Everything posted by Lawson
It's probably familiarity with Romeo and Juliette that makes it appear this way, no? I think there's a lot in Dnieper that's specific. "The Fight" is very specific. Certainly the "Fiance's Dance" is specific. Then again, there are many instances in the score which are specific in creating an impression of the characters but aren't associated with specific actions, footwork, or characterizations. They seem to be speaking about the action and mood of the story as a whole. Take the "Introduction" with Sergei's opening solo. It's very serene, wistful, nostalgic, and it describes Sergei, but it also serves as an introduction to the story as a whole. The score is remarkably consistent in mood, and this may be what you're picking up on. In contrast, Romeo and Juliette is much more reflective of Prokofiev's experience with film and montage. It's more tightly linked to particular actions. Put another way, Dnieper is less of a story ballet in many respects than Romeo and Juliette or Cinderella.
I absolutely hated Cornejo's "Prodigal Son" and loved Corella's. With Cornejo, the prodigal son is looking for babes. He seems to make the ballet low art; there's no comedy; there's nothing likable about the prodigal son. Corella's was one of the best prodigal sons I've ever seen, and I even preferred it on most levels to Baryshnikov, Woetzel, and Ulbright's. He gets the comedy of the piece. I was completely amused by the story when the prodigal son, the strange drinking companions, and the brothers all start dancing in unison, and he has a very innocent and maudlin smile, having a good time. When seduced by the siren, he seemed innocent again; he seemed like a nice boy. This bears repeat mentioning: "On the Dnieper" is an amazing piece of music, and perfect in every way. It's absolutely crucial to bring "Chout," "Le Pas d'Acier," "Trapeze," and "On the Dnieper" back into the fold in order to resuscitate some of the works for this greatest of 20th century composers for the stage. MacAulay's point about Ratmansky's specialty being to depict the Soviet Union as it might have been reminds me of what it was that I saw in "Concerto DSCH." When I saw that piece, I immediately thought of Prokofiev's "Le Pas d'Acier," which I saw at Princeton University in 2005. This piece is again, a depiction of the Soviet Union as it might have been. It's a celebration of steel, factories, and the original decor and setting in many ways was in the expressionist manner of "Prodigal Son." I think this would be an interesting piece for Ratmansky. Difficult, but it would give an opportunity for one of the great 20th century scores to get a hold on the repertoire. Too, there's a lot of music there that screams for choreography.
Prokofiev is by far my biggest obsession in life, and I started jumping up and down when I heard that Ratmansky was going to be choreographing On the Dnieper. It's an absolutely amazing score, and I've never heard of its being performed in the concert hall, much less as a dance piece. But it's more introverted than any of his other ballets. It exudes a rural atmosphere akin to Stone Flower, but with more fusion of melody and modernism, more rhythmic vitality. It's not the kind of rhythm that calls attention to itself, but rather it's integral to the melody. It tends to come and go without a fuss. I went into this a bit on a post I made to an online reviewer. Ratmansky's response to this score is so inside the understated rhythms, the folk-tinged ambience, and piquant harmonies, that it took my breath away on both nights. But this score, just like the choreography that's inevitably associated with it, is almost inaccessible in creating an introverted landscape. It never reaches out for you, but you also don't disturb it and float seamlessly back out of that world when it's over. Therefore, the choreography seemed purposefully understated, using a more traditional dance vocabulary, and to some extent, underdeveloping parts of the tale. But then much of the time, the story can still come through in emotional terms. In Ratmansky's opening choreography, Sergei's restlessness, the fact that he's alone, helps explain why he, all of a sudden, gives up on his fiancee for this new woman, Olga: she has two legs. She's probably the first woman he's seen in five years of fighting. Simply, he sees her before he sees his fiancee, and Ratmansky's opening characterization of this restlessness helps to explain things without a lot of pretext. As regards stage images, I particularly enjoyed the quarter-turn pivots with one arm raised that open and close the ballet; the "confetti" image with Olga and the fiancee; Natalia resting her head in a kind of prayer, and many others. Oh boy, could I not agree less with Apollinaire Scherr in that this score is match. As I've listened to this piece, I've always wondered what so many of the numbers might look like on stage, and some of them just scream for choreography. It's the story that's thorny; the music would light up like kindling. That we haven't gotten Chout or Le Pas d'Acier into the international repertoire is a big tragedy for Western culture.