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Everything posted by Drew

  1. I've seen her twice in the theater (two Kennedy Center appearances) and I agree with this assessment. Though I should add that I saw her in roles that at least don't demand much depth of characterization (Corsaire and a few months later Paquita) and I did enjoy the performances, especially the Paquita. In particular, I saw a lot of growth in terms of stage presence between the Corsaire and the Paquita. I also very much appreciated how easy and unforced her dancing looked. Of course the way she has been shot out of a cannon by the Mariinsky can't help but raise eyebrows, but I think I'm willing to call myself ...not yet a fan ...but a very well disposed member of the audience.
  2. I haven't seen Bourne's Swan Lake except an excerpt done as a "guest" performance on a mixed bill--the lake scene pas de deux. But in principle, it doesn't seem analogous to me. The Petipa/Ivanov libretto has Siegfried's actions and moral choices at its center even when Odette/Odile is the "dance" center of the ballet. (One of several reasons I am not a big fan of adding a prologue to Swan Lake in which we see Odette transformed into a Swan -- it seems to me to miss how much her entrance gains from the audience sharing Siegfried's startled point of view.) I guess I still don't think of Swan Lake as having simply a male-centric story, as the lake scenes' choreography for Odette and the swans --Ivanov's as it has come down to us--seems to me the ballet's greatest expression of the quest for freedom...but yeah...I don't think of it quite as I think of Nutcracker... Actually, many modern productions of Swan Lake--even ones that are quite traditional overall--make the ballet even more fundamentally about Siegfried (he hates his mother, he hates his life, he gets additional solos etc.). That seems more analogous to those Nutcracker productions that become very explicit about Clara's psychic development (she is becoming an adolescent, she is learning about love, she--and not the Sugar Plum Fairy--dances the big pas de deux etc. etc.) instead of leaving it as subtext in what appears to be a children's story. (In Bourne's Swan Lake, as I gather from my reading and the excerpt I have seen, there is a still more radical re-conception of the nineteenth-century story and the choreography altogether--though...uh...surely the original has something of a gay subtext which he is picking up on.) Anyway, mileages vary--and, also theatrical experiences sometimes make a big difference. What I don't like on paper, the Nutcracker description that began this discussion, I might like in the theater...and vice versa: something that sounded interesting on paper might prove disappointing in the theater.
  3. Wow! And not in a good way. Wishing the dancers and the company the best.
  4. In a traditional production, she has to cope with the breaking of her Nutcracker doll (a big deal to a child with all kinds of potential meanings), a dream with nightmarish elements including the battle of mice and soldiers—in which she intervenes—the journey through the snow to land of sweets and, though I don’t recall if this belongs to the original, waking up from out of her dream. It is not a realistic story, and it’s not presented as kitchen-sink tale of angst, but it suggests, in a fantastical way a whole psychic world of learning about oneself and the world and some of the pains and pleasures of that process...I am not a super fan of modernized productions that make her psychic development too explicit (though I do like scary rats and I don’t mind a pas de deux for Clara on pointe with a come-to-life romantic Nutcracker) but I find them at least to be based on something in the traditional ballet libretto and in the music I always take fantasy stories and fairy tales quite seriously. I think the music suggests that Tchaikovsky did too.
  5. This made me sigh --not because it isn't traditional but because it takes a story about Clara and her struggles to grow up and 'modernizes' it into a story about a male dancer and his struggles.
  6. Well, given that they are--or ought to be--the Balanchine standard-bearer, NYCB does right to stay true to Balanchine, but I can't help but admit that both of these decisions seem like excellent ones to me.
  7. I've only seen this pas de deux in excerpt and on video but in those out-of-context settings the peekaboo moment never appealed to me. (Even if it fit with Ratmansky's conception it didn't seem to me to fit with the music.) Perhaps in context I would feel differently--and I have a lot of interest in whatever Ratmansky decides to do--but I was quite happy to see the Ivanov choreography (as notated) and, like others who have posted, was struck by how closely it has been preserved in "traditional" productions.
  8. I admit that the note on that information in Wikipedia somewhat confuses me as to what the figures refer to--if you click the link for the note that gives the source and then click on the map for "Gorod Sankt Petersburg" in that source, it appears to include a lot of surrounding areas. But say it's not so...and the percentages are exactly as you suggest: the situation in St. Petersburg is still not good as you also say. I'd be tempted to speculate that someone close to the company will have to die of Covid19 for the company to change course, but in Moscow even that seems not to have made much of a difference, so it probably wouldn't in St. Petersburg either. It especially surprises me that, according to what's reported above, the Mariinsky has made no modification of seating in the theater--a theater which, in my experience, does not exactly have the best air circulation in the world. But that's what the company's leadership has decided and it is (presumably) their decision for the time being. As someone who loves the company, I prefer to say only positive things about the Mariinsky. And when it comes to things like repertory and casting--so passionately argued about among fans!--I've always believed that ultimately one has to recognize, 'well, I'm just an outsider.' Fans don't run the show and shouldn't run the show. (Even sophisticated fans with profound knowledge of the company's history and impeccable taste!) From a certain point of view, this is no different--I certainly don't get to make decisions for the Mariinsky. But I still can't help myself from thinking they are playing fast and loose with human life.
  9. I complete missed this news until this second--very sad. I think of Leland whenever I see Symphony in Three Movements--one of my favorite Balanchine Ballets. May she rest in peace.
  10. Happy to have watched this late Saturday night. I can't say much about the production from video, but it does seem very easy on the eyes (I might marry James JUST for the blue tartan). I found Praetorius a beautiful and touching sylphide but maybe not the 'sylphiest.' Hard for me to put into words, but there is some quality of ballon or easy (and speedy) airiness that I love in Bournonville that I'm not sure I entirely saw in her or in her James...But I do always enjoy her dancing, and seeing the ballet and the company was a huge pleasure.
  11. It’s a relief even reading about this production after only having read about the previous one...Thank you @Anne for the detailed report.
  12. I can’t respond to these comments without getting into very political territory. I can at least agree that a vaccine—once a substantial portion of the population has been vaccinated—will change the picture....No-one doubts your love of the Mariinsky @Buddy! Thanks from me, as well, @volcanohunter — I wouldn’t call the numbers a testimony to the wisdom or compassion of the company’s approach.
  13. "...Still ones hopes that this is being done as responsibly as possible for the benefit of the entire population." That is the issue... I don't know the severity of the outbreak in St. Petersburg and I certainly feel for the dancers--it seems to me that losing a season or a year to the pandemic must feel close to unbearable and depending where a dancer is in her/his career could have long term or even permanent ramifications for how that career unfolds. Yet, the risks performers take are not only risks for themselves. For that reason alone, the decision about performances can't be made based simply on their wishes --and presumably that isn't how the decision is being made, because the people who run the Mariinsky must have their eyes on other concerns including the long term financial health of the institution as well as whatever political pressures they may be under to keep up "normal" life given the status and importance of the company. (In any case, with the company performing, any individual dancer who thinks it is a bad idea is unlikely to speak up about it.) But is the company being responsible within the larger public health crisis for "the entire population?" Not limiting numbers of seats sold in any way and not re-arranging spacing of seats in the theater while leaving it to audience members to decide whether or not they want to attend the ballet especially raises a lot of questions about the wider risks to St. Petersburg. Because here, too, the risks people choose to take are not simply their own. They are risks for everyone in their circle and possibly others not in their circle -- with all the ripple effects we see every day in the States. (And, I kind of suspect that all these people buying ballet tickets during a pandemic are unlikely to be showing ultra caution in every other aspect of their lives.) So even as I root for the dancers and, so to speak, for ballet...still... I could wish in some ways that the company were taking a different approach...
  14. Is there no calendar section? I would think even for locals that’s a very useful function and the company knows it has an international audience....Let’s hope an easy-to-find calendar section is on its way....
  15. Thanks for the interview. I wish De Luz great success. (I wonder if the announced run of the Giselle will happen as planned--I'm even a little surprised about this week's repertory program, as a quick Google search shows cinemas are closed in Spain right now...)
  16. Many dance artists and dance writers are paying tribute and expressing their sadness on Instagram -- and posting a slew of photos of the Doris Duke theater mostly in happier times.
  17. Just catching up here--I haven't been watching much of the ballet being streamed etc., just here and there occasionally. (Various reasons including general malaise at living shut-in...) . But I was curious about this ballet which I had never seen and enjoyed quite a bit. Thank you for posting!
  18. Thank you for posting @ECat -- enjoyed seeing Alizade...and that production of Sleeping Beauty looks gorgeous!
  19. Lots to chew on in the above comments ... nice to see most of them are pretty sanguine.
  20. Ashton's oeuvre may not be quite as large or wide-ranging as Balanchine's --it's hard to know in part because of the way it has been handled since his death, but it's a substantial oeuvre that includes a number of masterpieces plus other secondary but still very fine works. Even the greatest of these ballets are not danced as regularly by the Royal Ballet as one would imagine. Seasons go by without the company staging even one of his full length works, and more than a decade has gone by without other important works being brought to the stage. In the meanwhile, the company treats Macmillan on a par with Ashton if not indeed as someone who super-cedes Ashton in shaping their style and approach, and major Macmillan seems to be more regularly performed than major Ashton. (My "side" has long since lost this battle, so I suppose I should give it up...but the defeat still baffles me.) I personally thought Macmillan's influence was all over Scarlett's Swan Lake--which I saw live--and also all over his Frankenstein, which I only saw on tape. From my perspective, It's as if Robbins became the most dominant force and influence at NYCB; I know people love Robbins' work, and some probably enjoy it more than Balanchine's--it certainly has influenced choreographers such as Peck--but does the company, as an institution, consider him more important to its history than Balanchine? I don't think so. @Ashtonfan has written on this site about how the Royal Ballet was not founded by De Valois to be a "museum, " which is why premiers etc. are so important, but also making it harder to keep up "heritage" work in repertory, especially as the repertory grows. (I hope I've summarized correctly.) But the idea that Ashton's work wouldn't be a priority for the Royal--as much as Petipa in St. Petersburg or Bournonville in Copenhagen (I know, I know--that's not faring too well either) or...Balanchine in New York has been dismaying to me. His works are revived, but much less often than one would imagine--whole seasons pass by with next to nothing or, most recently, "oh, in the Linbury studio there's a little heritage evening for the ballet nerds. You can see Ashton there." (I exaggerate the tone, but not by much.) In the meanwhile, details of Ashton's style have been lost: looking at old videos, reading testimony of older ballet-goers, and occasionally even my own pale memories, give an idea how much. Now, arguably, the change in style is inevitable and has happened at NYCB with Balanchine as well, but Ashton's ballets are not quite so hardy as Balanchine's and perhaps suffer still more under mis-handling. (@Helene has said this in the past.) As recently as a few years ago, I was seeing better and/or as strong performances of The Dream at ABT as I was seeing not long after at the Royal. Some may want to argue with me about that, but that is my view of it at least with regards to the principals and soloists (most of whom have now left or retired from ABT or are about to retire). Now lots of great things are happening at the Royal--they have fabulous dancers and some fabulous productions, and they are, without a doubt, one of the world's great companies. And a recent revival of Ashton's Enigma Variations generated some very positive reports. But I think there has hardly been a season in recent memory where Sarasota Ballet wasn't doing more for Ashton than his home company -- [Premiers are important. My ballet going passion was partly reignited this century by seeing Namouna at NYCB! But even if I put aside the original context of my comments in this thread (which was what I want to see NYCB dance in the immediate post-pandemic), I have to admit that the idea that New York City Ballet doesn't now have a duty to its past which it didn't when Balanchine founded it seems to me wrongheaded. And I don't think that's at all controversial. Nobody on this thread is saying "dump Balanchine" just as nobody is saying "Dump premiers." But ballets can be lost; heritages can be run aground; dancers' techniques can change in ways that impact their (neo)classical dancing etc. That's why the Ashton example seems pertinent to me. Anyway, it's a longer topic...]
  21. That's a lovely example. Nor are we in as quite as much disagreement as you imagine; much better if one can guide the corps de ballet as Legat says she does at the Mikhailovsky. (I will add, though, that when I saw the Mikhailovsky in Giselle and Flames of Paris at the Koch theater in New York, I did not see a classical corps de ballet that was comparable to the Bolshoi's.)
  22. That’s a wonderful perspective. I admit I don’t find Vaziev inhuman (at least not what we saw) and I don’t believe that anyone who isn’t preternaturally tough could run the Bolshoi for long. I also doubt getting yelled at is the cruelest thing that happens to dancers. There may be better ways to discipline a corps—let’s hope so—though none of them are likely to be gentle. Was glad to see Filin acknowledged and thanked a couple of times including by Smirnova.
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