess that if I ever did a version of Swan Lake the White Swan duet would go at the end. Or at least I’d eliminate much of the heavier Rothbart stuff from the last scene and let the beautiful principal and chorus dancing be a lovely echo.

 

By the way, the Perm Ballet does something different. The dance of the Four Little Swans goes just before the duet instead of immediately after. How much of this charming dance I’ve missed clinging to my memory of the duet. 

Share this post


Link to post
11 minutes ago, Buddy said:

By the way, the Perm Ballet does something different. The dance of the Four Little Swans goes just before the duet instead of immediately after. How much of this charming dance I’ve missed clinging to my memory of the duet. 

 

That can definitely be a factor in the overall structure and effect of a work, it's so true. I had a similar experience recently in the first two movements of Mozartiana at ABT, when Veronika Part's opening preghiera made attention to Daniil Simkin's gigue nearly impossible.

Edited by nanushka

Share this post


Link to post

Being programmed "often enough" doesn't make Swan Lake one of his most successful works.  It's not been that frequently performed, even at NYCB (at least recently), and I can't think of any major companies besides NYCB and MCB who have done it.  I'd be hard-pressed to find people who call it one of Balanchine's most iconic ballets, though perhaps many have not seen it.  The ballet was basically choreographed as a moneymaker for the Company and for City Center, and while that in of itself doesn't mean it lacks merit, the ballet is so abridged that the narrative fades.  I didn't see the work as distilling the essence of the ballet, if the essence of the ballet is indeed the White Swan pas. 

 

 

Edited by MRR

Share this post


Link to post
14 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

That can definitely be a factor in the overall rhythm and effect of a work, it's so true. I had a similar experience recently in the first two movements of Mozartiana at ABT, when Veronika Part's opening preghiera made attention to Daniil Simkin's gigue nearly impossible.

 

Ah, dear Veronika !  :)    

 

I missed commenting on her departure from ABT, but I'll certainly miss her. I hope she finds something, somewhere worthy of her remarkable and wonderful talent. She performed, after Ulyana Lopatkina, perhaps the best Swan Lake that I've ever seen.

Edited by Buddy
Corrected the smiley

Share this post


Link to post

I love being able to see the full length Swan Lake; a good production has extraordinary power. But even in a full length production--where the contrast between the worldly scenes and the lake scenes is crucial--I think Ivanov's lake scene choreography (and allowing for some variations introduced into it later, such as dispensing with Benno) is indeed the essence of the ballet. Together with Tchaikovsky's music, those scenes are surely what give the ballet its outsized place in ballet history. Let's put it this way: if you were told you could take one act/scene of Swan Lake with you to a desert island, how many people would NOT pick the first lakeside scene? Fortunately most of us aren't stuck with that choice!

 

Of course, the drama of a full length production, as Canbelto wrote, depends on the contrast between the lake scenes and the worldly scenes...But would many people really want to see a Swan Lake "distillation" made up of the Prince's birthday party and the ball except, perhaps, as a curiosity? Whereas the lake scenes, the first one especially, can stand alone as something profound even if it's viewed as only a beautiful fragment.  (I am also an admirer of Balanchine's one act version  I hope NYCB never stops performing it...)

 

As it happens, next spring, Atlanta Ballet is going to stage a stand-alone Swan Lake ballroom scene as part of a double bill with a new work. In a nod to Hollywood, the program is being marketed as the "Black Swan" program. I will probably go if I can--but I find it very peculiar programming.

 

Edited by Drew

Share this post


Link to post
11 hours ago, MRR said:

Being programmed "often enough" doesn't make Swan Lake one of his most successful works.  It's not been that frequently performed, even at NYCB (at least recently), and I can't think of any major companies besides NYCB and MCB who have done it.  I'd be hard-pressed to find people who call it one of Balanchine's most iconic ballets, though perhaps many have not seen it.  The ballet was basically choreographed as a moneymaker for the Company and for City Center, and while that in of itself doesn't mean it lacks merit, the ballet is so abridged that the narrative fades.  I didn't see the work as distilling the essence of the ballet, if the essence of the ballet is indeed the White Swan pas. 

 

 

 

The first time I saw B's SL I was surprised. I had read countless writings-( mostly in this forum)- about said famous "distillation", "essence", and so on. When I saw it, my one impression-(which still stand)- was that of the choreographer rrather showing a compression of the two white acts, but certainly NOT in a plotless, pure dance form. Actually...it shows more story- telling, narrative factors than the Soviet white acts, and it-( perhaps)-even shows to be permeated to what Balanchine remembered from Imperial productions, visually speaking-( the mechanical swans...the hunters interacting with the corps, Siegfried's entourage accompanying him during the beginning of the act etc...). So for me it was just Balanchine showing a bit of a story of Swan Lake without getting to stage the whole thing. This compression is definitely not in the same league of the other famous  B' s full length distillation...those from Raymonda-( Pas de dix, Cortege Hongrois and RV)-, where there is absolutely no narrative to follow.

Share this post


Link to post

It’s interesting to compare Swan Lake with Giselle and La Bayadere. In these two, the dream scene, where the enchantment occurs, is at the end and it makes a lot of sense. A sensitive handling of the final scene in Swan Lake can have a very similar effect.

 

Added:

 

In this regard I like the Mariinsky versions of Giselle and La Bayadere the best of those that I recall. The storyline is handled delicately. In Swan Lake and La Bayadere there is a ‘reconciliation.’ In Giselle there is forgiveness.

 

I also like the final moments of ABT's Swan Lake. Although sad on earth, that final coming together in the giant sun is breathtaking. It's brought tears to my eyes.

 

I favor the happy endings. They just seem consistent with the uplifting value of the art form.

Edited by Buddy
Paragraph added to "Added"

Share this post


Link to post
5 hours ago, Buddy said:

It’s interesting to compare Swan Lake with Giselle and La Bayadere. In these two, the dream scene, where the enchantment occurs, is at the end and it makes a lot of sense. 

 

Well..that would be in the Soviet, truncated Bayadere. 

 

Share this post


Link to post

I've just decided to make Yekaterina Osmolkina a Principal !  Does that count ?   :)

 

Wishing her much success and happiness on her Monday night Swan Lake.

Share this post


Link to post

Soloist, Principal or whatever, Yekaterina Osmolkina is a beautiful ballerina.  :)

Share this post


Link to post

I would promote both Olesya Novikova and Ekaterina Osmolkina to principal.

Share this post


Link to post

Another vote here for both Novikova and Osmolkina principals - but it should have happened YEARS ago and probably will not.  Such a tragedy.

Share this post


Link to post
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×