Kirov History III

16 Dec

This is misplaced.  Hopefully, there is some way to place it in proper sequence.

15. Kirov dancers live comfortably and is relative peace. Although their salaries (300-600 rubles a month for most of the dancers; The artistic director might earn somewhat more) buy few luxuries unless hard currency is earned abroad, they have at least a degree of financial security together with ample time for relaxing pastimes. Many principal dancers live in fairly spacious apartments in older building within walking distance of the theatre. The males are normally exempt from military service, since the interruption in their dancing for two years or so would effectively end their careers. Most dancers won’;t work as hard r as long hours as their Western counterparts. Although they lose a lot in artistic freedom in being able to explore new ways of dancing, in some ways their lives are easier than dancers’ lives in the West. In addition to performing four or five times am on th on the average, working ten months of the year with a two-month paid vacation, principals are supposed to attend classes and rehearsals with some regularity. But with dancing well, they are largely allowed to set their own hours and pace, and enjoy princely working conditions. As soloists they are treated with great respected, allowed to fit rehearsal times to their moods and muscle condition, and can even get away with last-minute cancellation.

With a U.S. tour in the offing, it’s denunciation time

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, can equal these trips to the West.
And no one from a Western country can possibly understand what
they mean to us.” Kirov Soloist

“It was like being in prison.”

Kirov Soloist who fell temporarily
Out of favor after a steady diet of
foreign tours.

16. Before a foreign tour, any Soviet performing arts troupe becomes a pretty unhappy, morally corrupt group. This ugly, backstabbing atmosphere is probably magnified at the Kirov Ballet, given the company’s history of defections of its top stars. The company can turn into a nest of vipers. Poisonous cynicism can seep into the theater from under the administrative director’s door. Personal rivalries and plotting for advantage, which always loom large, suddenly take on gigantic proportions. There is constant whispering about how to catch the eye of those who could influence the selection for the first trip to the United States in 22 years. A number of dancers can be expected to denounce their colleagues– the stars in particular. They attempt to enhance their on “loyalty” by claiming that they know of another dancer’s desire to remain abroad. Cutthroat competition for places on a foreign trip (From the Kirov’s company of around 190 dancers, no more than half will be selected for the U.S. trip) is enough to cause this, and rewards fo+r informing bring even worse damage, sometimes even innately decent dancers succumb if they see no other way to get a seat on the plane.

17. Those chosen for the trip have the surest mark of approval and status, plus the exhilaration of tasting something forbidden to most others. Those not chosen consider themselves insulted, interpreting their exclusion as indicting second-class citizenship. The Kirov Theatre authorities understand the enticement of this particular U.S. tour perfectly well and no doubt will use it adeptly in the coming weeks.

Kirov’s Corps de Ballet: Still The Best

“Western ballet is weak. It is
characterized by lifeless forms
and empty modernistic productions.
Its movements are bearers of bourgeois
depravity and corruption.”

– Old Soviet Ballet School Curriculum

18. The Kirov Corps de Ballet is still widely regarded as the best in the world.
What makes it so is the training. The famous teacher Agrippina Vaganova (1921-51) at the Leningrad Institute that now bears her name, established the soviet system of ballet education. With the strength of the famous “Vaganova back.” her pupils are able to maneuver their bodies even at the top of a leap. Most of all she demanded harmony, coordination, and stability of the entire body, with at much emphasis on arms as on legs. The shaping, fitting, polishing, and use of body positions to etch clean, aristocratic lines and sharp perfection – all this goes to make up the essence of the Kirov art. Every bone and tendon is assigned the right duties, with exactitude and care. Perfect placement in every detail is the goal, with a tiny gesture of the wrist able to convey a large emotion. For young dancers, the Kirov has an iron rule: a role is to be learned, not developed. To improve it is to chisel chosen to the accepted pattern or model, not deeper toward a personal understanding. Most Kirov principals take this model copying for granted, but not all of the younger dancers fully accept it.

19. The Kirov has an abundance of truly excellent coaches, plus a kind of schooling that exists almost nowhere in the west – as tight and coherent a school, in both senses, as anyone could imagine. The schooling provides up to 15 years to learn the techniques, and large them the dancers do, many starting from the age of eight. In the snobbish conservatism that permeates the Vaganova Institute, smug with faith in their own superiority, the dancers are finished on a kind of assembly line, with many future Kirov soloists having been picked years in advance while Institute youngsters. Then the individual coaches take over, concentrating on helping the dancers best display their strongest features, coaching them to dance as artists. This crucial “inside” finishing skill of personal coaching by the great masters is a distinctive mark of Kirov training. The dancers the develop a uniformity not only in their dancing but also in the quality of the dancing. An incredible amount of care and attention is given to the rehearsal of the corps de ballet by the superb rehearsal directors, who teach subtly and with immense patience. Corps de ballet dancers who blossom too late sometimes have a very tough time becoming soloists, because they develop after all solo pieces are assigned. Failure to blossom on the system’s schedule can waste talent and suffocate hopes. Once the label “corps material” goes on a Kirov dancer, almost nothing can change it.

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