28 January 2011

Russian National Ballet Theatre, 20 January 2011: Cinderella

Russian National Ballet Theatre
20 January 2011, 7 PM
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Orchestra Row T Seat 22

Music from the eponymous ballet by S Prokofieff
Choreographed by Elena and Sergei Radchenko

Cinderella: Marianna Tchemalina
Prince: Ruslan Mukhambetkaliev

To my relief, the over-reliance on previous knowledge of the plot in Romeo and Juliet has been replaced (mostly) with clearly choreographed sequences of events. None of it seems to match the printed libretto, but no matter, I am not tempted to post stream of consciousness recountings of the action today.

Overall, this was a pleasantly danced performance accompanied by a badly edited soundtrack. The stepmother (danced en travesti) lusted after any available men and the stepsisters preened as best they could under over-large wigs. Cinderella (Tchemalina) was appropriately pathetic at home but was fortuitously rescued by a lushly danced Lilac Fairy Godmother (Ekaterina Egorova) and her seasonal attendants, who unfortunately seemed to clothed in tutus spackled with marshmallow bits from Lucky Charms cereal.

Mukhambetkaliev's bravura actually served a point today and didn't look inappropriate, particularly with the requisite Soviet Court Jester at his side. His partnering of Cinderella also looked harmonious today against the Classical instead of Romantic setting of the plot. I was especially taken with the court's performance of a mazurka to the Grand Waltz, which shows the depth of their character work*.

Instead of the typical sequence of the Prince traveling the land, ambassadors of exotic lands brought their prospective princesses to court for footwear inspections. Here I break into the narrative again to note that the action thus far seems a pastiche from everything else: Cinderella was presented at court in a SB-esque pas de quatre, and now an inspection of the Princesses a la Swan Lake (oh what next?). The Prince luckily caused no diplomatic incidents and here I run out of steam, but not before adding that the story ends happily enough in the expected manner.

My production line of reviews continue sooner or later with a traveling production of the Nutcracker, seen in Durham, North Carolina.

Some discussion questions for aspiring librettists:

1. Is Cinderella's father actually dead?
2. Why does the dancing master bring the invitation to the ball to the house? Was this an informal tete-a-tete?
3. If you make the clock a drably-clothed dancing scarecrow, can anyone figure out what he's there for when the moment comes?

*To be honest, I would have preferred 1.5 hours of character dancing to much of the production. It was much better danced and (perhaps my gentle readers can tell) much more memorable.

Russian National Ballet Theatre, 18 January 2011: Chopiniana/Romeo and Juliet

(I've seen about seven performances since I last posted. Will try to whittle at backlog. Nothing to do until TSFB next performs anyways.)

Russian National Ballet Theatre
Chopiniana/Romeo and Juliet
18 January 2011
Tryon Festival Theater, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Orchestra Row R, Seat 6

(lead couple: Marianna Tchemalina and Ruslan Mukhambetkaliev)

From what I saw of this program (mishaps - both weather and a fundamental inability to keep time), it was a rather politely danced program. It was academically sound but pallid. Where is the mystery? Mukhambetkaliev tried for bravura (in a ballet blanc?) and Tchemalina projected beauty. They danced well separately but together gave the impression that they were dancing two different ballets. The corp couldn't decide whether they were grabbing ears or chins as they indicated the necessary port de bras with their fingers.

Romeo and Juliet
music from the Tchaikovsky suite
choreographed by Elena Radchenko

Juliet: Ekaterina Egorova
Romeo: Dmitri Schemelinin

I couldn't bring myself to write an actual review, so here's what happened in my head during the performance, more or less.

(Tableau for the Capulets)
Juliet: Oh woe, oh arabesque en attitude, oh parents.

(Tableau for the Montagues)
Romeo: I'm too cool to have parents, just a posse.

lighting technicians: Let's play with the red colored gels!

(Scene opens upon the party at the Capulets)

Paris (Samat Abdrakhmanov): My hat is substantially bigger than my head.

(A bunch of poorly masked people burst in - Mercutio taunts everyone and is quickly found out. For some reason not made clear on stage, they are allowed to stay. General revelry ensues. Somewhere in here Juliet wanders onto the stage with her girlfriends, sees Romeo, falls in love very quickly. I think there was a love duet but I may have fallen asleep during it. Suddenly Tibault becomes angry. He seems a very volatile fellow. He and Mercutio fight. Predictably, Mercutio dies.)

Lady Capulet: I have taken off my fake curls and will now perform the Mad Scene from Giselle. Oh whiplash. Ow.

(Romeo finishes the job, looks confused but then appropriately devastated. Gives solo in front of the curtains that involves much bravura jumping. Suddenly realizes that it is not a good idea to linger and runs away Somewhere)

Scene 2:
(Romeo bursts into Juliet's room. Juliet greets him joyfully. They roll around on the floor. No, really, they Roll Around on the Floor.)

Parents Capulet: Oh good morning there, Paris will marry you!

Juliet: Um, okay. Oh, wait a minute. No. NO!

Parents Capulet: Death by drawing and quartering! Well, this is a family performance, so we'll just drag you around the floor for a while.

Juliet: Heave, Cry, Woe. (Parents stomp off stage, nearly treading on each other's hems in the process.)

(Suddenly a Robed Man appears behind a colored window, waves his arms and makes the cross several times)

me: Didn't anyone ever tell you not to take unidentified bottles from strange men?!

(Romeo wanders in again, sees Juliet prone on the floor, pointedly not rolling around this time.)

Him: (in the style of teenagers everywhere) OH NOES.

(Suddenly women wearing translucent curtains wander in en pointe. This wakes up Your Critic in a cloud of befuddlement. Apparently he is now reliving their very short Acquaintance. It was a very fondly remembered time with lots of lifts. They exeunt, pursued by no bears.)

Romeo: I fumble around my back for MY poison!

(He drinks and he dies. Juliet wakes up.)

Juliet: I'm alive!

(She makes a circuit around the stage before realizing that Romeo is prone directly behind where she had been sleeping.)

Juliet: (gasp) Romeo! You're not dead! (picks up an arm) You are!

Romeo: (FLOPS audibly on stage)

Your critic: (completely loses her composure into her elbow)

Juliet: Oh well. (stabs self and Dies)

(Your Critic manages not to kill herself on the performing center's steps afterwards and staggers home to write this Account of Events.)