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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:41 am 
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Hi Willie, and welcome to the Mariinsky forum if I have not previously welcomed you :-)
I am sorry I didn't know you were here on Sunday night, I could have said hello!

I think regarding Ratmansky you are either a fan or not... his choreography is rather specific and like everything, not to everyone's tastes. But that is OK...as you've noted you can still admire the production.

Have you seen Boris Eifman's version of the same ballet? It ends with the same train coming at the audience...I find that a chillingly effective finish, tragic as it is...

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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:58 pm 
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Willie, I hope that we can hear more about your visit.

Thanks again, Catherine, for your ongoing fine reviews. I still haven't had a chance to get to your Anna Karenina report. If I, for one, can't be there, then it's wonderful to at least be able to read about it all.

I'm glad to hear that Alisa Sodoleva is being recognized. I'm not at all familiar with her, but as one of the three Shades at the Vladimir Shklyarov evening of this year's Festival she really caught my attention with her beautiful dancing.

It's always good to hear about Oxana Skorik and Anastasia Kolegova. Oxana Skorik has such a beautifully refined essence, that I always see her as being someone very special. I'm glad to hear that she handled her fouette spins and balances so well in the Don Quixote Grand Pas. I'm sure that you recall how remarkably well she did with her single, then single with leg straight out to the side, then double fouette spin combinations at her very fine Festival gala performance of the seemingly very demanding yet highly entertaining Grand Pas Classique.

Anastasia Kolegova, for me, is simply an onstage sweetheart (hopefully in real life as well). I can't help smiling warmly whenever she performs. She is also an exceptionally fine dancer. I would love to see her take on the Siren (Prodigal Son) after having seen Teresa Reichlen's (NYCB) *delightful* interpretation last year in St. Petersburg. I can strongly visualize Vladimir Ponomorev, as the father, lifting his returned son off the ground with a one arm embrace like some mythical giant. The man is amazing.

Other names that you mentioned, such as Nadezhda Batoeva and Oxana Marchuk, are not familiar to me. The Mariinsky seems to grow great artists like apples on a tree. Hopefully with the addition of the new theater all these remarkable performers will have much more of a chance to be seen and appreciated.

Elena Evseyeva was a new and wonderful discovery as Kitri (Don Quixote) at the Festival. I don't recall seeing Diana and Acteon since the Mariinsky was in New York about six years ago. I remember Viktoria Tereshkina performing at least one different lead each night and this must have been included. Kim Kimin is simply someone to marvel at.

So many other great names and such a pleasure to be able to hear about them all.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:52 am 
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Anna Karenina is one of my favorite novels, and even though Ratmansky gets some of the mood right for the ballet, I actually think something is missing in his ballet. Levin as a main character is missing (he's in the ballet but barely), but I could accept that......but somehow I do not feel it shows the insecurity of Anna's relationship to Vronsky the way the novel does at the end, and the chapter in which she kills herself is shockingly modern. She is literally going out of her mind viewing everyone and everything around her as "hateful." It almost made me laugh because her sense of reality has totally been warped by her emotions and possibly opium addiction. So her suicide is actually a culmination of her state of mind, whereas I felt the ballet did not depict her pain and mental state as escalating. But that is my personal opinion. I admit it would be very hard to do this, but I do think it could have been done somehow.

I think this novel is probably the hardest thing to turn into a ballet or opera. I saw an opera version several years ago that I considered a flop. It tried to include the Levin story (in the novel Levin is just as important as Anna Karenina....the two are polar opposites...she is the new modern woman trying to find her way in a traditional society and he is sort of the family man doing things the old fashioned way and ends up happy while she kills herself). I think Tolstoy was purposely juxtaposing the two characters. It is important that Anna kills herself by throwing herself between train cars (the book's version had her doing that instead of in front of the train). Industrialization and modernization is seen by Tolstoy (my interpretation) as killing society, and society is not ready for the changes (like a woman leaving her husband for a lover) that are coming. So this imbalance in change and unpreparedness for the change leads Anna to kill herself.

But a ballet or opera would need to be about 4 hours long to do the novel justice, and most people do not want a 4 hour long ballet. So Ratmansky's ballet has to move from one scene to the next constantly in order to tell the story and it still leaves Levin as a minor character when he is a major character in the book. In fact, the book could be titled Levin! But the Anna Karenina half of the story is the more exciting portion, so I understand an opera or a ballet dwelling mainly on Anna and relegating Levin to a minor role. It removes some depth to the story, but it is normal to do this.

I just felt Anna (in the ballet) was not shown as traumatized enough to end her life. If I had not read the book before I think I would be like, "Why did she commit suicide?" whereas in the book you saw how her mental state was breaking down.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:38 am 
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PenneallaNorma, to some extent I agree with you, that the restrictions of time and audience attention span (and budget) put some serious constraints on any choreographer in terms of turning AK into a ballet. I am not sure, but I would venture a guess that this version at least presumes the audience knows the story when they enter the theatre. Because I agree with you that, without that background, much of the libretto (as seen on stage) would not make sense. However, based only on the ballet, I did get the sense that Anna was tortured over her relationship with Vronsky, her betrayal of her husband, and the loss of connection with her son. Of course there is no inclusion of reference to opium here, but I think that goes along with the rest of the points that had to be judicially included or excluded in order to retain run time/budget/cohesion. That said, I agree it would be an interesting point to include (to me, this moreso than more of Levin). Simply bc it adds an additional layer to the motivation behind her suicide - not just unhappiness, but a narcotic dependency, and all of the repercussions that entails as a woman of the "new world."

As it is, the ballet is pretty paired down; my impression is that Ratmansky did an excellent job of taking "key moments" or "scenes" and using them symbolically to move the onstage story along. We as the spectators must then form the link between those episodes. No, Levin is not strongly represented. Just to muse for a moment, if he were, we would likely have to add at least 30 mins(?) to the run time, to intersperse more scenes that include his story along with all of the preexisting scenes. And that's just for the one character. I see your concerns...but I suppose to me, those points are not too bothersome because I haven't seen another ballet version of AK that I like as much.

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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:11 am 
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It is true that including Levin would make the ballet longer and might just complicate the story (ballet being mime theater).....like I mentioned, I saw an operatic version in which the composer actually included Levin's story along with Anna's but tried to keep the opera down to 2 hours, and what happened is that I felt like I never got to know who Anna is in his opera since he included too much from the novel and did not concentrate on her. I had no emotional connection to her, b/c she appeared so infrequently and there were no linking scenes that built her pain. You just had to buy into what was happening without any emotion about it which made me want her to hurry up and throw herself onto the train tracks so we could get it over! LOL So including too much of Levin's story will ruin a staged version, but not including much also feels wrong. I really don't know what the answer is.

The novel is a complicated one to depict on the stage, and so I am sure any composer or choreographer has to make huge compromises. For such an important work of world literature I don't think it quite works on stage b/c there is a lot of philosophy in it and so much to think about. Just telling the story does not work, but I doubt there is any way to put across all the different thoughts of all the characters regarding the changes in the world, the peasants and how they work, etc. I think the new movie version got many things right, in my opinion, but it is much easier to tell a story on film than through dance, I suspect.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:39 am 
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Pn, it's true -- it's a huge challenge to tackle any philosophical/psychological story in movement terms, because the means of depicting thoughts are limited. I think especially with classics of this size and depth there are always going to be greater challenges in staging them in ballet form just due to their essence.

That's interesting about the opera version (which sounds like *it* should have been called "Levin"!) It seems like that one swung too far in the other direction. The balance is really hard to find, no question about it...

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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 4:36 am 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
....it's a huge challenge to tackle any philosophical/psychological story in movement terms, because the means of depicting thoughts are limited.

I've only been able to follow part of this discussion, but would like to add a personal thought about Alexei Ratmansky. I'm not that familiar with all that he's done. I've seen between five and ten of his works. Although as you have mentioned, Catherine, "it's a huge challenge to tackle any philosophical/psychological story in movement terms" and although Alexei Ratmansky, himself, has played down his ability to do this, he does handle the "philosophical/psychological" in as 'Interesting' a manner as I've yet seen in dance. He has one of the finest abilities that I've noticed to take his choreography into so many dimensions at one time. His "Russian Seasons", as performed by the Bolshoi in London a few years ago, fascinated me with how he appeared to touch on 'Everything'. His focus seemed to shift from dance technique, to a fleeting thought, to deep introspection, and on and on, in little more than a moment's time.

Another example comes from the internet video clips of Alina Somova and Alexander Sergeyev performing his version of "Cinderella". Again brilliant and fascinating "philosophical/psychological" expression to be found here. Once instance is when Alina Somova, out of nowhere, pantomimes some of her intense feelings about her past. Later in a different situation, Alexander Sergeyev repeats, for an instant, some of those same hand gestures in a highly emotional and sympathetic yet totally subconscious response.

I would hope to see much more of Alexei Ratmansky's work to enjoy how he deals with representing the "philosophical/psychological" as well as pure abstract dance and everything in-between, which I think that he can do so brilliantly.

Added comment:

Catherine, in a previous thought you said, "....my impression is that Ratmansky did an excellent job of taking "key moments" or "scenes" and using them symbolically to move the onstage story along. We as the spectators must then form the link between those episodes."

This perception seems somewhat similar to what I'm trying to express.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:32 am 
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Let me stretch this discussion somewhat. Some of it has focussed on how Alexei Ratmansky captures the essence of the novel. This is a perfectly valid discussion with some excellent points having been made.

I tend to sometimes take a different approach in my ballet viewing. I often try to relate totally to what I see happening in front of me. My post above tends to illustrate that. I know nothing about the novel Anna Karenina except perhaps for what I learned from the ballet. What I do relate to is what Alexei Ratmansky has literally put in front of our eyes. I'm not trying to negate any of the previous discussion, but simply to offer another point of view and perhaps clarify the nature of my above post somewhat.

Alexei Ratmansky's great talent, for me, is in the artistic merit of what is happening before our eyes, and here he often succeeds remarkably well from my point of view.

Let me bring in another choreographer, George Balanchine. I'm having a love affair and a great fascination with how the Mariinsky has been handling his works in the last few years. Again I try to deal with what is literally happening in front of me. I don't try too hard to make direct comparisons between what George Balanchine actually staged (as seen in videos) or performances by companies much closer to his direct legacy, such as the New York City Ballet or The Miami City Ballet. There can be great differences.

I hope this doesn't sound snide, but if the Mariinsky wants to make George Balanchine feel like Giselle, I'm loving it, based on what I've been seeing. (I certainly do not mean to imply that the Mariinsky wants to make Balanchine like Giselle or that anyone else sees it this way. It's simply my expression of delight).

I've been watching various Balanchine performances on the internet lately and I really enjoy the genius of it all in the-close-to-the-source interpretations, such as Jacques d'Amboise' (and the other included artists') performance of Apollo. The genius and power here is wonderful. Then I watch the Mariinsky's dreamy, lyrical interpretations and as far away as they 'sometimes might seem' from George Balanchine's original intent or the 'authentic thing' the beauty of what the Mariinsky does can almost bring tears to my eyes. I've been watching a few video clips of Zhanna Ayupova doing Balanchine. She's a Gem ! So different from other close-to-the-source interpretations and still so remarkably beautiful. One clip can be found on the internet under the title of "Igor Stravinsky: Apollo….". In this gala performance with artists from several companies, including the NYCB, you can make some very interesting and lovely comparisons of styles and interpretations.

Again, what I'm trying to say here, besides expressing my admiration and intense interest in what the Mariinsky is doing with Balanchine, is that when I focus as completely as possible on what is in front of me and not necessarily on where it came from or what it should be, I've received some immense enjoyment !

And again, I want to express my sincere respect and appreciation for all the other points of view that have been offered here.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 1:29 pm 
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I wanted to clarify. I never meant to say that the Ratmansky Anna Karenina is all wrong b/c it does not follow the book. I agree that a work of art based on another is its own work of art. I was just pointing some issues out.

This is the root of why most people get angry at a movie version of a beloved book (in this case a ballet version). They know the book well and have a vision of it in their minds, so when someone dares to make a movie version they hate it. But they fail to realize that the movie is a separate work of art that a movie director is creating. No artist (and movie directors consider themselves artists and tell the story in their own way) wants to simply have a script handed with exact details of what to film and how to film it. Each director wants artistic freedom and usually base their new work of art on a novel. They are not trying to take the exact same story and transfer it on the screen.

I did not mean for my comments to mean that Ratmansky did not follow the novel and so it is crap. I actually did say that he captured some of the mood of the novel and I gave credit that it is probably an impossible novel to truly do justice through ballet. It probably is the best ballet version of AK so far. I have not seen them all. But my personal opinion is that I was hoping for a little more step by step increase in Anna's psychological state.

But maybe for someone who has not read the book her anguish and pain do come across. I have no idea. I am prejudiced in my perception due to the book. My knowledge of the novel made it very hard to view it as a totally separate work. I am guilty of doing what book lovers do when they see a movie version of their favorite book.

I also agree that the Mariinsky does Balanchine well despite what many people say. It has a less American look to it, but I actually think that is a positive. I think Balanchine would have loved to have worked with today's Mariinsky dancers and would have changed his ballets to suit them if he felt the need to, but I could be wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 2:35 pm 
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Hollywood in the 30's and 40's used to make a lot of movies that really made folks smile. They were innocent, had a lot of intelligence and were absolutely charming. The Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies might be one example.

One of these was about the life of George Gershwin. He later said something to the effect that 'there wasn't a moment of truth in the entire movie !'. Still my impression was that he was delighted anyway because it was well crafted, made him look great and made folks feel good.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 5:30 pm 
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PenneallaNorma wrote:
I think Balanchine would have loved to have worked with today's Mariinsky dancers and would have changed his ballets to suit them if he felt the need to, but I could be wrong.

Very interesting thought.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:43 am 
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:D The first part of the collective maternity leave at Mariinsky Ballet has been successfully completed:

Victoria Tereshkina - with a daughter,
Alina Somova - with a daughter,
Anastasia Matvienko - with a daughter,
Yana Selina - with twin boys!

CONGRATULATIONS TO HAPPY MOTHERS AND FATHERS!
BEST WISHES TO THE NEWBORN BABIES!

And best wishes to the Mums' eventual return to their roles. The theatre needs them.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:26 am 
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Soutenu wrote:
:D The first part of the collective maternity leave at Mariinsky Ballet has been successfully completed:

Victoria Tereshkina - with a daughter,
Alina Somova - with a daughter,
Anastasia Matvienko - with a daughter,
Yana Selina - with twin boys!

CONGRATULATIONS TO HAPPY MOTHERS AND FATHERS!
BEST WISHES TO THE NEWBORN BABIES!

And best wishes to the Mums' eventual return to their roles. The theatre needs them.

:D

Some may become greater artists because of this, as is the case with Svetlana Zakharova, in my opinion. More important, all will hopefully be loving and happy mothers.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:41 am 
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Soutenu wrote:
And best wishes to the Mums' eventual return to their roles. The theatre needs them.


All of them? :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2012-2013 (230th) season
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:01 am 
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PenneallaNorma wrote:
I wanted to clarify. I never meant to say that the Ratmansky Anna Karenina is all wrong b/c it does not follow the book. I agree that a work of art based on another is its own work of art. I was just pointing some issues out.

This is the root of why most people get angry at a movie version of a beloved book (in this case a ballet version). They know the book well and have a vision of it in their minds, so when someone dares to make a movie version they hate it. But they fail to realize that the movie is a separate work of art that a movie director is creating. No artist (and movie directors consider themselves artists and tell the story in their own way) wants to simply have a script handed with exact details of what to film and how to film it. Each director wants artistic freedom and usually base their new work of art on a novel. They are not trying to take the exact same story and transfer it on the screen.

I did not mean for my comments to mean that Ratmansky did not follow the novel and so it is crap. I actually did say that he captured some of the mood of the novel and I gave credit that it is probably an impossible novel to truly do justice through ballet. It probably is the best ballet version of AK so far. I have not seen them all. But my personal opinion is that I was hoping for a little more step by step increase in Anna's psychological state.

But maybe for someone who has not read the book her anguish and pain do come across. I have no idea. I am prejudiced in my perception due to the book. My knowledge of the novel made it very hard to view it as a totally separate work. I am guilty of doing what book lovers do when they see a movie version of their favorite book.

I also agree that the Mariinsky does Balanchine well despite what many people say. It has a less American look to it, but I actually think that is a positive. I think Balanchine would have loved to have worked with today's Mariinsky dancers and would have changed his ballets to suit them if he felt the need to, but I could be wrong.


No worries on my end, I understood your comments, and think they're insightful. And I happen to agree with you about Balanchine at the Mariinsky - it's a horse of a different color. Hard core Balanchineans get up in arms at it -- except for perhaps two or three dancers inside the MT, as a sweeping generalization they can't do "off balance" well bc they're not trained in it and even now haven't really absorbed that concept -- so you can't go into it expecting to see NYCB. As long as you don't expect that, you' wont be disappointed. That's my two cents :-)

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