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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:19 pm 
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Catherine, thank you for all your insights. But where can we have a look at the recent interviews you have mentioned ? I would really like to read what Obraztsova and others have to say at present.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:41 pm 
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Hi Azulynn,

As I'm the Petersburg correspondent for Dance Europe magazine, based out of London, you can find my articles in the issues of that magazine.

My review of the Mikhailovsky and Mariinsky spring festivals was in the May issue. My interview with Marcelo Gomes was also in the May issue.

My interview with Alexei Ratmansky appeared in the June issue, whose table of content pages can be seen here in PDF:
http://www.danceeurope.net./site/issues/130.pdf


My review of the film 'Ballerina" (with interviews from Obratsova and the others in the film) should appear in the July issue.

Individual issues and subscriptions can be ordered online via: http://www.danceeurope.net./site/current.shtml


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 11:36 pm 
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I've been holding my tongue for a few weeks now, but I have to say something about the tourist audiences here recently. This happens every summer, and the rest of the year I realize I manage some feat of Freudian blockage because I forget about it until summer comes again. But this year seems particularly bad.

The composition of the audiences in June changes from 85% locals to 85% tourists this time of year, which is understandable. The frustrating part is what it means for the artists. In the past two weeks, more times than i can count, leading big name ballerinas have entered the stage to total silence (unwelcomed by the warm initial applause that greets them when locals fill the hall). Countless dancers have offered stunning execution --by that I mean pulling off five or six pirouettes, finishing en releve in time to the music, as one example-- only to be met --again-- by silence. Worse, during their reverences, the applause have stopped (again in almost every single case, every single ballet, every performer, every variation) before the dancer even makes it into the wing.

I dont know about traditions in the West but here this is a sign of dissatisfaction with the artist and performance as a whole. It's the polite "i've had enough of you, so I'm not applauding for more than 10 seconds, I can't be bothered."

The flip side of this also goes into effect -- artists who are generally disliked by the Petersburg educated viewers, because (for example), they are past their prime, or (for example) in a specific performance maybe have an off night and are not quite delivering, these performers are greeted with applause and bravos and warm reception. (!!)

The entire thing is like Alice in Wonderland. It's driving me crazy. It is also a shock to see first-hand just how uneducated the non-balletomane audience is out there. And that is frightening for this art form that we all know and love.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 5:23 am 
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Catherine,

I think a lot of people forget that the mentality of the Russian audience and foreign audience can be quite different, to say the least. I remember seeing a movie at a theater in Japan and I couldn't believe how how amazingly quiet the audience was compared to an American movie audience.

In short, it will be VERY interesting to see how the audience reacts to the new production of Shurale. Will it be very different than the reaction to the new production of Konyok Gorbunok back at the Mariinsky Ballet Festival earlier this year?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:12 am 
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hi Sacto,

The answer is simple. If the composition of the audience is mostly Russian, the reception will be *appropriate* for the names, faces, and efforts of those on stage.

With new productions the Russian audience is not just blindly supportive (actually they never are). But when effort is made, or a name ballerina appears, that is *always* recognized. My hope is that tonight the audience will be filled with an older generation who may have seen this decades ago. In that case, the applause will be more forthcoming.

If the audience is mostly tourists, I expect to be able to hear pins drop. Again.

I will find out in under two hours!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:07 am 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
My hope is that tonight the audience will be filled with an older generation who may have seen this decades ago. In that case, the applause will be more forthcoming.


I'm not even sure if the current Russian audience will appreciate Shurale, either--especially if this ballet hasn't been performed several decades. We're talking about a ballet that only very possibly old balletomanes could remember actually being performed live on stage. Hopefully, the "regular" Russian audience will be the majority in this audience and will appreciate it more--I hope!

I mean, think about it--when Alexei Ratmansky did the "new" version of The Flames of Paris the audience reaction among old-time Russian balletomanes was pretty mixed, especially those old enough to remember Vassily Vainonen's original version! It's this historical disconnect that could make it difficult for anyone to revive The Bronze Horseman ballet, even if they have to use the more popular Bolshoi version.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 1:43 pm 
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Sacto, there is no way to restore the original Bronze Horseman -- there are no films of the entire ballet, no notes of the entire ballet, and most cast members who dance in it have passed. Speaking to a pedagogue about this recently she bemoaned its loss and pointed out the ONLY way it could be restored is if someone remembered parts of it from dancing it themselves.

Based on my five years' residency and attendance at the Mariinsky Theatre, I can tell you that the Russian audience appreciates any part of their heritage renewed. Tonight's audience attested to that, but there are countless other examples. It is endlessly frustrating to me when people make comments otherwise.

Also, you cannot compare a revival of an old ballet, to a NEW choreographer restaging an old ballet. The two are apples an oranges.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 3:01 pm 
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By the way, how was the performance of Shurale tonight? :) I know you'll write up a full review for Dance Europe magazine, but hopefully the audience will be full of older Russian balletomanes who remember the original performances and appreciate its revival. (By the way, I was able to see a few snippets of the premiere performance online and as usual Yevgenia Obraztsova performed wonderfully. 8) )

As for The Bronze Horseman, does a complete musical score still exist? If such a thing still exists, it might be possible to create a "new" choreography for this ballet that keeps the "spirit" of the original version. (This is not as blasphemous as some people might think, either; the Petipa/Ivanov choreography for the 1895 Swan Lake revival has almost nothing to do with the original Julius Reisinger 1876 version. Even Le Corsaire got drastically changed several times during Petipa's time with the Imperial Ballet, and drastically changed even more during the 20th Century.)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:38 am 
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Shourale was amazing. The production is a cohesive whole, very professional, very well executed. Obratsova was delightful (as always). Matvienko danced Ali Batyr (her prince) and Sasha Sergeyev was absolutely over the top as Shourale, in a moss-covered green unitard. His low slithers and high jumps really proved what a range he has onstage. The choreography for his role alone is quite gymnastic and there is more than one good guy/bad guy "fight" which entailed Matvienko lifting Sergeyev or vice versa. Jacobsen was revolutionary for his time!

If it were not for the complicated sets (with moving tree branches, and a realistic forest fire at the end) I would suggest they tour this. I confess I had my doubts going into it -- how interesting could *another* bird-turns-human ballet be? But it is so unlike Swan Lake in every way (except for the happy ending). It is also a very interesting commentary on human psychology. But I will leave that for my review, or for anyone who wnats to discuss it offline.

IN sum, if you are flying to Petersburg this year, plan to attend one of the fall performances of Shourale, (it is already scheduled, I think for October?) it is worth the price of the flight!


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 Post subject: The Panovs
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 2:58 am 
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Quote:
Sacto, there is no way to restore the original Bronze Horseman -- there are no films of the entire ballet, no notes of the entire ballet, and most cast members who dance in it have passed. Speaking to a pedagogue about this recently she bemoaned its loss and pointed out the ONLY way it could be restored is if someone remembered parts of it from dancing it themselves.


If the Kirov management wanted to they could call on the memories of Galina (Ragozina) Panov and Valery Panov as it was something of a signature work for them. Both are still young enough to have clear recollections but I imagine politics would prevent that from happening.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:14 am 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
If it were not for the complicated sets (with moving tree branches, and a realistic forest fire at the end) I would suggest they tour this. I confess I had my doubts going into it -- how interesting could *another* bird-turns-human ballet be? But it is so unlike Swan Lake in every way (except for the happy ending). It is also a very interesting commentary on human psychology. But I will leave that for my review, or for anyone who wnats to discuss it offline.


We live in the age jumbo jet freighters--they could easily assemble a second set for a travelling tour and fit the "whole kit and kaboodle" in a single 747 freighter for shows in western Europe or even the eastern USA (I think the set could fit inside the Metropolitan Opera House's main stage). If my recollections are correct, during the Soviet era the Bolshoi Theatre used An-22 Antei freighter airplanes (they're the largest turboprop transport planes ever built) to move complete sets for their ballet and opera troupes for their western European performances.

I had a chance to see online an old Soviet-era movie of Shurale and yes, I want to see it live on-stage, too. 8)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 7:44 am 
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Thanks so much for your insights, Catherine! :)

Well, if the smallish Leningrad-Petersburg company, Choreographic Miniatures of Askold Makarov, could tour to EGYPT with a Shurale -- where I first saw this gem of a ballet live ca 1990 -- then the Mariinsky should certainly be able to do so too. The touring production had a simplified fire scene (glow of lights, rather than real flames) and not as many trees but it certainly packed a punch at the Cairo Opera House back in '90. Standing o's every night.

Not every new production has to resort to the overly-simple cut-out boxes and circles of Ratmansy's otherwise lovely Humpbacked Horse.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 12:00 pm 
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Sacto, I hear you, but there has to be more to it, or they would be touring several full-length ballets more than they do... It could be cost or the (foreign) stage dimensions or both. I see the size of the trucks that haul the opera sets in and out... so I have no idea.

Natalia, there is an exhibition now of Askold's mother (?) Ninella Petrovna in the bel etage level "walkabout" including her old costumes and tons of photos. Very beautiful dancer!

I do not know how they did it in this fire scene as I wasn't backstage to observe, but it really was impressive. No real flames, but they did have smoke (or fog, that looked like smoke) that began the scene -- and then lights and fans on waving fabrics, all aglow in red and orange. It was extremely effective. But I digress. I suppose a "dimmed down" version of sets would work for touring purposes. The main thing here is the choreography, which is just so refreshing. Natalia, I am even more sorry you couldn't make it out here bc I would have been curious to hear how these performances compared to what you saw over a decade ago.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 3:37 pm 
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Catherine, I too am sorry to have remained at work. (ugh...)

Actually, Ninel Petrova is the widow of Askold Makarov. She is a lovely short brunnette and was a company coach of Choreographic Miniatures during her husband's tenure. I met her not in Cairo but here in DC during one of the troupe's several tours of the 'U.S. community college circuit' during the late 1990s. During the Jacobson and Makarov Eras, the company used to have a higher quality -- less tacky, tourist- and New Russians-oriented. In recent tours, under current director Yuri Petukhov (ex-Maly star), the ballets performed have mostly veered on the vulgar, 'new Russian' style, e.g., a new Romeo & Juliet with a Queen Mab character in black latex and thigh-high boots. Yuk - to think that this was a serious, highly-esteemed company just 10 years ago.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:02 pm 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
Sacto, I hear you, but there has to be more to it, or they would be touring several full-length ballets more than they do... It could be cost or the (foreign) stage dimensions or both. I see the size of the trucks that haul the opera sets in and out... so I have no idea.


I think MT should ask the people who run Cirque de Soleil about this--they've designed some pretty amazing sets with a LOT of special effects for their travelling tours. The CdS engineers could come up with a system that is just as effective as what you saw last night but portable enough to be used on a travelling tour.

But all in all, it appears that that Shurale--a ballet much beloved by older generations of Russian balletomanes--is back in a big way to entertain the modern generation of balletomanes. At least it's a major refreshing change from the Petipa-choreographed ballets, too.


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