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La Sylphide - Apr 5th, 2013

La Sylphide - Apr 5th, 2013

Wiener Staatsballet: La Sylphide (April 5th, 2013)

Attitude Devant

 

The thoughts that “La Sylphide” evoke…

Most of them about Filippo Taglioni, his gifted daughter Marie and their times in Vienna…

 

 

 

 

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I was last April 5th at the Opera. It was sort of a treat that I gave to myself for my own birthday… A nice seat in a box very near to the stage – from where I could, due to the nearness, enjoy more the characters and their acting…

Something necessary in this ballet. I had seen “La Sylphide” for the last time in 2011. Irina Tsymbal (somebody once said “Die Personifizierung der Poesie / the personification of poetry” about her) impressed me a lot… She gave “her” Sylphide many dimensions, extraordinary qualities. And THAT was a performance not to forget…

 

 

 (above Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 (above Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

Reading the programme, just before the lights went down, I could catch a marvelous phrase which I would like to refer here to:

 (above Roman Lazik & Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Roman Lazik & Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 

“Die Sylphide ist das Sinnbild der weiblichen Verführung, mit allen, was die Epoche der Romantik uns an Leichtigkeit, Anmut, Lieblichkeit, Frivolität und verdorbener Unschuld hinterlassen hat” (The Sylphide is an allegory of the feminine seduction, with all that the romantic period left us to think about lightness, grace, suaveness, frivolity and foul innocence).

I think that in this one sentence all has been said about the character... and how exciting it should/could/would be to recreate such a character on stage...

 (above Shane A.Wuerthner & Maria Yakovleva, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Shane A.Wuerthner & Maria Yakovleva, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 (above M. Yakovleva, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above M. Yakovleva, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 (Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

But back to the reason why I am writing this today: My main point of criticism nowadays towards the Viennese Opera Ballet. Probably due to the hurried schedule and many performances, dancers seem not to have enough time to develop into their characters, understand them, live with them, know what they are doing (when I remember the “one note exercise” from Actor’s Studio, N.Y…). And then, all of a sudden you are watching a performance with no “flavour”, no acting, no feeling... just bodies dancing to music (If I’d had wanted that I could as well have watched some Balanchine DVDs at home). That all may be OK for the customary Viennese audiences, still in need to develop its ballet knowledge, but it is not enough to someone who understands a bit more about Ballet.

 (Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

I felt extremely uneasy during the Sylphide’s “dying-scene”. One of the most emotional moments EVER put in ballet… the poor thing losing her little wings and there it was: no feelings at all on stage, just a dancer trying to look beautiful regardless of the bad luck and injustice that her character is being put through. This made me really sad. Lack of emotions makes me sad.

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It is extremely difficult to retain the audience’s attention during La Sylphide”. First because the technical challenges may not impress audiences very much, second because the plot may be understood as “too long”. But it is not this way.

The pas de trois (La Sylphide, James and Effie, who was played by Kyoka Hashimoto) from the first act is impressive – and was surely an inspiration

But, as I said before: it is really extreme difficult to retain the audience’s attention during the whole length of the ballet.

 (above Nina Polakova, Roman Lazik & Maria Yakovleva, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Nina Polakova, Roman Lazik & Maria Yakovleva, 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

Sad to sit and watch while such characters as James and La Sylphide are turned into an one-dimensional display of one-dimensional emotions – without any of the intended choreographic nuances… It reminded me of what the great Dorothy Parker said once about a performance of a (very young) Katharine Hepburn: She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B". It is distressing to watch such characters be turned into simple imitations of themselves...

E, ainda por cima, personagens tao ricos… sobre La Sylphide já escrevi mas James… ele é tao tridimenional: sua recusa a aceitar a realidade se apaixonando por “aquela” linda criatura é de certa forma tao supreendente e tao atual…

 (above Andrey Kaydanovskiy as "Madge", 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Andrey Kaydanovskiy as "Madge", 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 (above Shane A.Wuerther, 2011/12 Season. Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Shane A.Wuerther, 2011/12 Season. Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 (above Natalie Kusch, Shane A. Wuerthner & Maria Yakovleva2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Natalie Kusch, Shane A. Wuerthner & Maria Yakovleva2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

James is not the character that requires the “grandiosity” of a Premier Danseur with such presence as Vladimir Shishov. James was extremely well-played in the 2011/12 season by Shane A.Wuerthner and Roman Lazik. Both very, very good dancers.

Michaël Denard was such a great Danseur Noble and he was also a very good, believable, down-to-earth James… a three dimensional man.

I can’t say much about Mayasu Kimoto’s James – there were no feelings to reach for. And I say this very honestly.

To summarize: I wish dancers here should/could/would have more Workshops to develop the characters they are playing… This is so important. Maybe someday I’ll concentrate on coaching… The company is being brought through an extreme work process since Monsieur Legris is here… but my impression is that not so many thoughts are being given to showmanship as to technique… and they are equally important!

 (above Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season. Photo: Wiener Staatsballet/Kurier)

(above Irina Tsymbal, 2011/12 Season. Photo: Wiener Staatsballet/Kurier)

 (above Natalie Kusch, Shane A. Wuerthner & Maria Yakovleva 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

(above Natalie Kusch, Shane A. Wuerthner & Maria Yakovleva 2011/12 Season, Copyright: Wiener Staatsballet)

 (above Irina Tsymbal & Roman Lazik, 2011/12 season: Copyright Wiener Staatsballet/Kurier)

(above Irina Tsymbal & Roman Lazik, 2011/12 season: Copyright Wiener Staatsballet/Kurier)

Contrary to the audiences’ opinion Andrey Kaydanovskiy did not impress me as Madge. Strangely enough this Madge walks long steps and then uses her stick… Normally, anyone using a stick uses it, leaning on it, before taking a long step… I tried his version of walking when I arrive home and I tell you: this is NOT easy (and it looks very strange und quite unreal on stage!). This was a cronic case of not knowing how to WALK on stage. Yes. And this is sad.

But let us speak about the Highlights of the Evening… I want to say something positive about April 5th…

 (above Maria Alatti & Mihail Sonovschi, 2011/12 Season: Photo Staatsoper)

(above Maria Alatti & Mihail Sonovschi, 2011/12 Season: Photo Staatsoper)

Misha Sonovschi was once more brilliant in the pas de deux from the first act…  Contemplative. Two years ago, in the company of Maria Allati, he was a joy to watch. This time a new partner was quite a surprise for me: Ioanna Avraam, a lovely, very gifted dancer from Cyprus, gave us her role début in this nice – and refreshing – part of the first act.

 

 

I was also very impressed by the wonderful dancers of the corps de ballet in the second act. The delicacy of some, lovely Flavia Soares for instance, is so “bigger than life” that all of a sudden you are wondering why there is another plot going on, why soloists you do not really relate to, are dancing all the time.

To be very honest: the pas de deux from the first act with Sosnovschi and Avraam as well the wonderful, delicate, precise work of the corps de ballet (the real Star of the evening)  in the second made this evening a real joy!!!! Thank you, “girls”! You embody the essence of this you!

  (above Flavia Soares 2012/13 Season. Copyright: Thomas Schulz)

 (above Flavia Soares 2012/13 Season. Copyright: Thomas Schulz)

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Ricardo Leitner / Attitude-devant

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