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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spartacus - Soviet Superman!!!


There are so many ridiculous moments in Yuri Grigorovich's Spartacus that by rights, I should have hated it completely. The choreography for Spartacus and the slaves consists almost entirely of marching (the "goosestep"), leaping on a diagonal, chest-beating and sword-fighting. The choreography for Phyrgia consists entirely of being lifted like a sack of potatoes. The only remotely interesting choreography is for Crassus and Aegina. Crassus brandishes his penis extension (uh, I mean sword) in some truly convoluted ways, and Aegina is asked to shimmy, to lie on the floor and thrust her hips upwards, and then in Act Three, to do a pole dance in which she actually takes the pole and rubs it between her legs and shivers from the orgasm. The score by Aram Khachaturian takes a melody, and then repeats it about 10,000 times more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bolshoi's Don Quixote - Best Show in Town

Don Quixote has long been considered the Bolshoi Ballet's house special and touring warhorse. Wherever they go, audiences go crazy over the Bolshoi's boisterous, happy, busy depiction of a Spanish fairyland. The curtain rose tonight at the Koch Theater and the effect was the same -- the audience was bombarded with sashaying skirts, rustling maracas, banging tambourines, swaying fans, swinging capes, and the happy reaction said "Ah, so fun."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bolshoi's Swan Lake


There's a saying in ballet that says "Put Swan Lake on the billboard, and they will come." This certainly seemed the case tonight as the Bolshoi Ballet has kicked off its two week stay at the Koch Theater with a week a Swan Lakes. Well ... I think many of the audience were shocked, to say the least, that in the Bolshoi/Grigorovich version, there's no swan and no lake. In fact, audience reaction was muted, and it made for some awkward moments when the audience was dead silent and the dancers decided to come out for another bow.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tsar's Bride - The Bolshoi Ride Into Town

There are certain works of art that for some reason hardly ever make the trip out of their homeland. Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Tsar's Bride has been relegated into that basket.   It's a regular in Russian opera companies but except for a recent La Scala production and a San Francisco production in 2000, the opera remains a Russian house special. Tonight the Bolshoi Opera brought this beautiful work for the first of two performance at Avery Fisher Hall.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Shakespeare at the ABT

At ABT, the big ticket items (Giselle, Swan Lake) are over. The guest artists have come and gone. The final week of the season ends with a low-key mixed bill and some Coppelias which mark the farewell for some talented but underused soloists (Yuriko Kajiya, Jared Matthews, and Sascha Radetsky). I caught a matinee performance of their "Shakespeare" mixed bill which pairs the tried-and-true (Ashton's The Dream) with the new (Ratmansky's The Tempest).