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 Post subject: Swan Lake
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 4:12 am 
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Clement crisp reviews Swan Lake:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/3083ce52-256a-1 ... e2340.html

Seems that Mr Crisp is able to see similarities between Svetlana Zakharova..........

http://eventi.parma.it/allegato.asp?ID=239445

..........and the work of the French painter Ingres.

http://www.artofeurope.com/ingres/ing6.htm
Yeah, right.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:12 am 
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The BBC is of the opinion that the Bolshoi season has been far more successful than the Kirov's.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5256098.stm


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 8:53 am 
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Given that I don't think the BBC really has their own dance critic, it would seem to me that this article is probably a summary of other critic's opintions spliced together by a writer hauled in from some other department. And thus not worth much.

I can't decide whether it's better for BBC just to ignore the whole thing or give it such rotten coverage. Frankly I think the coverage has just made ballet seem even more elitist and done nothing to inspire people to come watch.

Kate


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 Post subject: BBC ballet coverage
PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 9:16 am 
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On the whole I agree, I think the Beeb has simply picked up on the rivalry aspect from other newspaper articles and decided to run something of their own on the subject.

Arts coverage on on the BBC is meagre at best these days so perhaps anything is better than nothing.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 11, 2006 2:05 pm 
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ksneds wrote:
Frankly I think the coverage has just made ballet seem even more elitist and done nothing to inspire people to come watch.

Kate


I believe most nights were sold out anyway, so no need for such inspiration. The nights I was at the ROH there was a big line of people anxiously hoping for return tickets.


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 Post subject: Air travel problems for the Bolshoi
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:29 am 
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At least one cast change didn't happen due to the present state of emergency at UK airports and now it seems the Bolshoi Orchestra is facing a huge problem with carrying their instruments on board. The BBC reports:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4784225.stm


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:42 am 
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I remember chatting with some members of an orchestra in the final departure lounge at Gatwick when they were told that their instruments would have to go in the hold. "No way," was the unanimous response given that the average value was around £20,000 and for insurance and contractual reasons as well, no doubt.

I hear that the hand baggage rules are changing again today, so maybe that will resolve the problem.


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 Post subject: Cinderella
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 5:53 am 
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Cinderella
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House, CoventGarden
London
9th August 2006


This Cinderella is part traditional fairy tale, part science fiction and partly Prokofiev’s complex feelings when he wrote this work inspired by his ill-fated first wife. Although “Cinderella” finishes with a promise of happy ever after, the music is achingly sad and unlike any other full-length ballet I can think of, it’s almost completely written in minor keys. The most unusual aspect of this version is that Prokofiev himself is a major character playing the role of that magical fixer usually called the Fairy Godmother, but here named as ‘The Storyteller’. I particularly admired the sets by Hans Dieter Schaal that explored new possibilities in ballet settings.

The ballet opens on a landscape in outer space with a lunar planet hanging low in the sky. Cinderella (Ekaterina Krysanova) is chasing away a flock of ravens with her broom and immediately establishes herself as a more forceful less put upon Cinders than the traditional hearthside waif. Her stepfamily is annoying rather than vicious, tearing up her invitation to the prince’s ball and insisting on her acting as dresser as they choose their party clothes. The sisters weren’t so much ugly as funny; with padded bums and boobs Anastasia Vinokur and Lola Kochetkova made a terrific comedy double act and with statuesque Maria Volodina as their mother, the biggest joke was how such an elegant parent produced such a pair of little pink powder puffs.

Prokofiev (Andrei Melanin) mostly sits atop the adjacent planet taking notes but delivers the prince’s invitations himself, flying through the air like ET on his bicycle, but his interventions are fun and he sets the scene for various parts of the action by opening the vast boxes that become Cinderella’s ******* and the dancing master’s mirror lined studio. The dancing master by the way was a preening Gennadi Yanin in period costume creating romantic stirrings within his plump pupils and dancing so perfectly that I regretted the plot gives him little more than a cameo role.

Cinderella dances with her broom just as she does in other production only here she dances in less than traditional fashion because her partner is not the usual broomstick but a kind of broom-man; stick thin Alexei Loparevich with a massive brush of hair and their pas de deux is accompanied by a cluster of dancing crockery; cups and saucers, teapot etc. The Storyteller opens another box to reveal the four seasons’ fairies that dance accompanied by dragonflies, grasshoppers, sunflowers and bullfinches. Each presents Cinderella with a gift for the ball and she exits with her traditional pumpkin-vehicle.

Act two begins with a back projection of the conductor Alexander Vedernikov, conducting the overture, a clever device that is much more interesting than a front curtain. The costume design which was previously a bit vague, takes us into the art deco word of the 1930’s with the girls looking like Hollywood starlets alongside their partners in tuxedos. The set is dominated by a vast staircase and the prince (Dmitri Goudanov) actually makes his entrance by sliding down the banisters; Cinderella, initially escorted by Prokofiev, follows suit and is caught in the prince’s arms at the bottom. That’s what I call an effective entrance!

Stepmother and sisters arrive eager to snare a man – any man and when good-looking mama manages to ambush one of the prince’s friends (Denis Medvedev), he doesn’t actually put up much of a struggle as she drags him offstage. Her cuddly daughters though are slightly less predatory and therefore less successful; they console themselves by filching all the oranges and rushing up that vast staircase clutching their swag with their bottoms bouncing as they run. Those oranges by the way arrive by the trolley load, and the guests all get two each enabling them to perform an amusing semaphore type number up and down the staircase.

The pas de deux that is the heart of this act was crammed with Possokhov’s ideas and at times looked over-busy. Some things in it I actually disliked, such a lift where Cinderella stretches out her legs horizontally before swinging them upwards into a V-shape, a sort of ten to two – very ugly in my opinion.

Cinderella forgets the warning to leave before midnight and dashes to one of the clocks trying desperately to turn back the hands, impossible of course and the clock itself tears her fine gown off her leaving her in her ******* dress. Her prince rushes past in hot pursuit of the girl at the ball, he casts a cursory glance at her and dismisses the menial he sees in a second: Cinderella collapses into sobs.

Act three has that problematic round the world search for a foot that fits the abandoned shoe. Ashton of course famously ignored this music altogether making it a very slender act in his production. I must confess I’ve never been totally happy with anything I’ve seen in other versions, perhaps because of the music that doesn’t seem to bear much similarity to the rest of the score. In this production the prince and his friends team up with a group of horses danced by girls with tails attached (hmm……not sure about that) and set off to encounter Marlene Dietrich and Maria Callas before finally searching in the right place. An odd aspect of the prince’s search is on oversized chair suspended upside down above the stage, I couldn’t figure out the significance of that at all. After a final funny encounter with the step family, Cinderella and her prince go off to happy-ever-after-land leaving the Storyteller/Prokofiev to exit via a crater in the low lying moon.

Krysanova was well cast in this role and seemed to have a natural rapport with the elegant Goudanov, who danced with humour and panache as her prince. There were three casts for “Cinderella” and several people told me it was Ekaterina Shipulina who danced with the ‘wow-factor’ by executing a series of pirouettes followed by slides in point (no precise technical term appears to exist) and the other casts were not able to emulate this.

The ballet was well received by the audience and so far the comments from fans I’ve spoken to have all been positive, critical response was less favourable though. This is a very unconventional “Cinderella” and some purists may have a problem with it; but it is so packed with ideas and innovations that it is impossible not to admire what choreographer Possokhov has done.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 4:19 am 
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Location: London
Swan Lake
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House, London
Thursday 3 August 2006



As part of their London Season, the Bolshoi presented Yuri Grigorovitch’s version of Swan Lake. First staged during the season 1969/70, the ballet has undergone small adjustments throughout time –the choreographer explains in the programme notes- though it has only been recently that the original ending that Grigorovitch wanted for his ballet has made its way onto the stage.

I have never been a great admirer of Grigorovitch’s version of the classic. Last time I saw it was in 1989, when the company presented it at the Coliseum. At that time, it seemed a bit heavy on the viewer, as this version only allows one interval, and the story and the drama are not prominent parts of this production.

However, the dancing then and now had the power to carry the ballet forward. The Bolshoi is a phenomenal company and, as exemplified by their performances of this piece, it can hold the viewer’s attention in spite of the lack of lustre of the choreography it may present.

Grigorovitch explains that his conception of the ballet had the Prince as the only real inhabitant of a world in which reality and fantasy shift continuously on the stage. This is not really clear as the choreography unfolds. Perhaps the only clear image is that of The Evil Genius as the Prince’s Fate or Destiny. This is something that Rudolf Nureyev also used in his own version of the ballet. However, other than that, the rest of the characters are not so well delineated. Grigorovitch has kept the second act choreography by Ivanov, he has also kept some of the Petipa for the Black Swan pas de deux, but overall, his character progression, especially when it concerns Odette and her alter ego Odile, is never very clear.

On the evening for the Press Night, Svetlana Zakharova danced Odette/Odile, Ruslan Skvortsov danced Prince Sigfried and Dmitri Belogolovtsev danced the role of the Evil Genius.

The Bolshoi has often been victim of questionable casting for Press Nights and, during this season, most of them have been assigned to Zakharova, who is a capable dancer, but I would not rate as the best ballerina the Bolshoi currently has. Even more questionable was Skvortsov as the Prince, as he had real technical problems in his second act variation, something that is unusual to see in the Bolshoi male stars.

Skvortsov was good during the first act, but did not manage to make much of his character –especially since he seems to be the “hero” of the ballet, according to the choreographer’s words.

Zakharova was an adept Odette and a much better Odile. However, Odette seems to pose real problems for most ballerinas nowadays as the technical difficulties of the part are much more subtle than those of Odile. Generally, it seems female dancers concentrate so much on Odile’s feats that they forget the only way this part can actually work is by creating a contrast between the two. There are few Odettes who can actually fill the steps with real soul and allow the choreographic lines to grow and become expressive without recurring to acrobatic tricks that, rather than prolonging the lines change their expressive qualities. I always look forward to Odette’s variation when she performs the diagonals of sissones that culminate in the developé into arabesque. There are few dancers who can actually perform that developé with the liquid quality that the music indicates.

Belogolovtsev was a competent Evil Genius, but, typically Grigorovitch, his choreographic language for the part soon becomes repetitive.

Still, the Bolshoi is the kind of company that manages to give a good performance in spite of all odds. The corps de ballet, though a bit crammed in the Covent Garden stage, was beautiful. The sense of schooling and unity of style is still apparent. The men are still powerful, but since the Grigorovitch days, the women have become more beautiful and versatile through a change of aesthetics that seems to connect more with the Bolshoi’s past. The women dancing the Princesses of the Second Act were as strong as ever and special mention should go to Natalia Osipova, who took the stage with the best jumps I have seen for a very long time. Allegro technique has become near extinction in the last decades due to the emphasis on very high legs and more adagio work. It is wonderful to see that the Bolshoi is still training its female dancers to jump high, far and boldly.

The only real disappointment of the evening came at the end, when the new ending to the ballet was performed. I can understand that Grigorovitch wanted a tragic ending for his work, but that does not mean that he had to dispense with the wonderful music that finishes the score and patch the final moments with a return to the Overture. It is not necessary and it simply provides the ballet with a most unmusical ending. There are dozens of examples of how the ballet can end tragically and yet, make use of the original music. Many people were appalled by this change and, to be honest, I can only subscribe to this reaction. Other than that, the performance showed how great this company is and it served as a reminder of the standards we should all be aiming at.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:52 am 
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Quote:
Saved by the belle
by DAVID DOUGILL for the Sunday Times

Cinderella is accompanied at many points by a flock of ravens, who are threatening to begin with, but later become a support group. The staging in Act I uses a trio of boxes for separate scenes — the *******, a ballet studio for the blowsy stepsisters’ dancing lesson, a frame for the Seasons divertissement. We have a man as Cinderella’s broom come to life, fairies dressed as a celluloid tea service, dragonflies, grasshoppers, bullfinches and sunflowers, and four lovely dancers as the Seasons. But the comedy is ghastly dull, the choreography fussy and boring — a yawn a minute, I thought sourly.

published: August 13, 2006
more...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:28 am 
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Quote:
Swan Lake
by DEBRA CRANE for the Times

But with virtually no mime and lacking a clear narrative context, what’s left is an abstraction of Swan Lake, lovely to look at — the corps is wonderful, transcendent — but dramatically confused, emotionally deprived.

published: August 14, 2006
more...


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:32 am 
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Quote:
The Bright Stream
by DEBRA CRAINE for the Times

This being the centenary of Shostakovich’s birth, it was inevitable that the Bolshoi Ballet would mark the event in its London repertoire, just as the Maryinsky did last month. But unlike the Maryinsky, whose Shostakovich lineup was sadly disappointing, the Bolshoi’s offering is a cracking new staging that deserves to be that ballet rarity — an instant classic.

published: August 15, 2006
more...


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:40 am 
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An extremely odd piece by Julia Langdon (who she) about how Grigorovich's 's Swan Lake symbolizes the fall of communism in the former Soviet Union. Seems the lady found herself twiddling her thumbs during an unusually overlong interval at the Bolshoi Theatre (she obviously doesn't go to Covent Garden). She thereby concluded that it was because Thatcher and Gorbachev, whom she had spotted together in a box earlier, were discussing the merits of capitalism and perestroika. Ho hum........

Here's the article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1844805,00.html


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 11:37 am 
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What a lovely season so far. I have especially enjoyed the 'new' offerings 'Cinderella' and 'The Bright Stream' and hope that they will be brought back every once in a while in the future. I will have to run now since I am off to Coven Garden again tonight. Will post more later.


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 Post subject: mixed bill-go for broke, pique dame, symphony in c
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:27 am 
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Location: san francisco, ca usa
have there been any reviews/comments on the Bolshoi's mixed bill program?


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