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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:48 am 
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fedora wrote:
Hey, Andre!
How do you know who dances when in the ROH production of The Sleeping Beauty?


Sorry for the off-topic diversion, but if you look at the London cast, that will probably give you a good idea of who will be dancing in the US. If we need to talk about this more, let's move to an ROH thread.

People I know who've met Diana also don't think she's a primadonna.

--Andre


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:56 am 
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Well Vishneva is exactly that -- a prima donna -- a first lady of the theater, and she has the right to be treated with consideration.

As to temperament, etc., I have watched many great dancers work up close. There are very, very few artists of the perfectionist cast of a Vishneva who are not demanding. I don't think any dancer has ever worked harder than she.

I know people who are very close to Vishneva -- which is where much of my information comes.

I think that she is one of the few Kirov artists who is at least trying to extricate herself from the Soviet mentalities that still pervade the company, given that most of the dancers and staff were raised under the old regime -- which, as we know, gives some sign of re-establishing itself under Putin!!

Of course Natalia and others are right: Vishneva -- however many performances she dances at the Bolshoi -- has not left the Kirov, at this point. But the contract she is signed is certainly a new step in her career, since she has already been doing intermittent guesting with the Bolshoi for several years.


Last edited by ripowam on Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:39 am 
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Ripowam,

Interesting comments, I wanted to address some of them.

Yes Vishneva, as with any member of the theatre, deserves to be treated with consideration. But every artist should treat others with the same consideration they expect in return. That isn't always the case especially in the art world (not only ballet). As you know, with stardom often comes soaring egos. Just the devil's advocate argument.

I beg to differ with you on the comment about Putin, which has many, many implications. If you want to argue that a return to communism in Russia would be a bad thing, then speak to the majority of Russians over age 50, or look at the state of the company now versus then. Look at the young, acrobatic, gymnast type ballerinas -- of which there are more than just one or two now -- look at the artistry, etc.

If you imply a return to that "regime" is bad, (and perhaps you were not implying this, but I must say it for the record) then you imply that the current state of affairs is good. Which, depending on who you are and where you're situated, it may or may not be. Baryshnikov and others left for artistic freedom. They happened to earn much more money in the West as well. Would Vishneva be thriving now in her art had she been born 60 years ago? Probably, but with much less freedom, unless of course she'd left the country as well. I won't go into issues like Soloviev. The knife cuts both ways. I think it is simpler to say there are good and bad things about communism, and democracy is not a one size fits all solution for every country on earth. Some nations prefer communism to democracy; some thrive under dictatorships; you have to consider a nation's culture, innate mentality, historical mindset as well... I could write volumes now on the Soviet Union vs. Russia today but so many books are already out there. And while I've studied the issue at length, I would not claim to be an expert. I will say this: much of what the Western press writes about Russia tinkering on a return to Communism is misleading and false. Sorry to stray slightly from the topic at hand, but I wanted to address that point.

Part of the reason the Kirov corps de ballet is so revered is precisely because of this system that the West is so quick to condemn. It's not just Vaganova, its the idea of not thinking on your own, being spoon fed from age 9 on. It's not unique to the ballet world in Russia. As soon as you have different dancers in the corps de ballet experimenting with movement, you lose synchronicity, unified lines, etc. The ballet would suffer here, were this to happen. Even with the advance of democracy in Russia, luckily, it hasn't suffered (too much) yet. We have seen the effects of "westernization" within the company though. I am not convinced all of them are positive. Just as not everything about the past was positive either.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 6:28 am 
...


Last edited by fedora on Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 6:54 am 
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Fedora - LOL good point. Speaking of which, the government funding for the former state theatres is a ridiculously low sum compared to what it was. No more state-provided apartments for ballet stars...


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 9:22 am 
...


Last edited by fedora on Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:34 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 2:04 pm 
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Quote:
As you know, with stardom often comes soaring egos. Just the devil's advocate argument.


It's often been my observation that the same personality traits that give people the "drive" to become stars are often the same traits that cause them to be not-nice people.

There are certainly exceptions; Peter Boal and Patricia Barker certainly come to mind.

_________________
Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 4:57 pm 
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I think what Putin represents is a return to old-style authoritanism, part of which was relentless indoctrination in the evils of the West. And the return or the persistence of that attitude is what explains the hostility to Lacotte or any other "outsider"'s work at the Kirov. And that inbred insularity is anathema to artistic growth.

Yes, the economic situation was more stable under Communism. I certainly do not think the transition to the anarchy/capitalism they have now has been achieved responsibly. Of course were Communism to return the freebooting robber baron capitalism they have now would be curtailed, and the oligarchs/Mafia certainly don't want that.

Catherine, I'm not sure what you're saying about artists needing to treat others with consideration, and whether you're specifically referring to Vishneva, since you don't say. Therefore I cannot comment.

But I do know, since I have had to listen to them first hand, that all sorts of untrue claims about, for instance, Vishneva's cancellation of Bayadere with Sarafanov last summer are floated around the theater.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 4:24 am 
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Jeff - you made the point I was trying to make, only even more succinctly! Thanks! :-)


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:43 pm 
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Quote:
...what Putin represents is a return to old-style authoritanism, part of which was relentless indoctrination in the evils of the West. And the return or the persistence of that attitude is what explains the hostility to Lacotte or any other "outsider"'s work at the Kirov. And that inbred insularity is anathema to artistic growth.


Ripowam, to what hostility do you refer? Both foreign (non-Russian) choreographers in this year's festival received VIP treatment in terms of lodging (the best in the city, 5 star hotels), meals paid for during the entirety of their stay, all visa/flight issues covered, and generous contracts...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 1:38 am 
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Catherine, some visiting choreographers/setters who have worked with the Mariinsky in recent years on works such as "Rite of Spring" and "Les Noces" report poor support within the Company: no consistency with dancers scheduled for rehearsals, refusal to discuss tempi etc.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:16 am 
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Ah - I know to whom and what you refer. Ha -- I must be getting used to Russian ways because I was about to say something about "that's just the way it is here"! But, seriously, in some ways it *is* just the way it is -- but I wouldnt call that hostility per se... inconvenience, great annoyance, inefficiency (which is, btw, rampant throughout Russia and will drive me nuts to the end of my days), and emotionalism -- yes..but not hostility. At least, I've never observed or heard of any first hand.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 8:51 am 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
... much of what the Western press writes about Russia tinkering on a return to Communism is misleading and false. ....


I, too, am sorry to stray off topic but I have to commend Catherine for having the courage to write this.

Just because certain 'power groups' in the West cannot dictate Russian policy and/or 'buy off' the Kremlin, the Western political press (the NYTimes, Wash Post & other influential papers) instantly proclaims that Putin & his cabinet are 'fascists' or the like. Maybe if Putin frees the tax-evader Khordokovsky tomorrow, the Western press will proclaim Putin a good guy? Funny - most rank-and-file Russians actually love Putin more than ever for imprisoning the 'big business' guys. Now we're straying far off topic so I'll return the focus to ballet & the K-M Theater...

Regarding the management style of the theater, I realize that we often feel like banging our heads on the wall but these practices (secretiveness, people doing-as-they-wish because of influence, last-minute changes in plans, etc.) go back to Tsarist times & before. It's not a Putin Era phenomenon. I feel the pain & exasperation of ripowam and others, though.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:26 am 
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But the shady big business guys whom Putin has imprisoned all tend coincidentally to be his political enemies, don't they? Whereas the shady big business guys who are his friends are running the country more or less. When I watch TV in Russia it's clear that the vast majority of Putin coverage is what the Russians call Klukva: propaganda, and rather cheap propaganda at that.

But so is our television coverage here. I agree with you about Western media, Natalia. I no longer trust the Post or the Times's coverage of our own beloved leader, since both publications have been propping him up since 2000, and I certainly put very little credence in what they write about Russia, either.

I am not saying Russia is returning to communism by any means; it is going for pure, wild-west capitalism, and the social safety nety is being eviscerated, e.g. the collapse of the public health care system in Russia.
[Parallel to the collapse of public health care in the US!]

Way off-topic here. . .

The hostility to which I refer is the general mood of the Russian dance press, vide the response to Lacotte, and the attitudes of the artistic staff in the ballet. Vasiev in a recent interview in a Russian publication was asked about the company's recent bad or mixed reviews in the West and said, "It's not for the West tell us how to dance Petipa." I have been told many times by Russian dance journalists "You're from New York; you don't have any taste."


Last edited by ripowam on Mon Apr 03, 2006 4:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:38 am 
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[quote="ripowam"]But the shady big business guys whom Putin has imprisoned all tend coincidentally to be his political enemies, don't they? Whereas the shady big business guys who are his friends are running the country more or less. .......
quote]

One of these days we must meet & discuss this in private!!! In many ways, Putin reminds me of Bush in his blend of kind-hearted (almost religious-based) naivete with heavy-handedness.....but let's definitely halt this public discussion. It's juicy but there's no need to offend balletlovers who may disagree!

re. ballet - There are the Stupnikovs and Degens (older StP critics) who still give balanced reviews, then there are the Belayeva (see above) & others who are unjustifiably spiteful. A lot of the younger local critics seem to be doing what young critics often do - cultivate their 'bohemian' side, putting-down all that is traditional, in a effort to make a name for themselves. [All you have to do is see some of their outfits & hairdos in the Mariinsky lobby, to see what I mean...ha-ha.] It isn't 'cool' to love Lacotte, Petipa, the classics in general but Forsythe is totally cool. What's funny about this is that what young Russian critics consider to be 'cool' is passe in the West - they're stuck in 1970s/early 80s modern, e.g., a lot of the Eifmans, Forsythe 'Artifact,' etc. In the end, it's all Human Nature 101 & quite predictable.


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