In a city that can be one of the most beautifully enchanting that I have ever seen came one of the most beautifully enchanting groups of performing artists that I have ever seen.
Some interesting comparisons can be made between the city of Amsterdam and the art of the Bolshoi Ballet. Amsterdam is a city that almost literally floats on the water as ballet dancers seem to float on top of a stage. The canals of Amsterdam, lined with charming old townhouses and beautifully green trees, channel the water into a choreography of artistic and technically formidable landscaping. It is a city of art. Art is everywhere from the world famous museums housing Rembrandts, Vermeers and Van Goghs, to the artistic displays in and around the huge windows of the houses, to the colorful individuality in dress and attitude of the folks who live here. Especially noticeable is the creative and colorful dress of the little children.
In a city that seems to almost magically float along the ever present glittering world of choreographed waterways, the Bolshoi Ballet brought its own display of artistic splendor.
The first thing that I usually feel when the curtain goes up on a Bolshoi production is an artistic essence. The art of ballet dancing and ballet expression is like their home, their world. They seem as comfortable and as natural in it as we are sitting in our own living rooms. The dancers seem to radiate an aura, an unspoken and innocently honest declaration--'that they are in fact---ballet !'
One of the initially interesting things about this Yuri Gregorovich production is that the two lead dancers, first Prince Siegfried and then Odette-Odile, are introduced in a flash, no fanfare or preparation at all. The curtain goes up and there is Siegfried dancing away almost immediately. You are not really sure who he is at first. The same with Odette. A group of white swan dancers appear in an instant and in the next instant one of them, Odette, is dancing by herself. I sometimes have wondered if this was a gesture to the Soviet ideal of the equality of all individuals. There seem to be other such gestures that I have noticed in Soviet videos, such as the very famous Maya Plisetskaya, dancing the very important "Swan Lake" pas de deux, being partially filmed from the back of the stage with the corps de ballet of swans taking up most of the picture.
In any case what is very interesting and in a way very challenging in this "Swan Lake" is that these lead performers have to start out immediately on their own. There is hardly any time for them to receive any early applause or recognition that could give them some initial support. One of the best at this, as I have witnessed several times, is Nadezhda Gracheva. She appears and after a few seconds there is no doubt that she is going to be brilliant for the entire performance and she is!
The entire Bolshoi company seems like this as well. The curtain goes up and within a few seconds their world of artistic surety and splendor is completely established.
The Odette-Odiles, that I saw, each have their own distinct and wonderful qualities, which I have referred to above, and hope to write more about further on. The main point for the moment is that they are the essence of this ballet and they each performed magnificently!
The Princes (Siegfrieds) are the basic support that enable the ballerinas to shine. As in Birmingham several years ago, I would say that the men performed about equally well and very well. They are all graceful dancers, offering solid support to the ballerinas with very pleasant highlights and personalities of their own. I thought that Ruslan Skvortsov did a particularly fine job in the demanding final performance (end of season, seven "Swan Lakes" in five days, four of them in the last two days) with excellent high airy jumps, smooth, clean turns and a fine sense of togetherness and sensitivity in all his final dancing and portraying.
The Corps De Ballet Of Swans
This women's corps de ballet is an unquestioned thing of beauty. It is both a foundation for the luminous central activity of the principal dancers and a marvelously beautiful presence in itself. In their radiantly gorgeous white ballet dresses they became both magnificent objects of flowing, glowing imagery from another dimension and loving, gently soulful human beings. As the Act I white swans, they floated across the stage with their back legs held out straight in delicately lovely arabesque positions. They framed all the central activity by reaching out, gesturing and gracefully modeling themselves into creations of artistically divined imagery.
The Bolshoi's corps de ballet of swans' dancing, that begins the final Act, is for me some of the most beautiful and enchanting dancing in all of ballet. I really wanted to count exactly how many swan dancers were on stage, but for the entire five performances I was so entranced by their dancing that I had no wish to look outside of the enchantment that they were creating, even for a second.
I hope to be able to describe some the excellent performing of each of the lead ballerinas, the Jester, the male dancers in general, the prince's friends, the character dancers and more at another time.
[some minor editing]
Last edited by Buddy on Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.