CriticalDance Forum

Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program
Page 3 of 4

Author:  mehunt [ Fri Oct 10, 2003 1:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

I remember when the PAris Opera Ballet came a few years ago. Their first Bayadere out of the gates was pretty shaky (although Manuel Legris was on fire!) It was a similar situation-- they landed, rehearsed, and went on in a matter of two days or so. However, after that first wobbly day, they got on track and were FANTASTIC. Jet lag is a killer!

Author:  mehunt [ Fri Oct 10, 2003 2:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

wow, djb, I thought he was pretty hot on Tuesday, so if he was BETTER on Thursday, man... pass that cigarette!

Author:  djb [ Fri Oct 10, 2003 2:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

I was hoping some other CD'ers also saw Thursday's performance, to compare reactions to Irma Nioradze's performance as Zobeide. Initially, I thought she looked the part perfectly, and she interpreted Zobeide as much more vain and self-centered than Lopatkina did. But after awhile it seemed that she was not so much being a vamp as playing a vamp, with rather exaggerated facial expressions. But maybe it carries better to the people in the balcony that way. I did like the fact that in the curtain calls, even though Zelensky did the usual ushering forward of the ballerina, Nioradze didn't accept all the glory and wallow in bows, as ballerinas can sometimes do. Instead, she bowed to the audience briefly and then stepped aside and bowed to Zelensky.

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Oct 10, 2003 4:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Nioradze didn't accept all the glory and wallow in bows
A ballerina after my own heart... ;)

Well, one great thing about a company like this is the very individualistic style among the principals. It makes it worthwhile to go to more than one performance (of course this is coming from the single-performance goer...).

Author:  djb [ Fri Oct 10, 2003 4:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

By the way, the part of the bows I'm talking about were the ones the lead couple took in front of the curtain.

Author:  mehunt [ Sat Oct 11, 2003 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

I like that too. I used to have a teacher who said that the bows were one of the most important parts because it's the last thing the audience see you do and so it's the last impression they have of you.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Oct 13, 2003 6:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

I think some of you will enjoy this:

Smuin company tangos, twirls and taps through sexy program

Michael Wade Simpson
SF Chronicle

... there is not a world of difference between what he is doing with his attractive 9-year-old, chamber-size Smuin Ballet in performance at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, and the venerable 200-member Kirov Ballet and orchestra, which was simultaneously appearing across the bay on Friday night. Smuin may not be offering anything classical, but, like the Kirov's kitschy, fright-wig-laden production of "Firebird," and the skin show that is their "Scheherazade," he knows the value of costumes and sex, and he knows how to work a stage. <a href=;f=4;t=001998#000002 target=_blank>more</a>
[Reminder: Please post about Smuin Ballet in the other thread.]

Author:  art076 [ Wed Oct 22, 2003 1:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Oh man...this is a long one folks. But I was really impressed by the whole affair, and it sparked other reflections as well... The dancer "score-card" appears closer to the bottom. Principal casting at this performance was "Chopiniana": Zhelonkina, Selina, Golub, Korsuntsev; "Scheherazade": Lopatkina, Zelensky; and "Firebird": Amosava, Baranov.

Kirov Ballet
Mixed bill including “Chopiniana,” “Scheherezade” and “The Firebird”
Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa, CA
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The Kirov Ballet shimmered in its mixed bill of three “classic” works by Mikhail Fokine on Tuesday night. Seeing the Kirov Ballet perform “La Bayadere” and this program of Fokine pieces so close together offers a really interesting comparison of ballet and dance drama as it progressed through time. They present two similar ways of telling a grand story without words, and instead with grand spectacle and dancing: one old, one new. The new, however, is clearly more developed, sophisticated, and much more interesting in many ways.

Of course, “Bayadere” has its merits. The Kingdom of the Shades and the classicism of the Grand Pas Classique are clearly treasures of ballet heritage. But when it comes down to story telling and keeping a modern audience engaged, Fokine wins. By comparison, “Bayadere” is overlong, drawn out and trivial. Fokine’s “Scheherazade” is trivial as well – but there are plenty of other things to feast on during the proceedings. There is the visual spectacle: eye popping, detailed sets, alongside colorful and appealing costumes. The sets here made “La Bayadere’s” new sets and costumes look muted and tame by comparison.

The one-act format also provides for a much more pleasing dramatic effect. Fokine can just tell a story and use dance much more simply. “Bayadere” draws the story out, and fluffs up the middle with random, unrelated divertissement dancing, which stretches the plot extremely thinly. But Fokine entertains by going ahead and just telling the story right away – there are pretty dances throughout, mind you, but it has a much more satisfying dramatic unity. Plus – the audience is more engaged, never losing sight of the story amid the clutter.

Then, of course there is the great music in these three Fokine works, the use of which sets these ballets apart from most of the 19th century story ballets (Tchaikovsky’s ballets excepted). Great music immeasurably adds to the atmosphere and increases the drama in a performance – and the music here simply leaves Minkus’ score for “Bayadere” in the dust.

“The Firebird,” by Igor Stravinsky, is a fantastic piece of music– it has taken on a life outside of ballet theater and makes an astonishing effect on its own in the concert hall as well. Its unconventional rhythms and the sheer drama of it all makes the audience sit up and take notice. “Scheherazade,” by Nikolai Rimksy-Korsakav, has dramatic swells and sweet violin passages that set the mood for something exotic, while upping the emotion. (This staging, however, interpolates an odd piece of music that isn’t from the original four-movement “Scheherazade” piece for an extended Slave-Zobeide pas de deux). All this fantastic music gives drive and energy to the ballets, especially when they were played as exceptionally as they were by the Mariinsky Theater orchestra – under the baton of Mikhail Agrest – on Tuesday. It gives the audience something more than what is simply on stage for the evening. Combined with the stage spectacle, the effect is rapturous. Minkus is merely functional by comparison.

Ballet is not ballet with out the dancing, of course. And each work has dancing – attractive and appealing dancing, to boot. But what makes it stand out that much more is that has a relevance to the rest of the proceedings. In the story pieces, it drives the plot. In a symphonic mood piece like “Chopiniana,” it creates the atmosphere and brings to life the Romantic ideal that Fokine was honoring in the piece. It all comes together when it binds itself to complex, quality music, leaving you with more than just a pretty dance.

And, oh yes: Tuesday night’s dancing. It was uniformly great, especially from the corps de ballet.

“Chopiniana,” Fokine’s tribute to Romanticism, is one of the earliest instances of ballet symphonism – that is, a full dance without having a plot to strictly follow. There is just the music by Chopin, and choreography set to it. The dances “float” atop the music; the effect is dreamlike and beautiful. The Kirov corps was highly impressive here on Tuesday night – the lingering arms, the perfect unity throughout. The performance was mesmerizing. The soloists, Irina Zhelonkina, Yana Selina, Irina Golub, and Danila Korsuntsev, were all solid and highly musical.

“Scheherazade,” was a somewhat silly, story-book tale of illicit passion in an exotic locale, the spectacle reigned. Leon Bakst’s sets and costumes were eye-catching and very colorful, while Fokine’s dances are attractive and entertaining. Uliana Lopatkina was a beautiful and sexy Zobeide – both in her physical appearance and her dancing. I loved when she unlocked the Golden Slave’s doors, threw the keys aside and snaps into a pose to wait for him to come out – it was passionate and it looked fantastic. Igor Zelensky was her virtuosic and intense Golden Slave. Both danced the pas de deux beautifully, though the dance itself was a bit long, and seemed out of place from the rest of the ballet’s quick pace.

“The Firebird” was led by the orchestra’s incredible playing of the score. Tatiana Amosava danced the Firebird competently, but relied mostly on the lighting effects to produce much stage oomph when she appeared on stage. Victor Baranov was Ivan – his acting was good, but his partnering of Amosava in the first scene proved shaky in spots. Yana Serebriakova was a beautiful princess, and Vladimir Ponomarev a fantastically evil Katschei. Ponomarev played the role to the hilt, and the audience loved it. The corps de ballet was incredible throughout; their costumes were a bit absurd and over the top, but the dancing was fierce and powerful – it made the already thunderous music that much more impact.

This program was a refreshing move away from “La Bayadere” and the seemingly endless parade of full-length classics, showing that dance drama can be just as exciting in shorter form. Next in line for this ballet time-travel is Balanchine in the 1960s, with “Jewels.”

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Oct 22, 2003 4:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Thanks a lot for this vivid description art. Although I am sceptical of some of the 19th C entertainment ballets I always enjoy "Sceherezade" - there aren't that many ballets even today that tale lust as their main theme.

Author:  Jeff [ Thu Oct 23, 2003 12:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Just a few after show impressions from the Wednesday evening show…

I believe discerning commentators of Merce Cunningham’s choreography have on occasion echoed Marshall MacLuhan’s seminal pronouncement: the medium is the message – bodily legibility, articulation, flexibility, concentration, intelligence – these are the essence of a Cunningham Dance Company performance. Is MacLuhan relevant to ballet as well? Fokine’s “Chopiniana” says yes.

Deliberately eschewing the temptations of narrative, “Chopiniana” is essentially homage to a nocturnal world inspired of Heinrich Heine, Theophile Gautier, and Keats. Quotes from “La Sylphide,” “Giselle,” and “Sleeping Beauty” populate the world of “Chopiniana” as much as its serenely magnificent corps of utterly feminine spirits.

Nothing happens in "Chopiniana" because it isn't 'about' anything at all. It just is. We see reverberations of all the great ballet blanc scenes of “Robert Le Diable,” “La Sylphide,” “Giselle,” and the great Tschaikovsky/Petipa ballets, which is to say the same archetypal scene again and again of moonlit forest glades, virginal tulle, white tutus and satin pointe shoes.

Like the sublime “Kingdom of the Shades” the company gave us last weekend, “Chopiniana” is essentially the corps ballet. The principal dancers were Daria Sukhorukova, Irina Zhelonkina, Irina Golub, and Igor Kolb. Golub was especially inspired in the ‘Prelude’ movement.

“Scheherazade” bravely takes on one of dance’s major challenges in our contemporary world: what does it take to capture the jaded and cynical modern audience’s attention. Diaghilev had plenty of practice during the Ballet Russes’ Parisian seasons. Fantastic sets and costumes by Leon Bakst and reproduced by Anna Nezhnaya, Anatoly Nazhny show how its done. Its a deluge of almost overwhelming greens, blues, golds and myriad biomorphic shapes of Oriental paisley that probably would not have seemed out of place at a 60’s acid rock event.

Set against Bakst’s conception, the dance seems almost incidental – something of a tribute to the power of design given the amount of sweaty pawing and mid-riff licking going on among the corps “orgy” sequences. Igor Zelensky as the Golden Slave was full on in the masculine virtuosity department but never seemed to master the abject grovelling expected of a love-slave to Tatiana Tkachenko’s Zobeide. With her young, round face and blue eyeliner, Tkachenko made Zobeide more of a trailer park princess than a wicked sultress. (No offense to trailer parks intended.) Vladimir Ponomarev’s Shah Shahryar was especially good as one who understands the equation of sex and power. The Odalisks, Yana Serebriakova, Alexandra Yosifidi, and Galine Rakhmanova, looked especially buff tonite.

Balanchine had written somewhat wryly and unexpectedly dismissively of the Firebird: the Firebird is just a woman in a red tutu (I’m paraphrasing because I don’t remember where I read it). Perhaps he had in mind the Fokine “Firebird” rather his own version. As performed tonite, “Firebird” looked dated. Irma Nioradze’s Firebird fluttered a great deal. Her Firebird at times looked scared and at other times surprised. The sheer magnitude of her gestures seemed to date from the silent movie era and once or twice prompted polite titters from the audience.

Balanchine was right – who was Fokine trying to kid? That’s a ballet dancer doing her level best to invent avian port de bras. Irregardless of whether she succeeds or not, either way she loses. I prefer Ashley Bouder or Maria Kowroski’s Firebird – which is to say, Balanchine’s: the woman doesn’t become a bird but the ballerina ascendant.

Only at the final, triumphant procession confirming the transcendant power of state ritual even in aesthetic form (which Balanchine kept in a fashion) did Stravinsky’s magnifiscent fanfares trump Bakst’s design, which proved more eye-popping than the dance itself. Irma Nioradze again proved herself to be a star dancer. Yana Serebriakova brought a Botticelli quality to her blondeness. Victor Baranov made a likable Ivan Tsarevich.

As far as I could tell, the conductor of the Maryinsky Theater Orchestra was not credited. Can anybody help here?

<small>[ 23 October 2003, 03:31 AM: Message edited by: Jeff ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Oct 23, 2003 2:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Jeff made the interesting statement:

discerning commentators of Merce Cunningham’s choreography have on occasion echoed Marshall MacLuhan’s seminal pronouncement: the medium is the message – bodily legibility, articulation, flexibility, concentration, intelligence – these are the essence of a Cunningham Dance Company performance. Is MacLuhan relevant to ballet as well? Fokine’s “Chopiniana” says yes.
Jeff, I do see a link between the two works, but in an apparently different direction to your proposal. For myself and a number of Cunningham devotees I have read, the key element in his work is the treatment of space, both personal and ensemble within the context of the performance area. His agreement to perform in the huge Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2 weeks reflects this interest.

"Chopiniana" fits into a similar mould for me. Fokine's magical use of primarily symmetrical patterns contrasts with Cunningham's exploration of assymetry, but in both cases geometry seems a key driver. Of course, it requires dancers with the necessary skills to achieve the choreographers' desired effects, but these do not seem the primary motivator in either case. Thus, I contend that there is a "message" beyond the abilities of the dancers and the articulations forged with the choreographer. Thus McLuhan's "medium is the message" perspective has little resonance for me in looking at either of these dance examples.

<small>[ 23 October 2003, 04:59 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Andre Yew [ Thu Oct 23, 2003 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

'Saison Russe' worth the wait
Lewis Segal, LA Times

Ballet history is full of strange accidents, of masterworks somehow lost in their countries of origin but preserved far from home. "Giselle," for instance, remained unseen in France for the better part of a century. And the most daring achievements of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes became well-known everywhere in the ballet world except Russia during the Communist era.


With up to 50 of them sometimes storming the stage, the program offers a level of spectacle virtually unknown these days. And you may never again hear ballet accompaniment of the stylistic authority and passion delivered by the Kirov Orchestra under Mikhail Agrest.
more (requires paid subscription)

Author:  Andre Yew [ Thu Oct 23, 2003 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Like a phoenix, Kirov soars
Laura Bleiberg, Orange County Register

The Kirov Ballet's program of classic ballets by Mikhail Fokine at the Orange County Performing Arts Center Tuesday was glorious spectacle, a rainbow melange of artistic layers both obvious and subtle.

There was vividly articulated dancing by the corps de ballet, a group which is proving to be a major asset of this current tour. There was a bouquet of musical coloring from the splendiferous Kirov orchestra, which propelled the dancing with its swells of sound.

Author:  art076 [ Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Kirov Ballet
Fokine Classics, including “Chopiniana,” “Scheherazade,” and “The Firebird”
Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa
October 23, 2003

Thursday night’s performance of the Fokine program was – like Tuesday’s performance – anchored by strong performances from the Kirov’s marvelous corps de ballet and the truly phenomenal orchestra (conducted by Mikhail Agrest).

The orchestra was in many ways the star of the show. Their performance of “The Firebird,” Stravinsky’s roller-coaster ride of a ballet score, was thrilling, to be rivaled by any great orchestra in a concert hall without the ballet on stage. The music in "Firebird" is glorious even when it stands on its own. It tells the story just as much as the stage action tells the story. And, with such powerful music, there is an emotional response to the aural that is stronger than the visual. It is even more true when there is a great orchestra on hand. One place where I always remember an orchestra makign a huge difference is "Romeo and Juliet" - the music is so poetic and dramatic that an orchestra's strong playing can sometimes make up for lackluster performing on stage. But here with the Kirov, both the aural and visual came together magnificently in "Firebird." It was fantastic.

There was, too, the corps de ballet. It didn’t really matter what the corps seemed to be performing, whether it be the delicate pointe work of “Chopiniana” or the aggressive jumping of “The Firebird;” each time they took the stage, they commanded attention. They moved as a single body, and each individual performer had a total commitment to the piece being performed. So, the hard work put into the wispy arms of “Chopiniana” was a real-life dream, the almost cartoonish exoticism of “Scheherazade” was vividly brought to life, and the creatures in “The Firebird” were otherworldly.

As for the pieces themselves, “Scheherazade” – the second work of the evening – was tiresome on second viewing. The central pas de deux seems even longer and more out of place the second time, with the action grinding to a halt for what seems like twenty minutes. It could have been done in far less time (it is my understanding that the pas de deux was added to a later “Scheherazade,” to give a showpiece to the ballerina role). There were strong performances, however. Irma Nioradze was sinuous and sensual as Zoebiede; she often embellished poses and movements with an extra sliver of her hips and belly. Danila Korsuntsev was the Golden Slave, capturing the audience with the role’s requisite virtuosity. The pair got far more sensual during the pas de deux, fully touching each other where it was merely suggested with the Lopatkina/Zelensky pairing on Tuesday night.

If “Scheherazade” was wearing the second time around, “The Firebird” was just as thrilling – if not more thrilling – than the first live viewing. Tatiana Amosava was far more commanding in the title role on Thursday, the same role she danced Tuesday. She was also supported Thursday by a better partner: Andrey Yakovlev. The partnering in the first pas de deux secure, and Yakovlev’s mime even stronger during the rest of the ballet. He and Yana Serebriakova, as the Princess, gave the ballet a strong dramatic foundation during their scenes together. With a huge cast storming the stage and dancing brilliantly, it was an all around intense spectacle of a performance. And, of course, there was the aforementioned great orchestra.

“Chopiniana” – the program’s opening piece – belonged to the corps de ballet. There were particularly strong performances by Daria Sukhorukova in the Prelude and Anton Korsakov as the young man. Irina Zelonkina and Yana Selina danced the Mazurka and Valse Op. 70, respectively.

(who loves that he can be on the road and out of the theater within 10 minutes after curtain has fallen - as opposed to the 1.5 hours it took at the Kodak)

<small>[ 24 October 2003, 02:27 AM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Fri Oct 24, 2003 1:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA, 2003 - Fokine Program

Back when the Kirov was in Berkeley, I forgot to mention a dancer who impressed me in Chopiniana. Zhelonkina had very lovely grands jetes. I noticed that several of the women dancers would lean forward before they jumped and then jerk their torsos back at the top of the jump, but Zhelonkina's carried her torso beautifully, and her jetes were high and very light. To complete the picture, her arms and hands were very relaxed.

Page 3 of 4 All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group