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 Post subject: Yuri Grigorovich's Krasnodarsk Theatre of Opera and Ballet
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:07 am 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
“Spartacus”
Yuri Grigorovich Krasnodar Ballet Theatre
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
02 August 2005
By Catherine Pawlick

It came as somewhat of a surprise that the pinnacle of summertime ballet offerings in St. Petersburg was evidenced not from the Kirov Ballet’s own performances – superb though most of them were – but from the second annual visit of Yuri Grigorovich’s Krasnodar Ballet Theatre. Their two-week stay at the Mariinsky Theatre, August 1-15, while the Kirov is on vacation, included not only repeat performances of Grigorovich’s versions of “The Nutcracker”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Spartacus” which were shown during last year’s St. Petersburg tour, but also “Raymonda”, “Le Corsaire” and “La Bayadere”.

The company is still young. Founded in 1997 with the city of Krasnodar as its base, Grigorovich’s theatre is linked to the main centers of Russian classical ballet – Moscow and St. Petersburg – but far enough away to grow without the pressure present in these larger cities. The ballets he cultivated during his thirty-year tenure at the Bolshoi Ballet remain in his possession and are now a part of his company’s repertoire. He has been called back to the Bolshoi Ballet, to set “Swan Lake, “Raymonda” and his “Legend of Love”. He is also setting ballets at the Paris Opera and holds an all-Russian “Young Ballet of Russia” competition in Krasnodar.

To a sold out house, the August 4 performance of “Spartacus” confirmed Mr. Grigorovich’s position as the sole living Russian choreographer able to create full-length three-act ballets in the classical tradition. His editions of “Raymonda”, “Corsaire” and “Bayadere”, all based on Petipa, attest to his musical and choreographical talent, lest there was any doubt. But ballets such as “Spartacus” are set apart because they are uniquely his, not re-writes of Petipa but complete conceptions with Grigorovich’s signature style seeped into the movements and overall production presentation.

Created first in 1969 for the Bolshoi Ballet, “Spartacus” is set, of course, to Khatchaturian’s powerful score, with period-faithful costumes and scenes that alternate exhibitions of corps de ballet work with soloist “monologues”, the balletic equivalent of an operatic aria, danced by one of the main characters alone on stage.

“Spartacus” contains 21 scenes, divided into three acts. The curtain opens to a backdrop of a stone wall with Greek lettering on it. The distinction between Crassus’ wine-drinking, orgy-engaging upper class debauchery, and the simple love between Spartacus and Frigia among the slaves is achieved within the very first scene. Grigorovich is nothing if not a corps de ballet choreographer, a component of his creative talent that assures his productions such success. Despite a slightly lower level of technical expertise among his corps dancers, the sheer artistry of his choreography (helped in no small part by Khatchaturian’s melodies) glosses over this deficiency. Male slaves and Crassian warriors execute any number of leaps, swords in hand; female slaves kneel to the floor in despair, hands grasped behind their backs as if bound by chains. The effects of his choreography are impressive in their subtlety: he takes the viewer back in time and nothing seems awry. One cannot imagine “Spartacus” done in any other way.

As with most classical troupes, a few leading ballerinas draw the eye, overshadowing –in this performance, with this troupe and these dancers – even the males in technique and drama. (Films suggest that is not the case with former performances of Marius Liepa and Irek Mukhamedov as Crassus and Spartacus, respectively.) Grigorovich’s troupe is no exception. Victoria Luchkina, a perfect, svelte, petite blonde with enviable legs danced Frigia, Spartacus’ lover. Her technique has no faults and her dramatic ability is considerable. Grigorovich’s proclivity to romantic pas de deux gave her room to exhibit both. Her long extensions were beautiful to behold and the depth of her grief in the final scenes echoed the deep emotionality of a Lady Capulet. Luchkina would be an excellent Juliet.

Alla Sivtsova danced the role of Egina, Crassus’ better half. Sivtsova recalled Alla Mikhalchenko’s rendition of the role – elastic, sensual but with a personality as powerful as that of Crassus. Never soft, but always self-assured, Sivtsova also drew attention for her exotic extensions. Only her feet were not supple enough to complete the line at times, but her strength – as witnessed by multiple pirouettes en pointe – compensated.

Both ballerinas have Natalia Bessmertnova’s signature movements embedded within them, but moreso with Luchkina, whose graceful forearms, folded wrists and relaxed fingers lent the role more authenticity rather than detracting from it. The port de bras of Grigorovich’s choreography is classical with a touch of personalization, almost a sub-technique, a style all his own.

The male dancers in Grigorovich’s troupe draw mixed reviews. From films of Marius Liepa in the role of Crassus and Irek Mukhamedov as Spartacus, it is evident that Grigorovich’s men haven’t quite reached the level of their predecessors. As Spartacus, Denis Vladimirov offered an admirable emotional representation even if his lines were marred by a lack of suppleness in his feet. This issue seems epidemic in the company, but even without the feet of Malakov, Vladimirov impressed for his consistency, energy and strength, drawing applause for a sustained overhead one-arm press lift with Luchkina, and his believable rendition of the warrior-slave determined to beat mighty Crassus.

If Spartacus is allowed more dramatic leaps and solo work. Crassus’ role requires more acting and partnering. For the August 4 performance, Crassus was danced by Sergei Barranikov, whose stern, statue-like face indeed recalled the Greeks of 60 B.C. He was entranced by Sivtsova’s strong sexuality and determined (not to mention successful) in his efforts to conquer Spartacus. One received the impression of a cold-hearted, greedy Greek – and in that respect, Barranikov is to be commended. Barranikov and Vladimirov both executed multiple clean pirouettes but with a turned-in retire passé, leading one to believe this was a stylistic part of the choreography rather than a serendipitous trait of the males in the company.

Grigorovich leaves nothing to chance and nothing to outside help. The Symphony Orchestra of the Krasnodarsk Ballet Theatre accompanied the dancers on this tour and was conducted beautifully by Alexander Lavreniuk.

It is a testament to Grigorovich’s talent that even after his 30-year tenure at the Bolshoi, he continues his artistic journey: founding a new young ballet company, directing a national ballet competition, and managing the global Benois de la Danse awards is enough for several hundred people, but Grigorovich manages to do it all, and successfully. That Valeri Gergiev allows him an annual visit to the Mariinsky is a gift to St. Petersburg residents; that the Bolshoi has called him back to restage his own works reflects the prestige and honor he carries in Russia. May the fruits of his artistic labors continue to ripen for years to come.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:24 am 
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Location: London UK
The company is appearing in Cannes, southern France later this month in Spartacus and Don Q.

http://www.palaisdesfestivals.com/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=647


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 7:59 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
That is great news Cassandra! I hope they can make it back to the States soon too!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:50 am 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
The company continues its run here in St. Petersburg until the 15th of August. Below are my initial comments on their "Romeo and Juliet".

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“Romeo and Juliet”
Yuri Grigorovich Krasnodar Ballet Theatre
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
08 August 2005
By Catherine Pawlick

This summer St. Petersburg witnessed several ballet versions of the Shakespeare classic, “Romeo and Juliet”. Last month the Bolshoi Ballet visited, bringing with it Declan Donnelan’s strangely avant-garde interpretation. The Kirov Ballet regularly performs Leonid Lavrovsky’s version in their repertoire. And in August, as part of their two-week visit to St. Petersburg, Yuri Grigorovich’s Krasnodar Ballet Theatre danced a revised version by Grigorovich to a sold out house at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Grigorovich’s version remains, at core, classical, but his main alterations prompt the occasional raised eyebrow, which is rare for most of his rather traditional creations. As in Donnelan’s production, Grigorovich has rearranged the Prokofiev score, and in neither case does it further the dancing, the drama or the storyline. Classics are classics for a reason, but apparently the trend of late to rearrange musical chronology has been too compelling to pass up. The ballet begins to the sword fight music, and only in Act Two does the usual Act One introductory music begin. Other sections are also shuffled about, and the result to a classical balletomane is akin to hearing the alphabet out of order: one wants to put it right again.

In other respects, however, Grigorovich’s changes are pleasing and remain within the realm of classical ballet confines. For every scene, his stage is divided into two sections: a transparent scrim with several steps leading up to a second level separates downstage from upstage. The upstage area is Juliet’s bedroom, then her balcony, part of the townspeople’s thoroughfare, and Friar Lawrence’s church, respectively. Downstage is where nearly all of the action takes place.

For the August 8 performance, Iin Dayune was a love-infected, passionate and feeling-infused Romeo with a floating grand jete and air-filled jumps. His expressions of ecstasy, anger and grief were easily understandable and well projected. Juliet, danced by Anna Zhukova, first greeted the audience in the bedroom scene with her nurse in a knee-length empire waist single-layer of chiffon. The effect made her look pregnant, and was perhaps the sole costuming misjudgment in the production, but her fluid, long arms and well-chiseled legs compensated. Zhukova’s interpretation of the role was rather cool. If Dayune was ecstatic at each opportunity to gaze at or dance with her, Zhukova was more concerned with the beauty in the choreography than with her Romeo. The result was a lop-sided love affair, with Zhukova going through the motions, but Dayune actually living them.

The choreography in this “Romeo” has some intriguing moments. In Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter at the ball, their eyes lock and they both walk in a circle, staring at each other. He then kisses her skirt and she runs offstage. The first steps of grand waltz have been changed as well: it begins with a brush relevé rond de jambe from devant to attitude à la seconde, a movement that is repeated throughout the section and part of Tybalt’s repeated dance vocabulary. Mercutio’s choreography is paired down to the parallel-legged basics, and includes only one silly moment when he does a head/shoulder-stand, his back to the audience, his legs in double passé and then both extended out to second, and back again. The rest of his movements were more space-encompassing and less technical. Nonetheless, ___ in the role received a warm reception. Throughout Juliet’s steps there is ample use of the arabesque, a signature line for this ballet that luckily has been carefully kept.

Act Two’s wedding scene doesn’t show the journey thereto, rather simply Romeo and Juliet already being blessed by Friar Lawrence. Beside them six monks in black hooded costumes hold single candles, as if foreshadowing the deaths that are to come. When Juliet’s friends and parents arrive the morning of her wedding, her father carries her limp body, already dressed in wedding gown, in his arms. These little alterations from Lavrovsky’s, Cranko’s or Macmillan’s versions will take getting used to – at first glance they’re a bit unusual to the eye.

Another unique change lies in Juliet’s post-potion dance, which, much like the final scene in MacMillan’s “Manon”, is a dream sequence. Here both Tybalt and Mercutio reappear dancing around her and foreshadowing her fate. In the suicide sequence, Romeo has ample time after downing his own poison to see and dance with Juliet before she stabs herself.

While not always quite as lyrical or as technically deep as MacMillan’s version, Grigorovich’s “Romeo” incorporates a fresh approach to the staging of this centuries-old ballet, including use of his own choreographic style, and considerable continuity of both movement and drama. He can be lauded for reworking the ballet without unduly sullying its core components (the chronology of the musical score, of course, withstanding), and for promoting the consistency of his own choreographic signature on yet another full-length ballet. Few are the choreographers that can offer a revision to a cornerstone of the classical ballet repertoire without swinging too far into the avant-garde spectrum. Grigorovich is an exception, and his ability to envision “Romeo” from his own still-classical vantage point is an accomplishment.


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 Post subject: Clement Crisp in Krasnador
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:33 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1640
Location: London UK
Clement Crisp travels to Krasnador to review Grigorovitch's ballet Legend of Love and his production of Le Corsaire. Volochkova starred in the latter.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/cb295eee-120b-11db-b1ff-0000779e2340.html


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