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 Post subject: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:22 pm 
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The Mikhailovsky Ballet has appointed choreographer Nacho Duato to be its Creative Director, effective January 1, 2011. Here is the announcement on the Mikhailovsky website.

Nacho Duato announcement

See the Nacho Duato thread in Modern/Contemporary Dance for reports from the Russian press.

Nacho Duato thread


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:35 pm 
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Ismene Brown comments on the Nacho Duato appointment in The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:10 pm 
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I have seen Duato on Spanish TV announcing his leave from the CND and his new appointment. I don't usually comment on topics related to Spain, but, after having seen the Mikhailowsky Ballet last week, I am scared of what Duato may do there.

I hope the Russians will be wiser than the Spanish authorities were and he will not be allowed to dismantle the ballet company as he did in Spain. I hope the Mikhailovsky Ballet will be able to keep its repertoire while producing his new works.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:47 am 
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Quote:
I hope the Russians will be wiser than the Spanish authorities were and he will not be allowed to dismantle the ballet company as he did in Spain.


That worries me too as at the back of my mind I wonder if the company wants to shake off its 'second fiddle' to the Kirov status and re-invent itself as a modern troupe. Personally I would hate this to happen as the Mikhailovsky is on its present trajectory a very close rival to the Kirov and with the wrong headed policies that now prevail there the Mikhailovsky could occupy top spot in St Petersburg before too long.

I'm not sure if a foreign choreographer has forged such close links to a Russian company before, but I'm aware that many that have worked there haven't found it easy either professionally or culturally.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:17 am 
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According to the press, this is the first time a foreign choreographer links him/herself so strongly with a Russian company. Duato is going as Artistic Director, which means Messerer is either out or sharing the role. But Duato has said nothing of sharing the post with somebody else.

For me, what worries me most, is the fact that Duato is not the most respectful person when it comes to other dance genders and/or traditions. He is not a very enlightened artist in this respect. Not long ago he was still making the "it's either 'Fille mal Gardée' or me" claims that really kill me. He is also an incredibly self-centred choreographer who has never been known to open doors or even acknowledge existence of artists that do not match his taste and upbringing.

Well, as I said, I hope the Russians know better... and I hope Duato himself has also learnt to be a bit more respectful to others, especially as he seems to have taken his dismissal as director of the Spanish company so personally.... we'll have to wait and see.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:20 am 
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It seems a somewhat odd choice to me too. But reading the comment on the company website - "our company will adopt the style, the language and choreographic ideas of this great artist, whose creative endeavors are shaping the future of ballet" alongside the reported reasons for Duato leaving his Spanish company and remarks by other commentators it seems like they are aiming for a more modern aesthetic.

Do they see this as a way of moving out of the shadow of the Kirov?

Lots of questions. We wait to see the answers!


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:34 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I sit here with my mouth open in amazement! As Cassandra writes above, the just ended London season was a major success with some of the most beautiful corps de ballet dancing I have seen, UK and world premieres and fine solo performances with a mix of company dancers and guests. Overall, a company having raised its game over the past few years and now setting international standards in classical ballet.

While I have enjoyed Nacho Duato's work, he ain't one of my favourites and I do wonder what he will do with the Mikhailovsky dancers. In fact there are some Russian contemporary choreographers, such as Sasha Pepelyaev and Olga Pona that I prefer to Duato. Ismene Brown writes: "However, the Russian public is starved of modern dance..." Well, no actually - there is good work being performed around Russia, but there is little knowledge, recognition or support for the art form.

The Mikhailovsky appears to be the plaything of Vladimir Kekhman and he has decided to dress it up in a new suit. My guess is that none of the current dancers, StP socialites and dance fans or international audiences will be happy. And then Kekhman may well throw his toys out of the pram. But, as a lot of artists' careers depend on the success of this venture, I hope I'm wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:10 am 
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Quote:
While I have enjoyed Nacho Duato's work, he ain't one of my favourites and I do wonder what he will do with the Mikhailovsky dancers. In fact there are some Russian contemporary choreographers, such as Sasha Pepelyaev and Olga Pona that I prefer to Duato. Ismene Brown writes: "However, the Russian public is starved of modern dance..." Well, no actually - there is good work being performed around Russia, but there is little knowledge, recognition or support for the art form.


I agree, at the moment its an uphill struggle to get Russian audiences in general interested in modern dance, particularly that of the home grown variety. Everyone I've spoke to is pessimistic about this and I was sorry the timing of the announcement occurred after the London season had ended as it would have been interesting to ask a couple of the dancers what they thought. Rumour has it some will be looking for work elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:12 pm 
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A report in Reuters by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya on the appointment, reprinted in the Washington Post.

Washington Post


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:03 am 
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How to win friends and influence people - Mr Duato in the Washington Post: ""They have never really danced," the 53-year-old said of Russians in an interview with Reuters by telephone.

"They (Mikhailovsky) have the best dancers in the world, a lot of money, a lot of publicity, a lot of soul, but they need renovation, and they are very conscious of that," Duato said...

Not sure who "they" is, but it certainly ain't the London audiences, who saw a company flying to new heights.

To put this in a personal context, I spend much time supporting contemporary dance in central and eastern Europe and wrote a review from a Moscow contemporary festival:

http://www.ballet-dance.com/200604/arti ... 00512.html

So, my concerns do not come from a "let's stay traditional" approach, but rather making potentially dangerous experiments with a successful company achieving high artistic standards.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:45 am 
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One of the things that bothers me most is what will happen to the huge corps de ballet. The works I've seen by Duato don't feature large numbers of dancers so does this mean that the Mikhailovsky rank and file will be off loaded?

This is the artistic equivalent of asset stripping.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:45 pm 
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Roslyn Sulcas writes about the recent developments at the Mikhailovsky Ballet in the New York Times.

NY Times


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 4:05 pm 
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Messerer's contract ends in 2011, but I cannot see a dual artistic director position lasting long there (or anywhere) and so I don't see his influence remaining as strong there in the future. Although I dearly hope I'm wrong.

From those I've spoken with, the dancers don't like this idea. Why would you take a Vaganova-trained crop, skilled in the best of Russian classical ballet traditions, and hand them over to Duato or someone of that more contemporary nature? It's one thing to add contemporary ballets to the repertoire. It's another to revamp the entire company in "that image" and eliminate the classical roots -- which is what I have heard Duato intends to do. There are other less-classically trained dancers who could dance his works just as well, and the Vaganova training --which as Stuart and Cassandra have noted, was enjoyed immensely by London audiences this season -- would not be wasted.

I personally think this is a dangerous move, and a shame too. Messerer needs to be kept on board, and the classics need to remain in the Mikhailovsky's repertoire. Its not to say new works cannot be introduced but the core of the Mikhailovsky is classical ballet. There are not hundreds of companies who have its history. Let's preserve what is of value, at the least.

_________________
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:07 pm 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
. . . I personally think this is a dangerous move, and a shame too. Messerer needs to be kept on board, and the classics need to remain in the Mikhailovsky's repertoire. Its not to say new works cannot be introduced but the core of the Mikhailovsky is classical ballet. There are not hundreds of companies who have its history. Let's preserve what is of value, at the least.
"If it isn't broke, don't fix it." This is seismic. This is literally throwing the baby out with the bath water. These articles are very disturbing. This experiment is being perpetrated without thinking carefully about the consequences. If this is an epic fail, (as I strongly feel it will be), what's the owner's plan B? I'm extremely afraid for the Mikhailovsky Ballet. A name change may be in order. The majority of Duato's work (like most contemporary dance works) doesn't require a stage full of classical ballet dancers en pointe. Consequently, most of the corps de ballet will be displaced. Where and to whom shall they go?

Some principals may fare well and get auditions and other jobs, but lower ranked soloists and the corps? They may fare well if they're exceptionally talented, but not necessarily. Petersburg's companies are populated (mostly), with those who didn't make the Mariinsky cut at graduation performances. It's difficult for classically trained bodies to change their style of movement, when it's antithetical to all they've been taught. Some will be able to make the transition. But what about those who can't adapt to Duato's expecations? Duato is in for severe culture shock: Russian ballet dancers, teachers, coaches and critics are very vocal about what is danced and how it's danced. They have an open mind, yes - as long as Petersburg tradition is adhered to. One need look no further than the treatment that Sergei Vikharev received at the Mariinsky regarding the Petipa reconstructions; and that brohaha was about what was and wasn't authentic Petipa - not modern dance. Moreover, what will happen to the coaches and teachers? Ballet is their area of expertise; modern dance and Nacho Duato aren't.

I also totally agree with an earlier poster that there is no large audience for contemporary dance in Russia in general and Petersburg in particular. Duato may find an audience, but I don't think he'd ever be able to compete with the establishment. Consider the choices that the Petersburg audience enjoys during the regular season. Would they attend a classical ballet performance at the Mariinsky, the Music & Comedy (Palace) Theatre, the Hermitage or Alexandrinsky Theatres, or Duato's new work at the Mikhailovsky on the same night? Hypothetically, what if Lopatkina at the Mariinsky, and Kolesnikova at the Alexandrinsky Theatre were both dancing "Swan Lake" on the same night that a new Duato work was being performed? My guess is that the Petersburg audience would split in two and would sell out both "Lakes," not Duato.

Moreover, it's difficult if not impossible to start over in another theatre and take a demotion if you were a Principal or leading soloist. Some dancers can do this if they have connections. If you're an outsider and not a mega star, you'll have to get in line behind the company natives who are waiting to promote. It's also difficult to pull up stakes and leave the country to find work, especially in this global recession. Finally, I don't believe that the Petersburg critics, pedagogues, or babushki will still for (mostly) Vaganova trained bodies with turned-in bare feet, being manipulated by a Spanish Wayne MacGregor.


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 Post subject: Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 2:20 am 
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I think the arrival of Duato is very positive! This is going to be the only dance company in Russia that will finally look like all the major dance companies in Europe with a combined repertoire of classical ballet and modern contemporary works and with one of our very best choreographers as principle choreographer!
The tradition and the role of the company will not change and Nacho Duato has announced that he will not take the classical repertoire away!!! I think it's impossible there! One shouldn't compare the Spanish situation when he took over the National Ballet in Madrid! The tradition in Spain has been almost unexistant even though the National Ballet was classically based, the tradition in Russia is totally uncomparable with Spain in the field of Classical Ballet!!!!!
20 years ago Duato should have had the possibility to create his company in Madrid (or anywhere else in Spain) and the Spanish government should have kept the National Ballet in Madrid with a classical line! Today they want to go back to "tradition" in Spain but this means killing the Duato company that has been such a wonderful dance company and a great "Cultural Ambassador of Spain", and this also not a good idea!!!!!
The new possibility for this Russian company to open it's doors to a new path is great and with the level of the dancers there we should witness in the next months/years the transformation of this company in one of the most interesting ones in the world! Good luck Nacho! :D


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