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  1. So if I can cite an aura , a dream beyond the reality To reflect this Festival and all the others that I’ve seen I’ll once again call upon the lyrics of Jimi Hendrix — “Angel” And she told me a story yesterday About the sweet love between the moon and the deep blue sea And then she spread her wings high over me Silver wings silhouetted against the child's sunrise And I said "fly on my sweet angel, Fly on through the sky, Fly on my sweet angel, Forever I will be by your side"
  2. In response to your post, Fatova, I’ve liked both Daria Pavlenko and Tatiana Tkachenko very much over the years. I hope that they’re both given as wide and beautiful a repertoire as possible in the coming years. Maybe I could use this occasion to take another quick look at some of the dancers. Yekaterina Osmolkina. (Folks might have noticed that I’ve mentioned her .) And Anastasia Kolegova. They’re both ‘not tall dancers.’ When you see Yekaterina Osmolkina alongside the physically towering presence of Olga Smirnova, Yekaterina Kondaurova or Oxana Skorik (all quite tall) you might not even notice her at first. Also Olga Smirnova and Yekaterina Kondaurova can be very expansive in their expressiveness, whereas I find Yekaterina Osmolkina to be more contained, as is Oxana Skorik. Yet, it doesn’t take long to notice that Yekaterina Osmolkina is quite special. She’s very dreamlike. Even in works that are upbeat and outwardly expansive, her quiet dreaminess still shines and she fits in perfectly. Also, her restrained, but compelling ability to portray, just shines through. Anastasia Kolegova radiates with loveability and a more contained, but effervescently embracing manner. Her technical ability is always noteworthy, doing such things as cambres(?), turning backbends, as well as I’ve ever seen them done by a ballerina dancer. Also her arms are not long so she has to use emphasis and expressiveness more than a taller, long limbed dancer. At this year’s Festival she did this as well as I’ve ever seen her do. And a quick mention to Alexander Sergeyev. His adaptability and range are highly noteworthy. This year he introduced real character into his performances, as usual. He can be nobly sensitive or expansively outgoing. He’s also very technically competent and exciting. He’s a real artist.
  3. I would also like to see Olga Smirnova, along with Semyon Chudin, guesting as much as possible with the Mariinsky. I'd really like to see them as regular guests at the Festivals. I like to wonder at times what Olga Smirnova would be like if she were at the same level now at the Mariinsky as she is at the Bolshoi. Keep in mind that she wasn’t long out of school when Clement Crisp and Merrill Ashley described her. At this point she would have still had a lot of Vaganova/Mariinsky in her. I could visualise her as a dreamily pure ethereal, maybe even harkening back somewhat to Galina Ulanova. But she’d probably be closer to today’s Ulyana Lopatkina, whose space, I feel, is now being carried on as much as possible by the basic beauty of Oxana Skorik. Also Yekaterina Osmolkina reminded us at this year’s Festival what a remarkably graceful and dreamlike dancer she is. I think that Olga Smirnova would probably be a ‘sensation’ no matter where she was. I think that she’s flourishing at the Bolshoi. I can also see her reaching into her Vaganova background someday and producing an amazing, Mariinsky-like resemblance. I look forward to seeing her perform as much as possible.
  4. As I mentioned a couple posts back, Mariinsky Festivals cover a lot a ground and so I keep writing and writing. The more I watch Garret Smith’s Celestial (performed twice) (at 43:10 of the video posted on page two of this topic) from A Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers the more I'm impressed. The Young Choreographers' evening was probably the best that I've seen taking in a wider scope with some very fine quality. This video contains a brief interview and shows him at work with Yekaterina Osmolkina and Maxim Zyuzin(?), her husband. In it he says that he's been saving this work for something special and I believe it. https://mariinsky.tv/1102 Some modern choreography does really work for me and this is becoming one example. There is a great deal of interest and beauty here. The way he combines and shapes the dancers and the flow and rhythms of motion across the stage and in groups are among the things that have brought me back to the video many times. I think that if he continues in this direction with this quality that he'll produce some more very fine work. This and Maxim Petrov's fine contribution in Dreamers seem to almost compliment and play off each other.
  5. In my post about the Mariinsky Festival I used the term “Angel Wings” to describe Olga Smirnova. I can partially borrow from Clement Crisp’s words to somewhat explain this. “Angel” — A “magical presence,” “an indefinable authority,” a “transfixing effect” — that “touches the spirit.” “Wings” — Flight — to be elevated above the stage and to float through your senses, carrying you along, with the physical perfection and magical beauty of “Angel Wings.” Can I offer one further thought about the idea of Epaulement? Her entire performing range can almost be seen as an épaulement, something composed of “the subtlest contrasts and oppositions.” [the term “magical presence” was actually Clement Crisp quoting Merrill Ashley, who was coaching Olga Smirnova in the performance of Diamonds]
  6. So now it’s four and a half years later and the article rings truer than ever. https://www.ft.com/content/f16dc240-06f4-11e2-92ef-00144feabdc0 I was just at the Mariinsky Ballet Festival where Olga Smirnova, performing La Bayadere, may have given the greatest ballet performance that I’ve ever seen. How to describe her? Well, Clement Crisp did and it’s as good a description as I’ve read. She has “an indefinable authority.” “She has the most exquisite upper-body, and a magical presence.” “She creates something magical and it touches the spirit.” He gets into a beautiful definition of épaulement, which we assume is meant to describe her as well. And here is where I would like to add something that relates to his statement, “And her stage manner is simple, authoritative, gracious and allied to a technique that finds no unease with Balanchine’s tremendous dances, but rather brings them to a fascinating life.” It’s the idea that épaulement, a traditionally static, sculptural quality in art, the "pose" in dance, is actually carried over into her motion. Elsewhere, I’ve used the word ‘phrasing.’ It’s meant to describe how she can time and position her moves so that they become a dynamic épaulement. For example, one part of her body may move forward while an arm lingers behinds creating a different rhythm, a different thrust. It can add up to an image of one unified, flowing motion that is actually made up of differently directed elements. All ballerinas seem to float, it’s what ballet is about. She can do it magnificently by using the “subtlest contrasts and oppositions,” part of Clement Crisp’s definition of static épaulement. This is just one of uncountable attributes that she has, but it’s one that so impresses me at the moment.
  7. In regard to what was probably the highlight of the Festival and perhaps the greatest ballet performance that I’ve ever seen, as performed by Olga Smirnova In The Sense of Earth Conceived Enchantment, Think Angel Wings Combine this with the life giving sunshine of Little Children at Play in The Park Fairy-Angel Wings and that would sum up much of the magic of my visit.
  8. There’s one more general feeling about the Festival that I’d like to emphasise. It’s a feeling of enjoyment. The material, for the most part, was quite pleasant — the Paquitas, Don Quixote, Jewels, A Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers and the Gala, which was highlighted by George Balanchine’s Symphony in C. Even Swan Lake and La Bayadere had an overall uplifting aura. This isn’t to say that the Festival lacked substance. The art and the artistry were of the highest level. One artist, of many, is a personal favorite. Maxim Petrov An exciting part of the Festival was another group effort by this young and very likeable choreographer. He’s done a few works on a smaller scale, but, for me, he really shines when working with large groups. He’s done four of these, that I know of, ranging from about 15 to 20 minutes. One is in the Mariinsky repertoire. His work is both very enjoyable and brilliant. He’s very good at combining the highest level of classical dance with fine and timely entertainment. I would liken this to the more pleasant works of Jerome Robbins. If you go to 1:28:50 and 1:47:20 of the video posted on page two of this topic you will see his work. Starting at 1:36:20 (and 1:44:30) is Yekaterina Kondaurova's very fine contribution to the evening. Also Garret Smith’s work at 43:10 (performed twice) has a somewhat similarly impressive inventiveness in his creating of group shapes and motion. I would hope that Maxim Petrov would have a rewarding future on both sides of the Atlantic as he has a fine feel for both. The entire presentation, conceived by the highly successful ballet impresario, Sergei Danilan (Ardani Artists) for A Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers, of which Maxim Petrov was perhaps the largest contributor, was high quality and up lifting. It’s titled — Dreamers which along with it’s closing work maybe sums it all up Lose Yourself to Dance.
  9. Mariinsky Festivals cover a lot of ground, which is why I sometimes feel compelled to write as much as I do. Not only do they present a wide range of works, but they also introduce stars from other countries and everyone tries to excel and usually succeeds. Maybe it’s the aura of the theater or the history of its artistry that makes everyone try so hard, but the result is that I’ve seen some of the best performances, from my viewing experience, that many of the artists have ever given. These have ranged from one by ABT’s Gillian Murphy to another by perhaps the most beautiful ballerina in the world today, the Mariinsky’s own Ulyana Lopatkina. Olga Smirnova I have to emphasise once more how incredibly talented I think that she is and how brilliantly amazing I thought her La Bayadere performance was. If she had performed throughout the entire Festival, I’m sure without question, that the ten days would have belonged to her. It might have been one of the greatest events in ballet history. Based on the one performance only, I’m certain that many feel that the Festival did indeed belong to her or that she was at least its highlight. It might be wonderful that in the tradition of inviting Alina Cojocaru back year after year (six?), giving some years perhaps the best performance of that Festival, that Olga Smirnova might become a regular guest. She comes from a Mariinsky related background, the Vaganova Academy, and is she’s certainly someone that they should be proud of and embrace. As a quick aside, I’ve been watching a video clip, and one of the things that strikes me about her dance magic is her phrasing or timing of her moves. One thing in a million. I was too entranced at the Festival to notice much in the way of detail, but I certainly noticed and felt the overall beauty. (I’ll say again that as good as videos are they should not be used as the final word. There’s just a lot that a print or copy cannot reproduce. Yet for studying or reviewing each detail they can be extremely helpful. Also talking about greatness can probably never be the same as actually experiencing it.) My experience was almost overwhelming. I just sat in my chair, almost limp, after each of her Acts, and then walked(?) back to my hotel lost somewhere in the clouds. Yekaterina Osmolkina In my last post I mentioned her wonderful effect. I referred to the dreamlike beauty of her dancing. I felt that she represented the overall aura of this year’s Festival. In the absence of Ulyana Lopatkina and Oxana Skorik, both not appearing, I believe because of injury, it was probably her who carried the Mariinsky banner of ethereal beauty. What I didn’t mention was her remarkably mature artistry, best seen in her Gamzatti. Last year she ‘was’ Giselle and because of her artistry or portrayal and her absolutely lovely dancing, I considered it to maybe be the best performance of that Festival. I hope we’ll see a lot more of her prominently at future Festivals and although I don’t usually get into this, it wouldn’t bother me at all if she was made the next Mariinsky Principal (and I told her so at the Reception ).
  10. I always have feelings and memories that linger long after the Festival. In my last post I tried to express what I feel most about this Festival. It's a feeling of uniform enchantment. It's the landscape of a beautiful dream. Olga Smirnova most strongly launched this sentiment with her Dream Act performance (final Act) from La Bayadere. In addition, what she did was Greatness ! I would predict that she'll be one of the greatest ballerinas ever, if she isn't already. Yekaterina Osmolkina Yet it was her constant presence throughout the Festival (she appeared five times) that became the essence, the fabric of my appreciation. She seemed to sum up what I love most at the Mariinsky -- the lyrical grace. She floated like a beautiful vision throughout. Other artists, giving remarkable performances mentioned in the last post, contributed greatly. Yet, it's to her, perhaps more than anyone, that I owe my greatest appreciation for the aura and memory of this Festival that I'll carry with me.
  11. Dream Nights Festival Waves of Enchantment The Lyrical Flow of The Ballerina Dancers Olga Smirnova — The Dream Act Following the magical entrance of countless angel-looking dancers, she poetically glided across the stage and set a dream in motion that remained throughout the Festival. Her lyrical, floatingly graceful dancing became spellbinding. Yekaterina Osmolkina Always a dream, in the work, Celestial, performed a series of high, backward bent-leg sweeps that were as beautiful and compelling as anything that I saw. Yekaterina Chebykina in “Diamonds” embraced us from the stars. Anastasia Kolegova in “Paquita” and “Emeralds” was love and delight. Inna Bilash from Perm selflessly took flight with a remarkably lovely “Swan Lake.” The Space In Between — filled magnificently by The Corps de Ballet and The Supporting Dancers As expressionist as some of the Mariinsky dancers can be, they will probably shine brightest because of their lyrical dreaminess. Thus, I can see Renata Shakirova, who performed a vibrant Kitri, someday being an enchanting Odette or Giselle. She is known for her technical prowess, but I also saw beautiful gracefulness and she’s absolutely loveable ! Nadezhda Batoeva, whom I remember as being extremely vibrant several Festivals ago as Kitri, was poetically captivating this year. Other young dancers, such as Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova and Yekaterina Ivannikova, were often present in the same manner. All This Together One Overall Image of Dreamlike Grace Waves of Flowing Enchantment Across The Artist's Canvas of One’s Mind
  12. I'll first briefly mention that there were two times before the ballet performances when the audience was asked to rise in silence in respect to those who suffered from Monday's tragedy. I read that three days of national morning had been declared, but the only change in the Mariinsky programming, I was told by the lady at the hotel desk, was a cancelation of Wednesday's opera to be replaced by a requiem. For casting of all the performances, please go to the top of page one of this topic and click on the title. I wrote after Saturday night's presentation of Jewels that I've never seen George Balanchine performed more beautifully. Emeralds and Diamonds would be understandable, but Rubies, well that's sort of a 'rocker,' isn't it? No, Rubies too. Each of the Acts opened with a silent tableau of Mariinsky dancers. The beauty was breathtaking. The rest just flowed from here. This beauty remained unbroken for the entire evening. The first couple in Emeralds was Anastasia Lukina with Fuad Mamedov and the second was Anastasia Kolegova with Roman Mamedov. Anastasia Lukina was caught up in a dream and Fuad Mamedov, well I don't really know how best to describe him beyond being the idealised escort. Anastasia Kolegova, always loveable, had beautiful arms and floating moves ably assisted by Roman Mamedov. Sofia Ivanova-Skobikova and Alexander Sergeev were the couple in Rubies with Yekaterina Ivannikova being the not-tall, 'tall girl.' It all worked remarkably well. The Balanchine liveliness was strongly felt along with the loveliness at which the Mariinsky excels. In Diamonds, I've never seen Yekaterina Chebykina perform more beautifully ! She was different from anything I've seen of her before. Having been excited about her way of combining expressiveness with refinement, here she had an embracing purity. She was truly a Mariinsky ethereal dream. Xander Parish, her partner, is making remarkable progress as a theatrical phenomenon as well as being a 'paragon' of charm and male elegance. He has an extremely fine stage presence and theatricality that he's able to modulate with wonderful effectiveness so as not to ever overwhelm the delicacy of his female partner. His dancing is as linearly graceful as can be. And once again he breathtakingly performed a critical series of highly impressive jumps, which were described on the internet as being tours à la seconde with a manège de grand jetés. (). (Thanks, Haydn, at Dansomanie). What the Mariinsky artists did that was so special was to embrace George Balanchine by combining his excitement and genius with their own remarkable sense of restraint and dreamlike enchantment. It worked exceptionally well ! And yet more George Balanchine. The Gala Evening This ended with his Symphony in C, which is always a highlight and has been used at least once before, I believe, to end a Festival Gala. The evening was devided into three parts starting with a new work by the Mariinsky's Anton Pimonov, followed by the Divertissement. By far the most enthusiastic audience response, among all the fine performances until the arrival of Symphony in C, was for Lucia Luccara, bless her delightful heart, and Marlon Dino, dancing a work by Russel Maliphant during the Divertissement. Since they had both been recently released from the Bayerisches Staatsballet, where they were stars, this was wonderful to see. It was a complexly difficult effort of statuesque beauty featuring all sorts of finely sculpted overhead lifts. Symphony in C had four couples starting with Yekaterina Osmolkina (once again) with Maxim Zyuzin and Yekaterina Kondaurova (once again) with Yevgeny Ivanchenko. It was a great pleasure to see these two beautiful ballerinas consecutively. Yekaterina Osmolkina danced with lovely effect in her airy, flowing manner while Yekaterina Kondaurova was more linear-statuesque and somewhat more Balanchine 'edgy.' I believe that she even did a Balanchine off-center falling out, which is the first time that I've ever noticed this from a Mariinsky dancer. Both ballerinas contrasted each other beautifully. All in all it was another extremely fine performance by everyone to end another extremely fine Mariinsky Festival.
  13. Backtracking somewhat to the excellent third evening of Paquita, I agree that all the variations were very good and that Maria Iliushkina, who performed the first, was "outstanding." I found her to be absolutely charming. She had the most loveable facial expression and her dancing beautifully echoed this. Except for Anastasia Nikitina, I'm not familiar with any of these names. In fact, there were a lot of new names this year. It's great to be reminded of the depth of talent here and how there are so many ways to be beautiful.
  14. Thanks, mnacenani. Gala Evening A very fine ending to this year's Festival. I have to start traveling tomorrow, but I'll try to describe some of the things that I haven't posted at another time.
  15. Haven't had time to read your latest, MadameP, but I'll do so as soon as possible. It's been a real pleasure reading what you've written and sharing the experience. Have a very pleasant trip home. Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds I've never seen George Balanchine performed more beautifully ! During the duet from Diamonds, when Yekaterina Chebykina dreamily looked up from the poetically embracing partnering of Xander Parish, I could almost sense George Balanchine looking down at her and gently saying, "Think stars, my dear, thousands and thousands of sparkling stars."