According to the long-standing tradition, this issue is led off by the address to the readers by Valeria Uralskaya, Editor-in-chief, where she summarizes the 2002-2003 ballet season. “Among the global events of the season where the tercentenary festivities in St. Petersburg, a city where arts are perhaps the most prominent personae. On these pages, we have and will, during this entire year, cover the anniversary events in the choreographic arts. Festivals, premieres, concerts indoors and outdoors, conferences and seminars have gingered up the already eventful reality of St. Petersburg’s life.
“Moscow, even though much calmer, has nevertheless also seen some important touring guests… Paying due respect to the foreign artists, we still can be rightfully proud of both repertoire and performer’s skills of our own ballet.
“So much the sadder is it to realize that the climate in both our theaters and, worse yet, in the structure of their ballet productions, is losing its former artistic purity and ceases to be a ‘holy’ zone of spirituality.
“I am pleased to remark that our regional theaters are gradually ‘lifting up their heads’… The scene of the so called contemporary dance theaters, which was vigorously evolving in the past seasons, has some-what slowed down... The state of folk groups, though, causes anxiety. The complex processes of the fiscal policy in the mainly touring mode of these entities’ lives jeopardize their very existence in their traditional makeup and status.”
The Editor-in-chief briefly speaks about the magazine’s achievements during the season and shares some plans for the future. “The edito-rial board has published a special issue of the magazine in the series Materials for the History of the 20th Century Ballet: Contemporaries’ Testimony. This, the third special issue in the series, is dedicated to professional education during the past century. Our magazine for children, Studia Antre, has achieved stability as a periodical. The newspaper Linia Zhurnala Ballet is gaining popularity.
“This coming fall we will be issuing St. Petersburg’s Mirrors, an album by the famous artist-photographer Nina Alovert.
“Next year will see the 10th anniversary of our magazine’s annual award, The Soul of the Dance. The solemn ceremony will be held in Moscow where new winners will receive their prizes. We intend to expand the geography of the laureates’ concerts.”
The NEW BALLET column presents some premiere ballet productions at various Russian theaters.
- Alexander Maksov relates of the two-act ballet Desire under the Elms staged by Yury Puzakov at the Chuvashia State Opera and Ballet House based on the well-known play by Eugene O'Neille to the music assembled out of various pieces by Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber.
"This production will never please those who only seek amusement in ballet", Yuri Puzakov speaks to his audience. "We wish to reflect upon mysteries of the human soul". The choreographer has managed to turn a kitchensink drama into a poetical ballade and to crate a multilayered philosophical spectacle where one can find everything from dramatic tension to American backwoods local color with its philistine country-style gayety, to the yearnings of the Southern Texan night, to exquisite love.
- Valery Ivanov's article is dedicated to One-act Ballets' Night to the music of Rodion Shchedrin (comprising A Lady with a Lap-Dog and The Carmen Suite) at the Samara Opera and Ballet Theater dedicated to the composer's 70th anniversary. Rodion Shchedrin and Maya Plisetskaya, for whom the music was written, had arrived from Munich to attend the performance.
While The Carmen Suite has seen dozens of productions all over the world, A Lady with a Lap-Dog, which is based on a Chekhov's short story had only been staged once (at the Bolshoy in 1985). The Samara productions are not a mere repetition of the previous renderings but rather the original works of the Samara ballet troupe's artistic director Nikita Dolgushin (The Carmen Suite) and the Theater's staging choreographer Nadezhda Malygina (A Lady with a Lap-Dog ).
The young choreographer N. Malygina has successfully conveyed the characters' moods, the exquisite development of their relationships, Chekhov's lyricism, and the characteristic aura of the time. "The choreographer gives one a chance to peer into each and every character, both major and minor. Each one is endowed with a unique individuality, clearly outlined behavior and orchestic visualization."
The specific characteristic of Dolgushin's Carmen Suite is the absence of the Torero. The choreographer is fully focused on Jose and Carmencita. "The orchestic lexicon of Jose and Carmencita's dialogues comprises various styles. The acute classical pas and uplifts are followed by acrobatic tumbles."
The writer carefully analyzes the principals' performances, praising their dancing techniques and acting talents.
The article ends with quotations by Plisetskaya and Shchedrin, who have acknowledged the commendable quality of the orchestra under conductor Yarem Skibinsky and "the excelent work of the scenedesigner Murvanidze."
- Arkady Sokolov-Kaminsky's article Impishly about Serious Matters is about Boris Eifman's ballet-musical Who Is Who.
"The new production of this inventive choreographer from St. Petersburg is about diverse destinies of Russian emigres.
Eifman's spectacle consists of disconnected episodes that are beaded upon the plot's axis and staged in a rather grand manner. The artless plot is cemented by three human destinies, those of two Russian emigre dancers and an American show star. The two youths are devotees of the classical school of dance, but their talents find no market in the New World, where the resplendent show spirit reigns. This opposition between the non-demanded classical dance and the all-around pop-show is supposed to embody the drama and bring about a finale. The finale, however, is a happy one. One of the main characters creates a troupe that combines the two contrasting plastic elements, while the other one returns back to his motherland. Each one has chosen his own way. The price, however, is a loss of a friend.
There is a lot here that resembles the trivialities of well-known Western movies: showy fights, battering, chases, disguises. In a word, the serious matters are presented in a kitschy entourage, now piquant, now impish. The choreographer is at home with the plastic capacities of the Western show and is able to combine into a united spectacle the numbers that are almost concert-like in their completeness.
The musical material is highly diverse – from Sergey Rachmaninoff to Duke Ellington to Samuel Barber."
- The article by Nina Rivenko and Alla Mikhaleva about the new Bolshoy production, A Lucent Stream (A. Ratmansky, to the music of D. Shostakovich), consists of two parts. The first one is a detailed excursion into the history. The authors analyze Shostakovich's attempts to create music for a ballet toon a contemporary subject; they recall the famous Feodor Lopukhov's production and its ban that followed accusations of "naturalism, formalism, ignorance of life and indifference towards it."
The second half of the article is a review of the new production staged by Alexey Ratmansky. Dwelling upon the score and the amusing and comical plot, the choreographer chose "to go through the music from the beginning to the end the way Shostakovich the genius had conceived it. …The merry and witty ballet presents limitless opportunities for a "play" with time and the performers, which is exactly what is Ratmansky's particular strength. The choreographer's attitude towards time is that of an ironical yet benevolent deference. Not towards real "historical" time, to be specific, but towards the theatrical and artistic myth of the age. The rustic dances and prankish conflicts among the kolkhozniks are deliciously recognizable in somewhat nostalgic way and theatrically colorful. Easily and innovatively, Ratmansky interweaves together the lexicons of classical, character, folk and purely burlesque dances, linking the motions with unexpected yet organic transitions, which is perhaps the production's most fortunate feature.
On this happy dancing ground, the performers' individualities gleefully flourish as they respond to the choreographer's appeals with an almost "Komsomolic" spirit. The actor's zest here is closely intertwisted with the young principles' skills, and thus what would otherwise have been a merry ballet tomfoolery steers itself into the space of a serious spectacle with well-built parts, high performing and choreographic culture and, above all, a result that fulfills the design."
SEASON'S BOTTOM LINE
The SEASON'S BOTTOM LINE column addresses the creative work of various Russian theaters.
Olga Bogdanova's article relates of the many–faceted and rich season at the Cheliabinsk Theater. The ballet troupe under the new artistic director Yelena Bychkunova has presented to the audience The Nutcracker in Sergei Bobrov and Henrikh Mayorov's version; the comical ballet Cavalry's Encampment (I. Armsheimer, choreography by M. Petipa, staging by G. Pribylov). Another premiere of Bobrov's in Cheliabinsk was a recreation of Swan Lake with new character dances staged by Juliana Malkhasyantz. The season triumphantly ended with the festival In honor of Yekaterina Maksimova."
Comments Clara Antonova: "At the close of the season the most attractive personalities for Cheliabinskians were their guests from Moscow, the principal dancers of the Kremlin Ballet Theater under Yekaterina Maksimova. The artists from the capital had danced at a gala night and performed the principal parts in Giselle, which was followed by Cinderella and Anyuta."
Yet another spring event took place in Cheliabinsk. It was a Ballet night at the Culcural Palace of Railroad Workers, where teachers and students of the M. I. Glinka State Conservatory of Magnitigorsk were performing. They presented a premiere of an extended concert program and a one-act ballet to the music of M. Moussorgsky A Night on the Scalped Mountain (choreographer E. Petrenko).
The sketch by A. Nikiforova relates of the first major foreign tour of the Udmurtia Ballet. The troupe had been on the road for almost three months and had crossed China North to South. The repertoire of this theater, which is located in the P. I. Tchaikovsky's birthplace, included The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. The new and original staging of Swan Lake by Boris Myagkov inspired genuine interest, having been performed twenty-two times. The immediate plans of the ballet troupe is a staging of L. Minkus's Don Quixote and a ballet to the music of the Udmurtian composer A. Korepanov A Nightingale and a Rose.
The 2002-2003 season is an anniversary one for the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theater. Lyudmila Usacheva in her sketch remarks, "During the 25th season, the Moscow choreographer Sergei Bobrov, who had already been cooperating with the Krasnoyarsk troupe for five years, became the Theater's chief staging choreographer. This season he presented to the audience a new staging version of Swan Lake, which attracted interest in Great Britain. The ballet troupe that was practically unknown to the British audiences received an engagement for twenty performances during the 2002 Christmas season in Cardiff, Wales. The tour turned out an overwhelming success. And now, during the next season, the Krasnoyarsk theater's foreign partners hope to see its performances again, including The Sleeping Beauty.
Galina Viktorova writes about the premiere of The Captain's Daughter, a ballet to the music of Tikhon Khrennikov staged by V. Butrimovich, which was a season-ending event at the A. S. Pushkin Opera and Ballet Theater of Nizhni Novgorod. "The new production has become a singular birthday present to the distinguished composer who has recently turned 90.
"As far as the season in general is concerned, I might say that the collective is going through tough times – a succession of generations. The experienced masters leave stage; the young ones come to replace them. That's why the season had been marked by a great deal of artists' premieres: many dancers had had several debuts in different productions."
Following what has become a good tradition, the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater has marked the end of its 58th season with a premiere. This time it was Don Quixote to the music of A. Mincus staged by the Theater's chief choreographer Sergei Vykharev, after the choreography of Petipa and Gorsky. Speaking of the production in her story, Tatiana Grinevich calls it "a shining peak of the season."
"Characteristic for the current ballet repertoire have been festive intonations. A series of successful debuts have attested to the fact that the troupe has been replenished with new names… In late 2002, the Sixth International Philip Morris Debut 2002 award ceremony was held at the Theater. The prize, established by the European Art Center in Switzerland, was awarded for the 2001-2002 season.
During the season the troupe celebrated the 50th birthday of its leader, Sergei Krupko, in the recent past one of the most brilliant character dancers of the Theater.
A brief sketch by Roman Volodchenkov presents a rather full history of the creation and onstage life of Mikhail Fokine's ballet Bluebeard. "Fokine is not experimenting, nor is he searching for new forms; instead, this work of his is an outcome of rich artistic experiences that he had accumulated. He is not afraid even to use quotations from the classical legacy of Petipa, from which the spectacle only benefits, gaining so badly needed logical construction and dynamic development.
"Today the spectacle comes back again to the Russian audience. The Ballet Theater led by Lilia Sabitova has revived it and shown on stage of the Mocsow Scientists' House."
Svetlana Potemkina brings some news from the Saratov Opera. "At the end of June, the ballet troupe completed the season with a premiere of Romeo and Juliet in L. Lavrovsky's choreography. The staging was by Mikhail Lavrovsky.
The playbill of the Sixteenth Sobinov Festival, traditionally held in May, included Don Quixote with guest stars from Moscow as well as this season's premiere – Swan Lake, which Boris Blankov had transferred from the Mariinski. Thus in October 2002, the black swans made their first appearance on the Saratov stage.
Natalia Karachevskaya's sketch deals with the Voronezh premiere of Swan Lake, which coincided with the Slavic Letters and Culture Day. Dmitri Korneev, principal dancer for the Mariinsky, has staged the K. Sergeev's version.
- An article by the famous artist-photographer Nina Alovert about a mini-ballet called Mr. XYZ. It has been shown at the New York's Joyce Theater by the Ballet Tech troupe crated by the famous American choreographer Eliot Feld. Starring in this monologue ballet was Mikhail Baryshnikov. It wasn't the first time that the two work together. "Having quitted the classical ballet and committed himself to Art Nouveau theater, Baryshnikov ceased to create characters in ballet spectacles and constantly presents dance monologues instead. Generally, these are philosophical parables-confessions. Mr. XYZ has turned out a combination of a brilliant actor's work and a confession." The three last letters of the English alphabet in the title, according to the choreographer's conception, symbolize the end of a life.
Baryshnikov creates a psychological portrait of a very old man, which, of course, doesn't match the image of the 55-year-old dancer himself. Mr. XYZ's monologue is for Baryshnikov a means to express his bitter reflections of life and death. It was not for nothing that the artist has woven into the plot some pieces of his own stage life.
Having ascribed his autobiographical features unto his character, the dancer, as if being afraid of falling into mawkishness, portraits the old Mr. XYZ with no pity or condescension. "However, Baryshnikov's old man is multifaceted; sometimes he is ridiculous and even grotesque. Mr. XYZ is an conflation of plain mummery, irony, and tragic revelations of the artist himself."
The INFORM-BALLET column informs the readers of what's news in the world of dance.
Julia Churko analyzes the progress of the 13th Vitebsk Festival which can be rightly called a success. It demonstrated that the period of apprenticeship and imitations is coming to an end, and that the contemporary Belorussian choreography is gaining distinctive individuality. At the same time, the author reflects upon two directions in dance in general. The first one, which is called "educational" in the West and "healing" or "ritual" in the East, is dance that is viewed as therapeutic and educational. The second one, especially popular in the West, is so called "lab art" whose main purpose is a quest for new forms and new language.
Svetlana Potemkina's article The Forty Thieves Will Become Artists informs the readers about a ballet production at the choreography department of the Musical school in Cheboksary, Chuvashia. Ali Baba is the third ballet staged by school's principal Galina Nikiforova. A spectacle with such a distinctive Eastern character has not been seen on stage of the Chuvash Theater for many years. It is interesting to note that the most sensitive of all spectators to the Eastern plastic elements that pervade Ali Baba turn out to be young schoolchildren.
A Team with a Diamond Technique is an article that relates of a performing tour of the Moscow Gzhel Theater. Audiences in Europe, Asia, and Africa were watching the Russian dancers' art as they would a miracle. According to a Los Angeles Times reporter, the show Russia the Eternal performed in the USA "turned into an evening of acute sensations". A khorovod (a ring of dancers in a round dance) was turning around faster and faster inside another khorovod. All the compositions were hilarious and energetic, and spectators' souls seemed to dance along with the artists.
Dance Inversion will from now on be the name of an acclaimed festival of contemporary choreography in Moscow. It started as European Festival and later, having joined the ADF system, became International Festival at the K. S. Stanislavsky and V. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko
Musical Theater of Moscow. Now it has expanded its geography and will be held not only in Moscow but also in Nizhni Novgorod, Rostov and Saratov. In an interview included in the column, director of the Festival, V. G. Urin, informs the readers of distinctive features and the program of this year's forthcoming event. In addition to the interview, there is brief information about the groups and choreographers that are expected to take part in the Festival.
Natalia Levkoeva writes about the Kazan Festival. "In April Kazan was again receiving guests of now the second Open Festival of Choreography Schools and Colleges, which was included into the federal program of preparation for the millennium celebration of the city of Kazan. Leading this audacious enterprise was an extraordinary woman, a legend of the Tartar ballet, and artistic director of the Kazan School of Choreography Ninel Yultyeva. Participating in this review of the country's potential in the art of dance were students from many cities of the Russian Federation.
The International Ballet Competition was been held in the very heart of Europe – in Luxembourg – for the seventh time in a row. This is the subject of another story by Natalia Levkoeva. During all these years the Competition has revealed to the world many remarkable names and has taken its due place among such world-famous forums as those of Moscow and Varna. This year has brought about new joy to Russian ballet lovers: the jury has awarded the Grand Prix to Natalia Osipova, a sophomore of the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.
Yaroslav Sedov shares his impressions of the Rudolf Nureyev Festivals in Kasan and Ufa. Both of them have old and rich traditions and belong to the rank of the most representative Russian regional ballet forums. This year both festivals have coincided late in May. Both of them boasted guests from big-city theaters as well as new productions: in Kazan, The Sleeping Beauty in the troupe leader Vladimir Yakovlev's version and A Futile Precaution staged by Oleg Vinorgadov, and in Ufa, The Blue Danube to the music of Strauss staged by Shamil Teregulov.
The readers will learn about the newly born Diaghilev Seasons International Festival in Perm. "The city where Diaghilev spent his childhood and youth, which he left for St. Petersburg and later for Paris where he founded his famous Russian Seasons, this very city held in the spring of 2003 a grand festivity in honor of its famed citizen. Within the framework of the festival, which has become the major outcome of the passed theatrical season in Perm, had been a ballet premiere of Peter I. Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty and an opera premiere of R. Shchedrin's Lolita; performances of Balanchine's ballets; contemporary music concerts; an art exhibition from Boris Anisfeld's collection and the other one, that of Russian avantgarde; a symposium S. P. Diaghilev and Art of his Time in the Eyes of New Generations; round tables; and many other events."
"Arts Are Us" – such was the slogan of the Third Delphic Games of the Youth of Russia held in Volgograd in the spring of 2003. Among the 18 officially announced nomination categories was one of "folk dance" which attracted twenty-four children's and youth's ensembles in two age groups – from ten to fourteen and from fifteen to twenty one. Tamara Purtova who had attended the Games, tells the readers about the participants and their dances.
"I must admit that when heading for the master-class of the teachers from the scenic-dance chair of the Russian Theater Academy who teach students of acting and pop-art, as well as musical theater and directing departments, I hadn't anticipated much of success in dance there", writes the magazine's own reporter Natalia Sheremetievskaya. "But I was wrong. While they have demonstrated a variety of dance techniques, the performers' best trump card was, most certainly, their artistry and dedication."
Of interest to the readers will be information about the traditional international competition of choreographers held within the framework of the Koupio Dance Festival. The respectable jury granted the top award of the competition – the Grand Prix – to the French choreographer Isire Makuloluve for the composition The Face of Dance.
Yana Starikovich presents coverage of the World Championship in professional touch dancing held in the Kremlin.
A separate block of the INFORM–BALLET column is dedicated to the tercentenary of St. Petersburg.
Svetlana Naborshchikova reviews the ballet without a plot Lander's Studies which was shown by the Mariisky Theater. Lander has set this "ballet about ballet" to the music of Carl Cherny's etudes, which are very familiar to anyone who has ever studied piano.
Anna Bogodist presents coverage of the art show of the photographer Nina Alovert who currently lives in the USA. This is indeed a sort of travel in time, for there are presented photographs of the last forty years. Most of them had been taken during performances or rehearsals of the Mariinsky Theater; about a quarter of them are dedicated to Boris Eifman's Theater, and a few, to the M. P. Moussorgsky Theater.
The readers will learn about the artistic career of the remarkable St. Petersburg ballerina Olga Moiseeva. Included into the program of the 11th International festival The Stars of the White Nights was a gala night in her honor in which her former student ballerinas took part.
Another St. Petersburg story is about the 12th scholarly readings History of Ballet: Source Studies held at the choreography department of the St. Petersburg Conservatory. According to what has already become a tradition, the ballet historians published results of their archival inquiries, which cast light upon some intriguing facts of our country's ballet history.
The BALLET-PARADE column features Alla Mikhailova’s article The Golden Roland about The Golden Mask festival and national theatrical award. “One may have different attitudes toward this prize, but there is no doubt that it has become an integral part of the Russian theatrical scene”. The author goes on to tell about the winners and other participants and to analyze the ballet productions and the Russian contemporary dance that have been presented at the festival.
“In the field of contemporary dance, The Golden Mask is gradually becoming an annual competition among the same people and groups. These, as a rule, are Yevgeni Panfilov (who participated in the 2002-2003 Mask posthumously), Olga Pona, Tatiana Baganova, Gennady Abramov and, more rarely, Sasha Pepeliaev…
In the field of ballet, the range of the chosen has also shrunk almost byond limits. Here, Moscow and St. Petersburg, having disposed of redundant contestants, traditionally compete with each other… Which brings one to an interesting proposition: what if the organizers consider holding the festival biannually, so as to allow time for fresh forces to accumulate and for the range of contenders to expand. On the other hand, then the capital would lose her privilege of having an annual parade of achievements, which is a shame, too.”
The BALLET TIME column features The Moor’s Pavane, an article by the young scholar Gulnara Sabrekova. “It’s been over half a century that ballet stages all over the world present The Moor’s Pavane by Jose Limon to the music of Henry Purcell, one of the most brilliant choreographic interpretations of Shakespeare’s Othello. Having received a high acclaim immediately after the first release, it has firmly established itself in the repertoire of the most important troupes all over the world.”
The author attempts a scholarly explanation to such a significant interest and discusses the aesthetical category of the tragic, the ritualistic significance of the action, and the genre on which the ballet is based (the medieval pavane with its inner expression in an extremely intimate atmosphere). She positions the artistic system of the American Art Nouveau dance as a cultural phenomenon of the 20th century and links the ethical aspect of the orchestic tragedy with dance’s significance as a Christian ritual.
The author presents some interesting facts about the composer and the choreographer and their aesthetic and artistic principles; she also reflects upon various acting interpretations of the ballet.
“Indeed, The Moor’s Pavane embodies ‘an endless experiment’ where an experienced spectator can discern both the tragedy of fate, which is so characteristic of Spanish culture, and the Christian motif of ‘destruction of the TRUTH’, which reveals itself in the form of a slaughter of an innocent victim. What is so startling here is the phenomenon of human passion, so perilous in its unpredictable spontaneous power that it inevitably leads to self-destruction and death. And finally, here, in the self-contained realm of Art Nouveau, the detachment and tragic loneliness so characteristic of the 20th century reveal themselves ever more clearly.”