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Everything posted by Hans

  1. I must add Altynai Asylmuratova to the list: she had a way of holding balances solidly, often amazingly, without interrupting the flow of the choreography and musicality. It was a very skilled, subtle way of including a technical embellishment that really added something to the performance without hitting the audience over the head with it. I really miss that sort of artistry, which I don't think one often sees anymore.
  2. Regarding the supporting foot not always being perfectly flat on the floor--the technique for this sort of turn is for the dancer to place all of her weight on the ball of her foot and pivot her heel around it. It is similar to the movement used for a tour lent (aka promenade) only much faster. So the speed of the turn combined with the lack of weight on the heel means the heel may sometimes lift. As for multiple pirouettes on pointe in attitude in a Romantic ballet, I think that falls into the category of "Just because you can do it doesn't mean you must."
  3. KAB is not in control of its students' professional decisions. Many KAB alumni are now dancing with ballet companies including ABT, SFB, and Boston Ballet.
  4. When a comment is tagged as spam, it is automatically hidden. The word "show" is a link, allowing you to view the comment.
  5. Thank you for letting us know! Here is the previous thread on this topic: http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=31485
  6. Hans

    Alina Somova

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but I thought Somova was charming in that variation. The legs went way too high in the beginning, of course, and her style of dancing and body type are the antithesis of Romantic ballet, but that video might be the best I've seen from her. I'm a bit afraid to see what the rest of the ballet looked like, though...she's proven in the past that she's incapable of maintaining her turnout during jumps, and Giselle has to do a lot of those.
  7. I am really looking forward to seeing this!
  8. Yes, that is part of Tchaikovsky's score for Swan Lake. It is listed as a dance for the corps de ballet and dwarves (if I remember correctly) and it occurs after the opening march in Act III, just as in that video.
  9. How about a competition consisting only of mime scenes?
  10. I can't stand watching ballet competitions. The same variations, over and over, performed with stuck-on grins and an emphasis on flashy pirouettes and jumps--no thank you. Maybe it would be better with professionals, but even then it would probably still be less interesting than your average gala (since even galas tend to vary the rep with different styles of choreography every now and then).
  11. I was able to see the last half of Act 2. La Sonnambula isn't my favourite of Bellini's operas, and the production was very strange, but I thought the cast sang very well.
  12. I wonder if part of it has to do with the acoustics of the Kennedy Center opera house. Whenever I sit in the second tier, the shoes always sound loud, but the times I've been in the orchestra they've seemed quieter. I've seen both the Mariinsky and ABT in both locations, and the effect has been the same.
  13. That is funny...I remembered Kolegova raising her arm on both sets of balances. I recall thinking she didn't do it very well--it was a very abrupt, fast movement giving the impression that she was having trouble staying on balance.
  14. I have just posted one in my blog: http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/blog/details/index.php?
  15. I did not look forward to this performance with high expectations. The Mariinsky has mostly disappointed me the last few times it's visited, and while today's performance had some nice surprises, it was mostly in line with what I expected. Anastasia Kolegova (Aurora) is a perfectly lovely dancer with pretty line, strong technique, and apparently no acting ability. In Act I, she seemed nervous, and she glossed over any technical challenges (she would have been better off not attempting the balances). In Act II, she was bland rather than ethereal, but in Act III, she seemed relaxed and confident, although still devoid of personality. Anton Korsakov was an appropriate match--beautiful, strong, clean technique, but only one facial expression. I couldn't understand why either of them is listed as a principal dancer; the lack of stage presence makes them seem more like soloist material to me. Alexandra Iosifidi (Lilac Fairy) was warm and caring, but otherwise not memorable. Of course, one must also bear in mind that she is hampered by the production, which has her dressed in a sort of evening gown/nightie for half the ballet, performing boring choreography. I was surprised and pleased to see Maya Dumchenko listed as Princess Florina, and it did indeed appear to be her. She looks quite thin and frail, but in her one pas de deux, she gave a performance worthy of a principal dancer, and told more of a story with her choreography's little hints of narrative than Kolegova did during the entire ballet. Her technique has also not diminished, and her Florina was delicate and graceful. Vasily Scherbakov was appropriately airborne as the bluebird. His petite batterie during the coda was especially nice. Vasily Tkachenko and Valerya Martinyuk as Puss 'n Boots and the White Cat were witty and funny, turning a duet one usually suffers through into a highlight of the third act. I agree with others who dislike the production. It needs new costumes, and the wigs ought to be thrown out. The almost total lack of mime means it ends up being performed basically as a plotless ballet, and even the few dancers who bothered to act weren't given much material to work with. There were a lot of cuts in this production, which is understandable given the time constraints, but it was nice to see that they found some children to perform in the Garland Waltz and also as the eight violinists during the Rose Adagio. I was surprised that they included the entr'acte for solo violin, as it is very long. I always enjoy hearing it, and the violinist played well, but it divided up the already short second act with an unnecessarily long pause.
  16. Well, I have some good news: because of a change in my teaching schedule (studio closed because of snow) I will now be attending the Saturday afternoon performance with Kolegova.
  17. In that case, I'm not really sure...Vakhtang Chabukiani taught in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a while--could your teacher have maybe been trained by him? The only two Russian teaching methods I'm aware of are Vaganova and Legat...and Legat isn't really used in Russia anymore.
  18. Hans

    Alina Somova

    I'm watching the pas de deux Simon G mentions (haven't finished it yet, but I will) and there are several technical and artistic issues I notice already. One is that she sickles her foot in retiré position, which is something I cannot stand, and if you look at her developpé at 3:41-3:42, you'll see it is completely turned in. The other problem she's had and still does have is that she moves from her limbs, not her center, and so her torso gets contorted in all sorts of strange ways, which prevents her from having any sort of classical line. Her weak center, the resulting bad posture, and her inability to control her turnout are likely all contributing factors to her lack of balance. She also seems to be dancing without any regard for the music, but that could just be the video. (Edit: after watching the rest of the video, I think this is just a problem with the audio, not lack of musicality.) Mariinskyfan, I would not judge a dancer you've never seen in person on the basis of one video in which she performs an unfamiliar repertoire.
  19. I do wish they would fix the Bluebird pas de deux and Lilac Fairy's variation this time around.
  20. I have asked a few actor friends what they think, and here are their replies: That last paragraph brings to mind Balanchine's famous line: "How much story you want?" I will go ahead and say that I think the attitude that some people just "have it" and some people don't when it comes to using the eyes or acting may be part of why dancers are so inexpressive today. After all, if a ballet master thinks acting ability is something one either has or doesn't have, why bother to try to teach it or draw it out? But really good acting (not just indicating or mugging, which is what most dancers do) is just as much a technique as ballet, with many exercises to develop and focus one's ability. One wouldn't just bring in someone from the street and say "Dance!" and then, when that person failed to do multiple pirouettes, &c, say, "Well, s/he just doesn't 'have it'." But that is what is routinely done to dancers. They've never acted before, just worked on doing their steps correctly and perhaps learned some variations in which they were told "put your head here; make sure your arm is there; really push down into the plié" and then they get into a company, and suddenly they are expected to know how to create a character, an atmosphere, show what is happening and what they're thinking/feeling nonverbally, "see" things that aren't there, &c. And then if they don't magically "just do it" after perhaps a few rehearsals that barely scratch the surface of what goes into good acting, they're labeled as "doesn't have it" and so they never learn. Even a dancer to whom acting does come naturally probably won't have the opportunity to use his/her abilities fully because of the simple, flat way in which ballet characters are frequently staged. Peter Martins didn't like performing Siegfried because he didn't get to dance until Act III. When an artistic director thinks that way, what chance does a dancer have?
  21. Kenneth MacMillan's "Romeo and Juliet" is a ballet that relies on its two leading dancers more than other ballets do. In Petipa, if the leads are mediocre, one can still be delighted by the elaborate patterns of the corps, the brilliance of the soloists' choreography, or the grand spectacle his ballets generally present. MacMillan's choreography is weaker than Petipa's, and I spent a good deal of the ballet waiting for the principal dancers to come back on as the choreographer fumbled about with the crowd scenes, trying to create a lively, exciting atmosphere but never really succeeding. Fortunately, the leading dancers were worth waiting for, even though the performance got off to a slow start. In my opinion, Juliet is one of Julie Kent's best roles (I also enjoy her Giselle). In this performance, I did not find her totally believable in Act I. As a fairly tall dancer with a calm stage presence, she does not project that sprightly, childlike energy of a girl who has just entered marriageable age (perhaps 14) in the Renaissance, so the business with the doll did not really seem plausible. The ballroom scene was better, as it allowed her to display her smoothly polished classical line (Kent has perhaps the purest line in classical ballet today; never a harsh moment) and gave us a look at how easily she is able to communicate what her character is thinking and feeling. Marcelo Gomes is, of course, the ideal Romeo, with his elegant line and noble presence, and he, too, did not really come alive until the ballroom scene. That is an understandable way to play the role, but I think it would be more effective for us to get a sense of who Romeo is before he meets Juliet so that the contrast registers more strongly. Mercutio is the sort of role in which Herman Cornejo specialises, and he played it very well tonight. It's easy to go over the top with MacMillan, but Cornejo struck just the right note of witty playfulness without coming across as overly caffeinated or annoying. His quick, agile technique allowed him to zip right through the sometimes oddly put together steps, and his death scene was realistically but not melodramatically played. It felt right. Act III is where the drama really gets going for Juliet, and here Kent really let loose from the decorum of the ballroom scene. During the bedroom pas de deux, I had the sense that her Juliet felt she was not going to see Romeo alive again, and she used that to create a kind of inarticulate, almost irrational desperation that was very effective. Victor Barbee was a commanding, majestic, threatening presence as Lord Capulet--perhaps the strongest personality in the ballet. His Lady Capulet (Stella Abrera) did not have the same regal manner or acting skill, and mainly resorted to stylised swanning around. While this is not my favourite ballet to watch due to its many weak points (essentially everything the corps has to do as well as MacMillan's feeble attempts to tell the story through either dance or very abbreviated, vague mime) Kent and Gomes brought out the best in the choreography and created a moving, heartfelt drama.
  22. No, that is not how it is done. I have a number of friends who are actors; I will ask them for specifics.
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