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Bolshoi News from March 6 Ratmansky 'Encounter'

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While reading the unofficial Bolshoi Ballet & Opera Forum (given to us by poster "Ina" - http://forum.ballet.ru/ ) I ran across a report on last Sunday's "Encounter" of Bolshoi Artistic Director Ratmansky with the "Friends of the Bolshoi" organization at the Bakhrushin Museum, Moscow. In his "Encounter," Ratmansky revealed a number of interesting tidbits that I'll share with you:

* The old Bolshoi Theater shuts down July 1 for a multi-year renovation. All but five of the current ballet productions can fit onto the stage of the New Bolshoi Theater next door. The five productions that cannot be shown at the New Bolshoi include 'Sleeping Beauty,' 'Pharaoh's Daughter,' and 'Spartacus.' The only way to present those ballets in Moscow would be to rent the Kremlin Palace Theater, at very high commercial fees.

* A previously-announced evening of three one-act Ratmansky ballets (Lea, Dreams of Japan & Charms of Mannerism) will not be shown because Nina Ananiashvili owns the sole rights to those ballets. [Natalia's note: So Ratmansky does not own his own choreography? Oh, my...] Ananiashvili & the theater were able to agree only on the casting & other aspects of "Lea"; hence, the project is being scrapped.

* The troupe will embark on a major tour of the USA in the fall [sIC - the tour actually begins in July; the person who wrote the report heard incorrectly] Alas, the 'hit' ballet of the current season, Ratmansky's 'The Bolt,' will not be toured because of its big, bulky decors.

* Rehearsals have begun for the next premiere of the current season, the April 14 Leonid Massine Triple Bill consisting of "Three-Cornered Hat," "Les Presages," and "Gaite Parisienne." The costumes for all three ballets are being reproduced from scratch by the Bolshoi's costumers; nothing is being leased. Chief stager Lorca Massine has arrived in Moscow with his two assistants. [Natalia's note: The Bolshoi website lists ex-Joffrey Ballet ballerina Cameron Basden as one of the assistant stagers.] While Ratmansky could not mention specific casting for each ballet, he said that the principals currently being rehearsed for this triple bill include Alexandrova, Godunov, Uvarov & Yatsenko. Zakharova & Tsiskaridze are not included due to their prior outside commitments, i.e., Zakharova will guest-star with La Scala and Tsiskaridze will be dancing in "Manon" at the Mariinsky.


* Guest stars next season will include the couples Alina Cojocaru/Johan Kobborg and Diana Vishneva/Vladimir Malakhov, although the exact ballets to be danced by those dancers have not been determined.

* The revival of Yuri Grigorovich's "The Golden Age" (to Shostakovich's score) will be shown in two, rather than the original three, acts. A 2-act version already exists, performed by Grigorovich's company in Krasnodar.

* Roland Petit's ballet "The Queen of Spades," starring Nikolai Tsiskaridze, will be filmed for commercial DVD release this fall.

* There will be a "Jubilee Gala" in honor of Maya Plisetskaya's 80th birthday, some time this autumn. Date & guests to be determined.

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Thank you, Natalia, for your interest of the Moscow balletomanes activities. Just a short remark on the Ratmansky triple bill discussion. That was a proposal initiated by balletomanes. Ratmansky himself didn’t show any enthusiasm of such a perspective, considering that there are enough of his choreographic works in the repertory of the Bolshoi. The fact, that the ballets, “planned” by balletomanes for a triple bill, are owned by Ananiashvily was mentioned just as a side effect.

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Thank you for the clarification, Ina.

Do the Moscow balletomanes not find it odd that the rights to a living choreographer's work reside with a ballerina who created the lead roles? I am wondering if these ballets were all commissioned by Ms Ananiashvili herself & if part of the legal 'deal' with the then-novice choreographer Ratmansky was that she would own his creations?

I remember when she created leading roles (along with Tatyana Terekhova) in the "Japan" & "Mannerism" ballets, 4-5 years ago. At that time, Ratmansky was practically an unknown. Perhaps he agreed to this deal because it would be a good way to jump-start his career?

Sorry -- I cannot imagine a creative artist giving away the rights to performance of his creations! How sad, IMO. Would Ashton or Balanchine have given up control of a ballet in their lifetime? Or is Ratmansky's experience the norm with today's choreographers? If, for example, Wheeldon is commissioned by the Washington Ballet to create a ballet, does the Washington Ballet own it perpetually?

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I was at this meeting also and can add something from Ratmansky’s talk.

• Four ballets are included to the program of the Bolshoi tour to New York and San Francisco this summer: The Pharaoh Daughter, Don Quixote, Spartacus and Romeo & Juliet (by Poklitaru).

• There will be two premiers at the Bolshoi the next season: The Golden Age and a ballet by some choreographer from abroad but with a music of a Russian composer. The contract is not signed yet and Ratmansky gave no other details.

Did he talk about Cinderella?

• Shostakovitch’s 100th anniversary will be celebrated in Moscow at the Bolshoi the next year by the performances of his opera Katerina Izmailova and four ballets: The Bright Stream and The Bolt (both by Ratmansky), The Golden Age by Grigorovitch and some other ballet.

To my question if he talked about Massine’s Red and Black (the 1st Symphony) Ratmansky answered that they have had this idea. But he preferred not to interfere into details for the moment.

No company was mentioned in the context. May be, allertnics know better which company in the West dances now Shostakovitch’s music?

Sorry -- I cannot imagine a creative artist giving away the rights to performance of his creations!

Well, Natalia, I have no idea about the common practice… As far as I know, all these ballets were created not for the regular Bolshoi’s repertory but to be performed by a private enterprise. Ananiashvili ordered the ballets, paid for them by her own money and received the rights for 10 years. But there were no problems with Leah. When Ratmansky decided to stage it at the Bolshoi, he just asked “Nina, may I…”, and the permission was given immediately. I know nothing about the financial conditions of their agreement. Actually Ratmansky became famous in Moscow after first two of these ballets, which were shown several times at the Bolshoi as well (earlier there was Capriccio by Stravinsky / Ratmansky at the Bolshoi which was performed probably once at some special event). The audience like them and some people (me too) dream about Ratmansky’s triple bill at the Bolshoi: Charms of Mannerism as the entry, Leah as a main course and Dreams about Japan for the closing. But Alexei himself replied that the Bolshoi will have too much of Ratmansky in this case.

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Thank you for your further insights, Mikhail!

I remember 'Leah' last spring, in a triple bill. It was the best ballet on the bill! I also recall seeing the two earlier ballets in Washington, DC, performed not by Nina A. & the Bolshoi but by a smaller Moscow-based 'pick-up' troupe at Montgomery Community College in Rockville, MD. [sorry - can't recall the company..."Stars of the Moscow Ballet" perhaps.] All three ballets are delightful, with 'Leah' the most substantial, as you imply.

It's interesting that two of the four ballets that were announced for the USA tour will be 'repeats' from the Bolshoi's fall 2004 tour here (Don Q and the Poklitaru R&J)...and we have good old 'Spartacus,' to boot! At least "Pharaoh's Daughter" will provide some nourishment for those who love classical rarities.

So 'Bright Stream' will not be performed in America? What a shame, as it is delightful. A month ago, I seem to recall it being announced -- posted here, in our 'Links' forum -- as a ballet to be performed in California...perhaps in a city other than San Francisco? Maybe the ballets will differ from city to city?

If, by chance, 'Bright Stream' is still going to be performed in a West Coast city, I advise all New Yorkers to make the journey across the country to see it. :) It has everything -- spectacle, color, super scenery/costumes, gorgeous 3-act score, and all sorts of classical dancing, from the lyrical to the comedic!

- Natalia

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Ye-e-e-es, Natalia, you are right.

The Bolshoi’s program as it stands for the moment is as follows:

There will be about 14-16 performances in New York:

Pharaoh’s Daughter, DQ, Spartacus and The Bright Stream.

Besides Bolshoi comes to Philadelphia with Spartacus, to Wolf Trap with DQ and to Orange County with Spartacus and The Stream. In total Bolshoi will give about 25 performances in the US.

Sorry once more for my mistake with R&J.

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On the matter of who retains rights to a piece of choreography, it has become an item of interest over the last twenty or so years for the creators of a work of art to have some say in the use of the created artwork. Formerly, when an artist was commissioned or otherwise paid for a work, all right, title, claim and interest resided in the person or entity providing the commission. International agreements on copyrights, however, have changed since the days of Fokine finding that he no longer owned the rights to his works, and creators now retain many rights over their work. The exact amount is defined by contract.

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Don Q at Wolf Trap? Wow, this is the first time a major company has performed there in years. :D

The Bolshoi looked terrific in Don Q when they brought it here several years ago (2001?). I hope Maria Alexandrova gets to do it here.

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Thanks for all of the input, eveyone who has responded to this thread! We're really getting caught up on the Bolshoi!

CLARIFICATION: I heard from a very knowledgeable authority on Joffrey matters, that Cameron Basden is staging Massine's 'Les Presages' on her own. Apologies to Ms. Basden! Lorca Massine must be working exclusively on one or both of the two other ballets on the triple bill that premieres April 14.

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