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Drew

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About Drew

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  1. Drew

    2017/2018 season

    I don't share the view that race and depictions of race are a non-issue in Russia or that Franco-Russian culture (Petipa and Lacotte -- both French) bears no relation to issues that cross the globe or that the use of black-face in nineteenth-century Russian ballets stands in no relation to histories of colonialism and slavery. So, I do see it as a question of their values in their theater. But I don't think that means no-one who isn't Russian can have a reaction--especially given the company's importance to the ballet world as a whole. You may remember the discussion that followed the postponement of the premier of Nureyev and the house arrest--still ongoing--of Serebrennikov. I must admit I found it upsetting; I didn't just think "well, it's their theater reflecting their values"--though I suppose I could have reacted that way. (The Lacotte Pharaoh's daughter has been toured internationally by the Bolshoi including at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York--also broadcast internationally some years ago. Honestly, if I had an opportunity to see it live, then I would go for the chance to see the dancing, but as I said above I find the blackface as I have seen it, for example, in Kretova's photo--and in some older video--unworthy of the company and just kind of unnecessary.) Edited to add: I found this rather interesting (short) article about the intertwining of anti-racism and racism in depictions of blacks in Soviet film and books--including use of blackface in theatrical productions-- https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-08-31/how-red-russia-broke-new-ground-portrayal-black-americans
  2. Drew

    2017/2018 season

    Here's an anecdote: About 10 years ago a stranger asked an African-American acquaintance of mine if she could touch his hair for luck. To recall your earlier words, I am pretty sure she didn't "[do] it as an insult." But it was. I can't write as someone who has never made ethical/political mistakes or misjudgments--or is pure of all wrongdoing. But I experience the Bolshoi's repeated boorishness on this issue as unworthy of its artistic greatness and not something that merits special pleading. (Oh...and you will be missed while you are away!)
  3. Drew

    2017/2018 season

    Say you are right: the lack of "intent" would itself be rather revealing--this revival doesn't date back to the mid-20th century. One would have to infer that it didn't occur to Lacotte or the Bolshoi in the year 2000 when the ballet premiered--or even now--that there could be anything problematic in how one made-up the Nubian character--that it didn't require tact at the least. Certain kinds of unawareness are themselves the product of a kind of willed ignorance and/or indifference that itself seems to me rather insulting. And I should think Lacotte and Vaziev are both, in different ways, gifted and sophisticated men...and they are self-evidently fine with blackface in this ballet. I also don't think leaders of the Bolshoi can claim to be simply unaware of the potential issues even if they themselves don't take those issues seriously. About a decade ago, I noticed that when the Bolshoi first brought the Ratmansky/Burlaka Corsaire to London they quietly (with no fanfare or announcement) revised its horrendous portrait of the "black" member of the harem, presumably aware that it would not be acceptable to London audiences. (Though one can still see that character today in Russia or, indeed, on youtube.) That production could at least claim that it was trying to reproduce the nineteenth-century production with exactitude -- Lacotte's Pharaoh's Daughter takes a freer approach to begin with.
  4. Drew

    2017/2018 season

    People interested in the history of racism against blacks in Russia are welcome to research the matter. There is such a history. Regarding the explanation that since the character is "Nubian" the make-up is acceptable... I don't agree. Other nineteenth-century ballets have characters of different ethnicities without (or, in some cases without) the ludicrous make-up--Do Nikiya and Solor wear body make-up in Bayadere? Does the high priest? They aren't black it's true, but presumably not as white as most of the dancers who dance them. In some productions other "black" or racialized characters do wear body make up--sometimes in a highly caricatured form as well (big red lips etc.) I'm glad Makarova's production got rid of that. (I was under the impression many major opera houses likewise have moved away from this kind of make up ...but opera lovers can weigh in on that...) Kretova may not be going for caricature, but she doesn't seem to be going for subtle suggestiveness in her make-up either. Nineteenth-century ballets aren't realist works and there is no reason why Lacotte, in a version of Pharaoh's Daughter that is not a strict reconstruction of what the ballet looked like in the nineteenth century or of how it was danced in the nineteenth century, should feel he needs to use the convention of blackface with seemingly no modification. (I assume he is aware of the history of racism against blacks in France and slavery in its empire etc. It's not just Americans who have ugly histories even if ours--I am American--is very ugly.) I have seen Pharaoh's Daughter on video and as a silly piece of Orientalism that doesn't need to be taken too seriously it holds many pleasures--though I can understand if some people are put off by it even on those grounds--but for me, it is somewhat spoiled by the way it uses black face....
  5. Drew

    Hello everyone!

    Welcome FPF--happy to have read some of your impressions of NYCB at SPAC (including your remarks about the new tutus in Symphony in C). Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Jacob's Pillow performances as well as/if you wish to weigh in!
  6. Drew

    RIP Denis Tan

    Sad news. May he rest in peace.
  7. Drew

    Next season announced (Atlanta)

    On Facebook and Twitter company recently announced that Robert Barnett is staging Tchaikovsky pas de deux for its Return to Fall program -- this was not originally announced as part of the program and I still can't find it on their website. Very pleased though. I don't expect Atlanta Ballet will ever look like New York City Ballet, but am very much in favor of the company remaining in touch with this part of its history!
  8. Drew

    Promotion of May Nagahisa

    I also remember her dancing exceptionally as the third shade in one of the October Mariinsky Bayaderes in D.C.; the audience started to applaud spontaneously after the very first first few phrases. (She was also very good, but--I thought--less remarkable the next night I saw her dance it -- and there was no spontaneous applause early in the variation that time, though warm applause at the end.) She also danced a very charming Manu during that same tour.
  9. Drew

    David Hallberg

    Vogue Russia did a public event/interview with David Hallberg and it's now up online: https://www.vogue.ru/video/public-talk-devida-kholberga-v-sankt-peterburge/
  10. Drew

    Hello from Michigan

    Welcome to Balletalert KathyKat. (Semenyaka was one of my favorite Bolshoi ballerinas! Lovely that you got to see her in Romeo and Juliet....)
  11. Drew

    Cats in Charge

    "He likes my new sugarplum tutu but likes the box it came in more." Definitely a cat.
  12. Thanks to Fathom Events/Pathé Live having Encore presentations this July, I finally got to see the Bolshoi perform the Ratmansky Romeo and Juliet on the "big screen" as opposed to my computer screen -- and it was well worth it. One really does see more, and however inadequate compared to a live performance, a big screen broadcast still carries more of the excitement of a live performance than the same on a computer screen (or even on a television-screen ). Krysanova and Lantratov led very vivid and compelling performance from the whole company. I'd enjoy a chance to see this live -- at least in a comparable performance.
  13. Drew

    2017-18 Season

    Would love to read about that performance if/as you have the time.
  14. Drew

    Are there any great Classicists today?

    I wondered about Tereshkina as well. Also , in a different vein, Cojocaru, who seems to me to bring wonderful harmony to the nineteenth-century repertory and indeed everything she dances. And while she dances with great purity, she certainly infuses her dancing with character and feeling. Among male dancers today, I think about Chudin perhaps and one or two others, but it is a harder call for me However, of the three I just named Cojocaru is the only one I have seen multiple times and in a range of roles.
  15. I enjoy many elements of the Grigorovich Nutcracker, but even if I didn’t I would recommend the DVD with Maximova and V. Vasiliev for the sake of their amazing performances.
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