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 Post subject: Grigorovich's "Raymonda
PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2002 7:55 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2002 12:01 am
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Location: Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303
I saw there was a recent review of Grigorovich's "Spartacus." I'm relatively new to this forum. Here's a review of Grigorovich's "Raymonda" that I wrote up for a friend back in January, 2002. I don't know if there are any more scheduled performances in the US, but you can read it if interested.<P>The performance of "Raymonda" by the Grigorovich Ballet (GB) certainly was an experience!<P>Some time ago, I was doing a search on TicketMaster for ballets in the Detroit area around the holiday season. I noticed that GB was doing a performance of "SL" at one of the major Detroit Venues, The Fox. It wasn't until about a week ago that I even learned that GB was also performing "Raymonda" the night before at the Macomb Center. After investigating, I learned that Macomb Center doesn't use TicketMaster, so that's why I didn't discover it earlier. The fact that they were offering a 2-tickets-for-the-price-of-1 deal suggested that the performance would not be a sell-out. The Macomb Center is a nice place on the Macomb Community College Campus, but it's more or less a second tier venue in Detroit, although they do manage to attract some nice acts. Tonight, they filled about 85% of the seats, which isn't all that bad considering that US Nationals figure skating was on live television.<P>Before attending, I had only seen excerpts of the ballet on "Russian Ballet: The Glorious Tradition" vol. 3 and "The Glory of the Kirov," both featuring the exquisite Irina Kolpakova. As far as excerpts go, I'm pretty fond of both of them and play them pretty regularly. I also enjoy the music in the excerpts. But, I had no knowledge about what the ballet is about. In the program's synopsis, it says, "In his production, Uri Grigorovich has preserved fragments of the original choreography by the outstanding ballet-master Marius Petipa, but the ballet is really created anew in his hands, with a changed libretto and a new conception of the ballet as a whole." Based on some of the Grigorovich tapes I have in my video collection, I was hoping that he wasn't going to do anything eccentric--but I expected that he probably would.<P>The premier danceur came out first. He was solid, but I wouldn't describe him as world-class. I think he underexceeded my expectations somewhat. The ballerina appeared a little later. The crowd didn't clap like the more knowledgable crowds do. It quickly became apparent that she was the typical contemporary lead, with above average extension and mediocre jumps. Fortunately, she had a healthy look and was not anorexic looking. My mother complained about her big nose and said that she was homely looking. I didn't agree, but I didn't argue with her. The program said that she, Alexandra Sivtsova, graduated from the Voronezh State Choreogrpahic College. I thought that on the whole she moved around pretty gracefully. Her supported pirouettes were a little on the rough side. At no point in the ballet did she ever do more than 5 at one time. She wasn't a really good fast turner, but some of her slower turns had a real nice grace to them. Some of her jumps had interesting positions in the air, but she really didn't get much elevation. Her coupe jetes en tournant en manege looked prissy. During the portions of the ballet that I recognized from the excerpt tapes, it was hard not to compare her to Kolpakova. She came up particularly short in the delicate footwork sections, which really wasn't a surprise. But when you consider that Detroit doesn't have a major company to offer, I guess I felt grateful just to be able to see the ballet performed live in our city. Despite her limitations, I still found her enjoyable enough to watch. After the first act ending, my overall impression was that I thought the score is petty good for a non-Tchaikovsky ballet. The company underexceeded my xpectations slightly. One thing that was kind of weird was the men's hairstyles. All of the male dancers that were standing off to the side (as live props in the Petipa fashion that I dislike) were all decked out with page style hair. A couple of the dancers performing in the middle also had hair that looked the period, but most of the men performing looked like they sported whatever contemporary hair style they wanted. I couldn't figure it out. In all, the company exceeded my expectations slightly, but there were no eccentricities by Grigorovich in the first act. I found myself wondering if he could go the whole ballet and not do something odd.<P>The second act started, and the Spanish style divertissement really had a lot of flair. There were a couple of other diverstissements which really engaged my interest. The production really seemed to gain momentum and I was actually kind of pulling for the dancers to really succeed and make a good showing. Abderakhman had some pretty nice jumps. There were also a couple of men that did some nice variations. There were a couple of little girls who sat in front of me who take ballet class, and they were pretty delighted with some of the dancing. In all, I think they are a little stronger in their character dancing than danse noble. The synopsis says at the end of the second act, "To resolve the differences between Jean and Abderakhman, King Andrei proposes a duel of honor. Abedrakhman is defeated and Jean reclaims the overjoyed Raymonda." The duel certainly was not the equal of what Vasiliev did in "Spartacus." At the end of the second act, the curtain came down and all of the performers got pretty nice applause. Still no tricks from Grigorovich yet.<P>At the beginning of the ballet, they announced that it was a three act ballet and that there would only be one intermission. Since the intermission occurred between acts 1 and 2, I was expecting the curtain to rise again quickly afterwards for the third act, but people in the crowd started leaving tentatively. All of the people around me said, "How could this be over?" The curtain still did not rise, and people continued to exit. The program notes for act III say this in entirety, "Raymonda and Jean are married at the court of King Andrei. In honour of the monarch, Hungarian dances are performed during the wedding festivities." My mother said, "I didn't see any Hungarian dances." I said, "I didn't see anyone get married!" People continued to file out. About 10% of the crowd thought that the ballet was not over and continued to sit in their seats. After a little while, the ushers came down in front to signal people that the ballet was over. The little girl in front of me said, "They can't be married because they never kissed!" Well, that pretty much summed it up.<P>At that point, I started to feel bad for the performers. At the end of the second act, they didn't even raise the curtain a second time. There was no standing ovation. Nobody went on stage to hand the ballerina flowers. I had been kind of hoping that Grigorovich and the Ballet Mistress, Natalia Bessmertnova, would come on stage. That didn't happen. It was just over and people were confused. Walking out, I said, "Well, I hope that it really *is* over, because they're not going to have an audience if they raise the curtain for the third act. The people in front of me started laughing because they were confused too. Overall, I still managed to have an enjoyable evening--but it was strange.<P>End.<P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Grigorovich's "Raymonda
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2002 5:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
RSS - welcome to the board and thank you very much for your reviews of this ballet and "Spartacus" and "Swan Lake".


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 Post subject: Re: Grigorovich's "Raymonda
PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2002 11:34 am 
I saw a production of Grigorovich's Raymonda at the National Theatre in Prague this last Fall. While it's far from my favorite ballet and the Czech National Ballet isn't top tier, I did enjoy the second act and their Raymonda and Saracen. But the first act was awful and, as you stated, the end of the ballet was a mess. While I've defended Grigorovich in this forum before, I can't really imagine why anyone would go out of their way to use his version. It seemed pieced together, and the material I think he added wasn't very good.<P>------------------<BR>cheers,<BR>ralph


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 Post subject: Re: Grigorovich's "Raymonda
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2002 2:00 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
<B>Everybody Loves 'Raymonda'?</B><BR>Grand Work Gets Weak Treatment From Grigorovich. By Alexandra Tomalonis for The Washington Post.<P><BR>Marius Petipa's "Raymonda" is the grandest of the grand old ballets. First staged in 1898 to Alexander Glazunov's ravishing score, it is rarely danced in America. The work has seen many changes over the century, but Petipa's basic structure has remained -- the first act is a suite of classical dances; the second, character dances; and the third, a combination of the two (the famous "Grand Pas Classique" and "Grand Pas Hongroise") to celebrate the wedding of Raymonda and her Crusader fiance, Jean de Brienne.<P>Enter Yuri Grigorovich, who led the Bolshoi Ballet during the Soviet era and now has his own company, the Grigorovich Ballet, which danced his "Raymonda" Saturday night at George Mason University's Center for the Arts. <P><A HREF="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11208-2002Apr7.html" TARGET=_blank><B>click for more</B></A><BR>


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