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The Bolshoi under Vaziev

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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

The Bolshoi having a dash of vulgarity and inelegance is nothing new.

Do excuse my ignorance but if what I have been seeing at the Bolshoy over the last three years had "a dash of vulgarity and inelegance" ..... I loved it, couldn't get enough !  To my mind Bolshoy ballet is alive and exciting and full of spirit in a way I fail to detect at the Mariinsky, maybe my shortcoming.

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48 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

Do excuse my ignorance but if what I have been seeing at the Bolshoy over the last three years had "a dash of vulgarity and inelegance" ..... I loved it, couldn't get enough !  To my mind Bolshoy ballet is alive and exciting and full of spirit in a way I fail to detect at the Mariinsky, maybe my shortcoming.

From my conversations with other fans, I think many long-time Bolshoi lovers appreciate this about them--and prefer them or, in the past at least, have preferred them to the Mariinsky for exactly these reasons. Watching mostly at a distance and when the companies tour, I like having the Bolshoi "alongside" the Mariinsky--I think Ballet flourishes with multiple traditions. (I adore Balanchine, but Ashton is important to me as well etc. etc.)

I think in my heart of hearts, though, the Russian Company that, at its best anyway, I would take with me to a desert island -- alongside New York City Ballet of course -- is the Mariinsky. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the Bolshoi distinctiveness...a lot. From the "old days" there are videos of Maximova, for example, that are among my favorite videos of any ballerina ever. (I only saw her once live--she was at least in her mid-forties and just wonderful.)

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My reference to vulgarity referred solely to technique, described succinctly by Helene.  I have never considered the company intrinsically vulgar, a little brash perhaps but possessing an exuberance and panache that set it apart from all others, for me it was a company unlike the rest, quite unique in the same way that NYCB and RDB have distinct personalities.

As far as ballerinas are concerned the Bolshoi has produced more diamonds than pearls, in my opinion the company currently has one diamond, Krysanova, and one (imported) pearl, Obraztsova.   to continue with my jewel analogy the rest aren't even  cubic zirconias, just worthless paste.   All companies experience peaks and troughs  and it looks as if the flow of Bolshoi female talent may have temporarily dried up, or perhaps it is being suppressed in favour of Maryinsky dancers.

For many years I was fortunate to visit Moscow on a very regular basis and admired dancers of ability, charm and above all strong personality, now I see dancers unable to engage with their audience or their on stage partners, with negligible acting skills, little musicality and techniques peppered with errors.  

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I remember seeing both the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi on tour in California when they came in the 00's.  I was much more impressed by the Bolshoi: even if the corps wasn't always pristine, it was energized, and, to my eyes, appeared to be more physically diverse.  (Not by North American standards, but compared to the Mariinsky.)   

I haven't seen either company since except on film/HD, but it would be a shame if they have lost that quality. Although with the upheavals and tragedies of the last years, I wouldn't blame them from feeling factionalized (if that's a word) and suffering from PTSD.

I don't really see much difference between the two companies in terms of the characteristics of the ballerinas being promoted:  there are dancers that I don't think are exemplars of any good tradition, and there are dancers whom I find exquisite.  It hasn't mattered what the name of the school is in their bios, and many of their teachers in Moscow and Perm and Vilnius etc. taught using a Vaganova-based curriculum.  

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On 1/25/2018 at 12:47 PM, Helene said:

I remember seeing both the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi on tour in California when they came in the 00's.  I was much more impressed by the Bolshoi: even if the corps wasn't always pristine, it was energized, and, to my eyes, appeared to be more physically diverse.  (Not by North American standards, but compared to the Mariinsky.)   

I haven't seen either company since except on film/HD, but it would be a shame if they have lost that quality. Although with the upheavals and tragedies of the last years, I wouldn't blame them from feeling factionalized (if that's a word) and suffering from PTSD.

I don't really see much difference between the two companies in terms of the characteristics of the ballerinas being promoted:  there are dancers that I don't think are exemplars of any good tradition, and there are dancers whom I find exquisite.  It hasn't mattered what the name of the school is in their bios, and many of their teachers in Moscow and Perm and Vilnius etc. taught using a Vaganova-based curriculum.  

I guess I’ve always leaned slightly towards the Mariinsky, Helene. It’s simply my love for the more delicate and dreamlike. With Olga Smirnova and  the just beginning Alyona Kovalyova, whom I consider perhaps to be the stars of this generation as well as coming from the Mariinsky’s Vaganova school, now at the Bolshoi, I’m more attracted to the Bolshoi than ever. Also, when I saw the Bolshoi dancers perform for the first time on their own stage about two years ago I was extremely impressed. They were electric. The best I’ve ever seen them.

One difference, for me, is subtle, but meaningful. The Bolshoi has a very fine sense of theater. 

The leads I saw at the Bolshoi Theater performing La Bayadere, Svetlana Zakharova, Anna Nikulina and Ekaterina Krysanova, at her more delicate, did have a ‘Mariinsky feel.’ I viewed  Svetlana Lunkina the same when she was at the Bolshoi. Similarities can exist, but also significant and beautiful contrasts.

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5 hours ago, Buddy said:

I guess I’ve always leaned slightly towards the Mariinsky, Helene. It’s simply my love for the more delicate and dreamlike.

Where I come from we have little regard for "the more delicate and dreamlike" so its no wonder I have become attached to the Bolshoy and Alexandrova !  :D:D .  As Osmin famously puts it at the start of Act 2 Scene 1 of "Abduction from the Seraglio" : "Tenderness ??  Compliments ???  Which devil put that stuff in your head ?? Here we are in T..... and things go by a different tone !"  :D:D:clapping:

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12 hours ago, Mashinka said:

My reference to vulgarity referred solely to technique, described succinctly by Helene. 

But then Helene was referring to very specific elements, such as (and I quote) 190 degree split with a dropped crotch or excessively high extensions. Neither Stepanova nor Smirnova are known for ever doing anything of the sort. So your attack on them is a complete miss.

The worst display of excessive extensions was in the Mariinsky recording of Rubies. And Alina Somova, as I remember her at a young age, abused her unique extension for the sake of pure showmanship without any regard for appropriateness. Maybe she has settled down a bit since then, I don't know, I have not seen her in a long time.

Why is the Bolshoi then getting all the flak?

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As an aside, I believe the fashion for high extensions was introduced by Sylvie Guillem, and then extensively imitated by Svetlana Zakharova. Shall we consider both of them vulgar?

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34 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

I believe the fashion for high extensions was introduced by Sylvie Guillem,

Yes - she was famous for "touching her ear" with her pointe !  Regrettably I saw very little of Guillem at the ROH during the early Nineties, just a couple of times. As she defected to "contemptable choreo" Guillem is a counter-revolutionary and an enemy of the people and should be sent to the gulag !!

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Very busy at the moment and I wish I could join in this conversation - when I have more time, maybe.  But ... I just wanted to say in Alina Somova's defence, that her days of employing extremely high extensions have long since gone, and although she has been offstage actually for some time recently with pregnancy and injury, she has always used appropriate extensions recently when I saw her.  I think she was badly advised and coached to overuse her flexibility as a very young ballerina and now she does not.  She is a wonderful ballerina.   And neither Smirnova nor Stepanova overuse their extensions, despite their natural flexibility. 

Edited by MadameP

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2 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

Why is the Bolshoi then getting all the flak?

Because the title of the thread is The Bolshoi under Vaziev.

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2 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

As an aside, I believe the fashion for high extensions was introduced by Sylvie Guillem, and then extensively imitated by Svetlana Zakharova. Shall we consider both of them vulgar?

Guillem, no. With her it was a natural capacity, and she could lift her legs that high with (almost) no displacement of her pelvis. Zakharova, yes. Most definitely vulgar. In fact I would have little or no objection to dancers lifting their legs as high as they liked, if they could keep their pelvises level in the process. The problem is that no one does. The extension is achieved by tipping the pelvis sideways. Again, okay, if it's a modern dance tilt, where the entire torso follows the tilted line. The problem with ballet nowadays, is that "dancers" first tip their pelvises sideways in order to raise the foot higher, and then they curve their torsos toward the leg to simulate the appearance of a straight spine. But the spine isn't straight; it's in an awful-looking C-curve.

902ad32f467ba0215a89b8fe6dab5c65.jpg

The worst of it is when a dancer telegraphs her intention to do a six-o'clock extension because her spine curves as she begins unfolding her leg in a développé. It's awful. If the pubic bone is pointing sideways during an à la seconde, it doesn't count, as far as I'm concerned. Some dancers, such as Alina Cojocaru and Svetlana Lunkina, can lift their legs very high without ever appearing vulgar. Most of the time it looks ungainly, as though dancers were hoping that audiences would be so impressed by the height of the raised foot that they wouldn't notice the grotesque distortion of the spine. As for Olga Smirnova, she has just about the ugliest à la seconde I've seen.

The 190-degree split is a blight. So is the turned-in à la seconde masquerading as an arabesque. Lots of vulgarity out there. But context is important, too. When performing something inherently vulgar like Béjart's Bhakti, a dancer is entitled to turn her pelvis inside out as much as she likes.

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48 minutes ago, volcanohunter said:

Zakharova, yes. Most definitely vulgar.

So ashamed to find out day after day that I have vulgar tastes  :crying: ..... maybe not surprising considering I took to ballet at 65+ :)  Vulgar or not, I love Sveta's 6-o-clock high extensions ..... can go see her in the Don Kixot Grand Pas five nights in a row ..... I mean it !  Just look again at this video which you must have seen umpteen times :

 

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1 hour ago, Gnossie said:

Exactly, Guillem never distorted her pelvis, and for the record, Guillem NEVER did 6 o'clocks in the Rose Adagio. 

This video begs to differ:

 

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Just now, Gnossie said:

Still not as extreme as the Russians, and she didn't held her leg up there forever, she wasn't showing off. 

But you said NEVER did 6 o'clocks and in that video she does do 6 o'clocks.

And "Russians" is an entire country of dancers. There are some who don't do the 6 o'clocks either:

 

 

And then there's Alina Somova who at least in 2015 doesn't do them either:

 

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4 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

 When performing something inherently vulgar like Béjart's Bhakti, a dancer is entitled to turn her pelvis inside out as much as she likes.

Personally I'm not concerned with how high the leg goes in general, but I detest 6 o'clocks in classical works.  They destroy the overall flow of movement and look hideous.  It particularly disturbs me that teachers who once danced the classics to perfection seem to encourage their students to pursue extremes of technique.  A cynic might wonder if they do it so that their memory remains a beacon in the memory of the fans.

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I can stomach 6 o’clocks extensions since they last just a second. But I start grinding my teeth when I see such extremes in a supported attitude derrière when a ballerina lifts her leg so high that it looks as if she is about to use her foot for scratching the back of her partner’s head.

Edited by Dreamer

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I remember seeing Guillem in Swan Lake when I had only seen her in a contemporary role. From what I had read about her, I assumed I would dislike the extensions and generally not like her dancing in a classical role. Was I ever wrong! The extensions were organic to her dancing, entirely natural looking, and at the performance I saw, involved no distortions of classical line whatsoever. It was a beautiful, thought-through performance in all other respects as well.  

(I admit that I am not automatically opposed to all high extensions generally in any case...depends on the role, the dancer, the lines, the musicality, movement dynamics, other qualities they bring to role etc.) 

Edited by Drew
typo

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7 hours ago, Gnossie said:

Still not as extreme as the Russians, and she didn't held her leg up there forever, she wasn't showing off. 

What do the rules say about the maximum amount of time one is allowed to hold one's leg up before being considered vulgar?

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7 hours ago, Gnossie said:

Obraztsova is a whole other deal.

 

Somova doesn't do 6 o'clocks!????? We must be looking at two different videos, if that isn't picking up the leg then what is! Guillem didn't raise her leg that high. 

Extensions aside, mother of cheesus, Somova was ATROCIOUS in that video.

Obraztsova does 6 o'clocks

mariinsky-ballet-donq-act-i-kitri-evgeni

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13 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

And what makes Guillem any better than Zakharova?

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQbE3mHONBpjT0vMbpo86vp44sylvie_guillem2.jpg

Alignment and balance over the leg, as well as lack of distortion in the upper body, if you're just comparing images.

However, they look like very different ballets.  I wouldn't claim that what is appropriate for Kitri is always appropriate for Odette, or that what is inappropriate for Odette is always appropriate for Kitri.

 

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1 hour ago, Fleurdelis said:

Is this tasteful?

I don't think it looks very nice. I don't know whether it's supposed to be tasteful. A lot depends on context.

8 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

And what makes Guillem any better than Zakharova?

Guillem's raised leg is in front of her body, for one thing, and she's not pulling off her supporting leg to the same extent. However, Carmen Suite is a very vulgar ballet, so Zakharova is not totally off base with her crotch splitting. Although personally, I wouldn't want to watch it.

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So, if the leg is raised in front of the body, it is tasteful. And if behind, it is vulgar. Is this how it works?

And let's remember that there was a claim made earlier that technique itself can be vulgar. So, if that's the case, context shouldn't matter, right?

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