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 Post subject: What the Critics Said
PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:54 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1638
Location: London UK
London’s ballet critics have nothing good to say about the Mikhailovsky Spartacus, a classic case of how divergent their views are from audience reaction. Seeing the ballet for the second time on Wednesday, the packed house was even noisier than the first night and punctuated by loud bravos throughout. A large number of balletomanes that had gone the night before had turned up for a second viewing because they had enjoyed themselves so much the first time around. As far as I could make out the detractors (not that many) didn’t like the ballet because it wasn’t Grigorovich. Anyway, here’s what the critics had to say, though it appears not to have been reviewed by the Guardian.

The Financial Times
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2ace28f8-5999 ... 07658.html

The Times
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 385162.ece

The Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jh ... cus123.xml

The Independent
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 76662.html

And finally.......
The Evening Standard (scroll down for the more realistic readers reviews at the end)
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/s ... d=23519466

I love reading Sarah Frater's reviews - they are always full of unintentional howlers.

Quote:
It obviously bares only passing resemblance to the story of the Spartan slave revolt,


Here she confuses gladiators with Spartans. Gladiators were people who in the ancient world were members of subjugated nations bought and sold and forced to kill one another in the arena for the amusement of the ruling Romans. Spartans were members of a militaristic Greek City State who enjoyed waging war with other Greeks but were a spent force by the time of the events in the ballet.

Not at all sure what a shenbang is though, shebang is the word she’s after I think. Her other spelling mistake is wittily picked up by a reader.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 12:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:54 pm
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Location: Sacramento, CA
Cassandra,

Remember what I said on another topic here about the disconnect between reviewers and the actual viewing audience? It appears that is the case here AGAIN in terms of reviewer reaction and the real audience reaction to Spartak. :roll: This is why I often take "professional" reviews with a big block of salt in many cases.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:44 am 
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Location: London UK
Couldn't agree more Sacto, by the way I've just added to the thread you refer to. Perhaps you would like to comment on what the critics think of the Internet here.

http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewt ... 400#194400


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 Post subject: Giselle
PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:37 am 
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Location: London UK
Giselle
Mikhailovsky Ballet
Coliseum, London
25th July 2008


The second ballet of the brief Mikhailovsky London season was Giselle in a production by Nikita Dolgushin. The curtain rose on a beautifully designed conventional setting for a first act that was far easier on the eye than many others I’ve seen, indeed good design seems to be a prime element of this company. The costumes also looked good with Giselle’s traditional blue dress mercifully not the usual floaty chiffon number so beloved by other Russian companies that is so ludicrously inappropriate for a peasant girl’s daily grab, though perhaps Bathilde’s outfit was a little bit over-elaborate to go hunting in on the damp days of autumn.

Dolgushin claims to have gone back to the original Paris version for this production and there are some interesting differences but I missed the mime scene with Giselle’s mother as there is now no way of knowing that Wilis lurk in the dark and that Giselle has a weak constitution. On the other hand I loved the final scene of Giselle disappearing into the foliage rather than being carried back to her grave by Albrecht, a lift entrenched in tradition but lacking in dramatic logic.

The two leading roles were danced by the husband and wife team of Anastasia and Denis Matvienko, fresh from their respective triumphs in Spartacus, a greater contrast in roles could hardly be imagined but the Matvienkos are nothing if not versatile. I was deeply impressed by the Giselle of Anastasia who only a couple of days before had given a definitive display of ancient Roman vulgarity with her feet slamming against her ears and diving fearlessly into a moosh pit of hunky Roman soldiery. Her Giselle was remarkable for being so well balanced, too many Giselles impress with their acting in the first act or their dancing in the second but seldom both, however this was a Giselle that you could believe in both as a young girl in love and as an insubstantial ghost. Anastasia Matvienko is a relatively tall girl who put me a little in mind of Karen Kane; she has a beautiful line and is acutely responsive to the music, is a natural actress and creates a character you believe in. She appeared to be taking risks in the mad scene, beginning almost as a branch that had snapped in half, standing upright to the waist with her torso and arms hanging to the floor, but her unusual approach worked well with the onlookers experiencing a sense of disbelief at the drama played out in front of them.

Denis Matvienko is an extrovert, ideal for the heroics of Spartacus or for the broad humour of a Basilio, but I had no idea what to expect from him in the role of Albrecht. Actually he was very good; a natural actor, he impresses from the moment he comes on stage with an air of aristocratic authority, impatiently dismissing his squire who anxiously points to his ring finger to remind him he isn’t a free agent (a nice touch that). This Albrecht is used to being obeyed and getting what he wants, but he turns into a very different type of man when he is with Giselle who has the power to turn him into the tenderest of lovers.

As Giselle transformed Anastasia Matvienko was simply lovely and in the pose where she bends her knee before Myrthe with her hands crossed on her breast, her resemblance to Olga Spessivtseva from the familiar photograph in profile was quite remarkable. Anastasia has excellent ballon to match her easy jetés and although six o’clock extensions are part of her dance vocabulary, she doesn’t employ them in this ballet and adheres strictly to the romantic style. The technical demands of this act are as nothing to Mr Matvienko and he endeared himself to me by eschewing the now too frequently performed series of entrechat six introduced by Nureyev and performing the original variation instead. It goes without saying that this couple has an outstanding rapport but the emotional intensity of their reunion and the poignancy of the final parting was heart rending to watch.

Of the other major roles Sabina Yapparova and her husband Andrei Yakhnyuk, both very familiar to U.K. audiences from their years touring Britain with St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, danced a near perfect Peasant pas de deux in the first act and in the second, Irina Kosheleva was a cold relentless Myrthe and Alexander Omar a sullen resentful Hilarion (here called simply ‘The Gamekeeper’) who in this version is actually required to dance to death rather then just being shoved into the wings.

The moonlit glade of the second act was beautifully lit and for once you didn’t have to strain your eyes peering through the gloom to appreciate the dancing. This was the opportunity to assess the Mikhailovsky’s female corps and they were not found wanting, beautifully schooled and with every girl in character the applause they received throughout the act was richly deserved. The production details were excellent with the leading dancers’ veils suddenly disappearing into the foliage and with a wili flying convincingly overhead. All in all, this was a Giselle to treasure.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:52 am 
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Location: London UK
Le Halte de Cavalerie, Divertissements and Paquita
Mikhailovsky Ballet
Coliseum, London
27th July 2008


For their final London programme the Mikhailovsky Ballet presented us with some of the gems of their back catalogue. I had only seen Le Halte de Cavalerie before in the form of an extended pas de deux, so the opportunity of seeing this one act work by Petipa was something to look forward to. You wouldn’t easily guess that this ballet was choreographed by Petipa as the emphasis on character dancing and lack of lifts, put one in mind of Bournonville, in fact I even spotted one of those open-armed jetés that are almost the signature step of Bournonville’s oeuvre. The story line is simple: two girls, Maria ( Anastasia Lomachenkova) and Teresa (Olga Semyonova) , are rivals for the affections of country boy Peter (Anton Ploom) and are squaring up to one another when a troop of soldiers arrives with the intention of putting up in the village. They are very attracted to the girls and the Colonel, played with comic genius by Andrei Bregvadze, proves there’s no fool like an old fool in his pursuit of Teresa. In the end the chocolate soldiers depart and Peter and Maria pair off together. This ballet was very much the highpoint of the afternoon as I doubt that many had ever seen the work in its entirety. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Mikhailovsky Ballet for bringing it to London.

The central divertissements also included some rarities starting with The Fairy Doll, a ballet that was first seen not in Russia but in Austria I believe. Danced to toy town music by prolific ballet composer Josef Bayer, it is undeniably cute with tiny Sabina Yapparova in a pink powder puff of a tutu being courted by two Pierrots attempting to woo her with very impressive displays of technique. This was followed by The Dragonfly; a solo danced by Anna Zhuravlova which I presume is based on the famous piece that Pavlova used to dance. Certainly Zhuravlova wore a costume that seemed an exact facsimile of Pavlova’s, but the programme notes offered no information about the work.

Esmeralda, a slightly more familiar number, came next in the scene where Esmeralda pines for the handsome Phoebus while the poet Pierre Gringoire, who is in love with her, tries fruitlessly to distract her. Ekaterina Borchenko was the sorrowing Esmeralda with Nikolai Korypaev as long-suffering Pierre. Both danced well as did the tambourine-bashing girls who formed the small corps de ballet.

The pas de trois known as the Ocean and the Pearls is from the divertissement that forms part of a journey to the sea-bed undertaken by the hero, Ivan in that very Russian ballet, Little Humpbacked Horse. Andrei Yakhnyuk, a dancer I used to think rather self effacing, seems to have developed a far greater sense of self-assurance since joining the Mikhailovsky Company. In his role of The Ocean he demonstrated new-found aplomb when an unfortunate error on his part was quickly rectified and he danced the rest of the piece very well. His two pearls were his off-stage wife, Sabina Yapparova and Anna Zhuravlyova, both of whom danced with considerable charm.

I think a lot of people in the audience were seeing Messerer’s Spring Waters pas de deux for the first time as there were some audible gasps for the spectacular double work. As danced by the very watchable Irina Perren and Marat Shemiunov it is easy to understand how this Soviet showpiece has earned its show-stopping status. I’m told there was a time when the piece was routinely encored, but there was no repeat on this occasion, more because encores are considered a thing of the past than the quality of the dancing on display; however it is a tradition I’d like to see restored.

Although it wasn’t listed in the programme, the final piece in the diverts section was the ever-popular pas de deux from Le Corsaire danced by the Matvienkos. Denis Matvienko’s thrilling performance in this work is well known to London audiences and he demonstrated yet again that virtuosity is his middle name but Anastasia isn’t far behind her husband when it comes to dazzling technique as her strong fouettés were absolutely on the spot until almost the end of the sequence when she strayed a little. All the same it was a remarkable display and I’m really warming to this dancer who possesses a rare degree of versatility to match her fine dancing and winning personality.

The final ballet was Paquita led by Ekaterina Borchenko and Marat Shemiunov, it is a good choice for rounding off any performance with its succession of beautifully choreographed solos and my only disappointment was that the pas de trois wasn’t included on this occasion. Each of the girls danced well and with confidence but I regret that individual names were not published on the cast sheet. Shemiunov was out of his depth in this though. A very striking dancer in other roles, he didn’t have the right bearing for Paquita and held his upper body as stiff as a board, a classic case of miscasting as this dancer had impressed in so much else in the company’s season.

It was a great pity that this hitherto unfamiliar company paid us such a fleeting visit, but London took the Mikhailovsky dancers to its heart so I’m hoping it won’t be long before the company returns, when they do they will be assured of a very warm welcome.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:27 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
I agree, Cassandra, a terrific mixed bill and a full house for a Sunday afternoon in the Coliseum, London's largest theatre. I did not expect to enjoy "Le Halte de Cavalerie", but I willingly gave myself up to its pantomime style due to the élan of the performances.


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