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Swan Lake - Mariinsky


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Did anyone see the Mariinsky's Swan Lake on BBC 4 on Christmas day ? I think I must be losing

the plot because I wasn't that thrilled. Perhaps it was because I watched it on an Ipad

so on a small screen. But somehow I just felt there was a lack of drama/connection between

Top Swan and her forlorn Prince I know Ulyana Lopatkinaitikana is meant to be wonderful , and I perked up for her

Black Swan, but..well....I thought she/they were a bit short on the chemistry front. Maybe I was just suffering from a surfeit of Christmas fare.....but interested to know what others think.

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Norman, the "lack of drama/connection" is one of the things I always find with the Maryinsky Swan Lake, and is one of the reasons I don't like it - I've always said that from the "Busby Berkeley" angle it's marvellous, but it never moves me, and a Swan Lake should. Plus I've always found Lopatkina too remote in the role - but others adore her in it.

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I have noticed this "remoteness" (as Alison says above) - lack of contact (as Norman S says above) in an unfortunate number of Swan Lakes of different companies in the last 15 yrs or so. In many productions the two principals don't even look at one another. How does one fall in love without even looking at the other?

 

This state of affairs is not as I remember it years ago. So, just for the heck of it, I looked at a Youtube of Fonteyn and Nureyev in Swan Lake, Second Act - (I also have this complete tape) and I find my impression and memory of it unchanged upon viewing it again.

 

Every time the choreography allows, they are looking at one another. And, not just looking - but absorbing one another. When she runs across the stage toward him - she doesn't just run across the stage - but really runs to him. She seems to crave his human warmth. And he responds to the wonder of her..

 

I think it helps that nothing is exaggerated (no sky high legs) which doesn't distract the viewer's eye. This keeps the whole thing on a much more comprehensible level - we aren't asked to watch her toe climb up to her ear or puncture a cloud - we are thus more focused on the emotional interaction and so are they.

 

Without the exaggerated positions their arms, legs, bodies seem to flow more - the designs and shapes they make compliment one another perfectly and thus "connect." This physical oneness feeds into the emotional oneness.

 

Well, that's my take on it anyway.

 

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I`ve seen the version shown on BBC4 a few times now. Have to say I much prefer Svetlana Zacharova in any role compared to Ulyana. Yes,Ulyana is fantastic ,of course. She wouldn`t be a Prima Ballerina if she wasn`t. But overall,as far as technique AND emotion are concerned,Svetlana Zacharova is my current favourite dancer by far. Still ,it was great to see a ballet on at Christmas all the same,and at least it wasn`t BRB`s Cinderella,yet again.!

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I think the Russians traditionally have a different approach to Odette than British casts. Years ago Natasha (Makarova) said on a documentary that Fonteyn's Odette was a revelation, which transformed her own approach, as Fonteyn danced Odette as a woman whilst the Russian approach was more oriented to her swan nature. However, in recent years some British dancers, like others across the world, have focused on technique to the detriment (we old timers think) of characterisation and personality. Few performers are as moving as Fonteyn in Swan Lake, her body language, her use of eyes, her musicality, all convey Odette's tragedy.

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I think the Russians traditionally have a different approach to Odette than British casts. Years ago Natasha (Makarova) said on a documentary that Fonteyn's Odette was a revelation, which transformed her own approach, as Fonteyn danced Odette as a woman whilst the Russian approach was more oriented to her swan nature. However, in recent years some British dancers, like others across the world, have focused on technique to the detriment (we old timers think) of characterisation and personality. Few performers are as moving as Fonteyn in Swan Lake, her body language, her use of eyes, her musicality, all convey Odette's tragedy.

 

I agree with this.

 

If technique is the focus today then one might ask - Is Siegfried now being asked to fall in love with technique - outer beauty? I guess so! But that makes his vow easy to break - another beauty dressed in black has come along.

 

As difficult as technique is - characterization and personality are much much more difficult to convey. Technique is like a cooking recipe - put in certain ingredients and one gets a predictable result. But love isn't a recipe and results are never predictable. Under those circumstances - Siegfried falling in love with Odette's inner beauty - the breaking of the vow is not because of inconstancy but a mistake. Now the story connects with us - we have all made mistakes.

 

Conveying that to an audience is called artistry.

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