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Everything posted by pherank

  1. Thanks, Bart. Llosa, Borges, Fuentes - all good. ;) I'm a little surprised that someone who loves ballets isn't crazy about "magic realism", but we all have different takes on these things. It seems to me that Tuchmann was the first historian to figure out how to use fictional writing techniques, especially those used in character-driven novels, and apply these same devices to historical writing. In the last 30 years, every historian seems to have jumped on the bandwagon, but with differing degrees of success. Laura Hillenbrand has the gift as well - I wonder if I could get her take on the subject of Lee Miller...
  2. Yes, you are quite welcome. I forgot to place an asterisk beside "Come and See" as it is one of the most TERRIFYING and shocking films you are likely to ever see. It is not for everyone, and definitely not recommended for kids/adolescents. Period. But it is a cinematic work of art in many ways. For a short list sampler to start things off, I would recommend: The Cranes Are Flying, The Color of Pomegranates, Dersu Uzala, Battleship Potemkin and maybe Ivan's Childhood from Tarkovsky. I generally agree with your recommendations above. I do find "Solaris" to be boring, personally, so it doesn't go on my top list. Perhaps I should just say, "See all the Eisenstein films you can if you've an interest in classic cinema" ;) I see that I typo'd his name above, so I'll fix that...
  3. I agree that the female roles often leave a lot to be desired. That's one reason why I love "Hidden Fortress" - the princess gets to be a strong and forceful personality (yikes!) Samurai Trilogy is a tough one for me. Some of it is simply great, and some of it is really annoying. I am a huge Mifune fan, which you can probably gather from my list, so I should probably include Samurai Trilogy just for his participation. Deciding which Yasujirō Ozu films to mention is tough as he was remarkably consistent. But I like to hear what others prefer... "In the 2012 version of the widely-respected decennial "Greatest Films of All Time" Sight & Sound poll, published by the British Film Institute (BFI), Late Spring appears as the 15th greatest film of all time."
  4. You are welcome - I too love his 'painterly', Degas quality, and the 'moodiness' of some of the shots. I can tell that he alters some of the photos in various ways, but it looks to be more of the old-fashioned by-hand manipulation than the Photoshop variety. One thing that becomes obvious in this photo (http://www.photodom.com/photo/2109538) is the tremendous amount of work put into the design and creation of the tutus - much of which is simply lost on audience members sitting in the middle of an auditorium. The art of costume-making is still alive.
  5. In the Lopotkina/Korsuntsev version out on DVD, Siegfried whips Rothbart a few times with his own wing, which is equally goofy. But Korsuntsev is able to express a bit better the fact that there is a physical struggle between the two characters. Thanks for the great write-up, Ksk04. I'm just plain envious now - I was wavering between traveling to Costa Mesa and traveling to Berkeley, but I chose Costa Mesa and I'll be forever stuck with Ivanchenko (in memory, of course). Me thinks the Mariinsky staff reads Ballet Alert forum. ;)
  6. This video vaguely(!) relates to the thread - a comparison of 3 dancers as The Firebird: Vishneva, Kondaurova and Stepanova... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD9CYXnl1KM This isn't a side-by-side sort of comparison, which can be very interesting, but I think it preserves the integrity of the performance and provides better context to show one dancer at a time.
  7. And here are my recommendations for must-see Russian films (and I'm sure I'm leaving some things out) - The Color of Pomegranates, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, The Legend of the Surami Fortress (Sergei Paradjanov) The Cranes Are Flying, I am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov) Ballad of a Soldier, The Forty-First (Grigori Chukhrai) http://dvd.netflix.c...25?trkid=496751 Come and See (Elem Klimov) The Ascent, Wings (Larisa Shepitko) Ivan's Childhood (or "My Name is Ivan"), Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky) The Dawns Here Are Quiet (Stanislav Rostotsky) Dersu Uzala (Kurosawa with all Russian cast and locals) Battleship Potemkin, Strike, Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein) Russian Ark (Alexander Sokurov) Man With A Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov) Arsenal (Alexander Dovzhenko) >> I haven't seen "Stalker" yet (many people like that film)
  8. For anyone interested in finding out more about Japanese cinema - here's a starter list... Ugetsu Tokyo Story The Munekata Sisters Early Summer Floating Weeds Sansho the Bailif Ikiru Woman in the Dunes Branded to Kill Tokyo Drifter The Hidden Fortress Red Beard Seven Samurai Yojimbo Sanjuro High and Low Stray Dog The Bad Sleep Well Throne of Blood Samurai Rebellion Chûshingura My Neighbor Totoro Spirited Away Grave of the Fireflies Hiroshima, Mon Amour (I see this as a French-Japanese co-production) Classic Japanese cinema is full of Samurai-themed stories, but there is plenty of humanity between the sword fights. ;)
  9. LOL - Yes! My first A on a quiz in many years. There are so many others to mention from over the years: Katherine Hepburn (and Audrey), Deborah Kerr, Wendy Hiller...
  10. It does seem that the consensus on Skorik is that she's not really ready to be a 1st Soloist, and was brought along, or pushed, too fast. It does feel a bit like a 'political' appointment - she's the favorite of someone high up and powerful. How many times has that happened in the ballet world? ;) I feel sorry for her, actually, as she may be experiencing sheer terror on some nights: that's not what any artist needs to develop their craft. This isn't just bad for the audience, it's bad for the dancer's psyche. Kondaurova moved through the ranks at a fairly typical pace for a principal dancer (though some think she should have been promoted to principal sooner), and she's proven to have that rare ability that every company director dreams of: a dancer who continues to grow and absorb new techniques and roles without hesitation, year after year.
  11. Has anyone else run into the images of Nikolai Krusser? I find some of his work to be quite outstanding: a wonderful sense for movement, color, and composition. There's a quality of mystery to many of his images that I love. And I like his frequent use of the overhead shot, such as: http://www.photodom.com/photo/2109538 Here's his portfolio page: http://www.photodom....nikolai_krusser [Edit] And a few others: http://statics.photo.../17/1079987.jpg http://4.bp.blogspot...let_dreamin.jpg http://25.media.tumb...f2mwo1_1280.jpg http://www.photodom.com/photo/2106535
  12. I just read an interesting book, "Lee Miller, A Life" by Carolyn Burke, but had a really difficult time with it because I just didn't think much of the writer's style, and meddling in the subject matter. But Miller was a fascinating woman, to be sure, and a worthy biography subject. I happened to re-watch Jean Cocteau's first film, "Blood of a Poet" (in which Miller portrays a statue that comes to life), and that got me interested in Miller and her further adventures in the worlds of photography and cooking (yes, cooking). http://www.zimbio.com/Johnny+Lee+Miller/articles/zXPMc4H_l6r/Lee+Miller http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Miller-Life-Carolyn-Burke/dp/0375401474
  13. Thanks very much for these, everyone. I've been wanting to know how things turned out for my 'hometown' ballet company in Europe. I wish there was more info on the performances in Moscow.
  14. Yes, but did you like it? ;) I'm glad to hear that the Mariinsky continued to improve as the week went on. A fine write-up of the performance, by the way. I had much the same impression of Ivanchenko as you did. It's kind of sad really, and perhaps he's simply burned out, or even nursing some type of injury, but he just didn't seem to be emotionally engaged in the performance that I saw. I was just looking at some online photos of Kondaurova dancing with David Hallberg in Swan Lake and a Tudor piece, and I couldn't help but wish we could see THAT pairing in California. The touring orchestra is indeed small, but they don't sound tiny - I was pretty impressed by the sound they were able to achieve.
  15. Well, it IS Orange County, and I can't believe that the Mariinsky has the name recognition and reputation with the general public in that area to sellout the Hall each night. (The name change back to Mariinsky from Kirov certainly throws off the non-balletomanes.) And it's worth point out that the top tier of seating isn't even being used, so the Segerstrom people must have known there was no way they were going to get enough people to come see Swan Lake each night. There were plenty of people in the auditorium on Wednesday night, Oct. 3, but there was still some open seating. Kondaurova got her standing ovation, and that's what counts - that the dancers coming from the other side of the globe feel appreciated for their efforts. Edit: I stumbled across this video documentary that purports to show Kondaurova in her Swan Lake debut. And I think it's safe to say that she has grown into the role since. Lovely girl. Unfortunately there's a lot of dropped-frames in the video so it's choppy. I would rather see "Big Red" in The Firebird, but that's just me - maybe next tour... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxJPVMQZ_f4
  16. Yes, it was probably dumb luck that the creature escaped, but I can't imagine it found too many tasty bugs flying about the Hall either. I will just mention that this was my first visit to Segerstrom Hall - sound and seats were good, and the entire Performing Arts Center is impressive, who knew? (outside of LA patrons). The stage was smallish though, and that did have some impact on the visuals. I would not want to see the finale to "Diamonds" on a stage of that size - it would be really cramped.
  17. Definitely was a bat, and definitely not Teamsters jurisdiction. The topmost seating section was actually closed to the audience and I did notice some 'personnel' walking about up there trying to think of what to do with a bat. Die Fledermaus passed really close over our heads when I was standing with a few other people by the front of the stage. I thought I was going to get whacked in the head. The main thing is, it was gone before it could ruin the last of the performance. Could you imagine a bat crashing into Kondaurova as she's being held aloft? That would be memorable.
  18. I was able to see Kondaurova as well on her first night and I thought she was very strong. Obviously the Odette-Odile role requires a dancer of strong presence, as well as technical ability, and Kondaurova looked like a star, and a consummate professional. And that surprised me a bit, as she is still young - I expected her dancing to look "young and fresh". But she managed something close to the spellbinding quality of Lopotkina as Odette, and Odile I liked even better as she shows a lot of eye contact with the audience, and Rothbart, and it was hard to take my eyes off of her through much of the performance. Which is what we pay for. The Corps naturally put on a solid performance (they all look like they're no more than 18 years of age). But of all the ballerinas on stage it was pretty obvious who should be dancing Odette-Odile, Ms. K towers over everyone else in spirit as well as physique. The low spot for me was Evgeny Ivanchenko as Siegfried: simply dull and plodding, technically uninteresting. He brought no spirit to the role, and his 'acting' was practically non-existent. Fortunately his lifts were competent so there was little impact on Kondaurova. In fact, Siegried's dullness did serve to make Kondaurova look even better. When Siegfried tore off one of Rothbart's wings, he stopped there (and Rothbart collapses anyway). But I thought, "That is so Ivanchenko, doing things half way, half-heartedly." Why not struggle with Rothbart in a realistic manner? I much preferred the dancing of Xander Parish (as well as his stage presence). Parish deserves better roles. Hint, hint. I also enjoyed the bat that got loose in the performance hall during the break period - fortunately it found its way back into the night sky before ACT III. Since I was sitting in the 3rd row, I was able to see every detail, and during the encores I was standing against the stage and just missed a fantastic shot of Kondaurova taking her bow in front of the curtain (about 20 feet away). But the darn usher noticed that I and the person standing next to me had our phones out, so she motioned us away from the stage area. I'll always regret not having that extra few seconds to get the picture. ;)
  19. Nice photo! I wish it was higher resolution. Letestu is slumping against the balcony so that takes off an inch or two. But she's clearly 3 or more inches taller than Dupont. When Gillot and Dupont are standing beside one another in Neumeier's "Sylvia" there's quite a difference in heights. Gillot makes an excellent Roman/Grecian goddess.
  20. Lucky you, Trieste - hope you got an autograph. What you are saying about her height makes sense though. She towers over the other POB ballerinas in any video/image, except Letestu, who is supposed to be the tallest of the group.
  21. Do you know about this website? (Looks terrible, but summarizes in English the Ballet magazine articles): http://www.russianballet.ru/eng/info.htm
  22. I haven't read d'Amboise's book, though I own the DVD on d'Amboise which includes a live interview. He's definitely a character, and not afraid to say whatever springs into his mind.I don't think he worries much about other people's feelings. This reminds me that I had heard of some kind of falling out between Peter Martins and Suzanne Farrell regarding her retirement, but that makes little sense going by Farrell's description of events: once her hip had been replaced her years as an active soloist were basically over. And it was Martins who effectively ended their dance partnership to work full time as company director.I wonder if anyone knows more about this original "falling out" (I'm not thinking of her more recent dismissal from the NYCB's teaching roster to cut costs). I personally like to buy hardcover copies of books that I admire most - usually on Amazon or eBay. I believe I spent 5 cents for a very good copy of the Kirstein book (only the book jacket had some markings). Effectively paying for shipping and little more.
  23. I'm reviving this thread to mention that there's an article on Marie-Agnes Gillot in Dance Magazine that has some interesting facts about her life: http://www.dancemagazine.com/issues/July-2012/The-bold--the-beautiful I had no idea that she had suffered from scoliosis as a child and wore a metal brace for years. It's also hard to believe that she is only 5'7" tall - I always thought she must be close to 6' with that Olympian physique! Somewhere else in the Forums I posted some info on her upcoming choreographic debut at POB (this Fall, 2012).
  24. Well, I decided to travel to Costa Mesa and see Ekaterina Kondaurova, whose dancing I really do like, though Swan Lake would not have been my choice of ballets to see her in. But what the heck, I won't be flying to Russia anytime soon. Please no more casting changes!
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