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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2004 12:05 pm 
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Location: El Granada, CA, USA
From Ms. Howard and the SF Chronicle.

Quote:
Bolshoi takes a swing at modernity in 'Romeo and Juliet' and whiffs
Rachel Howard, Special to The Chronicle

Let's be clear: The new "Romeo and Juliet" that Moscow's storied Bolshoi Ballet brought to Cal Performances on Wednesday night is not bad because it trades pointe shoes and tutus for tuxedos and negligees. It is not bloodless and unaffecting because it showcases a 228-year-old company of finely trained classicists -- scandal! -- doing the bump and grind.

And it was not the worst idea to tap noted British theater director Declan Donnellan to inject some contemporary daring into a troupe long isolated by the Iron Curtain and stagnated by a repertory too heavy on former leader Yuri Grigorovich's works. (This "R&J" was also not the idea of 35-year- old Artistic Director Alexei Ratmansky, who took the helm this year after a series of administrative coups.)
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And a write up of the gala from the same...

Quote:
Bolshoi's racy 'Romeo and Juliet' revs pulses for ballet gala
Catherine Bigelow, Chronicle Society Columnist

Balletomanes needed more than leg-warmers Wednesday night at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall. But the stormy night, filled with snarling traffic, did little to deter fans from Cal Performances' season opener -- the U.S. premiere of the Bolshoi Ballet's startling new production of that chestnut "Romeo and Juliet.''
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<small>[ 05 November 2004, 01:12 PM: Message edited by: LMCtech ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2004 4:04 pm 
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Location: San Francisco
<FONT Face="Times New Roman" "Garamond" "Helvetica">
Marriage of Old and New Lacks Innovation and Cohesion
November 5, 2004, 8PM
Zellerbach Hall
Presented by Cal Performances
Reviewed by Becca Hirschman
<hr>
Lar Lubovitch’s “Othello” and Mark Morris’ “Syliva” are two examples of contemporary retellings of stories from days gone by. They combine ballet, modern, and folk movements to create a new version of what we thought we knew. While potentially controversial and not for all tastes, they have succeeded in a new telling of the old. I had similar hopes for the Bolshoi Ballet’s “new” take on “Romeo and Juliet.” While I knew that the work didn’t include tutus or pointe shoes, I hoped that something new would present itself.

Directed by British theater director Declan Donnellan and choreographed by Moldavian Radu Poklitaru, the Bolshoi’s modern “Romeo and Juliet” echoes of “West Side Story” (The opening scene made me want to snap my fingers and sing “When you're a Jet…”) meets movement theatre. With a minimalist storyline, we meet Romeo, Juliet, a cross-dressing Mercutio, and an incestuous Lady Capulet (with Tybald, no less). The basic plot, though pared down to the necessities, stayed the same: Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love on the spot. Family pouts and stomps. Etc. etc. etc.

Simply put, this “Romeo and Juliet” is no ballet. Probably the most disappointing aspect of “Romeo and Juliet” is the fact that dance itself (whether it’s ballet or modern) failed to make an appearance. Sure, there’s movement, but it is pedestrian and is continuously repeated to the point of becoming ineffective. The ballet steps are fleeting, and seem inconsistent with the more ordinary and quirky movements, often in unison, that fill the rest of the work. The lone arabesques, pirouette variances, and sautés that are utilized are interspersed in between posing, rash arm movements, and unsupported choreographic choices; this causes a lack of momentum throughout the piece. While corps dancer Anastasia Meskova as the naïve Juliet seemed the most at ease, the entire company had trouble delivering the Broadway dance-type sequences, Britney Spears pelvic gyrations, and flexed-feet requirements. What a shame, because they’re obviously trying! The corps is used well, at time representing townsfolk, the two warring families, and the supportive foundation of a budding relationship, but perhaps a more experienced choreographer would have developed the movement vocabulary to a higher degree. Instead, it appeared elementary and muddy. This confusion also transcended to the costuming, which ranged from top hats and tails to Company B-type outfits and “Stepford Wives” dresses; the lack of consistency again detracted from the overall performance. Maybe minimalist costuming, like the interesting and underused cubic and rectangular set design, would have helped.The Bolshoi Orchestra, though, performed Prokofiev’s score admirably with ease and energy.

The Bolshoi’s “Romeo and Juliet” feels more like a theatre piece. The static direction and lack of choreographic imagination hinder the work’s development, and it’s one that doesn’t break new ground or present an original view of the traditional storyline. From gyrations and posing to random breakdancing moves, the choreography lacks a maturity that we have come to expect from one of the top international dance companies. While the full house at Zellerbach seemed to enjoy the work, I feel that Donnellan and Poklitaru’s version did little to enhance the storyline or dance prowess normally associated with this ever-traditional ballet.

<small>[ 06 November 2004, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: RaHir ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:15 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
A review by MEHunt:

Quote:
Wherefore art thou headed, Bolshoi?

Mary Ellen Hunt
Contra Costa Times

WITH NEW ARTISTIC director Alexei Ratmansky at the helm, and a slew of fresh young talent in the principal ranks, the Bolshoi Ballet is understandably eager to show the world a modern face for the 21st century. Unfortunately, their raw and audacious new production of "Romeo and Juliet," which opened the company's five-day run at Zellerbach Hall this week, is surely not the right vehicle. more


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 10:01 am 
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Thanks for posting that Azlan. I just wanted to put in a quick note to say that I went to see Raymonda last night and had a completely opposite reaction than I had had to the Romeo and Juliet. I liked it so much more than the Swan Lake even, from two years ago.

I know Toba will be posting a full review soon, so I'll leave that to her, but if you have a chance to catch them (if you can still get tickets) definitely see it! The company looks great -- terrific energy and the men (it looks like a much younger crop of men in the lead roles than I remembered from before) were partnering beautifully, along with giving us those gorgeous jumps and soundless landings.

Nadezhda Gracheva was elegant in the lead role and had a wonderful way of phrasing her footwork so that it seemed crisp and bright.

Readers of CD.com already know that last June Ruslan Skvortsov was promoted to Leading Soloist -- and well deserved. As Jeanne de Brienne, he made a perfect cavalier to Gracheva. Strong in his solo work, with light jumps, although perhaps slightly unsteady turns, he was deferential but not too much so in his presentation of his ballerina.

Yuri Klevtsov was terrific (as he was in ROmeo and Juliet) in an over the top role as Abderakhman. He tossed off some bravura moves as if it were a walk in the park.

Also I enjoyed seeing Maria Alexandrova and Ekaterina Shipulina as Raymonda's friends. After seeing the former as Juliet, and thinking "she could be doing SO much more," it was nice to see Alexandrova fully exercise that lovely technique.

As a side note, I now know that my husband has been fully indoctrinated into the culture of intense ballet-watchers. During the first act, he leaned over to me and said, "Look at that boy in the corps, second from the right... he was Romeo the other night...."

<small>[ 07 November 2004, 11:21 AM: Message edited by: mehunt ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 10:34 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Quote:
Originally posted by mehunt:
As a side note, I now know that my husband has been fully indoctrinated into the culture of intense ballet-watchers. During the first act, he leaned over to me and said, "Look at that boy in the corps, second from the right... he was Romeo the other night...."
As another side note, he also noticed Maria Alexandrova who was "... the Juliet from the other night..." ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Sun Nov 07, 2004 4:21 pm 
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Location: Where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
Raymonda, Bolshoi Ballet and Orchestra, The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, CA, November 6, 2004

Raymonda is a story ballet set in a Magyar palace, with divertissements and pas de deux and quatres, and pavanes and minuets—that’s the bolshoi framework. The menshoi content consists of studio choreography—piqué turns, arabesques en dehors, jetés, grand jetés and tour jetés, with a couple of assemblés thrown in, en l’aire ronds de jambes, and changements en pointe, where no heels touch the wood floor, except for the occasional échappé. The shoes are so hard that it if you close your eyes and untrain your ears, it might sound like tappers doing time steps, albeit slowed to the deliberate Vaganova tempo that casts any shoe ambiguity to the four winds.

The ballet was staged by Yuri Grigorovich. He has polished the work to a brilliantine gloss. Costumes are extravagantly built for ease of handling, fluidity, and richness, with the colors perfectly engineered to mark the music, and enhance the character work.

In Act I, which opens as all the others do—with a palace pageant—we meet Raymonda, danced in the Fonteyn tradition, by Nadezhda Gracheva. She’s exquisite to watch, with those perfect Russian arms and those athletic Russian runs, but she has trouble when she’s lifted, and tends to land on her knight’s shoulder like a beanbag, or fall out of a fish dive like a slippery eel. Her energy and enthusiasm for being the Countess’ niece is unflagging, and though a more plebian type like myself might have easily fallen for the Saracen, danced juicily by Yuri Klevtsov, she keeps her regal eyes on that prize, the knight, Jean de Brienne, danced by Ruslan Svortsov. While he may strike you as a bit of a Ken Doll at first, he can jump really high from sixth position, or a very open third. But who cares whether these dancers turn out or take their passé two inches above their ankles and four inches below their knees? They manage to turn anyway, and their elevation has them bounding across real estate that must seem miniscule to them compared with other stages they’ve left behind in clouds of rosin that make those knocking shoes squeal in agony. At times it sounds like a hotrod is doing anachronistic wheelies in the driveway just outside the enchanting garden’s wall, where so much of the plot twists and so many of the corps members turn, with their lily pad-like tutus fanning the enchantment.

Each of the 40-odd dancers onstage at the same time manages to dance in his or her “box” without body slamming the dancer next door, a feat I’ve rarely seen accomplished so successfully in this venue. Klevtsov does what I’m told is a “540,” named for the number of degrees it describes in a turn that is alternatively called a “kasyul” [phonetic spelling]. The tassels on his costume shadow him, as he ballonés into a barrel turn and those bedeviled tassels appear to complete the turn before he does, in a trompe d’oeil that puts the Berkeley audience in a state of delirium, presidential election results notwithstanding.

Outstanding solos and duets are performed by Maria Alexandrova and Ekaterina Sipulina, as Raymonda’s friends, and by Nelli Kobakhidze and Ekaterina Krysanova in “Raymonda’s Dream.” These are lithesome young dancers, who spirit the company out of the doldrums of last year’s Swan Lake. Remember those the chandeliers that hung over the lake like aging principals hovering over their favorite roles?

The character dancing in Spanish, Mazurka and Hungarian shows training that every dancer schooled outside of Russia (and Cuba) could benefit from. The costumes—especially in Spanish—were works of art, and hopefully, someday there will be exhibitions of them that travel with the production. The interlude, “Six,” showcases the dancers in a more intimate, classical display of talent and technique, and the men’s battue was so squeaky clean that the slightest flaw was, by contrast, all the more noticeable. Overall, there is much to look forward to, as these dancers reach full artistic maturity.

There’s lots to love here, if we leave our training manuals and sectarian notions outside the door, and allow the mostly high production values, élan of the new young dancers, stamina of the older ones, inspired staging and masterpiece costumes to awaken this Raymonda from her beauty sleep.

<small>[ 08 November 2004, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: Toba Singer ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:56 pm 
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From the SF Chronicle.

Quote:
REVIEW
Bolshoi brings lush 'Raymonda' to Berkeley
Rachel Howard, Special to The Chronicle

Anna Antonicheva met the challenge with gorgeous tapered feet, regal arms and a broad brow that furrowed oh-so-aristocratically in moments of distress. Her partner, Sergey Filin, danced nobly in a lame-duck role. Partly because of the story line, partly because of Dmitry Belogolovtsev's charisma as Raymonda's would-be kidnapper, you almost wished she'd chuck expectations and take off with the sensual outsider.

The corps shone in the first-act dream sequence, a vision of clear, well turned-out legs and supple backs just a bit crowded by Zellerbach's shallow stage.
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 Post subject: Re: Bolshoi Ballet - America Tour 2004
PostPosted: Fri Nov 19, 2004 1:17 am 
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Location: Estonia
Quote:
Bolshoi arrives with the new -- and the old

by HEDY WEISS
the Chicago Sun-Times

But when the Bolshoi hits the road ..., it knows where its bread is buttered - with the big, elaborate, full-length classics. Happily, they've left "Swan Lake" at home. But sadly they've deemed a controversial new "Romeo and Juliet" ... too risky for Chicago audiences; it will be presented only in Seattle, Berkeley and Minneapolis.
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