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 Post subject: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 1:05 am 
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This was a much more enjoyable evening for me than 'Manon'. Nevertheless, 'Le Corsaire' is a strange work. The plot is fussy and trite in the extreme. Further, we usually expect a dramatic art work to illuminate relationships or character, convey emotion, create a mood or at least give us a good laugh. The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire' does none of these things and thus as a piece of dramatic art I think it would be difficult to argue that it is as successful as 'Oklahoma', never mind Chekhov's 'Three Sisters'. Given a work like this, it's unsurprising that 19th C. Russian intellectuals treated ballet with contempt. <P>So, unlike fine dramatic dance works like 'Giselle' or 'Swan Lake', this piece is best viewed as a series of divertissements with bits of linking business. However, whereas a Gala evening can provide a range of dance experiences, 'Le Corsaire' has much less variety. Emotion and meaning-free dance will never be at the top of my list of favourites.<P>That said, the leads in this Kirov cast provided ememplary performances of the delightful steps of Petipa and others such as Vakhtang Chabukiany. Dmitry Semionov as Lankadem, danced his solos with much vigour and precision. Although he has to go down as the nicest slave trader in the history of his calling. Faroukh Ruzimatov in the role of Ali brought his great elegance and stage presence to bear, even if some of the combinations in his solos looked harder for him than they would have done 10 years ago. <P>Ilya Kuznetsov who played Conrad, the leading corsaire, graduated from the Vaganova Academy only 5 years ago and is a soloist rather than a Principal. So it was a great opportunity to dance the lead in the London first night and he rewarded the management's faith admirably. He used his boyish charm to good effect and his jumps and spins and the power of his movement generally were exciting throughout.<P>Elvira Tarasova as Gulnara, showed fine technique without ever arrestng me with her performance. However, Svetlana Zakharova as Medora was simply brillant. Her long, beautiful legs create the most magical line and I can still see a miraculous pirouette in attitude. Such long limbs can prove a hinderence for some dancers in the allegro sections. Yet Zakharova danced her fouettes with great speed, ease and confidence. Her supple back and expressive arms also contributed to her outstanding performance. <P>The sets and costumes are delightfully over the top and at the end the cast received rapturous applause, which was fully justified. However, I was still left with a desire to see such fine artistry used to dramatic and expressive effect. Without powerful dancers of the very highest quality, there would be little to savour.<P>What do others think about 'Le Corsaire' in general or about the Kirov's production? <P><BR> <P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 24, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 1:51 am 
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Stuart, I find the ballet totally tedious and to be honest, i would never choose to go and see it UNLESS Ruzimatov is dancing. If he is not dancing tonight I will be breaking up the furniture because I really do find the ballet excruciatingly difficult to sit through. Here goes, with gritted teeth. Ruzimatov brings elegance to everything he touches and his exotic Central Asian looks (he is from Tashkent, Uzbekistan) fit the role of Ali. Ruzimatov is also untouchable as the Golden Slave in Scherezade. I would be interested in people's views of other Alis - I have only seen the Kirov production of Le Corsaire and so I am probably being highly bigoted about Petipa's ballet without having seen another production. Shame on me. However I allow myself a little licence because I seem to be one of the few that really enjoyed Manon this week.


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2001 10:00 pm 
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The first of the newspaper reviews and the London critics understandably love the dancing and the fun.<P><BR><B>The Kirov's bazaar of swashbuckling fun</B><BR> <BR>Ismene Brown in The Daily Telegraph savours a cutting edge 19th century theatrical spectacle <P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>SHIPWRECKS! Pirates! Slavegirls! Fountains on stage! They weren't worried about high art in the days when Le Corsaire was made. Once the cutting edge of theatrical spectacle in 1856 (hydraulics were the new technology), Le Corsaire is nowadays a defiantly archaic old warhorse, and the Kirov, performing it with dead-straight aplomb, shows what a fabulous entertainment an old panto-ballet can be.<P>Derived from a swashbuckling poem by Byron, originally created in France before Russia leapt gratefully on it (and started adding and improving bits), Le Corsaire is more bazaar than ballet.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/et?ac=005340313727917&rtmo=lzlwAPFt&atmo=rrrrrssq&pg=/et/01/6/25/btbal25.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A><P>*************************************<P><B>Pirates on parade</B> <P>The Kirov lets its hair down in a roaring Corsaire <P>BY DEBRA CRAINE in The Times<BR> <P> <BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>After the adventure of Manon, which took the company into uncharted new waters, the Kirov Ballet was back on home turf this weekend with Le Corsaire, a lavish 19th-century swashbuckler about pirates and damsels in distress that offers a feast of ravishing classical dancing. <BR>It’s been a long time since Petipa’s ballet was last seen in London — too long — and new faces have taken over the roles once adorned by some of our favourite Kirov dancers. But the vibrancy and joie de vivre of this 1987 production remain, making Le Corsaire one of the most delicious of all Russian ballets.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,62-2001212747,01.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A><P>**************************************<P><B>Le Corsaire</B> <P>Judith Mackrell in The Guardian<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The historic dance culture of the Kirov may have been a barrier to the dancers getting under the skin of Kenneth MacMillan's very British Manon last week, but the traditions of Marius Petipa's Le Corsaire are bred so deep in their bones that it's hard to imagine any other company (certainly not the Royal) performing it. <P>Even though the Kirov's current production has modern designs and a modern pace, it retains the period extravagance of a show that was essentially a high-class piece of Imperial music hall.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><A HREF="http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4209683,090.html" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A><P><BR><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 25, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2001 3:20 am 
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In 1993 I saw the Bolshoi version of Corsaire in Moscow in a production by Konstantine Sergeyev of the Kirov. I believe it was the last production he mounted before he died. <P>There were a number of differences to the Kirov version. The most startling being that the shipwreck occurs at the end of the ballet rather than the beginning. Also the character of Ali doesn't exist in Sergeyev's version. Medora dances the famous pas de deux (not a pas de trois, Conrad's contibution is minimal) with someone identified in the programme simply as "The Slave" who only appears in act 2. The other important change is that Conrad kills Birbanto in act 3 after he molests Gulnara. Some of the music was different as well.<P>When I saw it in Moscow Stepenenko danced Medora. Mark Peretokin was Conrad and the slave was danced by Alexander Vetrov. Only extracts of this production have been shown in London when the Bolshoi danced at the Albert Hall in '93. However this production has been acquired by ABT and was televised here about 2 years ago, but details that I remembered from the Bolshoi's performance seemed to be missing.<P>I was very sorry that the Bolshoi abandoned this production as I found it highly enjoyable and it seemed to suit the Bolshoi dancers. When I got home I looked up Corsaire in "Beaumonts Ballets" and it seems that what I saw in Moscow was far closer to the original than the more familiar Kirov version. Nevertheless the Kirov version makes more dramatic sense on the whole.


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2001 4:55 am 
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Many thanks Cassandra for that interesting comparison. I have also seen the American Ballet Theater version on video, but my memory tells me that also has the death of Birbanto in Act III and a more understandable scene garden of beauties scene with the Pasha falling lying down and falling asleep. I also remember that ABT use the cross wrists mime to signify death that is not used in the current Kirov production which dates from 1987.<P>Although I have to say that the story seems irredeemable in all its versions to me. On the ABT video Kevin McKenzie and the dancers have much fun at the expense of the plot.<P><p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited June 25, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2001 10:48 pm 
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<B>Pirates, passion and wild abandon</B><P>by John Percival in The Independent<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Mad, bad and dangerous: Byron knew how to make the pirate hero of The Corsair popular. His poem was a big hit in 1814, although almost unreadable today. And the ballet made from it in Paris in 1856 would not be likely to enjoy its original success if repeated as it was then, a strong melodrama. But over the years it acquired new virtuoso choreography and a wry, comical interpretation. The version of Le Corsaire given by the Kirov Ballet last week is a romp, and great fun.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><A HREF="http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=%380098" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2001 12:17 am 
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<B>Kirov meets Carry On</B> <P>By CLEMENT CRISP in The Financial Times<P>Mr Crisp acknowledges the lunacy of 'Le Corsaire', but puts his aesthetic sensibilities to one side and laps up the fun. I have to say that I don't understand his criticism of Zakharova for performing to too high a standard, '...all very astonishing, I suppose, and rather wearying.' What else is there to do in 'Le Corsaire'?<P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>The Kirov's staging of Le Corsaire at Covent Garden is as near as ballet can get to a Carry On movie. Pretty girls, low comedy, a plot you could drain pasta through, and a nifty turn of dramatic speed so that you don't stop to ask for motives or reason: such are its delights. Plus some relics of Petipa choreography. <P>It is a hoot, and displayed by the Kirov artists with the breakneck speed needed to make such nonsense greatest fun in the theatre. I love it, and sit grinning happily as yet another outburst of folk-ish dance or Mediterranean emoting hits the stage.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><A HREF="http://globalarchive.ft.com/globalarchive/article.html?id=010627001496&qqw=78654&query=ballet" TARGET=_blank><B>More...</B></A>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2001 11:55 am 
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Ruzimatov was dancing on the night I saw Le Corsaire, thank goodness. And so I found Le Corsaire enjoyable. It is a pantomime, without doubt. When Ruzimatov dances Ali, it is enjoyable for me because I really look forward to Act II and the display of technical feats performed in the pas de trios of Medora, Conrad and Ali. The ballet is clearly growing on me because I even enjoyed Act I in all its playful splendour. But I can hardly sit through Act III. The ensemble of corps de ballet dressed in candy pink dresses and ill-fitting wigs, and holding garlands of fake tinsel flowers is a gratuitous display of ballet kitsch, although saved, on this occasion, by fine performances from Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina and Elena Sheshina as the Odalisques. Truly fine and elegant dancers and very much “together” when dancing together. <P>When I compared Ruzimatov’s performance on Saturday night, with the dvd I have, recorded in 1989 with Altynai Asylmuratova as Medora, I can see that at 38, he jumps with less energy than when 26. But the polish and pure art of what he is doing, is still there. His performance was perfect – the right amount of exoticism and introspection on his face to suit the character, the right technique and the right amount of elegance. I could go on like this for some time. The audience loved him and when he took his curtain calls they loved the fact that he was responding to them as Ali, in character. Looking at his biography in the programme, he has a repertoire of solid Kirov fare and it is a pity that he did not dance modern choreography. Well, maybe not for him, but it’s a pity for me.<P>Irma Nioradze as Medora is only in her early thirties but performs like an old Kirov star – very theatrical and dramatic with contorted, eighteenth century-style, “what I am doing is moving me to the core” facial expressions and antique mannerisms, all produced by a sleek, young body. It works for this piece, that’s for sure. But what an odd ménage a trios the pas de trois is, with Ilya Kuznetsov looking very college boy eager to please (to please the audience, rather than Medora, to be honest!) and Ruziamtov all smouldering exoticism. Nioradze got her multiple turns (although her inside leg was a little limp and unpointed). The audience loved her for getting the turns and for looking so surprised that she was successful.<P>The whole evening (apart form the candy pink dresses) enthralled me and I left the Royal Opera House with a huge smile on my face. The chatter of happy people was so loud that one had to shout to be heard.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2001 2:03 pm 
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Totally agree, Emma. I think it's an embarrassingly bad libretto, even by low 19th century standards. I'd never encourage a new ballet fan to see Corsaire. And, like you, I only bother if Ruzimatov is dancing. Saw him in Moscow in 1988. Just amazing...like you I too could go on for hours on this subject!(He's Tajik, by the way not Uzbek. Stalin thoughtfully put Tashkent and Samarkand - the two big Tajik-populated centres of scholarship - into the new Uzbek SSR in the 1930s rather than the Tajik SSR under the divide-and-rule principle. Hence Ruzimatov being an honoured artist of the Tajik SSR when it still existed.)<BR>Also agree, wouldn't it be good to see him in modern choreography? I saw him as Tariel in the Knight in the Tiger Skin (Vinogradov, 1988). And this plus one or two tiny snippets from an Italian TV production of the Mariinsky summer gala of a couple of years back are available on homemade video from an excellent Italian dance website. So why oh why can't the Kirov bring something non-classical with them this time, instead of endless historical Sleeping Beauty? <P>


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 Post subject: Re: The Kirov's 'Le Corsaire'
PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2001 1:11 am 
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<B>Abduct a girl and she'll soon change her tutu</B> <P>The Kirov's dancers are at their joyful best when they step outside the narrative <P>by Jann Parry in The Observer. All the London critics have loved the fun in 'Le Corsaire'. Although I shared ther enthusuiasm for the performances, I have to say at the humour passed me by. <P><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Arc Dance calls this season's tour The Art of Storytelling. The emphasis is on 'art', just as it is in the Kirov's narrative ballets. Story development matters less than how and why the characters dance. <P>With the Kirov, how is all-important. Its members inherit solos they have danced since adolescence. Each sequence of steps is rehearsed to perfection: it is immaterial whether they are danced by swans, slaves, bayaderes or senoritas.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR><A HREF="http://www.observer.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,514916,090.html" TARGET=_blank><B>more...</B></A><p>[This message has been edited by Admin (edited July 01, 2001).]


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