Four Keys to the Future

I hardly have time to write, nowadays, but what will become of Dance, and more specifically about Ballet, is always in mind. I worry, as you know, about their vitality and future.

I was reading this blog of Greg Sandow on the future of classical music (a passion, but I do not follow and study like Dance), and came upon this, that… could have been written for Dance, just by replacing the word music!

Since the link doesn’t embed in the text, I quote:

“We’re in a new era. To adapt to it, and build a new audience, here are four things you should do:

Understand and respect the culture outside classical music. 

Your new audience will come from the world outside classical music. Where else could it come from? And to reach these new people, you of course have to know them. Who are they? What kind of culture do they already have? You have to respect them, because if you don’t, they won’t respect you.

Work actively to find your audience.

The people you want to reach may not yet care about classical music. So they won’t respond to conventional PR and marketing. They won’t come to you on their own. And so you have to actively go out and find them. You have to talk to them where they live, where they work, and where they go for entertainment and for inspiration. You have to inhabit their world.

Be yourself.

Your urgency, your joy, and your passion will draw people to you. But you can’t be joyful if you don’t love the music that you perform. So never pander. Never struggle to be relevant. Perform music that makes your heart sing. Trust your new audience. Trust it to be smart, to be curious, and to respond with joy when it sees how joyful you are.

Make music vividly.

The people you reach will want to love the music you bring them. But can you meet them halfway? Are you bringing them something they really can love? Your performances should be entirely yours, performances nobody else could give. Your music should breathe. Contrasts should feel like they’re contrasts. Climaxes should feel like climaxes. Are you doing everything you can to bring your music alive?”

I’m grateful for Greg Sandow, prolixe me would never be able to write such a splendid resume!

Link to full text


On the Novosibirsk Theatre Affair

I have a long-term acquaintance in Novosibirsk. Many of our point of views are different, sometimes opposite, despite our friendship. Since I’m all for a free debate, I agreed in publishing here this friend’s opinion on what is happening in NOVAT, or Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. It has a new management, lead by Vladimir Kekhman, a former business man with a passion for art. The new direction renovated the building, made changes in repertoire, brought great artists as guests, encouraged social groups like young people, renters, students and so on to fill the theatre with extra low prices. 

The text does not (NOT!) feature my own ideas, I just translated the best I could.

What happens in the “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” offends me! Our beautiful legacy must be cherished and carefully kept. Historical legacy must ALWAYS be kept, this should be a guiding principle in any Culture policy.

I really wish old theaters would go back to to candle lights, and to grass covered floors… to female roles being played by young men in wigs! Comfort for the audience is a small price to pay, when you have design and performances preserved forever as they were in the beginning!

I wish audiences to chat and eat while they watch the show, and freely enter and leave the room. I want them to use again porcellain chamber-pots, instead of modern toilets, to preserve the original mood!

It is true  “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” is not that old, but you must agree that the former toilets were hardly more comfortable than chamber-pots, and should not be replaced by incongruous, hardly fitting novelties.

If you care about preservation, magic may not flow from stage so easily, and great performers may not be as appreciated as they are in other theaters and countries… but this is a trifle, compared with the magnificent feat of preserving architecture  in all its original glory!  People would be proud of a whole evening sacrifice of their comfort for the sake of High Art!

Artists come and go… great performances may be lost or not appreciated, or even impossible to enjoy because of discomfort, aching backs, bad acoustics, seats without stage perspective – none of this matters, compared to preserving  “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” in its original amazing beauty and architectural uniqueness and glory.

The company members whose time and effort are dedicated to us must understand that their living Art is far less important than the Engineering Art made ethernal in cement, and not be despondent because I refuse to see them in more comfortable surroundings!

And the prices!!! I was proud that we never had to pay as much as in other cities to see the “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” artists – and refuse to be treated with less respect now!

Maybe artists of other houses in other cities are better, and deserve what is paid to see them. I doubt it – our company is VERY good!  But our company did not get suddenly better than it was – so why should I pay more to see a level of artistry that was available for a lesser price?

I heard that our artists are sad and disappointed, because we don’t want to see them in the new circumstances. As they are citizens of Novosibirsk too, they should be happy to perform to an empty house – empty of proud theatre goers that do not give in to senseless changes!

And guests artists, they may be great, even the greatest, but they must be aware that, if they accept to perform in the current bad taste decoration of “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”, they cannot expect US to accept their Art as a good enough compensation.

More! they surely are not surprised with our lack of interest  in their Art, when they know we don’t accept Vladimir Kekhman, the criminal that hired them!!! Lax, rotten capitalist West may not see his personal bankrupcy as a crime, but we know better, nobody fools us about capitalism logic and and international law!!

May this be a lesson to tyrannical authorities! If changes were wanted in “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”, all citizens had to be called in to give their opinions – and in a democratic way, colours, materials, interior design, lightning, furniture – all decisions about comfort, upholstery, acoustics, toilets, etc, and also about repertoire, casting, costumes, settings and choreography, had to be made with agreement of all citizens, and in a way that EVERY single one of them could agree!

Instead of wasting money in “modernizing”  the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre  infrastructure, we should be staging OUR own performances, even if it means having just a handful of them.

The simple notion of renting the staging of another theatre is demeaning, and just the possibility that the sweat of “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre”‘s troupe may have contact with sweat lingering in Mikhailovsky’s rented costumes is simply disgusting!!

Don’t tell ME that renting a staging is less expensive, I am not naive! Provided the production is completely OURS, a rare premiere is far better than having a whole selection of performances –  since the quantiy is OBVIOUSLY meant to enrich Mikhailovsky and Kekhman at our expenses, I can find no other logical reason! What is the point of so many productions, anyway? I don’t need more than one selfie in the lobby every season, I wouldn’t want to bore my followers in Instagram!

Finally: do you really expect me to remember one more ill-sounding bunch of letters every time I want to mention our beloved “Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre“? I refuse to use NOVAT instead – what a lack of respect for its grand, good sounding name.
Let other theatres use abbreviations… it’s their problem, they will have to face the inevitable, sad consequences of this kind of misguided modernization.

As with the unbelievable new site – provided there should be one at all! The traditional site of  “State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre” was replaced by a new one following standards used by several other theatres in Russia – its former originality traded for what amounts to just more information and ease of use in a so called “modern” look.

Images speak for themselves: the disgusting outcome of restoration in “NOVAT”

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Music begging for Dance

There was a time in my life when I had pushed Dance to the darkest, furthest possible corner in my mind, where it stayed for a long time. During that time I also slowly ceased to listen to music. It was not a coincidence. I cannot listen to music and not see dance. They are two sides of a coin, one does not exist without the other.

DancexMusicThere is music that literally BEGS for dance, is there not?  When I was young, I would comply, and dance around the house while doing every kind of everyday chores, my dogs going crazy, “dancing” too, the cats flying in terror to hide under the bed.

But worse, as my nearest neighbours lived far away, late at night I would turn volume on highest, and dance outside, on the paved terrasse or on wet grass, around flowerbeds, being “lifted” by trees, in and out the house, drunken with music and movement. I must have been quite a sight during these endorphine highs, kkkkkk… Gratefully, I doubt anyone ever saw me, it was just the music and me, in an empty magic world. How absurdely – and happily – romantic we can be when we are very young, and life has not yet cooled us down!

But, about music that begs for dance: some are so “danceable” in my mind’s stage, and so rarely used by choreographers! Saint-Saëns and Dvorak, for example. Smaller, romantic pieces of both composers are very popular in end-of-term ballet school performances, but important choreographers insist in not using their greater works (Sigh…). They are underused and worse, mostly misused!, even if there are a few exceptions: Ratmansky choreographed Saint-Saëns’ Introduccion et Rondó Cappricioso (at last!) for ABT’s Ballet School – even if it’s a children ballet -; Roland Petit used Adaggio from the  Organ Symphony in Les Intermittances du Coeur (La Prisonnére, one of the most beautiful PDDs ever!);  Neumeier’s Spring and Fall is on Serenate for Strings by Dvorak – but that pretty much sums it up.

Link to La Prisionnere:

Saint-Saëns 5th piano concert is awesome, I’m passionate about it. You already knew it? So just listen again…: < >

Then there are composers that are known because of a few popular works, and have a wealth of other stunning or delightful pieces that would make great ballets, like Grieg, Rossini,  Berlioz, Debussy, Bruckner, the list is HUGE. I wonder why modern choreographers keep “remaking” old ballets with scores that did not, at any time, “fit” the plot, like Giselle (a lively music to a dramatic context in 2nd act, it’s so ODD…) . Have you listen to a Bruch Symphony? To Rossini’s Quartets for Strings? To Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances? They make you dance, either you want it or not!

YouTube made it possible, also, for me to become acquainted to almost unknown composers (My Pleasure, Sirs!). My latest passion is Mieczyslaw Karlowicz.  Link:  <>

I must make some clip using his Rebirth Symphony, this is lately my way to render homage to my favourites. A very skewed way, I know, since I must use dance created on other scores…  But there are others that, I believe, feel the same as I do – this link is to a video where  someone synchronized excerpts of Coppelia and one of Balanchine’s Waltzes with music by Dvorak. It’s a curiosity: synchronization is perfect, and at least it shows how Dvorak is “good dancing”!


By the way, I still wait for the definitive choreography to some scores: L’Aprés-midi d’un Faune is one of them – although I like the art-deco visual style of the original version, it is not what I “see” when I listen, and later versions are mostly… weird! Suite Maskerade by Khatchaturian is another one (also misused, some choreographic versions should have been, I don’t know, …censored? barely able to be called dance! I refuse to include their links…)

I uploaded one of my favourites “that dance”, it is a rare recording of music by AstorPiazzolla, in a live performance in my town Porto Alegre, Brazil (where the Devil lost his boots – once in while SOMETHING worthwile happens here, and this one! I wasn’t believing my own ears!!!).

LISTEN  to it, it’s amazing! Link: <>