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Gala des Étoiles -- MontréalVolochkova, Vishneva, Oaks/Edur, Barker!


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#1 Marga

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 03:16 PM

A total of 25 dancers performed Thursday, Sept. 9, in the 21st annual Gala des Étoiles in Montréal, Québec. It was a night of amazing performances in a huge theatre at the Place des Arts which was full to the rafters with enthusiastic balletomanes.

I just returned from Montréal and am too exhausted to write my review tonight, but I promise to write about everyone's performances tomorrow.

From the Canterna sisters' passionate lyrical dance to the extraordinary fiery flamenco of two young men from Madrid's Nuevo Ballet Espagñol, with Volochkova's and Margie Gillis' solos, classical ballet variations and pas de deux, and super-technical modern ballet in-between, danced by a range of dancers world-known to locally-known, the evening was an astonishing array of incredibly beautiful dance.

Review anon!

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 13 September 2004 - 07:26 AM

Thank you for this, and don't forget to write! It sounds like an interesting mix.

#3 Marga

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Posted 13 September 2004 - 03:03 PM

Thank you for this, and don't forget to write! It sounds like an interesting mix.

It was quite a stunning event, Alexandra.

I have to apologize for not writing when promised. My computer is infected with a terrible worm or virus and when I sat down to write the review, I was met with with a real can of worms. Not only was I unable to open the interent, the virus had placed dozens of icons on my desktop, some quite awful, and hundreds of unwanted files in my hard drive. I tried to delete them from my computer, but the cursor would hardly move and each deletion I attempted took several minutes. It was an agonizing process. We will be taking the machine to a specialist.

Meanwhile, I am writing from an interent cafe that closes in less than 20 minutes (I finally found one in this small town we live in now). I am so eager to share what I saw with Ballet Alert readers that I have been wording and rewording the review in my head since last Thursday night, right after the gala. It was an evening that left me in a state of euphoria, like I used to feel after a great New York City Ballet performance in the mid-60s.

Oh gosh, I forgot to bring my program here to the interent cafe! Okay, I'll give you part one from the top of my head:

Most memorable dancers of the evening: Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur of the English National Ballet. They danced Impromptu and the Don Q pas de deux (both reported on by another BA member who saw them dance these in Columbus, Ohio about 10 days ago). This husband and wife team is one of the couples I was so eager to see and they were magnificent. They began their careers at the Estonian National Ballet (where my own daughter began her career a year ago) under their original names, Age Oks and Toomas Edur. They are an Estonian Ballet success story, having found well-deserved fame outside of Estonia. Because of their offstage relationship, their dancing melts them together to move as one, each knowing the other's movements so well that there are no surprises in their partnership which might hinder them in any way. Yet, they are fresh and technically precise, at once ethereal and strong. Agnes, especially, is so accomplished that you are able to enjoy her every nuance and heart-stopping technical feat with total confidence that she will not falter, that she will bring us into a rapturous state of "more, we want more!" The balances, the softness, the steeliness when required, the perfect fouettes, even!

More, next time. I'm reaching the end of my online time.

But one thing to leave you with:
Anastasia Volochkova -- a class act all the way. Yes, she is big for a dancer, but absolutely normal weight for a svelte woman. She is about as tall as Patricia Barker (who danced an accomplished, beautiful, modern, underappreciated solo), but has larger bones, for sure. Volochkova would have a tough time finding a partner to lift her. She, however, has a chance at an interesting career as an independent artist, a solo dancer of very interesting range. More about her coming up! You'll love hearing about the second solo she did.

#4 sylphide

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Posted 13 September 2004 - 05:06 PM

Unfortunately, I also happend to be at the Gala. Although I do agree that the couple Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur were extremely pleasant to watch in Impromptu, I was not overwhelemd by their Don Q.

Actually I did not appreciate the way the show ended up being a mere mish mash of various dances. Let me explain.

I really appreciated Patricia Barker's contemporary solo, Neither Do I, even though I am a die hard classical/romantic ballet fan. Although not my favorite ballerina, I felt she was an accomplished artist and that she was able to communicate a range of emotions to the audience. She also moved beautifully to the music. Another modern piece I enjoyed was Feed the Bird from the Wiesbaden Ballet, danced by Daniela Severian and Dimitri Smikin. (I hope I am not mistaking the title, Marga please tell me if I do). The man's costume was original: topless with a romantic tutu and the woman was actually wearing very conventionnal black shorts and fitted t-shirt. I think that even visually, this was very interesting to see. The choregraphy was interesting but unfortunately, the audience was laughing every 2 minutes, starting when Smikin entered wearing the tutu, only at the sight of any peculiar position of the body. Believe me the choregraphy was a lot deeper than that and peolple seemed to take it to the first degree only....what a shame.

Having said that, Diana Vishneva and Andrian Fadeyev offered a stunning performance of Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (and who was saying the Kirov Shouldn't dance Balanchine?) It was light, beautiful, refreshing and uplifting. She had such a lovely expression while she was dancing. And it truly felt as if she would not want to be anywhere else in the world than here, on this stage sharing her dancing with the audience. I felt that this ballet might have been choregraphed especially for her. Fadeyev, whom I had seen at the Mariinsky in Etudes, was equal to himself: noble presence, charming with great jumps ( I still cannot believe his thighs.... so powerful yet so long and he jumps so lightly).

The dancing couple also gave us an excerpt of Lavrosky's Romeo and Juliet. The pas de deux was so expressive... a real charm and feast for the soul. Vishneva was so delicate, almost surreal. Beautiful extensions but only when necessary, adequate aplomb, lightness and balance. At the very end when her Romeo was kneeling at her feet, embrassing her legs, both stayed still and then true magic happened: only her arms were moving to the fading sound of the music and then I knew and understood what being a ballet artist meant. It was not about extensions, height of jumps or being able the nail that n-th pirouette after having performed 32 fouettes. It was in this very moment when the couple was staying still, under the moon, that it clicked: when nothing but a port de bras nothing but arms that move fluidly like silk makes you feel for a moment that you are somewhere else, on another plane, another dimension....

Wich brings me back to why I was absolutely ashamed at the end of the Gala. I just could NOT understand why if one had true artists like Vishneva and Fadeyev, and Barker and perhaps Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur why on earth would someone even think of putting dancers like the Canterna sisters on the same stage? True, the sisters are advanced/professionnal level dancers, but please. There was absolutely no lyricism in their movements. There piece called Via Dolorosa was very well executed...for a graduating class performance, not for an event called" Gala des Etoiles. What I am trying to say is that they really need polishing if they ever want to shine on stage...in classical/neo classical or lyrical works. If even Asylmuratova spent 4 years in a corps the ballet... for me this proves my point ( Have they ever been in a professionnal company is a question I kept asking myself?).

On the same note, I do not know why Margie Gillis was there. There were two ladies from Europe seating next to me and I wasn't necessary proud that Gillis was an exemple of "Canadian" talent. No lines in the body, nothing innovative in the steps being executed. A big zero. I really tried but could not find anything positive to say about her 2 solos:A complex Simplicity of Love and Waltzing Matilda. Are we in a day and age where reality TV is so present that we NEED to see someone that so resembles our next door neighboor dancing in her kitchen, while the kids are asleep? I will stop there for Gillis as I don't want to attract enemies....

As for Ms. Volochkova, her Russkaya was...well...adequate. Nothing overwhelming: I have seen others do it with much more passion. Her second solo, Villisa, was not brilliant either. She used her high extensions almost every time her leg was off the floor and I was under no impression that she was "possessed" with the spirit of dance. She seemd to me like a beautiful young woman who happened to have done ballet (in one of the world's best schooll??!! :shrug: ) and puts on her pointe shoes because this is what she has been doing for all her life, not because she needed to feed her passion. And technically...that is another story altogether: If even I can close my fifth positions when doing series of pirouettes....This is very minor but when the artistry is just not there, well I like to see clean-er technique...for the very least. As for the weight issue, I find it irrelevant: Let's just say that Volochkova's dancing with or without an excess of weight is not something that I would particularly want to see in a classical company.

I was also very deceived in the presentaion of Diane and Acteon, a ballet I personally enjoy alot. Maybe I was biased and know my tape with Terekhova by heart and that I have seen tapes with Larissa Lezhnina perform admirably as Diane, that I could not enjoy Ms. Oiwa from Ballet Internationale. Maybe it was not the best role for her, perhaps she was not feeling well...she performed a great partnered cabriole though. So I would actually make sure I see more of her to make a better judgement. Her partner Ogulcan Borova had great stage presence, however I did not enjoy the "tricks" he did ( I could not figure out what the name of those steps he performed en manege were...) They were closer to acrobatics than ballet and of course, the public clapped and clapped forever...

The more I think about this mish mash of talent, that I am sure alone or grouped differently would have looked more to its advantage, the more I wonder if it was simply the promoter's fault in lacking judgment and understanding of ballet and dance in general, even though his wife is apparently an ex-ballerina :shrug:

OK so I had to say all of this and let it off my chest. I trully admire true artistes and find it such a shame and such a disgrace to have people of all walks of life share the same stage as the ones who really breath (or seem to ) breath dance and know how to convey this special means of expression to an audience. I already apologize if I have offended anyone, but this is my opinion of this year's Gala des Etoiles

#5 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 13 September 2004 - 06:40 PM

Thanks for the reports to both of you, it's the "Point-Counterpoint" version! Sylphide, disliking a performance is "in bounds"; there's still room for discussion here. I have to admit, I saw Margie Gillis about 5 years ago in a mixed bill with the National Ballet and I absolutely liked her best of anything on the program. I loved her weight and simplicity. It wasn't technical at all as you noted, but this may be like Ashton seeing Duncan as inspirational and Balanchine seeing her as a fat pig rolling around on the floor. Probably both were right. Gillis also wasn't young then and five years for a dancer can be a very long while.

#6 sandik

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Posted 14 September 2004 - 08:18 AM

Could someone tell me please who the choreographer is for Barker's solo "Neither Do I" Thanks!

#7 sylphide

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Posted 14 September 2004 - 08:56 AM

It is written Olivier Wevers on the program.

#8 Benny

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 09:21 AM

A review with visuals of the Gala appears on www.maisonneuve.org, "The Dance Scene" .

Edited by Benny, 22 September 2004 - 09:36 AM.


#9 sylphide

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 11:55 AM

Not quite sure those are actual pictures of this year's Gala...Interesting review though. Thanks for the link.

#10 Alexandra

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Posted 22 September 2004 - 12:00 PM

Yes, thank you for that, Benny (and welcome to Ballet Alert!, if we haven't welcomed you already!)

Here's a clickable link to the review:

Gala des Etoiles review

#11 andycrawford

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:24 PM

Toomas Edur has powerful stage presance (along wiht incredibly clean tecnique) i wish i had seen them perform - thankyou for posting .

#12 Benny

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 05:06 AM

Patricia Barker is interviewed in anticipation of the 2005 Gala des Etoiles at www.maisonneuve.org.

http://www.maisonneu...article_id=1720

#13 Mireille

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 05:54 AM

Here are changes in the cast for tonight's Gala:

Victoria Terioshkina will be partnered by Leonid Sarafanov in replacement of Igor Kolb, who was supposed to be replacing Andrian Fadeyev. Diana Vishneva is not part of the Gala this year and neither is Ogulcan Borova. Jeffrey Stanton is partnering Patricia Barker and Daniela Severian will be partniered by Rasta Thomas. Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington were not at the rehearsal yesterday, I hope that they will be performing tonight...

#14 Mireille

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 10:05 AM

Last night’s Gala des étoiles offered a tango-flavoured program of 15 works, several of them premieres, interpreted by strong teams of Gala veterans and first-timers. The classical Don Quixote and Corsaire PDD followed contemporary works of Forsythe and Duato, and several works choreographed by the performers themselves. Here is a quick lunchtime review of the evening… without the program in hand.

Pablo Verone had the difficult task of opening the first part with a tango pas de trois and following the Bissonnette-Radacovski duet in the second part with a lively Orillera that was well received by the audience.

Yolanda Martin and Alejandro Alverez followed with Duato’s familiar Rassemblement and their rendering of Arenal was superb in intensity.

For the first time in Montreal, the awaited Daniil Simkin performed the only solo work of the evening and showed in Fallen Angel a good range of his artistry: strong and light, expressive and technical and with rarely seen easiness and maturity; he simply has it all. He returned teamed with his father in “My way”, Dmitri Simkin’s only appearance in tonight’s gala, where both were outstanding. Hopefully they will both come back next year and perform something different that will show even more of their possibilities.

Inaki Urlezaga and Caroline Queiroz Gaer first performed a lovely tango-inspired PDD hindered only by Urlezaga’s costume blending with the background and returned in the second part with his Sylvia PDD which left me longing to see more of Caroline Queiroz’s possibilities, especially during her pizzicato variation.

Alicia Amatriain was partnered by an expressive Jason Reilly in Cranko’s Taming of the Shrew, in which Reilly shone, until they returned a thrilling contemporary work by Galilis reminiscent of Forsythe, where a bruised Amatrain stole the show and glowed.

Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington performed an emotional work by (where is my program?).

The first part of the evening closed with Daniela Severian elegantly partnering the fiery Rasta Thomas in Don Quixote. Her pizzicato variation with balancing in arabesque and fluid arms in the last diagonale sure made up for her proper but show tours fouettes.

The second part brought Forsythe’s “In the Middle” superbly danced by Patricia Barker and Jeffrey Stanton.

Mario Radacovski’s new work, Ombres et lumières, was superbly interpreted by Anik Bissonnette and could not be better danced… are we going to see more of her this year in Montreal? I hope so. What a fine dancer she is, and what a fine choreographer he is.

And to close the evening, the young Terioshkina partnered by a reliable Sarafanov in the Corsaire PDD (finally!): fine technique with beautiful lines, grand pas and poise, a dream. Sarafanov had to cut his diagonale short of the third grand jeté that would have taken him somewhere in the parterre…

Overall an evening well enjoyed by a full house of Gala regulars and newcomers that in this age of technology and special effects in everything, can still be amazed by pirouettes and grands jetés and appreciate in dance what humans do best.


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