sun 23/02/2020

The Ballets Russes Return to Russia | reviews, news & interviews

The Ballets Russes Return to Russia

The Ballets Russes Return to Russia

Legendary lost ballets recreated to recapture the spirit of 1912

Diaghilev's idol: Nijinsky as the Blue God, a role commissioned to glorify the 23-year-old superstarPhotograph by Bert

Ninety-nine years ago, there were sights and stars seen upon the ballet stage as had never been dreamed of. A young genius of 32 was the driving engine of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes - the choreographer Mikhail Fokine, who created fantasies of radiant Blue Gods, of murderous and erotic goddesses, and tapestries that came to life and sucked dreamers into them. His stars were to become immortals: Anna Pavlova, Vaslav Nijinsky, Tamara Karsavina, Ida Rubinstein… the most beautiful divinities of the stage, their names living on.

Ballet had become the supreme crucible of theatre art, lush in design, lavish in theatricality, adventurous in music, thrilling in concept

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It just doesn't work without the classical training Diaghilev's dancers had, and it is alive and well in many places. Not one Russian/Soviet dancer I ever met could admit or accept that their culture was exported and survived in Paris, New York, Tulsa, St. Louis, Kansas City and Bermuda, to name just a few places. Everywhere the Ballets Russes companies went, they left behind teachers well-versed in the pre-Soviet classical technique and esthetic. If Liepa wants any artistic success, he must do away with the esthetic changes and technical exaggerations introduced by Vaganova, Balanchine and others. It can be done. But the effort has to be made. My teachers, Nina Stroganova and Vladimir Dokoudovsky, were just two such teachers, pupils of Preobrajenska, and there are and were many others. Why is this so important? Because the use of the arms, the height of extensions and arabesques changes the appearance, the stage composition. Fokine's choreography requires a different way of moving, and the arms are of particular importance. Insensitivity to these elements will only result in further bastardization. The classical geometry, the symmetry and assymmetry were all-important. If Liepa understands this, then the daily classes will also be different, and the dancers will be well-prepared with the stamina, the style, the taste and musicality needed to do ballets by Fokine, Nijinska, Lichine and most importantly, Massine.

Is Laurie Ichino teaching in the LA area? She was a beautiful dancer, I used to take class with her during the 70's.

To be very specific, Liepa needs to bring back the pupils of Preobrajenska, Legat, Cecchetti, and the like; and their pupils, people like Laurie Ichino, Patricia Dokoudovsky, Richard Marsden, Carl Corry, there are many in the U.S. alone. When I was taking class with Stroganova, she taught us the Prelude from Les Sylphides, she taught combinations from Petipa's Nutcracker, many authentic things. It is not at all lost.

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