I don’t know if anyone else was bothered by some of Mr. Macaulay’s sweeping and unfounded assertions in the following review, but I was.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/arts/ ... ref=slogin
By ALASTAIR MACAULAY
Published: January 29, 2008
WASHINGTON — “La Bayadère” is, above all, about transcendence, which is just as well, for there is much to transcend. No matter which production of this full-length ballet you see, at least 60 percent of it is trash. I write specifically of the Kirov Ballet production, which last week played the Kennedy Center Opera House here.
Trash? This is the premiere Kirov production, the reconstructed version that cuts out the fourth act, the desctruction of the temple and instead ends on a high note, the union of the two lovers in Solor’s dream.
This transcendence comes through opium.
Yes, the transcendence comes through opium – that is what Solor smokes in his dream. This is not a new aspect of the libretto. What is his point? The real transcendence of this ballet is life after death, lost love, and two lovers communing in the afterlife. Maybe it comes “through” opium, but it should not be implied that opium in and of itself IS the transcendence.
Distraught at the death of his beloved Nikiya ... phrasing of the entrance is eroded too.
INTERJECTION: Yes, it has been stated before that there have been changes to the level of unison in the corps de ballet, but the quality overall, even on a bad day, far surpasses what ABT or any other American company can claim. If you’re looking for synchronicity, this is it. I don’t know what Macaulay saw, but I’ve seen numerous performances of this ballet by the Kirov and not once have I seen a Shade out of line. Not once.
I also find it curious that a major critic for the New York Times last saw the Kirov’s Bayadere was 1992. I have plenty of friends who have seen and raved over it in recent years – no need to hark back more than a decade for witnesses. Who can give his opinions weight when there is so little point of comparison?
Once all the Shades are down their two ramps ...One of the supreme scenes of choreography has become ossified.
Ossified? Does a major NYTimes critic need to be told that these 3 variations are not plot-based. The entire act is based on Solor’s dream. Visions of the Bayadere. What meaning is he seeking in the movement? Or, if it’s not in the movement that he seeks meaning, then how can style itself be deemed meaningless when the movement and choreography speak for themselves? So he thinks the Kirov is elegant but meaningless? Does this even make sense? How can a ballet like Bayadere be considered to lack meaning? I am lost. I would venture to say this is an insult to the production and not only the dancers.
This production ends with that plotless drug-dream.
Again, it isn’t plot-less. Solor dreams he is reunited with Nikiya and sees multiple visions of her, mirrored visions of her. Is that plotless? Is his subconscious’ expression in a dreamlike state, an expression of love that underscores the idea of eternity, is that plotless?
It gives you less transcendence than you need ... an anthropologist’s nightmare.
INTERJECTION HERE: Anthropologist’s nightmare? Petipa wasn’t trying to compete with anthropologists. At the time he choreographed this ballet --1877 – most anthropologists were EQYPTOLOGISTS, and they were exploring EGYPT not India . If he wanted to make this remark sound “knowledgeable,” he should’ve reviewed the Bolshoi’s “Pharoah’s Daughter” > then that remark would have been MOST appropriate – not so in this case, or in the ballet performance under discussion.
Also, yes, ballet can be formulaic, as is most classical music. Symphonies are comprised of four parts. Ballets have their own orderly components: prologue, adagio, allegro, pas de deux, variations, coda, corps de ballet, finale. Is the fact that a ballet is structured and divided into acts… is that to its detriment? I would argue no, it needs that structure in order to function as a whole.
The Kirov production features ... is good.
INTERJECTION: Did he say Monty Python? These PROPS are a part of the original libretto – at the St. Petersburg Theatre Museum . He should go there and READ IT.
The one ingredient that can sustain me ... admirably focused dramatic artist),
Again I must interrupt. Lopatkina has never hoisted her chin in her entire career. She has, from graduation to present day motherhood, been a supremely refined artist, a symbolism of Petersburg classicism. To lop her in with these other two much younger dancers, neither of whom is a principal dancer, shows ignorance and disrespect.
... Alina Somova (with her undulating arms but also with more of the Kirov chin-up emphasis .... effortlessly bounced through three double airs in rapid succession ...
That must be a typo. Three double tours? Is that what Macaulay meant to write? The NYTimes needs a copy editor.
after his grande pirouette, and both Ivan Kozlov ... hope that is too strongly mixed with frustration.
At least Mr. Macaulay grants that the Kirov has been able to strike him with awe in the past. I hope his harshness will be softened in April, for the company doesn’t deserve these unfair criticisms.
[Edited by moderators to comply with copyright restrictions on the amount of quoted material permitted from a single article]