In early June, Noah Gelber and Stephanie Arndt, both formerly with the Forsythe company, flew to Moscow for a month to begin to set Second Detail, the first Forsythe work that the Stanislavsky troupe will perform. The premiere will be part of a mixed bill that takes place on 6, 7 and 8 July, along with Serge Lifar’s Suite en Blanc and Jiri Kilyan’s Petit Mort.

Here’s a look inside Second Detail:

AUDITIONS FOR THE MARIINSKY THEATRE in VLADIVOSTOCK

The Mariinsky Theatre in Vladivostock is holding auditions on 30 May 2017 at 15:00 in Saint Petersburg for its Vladivostock troupe. Men and women from age 18 to 28 are invited. Men minimum height of 175 cm is required.To participate in the audition, send a resume, photo (full height in dancewear) and links to performances to: proskuryakovs@mariinsky.ru

The Stone Flower, a decidedly Russian ballet based on the Ural fairtytale by Pavel Bazhov, first appeared in 1957 and is said to have started Yuri Grigorovich on his career as a young choreographer. The work focuses on the story of a young stone carver, Danila, who will stop at nothing to uncover the secrets of his art form, venturing to the underground lair of the Mistress of the Copper Mountain in order to reveal the secrets of the stones, and in so doing, leaving his earthly beloved, Katerina, behind.

While far from Prokofiev’s best work — the great composer seems to trudge through the score at numerous points, lending a heaviness that one does not sense, for example, in his Cinderella — Stone Flower, nonetheless currently runs on at least three of Russia’s major stages: the Mariinsky, Bolshoi, and Stanislavsky Theatres, all of whom perform Grigorovich’s version.

02 June 2017 update: Due to the unexpected and untimely death of Sergey Vikarev, the plans listed below are now subject to change.

On 25 May the Bolshoi Theatre held a press conference announcing its plans for the upcoming 2017-2018 season which will be its 242nd season.

The plans include:

– the revival of Sergey Vikarev’s Coppelia (12 December 2017)

– the premiere of John Neuemeier’s 2017 production of Anna Karenina (March 2018)
– the premiere of Jiri Kilyan’s Forgotten Land
– the addition of Alexei Ratmansky’s version of Romeo and Juliet and his version of Flames of Paris
-an evening dedicated to Marius Petipa with a three-act evening with works by Ratmansky, Burlaka, and Vikarev (summer 2018).

There will also be two gala concerts featuring international guest stars dedicated to Petipa in the spring.

Just as in June every year the Vaganova Academy students appear in 3 graduation performances on the Mariinsky Theatre stage, so too the Moscow State Choreographic Academy, in some ways Moscow’s equivalent to the Vaganova Academy, holds performances for its graduates on the Bolshoi stage every spring. On 17 May the first of this year’s performances took place, featuring a three act programme that covered everything from classical to new works.

Act I began with a Moscovian version of Chopiniana, slightly altering from the classical purity in choreography shown at the Mariinsky. A faster tempo throughout replaced the usual legato flavour of the piece. Here, a swivel step is changed to a clear faillé tombé, and there, the standard first position port de bras shifted to a folded elbow with the hand near the ear. The heads of the corps de ballet sylphs alter positioning based on the breath of their arms (at points where the Mariinsky version does not shift the head position). Port de bras during the tour jeté pose during the Waltz in G Flat major were shifted to an allongé position rather than first position overhead, done at the Mariinsky.

Graduate Ekaterina Fateyeva danced a swift Prelude but maintained the lyrical feel of the section. In the Eleventh Waltz, Camilla Matsi injected sudden puffs of speed when moving from position to position.

The Nemirovich – Danchenko Stanislavsky Theatre, first founded in 1919 as a musical studio under the Moscow Artists Theatre, quietly assumes second place in Russia’s capital, often overshadowed by the larger fame of the neighboring Bolshoi. But boasting hidden stores of talent within, this smaller gem in the crown of Moscow’s ballet scene is nonetheless a high level troupe worthy of accolades.

With a handful of top-notch ballerinas and an impressive repertoire, the Stanislavsky has much to offer. Currently headed by Laurent Hilaire, formerly of the Paris Opera Ballet and who plans to add both classical and contemporary works to the repertoire, the troupe’s future, at least short-term, seems bright indeed.

The programme notes for the premiere of Paquita at the Mariinsky emphasize the fact that the ballet is not a revival of the mid-19th century ballet by Petipa, but a new creation based heavily on Cervantes’ novella, The Little Gypsy Girl. That much is evident from the libretto, set around the idea of a royal baby stolen and raised by gypsies, who then falls in love with a high-ranking officer and ultimately finds her real parents. This new version differs widely from the original libretto from 1846.

That 1846 ballet also depicts Paquita living with gypsies, but focuses on a visiting French General who wants his son, Lucien, to marry the Spanish governor’s sister (at the time, Napoleon had just occupied Spain, highlighting political ties between the two countries). Lucien falls in love with Paquita instead.

Mariinsky Theatre – XVII International Festival Mariinsky

5 April 2017

Alexei Miroschnichenko is not new to choreography. With experience settings works in New York, Belgium, Saint Petersburg, and beyond, it was his early exposure to creating that led to his appointment as balletmaster of the Perm State Ballet troupe in 2009. In a collaborative effort as part of this year’s XVII International Ballet Festival Mariinsky, he presented his version of Swan Lake based on a libretto by Vladimir Begichev. This version eschews the politically correct happy ending of the Mariinsky’s current Soviet version, and instead presents a new slant on the traditional double-suicide finale. A somber, but more realistic closure to the classical work.

A little known awards ceremony, the “Spirit of the Dance” awards, was held at the Stanislavsky Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre in Moscow on 27 April to honour the winners from 2016 in categories ranging from rising stars to talented pedagogues and even informative ballet critics.

The evening, structured in a format that combined award ceremony with gala concert, interspersed the presentation of awards with short numbers acknowledging each winner. Though running nearly 4 hours, specific dancing highlights punctuated the evening that covered a range of styles from folk to classical ballet.

The first artist to make his mark during the evening, Yuri Kudryavtsev, performed the pas de deux from La Sylphide alongside Ekaterina Bulgutova. Both leading soloists form the Kranoyarsk Theatre of Opera and Ballet, Kudryavtsev is a tall young man with clean beats and light ballon with a promising future ahead of him. Bulgutova evoked a mischievous sylphide with clean delivery and proved a lovely onstage match for her partner.

One’s first foray to the historic Bolshoi Theatre, especially in its still post-renovation splendor, is an event indeed, and what programme could more symbolically mark the occasion inside this precious piece of history than Balanchine’s Jewels, a triptych that highlights the different moods and tones of three gemstones with a separate act devoted to each.

On 29 March, Evgenia Obratsova reprised the leading role in Emeralds alongside the ever-smooth Dmitry Gudanov to the Bolshoi orchestra’s steady rendition of Fauré’s haunting score. With her compact stature and one of the most flexible pairs of arches in the company, Obratsova’s physique is a pleasure to watch, but it is her emotional delivery that captivates most. Now the mother of two, Obratsova injected lush movements with moments of rapture in the pas de deux, infusing her Emerald with a composed degree of sparkle rather than cool detachment as can be done. Gudanov managed sets of triple pirouettes in his variation, superior timing in the partnering sections, and a sense of fascination with his partner that lent depth to their duet.

You directed the ballet troupe at Teatro alla Scala for 7 years. How did that differ from running the Mariinsky?

Everything was new for me: a new system, a new culture, new values. Although there are general human values that are shared as well, there were a lot of revelations for me. As interesting as it was for me in Italy, working in the Bolshoi or Mariinsky Theatre you always know that it is a large empire, and there’s some sort of guarantee — that’s the presence of the Vaganova Academy for the Mariinsky and the Moscow Choreographic School for the Bolshoi, and that’s a huge strength. La Scala also has their own school but it’s not what we have here.

After all, our school, our training system is distinguished by the fact that there is practically no place else in the world where students are taught and graduate on the basis of classical dance through means of a complex system of classes: character dance, historical, duet, ballet and others. There are few schools like these two in the world. Another thing is the repertoire these two theatres have.

Upon its creation in 1935, The Bright Stream, a ballet co-written by Fyodor Lopukhov and Adrian Piostrovsky to a score by Shostakovich, had difficulties. That comic expression in mime form does not always translate well in lengthy doses was only part of the problem. Fitting music and choreography to the state-sanctioned dictate of socialist realism resulted in an awkward combination. An early review in Pravda critiqued the art form of ballet as one built on dolls rather than people, and this ballet in particular as “a game with dolls” in which the depiction of collective farm workers was too character-esque to be believable or truthful. It was, in short, a “nonsense ballet.”

On Saturday, 18 February, nearly 5000 people filed into the great hall of the Kremlin Theatre in order to attend the gala concert in honor of Andris Liepa’s 55th anniversary. Film clips of Liepa’s early years greeted the audience pre-curtain — the “Ballet Russes” curtain — referring to the Diaghilev works that Liepa has helped restore over the past few decades in various international theatres.

You were born in Perm and began to dance there?
Yes, both of my parents danced in the Perm Theatre, and I studied there as well for 5 years. But my parents were invited to join the Stanislavsky Ballet troupe in Moscow. So we moved, and I transferred to the Moscow Academy of Choreography, where I studied for 4 years.

Was there a noticeable difference? Perm is known to uphold the strictly Vaganova traditions.
In fact I was advised to repeat one year when I came to Moscow because the two programs differed. A lot of things that I should have known in the 5th year I didn’t, so they asked me to work an extra year. As a result I studied a total of 9 years, not 8.

The upper stage of the Bolshoi Theatre: a small auditorium located under the building’s roof, complete with a small orchestra pit and audience seating that mimics the actual stage where performances are held. It is a hallowed yet impressive space, and today it’s empty except for a small team of six people: Alyona Kovalyova, her partner Yakopo Tissi, two coaches, a pianist, the conductor…and me. It is just five days before Kovalyova and Tissi’s debut in Swan Lake. As the dancers rehearse, their coaches, former Bolshoi soloist Alexander Vetrov and former Kirov ballerina Olga Chenchikova, lead the rehearsals to the sounds of a single piano onstage. The conductor for the premiere, Aleksey Bogorad, sits to mark notes about the score and inquires frequently about the tempo while the rehearsal goes on.

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