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  1. Playing at the Kendall Square Theater in Cambridge , Massachusetts, opening May 1st.
  2. Thanks for keeping us posted. I'll be watching for your insight and veiws of the Swan Lake performances.
  3. Thank you for your wonderful coverage of the Festival. It lessend the pangs of not being there to see it our selves.
  4. Thank you chaipuris for the daily updates on the festival. It leaves me a bit torn between feeling your thrill from afar and wishing we were in the seats next to you. Can you or others fill us in on the current plans for renovations to the theater? Are the repairs now expected to be completed in time for next year's festival?
  5. My experience was that the coat check exists in most all public buildings in the Russian cities. Usually there will be a nearby full length mirror to check your appearance after doffing your coat or the tilt of your hat on the way out. At the Bolshoi I do not remember paying a fee or a tip but the checkers will look to see if there is a loop sewn into your coat so that it may be hung on a coat hook. It will not be the end of the world if you don't have the loop but do be prepared for stern looks of disapproval if they do not find one. Free-for-all may be a bit strong, but expect a forceful crowd at the coat check following the performance. You could easily find your toes stepped on. At last years Mariinsky Festival the temperatures were in the 30s and we attended the performances with just a wrap that didn't need to be checked avoiding the whole process. No tip for the ushers but expect to pay a small fee for the English Language program We never succeeded with Russian language skills but were able to get along quite well with English. Visiting Moscow or St. Petersburg is a wonderful experience, not only for the ballet, but also for the chance to be exposed to all of the Russian culture that many of us of a certain age did not learn about in our youth.
  6. I also found this at cdquest.com in the US.
  7. The highlight of last night's performance of Manon was the appearance of La Scala's Roberto Bolle as Des Grieux. His strong presence on the stage captured an appreciative audience (and the hearts of many). Natalia Sologub's Manon while danced to perfection just did not seem to be the role for her. Although she did fit the role better in the last act. Tatiana Tkachenko was wonderful as Lescaut's Mistress. Her free and easy personality made her the bright light in the ballet for me.
  8. Has there been any casting announced for the Festival program?
  9. The panel discussion with Makhar Vaziev, Mikko Nissinen and Julie Buckler provided a good review of the history of ballet in St Petersburg. Vaziev was the highlight of the evening with his animated enthusiasm for ballet and his city obvious. (He spoke in Russian and his interpreter’s words appeared to fit his emotion very well.) While not straying beyond the Mariinsky line of Petapa, Fokine, and Balanchine all three were proclaimed geniuses by both Vaziev and Nissinen. In answer to a question about future plans Vaziev suggested that the Kirov's ability to do new things was very much dependant upon the amount of government funding available. He mentioned no new initiatives at all. It was difficult to tell if this meant that there were none planned or none that he was willing to announce at this time. I had hoped to learn what might come out of the Kirov in the next year or two but his answer seemed to relate to a longer-range look at the future. The program was a great warm up for the Kirov’s program of Fokine work to start on Thursday.
  10. My wife and I attended the recent Balanchine Symposium at the University of Michigan hoping that it would broaden our knowledge of ballet, a relatively new interest for us. The whole experience, including the Suzanne Farrell Ballet performance on Friday and the Kirov in Detroit on Saturday night, proved to be valuable beyond our expectations. Perhaps the most important factor was to be able to actually listen to and converse with others who have lived a life of ballet. Our past exposure has been largely limited to watching performances, reading books and following the Ballet Talk. We found that being a part of the small audience gave us a sense of participation that we did not expect. The serious academic tone of the papers presented Friday morning came as a bit of a surprise but of course it shouldn’t have. This was a very academic place and on closer look the presenters had the highest of credentials. Only on the second day did I learn, for example, that “R. John Wiley, professor of music” was the author of Tchaikovsky’s Ballets and A Century of Russian Ballet. The afternoon presentations lightened up with Beth Genne making the argument that perhaps Josephine Baker was Balanchine’s first muse and the model for all his long legged dancers that followed. Tim Scholl’s effort to connect the choreography of Serenade to a Georgian folk dance provided insight into both and included reasonable logic to suggest a connection even if he lacked solid proof. Angela Kane’s version of the lack of collaboration of Balanchine, Martha Graham and Paul Taylor in creating Episodes added grit to the story. Following a day of words about Balanchine and his work we were beginning to come to a better understanding why he is such an important part of Ballet history. While we had seen some Balanchine works in the past, that evening’s performance of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, coming on the heels of our “class”, was all the more exciting because we could now understand and truly see and hear the music/dance connection that others talk about. The program included Mozartiana, Tempo di Valse from The Nutcracker, Tschaikovsky Pas de Deux and ended with Serenade. Saturday’s program began with Nancy Reynolds providing an interesting example of the video documentation being undertaken by the Balanchine Trust. This story of the reconstruction of Renard is just one of many that will be available for future reference. The audience began to swell late in the morning in anticipation of Maria Tallchief’s scheduled conversation with Francis Mason. Their long friendship showed in the easy conversation that continued for nearly an hour. While there may have been no new information to come from this exchange most everyone in the audience was appropriately charmed and only disappointed that the time for questions was so limited. A long midday break (timed to coincide with the University’s away football contest with Michigan State?) preceded the final panel discussion with Violette Verdy, Suzanne Farrell, and Edward Villella. Beth Genne prodded the participants with early questions while Francis Mason came into his own near the end. Villella was quick to point out that while his gender resulted in a less connected relationship with Balanchine than Verdy or Farrell, his reverence for “Mr. B” was similarly strong. Suzanne Farrell’s comments were concise but perhaps more to the point than the others. Violette Verdy, who attended all the sessions, has a wonderful sparkle in her eye and warm smile that make you want to listen to her life experiences for hours on end. We capped our two days of “all Balanchine” by going to the Kirov’s Detroit Opera House performance of Petipa’s La Bayadere with Sofia Gumerova dancing Nikiya, Irina Golub as Gamazatti and Igor Kolb as Solor. The pageantry, pantomime, parrots and pachyderms of the first two acts are about as far from Balanchine as can be. But the third act, the Kingdom of the Shades, is more abstract and with our newly educated eyes we felt comfortable in discussing how “Balanchine” it might be. We have now returned to New England fulfilled by what we have learned and comfortable that we have taken another step in our knowledge and understanding of ballet. Thanks are due to those responsible for the great effort in organizing and producing the informative symposium. We were only disappointed in the fact that more ballet lovers were unable to attend.
  11. In conjunction with the Kirov visit at the Wang Center in Boston there will be a free and open to the public pannel discussion on Monday, November 10th at 7PM at the Schubert Theatre entitled "Dancing Through Time: The Kirov, St. Petersburg, and Ballet into the 21st Century. Panelists will be: Makhar Vaziev, Director of the Kirov Ballet, Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of the Boston Ballet and Julie Buckler, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at Harvard. The moderator will be Harlow Robinson, Professor of History and modern Languages at Northeastern. According to the announcement topics for discussion are the world-wide influence of the Kirov tradition, the state of the arts in post-Soviet Russia (especially St. Petersburg) and the Kirov's current challenges and future plans. This sounds like a big agenda for a less than two hour discussion but one I will be sure to attend.
  12. In October my wife and I have an chance to attend a performance of Raymonda by the ballet company at the National Theater in Prague. I have been unable to find any information about the company on the web. Has anyone seen this company perform or know anything about their background?
  13. The Suzanne Farrell Ballet is scheduled to perform in Ann Arbor, Michigan the evening of October 31st. She is scheduled to take part in the Balachine Symposium at the U. Michigan that weekend.
  14. As relative new comers to the world of ballet my wife and I took the opportunity to expand our knowledge and experience by attending the last five evenings of the Mariinsky Festival. Ten days later we are still full of excitment over the ballet performers we were able to see and the whole ballet experience in such a historical setting. We have enjoyed the opportunity to read the opinions of others on this forum and compare them to our thoughts. While we found some favorites it was the overall impact of seeing so much, so good, in such a conentrated time that took our breath away. We took advantage of arangements by the Astoria Hotel (a festival sponsor) that included a private backstage tour of the theater and the gathering after the Gala on Sunday night. There we were able to congratulate Maria Kowroski on her Swan Lake performance, learn from Ulyana Lopatkina that she hoped to be dancing again by late spring and speak to Boris Eiffmann about the performand by his group in Boston this weekend. St. Petersburg is a wonderful city with less snow and more sun than New England at this time of year. We would encourage others to consider attending next years Festival.
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