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Mariinsky in London 2017

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And a one-act "Swan Lake" was not one of Mr. B's most successful works.  

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Measured by what criteria?  I know it didn't make many fans of his black-and-white ballets, who thought he was selling out, but it's live side-by-side with those ballets for decades and was programmed often enough, until Martins did his own full length at least.

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1 hour ago, Olga said:

It sure did.But who else has his power to distill the essence? 

 

Isn't the point perhaps that what one defines as "the essence" is in large part a result of one's own interpretation of the work?

 

2 hours ago, canbelto said:

You only focus on the White Swan pas de deux? I think the beauty of Swan Lake is the juxtaposition of the poetic lakeside scenes with the earthiness of the "colored" scenes. To only focus on one aspect of the ballet is not really getting the ballet at all.

 

"I think" may be the key phrase there, then. To only focus on one aspect could indeed be "getting" the ballet, if that aspect is "the essence."

Edited by nanushka

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One could say the "essence" was most of the only original (Ivanov) choreography that existed continuously, even if there were changes, and most of the rest is whatever whoever is staging.

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1 minute ago, Helene said:

One could say the "essence" was most of the only original (Ivanov) choreography that existed continuously, even if there were changes, and most of the rest is whatever whoever is staging.

 

That would definitely be one viable interpretation, based on one set of reasonable criteria.

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I pretty much agree with Buddy's view of the white swan duet. And also, the way his Swan Lake was danced in Balanchine's day was truly other worldly. Did more for me than many full length versions. But it is to some extent personal. And may possibly also be related to whether you grew up on Balanchine or the full length versions. There are some full length versions out there now  for which less of them would be an improvement. As for Balanchine's version, the change to black costumes is awful.

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Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. I guess that if I ever did a version of Swan Lake the White Swan duet would go at the end. Or at least I’d eliminate much of the heavier Rothbart stuff from the last scene and let the beautiful principal and chorus dancing be a lovely echo.

 

By the way, the Perm Ballet does something different. The dance of the Four Little Swans goes just before the duet instead of immediately after. How much of this charming dance I’ve missed clinging to my memory of the duet. 

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11 minutes ago, Buddy said:

By the way, the Perm Ballet does something different. The dance of the Four Little Swans goes just before the duet instead of immediately after. How much of this charming dance I’ve missed clinging to my memory of the duet. 

 

That can definitely be a factor in the overall structure and effect of a work, it's so true. I had a similar experience recently in the first two movements of Mozartiana at ABT, when Veronika Part's opening preghiera made attention to Daniil Simkin's gigue nearly impossible.

Edited by nanushka

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Being programmed "often enough" doesn't make Swan Lake one of his most successful works.  It's not been that frequently performed, even at NYCB (at least recently), and I can't think of any major companies besides NYCB and MCB who have done it.  I'd be hard-pressed to find people who call it one of Balanchine's most iconic ballets, though perhaps many have not seen it.  The ballet was basically choreographed as a moneymaker for the Company and for City Center, and while that in of itself doesn't mean it lacks merit, the ballet is so abridged that the narrative fades.  I didn't see the work as distilling the essence of the ballet, if the essence of the ballet is indeed the White Swan pas. 

 

 

Edited by MRR

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14 minutes ago, nanushka said:

 

That can definitely be a factor in the overall rhythm and effect of a work, it's so true. I had a similar experience recently in the first two movements of Mozartiana at ABT, when Veronika Part's opening preghiera made attention to Daniil Simkin's gigue nearly impossible.

 

Ah, dear Veronika !  :)    

 

I missed commenting on her departure from ABT, but I'll certainly miss her. I hope she finds something, somewhere worthy of her remarkable and wonderful talent. She performed, after Ulyana Lopatkina, perhaps the best Swan Lake that I've ever seen.

Edited by Buddy
Corrected the smiley

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I love being able to see the full length Swan Lake; a good production has extraordinary power. But even in a full length production--where the contrast between the worldly scenes and the lake scenes is crucial--I think Ivanov's lake scene choreography (and allowing for some variations introduced into it later, such as dispensing with Benno) is indeed the essence of the ballet. Together with Tchaikovsky's music, those scenes are surely what give the ballet its outsized place in ballet history. Let's put it this way: if you were told you could take one act/scene of Swan Lake with you to a desert island, how many people would NOT pick the first lakeside scene? Fortunately most of us aren't stuck with that choice!

 

Of course, the drama of a full length production, as Canbelto wrote, depends on the contrast between the lake scenes and the worldly scenes...But would many people really want to see a Swan Lake "distillation" made up of the Prince's birthday party and the ball except, perhaps, as a curiosity? Whereas the lake scenes, the first one especially, can stand alone as something profound even if it's viewed as only a beautiful fragment.  (I am also an admirer of Balanchine's one act version  I hope NYCB never stops performing it...)

 

As it happens, next spring, Atlanta Ballet is going to stage a stand-alone Swan Lake ballroom scene as part of a double bill with a new work. In a nod to Hollywood, the program is being marketed as the "Black Swan" program. I will probably go if I can--but I find it very peculiar programming.

 

Edited by Drew

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11 hours ago, MRR said:

Being programmed "often enough" doesn't make Swan Lake one of his most successful works.  It's not been that frequently performed, even at NYCB (at least recently), and I can't think of any major companies besides NYCB and MCB who have done it.  I'd be hard-pressed to find people who call it one of Balanchine's most iconic ballets, though perhaps many have not seen it.  The ballet was basically choreographed as a moneymaker for the Company and for City Center, and while that in of itself doesn't mean it lacks merit, the ballet is so abridged that the narrative fades.  I didn't see the work as distilling the essence of the ballet, if the essence of the ballet is indeed the White Swan pas. 

 

 

 

The first time I saw B's SL I was surprised. I had read countless writings-( mostly in this forum)- about said famous "distillation", "essence", and so on. When I saw it, my one impression-(which still stand)- was that of the choreographer rrather showing a compression of the two white acts, but certainly NOT in a plotless, pure dance form. Actually...it shows more story- telling, narrative factors than the Soviet white acts, and it-( perhaps)-even shows to be permeated to what Balanchine remembered from Imperial productions, visually speaking-( the mechanical swans...the hunters interacting with the corps, Siegfried's entourage accompanying him during the beginning of the act etc...). So for me it was just Balanchine showing a bit of a story of Swan Lake without getting to stage the whole thing. This compression is definitely not in the same league of the other famous  B' s full length distillation...those from Raymonda-( Pas de dix, Cortege Hongrois and RV)-, where there is absolutely no narrative to follow.

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It’s interesting to compare Swan Lake with Giselle and La Bayadere. In these two, the dream scene, where the enchantment occurs, is at the end and it makes a lot of sense. A sensitive handling of the final scene in Swan Lake can have a very similar effect.

 

Added:

 

In this regard I like the Mariinsky versions of Giselle and La Bayadere the best of those that I recall. The storyline is handled delicately. In Swan Lake and La Bayadere there is a ‘reconciliation.’ In Giselle there is forgiveness.

 

I also like the final moments of ABT's Swan Lake. Although sad on earth, that final coming together in the giant sun is breathtaking. It's brought tears to my eyes.

 

I favor the happy endings. They just seem consistent with the uplifting value of the art form.

Edited by Buddy
Paragraph added to "Added"

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5 hours ago, Buddy said:

It’s interesting to compare Swan Lake with Giselle and La Bayadere. In these two, the dream scene, where the enchantment occurs, is at the end and it makes a lot of sense. 

 

Well..that would be in the Soviet, truncated Bayadere. 

 

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I've just decided to make Yekaterina Osmolkina a Principal !  Does that count ?   :)

 

Wishing her much success and happiness on her Monday night Swan Lake.

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Soloist, Principal or whatever, Yekaterina Osmolkina is a beautiful ballerina.  :)

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I would promote both Olesya Novikova and Ekaterina Osmolkina to principal.

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Another vote here for both Novikova and Osmolkina principals - but it should have happened YEARS ago and probably will not.  Such a tragedy.

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On ‎8‎/‎5‎/‎2017 at 7:23 PM, Buddy said:

I've just decided to make Yekaterina Osmolkina a Principal !  Does that count ?   :)

 

Wishing her much success and happiness on her Monday night Swan Lake.

 

I wish, Buddy. Better yet, if there would be some way to add her to the October 2017 tour to the Kennedy Center, then all would be perfect.

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Letter from London ...

Anna Karenina / ROH London / Thu 3 August
Mariinsky Ballet : Vishnyova - Zverev


I had previously seen the Eifman Ballet version a couple of times on Mezzo, music a potpourri of sequences from Chikofsky, am not
sure where the "train approaching" finale was taken from. Thought this had excellent pdd but rather meaningless, movement for move-
ment's sake ensembles.

London is awful in the summer (as is Moscow and Peterburg and so many others) and every time I make a resolution not to travel to Lon-
don ever in the summer, but again broke it and booked to see Diana as AK thinking this may be one of the last few occasions one could
see her on stage. It was after seeing Diana as Juliet with Shklyarov 4 years ago that I fell head over heels for Russian classical ballet.

She is so engrained in my mind as Juliet that I had difficulty accepting her as Giselle or Nikiya or in any role other than Juliet I saw her

dance ....... a case of obsessive compulsive personality disorder ? Anyway it's against this background that I arrived at the ROH last
evening for my first sampling of the Schedrin-Ratmansky AK, just to be able to see Diana.

Ratmansky's AK is short, barely 90 minutes, and when you take into account Schedrin's music it's a relief that it is not any longer. I  do

have a good ear for music but the "circus music" for the "Gipodrom" scene aside cannot remember any melodic sequence whatsoever.

I did know the story of AK and "a story" is discernible from what is presented on the stage - something I attach great importance to. The

choreo of the first scene I thought had too great a similarity to Mayerling to be coincidental. Then on full use is made of modern stage

mechanics and special fx - one cannot help thinking how great works like R&J, Bayaderka and Giselle are which have no need for such

things to prop them up.

What drove the performance last night was Diana :  take Diana away and I probably would have walked out at the interval along with quite

a few other people who did. Diana is a one-off : the grand mistress of mime, her eyes only would be sufficient even if she did not move any

of her facial muscles. But Ratmansky is not Lavrovsky, and Schedrin is no Prokofiev to be able to make full use of Diana's God-given, once-

in-a-millennium talent. Diana and Shklyarov as Romeo and Juliet, with that music which makes one suspect the hand of God at play, and that

choreography, could make a grown man cry ..... how do I know ??  Takes one to know one I suppose .....

Back to Anna Karenina : this needs a great talent like Diana to be effective, Vronsky and Karenin cannot save the performance. Last night

Zverev made an aloof portrayal, maybe as should be, but did not capture me in any way and I could not help thinking how Ovcharenko would

have acted this role. For me, Anna Karenina was the second best role I saw Diana act, after Juliet. This story has, had, the potential to become

a great work like Romeo and Juliet ....... had Prokofiev and Lavrovsky set themselves to the task. My wife is more receptive and tolerant of con-

temporary works than me, and has famously said that I watch contemporary ballet "like a cow watches a passing train" !  But when a friend asked

me last night what her reaction to Anna Karenina was, she said "could see it again sometime if I am invited and have nothing better to do on that

night" .....

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Letter from London ...
Don Kixot / ROH London / Saturday 5 August eve
Mariinsky Ballet / Matvienko - Askerov


Would like to start by listing my credentials relating to Don Kixot, since my views will surely be contested by
all of my tutors and some of my friends. Since January 2015 I have seen Don Kixot live 9 times danced by 8
different Kitris : Tsygankova, Shakirova, Alexandrova, Krysanova, Soboleva, Zaharova, Germizeeva, and
Matvienko ..... in addition to probably same number of stagings with different principals on DVD, from Royal
Ballet, Mariinsky, Dutch National Ballet , Cuban National Ballet, La Scala, Paris Opera Ballet etc etc. I could
conduct the whole thing from memory if I knew baton technique ...... any questions ??

This evenings performance was extremely enjoyable, as I discovered another "natural" Kitri : Nastya Matvienko
and an excellent Basilio in Timur Askerov, who I did not rate very highly on the basis of what I had seen of him
before. My amateur eye could see no lapses in Nastya's excellent technique, and she brought the house down
with a very fast perfectly executed 32 single fouettées in the grand pas. Askerov's tech may not yet be on par with
the best of the Balshoy's male leads but he was extremely good both technically and re characterisation. Kitri's friends
were good if not outstanding, Olga Belik as Mercedes was excellent as usual, but Gimadiyeva who I am told is a new-
comer was outstanding as Cupid - one wonders where do the Russian ballet companies find so many excellent Cupids,
one after the other - are they cloning them or what ?? Shakirova did the act 3 grand pas variation but the brief solo was
enough to show her class to anyone not acquainted. The evening's only performance which I will say was below par was
the street dancer of Chebykina. Dryads' Queen Ivannikova was sort of OK but imho did not shine, thought I had seen
better ones.

I really needed this, to detox any remaining traces of Le Parc I absorbed last month in Piter. Anna Karenina could not have
done it, Don Kixot is so wonderfully uplifting when danced and acted to perfection - I really could see it five nights in a row
with different principals. Gorgeous tuneful music, wonderful choreography, universal and timeless story even a kid can make
out first time ..... no "gardeners" or "mothers-in-law" present or required ..... what more can a true ballet lover ask for ???

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