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Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema 2018-2019

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La Sylphide is generally a bad choice for Russian companies because the dancers nearly always have a complete misunderstanding of Bournonville port de bras. Instead of rounded arms and his lovely "curly" lines, you get a lot of locked elbows, broken wrists and spiky hands. Russian ballerinas dancing the Sylph also tend to flap their arms around altogether too much, with a strong downward stress on the downbeat, emphasizing the landings of jumps rather than disguising them. I like Stashkevich a lot, but as far as arm flapping goes, she is among the company's worst offenders. She also lacks the strength to perform temps levés on one leg repeatedly, especially evident in the Sylph's opening scene.

I have seen a number of the company's Jameses and can honestly say that Chudin was the weakest among them. One of my objections to his dancing is how much he relies on his arms to jump. When Bournonville requires him to keep his upper body still while jumping, it becomes obvious that Chudin cannot. His mime is poor, because he is a weak actor, but also because he is unmusical. Including Mkrtchyan in this cast is a catastrophic mistake. I've seen this combination of dancers, and Mkrtchyan's Gurn ran circles around Chudin in acting, personality, looks and charm. It may be a better outcome for Effie, but it's very bad for the dramatic integrity of the ballet.

I have no objections to Balukova's Madge, but Kristina Karasyova would have been more fun. Her Madge is like a party girl gone way over to the dark side. Perhaps she's not terribly frightening, but she is extremely entertaining.

I can't say I'm surprised by the casting. I was very disappointed by the casting for all of the Bolshoi's broadcasts last season, and I have no reason to expect this season will be an improvement. Still, I was hoping against hope for something better. :(

Edited by volcanohunter

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3 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

La Sylphide is generally a bad choice for Russian companies because the dancers nearly always have a complete misunderstanding of Bournonville port de bras. Instead of rounded arms and his lovely "curly" lines, you get a lot of locked elbows, broken wrists and spiky hands. Russian ballerinas dancing the Sylph also tend to flap their arms around altogether too much, with a strong downward stress on the downbeat, emphasizing the landings of jumps rather than disguising them. I like Stashkevich a lot, but as far as arm flapping goes, she is among the company's worst offenders. She also lacks the strength to perform temps levés on one leg repeatedly, especially evident in the Sylph's opening scene.

Thank you for that assessment, however you seem to have missed something out:  how did they sound?  :FIREdevil: The Danes are like thistledown, you don't hear them at all whereas Russians tend to have the ballet world's noisiest shoes.

The perfect Russian Sylph?  Probably Kaptsova I imagine if she could be persuaded to spend a few weeks of study in Copenhagen first.

 

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The Bolshoi's sylphs do not sound like thistledown.

I agree with you about Kaptsova. Her arms are very Bolshoi, and there is a lot of flapping, so she would need that intensive in Copenhagen, but as a dramatic characterization and performance, she is pure magic in the role. :wub:

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For characterisation, expressive quality and wonderful light jump, best for me as the Sylph is Margarita Shrainer.  

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It would never occur to me to expect correct Bournonville style from the Bolshoi’s dancers and I was a bit surprised they chose this ballet for a broadcast. Call me Pollyanna, but I am still very much looking forward to the broadcast. (If, as Volcanohunter describes, Gurn outdances James, it won’t be the first time I have seen that either.)

Edited by Drew

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11 hours ago, Drew said:

It would never occur to me to expect correct Bournonville style from the Bolshoi’s dancers

Granted, but an approximation would be good.  I've only seen video clips of the Bolshoi dancing Bournonville and a poor pas de deux in a gala programme.  I wonder who the repeteur is.  After not dancing Bournonville for many years ENB danced La Sylphide recently and produced a startlingly good Sylph in Erina Takahashi.  Frank Andersen was in charge of the production and all the dancers seemed to grasp at least the rudimentary basics of what was required. 

In this ballet I don't see the correct style as some kind of add on, I think it is essential to the period charm of the piece.

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5 hours ago, Mashinka said:

 

In this ballet I don't see the correct style as some kind of add on, I think it is essential to the period charm of the piece.

I agree, and yet I have to admit have that I have seen some non-Bournonville dancers—dancers faulted by critics knowledgeable about Bournonville and that I respect—do wonderful things in it. Or things that seemed wonderful to me at least. Notably Fracci and Kirkland, but also Malakhov. I don’t expect that quality from this Bolshoi cast, but am still looking forward to seeing what they do. Likely I will agree with the criticisms posted above, especially since everyone has been precise about many of the problems they see —I’d still like to give it a chance. And I’m on record as liking Chudin in other roles considerably more than Volcanohunter does. I may end up agreeing at least that this is not good role for him, but I would always tend to be curious to see what he does anyway.

(If it were up to me, the Bolshoi would be broadcasting Raymonda....)

Edited by Drew

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I'm with you about Chudin, I like him too.

The Trocks are currently in the UK and I saw their version of Raymonda a few weeks ago.  Funny of course, but they do dance the solos very well and I was overwhelmed by nostalgia for a ballet that seems strictly rationed in Britain.  The RB rarely dances it and the Russians rarely bring it.  Such an audience pleaser too, it doesn't make sense to me.

 

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Well, I WAS really looking forward to seeing this, but life has intervened. So I will certainly miss it in the theater and likely not be able to catch it on the Bolshoi website unless they leave it up a while....Oh well.

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I went yesterday to Don Q in the Atlanta area. There was a pretty good crowd and lots of Russian people in the audience. Right before the pas, the film stopped. They tried to fix it and said it was the satellite problem. The theater ended up refunding everyone's tickets! I wonder if this happened at other theaters or were these people just making up an excuse about the problem? Anyway, it was disappointing to not see the end.

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