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Kirov in Hollywood: La Bayadère


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#1 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 17 October 2003 - 12:16 AM

Anybody who saw the Kirov's La Bayadère at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood? Please report.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 17 October 2003 - 06:41 AM

Calling Giannina, Steve, Next???

There are a few reviews on today's Links thread.

#3 Guest_KBfan_*

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 01:15 AM

Hi I'm new, and I just came in from seeing the Kirov at the Kodak Theatre in
Hollywood. Daria Pavlenko was scheduled to dance Nikiya, but she was removed
from the line up for this weekend's performances. Vishneva will dance three performances of "La Bayadere," and Gumerova and Nioradze will get two a piece.
It seems to me that Vaziev likes to "live dangerously" and "put all of his eggs in
one basket." Vishneva has already enjoyed the prestige of the opening night October 15, and she danced Nikiya last night. Her next performance is October 19. To be fair, Vaziev had to hustle to replace Zakharova - but Nioradze? Not tonight of all nights I thought. I would have thought that Zakharova's sudden departure would bring talented soloists like Pavlenko and Tarasova forward to Principal status.

I was disappointed that Pavlenko was replaced by Irma Nioradze. I've read numerous reviews of the Kirov over the last few years, and Nioradze, not much publicized, never seemed to achieve any glowing reviews. Nevertheless, I was prepared to be 'wowed,' changed my attitude and disposition, and I resigned myself to giving her the benefit of my doubts.

This was the first time I have seen Nioradze dance. To my eye her phrasing wasn't seamless and she lacked delicacy and lightness. One could see the difference in her execution and that of the ensemble. She received her foundational training in Tbilisi, and much later the Vaganova Academy, having danced with the Tbilisi company for a few years before joining the Kirov.

Nioradze aquitted herself of the role. She was good, but she was no Asylmuratova - now there was greatness - the definitive interpretation. Nioradze's arms and back in the first two acts were not very expressive ie. her characterization did not evoke "India." Also in the lamentation of the second act she did not move me. She husbanded all of her energy for the basket dance, and when the snake bit her - if you blinked you missed the drama of that moment. Tarasova was Gamzatti and she reminded me of the young Tatiana Terekova adding doubles and triples in her 28 fouttes. I don't think there is anything more I can add to this statement. She is at her peak in this role!

Nioradze seemed to dance in her own world, not projecting at all. I know this because I was in the upper tiers of the third balcony. Her partner was Sarafanov. He was exceptional. He has great vituosity, but I feel he is miscast as Solor and a little immature for this role. They were not well matched. Nioradze and Sarafanov connected on a superficial level and there was no passion like Tchyentchikova & Zaklinsky, Asylmuratova & Mukhamedov/Zaklinsky/Ruzimatov. Bussell & Zelensky, Durante & Mukhamedov etc. Furthermore the conductor M. Sinkevich rushed the pas de deux and the coda. He was following her. The bat out of hell diagonal at the close of the coda was almost too fast. But fortunately she held on and the wheels did not come off. :shrug:

The corps, as usual was FLAWLESS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE EVENING!!!!! There were 24 Shades not 32 and they were mirror images of each other. Lewis Segal, the Los Angeles Times dance critic noted in yesterday morning's paper that several members of the corps were downed by the flu, but nothing phases this ensemble.

Again, I wish that Pavlenko had been given one performance as Nikiya. Based on the reviews I have read, I perceive that she is a mistress of nuance - something that the role of Nikiya requires. I believe she will shine bright next week at Covent Garden.

Final note: The Slipping Duty Award for the evening goes to the Maryinsky Orchestra. After exemplary playing of Minkus' score, they committed a tactless non musical boo boo: During the second (!)curtain call 90% of the musicians rose up en masse and left the pit while their conductor, Nioradze, Sarafanov and the corps de ballet received their bouquets and ovation on stage. :blink:

Good night everyone.

#4 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 01:28 AM

Thank you for your report, and welcome KBfan! :D The pairing of Nioradze and Sarafanov in La Bayadère doesn't sound like a great idea to me either, stylistically nor temperamentally, but one never knows. As for this lack of adaptation and rapport between the soloists and the ensemble that's a flaw we better get used to when watching the Kirov today.

It's indeed a shame you couldn't catch Pavlenko in this role, as she is by far the most complete Nikiya the company has to offer now. Good to know, though, that Covent Garden seems to have understood that :blink:

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 09:42 AM

I'd like to second Marc's welcome to KBfan. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that long review. (Short comments always welcome too, of course, but it's lovely to read a full report of a performance.)

#6 Thalictum

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Posted 18 October 2003 - 12:31 PM

Pavlenko's debut in London is Tuesday, Oct. 21, I believe, so she probably needed the extra days to learn Makarova's version.

Edited by Thalictum, 18 October 2003 - 12:31 PM.


#7 zerbinetta

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 12:26 AM

Final note:  The Slipping Duty Award for the evening goes to the Maryinsky Orchestra.  After exemplary playing of Minkus' score, they committed a tactless non musical boo boo:  During the second (!)curtain call 90% of the musicians rose up en masse and left the pit while their conductor, Nioradze, Sarafanov and the corps de ballet received their bouquets and ovation on stage.

With the exception of Opening Nights, orchestra members are not required to remain in the pit for curtain calls. This is true of opera as well as ballet & is protocol internationally.

On occasion, musicians who are greatly moved by a performance will remain in the pit but this is their decision, not their "duty".

Onstage orchestra members, on the other hand, better dang well stay put if they want to keep their jobs.

#8 Guest_KBfan_*

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 01:08 PM

Thanks Zerbinetta for that information. :D The way the Kodak Theatre is
built, one could see that the Orchestra was practically onstage and the pit wasn't very deep; so it was quite noticeable. Also, they were all wearing white shirts without dark formal jackets, and the lighting in the "pit" wasn't dim, so it was even more noticeable. In all of my many years of theatre attendance, I never saw this happen. Of course, this doesn't mean that it doesn't happen because I've never seen it. :) Maybe it means all other pits are deeper.

FYI the Kodak Theatre was built specifically for the Oscar ceremonies, not as a dance venue. "La Bayadere" looked much better at the Shrine Auditorium when the Kirov came in 1992. The scenery was very cramped on the Kodak's much smaller stage.

(Kudos to architect F. Gehry: Los Angeles now has the greatest concert hall on the planet - the new Walt Disney Concert Hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic!!!) :wacko:

#9 zerbinetta

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 06:21 PM

Congratulations on your new concert hall; it looks gorgeous. The NYTimes has covered it inside & out. There was some question about the acoustic being "bright" & "modern". Have you heard the orchestra in the house yet?

Maybe we're getting off the ballet track here?

#10 Guest_KBfan_*

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 09:01 PM

Hi Zerbinetta,

The concert hall is like stepping into a Boze stereo speaker - surround sound!
The auditorium is built like a large yet very intimate arena. The color scheme is light beige and gold, with a monster golden pipe organ situated (somehow) towards the south of the arena. It seems to be hanging (?) yet attached to the
interior. The orchestra is the nucleus, elevated on a semi rectangular stage about five feet off the floor. You can experience seeing the conductor as the musicians see him. The sight lines are fabulous! The ensemble and the conductor can be viewed and heard from all angles. The music literally vibrates off of the titanium steel plates - heavenly clarity!

Ok back to ballet. :blink: The Kirov ended its engagement this afternoon in
Orange County's Center for the Performing Arts. I hope they don't take another
11 years to return. Until the next time.......

#11 OCBalletMom

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 11:17 PM

Did anyone else attend the Jewels performances at OCPAC?

We were at the Saturday evening performance. I'm not familiar with any of the Kirov dancers so can't comment on who performered what without referring to my program.

It was my first time seeing Jewels. The music was lovely and well performed by the orchestra. The staging was beautiful and costumes were exquisite I kept using my binoculars to get a closer look at the detail.

Heard great reviews of the performances earlier in the week and really wish I could have attended.



PS - the Disney concert hall is amazing!

#12 socalgal

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Posted 27 October 2003 - 08:53 AM

:yes: OCBalletmom.....I saw the "Jewels" program on Friday evening. It was a wonderful evening with the exception of the struggled ending in Diamonds. It was obvious to me that Igor Zelensky was not himself, having also seen him dance the golden slave in Scheherazade on Wed. evening. He and his partner Uliana were having difficulties( in particular... their partnered pirouettes). My friend was in the 7th row and said she saw their feet get tangled up :thumbsup: and the trouble began.....the reviews state that it was Igor's back but it looked like Ulianna tripped him at one point....anyway, the finale was not a total disaster as these pros picked themselves right up. But the last musical phrasings would have been more impactive if all had gone more smoothly. I also hope that Southern Calif. will get to see the Kirov again soon.... it was a long awaited visit, revealing the future of this exquisite company!

#13 Guest_eyasnogo_*

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Posted 28 October 2003 - 04:37 PM

I saw La Bayadere at the Kodak on opening night (with Vishneva and Zelensky) and again the following evening (with Gumerova and Kortsunsev). I then saw the opening night of the Fokine program, the third performance of the same program and the opening night of Jewels (all at the Orange County Performing Arts Center).

As for La Bayadere:

Vishneva looked amazing in the role and particularly all of the Indian-themed costumes, which emphasized her improbably spectacular figure. Her movement was also quite the spectacle as she displayed her incredibly flexible back at every turn and opportunity. She struck a variety of art-deco themed poses (all very pretty) but was too preoccupied with posing and displaying herself to play the role or listen to the music or attempt to relate to her partner. Her dancing (of the first two acts) was just a series of spectacular camera-ready poses, which ultimately distracted from her performance (and did not help any of the other performers). In the last act, she toned down the exotic poses and finally tried dancing -- turning in a respectable performance. In the long term, even if she manages to control the constant urge to show-off, I doubt that she has the right temperament to play Nikiya -- she simply lacks any sort of warmth.

As for Zelensky, it was great to see him back and dancing with all the spring and stretch and commitment of 10 years ago. He is a true star and it would have been great to see him in this role with a more sympathetic partner. Perhaps in deliberate countermeasure to Vishneva's antics, he approached the role as a generic classical prince.

Gumerova, who was branded ordinary by our local critic, impressed me from the first. Perfect technique, musicality, lyricism -- a touching performance because she approaches this old ballet as though it were a real and tragic love story. She took the time to relate to the audience and her partner. She danced more and posed less and provided a great contrast to the mannered performance of Vishneva. I'll take this particular brand of "ordinary" any day.

Kortsunsev was a great partner for Gumerova and great in his own right. Noble bearing, airy leaps, silent landings, genuine emotion.

Every member of the corps deserved flowers -- collectively, they are still the gold standard.

As a final note, it was great to see the Kirov dance a well-costumed production -- as compared to the hand-me-downs they wore throughout the Soviet era.

As for the Fokine program:

Zhelonkina was simply beautiful as the lead in Les Sylphide. Delicate arms, perfectly placed feet, consistently high leaps with no visible upper body effort -- everything you would want in this role in one romantic and elegant package. A classic performance.

The undisputed highlight of all the programs I saw was Zelensky's performance in Sheherezade. This is a performance every ballet fan should rush to see -- exemplary virtuosity, complete commitment to the role and story, convincing in every detail, thrilling freedom of movement, as exciting a performance as anything I have ever seen. I was familiar with photos of Nijinsky in this role and had seen Razumatov dance an excerpt from the pas de deux (and do it spectacularly). I knew that Zelensky could fit neither mold and was not sure what he would make of this role. The answer is that he took ownership of the ballet. The whole thing seemed to have been created expressly for him. I envy those who have yet to see him in this ballet.

As for Jewels:

Gumerova was again exemplary in Emeralds. Fine delicate dancing with perfect placement and ease.

Vishneva was extraordinary (and this time in a good way) in Rubies. Fleet and cool and self-assured. This is a great vehicle for her. Plenty of guilt-free show-of opportunities and she looked like she enjoyed every one.

Lopatkina was glorious in Diamonds, though hampered by an injured Zelensky. She is obviously a major star and I would love to see her in Swan Lake.

All of the programs were aided by faultless dancing from the corps and lovely costumes.

#14 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 02:09 AM

Thanks so much for the report eyasnogo - and welcome to Ballet Alert. I hope we'll hear more from you!

#15 Helene

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Posted 29 October 2003 - 05:07 PM

Cool report -- thank you! I wish I could have seen these performances. If I have a chance to see the Kirov, I will look for performances where Gumerova and Zhelonkina have been cast. Emeralds is so hard to cast, and I've seen so many misses over the years. It's great to know that Gumerova was wonderful in it.


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