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Kirov in Boston

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In conjunction with the Kirov visit at the Wang Center in Boston there will be a free and open to the public pannel discussion on Monday, November 10th at 7PM at the Schubert Theatre entitled "Dancing Through Time: The Kirov, St. Petersburg, and Ballet into the 21st Century. Panelists will be: Makhar Vaziev, Director of the Kirov Ballet, Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director of the Boston Ballet and Julie Buckler, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at Harvard. The moderator will be Harlow Robinson, Professor of History and modern Languages at Northeastern.

According to the announcement topics for discussion are the world-wide influence of the Kirov tradition, the state of the arts in post-Soviet Russia (especially St. Petersburg) and the Kirov's current challenges and future plans. This sounds like a big agenda for a less than two hour discussion but one I will be sure to attend.

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Hi, I have a question for all those who have seen the Kirov lately (I've read all the previous reports on the Fokine problem). I can tell that it will be well worth going to, and spending the money (no student rush tickets as far as I can tell :clapping: ) and so what I'm wondering is: How necessary is it to be reasonably close?

I think even the "cheap" tickets are going to strain my budget...

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Hi Dido, if you are talking about the seat distance in the theatre, then it all depends of the ballet. For instance re the Fokine program (which is surely worth the money :clapping: ), for Chopiniana it's better to be a bit further away from the stage as it will allow you to see the choreographic patterns better. I guess the same goes for The Firebird, where you have the color effect, which needs to be seen from a distance. As for Scheherazade, I would prefer to be closer to the stage, because it's interesting "to see the faces" in this ballet, but again, being at a distance won't kill the fun.

Finally, it's also a matter of personal taste; some people like to be close enough to see the spots on the ballerinas backs in no matter what ballet, others want to enjoy the ensemble.

Hope this helps :clapping:

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Dido, I agree with Marc about the Fokine.... I saw them in Berkeley just a month ago..

But if they[re also diong the balanchine program , it's REALLY good to see Jewels from a distance -- I saw it 3 times, and hte best view was from hte back of hte mezzanine -- hte finale of Diamonds is really thrilling from back there, and the pas de deux is magnificent from a distance, didn't lose a thing....

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Yes, I was actually thinking about the particular ballets in this Fokine program (I don't think they're doing a Balanchine here :unsure: ). I had guessed that Chopiniana would be fine from the upper balcony, but wasn't sure about Firebird and Sheherezade, and after looking at ticket prices, upper balcony is definitely where I'm going to be!

Thanks for the iinformation.

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The panel discussion with Makhar Vaziev, Mikko Nissinen and Julie Buckler provided a good review of the history of ballet in St Petersburg. Vaziev was the highlight of the evening with his animated enthusiasm for ballet and his city obvious. (He spoke in Russian and his interpreter’s words appeared to fit his emotion very well.) While not straying beyond the Mariinsky line of Petapa, Fokine, and Balanchine all three were proclaimed geniuses by both Vaziev and Nissinen.

In answer to a question about future plans Vaziev suggested that the Kirov's ability to do new things was very much dependant upon the amount of government funding available. He mentioned no new initiatives at all. It was difficult to tell if this meant that there were none planned or none that he was willing to announce at this time. I had hoped to learn what might come out of the Kirov in the next year or two but his answer seemed to relate to a longer-range look at the future.

The program was a great warm up for the Kirov’s program of Fokine work to start on Thursday.

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This is a beautiful program and in the Wang, it will be a jewel-box of an experience. That theatre is one of the loveliest in this country--

I don't think it will matter where you sit as the effect with those ballets will not be lesssened by distance. (Binocs. are available for rental in the lobby or you can always borrow some....)

Kirov has been doing this program for several years and it is defiinitely worth attending if possible, a really good combination of pieces. I'm sorry I can't attend this weekend, but one must earn a living....

Please let us know what you think--

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I went to the panel discussion on Monday night, and I am going to the Kirov on Saturday. I thought that Mr. Vasiev really dominated the conversation, and Mikko could barely get a word in crosswise. Since they have such differences in perspective, I would have wanted to hear more from Mikko. Or at least more point /counterpoint, particularly on the subject of ballet in the 21st Century.

Mr. Vasiev seems to be a guardian of the past, while Mikko is very interested in advancing the art form into the 21st century by commissioning new works and staging contemporary ballets. He touched on it briefly when he spoke about Fokine and how Isadora Duncan's tour of Russia in the early part of the last century had a profound effect on him. Once Fokine had seen the freedom of movement Duncan brought to dance, it struck such a chord in him that he couldn't forget it. His view of dancing was forever changed. Mikko demonstrated a little the difference in movement. He mentioned Picasso, and how once you've seen the Cubist paintings, you can't forget their difference to representational art. He said that dance must evolve organically from new influences. You don't so much reject the past as grow from it. Mr. Vasiev couldn't or wouldn't address the future, while Mikko seems to be bringing the future to us in Boston in the form of such works as The Grey Area.

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Thank you for that, Blondie. (And I hope you'll tell us what you think of the Kirov, too.)

I'd like to put in a word for Fokine's view of the Duncan-Fokine matter. It's often said (and it's in many dance history texts) that Isadora influenced Fokine, but Fokine wrote that he had begun his experimentation before seeing Duncan's work, and, when she came to Russia, he was excited to meet her because he immediately recognized that they shared a similar view of art. The big difference, of course, was that Fokine wanted to reform ballet from within, and worked with ballet vocabulary (character as well as classical) and Isadora really was a free spirit, and wanted to do something totally outside the realm of ballet.

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This is slightly off topic, but I'm wondering if anyone saw the Stravinsky program at the Metropolitan Opera that featured Kirov Opera singers and dancers from the NYC Ballet. It was conducted by the Kirov's Valery Gergiev. I didn't see anything listed on our topics under NYC Ballet, so I'm raising it under the Kirov section. I read about it in the New Yorker recently and was fascinated that they are reviving the tradition of combining ballet and opera. They performed Le Sacre du Printemps, Le Rossignol and Oedipus Rex. Apparently Le Rossignol was the most successful of the three. Damian Woetzel danced the Fisherman, and the Nightingale was danced by Julie Kent. It was my favorite children's story growing up, and I am so curious about the ballet. It's Balanchine. Did anyone see the Kirov perform it?

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I didnt see it -- there were probably links to reviews on the Links forum, and here's a link to the review on our sister site, DanceView Times

A few Ballet Alertniks did go -- there's a thread on Recent Performances:


It is an interesting idea, to revive mixing opera and ballet on the same program. This program was danced by the Metropolitan Opera ballet, not the Kirov, I think (and Le Rossignol is by Ashton). Le Sacre de printemps was a new production, by the Met Opera's resident choreographer, a modern dance choreographer, Doug Varone.

I wish there were more mixing of this sort, because I think it would help build cross-over audiences. I wonder how many ballet people go to the opera, and how many opera people go to the ballet? Some, surely, but it would be nice if there were more.

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I wish there were more mixing of this sort, because I think it would help build cross-over audiences.  I wonder how many ballet people go to the opera, and how many opera people go to the ballet?  Some, surely, but it would be nice if there were more.

The Metropolitan Opera did another triple bill soon after the Stravinsky. It was a French triple bill, including Satie's Parade, Ravel's opera L'Enfant et les Sortileges, and Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tireseas, the latter with sets by David Hockney. Notably, both this triple bill and the Stravinsky one consist of modern works.

Maybe there's hope that if Stravinsky was good box office, this one will be revised as well -- with good choreography for Parade -- and that the Met may expand to other programs.

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I go to opera and to ballet. Ballet is my first love, but I'm also a big opera fan - particularly the Paris Opera. There was an interesting exhibition this summer here at Harvard at the Busch Reisinger Museum on Natalia Goncharova's designs for Le Coq d'Or. I was most intrigued to discover that it was originally staged (1913, 1914?) as a ballet/opera. The set design featured two huge bleachers on either side of the proscenium with 80 singers stacked on on top of the other! Apparently, when it was revived after the war, the Rimsky-Korsakov family (I hope I'm getting this right) objected to the combination of ballet and opera, so it was performed only as a ballet. I was told, though, that it is not a particularly interesting ballet. Is that true? My source of information was uniquely qualified to judge.

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Just got back from tonights performance, and I wanted to report before I forget what little I still remember (how do you others do it?). Oh, and this is the first time I've seen any of these ballets, just so you know.

Chopiniana: This was even better than I'd imagined. I really am not a big crier, especially at ballet, but this had me welling up a few times. It was just perfect. Mostly I noticed the arms and how the corps looked, so unified and together with each other and the music, but not at all precise (if you know what I mean). Then, the arms in general, but especially here. I was trying to thing of a Paul Parish-worthy description, and finally decided that it looks like their arms are moving either a) of their own volition or B) as if they aren't really attached to the dancer at all. Now I know both of those descriptions could be very bad things, but I think I was responding to how effortless everything seemed.

OK. Sheherazade. Maybe it's my unformed artistic vision, but I have to say I thought it was really boring, for the most part. Interestingly it was the ensemble stuff that I really liked, and I've always been a die-hard ballerina watcher. In this case (Irma Nioradze was Zobeide) I'm not sure if it was the choreography or the role or what, but she didn't catch my eye, and I found her eroticism unconvincing. Danila Korsuntsev did those pirouettes with dash, balance and ease.

Firebird: I'm sorry to say that I almost wish I'd missed this for some reason. I think I've seen too many pictures of Karsavina, and thought about the story too much. Again, I liked the ensemble much better than any of the soloists. I thought the princesses ball game with the apples was really lovely (and admired the calm aplomb with which they danced around all those apples on the floor), and the monsters were nifty. Tatiana Amosova was the Firebird, and again, I was not disappointed, but somehow unconvinced.

Finally, I was in practically the last row of the balcony (Marc, thanks for the shove to go, didn't really miss a thing, I think!) and I could hear the shoes when ONE person boureed. In fact, everything was incredibly loud. This itty bitty woman would jete and land with an audible crash. I really don't think it's the dancers....

Oh yeah. And people who pay $45 and up for tickets should either get to their seat on time or wait in the lobby, and definitely not agonizingly block my view for what seemed like hours. (Sorry. Had to vent just a bit.)

I'm sure I've left a ton of things out, but hopefully the more experienced will supplement. I'd like a better educated view of what I saw.

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I wouldn't claim this is a better educated view, but it is a different view:

Last night we saw the Kirov perform their Fokine program in Boston. The first piece was “Chopiniana”. I am more familiar with the revision we see here as “Les Sylphides”. I’ve never seen “Les Sylphides” danced to a tempo as slow as that of “Chopiniana”last night and am sorry to admit that instead of being enthralled at times I had trouble keeping my eyes open. Nevertheless I was impressed by the Corps. Aside from the precision of their dancing they are similar in appearance to an extent that makes our American companies seem more diverse than they perhaps are.

After a long intermission the next piece was “Scheherazade.” The rich sets and costumes offered a welcome relief to the somewhat dull backdrop for “Chopiniana” and the scrim displayed during the loooong overture. My first reaction was one of disappointment though, there was not a lot of dancing. However, I began to think of this as a period piece, and to think of how an audience in 1910 might have reacted, and came to appreciate it more. I could almost imagine Nijiinsky whirling around the stage as the Golden Slave…. My favorite scene was the slaughter at the end. I’m not a bloodthirsty person, but there was a gracefulness to the appearance and dispatch of the harem and slaves.

Another long intermission, another loooong overture, and on to “Firebird.” Of the three pieces this is the one I would enjoy seeing again. The costumes looked familiar. Several years ago the National Dance Museum in Saratoga had a special display on “Firebird”, and I think these costume designs were illustrated there. Tatiana Amosova was a convincing firebird, and there were dancing friends, threatening monsters, etc. to enjoy. Again, the precision of the Corps was impressive. I found some of the dancing by the captives and monsters reminiscent of the tavern scene in Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son.” Perhaps this was an example of Fokine’s influence on him?

“Firebird” is in two scenes, the first one comprising about 90% of the piece, and the second one quite short. Unfortunately the first scene ends dramatically with the destruction of Kastchel’s soul, thunder and lightening, and an opaque black scrim falling. Unfortunately because some in the audience thought that was the end of the performance, applauded, and got up to leave!

I was not impressed by the orchestra. It is a good orchestra but not a great one. During “Scheherazade” the violins sounded too screechy at one point, and during “Firebird” the brass sounded tinny. Overall the tone of the orchestra seemed thin. I have been spoiled by ballet accompanied by excellent orchestras. We also found the overtures for all three pieces to be very long. I began to wonder if something had gone wrong back stage so they were not ready to dance after all, but now assume it is a stylistic difference in how they present ballet.

What is the company called in Russia? The ads, tickets, and program call it the Kirov, but inside the program it is called the Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra. I’m wondering if they use Kirov when touring, because it is a more familiar name from the recent past?

We have friends who were planning to see every performance. I’m glad to have seen what we saw, but would not want to see the same program again. It would be interesting to see if the Kirov would have the speed for a Balanchine program, and it could be wonderful to see them do “Swan Lake.” As it is, it was useful to see these versions of Fokine’s ballets for their historical context and the pleasure of some of the dance moments.

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I was not impressed by the orchestra.  It is a good orchestra but not a great one.

Perhaps not, but when they brought Sleeping Beauty to New York a few years ago, the violin soloist got a huge ovation for the "panorama" music between the Vision and the Awakening. It was one of the most beautiful things I'd ever heard (twice), widely agreed to have been The Highlight of the evening (twice).

It would be interesting to see if the Kirov would have the speed for a Balanchine program.

They do not. They take the tempos down a notch or three. Or four. :yawn: Still, it is worth seeing for the changes that happen to both the dancers and the dance.

You modestly introduce the post as "[perhaps not] a better educated view," but you wrote a perceptive review that was clearer than many that I read in major metro newspapers. Thanks for the good work, BBfan. :wink:

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Thanks for these reviews! I hope there will be more.

BBfan, the company was the ballet company of the Mariinsky Theater. During the Soviet era, it was renamed the Kirov Ballet, after a Party hero, and this was the name by which it became known in the West. After the political changes in Russia, the company reverted to its Mariinsky name -- but the "brand name" was Kirov, and people were confused. In Russia, it's the Mariinsky. Here, it's the Kirov, or Mariinsky-Kirov.

Here's a link to the company's own page, with its history (in English):


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I'm glad bbfan mentioned the overtures (though we'll have different things to say). I appreciate an overture without "business" going on, because as I understand it, the overture frequently introduces musical themes that will recur during the peice, and as someone with absolutely no musical memory whatsoever, I appreciate all the help I can get.

I must be in a minority, because I noticed that many around me seemed to think of it as an equivalent to the previews and credits in a movie... it's not a great idea, but still okay to talk and move around and stretch...

Is this a cultural thing? Most of the more recently choreographed things I've seen lately all have things going on during the overture: people walking through the streets in Nutcracker, etc. Not dancing usually, just setting the scene.

I also had moments of feeling as if I were looking at Nijinksy, and the monsters also reminded me of those creepy things in Prodigal.

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I also went Saturday night.

The winner for me was "Firebird" It was an enchanting story. The friends of the princess dance with their golden apples was charming. I thought the men's costumes in the second scene were magnificent. And I loved the music--can anyone recommend a good recording? I have seen a version of "Firebird" before, but I don't recall it making such a sweet impression.

"Chopiniana" was wonderfully old-fashioned--right down the "sepia" lighting. I was most struck by the physical uniformity of the corps--long-limbed and beautiful backs. My (tall) daughter thought they looked tall--perhaps they just appeared tall. And their feet were gorgeous--even from way up in the balcony!

As for "Scheherazade" (not sure of spelling--can't possibly move to get program)--I found the corps work really exciting. I did not find Irma Noiradze particularly appealing--and actually thought the odeliscks (again with the spelling) out shone her in slinkiness.

I thought the "Scheherazade" overture was way too long.

Show appeared to be soldout--a good sign I thought--hopefully they'll return--and others will decide to visit!

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We just returned home after seeing the Sunday performance of Kirov.I am a parent of a DD and we both enjoyed the program. I have no brilliant insights to report other than my DD (age 12) was enthralled with the technical brilliance of it all! Of course I get caught up with her enthusiasm! But...she and I discussed what it would be like if our "home team" Boston Ballet had been presenting the program instead of Kirov. Does anybody out there have a real prejudice in favor of their own company? She and I agreed that Kirov was more talented than BB...but there is something about seeing your hometown stars ....!!! I'm kinda embarrassed about this..... :wink: Any thoughts?

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