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Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion

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Any reports yet from you Californians? What about NYC - does anyone have tickets to go? I read the LA Times review in the Links section, but would love to hear from Alertniks. Unfortunately, I can't go; I have to work. :yucky:

Yes, I read the review in the links also but would rather hear from BTers. Anyone go?

I'm not sure I can get to City Center next weekend but even if I can't I would like to know what I am missing :pinch:

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Okay folks! I was there ......Febuary 13th at OCPAC to see one of my favorite dancers, Diana Vishneva.

My disappointment with this program has kept me away from reporting. The issues with this "Beauty in Motion" are many even though the caliber of dancing was wonderful. The reviews from the LATimes and the OCRegister hit many of the problems beginning with the selection of works presented.

When I opened the program and saw "Pierrot Luniere" as the opening piece, my reaction was "Oh dear". I have never seen Schoenberg's music successfully choreographed to and see it as extremely problematic for dance.

But I reserved a ray of hope for Ratmansky who has been recently written about as the future of ballet choreography. This piece did not live up to any of the press that I have read about him or his work. The dancing was fine, the steps were strung together with a ballet combination here and an emoting phrase there and so on.....yet most of the sections made nary a statement or impact.

Diana's dancing was fine but her talents were not showcased here. She pretty much blended into the piece with the other 3 men joining her..

Intermission........some people did not return....emty seats were slightly noticable.

Moses Pendleton's F.L.O.W. opened up the middle act. It was the most imaginative of the evening. However, it had nothing to do with ballet IMO. ( I scratched my head again) The paper reviews cover this work, so I do not feel I need to get into details.

I will comment that Vishneva seemed to enjoy herself in this genre. I cannot tell you that she was challanged in any respect nor was her artistic talent unleashed in this type of work. I enjoyed it because it had interest, particularly when compared with the repetive movement of the opening piece "Pierrot Luniere". Still, the gimmicks ran amok and I have seen the same or better in Las Vegas!

Intermission.....more empty seats.

AHH....the one I was waiting for! Rhoden's "Three Point Turn" coupling Diana with the incredible Desmond Richardson.

The movement was somewhat satisfying. I feel like I have seen this type of work before. Hard hitting, contemporary with alot of

partner intwining bodies. I liked it just okay. The dancers were fine. I did not see Vishneva standing out from the other dancers.

And I feel that Desmond dominated over her presence. The other 2 couples were interesting and held the piece to a high technical level. The costumes and lighting were unflattering.

Final bow......take note.....Vishneva diappears as this audience is nicely clapping while making it to the exits. Where did she go?

Finally, Diana reappears in high heels and a beautiful Greecian styled evening gown, all to take her final bow.


So, New Yorkers, you decide. I will be curious to see how you view her evening of dance. And when you report, you may want to put it under 'other forms of dance' . I am not complaining about the modern thrust of the concert as I do love good contemporary

dance. I was not enthralled with any of the three pieces on this program. Ratmansky cannot be the future of ballet choreographers if this is evidence of his work. Moses Pendleton paired with a ballet diva was really outside the box. (Actually I did have a thought that maybe this man should work with ballet dancers, as he did offer a fresh approach to the art). And Rhoden's

choreography was just OK. I do not think any major company would put this piece in their rep.

I expected far more from this artist and the celebration of her talent. Thus, my disappointment.

The dancing was top notch and the musicians were also wonderful. I was thankful for all that. :clapping:

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I saw the Sunday matinee, and agree mostly with what Laura Bleiberg writes in the OC Register, except I thought Rhoden's piece was derivative.

Pendleton's was probably the best piece of the show, and disarmingly effacing --- you only saw Vishneva's feet and arms for the first part! This is definitely not a conventional vanity piece, and kudos to her for that. I thought FLOW was also the only piece to really show her personality. Most of it was something you'd see in a Momix show, but the middle piece with Vishneva on a reflective ramp was something that really showed her off physically and artistically.

Rhoden's piece looked like warmed-over Forsythe from his "In the middle, somewhat elevated" phase: bare, open stage and wings, loud musique concrete-type percussion, same style of costumes (and even an anticipated uncostuming ---- I purposely said to myself that someone's going to take off some clothes at the beginning, and sure enough, 10 minutes later ...), and choreography that uses off-balanced pointework and exaggerated flexibility. If he had a curtain that dropped to the floor, it would have been a perfect copy. Except that it wasn't, and was a bad aping that really lacks the energy or density of movement that builds excitement like Forsythe can do.

I also thought Desmond Richardson outdanced Vishneva in the Rhoden piece, which isn't surprising since Rhoden and Richardson work together in Complexions. Richardson's movements were more fascinating to look at, and looked more authentic. Vishneva was doing a good job, but a bit out of her element.

Nevertheless, it was very brave of her to tackle three very difference pieces, and failure is often the price of pushing the envelope. I hope this doesn't discourage her, and the capacity audience seemed to love it.


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New York City Center Opening Night

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Up front, I really dislike Schoenberg's great masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire (also, I really dislike commedia dell'arte), and have never made myself suffer through a sufficient hearing to know the texts of each of the 21 songs. Also I really disliked Nureyev's performance of it (probably unfair to choreographer Tetley). Alexei Ratmansky's version opened tonight's program. It was recognizably the work of the creator of NYCB's Russian Seasons, and included a significant amount of ballet choreography for Diana Vishneva (in fact the only ballet of the evening), especially moments of powerful allegro. Igor Kolb, the Pierrot, not only whipped off fast multiple pirouettes (of course!), but delivered a frequently intense emotional performance. However, although there certainly was some story, I could not understand the (well sung by Elena Sommer) songs, even though the program did give a slight bit of guidance, dividing the songs into three groups of seven. Two Mariinsky men also performed, but I think their parts were less specific. Early they were all dressed similarly, 'though after the first third Ms. Vishneva got rid of her skull-cap and looked and danced like herself. The backdrop looked pointless, on the left a bunch of flowers with a hovering woman, on the right a mirror image. Still, because of the music (or my lack of comprehension -- but I do love some Berg and lots of Webern...) and the unknown text, not a very enjoyable experience.

Act two consisted of three pieces by Moses Pendleton, grouped under the title F(or) L(ove) O(f) W(omen). The first was a black light piece for Ms. Vishneva and two women from the Mariinsky. At first patterns were made by one arm from each dancer. Gradually other limbs were added, but we never got to see the rest of each ballerina. All in blue, many engaging, and of course amusing, images were created; my favorite being when they suddenly morphed into three Swans. Another, when they created a single ballerina. The second found a raked square covered by cloth. Gradually it was pulled off and there was Diana on a bed of mirrors. She danced with her reflection, magnificently. There was one moment when she reminded of the novice in Robbins's The Cage, crouching toward us, triumphantly (yet, as in the Robbins, more than that), but over herself rather than her "ex". This was my favorite part of the program. Third, she's in a gown with strings of beads cascading down to near the floor from her head dress. She turns clockwise, varying speeds to vary the flow of the beads.

Act three was Dwight Rhoden's Three Point Turn. This was an abstract story of the changes that occur during romantic relationships. Ms. Vishneva's partner was the illustrious Desmond Richardson. The soloist men and women from the Mariinsky all appeared in this work: In blue, Ekaterina Ivannikova and Mikhail Lobukhin; in green, Maria Shevyakova and Alexander Sergeev. Ms. Shevyakova, a tall dancer with rather "Kirov" extensions, looked as if she might be fascinating to watch in Balanchine. Both Diana and Desmond generated plenty of heat, but perhaps the actual choreography might have been more adventurous.

Ms. Vishneva had much more work to do in this 2 hour, 30 minute program than she'd have had in any of the classics. Although she seemed to genuinely enjoy much of what she did (and was more than gracious with Mr. Rhoden and, especially, Mr. Pendleton), I hope she can make it through all the performances that still face her here, in Russia, and in Chicago, sans injury.

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This evening had little to do with ballet and all to do with dance and bodies in motion danced on point shoes. The audience seemed to be mostly Russians so they came out in force to support their girl. If their applause was any indication her Beauty In Motion was well received. The house was almost full.

What I found interesting about the choreography was how the costuming and the movement intersected. The first piece had loosely fitting costumes odd skull caps while in others they were dancing in the barest of cover ups and the FLOW was mostly a light show using body parts in UV light. Children would have really enjoyed FLOW. It was clever, amusing (probably fun to perform) moving body parts but not really beauty in motion.

Three Point Turn was very energetic and Diana's sinewy body was contrasted with the soft bodies of her female companions from Maryinsky. The same was true in the contrast between Desmond Richardson's body. He is wonderful to watch perform.

Miss Vishneva demonstrated enormous control of her body shunting her limbs and torso around in every which way without seeming to sweat a drop or falter.

The bead costume was again visually very interesting, hardly dance and she mostly spun about at different speeds and the beads created a disc of spinning sparkling light. Again a "gimmick" that children would love and in my opinion only called dance because it can't be called anything else. I suppose modern dance has a lot of that sort of exploration of what a body can do with movement, costuming and "props".

The entire evening was for me an intersection by a woman with superb classical technique and her talented colleagues having "fun" with their bodies using "modern" music and borrowing from a range of theatrical techniques. It had nothing to do with ballet and ballet IS beauty in motion as well. I don't know that a classical piece inserted into the evening would have made sense in the context of what she had going there.

I thought the chemistry between Diana and Desmond was very hot. They were, indeed, two beauties in motion.

Like "In The Upper Room", I felt exhausted when the evening ended, something I have never "felt" after a ballet performance. I have felt many emotions, but never "exhaustion." Diana and her dancers gave me a feeling of exhaustion.

My overall impression was that this show was a very bold move for Ms Vishneva who obviously doesn't want to be taken for "just another brilliant" classical prima ballerina in a succession of Russian dancers. She clearly seems to be in love with movement, the skill that she has in making her body do what she wants it to, and is sending a clear message that she has not only mastered the classics, but broadened her horizons and wants the world to know it. Check, we got it.

I am looking forward to the Kirov and the ABT season.

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I was really disappointed in the program. I read the LA reviews so I was prepared, but was hoping to disagree. I'm afraid not. I do feel that with the exception of the middle piece by Pendleton this was definitely what I would call ballet as opposed to another kind of dance. Not classical ballet and not GOOD ballet but the Ratmansky & Rhoden were certainly what I would call ballet. There are plenty of descriptions of all 3 pieces so I'll just say that while it was great to see those wonderful Kirov dancers (including Igor Kolb who has become one of my favorites) their talents are wasted in this show.

As others have said - kudos to Ms Vishneva for trying something different rather than just sitting on her laurels but I found the evening almost impossible to endure.

The Pendleton was the best part of the evening, especially in that it provided some lightness and amusement after the deadly dull Pierrot Lunaire. While all of FLOW was entertaining the only part that I really loved was the middle section with the mirror. That was an incredible use of Vishneva's personality, beauty and artistry and I felt that it was a unique piece that used her talents to show her in a new light. The Pendleton piece also helped keep the audience in their seats. From where I was sitting the Ratmansky was met with polite applause and when the audience sat back down after the first intermission I heard lots of people around me talking about leaving if the second piece was more of the same - so putting Pendleton in the middle was good programming!

Oh well- nothing ventured, nothing gained. At least she had the guts to try and now we can see the Vishneva we all know & love in the upcoming Kirov & ABT seasons.

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Okay, so I saw this last night, Friday in all that slush. I didn't have a terrible time at all.

The least effective piece for me was the Ratmansky "Pierrot Lunaire". This was Diana dressed like a Pierrette with three Pierrots. She had more step-heavy academic choreography than the men did. I didn't find the three men sufficiently differentiated though Igor Kolb stands out for his superb virtuosity. As Schoenberg's song cycle played on (superbly performed), Diana seemed to be involved in various flirtations with the three men, various duets and pas de trois in different combinations. Though her part was well-crafted, any pretty talented ballerina could do it, it wasn't a star turn. I found that the piece became repetitive and there was little correlation between the choice of music and the action - the two did not seem to support each other effectively. Finally at the end, the men lifted Diana up and she stared at what probably was the moon, the only indication of the lunar fixation of the title. I wouldn't want to see it again and think it is not one of Ratmansky's best pieces.

The Moses Pendleton F.L.O.W. is not good ballet or bad ballet, it is good Pilobolus circa 1978 which is also good and entertaining Pilobolus circa 2008. Anyone who has seen and enjoyed Pilobolus and also Momix more recently know how inventive Pendleton can be in using the human body as a surreal kaleidoscope with the aid of lights, props and mirrors. You don't need Kirov trained dancers to do this but it was fun and fascinating to see them take to it with such elan. It was a fun and light diversion and probably gave Diana a little rest and the audience a great deal of enjoyment.

The last piece by Rhoden was the best of the evening. Here was real contemporary ballet and it was fascinating to see these classically trained Russian dancers throw themselves into it though Desmond Richardson (looking mighty fine) had some extra little nuances and stylistic gambits to offer. He also was an excellent partner. Finally, Diana had some challenging and inventive modern ballet choreography to perform and she delivered. This is one of the pieces that seems to be all about men and women and sex and everyone gets more naked as it goes on (just to dancing in their scanties of course, no Full Monty here). Of course, I am no fan of electronic music and that was a downer but I think the piece did work.

Diana was remarkably hard-working here and this was a great opportunity not just for her but for the choreographers and the supporting dancers. Not a total triumph, she hasn't found her Fokine or Balanchine to make her an important muse of modern ballet yet but an enjoyable diversion, if you aren't expecting genius. Very nicely produced too with classy costumes, live music and lighting.

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I went to yesterday's Sunday Matinee (Feb. 24) and enjoyed the program very much. Perhaps all of the earlier reports had prepared me to not expect anything remotely resembling classical ballet, so I was pleasantly surprised by the high artistic quality of the program. FLOW was pure beauty -- especially that middle 'Female Narcisse' segment! -- and Three Point Turn was sexual energy personified. Even Ratmansky's Pierrot Lunaire has some saving graces, once one gets over the ghastly music and thinks about the dance.

Needless to say, the high performance quality was no surprise. Vishneva danced all-out throughout the 90 minutes on the stage. But I was equally impressed by the other dancers, especially the sinewy quality of Alexander Sergeyev and the elegant power of both Desmond Richardson and Mikhail Lobukhin.

This program reminded me of the old Soviet days when the Kirov occasionally allowed their star dancers to present "Artistic Evenings" of experimental ballets, outside the regular repertoire. How lucky for us in the audience to have experienced one of these "Artistic Evenings" by a Kirov-Mariinsky star, right here in our American backyard!

So, you see, this experimental program was, in fact, linked to tradition...the tradition of those "Artistic Evenings" of old.

The capacity audience rewarded the performers with an instantaneous standing ovation and many bravos. Whether one loved it or not -- the fact remains that the program was a huge success with the NYC crowd.

p.s. - My only complaints: (a) the ridiculous length of the second intermission (45 minutes?) and (b) the long wait for Vishneva to emerge for her final bow...then to do it in such a matronly, high-necked black gown. This great dancer clearly needs a red-carpet stylist!

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Vishneva danced all-out throughout the 90 minutes on the stage.

[ ... ]

So, you see, this experimental program was, in fact, linked to tradition...the tradition of those "Artistic Evenings" of old.

These have been fascinating reviews, and thank you all for contributing.

My questions have to do with matters of stamina, pacing, risk of injury, etc.

How is is possible to dance so much in a single program? What accomodations have to be made --with choice of rep, etc. -- to avoid the obvious dangers?

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An interesting note for long-time Kirov watchers:

Kirov-Mariinsky First Soloist Elvira Tarasova is credited in the "Beauty in Motion" playbill as assistant to choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. I'm sure that other fans of this delightful ballerina will join me in wishing her great success in this new endeavor as coach/assistant choreographer!

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I like her work very much, but was not thrilled at Beauty and I found the tattoo on her left hip bone creepy. She also has so much muscle definition in her arms she is looking like a body builder and not a ballerina. Perhaps this type of definition becomes inevitable when on has no body fat and well developed muscles. Unfortunately, to my eye, the female body loses much of the elegance of form and softness. On the other hand, Desmond Richardson looks perfect.

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