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Everything posted by Birdsall

  1. Yulia Stepanova

    The prize winners are nominated by the ballet and opera artistic directors and the company pedagogues. The award for Stepanova is a visible proof that Vaziev and some top ballet people in Moscow have a VERY HIGH opinion of Stepanova. Vaziev, in particular, was tremendously impressed by Yulia’s debut in the «Legend of Love».
  2. Alyona Kovalyova Swan Lake Debut

    I disagree about Stepanova. I have seen her do fouettes perfectly in person at the Mariinsky when she was a coryphee no less. And I have seen her in all of her Bolshoi roles in alternative ways and never saw a problem, so far. I will have to go back and check. However, thank you for the report about Kovalyova. I think the ballet world is actually watching her and wondering if she is destined for greatness.
  3. Also in the Sunday matinee Vasily Tkachenko is usually very good so he will be a great Spectre to Yana Selina's very solid Girl. She always gives a lovely performance. The second half of the matinee is disappointing though, but Kondaurova can sometimes give good performances.
  4. https://www.scfta.org/events/detail.aspx?id=16825
  5. If Chopiniana is what you care most about then definitely 100% go to the matinee! Osmolkina and Stepin are both fabulous dancers. Way better than the evening Chopiniana cast! That is going to be worlds apart.
  6. Biopic of Matilda Kshesinskaya

    Scary! And I notice that the prosecutor is talking like people here in America where people don't want to believe newspapers or facts, so we might be headed in the same direction concerning the arts! Scary times right now! One of our founding fathers, I believe, said something like people are very quick to want to censor things they disagree with but then there is no free thought or free artistic expression.
  7. Yulia Stepanova

    Google Translate says "Board of Trustees" which is probably a mixture of people interested in the arts I am guessing. It is apparently given out every year.
  8. Yulia Stepanova

    Yulia Stepanova and Vyacheslav Lopatin are the two soloists who won the internal Bolshoi award for “outstanding artistic achievements” in the last season. The award is given annually at the beginning of each season to the “best artists” in the previous season.“http://www.bolshoi.ru/about/press/articles/none/242-beginning/
  9. tidbits from my St. Petersburg trip

    Good to hear!
  10. I am posting this, since it doesn't quite fit into another topic on Ballet Alert, but I thought it would interest many people. I wanted to mention the ballet-related sights or exhibits I saw during this July 2013 trip. Kschessinska's mansion is a political history museum (many of you probably know this already). The mansion itself is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau or Style Moderne. So architecture lovers will enjoy visiting it. Also, history buffs will love to see the balcony where Lenin gave his speech. Currently, there is an exhibit "Fouettes of Fate" that is in one room and includes many rare photos from Kschessinska's life. The only other rooms you see are the White Hall and the entry foyer. So there isn't much to see, but I think most ballet lovers would enjoy it nevertheless. Her mansion has been joined with another mansion (by building a very modern building that joins them both) to create the museum of political history, and I personally found the rest of the museum not very interesting, but history buffs might enjoy it. To me the majority of the museum feels contrived and a real stretch at making it worthwhile for a visit. Maybe history people will disagree with me. The only part I loved was seeing the outside of the mansion, and the couple of rooms that were in Kschessinska's home. I post this info so you can decide if it is worth visiting or not. I enjoyed it. But it is not a museum I will likely ever visit again. Nevsky Monastery and Cemetery: Tchaikovsky's and Petipa's graves are here, so go!!!! Someone left a tiny ballerina slipper on Petipa's grave! Other graves include Glinka's, Mussorgsky's, Rimsky-Korsakov's, Dostoevsky's........the cemetery has lots of trees and the tombstones are actually beautiful in many cases, so it is a nice, calm walk. I recommend this. It is a pilgrimage of sorts. Sheremetev Palace: some fascinating violins and variations on violin instruments on display. A violin that belonged to Glinka is on display. Only a few rooms are available for viewing, and if you only have one visit to St. Petersburg I think this can be passed up because Peterhof, Pavlovsk, and the Catherine Palace are must see palaces. Alexander Golovin exhibit at the Russian Museum. This only lasts until September 2, 2013. It included his well-known paintings of Chaliapin as Boris Godunov and as Mephistopheles as well as many stage designs and even his original design of the Mariinsky's stage curtain. Mikhail Chemyakin's exhibit "Pavements of Paris" at the Marble Palace (on the Neva river) will be over on August 5 (in a few days), but it is an interesting exhibit. The ballet connection is that he created the Mariinsky's new avant garde Nutcracker, and I have to say that I feel this exhibit of his "Pavements of Paris" (unrelated to ballet although some ballet characters in his works in this exhibit) help me to see him as a true artist. He took images he found on the sidewalk and turned them into figures and it was amazing to see the picture of a crack in the ground and what he ended up painting from that image. He also took pieces of discarded paper/trash or leaves and then painted with that shape and made it into a figure. The same twisted type characters that appear in his designs for Nutcracker are in these works also (not the same exact characters but the same style). Beyond this exhibit the Marble Palace is worth a visit simply to see the gorgeous staircase and the Marble Room that is amazing!!! Circus: I was snapping pics of myself in front of the gorgeous Circus building because it is the fanciest circus I ever saw (looks like an opera house), and I noticed people with children going inside. I thought the shows were only at night, but it was the weekend so I went in and caught a matinee. It was a cross between Cirque du Soleil and a circus. Lots of dancing and acrobatics, clowns, animal acts, etc. But why I post this is that many of the dancers/acrobats had the same flowing arms and upper bodies that Mariinsky dancers have. I am wondering if the Vaganova graduates who did not get into a ballet company or left the academy before finishing end up working for this circus. My hotel was right around the corner from the Mariinsky, and I saw several dancers and coaches talking with friends or eating dinner or walking past. There are so many things to see in St. Petersburg, and I saw much more, but those are the things that I thought might be of interest to other ballet lovers. WebRep currentVote noRating noWeight
  11. tidbits from my St. Petersburg trip

    I thought I read on BA that many Russians were upset about the movie and even some are saying the affair with the tsar never happened. But maybe I read too much into those comments.
  12. tidbits from my St. Petersburg trip

    My worry is that when I visited her home in St. Petersburg, which has been sort of combined with the home next door and turned into a museum of Russian history, they had started to have a room full of Kschesshinskaya's costumes, photos, etc. and it looked like the beginning of making some of the rooms a museum dedicated to her memory. I hope they continue to add more to the displays, but I worry there is a backlash. It sounds like the reaction to the movie and the winds of change are causing her to be hated once again. I personally think she is one of the most fascinating ballerinas in history for the fact that she is forever intertwined with political history (imperial Russia and then Lenin gave his speech on her balcony). Even non-ballet lovers learn about her if they study Russian history or world history!!!! She gets history buffs to think about ballet!!!
  13. 2017 Fall Season

    For me I view the Odette/Odile issue as how we all have an ideal love, but we are momentarily stunned by "red hot sex" or the "fun person" (the superficial stuff)......it is human. It happens. Everything is a metaphor.....We can be dazzled by people we shouldn't be dazzled by and almost lose the whole game. I find it very human and timeless. I do have to defend Tristan und Isolde. In the opera there have been productions that imply Brangaene did indeed give them the "death" potion and not the love potion as she says. And facing future death they realized their love. Remember, the final aria is the Liebestod (Love Death). Regardless, the love potion is actually a metaphor too....the opera actually takes the more concrete story of the origional middle ages tale and creates a very metaphysical universe where love is like death and we become one with the universe by loving and dissolving into death/universe/love.......it is actually very deep. I would not read Tristan und Isolde concretely. It is mystical, spiritual, deep, complicated...,,
  14. 2017-18 Season

    Yes, I am not afraid of taking public transportation in NY or Chicago or Atlanta or anywhere that has good transportation for that matter. But I will not take it in Florida. A city bus from Point A to Point B is okay depending on the starting point and the destination. I have used city buses in Florida, and even those are not used by the average Floridian but those are okay. I feel safe walking around most areas of Florida especially Sarasota, but I don't know. I would not take the Greyhound bus. There might be alternatives like slightly more expensive buses for tourists. I think I would use Uber or Lyft if I did not drive. Here in Gainesville (University of Florida is here) there are special buses for students to travel down to their parents in South Florida, and they are special rates due to the demand. So I suspect there must be something like that for tourists also. You might want to google and research it. Maybe there is a Greyhound bus website that also gives reviews. Maybe things have changed. I have never taken a Greyhound in Florida, but when I see where the terminals are located and who is waiting for the buses (they truly look like derelicts and drug addicts and crazy people) I do not ever want to try it.
  15. 2017-18 Season

    I used to live in Tampa, and it only took 1 hour to drive to Sarasota. However, in recent years it seems to take closer to 2 hours to go from Tampa to Sarasota. Traffic on the west coast of Florida is horrendous during the season nowadays. I personally would not take a Greyhound bus anywhere in Florida. I hope I am wrong about this, and I very well could be wrong about this (maybe just based on my life), but Greyhound terminals are usually in the worst part of town here. Florida is a very car-centric state with very terrible public transportation, and it is not normal to take the Greyhound bus here for any reason. I don't know anyone who has ever taken the Greyhound in Florida. It may be normal to take it in other states, but I don't think anyone takes it in Florida unless he or she is in dire straits. I would rent a car if I were you.
  16. Nadezhda Batoeva was the star of the performance I saw tonight (or last night since it is 1am here in London). Her acting was perfect as Kitri....very feminine but with spice to her. She wasn't afraid to show off a bit holding some fabulous balances (a la seconde, coup de pied, in arabesque, in attitude, doing piques). Never were these balances vulgar (didn't change the choreography...simply fit them in)...she held long enough to impress but not long enough to be too showy. Her fouettes were great (many doubles interspersed with singles and then mostly singles. She traveled a bit while doing them but since she traveled in a straight line downstage it did not look bad. That was a very minor quibble. Otherwise a fabulous performance! Fillip Stepin was also great as Basilio. He may not be the type to make your jaw drop like Vasiliev's wildness, because he does everything with elegance. He did bring Batoeva down early on the first one handed lift but he more than made up for it with a second long held lift that excited the crowd as Batoeva shook her tambourine! Alexander Sergeyev was fabulous as always as Espada. I love his backbends as he twirls the cape in a diagonal across the stage. Ekaterina Chebykina was the Street Dancer. For me personally she is a maddening dancer. One moment she's doing something quite nicely and the next she's being more of a gymnast. It is hard to explain. She just doesn't seem to have the elegant Vaganova qualities. Ekaterina Ivannikova was a fabulous Queen of the Dryads. Her Italian fouettes en dedans were beautiful. This is a dancer I like that doesn't seem to be cast as much as she should. Tamara Gimadieva was a charming and sweet Cupid with flowing arms. I missed Don Quixote and Sancho Panza entering on a horse and donkey respectively, although I suspected the animals would be left out. I thought maybe they would borrow a horse and donkey from an English farmer. Somehow it is anticlimactic after the corps runs around acting like a major person is coming for Don Quixote and Sancho Panza to simply walk out! I also missed the little cupids but I knew the Mariinsky wasn't going to bring Vaganova students on tour but hoped some Royal Ballet students might be used. Overall, a wonderful performance! I love the pairing of Batoeva and Stepin. They looked like young, good looking lovers! Hope they keep dancing together!
  17. Mariinsky in London 2017

    Yes, I try to laugh too.
  18. Mariinsky in London 2017

    I guess I view the general idea of love overcoming obstacles whether in the afterlife or in this world as what I get out of it. In fact, the way the world is going I actually find the concept of finding happiness on Earth as a huge fairytale that is a beautiful dream. Many of us are contemplating jumping off a cliff like Odette and Siegfried with the way the world is currently so unbelievably disgusting, so, in my opinion, in 2017 the double suicide is more realistic so less dreamy. I am now pro-Death. Even being in a permanent sleep 6 feet under is a better world than what we live in currently. Finding happiness on Earth is the much bigger fairytale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to DREAM so I choose Sergeyev!
  19. Mariinsky in London 2017

    I think I am one of the few who loves the Sergeyev Swan Lake more than any other version. To me the production has such a poetic and beautiful mood unlike the Royal Ballet's current version, the POB or Bolshoi. I have seen clips of the Ratmansky reconstruction and even though I find that fascinating it has a cutesy, almost childish quality I am not used to. I love the high Russian attitudes Odette does in the Sergeyev version. I do not miss mime at all because I know the story and find mime fairly boring and needless since I know the story (I know many will find that sacrilegious). I am also one of the only Americans who loves the Jester. I don't understand why people find him annoying. It is a chance for a petite male to shine. The London audiences (I heard many English people) seemed to love him. The happy ending doesn't bother me either because I think the double suicide with Odette and Siegfried together in Heaven is also a happy ending. I see no difference between being happy together on Earth or happy together in Heaven. Both endings are beautiful and result in the same thing. I actually hate the Disney World atmosphere of ABT's version! I will continue to see the Sergeyev version whenever I can. It touches me by its sheer beauty more than any other version. For me it is poetic even in the first scene watching the Mariinsky corps with their gorgeous, flowing arms.
  20. Mariinsky in London 2017

    Tereshkina's 2nd SL was even better. She and Shklyarov seem to feed off each other. She even stayed on-stage in character after her fouettes looking the man she was seducing before finishing her part of the coda. I never saw that before. Both of them looked as if they were giving the performance of their lifetimes, in my opinion. Even Tereshkina's Odette was more loving and emotional than I have seen previously. In contrast, Chebykina's SL last night was a very mixed bag. She alternated between lovely one moment and then suddenly being a caricature of a Mariinsky dancer the next moment really overdoing the swan arms. I love flowing arms which is why I love the Mariinsky, but at times Chebykina almost made me laugh out loud because she made the Swan arms look like a spoof sort of like what the Trocaderos might do! This is the second time seeing Chebykina in SL and I gave her another try hoping she had improved, and she has improved overall but I think I preferred every other ballerina much more. However, the London audience seemed to love her to death. I found her acting almost nonexistent...just a sketch of a character. The only moment of good acting is when she was Odile and laughed and threw the flowers at Siegfried. Since I was disappointed in her the first time (2 years ago in St. Petersburg) I bought a cheap nosebleed seat (but used binoculars to view her acting). If I ever return to London I will never sit in the Amphitheater section again. People brought their wine glasses in, talked during the overture, one person in my row got up and left right as the love duet was beginning causing us to stand up to let her out), although maybe she was about to have an accident). I felt like I was in a movie theater, not in an opera house! Plus, no arm rests. Luckily I was in an aisle seat so I had one arm rest unlike others in my row. But the behavior of the audience up there was surprising. More later. I am returning home today. It was very tempting to see if I could extend my stay and change my flight one day to see Osmolkina again, since she is jumping in for Skorik. She was the best Odette/Odile with Tereshkina a close second. However, I miss my dog desperately and even though my parents are in a safe place now I need to get back to check on them daily.
  21. Skorik

    I posted this in the tour topic, but I think some people may miss the news if that topic doesn't interest you. Oxsana Skorik is now listed on the Mariinsky web site as a First Soloist.
  22. Mariinsky in London 2017

    I knew Matvienko wasn't Vaganova trained. I think she is from Kiev or something. You might know exactly. I like her at times like as Gamzatti, and I think she is better as Odile. I guess I can understand why people view her as "grumpy," but I tend to view it more like a spicy personality who doesn't play victim or at least damsel in distress or soft/sweet very easily. I don't dislike her, and think I might actually like her in another company or in certain roles, but I do expect more flowing arms and daintiness in a Mariinsky dancer in Swan Lake. The Opera Tavern near the opera house has amazing tapas dishes!
  23. Mariinsky in London 2017

    Osmolkina's flowing arms were absolutely divine. I wanted to write a review but the day I saw her was a whirlwind of activity. I met a fellow BA member for lunch, saw Osmolkina in the matinee, met an old high school friend for dinner whose daughter is taking part in the Royal Ballet's summer intensive program, and saw the evening performance with Matvienko. In contrast, I felt Matvienko had much stiffer arms and when she made Swan arms they were more fast and furious instead of Vaganova trained slow flowing arms. However, she did do some very good things like very fast, whipping fouettes that had an aggressive quality to them. I think she had to follow a hard act. Earlier that day Osmolkina was delicate and divine! I couldn't post Saturday night because I had to go to bed because I had hired a private tour guide to take me to Salisbury and Stonehenge and that was an all day trip. Today walking to St. Bart's the Great....I have to visit that since my name is Bart! Tonight is Tereshkina and Shklyarov...
  24. Mariinsky in London 2017

    I have been sightseeing so much so haven't had time to report on yesterday's Swan Lake. I will talk about that one and tonight's in this post. Tereshkina is a dancer who isn't my favorite Mariinsky ballerina, but whenever I see her she wins me over. I have never seen her give nothing but her all to the audience. In Swan Lake I think Odile comes easy to her. She strikes me as an extrovert and tends toward heat rather than coolness on stage, in my opinion. So her Odile is spectacular. Last night her Odette had more emotion than I have seen her do before. Technically she is always good. However, she somehow brought more to the game and it could be because the world will probably view her as the veteran "prima" now that Lopatkina is retiring. To my surprise Parish did not slow down her turns like he did in Baden-Baden in December when I saw them in Swan Lake there. Until last night my experience with him is that every time he touches a ballerina in paddle turns the ballerinas either slow down or stop completely or almost get knocked over by his assistance. I am glad to see he has improved, and this morning I woke up to read he has been promoted to principal. It was not announced last night. You would think since he is British performing in London Fateyev would have announced it to make the British audience feel like they witnessed a special evening. Tereshkina is the best turner in the company and one turn she did as Odette ending in coup de pied was so elegant it took my breath away. Tonight Kondaurova was better than I expected. Like Tereshkina (although for totally different reasons) she strikes me as a more natural Odile than Odette. I think she would look fabulous at the Bolshoi but at the Mariinsky among the elegant, ultra feminine dancers she has (for me) a bit of a heavy handed aura. She tries her best to be regal and there are many moments when I say, "That was lovely!" but overall I don't but her as Odette. To me she looks like a diva playing Odette. Not experiencing Odette's plight. With all that said I liked her better than I thought I would. In fact, this is the first time I have seen her in a full length role where she didn't make a mistake! I feel like I sort of "get" why some people like her after tonight. Until tonight I didn't really understand it. Ivanchenko tonight was phoning it in worse than usual. I consider him a dancer who has all the goods but simply can't be bothered to give his all. However, in contrast to Parish, Ivanchenko is a terrific partner making every ballerina he partners look her best!!! Okay, this trip is a reward for taking over my elderly parents' lives, moving them near me, securing their finances, etc. I took a leave of absence from my job in March to do all this and they are safe and gaining weight (they were not eating). This Mariinsky London tour is my reward. I am enjoying the trip immensely. So posting this as I drink a bottle of wine so I can sleep. Taking care of my parents since March has made sleep nearly impossible except 3 hours. I always slept 8 hours before. So hoping I sleep tonight (close to finishing the wine) so tomorrow's double bill (Osmolkina's matinee SL and Matvienko in the evening) will be doable!!! Please let me sleep at least 5 hours!!!!!
  25. Mariinsky in London 2017

    I had my doubts Renata Shakirova could pull off a good Kitri, but she was full of life and energy all night long and performed the Dudinskaya variation in the dream scene. It looks really hard to do the alternating pique turns in a diagonal in this variation but she did them well. Her fouettes were great with many doubles. At the very end of the night after Basilio holds her in a balance on one leg, and she quickly kneels as he stands her back leg slipped but she saved the tiny mishap by switching very quickly into a move like when Odette folds into the floor. That shows professionalism to think on your feet and turn a mistake/mishap into a moment to do something else that works! The audience genuinely loved her, and she did give a great performance. Maybe not as good as Batoeva last night but still very good! Vladimir Shklyarov danced as if he wanted to prove his worth at the Mariinsky. He looked in better shape than I have ever seen him, and he gave his all in every scene. In Act 1 when Basilio lifts Kitri twice by the knuckles and lifts her in the air and sets her down, Shklyarov lifted her higher than I have ever seen anyone lift Kitri in that moment. It was amazing! Later he held her forever in the one handed lifts. I never thought Roman Belyakov was anything special until I saw him tonight. He was a great Espada and looks very tall. He might be able to replace Korsuntsev and Ivanchenko when they retire as the tall males who are able to partner tall ballerinas. Nika Tskhvitaria was a complete delight as the Street Dancer. Loved her personality and high attitudes! The big surprise of the evening for me was Oleg Demchenko as the Gypsy! All I can say is, "Wow!!!!" His jumps, energy, and acrobatics made this small role seem important. He turned a small role into a star turn! I never saw a more exciting Gypsy man than Demchenko! I liked Ekaterina Chebykina as Queen of the Dryads better than I did last night when she danced the Street Dancer. The crowd loved her too. I think her fingers and arms are sometimes wild and uncontrolled but she was on better behavior tonight although I saw some splayed fingers. Overall, I really thought Shakirova was more like a soubrette who didn't have a sassy Kitri in her, but she did. Pleasantly surprised and enjoyed seeing the Dudinskaya variation in person!