CriticalDance Forum

Potential change in directorship at the Mariinsky?
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Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:45 am ]
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Cygne wrote:
...Should this come to pass, the Maryinsky Ballet would be in female hands for the first time in its history.

Sorry, Cygne, but not quite right there. Let's not forget a lady named Vaganova (mid-1930s).

Lopatkina's ascent will most likely mean the re-Sovietization of the classics, e.g., the Sergeyev-Dudinskaya versions.

So we will have in the current "free" Russia:

Soviet classics at the Kirov (K. Sergeyev versions...hey, they've made a whole freekin' Festival out of his Swan Lake, haven't they?)

Soviet classics at the Bolshoi (Grigorovich versions)

Putin controlling his puppet at the Kremlin

Lenin remaining in his tomb


Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:19 am ]
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Cassandra, hello -

To your question about rebuilding the old theatre.

In the 27 February visit by Putin to the Mariinsky Theatre, in which Makhalina received the People's Artist of Russia award, and both Fadeyev and Tereshkina received Honored Artist awards, Gergiev made a comment that was in the news. He said that the new theatre --which incidentally continues to be built just behind the MT -- will not be finished before 2010 and he does not want a slapshod job, because he loves this theatre and does not want to ever be considered its enemy. The plan is to complete the new theatre, move into the new and out of the old, and THEN close the old for renovation. In short, at this very moment there is no where else to put everyone, and the former plans to squeeze people into other inappropriate theatres/stages in the city was thankfully abandoned when its idiocy was recognized.

As for the rebuilding itself, I personally think it will be a loss for the city (and country) if the kind of rebuilding that I imagine (Russian style) will take place. Backstage, the number of old-fashioned tricks and trap doors are charming and still functional. Whatever the state of the house itself -- and yes, a fresh layer of paint and caulking could be used -- to demolish parts of this history seems to me a travesty.

[afterthought: Furthermore, you rarely encounter cases of new buildings being higher quality than the old -- esp in the construction here in Russia, for example, the new steklopaketi windows that are all the rage are not soundproof as they claim to be, and do not protect from the cold as well as the old double layer wood windows. (not saying the MT is doing this but there is something to be said for construction that lasts hundreds of years!) I presume even in a multi million dollar theatre project there will be differences that are not necessarily better in the end for the artists (smaller rooms/studios? poorer floors?). I hope I'm wrong but I have a bad feeling about that. New not necessarily being better...]

Sorry to go off topic though.

As for Vasiev, I remain hopeful that this will all be glossed over, that some sort of new agreement will be made, and he will remain, but it seems the ball could roll either way at this point. Some friends recently pointed out there *is* no official Artistic Director of the Ballet in this theatre (V's title is something like Head of the Ballet but not AD). Which is strange. There's some talk that he would not be granted that title for reasons that are not clear to me. (NN maybe you know something about this, ie. is there some historical/cultural argument or connotation or reason not to give this title to the actual head of the ballet? does it imply he doesnt make artistic decisions (?))

Author:  Cygne [ Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:47 am ]
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Cygne wrote:
...Should this come to pass, the Maryinsky Ballet would be in female hands for the first time in its history.

Sorry, Cygne, but not quite right there. Let's not forget a lady named Vaganova (mid-1930s).

Hi Natalia!

Yes: Between 1931 - 1937 she was AD of the company. In 1934 she was appointed AD of the school and devoted all of her time to pedagogy. So yes, apparently her duties overlapped in the 30s.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Mar 23, 2008 4:49 pm ]
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During his after midnight speech at the post-Gala reception at the Hotel Astoria tonight, Makhar Vasiev announced that he would be staying in his position as head of the ballet going forward. The many dancers in attendance applauded the announcement warmly.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:43 pm ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
The many dancers in attendance applauded the announcement warmly.

I was there as well and this is absolutely correct! I would say even more than warmly----"enthusiastically" !

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:53 am ]
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Picking up Cassandra's comments from the previous page about Gergiev and "les Noces": fascinating to hear about the extraordinary nature of the score. However, I remain unconvinced that Gergiev is off the hook. This is music based on Russian themes and rhythms and the Mariinsky orchestra had no problem producing a thrilling (but see below) musical performance in London.

The issue was not one of changes, but of tempi, probably the single most important contribution from a conductor to a ballet. BTW, that amazing London music performance mentioned above was at a much faster pace than had been agreed and resulted in a disasterous ballet, with some of the worst reviews the Mariinsky have had in London.

I remain of the view that any conductor who will not discuss tempi with a ballet director shows scant regard for dance. It reminds me of Beecham's comment after conducting a ballet at a rapid pace: "I made the little beggars hop."

Author:  coda [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:59 am ]
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Stuart Sweeney wrote:
"I made the little beggars hop."

Do you know, Stuart, who "the little beggars" were on that occasion?

Author:  NataliaN [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:45 am ]
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Buddy wrote:
Catherine Pawlick wrote:
The many dancers in attendance applauded the announcement warmly.

I was there as well and this is absolutely correct! I would say even more than warmly----"enthusiastically" !

Well, Buddy, I suppose that the enthusiasm has now been tempered. See the bombshell of an article in today's New York Times by Jennifer Dunning, in which it was revealed that Makhar Vaziyev stayed back home in St Petersburg and one of the company's coaches, Yuri Fateev, has been handed-over temporary directorship of the company. ... ref=slogin

Quote from the article: "...temporary leadership of the company had been handed over to Mr. Fateyev, a decision Mr. Gergiev conveyed at a 2 a.m. meeting on Monday. ..."

This is not an April Fools joke but I could not help but think about the significance of this day, as I read this article.

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:22 am ]
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Thanks for posting this link Natalia, unthinkable to leave the AD behind on a trip to New York I would have thought. Could Gergiev have actually sacked him? Back to speculation about possible successors I suppose.

Liked the sound of this though:

Mr. Gergiev said. He has asked the choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, to create a new version of a Soviet classic, “The Little Humpbacked Horse,” set to music by Rodion Shchedrin, as well as a new version of Stravinsky’s “Baiser de la Fée.”

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:20 am ]
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Hi Coda: sorry I don't know the names of the unfortunates who suffered under Beecham's baton. This area is brilliantly summed up in the de Valois ballet, "The Prospect Before Us", when the dancers in an on-stage rehearsal advance to the front of the stage and shake their fists at the orchestra.

What a mess for the Mariinsky; Gergiev may be a fine conductor, but his communication skills, especially concerning ballet matters, appear to be appalling.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:05 am ]
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Dressed in a dark suit and tie, with more than a 5 o'clock shadow, an energetic Valery Gergiev entered the foyer of the Mariinsky's first balcony area for today's press conference. He discussed the plans for this year's White Nights' Festival and then took questions. The obvious hot topic of the moment -- the directorship of the ballet section of the Mariinsky Theatre -- did arise and Gergiev answered at length.

He mentioned the New York tour, and that he'd met with and had general discussions about the world of ballet, and Russian ballet in particular, with both Kolpakova and Baryshnikov while there. Someone asked if Misha B. was a likely candidate for director, and Gergiev answered by saying he was a stellar graduate of the school and from this theatre, then naming Soloviev in the same breath. He mentioned the other great current stars of the Ballet, and said, "But the question isn't is Makhar Vasiev satisfied or not, the question is who is going to be artistic director. Who." He added , "I have kept quiet on this topic recently not because I am afraid of it, because I consider this ballet troupe to be very strong and the corps de ballet is the best in the world..."

He went on to list great graduates such as Komleva and others in the MT such as Vikulev with whom he is in constant contact generally speaking, and then he stated when Ratmansky announced his decision to leave the BOlshoi, he(Gergiev) was surprised and wondered why. "He is intelligent and talented, so why did he decide to leave? Probably because creative work [ie choreography] interests him more." He added that in a recent meeting with Ratmansky, who will create the ballet "The Fairy's Kiss" for the White Nights, Alexei reminded him that Gergiev was the one who first invited him to this theatre and he was grateful for that.

He made the comment also that the current stars of the ballet - Lopatkina, Vishneva, Zelensky, among them - are only stars when they do their best and give their best. When he learned that Vishneva only performs at the Mariinsky Theatre one time per year, that concerned him and he had a "long and difficult" conversation with her about it. "She could be the best, she could be my favorite ballerina and a world star, but if she is only dancing here once per year, she is not a super prima of the Mariinsky Ballet." Because she would need to dance her more often to be termed that.

Moving back to the topic of director, he generalized that the MT needs good productions such as the "Povorot Binta" it has at present, and also "great artists, artists with a capital A." He commented that the ballet's successes and the progress of current young stars -- he named Sarafanov and Tereshkina as two he counts on as the future generation -- can be attributed to Makhar's efforts. "He is a good manager. As manager of the ballet, he does a good job. As artistic director, I"m not so sure. That isn't a critique it is just a comment."

He made many comments about the theatre's traditions as well, that Russia can be proud of its artistic achievements and that the MT itself is /was home to so many great names.

Unlike the press comments in newspaper articles recently, I found Gergiev highly composed during this press QA session, very direct in his answers, very clear. He had intelligent replies, heavy on content (during this high season of political bashing in the USA among presidential candidate hopefuls). To one final question about the status of the new theatre he replied that he is not a specialist on building construction and only a specialist should be asked, but that the building must be completed by the end of 2010, and if it isn't there will be a serious problem.

He spoke for over an hour nonstop and these were the ballet-related highlights.

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:26 pm ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
.......Someone asked if Misha B. was a likely candidate for director, and Gergiev answered by saying he was a stellar graduate of the school and from this theatre, then naming Soloviev in the same breath. ......

So Gergiev did not answer a "yes" or a "no"?

Thanks for this fascinating report, Catherine.

Was there any mention of Kolpakova's move back home and to a position at the Mariinsky? Her name remains on the ABT website as a Ballet Mistress but rumors have been flying for some time.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Apr 18, 2008 2:56 am ]
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It sounded like a no to me. His answer was more like, Misha is a great talented artist, a graduate of our system BUT... Same with Kolpakova. He mentioned the two of them in the same breath bc he met with both of them in NYC.

My impression was Gergiev was underlining that he is socializing/interacting/discussing/considering things with various people but there are no current contenders. His interactions with Misha and Irina were more just...well, general meetings. Not interviews for this position. That's the impression he gave. He repeatedly said the question is not this or that...the question is WHO will be the new director. He did say that there is somewhat of a crisis inside the ballet world now when a director such as Ratmansky leaves, and now this at the Kirov, and when you look around and there is not a ready list of available applicants...

Author:  NataliaN [ Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:07 am ]
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Misha mentioned his visits to the City Center to see his 'alma mater company' during his most recent interview with Charlie Rose (American PBS network). To me, the very fact that he is doing this is amazing, considering what he had been through, his defection, etc. I remember when, in the early 1990s, the then-head of the Vaganova Academy's little museum told me that she was very saddened because Misha refused to answer her letters requesting a donation to the museum, yet "the other two" -- Makarova & Nureyev -- had donated items. Now the school's museum HAS received items from Misha. Times change - it never ceases to amaze me!

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:31 am ]
Post subject:  Baryshnikov

Shortly before he defected in 1974, Baryshnikov was regarded as a superstar and I remember going to a Répétition générale in Leningrad in which he danced three new works specially created for him, a Daphnis and Chloe, a Prodigal Son and a very classical piece to music by Mozart (no programmes at a rehearsal). He seemed very much top dog in the company and his subsequent defection really shocked me as I felt that the kind of privileged position he occupied meant he would have stayed put.

The great tragedy of Nureyev's early death robbed the Kirov of possibly their greatest leader as I've no doubt he would have returned to become director had he lived.

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