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Marc Haegeman

Russian performances in 2003

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What were your favourite Russian performances, productions and dancers of the past year? (I guess it is fair to open up this thread to include the two major Russian companies, Bolshoi and Mariinsky, and performing in Russia and abroad.) And of course other Russian companies can be covered as well.

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Since nobody seems to have seen Russian performances or dancers worth remembering :grinning: , I will start myself.

A performance I cherish most of all is a Kirov Ballet "Swan Lake" from this summer in Austria with Daria Pavlenko, Igor Kolb and Ilya Kuznetsov. It was one of those nights where everything cooked and I haven’t seen Pavlenko and Kolb together in better doing than on that occasion. We had them together again in the same ballet in London, but the inspiration of the earlier performance wasn’t really there.

For my money Pavlenko stands out as the most rewarding Kirov ballerina of this moment. Although the London tour didn’t really deliver the goods in her case, as she came down with a kidney infection at the beginning of the season and still danced "La Bayadère" and "Swan Lake" the following weeks, her performances as Nikiya were still head and shoulders above what the company currently has to offer. Covent Garden had moreover a second chance to see her in better shape as a guest artist with the Royal Ballet, when she danced Nikiya as a replacement of Darcey Bussell.

I would like to single out Leonid Sarafanov as one of the most interesting new faces of the Mariinsky. Still far too young for his own good and thrown in about everything they have in store, but definitely a promising talent. His best moment was as one of the boys in "Etudes".

Among the Mariinsky newcomers I would also mention Olesya Novikova (a pupil of Galina Kekisheva) who danced a remarkable debut as Kitri last Summer, while with Evgenia Obraztsova they seem to have an interesting soubrette again.

At the bottom end must be the Mariinsky's efforts to come to terms with Diaghilev's heritage - their shocking takes on "Le Sacre du printemps" and "Les Noces" or how a great company can loose itself by not taking its audiences serious.

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I saw Diana Vishneva this past year as Nikiya in La Bayadere and in Rubies, and was blown away. The range and complexity of drama and emotion she brings to a role, especially apparent in La Bayadere, coupled with her amazing technical facility really impressed me.

Leonid Sarafanov has a great technique with really beautiful, light jumps. He was a joy to watch in the solo sections of La Bayadere, but his partnering appears to still need some work.

Being able to see the Kirov style live, and their wonderful corps work was such a treat --- I'm now going back to some Kirov videos and watching them with newly opened eyes. My favorite at the moment is the Paquita divertissement with Yulia Makhalina and Igor Zelensky. I can't believe she has such a lifted, open chest, shoulders, and arms.

--Andre

edit: one more thing I forgot: Irina Golub's Gamzatti and Vishneva's Nikiya in La Bayadere had tension-filled, dramatic moments in their "fight" scene.

Edited by Andre Yew

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