CriticalDance Forum

"Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20
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Author:  Nino [ Thu Jul 31, 2003 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Ah but Ruzimatov is Tadjik - like many of the intelligentsia of the old trading centres of Samarkand, Bukhara and so on that Uncle Stalin so thoughtfully included in Uzbekistan rather than Tadjikistan next door. Did someone say divide and conquor?

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Aug 01, 2003 4:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Wednesday evenings triple bill started with what was for me a second highly memorable performance of Chopiniana, with the role of the young man danced by the Kirov’s supreme male classicist, Igor Kolb. His partner was Irina Zhelonkina and for those unacquainted with this extraordinarily gifted dancer, I must tell you that she dances noiselessly, amid the clatter of blocked shoes Zhelonkina makes hardly a sound: she is a true sylph in both appearance and execution – a Kirov miracle. Watching the company in this ballet has been a deeply satisfying experience; it is marred only by the jarringly inappropriate Polonaise that is played as an overture. The sooner the Kirov reverts to western practice and ditches it the better.

The first night nerves or whatever that had seemed to undermine the first night of Les Noces had happily diminished by this final performance. Nijinska’s choreography is totally new territory for the Kirov and it is to their credit that they are prepared to meet the challenge, but they still have some way to go to match the memories many of us have of the likes of Beriosova and Dowell in this ballet. If the orchestral tempo was a little fast, it is difficult to say without studying the score whether that was Stravinsky’s intention or not. But as on the first night it was played and sung magnificently.

The Kirov orchestra also excelled in the playing of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, performing to a concert hall standard rarely heard at the Opera House. Ruzimatov had originally been scheduled to dance the Golden Slave and it was interesting to observe that some of the audience left after Les Noces, including the woman sitting next to me. This seems to indicate that without the presence of a star of the magnitude of Ruzimatov, this production has won few friends.

Daniil Korsuntsev, Ruzimatov’s replacement actually danced extremely well, indeed as the younger man he danced with technique that Faroukh can no longer match, he leapt, pounced and spun and did all the things that a Golden Slave should do: but he just didn’t look right. Tall and handsome, virtuosic and romantic – yes! Sensual, feline and dangerous – no. Faroukh was sorely missed.

Tatiana Tkachenko is a new name to me, clearly a very young woman indeed, she made an excellent shot at the role of Zobeide, portraying her as a spoilt sex kitten who thought she could have her amorous cake and eat it too. I found her curvy looks far more appropriate to the role than the ultra slender Zakharova and will be interested to see how Ms Tkachenko fares in the classical roles.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Aug 01, 2003 6:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Interesting that people were leaving before "Schéhérazade", but the wall-to-wall sensuality of the ballet is desperately un-English. I can quite understand that some object on aesthetic grounds at this over-the-top production, which I surrender to every time.

However, I do find it a bit sad that some get upset whenever sensuality appears in dance. Ashley Page, with a very different aesthetic, has also been chastised for his explorations of this aspect of the human psyche.

Lovely though they are, there has to be more to ballet than tutus and the traditional sanitised version of "Coppelia". Ironically, the original story of this latter ballet, Hoffman's "The Sandman", reeks of desire and, like "Schéhérazade", ends in tragedy, as brought out in William Tuckett's dark and disturbing filmed dance version.

<small>[ 01 August 2003, 08:25 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Lyndsey Winship [ Fri Aug 01, 2003 9:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

The Kirov Ballet
Homage to Diaghilev (29/08)

Little girls want their ballerinas to be pretty and perfect, like twinkling music box fairies fixed in a timeless promenade. Send them to see the Kirov perform Chopiniana and they won’t be disappointed.

In Fokine’s homage to romantic ballet, the Kirov’s dancers have shed their earthly skins for fluttering wings and weightlessness. The dancers really do capture the essence of delicate sylphs, carried along by the breeze in their woodland idyll. Their stance is naïve, with rounded shoulders and long necks reaching forward.

It’s the corps that’s most impressive, even though for a lot of the piece they don’t move at all. Which is what is so enchanting. They are spellbound in perfect poses, frozen in time – rather like this piece. When they do move, it is with a single breath as if every limb is connected to the next dancer. It’s an ethereal experience.

But what about grown ups? Well they like their escapism too, but I’m pleased the Kirov saw fit to shut the music box and revive Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces. It’s a piece that’s new to the Kirov and that much is evident. Whereas in Chopiniana the dancers might have been guided by instinct, here they must be desperately counting Stravinsky’s fiendish rhythms. There’s some trouble with the timing but it doesn’t really detract. The work may be more than the sum of its parts – which is very much the message.

We are invited to a peasant wedding but it’s far from a joyous occasion. It is an arranged marriage for the collective good rather than individual happiness. In drab brown and grey, the sets are beautifully stark. Just one small window high up on a wall. For the taciturn bride there’s clearly no escaping her duty. All she can do is let the momentum carry her on. It makes a nice contrast with Chopiniana where the corps are still for much of the piece while the principals dance. Here it is the main characters who are frozen in their fate while the world spins around them. There is also a similar void of emotion in this work, but this time it is dark, gripping and quite ominous.

Les Noces has real clout. Stravinsky’s compelling score for a start, four thundering pianos, four huge voices and over 40 dancers. Nijinska obviously recognised the power of Stravinsky’s music and she doesn’t fight it, she reinforces it – the incessant rhythm and the chilling stasis.

In the course of the interval the dancers have ironed out their willowy curves into functional lines. They often dance in straight rows, men and women sharing repetitive steps. Their toes patter then pound the stage, all moving as one (mostly), in a proletarian surge. Bodies fold together to build shapes, like the female pyramid with its totem of heads, negating individuals for the outward design.

It sounds, and seems, so cold, but the urgency and desperation of the scene plunges right into your stomach with an impact that’s vivid in contrast with the previous fairytale.

It’s back to fantasy for the final work, Scheherazade. This ballet was clearly very racy at the time of its creation with its exotic tale of sultans and shahs, harem girls and saucy slaves. And it has really dated. When the curtain goes up you might wonder if you’d walked in on a pantomime. There’s a glittering set with lanterns and jewels, rich colours and skimpy costumes, full of eastern promise. Only Aladdin in missing.

It’s perfectly entertaining though and the lengthy limbs and snake hips of the Kirov’s female dancers slip seductively into the role of flirty temptresses. Svetlana Zakharova as the concubine Zobeide is spectacular, she lifts an ankle to her ear and we’re transfixed. We’re not the only ones. Igor Zelensky as the Golden Slave can’t resist her charms and fantastic extensions. He in turn wows Zobeide with a nice line in leaps and turns. The two fall in lust, the sultan returns and isn’t very happy about the liaison, the slave is slain and Zobeide kills herself in grief.

Which all seems a bit overblown considering she’d only known him half an hour. After all, if she’s just after a man with a good grand allegro, there’s no shortage here.

Author:  djb [ Fri Aug 01, 2003 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Many years ago, in a variations class I was taking, so many people complained about aching feet that the teacher, who had been in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, told everyone to take off their shoes. Then she taught us some of the choreography from Scheherezade. It was kitschy but fun, and a very welcome change from pointe work. I'm looking forward to seeing the ballet in California.

I wish Les Noces were on the program here. I've only seen the Jerome Robbins version, with ABT, a long time ago. I enjoyed it very much, but I have a feeling it had much more movement than Nijinska's version. Has anyone seen both versions? How do they compare?

<small>[ 01 August 2003, 07:27 PM: Message edited by: djb ]</small>

Author:  OdileGB [ Sat Aug 02, 2003 4:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Cassandra, thanks so much for putting my impressions into words about Korsuntsev's performance as the Golden Slave. He danced very well and while watching I could not quite work out why I felt he did not 'look right'. (My worry that I might have missed my last chance to see Ruzimatov dance on a London stage did not improve the situation to be honest.) It is comforting to know that others felt the same way.

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sun Aug 03, 2003 8:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

thank you Nino - I did not know that Faroukh is Tadjik. I have travelled around Uzbekistan, Kazakstan,Tajikstan and have read about the different peoples that were 'rearranged' to form the umbrella Uzbeksistan. Are there any particular character traits of the Tadjiks? Are there other Tadjiks in the company?

I agree with all comments on Korsuntsev as the Golden Slave. It is not his role. He was so anxious to mate with Zobeide - he was quite loving and devoted. I think I prefer Ruzimatov's detachment from the role - does he love me, does he not? Is this just for my body? It makes the whole experience more exotic. Korsuntsev plays the Golden Slave as if he were Conrad. It's like 'what happened after the curtain went down on Le Corsaire.'

That people left doesn't surprise me. Scheherazade is served up every year by the Hochausers. When it is good it is sublime. When it is not so good, it can be quite ridiculous.

The music is fantastic though and fantastically played. Did anyone attend the Barbican performance by the Mariinsky Orchestra in the early part of last year, conducted by Gergiev. There is a recording of it available on disc. Now that was passion. I wept at the end, as did many people in the audience.

<small>[ 03 August 2003, 10:40 AM: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Sun Aug 03, 2003 8:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Exotic, absurd - but at least it makes sense

Jann Parry
Sunday August 3, 2003
The Observer

La Bayadère, Les Noces, Kirov Ballet, Royal Opera House, London WC2
At last, we can see in full how nineteenth-century Russians imagined exotic India in La Bayadère. The Kirov has danced a truncated version of the 1877 ballet since the 1920s, when the last act was dropped. Maybe the scenery was lost or didn't work, but once audiences had stopped expecting a ballet plot to make sense, an inconclusive ending didn't seem to matter

Author:  Joanne [ Mon Aug 04, 2003 2:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Review from The Sunday Times.

The centrepiece of the Kirov Ballet’s Homage to Diaghilev triple bill at Covent Garden last Monday was Broni- slava Nijinska and Stravinsky’s Les Noces, a landmark modern classic of 20th-century dance. This and the reconstruction of Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring (which we will see this week) are bold new acquisitions for the Kirov, who danced them for the first time in St Petersburg in June — 80 years to the month since Les Noces was created for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

Author:  Emma Pegler [ Wed Aug 06, 2003 12:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Homage to Diaghilev" programme in London - 20

Everyone seems to agree that Les Noces needs 'wearing in' somewhat. I must admit it did not flow like the lines of a Suprematist or Constructivist painting in the way the Royal Ballet manages.

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