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 Post subject: Bolshoi Ballet - UK tour, Spring 2006
PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 5:07 am 
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The Birmingham Hippodrome have announced that the Bolshoi Ballet will be visiting in March 2006. The press release reads...

THE BOLSHOI BALLET
Tuesday 28th – Saturday 1st April
Tickets: £22.50-£75.00
Perf times: Eves 7.30pm; Sat mat 2.30pm

Birmingham Hippodrome is honoured to welcome a return visit by THE BOLSHOI BALLET. THE BOLSHOI BALLET, who last performed at Birmingham Hippodrome in 1989, are regarded as the foremost Russian ballet company. The company’s vast repertoire has been linked to a roster of legendary names who, from generation to generation, have remained custodians of the heritage. With a new artistic director the company, formed from over 400 artists, is performing at its peak.

THE BOLSHOI BALLET perform two full length ballets during their season at Birmingham Hippodrome as part of the theatre’s Wide World Season of International Performance. The programme commences with the return to Birmingham of the company’s spectacular production of SPARTACUS (Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th March). This production is of monumental scale using the considerable size and power of the full company. The programme continues with Yuri Grigorovich’s outstanding adaptation of SWAN LAKE (Thursday 30th March – Saturday 1st April). A timeless masterpiece it expresses all the drama and magic beloved of ballet audiences all over the world.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 10:51 am 
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Posted by Alex R:

Birmingham Hippodrome (March 28 - April 1)
Salford, The Lowry (April 4 - 8 )
Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (April 10 -15)
Southampton, The Mayflower (April 18 – 22)

The Bolshoi Ballet - one of the world’s great dance companies – embarks on a major regional tour of the UK next Spring (March 28 – April 22, 2006) visiting four important British cities – Birmingham, Salford, Nottingham and Southampton - in as many weeks.

The Company is presented in association with impresario Victor Hochhauser who first brought the company to Britain some forty years ago.

Audiences at Birmingham Hippodrome, The Lowry, Salford and The Mayflower in Southampton will see two of the most enduring classics in the Bolshoi’s repertoire – Yuri Grigorovich’s beautiful and psychologically penetrating production of the greatest of all ballets, Swan Lake and Spartacus, his celebration of male dancing at its most spectacular. The Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham hosts performances of Giselle and a Gala Programme designed as a showcase for the Bolshoi’s finest artists and its matchless corps de ballet.

With its new Artistic Director Alexei Ratmansky at the helm, this legendary company of 220 artists and the illustrious Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra, is at the top of its form.


SPARTACUS
Male dancing at its most spectacular

Spartacus is a ballet that has become indelibly associated with the Bolshoi’s virtuosic style. Created by Yuri Grigorovich and danced to Khachaturian’s thrilling score, this epic adventure story first took London by storm in 1969. The ballet tells the story of a Roman slave’s fight for freedom, as he leads a rebellion of gladiators and slaves against the might of ancient Rome.

Grigorovich’s choreography fills the stage with dynamic scenes of tension and conflict, giving full expression to the virility and strength for which the Bolshoi’s male dancers are renowned.

“Sensational…the action is swept along by the charged currents of Khachaturian's music” **** The Guardian on Spartacus

“Huge themes, big music and awesome dancing..the scale and volume of the dancers left you reeling.” The Evening Standard on Spartacus


SWAN LAKE
Unalloyed joy, precision and brilliance

Yuri Grigorovich’s classic 1969 version of Swan Lake, revised in 2001, retains much of Petipa and Ivanov’s original choreography and respects the integrity of Tchaikovsky’s sublime score. Placing Prince Siegfried and his inner demons centre stage, the production has been praised for its penetrating psychological insight, as well as for the distinction of Simon Virsaladze’s design - hailed as a masterpiece of 1960’s Gothic.

When the company brought the production to London’s Royal Opera House in 2004, the Bolshoi’s ravishing female corps de ballet melted the hearts of many a critic in the famous lakeside ‘white’ acts.

“The corps de ballet dance with precision and brilliance, rank after fabulous rank of them, and the ensemble pieces are an unalloyed joy” **** The Guardian on Swan Lake


GISELLE
Love, betrayal, madness, redemption

Giselle is Petipa’s enduring ballet of love, betrayal, madness and redemption.
Long a favourite in the Bolshoi’s repertory, it was revised in 1997 by Vladimir Vasiliev who turned to the legendary ballerina Galina Ulanova as consultant. It is this version, warmly received by British audiences when the Bolshoi brought it to the London Coliseum in 1999, that the company will present in Nottingham.


GALA PROGRAMME
Ballet’s finest moments

A chance to see some of the Bolshoi’s finest artists and its supreme corps de ballet in some of ballet’s finest moments

The programme, which has been put together especially for Nottingham, will include Act III of Swan Lake and Act II of Spartacus, and a series of sparkling pas de deux, including Le Corsaire and Don Quixote.


LISTINGS INFORMATION:

BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME
March 28 – April 1, 2006

Tues Mar 28 7.30pm Spartacus (press night)
Wed Mar 29 7.30pm Spartacus
Thurs Mar 30 7.30pm Swan Lake
Fri Mar 31 7.30pm Swan Lake
Sat April 1 2.30pm Swan Lake
Sat April 1 7.30pm Swan Lake

Tickets: £22.50 - £75 (transaction charge 6%; 3% online); concessions available- enquire when booking
Box Office: 0870 730 1234 (natnl call rates apply) or book online at www.birminghamhippodrome.com

SALFORD THE LOWRY
April 4 – 8, 2006

Tues April 4 7.30pm Spartacus
Wed April 5 7.30pm Spartacus
Thurs April 6 7.30pm Swan Lake (press night)
Fri April 7 7.30pm Swan Lake
Sat April 8 2.30pm Swan Lake
Sat April 8 7.30pm Swan Lake

Tickets: £25 - £80
Box Office: 0870 787 5793 or book online at www.thelowry.com

NOTTINGHAM ROYAL CONCERT HALL
April10 – 15, 2006

Mon April 10 7.30pm Giselle (press night)
Tues April 11 7.30pm Giselle
Wed April 12 7.30pm Giselle
Thurs April 13 no performance
Fri April 14 7.30pm Gala Performance (press night)
Sat April 15 2.30pm Gala Performance
Sat April 15 7.30pm Gala Performance

Tickets: £20 - £65 (plus concessions for Friends of Royal Centre, under 16’s, over 60’s, registered unwaged, students and groups. Concessions do not apply in Tier 2 or for Sat 7.30pm performance).
Box Office: 0115 989 5555 or book online at www.royalcentre-nottingham.co.uk

SOUTHAMPTON THE MAYFLOWER
April18 – 22, 2006

Tues April 18 7.30pm Spartacus
Wed April 19 7.30pm Spartacus
Thurs April 20 7.30pm Swan Lake
Fri April 21 7.30pm Swan Lake
Sat April 22 2pm Swan Lake
Sat April 22 7.30pm Swan Lake

Tickets: £20 - £65
Box Office: 023 8071 1811 or book online at www.the-mayflower.com


A SHORT HISTORY OF THE BOLSHOI BALLET
The Bolshoi was formed in 1776 by English entrepreneur Michael Maddox and Prince Urusov, a patron of the arts, before being taken over by the Imperial Government in 1806.
It was in the late 19th century that the Company first made its indelible mark staging the first performances of Petipa’s great full-length classics Don Quixote and Swan Lake. Under Alexander Gorsky (1871-1924) the Bolshoi’s style of highly dramatic action woven into the dance, innovative stage designs, and symphonic music, was developed.
Alexander Gorsky was followed by Leonid Lavrovsky (1905-1967) as Artistic Director in 1944. He continued producing a mixed repertoire of classics and modern works thrilling audiences worldwide with highly spectacular and heroic productions such as Spartacus (1968) and The Golden Age (1982).
During a history spanning more than 225 years, the Bolshoi Ballet’s vast repertoire is linked to generations of legendary names. Under the Bolshoi’s new artistic director, Alexei Ratmansky, supported by his company of soloists and corps de ballet who have been trained in the great tradition of the imperial Russian ballet, audiences are invited to participate in a journey through its illustrious history and to experience some of its most significant moments.
The present Bolshoi Theatre which was opened in 1825 is one of the most famous theatres in the world. The dominating 2000-seat theatre is adorned with a massive eight-column portico topped by Apollo in his chariot. Some much-needed renovations are now being carried out as the Bolshoi Theatre undergoes major post-Soviet refurbishment work.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:18 pm 
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http://www.victorhochhauser.co.uk/bolsh ... asting.htm


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:46 am 
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Only two months to go before the Bolshoi's UK provincial tour and an article by Jeffery Taylor in yesterdays Sunday Express suggests that all is not well within the company ranks. Apparently a lot of the dancers are hostile towards the move to a more modern repertoire being introduced by their new director, Alexei Ratmansky.

Principal dancer Svetlana Lunkina is quoted as saying: "Our company is based on our heritage and continuity. To throw all that away is just destruction for its own sake"

Unfortunately this article doesn't appear to be available on line.

By the way, expect to see the Bolshoi back in London rather sooner than anticipated.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 10:35 am 
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With only a couple of weeks to go here is a reminder of the casting for the UK tour:

Hippodrome, Birmingham

Tuesday 28 March
Evening
Spartacus:
Spartacus - Dmitri Belogolovtsev
Phrygia - Anna Antonicheva
Crassus - Vladimir Neporozhny
Aegina - Maria Allash

Wednesday 29 March
Evening
Spartacus:
Spartacus - Yuri Klevtsov
Phrygia - Svetlana Lunkina
Crassus - Alexander Volchkov
Aegina - Ekaterina Shipulina

Thursday 30 March
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Maria Alexandrova
Prince Siegfried - Sergei Filin
The Evil Genius - Dmitri Belogolovtsev

Friday 31 March
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Anna Antonicheva
Prince Siegfried - Dmitri Gudanov
The Evil Genius - Ruslan Pronin

Saturday 1 April
Matinee
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Maria Allash
Prince Siegfried - Vladimir Neporozhny
The Evil Genius - Dmitri Rykhlov

Saturday 1 April
Evening:
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Svetlana Lunkina
Prince Siegfried - Alexander Volchkov
The Evil Genius - Yuri Klevtsov

The Lowry, Salford

Tuesday 4 April
Evening
Spartacus:
Spartacus - Yuri Klevtsov
Phrygia - Svetlana Lunkina
Crassus - Alexander Volchkov
Aegina - Maria Alexandrova

Wednesday 5 April
Evening
Spartacus:
Spartacus - Dmitri Belogolovtsev
Phrygia - Anna Antonicheva
Crassus - Vladimir Neporozhny
Aegina - Maria Allash

Thursday 6 April
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Ekaterina Shipulina
Prince Siegfried - Alexander Volchkov
The Evil Genius - Dmitri Rykhlov

Friday 7 April
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Maria Alexandrova
Prince Siegfried - Sergei Filin
The Evil Genius - Ruslan Pronin

Saturday 8 April
Matinee
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Anna Nikulina
Prince Siegfried - Vladimir Neporozhny
The Evil Genius - Dmitri Belogolovtsev

Saturday 8 April
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Anna Antonicheva
Prince Siegfried - Dmitri Gudanov
The Evil Genius - Yuri Klevtsov

Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Monday 10 April
Evening
Giselle:
Giselle - Svetlana Lunkina
Albrecht - Sergei Filin
Myrtha - Maria Alexandrova

Tuesday 11 April
Evening
Giselle Giselle - Anna Antonicheva
Albrecht -Dmitri Gudanov
Myrtha - Maria Allash

Wednesday 12 April
Evening
Giselle:
Giselle - Svetlana Lunkina
Albrecht - Sergei Filin
Myrtha - Ekaterina Shipulina

Friday 14 April
Evening
Gala:
SwanLake Act II, Scene 1:
Odette/Odile - Ekaterina Krysanova
Prince Siegfried - Dmitri Gudanov
The Evil Genius - Ruslan Pronin

Divertissements:

Chopiniana Waltz 7
Nelly Kobakhidze, Egor Khromushin
Flames of Paris Pas de deux
Natalia Osipova, Yan Godovsky
La Fille mal gardée Pas de deux
Anastasia Stashkevich, Viacheslav Lopatin
Don Quixote Grand pas
Maria Alexandrova, Sergei Filin

Spartacus Act II:

Spartacus - Yuri Klevtsov
Phrygia - Svetlana Lunkina
Crassus - Alexander Volchkov
Aegina - Maria Allash

Saturday 15 April
Matinee
Gala
SwanLake Act II, Scene 1:
Odette/Odile - Ekaterina Krysanova
Prince Siegfried - Dmitri Gudanov
The Evil Genius - Ruslan Pronin

Divertissements:

Chopiniana Waltz 7
Nelly Kobakhidze, Egor Khromushin
Flames of Paris Pas de deux
Natalia Osipova, Yan Godovsky
La Fille mal gardée Pas de deux
Anastasia Stashkevich, Viacheslav Lopatin
Don Quixote Grand pas
Maria Alexandrova, Sergei Filin

Spartacus Act II:
Spartacus - Dmitri Belogolovtsev
Phrygia - Anna Antonicheva
Crassus - Vladimir Neporozhny
Aegina - Ekaterina Shipulina

Saturday 15 April
Evening
Gala:
SwanLake Act II, Scene 1:
Odette/Odile - Ekaterina Krysanova
Prince Siegfried - Dmitri Gudanov
The Evil Genius - Ruslan Pronin

Divertissements:
Chopiniana Waltz 7
Nelly Kobakhidze, Egor Khromushin
Flames of Paris Pas de deux
Natalia Osipova, Yan Godovsky
La Fille mal gardée Pas de deux
Anastasia Stashkevich, Viacheslav Lopatin
Don Quixote Grand pas
Maria Alexandrova, Sergei Filin

Spartacus Act II:
Spartacus - Yuri Klevtsov
Phrygia - Svetlana Lunkina
Crassus - Alexander Volchkov
Aegina - Maria Allash

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Tuesday 18 April
Evening
Spartacus:
Spartacus - Dmitri Belogolovtsev
Phrygia - Anna Antonicheva
Crassus - Vladimir Neporozhny
Aegina - Maria Alexandrova

Wednesday 19 April
Evening
Spartacus:
Spartacus - Yuri Klevtsov
Phrygia - Svetlana Lunkina
Crassus - Alexander Volchkov
Aegina - Ekaterina Shipulina

Thursday 20 April
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Anna Antonicheva
Prince Siegfried - Dmitri Gudanov
The Evil Genius - Ruslan Pronin

Friday 21 April
Evening
Swan Lake Odette/Odile - Maria Alexandrova
Prince Siegfried - Sergei Filin
The Evil Genius - Dmitri Rykhlov

Saturday 22 April
Matinee
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Ekaterina Shipulina
Prince Siegfried - Alexander Volchkov
The Evil Genius - Yuri Klevtsov

Saturday 22 April
Evening
Swan Lake:
Odette/Odile - Maria Allash
Prince Siegfried - Vladimir Neporozhny
The Evil Genius - Dmitri Belogolovtsev


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:09 am 
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Spartacus
The Bolshoi Ballet
Hippodrome Theatre
Birmingham
28th March 2006


It’s not often you go to watch a ballet and discover two of the most outstanding interpreters of the two leading roles sitting in front of you, but that’s what happened to me and my companion last night when we found ourselves directly behind Boris Akimov (Crassus) and Irek Mukhamedov (Spartacus). Quite an honour! But at key points throughout the performance memories of their interpretations kept returning to haunt me. For some years now the Bolshoi hasn’t been able to find outstanding casts for the two leading male roles, possibly because there has been a subtle shift in the company towards classicism and away from the flamboyant pyrotechnics that characterized Grigorovitch’s long tenure as director.

Dmitri Belogolovtsev who danced the opening night title role in “Spartacus” has astonishingly high elevation, something that is becoming very rare among male dancers, and its just what the role needs. He also had the technical ability to draw gasps from the audience, but this role is a real killer requiring a balletic superman to do full justice to it and it was obvious that Mr Belogolovtsev was flagging by the end of act 2. Not a strong actor, his weakest moments came in the ‘soliloquies’ but the sheer dramatic impetus of the ballet carried him through to the tragic finale with its always deeply moving scene of mourning.

Crassus is a role demanding almost as much physically as the role of Spartacus but Vladimir Neporozhny simply didn’t have the technique to do it justice, though he managed the gruelling partnering with the one-handed lifts with ease. The two ladies though were very impressive. The beautiful Anna Antonicheva was Spartacus’s faithful wife Phrygia, bringing a languid sensuality to what is essentially a one-dimensional good-girl role. Crassus’s moll, Aegina, was Maria Allash who has really developed in this part since I saw her dance it two years ago. She now dances up a storm across the stage and schemes and connives with the best of them leaving a trail of male destruction in her wake. Impressive stuff.

Just as impressive for me was the Bolshoi corps de ballet, particularly the men, each one dancing flat out and performing steps that would tax the ability of any other male corps you care to name. They were magnificent. Although it wasn’t a vintage cast this time around the ballet still packed its usual punch and had the audience cheering.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bolshoi’s first visit to Britain and looking back over those fifty years the achievements of this company are staggering and the roster of its star dancers is matchless. The Bolshoi Ballet is deservedly the most famous ballet company in the world, a household name even to those with no knowledge or experience of the art. The UK is so very lucky to be blessed not only with this provincial tour but also a lengthy London season packed with works new to this country.

As the curtain came down on last night’s performance the audience erupted with applause, with many jumping to their feet in a spontaneous gesture of appreciation. It was a wonderful opening night and the enthusiastic welcome they received in Birmingham will, I’m sure, be repeated up and down the country in the coming weeks.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:19 am 
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Bolshoi Ballet
by JUDITH MACKRELL for the Guardian

Yet four decades on, it's hard to find any subtext in the ballet's rhetoric. And this leaves today's dancers with the difficult task of retaining the work's original moral fervour while injecting a more modern, knowing sense of fun into its barnstorming cliches.

published: March 30, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:32 am 
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Bolshoi Ballet - 'Spartacus'
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham, UK; March 28, 2006


The Bolshoi Ballet rolled into Birmingham this week on their visit to the city for seventeen years. Grigorovich’s “Spartacus” is certainly ballet on an epic scale and makes full use of the considerable size and power of the company. It tells the story of Spartacus, captured after the fall of Thrace to the Roman legions, his subjugation into slavery, escape, uprising and ultimate death as the rebellion fails. Or rather it doesn’t - and that is one of the ballet’s problems. It opts instead for a series of mostly ensemble scenes with little in the way of connecting action, making it seem rather disjointed.

Don’t get me wrong, the dancers were very good and certainly threw themselves wholeheartedly into the choreography, as did the orchestra with Khachaturian’s stirring score. But while the spectacular ensemble dances are startlingly effective when you first see them, they do start to wear a little. You can have too much of a good thing and they do rather come at you non-stop. It’s like being hit by a wave of energy, then just as you are staggering to your feet along comes the next, and the next, and the next.

The rawness and power was there for all to see, especially from Dmitri Belogolovtsev as Spartacus. In his first appearance, his anger at being chained was there for all to see, but you also felt he was always fighting a losing battle. This was only ever going to have a tragic ending. “Spartacus” is not a ballet for subtlety, but most of the dancers managed to show an incredible lack of personal emotion between each other. Where was the acting? You couldn’t help wondering what Irek Mukhamedov, in the audience, would have made of it. I know the choreography doesn’t give a great deal of time for it anyway, but you might have thought Spartacus would have shown some sort of personal hatred towards his captor Crassus, or come to that, love for his sweetheart Phrygia, stunningly danced by Anna Antonicheva. At the beginning of Act III, in one of the few more reflective moments of the ballet, Phrygia demonstrates her fears for what is to come, first in a solo and then with Spartacus. From her there was a sense of fear and emotion, even love for him, but from him there was nothing. The steps and lifts were executed wonderfully, but that was as far as it went.

Of the other leading dancers, Maria Allash as the courtesan Aegina came across as very strong-willed, even scheming, which I guess sums up the character pretty well. More than a shade of the Siren in Balanchine’s “Prodigal Son”, in dress and movement as well as characterisation I thought. While Vladimir Neporozhny as Crassus was competent, it was rather like watching a blank canvas. This is supposed to be a character we hate, an anti-hero, but there was nothing. He was totally devoid of emotion. Then again, what do you expect from part of the Empire’s killing machine.

The best is saved for the end. Spartacus’ death, speared by the Roman soldiers is dramatic enough but it is followed by a beautifully conceived requiem. The black-clad grieving figure of Phrygina is lifted high, Spartacus’ body is passed up to her, and she lays his shield on his chest before looking down and sorrowfully contemplating the scene. For once, very emotional and stunningly lit.

Powerful, dramatic, virtuosic, heroic and on a grand scale, yes. Even exciting, well at first anyway. But psychologically deep, with personal relationships, sorry but no. “Spartacus” is worth seeing for the sheer raw power of the male dancers, and if you’ve never seen it it’s definitely worth going. The audience certainly loved it and I’m sure some found it very emotional but I’m afraid it left me rather cold.

Spartacus continues on tour to Salford and Southampton.


Last edited by David on Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:26 am 
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Bolshoi Ballet - 'Swan Lake'
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham, UK; March 30, 2006


For many, “Swan Lake" is classical ballet, and in Birmingham the Bolshoi Ballet showed us just why. Wherever you look these days there seem to be new versions of the story, each with their own take on the take on the tale, whether that be Mats Ek’s radical take, Matthew Bourne’s all-male swans or a transfer to a new location, such as Christopher Wheeldon’s vision of nineteenth-century Paris, many of which work. This though is a more traditional telling of the story of a prince’s love for an enchanted swan maiden.

That is not to say there are not a few things that might surprise people. Yuri Grigorovich explains that he wanted to move the ballet away from the genre of the fairy tale closer to the romantic novella. He manages to successfully make the action move seamlessly between real life and a fantasy world which mirrors the consciousness of the ballet’s hero, Prince Siegfried. He has also turned it into a two-act ballet, again something that again works really well.

Grigorovich has added a depth and a psychological dimension to events, something “Swan Lake” often lacks. Most notably, the character commonly known as Rothbart has been transformed from some dark sorcerer into The Evil Genius, a personification of fate or destiny, danced here by Dmitri Belogolovtsev. When we first encounter him he is like some unseen force, pulling the Prince in all directions. Interestingly the two characters never look at each other in the scene suggesting that he is in fact the dark side of the Prince’s character. The device also means that the Genius gets much more of a dancing role than is usual.

And so to the dancing. Maria Alexandrova was exquisite as Odette/Odile. While her Odette was full of withdrawn melancholy grace, her Odile was one fiery Swan with attitude. You could almost feel the intensity as she made eye contact with the audience at every opportunity. Her quality of movement was wonderful. Her 32 fouettes, some taken with the working leg in attitude devant, were right on the button and brought the tumultuous applause they deserved. Quite why Siegfried never manages to work out that these are two different swans is beyond me, especially when they are so different, but after all, that would spoil the tale.

Sergei Filin was a young but noble Prince Siegfried. He really did seem to be smitten by his Odette. We were left in no doubt that the two characters really did feel something for each other. There were one or two unsteady finishes to pirouettes but he made for a great partner, always sure in his supporting and lifting.

The corps were quite simply stunning, rarely can a group of swans moved with such precision and grace; beauty in motion indeed. A nice touch was the mixing of six black swans with all those white ones in the final scenes of Act II. Special mention too for the five princesses who unsuccessfully seek the Prince’s hand, especially Natalia Osipova, the Spanish Princess, whose leaps and extensions were quite breathtaking.

And then of course there is the Jester, known here as The Fool. This is a character I always find really annoying and could really do without. But he is a crowd pleaser and they do always seem to be so darned good. Denis Medvedev was no different with his superb multiple pirouettes and bounding and leaping around the stage with astonishing speed and elevation. The only surprise was that he didn’t join the curtain call at the end of either act.

The Evil Genius represents fate and, of course, fate is inescapable. The end comes quite suddenly, perhaps even a little disconcertingly. There is no death leap into the lake. Instead, a gauze drops as the Evil Genius takes Odette away and Siegfried is left alone with his thoughts, and who knows, perhaps new found wisdom too.

All this was accompanied by Simon Virsaladze’s stunning sets and costumes. The ballroom, gold in Act I and a radiant turquoise-blue in Act II was quite sumptuous. Best of all though was his lake. Gone is the chocolate-box looking woodland pool, to be replaced by a simple but stunningly effective drop that while giving the impression of some dark, grey stretch of water, also leaves plenty of room for one’s imagination.

The Orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre, conducted by Pavel Klinichev cracked along at a fair rate. But it was just right and did full justice to Tchaikovsky’s wonderful score.

I' m not sure that there is such a thing as a perfect “Swan Lake”. Like Shakespeare, the ballet doesn’t have to be done in the traditional or period manner or setting, but if it is going to be, this is certainly the way to do it.

“Swan Lake" continues on tour to Salford and Southampton. The Bolshoi Ballet are also appearing in Nottingham with “Giselle" and a gala programme.


Last edited by David on Fri Mar 31, 2006 8:49 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:32 am 
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Many thanks to Cassandra and David for sharing these performances with us. With luck, there's more to come, folks!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 2:51 am 
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Quote:
Spartacus
by ALLEN ROBERTSON for the Times

It may be a showcase for testosterone, but Spartacus is also so devoid of shading that the dancing quickly loses its would-be mighty edge. Audiences who are seeing it for the first time can still be swept up in its theatricality, but it is now definitely time for a Spartacus rethink.

published: March 30, 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 3:56 am 
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Quote:
Kitsch, crude - but very entertaining
by LAURA THOMPSON for the Daily Telegraph

The best ballet can make you feel that this is the greatest of all art forms, using as it does the whole of a human being to express itself. The worst can make you question the point of ballet altogether. Much of what you see falls somewhere in between. And then there is Spartacus.

...

... it is the only ballet I can think of that could be watched on television, on a Sunday afternoon, while eating a box of Battenberg slices, such is its resemblance to a Technicolor epic starring Victor Mature.

published: March 30, 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:49 pm 
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Back in the USSR
by LUKE JENNINGS for the Observer

A creation of almost abstract heroism, Spartacus (Dmitri Belogolovtsev), is loved by Phrygia (Anna Antonicheva), who is either coiling mink-like around his mighty thighs or being hoisted aloft, lips parted in revolutionary fervour, on his muscled sword-arm. Crassus and Aegina's duets, by contrast, are vulgar and crutchy; theirs is a more complex interdependency. After being defeated in combat by Spartacus, Crassus is reduced to impotent pacing around his lover's bedchamber, blind to her snaky pirouettes. Aegina knows her man, though, and the slow, suggestive unsheathing of a sword soon helps him get his groove back.

published: April 2, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:47 am 
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Swan Lake
Bolshoi Ballet
Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham
1st April 2006 (Matinee)


If there is one problem that the Bolshoi shares with the UK’s Royal Ballet it is that both are in urgent need of a new production of Swan Lake. This Grigorovitch version has always been controversial and the alterations made a couple of years ago haven’t added much to the general effect. Over the years the costumes have been refurbished with too much glitter, sequins, rhinestones and so on and the dazzling item of bling that Siegfried receives as a birthday gift from his mother would be a better present for a pimp than a medieval princeling. Another odd feature of this performance is the absence of a crossbow; a group of knights hand the prince a sword that he reverently kisses the blade of and his mother gives him the aforementioned gaudy chain, but he arrives at the lakeside minus a birthday present.

It hasn’t been that unusual for producers to add their own touches to Ivanov’s ‘white acts’ and what Grigorovitch has changed doesn’t actually look that bad; it just doesn’t look as good as Ivanov’s original. I miss the mime a lot; that wonderful moment when Odette introduces herself to Siegfried and tells him the lake is formed of her mother’s tears is too lovely to be excluded.

In this version acts one and two and acts three and four run together separated by just one interval so when referring the second act (ballroom scene) it’s really the third, so it all gets confusing. Anyway, the old third act comes off best with the familiar Black Swan pas de deux more or less intact and now preceded by a brief pas de trois with Evil Genius/Rothbart. The princesses dance the national dances with their retinues – but (shock, horror) – en pointe! The only saving grace is that the gorgeous music to the Russian dance is included and that all the princesses danced so well.

The fourth act, or second half of the second act takes us back to the lake for Siegfried to express his remorse before losing Odette forever as a result of his faithlessness. Grigorovitch used to give us a happy ending here that actually worked rather well with Siegfried lying on the ground at the mercy of Rothbart and Odette detaching herself from her swans to rescue him through the power of her forgiveness. The stage would be suffused with the pink light of dawn and the lovers would end the ballet in an embrace encircled by the swans. The problem with the new ending of Siegfried alone and distraught is that it needs a pretty powerful dance-actor to bring it off; as it stands the end is now very much an anti-climax.

Moving on to the dancing, I was very much looking forward to seeing Maria Allash in the leading role as her expressive face with its large luminous eyes would seem to make her a natural for Odette, but in fact I was wrong as it seems that Allash is far more at ease in the role of Odile. As the black swan she glittered and beguiled and danced the demanding choreography to perfection, only the fouettés were less than ideal as she was performing them at a slower pace than the music: perhaps there was some lack of communication with the conductor on this occasion. The problem with Allash as the white swan was that she seemed to have so little rapport with her partner, but the utterly emotionless interpretation of Siegfried from Vladimir Neporozhny couldn’t have helped her much, it would be interesting to see her opposite a different prince. On the other hand I was struck with how well Allash phrased her dancing in the white act and mercifully although her working leg was very high, she never raised it to the six o’clock position. Nice to see that the classics are still being treated with respect in Moscow: unlike St Petersburg.

After a gap of almost two years I was hoping to see some exciting new faces with the company and at this performance there were two youngsters, completely new to me that immediately grabbed my attention. The first was Viacheslav Lopatin who danced the jester. This was a jester unlike any other I had seen from the Bolshoi before, fey and almost effete he had clearly given a lot a thought to this unusual interpretation, it was more like the Russian reading of Harlequin, than the standard sock-it-to-them Bolshoi jester. Unfortunately he suffered a bit of a hiccup in the final pirouette but that didn’t detract from the overall high standard of his dancing. The other eye catcher was Natalia Osipova who danced the role of the Spanish princess. Her soaring jetes and exceptional ballon caused a rustle of enthusiasm amongst the audience, though her tendency to throw her leg up against her ear impressed me less. I’ll be interested to see what she makes of other roles.

Apart from the tired old production, there was a lot to enjoy at this performance but my final words of praise must go to the corps de ballet, utterly gorgeous every one of them and worth the price of admission alone.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:47 pm 
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And now for a little goose-step
by JENNY GILBERT for the Independent

Inevitably, the acting looks overblown on a smaller British stage, where it's the athletics that deliver.

published: April 2, 2006
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