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volcanohunter

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Posts posted by volcanohunter

  1. Careful! There are two Galicias in Europe. One is in Spain, the other straddles Poland and Ukraine. It's the second one you're after as Coppelia is most certainly set in central Europe. Galicia, known as Galicja in Polish and Галичина (transliterated as Halychyna) in Ukrainian derives its name from the old town of Halych in western Ukraine. The main city in Western (Polish) Galicia is Kraków (though the city wasn't incorporated into Galicia until the late 18th century); the main city in Eastern (Ukrainian) Galicia is Lviv.

    "Ballet Land" actually isn't a bad way to describe the setting. The music and costumes in most productions owe at least as much to Hungary as to Poland. The residents of this particular village are equally at home with the mazurka and csardas, so between them Delibes and Saint-Léon created a generalised central Europe. It's not unlike the ridiculous pastiche of Native American culture that MGM presented in Annie Get Your Gun.

  2. I remember somebody humming along with the orchestra at a performance of Sleeping Beauty...or was it Nutz? I've tried to block it from my memory. :wallbash:

    You should make a point of never sitting too close to the orchestra pit while Valery Gergiev is conducting. He grunts along with the music all performance long.

  3. Just last week we sat behind a couple who could not keep their hands off one another and kept exchanging passionate kisses constantly.

    Some one should have told them that's what box seats are for. :wink:

    I remember attending an opera performance in eastern Europe. It was Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina, so the theater was practically deserted. By the second act, those of us who were seated in the central balcony of the first tier moved to the first few rows. Midway through the act a couple who hadn't been there before came in and sat down in the last row. In no time all sorts of unseemly noises were coming from back there, but I didn't dare turn around to look. I don't know whether it was an illicit tryst, or whether they were just an ordinary middle-aged couple that had sneaked into the theater get some privacy, as in that part of the world it's not at all unusual for several generations to live together in a small apartment. In any event, they weren't able to use a box since that opera house had a practice of locking unoccupied boxes once the performance began. No doubt the theater had previous experience of boxes being used for amorous purposes. A number of years ago I remember watching a documentary series about Covent Garden in which an usher described just such an incident.

  4. Here is the link to the page on the Ballet of the Teatr Wielki:

    www.teatrwielki.pl/ludzie.php?action=search&type=all&rodzaj=3&nlang=en

    It's a substantial troupe, with close to 90 dancers. Naturally, it performs the 19th-century classics and also has a solid contemporary repertoire. Unfortunately I've never actually seen the company perform, but I saw Izabela Milewska when she was still a member of the Hamburg Ballet, and Maxim Vaitsiul (aka Wojtiul) danced with the National Ballet of Canada for one season, and I was very sorry that he didn't stay. (It was outrageous of artistic director James Kudelka to put him in the corps.)

    Vaitsiul/Wojtiul has a personal web site:

    www.maksimwojtiul.republika.pl

    So does lead danseur Sławomir Woźniak:

    www.slawomirwozniak.pl

  5. We saw Maki and Christopher in Rubies. I am not sure where Yukichi Hattori was, I have heard he is wonderful and was looking forward to seeing him perform. The Party Girls and Clara have to be very short in this years Nutcracker because he is to be one of the Princes and apparently is only 5-4!!

    Yes, much as I admire Christopher Gray, I was sorry not to see Yukichi Hattori. When I heard he was joining Alberta Ballet I thought, wow, what a coup. A soloist of the Hamburg Ballet on whom John Neumeier had choreographed several ballets moving to Calgary to join Alberta Ballet. I suspect he would be a very good reason to revive Prodigal Son. For that ballet he wouldn't even need a short partner. A Siren taller than the Prodigal produces a very powerful theatrical effect.

  6. I suppose that since the video screen has been paid for, they'll probably keep it. I didn't find it distracting, but I basically ignored it. So much for trying to create a multimedia piece. I wonder what the effect was like for people sitting at orchestra level. I have always preferred to watch ballet from the balconies, so my perspective might have been different. Certainly reading opera surtitles is easier from above. I wonder if it's the same for video installations.

    Who else did you see perform, taoofpooh?

  7. One of my strangest experiences with bowing took place during a performance of Sleeping Beauty. The women dancing the jewels in act 3 finished their bit, took a bow to the right, and then as they were about to bow to the left the applause just died. I'd never seen anything like it. There hadn't been anything wrong with the performance, but the audience, perhaps anxious to see the Bluebird pas de deux, all stopped applauding at the exact same moment, and the dancers walked off the stage in complete silence. I felt terrible and hoped to make it up to those women at the final curtain call, but they didn't come back out. I can't really blame them.

  8. At the risk of appearing as though I posted this topic simply so I could answer my own question, here is a link to the DVD on the TDK web site:

    www.tdk-music.com

    Who ever said that Manuel Legris was the POB's most filmed danseur? It seems that Nicolas Le Riche is racing to the lead: Le Train Bleu, Notre Dame de Paris, Ivan the Terrible, Sylvia, Clavigo, Appartement and now Jeune Homme and Carmen. And he's still only 34 years old. Mind you, Marie-Agnès Gillot isn't doing too badly in that department either.

  9. Alberta Ballet has "dual residence," so every program is presented in both Calgary and Edmonton, which, incidentally, have an identical venue for opera/ballet/musicals, etc. (The rivalry between the two cities is very intense, and the provincial government often finds it easiest to give both cities the same thing rather than risk offense.) Every year A.B. joins forces with Ballet British Columbia to present a Nutcracker in Vancouver, Victoria and Spokane, as well as Calgary and Edmonton. It's basically Alberta Ballet's production with a few dancers from Ballet B.C., which is a smaller company dedicated to contemporary ballet.

    This year Alberta Ballet also took its production of Romeo & Juliet to Vancouver and three Prairie cities, which was a first. I think the problem it faces with expanded touring is that the Royal Winnipeg Ballet has established itself so firmly as a touring company (29 cities in Canada and the USA this year) that it's hard for others to break into that limited market, though the young Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada is certainly trying. This year Alberta Ballet will finally get a national TV broadcast, which will help its national reputation, I'm sure. I'm guessing that for many people, "Alberta Ballet" is still an oxymoron.

    On another note, one of the things I find interesting about Alberta Ballet's 40th-anniversary celebrations is that the history of Calgary City Ballet seems to have been expunged. The official A.B. history mentions the merger with C.C.B. in 1990 and the subsequent move to Calgary, but that's about it. Ruth Carse is listed as sole founder of the company, and the anniversary film doesn't include any interviews with people tied to the old C.C.B. You get the impression that since Alberta Ballet was the older and larger company, it basically swallowed Calgary City Ballet whole. But then Alberta Ballet's history in late 1980s was so messy that no one wants to recount the details, especially since everything worked out in the end.

  10. I really enjoyed myself at Alberta Ballet tonight in Edmonton. The evening began with an onstage greeting from artistic director Jean Grand-Maître and guest of honour Karen Kain, followed by a short film to mark the company's 40th anniversary, featuring interviews with artistic directors past and present. (I'm fairly certain that Mikko Nissinen was incorrect when he implied that "Rubies" was the first Balanchine ballet the company acquired, under his watch, of course. "Allegro Brillante," "Donizetti Variations" and "Glinka Pas de Trois" had preceded it.)

    The first ballet on the program was "Rubies." In the pas de deux Maki Matsuoka was rock solid in her balances and pirouettes, though I wish her pliés in second position had been deeper, to emphasize the difference between low, medium and high space. Understudy Christopher Gray was terrific, as always, as her partner: big movements, huge jumps, very speedy. Sandrine Cassini, new to the company, was a very aggressive "tall girl." Not being particularly tall or long-legged, she compensated with snaky arms and forceful pointes thrust into the stage like daggers.

    It's been years since I'd seen Ali Pourfarrokh's "Butterfly Dream," set to music by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetich. A softly lit pas de deux for dancers in gray unitards with swirling accents, the piece is lyrical and serene, though the final lift is a little perilous, reminiscent of circus acrobatics. I admired Galien Johnston, recently arrived from the Hamburg Ballet, for her smoothness and beautifully nuanced dynamics, as well as the control with which she rolled down her pointes. Reid Bartelme matched her line well.

    Grand-Maître's "The Winter Room" is a wonderful piece that conveys more metaphysical truth than most ballets. It begins with two bundled-up dancers walking through a dark, thick fog, which captures the brutality of Canadian winters perfectly. Suddenly their hats and coats fly upwards, and stage becomes blindingly white, with a dead tree hanging at the back of the stage. The dancers' white costumes are reminiscent of abbreviated burial shrouds and their attempts at big sweeping movement invariable turn withered and brittle, just like the tree. Man cannot return to Eden in his fallen state. The dancers gave it their all. Leggy Leigh Allardyce, who I thought would be cast in "Rubies," was fabulously incisive, and Kelley McKinlay was notable for his silent landings. This piece got the biggest ovation of the night.

    The final work was Emily Molnar's new "Carmina Burana," which now replaces the John Butler staging in Alberta Ballet's rep. She divides the piece into three sections: Society, Tavern and Court of Love. The dancing takes place on a white oval in the center of the stage, and the choir, dressed in basic black, stands in back. There is another white oval above the stage used for video images, though I don't think these add much to the piece. In Society the dancers wear gray tanks and bottoms, skirts for the women, shorts for the men, and soft shoes. There is an Archpoet, performed by handsome Kelley McKinlay, one of the company's most popular dancers, and a Bearer of Time, danced by Jonathan Renna. Tanya Dobler, who has decided that her 14th season with Alberta Ballet will be her last, appears as the Figure of Instinct, dressed in a long-sleeved red leotard. The dancing is expansive and energetic. In Tavern, an all-male section, the dancers appear shirtless and wearing black trousers. Molnar seems to have a particular view of the way men interact. As in her "Portrait of A Suspended Grace," she depicts men as fundamentally unsympathetic to each others' distress and pain. The scene then shifts to the Court of Love, where the women, now on pointe, look like bathing beauties in their red leotards. They provide the Archpoet with the comfort and sympathy the men in the Tavern had denied him. At the end, the scene returns to Society, though it no longer seems so joyous.

    Generally, I think that Molnar's ensemble dances are more interesting than her solos and duets. I was a little disappointed that the emotional climaxes between the Archpoet and the Figure of Instinct culminated in conventional kisses and embraces. I would have preferred a little more movement invention for those moments. Jonathan Renna, who had the unenviable task of dancing the biggest and loudest sections of "O Fortuna" as solos, has been given one of his best roles, with the possible exception of his Knave in Edmund Stripe's "Alice in Wonderland." Molnar uses his forcefulness and high arabesques to great effect. In the ensemble sections, Christopher Gray, Igor Chornovol and Blair Puente, who had worked with Molnar on the creation of "Portrait," and newcomer Hamilton Nieh seemed particularly attuned to her movement vocabulary. Among the women I liked sensual Laëtitia Clément, statuesque Leigh Allardyce, fluid Galien Johnston and Alexis Maragozis, who easily takes the prize as Alberta Ballet's sexiest asset. Because Pro Coro is a relatively small ensemble, and the acoustics of the Jubilee Auditorium, while improved in recent renovations, are still not great, the singing was amplified and inevitably sounded "canned." Baritone Doug MacNaughton struggled mightily with his part, and I would have preferred a soprano who sounded less matronly than Laura Whalen, but the musical shortcomings didn't detract from the excellent dancing.

    Judging by the audience response, it's fair to say a good time was had by all.

  11. Did Ferri ever dance Romeo & Juliet with Angel Corella at ABT? Certainly they danced it together at La Scala. There's a DVD to prove it.

    My own feeling is that Roberto Bolle is too tall for her. He may be the biggest dance star in Italy, and it's very nice of her to introduce him to New York audiences (that bit at the Turin Olympics didn't really show him off that well since the cameramen didn't have the slightest idea of how to film dance), but I have a sneaking suspicion they're not all that compatible physically.

    I'd very much like to hear the opinion of those who have seen them dance together.

  12. Does anyone know if the there have at least been any recent telecasts that may someday make it to DVD?

    I know that the National Ballet of Canada's production was telecast back in 1965, with Veronica Tennant and Earl Kraul. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation also filmed the bedroom pas de deux for separate TV specials on Tennant and Karen Kain, neither of which is available commercially either. A nearly complete ballroom scene was filmed by the National Film Board of Canada for a film called Gala. This may be available through some libraries. I've posted a link about it below.

    www.nfb.ca

  13. We went to Alberta Ballet's Ruby Nights last night. Rubies by Balanchine, The Winter Room by Jean Grande-Maitre, Carmina Burana by Emily Molnar. Very much enjoyed it. Wondering what others thought.

    I haven't had a chance to see the show yet. I have tickets for next weekend in Edmonton and I'm looking forward to it very much, especially now that I've read your positive reaction, taoofpooh. I'm especially curious how the new Carmina Burana turned out. I really liked Emily Molnar's Portrait of A Suspended Grace to Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" from a couple of years ago, so I'm curious to see this new piece. What did you think of it?

    I imagine many people on this forum are familiar with Rubies. I first saw The Winter Room right after Jean Grand-Maître became artistic director in 2002. He presented it along with another one of his pieces, Celestial Themes, a gorgeous piece for eight dancers (originally four) set to Thomas Tallis' "Spem in alium," which I hope Alberta Ballet will revive also. The Winter Room is set to a piece called "Kyrie" by Canadian singer Laurel MacDonald. It's a pas de deux that I call "Adam and Eve after the Fall" whenever I try to describe it. There's a striking backdrop, a withered tree that appears to have been pulled out of the ground along with its roots. The program notes put it this way: "A man and a woman meet in a desolate, icy environment and try, in their impassioned movements, to recapture the beauty and purity of Eden." That sums up the mood pretty well. Very stark, almost blinding in its whiteness, and riveting.

  14. The lack of money at the governmental and private levels is a huge problem, but only one of many. Also, 10-20 years have passed -- a whole generation in the lives of ballet students -- from the last time the Soviet system actually functioned successsfully for ballet in the non-Russian republics of the former USSR.

    Sure it's a problem, but the system hasn't collapsed completely. St. Petersburg and Moscow, forced to deal with a westward talent drain, are still recruiting dancers from opera houses in Ukraine, for one. Leonid Sarafanov, now at the Mariinsky, graduated from the ballet school in Kiev in 2000 and danced at the opera house there for two years. Denis Matvienko, who guests at the Bolshoi and danced at the Mariinsky previously, graduated from the Kiev Ballet School in 1997. The Kiev Ballet School was still functioning well enough to produce Alina Cojocaru (1998), Ivan Putrov (1997) and more recently Sergiy Polunin. I don't think the year each spent at the Royal Ballet School could have compensated for a completely debased ballet education in Kiev. And don't forget about Svetlana Zakharova, who spent six years studying in Kiev and one in St. Petersburg.

    Ballet companies the world over, but especially in Europe, include lots of non-Russian principals and soloists from the fSU, who received the bulk of their training in their home countries: in San Francisco - Tiit Helimets (Estonia) and Davit Karapetyan (Armenia); in Hamburg - Alexandre Riabko (Ukraine), Ivan Urban (Belarus) and Arsen Megrabian (Armenia); in Amsterdam - Ruta Jezerskyte (Lithuania) and Alexander Zhembrovskyy (Ukraine); in Vienna - Aliya Tanikpaeva (Kazakhstan), Irina Tsymbal (Belarus) and Mihail Sosnovschi (Moldova); in Stockholm - Elena Gorbatsch (Ukraine) and Andrey Leonovitch (Belarus). My sample certainly isn't comprehensive or scientific, and it doesn't take into account the dancers who are just starting their careers, but I think it illustrates a pattern in companies large and small. I predict that the number of dancers from the fSU working abroad, including non-Russians, is likely to grow. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the prospect of finding a job with a European opera house wouldn't actually encourage parents to enrol their kids in ballet school. Of course, this exodus presents a huge problem for the ballet companies back home, but I don't think the problem lies in the training itself. Quite the opposite.

    As for the recruitment of boys from folk dancing, this is a huge advantage eastern Europe has over North America. Many, many boys, especially in the Caucasus, enter ballet via folk dancing. North Americans may view ballet as effeminate, but the reputation of east European folk dance is certainly macho. If you've ever seen Georgian folk dancing, you know what I mean. It's just about the butchest form of dancing in all creation. For many years my mother has taught music in a public school. The music curriculum includes a modest dance component, primarily folk dances, social dancing and creative movement, which she has always augmented with the viewing of classical ballets and old movie musicals. Her school has a large population of Ukrainian children, and the vast majority of them, girls and boys, take lessons in Ukrainian folk dancing. The boys in particular love to show off their Cossack moves. Over time these kids begin doing a character barre, and if they stick with it long enough, they'll probably end up starting each lesson with a ballet barre. Perhaps they'll even take supplementary ballet classes. I'm not saying that my mother's former pupils include a bevy of professional male ballet dancers. Canada isn't exactly conducive to such a career. The same kids that take Ukrainian dance lessons also go to hockey school. (To the best of my knowledge, one of the boys did turn into a jazz bunny and spent some time dancing on a cruise line.) But you can see how it could this sort of exposure could lead to the serious study of ballet, if the necessary conditions are in place.

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