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Coppelia in Italy (Verona)

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Maybe noone will be interested in my comments about a performance I saw yesterday night but I must write down how I feel anyway.

The performance was Coppelia, the corps de ballet was the Arena one, the coreographer an unknown former ballerina, now the artistic director of the company (no repertoire). Guest stars: Vladimir Malakhov and Nadja Saidakova.

I don't want to go into deep details (it will be useless: no interpretation, no good foot work, no balance etc etc), I'd like to give an overall idea of the performance. Imagine you go and see the annual performance of the little dance school of the little village you live in. And the teacher decided to pay a lot of money to have two great stars dancing among her/his students. That was the idea.

Malakhov and Saidakova were fantastic. The corps de ballet terrible. I don't know if Malakhov is famous in US as he is in Europe. Here he is considered Nureyev's heir: perfect body with well built muscles, jumps of every kind without showing efforts or strain, strong russian techinque. Maybe he lacks a bit of interpretation but he is fantastic. And so was his partner. Unlikely, Franz dances very little, in Coppelia the mime is prevalent on the dancing and so we saw a lot of running on the stage, a lot of unbalanced arabeques penchee and so on.Very sad indeed. Not mentioning the fact that it was very funny to see Coppelia set in Venice!Anyway, at the end of the performance there was a standing ovation for everyone!!! I went home very depressed hoping something will change in the future. antoP.

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thanks for your review. I'm looking forward to reading other reviews of ballet performances in Italy (and I'm sure I'm not the only one).

One of the advantages of this board is that people post reviews of performances in many different places; most members are American, but

there are also people from UK, Hong Kong, Sweden, Germany, France (like myself), etc. and it's great to read reviews from performances outside one's own country. Nearly all what I know about

Italian dance now comes from reading "Ballet 2000", the French version of "Balletto Oggi", but it is not much.

Do you remember the name of the choreographer? What do you think of the choreography itself? Do you think the problems came

mainly from the low quality of the corps de ballet, or also from the choreography itself?

What you said about the performance (good guest stars and bad corps de ballet) reminds me of some small French companies (like that of Metz, for example): they have a small budget, perform mostly as a corps de ballet in the dancing parts of operas, the level is low, and they do only a few performances of ballet per season, with guest stars from more prestigious companies. It used to work that way at the Capitole de Toulouse,

but since the arrival of Nanette Glushak as a new director about 5 years ago, the level of the company improved quite a lot. I remember an interview of her in which she said that she deliberately doesn't invite guest stars any longer; she wants the soloists to come from the company itself, and it's hard to motivate the dancers of the company if they never get to dance interesting roles (and also hard to motivate good dancers to join the company!) Inviting guest stars might be a good way to attract a wider audience, but usually it's not a good sign about the company's own level...

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Estelle, the name of the choreographer is Anna Maria Garofoli. She claimed her choreography was after Petipa.

I think that the main problems of the performance were due both to the corps de ballet and the choreography (very elementar without anything really exciting). Coppelia is a quite old-fashioned ballet, difficult to represent today: a lot of mime in the old eighteen century fashion which sounds a little bit funny if it's not supported by great dance. So the performance was rather boring without any thrill.

What you say about little companies is absolutely right, if they keep on relying on guest stars they don't have the chance to grow. I don't think we don't have great dancer, we surely don't have money. That's the big trouble. Ballet is seen as a minor art. I live in Verona, the town of the Opera. Every summer there are people from all the world that come to listen to Aida and so a lot of money is invested in Opera but not in other arts. If you don't have money it's very difficult to produce good performance and if you don't produce good performance it's hard to get money for them. Nonetheless, for Coppelia surely a lot of money has been spent. It wasn't worth while. antoP.

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antoP, thank you for posting this, and I hope to read many more of your reports from Italy. We NEVER hear about Italian ballet here, and, as Estelle said, there are people from around the world, and it's lovely to read what's going on. It's frustrating, too, if you're the only one who's seen a performance, because it's difficultt to have a discussion, but rest assured, it will be read. (We have about 1200 people a day reading this board now smile.gif )

Malakhov is probably a bit less known here in Europe because his appearances are limited to a few each spring with ABT; he doesn't tour much (last year, he did go to Orange County, but we haven't seen him in Washington since his first season). We did a portrait of him in DanceView, and often carry reviews, because we have a critic writing from Vienna, and another (who posts here frequently, Marc Haegeman) who's based in Belgium, but gets around.

It does sound like a depressing performance, and very like performances here, as well. The same problems are facing people everywhere. Here we might have a corps de ballet that's technically good, but so many different bodies and training styles that it's not a cohesive corps, and I've seen very few performances of any ballet created before World War II that were convincingly acted. (Yes, I know that's a sweeping statement.)

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Oh yes, AntoP, we do read your report from fair Verona.

It's moreover interesting to hear that you managed to see Malakhov and Saidakova, two excellent former soloists with the Moscow Classical Ballet. I used to like Saidakova a lot when she was dancing with the Moscow company. She is a graduate from Perm and started working in Berlin sometime in the mid-nineties.

You don't consider it a good idea that smaller companies have guest performers? Let me tell you, here in Belgium, we have a small company, which doesn't rely on prestigious guests for the same reason Estelle mentioned. Yet, the level is still depressingly low and we don't get good solo dancing either. At least you got a fantastic leading couple (I'll bet you even got a real orchestra?)

Thanks for the review.

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When I posted my topic I didn't imagine it could be of interest to anyone! I'm very happy I can discuss with other people and read different situation from different countries, this board is simply fantastic smile.gif. I love it.

Marc Haegeman, yes there was a real orchestra and I forgot to mention it (this demonstrates that I'm not a very competent and keen ballet critic. Alexandra, I feel a little ashamed redface.gif)). But maybe I didn't write anything about it because the music was at the same level as the corps de ballet: it seemed like they were playing in a village fair. Not very good.

In my opinion the problem is bigger than to have or to have not guest stars: maybe there's not enough professional schools which can train real dancers.This is only my opinion.

Anyway,I'm a little bit comforted: the ballet scenery is not so bad only in Italy, it seem to be a general problem.

Alexandra, one of the problem of Coppelia was exactly that there were too many dancers with different training styles and the result was awkward. antoP.

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Marc, I said that the presence of guest stars with a small company generally was a bad sign about the company's level, but I didn't say that a small company with no guest stars was always good! wink.gif What is the Belgian company you are talking about? The only Belgian company that I know is the Royal Ballet of Flanders, but I know very little about it.

I think that the situation in many small companies is quite complicated: there are problems of money, as AntoP said (most officials don't seem to realize that having a good ballet company is expensive), problems of bad training, problems of unsuited repertory...

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