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Bolshoi's La Sylphide (Kobborg production)


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Did anyone else see this at the cinema this afternoon? (or live, for that matter :) ). I was surprised to see how different a "feel" it had from the Royal Ballet version, which is presumably pretty much identical, which was performed a few months ago: it struck me as being rather less Romantic and less obviously Bournonville in style - or was I just not picking it up so much from the figures on a 20-foot (or whatever) screen?

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I haven't seen the Royal B but have seen the Royal Danish B. I felt also that the Bolshoi was less Bournonville and I was trying to analyse why. It seemed to me they didn't plie as much on landings and their upper bodies were stiffer, less epaulement than from Royal Danish dancers, esp. in those classic Bournonville grands jetes. Did anyone else notice this? When I saw Gudrun Bojesen of the Royal Danish Ballet I felt she really was made of air!

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I saw it in Cambridge yesterday. Despite Johan Kobborg's involvement, it was much less of a tartan extravaganza than his version presented at Covent Garden since 2005 - though the girls in this village clearly benefit from having a highly talented seamstress at their disposal. The manorial hall staging is different, with it stairs and balconies at the rear rather than on the right - to capitalise on a larger stage?

 

Mrs M, with some experience in the business of being a Sylph, and who was distinctly unimpressed by some of the RB arms and wrists on display earlier this summer, felt that the Bolshoi got it right. But for me, the highspot was Irina Zibrova's Madge. Putting aside that she was quite the most fanciable Madge I've seen, there was never any doubt that she was out to take some kind of revenge on James. Interviewed by the ever-capable Mme Novikova during the Interval, she made clear that Kobborg had gone to some trouble to shed the 'aged hag' image and then went on to explain the potential significance of the flash of white petticoat at James' downfall. (This was mentioned in discussion here of the RB's version this year, in which this reference appeared to have been deliberately dropped.) To me, one of the benefits of the HD close-ups in these transmissions is the ability to read eyes and faces, and I'd now be fascinated to see what the dramatically intelligent Zenaida Yanowsky might make of this role.

 

And I fear that the Bolshoi claque was as much in evidence as ever, and I'd swear I now recognise the voices concerned. Applause at the lift in which it has become clear that the Sylph has been killed? I'm afraid so.

 

For the record:

 

Sylph - Ekaterina Krysanova

James - Vyacheslav Lopatin

Madge - Irina Zibrova

Effie - Anna Rebetskaya

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As explained in the interview with Madge (Irina Zibrova), Kobborg deliberately altered her presentation, making her younger, no humpback, no long finger nails, less witchlike. Towards the end she lifts the bottom of her skirt to reveal an ankle and a long white skirt suggestive of the sylphs, exploring the question of who or what was Madge, had she been a sylph herself, what drove her hatred of James? There are other, less obvious, changes, such as when James conceals the Sylph by holding up the shawl, instead of covering the chair with it as she sits there, so that the empty chair is not revealed by somebody else.

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And I fear that the Bolshoi claque was as much in evidence as ever, and I'd swear I now recognise the voices concerned. Applause at the lift in which it has become clear that the Sylph has been killed? I'm afraid so.

 

I was annoyed by the disruptive clapping too.

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Was it Kobborg's intention to set La Sylphide on the Bolshoi in the Bournonville style? There are other styles within the Romantic genre of this ballet....French, for instance.

 

How could he possibly set a ballet by Bournonville other than in the Bournonville style?

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How could he possibly set a ballet by Bournonville other than in the Bournonville style?

 

As I understand it, there is a French version which predates Bournonville. Pierre LaCotte revived this version in 1972 from what was known of its original form - danced exquisitely by his wife Prima Ballerina Ghislaine Thesmar (I have the tape).

 

There is even a setting by Petipa. I'm not sure how much of that is extant, though.

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I guess I don't really understand your question: Kobborg's production, a near-copy of the one he did for the Royal Ballet, is Bournonville's La Sylphide (with some additions by Kobborg himself) and the style is an integral part of it.

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I guess I don't really understand your question: Kobborg's production, a near-copy of the one he did for the Royal Ballet, is Bournonville's La Sylphide (with some additions by Kobborg himself) and the style is an integral part of it.

 

I had no idea of his "intent" nor am I familiar with his version for the RB - hence the question.

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My 6 year old grand daughter saw the Bolshoi La Sylphide with no preconceptions apart from a rough idea of the story line so her observations were interesting. She loved the Bolshoi theatre and thought it was very like the ROH. The big heads walking in front of the cameras tickled her. She was fascinated with Mme Novikova switching from Russian to French to English and especially that people in France could also see the ballet. She noted that we didn't have to clap because 'they' did it for us. Lots of challenging whispered 'why' starting with the overture from the orchestra. She was relieved that Madge was not too witchy but she has the same ongoing questions as the rest of us as to the underlying connection between Madge and the sylph community.

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Anjuli, if you want to see it for yourself, it's being shown in the US on October 7th, I believe.

 

Thank you very much for that information! I hope I get to see it. However, I just checked and it seems it is not being shown in San Diego.

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Putting aside that she was quite the most fanciable Madge I've seen, there was never any doubt that she was out to take some kind of revenge on James.

 

I did feel the porcelain-doll prettiness and the beautifully curled hair did go a little too far in the other direction, especially given the production designs as a whole, though.

 

Interviewed by the ever-capable Mme Novikova during the Interval, she made clear that Kobborg had gone to some trouble to shed the 'aged hag' image and then went on to explain the potential significance of the flash of white petticoat at James' downfall.

 

Obviously I shouldn't have gone out for refreshments during the interval :( - was it interesting?

 

 

"To me, one of the benefits of the HD close-ups in these transmissions is the ability to read eyes and faces, and I'd now be fascinated to see what the dramatically intelligent Zenaida Yanowsky might make of this role."

 

Hmm, yes, that would be interesting. I wondered how much I would have got, even from Lopatin, without the extreme close-ups, though, say if I'd been sitting in the cheap seats in the theatre. Not very much, I suspect.

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Alison: What happened in the Interval comprised some 10 minutes or so of a static shot of the empty stalls, about 5 minutes-worth of on-stage interview with Madge (Irina Zibrova), with the remaining time used to watch the set being arranged and dancers warming-up. As I've indicated, I found the Madge interview most worthwhile, largely because it touched on the "Who is Madge?" question as set-out by Kobborg, something that I increasingly feel gives weight to 'La Sylphide' as a narrative. And I should add that this may have been true for many others - there was quite an audible "Ooh!" to be heard as the possibility of Madge having been a spurned Sylph herself was explained.

 

Oh - and the interview ended with Miss Zibrova warning that perhaps the moral of the tale was that we should not kill our dreams and that we should strive instead for a satisfactory work-life balance!

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