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The Taming of the Shrew


sandik

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22 hours ago, abatt said:

 

Very odd review. Macaulay is complaining that the performance is timid and inoffensive. What exactly does he mean by that? Should we have been favored with "daring" scenes of Petruchio hauling Katharina around by the hair?

 

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"The hero, Petruchio, boasts that he is taming Katharina, his shrewish wife (he calls her Kate), by starving and bullying and depriving her of sleep."

 

"Petruchio subjugates his wife by torturing her."  Fixed that for you, Mr. Macaulay.

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On 7/28/2017 at 9:05 AM, abatt said:

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. 

 I complained about the repertory the Bolshoi brought last time, and I'm pretty sure some other fans on this site did too. But yes--that tour sold out and I'm sure that's crucial -- to the presenters in particular.

 

I worry the issue isn't just whether the Bolshoi is only going to tour classics (a term I prefer to warhorses when talking about Swan Lake especially), at least in NY or elsewhere in the States--and of course one wants to see those dancers in the classics!--but also whether the company will be encouraged to tour an increasingly narrow choice of classics. That is, will presenters fear to present Raymonda or--one of the Bolshoi's best productions--the Vikharev Coppelia? Let alone the Esmeralda Natalia mentioned etc. Has NY seen the Burlaka/Ratmansky Corsaire?

 

When it comes to 20th-century repertory I was shocked that Macmillan's Song of the Earth didn't sell that well when the Royal Ballet brought it to New York on its most recent tour, and I don't think anyone would class it with Maillot's Taming of the Shrew. I think the issue of how to make less familiar repertory viable on tour is a real problem for presenters but also for audiences curious to see a range of what the ballet world offers including things that may go against the grain of local tastes.

 

In my mind, New York should be an epicenter for ballet from all over the world--classics and new work. Choices for next season's Paris Opera Ballet visit to NY aren't exactly what I would have liked, but they do mix things up in potentially interesting ways--Etudes (that's my idea of a warhorse) alongside Forsythe, Lacotte Sylphide etc.

 

Edited to add: Taming of the Shrew is one of the company's few successful (that is, regularly programed) recent additions to its repertory and has been, as best I can tell, reasonably well-received in places outside of New York. I think it would have been surprising had the company not brought it to New York, especially when the dancers who originated the lead roles are still dancing and at the height of their careers.

 

 

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I can only think of Torvill and Dean who were asked to do "Bolero" in every performance of every show they did for years after they won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1984.   They became quite sick of it.

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

Edited to add: Taming of the Shrew is one of the company's few successful (that is, regularly programed) recent additions to its repertory and has been, as best I can tell, reasonably well-received in places outside of New York. I think it would have been surprising had the company not brought it to New York, especially when the dancers who originated the lead roles are still dancing and at the height of their careers.

 

To the best of my knowledge, The Taming of the Shrew has been performed outside Russia only twice before. It was given two performances in London last summer, and that would have been much easier to sell than six shows, and it was performed twice in Maillot's home base in Monte Carlo. I would have been shocked if it hadn't been received well there. Perhaps it will be greeted more positively in California a year from now.

 

(P.S. The second-cast Katherine, Maria Alexandrova, quickly abandoned the ballet.)

 

I'm very sorry to say that Esmeralda fell out of the Bolshoi repertoire after only two years: premiered on 25 December 2009 and last performed on 9 October 2011. And this is very odd, since the original three casts were soon supplemented with additional interpreters of Esmeralda and Phoebus. I can only suppose that after Yuri Burlaka left the company, Sergei Filin wasn't much interested in keeping the piece. Coppélia and Le Corsaire were performed in Washington within recent memory. Perhaps the powers that be think that's enough. Unfortunately the Massine program didn't survive past the Ratmansky regime.

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1 hour ago, Drew said:

 

I worry the issue isn't just whether the Bolshoi is only going to tour classics (a term I prefer to warhorses when talking about Swan Lake especially), at least in NY or elsewhere in the States--and of course one wants to see those dancers in the classics!--but also whether the company will be encouraged to tour an increasingly narrow choice of classics. That is, will presenters fear to present Raymonda or--one of the Bolshoi's best productions--the Vikharev Coppelia? Let alone the Esmeralda Natalia mentioned etc. Has NY seen the Burlaka/Ratmansky Corsaire?

 

They would need to freshen up Raymonda. The decorations there are really awful, something out of a bad 1970s science fiction movie, the scenographer was probably undergoing a major creative crisis at the time. Esmeralda and Le Corsaire are so overwrought that they would put even Spartacus to shame in that department. Macaulay would have a field day with them. They are really mainly worth seeing for a couple of iconic solos and PDDs, and, of course, the two grand scenes: Animated Garden and the castle of  Aloise de Gondelaurier (my personal favorite). But the rest consists of tediously endless back-and-forth walking and mime. Would US audiences have the patience to sit through that?  Perhaps, if MacMillan's R&J is any indication. 

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I would say that American audiences are probably more receptive to mime than audiences in Russia, if only slightly. One of the frequent complaints lodged against Soviet productions is that all the mime was jettisoned.

 

Macaulay saw the Bolshoi's Le Corsaire on tour in London. He hates this ballet in particular, but the review he wrote about the Bolshoi cinemacast in 2012 was much more positive than how he typically reviews ABT's production, which he ridicules mercilessly. He also saw Esmeralda in the cinema, and that review wasn't terribly negative either. Certainly those reviews were more positive than what he wrote about Grigorovich's Swan Lake and Spartacus when they were last performed in New York.

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I think it is because very few Americans have heard of, let alone read Lermontov. And even those who have read him would still find it hard to follow the plot, it is pretty densely and confusingly staged. The choreography itself is very impressive, however.

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6 hours ago, Fleurdelis said:

They would need to freshen up Raymonda. The decorations there are really awful, something out of a bad 1970s science fiction movie, the scenographer was probably undergoing a major creative crisis at the time. Esmeralda and Le Corsaire are so overwrought that they would put even Spartacus to shame in that department. Macaulay would have a field day with them. They are really mainly worth seeing for a couple of iconic solos and PDDs, and, of course, the two grand scenes: Animated Garden and the castle of  Aloise de Gondelaurier (my personal favorite). But the rest consists of tediously endless back-and-forth walking and mime. Would US audiences have the patience to sit through that?  Perhaps, if MacMillan's R&J is any indication. 

 

I remember seeing the company's Raymonda quite a few decades ago, and film of the Alexandrova Raymonda from a few years back made it look like something I would still love to see, even if you are right that the sets need freshening. Recent youtube video suggests that several of the companies prima ballerinas have a flair for the role as well, and that's also important when deciding what to tour.

 

I have seen the Ratmansky Corsaire and enjoyed it as much as any Corsaire imaginable--that is to say, quite a bit though with reservations. It has a certain historic significance in today's efforts to get "back to Petipa," and some other less esoteric pleasures as well including the choreography you mention and, a side note, the gorgeous sets and costumes based on the nineteenth-century originals. I am also okay with mime if it is well done and, especially, has a basis in the notations and libretto. (It's often quite clear in the music too that a mime passage is/was intended.) The problem in this Corsaire, for my personal taste, is that the mime draws on ethnic stereotypes to a really unpleasant degree even allowing for the fact it's a reconstruction of a nineteenth-century ballet. But I am still inclined to think it's a production New York should have seen.

 

But the point isn't so much do you or I like like this or that production--no two ballet fans will agree on everything!--but whether New York and other American audiences want to see a fair variety of what is in the Bolshoi treasure chest, not excluding the great classics of course.  I guess there's no point preaching at people, but I think the answer to that question should be yes. But perhaps my image of these tours is still too much entangled with the "old days" when the Bolshoi could have been dancing an adaptation of the phone book and scalpers would still have been getting $500 a ticket because...well...who wanted to miss those dancers?!? Tours were longer too...

 

Edited to Add: I have been contemplating a visit to Costa Mesa to see both Taming of the Shrew and Hero of Our Time. Some practical realities may prevent it, but I still have hopes...

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I dare say Apollinaire Scherr likes Maillot's Shrew even less than Alastair Macaulay.

 

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For the play’s verbal wit, the ballet offers bonks on the head and kicks to the groin à la The Three Stooges.

 

This is what I was getting at about Shakespeare's plays, especially the comedies, losing more than they gain when translated to another genre, but of course her image is much more vivid.

 

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Maillot proves no more inspired with what most preoccupies him in this contemporary Taming: sex, or at least sexiness...

 

Worse yet, Maillot mistakes the disturbing for the ballsy. In place of depriving Kate of food and sleep, his Petruchio...feels her up while knocking her around until she falls unconscious.When she rouses, amnesia seems to afflict her, as she quickly cleaves to her man for more abuse.

 

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Ouch! I think this seals the deal for Maillot in America.

 

Interestingly enough, FT was kinder to this Taming a year ago, giving it four stars out of five, as opposed to the current two. Unless there were important changes made to the ballet (and I am not aware that there would have been), or unless the dancers really laid an egg last night (wasn't there, so can't tell), it goes to show how narrowly do critical reviews represent the specific writers' own beliefs and biases, if there was such a difference in opinion between two critics writing for the same newspaper.

 

Kind of makes you think that reviews are better given by teams of two or three persons, to get a broader impression, like Siskel and Ebert.

 

The way it looks: given the amount of troubling issues this play contains, its staging nowadays has to have enough redeeming features to make up for them. And this particular staging has fallen short.

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Bolshoi's Shrew has a great cast [wish there had been a full Bolshoi Jewels].   I would not hesitate to see Cranko or the Shakespearean Laszlo Seregi's Shrew: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJfyu3G6G9c   Dancers are proud of being cast/choreographed for and tour offerings could have worse stuff like Eks' Apartment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eN9GwOKj-c or Nureyev eventually...

 

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18 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

 

It is going to Costa Mesa in a year's time.

 

Ah -- that's likely part of the equation.  And I think also they've been very public about putting money and time into this project, so I can understand wanting to show it off.  It just sounds from the reviews and general descriptions that it's not having a great life.

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Sandik wrote above the ballet isn't having a great life. I'm not a Maillot fan (though I've enjoyed performances of his work), but the uniform negativity about his Shrew on this website is very striking to me. The one word of praise I've read here is that Smirnova and Chudin were lovely in their 2nd act pas de deux. Three critical pans have been cited too. And I have to admit I think the reasons given for disliking the ballet have been substantive even though I myself enjoyed the broadcast. (I thought Krysanova in particular was a revelation and in an entirely new way that Maillot had brought out of her.)

 

I certainly can't argue with anyone who thinks Maillot's claim to have updated the relation of the lovers to one of equals is...uh...not exactly realized in the choreography :dry:.

 

But I think it's worth remembering that more than a few knowledgeable ballet observers outside of Moscow have praised this ballet warmly. Already discussed above is the ballet's reception in London in August 2016. Of course everyone didn't love it, but there were lots of very positive reviews/responses--it's really no surprise the Bolshoi (and/or Lincoln Center Festival) brought the ballet to New York whatever might have been expected from the New York Times. To be concrete--and since the pans were cited above:

 

August 2016 Mackrell in the Guardian:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/aug/04/the-taming-of-the-shrew-review-bolshoi-ballet-jean-christophe-maillot

 

Winship in Evening Standard:

 

http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/arts/bolshoi-ballets-the-taming-of-the-shrew-dance-review-rollicking-reinvention-tames-a-tricky-text-a3311936.html

 

Monahan in The Telegraph

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/dance/what-to-see/two-shrews-tame-each-other-in-the-bolshois-steamy-take-on-shakes/

 

DanceEurope (I can't link except to a Facebook Page) called it "one of the highlights of the Bolshoi London season."

 

UK website Terpsichore called it "The Ballet of the Year."

 

An earlier 2015 review by a 'western' critic Margaret Willis in Bachtrack:

 

https://bachtrack.com/review-taming-of-the-shrew-maillot-bolshoi-ballet-alexandrinksi-theatre-st-petersburg-april-2015

 

Considerably more mixed but still noting pleasures in the ballet:

 

Ismene Brown in The Spectator in a review reflecting on the entire 2016 London season:

 

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/08/in-her-final-column-ismene-brown-salutes-the-bolshois-real-stars-the-corps-de-ballet/

 

Graham Watts in londondance.com -- a review of Taming of the Shrew and Flames of Paris:

 

http://londondance.com/articles/reviews/bolshoi-ballet-the-taming-of-the-shrew-the-flames/

 

Jann Parry in Dancetabs:

 

http://dancetabs.com/2016/08/bolshoi-ballet-the-taming-of-the-shrew-london/

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Thanks so much for the handy links -- you make life easier for many of us!

 

In my limited experience with his work, Maillot seems to have found a way of approaching ballet (both the technique and the conventions of the tradition), and has been using that approach to rework some of the standard repertory as well as create new material.

 

I saw his Romeo first, and so compare the other works to that -- I like the Romeo very much, especially as a vehicle for individual performances.  It has some weaknesses, but I thought it was a fresh take on a story that has been translated into movement several times.  I was surprised, and a little disappointed, when I saw his Cinderella this year -- many of the things that I felt were unique solutions to specific elements in the R&J were repeated almost wholesale in the Cinderella.  Both of those works are from the 1990s -- I'm looking forward to seeing the film of Shrew, and wondering how his work has developed in the last 20 years.

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On 7/29/2017 at 7:29 AM, Fleurdelis said:

The way it looks: given the amount of troubling issues this play contains, its staging nowadays has to have enough redeeming features to make up for them. And this particular staging has fallen short.

 

This isn't the play, it's a dance staging of the story. Stagings of the original play can be justified.  Recreating the story in dance form is not justified, no matter how many pretty dances or bits of business the choreographer thinks up. 

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When Bolshoi visited last time with Swan Lake my two favorites were Tsvirko(he somehow reminds me of Gomes) as jester and Lantratov as evil genius. So I had to see them together in The Taming despite the bad review.... 

The good thing is the ballet is short and music is great. And there really isn't much to say about the dancing because there aren't many. Maybe I should've seen it one more time with a different cast to observe it better. 

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I saw Taming of the Shrew on Sunday.   Since there were so many negative reviews on BA, my expectations were pretty low.  But I figured that if the ballet wasn’t any good, at least I was getting to see some top Bolshoi dancers.  Well, I seem to be in the minority here, as I thought the ballet was witty and entertaining!  We had a magnificent cast which included Krysanova, Lantratov, Smirnova, and Chudin.   The women were great, and OMG what a wonderful group of male dancers doing impressively high leaps and fast turns. 

 

This ballet is apparently not everyone’s cup of tea (okay, pun intended re: the ballet’s cute take on two for tea), but I enjoyed the ballet so much that I actually hated to see it end.  If you want to see this story as Shakespeare intended, then go to see the play, but if you want to see a fun ballet, with lots of great dancing, then you can’t go wrong with this top Bolshoi cast in Taming.   And I loved the music.

 

Sure, I’d like to see them bring Spartacus, Don Q, Ivan the Terrible , etc. next time, but I am soooo glad I didn’t miss this! 

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