Tag Archive: Yuri Possokhov

Style Over Substance

Modanse”
Svetlana Zakharova Evening

Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
October 31, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Zakharova, “Come un respiro” by M.Bigonzetti; Svetlana Zakharova Evening, MuzArts 2023 © A.Stepanov The title “Modanse” sounds like an à la mode ballet – classy, extravagant, and fashionable. It belongs to a double bill featuring the Bolshoi Ballet’s prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova. The external production includes dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet’s roster, and since 2019 has guested regularly on the Bolshoi Theatre’s stage and abroad.

As a seasoned artist, Zakharova must have an instinct about what suits her on stage. Hence I’m flabbergasted that she has kept Mauro Bigonzetti’s “Come un respiro” (“Like a Breath”) in the program. The 2009 creation, of which Zakharova acquired a reworked version, is ill-suited to make her and her co-dancers (among them Anastasia Stashkevich, Ana Turazashvili, Mikhail Lobukhin, Vyacheslav Lopatin, and Denis Savin) look good. Moreover, its succession of bland solos, pas de deux, and group dances fails to excite. (more…)

Fiendishly Fine

“Master and Margarita”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (New Stage)
Moscow, Russia
October 29, 2023 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Ovcharenko (Master) and E.Krysanova (Margarita), “Master and Margarita” by E.Clug, Bolshoi Ballet 2023 © Bolshoi Ballet / Batyr Anadurdiev I was skeptical whether Edward Clug was the right choice to tackle Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”. A Russian choreographer seemed better equipped to adapt this landmark of Soviet literature for the ballet stage than a Romanian-born working in Maribor, Slovenia. Two years after its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre, I was able to watch Clug’s “Master and Margarita” – and my reservations were proven thoroughly wrong. It’s a fabulous blend of entertainment and food for thought, brimful of metaphors and allusions. Yuri Possokhov, Clug’s Russian colleague, currently preparing a new piece for the Bolshoi, is full of appreciation for “Master and Margarita” as well. I met him at another performance where he told me that Clug understands the Russian soul perfectly well.

Interestingly, Clug, together with Christian Spuck (then artistic director of Zurich Ballet) intended to stage “Master and Margarita” in Zurich in 2015, but their plan was thwarted when the theater’s research revealed that ticket sales would be uncertain because the Zurich audience wasn’t familiar with Bulgakov’s novel. Destiny brought the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Makhar Vaziev to the scene who decided to stage the piece in Moscow.

A lifetime could be spent exploring Bulgakov’s political and social satire and the biblical questions raised by the novel. In short “The Master and Margarita” (published only after Bulgakov’s death in 1940, first in an edited serial form in 1966/67 and uncensored in 1973) intertwines two plots: (1) the mayhem caused by the Satan (alias Professor Woland) and his entourage when visiting Moscow in the 1930s, and (2) the trial of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem during Pontius Pilate’s governance. The connecting link is the Master, a Muscovite author (and Bulgakov’s alter ego) whose latest manuscript tells the Jerusalem plot. Margarita is the woman who loves him and – unlike Moscow’s critics – his work. (more…)

An Own Goal

Wiebke Hüster / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

Some days ago, an article by Wiebke Hüster, leading dance critic of Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, caught my attention (FAZ, October 07, 2023). Hüster wrote on the upcoming premiere of “Last Work” at the Hessian State Ballet. “Last Work” is by the Israeli Ohad Naharin – and he was the one Hüster objected. (more…)

Frothy

The Nutcracker”
Ballet of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Moscow, Russia

December 30, 2022 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “The Nutcracker” by Y.Possokhov, Stanislavsky Ballet 2022 © K.Zhitkova This winter, the Stanislavsky Ballet replaced Vasily Vainonen’s 1995 “Nutcracker” with Yuri Possokhov’s – not a brand-new rendering, but an adaption of the “Nutcracker” that Possokhov created for the Atlanta Ballet in 2018 (new designs included). Since its premiere in Moscow at the end of November, tickets have been in high demand. Given Possokhov’s good work on the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Nureyev” and an “Anna Karenina” for the Joffrey Ballet & the Australian Ballet, I was curious what approach he’d take to this iconic ballet – and it was clear within seconds that he had given this Nutcracker a strong update.

Sergey Rylko’s dazzling videos hurl us through flurrying snow to a spinning astrological sign. From there, a golden ram gallops off towards and through a faceless white town, flying in low over rooftops, an ice-rink, and a carousel. We land at the workshop of Drosselmeyer (danced by Jonah Cook, a former principal of the Bavarian State Ballet and the Zurich Ballet), who is heaping presents onto a sleigh together with his nephew (Andrey Kirichenko). Drosselmeyer’s wall-sized astrological clocks, their faces rotating mysteriously, are presumably tools that control the ticking of the universe. (more…)

Brilliant!

“Anna Karenina”
The Australian Ballet
Arts Center Melbourne / State Theatre
Melbourne, Australia
March 08, 2022 (livestream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2022 by Ilona Landgraf

1. R.Hendricks (Anna Karenina) and C.Linnane (Count Alexei Vronsky), “Anna Karenina” by Y.Possokhov, The Australian Ballet 2022 © J.BusbyWhile western cancel culture appears to be targeting all things Russian, the Australian Ballet points the way towards cooperation. This February, a ballet about an icon of Russian culture – Tolstoy’s epic novel “Anna Karenina” – premiered in Melbourne. Co-produced with the Joffrey Ballet and decorated with the 2021 Prix Benois for best choreography, it was a prime example of the uniting power of the arts. Its US-based choreographer Yuri Possokhov was born in Luhansk / Ukraine; the composer Ilya Demutsky, a frequent collaborator of Possokhov, is Russian. Valeriy Pecheykin, an Uzbeg working at Moscow’s Gogol Center, wrote the libretto. Set and costumes are by the British designer Tom Pye. Finn Ross, also a Brit, oversaw the video projections, and US-born David Finn created the lighting. (more…)

It’s Done

“Nureyev”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
December 09, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. V.Lantratov, “Nureyev”, chor.: Y.Possokhov, dir.: K.Serebrennikov, Bolshoi Ballet 2017 © Bolshoi Ballet / M.LogvinovAfter the Bolshoi Ballet’s July premiere of “Nureyev” was canceled at the last minute, officials doubled down on security efforts for the rescheduled performance on December 9th. Although guards lined the theater’s entrances and the curtain rose behind schedule, the performance was a smooth ride from start to finish.
And yet only those who attended the dress rehearsal this summer can truly asses whether or not the initial version was tweaked to comply with requests from the authorities. One might have noticed, for instance, that Richard Avedon’s photo of the naked Nureyev was not used as a backdrop, but rather was only projected on a screen for a quick second. But given the fact that the work was finally seen by the public – do these minor changes matter?

Choreographer Yuri Possokhov, stage director and set designer Kirill Serebrennikov, and composer Ilya Demutsky are the artistic core team behind “Nureyev”. Interviews with the trio, who had previously collaborated on the Bolshoi’s ballet “A Hero of Our Time”, were printed in the program booklet, which also contains Serebrennikov’s libretto.

(more…)

Why Did the Bolshoi Cancel “Nureyev”?

Bolshoi Ballet
Moscow, Russia
July 10, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

Bolshoi Theatre © Damir YusupovSaturday’s news that the Bolshoi canceled “Nureyev” three days before the ballet’s premiere on Tuesday, July 11th, and instead plans to perform its well-trodden “Don Quixote”, came as a severe blow. The ballet traces the life of ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev, who had his early career with the Kirov Ballet (today’s Maryinsky), before defecting from the Soviet Union during a tour to Paris in 1961. Nureyev became an acclaimed superstar in the West. He died in 1993, due to the consequences of AIDS.

The artistic team for “Nureyev” consists of choreographer Yuri Possokhov (a former Bolshoi dancer now resident at San Francisco Ballet), stage director Kirill Serebrennikov, composer Ilya Demutsky, music director Anton Grishanin and costume designer Elena Zaytseva. Serebrennikov is also in charge of the set design. I write in present tense as the premiere hasn’t been entirely scrapped but was postponed to May 2018. (more…)