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Mar. 11, 2012 Le Corsaire (Live in Cinemas)

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The very next 'Live in Cinemas' production will be Burlaka/Ratmansky's Le Corsaire from the Bolshoi. Casting has yet to be announced for any of the Bolshoi's late-winter Corsaires.

From the DC-area's theater web:


From the Emerging Pictures web, which should list all theaters showing this:


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I wonder if the Bolshoi will release this commercially once it airs! This is a production that is supposed to be the most expensive production of a ballet and is a reconstruction. I am surprised nobody seems to want to videotape these reconstructions and release them commercially (Mariinsky's Sleeping Beauty, Bayadere). After going to so much trouble to recreate them, it seems crazy not to also videotape them and release them. How many of the Bolshoi's live in cinema ballets have actually been released on dvd?

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Have we talked about this yet? Supposedly the Bolshoi will be screening their cinema broadcasts on youtube as well as in theaters, beginning with Le Corsaire? This is fantastic news.


ksk04, I read the article on that link, and it made it sound like it enables Russian audiences to view it on Google Russia. Will we still be able to watch it on YouTube in the U.S.?

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Well the last sentence says "YouTube users will be able to see the ballet Le Corsaire on its premiere night." So going from that, and from other reports I've read it does seem like all youtube users. Everyone was able to watch the Bolshoi theater re-opening, so it seems like it might be along those lines. HOWEVER, there could be a translation problem that is contributing to those beliefs. I guess we will see on the 11th!

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Good questions, Bart B.. I'd like a little practice in advance, so I don't miss the beginning for fumbling the technical stuff. I enjoyed as much of their production of Corsaire as they brought to DC - there was a big cut in Act III, which lurched forward into the - is this giving away the ending? - the shipwreck, so I'm looking forward to revisiting it, and trying to get it whole. ("Trying" is what the experience of watching dance on screen can be. Really trying, sometimes.)

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In my next life I want to come back as Svetlana Lunkina! Or Nina Kaptsova! I've seen both dance in person, Lunkina many times, and have hob-nobbed with each lovely lady a little, so today my eye was keenly on them whenever they danced (Medora and Gulnare). Ruslan (Skvortsov) was his gorgeous self, and Andrei Merkuriev (as Birbanto) interpreted the role well. But my sweet ladies! How perfect were they?! wub.png Lunkina's turns were dead-on everytime and in every incarnation. Her fouettés fast and furious. Kaptsova, with her Suzanne Farrell overbite, was as charming as she was technically flawless. Everything each of them did was unassailable.

Lunkina does not come across like Zakharova, or Osipova, or even Alexandrova. She is her own pristine, delicate, unassuming self - the same self who told me once how much she loves to dance, how ballet is everything to her and how she tries each time she's on stage to serve it well.

She doesn't knock you down with her virtuosity, nor make you swoon with her very presence, as some others do, but she is as pure as the driven snow (and with her hair dyed black, reminds me of Snow White). She is ballerina, above all, and carries herself through all her perfectly executed steps, with dignity and a little almost-restrained playfulness (when appropriate). Skvortsov was her ideal partner, as he exhibited similar traits. A noble pirate!

Burlaka and Ratmansky's version has painstakingly restored so much from the 19th century and expanded their remake to remarkable proportions. They present a completely jam-packed jardin animé, for example, overflowing with group dances large and small, solo variations, and much mime. They've also included a children's dance for the young'uns in the grotto (two boys and four girls ages 10 or 11). The only thing they've reduced is the pas de trois, which is instead a pas de deux for Medora and Conrad, as we've sometimes seen. So, all those slave poses of humility were changed to hunky pirate poses of bravado.

Loved the addition of the 'Little Corsaire" folksy dance that Medora liltingly and joyfully performed during the celebrations in the grotto. The absolute giddy happiness on Lunkina's face and in her steps was such a delight. She had a quick change back into her tutu, topped with a red pirate-y overlay to match Conrad's garments, as soon as she finished her lively little diversion. Wonderful insert!

The three odalisques - Olga Kishnyova, Anna Nikulina, and Anna Tikhomirova, were more than adequate in their variations, but not (yet) something to write home about - except, perhaps, for the third, Tikhomirova. Her variation is always the most memorable and liked, and she performed it very well. Still, these chosen ones have to mature some more. I'm sure nerves (at being part of a worldwide broadcast) played a part.

A few funky, personal observations: When Conrad was poisoned and Medora attemped to leave the grotto for help, she reminded me of Clara and the Mice. At each exit she approached she was suddenly turned back by a pouncing pirate or two - they leapt at her from all the wings until they surrounded her. A little Nutcracker reference. smile.png

With all the pains taken with costuming, restoring and creating many new - there was a very interesting interview with the head of the costume department during one of the intermissions - I thought it funny that Medora's guardian's shoes were store-bought. He wore leather pull-ons, dyed blue, with those big stretchy elastic inserts on both sides of the foot!

At the very beginning, as soon as Skvortsov appeared on stage, he got applause - not from everyone, but a small claque-ish smattering. However, when Lunkina first appeared, up on a balcony, not a single clap was heard (if you discount mine). I thought, oh, perhaps they're waiting for her to come from the wings - but no, she never got any 'recognition' appaluse. And that about sums up how people react to Lunkina, even those who adore her. She's simply there. Respected, honoured, but not someone to elicit wild behaviour, of any kind, from her audience. True to her word, you can see she simply loves ballet, but is not going to be showy about it.

There was a spoken word in this ballet! (Or perhaps two words - in any case, two syllables I didn't understand). It was shouted out by Medora! She was being held aloft and was in a spirited mood. Anyone know what it was and why it was included?

The shipwreck - which Medora (with her hair down) and Conrad alone survive - was staged lavishly with the addition of fog and visual effects that I suppose had to be present in the theater, too - no? The boat snaps dramatically in half, held together by a thin layer of its bottom, but broken and totally out of commission. As the storm raged and pirates went overboard left and right, I found it amusing that one of them, leaving the ship from the back, jumped into the 'sea' feet first, as if he were jumping down to the floor from a crouched position on a tabletop or something (which, in reality, was exactly what he was doing!). Totally wrong kind of disembarking!

Anastasia Stashkevitch and Vyacheslav Lopatin were standouts in the Pas d'esclave - especially Stashkevitch! Wow! All the character dancers were given a lot to dance and provided wonderful diversions from the tutu dances.

Now, get this. The theater I was at is up the road a couple of miles from one of the prides of the Canadian arts - the Quinte Ballet School - the generously subsidized Quinte Ballet School. It houses serious ballet students from all over, year-round, has a prestigious summer intensive program, runs a recreational ballet school for local students as well, and generally thinks it's the cat's meow. I was - naturally! - expecting the theatre to be FILLED with students and staff from the school. What a rare opportunity for a school outing (even taking into consideration that they don't cotton to Russian ballet) - and on a free day, a Sunday, to boot! Don'tcha know, there was NOT ONE student nor teacher nor staff member from the Quinte Ballet School of Canada at today's production of Le Corsaire!

In fact, there were only 25 people in the audience. And, except for the grandmother - who appeared younger than I am, with her granddaughter (who may or may not be a student at the school - or at some other studio, I didn't ask) - every other person there was more elderly than I, by 10-20 years. It never ceases to amaze me.

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I took my mom to see this, this afternoon, and we loved everything... Except, about 30 minutes before the end of the final act, the video ended. We got refunds, but they claimed it was a problem with all of the West Coast feeds--did anyone have a similar experience? The theatre was PACKED, though largely with people 70+ years and older (by my guess--my mom made a joke about not being used to being one of the youngest people in the room). I did see a few people my age who, I assumed from overheard conversations, were ballet students.

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Marga, you gave such a wonderful review! The theatre I went to was only half full (The Sleeping Beauty I saw last was about 75% full). I don't know about other people, but I enjoyed it. It was better than I expected. I found this version is more "cohesive" on the story line and how the characters relate to one another. The garden scene with all the ladies in white tutu was spectacular.

Did anyone keep count on how many costumes between Svetlana Lunkina and Nina Kaptsova?

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In Vancouver we lost the feed in the middle of Gulnare's solo with harp during the "Grand pas des eventails." Because on the West Coast, we're not getting a live feed -- there's no way they'd open the theater for an 8am start time -- from the screen that came up, it was clear what happened: they PVR it from the live satellite feed and re-broadcast it, and, for whatever reason, the Bell HD PVR mechanism stopped; this was confirmed by the theater manager.

Maybe the third time I see this production will be the charm: "Grand pas des eventails" was cut from the Kennedy Center touring production a few Junes ago, presumably to keep the run-time at three hours to avoid overtime. Too bad it was moved from its original position in the second act (if I understood Ms. Novikova correctly), or we would have seen it! Perhaps the Bell HD PVR is on union time.

"The Sleeping Beauty" was a sell-out here, and there were some very dressed-up and disappointed children heading away from the theater when I arrived. The theater was at least at 85% for "Le Corsaire" on the top level. (The first five rows are awful, and I didn't see many people there.)

I agree 100% with Marga's description of Lunkina: she's a modest dancer with prima gifts, and she was exquisite. She's also scheduled to dance Zina in "Bright Stream" on the next HD yahoo.gif I was lucky enough to see Kaptsova live in DC, and she was even better this afternoon. I also loved Skvortsov: he's such a virile presence, but always elegant. Two details really enthralled me: he is one of the few male dancers who, in preparation for turns in perfect fifth, does not move/turn-in his standing foot as he tendus to the side and ronde de jambs his leg back. More critically, the timing and command of his port de bras is gorgeous: in his Act I Grand Pas solo, at one point preparing for some big technical thing, he gestured back from stillness just a tad behind the beat and pulled me in.

I loved all three Odalisques, but was particularly taken with No. 3, the very musical Anna Tikhomirova. Vyacheslav Lopatin was wonderful in the "Pas d'eclaves"; virtuosos who can leap and turn without pushing are my favorite, but he was also an elegant and attentive partner. I was disappointed with Anastasia Stashkevich in the first, fast pas of the "Pas d'eclaves" and in her solo; in allegro, I thought she looked forced and hit beats without much phrasing. She was more interesting to me in the second adagio pas. I adore Andrei Merkuriev's characterization of Birbanto, and the "Danse des forbans" with the spirited Anna Antropova was superb.

"Jardin animee" might be the most beautiful dance I've ever seen.

I would buy this in a second if it is released. This production is a treasure.

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Marga, were the spoken words during the interpolated "Little Corsaire" variation? I read that Medora shouts "Au bord!" (or a Russian version of that phrase) at the end of that variation. Maybe that was what you heard. I read that she originally shouts this through a megaphone or something. It was to keep in line with the nautical theme of Corsaire, although nobody is about to get on board a ship at that moment, so I don't quite understand.

I missed this, b/c I was traveling home from Jupiter, FL by car after seeing 2 performances of Miami City Ballet's Giselle this past weekend. It was a great weekend, and I knew I would miss Corsaire, b/c the live feed wasn't playing anywhere in Jupiter or South Florida. Instead I was stuck on Florida's Turnpike passing 13 car accidents!!!! It was end of Spring Break for students and raining. Sure wish I had been watching Corsaire instead. I hope to see it during an encore presentation. You have whetted my appetite!

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You may be the only one, macnellie. I always thought pointe shoes should be well broken in and well rosined, so not to handicap the dancer and especially to prevent her slipping. Very slightly sticky, they pick up dirt like magnets, I imagine.

And IIRC, Bart Birdsall, the "Au bord!" matter came up when this (or most of it) was shown in DC a few years ago. It does seem little odd, though if you're going to put something odd in a ballet, that shipwreck is it, for my money. Go for it!

And a thought about empty theaters: When I tried to find out whether this was showing in the Chicago area, I entered my ZIP (post) code on Fandango's web site and got nothing, but then, not sure how comprehensive a sample of their database I might be getting, I tried a few more widely-scattered codes, including the distant suburb where I went to see one of the Met productions, and lo! That same theater is showing this on the 20th! So, what was Fandango's thinking? No one's going to travel across the metropolitan area for this, or if they would, we don't want 'em in here, so don't let 'em see that? So if your theater was empty, folks, it may just have been another triumph of marketing. Maybe, few knew.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the discussion on the strength of my having seen most of this onstage and considering the possibility of seeing it on screen on the 20th, if it doesn't turn up somewhere else first, like, on line?

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Lunkina did call out something into the megaphone in the HD.

I read somewhere that Medora (during the Little Corsaire interpolation) historically shouted, "Au Bord" in a megaphone, but I don't remember where I read it. I think I also saw Alexandrova dance and shout it on YouTube (from the Corsaire reconstruction) and it doesn't sound like "Au Bord," but I assumed it was the Russian words for the same idea. Maybe someone who knows Russian can decipher what she says.

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