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Found 7 results

  1. Just back from seeing Spartacus at my Picturehouse and it was great, despite a technical break-down in act 3- which, thank goodness, sorted itself out eventually. It was delightful to be back in Moscow again and the interviews- with some old footage as well this time- were excellent. Not my favourite ballet but, after such a long hiatus, it somehow suited the mood for me: a bit of over the top, full-on emotional overload.....
  2. It's far too late to be writing on the forum but I still haven't come down from seeing the first performance of Spartacus tonight (or rather, last night!) It was superb. It's a long while since I saw it (with Irek Mukhemadov in the nineties) and this production seemed very different. I was expecting to be dazzled by the quality of the dancing but was surprised at how moving it was. Denis Rodkin was not only bold, brave and athletic but also tragic and convincing in his love for Phrygia, played with vulnerability and passion by Anastasia Denisova (of whom I've not heard before). Belyakov enacted Crassus in an appropriately bombastic manner, and took full advantage of being able to snog Svetlana Zakharova at every opportunity Zakharova was just wonderful. I always think of her as rather sweet, dignified and virginal (as in her Aurora) but here she embodied a cruel and cunning courtesan with every well-honed muscle. She was probably the oldest dancer on stage but also the most lithe. Of course, this ballet is a typical Bolshoi warhorse and suits their style perfectly. The production is ageing well - I think Virsaladze's design still looks fresh (whereas his Swan Lake could do with an update maybe). The orchestra was seriously good. Every male dancer looked extraordinarily handsome - especially Denis Rodkin! And he seemed to enjoy his time on stage so much. He was captivating. The whole evening was beautiful and worth the ticket price (£180 something pounds!) as I will remember it for the rest of my life.
  3. So the Bolshoi is back in Brisbane, six years after their earlier visit. I have no idea what brings such stellar companies to Brisbane, and nowhere else. La Scala, Royal Ballet, POB, ABT and now Bolshoi again. It is true that Brisbane is a delightful city with a winter not dissimilar to a standard European summer, but is that all? Anyway, the Bolshoi is here, with Spartacus and Jewels. Let's start with Spartacus. I'm sorry, but I did not warm to Spartacus. I did not care one scintilla for Spartacus or his wife; nor did the ever emoting Crassus or his lady do anything for me. My under thirties nephew commented about fillers, all those Roman soldiers marching around illustrating a) how invincible and b) how trully nasty they were. I hadn't seen things this way, but it gave me a useful filter for viewing the bits before and after the astonishing leaps and bounds produced by Mikhail Lobukhin as Spartacus and Artemy Belyakov as Crassus. And the techical level of the dancers, and especially Lobukhin and Belyakov, was extraordinary. The women, Yulia Stepanova (!) as Aegina and Anna Nikulina as Phrygia were also fantastic: it's a pity that the women tend to get forgotten because of those extraordinary leaps. Anyway, I'm glad that I saw Spartacus but also glad that I don't have another ticket. Jewels, but, was a very different kettle of fish. Brilliant. Fantastic. Wonderful. Supply your own adjective. The confidence displayed in Emeralds was breathtaking. Every extension, every lift, supported or unsupported, perfectly placed, perfectly executed. Anastasia Denisova was amazing, but so were others too numerous to mention. Rubies was less successful. Not enough sass. The best way I can think of expressing it is to say that the dancers gave the impression that they would go to a high-class wine bar before taking the train home. What I wanted to see (more sass) was a group that would go to an underground bar and after more cocktails than was generally recommended end up at his place. But technically supperb. Finally, Diamonds. Brought it all together. Capybara suggested I look out for Alena Kovaleva, and she, with Jacopo Tissi, danced the leading couple. What can I say? Beautiful. Such a distillation of classical Russian dance. Diamonds indeed. So now I have to wait with bated breath to see who's coming next year.
  4. Spare Spartacus ticket for Bolshoi on Friday aug 9 at 7:30 balcony standing c65 cost £15 Anyone want it?? Let me know soon thanks
  5. I was at 4 ballets in the Ballet Week in Munich mid-April, 2 of them with prominent guest stars - “Lady of the Camellias” and “Onegin”, which turned out to be below my expectations. On the 12th April, Marguerite was danced by Anne Laudere, partnered by Edvin Revazov, both from the Hamburg Ballet. She was fine, but Revazov, coming from Neumeier’s emsemble, was disappointing. I thought him inadequate, both technically and dramatically. Especially in the final black pdd he could not match the intensity and urgency of the Chopin’s Ballade and seemed not to have the stamina to finish the pdd with the necessary flourish... and sporting a hairdo more suited to Dr. Coppelius. One huge blemish of this production, to me at least, is that the drama of money-filled envelope took place on the extreme right extension of the stage, not on the stage proper. So those seated on the right upper tiers were unable to see Marguerite being handed the envelope, opening it, slapping Olympia, etc. All others in the audience had to divide their attention between this and Armand’s anguish on the extreme left side of the stage and the corps de ballet dancing in the middle. Very frustrating. “Onegin” on the 13th saw David Hallberg in the title role and Natalia Osipova as Tatiana. A case of big names tossed together, but which somehow fell flat. Friends I was with and myself missed the harmony and understanding which probably could only be there with more rehearsal time. Somehow the timing in the lifts seemed awkward, which esp. dampened our enjoyment of the Mirror pdd and I noticed in the final pdd that the lifts, with his arms raised and she inbetween them, were wrong. He had to bring down one arm to clutch her torso. It’s a matter of personal taste, but we found Osipova not quite right for Tatiana. Not the introverted bookworm, experiencing love for the 1st time, she was all too ready with her bright smile ... as in the words of a friend, passionate about this ballet – “She’s Kitri pretending to be Tatiana”. And on that evening she was on the heavy side, especially in the lifts. The other 2 evenings with “Taming of the Shrew” and “Spartacus” with the BSB’s own stars went off fine. Jonah Acosta cut a maverick figure as Petruchio with Lauretta Summerscales stomping as the untamed Kate, but I prefer her dancing as the tamed wife. For me Marcia Haydee is still the one who set the standard as Kate. Perhaps it’s the fact that Haydee was not pretty in the conventional sense of the word, so that her “ugly sister“ ferocity was given a cutting edge. “Spartacus” too went off well. Compactly built Osiel Gouneo delivered the spins and jumps to the delight of the audience, but still could bring over the passion of Spartacus. Ksenia Ryzhkova danced Phrygia wonderfully, with the right mixture of longing, fear and despair. The male corps de ballet marched and stamped vigourously, though I’ve often wondered how they’d compare to the Bolshoi, which I only could catch on dvd.
  6. When I found out that TAB was presenting a new version of Spartacus in 2018, I was not amused. Just what ballet needs right now: another gendered production with strong men performing unbelievable leaps while their female counterparts twirl decoratively with or without tutus. I was wrong. Lucas Jervies, the choreographer, states firmly (and accurately) in an interesting article in the Guardian (I've put the web address below), that gender did not feature at all in the choreography. Rather, he was exploring ways of making the Roman experience accessible to a contemporary audience. I found the work profoundly disturbing, and given the terrible nature of the story, and its resonances with the contemporary world (making the world of Rome accessible to audiences today), that's not surprising. But I'm not sure if I liked it or not. Things I really liked: the relationship between Spartacus and his wife, Flavia - an equal, caring, passionate relationship. The chemistry between Kevin Jackson (Spartacus) and Robyn Hendricks (Flavia) was palpable, as seen in a couple of beautiful pdd, tender, gentle and yearning. This relationship was contrasted with that between Crassus, the Roman general (Ty King-Wall), a man with no redeeming features, and his wife Tertulia (Amy Harris, who was made a principal at the end of the show). A much more conventional relationship: dominant man, submissive wife. It was this contrast that for me constituted the axis of the work. The fight scenes: beautifully choreographed. The costumes and sets (Jerome Kaplan), simple, stark, stripped back. The lighting (Benjamine Cisterne), evocative. And finally, the symbol of (Roman) victorious power - a clenched fist with the first digit raised heavenward. Very obvious, but strangly compelling, and giving the dancers an immediately comprehensible oppositional gesture as they struck down the raised finger again and again. This symbol dominates the first scene, a victory parade of captured prisoners, lead by lines of red flags flouished in unison: all too reminiscent of Hitler's celebrations, not to mention rallies in the Cultural Revolution. Things I did not like: Act 2 was set in Crassus's villa. A little too Satyricon for me. I lie. It was far too Satyricon for me. I felt the fell hand of Hollywood in the potrayal, and for me the imperative of story-telling overwhelmed the demands of ballet. A pity also that the debauched excesses of some of the later emperors have come to characterise the whole Roman era, including that of the late republic. Thanks, Hollywood. On re-reading this, it looks as if the reasons for liking the ballet, and seeing it again, far outweigh the reasons for not liking it, and from the balletic point of view, that is true. But I found the parallels with today's world (which were lightly drawn and which were probably mainly in my head), were strong enough to leave me feeling profoundly uncomfortable. So I'm not sure whether I will see it again when it comes to Sydney. *http://www.theguardian.com/the-australian-ballet-reimagined/2018/jul/05/casting-off-the-shackles-of-traditional-ballet
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