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About Laurent

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  1. Laurent

    Nina Kaptsova

    She "wasn't demoted to soloist", she was retired. Bolchoï, like Opéra national de Paris, is a state institution. In Russia the retirement age for dancers is 38, for the dancers of the Russian Imperial Theatres it was 36 (the mandatory 20-year service period was counted for the élèves of the Imperial Ballet School from the age of 16), and it was quite rigorously observed. The principal who retired from service could continue appearing on stage at the theatre where she "served" for 20 years, under contract. Otherwise she was free to travel and make as many guest appearances as she pleased.
  2. Laurent

    Marcos Morau's Carmen

    This is what you will see now in many, perhaps most, places: embarrassingly inept choreography, shallow provocations, vulgarity of every kind, are "met with applause and cheers". This is what you will see now happening in the venerable interiors of Palais Garnier in Paris. I am afraid a lot more of this is ahead of us. Speaking up about this becomes almost an act of courage.
  3. Laurent

    Yulia Stepanova

    Our perception has a tendency to depend on what kind of attitude do we come with. If one believes "I am not going to like it", one usually doesn't. For this reason, if I decide to see a production, I leave all my preconceptions and aversions aside. This is how a professional critic (in theory) approaches a piece he is going to report on. If he is unable to, he should refrain from writing about it. Personally, I do not care much about the 1-st Scene, I don't know a single production today that would do justice to it. The scenery in the remaining three scenes of Grigorovitch's production I find satisfactory, and in the swan scenes even quite intriguing. I am at a loss when I hear complaints about the decorations or the costumes from the people who in 9 out of 10 ballets they attend, they are presented with mostly bare stage, sometimes enlivened by some ugly simplistic shapes. These are the realities of the modern Western stage design, which is today in the hands of people with no culture, no taste, no knowledge of the past, for whom the canons of classical harmony must feel like the language of ancient inscriptions of which they have zero comprehension and no regard for.
  4. Laurent

    Yulia Stepanova

    Grigorovitch's second version of Swan Lake is remarkably cohesive: Odette is certainly not an "illusion", it personifies the ideal of Purity and Beauty, spiritual and bodily, something that Prince is longing for and not finding in the real world surrounding him. Thus he rejects the real and devotes his soul to the ideal met in his dreams, the ideal that is, as it often happens, oppressed by the the Evil. The Evil Spirit cannot stand souls purified and uplifted by Purity and Beauty, thus he sets up Prince's downfall: he arrives in disguise to the Palace with Odile, whose purpose is to make Prince believe she is his dream materialized while leading him astray. For this reason, an aggressively "sexy", "vampish", or vulgar, Odile, which is unfortunately very common to see, is a contradiction. In the tragic aftermath of Prince's involuntary betrayal, the long lyrical sequence danced by the swans, before the arrival of heart-broken Odette, is an intermède that doesn't propagate the line of dramatic development. In view of this Grigorovitch's decision to omit it is logical. I can't see how you reached your conclusion that Grigorovitch "seems much more interested in Siegfried's relationship to the evil genius than to Odette". Siegfried has no more relationship to the Evil Genius in Grigorovitch's version than a chevalier of medieval romance has to a dragon he fights against. I don't share your other view either, to the effect that it is "an uphill battle for any ballerina, even the finest, to create a a truly profoundly moving Odette/Odile". Two years ago I saw 25 Swan Lakes within less than 12 months, in various redactions. The one Odette/Odile that moved me profoundly, more than any other (most didn't move at all, to be honest, some were empty nad off-putting), was, actually, dancing Grigorovitch's version (November 2016 at Bolchoï). Another strong point of Grigorovitch's version is a sequence of national dances, it is a departure from the custom but in the sprit that Marius Petipa might have had approved. The national dances in the Noureev's Paris version are weak, for example, as they are in nearly all versions produced in the West.
  5. Laurent

    Svetlana Zakharova

    A Russian colleague of mine told me that Svetlana Zakharova, answering a question in a recent interview why she was absent from social media, said that when the social media appeared this was interesting, it provided an opportunity to the artist to communicate directly with all. However, social media gave also an opportunity to certain individuals to write bad things. Myself I can add, that it really doesn't matter whether there is any reason or not, the most sublime performance can be reviled, few people are competent to understand whether there is any truth in it. https://ru.calameo.com/read/005666085c46995869b79
  6. Laurent

    Bolshoi at Teatro alla Scala

    When Ali-Baba was first performed in Paris, it was sung by the greatest singers of the time: Levasseur as Ali-Baba, Cinti Damoreau as Délie, Nourrit as Nadir, and Mlle Falcon as Morgiane. Musically it was quite uniformly considered to be a triumph, some critics were writing, however, that the delights of the piece were opening themselves in the second and subsequent viewings. Its only weakness was ascribed to the libretto, criticized for its low literary qualities, a result of collaboration of Scribe and Mélesville. It's worth remembering that Scribe was responsible for the libretto of La Belle au bois dormant, and of Le Dieu et la bayadère, precursors of the Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadère. Both works were performed twice in the same month of September of 1833, when Marie Taglioni made her unforgettable appearance in pas de schall of Ali-Baba. She danced in all three besides making her rentrée in La Sylphide, three times that month.
  7. Laurent

    Bolshoi at Teatro alla Scala

    When Ali-Baba first premiered, this was in Paris at l’Opéra, on the 22 July of 1833, it had ballets in the 3rd and in the 4th acts, artfully composed by Coralli. The services of the best dancers, Mmes Legallois, Noblet, her sister, Mme Alexis Dupont, and Monsieur Perrot, were employed and each subsequent representation was meeting with an approval of their choregraphic talents: La danse a été digne d'elle-même, vive, animé, élégante, féminine surtout. When in the 7th representation, a new number had been unexpectedly introduced, pas de schall, danced by Marie Taglioni and Pauline Leroux, the greatest critic of the time, Jules Janin, began his feuilleton with an enthusiastic exclamation: Il est des événemens qu’on n’annonce point , qui s’annoncent tout seuls tout d’abord , tout d’un coup. Vous êtes tranquillement assis à l’Opéra , vous prêtez l’oreille à la musique de M. Chérubini , qui vous parait plus belle encore que la première fois , tout à coup vous la voyez! vous la revoyez ! c’est elle ! c’est bien elle ! elle danse ! et comment danse-t-elle ? Elle danse comme dansaient toutes les autres avant elle, comme ne dansent plus les autres depuis qu’elle a dansé ; elle danse comme si elle était l’élève de M. Coulon , comme si elle était l’élève de quelqu’un ; elle danse comme la Camargo.—Je vous assure, Monsieur, qu’elle à fait un entrechat.— Pas possible ! un entrechat ! en êtes-vous bien sûr ? — Deux entrechats! trois entrechats ! oh! la folle! oh ! la naïve ! voyez ! voyez ! elle aussi, elle a ses bouffantes ! Regardez ! regardez ! Et en effet, elle a dansé ce jour-là à ne pas la reconnaître , n’était sa grâce naturelle, son chaste maintien et tout le charme de sa personne. Le parterre ravi a applaudi comme jamais ; les vieillards , parce qu’elle leur rendait la danse de leur jeunesse , mais correcte , charmante , décente dans ses plus grands écarts ; les jeunes gens , parce qu’elle leur prouvait que l’entrechat était possible. Only a lack of room prevents me from providing a translation retaining the charming qualities of the original. That was then. Now we have monstrosities of ineptitude and bad taste (à la "coreografia" Birdsall is mentioning in his report).
  8. Laurent

    2017/2018 season

    Apparently, those who think otherwise (this includes the named dancer herself, her closest friends, ballet pedagogues of the most respected ballet schools, etc.) must be hopelessly ignorant ballet dummies. A quick reality check (for the one who knows a thing, or maybe even, two): https://l450v.alamy.com/450v/f30trr/moscow-russia-27th-sep-2015-bolshoi-ballet-leading-dancer-olga-smirnova-f30trr.jpg https://images.bwwstatic.com/upload10/417716/tn-500_grand00158959.jpg
  9. Laurent

    Yulia Stepanova

    When I see that a unique in every respect artiste is constantly reviled, I can't stand passively watching. I used a metaphore that I consider appropriate to this case. Compiling all sorts of "lists", the list of "legends", the list of "10 best painters", "10 best sculptors", "10 best ballerinas", et caetera, I leave to idle fun seekers.
  10. Laurent

    Yulia Stepanova

    And a few haters who revile her at every opportunity... Imagine writing vile things about that "poseur", Anna Pavlova, you may like to know that she was badly afraid of 32 fouettés, or another one, her name was Galina Ulanova, "technically incompetent". I can. Easily. Before they became legends, of course. After it would look, hmmm, rather stupid. Even Marie Taglioni was reviled. By a very few, no doubt, whose names are consigned to the dust of history. 😎
  11. Laurent

    Yulia Stepanova

    Graham Watts, Chairman of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle in the United Kingdom and of the UK National Dance Awards, on Yulia Stepanova: “Stepanova personifies the Russian ideal of Odette” … we were treated to a stunning masterclass by Yulia Stepanova ... Stepanova personifies the Russian ideal of Odette, the white swan: tall, long-limbed, ultra-graceful, icily-dignified, with long, slender arms that undulate in rippling waves. Many Russian ballerinas have these attributes, but they often come without expressiveness; a criticism that cannot be levelled at Stepanova. … It is so difficult to balance out the dual role but Stepanova is equally impactful as Odile. … It was especially pleasing to see the 32 fouettés performed as flashing singles, concluded by a final swirling double turn. Just a few ballerinas are in the elite league of Odette/Odile presentations ... and Stepanova is now right up amongst them. https://bachtrack.com/en_GB/review-yulia-stepanova-swan-lake-st-petersburg-ballet-theatre-coliseum-london-august-2018
  12. Laurent

    Anastasia Smirnova

    I had an ample opportunity to observe Nastia in numerous rehearsals. She may turn out to be more interesting artist in the future than any of the top girls who graduated this year from the Vaganova Academy, and they were very impressive. Nastia will be graduating in two years. She already enjoys full attention of the pedagogues. I have mixed feelings when I see too much attention and gossip in social media accorded to children in ballet schools, with inevitable partisanship and setting one child against another. Let us keep children safe from online gossip, let them learn their craft and develop into ballet artists unaffected by the distorting and harmful impact of the internet.
  13. Laurent

    Yulia Stepanova

    This photo made by a London based photographer reminds me why one of the most profoundly moving performances I ever saw was a Swan Lake with Stepanova, this is a dancer, this is a person, who I saw on stage that night.
  14. I saw Fonteyn dance when she was still in her forties and am likewise way off from being dead. The balletomanes I meant are by all means 'native Londoners' and some of them remember Fonteyn when she was still at her prime.
  15. You know, we all like some artists and dislike others, for whatever reasons. However, I would like to point out that it is precisely her rare musicality, her singing body, referred to as "cantilena' in the professional parlance, academic purity and finesse of her lines that has been drawing to Stepanova experts and ordinary ballet lovers alike before she even graduated from school. People who are regulars of various ballet fora form a tiny-tiny fraction of actual ballet goers, by the way.