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Everything posted by chiapuris

  1. Current reading: 1) Justice What's the right thing to do? by Michael Sandel Based on one of the most popular courses at Harvard, dealing with the big questions of political philosophy. My book club's current choice; we discuss it next Sunday. Almost finished with it. 2) The Girl who Played with Fire a novel by Stieg Larsson The second volume of the trilogy dealing with abuse of women in modern society; the first volume is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My reading during the London trip to see the Bolshoi and the Mikhailovsky companies. Halfway through it. 3) Naming Infinity A true story of religious mysticism and mathematical creativity by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor A fascinating story of a heretical sect of the Russian Orthodox church called Name Worshipping, and its effects on the famous Moscow School of Mathematics and its work on the nature of infinity - leading to the founding of descriptive set theory. The Name Worshipping sect had started at the Russian St. Pantaleimon monastery on Mount Athos, Greece in early 20th c. Started reading it in London. Halfway through it.
  2. Paquita/Russian Seasons/Petrushka -- Triple Bill, Bolshoi in London 30-07-10 Royal Opera House 7:30 Petrushka Ballet-burlesque in four scenes Music Igor Stravinsky Ballet production Mikhail Fokine (1911) Bolshoi premiere 6 February 1921 Revival version Sergei Vikharev (2010) Libretto Igor Stravinsky and Alexandre Benois Set design Alexandre Benois (1921) Reproduced by Boris Kaminsky Costumes Alexandre Benois (1921) Reproduced by Elena Zaitseva Lighting design Damir Ismagilov Archive research Pavel Gershenzon Petrushka Ivan Vasiliev Ballerina Anastasia Stashkevich Moor Igor Tsvirko Charlatan Gennady Yanin I no longer remember whether I've seen any earlier performances of this ballet, or whether what I have seen, has been on tv and dvds. This seems to me like a mime show, with the music and sets and costumes the principal components. My companion wondered why 'waste' Vasiliev in it, But it was a very successful part for Nijinsky in his time. Times change. Still, I think this revival is extremely useful for our times. It helps us understand where we've already been in ballet explorations. The early Stravinsky music is gorgeous; I heard sounds in the theatre I'd never heard on recordings. The reconstruction is vivacious and entertaining. This work still stands, in its story telling and ambiance, as a distant branch in the lineage of classical dance. I liked it a lot. Vasiliev created a poignant portrait of Petrushka, Anastasia Stashkevich was delightfully expressive as the Ballerina and the Moor, of Igor Tsvirko, was very entertaining in the worship of his coconut. The costumes looked pristine. Thanks are due to Sergei Vikharev for this lovely revival. The orchestra was led by Igor Dronov. Russian Seasons Music Leonid Desyatnikov Choreography Alexei Ratmansky Costume design Galina Solovyeva Lighting design Mark Stanley Adaptation of lighting design Sergei Shevchenko Premiere NYCB 8 June 2006 Premiere Bolshoi 15 November 2008 Couple in orange and in white Ekaterina Krysanova, Andrei Merkuriev Couple in red Anastasia Meskova, Denis Savin Couple in green Yulia Gebenshikova, Alexaner Vodopetov Couple in blue Anna Okuneva, Vladislav Lantratov Couple in purple Anna Yatsenko, Igor Tsvirko Couple in magenta Anna Nikulina, Viacheslav Lopatin Violin Irina Blank Soprano Yanna Ivanilova This is a work that requires repeated viewings. The costumes, empire style strap dresses for the women, and loose shirts and pants with boots for the men, were flattering and gave good lines for dancing as well as a feeling of (Russian) folk costumes. Particularly the pillbox hats with chin-straps worn by the women in the opening and closing scenes. I was glad they took them off for the greater part of the work, because they remained too metaphorically 'folksy'. The music is a twelve-part composition for string orchestra, violin and mezzo-soprano. Mark Stanley's lighting had the cyclorama lit in strong colors of a wide range, but not the balanchinean sky-blue. The dancing throughout this performance was admirable. The leading couple, Krysanova and Merkuriev were simply stunning in the clarity of their dancing, alone and together. I couldn't take my eyes off Anastasia Meskova whenever she appeared. An angular dancer with the rank of soloist, she has a strong projection and a phenomenally propulsive sense of movement. I wish I could recall the many contributions of the excellent dancers in this performance. But jet lag is winning. (I'm writing this from home). This is a very strong work. I particularly liked the sections with the songs. I hope to see it again. Igor Dronov conducted the fine orchestra of the Bolshoi. Grand Pas from Paquita Music Ludwig Minkus Choreography Marius Petipa Staging and new version Yuri Burlaka Set design Alyona Pikalova Costume design Elena Zaitseva Lighting design Damir Ismagilov Original premiere Bolshoi Theatre, St Petersburg, 8 January 1882 New version premiere Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 15 November 2008 Choregraphic notation and original score Harvard University Theatre Collection Score restoration Alexander Troitsky Paquita Maria Alexandrova Lucien Nikolai Tsiskaridze Pas de Trois Anna Tikhomirova, Anastasia Stashkevich, Andrey Bolotin Six soloists Maria Vinogradova, Anna Okuneva, Olga Stebletsova, Victoria Osipova, Svetlana Pavlova, Yulia Lunkina Eight coryphées Yanina Parienko, Victoria Litvinova, Sofia Lubimova, Ilona Matsiy, Anastasia Shilova, Galina Potdykova, Olga Barishka, Angelina Vlashinets Variations: music of Ricardo Drigo save for Trilby: music of Yuli Gerber 1 (from the ballet King Candaules) Maria Allash 2 (from the ballet La Source) Ekaterina Krysanova 3 (from the ballet Camargo) Nina Kaptsova 4 (from the ballet Trilby) Natalia Osipova 5 (from the ballet La Sylphide) Maria Alexandrova 6 (from the ballet La Source) Nikolai Tsiskaridze The program for this performance lists the timings for the ballets: Petrushka: 40 mins. , Russian Seasons: 40 mins., Grand Pas from Paquita: 45 minutes. Of all the ballets, Grand Pas was the one I didn't want to end. When we think of all the original remnants of classical dance, the Grand Pas is probably the most iconic example of Petipa's classicism. As the Bolshoi program states: ….. "An extended classical dance ensemble, marvelously structured, which provides an opportunity for nearly all the leading soloists to display their virtuosity - and to riotously compete with each other." And what a competition it was! The first gem to be presented was the pas de trois. Bolotin (first soloist) was a great match and partner to Tikhomirova and Stashkevich. All three shone; their synchronous held landings were splendid. The groups of two or four, with the six soloists and the eight coryphées were a joy: buoyant jumps, lovely beats, impeccable pirouettes, elegant finishes. One gets a strong impression that this choreography "is beloved by dancers and public alike", as the program notes state. Alexandrova presented herself with consummate assurance, danced impressively, and completed her series of elegant single fouettés with a serenely authoritative finish. Tsiskaridze comported himself with his usual idiomatic expressiveness, this time sporting sideburns and a moustache. His variations were well-danced, both of them showing an adherence to aristocratic demeanor (except for one jumped split movement that seemed to come out of nowhere). Other gems of this work are the variations from defunct ballets (some of these variations appear in other works), danced by principals (Allash, Osipova) or leading soloists (Krysanova and Kaptsova). These are treasures. To see Allash with her correct classical comportment, followed by Krysanova's expansive movement and joy for dancing, and then the elegant, understated passion of Kaptsova's mesmerizing style, and this followed by the literally explosive aerial dancing of Osipova, followed by……Alexandrova. It doesn't get better than this. The Bolshoi orchestra was in the capable hands of Pavel Klinichev. This is the last London performance I'll see before returning home.
  3. Bolshoi 28 July 2010 Royal Opera House London Giselle Music Adolph Adam Choreography Marius Petipa after Jean Coralli and Jules Perot Production Yuri Grigorovich Designs Simon Virsaladze Giselle Nina Kaptsova Albrecht Ruslan Skvortsov Hilarion Ruslan Pronin Berthe Elena Bukanova Bathilde Kristina Karaseva Duke of Courland Alexei Loparevich Wilfred Vladislav Lantrantov Peasant pas de deux Anastasia Sashkevich, Viacheslav Lopatin Myrtha Maria Allash Two Wilis Viktoria Osipova, Anna Leonova Tonight's Giselle featured a dancer I have liked very much in other roles (Phrygia -this season- and Aurora -some seasons back at the Bolshoi-). My expectations for her performance were positive, without knowing anything of her performance record of Giselle. What I did know is that Nina Kaptsova is listed as a Leading Soloist (below principal and above first soloist) and that her coach is Marina Kondratieva. Whatever expectations I had, she exceeded them. Ms Kaptsova was simply wonderful as Giselle, particularly successful as a newly-anointed Wili in the second act. The first act showed her in fine form in all the dance passages, with wide and buoyant jumps, a finely honed musicality, and with delicate and fine lines; her pairing with the gifted Ruslan Skvortsov as Albrecht was extremely successful as well. At one point she stopped in her tracks while dancing to establish for us the fact that Giselle was suffering from some sort of frailty, one that impinged on her love of dancing. It was a clear moment of story telling -one that I don't remember ever seeing stated so clearly. But there it was: a particular bit of mime, if you will, in a production that avoided mime on principle. The first act Peasant pas de deux had choreography that looked like it came from somewhere else and hardly suggested village dancing. Anastasia Stashkevich and Viacheslav Lopatin danced it well. Ruslan Pronin gave a thought-out interpretation of Hilarion as the local suitor of Giselle. The sketchy style of Virsaladze's sets suited neither the music nor the libretto of Giselle. The costumes were a mixed lot. The court costumes were lavish. The costumes of the corps looked too sophisticated for peasant costumes. They, too, looked like they came in from somewhere else. Wilfred, Albrecht's 'sword-bearer', had the most elegant outfit and hat for someone 'in service'. Kaptsova, in the second act, impersonated the 'weeping spirit', of the neophyte Wili trying to save the life of her beloved; with it she created a profoundly moving portrait. The intensity and focus and musicality of her performance were simply magical. Kaptsova's Giselle will long remain in my memory as an extraordinary performance. From the passion of her grand pirouettes en arabesque when she first dances, to the sustained arabesques at her exits, every step in between added to the integrity of the portrait. The partnering of Skvortsov was excellent and his overhead lifts breathtaking. His variation and acting skills as Albrecht were first-rate. Maria Allash was an imperious leader of the Wilis, implacable, stern. She danced beautifully. The audience responded enthusiastically with two curtain calls and appearances in front of the curtain following. Pavel Sorokin conducted the Bolshoi orchestra. Serenade Ballet in four parts Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky Choreography George Balanchine Staged by Sandra Jennings Waltz Ekaterina Krysanova Russian Anastasia Yatsenko Elegy Anna Leonova Serenade preceded Giselle. The work was well-performed by the ensemble, as would be expected. Krysanova, probably my favorite dancer at the Bolshoi, gave what looked to me like an ineloquent performance as the Waltz girl, nothing wrong with it technically, but not the kind you feel takes wings. The apotheosis with her was, nevertheless, eloquent. Anastasia Yatsenko, was the most impressive of the three soloists, buoyant and soaring with abandon. Anna Leonova had elegant articulated movements and a clarity of phrasing but kept herself expressionless, as if it were a virtue to erase all facial expression. She is, notwithstanding, a lovely dancer. My companion and I both decided, when thinking about the performance, that a major problem may have been with the lighting design, which was rather clinical. It lacked the kind of luminosity one associates with Serenade productions. The lighting failed to help us see a balanchinean world, a world filled with creatures somewhat like ourselves, but transformed through the prisms of art, into dancers, aspirants of form and meaning.
  4. Mikhailovsky July 24, 2010 The London Coliseum SWAN LAKE Ballet in four acts Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky Choreography Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, Alexander Gorsky, Asaf Messerer Revival Mikhail Messerer (2009) Libretto Vladimir Begichev, Vassily Geltser Set/Costume Design Simon Virsaladze Design Revival Vyacheslav Okunev, Boris Kaminsky Lighting Damir Ismagilov Repetiteur of Character Dances Alla Boguslavskaya Odette/Odile Irina Perren Prince Siegfried Dmitry Semionov (guest from Berlin Staatsballett) Sovereign Princess Zvezdana Martina Evil Genius Mikhail Venshchikov Tutor Andrei Bregvadze Jester Denis Tolmachov Dances: Pas de Trois Oksana Bodareva, Olga Stepanova, Andrey Yakhnyuk Big Swans Viktoria Kutepova, Irina Kosheleva, Yulia Kamilova Cygnets Yulia Tikka, Marina Nikolayeva Ekaterina Khomenko, Natalia Kuzmenko Neapolitan Natalia Kuzmenko, Nikita Kuligin Hungarian Elena Firsova, Roman Petukhov Mazurka Olga Poverennaya, Yulia Kamilova, Aleksei Malakhov, Philipp Parkhachov Spanish Mariam Ugrekhilidze, Kristina Makhivilidze, Alexander Omar, Denis Morosov The corps de ballet's dancing in the second act lake scene sets a high standard for the company. Their movements are uniformly fully-expressed and well rehearsed. The corps as swans are top-rate. They looked wonderful and danced harmoniously. The leads were Irina Perren and Dmitry Semionov, a guest from the Berlin Staatsballett. Both however, have received their training at the Vaganova Academy of Saint Petersburg. She is a 2000 graduate, he a 1999 graduate. Perren, I found to be, a pleasing performer, technically superb and attractive. Although on my first view of her, (in two full-length works and Spring Waters), I failed to perceive her special qualities that raise her to principal status. That may be my failure, not hers. In a review of Spring Waters I already commented on her lack of abandon (a trademark of some Soviet Bolshoi principals), and a necessary ingredient for the Messerer choreography. Semionov, as Siegfried, presented a noble figure. He has indeed a very handsome physique and face, and looks great standing still. His dancing, however, stresses poses, and not flow of movement. Steps in his dancing never connected to form something larger, organic. He does have a wonderful, quiet demi-plie when finishing tours. His partnering was clean, but far from virtuosic, as his physique implicitly promised it would be. The first act, as choreography, seems to wander a bit and lose steam before its end. The jester was ebulliently danced by Denis Tolmachov, but the part seemed intrusive to the music in this version; my favorite first act is that of the Sergeyev version, which advances the story of the libretto more convincingly. The variation of Siegfried tells us nothing about who he is or what is on his mind. The Pas de Trois similarly has been changed, if not musically, then choreographically, but not for the better, in my view. The pdt was joyously danced by the bright Oksana Bondareva, the energetic Olga Stepanova and Andrey Yakhnyuk. More synchronous coordination will make this trio soar. The musical pacing of the second act seemed to me to be slower than other current versions. The ensemble parts were fine, esp the parts for the ensemble before the entry of the swan queen that are not found in other versions. Slow pacing seemed noticeable in the Odette variation. I couldn't quite appreciate on one viewing the choreography for the trio of the big swans. It's hard to accept change when being used to another version. The cygnets were charming and the quartet was well-executed. The third act set was sumptuous and grand. The Hungarian and Mazurka ensembles are both spectacular entertainment; the first stately and luxurious, the second super-fast and sparkling. The two Spanish couples dazzled in their dancing and were dazzling in their black-white costumes. Perren appeared as a very sophisticated Odile, glamorous and unpredictable, her black tutu splashed liberally on one side with an array of bright red feathers. At this point I don't have a favorite between her Odette and Odile. Both seem to me to be accomplished portraits. The fourth act had for me little interest, concerned as it was with preparing us for its against-all-logic, politically motivated, anti-musical, Soviet happy ending. The Mikhailovsky Theatre orchestra was in the capable hands of Valery Ovsyanikov One of the London critics called the Mikhailovsky a maverick company (compared to the two established Russian companies). I thought about the remark, and the Joffrey company popped in my head, as a kind of maverick company compared to the other two American companies. The Joffrey has been a kind of maverick on the American scene, by seeking out choreographies of the past, such as those of Nijinska and Nijinsky, and Ashton and other rareties, like K. Jooss, as well as new commissions. Thinking further of the comparison, I find that it doesn't hold. Joffrey's serious directorial forays are all in the past- a legacy of its founder . Mikhailovsky's directorial forays are, at this point, harbingers of its future. Which looks like it could become a brilliant one.
  5. Bolshoi Ballet Coppelia Ballet in three acts 22 July 7:30 pm Royal Opera House London Music Leo Delibes Libretto Charles Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Leon Choreography Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti Revival Sergei Vikharev Set Design Boris Kaminsky Décor sketches Pyotr Lambin (acts I & III) Heinrich Levot (act II) Costume Design Tatiana Noginova Costume sketches Adolph Charlemagne, Pyotr Grigoriev, Evgeny Ponomaryov Archive Research Pavel Gershenson Choreography restored using notations from the Harvard Theatre Collection. Swanhilda Natalia Osipova Franz Ruslan Skvortsov Coppelius Gennady Yanin Eight friends Viktoria Litvinova, Anna Tikhomirova, Anna Okuneva, Svetlana Pavlova, Yanina Parienko, Daria Khokhlova, Yulia Lunkina, Joo Yoon Bae Mazurka Anna Antropova, Anna Nakhapetova, Alexander Vodopetov, Igor Tsvirko Czardas Kristina Karaseva, Vitaly Biktimirov L'Aurore Ekaterina Krysanova La Prière Anna Nikulina Le Travail Anastasia Yatsenko and Daria Khokhlova, Svetlana Pavlova, Maria Prorich, Olga Tubalova La Folie Anna Leonova Noce Villageoise Anna Nakhapetova, Batyr Annadurdyev Let me say right away that I found this the best production I have ever seen of Coppélia, lively, coherent in visual and musical terms, with the story and its incidents clearly told, but foremost, elegant, in all its parts. The cast was spectacular in the Vikharev revival of the Petipa and Cecchetti choreography, matching the melodic brilliance of Delibes' score, and the simply beautiful costumes- down to the last one-, as well as the airy ambience provided by the recreated sets. If I were rating with stars, I would give the highest number to every aspect of the production, casting, sets, costumes, orchestra, revival, --and throw in an extra one to Sergei Vikharev for the revival. The music enchanted me even with the overture, before the curtain came up. The choreography enchanted with its musical consonance and its simplicity of means; less always turned out to be more. Just one example : when Swanhilda's friend danced they did a single pirouette en dehors but that pirouette finished in a developpé en avant before closing. Natalia Osipova seems born to play this part. Even though she has stated she had always wanted "to suffer on stage", she also has the singular gift of making people smile while she's on stage. She is a wonderful Swanhilda. In a manège of hops around the stage, she exhibited the same surreal ballon she accomplishes with her leaps. Simply spectacular defiance of gravity. To my mind, this series of hops showed the certain hand of Cecchetti. Or I'd like to think so. The male contingent of the cast were a match to Osipova's stage work. Ruslan Skvortsov had wonderful skills in mime and facial expressiveness as well as dancing and partnering excellently. As a couple, Osipova and Skvortsov, equally showed, through momentary touches of intimacy (including chagrin), that they had a relationship with each other, with a full range of emotions resulting from it. Gennady Yanin as Coppélius, builds an eccentric character without the silliness of 'the doddering fool' syndrome, one that comes across as ageism in other productions of Coppélia. The character retains his dignity as a human being throughout, even though he creates comedy and sees the world differently than others. In the last scene, while the wedding festivities proceed, we see Coppélius crossing the stage, carrying his inert doll, now disheveled and half-dressed, away from the action. Part of the enchantments that Coppélia offers are the ensemble dances of the Mazurka and Czardas in the first act, the Spanish and Scottish dances of Coppélia in the second act, and the wedding dances of the third act, the grand pas de deux, and the solos of Dawn, Prayer, Work, Folly, and the Country Wedding dance ensemble. I don't want to get prolix with elaborate descriptions of all these riches. The grand pas de deux, esp. the quiet and profound adage, was exquisite. The group dances (Mazurka, Czardas, etc.) were top rate, the solos of the 3rd act a cornucopia of riches. The Dawn of Ekaterina Krysanova, the Prayer of Anna Nikulina, Work of Anastasia Yatsenko, Folly of Anna Leonova. Just pick a favorite. You can't go wrong. The Bolshoi orchestra was conducted by Igor Dronov. The Royal Opera House audience applauded enthusiastically. Natalia Osipova brought onto the stage the conductor as well as Sergei Vikharev.
  6. Mikhailovsky Ballet in London July 2010 LAURENCIA Ballet in two acts based on Lope de Vegas' Fuente Ovejuna (1619) Music Alexander Krein Choreography Vakhtang Chabukiani revised by Mikhail Messerer Set /Costume Design Vadim Ryndin revived by Oleg Molchanov and Viacheslav Okunev Don Fernan Gomez Mikhail Venshchikov Laurencia Irina Perren Frondoso Denis Matvienko Mengo Denis Morosov Pascuala Sabina Yapparova Jacinta Oksana Bondareva Pas de Six Viktoria Kutepova, Irina Kosheleva, Andrei Yakhnyuk, Nikolay Korypaev (plus the lead couple) This Mikhailovsky Ballet revival honors the centenary of the birth of Vakhtang Chabukiani, the legendary Mariinsky dancer who choreographed Laurencia. Laurencia premiered in 1939, with Dudinskaya and the choreographer in the leading parts. Subsequently, it was revived by the Bolshoi in 1956 with Plisetskaya (and Chabukiani) leading the cast. Chabukiani is, single-handededly, a root source of the development of male balletic virtuosity as well as a singular and early exponent of the Soviet -era "heroic style". With this revival, of the ballet the program notes call a "piece of Russian cultural heritage" and "one of the highest achievements of the choreographic art in the mid-20th century", the question remains whether the work, having been dormant for half a century, can be resuscitated so that the spirit of the original creation breathes once again. The elaborate sets, revived from the Moscow 1956 production, depict naturalistic Iberian landscapes, and in the last scene, the grand interior of the commander's castle. The costumes are brilliantly colored following theatrical traditions of Spanish garb. During the overture, an old playbill of Laurencia (not clear whether it was from Moscow or St Petersburg) is projected on the curtain, with a very brief clip of Chabukiani dancing. The scenes of the ballet focus either on pure dance passages or on developing the plot based on Lope De Vega's play Fuente Ovejuna. The play tells the true 17th c. story about a village woman (Laurencia) who organized resistance to the tyranny of the village's commander. The major dances of the work appear as 'grand pas divertissements' in the first scene of act one and in the first scene (scene three) of act two. The other scenes of the ballet (scenes two, four and five) advance the story by naturalistic and conventional mime as well as dance steps serving as surrogates for highly emotional states. I personally liked the melodramatic story scenes much less than the dance scenes. The dancers are splendid throughout the ballet. Irina Perren as Laurencia has an appealing demeanor, prodigious technical prowess, and expressive pantomime. Guest artist Denis Matvienko, as Frondoso, shows sharp clean lines and technical wizardry befitting a Chabukiani role. The wedding scene pas de six, joined the lead couple with the blond Viktoria Kutepova partnered by Nikolay Korypaev and the dark haired Irina Kosheleva partnered by Andrei Yakhnyuk for a brilliant display of Chabukiani's choreography blending classical dance with Spanish inflected folk dancing. Oksana Bondareva, Sabina Yapparova, and Denis Morosov created vivid individuals in their parts. The ensembles throughout were ebullient, well-rehearsed and elegant. The company was extremely convincing in the final scene forming a mob storming the commander's castle. Valery Ovsyanikov conducted the Mikhailovsky Theatre orchestra.
  7. Spartacus - Bolshoi Ballet Monday, July 19 2010, 7:30 pm, Royal Opera House, London Music
 Aram Khachaturian Choreography
 Yuri Grigorovich Spartacus 
Ivan Vasiliev Phrygia 
Nina Kaptsova Aegina 
Maria Allash Crassus 
Alexander Volchkov After seeing the opening performance of the Bolshoi London 2010 season, I'm finding that the Bolshoi is becoming my favorite ballet company. It believes in its future, respects its past, and nurtures the new. How many other companies do that? Spartacus, of course, is a work from its past, from an earlier socio-political environment and context, but one that is graced with an original, evening-length musical score; a rare commodity. Moreover, the choreography of Grigorovich, for all its recognized flaws, has virtues that have not been surpassed in later choreographic work; namely, placement of male dancing in the forefront of the work, and promotion of a heroic style. The latter may be considered by some as an aesthetic throwback, something past its historic moment. When one sees the conviction, vibrancy, and the sheer presence of the Bolshoi dancers in Spartacus, at least for me, the heroic style lives. Spartacus relies on a quartet of leading characters to create its potency: the male hero -Spartacus-and the anti-hero -Crassus, and the female hearth-keeper -Phrygia and her opposite, the female will-to-power -Aegina. Tonight's performance had the ideal cast for the quartet. (Although this being the Bolshoi, there are, very likely, other ideal casts in the waiting). Ivan Vasiliev, although young, is well known for his virtuosic capabilities. What made him compelling as Spartacus, is his total absorption of the heroic style. Every second on stage, whether moving or still, he remains a man with a mission, a hero whose wife has prophesied his coming power and final misfortune. Nina Kaptsova was a convincing and physically gorgeous Phrygia, a 'weeping spirit', in a lineage that follows Natalia Bessmertnova. Alexander Volchkov as Crassus, portrayed the anti-hero as alpha male with prodigious displays of physical control and body language denoting authority and facial expressions suggesting the arrogance of power. Maria Allash as Aegina was a total surprise for me. In previous roles (the one I remember best is as the Lilac Fairy), she was a model of academic purity and sweetness of disposition; kind of the opposite of the values of Aegina. Aegina is a woman seeking to gain authority and the riches of the world, as an end that justifies any means. Allash's Aegina is a tour de force, compelling, driven, and determined. I thought it was a fantastic performance. Special mention is due to the trio of shepherds (A Bolotin, D. Medvedev, V. Lopatin) and the quartet of shepherds (V. Biktimirov, D. Savin, E. Khromushin, A. Vodopetov) and the quintet of shepherdesses (A. Stashkevich, S. Pavlova, Y. Lunkina, B. Joo Yoon, D. Gurevich) for their brilliant dancing. Bravos to the ensemble artists who portrayed satyrs and courtesans, slaves and slave traders, gladiators and roman legions with conviction, verve and total dedication. The Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra was capably led by Pavel Sorokin. There was enthusiastic audience applause for two curtain calls. The quartet also appeared twice in front of the curtain to accept the continuing audience applause.
  8. Mikhailovsky Ballet in London 18 July Coliseum Mixed Bill Le Halte de cavalerie Choreography after Marius Petipa Music Ivan Armsheimer Set/Costume design Vyacheslav Okunev Maria Anastasia Lomachenkova Peter Anton Ploom Teresa Olga Semyonova The Colonel Andrei Bregvadze The Captain Vladimir Tsal The mixed bill had mixed rewards. By far the best part of the evening was the first part, Petipa's Cavalry Halt, a comic character/classical work of 36 minutes created for a benefit performance of his daughter, Maria, during his mature period, between the making of Swan Lake and Raymonda. A rapid succession of scenes dealing with a cavalry unit's visit to a village and the interactions of (the well-groomed) peasant girls and the soldiers, as well as a formal pdd for Maria and her partner (who is, also, at some point, urged to join the military unit). Lomanchekova and Ploom were well-matched as a couple, technically assured, and pleasing performers. Olga Semyonova as Teresa, in red character boots, was the vivacious village flirt who knows how to get around. Both the female and males ensembles show off the company to its best advantage: versatile and prodigiously gifted. It's very encouraging for the future of the company to see in the souvenir booklet that Zhanna Ayupova has joined the company as coach/repétiteur. In a Minor Key Choreography Slava Samodurov Music Domenico Scarlatti Set Design Christopher Faulds Costume Design Ellen Butler Lighting Design Simon Benson Pianist Alexander Pirozhenko First couple Antonina Chapkina, Nikolai Korypaev Second couple Vera Arbuzova, Evgeniy Deryabin Third couple Irina Perren, Andrei Yakhnyuk Let's start with the title of the piece, "In a Minor Key". Does this refer to the Scarlatti music or Samodurov's choreography? We are given no clues. The dancers looked great, at the beginning of the piece, facing each other in the cavernous exposed backstage with the sound of a piano and pianist accompanying them from somewhere. The orchestra pit was dark. And so was most of the stage, for the most part, but there was enough light to discern silhouettes. Discerning faces was iffy. Movements from the Frenetic School of Dancing (with thanks to Tobi Tobias for the phrase) seem to keep the dancers deeply involved with each other, making gorgeous momentary outlines, almost black on black, only to go to the next phrase or stop because the music stopped. At some point I realized the piano was set way back in the left upstage corner of the large stage, made barely visible by the light illumining the music score. The sound throughout the piece was gorgeous. Perhaps there was acoustical enhancement. Set panels (nothing to do with lights) kept moving down toward the stage and up again, while a separate light panel set some way upstage would dim and brighten with its lights hitting, not the stage or any part of it, but the audience. That was a big problem. Towards the end of the piece (35 minutes duration) the lights on the audience grew brighter and brighter. It was all too conceptual and physically punishing for enjoyment. I'll leave it to others to tell me why I should repeat the experience of seeing this piece again. It seems very cutting-edge. Or maybe not. The choreographer writes in the souvenir book the ".....starting point in the ballet's creation was a Scarlatti sonata played by Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelic". Pogorelic is one of my favorite pianists. Divertissements Polonaise and Cracovienne Choreography Rotislav Zakharov Music Mikhail Glinka Spartacus pas de deux Choreography Georgy Kovtun Music Aram Khachaturian Vera Arbuzova, Marat Shemiunov The Fairy Doll pas de trois Choreography Sergei and Nicholas Legat revised by K Sergeyev Music Josef Bayer Sabina Yapparova, Maksim Yeremeyev, Nikolay Arzyaev The Sleeping Beauty pas de deux Choreography after Marius Petipa Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky Maria Kochetkova (guest), Andrei Yakhnyuk Spring Waters Choreography Asaf Messerer, revised by Mikhail Messerer Music Sergei Rachmaninov Irina Perren, Marat Shemiunov After getting over the new ballet's lighting design efforts to..…." épater les bourgeois" or something, I looked forward to the traditional that divertissements generally promise. The promise becomes fulfilled when the traditional in choreography is accompanied by a vibrancy that a dancer's strong personal stamp or the gifts of superlative training, as well as individual expression or charismatic touches are brought to or spread over the dictum of the canon. I found that fulfillment in the ensemble of the Polonaise and Cracovienne that opened the third section. For me this excerpt, revived by Alla Boguslavskaya, was elegant and deeply satisfying as a component of classical dance. The Spartacus Kovtun choreography I found very convincing danced by principals Vera Arbuzova and Marat Shemiunov. Lively exoticism. The Fairy Doll segment, I thought had lost its faux naïf delicacy (compared to many Mariinsky U-tube clips I've seen,esp. of student performances of it) and seemed to me coy. The men hammed it up way too much. Yapparova kept a fixed smile throughout with little facial expressiveness. Technical subtlety and refinement are the currencies in this land. The Sleeping Beauty of Maria Kochetkova and Andrei Yakhnyuk was beautifully realized and brought to life. Well matched as a pair, both gave competent performances although the pas de deux could have given us more 'soul', as in the lunges after the en dedans supported pirouettes repeated three times. The lunges were not very deep, esp. the third one. The final piece was, of course Asaf Messerer's Spring Waters. Irina Perren and Marat Shemiunov looked fine in it but lacked the two qualities essential to the work: physical abandon while totally in control of body and soul, and absolute trust in one's partner. The two dives into the male partner's arms require total horizontality on the part of the running and leaping dancer. Perren hardly left her vertical stance when jumping. Still, there's plenty of other stuff left for the applause machine to get turned on. The very good orchestra of the Mikhailovsky was ably led by guest conductor Pavel Bubelnikov
  9. Mikhailovsky Ballet of St Petersburg in London 17 July 2010 Coliseum Theatre 2 pm Cipollino (Little Onion Boy) [based on the fairy tale of the Italian author Gianni Rodari] Music Karen Kachaturian Choreography Genrikh Mayorov Libretto Gennady Rykhlov Set/Costumes Valery Leventhal Cipollino is the childrens' classic theatre experience in St Petersburg, the Mariinsky theatre having its own production of it as well, occupying the cultural space that The Nutcracker holds in the States. The story tells the adventures of the little Onion boy fighting for just treatment of his fellow 'low' vegetables against the fruit aristocracy of Prince Lemon, Signor Tomato and Count Cherry. Originally I hadn't bought tickets for this ballet, but a fellow Ballet Talker, familiar with it, wrote to me that it is a 'delight' not be missed, so I added it to our performances. It is a delight. And what was amazing to me, is that even though the audience was full of children -and very young children, throughout the 2-hour performance there was not a peep of sound from the audience. Absolute respect for the performers. Another (English?) feature: there was no applause until the piece ended, as if you were attending a classical music concert. Choreographically, the work is academic demi-caractère of high quality. The leads were Sabina Yapparova (a second soloist) and Alexey Kuznetsov (coryphée), well-matched in brio and energy to their roles of fighters for justice. Technically, I thought the mens' dancing was virtuosic in its demands. Kuznetsov as Cipollino had choreography of double tours ending in sissone tombé or doubles ending in second position as thematic content not climactic ending. Endlessly. Alexander Omar (coryphée) as Tomato and Mikahil Vanshchikov (coryphée) as Lemon, both were extraordinary in carving out villainous caricatures in movement. Both made strong appearances. Nikolay Korypaev (first soloist) as Cherry looks very youthful, tall with slender legs, and gave an almost underplayed performance, full of wit. He was, as well, an excellent partner for the double-work with Irina Kosheleva (first soloist), the only flower, Magnolia, as fragrant star. Kosheleva, a creature of elegance, is a dancer I look forward to seeing in other roles. The Mikhailovsky orchestra led by Mikhail Pabuzin added brilliance to the stage goings-on.
  10. For all Osipova's jaw-dropping abilities, it's Alexandrova who is the real deal and I don't see that her being dropped without an explanation is good news at all. Yes but Alexandrova gets redirected to both Paquita performances (and that's good news). Anyway, I'm trying to make myself feel better before my long trip and all my early, thought-out cast selections.
  11. Where have cast changes been announced? I checked on the ROH site, and the performance of Coppelia I have booked still lists Alexandrova in the cast. I also did not see any 'rearrangements' of other castings. A friend informed me by email that the cast changes have appeared on the Bolshoi website (although I couldn't find them there) and also in an article written by Ismene Brown in Arts Desk. S. Zakharova is no longer on the tour, likewise for Vorontsova and Shipulina. Alexandrova will appear in Paquita Grand Pas along with Tsiskaridze (both the 29th and 30th of July), as well as in two Corsaires. Kaptsova has gained a Giselle (which is good news to me) and N Osipova replaces Alexandrova in the first Coppelia (which is also good news).
  12. Where have cast changes been announced? I checked on the ROH site, and the performance of Coppelia I have booked still lists Alexandrova in the cast. I also did not see any 'rearrangements' of other castings.
  13. ABT Swan Lake 6-21-10 7:30 pm Odette-Odile Veronika Part Siegfried Cory Stearns (debut) Queen Mother Nancy Raffa Benno Jared Matthews Pas de Trois Sarah Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews von Rothbart Vitali Krauchenka/Gennadi Saveliev Two Swans Hee Seo, Stella Abrera Hungarian Princess Misty Copeland Spanish Princess Luciana Paris Italian Princess Anne Milewski Polish Princess Isabella Boylston Neapolitan Dance Joseph Phillips, Craig Salstein Conductor David LaMarche This was a splendid performance, in my view, for several different reasons: the conductor's, David LaMarche, pacing of the score, the energy and synchrony of the corps de ballet - especially in the 2nd act, the peerless dancing of Ms Part, the resoundingly successful debut of Cory Stearns as Prince Siegfried, and the impressive depth and range of the soloist and demi-soloist ranks of American Ballet Theatre. Last year at a Swan Lake performance of Part/Bolle I remember feeling that the lakeside ensemble moved without the impetus of a similar pulse of breath and motion. This time they looked transformed, as if carried by the musical force to breathe together, to feel a kinship to each other in responding to movement initiations. They presented a beautiful lakeside scene. Veronika Part, for her part, even though last year I raved about the virtues of her dancing, reached, in this performance, a stage of honing the choreographic designs to a state of purity- getting down to the essentials- that bordered on reaching a state of nonchalance, a mark of high art. Which is to say in brief, I loved her dancing. Cory Stearns, for his part, gave an amazing performance for a debut in the role. In the first act, the birthday party, he was a caring host, very much at ease in his interactions with the guests and his inner circle, totally in control of his environment as a nobleman, while maintaining the emotional confusion over the big questions of youth. A remarkably rich performance. In the lakeside scene, Mr Stearns was an excellent partner for Ms Part, The double-work was refined and precise, suggesting not only visual congruity, but also emotional consonance. All the lifts seemed so 'natural' that they evoked emotional states, rather than remaining on the level of technical feats executed with virtuosic skills. I found this 'natural' quality throughout the work of Part/Stearns in SL. The prince's solos were musically refined with no descents into technical virtuosity. The first act trio was lovingly danced with musicality and elegance. The Neapolitan dance of Phillips and Salstein was high quality character dancing-one of the spices of our 19th c. 3-act ballets. Ms Part's Odile followed the logic of her Odette- getting down to the essentials of the part. The fouettes served not as a display of virtuosity but as an emotional outpouring that becomes part of the dance with which to seduce and win the prince. Odile as seductress. I'm even getting to like the ABT apotheosis: the lovers are united in life after death. Tchaikovsky's tragic ending sort of fits the theme of death and redemption.
  14. NYCB perf. 6-20-10 3pm La Source Herman Schmerman pdd The Lady with the Little Dog The Four Temperaments Sunday was the only chance to see 4Ts during our short 1-week trip to NY to attend a wedding. Sunday matinee was also the Albert Evans Farewell Performance celebration. Evans appeared in the Forsythe pdd with Wendy Whelan and in the Phlegmatic variation of the 4Ts. La Source, which we also saw in rehearsal on Thur., had both times the same leads: Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz. Fairchild gave, in my view, a very authoritative reading of the role and De Luz was elegantly buoyant in all his aerial work. Lauren King led convincingly the ebullient womens' ensemble. An enjoyable performance. The Lady with the Little Dog as a ballet in the repertory of the NYCB seems an enigma to me. Choreographically it has almost no redeeming features; the musical score is second-rate at best; and the libretto and conception of claiming to 'tell' the story of Chekhov in dance is preposterous. And this is a short story that Vladimir Nabokov considered to be the best that has ever been written. I had admired a pas de deux that Miroshnichenko had choreographed a few years ago for the Mariinsky Ballet to music of the contemporary Russian composer Desiatnikov. But his introduction of a chorus line of eight male 'angels' in the story of The Lady with the Little Dog seems simply absurd. If the urge to choreograph angels is strong, then best remove the name of Chekhov from the enterprise. Can't have it both ways. The Four Temperaments is a 20th c. masterpiece. Seeing it with top-rate dancers like Marcovici, Somogui, J Angle, Evans and Reichlen was a thrill. The Evans Farewell sendoff was a flower-filled and very touching tribute by what seemed to be the entire company joining him on stage.
  15. It may be too early for him (the 40's), but to me it looks somewhat like Duncan Noble.
  16. NYCB performance Thur., June 17 8 pm A great evening of choreography and dancing with two Balanchines, and a Robbins and a Wheeldon sandwiched in between. The first, Donizetti Variations, showed us Ashley Bouder with all her special qualities, with Andrew Veyette and a buoyant ensemble. It was hard not to keep on a smile at the end of the ballet. Robbins' Interplay with a stellar cast (Laracey, Peck, Scheller, Zungre, Fairchild, Schumacher,Suozzi, and Ulbricht) followed; a total delight. Wheeldon's After the Rain was a first view for me. An exemplary cast (Whelan/Hall, Gilliland/Danchig-Waring, Reichlen/Ramasar). Whelan received the greatest applause of the evening. Then, for a perfect ending, Scotch Symphony, with the incandescent dancing of Kathryn Morgan, partnered by Robert Fairchild. I really liked Karin von Aroldingen's new set design. All this and seats in the front row (bought the day before). Serendipity.
  17. NYCB rehearsal 6-16-10 3:00-5:00 I consider myself very lucky to have seen yesterday a technical rehearsal of a Peter Martins ballet titled Mirage that's premiering later this month. It's a fascinating work for two reasons: a Calatrava mobile that is the 'set' of the piece, and secondly the score by Esa-Pekka Salonen (co-commisioned with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic) in the form of a violin concerto, also titled Mirage, after its first section. The work is probably 20-30 minutes long. Hard to tell, because we saw it in sections, with technical light and set settings in between. The dancers (in couples) are Jennie Somogyi and Jared Angle, Kathryn Morgan and Chase Finley, and Erica Pereira and Anthony Huxley; I may be wrong about the last two men named: with Morgan was a taller blond dancer, with Pereira a shorter dark-haired dancer. There is a corps of 4-6 couples. The musical score is interesting (for dance) because it has super-fast allegro movements as well as calming life-affirming adagios-both relating in their way to the beat of the human heart. The Calatrava architectural piece is a stage marvel making the work something of a gesamtskunstwerk, an all-embracing art form. It first appears as a two-dimensional suspended metal piece, with two semi-circles touching, the bottom a horizontal line. At different points in the work the flat bottom line folds until, when adagio movement begins, the bottom flat line folds in half, forming a perfect circle. Eventually, at the end of the first (and central adagio), the circle opens slowly and starts tipping so that you become aware that it is three dimensional, with the metal ribs within the semi-circles tautly stretched to a short pole set vertically to the semi-circles. By the end of the piece the mobile brought to mind a bird, a space ship, or maybe, better, an episodic, cosmic mandala. The central pdd of Somogyi and Angle was riveting double work that once she was lifted and placed horizontally on his shoulders and slowly carried off following the route of entry, the circle above started opening up, as a bud becoming a full bloom, or following foreplay. Kathryn Morgan was amazing in the clarity of her finished line. Pereira was precise in the staccato quality of her allegro, and the men were, altogether, excellent partners.
  18. I too attended Wed. night's Sleeping Beauty and I feel I have to separate my comments on the ABT production itself from the comments on the performers of this evening. I loved the performers and truly disliked the production. I thought Veronika Part and Marcelo Gomes are in the top of their field right now; both gave performances full of rare virtues and excellence. At the same time, I feel that the three-act Sleeping Beauty of ABT is, in terms of costumes and sets, a grim state of affairs. And I say that having seen the 'shower curtains' and the 'feather boas' of the pristine production. Veronika Part, in my view, got progressively more interesting in delineating the qualities of Aurora, topping the performance with a show of exuberance for life in the grand pas de deux with an unsurpassed style of purity and classicism. Abrera, as others have already pointed out, showed poise and sweetness as the Lilac Fairy but lacked a sense of authority to battle and oppose the willfulness of Nancy Raffa's Carabosse. The Bluebird pdd was well-applauded, as aurora has pointed out. While I have no complaints about the dancers, I do have complaints with the artistic direction which chooses to make the Bluebird as unmusical as that of the Mariinsky Theatre. The fairies, doing service both in the Prologue and the 3rd act, were well-drilled; none, to me, showed a spark of spontaneity or musical acuity that made them stand out. Which doesn't mean the sparks weren't really there.
  19. chiapuris


    Thank you innopac, Helene, for the Ashton masterclass video. Absolutely fascinating choreographic session! Ashton is imcomparable.
  20. MARIKA BESOBRASOVA: “Beauty of soul mysteriously reflected in the beauty of body“. This idea is the basis of teaching which I try to follow and take in into account in searching for a real talent. Only a person with rich inner world can become a great artist. A body is an instrument of a dancer. A musician, if he is not satisfied with the sound of his instrument, can always buy a Stradivari, a dancer cannot get another body. He must leam to control it. It is necessary to have simultaneously a sense of discipline, persistence and iron will, along with wide range of vision. However, the combination of all these necessary qualities will remain only a scheme without that indefinite „aura” which cannot be obtained and is called a talent. It is the finest sense of motion reflecting emotional experiences exciting and shaking the audience. A young dancer with the help of his tutor must discover in himself something. „I don't know what” which is mysteriously hidden deep in his soul: he must identify it, subdue it and carry it till realizatin of unique wonder once at night — “PERFORMANCE”. FROM PRIX BENOIS DE LA DANSE WEBSITE May she rest in peace. I never met her, but spoke with her many times by telephone before and during the time my daughter went to study with her. I was very impressed with her concern for danse as an activity revelatory of human depths , as, the quote which Leonid provides shows. She thought and treated her students' bodies with a kind of reverence.
  21. I chose Maria Alexandrova in Coppelia and Vasiliev's opening night in Spartacus. For Giselle I selected Anna Nikulina because she's unknown to me in a major role; and the same for Paquita: Anzhelina Vorontsova with the charismatic Tsiskaridze. Ekaterina Krysanova is my favorite of all Bolshoi soloists. If casting doesn't change, I'll be seeing her in Serenade and Petrushka. Osipova will perform in Ratmansky's Russian Seasons.
  22. Anna, I checked the seating chart for Osipova/Vasiliev Don Q and there are Stalls seats in all rows (save for row A), both center aisle and sides. I'm not an ROH member; I got the email from Hochhauser because I had bought tickets on line some years ago when the Bolshoi performed in London, thus I was on his mailing list.
  23. I just bought tickets for Vasiliev's Spartacus in London and some other perfs. by internet (through Hochauser's email for priority ticket purchase good today, Mar 31, and tomorrow, April 1 only).
  24. Definitely Osipova and Vasiliev in Don Q if you've never seen them. I'm going to other Bolshoi perfs. but won't be there for Corsaire and Don Q. We chose dates so we can also see Mikhailovsky perfs., esp. Laurentia and the new Swan Lake production.
  25. Tchaikovsky Ballet Theatre aka Perm Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre Detroit Opera House 26 March 2010 7:30 Sleeping Beauty Choreography M. Petipa Set and Costume Design V. Okunev Ballet Artistic Director Alexei Miroshnichenko Cast: Aurora Maria Menshikova Desiré Ivan Mikhalev (casting announced before the performance) Program lists all the casts for each role. When you go to YouTube and write in: "Perm Ballet Sleeping Beauty", almost all you get are clips of Maria Menshikova as Aurora or as one the Prologue fairies. (Also there are one or two clips of Araptova, who is not listed or does not appear in the Detroit performance). From this I assume Menshikova is the darling of the moment -or she has the most devoted fans. She is a darling for her prodigious technical accomplishments, a zest for dancing, and lovely lines and an almost ideal physique for classical dance, long neck, long legs, articulate feet. (The only other dancer listed in the program for the casting of Aurora is Natalia Moiseeva-Poleschuk, who, additionally, is the only listed female principal in the program notes). In my first impression of the Perm Ballet, I found the quality of the dancers, from soloists to the ensemble performers, outstanding for their classical refinement and youthfulness. In fact, this is the first time I found the Garland Dance totally absorbing for the precision and the care every dancer invested in this Petipa paragon of dancer-and-prop ballabile. In the Prologue one notices the fairies and their retinues enter the stage off-pointe -as in the Vikharev Mariinsky reconstruction- and, furthermore, one sees, early on, the eight lilac-tutued attendants in formations of four, facing each other, sur-la-demi-pointe in their pointe shoes. The six fairies execute their single pirouettes, serially, as in the reconstruction, with the support of male attendants. The fairy variations, all, had a vitality of controlled energy, with a youthful fastidiousness to detail and correctness. One longed for a little abandon. That comes with time. This seems to me to be a really young company with uniform and exceptional technical training. Ms. Menshikova gave full renditions of the Rose Adage, the Vision scene and the Wedding pas de deux; the Vision scene perhaps lacked a sense of otherworldliness and mystery, one that hopefully will be added, with experience, as a dimension of her artistry. The Lilac Fairy (could be either Ekaterina Guschina or Natalya Makina) was authoritative, exuded warmth in her personality and danced brightly. The jewels (diamond, sapphire, emerald) and gold fairy variations and trio of the third act were a particular high point of exciting dancing- so energized the dancers gave the impression of being accompanied by live music. Particularly impressive were the sustained landings of the grand jetés in arabesques en fondu during the trio and the brisk liveliness of the variations. The Bluebird pas de deux was outstanding as well, with an elegant Florine and a soaring and youthful Blue Bird. I liked them both very much. The set and costume designs credited to V. Okunev, gave me the impression of having been gathered from various sources; some of the costumes simply clashed with others. The costumes of the King and Queen were simply…not regal. The costumes and boots of the four male suitors of Aurora were just campy. A spot-on costume was that of Carabosse- lime-green-chartreuse dress with white lace and a satiny dark grey cape that billowed as if with malevolence. The thing that makes this company outstanding are the gifted dancers. I'd like to see them next with full orchestra.
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