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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Musician. Serious interest in ballet as theatre
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  1. I gather that Yulia Stepanova has been out of action for some months. On her Instagram page she reported that this was because of injury; that was some time around last March. So I was glad to see her given main billing in several of the ballets advertised by the Bolshoi in October, November and December of 2020, including Carmen Suite, A Hero of Our Time and Symphony in C. Was anyone from BalletAlert at any of these performances? Or has anyone seen reviews of them? I'm just wondering if YS is back to her usual form as a dancer and actress. I do hope so.
  2. I think I know what you mean, Helene. However, I wonder if this issue — one's annoyance at an audience coughing — might be connected as much to what we are aware of, as it is to the frequency of volume of coughing. I speak for myself, of course. I have always preferred live music, theatre or whatever, over recordings; and it might be significant that a very high proportion of the recordings that I have bought are of live concerts. (I don't have a large library by any means.) When listening to them at home or wherever — away from the live performance in any event, I tend to be more aware of coughing than I am when I'm in the hall. In the hall, I often listen with my eyes closed — though not usually in the theatre for ballet or opera! But even so, I wonder if that awareness of coughing when outside the hall has something to do with my own levels of concentration on the sound, or with being less aware of the physical presence of the performers which, even when I'm listening with enormous concentration, is always part of the experience. I don't know. These are just wondering thoughts.
  3. I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this; but here goes. POB is also putting up videos that concentrate on individual dancers, and parts of which (at least) appear to have been made before the Covid-19 crisis. Here's a lovely one about Héloïse Bourdon, dancing Balanchine and talking about his work. It looks as if the dance passages were filmed earlier; but the talk by Mlle Bourdon might have been done recently. If I'm wrong about any of this, please correct me. I've long thought she was a great artist. Her explanations of style, of Balanchine and so forth are entirely consistent with that. And as usual, she looks the part — beautiful dancing, beautiful woman.
  4. In the UK you can sign up to an account that gives you access to one or two articles a month (or is it a week?). That's how I got in. I don't know if that's available in the USA. Pherank is right; and from my memories of trying to read without subscribing, I'm pretty certain that they do track your IP address.
  5. Thank you, YouOverThere, for posting that link to the Washington Post article. I was about to do it, a couple of hours after you. The way the article is organised into discrete sections is interesting, and raises some profound questions — all the more striking because most of them come from the Russian dancers interviewed for the article. The comments section after the article is good too.
  6. Hear hear! to the last posts from volcanohunter and pherank about sound. As someone whose serious interest in ballet was preceded by many years as a professional musician, the sound problems in so many video recordings of ballet can be deeply frustrating.
  7. Yes, volcanohunter's announcement earlier today (2nd April) is consistent with the published plans of Perm Opera Ballet Theatre. The company's Facebook page is listing a wide range of events just held and about to be held — streaming of recordings of ballet, opera, concerts, lectures, plus a few "private" events such as interviews that can maintain the required social distancing. I've found it hard to find a full list, for the main website does not have one. However, the Facebook page seems to present most things, with at least a few days' notice (you might have to put the URL through Google Translate): https://www.facebook.com/PermOpera
  8. Thank you, @Kathleen O'Connell. That's a lovely clip that you posted, which captures so well the musical, choreographic and dramatic characteristics of the production. Now, here's a lovely example of the UK and the USA being countries divided by their common language — I had to look up what "grok" means. It's so appropriate for things such as your "getting" (a VERY inadequate word) the Lilac Fairy, and for so many things to do with artistic insight. I wonder how many folks this side of the pond would know what it means . . .
  9. It feels odd (and perhaps it's futile) to be contributing to a thread some 15 years after the last contribution. But this DVD of the Dutch National Ballet's 2003 recording of Sleeping Beauty is still for sale and still selling. I'm not surprised, because I've just seen it and love it. I sympathise with Susanne and any others who generally find Peter Wright's productions too dark; but where I find him a consistent winner is in the way that dance and movement combine as drama. I also agree with those who are especially impressed by the Vision Scene, which surely is one of the great production challenges of this ballet. So some of the merits (NOT an exhaustive list): 1) Strong characterful performances from all the principals and from the movement and gestures of the extras in the scenes at court. The latter participate, and communicate with one another. 2) Some excellent ensemble numbers. I especially liked the Friends Dance in Act I, for its lively pacing and strong dancing from the small group. 3) The Vision Scene. This is FAR more dramatically convincing and cohesive than in the Sergeyev version made famous by the Kirov/Mariinsky and other Russian companies. I find that Wright's interpretation compares favourably with the historical reconstructions of recent years by Ratmansky and Vikharev. 4) A large part of the mime scenes and roles restored. This is especially beneficial to the dramatic function and character of the Lilac Fairy; but it gives the entire ballet a much stronger sense of being dramatic theatre without words than do any of the Soviet-era productions that are still common in Russian companies. 5) The encounter between the Lilac Fairy and Carabosse in the enchanted wood is superb! Economy as a virtue, even in this most spectacular of ballets. 6) The orchestra is strong and characterful. It's nowhere near as accomplished as the Mariinsky Ballet orchestra (which one is?); but it's better than Paris. 7) The general pacing of action and music moves things along in a way that always focuses on drama and characters, largely because it has such a sure sense of direction and purpose. Some demerits (a more exhaustive list, for I don't find there are many of these): 1) The cuts. With nearly three hours of music, the complete score makes for a very long evening. But cuts almost always produce loss. To me, the ones that made loss a little too obvious included the mime scene at the beginning of Act I (where the three women with spindles are found), the Finale of Act II, the opening March in Act III, some of the character dances in Act III, and — sadly and as usual — a truncated Apotheosis (i.e. just the introductory and concluding statements of that old melody, so superbly scored by Tchaikovsky). The cut at the end of Act II is interesting in that it seems designed to deal with what can be a bit of a problem with the original — the bursting into life of the entire court when Desiré kisses Aurora, accompanied by a short outburst of joy from the orchestra — and that's it. So, this production replaces that with the Entracte for solo violin and orchestra, which is rarely played, but which on this occasion gives Desiré and Aurora time together, before they get married in the final act. Sounds like a good (even morally healthy) idea! But I'm not convinced by the result. That said, the cuts do not show the level of anti-dramatic thinking that one can see in quite a few heavily cut performances by Russian companies. (I'm thinking especially of the Bolshoi's film of around 2017.) 2) In some of the faster music the sound gets a bit tangled. This has nothing to do with the competence of the players, but is almost always because things are driven too hard. I especially found that towards the end of the Prologue, when Carabosse is in full flight and then when the Lilac Fairy comes on. In the few minutes before Carabosse leaves, it's all too hasty. This matters, because Tchaikovsky carefully weaves distinct details which tell you in music that, although the Lilac Fairy is in charge, Carabosse's evil has not entirely gone away. But overall, this DVD is a winner — one of my favourites among several films of SB that I have seen. And as many commentating here have remarked, the extras are well worthwhile.
  10. I'm coming late to this discussion. The comparisons some of us have made with "best" opera singers (or pianists, or organists, or cellists etc. etc.?) are apt; and there seems to be a general agreement that it is an impossible question to answer. It depends on what you are looking for. I'm insufficiently knowledgeable about ballet to make authoritative claims for any dancer. But I think there are revealing comparisons with music. So, as a musician I have often asked myself comparable questions, but posed slightly differently: e.g. "If you had to take one composer and leave all the rest, who would it be?" (My unequivocal answer would be Bach.) And there are umpteen variations on that, such as "If you had to take the symphonies of one composer from the twentieth century and leave all the rest, who would it be?" (Sibelius); "One composer from the last half of the twentieth century?" (Ligeti) etc. etc. Asking oneself such questions makes one think harder about justifying the answer. Personal preferences are central of course, but the validity of an answer beyond such preference depends on defence; and that's where it gets especially interesting, because it makes one think critically of one's own responses, and helps identify values. In that respect what stands out from this discussion is that versatility is an especially prized quality in a dancer; but also there is the expressive power epitomised in the quote (November 24) by Mashinka, when writing about Elena Glurdjidze in Giselle: Nothing she did was technically extraordinary, nothing was showy, her legs hardly ever rose above the horizontal. But such was her transparency, so profound was her identification with the role, that you couldn’t really see the dancing. All was character, all was emotion, all was story. Glurdjidze stopped time, and that is what great dancing can do" Others in this forum have said comparable things about other dancers; but this comment seems to capture an essential quality of any performing artist who rules -- or at least, who rules on any level primarily concerned with art.
  11. A revealing new video about YS's forthcoming leading role in Raymonda. I'm not in much of a position to offer a critique about what she says, even though it's subtitled into English. But what does strike me is that this is the thinking of a dancer-actress; and that's what communicates to me about her dancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm6L5AHVU3g I'd be interested to know what experienced members of this forum have to say about it, because — and as seems often to be the case with YS — the number of upticks and downticks on this video suggests that opinion varies.
  12. I just found this YouTube channel, which appears to be new. I think I'm right that one of the two videos is new, and the other is a year or 18 months old. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_ITNMKKfCAvKR4BsAeS76g That points towards this site, which also seems to be new and to be very professionally done. http://www.yuliastepanova.com/ I cannot find either of these on this dancer's discussion forum; so I hope this is the right place to post.
  13. Thank you, Helene. As a new member of Ballet Alert, I want to thank you and everyone else here for such stimulating, informative and helpful answers to questions. A bit belated, but -- Happy New Year!
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