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In this issue | Short summary
  6 [142] November - Desember 2006 


The current issue of the Ballet Magazine is dedicated to its 25th anniversary. Its first and main column is titled Gala Ballet. Here the members of the editorial board present themselves, both as writers and personae of the publications.
In anniversary number many photos of press photographers of magazine are submitted. Alexander Kosintsa's photo
 Galina Ulanova and the ballerina Nadegda Gracheva.


The first one is called The Author of Fern is a Moscovite. Those who joined together to stage the ballet Fern, or, Midsummer Night belonged to the social circles of Moscow intelligentsia with markedly patriotic views. The libretto was composed in the house of V. P. Begichev, then Repertoire Supervisor of the Imperial Theaters Moscow office and later, in 1875, a coauthor of the libretto for Swan Lake. This time, however, his wife, M. V. Shilovskaya, formerly a singer, took a most active part in composing the ballet. Yu. G. Gerber, violinist and then conductor of the Bolshoy Theaters orchestra, composed the music. Fern, the first original creation of Gerber as a composer, proved him an experienced and skillful musician. The writer of this research article describes in detail the plot of this old-time ballet and relates of its first premiere performance at the Bolshoy Theater. 
Vitaly Wulf, in his usual unhurried manner, tells a story of Elizabeth Gerdt, a star of the Moscow ballet scene, who had excelled in  preserving in her best roles all noble and sublime perfection of classical ballet. Being a lordly Myrta, queen of the Wilis, rather than a poetical Giselle, or a magnificent Fairy of Lilacs or a resplendent Raymonda rather than a tender Aurora, her stagecraft may not, perhaps, had been keen on personal overtones, but it had always been faultless. Expressiveness of her sonorous, faultless, chiseled style that matched music in its resonant power was polished by Ms. Gerdt to the uttermost condition. George Balanchine regarded her as a role model of classical ballerina. He liked to recall her dance and believed that Raymonda and The Sleeping Beauty were staged with her talents specifically in mind. Her dance was never arduous it was art supreme. She was also a great instructor who had trained a whole constellation of the 20th century Russian ballet stars. She used to come to the theater every time her students performed, and the theater used to send a car to bring her over for classes. Yuri Grigorovich was very fond of her and regarded her as a dear fragment of the past.
Alexey Barchatov in his poetical essay declares his love of ballet and Terpsichore its Muse. What is it, then, that I love ballet for? Perhaps, it is for its unique and universal ability to visibly embody the very nature of human inspiration in which both process and result fuse together and become one. Choreography encompasses both the musical spindle of the conductors baton and the graceful brush of the painter who has no idea of port de bras or pr?paration. My todays love of ballet is in many ways also a nostalgia for classical purity and beauty of art, for traditions and canon, for talent and true stagecraft. Such are instinctive stirs of those hearts for whom the Mariinsky and Bolshoy theaters are more than just a brand.
From Soviet Ballet to Ballet Per Se is an article by Galina Beliaeva-Tchelombitko. She recalls the events of 25 years ago when the magazine then called The Soviet Ballet was created, whose main newsbeat and topic were domestic choreography all over the vast artistic domains of the Union and Autonomous Republics of the USSR. This is not to say that the life of foreign ballet was not covered by the periodical. But in the reviews of different guest performers from abroad and in the descriptions of different foreign stars one could never perceive even a hint of our inferiority, which today is so shocking in publications by our contemporary so called ballet critics. We always stayed up to the notch; we felt self-sufficient and were sure of our internal artistic truth. 
Musing over her past editorial experience, she recalls how the small townhouse in Degtiarny Lane was home to almost daily spontaneous gatherings of artists, critics, and choreographers, both Muscovites and out-of-towners. Those times are gone forever. Peoples lives have changed, and so has the ballet theater and those who minister to it and those who love it.
There is hardly a major ballet company in the world where Boris Akimov has not worked. Yelena Fedorenko presents here his interview. His disciples love their mentor; his classes prepare them for new achievements and cure their sorrows and teach them to hear music and to understand the nature of motion. Boris Akimovs life has been like the twists of a roller-coaster. Principal dancer for the Bolshoy Theater and a world-renowned ballet instructor, he has also experienced the burden of being a manager, having headed the Moscow Choreography Academy and the Bolshoy Ballet troupe. Boris Borisovich Akimov celebrated his double anniversary on the New Stage of the Bolshoy Theater. In the interview, he tells of how the celebration night, which astounded balletomanes, was prepared and reveals some secrets of its success; he also recalls his early days as an instructor, as well as his meetings in London with those who knew the legendary Russian choreographers Miasin and Diaghilev. Mr. Akimovs activities as a composer, a vocation rather rare for a ballet artist, made up yet another subject of the conversation. 
In his ironic article A Treatise on Wrongs of Reform in General Sergey Korobkov recalls the birth of the Ballet Magazines The Soul of Dance Award in the context of the award craze that then affected our flighty Motherland. In that ever expanding march of awards there peeped out something vane, something at times quite devoid of both honor and dignity, and all that had little to do with the timeless, with that which needs neither insignia nor being distinguished by the title of  Professional. It turns out that The Soul of Dance was made up according to a completely different recipe resembling no other award. At the very outset it was announced that the Reward was to be our own, domestic as it were, in its intonation, in its spirit, in its attitude towards those who were to receive it. Who needed rivalry, anyway? The main goal was to revive the visibly dwindled (and they knew the reasons for it) interest for the art of ballet. The name of the award seemed obliging; I rather liked it despite its being a bit bombastic; it seemed the only one perfectly fitting ballet, out of which she, the Soul, even then, in the early 90s, was already draining away, and her departure seemed the main reason why that interest was falling. It would have been a shame not to fight for it, not to try and bring it back. The writer goes on to share his personal impressions on how he himself happened to deliver the awards to the legendary General Manager of the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater, Mikhail Arnopolsky; how he was forced to play upon the absence of Yuri Grigorovich at the award ceremony; how the Magazine, when choosing the winners in different nominations, has managed not to mess up the star chart of the world ballet. 
Natalia Levkoyeva in her article The Classical in a Virtual Space writes about the world competition movement in the domain of ballet. Competition in sports is natural and appropriate, but what about contests in arts? There is no quite an unambiguous answer. Still, ballet artists have flocked together for competitions for almost half a century now. Precision of choreographic language has been one of the problems in the competition programs, and the writer describes the assistance the enthusiasts from the Theatrical Unions Dance Recording Laboratory had given to competitors and ballet artists in general. They had recorded 30 classical variations from the ballets by Russian choreographers using a descriptive form of recording which is easier for understanding than the traditional symbolic one. Todays state-of-the-art computer technologies make it possible to preserve all details of the human bodys motion in three-dimensional format and thus open new and enticing possibilities for preserving the classical heritage in ballet. 
In his article The Multi-Cultural Context of Contemporary Choreography, Valery Modestov reminds the reader that ballet is a European invention. Since the early 20th century, however, it has expanded far beyond the boundaries of the Old World and widened the frameworks of musical and plastic cultures of China, Korea, Japan, Egypt, India, and Latin America.  Representatives of the Russian ballet school have helped promote a spiritual convergence of West and East. This process has been significantly assisted by international exchanges, migration processes and the limitless possibilities presented by the contemporary means of communication and access to information. Here, however, a number of problems arise, and the writer refers to them as  ones to watch and seek solutions for. Among those are a preservation of style; staging of new contemporary ballets on foreign stages; fusion and co-existence of the two ethno-cultures the Oriental one, which the ballet dancers have, as it were, sucked with their mothers milk, and the Occidental one, which they have acquired during years of training. The article ends with a reminder of the imperative of acquiring new knowledge and developing new approaches and new training programs in the new socio-cultural situation. 
Arkady Sokolov-Kaminsky informs the readers of a third edition of the dance instructors handbook An ABC of Classical Dance, released by the Lan publishing house. The books co-authors, V. P. Mey and N. P. Bazarova, present their views on how children should be trained during the first three years. This edition was radically revised by V. P. Mey after her co-authors death and is in essence a new work. A. Ya. Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet cordially hosted the books presentation. Mr. Sokolov-Kaminsky, who had a lot to do with the event, recreates here a portrait of the talented instructor obsessive and strict yet infinitely loved by her students. Recalling his encounters with Varvara Pavlovna Mey he presents a life story of this great teacher and dance analyst and, undoubtedly, an artist in heart. 
Victor Vanslov in his sketch The Paradigm of the Time not only declares but also proves that the 20th centurys Russian ballet in its best examples has always been profoundly purposeful. Its purport has changed during different periods and in different, often rivaling, streams and movements, but the best ballet productions have captured one, not only with their perfection and stagecraft, but also with their great spiritual potential, sublime ideas and philosophical contemplations of life. The contemporary ballet, of course, upholds and further develops this tradition. At the same time, the writer is apprehensive of the fact that the art of choreography shallows down, that mere skill at times takes over true creative art and the technical aspect sometimes replaces the spiritual. We must discern and understand this dangerous trend; we must realize that it is no path to true pinnacles of the art. 
Julia Mikhailovna Churko, a distinguished scholar in the art of choreography, is renowned for her fundamental research works in ballet studies. But she also writes fiction. Here the author, who has dedicated her life to the art of dance, is again immersed in its events, its concerns, and its struggles. Her third book of that sort, The Parallel Lives, was recently published and is announced by herself in this issue. 
The Grishko Company manufactures shoes, clothes and accessories for ballet and dance. Nikolai Grishko, the Company president and a member of the Magazines editorial board, opened in 1989 a small shop producing ballet shoes. Today the company has two shoe factories, a costumery shop, several shops for tailoring rehearsal and training attire, and many retail outlets all over the world. Its products are targeted not only at professional dancers but also at children and teenagers who train or just dabble in dance. Nikolai Grishko has won many rewards as one of the most famous patrons of the arts in Russia. As such, his main goal is not only to support young talents and help old stagers but also to promote the development of healthy and aesthetically advanced generation of children and teens. That is why the Grishko Company hands out monthly personal stipends to different ballet school students. Another charitable activity of the Company is co-sponsoring of international ballet competitions and providing outfits for the young contestants.
Irina Belova in her article The Legend of Krasnodar enthusiastically describes the Yuri Grigorovichs Ballet Theater of Krasnodar. The new theater was conceived by Leonard Gatov, a man of fabulous energy and amazing sense of responsibility, leader of the Premiere Classical Dance Ensemble, on whose base the Theater was created ten years ago. In the course of these ten years the Grigorovich Theater has established itself as an acclaimed artistic company and traveled half the world. The association of the very parson of Yuri Nikolaevich with the citys cultural life has by itself promoted Krasnodar to the status of a cultural metropolis of, at least, Southern Russia. Back in 1996, Yuri Nikolaevich vowed to the Krasnodar Province (Kray) that he would recreate there all eighteen ballets he had staged while heading the Bolshoy Ballet. This past summer saw a seventeenth premiere that of the fabled Legend of Love. With it, the Krasnodar Theater has become a veritable museum of the ballet masterpieces by Yuri Grigorovich and his irreplaceable collaborator, the late stage designer Virsaladze. 
Galina Mitroshina and Christina Handloss article LURIT: Music for Festivities deals with a most important aspect of histrionics stage design of a ballet production. This task is difficult but exciting. Success or failure of a production largely depends on how professionally this task is being performed. The LURIT Artistic Fellowship has honestly earned a good name in this field. The company headed by Vladimir Koval acts according to the motto, All are responsible for everything. LURIT is indeed responsible literally for everything around the action on stage for audio setup and for highlight, for all kinds of special effects and for fireworks. Trained as a music conductor, Mr. Koval quite professionally combines pyrotechnics with music, thus creating colorful spectacular. The resplendent rain that annually showers over the winners of the Ballet Magazines Soul of Dance award long remains imprinted in the audiences memories as the crown of the event, thanks to our friends from the LURIT Artistic Fellowship.
Tamara Putova in her article When the Heart So Desires  reports on the centennial celebrations of the great choreographer of our times Igor Moiseyev, which coincided with two other significant anniversaries 70 years since the opening in Moscow of the Folk Arts Theater and since the All-Union Folk Dance Festival. These two events served as one of the starting points for creating numerous folk dance companies, both professional and amateur, and formulated basic principles of the treatment and stylizing of folk dance. While recounting the first steps of folk dances theatrical interpretation, the writer quotes Igor Moiseyev himself. It is practical and specific tasks at hand that motivate us to study folk dance, he wrote. We must learn from these dances; they must provide content for the Soviet ballets of the time to come, which will reflect our Soviet reality, everyday life, history, and epos of different peoples of our diverse Republics.
The Magazine has received birthday greetings from the actor Feodor Chekhankov and General Manager of the State Theater of Nations Mikhail Chigir. By the time the Theater of Nations was created, your magazine already had known how to do it all, had already been acknowledged, and had a lot to learn from. Which is exactly what we have done. We have asked its guidance when encountering the need to look for new forms of representing the repertoire. We are proud of it, just as we are proud to call the Ballet Magazine our true friend, and its creators, true friends of our Theater, Mr. Chigir writes. 
Alla Mikhaleva presents a review Bejart, a Chosen One of God, sharing her impressions of Bejart Ballet Lausannes program Selecta. The great choreographers troupe has shown in Moscow three ballets never before seen by the Russian audiences, as well as a piece of Bejarts classic, Adagietto to the music of Gustav Mahler. The main character in the ballet The Art of Being a Grandfather turns out to be the choreographer himself, or rather his alter ego. Uneasy relationships between the teacher and his disciples, further complicated by differences in age, define the confrontation between choreographer and dancer. Can it Be Death? is the centerpiece of the Bejartians Moscow visit. In its classical drive, this 1970 production has not been outdated a jot. It was staged for one male dancer and four female partners They entwist with him in duets; they make up trios like the Botticellian Graces In the final show of the program, Vienna, Vienna, a volatile waltz (the first thing coming to mind at the mention of that city) gets cut short by a ragged plastic in a deafening muteness Carelessness and anxiety, love and hatred, life and death all are encompassed by this select program.

The Idols of the Ballet column collects diverse statement by the famous critics whose names are associated with the Magazines early years. Nikolai Eliash wrote much about the multi-ethnical nature of the Soviet ballet, for example, Had it not been for the flourish of ethnic cultures, the achievements of the Soviet ballet as a whole would have been impossible, just as the art of choreography in our brother Republics would not have been able to fruitfully develop had it not leaned on its international experience. 
Out of the multitude of Natalia Chernovas articles, a piece of her reflections upon ballet canvasses of Marius Petipa is presented here. He was a genius of theater and a zealot, while theater, in turn, was his life, his mode of existence. Petipa was a grand professional of the ballet stage, its true artisan in the very sublime sense of the word. 
Out of the vast heritage of Vera Karsovskaya, fragments of her Shakespearian studies have been selected here. Ballet has long, and ever move aggressively, been discovering Shakespeare for itself and in its own manner. The reason for that is, perhaps, that the heroes of strong individuality, untainted passions and bottomless doubts that torture the Shakespearean characters are just what ballet needs. The large scale, and at time whimsicality, of Shakespearean actions and situations, the grandiosity of his metaphor are akin to the very nature of ballet. All that spurs up the imagination of those who embody tragedies and comedies in body motion. Never presuming to highlight the Shakespearian palette in its entirety, choreographers reach for the romantic element, which is so strong in his multidimensional creations. For, indeed, such interest has been inherent in ballet since day one.
Boris Lvov-Anokhin, arguing from various incidents in the life of Galina Ulanova, reflects upon such notions as Fate and Greatness. A humble person as she was, Ulanova used to ascribe the exceptionality of her fate to a kind of chain of lucky chances. But chance was certainly not the essence of it. The reason why Ulanova is regarded as a supreme ballerina is because much of what she did and contributed to the art was done for the first time indeed. As a matter of fact, it is those who discover something new that are considered great.

The  Debuts in the Ballet column presents three materials prepared by young novice authors. The Ballet Magazine, it is worth noticing, has always supported those who were only beginning their life in arts (quoting Stanislavsky). 
Marianna Yachmenyova presents an interview with Denis Matvienko, Grand Prix winner at the Moscow International Competition of Ballet Dancers and Choreographers.  Today he is one of the most sought after young artists. He carries on dancing on his home stage in Kiev Opera, much and successfully performs at the Bolshoy Theater and is a most welcome participant at all festivals. 

The dancer talks about his work with Yuri Grigorovich and about the importance of partnership in ballet; he recalls his early years in ballet, his instructors, and his favorite role in the ballet Spartacus. 
Anastasia Smirnovas sketch is dedicated to Nikolai Sergeev. This mans name, very little known in his native land, had for a long time been a household name for theatergoers in the West. It was he who, in the 1920s, introduces Petipas best classical ballets to Europe. Sergeev died in 1951, but even now, more than half a century later, there is no common agreement concerning the true significance of his work. In 1917, after the Bolshevik revolution, being a rampant Monarchist and a disciplinarian who hated chaos and devastation, chose to emigrate. There began a new stage of his life, much more glorious than the previous one. He managed to take along to London, which became his new home, autographed records of the most important ballets that had been shown on stage of St. Petersburg between 1900 and 1917, mainly by Petipa. Using those he had staged the Russian classical ballets in the West. 
Olga Goncharova in her article The Universe as a Gift analyzes in detail the ballet Cinderella staged at the Bolshoy Theater by choreographer Yuri Posokhov and stage director Yuri Borisov. 

The writer bases the concept of her article on the fact that there are plots in the world culture that migrate from age to age, pop up here and there, at times change beyond recognition, invade all possible genres, and yet stay live and exciting. That is why producers of such ballets as Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet etc. always have a notorious head start. The Bolshoy Theater showed in 2006 yet another version of a tale eternal. It is that version that the young critic reviews here. 
 

In anniversary number many photos of press photographers of magazine are submitted.
Among them Elena Fetisovoj's work: 
Ekaterina Maksimova on the anniversary evening.
 
 

 


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