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Ballet of Perm, Russia, US Tour - Spring '08

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The celebrated ballet company of the Tchaikovsky Theater in Perm, Russia -- founded by Kirov staff while in 'exile' in this Urals city during WWII -- has embarked on a multi-city tour of the USA. They supposedly opened in the NYC area this past weekend with their version of Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet. Did anybody catch either or both performances (Tilles Center & NJPAC)?

I'm waiting for the troupe to perform in a mixed bill of 19th-C classics two weeks from now, in Michigan, so bypassed the NYC stops. I'm not much of a Romeo fan, I'm afraid...maybe Martins' R+J killed it for me, for a while. :cool: Still, I'd love to read reports of Perm's version, their star dancers on this tour, the shape of their famous corps de ballet, etc. Their history and school (having produced N. Pavlova, Chenchikova, Fominikh, Kunakova, etc.) are definitely worthy of our attention.

This appears to be 'Great Soviet Ballet Troupes Month' in the USA -- companies from Tbilisi, Perm, St. Petersburg, etc. criss-crossing the country, coming soon to a college auditorium near you.

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I went (a soviet ballet fan as I am, how could I have skipped a Norht-East event ;-))

To be frief (and more positive than negative)....

I loved the COMPANY (Strong, flexible (almost Eifman's extensions (which a classisist won't like, but I am fond of). First time I saw them was in Boston several years ago in Sleeping beauty, and liked a lot - same here

I LOVED THE COMPANY (solid strong, tall, handsome male dancers, greaceful, flexible Bellerinas)....

.... and I totally DISPISED the production, the choreography was BAD, and staging was horrible (then again, it's me, a fan of classics, and having seen 3 Kirov's R&J in DC and two ABT's R&J last year)... (I took tons' of notes of what I found questionable or out of place in the production - not sure that anyone cares to listen....

Ok, the COMPANY is great, the staging and choreography was very controversial and I hated it... but it's not ballet dancers who decide which production to dance...

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Thanks, YID. This is Nikolai Boyarchikov's production, right? If so, it's the same version performed by the St. Petersburg Maly-Mikhailovsky Theater group that Boyarchikov used ot run & is now headed by Ruzimatov.

Happy to read that the dancers are still in fine shape. :cool:

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Thanks, YID. This is Nikolai Boyarchikov's production, right? If so, it's the same version performed by the St. Petersburg Maly-Mikhailovsky Theater group that Boyarchikov used ot run & is now headed by Ruzimatov.

Happy to read that the dancers are still in fine shape. :cool:

yes, unfortunately Perm "is stuck" with that production.... Don't get me started on how awkward I found it (compared to Lavrovsky (Kirov) and (less liked, personally) MacMillan's)...

with mullets to all male dancers; "kolhoz"/ pairs of dancers ALWAYS dancing along with R&J in their to be "just the two of them" adagios, in a neglected balcony stage, bedroom stage, and in tombs, actually that (extremely professional group of dancers - they danced WELL) was everywhere, wedding scene, Juliet looking for potion help with Friar Lawrence...but are they appropriate

whatever Mr. Boyarchichov tried to express, it was lost on me, i was distracted from R&J

then dressing Verona streed dancers in "socks" (put either character shoes or points on - those socks were awful), not having a Jester/Joker, having youngest looking Matronas (Lady Capulet & Montague) next to very (appropriately) old looking husbands. and the board/ceiling hanging over - what for? to stick the swards in it? bizzare...

PS: the Romeo - a guest artist Robert Gabdullin was very good. As per the brochure (another poor product, not mentioning that the company is actually from PERM, that was mentioned only in the bios of the dancers, and out of 7 dance bios, only Y.Araptanova and R. Gabdullin, aka R&J danced that night - why listing of the primas who are not dancing - bizzare

well, Sergey Zagorulko, Tybald; Ivan Poroshin, Mercutio; and Dmitriy Tenitskiy, Benvolio - were very good

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I've just returned from East Lansing, Michigan, where I attended the Perm Ballet's 'Tchaikovsky Spectacular' gala. Absolutely-positively worth the trip; one of my all-time greatest experiences at any ballet. I literally was in HEAVEN this past Saturday night, enjoying very pure classical ballet the way that it used to be performed by the Kirov 20 or 30 years ago. My, oh my.

All of the Perm's stars performed in excerpts from the three big Tchaikovsky ballets, including the complete Ballroom Act of Swan Lake, accompanied by their full home-theater orchestra.

A five-star balletic event in a most unlikely place, in a gorgeous theater (Wharton Center of Mich. State Univ., seating 2,400). VERY artistically-knowledgeable audience, I could tell. Instant standing-o and 'bravos' in all the right places.

I'll write a full review tonight or early tomorrow...very busy day in office. For now, I could not wait to get the word out about the magnificence of the Perm troupe and this classical program, in particular. WOW!!!!!!!!!

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I saw the Perm company perform Swan Lake in Houghton Michigan on Tuesday evening and am pleased to report that it was a thoroughly satisfying experience. The principals are outstanding, and the troupe and orchestra overall are also wonderful. The costumes and sets are sumptuous, especially for a tour-- the kind that were designed to dazzle those early 20th century audiences--and the choreography is lovely.

What a treat it was, in this remote outpost (we're talking the rural Upper Peninsula), to watch 24 (!) swans dancing around the prince and Odette in a state-of-the-art venue.

Hope those of you who can will see them on somewhere on their tour.


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Thanks so much for the report, Art, and welcome to BalletTalk! :)

Did the company draw much of an audience? What sort of response did they get? On the one hand, I can imagine ballet-starved hoards clamoring to get in, but on the other, has there been much opportunity to nurture an audience?

I hope you'll introduce yourself with a few words in our Welome Forum.

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Ballet of the Tchaikovsky Theater, Perm, Russia

“Tchaikovsky Spectacular”

March 15, 2008

Wharton Center Cobb Theater

East Lansing, Michigan

PART I – Divertissements from Tchaikovsky Ballets

Sleeping Beauty Act III Grand Pas de Deux (F. Lopukhov version of 1920s, as revived in Perm)

Yaroslava Araptanova – Aurora

Robert Gabdullin – Prince Desire

Immediately we were treated to a textbook-perfect example of classical ballet as it should be and used to be presented in St. Petersburg several generations ago. Absolute elegance personified by the ‘golden young pair’ of the troupe, svelte-blonde-and-gorgeous Araptanova and the soaring brunette Gabdullin…although at present he is best as a soloist than partner in adagio.

Swan Lake Act II Adagio (‘White Swan pdd’)

Elena Kulagina – Odette

Vitaly Poleschuk – Siegfried

Female Corps de Ballet

A lovely rendition of this most romantic of Imperial Russian adagios, framed by the picture-perfect precision of the Perm’s swans. It is a joy to see the controlled technique and miraculous arms and fingers of Kulagina, the troupe’s long-time prima. Poleschuk provided elegant support.

Swan Lake Act II – “Cygnets” dance

Yana Alfirnova, Nadezhda Dvureschenskaya, Xenia Barbasheva, Maria Belousova

This was Poetry and Precision in perfect combination. I hate to write “spot-on!” as it ruins the romance. One of the finest cygnet quartets around.

Nutcracker Act II “Shepherds Dance” (a.k.a. ‘Flutes Pas de Trois’)

Ekaterina Mosienko, Taras Tovstyuk, Anna Poistogova

‘Tis a rarity to see this delightful dance performed by adults but there was nothing cutesy or childish about the rendition – oozing French Porcelain elegance. All three dancers were wonderful but I must single-out the near, high entrechats of Tovstyuk. [This company is blessed with many talented young men at the soloist and demi- levels.]

Sleeping Beauty Act III Bluebird Pas de Deux (F. Lopukhov version of 1920s, as revived in Perm)

Yaroslava Araptanova – Florine

Robert Gabdullin – Bluebird

Our Aurora & Desire from a few minutes ago are back on stage, now performing the Bluebird PDD…surely a first for me! And perform beautifully they did, especially Gabdullin, who has other-worldly elevation. His solo left many of us gasping in wonder. It was interesting to note that the choreography for Florine’s solo bears the same rhythm and ‘quirky accents’ of the Kirov’s ‘new-old’ production; Vikharev was said to have studied this Perm version – e.g., the 1920s Lopukhov staging after Petipa – as part of his own staging of the ballet in 1998/99 St. Petersburg. So it looks like the ‘quirk’ is as it should be and that Nicholas Sergeyev/Ninette De Valois and all the others got it wrong in the West?

Swan Lake Act I Pas de Trois (traditional version by K. Sergeyev, after Petipa)

Dmitri Tenitsky, Nadezhda Barentseva, Maria Belousova

Tenistsky has THE most incredibly-beautiful musculature in his legs, for a man! [sorry – this is like opening a Vaganova textbook and seeing the perfect male legs for ballet!] Furthermore…he’s a heck of a dancer who amazed with his elevation and precision in the solo. Belousova displayed elegant pointe work in the second female solo.

Nutcracker Act II “Rose Waltz” (a.k.a. Waltz of the Flowers) (Vainonen version)

Corps de Ballet

Immediately followed by the Adagio from the Pas de Deux-a-six for Sugarplum Fairy, Her Prince and Four Cavaliers

Maria Menshikova – Sugarplum

Rostislav Deshitsky – Her Prince

The full corps danced the Rose Waltz with precision and a proper air of aristocracy. Gratefully, they did not wear the pink cotton-candy wigs that one normally sees from Russian companies when performing this dance. 

The Waltz was immediately followed by the Pas de Deux Adagio for Sugarplum and her prince plus four supporting cavaliers. This is when we were treated to the Perm Ballet’s youngest soloist and ‘secret weapon’ for future greatness: take the face of the very young Vishneva in the mid-90s, add the pout & ‘airs’ of the young Ananiashvili, combined with the legs and technique of Nadezhda Pavlova and you get Maria Menshikova. I have no doubt that we will be reading about her in bigger stages years from now; for the time being, Perm had better hold on to her tightly. I am only sorry that the dance stopped with the adagio and we could not see a full solo from her. And she almost made me forget the clutzy partnering of the four cavaliers, one of whom dropped her while attempting to toss her to another guy, although she was able to halt the fall with splayed legs before her behind hit the stage…and kept that ‘Ananiashvili Pout’ totally composed, as if nothing had happened.

* intermission *

PART II – Act III (Ballroom Scene) of Swan Lake, as staged by Natalia Makarova

Most of us know the highlights of this Makarova staging through the 1980s video/DVD of the English National Ballet production with Hart/Schaufuss, so I won’t describe it, except to say that one of the more quirky bits – the extended Fiancées Entrance with lots of dancing by each princess – is here. Ah – but this time Makarova has added the Czardas and Mazurkas, which she purposely omitted in England because of her belief that Western-trained dancers cannot do justice to the Mazurka. The Perm’s character dancers absolutely DO justice to these amazing dances. But the great highlight of this scene was the brilliant Odile of the second ‘senior prima’ of the troupe, Natalia Moiseyeva who surely could not have graduated 20 years ago, as her bio states – her technique is sharp as a diamond, including 32 perfectly centered fouettes that brought the audience that filled the 2,000-plus-seat theater to its feet and cheering for more.

This performance was absolutely worth traveling to East Lansing on a (gasp) St. Patrick’s Weekend, when I was also treated to MSU students having a wild old time at all hours of the day. I had no problem whatsoever finding a place to eat after the ballet!

p.s. I also attended an interesting pre-performance lecture on the Perm troupe by local dance expert Kate O’Neil, who obviously adores the pure-classical style of ballet as exemplified in the Perm troupe. Her insights into the three Tchaikovsky masterworks and the ‘Perm Style’ added a lot to the pleasure of this perfect evening of ballet.

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Thank you so much, Natalia, for your reports -- and your enthusiasm. The Tchaikovsky Sampler idea seems to be brilliant programming for a tour.

Many of us will have seen the Perm State Ballet in the 1992 videos of Swan Lake and Don Q, with Ananiashvili and Fadeyechev. Allowing for the differences in principals, and the camera work which focused on them almost exclusively, how does the current company compare with what we can still see from 15 years ago?

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Very similar in its high quality, bart. With all due respect to the Bolshoi guests in those two videos, I much prefer seeing a "100% Perm" troupe, as I saw in Michigan. I'm one of those persons who prefers to see home-grown principals with a troupe's corps. Call me odd. :clapping:

Also, the current AD, Natalia Akhmarova (ex-principal of both the Perm and Boston Ballets), is doing a terrific job in taking the troupe back to its pure-classical roots, not to forget that the 'feeder academy' is still one of the best in the world.

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Sid Smith in the Chicago Tribune is less enthusiastic about this company (albeit in a different performance):

Natalia Makarova's staging of "Swan Lake" for the Tchaikovsky Ballet and Orchestra is at times a joy and at others a puzzle, a production that looks correct and yet feels a bit cold and lifeless.
Another disappointment comes with the swans, a contingent of 24 dancers who, much of the time, deliver precision but not much beauty. That's not to say Makarova's staging lacks soft edges or grace. But there's a plodding quality, a sense of going through the motions, elegantly, but without magic or urgency.

Perhaps the dancing shines in a mixed bill, whereas the choreography distracts in the full length ballet.

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Natalya, I agree with yu acros the board - including tremendous admiration of Moiseyeva, whom I saw a couple years ago when Perm came to Berkeley with Swan Lake, and a few years before down the peninsula when she danced Aurora in their Sleeping Beauty. The old values of courtliness and sincerity were much in view, and Moiseyeva was incredibly generous. She is a natural Odile; her Odette took a lot of work, but i respected her the more for her understanding that Odette is hte real thing and she MUST make us love Odette.

They open here inBerkeley Friday with Polina Semyonova, which brings us our first chanceto see this glamorous long-lined dancer groomed by Malakhov-- but in a wayI'll be sorry not to see the older fashioned style done purely.

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Also, the current AD, Natalia Akhmedova (ex-principal of both the Perm and Boston Ballets), is doing a terrific job in taking the troupe back to its pure-classical roots, not to forget that the 'feeder academy' is still one of the best in the world.

Small note, here, that the current AD's correct name is Natalia Akhmarova. Danced with Boston Ballet from 1993-1997. Beautiful dancer, sweet and lovely person. So glad she is so successful back in her home turf.

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.... that the current AD's correct name is Natalia Akhmarova. .....

Thanks, Alina. I've corrected this in my post. Also, Akhmarova served as emcee on a backstage mike, announcing eavery number and the name of each soloist...which is how I got the correct names, as the printed programme differed a bit.

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Semyonova brought down the house tonight --

Makarova seems to have changed the production quite a lot -- perhaps to accommodate the guest artists. Much different all over. Wonder what it will be like with the Perm dancers.

Only a couple of years ago, they did the mime scene. Also (I THINK) Ashton's Pas de Quatre (gone now -- it's the Pd3). Act 4 seemed different too.

Semyonova was overwhelming -- she's very modern in her lines and temperament, but she's also a star.

Sklyaurov danced with her -- seemed like a hot guy and a virtuoso, but not much of a character. Beautiful legs, high, easy arabesque, not much soul.

Perm's group were very nice Benno -- who'll be Siegfried tomorrow afternoon -- was fantastic.

Good as much of it is, it seems to require the music to be played at "wrong" tempos -- usually draggy. So though the orchestra played well, the music sounded unidiomatic.

The czardas and Mazurka were very fine. And Spanish. Tarantella was weird, almost no actual Tarantella to it, no heel-toe, no nothing -- but the other character dances were great.

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I agree with Paul on all counts.

Also the company looked quite cramped on the Zellerbach stage. Too bad, it really hampered them.

I felt Makarova told the story badly.

I don't care for "choreographers" who drag out the Princess' of Brides waltz. The knights who escorted them were a bit odd as well. Rothbart wears his wings to the Ball in Act 3. Very odd.

The Benno was wonderful as were the dancers he partnered in the first act pas de trois.

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