After5

Archive for the ‘Ballet’ Category

Right after New Year’s Eve I wrote about starting to exercise using Yoga Pilates DVD. HAHAHA! HEHEHE! HOHOHO! I didn’t even manage to put the DVD into the DVD player, not to mention actually exercise. So my husband put his foot down, because he hears me complain all the time about not fitting into my clothes and about not being able to go to ballet class every day. I don’t even go twice a week, which my schedule would actually allow, because I believe in all or nothing. Today, he built me a ballet barre. My dear husband has built me my own, personal, custom made ballet barre. How cool is that? And we have wood floors in our apartment so there is really nothing preventing me from giving myself a ballet barre every day. I even have room to do simple combinations in the “center”, perhaps with a pirouette or two, no jumps because the floor is not sprung (but we are on the ground level). I’ve finally ran out of excuses to avoid exercise, which is actually great. On the other hand I could say that I am missing a mirror, or that the floor is slippery, and that I am really used to marley. Hmm…

Here is the awesome barre and me holding on for dear life while my toes are getting crushed in my old pointe shoes.

barre1

If anyone is curious, the pointe shoes are an old pair of Sonata by Bloch, my favorites. After wearing Freeds for a few years, putting on a pair of Sonata’s was like wearing the softest and most comfortable sneakers. I know I just uttered a blasphemy, it should work the other way around with Freeds being the great shoes, but my feet chose otherwise.

barre2

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The first reviews of Don Quixote ballet, performed by the Mariinksy Ballet are in. New York Time and Washington Post give reserved praise on technique, but note that artistically the ballet executions came short. They lavish praise on Diana Vishneva, and rightfully so since she is a wonderful ballerina, but they are less forgiving about the rest of the cast. The main complaint is that the ballet failed to show real emotions between characters, and that somehow gave it a very superficial feel. You can read the review from New York Times here and the review from Washington Post here.
Now let’s think about Don Quixote for a moment. We are talking here about Don Quixote, the ballet, not Don Quixote, the groundbreaking novel. The libretto for this ballet was created from a short segment in the novel, so it certainly doesn’t address the whole story. It is a bravura ballet, which premiered in the 2nd half of 19th century, when big lavish productions of ballets were the norm. Granted the version performed by Maryiinsky was based on Gorsky’s revision, but even then, a certain formulaic norm had to be satisfied. It is a happy ballet, full light music, wonderful dancing, and not a whole lot of drama andsoul searching. I do understand the reviewers points about the lack of expression, and certain arrogance especially by a dancer dancing Basilio’s part. I could imagine the regal bearing of the dancer while dancing a part of a young poor barber, and it made me laugh.

In conclusion no one should go to see Don Quixote and expect deep internal struggle and poignancy, or else she/he will be sorely disappointed. Look for great technical bravura, and anything else you get out of that ballet, think of it as a bonus.

I live in Washington DC Metro area, which means that I am blessed to live close enough to the Kennedy Center to enjoy the wonderful performances performed there. This season the ballet repertoire at the Kennedy Center is so wonderful  that every ballet aficionado would die to see all the programs. Mariinsky Theatre, ABT, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and Royal Ballet are all coming to town.

Now the hard reality is that I cannot go to see them all, so I have to pick one. Last year I went to see Mariinsky Theatre in La Bayadere and it was really beautiful. I practically cried during the Kingdom of Shades, it was so spellbinding, in spite of the corps de ballet arabesques being somewhat uneven. This year they are performing Don Quixote, a bravura ballet I’ve seen long time ago at a Sunday matinee performance at the National Theatre in Belgrade, then Yugoslavia, that I barely remember it. Actually, I do remember that the cast looked sleepy.

ABT is performing mixed repertoire and also a full length Swan Lake. That is another tough choice. Growing up I watched Russian stagings of ballets, so I am very partial to the Russian choreography of old classics. Just ask anyone who had to sit with me through Giselle which deviated from the Russian choreography. That means  I would have to “allow” ABT the artistic freedom to dance the Swan Lake their way.

Then NYC Ballet is another company I would really like to see; they are doing a mixed bag of Balanchine, Martins, Wheeldon, and perhaps someone else.

Bolshoi Ballet will perform Le Corsaire, a ballet I have not seen live so I am very tempted. And finally Royal Ballet which brings us MacMillan’s Manon. I would love to see Darcey Bussell, if she is still with Royal Ballet.

Now you understand the predicament I am in. The only thing which would make my torment worse would be if Paris Opera Ballet announced they are making a surprise visit to the Kennedy Center this spring performing Coppélia. That would push me over the edge and I would have to sell all my valuables, and go see all five of these wonderful ballet companies.


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