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mnacenani

Natasha Osipova on Her Future (Recent)

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mnacenani,

While it is good to know that Osipova is happy at Covent Garden and will continue to dance there for the foreseeable future I am not sure that  everyone who attends performances by the Royal Ballet  would actually feel that her continued presence as a member of the company was essential to its continued artistic health. She is of course a star, which means that for many  her performances are above the sort of criticism which other dancers receive as a matter of course. I can think of a number of dancers for example  Morera, Hayward,Naghdi and O'Sullivan whose absence would almost certainly be regarded as having a much more significant impact on the company and its long term artistic development than hers would have.

 

Edited by Ashton Fan

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I think a great dancer--even one coming in from an alien tradition--always contributes in substantial ways to the artistic life or "health" of a company. (I prefer the term "life" to "health.") I imagine many ballet fans would have lot to say about which dancers' departures would most impact their favorite companies too.


I don't think the Royal needs Osipova or, in the past, "needed" Guillem. But having a remarkable external talent also has an impact on a company. In fact, I should think it's likelier to be a healthy impact when the company has talent from within its traditions that are keeping those traditions strong.  But the days seem long past when everyone at the Royal had uniform training and backgrounds -- in that context, bringing Osipova always seemed to me a rather imaginative gesture that has added to the company's life. And based on what I have seen, she certainly has shown the Royal's influence in her dancing.

 

Obviously, I operate from the premise that Osipova is a great dancer and a serious artist. Her being a  "star" means (I think) that she has a lot of charisma--something I must admit I never hold against a dancer :wink:.

 

(I am puzzled by the Royal's importation of Yana Salenko. But not having seen her dance live, I may not be doing her justice.)


Do I like everything Osipova does equally well? No...Just to be crystal clear I don't think she is above criticism: I thought her Giselle with the Mikhailovsky in NY fell a wee bit short of what I had seen her dance at ABT; it seemed a touch less spontaneous, and she added a jumping detail that seemed strange to me during her Act II entrance as well -- folding her legs up underneath her skirt.  It did make her look as if she were flying through the air on an invisible magic carpet and yet I'm not sure the artifice of the jump wasn't too apparent.  She also had less chemistry with her partner than I had seen her have with Hallberg. With the Royal in New York the wildness of her Titania seemed to me very true to Ashton's vision (more so than the Victorian Picture postcard I've seen from other ballerinas in the role) but at least one of the performances I saw was something much less than polished.

 

Anyway, as I wrote above, I'm sure every ballet lover has their own ranking of the dancers that could LEAST be spared from the companies whose aesthetic(s) they care about....But I am hard pressed to see how Osipova isn't playing a key role in today's Royal -- alongside Morera, Naghdi, Hayward etc. 

 

Edited by Drew

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Having started ballet going when Fonteyn and Nureyev danced with the RB, I believe it is essential for a company to have a star dancer, whether home grown or imported.  The brutal fact is that the RB has a dwindling, aging, regular audience and the very presence of a 'name' is more likely to pull in newcomers.   Some big names fit in better than others however but Osipova's  versatility means she is as much at home in the works of McGregor (fast becoming the company's staple fare) as she is in the traditional repertoire.  Were Ms Osipova to leave, my visits to the RB would certainly reduce..

 

Regarding Salenko, although not a big name. she is an excellent dancer and the favoured partner of Steven McRae.  Earlier this year I saw her dance a wonderful SB and together with McRae the best performance of Diamonds I've seen from the RB in years.   However the hard core of RB fans has always been resistant to 'outsiders' and will grumble incessantly reminding me of that saying about empty vessels making the most noise.

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17 hours ago, Ashton Fan said:

I am not sure that  everyone who attends performances by the Royal Ballet  would actually feel that her continued presence as a member of the company was essential to its continued artistic health.

 

Dear Ashton Fan :  Natasha is the only reason why I am still a member at ROH, and the only reason I will travel

to London to see "ballet" at the ROH. Please do excuse me but to me at least, everything in London, Paris, Berlin

and Wien seems second best after having discovered at a late age in Russia what classical ballet can be. I know

that some members may take exception to what I have just written : it is quite personal and subjective ("beauty

is in the eye of the beholder") - an emotional thing. Western born dancers can be excellent technically, but I find

the characterisation, "emotionality" and "spirituality" of Russian dancers superior. When Osipova pulled out of

Giselle last year I saw Sarah Lamb - I thought she was excellent technically (as far as I can tell) in the 2nd act, but

she was not "Giselle" for me in the 1st act, and I could not get taken in emotionally, if you know what I mean.

 

PS :  when Osipova pulled out of Don Kixot two years ago I sent an email to the RB begging them to bring in

someone from the Balshoy, explaining that I and probably many other people would be flying in specially to

see Osipova and deserved to see someone of comparable status. On the night I got Tsygankova, was OK under

the circumstances !

Edited by mnacenani
posted PS

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4 hours ago, Mashinka said:

Regarding Salenko, although not a big name. she is an excellent dancer and the favoured partner of Steven McRae.  Earlier this year I saw her dance a wonderful SB and together with McRae the best performance of Diamonds I've seen from the RB in years

 

Dear Mashinka : have seen Yana Salenko both live in Berlin and on Mezzo quite a few times. I totally agree with you that

she is an excellent dancer ...... especially when she is not dancing with her husband !! Here is a clip of Yana partnered by

Simkin in the Don Kixot Grand Pas :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_5lto74MF4

I haven't seen Yana anywhere near as radiant when she dances with hubby Marion. Last year for the premiere of the

Duato Sleeping Beauty Berlin brought in Sarafanov, which I thought was a wise choice, but again this is my half baked

personal view !

 

PS :  just learned that Simkin is joining Berlin effective September 2018 !!

Edited by mnacenani
posted PS

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13 hours ago, Drew said:

I don't think the Royal needs Osipova or, in the past, "needed" Guillem. But having a remarkable external talent also has an impact on a company

 

Dear Drew :  you DO have a point here !!  In the Nineties we used to visit the ROH regularly, and Guillem, Darcey

Bussell and Viviana Durante were the only dancers I got attracted to, knowing next to nothing about classical ballet.

Now I know a little more than at the time, and I think Darcey was the one and only home grown talent who could hold

her own against the best in Russia. There is her docu-monologue "A Ballerina's Life" which is still on YT and I would

like to draw your attention, and of other members too, to what she has said starting from 17:00 mins :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju27oD0mkqI

 

So can a a foreign star have a great impact on the repertoire and casting of a company ?? You tell me please !

 

(Re Ashton :  couple of years ago I had to ask the admin of a British ballet forum to delete my membership when

I asked whether the "Ashton style" known for "exquisite footwork" could be due to his having to work with a

company which had dancers of limited physical potential who could not hope to "touch their ear", quoting this

same excerpt from Darcey, which caused a firestorm of condemnation :o - would still like to have some answers

from our learned members)

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20 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

(Re Ashton :  couple of years ago I had to ask the admin of a British ballet forum to delete my membership when

I asked whether the "Ashton style" known for "exquisite footwork" could be due to his having to work with a

company which had dancers of limited physical potential who could not hope to "touch their ear", quoting this

same excerpt from Darcey, which caused a firestorm of condemnation :o - would still like to have some answers

from our learned members)

 

In Ashton's day dancers only brought their feet up in the ear in class, never on stage and it was the case in Russia too.  The hyper extension has only come into being in the past twenty years or so, it is ugly in the extreme and has no place in classical ballet.  I am not of the opinion that modern technique is as wonderful as its supporters would have us believe.  As recently as the 1980's Asaf Messerer stated in an interview that 'small steps' (as it was translated, I imagine he meant petite batterie) were being lost and indeed that is the case with only the Danes and to some extent the French being able to impress in fast beaten sequences,

 

Ashton is much admired in Russia and The Mariiinsky has taken Sylvia into the repertoire and La Fille Mal Gardee at the Bolshoi and Mikhailovsky, indeed Osipova refers to the challenges of Sylvia in the above interview.  The RB no longer dances Ashton as well as in the past possibly because the ballets of Kenneth MacMillan have been allowed to take centre stage and because damage has been done in revivals, e.g. Cinderella.  As a whole Ashton worked with some of the very best and when he began his choreographic career he had  Diaghilev dancers to work with such as Markova and Karsavina and I've never heard them described as having 'limited potential'.  

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13 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

I am not of the opinion that modern technique is as wonderful as its supporters would have us believe. 

 

No, neither am I. And it's not just batterie that's suffering. I'm seeing a lot of simplification of grand allegro sequences as well. And of course the spaghetti dancers/asparagus ballerinas/flexerinas are often a pretty wobbly bunch, and for that matter I haven't seen many really, truly beautiful fouettes in some time. And what about Bournonville's "the height of artistic skill is to know how to conceal the mechanical effort and strain beneath harmonious calm"? I haven't seen much of that lately either.

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5 hours ago, mnacenani said:

 

5 hours ago, mnacenani said:

 

Dear Mashinka : have seen Yana Salenko both live in Berlin and on Mezzo quite a few times. I totally agree with you that she is an excellent dancer ...... especially when she is not dancing with her husband !! Here is a clip of Yana partnered by Simkin in the Don Kixot Grand Pas :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_5lto74MF4

 

 

She looks very lovely to me. I hope to see her in London someday.

 

Russian and 'Russian sphere' (Alina Cojocaru....) ballerinas will draw me to see any company. I just got tickets for my daughter and myself to see Sylvia because Natalia Osipova is performing.

 

I don't get to see the Royal Ballet very often, but Marianela Nuñez is a favorite, whom I would rearrange a travel schedule to see.

 

I know that a lot of folks like to see companies develop with their 'homegrown' talent and style and I can totally sympathise with them. But I also have to say, that I go to see the best performances possible and 'Russian' dancers, for me, always deliver this. I think that their value beyond is that they set the standard.

Edited by Buddy
typo correction

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Tereshkina has spoken candidly about how difficult she finds dancing Ashton's Sylvia -- which gives you an idea of just how challenging it must be! 

 

It is not absurd to suggest a choreographer works with the talent he has, though a great choteographer also develops and pushes that talent...but I think posing this as a matter of lesser or greater technique is not, certainly in Ashton's case, a helpful way to understand these differences. God knows Ashton wanted something different than Grigorovich, but easier? I don't think so...especially not if it is done right. 

 

With Ashton transitions in particular (or lack  thereof), quicksilver changes of direction, and sheer speed are among the things that dancers not used to the choreography may find a challenge--to say nothing of the distinctive 'twisty' upper body. Tereshkina, for example, spoke of the smaller number of prepatory steps leading into jumps in Sylvia (smaller than what she is used to) as an example of what makes it hard.

 

I happen to love many Russian dancers and, over time my taste has come round to twentieth-first-century technique in many ballets--as long as it doesn't devolve into sheer gymnastics. But I think it's a mistake to miss the distinctive and specifically technical demands Ashton places on today's dancers. Think of it as a different technique...

 

Off topic, but...I happen to think Macmillan's popular long narrative ballets looks best on dancers with excellent classical skills--even if they ostensibly don't showcase those skills-- but if I wanted to point to a British choreographer's works seeming to make allowances for mediocre classical technique that could be compensated for by other gifts (stage chemistry, remarkable dramatic skills, production values etc.) Macmillan's  full length story ballets would come to mind. However, perhaps Macmillan's  afficianiados might explain to me what I'm missing and I suppose the partnering counts as technique too--and that does require skill.

 

(From this view of Macmillan's full length narrative ballets I probably exempt his -- admitedly not at all popular -- Prince of the Pagodas which was created for Bussell. The final pas de deux counts among my favorite pieces of Macmillan choreography or that's how I felt when I saw it long ago. I am aware this is not a much admired Macmillan ballet, but I wish someone would at least revive the pas de deux which I remember as genuinely neo-classical, not swooney acrobatic.) 

Edited by Drew
Typo

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Hopefully some great news. It looks as if Veronika Part (originally Mariinsky, formerly ABT) may be establishing a presence 

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BY0zQ_qjrBn/?taken-by=vpartnyc

 

as reported by Fondoffouettes.

 

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/42745-veronika-part-leaving-abt/?page=17&tab=comments#comment-387309

 

 

Added thought:

 

Maybe she could become like Margot Fonteyn. Her artistry transcends age.

Edited by Buddy

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On 9/9/2017 at 7:14 PM, Buddy said:

Russian and 'Russian sphere' (Alina Cojocaru....) ballerinas will draw me to see any company. I just got tickets for my daughter and myself to see Sylvia because Natalia Osipova is performing.

 

Alina was my default Giselle, now tied with Diana V. Sadly have never been able to see Alina live.

I am hoping to see Osipova as Sylvia too (keeping my fingers crossed) and I just got tix today for her

Giselle on March 1st with Hallberg. If she appears this will be the first time I will have seen Osipova

in a "real classic" after four tries.

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32 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

 

Alina was my default Giselle, now tied with Diana V. Sadly have never been able to see Alina live.

I am hoping to see Osipova as Sylvia too (keeping my fingers crossed) and I just got tix today for her

Giselle on March 1st with Hallberg. If she appears this will be the first time I will have seen Osipova

in a "real classic" after four tries.

 

Alina Cojocaru, former Royal Ballet star, I have to mention once again, was featured in six(!?) Mariinsky Festival full length classics. She may well be the all-time star of these remarkable festivals. 

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