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In this issue | Short summary
  1 [149]  January-February 2008 
The Ballet Magazines New Years issue opens, according to the tradition, with the BALLET THEME column, continuing the discussion of urgent problems concerning the present-day activities of ballet troupes, companies, and groups. Tatiana Kuzovleva in her interview with Professor Nikolai Boyarchikov, Chairman of Choreography at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of St. Petersburg, discussed the very profession of choreographer. There are at least four major higher education institutions in Moscow and St. Petersburg that train and graduate choreographers, and yet the profession of choreographer these days is in a dire need of rescue. Among reasons for such a state of affairs are lack of interest in supporting young choreographers; the fact that many ballet troupe art directors pursue mostly commercial rather than artistic ends; and a trend of producing assemblages rather than original and full-length ballets to contemporary music. Mr. Boyarchikov also relates of the careers of young choreographers graduating from those schools and discourses on the role of choreographers competitions in reviving the professions prestige. 

 Majja Plisetskaya in R.ShChedrina's ballet  Lady with small dog - A set of materials presents the winners of the Soul of Dance Award. The first one is Ekaterina Vlasovas article on Rodion Shchedrin. Almost half a century has passed since his ballet The Hatchback Horse (Koniok-Gorbunok) was first staged. There is an unparalleled fact, associated with Rodion Shchedrin, in the history of Russian musical theater: seven world premieres of his operas and ballets have taken place on stage of the Bolshoy Theater. The countrys foremost stage gave life to every one of his five ballets. Today, when public perception associates the composers work with the epithet classical, it is hard to imagine that just a few decades ago it was the composers ballet theater that was an utterly painful point of contention, where different artistic currents and career ambitions clashed. The article also presents the footprints of the bygone aesthetic disputes preserved on the faded pages of those years newspapers, and quotes Dmitry Shostakovichs opinions on Shchedrins ballet music and a brilliant essay by poetess Bella Akhmadulina.

 It seems quite recent that the young Nina Semizorova debuted on the Kremlin stage in the Bolshoy Theaters production of Swan Lake.  But time flies, and today Nina Lvovna Semizorova, already a ballet instructor repetiteur, excitedly watches her fosterlings, young female dancers of the Kremlin Ballet Theater, dance on the same stage. This is an excerpt from Roman Volodchenkov and Galina Inozemtsevas essay dedicated to the ballerinas artistic life, which began at Taras Shevchenko Opera and Ballet Theater of Kiev; continued at the Bolshoy under the guidance of Galina Ulanova, who helped Nina Semizorova prepare all her parts; and now is carried on at the Kremlin Ballet. The article closes with quoted opinions of her current girl students, Christina Kretova, Natalia Ogneva, and Inessa Bikbulatova. 
Valeri Shadrin is an exceptional person in all respects, writes Tatiana Kasatkina. Twenty years ago, theatrical figures elected him, then a state official, Secretary on Organizational and Artistic Issues of the Board of the USSR Theatrical Workers Union. It is amazing how Mr. Shadrin combines all the best qualities inherent, according to popular opinion, in the Russian person, but becoming rarer and rarer. He loves theater and its people very much, though he never declares it or shows off.  Shadrin was one of the architects and organizers of the festival movement in Russia, and the Chekhov Festival, whose programs have boasted many productions from various countries and the best ones from Russia, has long been dubbed Shadrins Festival in the theatrical circles. Of course, Mr. Shadrins activities reach far beyond the Chekhov Festval. He acts as a producer, conducts Russian theater seasons in foreign countries and theatrical programs of National Days of Russia at World fairs. 

The article on Ian Godovsky is written in a rare genre: an essay by a teacher on a pupil. Boris Akimov, the teacher, confesses, Among the middle generation of Bolshoy Theater dancers, Ian Godovsky belongs to those I respect and like the best. I respect him as a high-class professional, and I like him as an extremely all-round man and person of integrity. The writer remembers his happy meeting with Godovsky, then a recent alumnus of the Moscow Choreography School and discourses on the artists attitude towards his profession, on the parts he has performed, and much more.

 For the dancers of the Classical Dance Theater under Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliov, their day begins with Tatiana Popkos class, thus Julia Lidova-Bolshakova opens her portrait of the famed ballerina. Tatiana Popko is one of the last of the Mohicans of the legendary Russian ballet of the 20th century. After having been trained at the Moscow Choreography School, she had for just a little short of a quarter century danced at the Bolshoy Theater, in whose golden age ballets by various choreographers she created a number of enchanting personages, such as the Little Hatchback Horse, Petrushka in The Nutcracker, Pero in Lieutenant Kije, the Little Red Riding-hood, Cinderella, in Sleeping Beauty. While still a principal dancer, she started giving classes at the Bolshoy. Since 1981 she is choreographer repetiteur for the Classical Dance Theater. 

Shamil Teregulovs biography moves one as greatly as does his exceptional personality itself. Aleksandr Maksov writes here about this remarkable artist, instructor, and leader. Having graduated in 1964 from the ballet school attached to the Bashkir Opera and Ballet Theater, he continued training at the famous school in Perm, where the famed instructor July Plakht took him under his wing. His professional career began at the Sverdlovsk Opera and Ballet Theater, but soon his fortunes brought him back to his home town, Ufa, and to its local opera house. There he had danced, taught classes, coached corps de ballet and principal dancers, acted as a choreographer. For many years now Mr. Teregulov has been leader of the Bashkir Theaters ballet troupe. Thanks to his work the Theaters playbill has been enriched with new ballet, and Ufa has annually hosted the Rudolf Nureyev International Ballet Festivals. The Bashkir Ballet is now regarded as top-ranked both at home and abroad, and Shamil Teregulov himself has been named best instructor at many international competitions, while his pupils have won many awards and prizes.

Not only did the great Igor Moiseyev create the world-renowned ensemble but he also had unceasingly polished and furthered its artistic traditions, striving never to let them get dissolved in the general current of hackneyed dance formulae. In 1943, a studio school attached to the Ensemble was opened, which today is headed by Guzel Apanayeva. Nina Dementieva writes in her essay, Many theaters had offered Gusel a job, but Igor Moiseyev won over them all. It was then that he was creating a new troupe, Young Ballet, where Guzel Apanayeva became leading principal dancer and also the first dancing partner to Alexander Godunov. Later she joined the Moiseyevs Folk Dance Ensemble, where she performed over thirty solo dances, some of which had been staged specifically with her in mind. But even though she was a leading solo dancer actively involved in the Ensembles repertoire, she felt attracted to teaching, so she joined, and brilliantly graduated from, the State Institute of Theatrical Arts. These days, while teaching classical and folk dance and coaching the current repertoire at the studio school, she further develops Moiseyevs performing traditions.

The NEW BALLET column presents detailed reviews of three Moscow premieres of 2007. Andrei Vadimov in his Quest for Authenticity analyzes the Bolshoy Theaters Corsair. 
Svetlana Zaharova and Artem Shpilevsky
He explains why ballet has for the entire length of its history aspired to be a commercially successful art form; how box office largely defines the repertory policies of ballet theaters; and what was the reason of Petipas elevating Ballerina on a pedestal. The writer then shows that this particular ballet has only retained a few veritable fragments of the authentic Petipas choreography and therefore it is impossible to recreate an entire spectacle which could be regarded as Petipas own version. What is possible, though, is one of two ways. It is possible to stage The Corsair after Petipa, the way Constantin Sergeyev did. On the other hand, it is possible to do what Alexei Ratmansky did: he chose not to use the name of Petipa as a cover or present some choreography, non-existent in the original version, as authentic, but rather to share the choreographic fame with Petipa. What came out of it all was, not a reconstruction of the original, but rather an attempt to recreate those fragments that have been reliably preserved. To that end the Theater engaged Yuri Burlaka, a scholar of antique choreography, whose knowledge and keenness have largely defined the spectacles strengths. The conclusion is obvious for the writer: Authenticity of the ballet spectacle has been decidedly sacrificed to artistic expediency.  

The other premiere is also of The Corsair, though perceived differently and staged at the Kremlin Ballet troupe by Yuri Grigorovich.  
Galina Inozemtsevas review opens with an excursion into ballets history and, specifically, into choreographer Josephe Masiliers staging in 1856 of the first Corsair after Lord Byrons poem of the same name. The writer shows that the reason why the ballet still attracts both ballet figures and audiences lies in its accurately and strongly balanced musical and dramatic pivot, onto which all kind of choreographers who have recreated the ballet on many different stages during the past 150 years have strung all kinds of fragments concerning both story, music, and dance. Yuri Grigorovich has again proved true to his principle when recreating a spectacle, do it differently. He takes into consideration the troupes abilities and specifics of its artistic manner. The choreographer is not trying to meticulously restore the classical but rather views an artwork from a contemporary artists standpoint. One of the spectacles merits is a high level of ensemble performing, which is the most apparent in crowd scenes. Anastasia Volochkova and Sergei Sidorsky performed the main parts at the opening night as guest principal dancers.  

The ballet The Brook Is Running has a rather unusual biography: it has been premiered twice within just a couple of years. The first premiere, within the framework of The Year of Russia in China, took place towards the end of 2006 at the National Assembly of China in Beijing. Twelve months later, the Brook reached the stage of the Moscow Operetta Theater, where it marked The Year of China in Russia and the 50th anniversary of the Russia-China Society. The ballet to the music of a Chinese composer is based on a popular Chinese lyrical song of love, faithfulness and self-sacrifice and was staged by Viacheslav Gordeyev in his Russian Ballet Theater. He retold the moving story of the Chinese Romeo and Juliet using the language of classical ballet spiced with oriental folk dance and contemporary Chinese dance.   

The BALLET-PARADE column opens with Olga Goncharovas coverage of the International Festival of Topical Arts Territoria. That new project aims at involving Russian theatrical youth into the world cultural context. With that in mind, an integral program was composed of various topical events in different art forms music, cinema, theater, dance, poetry. Besides, there were master classes by well known masters. The most interesting for the organizers were productions made at crossroads of genres, since they believe it is precisely there that new forms get born. The theme of Territoria 2007 was A Body in the City, a human being aspiring to perceive him/herself, not only philosophically but physically too, as part of post-industrial civilization. 
Roger Smith shares here his impressions of the Terpsichore in Taurida Festival, calling it an experiment conducted with a light heart yet serious intentions to combine the traditions of musical motion and plastic dance, that have developed in Petersburg and Moscow, with the ancient world whence, as we believe, dance itself has come to us. The Chersones Taurichesky National Park offered its stage for the Festival, while the Sebastopol Russian Drama Theater helped with lights and the local cultural authorities, with sound. It was the great Isadora Duncan and her followers who had excited the world of dance with ancient images. The writer presents all participants and offers his opinion that it would be a mistake to call this art purely amateurish, even though it is not quite professional.   

It was for the thirteenth time that The Kremlin Palace hosted the International Tournament of Latin-American Dance Professionals, The World Cup 2007, organized by the Russian Dance Union and its President Stanislav Popov. The competition proved exciting and intriguing. Anna Chernetsova covers the tournament, which has proved one of the most prestigious events in the ballroom dance scene, having attracted this year many dancing couples from sixteen countries.  

The BALLET LIBRARY column presents two new books. The first one, reviewed here by Victor Vanslov, is Horizons of Ballet by Arkadi Sokolov-Kaminsky, a famous ballet scholar and critic, a book about St. Petersburgs ballet, its history, its figures, and its contemporary problems. The author summarizes his rich experience participating in his hometowns artistic life and outlines major phenomena and stages in the development of St. Petersburgs ballet. The other book, presented by Olga Shkarpetkina, is Grand Pas of the Bashkir Ballet by Nina Zhilenko. The pages of this unique publication reveal the entire history of the Bashkir ballet, from its birth in 1934, when the young dancer and choreographer Faizi Gaskarov organized a Bashkir department at the Leningrad Choreography School, and up to our time.

The INFORM-BALLET column covers the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the oldest in Estonia Vanemujne Theater and the 50th birthday of Vasili Medvedev, a St. Petersburg-based choreographer closely connected with the Estonian ballet. Mr. Medvedev presented the audiences with his favorite ballet, Onegin, whose world premiere took place in Prague. Ehve Arulaane, a reporter from Tartu, reviews here the ballet as it was interpreted by the Vanemujnes multi-ethnical ballet troupe. 

Alla Osipenko, one of the outstanding ballerinas of the Mariinsky (formerly Kirov) Theater, has celebrated her 75th birthday. 

The celebratory evening took place at the Alexandrinsky Theater rather than on the stage where she had danced for twenty-one years. The event was conceived and directed by Alexei Kononov, but his production turned out not exactly a success. Nina Alovert here analyzes the causes of that failure. She also shares her impressions of the evening and reports how the ballerinas anniversary was celebrated: the Museum of Theater held an exhibition in the Sheremetiev Palace; the Terpsichore Charity Foundation published a book of collected articles; a TV station showed interviews and conversations with Alla Osipenko. Such was a paradox of the celebration: the unsuccessful concert could not spoil the vivid festivities in honor of the legendary ballerina.

The closing articles of this issue are full of grief: the world has lost two choreographers of genius, Igor Moiseyev and Maurice Bejart. The era of the great is passing away; persons who have influenced the ways of arts are leaving this world. What they leave behind is their works and our memories.   

A Post Scriptum by Editor-in-chief Valeria Uralskaya begins and ends with her warm New-Years greetings, with a letter from a reader and a not-quite-holiday-like discourse on professionalism in between.