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PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:09 pm 
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Could I possibly add some more about faces in ballet ? I will qualify my ideas by saying that they are based on less than four years of ballet watching and that my ideas can change after a new viewing.

Following on this I have just watched the Margot Fonteyn Les Sylphides video several times more and would 'add another element' to what I have already said about her. I now would add that she also seems to portray a being that has perhaps seen everything, knows everything and above all stays commited to love and beauty as her direction. This is not too hard to believe when you remember that this was a worldly lady in her late forties(?) who was also one of the world's most famous and one of the world's most loved artistic performers.

Getting more or less back to our topic, could I comment on the Kirov-Marinsky's Ulyana Lopatkina and Daria Pavlenko ? Both for me have extremely expressive faces. Both faces can also be hard to define at times. This is only one aspect of these two women, but it's one that stands out in my mind. I sometimes get a reading from their intense facial expression, that they are directing your attention to their dancing itself and not necessarily to communicating a direct message. I have seen instances where their dancing is amazingly good and their 'wonderfully compelling faces' are simply saying, "Watch what I am doing and feel what I am feeling in doing it."

Please let me add one more. Probably the most versatile, compelling, and understandable face in today's ballet world that I have seen belongs to Maria Alexandrova at the Bolshoi. I was most impressed with her Odile, which to me expressed a woman who simply wanted her man and used an 'Encyclopedia' of female 'personalities' in her pursuit. Her Aspicia in The Pharoah's Daughter just lit up the auditorium with joy and radiance.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:36 am 
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Quote:
I would also like to mention that some of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev's dancing together in this video is possibly the most beautiful 'synchronized' dancing that I have ever seen.


Buddy, that was their magic, that telepathic rapport that bound two very different personalities together and allowed them to dance as one. Fonteyn once said that she could be entranced during a performance just by catching sight of the way Nureyev placed his foot on the stage. It was this reciprocal admiration and respect that made them the most perfect couple ever.

Quote:
Following on this I have just watched the Margot Fonteyn Les Sylphides video several times more and would 'add another element' to what I have already said about her. I now would add that she also seems to portray a being that has perhaps seen everything, knows everything and above all stays commited to love and beauty as her direction. This is not too hard to believe when you remember that this was a worldly lady in her late forties(?) who was also one of the world's most famous and one of the world's most loved artistic performers.


You're right again, love and beauty sums the woman up completely. But despite her mature years, she was eternally youthful, almost girlish with her dazzling smile and ready laugh. She was also modest and approachable, not so much admired by her fans as adored, deeply loved by audience and dancers alike. I miss her to this day.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 6:53 am 
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Sorry to interrupt the reverie on Fonteyn, but I will just briefly. Last night I saw one of the Vaganova Academy's performances. (For those of you who receive Dance Europe magazine, my interview with its director is in this month's issue). Anyway, the first half of the performance was divertissements from various ballets; the second half was Act II of Vainonen's Nutcracker. One dancer stood out to me more than the others, indeed more than even the Prize-Winning Anastasia Nikitina (class of Sitnikov), who is in her third year at the Academy and danced Maria in the second half of the performance.

The youngster who caught my eye -- also no more than 12 years old -- gave the most mature rendition of a fragment from "Esmeralda" that I have ever seen. I was stunned that she was so young, because this performance was simply amazing. Her name is Daria Elmakova, also one of Sitnikov's students. She has a perfect physique (if one can say that about a 11 or 12 year-old), a bright smile, an easy extension that is not overdone, strong feet (strong bourrees) and an uncanny ability, for her age, to emote in a believable manner. I cannot imagine what more she has to learn, this performance was so polished both technically and otherwise, she was in fact more impressive than many of the soloists one sees onstage these days! I was just blown away.

Another surprising excerpt was performed by Tatiana Gordienko and Kirill Leontiev, in the second and third classes, respectively. This was a modern pas de deux in which she was in a Graham-like floor length blue dress, barefoot, and he was in black pants and a shirt. The theme was attraction-repulsion. The choreography by D. Pimonov, one of the students in his second year of the Pedagogical Faculty at the Academy. The work was impressive for its completeness of composition, use of choreography. The dancers impressed for their mastery of modern movement and mature emotional nuances.

Wild applause greeted Nakaya Masakhiro of Japan, a student intern in his third class at the Academy and a winner of the Vaganova Prix. He partnered Viktoria Krasnokytskaya (also a prize winner) in the Pas d'Esclave from Le Corsaire and his lofty jetes rivalled many a male dancer's.

In looking through the roster, from this batch specifically, the strongest dancers seem to be students of Sitnikov, Safranova or Kovaleva.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:09 am 
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Some good news from the press office. Two performances of the full-length ballet "Raymonda" will be performed here in St. Petersburg in late January. It is said that Lopatkina will dance one of those but casting is TBD.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:23 pm 
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That is great news! Can we hope for them to tour it next year? I certainly do, but meanwhile I look forward to your reviews of the St Petersburg performances.
Susan


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:46 am 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:

The youngster who caught my eye -- ... Her name is Daria Elmakova, also one of Sitnikov's students. ...

In looking through the roster, from this batch specifically, the strongest dancers seem to be students of Sitnikov, Safranova or Kovaleva.


Catherine: Thanks for the review and update. I always enjoy your writing. It's good to know the Kirov/Mariinsky has these dancers to look forward to. A question for you, though. To what extent is a Vaganova student affiliated with a single teacher? Do they have all their classes with that teacher, most of them, or does a given teacher have a few "teaching assistants" assigned to them, for the master teacher to drop in on?

I'm sorry if this question belongs in the "Studio" or "Student's questions" forum.

Frank


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:47 am 
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Hi Frank,

Not at all -- it's fine to post it here, as it relates to this thread.

My general understanding from the dancers I've interviewed -- and you'll see some examples in our January or February magazine -- is that classes are assigned to one main teacher for several years in a row, possibly longer. So, for example, you'll hear someone say "she was Zubkovskaya's student". It doesn't mean that dancer had no other teachers from ages 9-18, but that Zubkovskaya was either her primary or most influential (in terms of being formative) teacher during the course of study at the Vaganova school. I believe there are some students who do follow one pedagog throughout the 8 or 9 years as their main ballet instructor, but I have to get confirmation on that. The students have many other classes aside from ballet --character dance, pas de deux, history of dance/ballet, plus academic classes -- so they have many more than just one or two teachers in the course of their stay at the Vaganova Academy. The important thing is, they are not changing teachers every year, and I think this aids considerably in the final outcome (polished, strong performers) because the teachers get to know the students both psychologically and physically and thus can work with them at a deeper level.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:58 am 
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nysusan,

I would hope so, but then again, I wouldn't get my hopes up. :-) My best guess is no, they won't tour it...but one can dream, and if I hear anything, I will certainly let you know! The fact they're doing 2 performances at all is a great milestone...and hopefully it means they're testing the waters...


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 6:17 am 
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Frank N. what Catherine Pawlick says does touch the surface of how a student becomes the student of a particular teacher, however having studied methodology in their course for foreign teacher for 2 years at the Vaganova Academy (a course which ended in 1995) I have a different take on it. If I may state my observations without offending anyone.

It is international ballet tradition that the teacher given most of the credit for a particular student is the one that a student has at the end of a program of study, prior to entering the professional world.

In Vaganova Academy, in most cases, the students work with three main ballet teachers. There, teachers are divided according to years of study. Teachers are placed, upon their graduation from the methodology course in a level that "suits" their proficiency to teach. Students generally stay with one teacher for 1st through 3rd year of study, another teacher for 4th and 5th year and yet another teacher for 6th, 7th, and 8th years of study. The lower level teachers 1-5 all have been educated and graduated to teach the Vaganova method by their methodology course for teachers (a five year course offered at this time only to Russian). Very few of the upper level teachers have completed this course. They are mostly teachers who have had a big career in Mariinsky, such as the late Zubkovskaya or the late Dudinskaya. How the classes will be divided now that the Academy has changed their program from 8 to 9 years of study is yet to be seen, as this is the first year!

The students begin the study of historic dance in the 1st year of study with a teacher. They stay with this historic dance teacher for 3 years. In 4th year they begin the study of character dance, which last for their remaining years of study at the academy with one teacher. In the sixth year of study they begin duet/partnering classes and continue this study for the remaining years of study in the Academy with one teacher. They are also offered acting classes in the 7th and 8th years of study, with one teacher. In the 8th year of study, the final year of historic dance is studied with the teacher of historic dance pedagogy (for teachers) who is an entirely different teacher from when the students where in 1st through 3rd years.

Please also recognize that while a teacher has responsibility for a class, the teacher is also working with them on pointe work (in the case of the ladies) and variations. Repetoire is staged by a completely different teacher and pas de deuxs are staged by two teachers, one male and one female. This is always the case. These classes meet everyday in the late afternoon into the evening.

How or why a particular teacher is given credit for a particular student is always different. In the case of Vishneva, Kovaleva was her teacher from 5th year on, if I recall correctly (sorry I arrived at the Academy when her class was in 6th year, so I am going by memories of too many years ago). Often it can be seen that a dancer will give a particular ballet master in the theatre credit as "their" teacher, instead of the final teacher in the Academy. As for the case of the dancer being discussed, I do not know the dancer, nor the teacher and as an outside observer, I question, in a polite manner, how a male teacher could ever be the teacher of a female dancer in Vaganova Academy? I am only going by the spelling of names, so I really do not know anything more. :)

That being said, it is obvious that the refinement and polish of the mature Mariinsky ballet dancer is a heartfelt labor of love for the teachers, all of them, recognized or not. In a perfect world all would be recognized but we are still working toward that perfection. I can tell you the mornings I sat observing the first class of the day of the 1st year students, how wonderful it was to see older students return, to greet their beloved first year teacher with gifts of flowers or just hugs. March 8th, Women's Day, was a day one would always see the children come in droves to pay homage to all of their teachers. The dancers know, but tradition is tradition.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 5:22 am 
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Hi VRSfanatic, and thanks for your additional details on the subject. If I may also add, that in fact the 2-year course of study for foreign teachers is still intact, available and active at the Vaganova Academy, as is the 4 or 5 year course for Russians.

You were speaking of male teachers and female students -- which pedagog/student are you referring to?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 6:03 am 
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Thank you for the information. Please tell us more. people ask me all the time about it. Who is the pedagog with whom they study and how is the course conducted? Valentina Vasilievna Rumyanseva, the teacher who was training the foreigners, passed away a few years ago. Who has replaced her?

What diploma are they handing out now?

Thank you! :)

The teacher with whom I am not familiar is Sitnikov. It seems odd to me the A. Nikitina would be the student of what seems to be a male name...Sitnikov?


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 11:57 am 
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Isn't it Irina Sitnikova?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 2:01 am 
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Yes, this is my mistake. The program lists "I. Sitnikova". I accidentally left off the "a" when I was translating back into English. Sorry about that error, my mistake.

VRS I will see what more I can find out. The information was on the boards inside the Academy, and I did not note the details down. I'll see if I can find out more and get back to you.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 4:35 am 
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Having received an email from Mila Savchuk, International Department at the Vaganova Academy, as previously stated, the methodology course for foreign teachers is no longer being offered by the Vaganova Academy.

Perhaps they are offering some course, but it is not the methodology program for foriegn teachers. Having referred so many teachers interested to attend the program, I do keep pretty close tabs on what they offer for teachers and students alike. :wink: :!:


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2006 6:10 am 
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VRS unfortunately you are most correct! I met with Pyotr Silkin today and he advised me of the same. :-(

VRS, where do you teach? (or do you teach?)


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