Ivan Vasiliev will be a recurring subject in my texts. Why all this attention? Am I just an old woman secretly dreaming about a handsome young boy? Maybe I’m that too, kkkkkkk…
I always acknowledge that I am a fan – a certain amount of my writing is firmly rooted on admiration: as I see it, he is a really gifted dancer, not because he is perfect, or my superhero, but because he has a combination of assets that makes him unique (nice subject to another post).
But I will insist on him as a subject because he is also emblematic. If I were to list my worries and hopes about Dance today, and then I had to exemplify them, I could always pick something about him, or out of his professional life. Often, when I write, the larger picture is in my mind, but I pick Ivan Vasiliev because spotlights are always on him, and even if they were not, HE unwittingly draws our attention (one of his assets being an overload of charisma). So it is so easy to single him out (poor lad, I’m sure it would be very annoying, would he ever be aware of it): he is so “visible”, anything I write about him can be understood, seen, conferred, by anyone who loves Dance, bringing the broader view in it’s wake.
What I mean? For example, he is emblematic TO other dancers, in that he is a Despite-Success.
He is successful despite his “inadequate” physique, despite “technical flaws”, despite a one-sided development of virtuosism (the bravura thing), despite being “unrefined”, “brash”, “vulgar”, despite “inflated ego”and “bad manners”, despite “show-offing” (and so on, it is a huge list, since Solo For Two, even more so), despite flirting with the audience, despite sending joking messages to supercilious critics…
So it is possible to be so out-of-limits, and still be a success? So maybe all the rules he bended or broke are not really that wise? Perhaps they should not even exist? hhmm…
He is also emblematic OF other dancers, who share this or that trait with him, traits that make their lives difficult: those trapped into only one kind of role because of their bodies, like it or not; those who expose themselves more and more to injuries as they continuously try to excel in inhuman technical feats; those who suffer severe control on their… 5th positions (as if Dance would cease to exist without perfect ones); those who are not allowed to participate in the creative process; those who are not allowed individuality; those who cannot take a stand to a choreographer or wardrobe designer without being accused of inflated ego; those who had to damp down communication skills; those who had to damp down acting skills (no, no, you must dance Aurora exactly like Fonteyn did… and of course, be unfavourably compared…).
So when I think about Vasiliev, I’m looking well beyond him too, but he stands in the front and middle of the picture. Like Sylvie Guillem in her time, Vasiliev IS a potential revolution by himself.
If he can, others can, too. If he finds a better way, others will follow, or realize they can find their own. He has been opening closed doors since he stepped on the Bolshoi stage for the first time, 7 or 8 years ago. I would totally believe him if he said it was never his intention, that he did nothing like that, that he only wanted to dance. He may even not be aware that he, inadvertently, IS revolution. No problem, there is no need he DOES anything, actively.
But there are a lot of innovative companies and choreographers and dancers nowadays, you can say, pointing accusingly at me with your almost empty glass of wine.
Yes, there are (waving my almost full glass at you – I talked so much I had no time to drink). But they are smaller and have less impact than the maybe 10 big companies. It is inside these Sacred Temples that a conservative audience dictates what is Dance, and their priests sanction liturgy rules accordingly (costly big productions, always the same hard-classical ballets each season – how many Swan Lakes and Sleeping Beauties were already staged, year after year? In how many ways can you stage them with a really new twist? – Matthew Bourne, I love you!!!! – I grudgingly admit, however, that Giselle is an exception: dancers, and nobody else, can bring some freshness to it). My, what a confusing sentence! But I bet you got it.
As long as change does not definitely and surely enter the holy recincts, innovation will have limits. AND it is right inside, in the midst of this holy ground that Ivan Vasiliev IS revolution!
And he is also, in a most personal view, emblematic of my hopes. If he would choose a REAL growing path (bravura roles are a dead-end), any one nicely to his liking, and take a stand about it! No more would be needed: the more he fulfills his potential, the more revolutionary he will be. Because, you see, he already winned a fair parcel of the audience to his side. So he already has enough power: his audience is great, the greatest an individual dancer had in a long time, AND he is able to bring more in, AND has enough charisma to convince at least HIS audience to follow him in new experiences, and ensure they still have fun.
What a grand all-win situation: IV happy, audience pleased, a great example to other dancers. Even the sacrossanct Temples Of Dance would win: more, and new, audience… more $$$$…
So I watch his steps so closely. So I worry: he must step out of this bravura roles BEFORE a serious injury – there is still so much to explore!
A “posthumous” Note: this was written just a few days BEFORE his injury, can you believe me?
If Ivan Vasiliev keeps going and kicking, more stones in the foundation of the Sacred Temples will be shaken…
The derisive remarks in reviews about him, however, may be a problem to my hopes.
Who knows? He already surprised me with this new, unheard-of behaviour in curtain-calls… I really couldn’t have imagined anything like that, ever, not when such a lot of negative remarks about “bad-manners” were already showering on him. But deliberatedly or intuitively, he found a way to break rules AND finish the Mikh Tour in NY as a winner, and as a winner to be received in San Francisco.
Oh! I love to be surprised!