Posts Tagged ‘ballet’

Ukrainians: among the best – in two ways

April 17, 2010

In the Ukraine, many things don’t work. Government is corrupt, the roads are holed, unemployment is high and living standards low. In two respects however, the Ukrainians are among the best in the world.

Firstly, the young women dress extraordinarily well, with stylish dash, impeccable taste and beautiful quality, right down to the high-heeled boots in which they pick their way through slush and mud at the end of winter.

Secondly, the Virsky Ukraine National Folk Dance Ensemble offers precision, flair and athletic excellence which recall the very best of Russian ballet. Not a foot or an arm out of place, superb cohesion, and a driving exuberance. http://www.virsky.com   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb1–JkQh3g

Thank you, Ukrainians. You do some things very, very well. You raise our spirits.

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Why swans speak for us

July 1, 2009

My step-daughter has been playing a swan in Swan Lake. She is a demi-soloist in the Slovene National Ballet. I asked her if she had the ambition to play the lead role of Odile/Odette.

“I could perform many of the soloists’ roles, but not this one. It is extremely technical and very hard on the feet. My feet could not do it,” she said.

That is why one of the great pleasures of Swan Lake is watching a corps de ballet of highly-talented dancers who do not quite have the physique to reach the top. In the old days, people came to watch the Kirov or Bolshoi perform Swan Lake  just for the delight of the perfectly harmonised supporting swans.

With one arm raised nobly towards the heavens and the face cast aside and downwards, the swans express the moment in our lives when we humbly accept that we shall never realise a higher ambition. Silently they speak for us all, and we are touched.

Swans wet: Swan Lake abandoned

June 29, 2009

I have seen some remarkable performances of Swan Lake, but last night was the first that had to be called off because the swans were wet. The Slovene National Ballet were giving their final open-air performance of the ballet in  Ljubljana when the rain came pouring down.

The stage was covered, but we could see pools of  water steadily encroaching inwards from the front. We pulled our anorak hoods tighter around our faces and kept cheering. But two thirds through, the director called a halt for the dancers’ safety.

By that time, they were looking visibly tense. Off stage, the men were having to “lift” the ballerinas over puddles to protect their points. But eventually the water got through to the points and the swans started skidding and risked serious injury.

One last rousing cheer and we headed for cover. It was a dramatic end to a series of open-air performances which on finer nights attracted up to 10,000 spectators in a central Ljubljana square.

I have an impeccable backstage source by the way: my step-daughter is a swan.


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