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Sergei Vikharev's remarks on Bayadere in London

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Thanks to Alexandra for noticing this article.

I'm going to include the paragraph before the one she quoted as well:

Dance archaeology, though, is controversial. Not everyone was happy with the 1999 staging of The Sleeping Beauty, least of all Russians who preferred the Soviet version, or Americans who wanted more action and a shorter night out at the theatre. But audiences in London, where appreciation of dance history is high, were thrilled with the new/old Beauty and the rapturous critical reception here carried the production back to St Petersburg in triumph.

Sergei Vikharev, the former dancer who reconstructed both Beauty and La Bayadère, believes London is the right place to show Bayadère in all its three and a half hours of glory. “New Yorkers don’t have the background for it,” he says. “This kind of production is quite alien to them. As soon as the curtain rises, people there expect jumping. But it won’t be a shock for the London public. The production unveils very gradually, it develops its drama quite slowly. All Petipa’s productions follow the same recipe, with an equal share of mime, demi-caractère, character and classical dancing. The idea is to show off the talent of the whole troupe.”

Tons of food for thought here - especially for the New Yorkers. What Vikharev said was borne out in two earlier discussions here, one poll on whether or not we liked mime in ballet (everyone swore up and down that they did) and then the discussion of the Kirov's performances at the Met, where the majority of people said there was too much mime and not enough dancing.

Is Vikharev right? What do people think are the difference between the London and the New York audiences?

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I live in South America, but I have travelled and seen ballet in USA (Isaw both ABT and NYCB), and also in Europe (though not in London). However, I have a strong "British culture" background, so I feel I am quite equipped to appreciate the cultural differences.

Isn't it the same difference that exists between Usa and Europa?


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I don't have the energy right now to fight for my country's honor, but I do believe the Kirov's run of the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty in 1999 was a success. Most people I saw loved it and didn't mind the long evening. It also got very good reviews from the local press (daily and weekly). The Washington D.C. audiences also enjoyed the run of performances there last year.

The reconstructed La Bayadere did not fare as well. Yes, some people found it too long with not enough "dancng." But that might have had to do with how the company was presented - as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, which has its own subscription base. I do know many people who loved the production.

I'm also not sure it's fair to compare the 1999 NY performances with London's in 2000, as the London ones were shortened due to the unions.

I had a few qualms about the new/old La Bayadere as I had read in reviews and historical material about parts of the ballet that were not included. After reading the company's own PR material, I felt they didn't do all they could to get back to the original, as they appeared to do with Sleeping Beauty. Still, it was worth all the time just for those few lovely recalls of Nikya's vina solo at her window in Act I and the blosom dance for the young dancers in Act IV.

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