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The Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia


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Honestly, I have just looked on the Bristol Hippodrome ticket website, and I could weep. The Russian State Ballet of Siberia have almost sold out the four nights that they are booked there next week, when not even Alina Cojocaru dancing Juliet in the ENB's lovely production of R &J could achieve this last autumn. I can hardly believe that the Hippodrome insists on bringing back this ragtag of a company every January. I can only suppose that they know nothing about ballet. The ghastly sets, lighting, and costumes should be clue enough, but it is the mucking about of the corps, who possibly imagine they can't be seen, that is inexcusable. I think one expects that if a major theatre like the Hippodrome has booked a production, it will be of a reasonable standard. Some poor souls have paid nearly £60 a ticket to see this.

 

Phew, that feels better :)

Edited by cavycapers
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Their Swan Lake was the first ballet I ever saw.... To 12 year old me, it seemed the most magical thing in the world and inspired me to start pursuing a ballet career... Your comments make me tempted to see the company again now I know more about ballet, to see if they are as amazing as they first seemed, or not!!

 

(Edited for spelling then again for clarity!)

Edited by swanprincess
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Ouch Cavycapers I don't think you can have seen them lately? I really like State Ballet Siberia and love their Swan Lake. Sadly for the second year in a row now they're not coming to the Liverpool Empire. It was their Swan Lake that brought tears to my eyes and eased my anxiety one year when I was having a difficult time and for that alone I am eternally grateful to them. If I want to see them my only chance is Manchester but the dates are no good this time round so I'm missing them again soooo annoyed.

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I do was extremely disappointed when I saw them, although the young lady who danced the lead was worth every penny, the rest was very average. It was also unintentionally very funny and I had to put my fist in my mouth at one point...

 

But if they are introducing an audience to Ballet that's great. My sadness is that many theatres will host them instead, rather than as well as, of other companies (in particular British ones)

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I really didn't like their Swan Lake - which must be one of the oddest "straight" productions of the ballet I know - but I think I did like them when they first came over here, although I can't remember in what ballet it was.  Their Fille Mal Gardee wasn't bad, though, once I got used to it being the Hertel rather than the Herold version.

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Harsh words, cavycapers! They can occasionally seem a bit (and only a bit) shambolic, but they stick to a gruelling schedule, penetrate where other companies fear to tread (Basingstoke, for example....) and have some pretty talented dancers, some very young and no doubt wishing they could be at the Bolshoi.... Lots of people get to see ballet, and many get switched on to it, through the tours of companies like this.

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The first time I saw them I was not impressed. When I saw them again last winter, I thought them much improved. I certainly didn't notice any "mucking about" in the corps.

 

In my not very informed opinion, they are not as good as the "Moscow City Ballet", another of the touring minor Russian companies, which has also received flak from the more snobbish - or more discerning - critics. But in both cases, and especially with the MCB, I was actually quite impressed with the ensemble work of the corps.

 

And, as has been pointed out before in this forum, they are bringing ballet to areas which rarely see live ballet. I, for one, am grateful to them for doing so.

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I agree that they should be applauded for bringing ballet to the provinces. I always have great admiration for instance for companies like the Vienna Festival Ballet who tour tirelessly, but the difference between them and the RSB is that they are obviously trying their very best. I will go to watch any level of ballet so long as I feel that they love and appreciate what they're doing.

 

I have seen the RSB recently, and what upset me so much was that I paid a lot for a ticket at the Hippodrome, but was sat high enough up to see the men of the corps talking and laughing, trying to push each other over and thus missing their cues. This is what I find unforgivable, especially as the principals were very good, and were obviously trying their best.

 

My problem is that the tickets are the same price as the ENB when they come in the Autumn, which implies to a potential audience that the production will be of the same level, which it clearly isn't. Aside from the dancing, the backdrops are very simple, the lighting was as atmospheric as my local B and Q, and there were so many markings on the stage, it looked like an airport runway. It just surprises me that they are always at the very large Hippodrome, whilst the BRB, for instance, are at the much smaller Cheltenham Everyman when they come every Spring.

 

I wonder if it's the fact that they are a Russian company that impresses those who know little about ballet.

 

Whilst I am glad that they inspired some to a love of ballet, I also fear that they may have put off an equal number of people!

Edited by cavycapers
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When I saw their Swan Lake a few years ago, I remember a lot of large (and I don't mean tall) and rather ungainly male courtiers parading around the stage in Act I in a very camp manner, limp wrists and all.  I guess they were "supers", presumably cheaper than male dancers, but they represented many of those ghastly cliches that tend to put people in this country off ballet, often for life :(

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As I am going to see them in the Snow Maiden this Saturday at Blackpool (just back from the ROH Nutcracker on Friday!) I will be interested to hear what the Bristol balletgoers think of it this Wednesday. It's not a ballet I am familiar with which is what attracted me to it. I'm afraid the Peter Wright's productions have spoiled me for any other Nutcracker versions. I only wish his Birmingham Nutcracker would be filmed again as I think it is terrific.

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They must have changed their pricing - I saw them do Swan Lake about 3 years ago in Ipswich and the tickets were around £25; I'd baulk at more than that for them.  I remember Odette/Odile being good, indeed in a different league to the rest, who were very young and of variable capability.  Siegfried was a particularly puny youth and the corps had an unusually wide range of heights, which gave a rather ragged impression. To be fair the stage in Ipswich is very small, which must have posed challenges.  I had the idea that they are effectively a school which tours rather than a fully professional company? 

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I think pricing to some extent depends on the theatre: certainly Wimbledon, where they appear relatively frequently, has 5 price bands, and the lower ones are usually reasonably cheap.  OTOH, in Croydon (where I think they've just been over Christmas) I think the prices are above what I can afford, and certainly above what I'd want to pay for this company.

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I think my problem with this company is their coming to the Bristol Hippodrome in particular, once a year in January for four nights, and commanding tickets in a £30 to £60 price bracket, which compares to the same prices for the ENB when they come in the Autumn. Whilst I do admire what they do, travelling the provinces, I feel they would be better suited to a smaller theatre, such as the Bath Theatre Royal, the Brewhouse in Taunton or the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil, for instance, with tickets in the more reasonable £20-30 bracket. The Bristol Hippodrome is a major theatre in the area, and therefore you go there with expectations of the productions being of a very professional level. Their main diet is pre or post west end shows, and as such, I would trust them that any ballet staged there would be on a par with this. I suspect that those who paid £60 for their ticket might feel it was overpriced for what they got, especially if they had recently paid the same to see the ENB's wonderful Romeo and Juliet.

I always get the feeling that this may be an example of

'The Emperor's New Clothes', probably because they are of that exhaulted ilke, a Russian ballet company! However, if they can fill the theatre with the RBS, maybe they have a point, but I hate to think of people going to see this and thinking they have seen the pinnacle of classical ballet.

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I've just looked at the tickets & it says prices are between £19.40 - £47.40 for the evening shows & £15.40 - £37.40 for the one matinee (albeit with a £4 transaction fee on top...). I don't know if that good or bad but certainly wouldn't fork out. Also I was able to buy an under 26 ticket for ENB, but I've never been able to find that option since?

 

I actually think more people are going due to the time of the year, & the fact that there are only 4 shows of 3 different ballets probably helps (how many were there for ENB's R&J? I know the 1st night was full but couldn't attend any more).

 

Also most of my (non balletomane) work friends neither know nor care whether the dancers are top professionals. Most are going because they have younger siblings & have never attended a ballet before (some decided to skip the pantomime & see something different). Maybe I'll ask to see what their opinions are afterwards?

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  OTOH, in Croydon (where I think they've just been over Christmas)

 

Actually the company appearing in Croydon prior to Christmas was Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet, not the company under discussion.

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I saw their Snow Maiden on Wednesday evening and Swan Lake on Thursday afternoon in Bristol. Never seen them before.

 

I thought Snow Maiden was enchanting and the RSB gave a credible performance but it's the only production I have seen. The orchestra was strong in the string section but the winds were rather wobbly - overall good in parts but room for lots of improvement elsewhere.  I liked the costumes and scenery which were simple rather than impressive.

I enjoyed Swan Lake and thought the leads were very good for a company of this level. The orchestra again was strong in the strings (in ensemble and solos) but the winds weren't quite up to it and I think one player was slightly flat throughout.

 

In summary, they are not at all in the same class as the ENB but the dancers gave a creditable performance and provided good entertainment for the general theatre-goers and myself at £35 a throw including travel.

 

I go to see the Royal Ballet several times a year and they are in a class of their own - one of the top companies in the world and absolutely AMAZING - but it costs me £150 a time for a good ticket and travel.

 

What is the St Petersburg Classic Ballet like? They are in Bath at the end of January.

 

 

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I saw the St Petersburg Classic Ballet a couple of years ago and seem to remember them as good. They were at the much smaller Malvern Theatre, which suited their level of production well. The tickets were suitably priced in the £20-30 mien. When I saw the RUSSIAN STATE BALLET recently, although they had a bigger troupe, I thought the overall level of dancing and production was pretty similar to the SPCB, and therefore continue to wonder why they are chosen every year to play the much more important Bristol Hippodrome, at much higher prices, in fact the same as had been recently charged for the ENB's wonderful R and J.

 

So I still don't understand why one is in the provincial theatres of places like Malvern, and one is playing in a major regional theatre, charging the same price as when the ENB came. Maybe it's because they are a larger troupe and have their own orchestra, but many of the troupe were walk on parts, and the orchestra was small and quite comical in parts. Maybe we can forgive the sparseness of the stage, if that was a design choice, but overall, their professionalism was no way on par with the ENB, and yet ticket prices were the same. If you go to the Bristol Hippodrome, you expect a certain level of professionalism, and whilst some of the principals of th RSB were very good, thisy should either be at a lower price, or they should be in theatres like Malvern.

 

I guess, maybe if it was the only ballet you ever saw, you might be thrilled, but if you had bought tickets for them having seen the ENB there previously, you would have expected the same wonderful quality, and would have been disappointed.

Edited by cavycapers
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We saw Giselle (and I think it was RSB) a few years ago, and the only thing that really sticks in my mind was the noise of all the pointe shoes when the willis came drifting on through the fog of dry ice. It sounded like a skipload of cobbles being tipped down a wooden staircase and rather spoiled the effect!

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The other thing that made me laugh with the RSB was that I went into a little shop next to the Bristol Hippodrome when I came out, before I got the bus home, a pile of Russian ballet dancers came in through the door, and bought beer, vodka and fags! Whilst I have no problem with smoking or drinking, they're not saints, I would have thought that from a PR point of viewz it might have been better if they'd gone to a shop a couple of streets away. Boozy swans/Wilis! :D

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I must admit, I'm tempted by all the shows they are doing, but I wasn't bowled over by them last year. I'm a fan of each ballet they are doing, but I don't know if I'm a fan of how they'll do them :) plus, for the price of one ticket, I could almost go to London and back and see an RB/ENB show...

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Thanks nickb, for letting me know they're in Bath, I would have missed that otherwise. Swan Lake and Nutcracker, will probably give both a go, although to be honest, watching another Nutcracker at the end of January feels like that last little bit of Christmas cake that has somehow lost its appeal!

 

However, their blurb says that their performances "have an air of magic and are presented by outstanding soloists whose exquisite dancing will take your breath away". I'd better take oxygen then, especially as I'm in the balcony!

 

It's odd though, as I've never heard the Royal Ballet make such a claim. They're probably just not as good as the SPCB :D

Edited by cavycapers
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  • 3 weeks later...

I saw the St Petersburg Theatre Ballet's Nutcracker tonight, in Bath. Surprisingly, the little orchestra sounded very good to me, and I thought the sets and costumes were well above the usual standard for one of these touring companies. However....

 

The programme promised "outstanding soloists whose exquisite dancing will take your breath away". Whilst I thought the general standard of dancing was good, the only things that took my breath away were the liberties taken with the production. I have no problems when a touring company has to make adaptations because they don't have enough men, or because the stage is very small, but the Arabian dance was presented as a solo with one female dancer wafting her scarves around the stage, but most surprisingly of all was the decision to stage the grand pas de deux for the Sugarplum Fairy and her prince with five princes, and using at least two of these for each lift. Astonishing! I can only imagine that they didn't have a capable male soloist. I seriously thought I was watching the Rose Adagio at times, with the SPF being handed from man to man.

 

And I have seen much less professional companies pull this off with shoulder lifts and all. An attempt would have been good.

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