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In this issue | Short summary

  2[133] March - April 2005

The BALLET THEME column is dedicated to the 10th International Competition of the Ballet Artists held in Moscow. In anticipation of the anniversary contest, an exclusive interview with Yuri Nicholaevich Grigorovich, President of the jury, which he has granted to our correspondent V. Modestov, is published in this issue. 
The discussion touches upon such subjects as the fortunes of young artists, the traditions of the Russian ballet school, and problems of repertoire. A ballet competition is a review of talents, both young performers and choreographers, as well as a test of endurance. Ending the interview, Yuri Nicholaevich wished the Moscow Competition new discoveries and assured the participants that the jury would be both benevolent and fair.
A follow up of the President of Jurys interview provides Chairman of the Organizing Committee, choreographer Andrei Petrov, in his conversation with Maria Levkoeva. The two talked about such a pressing problem as the communicative capabilities of competitions, which open to many a life in the arts and give them a chance to acquaint themselves with a wide gamut of creative arts. One doesnt necessarily have to be the first in a competition what is the most important is to be noticed; indeed, a competition is, in addition to anything else, an employment exchange of sorts. One of its goals is to discover the trends of the contemporary choreographys development, to attract young choreographers. The more colorful and diverse the styles represented at the competition are, the more interest it is going to excite.
An article by the Magazines Editorinchief, Valeria Uralskaya, is entitled Around the Ballet Pedestals. An exciting excursion into the history of the world competition movement quite naturally leads to the reflections upon the contemporary state of the ballet contests. The competitions undoubtedly deserve the most concerned attention on the part of the world community as well as of such entities as UNESCO, which not only patronize them officially but also professionally foster the development of the general competition movement. Competitions represent perhaps the most important stage in the artists professional growth. The competitive character of the ballet gatherings crucially influences the development of the classical dance. The writer, however, also stresses negative features that appear in one competition after another the showoff manner of the performance and incomprehension of the stylistic features of specific works of the classical repertoire. What is being leveled is the stylistics not only of the classical heritage, but also of the latterday choreographic compositions. Such processes may and must be checked. To protect the artistic integrity, the competition repertoire must be defined and fixed as a system of requirements, and the jury, when judging the competitions, must take these requirements into consideration.
The Magazine keeps presenting the Soul of Dance Prize winners. Nicholai Fadeechevs pupils talk about their master. Says Andrey Uvarov, Nicholai Borisovich disapproves of the affected use of ones abilities, of the showing off of ones technical capabilities or physical features. The spectacle, the character thats what is first and foremost for him. 
Says Nicholai Tsiskaridze, Both Marina Timofeevna Semenova and Galina Sergeevna Ulanova used to tell me, You should work with Fadeechev. And when I came to him, the first thing he said was, Kolia, the only thing I hate is being thwarted. Says Sergei Filin, I owe my performing shape to Fadeechev. Thanks to him, Ive rid myself of the fear of the most complex elements of the classical dance, which prior to meeting him I simply was unable to perform. I have all reasons to consider him my theatrical father.
I. Stupnikovs article about Boris Bregvadze is entitled A Gift of Hope. The name of Boris Bregvadze had graced the playbills of the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater of Leningrad for twenty years, and the performances he danced in had attracted multitudes of enthusiasts enchanted by his bright temperament, his brilliant techniques and his acting charm 
Bregvadze possessed an amazing gift of hope which was alien to both triumphalism and defeatism. He seemed to treat the dance as a knightly adventure whose result is absolutely unpredictable and which, precisely for that reason, must be taken with a chivalrous geniality. Today he is an educator, and the young generation, the recent alumni of the A. Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, do remember that they indeed have a Master to whom they always may turn for advice and with whom they may always share both joys and sorrows.
Alexander Lavrenyuk, A Varangian Guest in Krasnodar (such has I. Belova, the writer of the next article, has dubbed the hero of her story), doesnt like it when people say that he had come into music from ballet and when they do he objects that I came into ballet from music and then had wandered in ballet for twenty years. His track record at the Bolshoy Theater includes two decades as a dancer and almost another one behind the conductors stand. He had been among the best character dancers of the Bolshoy during the 60s and 70s, and his style was marked with an emphatic graphicality of movement, expressiveness of line and unusually powerful but restrained temperament. 
Lavrenyuk the conductor knows the very nature of dance and its rigid laws from within and because of that its easier for the artists to dance under his hand He has conducted all the classical ballets, worked with different choreographers, but the principal one for him has always been and still remains Yuri Nicholaevich Grigirovich. Today both of them together work at the Krasnodar Theater.
P. Yashchenkov draws a portrait of a romantic of the dance, a principal dancer with the K.S. Stanislavsky and V.I. NemirovichDanchenko Musical Theater of Moscow, Gheorghi Smilievsky. The writer relates of the fortunes of the Bulgarian boy who was sent to study in Moscow and has since worked with such masters of the ballet stage as Yuri Grigorovich, Vladimir Vasiliev and Dmitry Bryantsev. The ballet star of Smilevsky rose a long time ago. But the real fame as a superb professional and talented performer is only just coming to him His dance strikes one with a rare combination of the delicacy proper to the French ballet princes and the artistry and temperament inherent in the Russian school. Such an inflammable mixture works infallibly on the audiences, turning every performance into a spectacular gala.
L. Shamina tells a story of Rudiy Khodjoyan, one of the most famous principal dancers with Igor Moisseevs Ensemble. The Master, as is well known, dislikes it when people single out any of his artists by calling them principals, because he considers all the performers in his Ensemble principles. However, Rudiy is an exception: he is one of the brightest stars of the troupe Khodjoyan epitomizes the very principles of the Moisseev dance school, a master who has comprehended the very essence of the great choreographers artistic system. No matter what dance he performs, he is always distinguished by a rare naturalness. This remarkable actor dancer imparts bright individual features to any ethnic character Rudiy has become a mentor to new generations of Moissevians. His pupils dance side by side with him on stage, which is the best evidence of the artistic longevity of the Ensembles living legend, as Khodjoyan is known all over the world.
THE BALLET SCENOGRAM Column is dedicated to Russian premieres. The first among those is John Neumeiers ballet A Midsummer Nights Dream. The respective article is shaped as an address of the writer (V. Uralskaya) to the artists. One is tempted to say to all of you, You dance well, there are good fellows. You are brilliantly endowed, well schooled, your temperaments pretty well fall upon your roles. But, alas, you take everything that goes on in the ballet too seriously. You have drama where the authors have farce. You are strungup whereas their purpose is based on relaxation. Indeed, the whole secret of the Dream is in that it is really a dream. All the forces of the nightly dreamland free the characters of constrain and restrains, of all reasoning and exertion The only artist who managed to fully achieve that during the opening nights was Ivan Urban who, unfortunately, doesnt belong to the Bolshoy troupe. Among the Moscow artists, the closest to the original turned out Ian Godovsky, whose movement, however, wants more airiness, and Nina Kuptsova, who also still is to relax the constrain in her interpretation of the part. Vladimir Neporozhny of an independent character, by the virtue of that independence, might be considered belonging to that rank too.
The Knight Errant is Come to Rostov, and the visit is significant for the theater, believes O. Shkarpetkina. The success of the Don Quixotes opening nights at the Rostov Musical Theater, in the choreographic version of Alexei Fadeechev, seems to have turn out oracular: in the last days of 2004, the troupe was informed of A. Fadeechev being appointed the Theaters chief choreographer.
The E. Materova and Yu. Sutorminas article The Tsekhs Premieres: Noise & Silence is a detailed review of the productions presented at the Tsekh Festival of the Russian Dance Theaters. Among all the unexpected titles, paradoxical subjects and shocking staging solutions, the writers find the most exciting such works as Noise & Silence by the Iguanas of St. Petersburg (choreographer M. Ivanov), and Not Giselle by the Kipling of Ekaterinburg (choreographer N. Levchenko). Lika Shevchenkos project Not a Dream performed by Roman Andreikin and Uliana Bachernikova proved absolutely without a rival. Its a fight between two worlds, the two genders, two passions, a fight between man and woman, a fight for love, and that love is symbolized by a military overcoat, which the characters tear on stage just as they torture each others hearts: Sometimes we just cant understand each other. Its a high time for us to at last acknowledge that we need each other not only in the dance.
The L. Latypovas article Action as Fantasy relates in detail of an experiment conducted in Perm by the artistic leader of the local Opera House Georgy Isaakian. He engaged Radu Poklitaru to stage The Seven Sins by Brecht and Weill, and he gave Tatiana Baganova of the Provincial Dances a chance to meet Stravinsky, this time in the domain of the oneact Nightingale. Two premiere performances of the same night differed like differ a burning reality and an ephemeral phantasmagoria, a sleep and a waking, an eccentric action and a mysterious fantasy.

Undying Nature was the general title of a series of gala concerts by the Russian Ballet State Theater of Moscow. Included in the program were samples of the best works of Russian choreography from Petipa and Gorsky to the masters of the Soviet period like V. Vainonen, R. Zakharov, L. Lavrovsky, L. Yakobson, and K. Boyarsky. E. Kozlenkova wrote about the concert participants, including young artists invited from the Bolshoy Theater.
Its certainly no coincidence that, in the year of the 135th anniversary of the painter Constantin Andreevich Somov, posters with the charming heroine of his famous picture, Columbines Little Tongue, appeared in the city of Cheliabinsk. Attracting the passerbys eyes by the gayety of her carnival costume, by the theatricality of her posture, by the lovely face under a black halfmask, by the capricious curve of her hand with prettily thrown up fingers, she invites everyone to the opening night of the threeact ballet by M. Chulaki A Two Master Man after the Carlo Goldoni comedy. The ballet was extremely popular back in 1970s, thanks to a staging by Nicholai Boyarchikov. Todays new ballet was composed by his pupil, Maria Bolshakova. According to K. Antonova who wrote the article, the premiere is an important achievement of the theater.
The two articles that follow might more properly be called fragments of memoirs. They continue the previous issues publications in anticipation of the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory. The first one is a story by Susanna Zviagina, once a principal dancer at the Bolshoy and now Chairperson of the Veterans of the Stage Council. Back in 1941 she was 22 and at a start of a brilliant career as a character dancer. 
A beautiful woman to look at, she distinguished herself not only by the elegance of her dance and by her temperament but also by her willpower, audacity and civicmindedness. She was deemed trustworthy enough to be put in charge of the frontline artist crews that had for two and a half years roamed many a war road. Zviaginas track record includes over 1,500 concerts for the frontline troops. Those wartime experiences are exactly what the writer of the memoirs is writing about. She also attaches excerpts from the thankyou letters addressed to the management of the Bolshoy Theater and the Arts Committee.
Inside the Blockade is the general title of the excerpts from a memoir book which Tatiana Shmyrova, principal dancer at the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater of Leningrad, wrote shortly prior to her death. She relates of her colleagues who just like herself spent the entire 900 days of the blockade in the city and regularly went to the battlefield with the frontline artist crews, performed at the hospitals and took part in the performances of the blockade theater. These people the contemporaries, eyewitnesses and participants of those grand historic events are getting fewer and fewer. And Tatana Ivanovna herself has no longer been with us for almost 15 years now.
THE BALLET WORLD Column presents news from abroad. The Ballet Magazine has more than once written about one of the brightest figures of the contemporary choreographer Pina Bausch. This season, her Theater from Wupperthal visited Moscow for the third time. S. Shchukova recorded a conversation of Moscow journalists with Bausch, the choreographer who has managed to combine the dancing avantgarde with the classical perfection. Pina Bausch expressed her gratitude to the Russian audiences and recalled how her production A Window Washer was being created; talked about her new productions that were inspired by her visits to different cities of the world; explained how she selects dancers for her troupe and why she herself performs in her own productions only so rarely.
V. Uralskaya in her topical article A Breakin reflects upon the fate of the dance on the world map. A motive for it was provided by her visits to the Bolshoy Theaters Ballet School in Southern Brazil and to a forum in Monaco.
The dance is leaving the stage, even in a country so rich in tradition as Brazil is, and lives in another atmosphere, that of carnival and festival. And none of its dimensions neither the schools of ballet and of samba nor the carnivals nor the theaters of contemporary dance contact each other, which leads to dilution of the dancing art in all theatrical forms. One may therefore rightfully ask, what are they preparing the kids at schools for?
In the quest for a form able to reflect the world that changes so catastrophically fast and its transition towards a computer way of thought, the contemporary presents itself as an alternative to the classical (both ballet and, more generally, dance), but is hardly able to substitute for it. A choreographer or an artist of the contemporary more often than not reminds me of a hacker who breaks through the security of the classical system which, as a reaction to the breakin, becomes even more perfect and unattainable The art, as is well known, is discriminatory, and each person may select what interests them subjectively. But that is precisely the trouble: we become silent eyewitnesses of the misbalance that befalls the dance culture. Where one might expect mutual enrichment and growth one more and more acutely feels disunity and confrontation. As a result all the components, that is to say, all the forms and genres of the onstage dancing art suffer.
I. Pushkina in her sketch A Desire of Fire and Water acquaints the reader with the art of the BalletPoem, a Korean ballet troupe made up of Seoul University students. In their first ever performance on stage of the Alexandrinsky Theater they demonstrated an art form that is totally unknown to the Russian audiences.
The most important thing is that, thanks to the Korean performers visit, a prospective has been open for a professional intercommunication and sharing of expertise: the Koreans might benefit from the classical dance experience whereas the Russians, from neophytes fresh views of the choreographic art. As for the performances themselves, the writers impressions of them are ambivalent. A rather sound level of professionalism attests to the seriousness of intent, but their approach to composing a dance makes one suspicious. Its their treatment of the music, totally foreign to us; and its some kind of averaged posture language with little regard to ethnical specifics. Whether its a quest for their own way or just growing pains is yet to be seen.
The INFORMBALLET column presents a whole kaleidoscope of facts and events:
Information about theoretical and practical discoveries made at the East Siberian Academy of Culture and Arts Institute of Dance, the biggest artistic higher school in Eastern Siberia;
The Soul of Russia National Award winners have been announced;
A new staging of The Nutcracker at the Ekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theater was carried out by the Moscow choreographer Viacheslav Gordeev, who now leads the local ballet;
The Moscow Choreography Academy has admitted new students the recipients of the Choreographic Arts Scholarships by the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency. The Young Talents Scholarship Fund was established by the Russian Culture Ministry over ten years ago, and almost 800 children student musicians, painters, dancers, and singers will start receiving it this year;
One of the sketches will inform you of the life of the new ballet school which Vadim Pisarev has established in Donetsk;
A concert of the Republic of Tartarstan State Ensemble of Song and Dance under Rinat Valeev has held at the Chaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow;
The essay A NonPensive Knight of the Rueful Countenance informs of the history of the ballet Don Quixote at the Samara Opera and Ballet Theater;
A Great Ship Asks Deep Waters is an article about an anniversary of Vitaly Mikhailovich Ievlev, Principal of the Republic of Mordovia Choreography School;
The 35th anniversary of the Sunny Rainbow Ensemble was celebrated with a gala concert at the Municipal Palace of Perm at the end of 2004;
The sketch Elion: The Name of God deals with a recent production of the Dance Institute of Ekaterinburg, formerly Ballet +, whose genre has been defined as Fashion Dance Project.
The BALLETPARADE column presents an interview by Constantin Ivanov. A few years ago he, being a principal dancer of the Bolshoy Theater, took charge of the Mari State Opera and Ballet Theater and became cultural adviser to the President of the Republic of Mari El, Leonid Markelov. Ivanov came back to his home Republic in order to revive the countrys musical art. One of the youngest troupes has grown right before everybodys eyes and has claimed its rightful position within the Russian theatrical scene. The young dancer was among those who initiated the Winter Nights Festival in YoshkarOla. At the beginning of this year, it was held for the 9th time. The local artists no longer served as a setting, no matter how worthy, to the bigcity guest stars. The opera and ballet principals as well as the orchestra have become fullscale participants of the festival performances, often equaling in quality the renowned guests.
In the BALLET TIME Column, Professor Lilia Talankina in her Essay of a Teacher remembers Anatoli Vassilievich Shatin, for whom the ballet teaching was a veritable calling. In 1946, he, together with Rostislav Vladimirovich Zakharov, established the Chair of Choreography at the Stage Directing Department of the then State Institute of Theatrical Arts (GITIS). Now the chair has grown into the Choreography Department of the Russian Theater Academy with different divisions and professional branches.
Shatin sacredly loved his work and demanded the same devotion and dedication from us. A person of sublime culture, he sought unbeaten tracks in ballet training. Anatoli Vassilievich has trained many notables of the ballet theater, not only for our own fatherland, but also for very many other countries. As for me, the cherished memory of my beloved master still helps me.