Yearly Archive: 2017

Wasted Effort?

“Gala des Étoiles”
Grand Théâtre
Luxembourg
May 20, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Tamazlacaru and I.Salenko / State Ballet Berlin, “Chopiniana” by M.Fokin, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Luxembourg, one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe, has no ballet tradition. To change this is the aim of former dancer Natascha Ipatova and Georges Rischette, both founders of the Luxembourg dance school DanceXperience. This year’s two galas on May 20th and 21st mark the fifth year in succession trying to wet the Luxembourg audience’s appetite for the art form. Unlike the suggestive title of the event, no étoiles of the Paris Opera Ballet were involved. Instead, there were leading principals and their colleagues from various international companies.

Igor Zapravdin, long-standing co-repetiteur of the Vienna State Ballet, accompanied some pieces live on the piano and framed the main program with rousing solos. Of the three opening dance pieces, I was most impressed by an excerpt from 2. I.Salenko and D.Tamazlacaru / State Ballet Berlin, “Talisman” Pas de Deux by M.Petipa / P.Gusev, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Pierre Lacotte’s “La Fille du Pharaon” as performed by Elena Bottaro (Vienna State Ballet) and Christiano Principato (Dutch National Ballet), both corps de ballet dancers. The two resonated well with each other and suited the choreography re-created for the Bolshoi in 2003. Bottaro and Principato’s dancing was snappy, fresh and dauntless. He is tall, and moves with composure and natural elegance.

Anastasia Sinitsina (trained at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC and at the John Cranko School in Stuttgart before joining the Vienna State Ballet) currently dances with St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre. She kicked off the program with a solo from Marius Petipa’s “Raymonda”. Maybe the pressure of being the first on stage dampened the sparkle of her performance. The third opening piece, “Million Eyes”, a modern solo choreographed and danced by the Luxembourg based Rémy Pagard and set to humming pop music, combined jerky moves, shallow gestures and ridiculous hopping. Though it was far from having gala quality, Pagard’s fans screamed excitedly, exemplifying the level of taste of the Luxembourg audience.

3. D.Tamazlacaru and I.Salenko / State Ballet Berlin, “Talisman” Pas de Deux by M.Petipa / P.Gusev, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza The gala’s main part was comprised of twelve dance pieces. Iana Salenko and Dinu Tamazlacaru of the State Ballet Berlin floated fascinatingly, almost weightlessly through their Pas de Deux from Mikhail Fokin’s “Chopiniana”. Salenko kept moving and moving in her balances, each time a tiny bit more and making every second suspenseful. The partnering was as perfect as it was effortless.
Together with her Berlin colleague and husband Marian Walter, Salenko later danced “Elegie der Herzen” (“Elegy of the Hearts”) by Raimondo Rebeck. His blend of neoclassical and modern choreography is set to Arvo Pärt’s “Mirror in the Mirror” interspersed with the sound of heartbeats and the wind whistling. Salenko’s role has her vacillating between being strong and confident and seeming almost vulnerable, being carried about by Walter. Her petite physique and consummate way of moving were ravishing. What might look extreme on others is graceful on her. Walter dashed through short, smooth sequences of jumps and slides before finally walking offstage as though he were slipping out of the relationship.

4. M.Dino and L.Lacarra / Ballet Dortmund, “Swan Lake” by M.Petipa, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza The second piece by Salenko and Tamazlacaru was Petipa’s “Talisman” Pas de Deux, which closed the gala at a very late hour. It was Tamazlacaru’s debut in the role. I don’t know where he found the energy and drive so late in the evening, but his tricky jumps went off like firecrackers. Watching the technical high jinks of both was thrilling.

Another highlight was Natasha Kusch (The Australian Ballet?) and Semyon Chudin (Bolshoi Ballet) in an excerpt of August Bournonville’s “La Sylphide” – the Act II pas de deux, in which James meets the Sylph in her woodland realm. Kusch’s Sylph was bouncy and coquettish, curiosity and playfulness outweighing her coyness. Watching Chudin’s James made one chuckle with delight. Fresh as the forest in which he found himself, he blew her a kiss, turned abruptly 5. M.Dino and L.Lacarra / Ballet Dortmund, “Light Rain” by G.Arpino, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza around to catch her by surprise – but in vain. Chudin’s jumps were fleet, propelling him through triple turns and, in between really clasping the Sylph. What a fine partner!
Chudin’s second piece was “Reflections …” a modern solo to music by Philip Glass choreographed by his Bolshoi colleague Andrey Merkuriev. What he was reflecting upon was hard to discern and exacerbated by murky lighting. In any case, this gloomy study left a lump in the stomach.

Lucia Lacarra and Marlon Dino, who, after Igor Zelensky took over as director of the Bavarian State Ballet, left Munich to join Ballet Dortmund, contributed their well-tested gala pieces, the White Swan Pas de Deux of Petipa’s “Swan Lake” and “Light Rain” by Gerald Arpino. Lacarra has very long limbs and a flexibility that allows her to bend and contort her body into extreme postures. She exploited both but omitted nourishing her dancing from within. What is “Swan Lake” without emotion? Compared to what Alexei Ratmansky reconstructed for Zurich Ballet, or with Olga Smirnova’s recent interpretation in Vienna, Lacarra’s White Swan looked like an affected, over-stylized copy. Her bony arms fluttered too much and her elbows and wrists wriggled.

“Light Rain” features stylish acrobatics, extreme flexibility and a sharp-edged, snappy physicality pepped up with oriental eroticism. Watching it the first time was of some interest, but upon repeated viewing the ballet seems superficial and pretentious. In both pieces, Dino’s part was notable mostly for partnering, and his own dancing remained unremarkable.
6. V.Malakhov and B.Knop, “The Old Man and Me” by H.van Manen, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Vladimir Malakhov and Beatrice Knop repeated one piece from his farewell gala in Berlin in 2014: “The Old Man and Me” by Hans van Manen. Compared to then, Malakhov seemed to ignore Knop’s advances even more stoically. The way she patiently moved in on him had the sweet cheek of a woman who knows her man. It was good to see both back on stage.

Another re-encouter for me was Eno Peci’s solo, “Blanc”, with choreography by Daniel Proietto. Peci dances with Vienna State Ballet and I had seen him in this role, in which he portrays the Shadow of a Poet, at the premiere of the entire piece last November in Vienna. Although I hadn’t been impressed back then, the solo by itself now had power and proved to be gripping.
7. B.Knop and V.Malakhov, “The Old Man and Me” by H.van Manen, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Peci, who also choreographs (his “Petrushka” just recently premiered at Vienna’s Volksoper) premiered his own choreography at the gala as well. “Opus 25”, a pas de deux to music by Frédéric Chopin played live by Zapravdin, is about a man (Peci) trying to win the affection of a woman (Maria Yakovleva, Vienna State Ballet). A bit shy and uncertain, she stood with shoulders hunched, but when lifted high by him, she floated proudly up there. Peci, once gently shoving his head beyond her upper arm, later sat desperately crouching on the floor, all alone center stage at the end, while Yakovlava, visibly more self-confident, took a seat next to the pianist.

8. N.Kusch and I.Putrov, “Giselle” by J.Perrot and J.Coralli, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Ivan Putrov, ex-principal of The Royal Ballet London, first appeared in “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from Christoph Willibald Cluck’s 1774 “Orphée et Euridice” as choreographed by Frederick Ashton for Anthony Dowell. It is a solo of Elysian grace for which Ashton raided the female ballet vocabulary. Running from one side of the stage to the other, apparently questing, the Blessed Spirit seems to be Orpheus still seeking Eurydice. Putrov didn’t live up to the challenge. His dancing was blurred, and instead of being expressive he hid behind empty gestures.

Putrov’s second contribution as Count Albrecht alongside Kusch’s Giselle in the realm of the Wilis was even worse. After a diagonal of mediocre jumps marred by unclean landings, he lost his balance when kneeling down and decided to hasten Albrecht’s collapse to the floor. Supposedly, Putrov suffered a sudden hip problem, but he hadn’t been in good shape beforehand either. Kusch bore Albrecht’s surrender with a gracious smile and nimble-footedly went through her variation.

9. E.Peci / Vienna State Ballet, “Blanc” by D.Proietto, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza Ipatova and Rischette have made every effort to instill the Luxembourg audience with enthusiasm for ballet. Actor Brice Montagne moderated the program in French, wittily introducing dancers and pieces; Malakhov gave an open masterclass on Sunday morning; in addition Marianela Núñez (The Royal Ballet) and Alejandro Parente (Ballet of the Teatro Colón) came to Luxembourg to dance in the Sunday gala. The masterclass was well-received and I was especially glad to see many young children, some of which later hopped and danced in front of the mirrors in the foyer. But I have never experienced such a passive audience during performances. Applause was lame, appreciation indifferent and the woman sitting next to me typed at least one text message on her smart phone per dance piece.

It will be a long road to establish ballet culture in the Grand Duchy.
10. E.Peci / Vienna State Ballet, “Blanc” by D.Proietto, Gala des Étoiles 2017 © P.Abbondanza

Links: Website of the Grand Théâtre Luxembourg
Photos:  1. Dinu Tamazlacaru and Iana Salenko / State Ballet Berlin, “Chopiniana” by Mikhail Fokin, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 2. Iana Salenko and Dinu Tamazlacaru / State Ballet Berlin, “Talisman” Pas de Deux by Marius Petipa / Pyotr Gusev, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 3. Dinu Tamazlacaru and Iana Salenko / State Ballet Berlin, “Talisman” Pas de Deux by Marius Petipa / Pyotr Gusev, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 4. Marlon Dino (Prince Siegfried) and Lucia Lacarra (Odette) / Ballet Dortmund, “Swan Lake” by Marius Petipa, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 5. Marlon Dino and Lucia Lacarra / Ballet Dortmund, “Light Rain” by Gerald Arpino, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 6. Vladimir Malakhov and Beatrice Knop, “The Old Man and Me” by Hans van Manen, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 7. Beatrice Knop and Vladimir Malakhov, “The Old Man and Me” by Hans van Manen, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 8. Natasha Kusch (Giselle) and Ivan Putrov (Count Albrecht), “Giselle” by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 9. Eno Peci (The Poet’s Shadow) / Vienna State Ballet, “Blanc” by Daniel Proietto, Gala des Étoiles 2017
 10. Eno Peci (The Poet’s Shadow) / Vienna State Ballet, “Blanc” by Daniel Proietto, Gala des Étoiles 2017
all photos © Piereluigi Abbondanza
 Editing:  Laurence Smelser, George Jackson

Four Dancer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2017

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Ballet / Korean National Ballet / National Ballet of Uruguay
Moscow / Seoul / Montevideo
April 28, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Statuette of the Prix Benois de la Danse, design by I.Ustinov © Y.PokrovskyOn May 30th and 31st the Bolshoi again hosts the ceremonies of the annual Prix Benois de la Danse Galas. Prizes will be given on the first evening, while the gala on the following day will look back on highlights from the twenty-five-year history of the Prix Benois. It is already known that Marcia Haydée will be awarded the Benois Prize for Lifetime Achievement and Aurelie Dupont the Russian-Italian Prize Miroir de la Danse.

This year’s nominees include seven choreographers, six ballerinas and seven male dancers. I asked four dancers – two female, two male – about the roles which earned them the nomination: they are, alphabetically, Nina Kaptsova (Bolshoi Ballet), Jae-Woo Lee (Korean National Ballet), Maria Riccetto (National Ballet of Uruguay), and Denis Rodkin (Bolshoi Ballet).
All four were asked the same questions:
“Why was performing this role special compared to other roles you danced? What challenged you? In what perspective did the role make you grow as an artist?”

Here is what they answered: (more…)

Real Life and Ideals – Nureyev’s “Swan Lake”

“Swan Lake”
Vienna State Ballet
Vienna State Opera
Vienna, Austria
May 14, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin and O.Smirnova, “Swan Lake” by R.Nureyev after M.Petipa and L.Ivanov, Vienna State Ballet © Vienna State Ballet / A.Taylor “French and Russian style differ, so everything is a bit new at the moment,” Semyon Chudin told me in an interview a few weeks before his premiere in Rudolf Nureyev’s “Swan Lake” in Vienna. He and Olga Smirnova, both figureheads of the Bolshoi, guested in the leading roles with Manuel Legris’s company. I saw the first of two performances. How did they do?

Nureyev’s version differs in style, choreography and the weight given to several characters in comparison to other traditional interpretations of “Swan Lake”. The role of Benno, Prince Siegfried’s friend, is gone and, unlike in Russian productions, there is no fool either. Instead the focus shifts towards Siegfried, whom Nureyev danced more than fifty times himself; his last performance was in 1988 a few days after his 50th birthday. Nureyev’s Siegfried has more to dance – a formal Pas de cinq at his birthday party followed by a melancholy solo, for example – and allows deeper insight into his psyche. At the end he falls victim to Von Rothbart’s revenge and drowns in the floods of the lake, whereas Odette, still alive, stands at the lakeside like the idealized female. However desperately Siegfried stretches his arms towards her she is unattainable. He is doomed to die. (more…)

State Ballet Berlin – The Die is Cast

State Ballet Berlin
Berlin, Germany
May 04, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Waltz and J.Öhman © A.RivalAround six months ago, questions were raised about the legitimacy of Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman’s contracts as future artistic directors of the State Ballet Berlin. Their appointments needed the approval of the Stiftungsrat of the Opera, but because of the upcoming elections, the board hadn’t (and still hasn’t) the required quorum of members for making valid decisions. Having firmly protested against the appointment of the new directors for months, the dancers intensified their opposition at that time.

Apparently hoping that the furor would die down in the meantime, Waltz and Öhman, together with Berlin’s new cultural senator Dr. Klaus Lederer (DIE LINKE), talked with the dancers as part of a staff meeting at the end of April. Their aim was to provide insight into their artistic program, and to start “an open and constructive dialogue”*. On the following mid-morning, Waltz and Öhman gave a press conference in which they tried to imply that the waves had calmed and that all were eager to establish a “trustful and creative atmosphere”*.

The facts are as follows: (more…)

An Ordeal

“Don Quixote”
Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg
State Theater
Nuremberg, Germany
April 28, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. N.Sasaki, R.Scott and ensemble, “Don Quixote” by G.Montero, Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg 2017 © J.Vallinas“Don Quixote” is best associated with the showy dancing of snappy youth, lighthearted joie de vivre and air sizzling with eroticism. The Ballet of the State Theater Nuremberg’s new “Don Quixote” offers the opposite. Goyo Montero, artistic director of the company of around twenty dancers, boiled down the traditional three acts to a single one lasting 90 minutes. According to the program booklet, the production begins in a mental institution, a prison or a refugee camp. Given the huge gunny sacks serving as seats, buffers or protective wall (set design by Eva Adler and Montero), the scruffy gray and brown costumes and the simple bag-like headdresses credited to Angelo Alberto and Montero, I thought of mill hands kept in arrest. But regardless of the place one imagines the figures inhabiting it are insane. (more…)

Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin on “Swan Lake”

“Swan Lake”
Vienna State Ballet
Moscow / Vienna
April 28, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Chudin and O.Smirnova, “Swan Lake” by Y.Grigorovich after M.Petipa, L.Ivanov and A.Gorsky, Bolshoi Ballet © Bolshoi Theatre / D.YusupovIn mid-May Vienna State Ballet revives Rudolf Nureyev’s “Swan Lake,” the version he choreographed for the company in 1964. The new set and costumes are by Luisa Spinatelli. Four guest dancers will take the leading roles in the course of the run. The Bolshoi’s Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin dance twice, on May 14th and 17th; on June 4th Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov of The Royal Ballet guest in Vienna. The last performance on Monday, June 12th, will be streamed live on the internet.

While “Swan Lake” is Smirnova’s debut in Vienna, Chudin returns for the third time to the Austrian capital. Two weeks before opening night I asked both about their roles and about Nureyev’s production in particular. Smirnova, who at that time was in Moscow, answered in written form. Katerina Novikova, head of the Bolshoi’s press office, kindly translated Smirnova’s answers into English. Chudin, already rehearsing with the company in Vienna, talked with me via Skype. (more…)

Noverre Evening 2017

“Young Choreographers”
Noverre Society
Schauspielhaus Stuttgart
Stuttgart, Germany
April 20, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.McGowan and E.Comak, “Fraternal | Stories” by A.McGowan and E.Comak, Noverre Society Stuttgart – Young Choreographers 2017 © R.NovitzkyTwelve young choreographers presented their works to the public as part of this season’s two Noverre Evenings – Stuttgart’s platform for aspiring choreographers of dance. Two of the choreographers are female. Two of the ten pieces are collaborative works. Seven originated from within the ranks of the Stuttgart Ballet, and three were created by individual dancers from Lyon, Munich and Mannheim. Notably, none included point work. The quality of the works varied, but each was warmly applauded and some raised enthusiastic cheers. (more…)

Stuttgart Ballet’s “Walking, Talking Historical Person”

“Reid Anderson – Having it”
240 pages, b/w illustrations
Henschel Publishing House, April 2017
ISBN 978-3894877903
April 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. “Reid Anderson – Having It”, book cover © Henschel Publishing HouseReid Anderson celebrated his 68 years anniversary on April 1st a few weeks ago. His birthday present was a book: Reid Anderson – Having It, From Dancer to Director, initiated and edited by Vivien Arnold, Stuttgart Ballet’s Director of Press, Dramaturgy and Communications. Its authors, Angela Reinhardt and Gary Smith, are both very familiar with Anderson’s career. Smith covered Anderson’s childhood and teenage years in Canada, his training at the Royal Ballet School in London and his time as director, first of the Ballet British Columbia, then of the National Ballet of Canada. Stuttgart-based Reinhardt contributed the Stuttgart chapters of Anderson’s life, one as a dancer of John Cranko’s company, and the second, ten years later, as director of the company, a post he still holds.

The book, available in German and English, was introduced to the public by Anderson and Tim Schleider, Head of the Culture Department of the Stuttgarter Zeitung and the Stuttgarter Nachrichten, in a matinée talk in Stuttgart’s opera house on April 1st. (more…)

Heightened Drama

“Mayerling”
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
National Theater
Munich, Germany
April 06, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Polunin and A.Pershenkova, “Mayerling” by K.MacMillan, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre 2017 © W.Hösl Igor Zelensky invited Moscow’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre, his own former troupe, to perform as a guest company for this month’s Ballet Festival Week in Munich. Last October, after a short period of double directorship in Moscow and Munich, Zelensky decided to concentrate solely on directing the Bavarian State Ballet. Laurent Hilaire, former Paris Opéra Ballet étoile, took over Zelensky’s post at the Stanislavsky in January this year.

The Stanislavsky brought along Kenneth MacMillan’s “Mayerling”, a piece rarely performed on German stages. As a special treat, Sergei Polunin danced the leading role at both performances. I saw the opening night. Although Polunin left the Stanislavsky in summer 2014, he continued to perform with the company on occasion. In Munich, he has been a permanent guest dancer since Zelensky took up the reins.

“Mayerling” isn’t the sort of piece one eagerly watches again and again – for at the root of the catastrophe of the piece is a tragedy that is too sad and a society that is too disgusting to witness repeatedly. The story is based on a dark chapter of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. The Emperor’s third child with Elisabeth (“Sisi”), Duchess of the house of Wittelsbach, was Crown Prince Rudolf, who at the age of twenty-three, was forced into a marriage with Princess Stéphanie of Belgium. The ballet begins with the couple’s wedding ball and ends with the double suicide of Rudolf and his mistress, Mary Vetsera, at the royal hunting lodge at Mayerling. (more…)

Munich Opens Wonderland

“Alice in Wonderland”
Bavarian State Ballet
National Theater
Munich, Germany
April 03, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Alice in Wonderland” by C.Wheeldon, Bavarian State Ballet 2017 © W.Hösl The first day of Munich’s Ballet Festival Week heralded the start of an extended cricket season at the city’s National Theater. Captains of noble descent lead the competing teams. Which of the players – half a zoo plus numerous playing cards – fight for the Queen of Hearts and which fight for the Duchess isn’t always clear. Games aren’t played by the rules in Wonderland. (more…)

Two Farewells at the Semperoper Ballet

“Theme and Variations” (Triple bill: “Theme and Variations”, New Suite”, “She Was Black”)
Semperoper Ballet
Semperoper
Dresden, Germany
March 30, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. F.Voranger, Semperoper Ballet © I.WhalenSemperoper Ballet bid a double farewell on April 1st. True to his announcement last year, Mats Ek withdrew his works from the stage forever as he heads into retirement. “She Was Black”, originally choreographed in 1995, is among those that will retire with him. It has been part of the repertoire of the Dresden company for six years. When I learned about the 2nd goodbye, I thought it might be a premature April Fools’ joke – but it wasn’t. Fabien Voranger, the 36-year old principal of the company, ended his active dancing career with a final pas de deux in “She Was Black” in the middle of the season.

Born in Aix-en-Provence in Southern France, Voranger was trained at the Opéra National de Paris and the Studio Ballet Colette Armand in Marseille. A Prix de Lausanne scholarship led him to The Royal Ballet School before signing his first contract with Roland Petit’s troupe in Marseille. Engagements at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Vienna State Ballet soon followed. As Voranger stated in an interview in 2015, he tended to move on to another company whenever he felt stuck in his artistic growth: There will be always someone who can do more pirouettes than you, who is technically superior. So the most important thing in a career is to find someone who makes something of you.” (more…)

Boris Akimov – Half a Century for the Bolshoi

Bolshoi Ballet
Moscow, Russia
March 10, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. B.Akimov, Bolshoi Ballet © Bolshoi Theatre / D.YusupovDid you watch the Bolshoi Ballet’s live broadcast last October on World Ballet Day? If so, you must remember the lean, white-haired man who taught morning class: Boris Akimov. The motivation he spread was contagious, his vigor stupendous. Akimov demonstrated the exercises, had an eye on everyone and, simply with his charisma, kept everyone’s attention focused. Katerina Novikova, head of the press office, had just revealed in her introductory words that Akimov has been working at the Bolshoi for fifty years, and yet no one could have imagined that he was seventy years old at the time.

Akimov danced with the company, directed it artistically and for decades since has been teaching, rehearsing and coaching not only dancers of the Bolshoi and other companies abroad, but also students of the Russian University of Theatre Arts. He has been honored and recognized for his artwork extensively, including receiving the “People’s Artist of the USSR” in 1989, the highest title Russia can bestow on an artist.

I met Akimov on March 10th at the Bolshoi Theatre to find out more about his career and artistic vision. Novikova kindly interpreted from Russian to English and vice versa.
Akimov’s answers are in italics. (more…)

Room for Improvement

“Onegin”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 11, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Obraztsova and N.Semizorova, “Onegin” by J.Cranko, Bolshoi Ballet © Bolshoi Theatre / D.YusupovConditions were the same overall on the second of the three evening performances of “Onegin” at the Bolshoi. The sky above the garden of the Larina family’s country house was bright blue, domestic bliss was as yet unclouded, the village folk were in an expansively jolly mood. The Bolshoi Orchestra under Pavel Sorokin, reliable as always, ensured a fine rendition of Tchaikovsky’s music. Yet unlike the evening before the story didn’t gain momentum.

“Onegin” needs four dancers of equal or complementary strength in the leading roles. The role of Olga is smaller than the other three, but her part is pivotal for the dramatic turn the story takes. Saturday’s cast had only one consistently strong dancer, Evgenia Obraztsova as Tatiana. (more…)

Bringing “Onegin” Home

“Onegin”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 10, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Tikhomirova, S.Chudin and ensemble, “Onegin” by J.Cranko, Bolshoi Ballet © Bolshoi Theatre / D.Yusupov“John is here” is a well-known saying within the walls of Stuttgart Ballet. People know what they are talking about. Ever since his untimely death more than forty years ago John Cranko’s spirit has energized his Stuttgart company.
Yet last weekend his presence was strongly palpable elsewhere. The Bolshoi performed his “Onegin” on three consecutive evenings at home in Moscow. On first night not only Cranko seemed close but also Reid Anderson, who had supervised the production at the Bolshoi in 2013, and Jürgen Rose, whose costumes and set design are unvaryingly matchless. The Bolshoi Theatre and Stuttgart State Opera merged into one house on this Friday evening uniting their powers in a performance of overwhelming intensity. (more…)

Still Elusive: The Eternal Feminine

“Ondine”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
March 04, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. I.Tsvirko and E.Krysanova, “Ondine” by V.Samodurov, Bolshoi Ballet 2017 © Bolshoi Theatre / D.YusupovIn 1958 Frederick Ashton choreographed the story of “Ondine” for The Royal Ballet in London. This three-act work is about the water nymph Ondine – a role Ashton made specially for Margot Fonteyn – who becomes the object of a worldly prince’s desire. Upon finding the prince unfaithful, Ondine kills him with a kiss. German composer Hans Werner Henze was commissioned with the “Undine” music. Other choreographers subsequently used Henze’s score for their own productions, the most recent dating from the summer of 2016 by Vyacheslav Samodurov for the Bolshoi Ballet. (more…)