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Monday, November 17, 2014

Vintage Flames of Paris clips


I went back for another performance of Flames of Paris this afternoon and enjoyed myself even more. Angelina Vorontsova (Jeanne) was a real charmer -- not as technically strong as Bondareva, but sweeter, more of an ingenue type. And her technique is way stronger than what youtube clips would suggest. Performance just flowed with energy and fun. And the little girl in the last act was adorable.

Other things I noticed: a beautiful corps de ballet girl of African descent. You don't usually see this in a Russian company. Did a little research and found out the girl was Olympiada Saurat Alfa N'gobi.

Here is Vorontsova with Zaytsev:


I also found these vintage clips.

Actor's pas de deux:


Flames of Paris, Character Dances:


Flames of Paris pas de deux:


A couple of thoughts: the Mikhailovsky and Mikhail Messerer has generally done an excellent job of preserving what's left of the extant Vainonen choreography. Whereas Ratmansky reworked the storyline to make it more palatable to modern audiences, he also made the ballet slightly more boring, without the raw energy and spirit of the original. The Messerer reconstruction embraces all the old-fashioned aspects of the ballet and runs with it. There's a little bit of something for everyone -- there's French court dance, folk dances, clog dances, Soviet lift pas de deux (the Freedom pas de deux), and good old fashioned bravura ballet. A fun time is had by all.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Flames of Paris


If the Mikhailovsky's Giselle was a strangely lifeless, depressing affair, their Flames of Paris is one of those good old-fashioned Russian extravaganzas that you can't help but love. Mikhail Messerer's production is a reconstruction of Stalin's favorite ballet (no joke). Uncle Joe apparently loved the cheerful, happy depiction of the French revolution, and it was a popular Soviet vehicle. Of course Vassily Vainonen's ballet eventually fell out of favor, but there's been this new-found interest in many of these dram-ballets. Alexei Ratmansky made his own reconstruction for the Bolshoi, and the Mikhailovsky followed suit last year. The Mikhailovsky's ballet apparently adhered much more to the 1932 original, but judging from how short the ballet is, I suspect a lot of filler was excised and we're left with Flames of Paris -- greatest hits!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mikhailovsky's Lifeless, Leaden Giselle

I'm lucky enough to have seen Natalia Osipova's evolution in Giselle. I first saw her in this role when she debuted it with the ABT. That was 2009, five years ago. I remember that as a really special night at the ballet. Her Giselle was different -- she imbued those overfamiliar steps with her incredible elevation and ballon, and inhuman speed. Along with those remarkable dancing skills her interpretation I remember as being fresh and unpretentious. I also saw a 3-D film she made at the Mariinsky Ballet a year later, and another live performance in 2012, and another HD film she made with the Royal Ballet just this year.

Osipova's Giselle was never going to be to everyone's taste. Certain things don't come naturally to Osipova -- her face doesn't have the doll-like sweetness we expect in Giselle, and her style of dancing can come across as overly athletic and even aggressive. With that being said, I never thought I'd see her dance a Giselle as soulless and unmoving as the one I saw her dance tonight.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Show Boat



Last night I went to the New York Philharmonic's semi-staged rendition of the classic American musical Show Boat. I reviewed it for Parterre Box. An excerpt from the review:

If you are of the belief that Show Boat can stand on its own as a classic score and thus doesn’t need the trappings of musical production, you’ll love the New York Philharmonic’s “semi-staged” production. Conductor/director Ted Sperlingpresents the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein classic as almost entirely a concert opera. Only a thin backdrop of an old-fashioned river-boat set the scene. The singers and dancers were dressed in modern evening wear, and the action is limited to the thin apron of the Avery Fisher Hall stage. Sperling uses the entire Philharmonic, instead of the usual pared-down orchestra that’s typical for these musical presentations.