Thursday, 22 February 2007

I wish! (Poetry Thursday)

I wish
No one to lead
No one to follow
Just to live my life
Unfettered, unchained
Today & tomorrow

Monday, 19 February 2007

An afternoon in Modern Art

Last weekend I along with my friends visited the Moscow Museum of Modern Art located in the heart of the city located at 25, Petrovka Street. I was welcomed by the huge statue of St. Nina by famous sculptor of Moscow Zurab Tsereteli with whom I had the opportunity to meet and paint last year in his own art gallery at Peretechinskaya street.

St. Nina

The campus of the MMoMA is full of sculptures of Zurab Tsereteli. A few among them I found impressive indeed such as Andrey, his horse and donkey, sculptures of the two poetesses Anna Ahmadatava and Svetaeva etc. These sculptures provided amazing warmth to my eyes despite the sub-zero Moscow temperature on Saturday the 17th. The welcome was so good and we moved inside the Museum building for the real treat.

Andrey with his donkey and horse

Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetayeva

After taking off our overcoats , caps , gloves and mufflers we first moved to the second floor of the Museum where on display these days are photos from Henry Buhl’s collection “Speaking with Hands”. The photos on display were of very high quality and spoke in true sense. Some of them I found inspiring indeed such as –

Picasso’s breads by Robert Doisneau Herbertiss
Hands of Mother Teresa and Dalai Lama by Mary Allen Mark
The lonely Metropolitan by Herbert Bayer
Trial by Fire by Sarah Charlesworth
Stories of Martyrdom by Shirin Nishat

I cannot post them because photography was prohibited.
Afterwards we moved to the third floor where we found the large billboard size paintings straight from the modern day Comics by a single painter Gosha. The colors were mainly red , blue and black and created an effect of unrest and chaos.

Lady in Red

The best was well kept for the last and the first floor of the museum offered that. The star of the first floor was Andrey Bartenev whose Electric aliens and ‘Sound Architecture- I love you’ are some of surprises for the museum visitors. Along with Andrey Bartenev Vyatchesiav Koleichuk with his Stereocube, 3 glasees, Cosmos and Lonely Star makes the first floor of the museum a must visit for all modern art lovers of the city.
The Russian

Electric Aleins

Sound Architeture- I love You.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Giselle- Perfect Romantic Ballet(St. Valentine's Day special)

On the St. Valentines day this year I spent my evening in Kremlin Palace Theatre, Moscow. It is a magnificent theatre built with elegance . One really feels to be in a Palace being here and to top it all the ballet on the stage creates magical effects that go deep down in one's senses creating magical reality. I was amazed by my sudden transportation from the modern world to an unknown age of mystics and fairies. The magical effect was created by the ballet 'Giselle' - a ballet that is reffered as the perfect romantic ballet. The scenery created on the stage by lights and sounds took me to my desire to create a perfect romantic painting as I saw what I had always wanted to paint alive on the stage. Romance was in the air. Beautiful couples had come to see the ballet dressed in their best, girls holding flowers gifted on St. Valentine's Day by their boys. The ballet was so good that I wanted to know all about it and all I learnt about it I am sharing with you all-
The synopsis of the ballet Giselle

Act I - A rustic village
Giselle, a weak-hearted young girl who is adored by her native villagers, lives with her watchful mother, Berthe. Hilarion, the village gamekeeper, is desperately in love with Giselle. Prince Albrecht, a nobleman who is already engaged to a noblewoman named Bathilde, is bored and lonely with his everyday existence. Captivated by Giselle's frail beauty and innocence, Albrecht disguises himself as a peasant named Loys. After purchasing the cottage adjacent to Berthe's, he proceeds to shower Giselle with his affections.
Hilarion, filled with suspicion and jealousy, becomes enraged when Giselle falls madly in love with Albrecht and believes that they are engaged.
Berthe has a vision that her daughter will one day become a Wili, a jilted maiden who dies before her wedding night. The Wilis emerge between midnight and dawn to vengefully trap any man who enters their domain by forcing him to dance to his death.
Hilarion exposes Albrecht's disguise and proclaims that he is already betrothed to Bathilde. Overwhelmingly distraught and horrified, Giselle dies of a broken heart.

Act II - A forest clearing
Hilarion is discovered just before midnight keeping vigil by Giselle's tomb. As midnight approaches, the Wilis appear with their leader, Queen Myrta. This is the night Giselle is to be initiated as a Wili.
Albrecht, laden with feelings of guilt and remorse, visits Giselle's grave. He sees a vision of Giselle and follows it into the forest. At this point, Myrta discovers Hilarion in the forest and orders the Wilis to dance around him until he dies from exhaustion. She then discovers Albrecht and demands that he share the same fate as Hilarion but is unable to permeate the invisible bond of love that Giselle has for him.
At dawn, when the Wilis lose their power and must retreat to their dwelling place, Albrecht is saved and Giselle forgives him. Giselle returns with the Wilis and recognizes that now she will be one of them for the rest of time.

The ballet was conceived by the influential French poet, author, critic and possibly the greatest champion of the Romantic ballet, Théophile Gautier. Giselle was created to honor the ballerina Carlotta Grisi, whom Gautier not only admired for her dancing, but with whom he was in love. Gautier was inspired by a passage from Heinrich Heine's 1835 work, De l'Allemagne. He wrote to Heine thus:
"My dear Henri Heine,While leafing through your beautiful book, De l'Allemagne, a few weeks ago, I came across a charming passage (one has merely to open the volume at random). It was the passage in which you speak of sprits in white gowns with hems that are perpetually damp, fairies whose little satin feet mark the ceiling of the nuptial chamber, the snow-white Wilis who waltz pitilessly the whole night long, and wondrous apparitions encountered in the Hartz mountains and on the banks of the Ilse, glimpsed in a mist bathed by German moonlight - and I said out loud, "What a pretty ballet one could make of that!
Gautier turned to Jules-Henri Vernoy, Marquis de Saint-Georges to perfect the theatrical rendition of his tale. A dandy and a prolific writer, Saint-Georges had his first work published at age twenty. He eventually scripted 12 ballets and 80 operas, some in collaboration with Eugene Scribe. He had already penned La Gypsy and Le Diable amoureux (1840). Saint-Georges is probably solely responsible for the first act of Giselle and certainly shared the construction of the second act with Gautier. In three days Gautier and Saint-Georges finished the libretto that has remained unchanged, often referred to as the perfect Romantic ballet.

Giselle or Les Wilis was first performed at the Paris Opéra Monday June 28, 1841.The ballet was a success on all levels, gaining critical and public acclaim for the choreography, music, designs and the dancing of all. This made Giselle's Parisian debut in a full-length ballet a particular success. Perhaps even more of an endorsement of Giselle's success was the fact that a style of hat and a type of fabric were named after the ballet.
Giselle offered audiences an escape to a world of mystery, beauty, danger, and death, a vision that stirred the blood of poetic, as well as prosaic, imaginations. What secures its place as the apex of romantic ballet is that in place of the usual happy ending, in which virtue is rewarded, a tragic death followed by a ghostly resurrection is substituted.
Giselle was not the first ballet to show a peasant in love with a noblemen. There had already been Clari (1820) and Nathalie (1821). A girl was also abandoned by a nobleman in L'Orgie (1831). Although Albrecht is a duke or count or some such rank of nobility, the plot does not focus on his function as a ruler, but instead on his personal life.
It seems that Gautier supported the idea of Giselle dying from an actual wound derived from Albrecht's sword. In Petipa's Russia suicide was thought unsuitable. Therefore he settled for death by the effects of shock and sorrow on a weak heart. This device has stayed with most contemporary productions even though many healthy looking, latter day ballerinas have certainly not looked in danger of dying from a weak heart.
We know that Gautier got his idea for the wilis from Heine, but where do these mythical creatures come from? Meyer's Konverationslexikon defines Wiles or Wilis as female vampires, the spirits of betrothed girls who are jilted before their wedding night. According to Heine wilis came from a Slav legend of maidens who are engaged to be married but die before their wedding. They are unable to rest in their graves because they could not satisfy their passion for dancing when they were alive. They therefore gather on the highway at midnight to lure young men and dance them to their death. There is a Slave word 'vila' which means vampire. The plural is vile, and wilis is probably a Germanic pronunciation of that word as a 'w' in German is pronounced like a 'v'. (Puccini's first opera is based on the same legend, in Italian Le Villi.) In Serbia they were maidens cursed by God; in Bulgaria they were known as samovily, girls who died before they were baptized; and in Poland they are beautiful young girls floating in the air atoning for frivolous past lives.
Inspiration for the first act also came from Victor Hugo's poem, Les Fantômes. About a girl who dies after dancing all night in a ballroom. It includes the line "She loved dancing too much, and that is what killed her."
Preservation of ballet to this day comes through Russia, not France. Many of today's productions of Giselle rely on the revisions made by Petipa, whose version is better documented than the Paris original. Also in Russia the ballet was in continual production, as opposed to France where it was dropped for a number of years.
Although Giselle is a well known and fairly well preserved ballet, there is no documented "original version." Most of the surviving choreography for Giselle comes not from the original French production but from Petipa's St. Petersburg version. Therefore when staging a "traditional" rendition of the ballet, the person responsible must weigh their interpretation of the known historical facts with a sensitivity to the experience of the contemporary audience.
The first Russian performance came in St. Petersburg, in 1842, staged by Titus who relied solely on his memory of seeing the ballet in Paris. The Russian production must have varied tremendously.
It is a ballet one must watch especially the Romantics among us.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Life is such slavery

Rushing round the clock in circles
Five days a week
Without enough sleep
Life is such slavery

Modern gadgets
Round the clock news
One must come up, live with
World’s ideas and views
Life is such slavery

In the world of changing fads
Fast foods and enticing ads
Heavy make ups and silicon implants
What’s real what’s a transplant
Life is such slavery

Wanting, craving, wanting
More, more …and more
Slogging on weekdays
Weekends for house chores
Life is such slavery

Where is the time for a poem or two
A swing with the sweetheart
A walk in the woods
A swim in the river, a day in the fields
Life is such slavery

Life lives us
Or we live life
Where is the time to read,write,reflect and act
To sing and dance, for a little romance
Life is such slavery

Monday, 5 February 2007

Domino & Sking

The last weekend I had a tryst with two firsts in my life- the indoor game of Domino and Sking. The best thing was that both came to me unplanned and unexpected.

Domino is a pretty exciting game in which one has to match the points played by the opponent with the goal that one ends up finishing all one's cards before the opponent does. Each card has two parts where the points are dug up. It can be 0-0, 0-1,1-1, 1-2...1-6 and so on. The total number of cards are 28 and four persons can play at a time. One who scores maximum points loses the game but the score should be more than 103. The counting of points starts at 13. The person who scores below that 13, his points are not but is only remembered. If that person continues to score less than 13 each time till three times his points are forgotten. One more rule to add, if there are no cards left of the same value then the game is over and the higher score is counted- the situation is called 'Fish'- perhaps because of the same boat shaped head and tail of that animal.

Sking- there has been a lot of snowfall lately in Russia and winter has struck back of which we thought by last December to be over. This coming back of winter has brought back the cheers on the faces of the winter sport lovers and specially ski-lovers. So a ski-enthuasist proposed that I should go for sking and the whole family put the weight behind. I had done the ice-skating last winter and had really enjoyed it but I was very doubtful about my abilities to ski without learning first. Nevertheless encouraged by my friend I accepted his proposal and gave it a try and the result was not bad. I could not only ski but I skied well even on the slopes in the Sosna forests. It was a pure joy. The snow was falling softly, slowly, silently and the temperature was around -4 degree celcius(warm by Russian standards) and I was amongst the loved ones...what a feeling...what a joy...what a wonder was it!!!

Off course I had my share of falls but they were worth having...