CriticalDance Forum

Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere
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Author:  Azlan [ Fri Oct 31, 2003 11:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

I wouldn't be surprised if they did...

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Nov 01, 2003 2:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

I saw the Royal Ballet production of "La Bayadere" last night and shared some of the concerns about the body paint.

In the RB/Makarova version the Fakirs are all dark-skinned and spend most of the time scrabbling around the floor in animalistic movement. In the meantime the slightly suntanned Brahmins stand sedately and move graciously. Indeed the rest of this "Indian" cast are all white, especially Nikita.

It could be said that this represents the view of the times when the piece was made. However, for a "modern" production like that of the RB you have: the extra dances for Solor, the stripping out of much of the mime, the new costumes and scenery etc etc. Therefore I don't see why the dark skins of the fakirs could not be dropped, given that so much else has been changed.

For a reconstructed version these arguments apply less well. But actually they have chosen to leave in some of the 20th C solos to cater for modern taste, so whay not change those sections which are now offensive to many.

<small>[ 01 November 2003, 03:38 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Sat Nov 01, 2003 8:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

That's a very good point. No one expects the dancers to dance the way dancers danced in the old days, either.

Author:  Julie Gervais [ Sun Nov 02, 2003 12:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

Kirov Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre
La Bayadere
Detroit Opera House
November 1, 2003

Reviewed Nov. 2

Flawless But Human

Bravo to the Kirov for another incredible evening! Saturday night’s performance was much better attended than Thursday’s, and the energy in the house was considerably higher. It seemed there were more ardent ballet fans present, as the entrance of each principal was greeted with applause. This seemed to notch up the energy a bit on stage as well (not that it had been previously lacking). Late comers got us off to an 8:15 start and it seemed the orchestra was trying to make up a bit of time on the overture – it was kind of zippy. Having spent a fair amount of time at the Met, where, if you arrive at 8:01 you are firmly hustled into the room with the monitor for a 2D version of Act I as your punishment for tardiness, I am always a little appalled at the late seating policies of the Detroit Opera House. (On occasion they even seat people AFTER the curtain is up - no comment.)

Ms. Gumerova danced Nikiya again, tonight with Igor Kolb as Solor. Mr. Kolb’s story (as told to Cassandra of CriticalDance) makes him lovable before he even steps onstage – seven auditions indeed! His energy was determined and focused – intent on pulling out the maximum intensity from each bravura step. Ms. Gumerova in turn was extra charged as well. Their initial pas deux had a kind of Romeo and Juliet exuberance, and remembering it during the second act, in which she showed the life draining from her body bit by bit after choosing to let the poison do its work, was very sad .

The opening of Act II is fun and shameless. To the extent that this performance is true to the 1900 original, 100 years later I think it still serves as a great re-energizer for those who don’t love mime or slower-moving ballet. (Guess they were around then too!) The elephant, the dead tiger, Solor being carried in on a huge litter – it’s all a kick. The girl with the pitcher on her head – anyone think that’s not really attached? But it’s cute, and (don’t know how much of this is being done in other cities?) her tiny attendants in their own little pointe shoes are so sweet. In fact, there is a large contingent of local children performing in this run and they are very well-rehearsed (they found an expat Russian here to do the job).

I could watch those Shades all day long, seeing different details in perfect unison each time I look. I only wish they would more clearly identify each of those who do the Shade variations after the ensemble work – some of them have really tough choreography and it shouldn’t be thankless!

There was a cast change again – Irina Golub danced Gamzatti instead of Ekaterina Osmolkina. She is shockingly beautiful and radiates at high intensity even while standing still. She plays the princess to the hilt – you really believe she would casually give away jewels to get what she wants. Her lines are not necessarily the longest in the company, nor is she as loose-jointed so clearly she has worked extra-hard to achieve this place. I am not crazy about the Kirov’s way of having her (along with some other Act II soloists) take their bows in front of the curtain at the end of Act II, instead of with the rest of the cast at the end of the ballet. It seems a little incomplete at the very end to have her already gone. And it seems like she should share in the raw adulation that comes at the end of the night, which was very strong at this performance. The curtain was opened several more times after initial bows, and these moments, to me, are some of the sweetest of the evening, when people just don’t want to let them go. During those moments, when they release their professional command of the stage just a bit and their own personal emotions show through, the whole amazing spectacle becomes something a little more human – even the dancers seem still somewhat in awe of it, and their own power to create it.

Post-Script: I disagree with people who say this ballet is just a dated showpiece, and I think the company artistic staff has been wise to recognize that they alone, because of their heritage, lineage, and general position in the global ballet community, can accomplish this kind of re-grounding of the essence of this work. (With other reconstructions rumoured to be in the pipeline.) Therefore they must do it. Of course ballet is a living thing and its evolution will keep it exciting and relevant. But the contemporary ballets get some of their “edginess” exactly because we still nurture and adore the roots of the art form. And, it’s nice to get a sense of what came before all of the “after Petipa”.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Nov 02, 2003 3:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

Thanks Julie, for the report.

I'm curious to hear about other Kirov-related Detroit events...

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

Kirov Ballet rewards patience with beautiful third act
By Barbara Hoover / Special to The Detroit News

DETROIT -- In a blaze of white tutus, the Kirov Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia, demonstrated at the Detroit Opera House why it remains one of the world's great dance companies.

At Wednesday evening's opening of a six-performance run of "La Bayadere," the beloved "Kingdom of the Shades" dance in the third act brought 32 white-tulle-clad ballerinas one after the other onto the stage in a series of slow arabesques.

click for more

Author:  kurinuku [ Sat Nov 08, 2003 7:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

Sumptuous La Bayadere' performed by Kirov Ballet

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

The legendary company's spectacular touring version of "La Bayadere" re constructs the vis ual extravagance of a production staged in 1900 by choreographer Marius Petipa. Costumes sparkle with brilliant colors, glittering jewels, rich fabrics and elaborate headpieces. Painted sets evoke the exoticism of India as imagined by 19th-century Russian designers.

Author:  V Lucas [ Mon Nov 10, 2003 3:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

"La Bayadere" in Cleveland"
by Elsa Johnson and Victor Lucas:

Cleveland is a city that once upon a time had a pretty good ballet company of its own, known for its ability to put on polished productions of extravaganza story ballets; so, thanks to Dennis Nahat, we're comfortable with mime and understand the genre. We like story ballets, and miss them. So how could we refuse the opportunity to see the Kirov Ballet's La Bayadere not just once but twice? But for the record, our exposure to this particular ballet is limited to these two Kirov Ballet performances.

In the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russians immigrants have moved to Cleveland, so Cleveland has a sizable Russian contingent living here now. Since this influx we have noticed a few idiosyncracies about these immigres. They often seem to prefer to walk in the street. When they do this they look as though if you ran into them you'd dent the bumper of your car. And they adore Russian ballet. We expected they would come out in droves for the Kirov. We expected to be surrounded by a parallel universe of Russians: dancers, musicians, and much of the packed house.

And so it proved to be.

Our first Bayadere was opening night, Thursday, 11/06/03; our second, Saturday 11/08/03. Both performances offered a different cast for the major roles of Nikiya, Gamzatti, and Solor. Initially we were a bit confused by some of the wordings in our press kit and by the posters we saw advertising the performance as consisting of "three acts and five scenes". Our confusion existed at least partly because we knew that the 1900 version of this Petipa ballet consisted of four acts, and that some previous incarnations of the ballet have tacked a scene on the end of the third act to complete the ballet's original fourth act intention of providing concluding retribution - the wrath of the god's - for Nikiya's betrayal and death.

We weren't the only ones taking things so literally. It took a thorough reading of the program notes and one viewing to understand that "three acts and five scenes" really means five scenes in three acts. Five scenes, total, any way you count it. We're sorry to miss that destruction of the temple scene, but not disappointed to miss the additional time it takes to perform it. This production of La Bayadere is a three hour long ballet even without that scene, which stretches it closer to four hours. However, this version does retain the third act's famous "descent of the shades", the most frequently excerpted segment of this hot ticket.

It also helped our understanding of the complex history and origins of this production to briefly interview Producer Sergei Danilian during the second intermission on Saturday night. We had read several accounts about the Kirov's La Bayadere at New York's Metropolitan Opera House in 2002, reporting scenery, costumes and choreography largely restored to Petipa's last staging of the ballet in 1900. Danilian explained that while the choreography was from the 1941 Soviet production, the sets and costumes were the very same restored versions presented at the Metropolitan in 2002. Some parts of the sets, Danilian volunteered, the stage right side of the temple, for instance, are not reconstructions but actual originals from the 1900 production.

Imagine: Sets over 100 years old! These are what New York times critic Clive Barnes pronounced "quaint" (both sets and costumes). We didn't find the sets quaint, even before knowing that this Bayadere is, at least in some respects, an archival reconstruction. As for the costumes; strange how some of these too quaint costumes expose bare midriffs in a very contemporary way. What does seem a bit quaint however (perhaps this is what Barnes meant?), is how this production takes this contemporary approach to revealing the body and mixes it up with stylized nods to 19th century India - saris and jhodpurs - and then abruptly abandons all that to give way to traditional European ballet tutus and skirts, at least for the women. Again, it recreates much of the form and look of the 1900 production, but with nods to contemporary tastes. The reconstruction, thankfully, is not literal.

At the Thursday night performance we sat next to a ballet maven friend with very sharp eyes. We heard muffled little snorts at the gaffs of the supers, and suppressed gasps at every hitch in the dancing, like when Daria Pavlenko as Nikiya, in an otherwise lovely performance, mistepped and nearly turned her ankle in the first act, and later slightly slipped in the second. It seemed to us that Pavlenko was having a slightly off night, perhaps because her scheduled Solor, Igor Zelinsky, was out with an injury.

Act III in particular looked hellishly difficult in places; the pirouettes ending in arabesque en face, for instance; or the arabesque turns on pointe without preparation, and with support offered only through a long scarf. Neither Pavlenko nor Saturday's Nikia, Sofia Gumerova, were able to offer a especially satisfying execution of those, though Gumerova's seemed more secure. But on Saturday Gumerova had one partnered turn so off balance she executed it at a slant. Those negatives aside, what was there to complain about? Almost nothing in either dancer's performance (or anyone else's, either): Both are remarkable dancers (with deliciously supple backs). This is the Kirov, everyone is beautiful, and even an off night is pretty amazing.

The lesser role of Gamzatti was danced on the two nights we attended by Tatiana Tkachenko (November 6), and Tatiana Amosova (November 8). Both were on, and executed the roles technical demands flawlessly, but Amosova's Gamzatti added a glittering authority that threatened to upstage Nikiya.

The men: When the curtain went up on the temple scene in Act One, Solor's entrance on Thursday showed us Igor Kolb, tall and slim, with plenty of stage presence, elegant lines, and powerful, hyper mobile hips and legs. He looked more than a match for any tiger. His technical abilities were revealed as the ballet progressed: solid partnering, a big jump, and arabesques higher than the women's - and he made it all look so easy. We were careful not to act overly enthusiastic. After all, this is the Kirov; probably all the male Principals are like this, we thought.

When we saw Principal Danila Korsuntsev as Solor on Saturday, we realized what an exceptional ballet body Kolb has, even among Kirov men. For, handsome and dashing as Korsuntsev is, he must look a mere mortal next to Kolb. However our impression was that he went for a higher level of technical difficulty and as a result sometimes had to struggle for some of his achievements. One of his variations took jete coupe jete coupe double sautй de basque, double sautй de basque in a circle. He did all the sautй de basques as doubles but went off the vertical and so lost time getting the repeat going. The audience overlooked his difficulties and applauded his achievements, as did we.

We must point out that whoever dances Solor, this production presents him with some uphill moments, not all of them technical. When Solor enters for the Act Two wedding celebration, he waves to the audience. But he is greeted by chuckles, for the elephant he rides in on has a decidedly square ass. Soon afterwards, Solor bounds in from stage left, but, again, who can notice him when the supers have just smacked a big, moth-eaten looking, stuffed tiger down in the middle of the stage behind him? Whether these animals were designed ineptly or playfully, or just pragmatically, the timing of their presentation is problematic - or perhaps just more proof of the old vaudeville dictum: never perform with animals or children.

Mention should also be made of the too brief performance of Andrey Ivanov, the soloist who performed the Golden Idol. Ivanov represents a stockier body type then either Kolb or Korsuntsev . The gold paint he wears emphasizes this. His muscular thighs could belong to a strength athlete. The abrupt stylized double saut de Basques and sudden stops of his variation elicited well deserved gasps from the audience.

And speaking of children, local kids got to perform some enjoyable roles in this production. During the golden Idol's dance in Act II, for instance, eight little slaves danced by local children have much to do, providing a frame for his variation. Also in Act Two, when a dancer with pitcher of water balanced on her head is joined by two little girls on pointe, begging her for a drink of water, she refuses them. They pull mischieviously at her red and white striped sarong. They are relentless little scene-stealers both nights. On Thursday they were danced by local girls. On Saturday we were told that the girls were from Japan.

Music: Minkus gets no respect. But his melodies have a clear bass line that makes them easy to dance to and predictable repetition that's perfect for Petipa's three and a break patterns. In the Descent of the Shades, predictable repetition is a big part of the hypnotic effect.

At last, safe at home, well past our bedtime thanks to a rather too literal evocation of eternity, we muse on yet another ballet about a woman wronged, whose guilty lover visits her in the afterlife: "Oh Boo Hoo! You're dead! Now here's a third act ballet blanc, and everything's all right." What is it about this lame-sounding formula that still resonates?

Seeing the dead, we have learned, with or without the aid of hookahs and snake charmers, is not particularly problematic. But how to look at them once we see them - and what to say, and what to do, now that they are gone?

<small>[ 10 November 2003, 04:52 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  art076 [ Mon Nov 10, 2003 3:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - La Bayadere

I really enjoyed reading that review. And lucky you that you got to see Pavlenko dance Nikiya! (She skipped out on Los Angeles to dance the role in London with the Royal Ballet).

I especially enjoyed this part of your review:

"Oh Boo Hoo! You're dead! Now here's a third act ballet blanc, and everything's all right."
That's a great characterization of many of ballet's oddities. But it works and we go home happy, right?


Author:  Mogul [ Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:38 am ]
Post subject: 

Vishneva does have a large tattoo on her left upper thigh or hip. I saw her dance "Manon" on Friday at the Metropolitan Opera House. She did the third act without tights, and it was clearly visible.

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