CriticalDance Forum

Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

The Mariinsky will participate in the Lincoln Center Festival in New York in July 2011. The repertoire will include "The Little Humpbacked Horse," "Anna Karenina" and a mixed bill including Alberto Alonso's "Carmen Suite" and Balanchine's "Symphony in C." Daniel Wakin reports in the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Francis Timlin wrote:
The Mariinsky will participate in the Lincoln Center Festival in New York in July 2011.

And then they open about a week later in London with many of the same dancers for almost three weeks straight.

Credit where credit is due to these amazing artists.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Production dates and casting information are now available:

Lincoln Center Festival

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

An interesting article from Joel Lobenthal of City Arts previewing the NY Kirov performances and focussing mainly on Svetlana Ivanova (and to a lesser extent Vassily Scherbakov). Mr Lobenthal echoes the perennial question so often raised on this forum, namely the apparent neglect of hugely talented individuals that deserve better.

My thanks to the lurker who alerted me to this, nice to see Critical Dance getting a name check.

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Jul 09, 2011 4:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

I haven't read the article yet, Cassandra, but I do have to agree wholeheartedly with any statements about the depth of talent at the Mariinsky. I am always delighted when Svetlana Ivanova is complimented since reading Catherine's interview with her from awhile ago and having seen her perform many times since. She is an absolutely lovely dancer, who I hope will be seen as much as possible along with many others at the Mariinsky. ... a2006.html

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Article read.

From Joel Lobenthal (often published New York City area writer) :

"....Svetlana Ivanova, who will dance Kitty in Alexei Ratmansky’s Anna Karenina....She is a dancer of delicacy, grace, style, and real artistry."

" 2008 Ivanova had been scheduled to make her Mariinsky debut as Giselle, a role for which she is ideal....she never got to do it. That’s probably also in part because later that year she took a maternity leave and gave birth to a son, Ivan.

"Ivanova’s Albrecht was to have been Vasili Scherbakov another dancer who, like she, embodies the company’s highest echelon of artistry but not rank. As “Cassandra” wrote on several years ago, “this superb dancer has a fan following way out of proportion to the meagre number of roles he is allocated.” He and Ivanova danced the Bluebird pas de deux together when the Mariinsky was at the Met in 1999—that was a dazzling season."

Svetlana Ivanova, I always look forward to seeing. Vasili Scherbakov, Cassandra, I will also look forward to seeing the next time that I'm fortunate enough to be at a Mariinsky performance.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

In the Wall Street Journal, Pia Catton previews the performances at the Lincoln Center Festival with conductor Valery Gergiev.

Wall Street Journal

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sun Jul 10, 2011 2:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

In the New York Times, Claudia LaRocco presents a slideshow to introduce audiences to the Mariinsky dancers.

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jul 12, 2011 12:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Jim Bessman reports briefly on the Monday, July 11 performance of "Anna Karenina" with Diana Vishneva in the New York Examiner.

NY Examiner

Author:  balletomaniac [ Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

The Mariinsky Ballet
Lincoln Center Festival
Metropolitan Opera House
New York New York
July 11, 2011

“Anna Karenina”

by Jerry Hochman

Following the first act of Alexei Ratmansky’s new production of “Anna Karenina,” I was tempted to begin writing this review a bit early, and, in view of the prominence of a railroad train in the production, to describe Mr. Ratmansky’s piece as a train wreck of a ballet. But the piece seemed to come together a bit more in Act II (or at least I grew to accept and ignore its flaws), so perhaps describing it as a ‘train wreck’ was a bit premature. But it is a puzzling work at best, and despite the heroic efforts of Diana Vishneva and Yuri Smekalov, it is another one of Mr. Ratmansky’s pieces that, to this viewer, is less than the sum of its parts.

“Anna Karenina” is the first production in the Mariinsky’s week-long residence at the Met, under the auspices of the Lincoln Center Festival. It was an understandable choice to have inaugurated the Mariinsky’s return to New York because, in addition to its outrageously high ticket prices, the Festival is notable for sponsoring purportedly cutting-edge productions, and perhaps it was thought that Mr. Ratmansky’s new interpretation (it premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg on April 15, 2010) was avant-garde. It isn’t. Although it is not a classical ballet in the sense that “Swan Lake” or “The Sleeping Beauty” is, it is hardly innovative. Indeed, Mr. Ratmansky’s “Anna Karenina” bears a striking resemblance in form and structure and feel (though not in choreographic style) to John Neumeier’s “Lady of the Camellias,” which American Ballet Theatre has performed at the Met for the past two seasons.

The production also is not true to the Tolstoy novel from which it is derived. I confess to not having read “Anna Karenina,” but from plot summaries the novel is, not surprisingly, much more complex a work than the ballet makes it appear to be, and the story itself is on a larger scale and with additional significant characters whose roles have been diminished or eliminated in Mr. Ratmansky’s production. But this is not unusual, and Mr. Ratmansky’s piece deserves to be considered on its own merits rather than just as a condensation or theatrical modification of the original.

Like many romantic ballets created from other sources (“Manon,” “Onegin,” “Mayerling,” as well as “Lady of the Camellias,” for example), Mr. Ratmansky’s “Anna Karenina” is a collection of scenes used to exemplify stages in the progression of the story. But in “Anna Karenina,” the scenes (with some exceptions) seem to be just scenes with no connection to what came before or what is to come after – there is little of the narrative cohesiveness that I see in these other ballets – just repeated variations on the theme of Anna’s conflicted emotions, told both through Ms. Vishneva’s formidable acting ability, and also clearly, and repeatedly, through choreography designed to illustrate Anna’s conflicted emotions (repeated side-to-side movements, as if Anna is being emotionally heaved first one way, then another, back and forth and back and forth in slightly different form in each dance with Vronsky, but always essentially the same emotional message. There is no growth or evolution or climax (except for Anna’s abrupt suicide that ends the piece) – on the contrary, this condensation of the story into repetitive demonstrations of emotional conflict is the intended concept behind Mr. Ratmansky’s ballet. Consequently, and with the exception of one brief non-conflicted dance mid-way through Act II (which is curiously less passionate than the conflicted dances that permeate the rest of the piece), it’s all angst all the time.

One of Mr. Ratmasky’s hallmarks is that his choreography is not constricted or controlled by the music upon which it is created; rather, Mr. Ratmansky’s choreography in other works of his that I’ve seen has consistently and appropriately used the music as a framework, and his choreography enhances this musical structure. In “Anna Karenina,” however, Mr. Ratmansky’s choreography is slavishly limited by the music. Where there’s an emphasis in the music, there’s an equivalent and predictable choreographic punctuation. And in this case, the music upon which Mr. Ratmansky’s choreography is dependent, composed by Rodion Shchedrin (who is Maya Plisetskaya’s husband) is consistently literal to the inevitable tragic progression of the story, and accordingly is consistently shrill. Since Mr. Ratmansky’s choreography is circumscribed by the score, it too has a consistently shrill feel to it.

“Anna Karenina” tells the story of a love affair between the married Anna and a younger man, Count Vronsky, and the consequences of Anna’s inability or unwillingness to avoid what Vronsky, and her heart, compel her to do. The piece begins with a relatively bare, white stage at a railroad station, with Vronsky mourning Anna, who has been crushed by a train, as passengers and other persons gradually appear. Whether as a flashback or just a change in narrative flow, this prologue then morphs into Anna arriving in Moscow from St. Petersburg to visit her brother, where she first meets Count Vronsky, and where she witnesses an accident – a man being crushed by a train.

Suddenly, Anna and Vronsky are dancing together at a ball. If there was some build-up to this, some description of the relationship of Anna and Vronsky going from point A to point B, I missed it. With almost equal suddenness, Anna tries to run from Vronsky (and from the consequences that she knows will ensue from yielding to his advances and her desires) and return by train to St. Petersburg, but Vronsky follows her onto the train. Several conflicted dances later, Anna leaves her husband and son to join Vronsky.

For this viewer, the beginning of Act II was the low-point of the piece. Anna has inexplicably returned to her husband, they go to a racetrack, where Vronsky is one of the riders (How did she…?...Where did he…?). Vronsky has an accident (off stage), which Anna reacts to with apparent inappropriate concern. As a result, Anna feels compelled to tell her husband (Karenin) about her affair with Vronsky, Karenin castigates her, and he and Anna leave the racetrack. [During the scene young ‘cadets’ pretend to be racehorses. Not equus-like horses, but dancing cadets that the audience is supposed to believe are the embodiment of racehorses. At this point I was begging for mercy.] Then Anna suddenly becomes deathly ill, then just as suddenly recovers, begs forgiveness from Karenin, and then leaves him again.

But as Act II progressed, the choreography appeared to grow stronger and more complex, and I found myself focusing on the movement quality rather than the narrative quality. And I began to respect the piece on that level. Although still consisting of a repetitive series of dances of continuing emotional conflict, Mr. Ratmansky’s choreography appeared every bit as intricate and nuanced as any work of his that I’ve seen. There was lyricism, exquisite craftsmanship (as well as execution), and Mr. Ratmansky’s characteristic choreographic ‘echoes’ – unusual movement stated once, and then repeated later for reemphasis. For example, one of his inventive movements stated once and then repeated later had Anna using her arms as a frame around her head, moving this ‘frame’ as if to demonstrate the conflicting forces that compel her to act as she does. And Ratmansky has created a moving pas de trois for Anna, Vronsky, and Karenin that is exquisitely done, and a remarkable scene depicting high society’s scorn of Anna at a theatrical performance that she attends.

Although I did not care for the piece (at least on first view), nothing about the performance diminished my opinion that Ms. Vishneva is among the greatest of dancer-actors. She has long ago demonstrated her extraordinary ability to be any character that a role demands her to be – just because she’s performed essentially the same character as Anna in other ballets (“Manon,” “Lady of the Camellias” for example) doesn’t make her a one-note ballerina. Watching her dance is a privilege even when the ballet in which she is dancing is less than it should be. Yuri Smekalov’s Vronsky was a pleasant surprise. Mr. Smekalov, who replaced the previously announced Konstantin Zverev (no reason given), is a tall, dashing dancer who exhibited a level of confidence and maturity, in addition to his obvious technical capability, that one would not expect of a second soloist (one rank above the corps). Except for the roles of Karenin and Kitty (Anna’s brother’s wife’s sister) (saying 'sister-in-law' doesn’t provide sufficient information), danced capably by Islom Baimuradov and Yevgenia Obraztsova respectively, the piece provided insufficient opportunity for me to evaluate any of the other dancers in the piece. Hopefully I’ll be able to obtain a sense of the other Mariinsky dancers as the week-long season progresses.

Finally, the ballet’s stunning visual quality must be acknowledged. Though starkly simple, Mikael Malbye’s set and costume design, Jern Melin’s lighting, and the video projection design of Wendall Harrington create a memorable dramatic landscape, including a larger-than-life railroad car that moves upstage to downstage and back and turns 360 degrees to reveal a cutaway view of the inside of the coach, and a color palate that presents the story in the simplest of terms (white, black and red) – although changing Anna’s costume to scarlet after her affair became generally known and she became an object of societal scorn was a little too obvious.

I have come to respect Mr. Ratmansky’s choreography, and I have previously acknowledged that certain of his other pieces (“The Nutcracker,” “The Bright Stream”) grow on you with repeated viewing. This may prove to be the case with “Anna Karenina” as well – the production does have a distinctive style and a concept that requires a period of adjustment, and perhaps over time I will ignore its perceived flaws and focus instead on the positives. But I will not have the opportunity again this season. Based on this one performance, and while it may not necessarily be a train wreck, “Anna Karenina” is a production derailed by its concept.

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Many thanks for that detailed review, I've booked for this when it travels to London shortly.

I'm not a great fan of the book as the central character, Levin, is rather an unattractive personality according to modern mores and it would be impossible to flesh out a ballet to include all the niceties of the idle society of 19th century St Petersburg. Basically it is a tale of adultery and Madame Bovary would be just as interesting told in dance terms, but Emma Bovary doesnt have a score to hand whereas Anna Karenina does.

I'm looking forward to seeing Vishneva though as she hasn't danced in Britain for years.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Alastair Macaulay reviews "Anna Karenina" for the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

In the New York Post, Leigh Witchel's review focuses on "The Little Humpbacked Horse."

NY Post

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Alastair Macaulay reviews "The Little Humpbacked Horse" in the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lincoln Center Festival, NY, July 2011

Robert Greskovic reviews "Anna Karenina" and "The Little Humpbacked Horse" for the Wall Street Journal.

Wall Street Journal

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