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 Post subject: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2001 2:25 pm 
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<B>British choreography defeats the Kirov</B><BR> <BR>Judith Mackrell in The Guardian reviews 'Manon'.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Kirov Ballet's attempt to stage Kenneth MacMillan's Manon gives the lie to any notion that ballet is a universal artform. This is a work so steeped in the traditions of 20th-century British ballet - its theatrical realism and literary characterisation - that the Kirov can't help but dance it differently from the Royal Ballet, for whom it's a basic text. What we see from the Kirov is almost a 19th-century Russian ballet.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR><A HREF="Http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4206909,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><P><B>Sweetness and lite</B> <BR> <BR>The Kirov's version of MacMillan's Manon is a puzzle <P>BY DEBRA CRAINE in The Times <BR> <P> <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Anyone who believes that the globalisation of ballet is killing off national styles should see what happens when the Kirov dances Manon. Kenneth MacMillan’s romantic drama is one of the most popular ballets in the entire British canon and the Covent Garden public knows it well. But the Kirov’s version, unveiled at the Royal Opera House on Monday, is practically unrecognisable as British. The St Petersburg company dances Manon as if it were a fragrant 19th-century Russian ballet, not an explicitly modern character study of a woman gone horribly bad.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="Http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,62-2001210505,00.html" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2001 12:19 am 
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<B>Poor translation</B><P>by Nadine Meisner in The Independent<P>Who enjoys the dancing, but finds the Kirov struggling to make it work dramatically. <P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Kirov may have enlarged their dancing experience with George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, John Neumeier and other Western choreographers, but taking on Kenneth MacMillan was a whole new ball game. Our eyes are used to it, but the MacMillan style is where classical forms break down and extend into ornate, organic shapes and expressionistic statements, where the narrative depends on a distinctly English naturalistic approach to acting. Watching Russian performers trying to fit into that mould reveals just how far apart they are from us, further than they are from American ballet.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/theatre/dance/reviews/story.jsp?story=79236" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 21, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2001 2:25 am 
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<B>The Kirov's 'Manon' - when fine dancing is not enough</B><P>This was one of my most disapointing dance evenings for a long time. Kenneth MacMillan's 'Manon' is performed frequently by the Royal Ballet and I have vivid memories of Viviana Durante and Irek Mukhamedev in the central roles. In seeing a familiar work performed by another company or even another pair of dancers one has to be careful to avoid an attitude of 'it's not what I'm used to'. However, one's experience of a work will always colour perceptions of new productions. <P>The key to this staging, which has been in the Kirov's rep for over a year now, is given by the sets and costumes, which are much prettier than those of the Royal Ballet, giving the production a look like any number of costume ballets. This sanitising of MacMillan's conception continues throughout the work. His concerns for inequality and human rights issues resonate through a range of his work from the First World War battlefields of 'Gloria' to the modern day cruelty of building site culture in 'The Judas Tree'. This perspective was almost entirely missing from the Kirov production. The class differences are not drawn as sharply, the decadence of the wealthy is softened, the poverty of the beggars less marked. The fundamental unfairness and lack of justice of the society of that time is not brought into focus. Time and again opportunities to highlight these concerns are passed over. <P>In some ways this is surprising. In current day Russia, where poverty is as great as one can see in any country with a highly educated population and prostitution is a strong career option for some graduates, the themes of this work have a greater resonance than anywhere in the ballet loving world. However, perhaps it is understandable that audience members such as the apparatchiks of present day St Petersberg have no interest in a reminder of the horrors that they have had a part in creating and wealthy tourists on holiday would rather escape reality than confront it as MacMillan sought to do. <P>The second act up-market brothel scene works best, as this fantasy land accords well with the rest of the production. The pure dance sections performed within this context are very good and the male trio is performed as well as I have seen it done. However, the power of the contrast with the other scenes as seen in the Royal Ballet production are lost completely. <P>Then of course there is the central relationship between Manon and Des Grieux, where sparks need to fly. With the best will in the world, Igor Zelensky is not the best person to turn to if you need to start a fire. He is a dull actor and in his fist variation, where he has just met Manon and become entranced by her, he only remembers to look at her from time to time. And although he has fine technique, in the same scene he turns MacMillan's wonderfully expressive final pirouette with a fall to the knees into two separate movements, destroying the emotional power of the phrase. <P>Janna Ayupova is a beautifully elegant dancer, who creates fine shapes from the choreography. But again her acting is underwhelming. She seems to have the same smile for all the men who pass through her life. It is only in the Third Act in Louisiana that a different note is struck and both the leads put some life into the tragic final scene. <P>MacMillan's choreography demands abandon, particularly in this work and the Kirov dancers just do not seem to be able to cast caution aside. A classic instance is Lescaut's drunken variation in Act II. Vassily Scherbakov cannot bring himself to fluff any of the steps and we have the schizophrenic scene of a man staggerring about a bit and then executing complicated combinations perfectly every time. <P>Overall, I see 'Manon' as a passionate dance drama with themes of injustice that still have a relevance for our own times. By taking away the passion and weakening the theme of inequality MacMillan's work has been turned ito a pale shadow of the creator's conception with little put in its place. Further, despite the beauty of much of the dancing, the Kirov have great difficulty coming to terms with Macmillan's distinctive dance vocabulary. A great disappointment - my friend left at the second interval.


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2001 3:35 am 
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<B>'Manon' illuminated by Kirov artistry</B><P> <BR>By CLEMENT CRISP in The Financial Times<P>Mr Crisp takes an individual line on the Kirov's 'Manon'. <P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>When the Kirov Ballet acquired MacMillan's Manon a year ago, the very fact of the staging was a move as bold as any the troupe had made since the arrival of glasnost. Presenting Balanchine's works, as the company has done for a decade, is an act of reclamation: Petersburg's great gift to the west rooted again in his native soil. <P>But MacMillan choreography, with all that implies of psychological complexities viewed through the glass of academic dance? In the event, the gamble came off magnificently.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=010621001466&query=clement+crisp" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 21, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 1:41 am 
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I had bought a ticket some months back to see Altynai Asylmuratova dance Manon. When I was told she had been spotted in Gamba’s dance shop in Covent Garden being fitted for ballet shoes (evidently she goes through a lot of ballet shoes and has to have them specially reinforced!), I was confident that this time she would dance on Thursday as programmed. Of course I know that the Kirov has the habit of making a cast list for the programme and not sticking to it at all, so I didn’t demonstrate any surprise when I arrived to find that she would not be dancing. This was partly because Diana Vishneva was her replacement. I saw Vishneva dance the first bedroom scene with Malakhov (guesting from ABT) in the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg in February and it was wonderful. Vishneva is not only technically brilliant, she is a superb actress and, simply, just eminently ‘watchable’. Other members of the audience barely disguised their fury that Asylmuratova wasn’t dancing. One well-dressed, well-spoken gentlemen turned into a fierce monster, launching a tirade of abuse at a “Committee member” seated in front of me. I suppose she is a member of the Mariinsky Theatre Trust (formerly ‘ Friends of the Kirov Opera and Ballet’) which organises the Kirov’s tour to London. He wanted to see “the one with the long name starting with A”.<P>Vishneva, in my humble opinion, handles the new choreographers being assimilated into the Kirov repertoire well. She was very much ‘in the style of Balanchine’ in Rubies last year. She is very much MacMillan’s heroine/anti-heroine in Manon. She makes the transition from young, energetic lover in the simple white dress to gold-digger in gold dress and diamonds to exploited prisoner very convincingly and I felt quite a lot of emotion in my throat when she died. Of course I haven’t mentioned Des Grieux yet. That’s because Vishneva was doing ‘it’ all, on her own. Ilya Kuznetsov looks the part and has the right facial expressions but his dancing was right off on Thursday. He doesn’t so much dance into the stage when he lands, as thump down flat footed and then wobbles. His constant wobbling was a real distraction. Poor Vishneva. If Malakhov had danced Des Grieux, I would have died of pleasure. Alas, I kept my eyes on Vishneva and her supreme artistry. I would counsel anyone to see her if they get the opportunity. Altynai is my favourite but has retired effectively. She was back in Moscow judging a competition and I do not suppose I will see her dance again.<P>Maxim Khrebtov was commanding as Lescaut and he was well-partnered by his mistress, Irina Zhelonika. Vladimir Ponamarev as the Governor had a fine figure, according to my mother, and was very convincing. Now, when Manon slides down his body and falls to the floor at his feet in the, what Deborah MacMillan calls, the ‘oral rape’ scene – Vishneva IS Manon. I sympathise with all the poor chaps that sat through other renditions of Manon earlier this week.<P>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2001 12:09 am 
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<B>To the Manon born</B><P>The Kirov reveals its mastery of a British classic, right here at Covent Garden, says David Dougill in The Sunday Times. Also reviewed is 'Jewels' and there is a tribute to Derek Deane's contribution at English National Ballet. <P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Kenneth MacMillan's dramatic ballet Manon has been one of the most popular attractions at Covent Garden over the past three decades, never long absent from the Royal Ballet's repertory since its creation in 1974. So it is perhaps hardly surprising that, although many a foreign company has snapped up Manon, none of them had ventured to present it on a visit here - not until last week, that is. For the Kirov Ballet, Manon, which it acquired last year, is a notable and proud venture....<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><A HREF="http://www.sunday-times.co.uk/news/pages/sti/2001/06/24/sticuldnc03002.html?" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Manon'
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2001 12:12 pm 
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Maxim Khrebtov as Manon's brother, Lescaut, has been uniformly praised by critics and audience alike. He is lyrical, acts convincingly and very 3 dimensional; what I mean is that he is versatile and doesn't seem that he would be type-cast into any particular ballet roles. Not just ballet anti-hero, I can imagine him as hero and I can imagine him in modern choreography. I will be looking out for him.


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