BWW Reports: The Bolshoi's SWAN LAKE
Svetlana and Tatiana, two mature women originally from the Soviet Union, recently attended the July 16th performance of the Bolshoi's Swan Lake. I happened to overhear their conversation on the IRT going downtown.
Svetlana: Tatiana, what did you think of the Bolshoi's Swan Lake?
Tatiana: Words fail me--in both English and Russian.
Svetlana: That scenery. It looked like bathroom showers, and ugly ones at that.
Tatiana: I think I'll write them and suggest they do their shopping at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
Svetlana: And the scenery-downright putrid. They should go to Ikea.
Tatiana: Is there an Ikea in Moscow?
Svetlana: I don't know. If not, they should import it from one here in New York.
Tatiana: The choreography. It looked so old fashioned.
Svetlana: I'd say it was the choreography of Yuri Grigorovich.
Tatiana: But the program also lists Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, and Alexander Gorsky.
Svetlana: Maybe Susan Stroman also.
Tatiana: Why not? Where was the passion of this ballet?
Svetlana: Maybe it's Putin at work.
Tatiana: No. I don't think Putin is interested in ballet. But the Bolshoi better get its act together soon. To bring such a production to New York is a disgrace.
Svetlana: What did you think of the second act pas de deux?
Tatiana: As far as requiems go, it was fine. Do they always play the music at such a deathly tempo. I thought I would fall asleep.
Svetlana: I have to confess I did. I wonder what Tchaikovsky would make of all this?
Tatiana: And those national dances, you know the csárdás and mazurka. Where were the boots?
Svetlana: Maybe they forgot to wear them.
Tatiana: The orchestra wasn't bad.
Svetlana: Actually, pretty good. But you still want to see something move on stage, and I don't mean that as a metaphor.
Tatiana: Balanchine said you have to see the music.
Svetlana: I didn't see anything!
Tatiana: My good friend Anya said that the second cast would probably not be as good as the first, you know with Zakharova.
Svetlana: You know what I would say to that? Anna Nikulina and Artem Ovcharenko as Odette/Odile and Siegfried were fine. Although these ballerinas seem to constantly milk the audience for applause. Stop it!
Tatiana: What this Swan Lake needs is a complete makeover. Quickly, because if it doesn't get one I think they're going to have Christopher Wheeldon or Alexei Ratmansky come in.
Svetlana: You think they're interested in Swan Lake?
Tatiana: Well, Ratmansky used to be at the Bolshoi.
Svetlana: Not anymore, he choreographs more ballets around the world than anyone I know. You think he wants to deal with Swan Lake?
Tatiana: Wheeldon did a Swan Lake for Pennsylvania Ballet. I liked it.
Svetlana: Somebody better be alive at the wheel. At these prices I expect Bergdorf-Goodman, not bargain basement.
Tatiana: So should we write them a letter?
Svetlana: They've had so many problems this past year I don't want to bother them, but we've got to do something. The Bolshoi has prestige, a name-it's a symbol for all that is best in ballet. This is going to tarnish their reputation, at least for me.
Tatiana: I suppose living in the west has had its effect on us.
Svetlana: You can say that again. I don't want to settle for second best. I expect better.
Tatiana: You want a glass tea?
Svetlana: Are you becoming Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing?
Tatiana: I wish I could have made Swan Lake alive and sing. Interesting also!!
Svetlana: You forgot awake, because there were many in the audience sleeping through most of it.
Photograph: © Stephanie Berger