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Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet in London


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#16 Kate B

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Posted 29 July 2003 - 01:20 PM

Hi everyone!

I was at Swan Lake on Saturday night and I agree with Marc's description! In particular Natalia Sologub was very interesting - quite lovely as the swan - they both took my breath away in act 1. I wasn't sure of her in act 2 in the same way. I went with my mother who is not a big ballet buff and she very much enjoyed it, never having seen a corps of 32 before - never mind such an impeccable one!

Anyway, I don't know very much about the dancers of the Kirov, so if anyone knows what to expect on Saturday night's La Bayadere, please let me know. I will give my haphazard review in return! (Even try and elaborate on this one!) :FIREdevil:

#17 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 01:52 AM

The "Homage to Diaghilev" triple bill with Chopiniana, Les Noces, and Scheherazade is a rather heavy evening, but I'm still not sure whether this is caused by the ballets or rather the variable quality of the dancing. There was a lot going wrong on Wednesday night, first of all because maestro Mikhail Agrest seemed to attempt his utmost to kill the fun: with his sluggish tempi and playing mostly to himself he sabotaged a good part of the evening.

Chopiniana was something like 3 cherries and a lemon. While featherlight Irina Zhelonkina may be Fokine's dream of the sylph, Daria Sukhorukova definitely is his nightmare. A bigger contrast is hardly imaginable. Where Zhelonkina is all polished plastique, ideally catching the nocturnal atmosphere of the piece, Sukhorukova is earthbound, hard and angular.

Igor Kolb's romantically impetuous poet was an excellent match for Zhelonkina, while Janna Selina was a rewarding prelude girl.

Les Noces, the first of the 3 new ballets the Kirov is bringing to London, looked like an open rehearsal with a totally miscast Alexandra Josifidi as the Bride, resembling a swan in Russian peasant outfit. The ensemble couldn't disguise it is still learning the work, and there is clearly a lot of work to do here.

Scheherazade was another disappointment with a miscast Danila Korsuntsev as prince Siegfried in harem trousers. His jumps were impressive as such, but the duet with Tatiana Tkachenko had about as much passion and sensuality as a Victorian tea party. Tkachenko didn't have much to say in this role either.

Today, La Bayadere starts. Opening night performance will be danced by Daria Pavlenko and Andrian Fadeyev.

#18 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 06:42 AM

London was finally introduced to Sergei Vikharev's reconstruction of Petipa's 1900 Bayadere. It couldn't have wished for a better first viewing than with yesterday's opening night cast, led by Daria Pavlenko, Andrian Fadeyev and Elvira Tarassova. Pavlenko, who was dancing her first performance on this tour, is currently by far the most complete Nikiya of this company, and is - as was proven again last night - with her stylistic approach and dramatic gifts the best suited ballerina for the new-old production. There is no gratuitous brilliance, there are no cheap tricks, and neither does she knock you out with flashes of technical bravura (although the Shades Act showed some truly magnificent dancing), yet by the quality of her plastique alone she reveals more of the drama, appearing real and true, than anyone I can think of in this company. As somebody remarked during the performance: "Hey, this is a Kirov ballerina!"

Elvira Tarassova is one of the most convincing Gamzatti's as well. Strongly danced (even up to the final bits of this long ballet), passionate and headstrong, giving the character a formidable appearance. The mime duel between the two rival lovers, ending with Nikiya's attack with the knife, had all the theatricality and white hot dramatic intensity one could hope for.

Andrian Fadeyev is an attractive Solor, reserved, yet honest and sincere. He conveyed the doubt and guilt with subtility, and I haven't seen the pantomime scene between Solor and Gamzatti preceding the Shades Act looking so convincing as here. His dancing was generally outstanding.

The ensemble proved quite on top of it (after Les Noces the previous evening that looked even clearer), magic was in the air during the appearance of the Shades, and there were outstanding contributions from Rakhmanova, Baimuradov and Scherbakov in the Indian dance, from Vasyukevich in the manu dance, and from Zhelonkina as the 2nd shade soloist, the only one of the three who danced her variation totally well.

The Covent Garden audience received the new-old production with enthousiasm, although as noticed everywhere some gave up after the 3rd Act, and the old-fashioned sides of the production produced quite a few giggles. There were no marked differences with previous viewings; the entrance of the Balineselike girls in the 2nd Act was kept although their dance was omitted.

#19 Roma

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 07:37 AM

There is no gratuitous brilliance, there are no cheap tricks, and neither does she knock you out with flashes of technical bravura (although the Shades Act showed some truly magnificent dancing), yet by the quality of her plastique alone she reveals more of the drama, appearing real and true, than anyone I can think of in this company.

Just what I remember from her performance last summer. Marc, I am green with envy :yes:

#20 Viviane

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:19 AM

Thank you Marc ! I had already put Daria Pavlenko on the list of unique "Swan Lake"s too.
I can't wait to see the same cast tomorrow ! :lol:

#21 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 01 August 2003 - 08:27 AM

Good to have you back, Viviane :lol:. Hope you'll let us know what you think of this performance!

#22 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 02 August 2003 - 04:27 AM

It was like watching a different ballet last night, with Svetlana Zakhaova and Leonid Sarafanov taking the lead on the second night of La Bayadere. The towering physicality of Zakharova fits awkwardly within the frame of the new-old production. Her unfolding, sky-scraping legs keep unfolding long after the musical accents and if Pavlenko clearly looked first of the Shades, Zakharova resembled an alien visitor not familiar with the language of the corps. What I found most disconcerting is however that her technical virtuosity (impressive it may be when taken on its own) is totally unrelated to the drama unfolding before our eyes, worse it is even happening in spite of the drama.

Leonid Sarafanov, the next Kiev wunderkid in line, was in many senses marvelous to see. His boyishly frail appearance, his sweepingly romantic gestures mirrored the broadness and often impetuousness of his dancing, but even so, he hardly ever managed to get out of the shadow of his Nikiya, who was just too big for him. Yet, he is a talent to look out for.

I much admired Viktoria Tereshkina as Gamzatti, haughty, tough as nails and looking even more fomidable than Tarassova.

#23 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 02:07 AM

Yesterday evening we had the final of the four Bayaderes. London audiences seem to have warmed for this production and on several occasions I overheard regrets that only four performances were shown this time. (We could have done with a little less Swan Lakes). Last night had exactly the same cast as the opening performance (Pavlenko-Fadeyev-Tarassova), but looked even more inspired. The company in general seemed better attuned, while Daria Pavlenko, now fully recovered from her illness at the beginning of the tour, was absolutely stunning. The Shades Act was a moment of true (and rare) balletic grace - ample, eloquent, beautiful, and finally utterly moving. None of the technical exhibitionism of the previous day, none of the outsized, hyperflex shapes either, but pure, simple and solid classical dancing.
Elvira Tarassova as Gamzatti was on top form as well and demonstrated some great dancing in the final act.
Every second of the long ovations was fully deserved.

The company is now preparing the next program which starts on Monday, bearing the imponderable title "Contrasts": Serenade, Rite of Spring, and Etudes. After several cast changes it is now Yulia Makhalina, flewn in from St. Petersburg (and who danced the premiere), who will perform Rite.

#24 Kate B

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 03:54 AM

I was there last night, and I too feel sorry that I only caught one performance! It was absolutely fantastic. I took my partner, who so far has been rather lukewarm on the classic ballets, preferring the things we see at Sadlers Wells (particularly Twyla Tharp a few weeks ago...) But he had a really good time. He particularly liked the shades, and the King, who did a lot of dancing with his eyebrows!

I fell in love with Daria Pavlenko, and thought it a shame that Solor didn't get to do much dancing on his own, because he is obviously technically a genius. A fantastic jumper. He seemed a little bit unsure in some of the partnering. I would like to see Tarassova in another part - she had so much fire and energy!

I'm not going to see any more of the Kirov this time around but I look forward to further updates from anyone that goes. Have a good time!

One last thing, though. I know it was 'the director's cut' of La Bayadere, but I thought it was a real shame that they didn't have the Golden Idol dance in this version. The first time I saw the Kirov (in 1999 or something) that variation really took my breath away.

#25 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 04:55 AM

Thanks, Kate. Glad you caught this one performance of Bayaderka.
The "King with the dancing eyebrows" :D as you mentioned, is Petr Stasiunas the Raja, who has indeed the habit of miming a lot with his eyebrows.

The reason why they don't have the Golden Idol dancing in this 1900 revival is because it was added in the Soviet period, in the late 1940s by Zubkovsky. You can however see him being carried on the stage, as a real statue, in the 2nd Act.

#26 Kate B

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Posted 03 August 2003 - 10:27 AM

Thanks for the info, Marc! I am glad to know he is well-known for his agile facial hair! :D

One more thing. I heard a woman saying to her young daughter in the first interval, "If I take you to another ballet, don't expect it to be as good as this one was." It was that kind of night out! :wink:

#27 Kate B

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:02 PM

I am very, very, very BAD! :shhh:

...For my bank balance. I decided this morning that I have GOT to see Le Corsaire on Saturday afternoon so I bought a ticket.

PLEASE tell me I will love it! Then I can show my conscience that I have made a good decision! :blushing:

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 04 August 2003 - 02:28 PM

Of course you did the right thing, Kate :blushing:

I can't tell if you'll love it -- reviews of this have been mixed. But if you like even one of the dancers, you'll have a good time.

And if you really want to ease your conscience, all you have to do is remember to tell us about it :)

#29 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:18 AM

One wonders what the Mariinsky is trying to prove by bringing ballets to London which they are still learning. Yesterday evening was first night of "Contrasts", an unnecessarily heavy program grouping Serenade, Nijinsky's Rite of Spring (as staged by Hodson and Archer), and Lander's Etudes (as staged by Josette Amiel). Serenade was OK, but not by any means the most interesting performance I saw of this ballet. It all looked dull, flat and lifeless.
Watching the two remaining ballets was however painful, because even if it is obvious how hard the corps is trying to pull them off, they can't conceal they are underrehearsed and at this moment totally overstretched. Moreover, combining such two vastly different ballets in one evening isn't exactly a stroke of genius in programming either, and if one really needs to have them in one evening, why not rather end with Rite of Spring?
We had some thrilling orchestral playing for Rite, which I feel is not really matched by this colorful, but in fact rather dramatically tame staging of the ballet.
The soloists looked generally more at ease and I thought Yulia Makhalina was excellent in Rite, while light-footed Leonid Sarafanov looked a treat in Etudes. (I don't doubt Andrian Fadeyev, as the second male lead, can do a lot better if he wasn't that exhausted.) It must be a matter of coaching here, but even Svetlana Zakharova proved she can stick to the style of a ballet.

I am sure you'll have a good time with Le Corsaire, Kate. At least this is a ballet they are supposed to know :blushing:.

#30 Kate B

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:35 AM

I am sure you'll have a good time with Le Corsaire, Kate. At least this is a ballet they are supposed to know :).

:lol:

Thanks Marc and Alexandra. I'm very excited already and I promise to report!

I can't believe that a year ago I was having trouble motivating myself to go to the theatre. This year I have been so much!

Did you read this today?

http://www.guardian....1012299,00.html

Sounds interesting, even if the programme is a 'test' on the ROH. I'd really like to see Rite of Spring now! I'll wait until they've practiced (and I have been paid :) )

One other thing... When is it 'correct' to applaud? Sometimes, with the Kirov especially, people clap whenever someone does a good trick. This distracts me a bit! I'm happy to applaud all the curtain calls (they are many and they are long) but the article says 20 minutes on Monday night! Is it OK to go at some point to catch the last train home? Do the dancers really like it? These might seem like funny questions, but I know I am in the right place to ask them without feeling too stupid. :blushing:


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