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2014 White Nights Festival at the Mariinsky


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The problem is that the notations are supposedly only certain parts and the rest has to be guessed. Lacotte makes up and totally creates most of his "reconstructions" from what I understand. I have enjoyed his work on DVD (Pharoah's Daughter, Ondine, La Sylphide, Marco Spada), but they are probably nothing like the original ballets. Much is guesswork and a lot of creativity. Everything I've read about the notations says that the Harvard Collection really only gives some of the picture and was intended to be used by people who were familiar with the works so gaps could be filled.

Essentially, a reconstruction could be more "wrong" than what was passed down foot to foot and changed over the years!

Oh absolutely Bart, you're absolutely right - and btw, it's a pleasure to meet you and I have heard that you sustained a terrible injury a while ago, so I wish you a speedy recovery. smile.png

Unfortunately yes, the notation is blank in places and there are dances/scenes that weren't notated; as Doug Fullington said, we're probably never going to get back to what exactly Petipa staged all those years ago, but we can still get as close as we can and that's always better than nothing.

Pierre Lacotte did use the notation as a foundation for his revival of The Pharaoh's Daughter, as did Yuri Burlaka when he staged his recent revival of La Esmeralda. The choreography for The Pharaoh's Daughter is available for the principal dancers and soloists, but the choreography for the corps de ballet and some of the action/mime scenes are only vaguely notated. But despite this, there is enough to use as a firm foundation base for a full restoration; Lacotte did actually have Doug Fullington reconstruct some of Petipa's original variations e.g. the six river variations from the underwater kingdom scene, but in the end, he only chose to use three, which I think is a little odd as well as very unfortunate.

So yeah, even though everything's not there 100%, it's still worth using the notation to reconstruct what we can of Petipa's ballets. In fact actually, the one ballet that is notated the most clearly is La Bayadere and just like Sleeping Beauty, that was certainly worth reconstructing, but it would've been a whole lot better for both productions if everything from the notation had been restored.

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As Doug Fullington has pointed out many times, the notations for the ballets can differ widely in the amount of detail provided, the years notated, and the number of notators working on a given score. Also, dancers' bodies have changed since Petipa's time, the fast footwork and tempi of his time are not comfortable on most of today's long-limbed dancers, nor do they support the extensions that have become ubiquitous, and dancers aren't willing to be as imperfect. He's also noted that reconstructions are collaborations with dancers. Perhaps in Russia they are dictated and the highly trained professionals just do as they are told without giving any feedback, but in a video of Tsiskaridze rehearsing a role (not reconstruction) just before his contract wasn't renewed, his sulking and body language told a different story, and reminded me of the scene in the (fictional) "Turning Point" where Emma is rehearsing the "new" ballet (which is actually from an Ailey work).

The reconstructed versions often look simpler with more repetition, but what's particularly striking are the male variations that look like they came from the Bournonville rep, not surprising since Bournonville and Petipa came from the 19th century French School and share the same DNA. Watching them you can see where Balanchine was coming from in terms of tempi and emphasis, and why Patricia Wilde was necessary for Balanchine to create "Divertimento No.15," "Square Dance," and the often-dropped Third Movement from "Western Symphony" (dropped because of difficulty): she had the body type and strength of technique that the Italians brought to St. Petersburg.

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I also think the requirements for male dancing have changed a lot since Petipa's time. The cavalier roles like Siegfried, Prince Florimund, or Solor were meant to be just that -- cavaliers. For instance in the reconstruction of Raymonda Jean de Brienne doesn't get a variation. Anna Pavlova danced Nikya with a Solor who was 60 years old -- Pavel Gerdt. Now maybe he was a very spry 60 year old, but it's safe to say he didn't dance the double assemble variation that was later inserted. Nowadays audience expectations for the cavalier roles are much different.

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I also like Maria Shirinkina very much, although it is certainly true that she is suited for limited roles. However, she is essentially a lyrical ballerina with particularly beautiful port de bras, charming presence and expression and when confined to these roles she is very effective.

Yeah if it were up to me, I wouldn't give her every principal role in the repertoire of course, but I do think she has potential for some other lead roles than the ones she's already been given. Because she's a lyrical ballerina, she always makes a wonderful romantic heroine and fairy tale princess on stage and if I ever did a Swan Lake reconstruction, I would consider casting her as Odette/Odile because I really do think she would do really well at the original Petipa/Ivanov choreography. The original choreography contains both dance and action and she would do really well at that because she's also a good actress.

Unfortunately, that's something a few of the Mariinsky principal ballerinas tend to lack, including Viktoria Tereshkina. Now don't get me wrong; as a dancer, Tereshkina is absolutely flawless, as an actress however... not so much, depending on what role she's dancing. When she dances romantic characters like Odette, her dancing's always wonderful, but her characterisation is usually very bland. But to her defence, she is a virtuosa ballerina and like every other virtuosa ballerina, the ability to bring character to tender, romantic heroines is her weakness. But on the bright side, she does make the perfect Kitri.

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As Doug Fullington has pointed out many times, the notations for the ballets can differ widely in the amount of detail provided, the years notated, and the number of notators working on a given score. Also, dancers' bodies have changed since Petipa's time, the fast footwork and tempi of his time are not comfortable on most of today's long-limbed dancers, nor do they support the extensions that have become ubiquitous, and dancers aren't willing to be as imperfect. He's also noted that reconstructions are collaborations with dancers. Perhaps in Russia they are dictated and the highly trained professionals just do as they are told without giving any feedback, but in a video of Tsiskaridze rehearsing a role (not reconstruction) just before his contract wasn't renewed, his sulking and body language told a different story, and reminded me of the scene in the (fictional) "Turning Point" where Emma is rehearsing the "new" ballet (which is actually from an Ailey work).

The reconstructed versions often look simpler with more repetition, but what's particularly striking are the male variations that look like they came from the Bournonville rep, not surprising since Bournonville and Petipa came from the 19th century French School and share the same DNA. Watching them you can see where Balanchine was coming from in terms of tempi and emphasis, and why Patricia Wilde was necessary for Balanchine to create "Divertimento No.15," "Square Dance," and the often-dropped Third Movement from "Western Symphony" (dropped because of difficulty): she had the body type and strength of technique that the Italians brought to St. Petersburg.

I also think the requirements for male dancing have changed a lot since Petipa's time. The cavalier roles like Siegfried, Prince Florimund, or Solor were meant to be just that -- cavaliers. For instance in the reconstruction of Raymonda Jean de Brienne doesn't get a variation. Anna Pavlova danced Nikya with a Solor who was 60 years old -- Pavel Gerdt. Now maybe he was a very spry 60 year old, but it's safe to say he didn't dance the double assemble variation that was later inserted. Nowadays audience expectations for the cavalier roles are much different.

Yeah exactly, the original Prince Desire variation from the Sleeping Beauty Wedding Pas de deux and the variation of Beranger from Raymonda (which later became Jean de Brienne's variation) are two really big examples of how accomplished 19th century male dancers were in terms of technique. And to be honest, male dancers today can perform those variations.

Unfortunately, one problem we have today are that dancers usually dance to such slow tempi because they're worrying more about how high they get their legs up or how many twirls they do. And as a result of this, the choreography drags, so if only there was a way to make them stop worrying about the ballon so much... lol

In fact something I've been wondering lately, would it be a good idea to bring the Enrico Cecchetti teaching method back to the Vaganova Academy?

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Stepanova, Marchuk and Nikitina all deserved promotions long ago, and there are many others who are also woefully overlooked, such as Margarita Frolova. At least Yulia Stepanova is now getting the roles she should have had long ago - some of them - but when one considers the shocking fast-tracking of ballerinas such as Chebykina and Skorik before her, then management really should account for this. It is not acceptable and downgrades the company.

Strongly agree, and Viktoria Krasnokutskaya and Daria Vasnetsova, even Anastasia Petushkova, all deserve more opportunities than Chebykina and Skorik.

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I also think the requirements for male dancing have changed a lot since Petipa's time. The cavalier roles like Siegfried, Prince Florimund, or Solor were meant to be just that -- cavaliers. For instance in the reconstruction of Raymonda Jean de Brienne doesn't get a variation. Anna Pavlova danced Nikya with a Solor who was 60 years old -- Pavel Gerdt. Now maybe he was a very spry 60 year old, but it's safe to say he didn't dance the double assemble variation that was later inserted. Nowadays audience expectations for the cavalier roles are much different.

Many of the variations were given to auxiliary characters, who were expected to be virtuosos, just as the two men's solos in the first act of "La Sylphide" were danced by members of the village, not James and Gurn.

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I also think the requirements for male dancing have changed a lot since Petipa's time. The cavalier roles like Siegfried, Prince Florimund, or Solor were meant to be just that -- cavaliers. For instance in the reconstruction of Raymonda Jean de Brienne doesn't get a variation. Anna Pavlova danced Nikya with a Solor who was 60 years old -- Pavel Gerdt. Now maybe he was a very spry 60 year old, but it's safe to say he didn't dance the double assemble variation that was later inserted. Nowadays audience expectations for the cavalier roles are much different.

Many of the variations were given to auxiliary characters, who were expected to be virtuosos, just as the two men's solos in the first act of "La Sylphide" were danced by members of the village, not James and Gurn.

Yeah Petipa and Bournoville were ones to show what all their dancers could do, not just the principals.

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Bolshakova was only 19 and in the corps when she danced Odette/Odile in London at the end of her first MT season.

Thank you for the reminder: I should have written "with a corps de ballet girl dancing «Swan Lake» who is not a baby ballerina fresh out of school (Stepanova began her 6th year in the company, and still a corps de ballet member despite her outstanding promise)."

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Tonight's (July 14) Bayadere was the same cast as last night, and everyone did pretty much the same.

Gergiev was listed online and in the program I bought, but the audience waited for 30 minutes (Bayadere had a 7pm start time but tonight it started around 7:30pm). Boris Gruzin ended up coming out to conduct. So Gergiev conducted the July 12 performance with Kolegova, but Gruzin conducted the two Tereshkina performances even though Gergiev was listed for one. Cameras were filming tonight like the other two nights.

So all 3 nights were filmed: one with Kolegova and 2 with Tereshkina. Gergiev only conducted Kolegova. Will be interesting to see what the credits on a possible DVD will be.

One little mishap was that the Indian drummer dropped his drum after throwing it in the air. I forgot to mention that yesterday when the curtain opened for Kingdom of the Shades a panel that represents the Himalayan mountains was late being lowered into place and the backstage hand made sure it was placed correctly...that was in full view from where I sat.

Oksana Marchuk is getting better at balancing the water pot on her head. She took her hands away more often. I think she would be perfect for La Sylphide.

Everyone was like how I wrote yesterday. Same cast, same great performances. No need to write the same thing again.

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Tonight's (July 14) Bayadere was the same cast as last night, and everyone did pretty much the same.

Gergiev was listed online and in the program I bought, but the audience waited for 30 minutes (Bayadere had a 7pm start time but tonight it started around 7:30pm). Boris Gruzin ended up coming out to conduct. So Gergiev conducted the July 12 performance with Kolegova, but Gruzin conducted the two Tereshkina performances even though Gergiev was listed for one. Cameras were filming tonight like the other two nights.

So all 3 nights were filmed: one with Kolegova and 2 with Tereshkina. Gergiev only conducted Kolegova. Will be interesting to see what the credits on a possible DVD will be.

Today's performance was being broadcast.

I saw the recording of the first «La bayadère»: indeed, everything as you wrote, in one word — a disaster. Now you know what kind of artistic "tastes" the Acting Director has. Signing up Bondareva is another proof of this.

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Tonight's (July 14) Bayadere was the same cast as last night, and everyone did pretty much the same.

Gergiev was listed online and in the program I bought, but the audience waited for 30 minutes (Bayadere had a 7pm start time but tonight it started around 7:30pm). Boris Gruzin ended up coming out to conduct. So Gergiev conducted the July 12 performance with Kolegova, but Gruzin conducted the two Tereshkina performances even though Gergiev was listed for one. Cameras were filming tonight like the other two nights.

So all 3 nights were filmed: one with Kolegova and 2 with Tereshkina. Gergiev only conducted Kolegova. Will be interesting to see what the credits on a possible DVD will be.

Today's performance was being broadcast.

I saw the recording of the first «La bayadère»: indeed, everything as you wrote, in one word — a disaster. Now you know what kind of artistic "tastes" the Acting Director has. Signing up Bondareva is another proof of this.

My lord, that doesn't sound good! I've never been to see a live cinema broadcast of a ballet before, but I am really glad I didn't want to go and see this one. I am a fan of Vladimir Shklyarov, but I'm not so keen on Viktoria Tereshkina as Nikiya... though it's not because of her dancing.

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I was talking about «La bayadère» on July 12, not the performance that was broadcast.

Yeah please excuse my mistake, but how the hell did so much go wrong? And any idea how many days Gergiev's been home during the White Nights Festival?

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I have read the report; I couldn't believe so much went so wrong! How did that happen? And until the 12th July, Gergiev hadn't been home for the White Nights Festival at all, had he?

I can tell you something Mathilde, if the Mariinsky Theatre had what we have here in the west, which is either an owner or a board of directors running it, Gergiev would've been fired as artistic director months ago! And of course if Gergiev goes, so does Fateyev... if only that would happen any time soon.

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Yes. Certainly. The reality is, however, always much more complex than what we think, what we wish. Fateev is just sabotaging the best material among his dancers, but look at the Mariinsky's repertoire that continues under his directorship. Eleven months out of twelve every year a lover of classical dance can enjoy multitude of classical treasures not always performed by the best soloists but always by the best corps de ballet that you will not find anywhere in the world (including Bolshoi). Even at Bolshoi you may need to wait a year to pass between consecutive blocks of «Swan Lakes», or any other treasure of classical dance. Not at Mariinsky. There you have it every month. Show me another such ballet troupe anywhere.

So, in the West Fateev would be gone, but also all the great treasures would be gone and even sooner, and Mariinsky would become yet another modern/contemporary troupe with a token nod to classics, probably in some 'modernized' form (à la Bart, Spoerli, or Maillot), where the word 'ballet' is mistaken for something between gymnastics and acrobatics. Look at the current state of the Ballet troupe of the Opéra. It is a travesty of what it once was. Just 20 years ago. Under Gergiev nothing of the sort has happened. I prefer not to "throw the baby out with the bath water."

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Where in the West are we talking about?

In North America, there is only one major or medium-sized company that is a classical company, and ABT didn't start out that way. Nor did Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Maybe National Ballet of Canada started that way -- I could never follow their narrative -- but nearly every professional North American company is a neoclassical company and most of those started as a neoclassical company. Their students have a wide range of training, and very few of them started in the schools at aged 8, and even for those who did, until they are at least 13, they are not on a pre-professional track. (There is no comparison between the kids who perform on the stage of the Mariinsky or Bolshoi in children's roles and their same-age counterparts in the US. Most of the 8-year olds trying out in the "Ballerina" movie looked more professional than almost all 12-year-olds who perform with their companies.)

If the companies are big enough, they do some version of some classics, but that doesn't make them classical companies. Some are lucky to have an AD like Ib Andersen who can make coherent versions of classical ballet for them and who, like Martins, Balanchine, and Tomasson were classically trained. Just about all of their reps have some proportion of contemporary, or what is called contemporary, ie. 25-year-old Kylian, like the ubiquitous "Petite Mort" and almost 30-year-old Tharp ("In the Upper Room") and you can't move sideways on the schedule without bumping into one of them. Much of what I see in the contemporary realm is After Kylian, since After Forsythe proved to be too difficult.

In Paris, they seem to have two camps: the contemporary/once-contemporary and the classical/neoclassical, but they are trained in a very specific technique and are honed to look a certain way. It's hard to keep track of many of the other companies: one moment Plisetskaya is running a company and the next moment it's Nacho Duato. (At least he changed it in name, in dancers, and in technique, so that it was never false advertising.)

As far as Gergiev being fired, it seems from watching Europe, the only way anyone gets fired is if they get on the wrong side of an entrenched bureaucracy or if the government changes and will only fund something fundamentally different, like in Spain. In North America, take a few minutes to read what our NY crowd says about Martins and McKenzie: the only reason they aren't considered anti-christs is that people think they're too incompetent to be one.

Gergiev brings in the money and the donors and is a friend and supporter of Mr. Putin, the ultimate Chairman of the Board. One of the few things that gets an AD fired in North America is spending money in a way the Board has an issue with, and I don't see that being Gergiev's Achilles heel.

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I have read the report; I couldn't believe so much went so wrong! How did that happen? And until the 12th July, Gergiev hadn't been home for the White Nights Festival at all, had he?

He had been, if by "home" you mean Mariinsky Theater, conducting operas. He conducts ballets only on special occasions of "high media visibility" (like a broadcast, a commercial recording, a special gala).

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