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Posts posted by drb

  1. The Daily Telegraph's dance critic Ismene Brown has collected her dance writings on this site:


    You first click on the pretty opening picture. Next, click on anything that clicks, and you'll get to a practical list of what seems hundreds of writings. An interesting comparison of ABT vs NYCB in 1998, for instance. And there is more than just Telegraph articles.

    One of the site's recent gems is her Dance Now article on Johan Kobborg's Bolshoi production of La Sylphide. It includes interviews with Mr. Kobborg and others, including his unexpected Sylph choices, Osipova and Krysanova. Ms. Osipova on Mr. Kobborg:

    ...But I wasn't expecting him to give us such freedom in our interpretations. Johan is such a clever man that he

    helped me to search and find my own way, he wasn't pushing us to be these unearthly creatures. He said here is

    James and you are his dream. You are the embodiment of what he dreams of. So you can be totally different, very

    feminine and very desirable from James's point of view. In a certain sense, she IS playing with him, because she

    was probably with him all his life from his childhood, but she chose to turn up on his wedding day! So I'm sure

    she came with bad intentions! But at the same time she is a fairy and she doesn't understand how serious the results can be.

    The essay concludes with Ms. Brown's take on the development of a vocal anti-Osipova faction in Moscow:

    The Vremya Novosti critic Anna Gordeeva wrote that the wives and girlfriends of Moscow's businessmen sitting in the stalls were clutching their men to them, so shamelessly was Osipova flirting with the audience. Hostile as the comment was intended to be, it raised a vision of Russian businessmen escaping all their Effies in the stalls, and dashing out to chase Osipova through Theatre Square. I don’t think that critic realised she was acknowledging a true Sylphide.
  2. From the Bolshoi site:

    Alexander Volchkov was promoted from Leading Soloist to Principal Dancer. The announcement was done by Alexei Ratmansky after the end of The Flames of Paris performance, where Alexander Volchkov had danced one of the main parts.

    Natalia Osipova is promoted from First Soloist to Leading Soloist; Anna Leonova - from Soloist to First Soloist, and Yegor Khromushin is promoted from Artist to Soloist.

  3. The Fall 2008 Newsletter of the White Nights Foundation of America (WNFA) may now be read in full on-line:


    In particular one may read their full argument for the name change from Kirov to Mariinsky.

    The choice of artistic advisors is a little strange in that ballet is not represented

    in a group that includes Soprano Anna Netrebko who has joined the Artistic Advisory Board of Chair Placido Domingo, Christoph Eschenbach (conductor), Renee Fleming (singer), Frank Gehry (architect), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (singer), Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor), George Tsypin (designer).

    There shall be a WNFA Gala on November 15 at the American Museum of Natural History in honor of Valery Gergiev's 20th anniversary as Artistic and General Director of the State Academic Mariinsky Theater (guest stars will appear). Last year Lopatkina was the featured star, but I cannot find who might perform this year.

    In the full link may be found many reviews of prior events and listings of future concerts and performances.

  4. It is remarkable how Program B's ballets can receive such diverse evaluations, yet the dancers can still impress in them. I attended the Sunday matinee performance, and casting probably helped in terms of Tomasson's The Fifth Season. Two summers ago just a PdD from this work was shown, it had its likers and dislikers, and I was on the dis side. Although there are moments, I'm still dis. However, the dancers!

    Each of the three lead couples was certainly entertaining. Lorena Feijoo (Joan Boada) danced with sizzling virtuosity, and if I agree with Natalia that they placed third, that is no disrespect to them, just a measure of the others' exceptional dancing. And, in part, surely a measure of my joy in seeing Sofiane Sylve back in NYC. She just came out on that stage with a knowing confidence and smile that said "New Yorkers, I still own you!" And what a contrast/match with Ivan Popov: has any of her NYCB partners ever displayed her better? Just before she left the stage: that wiggling of her left leg from the knee, ahhhh, that's our sexy Sofiane! Immediately following came the perfection of Feijoo/Boada's Romance. Then back came high-flying La Sylve in Tango. I'm not sure whether she was turning three boys into men, or melting three men into boys. But that is the "La" in Sylve...

    Nutnaree Pipit-Suksun followed in Largo, with Tiit Helimets. She was a major "discovery" during that Lincoln Center summer, and I've been kind of surprised to not read glowing reviews flowing out of San Francisco since. Well, that lyrical magic is still there. And at the end, secure in her perfect partner's arms, the music stretching, breathing, sighing up her body and through her melting arms.... Technical perfection, overpowering charisma, the ineffable. Three ballerinas, suggesting San Francisco Ballet isn't only men.

    Tomasson's Concerto Grosso was only men. To me, Isaac Hernandez, the 18-year old from Mexico, was the story. There seems to be some "Bolshoi" power there, a kind of Spartak potential.

    I usually like Mark Morris, but just could not get involved in Joyride, that just seemed a frenetic ride to nowhere. However, Mr. Macaulay of the Times liked it toward the end, by which time I'd faded out.

    David Briskin conducted Mr. B's The Four Temperaments. While I was very disappointed at not getting to see two of my favorite San Francisco ballerinas (they danced Saturday night's 4 T's) Sarah van Patten and Sofiane Sylve, this still turned out to be the highlight of Program B. The choreography, of course, but also the quality of the company. Pascal Molat justly drew a prolonged and loud response from the audience for his intense Melancholic. And quality continued through Vanessa Zahorian/Joan Boada's Sanquinic and Damian Smith's Phlegmatic. I was sure to be let down by Sofiane Sylve's absence from Choleric. But Elena Altman defied the odds, came on with great authority, full amplitude, and delivered a powerful lead into the ballet's ultimately grand finale. While I missed the freedom of NYCB's Corps, this was a truly fine performance.

  5. Mr. Phillips won the Senior Men's Gold Medal at the 5th Seoul International Dance Competition, apparently about five weeks ago. I happened upon this news on YAGP's site. These competitions (the famous Varna most notorious of all) just don't bother to let anyone know who won (I had to Google in Korean to see the winners list!).

    There apparently was one news story in America. From the Greenville (S. C.) News:


    Mr. Phillips's teacher (since his days at Governor's School) Stanislav Issaev, People's Artist of the Russian Republic, went with him to Seoul:

    ...He says that when Phillips performed the variation from "Flames of Paris" at the competition in Seoul, "It was a done deal. He showed the prowess of a finished, polished artist."

    "I remember when he was 13 or 14 (Phillips was 10 when he started studying with Issaev), he told me nobody can stop him. It's part of his nature, which I can't explain other than he is in a constant search for perfection." He's also an exemplary ambassador for his country, Issaev adds. "A proud American blessed with grace and good taste."

    Reached at home in New York, Phillips agrees with Issaev about the risk of competing in Seoul, nevertheless, he couldn't say no to his competitive side. "Of course you never know. You can always have an off day, and you only get one shot at it (the prize)."

    Not only has this not been posted on ABT's site, I can't even find it in Mr. Phillips's blog.

  6. Opening Night, October 10, 2008

    San Francisco Ballet's City Center season began with an ideal curtain-raiser, Mr. B's Divertimento No. 15. Theme was Taras Domitro and Ruben Martin, with Variations, in order, danced by Elizabeth Miner, Frances Chung, Rachel Viselli, Vanessa Zahorian, Gennadi Nedvigin and Tina LeBlanc. As would be expected, having seen this company a couple of summers ago at Lincoln Center, these dancers and the corps were ready and able. There were some high points, and none higher than Ms. Viselli's radiant third variation. It is one where the dancer smiles, and she did, but in a way that should be studied by many a NYCB ballerina. For her smile changed, always the right choice, varying in a completely natural way, as much within the music as Mr. B's steps, which in themselves were beautifully phrased and amplified by the ballerina. Very much artistry (facial and emotional expression) appropriate to Mr. B, from the steps, but understanding that steps are not just for the feet. Gennadi Nedvigin's solo variation was a model of musicality. At Lincoln Center his classicism stood out, not a virtuoso, but with noble style. He was so connected with the music (very ably conducted by Martin West) tonight that the steps seemed inevitable, much as does Mozart's music. Tina LeBlanc was full of light dancing the major variation. Later the third duet was raised above the norm by Ms. Viselli (no smiles here, this dancer just seems to know Mr. B) and Mr. Nedvigin. The same could be said for the grand duet, for him and Ms. LeBlanc. Overall, a very harmonious, company-oriented performance. Not the new wildly daring sort of dancing that has recently come out of the blue at NYCB (please, Mr. B, keep up this magical influence from on high!), but really an impressively whole performance by San Francisco Ballet.

    Next came Christopher Wheeldon's Within the Golden Hour. Having just seen his City Center season, I tended to focus on the dancers rather than the choreography. This was our first look at the major new ballerina Maria Kochetkova. The first of the three main PdD's was for Katita Waldo and Damian Smith, but it was pretty much standard Wheeldon. He didn't seem at full creative strength for the third either, though it was not difficult to keep one's eyes glued on brilliant Mashusha Kochetkova, neatly partnered by Joan Boada. Still, we NY'ers can only dream of a Kochetkova/Sylve Giselle/Myrtha. Lucky San Francisco... But there was a PdD between these two, danced by Sarah van Patten and Pierre-Francois Vilanoba, and for me Mr. Wheeldon hit the bulls-eye. The dance and music gave an Eastern effect, erotic and sweet, yet bitter-sweet too, a kind of feeling one might get from an early Satyajit Ray movie. It began like it would be too "Wheeldon" with the woman on the floor being manipulated by the man, but sustained emotional depth soon took control as they weaved an endless strand of dance together. Then he was on the floor, she en pointe between his feet, and he partnered her by holding her ankle as she slowly bent and flowed, with perfect control, till all that was left was to raise her parallel above his body and gently bring her down. Stunningly beautiful and the audience responded accordingly. Mr. Wheeldon can do finales, and this ballet's with 14 dancers swaying side to side among each other brought the house down.

    The last ballet didn't stand a chance after this. Yuri Possokhov's Fusion was star-studded. But the obvious lead dancer was Yuan Yuan Tan, as if an angel on a private cloud, almost seeming to be dancing for herself alone, unreal yet for that all the more real. A gift of beauty to end an impressive first night.

    From mid-mezzanine the big bucks seats ahead and mid-mezzanine itself looked very full, with just a few seats sold behind.

  7. I've been waiting for BT'er reviews of this season, so far to no avail. Maybe (almost) no one went? And that might be Morphoses biggest problem. Seen from the Mezzanine level, there was a wide arc of empty seats there on opening night, and far fewer still attended today's matinee, the debut of the second program.

    Opening night, October 1, 2008.

    For early arrivers there was a film loop of new Morphoses dancer Celine Cassone sitting on the stairs preparing a new pair of pointes. Mr. Wheeldon came out to welcome and thank the (gala) audience, and had a lot to say about each of the dances to come.

    The young choreographer was perhaps overly enthusiastic about his 2001 Polyphonia, the evening's curtain-raiser. Especially with so much so similar to that which has been seen since, it took quite a while to become engaging (for me... most critics did not seem to have this difficulty). While making a more immediate effect back then, it was, as then, that things really got cooking with Craig Hall's PdD. Then it was with the irreplaceable (for NYCB) and since exiled Alexandra Ansanelli. Wheeldon offered quite a replacement, however, with 15 year-old Beatriz Stix-Brunell. Mr. Hall partnered with the demeanor of a proud big brother, yet also with all due gravitas to this most impressive young dancer. Her subsequent solo sung with joy. Surely we shall not see her in NYCB productions of this work, but it is a role in need of Erica Pereira there. Things reached a peak with choreography for his Muse Wendy Whelan, here with Tyler Angle, but why in retrospect do all Wheeldon's Whelan dances blur into one grand pretzel puzzle?

    The central duo of the program began with the evening's sublime PdT, Sir Fred Ashton's Monotones II. In NYC of the 70's and 80's this was a Joffrey specialty, and their Ashton fluency was quite lacking with Wheeldon's company. (But where is Ashton fluency? Shame on the Royal Ballet: a half century ago the debate as to who was greater, Ashton or Balanchine, was a serious one: NYCB remembered, the Royal forgot.) Maria Kowroski had the requisite majestic cool glamour, though not Ashton technique. The pair of men were not ideally matched, though oddly Netherlands' Rubinold Pronk seemed more at home than did the Royal's star Edward Watson.

    Emily Molnar's Six Fold Illuminate seems to have been panned by every critic. Well, I enjoyed it. It seems to me that its clue is in the title. She had six terrific dancers, and illuminated each. Although all, except Ms. Cassone, are at least a little familiar here, I got the sense that I knew each better after seeing this dance. The two women could not be more different (except that both are terrific dancers). Drew Jacoby was first out, a big ballerina in size, muscle and charisma. And big, charismatic Rubinold Pronk was a superb partner for her. When Celine Cassone came out it was all in contrast, sweetness, gamin-like, bangs... These six dancers (also Rory Hohenstein, Edwaard Liang, Edward Watson) were all to be in the following Wheeldon premiere.

    I liked Mr. Wheeldon's Commedia to Stravinsky's Pulcinella for two reasons: First, the eight dancers (Leanne Benjamin and Ms. Stix-Brunell added to the prior six) quickly escaped from much of the ridiculous commedia dell'arte costuming (sorry, I lack the refinement of taste for what seems to me just silly stuff) and got down to dancing. Second, I thought there was some advance in his choreography.

    The duet with Ms. Benjamin and Ms. Stix-Brunell had them pretty much dancing the same steps. Comparing, there was something very special about the younger dancer's legs: it was if she moved in a medium somewhere between air and water, something so smooth yet with both substance and clarity, crisp and soft, and no doubt that we are seeing someone very special. In the arms, however, there is so much she can learn from Ms. Benjamin: poetry. Also, at some point the young dancer must go beyond a permanent smile. But for now she's 15: let her enjoy dancing. It was especially pleasing to see Mr. Wheeldon choreographing so lightly: fun! Then came the already critically-admired PdD for Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Watson. The dance critic-in-chief of the Times has complained that Mr. Wheeldon's PdD's are too much the man manipulating (physically) the ballerina. Although Watson did at times manipulate Benjamin, it was much more just natural ballet partnering, and at times she manipulated him. But this was really a love PdD, in its happy Springtime, when they are still finding new ways to touch, yet know each other well enough to act confidently. Fairly early on they dance together with their only contact being lips-to-lips. I wonder, was Ashton included to tell us that Mr. Wheeldon had found the Ashton humanity?

    Saturday matinee, October 4, 2008

    There was some program juggling. Commedia was moved from finale to curtain-raiser. Good.

    In the middle were a trio of dances. First he replaced Ashton's PdD from The Dream. I would have liked to see Ms. Benjamin and Mr. Watson in this, but it is quite familiar in NYC, what with both Alessandra Ferri and Diana Vishneva having danced it recently with ABT. But he wanted to show Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's PdD One that, as he explained, had been performed as .5 in Vail, since only the female part was danced there. Since the dancers were Drew Jacoby and Rubinold Pronk, I was happy to see it. Kind of Forsythe, but when steps or positions seemed repeated, the emotional connection between dancers would vary. Lets face it, these dancers are worth seeing!

    Next came Monotones II. But with very different dancers: Wendy Whelan, Tyler Angle, and Adrian Danchig-Waring, all in debuts. The men were a more natural pair to frame a ballerina than we saw on opening night. Early on one was especially aware of choreographic detail, Balanchine dancers finding their way through Ashton. But in this process they seemed to find Ashton's essence, beyond the steps. That calm warmth, moon-walkers (Ashton's inspiration for this piece) yes, but humans, carrying that inner core of what we really are to a strange new land.

    The third piece, Shutters Shut, was to a recording of Gertrude Stein reading what was probably once creative and humorous. The entertainment was created by the pair Lightfoot Leon, and performed by the pair (seemingly not otherwise associated with Morphoses) Christine Thomassen and Andreas Heise. It was funny.

    The program closed with Fool's Paradise, a hit for Mr. Wheeldon with last year's audiences, me included, critics not. Mr. Wheeldon obviously loves it, I still enjoy it, although invention flags a little along the way, and the final tableaux vivant is still fantastic.

    So for the future, there are two problems. Filling seats. Creating that elusive, large-scale masterpiece.

  8. Happy Golden Anniversary, Assoluta!

    On October 2, 1958 Maya Plisetskaya and composer Rodion Shchedrin were married.

    Izvestia has a wonderful article, including five photos, on the marriage begun in part by an offer of getting a better apartment, that has turned out so beautifully both creatively and personally. Later this season there will be a Shchedrin premiere at Carnegie Hall, and as the article states she always accompanies her husband to such events. I've already purchased my tickets!


    [added a few minutes later] It seems Mr. Shchedrin has just published an autobigraphy. Here is a long extract where he speaks of their courtship (warnings that marrying her could destroy his reputation), early marriage (KGB bugged their bed room), and how the marriage has worked out:

    I do not know how much the Lord will let us still live in this magical land. But I am immensely grateful to heaven and fate for our meeting and life together. We know happiness. We know love. We know Tenderness .


  9. There seems to be nothing to worry about regarding their American Fall Tour: yesterday RIA Novosty ran an article about the tour, even listing the expected lead dancers. By the way, Diana Vishneva was on the list. In fact, she began her comeback with a Swan Lake last week in Ferrara, Italy, and yesterday appeared in Moscow's Fall Gala, dancing a part of her Beauty program. Her site gives her American dates:

    Dec 17 2008 Los Angeles: Music Center Nutcracker

    Oct 17 2008 Berkeley: Zellerbach Hall Don Quixote

    Oct 14 2008 Berkeley: Zellerbach Hall Paquita

    Oct 10 2008 Costa Mesa: Segestrom Hall Don Quixote

    Oct 8 2008 Costa Mesa: Segerestrum Hall Don Quixote

    Oct 5 2008 Chicago: Auditorium Theatre Giselle

    Oct 2 2008 Chicago: Auditorium Theatre Giselle

  10. I've been waiting to read someone's commentary on the Balanchine/Farrell Pithoprakta recension Thursday night, 25 September, especially someone who remembered the original. The fearsomely described "stochastic" (Greek for random, and in modern physics the expression preferred to "probability") music by Iannis Xenakis was not fearsome at all, but quite logical. While the fine details where chaotic, there was overarching form. Thus, it is an analog to (at the time) modern understanding of what a universe is: pure chaos deep inside its tiniest things, the place of Quantum Physics, yet, in-the-large, harmonious, moving to the harmony of relativistic spacial curvature, held serenely together by good old gravity.

    The original leading dancers, Suzanne Farrell (The Goddess, here, perhaps the Creator of this Universe), and Arthur Mitchell (the Attractor, big enough to be subject to Gravity rather than Chaos) I see as the dance's characters. The Corps, 12 dancers in black, the underlying substance of this Universe, are bound to the far stranger order of sub-atomic chaos. It seems that Farrell (danced by Elizabeth Holowchuk), as the Creator, operates the forces that hold this Universe together. As the dancers in black careen about each other and the two leads in white, Farrell seems to force their stochastics into patterned chaos, avoiding catastrophes, guiding them with movements (randomness guided by divine intent) of her wrists and hands. But Mitchell (danced powerfully by Matthew Prescott) attracts her, he is not chaotic, yet needs another kind of guidance, gravity, to move him. Thus to him alone she uses the power of her whole body, twisting, slinking, curving space to bring him within her orbit in the central PdD of the ballet. This calls to mind at times the Agon duet, and in itself makes this a ballet one might well wish to see again. And again. At its most moving the dancers do not touch, the harmony of orbit is attained. The intimacy of star with planet.

    But as Farrell and Mitchell achieve their harmony, she neglects her hand-efforts at controlling underlying chaos; and then gravity too fails, as Mitchell helplessly breaks away. The Goddess is left alone, her Universe failed. Facing the audience she concentrates. Her fingers move, each complexly weaving that which we cannot see. Is she beginning a new Universe? Will this one succeed? She is Farrell. It will be done.

    It is hard not to wish for this ballet to come home. At NYCB the part of Farrell seems ideal for Tess Reichlen. Yet another reason for a Farrell Martins detente...

    After this came a solo dance, more than enough of an excerpt of Sharon Eyal's Love, danced by Talia Paz, to a seemingly empty piece of fluff by Lisa Germano, a kind of music that seems to be created for each generation of youngsters, regardless of the music of its times, timelessly void. It had the look of a modern dancer just killing time to a piece that she currently liked. This was followed by the Lombard Twins dancing frenetically to joint exhaustion, at least to live music of substance by Astor Piazzolla, but not able to be seen above the memories of Pithoprakta. It was time to leave the high altitude perch at City Center, to try to out-race the rain-storm home. And just savor the blessing of having seen a "new" Balanchine ballet. Thank you Suzanne Farrell. But I wish you had taken a bow.

  11. The English language version is now on Varna's website and contradicts the original Bulgarian release reported earlier on this thread and also Russian and French reports at the time. It appears Ms. Jensen's awards are the SAME as Ivan Vasiliev's two years before! She also received the "Varna 2008 Laureate," that had been previously reported as not given. Brava!!!

    Group "B" - Juniors

    The title "23 INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION - VARNA 2008 LAUREATE" shall be awarded, as well as the following distinctions:



    In the original Bulgarian release (July 31 above) Mr. Vasiliev's had differed from Ms. Jensen's:

    The title "22ndt INTERNATIONAL BALLET COMPETITION - VARNA 2006 LAUREATE" shall be awarded, as well as the following distinctions:


    But for Ms. Jensen Google translator gave:

    In II-ra group B - Minor age again was not served prizat "Laureate of the XXIII International Ballet Competition - Varna 2008"

    Special honors - Varna 2008 - diploma and a medal in devoykite Witney Jenson received from the United States.

  12. There appears to be a link problem getting to the Giselle photo of Ashley (with Carla Fracci and the other Giselles) and the review of her Caracalla Giselle, on Saturday, September 13 Links. This should work:


    The translation of Ms. Bouder's very favorable review appears in Links. The full article includes individual reviews for each of the five lead ballerinas.

    If the above link fails, go back and click the one in Links. Then click "2007/2008". Next go a little past half-way down, to 17/08, and then you can connect to the review and photos.

  13. New Russian articles about Mr. Ratmansky continue to appear, but today there is one from the Ukraine* by Olga Ostroverh about his early efforts at choreography in Kiev. He danced there from 1986-1992, before going to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1992, where he was a Principal from 1993-1995. He (and his dancer wife Tatiana) returned to Kiev, because, the article reports, the well-known dancer was promised a chance to choreograph. Omitted are the already familiar facts of his employment at The Bolshoi, non-employment at NYCB, and contract with ABT.

    I will add details to the article within [ ... ] when it seems appropriate.

    ...The first efforts of the famous choreographer were set in Kiev in the mid-'90s, resulting in his being banished. In 1997, after hopeless conflicts with the leadership of the National Opera of the Ukraine, Alexei Ratmansky left Kiev after enduring for two years. Probably, this was the most absurd period in his creative life. During this time, Ratmansky learned that a well-known dancer may dance just once every few months, but his choreography caused irreparable damage to Ukrainian dancers.


    His first choreography was for dancers in the 1994 International Ballet Competition Serge Lifar [the Grand Prix was won by Kiev Principal Irina Dvorovenko]. It was at this competition that residents of Kiev saw lovely choreographic miniatures by the beginner ballet master - the eccentric Whipped Cream [created in Winnipeg, he had not yet moved back to Kiev] and a romantic duet. This was a success with the public and taken with enthusiasm by young Kiev dancers, for whom the original and contemporary dance language was a discovery.

    However, there was already some displeasure within the company's administration.

    "Not worthy!" - "What's with the inverted feet, what is this strange plastic?" They wanted his dancing in the classical "Giselle" and "The Nutcracker". But as a choreographer - God forbid!

    Ratmansky did not surrender without a fight. Rehearsing in bits during ballet classes, the choreographer and a group of young dancers prepared a one-act ballet, Stravinsky's The Fairy's Kiss, of amazing beauty. With these dancers he prepared an evening of choreography - but the theater refused him any support [the ballet was performed at the Mariinsky in 1998]. With this the relationship with the National Opera was exhausted.

    His last Kiev production was set in the Children's Theatre of Opera and Ballet, an ingenious animation of naive paintings of French painter Henri Rousseau... Soon he accepted an invitation from the Danish Royal Ballet.

    An official from the company was approached for comment, but declined to discuss events of "more than a decade ago."

    * http://24.ua/news/show/id/65304.htm

  14. Where is Alicia J. Graf?

    Ailey's 50 Years flier for this December's City Center Season arrived and she was excised from the dancers list. A check of their website also yielded no presence. A member's e-mail inquiry met with no response. When a young co-Prima suddenly is no longer with a company, after an outstanding season last year and being still very much a presence this summer, one might feel an announcement was in order. Has there been any information made public?

  15. Russian News and Information Agency (rian) published an article including a short interview* by Ilya Pitalev with Alexei Ratmansky on Saturday, 13 September. A summary of Mr. Ratmansky's remarks:

    He will begin working on his first production for ABT in April, a ballet to music by Prokoviev that will have its premiere in June.

    Regarding whether he will continue working with The Bolshoi:

    Without a doubt.

    I am not going to interrupt my relations with the Bolshoi Theater, where I had the good fortune to work. Fortunately, my [administrative] work with the troupe is done, and my works will go to the Bolshoi repertoire. With regard to the current - 233rd season - my last production at this stage as the artistic director will be the ballet "Russian Seasons" to music by Leonid Desyatnikov. The premiere is scheduled for November 15, 2008.

    I already have planned, following my departure from The Bolshoi, a project for the future - most likely it will in 2010-11 - a production of a classic ballet for which new music will be composed.

    The article also includes already reported details of his ABT position, and lists awards he has received.

    Other recent news articles have mentioned his version of The Little Humpbacked Horse being set for the Mariinsky, a forthcoming perfomance of his Anna Karenina in Helsinki, and that he is making a work for Mikhail Baryshnikov to a waltz-fantasy by Glinka. There will be a farewell gala for him this December in Moscow.

    * http://www.rian.ru/culture/20080913/151240670.html

  16. Lots of news coming out of Russia. While numerous papers have basically just reported on the first NY Times article, there have been others giving new information. None more exciting than the "speculation" in today's Izvestia article* by Svetlana Naborschikova:

    In the U.S. the former Bolshoi leader will be pleased to meet with his former colleagues Nina Ananiashvili and Diana Vishneva, long settled in as American Ballet Theater guest stars. It is possible that with his emergence there will also come new stars. In particular, it is quite likely that Bolshoi's "child-prodigies" Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasilev will follow their leader there.

    In the case of Ms. Osipova, this is consistent with a Russian Bazaar article last June 5 by Nina Alovert, when she reported that, after the YAGP Gala in which Osipova and Mr. Vasiliev danced the Flames of Paris PdD, ABT asked the young ballerina to be a guest artist for the up-coming ABT Met Season, and that Ms. Osipova would dance here then.

    In addition to reporting the basics of his agreement with ABT, the article also suggests that ABT was more willing than was NYCB to permit "excessive employment" of Mr. Ratmansky in other international projects.

    I will try to report specifics from other articles, including an interview with Mr. Ratmansky, in another post.

    * http://www.izvestia.ru/culture/article3120476/

    [the lower of the two articles on this page]

  17. Ratmansky made a lot of young Bolshoi dancers happy by casting them in big roles: sounds just like what ABT's youngsters have been missing, and audiences have been asking for. And some of that new Bolshoi talent is just what ABT's fading ballerina roster needs, and not just top-of-the-world stars Osipova or Vasiliev (yes a man, but at least as great as any of ABT's vaunted stars), but so many more... I wonder if he will be willing to revive any classics, as he's done for Bolshoi?

    I think I'd rather he create, but also just kind of look over Mr. McKenzie's shoulder when anything is being "revived."

  18. I could not find a press review of Bouder's performance, somewhat surprising since her two prior guest performances for Carla Fracci were reviewed. There was one review that appeared to be for all five performances, but it merely praised all five leading ladies, mentioning none by name. Another, in EUMAGAZINE, got into details, but it was for the night that Oksana Kucheruk ("expressive delicacy") danced the lead. However, one can at least see a photo of Ashley in costume, second from left, with each of the Giselles posing around Ms. Fracci, as well as a photo of Caracalla in this opening night article:


    There is also a rather beautiful video of the corps and Myrtha in Act II, that displays the quality of the production Ms. Bouder danced in quite favorably. Giselle isn't in it (it was two nights before Bouder's anyway), but the Myrtha is Fracci's highly touted young prodigy (still not listed among the Rome Opera Ballet dancers on their site) Dalila Sapori. This video is not on YouTube, but others of her are...


  19. An article* in today's Deseret News offers more information on Junior Special Distinction winner Whitney Jensen. While lumping the terms Special Distinction and Grand Prix (as seen earlier in this thread, both applied in 2006 to Ivan Vasliev, but just the former to Ms. Jensen), the article does give information on the rarity of the Special Distinction award:

    The Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria has only given out four Special Distinction Grand Prix awards in its 44-year history.

    Those winners are Vladimir Vasiliev, Rolondo Sarabia, Ivan Vasilev and Whitney Jensen.

    Out of all those, Jensen is the only female and the only dancer from the United States to be awarded that honor, which was presented to her last month.

    For the competition she was prepared by her teacher Valentina Koslova:

    "I danced variations from 'Diane and Acteon,' 'Harlequinade,' 'Le Corsaire' and the 'Black Swan,"' Jensen said. "I also danced two contemporary works by Igal Perry and Chantelle Collier, which my sister Bryn helped me restage."

    Jensen's goal was to complete the first round and get into the second, she said.

    "I really had no expectations, though," she said. "But after the second round things happened so fast. My heart was beating so fast, and when they called my name, I was so overwhelmed and shocked. I couldn't believe that I got it."

    She has entered and won prizes in a number of competitions:

    "I began moving towards ballet because I developed a goal to do ballet competitions," Jensen said during an interview at the Deseret News. "I wanted to compete and live in Europe."

    A few years ago, Jensen performed as Clara in the "Christmas Spectacular" at the Radio City Music Hall. While in New York, she and her mother searched for a ballet school.

    They found Valentina Kozlova's Dance Conservatory in New York, run by Kozlova, a former Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer.

    "We looked at all the big schools and weren't impressed," Lausanne Jensen said. "But when we met Valentina, I knew she was the one for Whitney."

    There is a nice four photo set of the dancer included in the article.

    * http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,700256501,00.html

  20. The Fall 2008 Newsletter of the White Nights Foundation of America (WNFA) reports on a joint announcement by The Mariinsky Theater, Columbia Artists and Ardani Artists Management that, in future American appearances the orchestra, opera, and ballet of the Mariinsky Theater will no longer be called the Kirov.

    Since perestroika both Leningrad and Kirov reverted to their earlier names, and the units of the theater were quickly called Mariinsky in most of the rest of the world.

    The Theater, named the Mariinsky after Empress Maria Alexandranova, wife of Alexandr II, was opened amid great pomp on October 2, 1860 with a performance of Mikhail Glinka's opera A Life for the Tsar.

    Stalin had renamed the theater "Kirov" in 1935.

    Other news from the Mariinsky's American support organization:

    The new co-chairs are Joan and Sanford Weill, as Donald Kendall becomes Chair Emeritus. Soprano Anna Netrebko has joined the Artistic Advisory Board of Chair Placido Domingo, Christoph Eschenbach (conductor), Renee Fleming (singer), Frank Gehry (architect), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (singer), Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor), George Tsypin (designer). No members are from ballet.

    There shall be a WNFA Gala on November 15 at the American Museum of Natural History in honor of Valery Gergiev's 20th anniversary as Artistic and General Director of the State Academic Mariinsky Therater (guest stars will appear).

    Dates for upcoming Mariinsky Festivals were also reported:

    New Horizons: Oct. 28 - Nov. 2, 2008

    Maslenitsa Festival: Feb. 23 - March 1, 2009

    Brass Festival: March 4 - 7 & April 2 - 5, 2009

    International Ballet Festival Mariinsky: March 14 - 22, 2009

    Moscow Easter Festival: April 19 - May 9, 2009

    Stars of the White Nights: May 19 - July 12, 2009

    In their review of the recent White Nights Festival, the ballet section concludes with "The end of the 20th Century brought home the legacy of George Balanchine, before setting its sights on the ungovernable rhythms of William Forsythe."

  21. On his Kremlin bio page the President makes no mention of dance, but is interested in music:

    I still find time to listen to rock music. I began listening to it when I was about 13-14. A home-grown rock music scene was starting to develop in the Soviet Union at that time. Although it made use of the same musical principles, instruments and arrangements found all around the world, our rock music was always based very much on the texts too, unlike English-language rock music, which, to be honest, was always a lot more primitive. Our songs were protest songs, songs with a social message and simply music that was about our life, about all its different aspects.

    But one needs to do more than just listen to rock music. One should listen to classical music too. Rock music and classical music are very close. Rock, jazz, and classical music are all part of one and the same musical process. One should also read good books - a real way to relax - and then everything will go well.

    However his wife Svetlana, an economist, seems to have an interest in the arts:

    Svetlana Medvedeva is involved in supporting social and cultural programmes in Russia and a number of European cities.

    In 2006 she initiated the Russian Arts Festival in Bari, Italy, which now takes place as an annual event.

    Svetlana Medvedeva is Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the targeted comprehensive programme ‘Spiritual and Moral Culture for the Youth of Russia’, established with the blessing of Patriarch Alexii II.

    It would seem that retired President Putin was more of a ballet fan, as he has frequently been photographed presenting bouquets to ballerinas.


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