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Everything posted by danc1988

  1. It's not clear - there is a biographical summary on Cao Shuci in the playbills but she did not have a major character role in any of the Peony or Red performances.
  2. I saw Wednesday's performance of Peony Pavilion and Saturday evening's performance of Red Detachment. I thought Peony Pavilion was OK - I wasn't a big fan of the Kunqu singing and the postmodern score but the ballet had its moments. Red Detachment, by contrast, was stunning - Zhang Jian in particular did a tremendous job as Wu Qinghua (those head-kicks!) but it was all-around a standout performance for the whole company. The audience frequently burst into applause enraptured by the bravura score and choregraphy (including clapping along to The Song of the Detachment as well as the synchronized grand-jetes during the interlude). There was a standing ovation with many loud cheers during curtain calls.
  3. Oops. It was a dark set in Infra and hard to distinguish who was whom from fourth ring.
  4. I attended the Royal Ballet performance tonight. The good- Generally superb divertissements, especially Choe/Campbell in Voices of Spring set to Strauss's music and Acosta/Lamb in Carousel ('If I Loved you') pdd which stood out in terms of their theatricality, humor, rhythm, and athleticism Infra - a ballet about urban/metropolitan life set under a LED banner with moving stick figures which reminded me in many ways of NYCB's Glass Pieces. It was enthralling with a particularly touching moment being a grieving woman (Nunez I believe) ignored while a crowd surges past her The OK- Nunez/Bonelli in Aeternum - I struggled to connect with this work. I recall some beautiful fish dives but the music was jarring and this piece paled relative to the other two pdd divertissements The bad- The age of anxiety - what was this about? The whole thing started off well enough with a beautiful 1940s set in a midtown bar. Then it became increasingly incoherent - the whole piece was great at evoking anxiety but did not make any sense. Between the random entry of the soldier and his girlfriend (who proceeded to get hit on by another), people repeatedly using the washroom at the bar, the bacchanalia that resulted in everyone getting kicked out by the bartender, one of the guys passing out in his new lover's apartment to her chagrin, and then the random 'empire state of mind' finale, it was all just too much reminiscent of a drunken night out that one would rather forget
  5. I attended this evening's performance by the Polish National Ballet - overall it was amazing, what talented young dancers. The Rite of Spring was by far my favorite of the bunch. The Adagio & Scherzo was boring and I was dozing off a bit until I was jolted awake by Stravinsky's music and the energy of the five dancers. The final Moving Rooms was generally entertaining with tremendous energy and athleticism but the music was a bit too grating at times.
  6. Admittedly, it's been a while since I've last seen a ballet as my interest waned over the past year. The only other performance I saw this year was the Balanchine Black and White III compilation by the NYCB earlier in the season. Nevertheless, I was tempted enough by the new Ratmansky production of SB to give it a shot - and Vishneva/Gomes did a good job on the final performance in ABT's run this year, as far as my dilettante eyes could see. However I did have some mixed impressions: -Songbird fairy variation in the prologue was a bit strident - this was never my favorite part of SB -Loved the Garland dance - great costumes and energy -Excellent Rose Adagio, great balances by Vishneva, as well as variation - definitely the highlight of the evening -Did not like the Carabosse costume - makeup was garish and looked too caricaturized -Act 2 for some reason felt very abridged in this production, especially the panorama and awakening scene, which made it lose some of its magic. I think this act was met with a lukewarm reaction and I groaned when I realized there would be a second intermission -Act 3 - come on, did we have to reuse those Roman columns again -Fantastic Bluebird (Simkin) and Florine which was very well received -Good comic relief from Puss-In-Boots and White Cat -Final pas de deux was well-danced but a bit soporific at this point after almost 3 hours of dancing I think I was a bit tired going into the ballet in order to truly appreciate all the great dancing for the whole evening but I figured I'd throw in my two cents Next up - I may attend the Obraztsova R&J since I've never seen her live... Cheers
  7. My goodness, where do I begin with this? From which cellar do they find all the desaturated, washed-out colors, the excessively frilly costumes, and the dusty sets? And in this respect, their Giselle actually even isn't that bad compared to their Nutcracker (Cojocaru/Dowell 2001) all-around or even the well-danced Sleeping Beauty (Cojocaru/Nunez 2006) with the ridiculous costumes for the king/queen. What a contrast to the solid, bold, lush, and vibrant color schemes we saw in the Bolshoi last month (in line with a modern, 21st century, "sans-serif" aesthetic that we associate with quality these days, especially in their Don Q). Will the RB ever catch up to the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi in this respect or will it continue perpetuating its anachronism?
  8. And please tell me when I have derided hip hop. I can't say I respect all aspects/schools of it depending on its subject matter/content (twerking? we can agree to disagree), but there are most certainly very respectable elements in some hip-hop schools. But it's a fact that professional ballet dancers can and have been noted to transition into hip-hop but never vice versa which reflects the relative differences in complexity. Tap/jazz I never opined on except to say yes it is as complex as any other Renaissance art but hasn't as of yet had the lasting global impact the Renaissance arts have, the influence being restricted more to the states and pre-1980s. I will say I have no respect for Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, and the like, but that has nothing to do with hip-hop/tap/jazz. And sure, a lot was privatized afterwards as you edited your post, but where does the initial impetus come from, unfortunately arts can rarely be separated from the politics of the time, before the Renaissance much art was dictated by the church, later on it was increasingly dictated by secular tastes among the wealthy and politically powerful and gradually the culture filtered out by osmosis into the general public, nowadays the tastes are dictated by the lowest common denominator (since we're all "equal", right?), and it shows in the ad-revenue driven media we consume today. For all the merits of democracy and free markets and what these institutions have done for broad segments of people and their standards of living and acceptance in society, we must also be able to admit that it has many fallacies. We should not deride the very historical institutions that gave birth to the art form "ballet" that we all love on this forum. And it's a fact that the U.S. hasn't generated nearly as many globally known "household names" and artistic output as the European monarchies with all of its conflict over its past 300 years. And Europe has obviously also shifted to become more like the U.S. over the past 100 years. I don't want this to devolve into straw man arguments -- from my perspective you seem to be unfairly and repeatedly reading my arguments differently than I intended them, so I propose we just let it go since we've both already made our points several different ways.
  9. Agreed on the Royal Ballet in that its patronage was different from the other houses. So aside from that, what exactly are we still arguing about, i.e. which of the three assertions I made towards the end of my last post do you disagree with. And no, not all evolution required patronage, but the "origins" did, is my point, it takes tremendous effort and imagination to invent a sophisticated dance form and codify words to describe the basic elements within the dance form (fouette', port de bras, grand jete', five positions, and so on). Influence/power also helps to make a particular form canon. Most of the earliest formal definitions I would presume came out Louis XIV's Academie Royale de Danse. It takes less effort to choreograph a new cohesive work once the basic elements have been codified and the musical score is available. It takes even less effort to imitate and re-interpret Swan Lake or Giselle. And it takes miniscule effort to do the Macarena. And so we have scores of kids wanting to become Miley Cyrus, fewer kids wanting to become the next Odette-Odile, even fewer kids wanting to become the next Petipa, and so on. Does our free-market economy or democratic government incentivize anyone who would even think to go down the road less traveled in the same way influential patrons did in the past, absolutely not. Free-market dictates that in the digital age the best and brightest, even those with tremendous artistic talent, go into technology, finance, etc., the former of which caters to the lowest common denominator (billions with smartphones, Facebook/Twitter/..., also contributing to increasingly sedentary unhealthy lifestyles) and the latter of which participates in "efficiently allocating capital to the most productive destinations" (i.e. mostly tech these days). I saw this from personal experience when I graduated in 2009 from a "prestigious" college and a large majority of graduates irrespective of their majors or interests got shepherded into doing the same things after graduation under economic considerations. It's just a joke, really. As for bringing up "household names" for the first time, I thought I was already clear when I had put "masterpiece" in quotes as meaning something that is not only widely known by the general public but also widely critically accepted as having high artistic merit, as opposed to being related to personal taste.
  10. -SYTYCD often asks trained dancers to learn new art forms within a week. Of course a trained dancer is going to be better than an average Joe or me doing entrechat six. However, a trained professional ballet dancer can most certainly pick-up hip-hop dancing and be just as proficient as a well-trained hip-hop dancer within a reasonable amount of time. The vice versa is not true. SYTYCD never asks its dancers to learn ballet in a week - it's impossible. Tap dancing I view as a very limited exception, and because I have absolutely zero expertise to opine on it, I'll say nothing except to point out it's nowhere near as popular today as the other classical Renaissance arts (at least not since the 80s), and even less popular than "pop" art a la Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, and the like. And I never said "all" when it came to patronage, I said "most". -Conventions do exist in all art forms. The conventions in classical music are complex/sophisticated and require years of study, "pop" music conventions require a day to understand. -My fault for opening the can of worms with Mondrian. But I will say that there are many who find certain schools of abstract art to have less merit than representational art, and many who disagree, simply based on the effort and barrier to entry involved. The better analogy was Rebecca Black or even more extreme, the man who put a toilet bowl in an exhibit and called it art (and I'm not insinuating that Mondrian in that same category), maybe someone appreciates it, but it's no Michelangelo. If we can't even agree on Rebecca Black or the toilet bowl in terms of its merits as art then we'll just have to agree to disagree. If everything can be considered art, then "art" has no value. -If we bring the topic back to ballet, practically all the largest European/Russian ballet schools and theaters which ensured the continuity of the art came into existence under royal patronage, so I'm not sure why we are disagreeing on the influence of patronage. If there wasn't patronage, ballet wouldn't even have existed -Kirov/Mariinsky + Bolshoi - both came under Catherine the Great -Paris Opera Ballet - Louis the XIV -Royal Ballet - Queen Elizabeth II -La Scala - Empress Maria Theresa of Austria -Finally, for anything painted or composed for orchestra after the mid-20th century, I'm sure you could come up with artists (I could as well with a search), but my argument has absolutely nothing to do with personal taste. Rather, I am arguing that there are simply none that are "household" names, which reflects the shift in popular taste away from these media. Everyone knows Mozart, Monet, da Vinci, Picasso, fewer people know Mondrian, and even fewer people know of any late 20th century painter or composer. People on this forum are clearly well-versed in these topics and extremely well-educated in the humanities over decades of experience (many clearly much more so than me), and we can sit here in our ivory tower bubble debating this and that, but what does the average YouTube viewer think and what does he know about, is my point. I also worry that we are starting to conflate arguments/different issues and open new, irrelevant cans of worms now. I stand by my assertion that in the modern era we've become mostly imitative of prior artists in the "classical" arts, with performance taking more precedence than composition, which limits innovation within these media. I also stand by my assertion that "popular culture" (that which is represented by YouTube videos with hundreds or billions of views) has been "dumbed down" and has a much lower barrier to entry than in years past reflecting changes in economic, political, and cultural trends and attitudes, especially notions that "everyone should be a winner" or "everyone should be equal regardless of their merit in whatever endeavors they pursue" or "everyone should get points for effort and participation irrespective of the result". By the way, since you mentioned the church, the church was indeed a significant patron in and of itself and also has much declined in influence and wealth over the years. And so I stand by my third and final assertion that modern democratic governments are most certainly not patrons of the arts in the same ways the church, royal courts, and other similar institutions were. (Or Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, etc. for that matter)
  11. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Exhibit 1 is hip hop, both music and the exquisite specialized dance forms. And hip hop artists didn't need a Renaissance court to birth the art form. Opera was once a popular art form and considered just as accessible as hip hop, but that doesn't make either of them any less complex. I don't accept this "either/or" argument as relevant.People have been reinterpreting Shakespeare's plays -- and abridging them, changing the endings, adding in pieces that were current and popular or specific to the performer, etc. -- for hundreds of years. I don't see a compelling reason to stop or to stop interpreting "Giselle." I won't debate the merits of hip/hop or other current popular music forms outside the usual criticisms (AutoTune, formulaic verse-chorus-bridge/hook, Rebecca Black's Friday at its peak before it got removed and reposted had hundreds of millions of views -- the most popular ballet video on YouTube has less than 15 million with a 7-year history). People study classical ballet, music performance, music theory, drama, voice and opera, for years at institutions like the Vaganova, SAB, Juilliard, Curtis just to name a few, whereas anyone with a synthesizer, a studio mic, and some software all for a few thousand dollars can pass off as a pop singer, anyone who dedicates a few weeks/months on YouTube can figure out some basic moves like the dougie or pop and lock among others and pass off as a hip-hop dancer. I can become proficient at the Macarena or any other similar pop choreography by watching MTV or YouTube in a few minutes/hours, whereas I couldn't do entrechat six like Roberto Bolle or perform Rach 3 like Horowitz even if I practiced for months and years. Now that doesn't mean everyone can make a living out of art forms with low barriers to entry, marketing and public perception makes a difference, if I take a canvas and paint some random squares on it and call it art nobody will care but if Piet Mondrian does it then it's a masterpiece worth millions. Also, I never said we should stop interpreting "Giselle" or Shakespeare. My point was, there were many sophisticated art forms and mediums developed during eras of patronage, and had hundreds of years of derivative works based in those mediums, many of which became masterpieces. What is sad is that since roughly around the mid-to-late 20th century, we've stopped creating new derivative works in these mediums originating in the Renaissance that are widely performed or considered masterpieces. This also happens to coincide with the greater global democratization of political systems partially due to population growth, in which "pop" and other easily accessible culture becomes more economically relevant, rather than "refined" art paid for by a few. For an example, let's just look at Western orchestral music, we've gone from the likes of Scarlatti/Bach/Handel/... -> Mozart/Beethoven/Schubert/... -> Mendelssohn/Chopin/Verdi/Bizet/Tchaikovsky/Mahler/Strauss/Rachmaninoff/... -> Bartok/Prokofiev/Shostakovich/Gershwin/... -> ??? You could create a similar timeline for canvas painting which also ends in ??? somewhere in the mid-late 20th century.
  12. I really don't think ballet is elitist. Ballet is still attracting large numbers of young people (maybe more than ever) who want to be dancers. As for viewers, though I am not in your demographic, I know a number of devoted ballet goers (one even goes to virtually every performance of ABT) who are. What keeps younger people away are the high ticket prices. When NYCB has their $29 for every seat in the house programs, the theater is full of young people. The same goes for Fall for Dance. The Bolshoi ticket prices were exceedingly high. To get reasonable prices per ballet, you had to buy a package of 3 ballets, which cost hundreds of dollars. After that, dynamic pricing meant seats were in the $200 - $300 price range. That's very high for anyone, let alone a 20 something young person. Companies still haven't realized that they won't get many new young viewers until they bring pricing down. I don't think it's as simple as, let's just bring down prices, the companies still need to support themselves, and artists are already underpaid relative to other professions. In addition, if prices went far below market value, ticket scalpers would just step in and create the same problem. The limited theatre capacity together with the demand to see ballet is the problem. Maybe if they had a lot more funding and did a lottery system it could work but I don't think they would ever lottery ballet tickets. Currently much is reliant on generous individual and corporate donors, and those donors have priority seating as well (as they should, I don't disagree with that). Obviously it would be much different with government funding but of course that will never happen. Agree that Bolshoi pricing was extreme but they also haven't been here in 9 years. So as I see it, it's still "elitist" not by nature but in practice due to the economics as you also pointed out which restricts certain demographics from partaking. Also I would surmise most (but certainly not all) of the aspiring younger dancers you mentioned have parents in high income brackets. I've always seen a ton of teenagers in the Lincoln Center vicinity, whether they are Juillard or SAB or whatever it is, they all clearly belong to at least the upper-middle class, the girls in summer dresses, the boys in blazers, reminded me of prep school. Let's be honest, just to live in NYC, you have to be pretty well off, and if you're also able to afford sending your kid to one of these elite arts schools... And besides, ballet is an investment, it's not like break-dancing, swing, or even ballroom where you can become reasonably proficient much faster, and so those with the free time to partake must also have the free capital.
  13. I don't think we should throw away the past. But in many ways the past is also a burden on the future, as humanity's collective knowledge grows in breadth and depth, it becomes increasingly difficult for each generation to assimilate both all of the previous generations' knowledge and create new value and serve new human needs. The pressure and impact of the Digital Age/Moore's Law and exponential population growth is pretty extreme for Gen Y and beyond, the marginal new child born is living in an exponentially tougher world than 100 years ago, or even 20 years ago. I found this list of "occupations and trades of the 18th century": http://www.history.org/history/teaching/trades.cfm, compare this to what we have today, sobering, is it not? (And it's only been 300 years... a mere wrinkle in time) Of course it's also not improbable that we are all here existing today discussing on this forum, after all, there's a higher probability of being born today and living longer than ever before in history. In the early 20th century, a college degree would have meant something, now even graduate degrees mean nothing, for a physicist 100 years ago he would have had to know Newtonian physics, now he has to know quantum physics and string theory and beyond. And when everyone is constantly forced to learn more and more difficult things from the past to keep up and at an increasingly fast pace, sometimes beyond their innate capacity or endurance, is this all a good thing for collective human happiness and utility? For me, the answer is no. So institutional memory and tradition, for me, isn't all that it's cracked up to be. And people wonder why I never want to have a kid -- why would I ever want to put another human being through all of this in such a unique time in human history? But of course, I join you in agreeing that we shouldn't "forget" the tradition of ballet
  14. This was not necessarily a result of royal patronage. The flowering of modern dramatic theater was most pronounced in the mercantile cultures of England and Spain, where for-profit theaters were common. Perhaps not, but specifically referring to ballet its origins were in the Medici courts, and the first professional ballet company was the Paris Opera Ballet founded under the patronage of Louis XIV. The Bolshoi Theatre itself came into existence under the patronage of Prince Pyotr Urusov and by proxy Empress Catherine the Great. Suffice to say Obama or Merkel hardly has the clout or resources to do the same for a new developing art form, and even if they did, it would hardly be their priority. But I take your point, I'm no deep scholar of European history or ballet history, yet I would think that a lot, but certainly not all, of the culture we appreciate today was developed under significant patronage. And would we have Rome's Colosseum without the Roman emperors or the Egyptian pyramids without the pharaohs, would we have any "wonder of the world" anywhere or even the large majority of popular "tourist destinations" if society was always as it is today, for me the answer is no.
  15. When I say opera and orchestra I mean it in the sense that when the English words for these art forms were invented they specifically referred to the Western forms of "groups of singers performing a libretto + musical score" and "groups of instrument players including wind, string, brass instruments" that originated in the 15-16th century. To some extent they may be derivative, yes there is always external influence, but later composers tended to follow this basic model. Non-European cultures wouldn't have used violins and oboes, concepts like Ionian mode, I-IV-V-I, circle of fifths, etc. I maintain my point that in modern times we haven't created any medium that comes anywhere near the sophistication of what came out of the Renaissance, which is why we still continue to stage and re-stage works from that period and works immediately derivative from that period. Sure, there's also modern art and modern dance but nothing has quite achieved the ubiquitous popularity of the more traditional forms to broadly be considered "masterpieces" that everyone ought to become familiarized with in order to be "cultured". And this goes for literature as well, just look at any high school or college English 101 syllabus. So I guess the question is, do we as a society want to be desperately focused on "learning" culture from the past or do we want to be focused on "creating" culture, or is modern society just so devoid of "culture" that we can't think of anything else (we've gone from creating to evolving/improving/changing to imitating). I'm not saying this can never change, but certainly as it looks right now from the practical perspective of making a living and just getting by on a day-to-day basis our society isn't incentivizing artistic, or scientific innovation, for that matter.
  16. No, but ballet, oil painting, the traditional orchestra, opera, were, and for the past 500-600 years largely what we think of as Western art has evolved from the Renaissance foundation. It doesn't make it inherently "superior" to any other non-European art form or pre-Renaissance form but you can't deny the complexity and sophistication of some of these mediums and their enduring popularity today, and the amount of time people invest into becoming accomplished ballerinas or concert pianists or music theorists, for example, is extremely non-trivial yet at the same time imitative rather than innovative. There's a reason, for example, why SYTYCD doesn't ask people to learn ballet in a week, it's because it's impossible, but more modern forms of dance are more accessible, etc.
  17. Helene wrote: Bournonville, Coralli and Perrot, and Petipa choreographed most of their major works a couple of centuries after the Renaissance ended. I'm sure Balanchine and Ashton would have been surprised to learn they could full-length and/or story-based create masterworks without Renaissance courts or royal patronage. I'm sure composers like Beethoven, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, Verdi, Ives, Ravel, etc. and Van Gogh, Whistler, and Picasso... -- Yes but in my opinion the mediums in which all of these composers/artists thrived were evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, moving through periods like neoclassicism, romanticism, cubism, impressionism, on and on. All the concepts we're familiar with, "oil on canvas", "orchestra", "ballet", "opera", all of these concepts were invented during the 15th and 16th centuries, and then expanded upon during the 17-19th centuries (larger orchestras for example), with very little further evolution during the 20th century, except with perhaps in my opinion increasingly "dissonant" and "abstract" forms in music, art, and dance relative to earlier periods. And in the last quarter of the 20th century/21st century, there are very few of what we would call "masterpieces" in any genre evolved from classical mediums. In modern times, it's obvious that we haven't innovated much in terms of creating entirely new artistic concepts, at least not anything near the sophistication or complexity of the forms created in the past. Just ballet or a classical instrument, people spend years just trying to learn the art form and *replicate* what people have done in the past much less *innovate*, sometimes forgetting people had to imagine it from scratch at one point, does anyone have this kind of imagination, or more importantly, the capacity and financial resources to do so without the burdens of all of the other demands in the modern world, today, I don't think so. Why is there a "starving artist" stereotype, that one either has to be born into wealth or else make numerous sacrifices to standards of living and take on numerous risks to pursue a life in the arts, it's not even about keeping up with the Joneses, it's just not realistic.
  18. There haven't been many new masterpieces in ballet or any other art form because art no longer has the patronage of Renaissance courts and their coffers. In both democratic and "socialist/communist" societies that value modernist concepts like "equality" (in all forms), other more mundane things take precedence in government, could you imagine the furor if Congress authorized a large budget for art, heck there are people who want to slash education budgets with all the demands from people from every walk of life that they have to meet. For what it's worth, many condemn "let them eat cake" yet the more hierarchical societies of the past have left us a legacy of rich art forms. Modern society, despite the exponential population growth of the past century which in theory should yield a larger talent pool, has failed to cultivate anything comparable in merit. Yes, everyone always wants what's best for themselves or the group they identify themselves with (however they frame themselves in the world in terms of their income, race, gender, religious beliefs, occupation, etc., and with the requisite indignance at any opposing viewpoint), but what's best for each individual or even the majority of individuals isn't necessarily best for artistic or scientific output. Try to please everyone and you please no one. And also, as I see it, ballet is still definitely very much an "elitist" form of entertainment for the wealthy middle- and older-aged, as a 26-year-old young professional I could count on my fingers the number of people of my demographic who were in the audience in any of the performances I attended. And yet at the same time artists aren't exactly paid and pampered in the way they were in the courts. We also no longer incentivize or glorify the pursuit of knowledge. What do we incentivize instead, creating the latest smartphone to further disconnect people from each other, creating phantom wealth in the stock market by printing money. To each his own, of course, anyone could argue that one priority is intrinsically more important than another based on his own sympathies, but for the matter of ballet and other art, we have to accept that we have put it pretty far down the queue, especially my generation which already has "just getting by reasonably well with some saving for the future" without "stress overload" as a meaningfully challenging task. Let's be honest, how many modern occupations don't involve longer and longer hours toiling and being inactive in front of a computer today, let's compare that to 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 200 years ago, not to mention often computers replacing humans, and what does this mean for all other aspects of sociocultural development. <end rant>
  19. I would say that ballet shouldn't be Vegas, appealing to the baser parts of human nature. If people wanted that they should just go on the Internet, turn on Cinemax, or head to their local strip club. That said, I don't mind most of Spartacus if looking past the campiness and accepting that it isn't classical ballet, and even enjoyed parts of it on video. But once live is enough. I would especially like to see that pole dance scene toned down though, especially the ensemble choreography, it was seriously uncomfortable to watch from a distance and I'm not speaking in a prudish way (they looked like snakes). As one critic wrote this ballet tries to teach that "good people know about love and bad people know about sex" which is a load of nonsense, sex can be tasteful or gratuitous, no wonder so many people have a strong visceral reaction when Grigorovich demonizes a fundamental aspect of human nature. Nothing is as black-and-white as this ballet tries to present the world as. For that matter I also hate Game of Thrones which is viewed and loved by a large audience amongst the general public, I couldn't get past two episodes. Frankly, it's difficult to find any media that portrays human sexuality in a positive, healthy way.
  20. I suppose I'm reviving a dead thread here, but for me the perfect Swan Lake would be a combination of the traditional Petipa/Ivanov/Drigo and Bourmeister versions. Here's my preferred ordering of the lovely score when I am listening to it on CD. I was able to construct this playlist mixing and matching the Previn (LSO version) CD which follows the original 1877 score to the tee and the Fedotov (Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra) CD which follows P/I/D scoring. Act 1 - Introduction (overture, Odette turned into swan, etc.) Act 1 - Scene (entrance of Siegfried) Act 1 - PDT (I, III, IV, V, VI) following P/I/D ordering with the omitted andante sostenuto, even though I also find III - Variation 1 and V - Variation 3 to be weak. This part of the score I skip over the most when listening. Act 1 - Scene (entrance of Queen Mother, tells Siegfried he needs to marry, etc.) Act 1 - "Black Swan pdd" waltz and andante following Bourmeister Act 1 - Pas d'action, subject, dance of goblets (my favorite part of Act 1) (Bourmeister is commonly criticized for having Act I being too long and Act IV being too short and for me I like omitting the Act I waltz champêtre when listening -- even the edited version in most productions -- to avoid having two similar waltzes, even though parts of it are lovely. There's definitely a trade-off here though, since vice versa if you put in the waltz champêtre then you lose the Black Swan pdd music, or suffer redundancy. With the dance of goblets there's already an awesome ensemble corps dance so I don't feel so bad). Act 2 - Scene (Moderato - entr'acte) Act 2 - Scene (Allegro moderato - allegro vivo, arrival of Siegfried at lake, entrance of Odette, etc.) Act 2 - Scene (Allegro, entrance of swans) Act 2 - Grand pas des cygnes (I - Swan Waltz, V - White Adagio with Drigo modified ending, IV - 4 Swans/Cygnets, VI - 3 Swans (A major version up a semitone), II - Odette variation, VII - Coda), this ordering used in Bourmeister and P/I/D Act 2 - Scene (Moderato, swan exit due to Von Rothbart spell, etc.) Act 3 - Scene (Back at the court) Omit dance of guests and dwarfs following P/I/D but not Bourmeister, I don't find this sequence with the jester particularly compelling Act 3 - Entrance and Waltz of Special Guests (edited version in both P/I/D and Bourmeister, entrance and introduction of brides, etc.) Act 3 - Scene (Odile's entrance) Act 3 - Spanish/Neapolitan/Hungarian/Mazurka (the usual order) Act 3 - Tchaikovsky/Sobeshchenskaya pdd + Variation I (Siegfried Variation), pas de six Variation V (oboe - Odile Variation), pas de six Coda instead of Black Swan Coda following Bourmeister Act 3 - Scene (Odile deception revealed, Odette image shown to Siegfried, etc.) Act 4 - Entr'acte Act 4 - Scene (Allegro ma non troppo, back at the lake, ensemble swan choreography) Act 4 - Dance of the Little Swans (Moderato, I hate that P/I/D deletes this in favor of the orchestrated Valse Bluette, so Bourmeister wins) Act 4 - Scene (Allego agitato - Allegro vivace, Odette's re-entrance at lake + despair) Act 4 - Finale (Andante, Siegfried re-entrance at lake + despair) Act 4 - pas de six Variation II moved from Act 3 used as Odette/Siegfried reconciliation following Bourmeister (I also prefer this versus the orchestrated un poco di Chopin) Act 4 - Rest of Finale (struggle with Von Rothbart, apotheosis, etc.)
  21. That Rodkin was less confident/secure may also owe to the less experience he has with the role. On the other hand I had mostly surmised Krysanova would make a poor Aegina without even seeing it. Taken to an extreme, it would be like casting David Hallberg as Crassus or Alina Cojocaru as Aegina, could you imagine? Zakharova on the other hand is a natural for that role, her narcissism adding rather than detracting from the characterization. Maria Allash does great as well as Aegina but did not come on tour. Lantratov had some pretty outrageously exaggerated expressions in the cinecast which wasn't very convincing, I don't know how he was live. I'm happy to hear Vinogradova did well as Phrygia. In any case, I have no desire to see this ballet again, and as beautiful as some of the romantic pdd are, the vulgar moments are so over-the-top they are a major turn-off. It didn't bother me so much on video with clear facial expressions and the focus on Aegina, but now I still cannot get that pole dance with the demi-circle of evenly distributed "writhing" corps out of my head, especially seen from the vertigo-inducing high angle of the 4th ring I was almost nauseous from the puke-yellow and blood-red lighting straight out of hell.
  22. I also saw Spartacus tonight. It was my first time seeing the ballet live, also my first time in 4th ring, which I thought was an interesting perspective versus the view you get from the DVD and cinecast. I actually wasn't that impressed overall, and I didn't think it was a better experience than watching it on video, which I enjoyed a lot more. One point, it sounds silly but when you are higher up you see the patterns more clearly and a lot of the times the formations weren't lined up very precisely which created a sloppy look (though I recognize Spartacus isn't exactly the Bayadère white act, you'd still hope for more impressive formations especially in a militaristic ballet). If viewing on a flatter plane in orchestra or 1st ring I think I'd probably overlook this. Also I thought Lobukhin and Nikulina outdid Volchkov and Zakharova tonight, Lobukhin was outstanding and Nikulina definitely exceeded my expectations. The famous Act 3 pdd (as also seen in my last video post) was done very well and had me sitting on the edge of my seat (though pretty much the only scene that really captivated my interest). From the distance I felt strangely apathetic to all of the Crassus/Aegina scenes, and Zakharova seemed to be holding back in her performance, often even seeming "matronly", as well as having a bit of an off night with the jumps vs. the cinecast. I think I'd describe a lot of these moments as having a lot of sexuality without much sensuality or eroticism from a distance, which was very boring, especially the Act 3 seduction scene with the traitors, it dragged on way too long. The ensemble dancing/battle scenes were sometimes interesting, although again marred by the problem I previously described. Finally, upon some reflection I don't know that I find the story that compelling, and the rigid and sequential ABC structure of the ballet (bad guy does bad things to good guy, good guy exacts revenge on bad guy but is merciful, bad guy comes back and punishes good guy despite his earlier mercy), together with its unsophisticated binary division between good and evil, doesn't exactly leave a strong emotional impact. The score, while noted for its pulse-racing energy, is also relatively monotonic and unmemorable over a 3-hour horizon (Swan Lake it is not). As cheesy as it sounds, I'd rather re-watch Russell Crowe's "Gladiator" than the Bolshoi perform Spartacus again, although I admit those who were sitting closer to the stage may have had a different experience.
  23. There is a short YouTube snippet of Rodkin and Vinogradova's April 2013 debuts as Spartacus and Phrygia taken by an amateur in the audience. I was particularly impressed by Vinogradova who appears to be well cast in this role and frankly, wish she were dancing in the first cast instead of Nikulina, which is pretty much an identical casting as the most recent Bolshoi cinecast with the exception of Volchkov (seen in the Acosta 2008 DVD) instead of Lantratov as Crassus. On the other hand I wouldn't want to miss Zakharova's Aegina. Decisions, decisions.
  24. Great to hear that Kretova stepped up to the plate considering she's only danced Kitri with the Bolshoi three other times (source: WSJ) and for redeeming the Bolshoi together with Lobukhin after two uninspiring Act I's. Krysanova isn't as strong of a jumper, and the audience most certainly didn't erupt in laughter this afternoon during Act I so it's a very good sign. Bravo. Act I is so difficult to do well, with all the famous sequences and everyone looks to the legendary performances documented on video as canon so it's hard to truly distinguish oneself. I am still irked about the Tikhomirova/Vinogradova flip this afternoon, while I think both are great with the jumps and can deliver a stellar Act III first variation, Vinogradova is still developing her interpretative capacity and at the moment Tikhomirova is superior in the street dancer role even with potential to grow as Kitri. Still wondering about Spartacus, I haven't purchased a ticket yet. There seems to be a surprising glut of tickets yet the face value on the tickets that are on the market are allegedly much higher (often double) vs. their equivalents for Swan Lake or Don Q which seems very strange to me. For me I would be excited to see Zakharova again as Aegina if only to see her in a much different role, though I'm not sure I care to pay $300+ for the experience. Maybe prices will go down as the dates get closer, or maybe I will go early in the morning for standing, we'll see.
  25. Back from the Krysanova Don Q. Overall liked the production very much, and for the most part the dancing was fantastic and only got better as the show went on. Act 1 highlights -- I liked the extended prologue in this version, which includes more comedy and character development for Don Q and Sancho Panza as well as the smashing of the pasteboard helmet. Following that, the leading pair got off to a bit of a rocky start, with a relatively mediocre Kitri entrance without much flair, then a few shaky lifts from Chudin, and also Krysanova tripped and nearly fell during the beginning of the Kitri variation. Krysanova did manage to execute the other parts of the variation well however including the parts that Alexandrova struggled with or omitted. I attribute this to some nerves at the start of the show and maybe they were not warmed up enough. Biktimirov was an energetic Espada who certainly outshined Chudin for this act, but did not develop much chemistry with Vinogradova as the street dancer. I would have preferred to see Tikhomirova in this role with her larger-than-life personality. I was disappointed by this act, but fortunately the following acts more than made up for it. Act 2 highlights -- The tavern scene in Bolshoi's production comes before the gypsy and vision scenes -- I prefer this order and think it makes more sense. The Spanish dance was memorable although the choreography and percussive score dragged a bit for me, overall corps member Asatiani did a good job, but I liked the gypsy dance later danced by Balukova more. Biktimirov continued to impress and Mercedes as performed by Sharova was exquisite although not much dancing. I liked Sharova more than Vinogradova in Act I since these two roles are sometimes performed by the same ballerina. In the gypsy scene Don Q leaped offstage "superman" style similar to Siegfried in ABT's Swan Lake ending, which was pretty funny. He also physically came back down on the rotating windmill prop which was a nice stunt effect. Vision scene -- Agreed that Cupid was passable but unmemorable although perhaps more memorable for me since previous posters specifically singled this part out for criticism. I wouldn't say that Lunkina did poorly, just maybe less memorable than some other moments. I didn't like Smirnova as Queen of the Dryads as much as I thought I would, the dancing was gorgeous but I didn't really connect to her, maybe partly just the role. Krysanova's Dulcinea variation was by far the highlight of this scene, clearly the butterflies went away here and she danced with abandon and was as light as a feather especially in the ballonnés. I also very much admired the beautiful corps here. Finally, I should mention that I found myself frequently observing Kitri's friends during both Act I and Act II, these are often thankless roles but the two corps members in their matching costumes were lovely. One notable moment for me was their acting during the Basilio "stabbing" scene, which was appropriately coquettish and comedic in contrast to all the other corps members aghast and looking away. Act 3 highlights -- The bolero was entirely unmemorable, they should just omit this. Next of course I have to mention Tikhomirova's 180-degree grand jetés in the first variation, she gets so much height and makes them look so easy (only dances this role for the matinée though). The second variation, both the dancer and the choreography, were unmemorable. During the final pdd and variations, Chudin and Krysanova significantly stepped up their game. The partnering and lifts were flawless and impressive, and particularly of note were Basilio's variation which Chudin performed with virtuosity and the coda. I had already heard about Krysanova's exciting fouettés from her performance in Swan Lake, but it was fascinating to watch her accelerate through them at record speed finishing with a multiple pirouette flourish also without much traveling -- to thunderous applause. It was fitting that the audience reaction also accelerated in enthusiasm piece by piece during the final segments of the show.
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