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The Tokyo Ballet, Onegin, September 28th & 30th (Mika Yoshioka, Evan McKie)

ONEGIN
Choreography : John Cranko
Music : Peter I. Tschaikowsky
Arranged and Einrichtung: Kurt-Heinz Stolze
Set and costumes : Jürgen Rose

[Cast]
Onegin:Evan McKie
Lensky:Alexander Zaitsev
Tatiana:Mika Yoshioka
Olga:Reiko Koide
Prince Gremin:Naoki Takagishi

http://www.nbs.or.jp/stages/1209_onegin/index.html

12-07.04_04Michel Lidvac.jpeg
(c) Michel Lidvac

Evan McKie is a dancer who draws the role to himself. He does not create the character's image or impersonates it but puts his personal feelings into the role into detail. Each time he plays Onegin, he obeys his slightly different attitude thus he could show diverse expressions and literally live the role. The audience can experience the complex character and life of Onegin as their own. I have seen all 6 of his Tatianas and he shows different chemistry between each partner. This time, on the September 30th performance, his vivid interpretation and understanding of the role brought a remarkable metamorphosis to his partner Mika Yoshioka.

This time, his Onegin was a politely insolent and sardonic person, acting with a perfect balance of elegance, vanity and superciliousness. In his first solo, you could see him erasing Tatiana from his sight and with every single movement polished from his toes to his fingertips; he seems to be obsessed into his world of solitude. A towering aristocratic jaded young man clad in black, his striking appearance stands out too much in this rural small town like an alien. The atmosphere surrounding him seems so cold and his existence is like a sharpened knife. The willowy and delicate Mika as Tatiana the not-so-childish but shy and fragile country girl throws a longing gaze from a distance expressing her heart tremble with little bourrees.

In Tatiana's dream, Onegin comes out of the mirror with demonic charm. This Onegin carries a gentle and alluring smile, embodying the dreams of every girl including Tatiana, but he might have been the devil itself. Evan's high jete entrelaces pierces the ceiling and his light jetes lands without a sound. His silky smooth partnering leads Tatiana's leaps showing her uplifting heartbeat and brings a number of acrobatic jumps while maintaining a sense of speed. Tatiana's rapture was expressed in Mika's flexible arabesques and her unbridled movement, soaring into an incredible height bursting into euphoria.

Apparently bored at Tatiana's name celebration and having enough of being in this tiresome countryside, Onegin retreats to the wall playing with cards. Evan's Onegin, a dashing gentleman as well as a superfluous fellow, hates himself being irritated by such a childish Tatiana but still acts brave, pretending to be a super-cool guy. Banging the table with frustration not only to Tatiana and the people but to himself, he conveys a sense of self‐hatred along with self-indulgence. Watching Onegin ripping Tatiana's letter with condescending manner, thus crushing the dreams of the innocent girl, I could not help feeling sympathy for this sad, pathetic antihero.

But Onegin in his low spirits couldn't stand still and flirts with the thoughtless Olga, with that irresistible devilish smile, although he knew he shouldn't be playing such a game just to stave off boredom. Evan's magnificent partnering lets the playful Olga (Reiko Koide) swing freely and frivolously. But Onegin didn't expect that the inexperienced and vulnerable Lenski (Alexander Zaistev) would get hurt and infuriated and challenge him to fight a duel as a result of his caprice.

Pulling out his gun and staring it with heavy remorse, Onegin already has an air of the loser. The ultra-speed sharp pirouettes and the hitting on his knees shows his anger not turned to Lenski but to himself. And when Lenski falls down by his gunshot, Onegin's conscience can no longer stand the gaze of Tatiana confronting him; his poignant regret was shown so tragically with his face hidden by his elegant fingers, and him falling slowly to his knees.

After all the years of futility, Onegin was still a St. Petersburg dandy but you can imagine what kind of hell he has walked through. Staring at the beautifully matured Tatiana as though he was struck by lightning, he was regarding her as a last hope of his otherwise empty life.

At the last pas de deux, on the Sep 28th performance Mika followed the choreography very neatly and fluently but her rebuff was clear from the beginning, she seemed very stubborn and cold. But at the second performance, she unleashed her anguish and turmoil with reason, utilizing her body as an instrument in-between a series of tosses. Even after her last choice to force him to get out of her life forever, you could imagine that she would live her life with remorse. Her dramatic metamorphosis was just as though she was cast under a spell.

This Onegin was seeing Tatiana as the only light to rebuild his bitter life. It was not only love; she symbolizes his pride that has been lost for a long time. Now his heart has regained strength, youthfulness and charm of the time when he first met her. He takes off all his vanity and his naked emotions flows like a torrent. Tatiana jumps into his arms letting loose her passion, torn between the two loves and reprising her crushes in her youth. Onegin, convinced that Tatiana had fallen for him, looks into her eyes with a smile of triumph. But the next moment she suddenly turns to Onegin to reject his letter leaving him devastated. Some Tatianas scream their hearts out to mourn her lost love; others endure, tell themselves they had the right decision and try to conceal her emotion. Mika's Tatiana was not so fierce; her expressions were subtle and showed her grief and heart-bleeding pain gracefully like silent snow falling. The two lead dancers standing still with their souls left in 19th century Russia at the applause made a lasting impression upon us.

Although the Tokyo Ballet showed a handsome ensemble, and their vivid portrayal of the young folks in the 1st act was lively, it seemed they were struggling to express the glamour of aristocratic life in Moscow. Alexander Zaistev's ill-fated poet Lenski, such an unworldly idealist but with natural sweetness makes you feel his pain, and symbolizes the loss of innocence in Onegin by his harrowing final solo filled with despair. He formed a lovely couple with Reiko Koide's dulcet Olga, and their tender and puppyish duet formed a perfect contrast to the self-obsessed supercilious Onegin's solo, and their tragic parting.

World Ballet Festival Program A 2009.8.1

P1040178s.jpg

■Part 1■ 15:00~16:25

Tchaikovsky Pas de deux 
Maria Kochetkova (San Fransisco Ballet) & Daniil Simkin (American Ballet Theatre)


Nutcracker Picnic pas de deux   
Lucinda Dunn & Robert Curran (The Australian Ballet)


Le Corsaire
Marianela Nunez & Thiago Soares (The Royal Ballet)


She is Water ELLA ES AGUA
Tamara Rojo (The Royal Ballet)


The Nutcracker
Iana Salenko (Berlin State Opera Ballet) & Zdenek Konvalina (National Ballet of Canada)


Coppelia
Alina Cojocaru & Johan Kobborg (The Royal Ballet)


■Part2■ 16:45~17:55

Giselle pas de deux from Act2 
Mizuka Ueno (The Tokyo Ballet) & Mathieu Ganio (Paris Opera Ballet)

Critical Mass
Sylvie Guillem & Nicolas Le Riche (Paris Opera Ballet)


Raymonda pas de deux from Act3 
Maria Eichwald & Filip Barankiewicz (Stuttgart Ballet)


Scarlatti-pas de deux from Les Enfants du Paradis
Agnes Letestu & Jose Martinez (Paris Opera Ballet)


Diana and Actaeon
Xiomara Reyes & Jose Manuel Carreno (American Ballet Theatre)


Othello
Helene Bouchet & Thiago Boardin (The Hamburg Ballet) 


■part3■ 18:10~19:25
Die Kameliendame pas de deux from Act1   
Aurelie Dupont & Manuel Legris (Paris Opera Ballet)


FAUVES  
Bernice Coppieters (Ballets de Monte-Carlo) & Gil Roman (Bejart Ballet Lausanne)


Black swan pas de deux
Svetlana Zakharova & Andrei Uvarov (Bolshoi Ballet)


Kazimir's Colours
Diana Vishneva (Mariinsky Ballet) & Vladimir Malakhov (Berlin State Opera Ballet)


Manon Bedroom pas de deux
Polina Semionova (Berlin State Opera Ballet) & Friedemann Vogel (Stuttgart Ballet)

Don Quixote
Natalia Osipova (Bolshoi Ballet) & Leonid Sarafanov (Mariinsky Ballet)


A few remarks,

Tchaikovsky pdd was the first programme of the gala, made the seats very hot. Slmkin's brise vole brilliant, Maria Kochetkova was light as air and delightful.

Marianella Nunez was sparkling as Medora but Thiago Soares seemed to have an off-day. Neumeier's Othello, Boardin and Bouchet very beautiful and made the perfect atmosphere.

Fauves by Jean-Christophe Maillot was a very creative and sexy, cool piece with Gil Roman and Bernice Coppieters. Coppieters' legs were beautiful!

The best ballerina of the day was Alina Cojocaru. Welcome back Alina! Johan looked fine. He was also very good! Alina's balances were so terrific

The 12th World Ballet Festival in Tokyo August 2009

First, I must apologize that I had not updated this blog for too long. I had to write entries for my Japanese ones.. I hope I can write more often.

So, I will restart by providing information of ballet in Tokyo this Summer. One of the biggest Summer events this year.

The 12th World Ballet Festival in Tokyo
http://www.nbs.or.jp/stages/0908_wbf/index.html

Program A
August 1st (Sat)3:00p.m.
August 2nd (Sun)3:00p.m.
August 3rd (Mon)6:00p.m.
August 4th (Tue)6:00p.m.

Program B
August 8th (Sat)3:00p.m.
August 9th (Sun)3:00p.m.
August 10th (Mon)6:00p.m.
August 11th (Tue)6:00p.m.

Gala Performance
August 13th (Thur)5:00p.m.


☆Helene Bouchet & Thiago Boardin (The Hamburg Ballet) 
John Neumeier work(TBA)

☆Alina Cojocaru & Johan Kobborg (The Royal Ballet)
Voices of Spring (Frederick Ashton)

☆Lucinda Dunn & Robert Curran (The Australian Ballet)
Swan Lake Act 1 (Greame Murphy)

☆Aurelie Dupont & Manuel Legris (Paris Opera Ballet)
Sonatine (George Balanchine)

☆Aurelie Dupont & Laurent Hilare (Paris Opera Ballet)
Romeo and Juliet (Angelin Preljocaj)

☆Maria Eichwald & Filip Barankiewicz (Stuttgart Ballet)
Der Widerspenstigen Zähmung (John Cranko)

☆Sylvie Guillem
TWO(Russel Maliphant)

☆Maria Kochetkova (San Fransisco Ballet) & Daniil Simkin (American Ballet Theatre)
Le Coisaire (Marius Petipa)

☆Agnes Letestu & Jose Martinez (Paris Opera Ballet)
Giselle

☆Marianela Nunez & Thiago Soares (The Royal Ballet)
Winter Dreams (Kenneth MacMillan)

☆Natalia Osipova (Bolshoi Ballet) & Leonid Sarafanov (Mariinsky Ballet)
Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (George Balanchine)

☆Xiomara Reyes & Jose Manuel Carreno (American Ballet Theatre)
Manon Swamp Pas de Deux (Kenneth MacMillan)

☆Tamara Rojo & Federico Bonneli (The Royal Ballet)
Carmen (Roland Petit)

☆Elisabet Ros & Gil Roman (Bejart Ballet Lausanne)
Cantique (Maurice Bejart)

Iana Salenko (Berlin State Opera Ballet) & Zdenek Konvalina (National Ballet of Canada)
Flames of Paris (Vasily Vainonen)

☆Polina Semionova (Berlin State Opera Ballet) & Friedemann Vogel (Stuttgart Ballet)
TBA

☆Mizuka Ueno (The Tokyo Ballet) & David Makhateli (The Royal Ballet)
Don Quixote (Marius Petipa)

☆Diana Vishneva (Mariinsky Ballet) & Vladimir Malakhov (Berlin State Opera Ballet)
Diamonds from Jewels (George Balanchine)

☆Svetlana Zakharova & Andrei Uvarov (Bolshoi Ballet)
Macbeth (Vladimir Vasiliev)

☆Manuel Legirs (Paris Opera Ballet)
A Picture of...(Patrick de Bana)

☆Nicolas Le Riche (Paris Opera Ballet)
TBA
The World Ballet Festival is performed once in three years, and this gala performance is known to be the most difficult to buy tickets event in Japan. Usually it lasts about 5 hours with a "Funny Gala" accompanied with male dancers wearing pointe shoes and ballerinas dressed like boys.

********
Also, there are 3 full performances with the Tokyo Ballet and 2 galas in memory of Maurice Bejart

July 29th 6:30pm
"Don Quixote"
Maria Kochetkova (San Fransisco Ballet) & Daniil Simkin (American Ballet Theatre)

August 6th 6:30pm
"Swan Lake"
Tamara Rojo & Federico Bonneli (The Royal Ballet)

August 15th 1:30pm
"Sleeping Beauty"
Alina Cojocaru & Johan Kobborg (The Royal Ballet)

August 16th & 17th
"Hommage A Bejart"
"Bolero" "Kabuki" "Adagietto" "Bahkti" "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" etc
Gil Roman, Elizabet Ros, Manuel Legris, Laurent Hilare etc.

For ticket information, please visit the English site of NBS.

http://www.nbs.or.jp/english/contents/ticket/buy-tickets.html

DON QUIXOTE Dec. 4 BOLSHOI BALLET

DON QUIXOTE
Dec. 4 (Thurs.) 18:30
Kitri:Natalia Osipova
Basilio:Ivan Vasiliev
Espada: Artem Shpilevsky
Lucia(Street Dancer):Anastasia Meskova
Mercedes: Maria Isplatovskaya
Queen of the Dryads:Ekaterina Shipulina
Cupid:Anastasia Stashkevich
Gypsy Anna Antropova
Ist Variation: Yekaterina Krysanova
2nd Variation:Nelli Kobahidze
Gamache: Denis Savin

So far, I have seen 5 performances. Osipova-Vasiliev DON Q, Antonicheva-Gudanov Swan Lake, Alexandrova- Shpilevsky SL, and Zakharova-Uvarov-Belegolovtsev SL.

Belegolovtsev's Evil Genius (Rothbart) was really great! I must tell all the people worried about his injury that he is fine by now.

Osipova-Vasiliev DON Q certainly did make the audience go crazy. This is the fist time the Japanese audience experiencing a full DQ with the two. Osipova's leaps were so large that she was like a superball, so bouncy. her fouettes were all double in the first half, and after one triple continued with single-double combination, finishing with a quad! The music by the Bolshoi Orchestra was so quick that I thought it was impossible to catch up with the speed in fouettes, but Osipova did it!
She was so technically strong on stage, but for the dream scence her arms seem to look too tense and stiff. But her jetees were so large!

Vasiliev was also super, everyone gasped when he showed his first great leap. At the one-hand lift in act1, he even lifted his leg to arabesque position which was jaw-dropping. He did a small miss at the Act3 variation- he landed on his knee but that was the only flaw.

But some of the audience had the opinion that was it really a ballet? They insist that too much acrobatic tecniques shown and doesn't look like art. But I myself enjoyed the flashy techniques and positive power of the two young dancers.

The Queen of the Driads was danced by Ekaterina Shipilna and was very elegant. Espada was Shpilevsky but he had no musicality and it was almost a disaster. The act 3 first variation was by Ekaterina Krysanova, 2nd variation was Nelli Kobahidze and although they had different character, they danced very well. Krysanova's crisp and clean jettes, Kobahidze's musical, eloquent arms were beautiful. These two dancers are the bright future of the Bolshoi, I think.

Bolshoi Ballet Don Quixote in Tokyo

Bolshoi Ballet has started their Japan Tour on November 22nd beginning in Mie Prefecture then Nagoya, Biwako, Fukuoka, Oita and Sapporo, and the Tokyo Performance (Don Q, Swan Lake and The Bright Stream) will start on December 3rd. The tour continues till December 14th.

Here is a link to the Official site in English
http://www.japanarts.co.jp/html/2008/ballet/bolshoi/english.htm

Also, there is an official weblog reporting about the news and beautiful behind the scene photos which are very curious but all in Japanese.
http://bolshoi-ballet.seesaa.net/


A lecture was held by Alexei Ratmansky yesterday which I attended and was very very interesting. He said he has a premire of a Prokoviev new work on January 1st 2009.

And a documentary about the Japanese soloist Morihiro Iwata will be
broadcasted on December 9th, NHK which expects many stage footage of the
Japan tour.

DON QUIXOTE
Dec. 3 (Wed.) 18:30
Kitri:Maria Alexandrova
Basilio:Dmitry Belogolovtsev
Espada:Andrei Merkuriev
Lucia(Street Dancer):Anastasia Meskova
Mercedes: Maria Isplatovskaya
Queen of the Dryads:Anna Nikulina
Cupid:Anastasia Stashkevich
Gypsy Anna Antropova
Ist Variation: Yekaterina Krysanova
2nd Variation:Chinara Alizade
Gamache: Denis Savin

Maria Alexandrova's Kitri was excellent. Very glorious, powerful and charming. She has already established her Kitri charater, a sassy girl but very independent and lively, sparkling with joy. The music by the Bolshoi Orchestra were very, very fast but she had good musicality and her fouettes in act 3 were are singles but matched so much to the music..very fast and precise. Her pas de bourrees were very clean. She did not show too long balances, but as a whole her balances were exellent. She made everyone in the venue smile with her charms.
Also she was very elegant and had the class to make a look like a real princess in the dream scene of Act 2. Although her jetees were high and floating, no pointe noise was there and all the Dryads were very beautiful.

Dmitry Belogolovtsev was a replacement for Denis Matvienko. He does not seem to recovered fully from his injury and sometimes he was saving his energy, but his leaps were very clean and light. He looked very youthful and slim, tall. He had to walk during the single hand lift in act 1, but generally his supports and lifts were very good. And the acting of Kitri and Basilio at act 1 and 2 were very funny, especially at the fake suicide scene.

All of the soloists were good, including an elegant and attractive, stylish Espada by Merkuriev and the Gypsy woman Anna Antropova's powerful, emotionally touching solo. Also the corps were great, especially the male corps in the gypsy scene and the matadors. The music by the Bolshoi Orchestra was maybe too fast but added livelyness to the stage, well played.

As a whole, this performance had so much fun made everyone smile. It was a big success. Today I am going to see the Osipova / Vasiliev Don.Q.



Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet in New York, All Fokine Program April 5th Matinee and Soiree

I came to New York on Thursday and saw 4 performances (one Petipa and 3 Fokine) and was totally overwhelmed by the virtuoso performances here and returned to Tokyo on Sunday. It was a very short trip but very enjoyable. Mariinsky rules!
So I was very, very annoyed by Alistair MacAuley’s review. He should return to UK, I think.

“Chopaniana"

Danila Korsuntsev in “Chopaniana" was such a treat to watch. His Jean de Brienne in Raymonda was also very elegant. He is such a good partner, ideally proportioned with very long limbs and beautiful lines, and is romantic and handsome. His supporting is so soft yet accurate and the women seemed to float on air. I agree that he is not the virtuoso type, and he is very tall (more than 6' 4") so he might have heavy landings but his elegance was so delightful and one of the gifts I received in New York.

Of course the women in “Chopaniana" were just wonderful. Before I saw this by Kirov, I thought Les Sylphides was a very dull and boring piece. But “Chopaniana" was a beautiful moment filled with sheer joy. the corps had the musicality, and Yana Selina's musicality was the best. The music was played very slow, but her arabesque panche was stretched full to the music and created a wonderful atmosphere. The corps did not make any sound with their pointe shoes, and I was taken away to a deep forest. And the beauty of their upper body and willowy arms! It was like watching the music notes. At the soiree, Osmolkina's leaps were like a fairy flying so lightly without effort .

"Le Spectre de la Rose"

Yana Selina in Le Spectre de la Rose was also very sweet and delicate, wonderful. Anton Korsakov’s performance was good. He was a very young and fresh rose, good leaps and a romantic atmosphere. His port de bras were excellent. This time I saw Roses by Igor Kolb and Leonid Sarafanov. Kolb often dances this piece in galas and this is nearly a trademark for him. His Rose is a kind of a dark sexual sprit although his flexible lines are so beautiful and his leaps are amazing. The girl's dream might be a nightmare! (I like Kolb's potrayal very much)

Compared to that, Sarafanov's rose was childish. He is not a short dancer, he is rather tall but very very slim, and although he is a virtuoso dancer with incredible technique, he is not a kind of sprit that appears in girl's sweet dreams.

"Dying Swan"

Lopatkina's Dying Swan is so divine... I have seen several performances of her Swan and each time her expression is different. Her body is an incredible instrument with so much to tell from the subtle movements. A noble creature struggling to live but finally embraces death with so much dignity. Her arms are not eloquent but the slight whillowy movements moves and touches our soul. I cannot help crying each time I see her Swan. Lopatkina was born to dance a Swan, I belive.

"Scheherazade"

And Scheherazade! I absolutly LOVE this piece and this is the reason why I came all the way from Tokyo to New York. The City Center Stage was cramped but the gorgeous sets, the wonderful music by the Mariinsky orchestra, and the amazing dancers!! The Odalique character dances were exotic with beautiful lines.

I didn’t see a lot of chemistry between the two leads on Saturday matinee and although Lopatkina was very sensual and great, and Ivanchenko is a good dancer with mauculine body and great technique, his expression was rather dull. Kolb's golden slave was very wild and sexy, his dancing was like a flame and many bravura moments, his amazing flexibility and passion was great but Vishneva's Zobeida was rather cool, good technique and very beautiful but the partnership didn't work this time.

What was so amazing was the chemistry between Lopatkina and Kozlov at the soiree. Kozlov is Lopatkina's favourite youngster. Although Kozlov is a exteremly handsome young man he was rather out of shape, very tall and large and his lines were not classical. He does not have the Vaganova trained lines, and his leaps were large but heavy.

But, what drama this couple brings to the stage! I could feel the fire like a serpant licking his tongues running all over the stage. Lopatkina was so wild and sensual. It was so difficult to belive that she was the one who performed the serene Dying Swan. She was a bored, beautiful but lonely woman who was set by a fire inside the moment she saw the Golden Slave.
Kozlov's slave was arrogant, strong and wild, a very bad boy, very sexy. And their passion bursted on the stage, no limits.
The drama on the stage was so hot, Lopatkina's expression was so versatile. She was a sweet, sad babe to the Shar Zehman until she saw the corpse of the Golden Slave and suddenly struck by agony and despair.

Lopatkina and Kozlov can make a drama so hot!

Official Site of Maria Alexandrova/Bolshoi Ballet in Tokyo

Maria Alexandrova' s press secretary informed me about her new website

http://mariaalexandrova.com .

japanese version. http://mariaalexandrova.com/jp/

This is a very wonderful website, and English version is also available. You can see her news, profile, biography, repetoire, and also beautiful photo gallery.

Maria Alexandrova' s performance in Gift from Malakhov gala was so amazing. She proved herself that she is one of the best Ballerinas in the world. She danced Carmen from Alonzo and she was so lively, seducing and strong. Her technique was stellar, and her arms and legs moved as they were alive as a different being. Her Black swan was so powerful and attractive with magic power that no one can resist. And from Eifman's Russian Hamlet, Ekaterina was just stunning. She showed that she is a wonderful actress. and her flexibility and flowing movement was very beautiful. her Cinderella was cute and happy!

I can't wait to see in in the Bolshoi Ballet's Japan tour in December. She will be dancing in Don Quixote, The Bright Stream and Swan Lake. Of course I will go to all of her performances.

http://bolshoi-ballet.seesaa.net/ (Japanese Only)

Don Quixote
・12/3(wed) 18:30 Maria Alexandrova /Sergei Filin
・12/4(Thur) 18:30 Natalia Osipova /Ivan Vasiliev
・12/11(Thur) 18:30 Svetlana Zakharova /Andrei Uvarov

Swan Lake
・12/5(fri) 18:30
 Svetlana Zakharova /Andrei Uvarov /Dmitry Belogolovtsev
・12/6(sat) 12:00
 Svetlana Lunkina /Dmitry Gudanov
・12/6(sat) 18:00
 Maria Alexandrova /Sergei Filin
・12/7(sun) 12:00
 Yekaterina Krysanova /Dmitry Gudanov
・12/7(sun) 18:00
 Svetlana Zakharova /Andrei Uvarov /Dmitry Belogolovtsev

The Bright Stream
・12/9(tue) 19:00
 Svetlana Lunkina /Andrei Merkuriev&Maria Alexandrova /Sergei Filin
・12/10(wed) 19:00
 Yekaterina Krysanova/Andrei Merkuriev&Natalia Osipova /Yan Godovsky

The Current Situation of Japanese Ballet Companies

This is from my posts in the ballet forum Ballet Talk.

In my opinion, if I have to list a few Japanese troups, it will be New National Theater Ballet, Tokyo Ballet, Asami Maki Ballet and K-Ballet. One of the reasons is the issue that those troups the dancers are paid salaries.
In many so-called "professional" ballet troups in Japan, dancers are not paid salaries and they have only wages per stage. They have to make a living with teaching ballet, guesting in ballet school performances and/or part-time jobs.
Especially for female dancers, they are obliged to sell performance tickets to appear in them, and that is sometimes a huge amout. In that context, at least the troups listed above have none of this.
So many dancers go to companies abroad to be actually professional and seek opportunities. Also the big problem is the lack of formal ballet education, and young dancers who want to be professional have to go to ballet schools abroad.

Tokyo Ballet
They are known for Maurice Bejart works and tours Europe every year. Also they had some good male dancers, but that is becoming to be history. Mizuka Ueno is an international star but this troup has a weak point in corps de ballet. Not all of them are beautifully proportioned. Many famous star dancers such as Manuel Legris, Vladimir Malakhov and Sylvie Guillem guests here because of the connecion of impresario Tadatugu Sasaki of NBS. He is who runs this company making international connection.

Matsuyama Ballet
Yoko Morishita & T. Shimizu still dances but no other dancers seem to arise, and if Morishita retires I think this troup will be over.

New National Theater Ballet
As some of the American audience have seen in Washington, the corps de ballet of this troup is amazingly beautiful, well trained and female dancers have beautiful proportions. The problem is that there are few soloists that can virtually dance the leading role. Hiromi Terashima, Hana Sakai, Maki Kawamura and Ryuji Yamamoto are the few leading dancers with that quality. Also the lack of male dancers is serious. So they tend to rely on guests.
They are eagar to make new produtions such as Aladdin by David Bintley, Orphee and Euridice by Dominic Walsh. And their repetoire is mainly classical but contains works by Roland Petit, Nacho Duato, and in the past Kenneth MacMillan. Svetlana Zahkarova and Denis Matvienko are regular guests.
They are the only ballet trope to have a theatre of their own, but The New National Theatre seems to put more money and management on Opera.

Asami Maki Ballet
Actually this troup is run by Asami Maki's husband Kyozo Mitani. Many (better) dancers from here also dances in New National Theater Ballet, which is quite confusing. With the emergence of New National Theater Ballet, this troup seems to decline. But they have Tachibana Ballet School which has very good students. The problem seems that most of the audience are not ballet goers, they are students who learn ballet and their parents.

K-Ballet
Indeed they boast very high production standards in classcal repetoire, and Viviana Durante and Miyako Yoshida, Shoko Makamura are guest principals. Anthony Dowell also guests. Tetsuya Kumakawa is extremely popular in Japan, but as he had an serious injury last summer and is still away from the stage, there is no next star and the tickets sales seem not so good, although there are some good dancers such as Kenta Shimizu, former soloist of Miami City Ballet. Tetsuya Kumakawa is expected to return in March or April.

NBA Ballet, Tokyo City Ballet, Star Dancers Ballet, Momoko Tani Ballet and Inoue Ballet are some troups to mention, although they lack the quality of the above four. Star Dancers Ballet often performs contemporary stuff such as Forsythe and Tudor, but all the good dancers have gone in my opinion. The performance they held in December was a disaster.

One small but good company is the Noriko Kobayashi Ballet Theatre lead by New National Theater Ballet ballet mistress Noriko Kobayashi. They often perform British stuff such as Kenneth MacMillan (The Invitation, Elite Syncopations, Concerto), Ninette de Valois (The Rake's Progress, Checkmate). Ayako Ono of New National Theater Ballet is from this company. Akiko Shimazoe is a very good dancer with high acting qualities. Dancers such as Johan Cobborg, Robert Tewsley and David Hallberg guests here.

A Gift From Malakhov 2008 to be held in February

Vladimir Malakhov and Friends will have a gala in February.

http://www.nbs.or.jp/news/detail.php?id=556 (Japanese Only)

Vladimir Malakhov (Berlin State Opera)
Polina Seminova Berlin State Opera
Yana Salenko Berlin State Opera
Irina Dvorovenko (American Ballet Theatre)
Maxim Beloserkovsky (American Ballet Theatre)
Maria Alexandrova (Bolshoi Ballet)
Sergei Filin (Bolshoi Ballet)
Zdenek Konvalina (National Ballet of Canada)

2008/2/9(Sat)6:00p.m.  
2008/2/10(Sun)3:00p.m.  
2008/2/11(Mon)3:00p.m.

U-port Hall (Gotanda, Tokyo)  

2008/2/20(Wed)7:00p.m.  
2008/2/21(Thur)7:00p.m.  
2008/2/22(Fri)7:00p.m.

Tokyo International Forum Hall C (Yurakucho, Tokyo)

●ProgramA

L'Apres-Midi D'UN Faune (Afternoon of a Faun by Nijinsky) Malakhov、The Tokyo Ballet
Voyage Malakhov Paquita Malakhov, Semionova, The Tokyo Ballet
Solo (TBA) Semionova
Black Swan Pas de duex Alexandrova, Filin
Carmen Alexandrova, Filin
Nutcracker act3 Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky
Splendid Isolation Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky
Don Quixote Pas de duex Salenko, Konvalina
Pas de Deux from "The Flower Festival in Genzano" Salenko, Konvalina

●ProgramB

L'Apres-Midi D'UN Faune (Afternoon of a Faun by Robbins) Malakhov, Semionova
Aria Malakhov
Serait-ce la Mort? Malakhov, Semionova, Salenko, Yoshioka, Ueno
Hamlet Alexandrova, Filin
Cinderella Alexandrova, Filin Black
Swan Pas de duex Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky
Apollo Dvorovenko, Beloserkovsky
Esmeralda Salenko, Konvalina
Grand Pas Classique Salenko, Konvalina


The Dream (The Tokyo Ballet, Cojocaru and McRae) A very short and quick review

Today was the debut of Steven as Oberon, and he was just marvelous!
What was so memorable was the fluid movements of his upper body, which had so much grace to make us belive he is the true king of the fairies. His legs were so beautiful, en dehored perfectly, and he could manage the very complicated steps of Ashton. His technique was crisp, and was in harmony with the music. He had a very flexible back. The partnership with Alina was good, and he managed those lifts well. At the last pas de deux he maybe missed some steps (he seemed a bit nervous), but that was very minor and had no harm to the stage. Also his acting, especially the mimes were good.

Of course, Alina was wonderful! She was very beautiful and graceful, elegant and witty. Her movement was so spacious, and at the same time very accurate.

Bottom by Ryuta Takahashi and Puck by Kazunori Furukawa was also danced very well, and was in harmony with the two guests.

It was a fresh, happy and beautifully danced stage. Sir Anthony Dowell was at the curtain call. And the audience liked Steven and Alina so much, many of the audience was standing to appluase. Steven at first seemed nervous but When Sir Dowell appeared on stage he looked relieved and made a big smile.

I must assure that Steven's debut was a great success. I will see him and Alina at the last performance on Friday. I think he will dance even better that day.
Hope I can see him at the Royal Ballet Japan tour next summer.

Titania Alina Cojocaru
Oberon Steven McRae
Puck Kazunori Furukawa
Bottom Ryuta Takahashi
Harmia Mayumi Nishimura
Lysander Ryo Hirano
Helena Yukie Iwaki
Dimitrius Naoki Takagishi
The Fairies Junko Takamura, Tomoko Inui, Chika Saeki, Chikako Hasegawa


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