CriticalDance Forum

Kirov Ballet - Sadler's Wells - October 2008
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Sep 15, 2008 7:42 am ]
Post subject:  Kirov Ballet - Sadler's Wells - October 2008

For those who might plan to attend, I'm starting this thread on the Kirov's visit to the UK next month.

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Mon Sep 15, 2008 1:38 pm ]
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Has MT announced the playbill for the Sadler's Wells visit next month? The playbill for the fall 2008 USA tour was announced several months ago!

EDIT: I check the Sadler's Wells website and they list the following two playbills for the MT ballet performances there:

Programme 1
Launching Sadler's Wells' Focus on Forsythe 08/09, the ballet company presents a programme of seminal works by William Forsythe. Steptext, set to Bach's Chaconne, is a series of duets performed by one woman and three men. Approximate Sonata combines five pas de deux with a thrilling score by Thom Willems.

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is Forsythe's playful twist on the classical style, as the tutu-clad ballerinas move with fearsome velocity. Completing the Forsythe repertoire is the magnificent In the middle, somewhat elevated.

Programme 2
The second programme features the UK premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's Pierrot Lunaire, presented at New York City Center earlier in 2008. Pierrot Lunaire was choreographed on Mariinsky prima ballerina Diana Vishneva, who dances this role again in London.

The evening is completed by two of George Balanchine's timeless works - Apollo and The Prodigal Son – set to scores by two of the 20th Century's greatest Russian composers, Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Prokofiev.

This is definitely a much more modern repertoire than then MT repertoire for their fall 2008 USA tour.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Sep 26, 2008 8:00 am ]
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They do now have casting up for the Sadler's Wells performances. ... -1-casting ... -2-casting

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Sep 30, 2008 6:10 am ]
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I note that Pierrot Lunaire has now been dropped, due I am told, to Vishneva being double booked in the US. I'm pretty gutted about that as it was the work I was most looking forward to seeing.

How many years is it now since we last saw Vishneva in Britain, five? six?

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Oct 06, 2008 6:43 am ]
Post subject:  Interview with Gergiev.

Prior to the forthcoming Kirov performances at Sadlers Wells an interview by Debra Craine with Valery Gergiev has appeared in today's Times ( In the Times 2 section) ... 876572.ece

Reading between the lines, I'd say Ms Craine is sceptical about Gergiev's commitment to the ballet, feeling that his priority is always the opera. Some of Gergiev's comments are worrying:

“Do we need two versions of Sleeping Beauty, two Bayadères?” he asks, thus dismissing in a single question two of the most important reconstructions under Vaziev's directorship.

And there is a fair bit of implied criticism of Makhar Vaziev elsewhere in the interview.

Thanks to a hastily arranged staging of The Golden Age - intended as the dance centrepiece of his much-vaunted Shostakovich celebrations - the company, then led by Makhar Vaziev, suffered the kind of critical vitriol that would have sent a lesser troupe home to lick its wounds for a decade. “Vaziev's choice of choreographer was a big mistake,” Gergiev says. “The project was too big for Noah Gelber and the result wasn't good. I was very upset and I blame myself for not intervening. I never want to see experimentation go that far again.”

Is it fair to blame Vaziev? After all the originally designated choreographer backed out leaving Vaziev no choice but to engage whoever was prepared to take on a full length at very short notice and if I remember rightly a new version of the Golden Age was needed for Gergiev's pet project of a Shostakovich tribute. Therefore Gergiev should shoulder most of the blame for that.

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:01 am ]
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I have always questioned Gergiev's commitment to the ballet. This interview just confirms my concerns.

Author:  Cygne [ Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:40 am ]
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Truth: Gergiev has always been more concerned with the opera and orchestra than the ballet. It has always been thus. Ballet (and conducting ballet music), aren't his areas of expertise, and he admits it. With all that is on the Maestro's plate, how is he expected to recognize choreographic talent or not? How could he choose choreographers, with no frame of reference? Ballet isn't what he was trained in.

As the (former) appointed Director of the Ballet, Makhar Vaziev was the head and IMO bore the chief responsibility. It was he who had the task to seek, evalutate, vet and hire choreographers. I especially emphasize the latter point - since he himself wasn't a credited choreographer. The Ballet wasn't Gergiev's job, it was Vaziev's. Enter Gelber for "Golden Age." It was Gelber's task to stage "Golden Age." He was given three months to stage a three act, full-length work, a ballet that had already been successfully staged by Grigorovich.

Regardless of the backstory of how "Golden Age" evolved, the final
product and critical verdict was a bust. The result? The company came to London for Gergiev's Shostakovich hommage. They went toe to toe in a box office brawl with a revitalized and resurgent Bolshoi and lost.
This was a rare failure for the Maryinsky Ballet. So I assign the blame 60% Gelber - 40% Vaziev. MO.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 7:05 am ]
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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I just wanted to alert you to the fact -- especially those in the UK -- that my interview with Grigory Popov is now in the October 2008 issue of Dance Europe magazine. This coincided with Grigory's appearance at Sadler Wells'. Sadly he was merely given the role of the brothers in "Prodigal Son" on this short stopover tour, which does little to showcase his true talents. But I'm glad that a wider audience will get to know him via Dance Europe.

Single issues can be purchased under "Shop" on their site:

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Oct 22, 2008 10:04 am ]
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Some reviews of the Kirov’s week at Sadlers Wells, firstly the Forsythe Programme: ... 958119.ece ... 943784.ece

And the Balanchine/Ratmansky Programme ... 956178.ece

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:04 pm ]
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Thank you, Cassandra, for pulling these together!

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:48 pm ]
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Clement Crisp reviews the Forsythe program in the Financial Times:

Financial Times

He also reviews the program with Balanchine's "Apollo," "Prodigal Son," and Ratmansky's "Middle Duet," with an emphasis on "Apollo."

Financial Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:16 pm ]
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Sarah Crompton reviews the Balanchine/Ratmansky program in The Telegraph:

The Telegraph

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:40 pm ]
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Jenny Gilbert reviews the Forsythe program in The Independent:

The Independent

Luke Jennings reviews the same program in The Observer:

The Observer

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:04 am ]
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Apollo, Middle Duet, Tchaikovsky pas de deux and The Prodigal Son
Kirov Ballet
Sadlers Wells Theatre
15th & 16th October 2008

The curtain went up almost fifteen minutes late, I’m told because there was a debate as to who was actually conducting. In the end Maestro Gergiev bounded onto the rostrum but frankly he wasn’t worth the wait as his interpretation of Stravinsky’s Apollo, a piece that needs the lightest of touches, was positively turgid, possibly the most heavy handed rendering I’ve ever heard. In spite of the Gergiev handicap, the dancers performed very well. For this brief trip to London the Company brought along it’s bright young things together with London’s long-time favourite Igor Zelensky. To tell the truth Zelensky seemed to creak a bit here and there with stiff knees and an inflexible back, but as Apollo he still looks the part, but it was his three muses that grabbed the attention: Divine Ekaterina Osmolkina as Terpsichore, Olesya Novikova as Polyhymnia and Nadezhda Gonchar as Calliope. They made a perfectly matched trio dancing with total unity together and also performed as markedly individual characters in their solos.

The version was the truncated one without Apollo’s birth or his ascent of Olympus and I suppose it is easier to tour it in that form, but I always feel short changed by it. On the second night the ballet was conducted by Tugan Sokhiev, whose lighter touch proved more congenial to audience and dancers alike.

I had only seen Alexei Ratmansky’s Middle duet given as a pas de deux so was looking forward to seeing it in its original form. The pas de deux still remains the ballet’s focus but two extra characters; a ‘White Angel’ and a ‘Dark Angel’ stand at either side of the stage, their backs to the audience, observing the two dancers who perform in front of a wintry background of skeletal trees.

The husband and wife team of Ekaterina Kondaurova and Islom Baimuradov performed the energetic modern dance style choreography brilliantly and brought strong personalities to what is almost an abstract piece, looking tough and sexy and executing the steps with an insolent ease. At the end of the work the Dark Angel comes forward and bends ominously above the dancers’ collapsed figures, as if claiming them for his own, but the White Angel intervenes, his superior power driving his dark opponent away whilst a second couple begin to dance as if continuing a cycle.

After this short work came the Tchaikovsky pas de deux danced by Novikova and Vladimir Shklyarov, a dancer that seems to look better every time I see him. A number of people in the audience were seeing this young man for the first time and it was obvious from some of the comments I heard that he had left a very strong and positive impression. His partner Novikova matched his speed and precision with both dancers receiving the lion’s share of applause for the evening. The following evening Evgenya Obraztsova, a dancer with quite a fan base in London, danced with Shklyarov giving a much softer rendition than Novikova, but ideally I feel Balanchine needs the sharper edge that Novikova provided.

Gergiev returned to the rostrum to conduct Prodigal Son and launched into the Prokofiev with tremendous vigour and managed to wrong foot a couple of dancers unfamiliar with his treatment of this work. The following night Sokhiev conducted in a style that put everyone safely back into their Prokofiev safety zone.

Mikhail Lobukhin danced the Prodigal, though at first I didn’t recognize him as he looks transformed with a new short hairstyle of a new silver-blond colour. I’ve seen him in the role before and considered him to be an adequate interpreter of it but not an exceptional one. That has changed though, as he now portrays the Prodigal with an intensity I’ve not seen in his earlier performances. As the ballet opens Lobukhin appears to physically ache to escape the confines of his ordered family existence. Once he has bolted his naivety becomes almost painful to watch as he falls victim to society’s opportunists. Chief of these is of course the Siren danced on this occasion by Kondaurova who commands the stage with her imperious sexuality, devouring her unlucky victim and spitting him out a broken wreck. In the final scene Lobukhin came into his own as he crawls back home to the loving family he never should have left. It was difficult to watch this scene without weeping.

Although the greater body of the Company was dancing in the US at the same time, we certainly weren’t fobbed off with the second rate as the young people we saw were all quite superb. The company returns to London for a three week season next summer and I’m already looking forward to it immensely.

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