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The Taming of the Shrew


sandik

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17 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

I was talking about my impression of Maillot's work, where he takes many liberties with the Shakespearean plot and characters, and I think the subjugation bit is really downplayed here. I get a sense that even though Katherine may appear to submit to some of Petruchio's whims (like the imaginary fire), she does so with such obvious condescension and sarcasm, that it is really she who is "taming" him. So, keeping Shakespeare's original title of the play may be a mockery in itself.

 

Maillot himself said in his interviews that he wanted to move the play away from the "macho" thing and make it more about two extraordinary people meeting and falling in love with each other.

 

And I think everyone who surrounds Katherine while she is at her father's home is shown as having some reprehensible trait, Maillot takes his time in exploring every character.

Thank you for sharing your views, Fleurdelis. That approach has been tried before and it never really works, unfortunately, because it makes Petruchio look like an idiot, which he isn’t, and it also means Katharina is going to spend her married life dissembling and catering to this lummox (who's got her money, BTW). For some reason, it's not a resolution that leaves me laughing. Of course, I may change my mind after seeing the ballet.

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1 hour ago, sandik said:

It's one of the Bolshoi's cinema broadcasts for next year (November).  There's no hard-and-fast rule, but those productions are often released as DVDs at some point.

I think this cinema broadcast will be a repeat of their Shrew cinema broadcast of last season.

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2 hours ago, abatt said:

 

I agree with AM for the most part. I did think that the Katharina/Petruchio pas de deux was a bit S&M-lite -- sort of Fifty Shades of Grey without the shade, if that makes sense.

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I think the whole thing is trash :yucky:, although this perhaps bestows more character on the ballet than it actually has. Maillot's Shrew is shallow and desultory, and I resent it all the more, because it's such a waste of resources and time.

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I agree, volcanohunter. A complete waste of time, energy and money.  Even though it was incredibly short, I was still bored.  What a waste to bring some of the greatest dancers of the world to NY on a rare visit, and present this. 

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46 minutes ago, abatt said:

I agree, volcanohunter. A complete waste of time, energy and money.  Even though it was incredibly short, I was still bored.  What a waste to bring some of the greatest dancers of the world to NY on a rare visit, and present this. 

 

Well thankfully we did get to see them in Jewels.

But I remember reading last time in an interview with Sergei Filin that the Bolshoi dancers were very unhappy with the repertoire of the last tour (their warhorses Swan Lake, DQ, and Spartacus) and it had been dictated to them by LCF.  So maybe their terms and conditions for coming back was they brought what they wanted. 

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55 minutes ago, abatt said:a

I agree, volcanohunter. A complete waste of time, energy and money.  Even though it was incredibly short, I was still bored.  What a waste to bring some of the greatest dancers of the world to NY on a rare visit, and present this. 

You should have come to the Joyce to see Gemma Bond Dance! It was a marvelous evening of dance with a talented group of corps, soloist, and principal ABT dancers.

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32 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Well thankfully we did get to see them in Jewels.

 

Just not very many of them. Only a fraction of the company came on the tour, and less than half of its principals.

 

Regardless of whether the decision to bring The Taming of the Shrew was the Bolshoi's or the bigwigs' at the LCF, they should have anticipated that Jean-Christophe Maillot's work would not go over well in New York. Macaulay writes "postmodern mess," and others would probably just dismiss it as "Eurotrash."

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50 minutes ago, canbelto said:

 

Well thankfully we did get to see them in Jewels.

But I remember reading last time in an interview with Sergei Filin that the Bolshoi dancers were very unhappy with the repertoire of the last tour (their warhorses Swan Lake, DQ, and Spartacus) and it had been dictated to them by LCF.  So maybe their terms and conditions for coming back was they brought what they wanted. 

 

Judging by all the comments on this forum from the Bolshoi's last visit to New York, it was not the dancers, but rather the American viewers who were unhappy about the warhorses. Swan Lake was too depressing and dated, Spartacus was too brash and Communist, and the repertoire overall deemed too old-fashioned and lacking creativity. So the Bolshoi decides to change it up and bring fresh, modern, Western works, and still gets panned, this time for the opposite reasons. Looks like it should either just stop touring in the US completely, or change its name to the Don Quixote Ballet Company and become a one-show wonder. Except that the DQ production that New Yorkers saw last time has since been sent to the heap in favor of one with cartoonish decorations and garish costumes.

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As far back as I can remember--I saw my first Bolshoi tour in 1979--New Yorkers, and Americans more broadly, have admired the Bolshoi's dancers and hated its repertoire. There is a strong bias toward Anglo-American ballet values, the audience was, after all, originally reared on Balanchine and Tudor, Robbins and to a lesser extent Ashton (not to mention the giants of American modern dance). Structural complexity and musical integrity are valued highly, and there is great resistance to the simplistic, choreographic "padding," "flexible," shall we say, tempos and even patchwork scores. It's not just Grigorovich, but choreographers based in western and central Europe who have had a hard time getting respect from New York's critics and audiences, including Petit, Béjart, Cranko, Neumeier, Kylián, Duato and many others. Obviously this is does not constitute a dislike for "Western" choreography, but perhaps a dislike of a "continental" aesthetic, and when Pacific Northwest Ballet brought Maillot's Roméo et Juliette to New York a few years ago, it wasn't received rapturously either, which is why I think the Bolshoi and the LCF should have known better.

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 If ticket sales were weak, that might speak, but if not, I don't think they care one way or another what we on this board think about the rep they bring.

 

New York critics in general have not been particularly overwhelmed by Maillot:

 

Gia Kourlas on 2016 Ballet de Monte Carlo Cinderella

Anna Kisselgoff on 2003 Ballet de Monte Carlo Cinderella

Snarking summary of Cinderella in The New Yorker (Unsigned, Not Sure from What Year)

Gia Kourlas on Lac

Marina Harss on 2013 Pacific Northwest Ballet Romeo et Juliette

Worse than Eurotrash, Macaulay Called Romeo et Juliette "Trivial"

 

Kisselgoff, though, was taken by Romeo et Juliette when Les Ballet de Monte Carlo brought it to NYC in 1999, which is, I think, when Peter Boal saw it and loved it, which is why we've seen it in Seattle in at least three runs so far, and why PNB has its own sets and costumes:

http://www.nytimes.com/1999/05/14/movies/ballet-review-it-is-the-east-and-juliet-is-stripped-to-the-waist.html

 

From London

Jann Parry on Romeo et Juliette

 

 

 

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For what it's worth, Shrew is far from sold out (collectively the fourth and fifth rings constitute, what, 720 seats?--and they haven't been opened fully), and the LCF offered a discount code for tickets, partly because they were too expensive to start. The "warhorse" tour three years ago was, I think, completely sold out before it opened.

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14 minutes ago, Helene said:

New York critics in general have not been particularly overwhelmed by Maillot:

 

...

Marina Harss on 2013 Pacific Northwest Ballet Romeo et Juliette

 

 

 

"And did I mention the slow-motion fight-scene, complete with crazed eyes and punches to the gut, like a brawl out of Gangs of New York? It takes a lot to make Kenneth MacMillan look understated."

 

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

As far back as I can remember--I saw my first Bolshoi tour in 1979--New Yorkers, and Americans more broadly, have admired the Bolshoi's dancers and hated its repertoire. There is a strong bias toward Anglo-American ballet values, the audience was, after all, originally reared on Balanchine and Tudor, Robbins and to a lesser extent Ashton (not to mention the giants of American modern dance). Structural complexity and musical integrity are valued highly, and there is great resistance to the simplistic, choreographic "padding," "flexible," shall we say, tempos and even patchwork scores. It's not just Grigorovich, but choreographers based in western and central Europe who have had a hard time getting respect from New York's critics and audiences, including Petit, Béjart, Cranko, Neumeier, Kylián, Duato and many others. Obviously this is does not constitute a dislike for "Western" choreography, but perhaps a dislike of a "continental" aesthetic, and when Pacific Northwest Ballet brought Maillot's Roméo et Juliette to New York a few years ago, it wasn't received rapturously either, which is why I think the Bolshoi and the LCF should have known better.

I think you hit the nail right on the head when you explain it in terms of the Anglo-American vs the "continental" traditions, although I would disagree with the way you characterize the differences.

 

P.S. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, Londoners seemed to love Taming last year, and you'd think the nation of Shakespeare would jealously protect its heritage. Though maybe not so surprisingly, given how closely integrated the UK and the rest of Europe have become in the last several decades.

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Well, the last tour to NY was all old/familiar works -- and I admit I deeply dislike the Grigorovich Swan Lake -- and I liked the idea of the Bolshoi bringing a newer work to NY this time round. Then, unfortunately, I couldn't get to NY to see it! But this tour is just one new work plus Diamonds/Rubies. What about a longer visit to New York and a mix of old and new?  Too utopian?

 

Anyway, I envy you all who saw Taming of the Shrew--I would LOVE to have seen it. Absurd politics notwithstanding, I thought the broadcast was huge fun and the dancers gave it a dynamism and passion that I hardly think any other company could. When has Krysanova shown such charisma or such sex appeal? What choreographer has created so charmingly for Smirnova? Was the New York performance so much worse than what I saw on HD at the movie theater? I suspect it's rather a difference of taste and, maybe...probably...a difference of expectations.

 

But is Taming of the Shrew ultimately a silly ballet? I guess I might concede the point, at least if I got to see it in the theater. Would I enjoy it in the absence of big star personalities (as, say, one can enjoy Serenade)? Certainly not. Volcanohunter wrote above that American fans have long loved Bolshoi dancers and disliked Bolshoi repertory. I agree, but I have also found unexpected pleasures in that odd dynamic. The Bolshoi, when it is on the top of its game, makes ITS repertory look great and, to some extent, the repertory has returned the compliment.  I certainly never saw Ivan Vasiliev give a more convincing performance than the one he gave in Spartacus. I have no desire to see him in Agon, though I don't doubt it's a much better ballet.

 

Of course I hold on to my utopian hope--Maybe the Bolshoi could bring a week of Giselle and Coppelia or Raymonda (!) followed by a week of Hero of Our Time and Nureyev (fingers crossed). Or a mixed program with one Ratmansky, even a familiar one like Russian Seasons, and one good old fashioned pull out the stops showpiece like Class Concert. (You notice I did not say Etudes...but I could live with it.)

 

If I were to move to Moscow, I would probably feel very differently--More Balanchine and better versions of Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake would likely be my first plea. But I don't live in Moscow. Unfortunately, I don't live in New York either...

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1 hour ago, Fleurdelis said:

P.S. Perhaps a bit surprisingly, Londoners seemed to love Taming last year, and you'd think the nation of Shakespeare would jealously protect its heritage. Though maybe not so surprisingly, given how closely integrated the UK and the rest of Europe have become in the last several decades.

 

Anglophone audiences are accustomed to seeing Shakespeare performed in a myriad of ways. For example, over the past 3-4 years I have seen three stage productions of The Taming of the Shrew, one in quasi-Elizabethan costumes, another set in the early 20th century and a third in a modern-day setting. One production used more-or-less standard RSC stage English, another was performed with Irish accents, and the third with generic North American accents. Only one of the productions included the prologue. They were effective to varying degrees, but the audiences didn't appear to be scandalized by any of them. Audiences may see Macbeth performed as an African dictator, a quasi-Bolshevik, just plain bloody and filthy, or even as a one-man show in a lunatic asylum, and some approaches will be considered successful and others as failures. It may be deemed good, bad, revelatory or wrong-headed, but it's safe to say that you will not encounter a conviction that there is only one correct way to approach the plays. I don't think a super-protective attitude toward Shakespeare exists in England or anywhere else.

 

But I think many more problems can arise when the plays are translated into a primarily non-verbal genre, and here I would include opera. A great deal will be lost in the process, so the question is whether the other genre can illuminate the story in some way that the original play cannot, usually on the level of a giant emotional wallop. In the case of Verdi's Otello or good choreographic versions of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, I think, yes. Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream is so evocative that I can understand why multiple choreographers have used it. (I'm very sorry that I've never heard it used in its original context.) Most of the time, though, I think the answer is no, and you just end up with a denuded work.

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The most satisfying major Bolshoi tour that I recall was the one in 2007 to the London Coliseum: Ratmansky's CorsaireBright Stream (in the gorgeous B. Messerer designs), and a mixed bill including the Wheeldon Misericordes and Class Concert, for starters. I saw all of these in a span of 3-4 days. DQ and maybe SL were also on that tour. The Hochausers know what to present.

 

I would have taken the Megabus to NY to see the Bolshoi had they presented any of their recent stunning Petipa recons such as Esmeralda, Corsaire, Coppelia or Paquita Grand Pas (as part of a mixed bill). Or what about their Massine Triple Bill that includes Les Presages?

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13 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

For what it's worth, Shrew is far from sold out (collectively the fourth and fifth rings constitute, what, 720 seats?--and they haven't been opened fully), and the LCF offered a discount code for tickets, partly because they were too expensive to start. The "warhorse" tour three years ago was, I think, completely sold out before it opened.

They have been offering discounts for Taming all over the place.  You are right - during the last visit with the "warhorse" ballets, every show sold out at full price.  I think it was only the critics who complained about "warhorse" ballets -in particular Macaulay.  I'll take the warhorse ballets any day over Taming.  It only adds insult to injury that this production is under1 hour 50 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.  Not much for your money. 

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But I also have to say that the Mariinsky opened in London this week with unsold tickets for Don Quixote, a triple bill that includes Paquita, and La Bayadère, so the presenters were forced to offer a discount code for Don Q. Who would have guessed that the Mariinsky would need a discount code to sell Don Quixote?

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I think the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi visit London much more frequently than New York.  Since each company seems to visit London every 2 years or so, this diminishes the demand over time.  The demand in NYC is much more pent up because the visits to NY are far less frequent.

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