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Everything posted by DrewCo

  1. The first performance of the Royal Ballet I ever saw was a Sleeping Beauty at the Met with Bergsma dancing the Lilac Fairy. It was also my first full-length Sleeping Beauty in the theater--I was about 9--and I can't say I have very concrete memories of the performance itself. But I do have very concrete memories of how absolutely enchanted I was by Bergsma's performance. I just ADORED her Lilac Fairy and later commented very earnestly to my mother that every ballerina must want to dance the Lilac Fairy as much as they wanted to dance Aurora. Unfortunately, that is the only time I saw her dance. Many happy returns indeed!
  2. I have long wished I could see The Cellist and finally did at least get to see it via video this evening. Marston's literary/narrative approach to ballet is perhaps not what I most look for in new ballets, but I was very moved by the ballet and would be happy to see more of her choreography (though I fear it will be some time before I see any live ballet again). I had caught Snowblind, also via video, last week and on the whole found the Cellist the "bigger," more consistent accomplishment. Though in both ballets, I thought her ability to make emotional and formal complexity via a pas de trois stands out... Perhaps it goes without saying, especially in this thread, but I will still go ahead and say say that in the broadcasts from the Royal Ballet that I have been able to catch during this strange time, I have been extremely impressed by the quality of the entire company. I'm familiar enough with the Royal not to be surprised of course--but still feel super appreciative.
  3. I don't think the U.S. is entirely predictable especially as things may be decided on a state by state basis, but certainly no ballet in most major cities that have ballet and obviously not New York where Lincoln Center has already cancelled all summer events....The Vail Dance Festival in Colorado (which always has a slew of great ballet artists) has posted a letter to audiences on their site saying that they think it is too soon to know whether or not to cancel. It is hard for me to imagine that they won't cancel, but then the past year has been full of events that would have been hard for me to imagine.
  4. Thank you Jeannette for these detailed reports. I don't think I will get to see this for some time, but I would LOVE to do so!
  5. The variation in the last act that several have mentioned is not performed by one of Raymnonda's named friends, Clemence or Henriette, but by yet another soloist. The cast list I saw (posted by Tours en L'air's Katherine Barber) listed Elizaveta Kokoreva for that variation. I liked her a lot. And Chapkina was listed as dancing one of the vision scene variations, not the role of Henriette or Clemence; those were listed as Maria Vinogradova and Anastasia Denisova. (A lot of different dancers get opportunities in this ballet.) At my movie theater in the States, the ballet also looked dark as someone else mentioned experiencing. The dimness of lighting especially impacted -- or drained the impact -- of the vision scene which is more dimly lit to begin with. (In the theater, that is my favorite scene in the ballet.) In general I have found the Bolshoi broadcasts strangely dark in lighting, but had assumed it was either a "my bad luck" problem localized to certain movie theaters and/or an unavoidable problem caused by the gap between lighting for stage performances and lighting for high quality HD cameras. Otherwise I very much enjoy these broadcasts with the usual ballet fan caveats--sometimes I like dancer x, don't like dancer y; enjoy xyz about a production but not abc...etc. Basically, though, very grateful to see them.
  6. When the Bolshoi danced Corsaire at the Coliseum you could hear voices shouting instructions from the wings on opening night during the Jardin Anime — I don’t know Russian but assume the voices were directing traffic as the stage looked very overcrowded. It is not a good thing, obviously, to hear that, but on an opening night and especially of a production on tour (when it is not as if the companies can dance a few nights of previews) I am inclined not to hold it against them. I went to Paquita Friday and there were no production glitches that I could spot and, from downstairs, no voices overheard either. I will need to see it again before I can really form an opinion, but I will say here that I had a good time throughout and honestly, for my taste, Smekalov could have had the dancers standing on their heads slowly chewing gum for the first two acts and it still would have been more than worth the price of admission (which in my case included flight and hotel) to see the company dance the final Act in marvelous fashion — as they did. Possibly the opening wasn’t as sharp as often openings aren’t the sharpest, but I wasn’t there.
  7. To all of you who routinely take it upon yourselves to help the lost...a big thank you. This past summer I was one of them! (Of course, I have such a poor sense of direction that maybe all the indicators in the world wouldn't help me, but a few additional ones couldn't hurt.)
  8. I would be ecstatic to see Kim in Don Quixote! Hope you all have a great time--and may everyone sitting in front of you be short ...
  9. The stalls have no real rake in the historic Mariinsky, so it wouldn't necessarily solve the problem there. Understandably you very much want the whole party to sit together, but if you were flexible on that then I would suggest looking for two clusters of three seats or three pair... I agree that sight-lines in the new Mariinsky are largely much better.
  10. In daydreaming moods I have sometimes checked out tickets at the Bolshoi and the cost decidedly woke me up from my dreaming --they really ARE that expensive. However different ballets may have different price points...Mariinsky is a bit cheaper, but if it is an 80-year old ballet-lover's dream to attend a performance at the Bolshoi theater, then that pretty much settles the priorities for Moscow and the Bolshoi. Likewise you can enjoy good ballet performances at the Stanislavsky theater nearby in Moscow and presumably cheaper--but the Bolshoi is the Bolshoi. Or almost. That is, I'm sure it's part of your friend's wish to attend a performance in the "historic" Bolshoi theater rather than the smaller new Bolshoi theater they opened right by it; some Bolshoi performances are scheduled at the new theater. I have even read one fan who said she preferred the new theater for ballet because it isn't so huge and I would not be surprised if tickets there were cheaper, but obviously you will want to pick a week for your visit when at least some of the ballet performances are scheduled at the "historic" theater. One other thing that you probably already know -- but just in case not -- is that the theater lists two ticket prices, one for locals and one for visitors from other countries. The latter price is much more expensive and my understanding is that if you try, say, to get a Russian acquaintance to buy the locally priced ticket and use it yourself when you aren't a local (uh...not that anyone reading this post would do that) you will not be allowed in. Also, I think there are some new regulations in place, probably meant to cut down on a huge scalping problem: I am not sure what they are exactly--I sometimes put Russian articles through Google translate which is a pretty imperfect way of making sense of them--but rules along the lines of having with you the credit card you used to purchase the tickets or some such. I could be wrong, but you will want to read carefully what the website says about such things. I think this is wonderful birthday idea and hope you can make it happen!
  11. I'm afraid I only know the bare bones of Rambert's life story but reading that her family name was originally Rambam made me curious. The New York Times obituary for Rambert says that the family name was was "Rambam" but her father had already taken the name Ramberg at the time of her birth and her uncle had taken "Rambert." The articles gives the reasons Floss mentions above: "Marie Rambert was born in Warsaw in 1888, the daughter of a bookseller. Her original given name was Cyvia, and the family surname was Rambam. However, men in the family occasionally took other names to escape military conscription by pretending that they were only sons. Her father called himself Ramberg, and one of her uncles was known as Rambert, the surname she later adopted." Regarding her first name the obituary tells the following story: "After a friend told her that she moved with the fervor of Myriam [after she began studying in Paris], the Old Testament prophetess, she changed her name from Cyvia to Myriam." (I have no idea what the origin of the family name "Rambam" was -- and I am curious -- but, as it happens, "Rambam" in Hebrew letters is the acronym of the Hebrew name of Maimonides who is one of the most important of Medieval biblical commentators and philosophers. And that acronym is the name he is known by in Hebrew -- one reads or cites the "Rambam" -- which I suspect would have been known by more or less every Jewish person in Poland when Rambert grew up. Imagine, say, if your last name were Aquinas.)
  12. Osipova (or whoever handles her Instagram account) put Mary Poppins’ name beneath a photo of herself in Rome that was posted on Instagram this summer —apparently it was the hat she was wearing that made the connection. So who knows? Maybe they both belong to a secret sisterhood of oddly magical figures who occasionally defy gravity....
  13. The Latvian National Ballet has danced it and American Ballet Theatre — in a production that used different sets and costumes. And as best I can remember ABT did not include the gigantic vegetables. I don’t know if any other companies have performed it. I thought ABT did a great job with it and ballet fans seemed to love it. I don’t think it did great box office the last time it was revived at ABT and it hasn’t been revived for a while.
  14. I saw the three Swan Lakes performed over the weekend and enjoyed them rather more than posters above, though I agree with reservations about the production--and also agree that Tikhomirova was a stand out Friday night when she danced the Neapolitan Princess. When I compare the company (not the leads, but the corps and featured dancers in all the Acts) with how they looked dancing this production in New York five years ago, I'd say they looked just as strong and in some respects stronger with the exception of the dancers performing the Evil Genius. In New York, too, Tikhomirova -- who was dancing the Spanish bride the nights I attended in NY -- was the stand out. (The jester never does much for me, but I suppose it's possible the jesters were better in NY--can't say.) I find Chudin's aristocratic bearing and pure classical style a profound pleasure--it's not old-school Bolshoi dancing by a long shot, but poetic and dreamy. He sort of floated through his variations Friday. Smirnova remains a bit of a puzzle to me: for now I will say only that I think I admire her dancing more than I like it. Kovalyova is just a baby ballerina. She was cast as Odette-Odile and on tour in London no less, so it's fair game to criticize her, but I hardly expect much depth of any 21-22 year old in this role--I look only for promise. She has a stunning physique, great personal beauty, and tremendous charm. I found even her Odile rather likeable. She was a villainess with a twinkle in her eye as opposed to the hardened vamp we so often get. Her dancing was uneven in some ways but had great moments and interpretively her Odette had real tenderness as well. Depending on how she develops, she could be rather wonderful one day. All that said, I thought Zakharova on Saturday night was in an entirely different class from either Kovalyova (as one would expect) or, for my taste, Smirnova. And she and Rodkin made the ballet considerably more exciting than it was either Friday or Saturday afternoon. Five years ago in New York (where I missed her) Zakharova was lambasted in the press (and online among some fans) for giving what was described as a "cold" performance; here in London opposite Rodkin she gave a performance I found both tremendously moving and thrilling. Rodkin is not the seamless stylist Chudin is. Also, though his leaps are impressive, when it comes to turns, a double pirouette seems about as much as he can muster and he sort of fakes his way through the chaine turns through which Grigorovich has Siegfried express much of his agitation in the final scenes. Not just Chudin Friday night, but Tissi at the matinee was able to do more with these. But in other respects not only did he dance very impressively, but he seemed to me a much superior actor to either Chudin or Tissi and his dancing also carries much more of a sexual charge than theirs -- the result was genuine chemistry with Zakharova and a deeply romantic performance of the ballet insofar as Grigorovich's approach allows for it. Apparently no-one told Zakharova that the souvenir program describes her as primarily a specter in Siegfried's mind. And thank goodness, because when she looked up into Rodkin's eyes towards the end of the first lake scene you could believe she was in love with him. Overall, unless one values an Odette-Odile solely on whether she makes it to 32 fouettes (I counted Zakharova at 27 with the last one a double) her performance throughout was profoundly engaged and engaging. At any rate, I found it articulate, fluid, soulful, exciting--with a coda to the black swan pas de deux that I thought well worthy of her coach Semenyaka -- shooting across the stage like lightning and closing with a strong balance. At all the performances I attended I also thought the corps did itself proud. It may be I am less critical than others because these days I see rather less ballet. I do wonder if that isn't the case. But anyway I thought I would register my thoughts.
  15. Very sorry to read this news--as a ballet lover who has long read this site and more recently posts here as well, I feel deep gratitude for his contributions. May he rest in peace.
  16. I don’t think the Soviets were necessarily unwilling to appropriate Christian imagery to secular ends. I was very lucky to be in London Monday and attended opening night. I had a great time and was especially impressed by Belyakov as Crassus. For me, although I enjoyed all the dancers, his was the single most exciting performance of the evening.
  17. I only recently learned through the Atlanta Ballet's Facebook page, that--as I see FionaE also mentions above--Nikolas Gaifullin, one of the very best young dancers at Atlanta Ballet, will be dancing Tybalt in this production. (Kobborg staged La Sylphide for the company this past season and Gaifullin was one of the dancers cast as James.) I am rather a fan of Gaifullin--have been since seeing him make his debut as Basilio in Don Quixote two seasons ago. I liked his Basilio very much, but I must admit I was particularly charmed when after negotiating an awkward costume snafu, he immediately appeared to put some extra "zing" into his next dance phrase as if to underline for the audience that nothing was going to get in the way of the performance. Since then his dancing continues to be a highlight of the Atlanta Ballet performances I attend. Atlanta Ballet does some good and even very good things, but is not a major ballet company (though they have aspirations to become one), and I imagine Verona will be a very new kind of experience for Gaifullin--but I think he is the real deal and hope he has success with this production.
  18. I think another case would be Héloïse Bourdon who was invited to dance Odette-Odile as part of the 2016 Mariinsky International Dance Festival. (A slightly different context I suppose since the festival always involves guests from abroad.) At that time, I think Bourdon may only have been a "sujet" at the POB--but in any case she was not a principal. Still, it is surely a very rare occurrence. I hope Wagman has a huge success there.
  19. This is a generalization about the study of literature in American Universities that somewhat takes me up short. I'm tempted to ask a lot of questions about your education. But I won't...that is, I would not expect you to answer such questions or feel I even have the right to ask them on a message board! And in the end, I doubt that the answers would be particularly informative either--since it certainly sounds as if one way or another you took some disappointing literature classes--or classes not useful to you--at American University after having taken some you found valuable in your British prepatory education. And that could happen in a lot of different educational contexts. Since I also don't want to go into detail about myself on a message board, I will have to ask you to take it on faith I probably know more about this topic than I do about ballet. Certainly, I have sometimes been very impressed by literary materials I've seen from students in the UK (especially their level of historical knowledge and the polish of their writing)--though of course I see a very limited selection and could not begin to generalize on that basis. But I am still hard put to understand what you are talking about in your post except that you personally had disappointing literature classes in college in the U.S. Does that mean there is a "curated, Museum" like approach to the advanced study of literature in the U.S. in general? I'm sure such things exist--the American academy is vast and very diverse--but as a general description of how literature is taught at American Universities and colleges, it leaves me very puzzled. Based on my experience studying, teaching, and observing in several universities, I don't think it's accurate and I don't think it's fair. There are surely differences between the two educational systems, but it would take a very different kind of analysis to get at the way that plays out. And in the end, I doubt it would cast much light on why a slew of reviews and fan responses to Marston's Jane Eyre skews one way in the UK and another in the U.S./New York. I suspect that expectations about performing arts--opera and ballet adaptations--are playing the bigger role as well as attitudes to choreography as already discussed above in this thread. By the by, Scarlett's Frankenstein seem to me to have gotten a friendlier response from American fans online and even from critics (who gave it "mixed" reviews) than it received on this website or in the British press when it premiered in London. Audiences overall may react to things differently in different parts of the world, but the differences don't always play out in cleanly predictable ways.
  20. I'll trust you don't really want to offend 😊 and say that I think there are "national" differences in taste--allowing of course that neither UK audiences nor U.S. audiences are homogeneous. But I'm not sure the issue is that American's don't want/understand narrative ballet. (I should say up front that I very much wanted to see Marston's Jane Eyre but unfortunately could not get to New York to do so.) American Ballet Theatre audiences have historically enjoyed and do seem to want to see narrative ballets. In its early days the company prided itself on the "theatre" in its title and of course performed Tudor and De Mille's narrative works. More recently Macmillan's and Cranko's full length works have gotten a warm reception from audiences at ABT. I'd have said Dame Aux Camelias as well, though I think it's not as popular as, say, Manon. (I like it a lot.) The company's leadership always seems on the lookout for other full-length narrative works to stage...not always successfully it's true. Among one-act ballets the company has danced recently, Ashton's Month in the Country and The Dream get a warm reception and Ratmansky's first work for ABT was a serious one-act narrative work, On the Dnieper. So I'm not sure that narrative versus non-narrative is exactly the right way to characterize the difference between national tastes, though honestly I'm not quite sure how to characterize it. (Just as I was typing that sentence, Jane Simpson posted that fans who enjoyed Marston's Jane Eyre have been posting on Balletalert too. Doesn't surprise me and Twitter reflects the same. As well as others who did not care for it.) I'd add that across the U.S. many so-called regional companies put on narrative works, often full-length, and presumably of varying quality--I haven't seen them for the most part--that are often based on literary classics. These include versions of Hamlet, Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge, Dracula, multiple versions of Romeo and Juliet of course. My own local company, Atlanta Ballet, performed a Camino Real choreographed by Helen Pickett; it's based on Tennessee Williams's play and even required the dancers to speak in a few passages. I found it an interesting and enjoyable evening dramatically and choreographically, but still judged it to be more "dance theater" than "full length ballet." Perhaps that's an example of what is meant in this context by a more "American" attitude...? Drawing that line a little more strictly?? (Again, this is separate from what anyone might have thought of Jane Eyre which I haven't seen.) Put a little differently, I still think there is a swath of the New York audience especially whose taste and aesthetic have been profoundly and fundamentally shaped by Balanchine and New York City Ballet--even if they also attend and love ABT--and of course that same aesthetic has had a lot of impact across the U.S. They are skeptical of a lot of the popular narrative ballets whose primary inspiration is literary (though not skeptical of Ashton it has to be said). It's maybe not so much not liking narrative ballet but having a strong interest in, or value for, a choreographic approach that reflects the formal possibilities of classical and/or neo-classical ballet whether or not those are being put in the service of narrative or not...Honestly, though I can't fully describe it, this is my personal formation as a ballet-goer as well. (I rank Ashton high over Macmillan, but I have learned, partly by reading balletcoforum, that many fans of the Royal Ballet judge very differently.) That said, as I've gotten older my taste has become somewhat more eclectic and also...I'm just more and more conscious that different audiences as well as different individuals react differently to choreography and for reasons that aren't simply quirky or personal in the manner of one person preferring vanilla ice-cream and another strawberry, but that genuinely reflect different traditions and aesthetics.
  21. They do still have dual pricing with locals paying a discounted price.
  22. I find Delibes's ballet scores quite wonderful and Glazunov's score for Raymonda. I suppose I don't separate my pleasure in the scores from my pleasure in the ballets--the music absolutely takes me into the world of the ballets. But I also think the greatness of these ballets is inseparable from their music and the musicality of their choreography. (I'm thinking of traditional productions based on St. Leon and Petipa for Coppelia and Raymonda and of Ashton's choreography for Sylvia.)
  23. All of these suggestions are great...here are some others: When I visited St. Petersburg with Mr. Drew we really enjoyed taking a boat ride in the canals -- it gives a wonderful perspective on the city's architecture. There are a lot of tour boats but ones in English are much less frequent, so as it was our last full day, we actually just jumped into a small sized boat we saw about to start a tour where the commentary (taped) was in Russian. We didn't understand anything that was said, but everyone was very nice (and as we got on the boat rushed to give us a blanket and also rather sweetly pantomimed--mixed with the one or two words of English they knew--to warn us to be careful when the boat approaches lower bridges) and we just loved seeing the city from that perspective. It also got us to parts of the city we would not otherwise have seen. And of course if you plan it properly you will be able to take a boat ride where the commentary is in English. (There are also boat rides that go on the Neva which we did not have time to do.) I think the Peter and Paul fortress is also very much worth a visit--there is the Cathedral on the one hand which is where the Russian Tsars are buried (now including remains of NIcholas II and family) but also a prison where many political prisoners were held. It makes for a very dramatic contrast. Maybe not for everyone, but if you enjoy visual arts and want to look at paintings beyond the madhouse crowds of the Hermitage, there is the the State Russian Museum which is on another stunningly beautiful square--where the Mikhailovsky Theater is located as well. It's a Russian Art museum that begins with icons and medieval works and takes one through more or less contemporary works. As ballet fans, we also made a point of going by Rossi Street where the Vaganova Academy is located--this is not near the Mariinsky Theater though which is a little away from most of the "major" tourist sites. Rossi street has striking neo-classical architecture and backs up into the Alexandrinsky Theater and the whole architectural perspective created seemed to us well worth seeing for its own sake even if one didn't care about the Vaganova Academy. As far as walkability goes--the nearer you are to the Mariinsky the further you are from a lot of the other major sites. Around St. Isaac's Cathedral is possibly a good in-between location, but I'm a little uncomfortable advising on this issue, because everyone has different thresholds when it comes to walking--I'm pretty limited--and different needs when it comes to hotels. We had one guide who was surprised we didn't stay in a more central location, but we prioritized being nearer to the Mariinsky. However, if you are jumping in and out of taxis in St. Petersburg there is a chance you will be taken for a ride in more than one sense of the word. So that's one tiny negative. I would say perhaps, wherever you stay, try to restrict taxis to when you absolutely need them. I think you can guess that though I only visited the one time, I LOVED St. Petersburg. I hope you have a wonderful trip.
  24. This will be Atlanta Ballet's 2nd time with Vespertine--I thought it looked fabulous on the company in 2017. They are premiering a new Scarlett to Glass's Violin concerto next week.
  25. I went on Friday and saw mostly the same cast as Jeanette and the Traveling Ballerina though with Zverev rather than Askerov as Conrad. I suspect from what I have read and heard that I also saw a more pulled together performance from almost all the dancers. (Obviously, with opening night out of the way, dancers often settle down--at least that has been my experience when seeing companies on tour.) However, I am just writing here to second Jeannette on Maria Bulanova. She has huge brown eyes that read wonderfully across the footlights and at the moment -- and it is very early days of course -- she performs with more innate stage charisma than Khoreva. Her dancing, too, as the third Odalisque was just terrific.
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