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In this issue | Short summary
  5-6 [136] Septembe-Desembe2005 


The BALLET THEME COLUMN presents an interview with Natalia Akhmarova. A Perm Ballet School alumna, she, while still a student of Sakharova, had already made herself known by winning the 5th International Ballet Competition in Moscow. In 1987, Natalia Akhmarova, this time already prima ballerina of the P. I. Chaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theater of Perm, won the First Prize and also was awarded Alicia Alonso Medal in Latin America.
Natalia Akhmarova had continued her artistic career at the Boston Ballet but today she is back in Perm this time as artistic director of her home theaters ballet troupe. In the interview granted to Anna Grutsynova the newly appointed artistic director shares her reflections on various problems in the contemporary life of this countrys ballet, on the Perm Operas repertoire policy, on George Balanchines legacy which the Permians have so effortlessly assimilated. She also talks about such characteristically experimental works as the ballet-opera The Seven Mortal Sins by Kurt Weill and the opera-ballet The Nightingale by Igor Stravinsky and, of course, about her future prospects.

Vitaly Wulf acts in this issue as columnist of A NAME IN BALLET.  He presents Dmitry Belogolovtsev, principal dancer of the Bolshoy Theater and an alumnus of the Moscow Choreography School under A. Bondarenko. He came to the Bolshoy Theater in 1992, during the Grigorovichs times, and has danced principal parts in The Golden Age, Swan Lake, and the legendary Spartacus. Since his youth he has aspired to preserve the canonical text and never to seek his own artistic ideas when dancing the classics. 
The writer relates of the rehearsals of A Legend of Love, which he himself witnessed, and of the ways the principals dance had been changing in their course. In the artists dance a direct contact was born between music and body, eroticism and rhythm. The narrative about Belogolovtsevs ten-year venture with the Bolshoy is put in the context of the ballets new time, the time of advertisement and shoulder-rubbing, of post-vanguard and lukewarm attitudes toward classic. In the age of changing milestones, Dmitry Belogolovtsev is being unappreciated, while he is the best Spartacus on todays stage, an impressive Prince, Siegfrid and Evil Genius Today the dancer is 32. Its high time for him to appear on stage and conquer the hearts of partners and audiences. His innate dryishness is not a sign of his dances coldness; to the contrary, its evidence of his ability to fill any dancing movement with a masculine content He is a man of order; he dances purely and lyrically and when he enters the stage he lures you into his captivity. The Bolshoy Theater should be proud of such a principal. 

Several stories in this issue deal with the 10th International Competition of Ballet Dancers and Choreographers held in Moscow. Started thirty-six years ago, this ballet forum attracts to the capital of Russia the ballet youth from all over the world. For Russia itself the contest has become a valuable cultural asset. Writers G. Inozemtseva, A. Grytsunova, S. Shchukova, J. Stryzhekurova, and O. Shkarpetkina present here materials about the participants and judges, the system of requirements for the junior and senior groups, the solemn opening ceremony and the joyful honoring of the winners. 
 A Journal of the Competition covers facts and events of each round of the contest, presents its program, discloses intrigues that inevitably pop up at any competition as a result of both the drawing and the selection of repertoire. Famous artists and teachers such as Nina Semizorova; Vadim Tedeev; Natalia Kasatkina, artistic director of the State Theater of Classical Ballet; Olga Tarasova, professor of choreography at the Russian Theater Academy (former GITIS); Bo Spassoff who teaches dance at Rock School of Philadelphia, PA; and Ian Godovsky, principal dancer of the Bolshoy Theater. 
Presented in these materials are unquestionable favorites, above all Ivan Vasiliev, a Belorussian Choreography College student, and Denis Matvienko, a star from Kiev who had led the Ukrainian team, which had at every round shown supreme artistry and a distinctive style of masculine dance consummate, forceful, and noble The style of Moscow school had  been resonant in the performances of the female students of the Moscow Choreography Academy. What distinguished their style were robust technique, musicality, and a thought-out dance. So these two schools obviously contrasted at the competition, and one can only hope that such a collation will add momentum to the development of ballet theater not only in the countries of the former Soviet Union but also in the global scene. 
The standard of the competition among choreographers turned out rather poor. Natalia Kasatkina believes that the contemporary ballet must be dealt with seriously. Contemporary dance is quite the same sort of liberal arts as classical and character one. It must be studied. Everything Ive seen here except a few performers and I stress, performers was just dilettantism.
Some famous cultural personalities share here their summarizing reflections, judgements, and opinions. Among them are Valentine Elizariev, art director and general manager of the National Grand Ballet Theater of the Republic of Belarus and a judge at the competition; Charles Jude , director of the ballet troupe of Opera Bordeaux, France; Hun Nu Li , director of the International Competition of Ballet Artists in Seoul and a guest of honor at this contest; choreographer Boris Myagkov; ballet critic Natalia Sadovskaya; professor of art history Victor Vanslow, PhD. Their statements reflect various acute problems, such as distortions of choreographic texts (the contestants often modify the set movements, which is a disquieting trend); mixing up of versions; over-complicating the classical dance steps to the level of a stunt; lack of perfect coordination and unevenness in duo dances; disharmony between the pieces performed and the character of the performer; lack of due attention to such notions as artistry, style and the meaning of the works performed. Also resonant in their reflections is the subject of the teacher-student relations. Teachers taste, general culture, and talent all transform into their students success; however, the masters names for some reasons have never been announced. There was general concern over the fact that the Moscow Competition has lately lost the representatives of many European schools. Nonetheless, the impressions of the Moscow Competition are very favorable. Its standard was high, such as I havent seen for a long time. Development of the dance technique, classical in particular, was clearly manifested here. I was happy to see classical dance of such a high standard. All participating in this serious discussion would readily endorse this statement by Charles Jude. 
Important among the happenings during the contest have been pressroom conferences covered here by V. Kolobovnikov.  Such meetings of reporters, critics, and ballet lovers with the judges, guests of honor, and dance-teachers have been held on a regular basis in the conservatory of the Bolshoy Theaters New Stage. Participating in those meetings have been K. Vernon ( Germany), A.-M. Prina (Italy), Ch. Jude (France), Bai Shusiang (China), L. Semeniaka (Russia), B. Deianov-Todorov (Bulgaria), V. Elisariev (Belarus), Yu. Stanishevsky (Ukraine), A. Ursuliak (Canada). President of the GRISHKO Company N. Grishko and representative of the Harlequin Company A. Zemtsova participated in one of the talks with the reporters. A large crowd attended the meeting with managers and art directors of big international competitions and festivals held in Varna, Perm, Novosibirsk, Seoul, Riga, Kiev, etc.

Within the NEW BALLET COLUMN, Inna Polovianiuks article Seeking What Is Lost discusses a new production of of the Bashkir Opera and Ballet Theater. The ballet Arkaim by Leila Ismagilova is the prominent Bashkir composers next venture into ballet music. The ballet lovers well remember the lyrical tunes of the ballet Hadji Nasreddin.
The creative crew of the new ballet included renowned guests from Moscow choreographer Andrei Petrov, scene designer Stanislav Benediktov, and costume designer Olga Polianskaya; critic Yaroslav Sedov, also of Moscow, wrote the script. R. Luther, director of the American Opera Company of New York and musical director of a number of festivals if Europe and Asia, acted as the new productions musical director and conductor.
The inspiration for the new ballet came to Leila Ismagilova upon her visit to the archeological site of the ancient town of Arkaim recently discovered at the foothills of Urals. A generalized synthesis of the scientific facts and the creative imagination has formed the foundation for the ballet narrative about a conflict and enmity between two tribes based on injured vanity and pride.

The BALLET CLASS COLUMN consists of two articles. The first one, by Irina Yaskevich, is a coverage of the 4th Siberian International Competition of Choreography Schools held in Novosibirsk. The idea of such a contest sprang out in the early 1990s; and three Siberian ballet schools those of Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Buryat have pioneered the project. It was these schools representatives who took part in the first competition in 1992. Schools from the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Ekaterinburg, Perm, Kazakstan, South Korea, and Japan joined them later. Chairman of the executive committee and Principal of the Novosibirsk School A. Vasilevsky speaks about the competitions main goals and objectives, about the three age groups, etc. Towards the end of the story the contests judges share their impressions, and also the names of the winners are announced. 

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Perm Choreography School. So much of this countrys life and so significant parts of Russian ballet have been intertwined with the fortunes of that school that it requires quite a special story to describe it all. Its precisely such a detailed narrative that Tatiana Chernova presents here while she acquaints the readers with outstanding teachers and principals of the School, its famous alumni, and current students. A separate chapter is titled Legends. Among the legendary schoolmasters of Perm are the noblewoman of spirit  Ekaterina Geidenreich and Ludmila Sakharova, whose perfect and emotional mastery of the Moscow style helped synthesize the two schools the Leningrad one, rather coldish and academic, and the Moscow one, whose performing is more lively and natural in character.

The voluminous story also includes sketches of Permian students and student stage productions, reflections on the ties between the School and the Perm Opera and Ballet Theater, on training traditions, on various choreographers who have staged ballets and separate numbers for the students, and on ballet families. This year the School celebrated its 55th graduation by staging, at the Theater, a grand concert dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory. These days yet another characteristic of the Perm School becomes distinctively alight. Being located far away from Moscow and aloof from St. Petersburg, it is nevertheless quite on the level with any of the big city schools. Moreover, it manages to maintain its own training style and a peculiar, homely lifestyle, which makes it quite unique.

The Chekhov Festival is a feast chiefly of drama. Nonetheless, choreographic works do get sucked up into its orbit. The motto of the 4th International Chekhov Theater Festival is Theater for People. Just as it has been in previous years, the Festival has gathered in Moscow the most exciting productions by the acclaimed masters as well as canvasses of young artists who have already attracted public attention. Its the dance programs at the 4th International Chekhov Theater Festival that the articles of the BALLET-PARADE COLUMN deal with. Galina Inozemtseva relates of the Matthew Bourne production A Wordless Play and draws parallels both with the movie The Servant, to which the creators of the new work allude, and with the choreographers early productions, such as the avant-gardist Swan Lake where the parts of swans were danced by men. 
A Wordless Play doesnt have any clearly drawn, logically developing plot. But the miracle of this show is precisely in that the director has seen (or rather felt) a peculiar poetry in this very unpretending naturalism of human condition, and thus any action by any character, however insignificant, assumes the shape of an artistic element of stage and dance. The atmosphere of enchantment reigns during the entire show, it flows over the footlights and floods the theater. 
The troupe of the National Choreographic Center the Biarritz Ballet, of which Pavel Yashchenkov reports, was just as successful at the festival. Troupes leader and choreographer Tierry Malandin staged the ballet The Blood of Stars after the Greek myth of the nymph Callisto, while the spectacle Creation shown at the beginning of the troupes Moscow tour deals with the history of ballet costume, or, more precisely, with the gradual riddance thereof. 
An ensemble from Taiwan has presented at the Festival the program The Ancient Ethnic Dances. Julia Strizhekurova, who wrote the article, believes that the Oriental artists performances have once again demonstrated how powerfully the authentically ethnic arts impress the European audiences, seemingly so remote from the Asian culture of dance. The divertissement of seven dancing and musical numbers had an almost hypnotizing impact on the spectators. 
Vera Yaskova writes about yet another Taiwan troupe under choreographer Lin Huayming. It is named The Heavenly Gates, after the most ancient, five thousand year old, ritualistic dance. The troups colorful performances combine many systems of traditional performing arts, various sleights of ancient martial arts, and the contemporary dancing techniques. 

In the BALLET WORLD COLUMN, Yuri Stanishevsky presents Ivan Putrov, a star of the Royal Ballet. He was born to a ballet family and grew backstage of the Kiev Opera. He had barely hit sixteen when he won the Second International Serge Lifar Ballet Competition in Kiev. By then he had already been a winner of the International Youth Ballet Competition in Lausanne. After graduating from the Ballet School Ivan had expected an engagement with the National Opera of the Ukraines troupe, for since childhood he had dreamed of dancing on his home stage. But no engagement came about, so the young laureate flew away to London. There, in the Covent Garden Theater, he has negotiated the path towards the summit of excellence and fame from the lowest position of a chorus dancer to the highest one of a leading principal. The article relates of the twists of fate that have befallen the young artist, whom the British critics unanimously acknowledged the Best Dancer of 2004; of people he has been fortunate to rehearse and perform with; and of the parts that have proved the most important. 

The INFORM-BALLET COLUMN, in line with tradition, presents a patchwork of various events:
Within the framework of Katia Sheins Reflections of the Russian Ballet project, which has become so well known among the Moscow ballet lovers, yet another exhibition was held. Beside already exhibited works by prominent painters and photographers, the show featured some real rarities two paintings from the 1920s by the 20th centurys outstanding choreographer Casian Goilezovsky. A poet of human bodys beauty, who made a dance out of a kink of the curve of human hand, who used to fixate his amorous characters in the postures of kisses and passionate embraces, who has created a new choreographic language, both sublime and mundane at the same time, absolutely liberated and tense in the vehemence of the emotions it expresses. The 1921 painting A Choreographic Composition bears witness to that most vividly, opines Julia Strizhecurova who wrote the sketch. 
This coming fall, I. M. Yaushev State Musical Theater of Saransk is opening its anniversary season. The year of 1935 is considered the starting point of its history: thats when the forth state theater of the Kuybyshev region was transformed into the Theater of Russian Musical Comedy of the Mordovian Autonomous Republic. The theater has since changed its status more than once, and that has always influenced the ballet departments repertoire. There have been periods of experimentation and trends toward grand choreographic forms alternating with periods of temporary idleness when the ballet was only used as sideshow numbers in operas and operettas. Today the theaters repertoire includes Coppelia and Giselle, and for the coming anniversary season a new present to the ballet lovers is being prepared a ballet on an ethnic theme Alena of Arsamas (music by N. Kosheleva, choreography by V. Miklin). The author of this narrative of the theaters life is Yuri Kondratenko.

  This summer has complimented the dance aficionados with the Summer Ballet Festival held on stage of the Russian Youth Theater. The festivals goal is to excite interest in the contemporary public for the classic art of dance and, in particular, for Russian ballet. Two renowned artistic groups have been replacing each other on stage: Sergei and Elena Radchenkos Russian National Ballet and the ballet troupe of N. I. Sats Childrens Musical Theater led by V. Kirillov. Vladimir Kolobovnikovs article discusses the ballet performances shown at the Festival.

The 2004-05 season at the Russian Ballet state theater of Moscow has lingered even until September. Elena Kozlenkova reports of the seasons events, of places and countries the trope has visited, of the newcomer artists (among which there are representatives of theatrical dynasties), of new dancing parts performed by both prominent artists and novices.

K. S. Stanislavsky and Vl. I. Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater, whose stage is still under construction, still leads the life of a barnstormer travelling all over Russian stages. Nevertheless, the everyday life of the crew, including the ballet troupe, is going on, primarily in the appearance of new performers in the current productions. The sketch by V. Lapin informs the readers of the parts performed by the talented principal dancers of the troupe.