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Kirov in Detroit (Oct 20/23)


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#16 Helene

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 03:26 PM

Thank you, chiapuris, for your wonderful review. I've added Novikova to my list of dancers to watch the next time the Kirov comes to the West Coast.

#17 canbelto

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 07:17 PM

Ok, I saw the Saturday matinee performance, and although it was a 250 mile drive to and fro and I'm exhausted, I'll do my best to review the performance.

Where do I start? Yekaterina Osmolkina was the Aurora (it was originally Olesia Novikova). Osmolkina is a very pretty girl, and a good ballerina -- when she's moving. Great jumps (the springy types that only Russian-trained ballerinas have), a good turner, a beautiful arabesque. The issue is when she has to balance on pointe. And there she is in big trouble. The Rose Adagio contained practically NO balances -- she just put her hand on one prince after another, without any pauses. Fine, ok, the Rose Adagio is tough. But even in the Vision Scene she was wobbling and shaking. She's been in the Mariinsky since 1999 -- I honestly dont see her progressing into principal. She doesnt have the personality or charisma of a Diana Vishneva. She's pretty, but also has some pretty obvious technical problems.

The Prince was Vladimir Shkliarov, and he's a young dancer. Still in the corps. Ah, Russians and their turning. He has lovely tour l'en airs, and did a series of them in the Vision Scene. Then he does a double pirouette -- and wildly overrotates, so he ends with his back to the audience. He's promising though, and handsomer than most Russian male danseurs.

I thought the corps was beautiful but tired. On the one hand it;s really great to see a corps where everyone arabesques the same way, and everyone's port
te bras is the same. But they made some mistakes. During the Vision Scene one corps member did a turn and ended flat on her butt. Other than that they were very uniform, but somewhat listless -- I think the exhaustion of touring is getting to them.

The Lilac Fairy was Tatiana Amosova. I didnt think much of her one way or the other but she does have one moment in Act 1 wen she has to turn, kick her leg up, turn once more, kick her leg up again, and repeat this (never putting the free leg down). Amosova did maybe 7 or 8 of these turns and got a lot of applause. I was racking my brain thinking where I've seen this, and then i realized that it's the same trick Balanchine has for the Dewdrop.

By far the biggest disaster of the night was Dmitri Semionov, the Bluebird. He honestly had NO business dancing this role. His jumps had no elevation, and at
the end of his variation he fell. What's worse, at the end of the coda he literally gave up dancing with Florine -- you could see her dancing, and him just sort of faking his steps.

Speaking of mistakes, the "Jewel" fairies TOTALLY messed up their exit in Act 3. And the "Diamond" fairy is too large for a tutu. She stuck out like a sore thumb with the long, leggy fairies.

The Puss-in-Boots and White Cat were absolutely adorable.

But I'm saving the best for last -- Princess Florine. My god she was good. Her name is Yulia Bolshakova, and she is only a corps member but I envision great things
for her. She's tall and leggy, but dances with incredible speed and panache. She also looks like (get this) Altynai Asylmuratova. The same dark hair, almond
eyes, and general gorgeousness. Ok, maybe she's not as gorgeous but watching her was just magical. Like most Mariinsky ballerinas she is very flexible but the flexibility seemed to be a natural movement with her, and not a contrived "look."

The Mariinsky orchestra played beautifully.

There are many things to both like and dislike about the Sergeyev version. First of all, the erasure of the mime in the Prologue meant Carabosse hammed around onstage like a lunatic. And I dislike his choreography for the Act 3 pdd. It seems a bit ... empty, with little more than a lot of supported pirouettes. I miss the fishdives!!! One the other hand, keeping in mind more recent horrors like Kevin McKenzie basically gutting Act 4 of Swan Lake, it's nice to see how much Sergeyev respects the ballet and the music. And it's a very pretty production.

#18 chiapuris

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 10:53 AM

Detroit Sleeping Beauty 10/22/05

Saturday evening's performance was the third I attended. For some reason I enjoyed it the most- very likely because the previous viewings allowed me to relax and pay more attention to the ancillary micro-events taking place on stage at any one time. The Mariinsky Sleeping Beauty is a rich feast indeed.

The leads were, as on the 20th, Somova and Fadeev [I'm following the program orthography]. Lilac Fairy was the delicate and beautiful Olga Esina who left a light trace of her path through the story, with exquisite line and sure footwork. She and Vostotrina, who was the previous night's Lilac Fairy, are listed as members of the corps de ballet on the Mariinsky website.

It would be interesting to know how much experience they have in the role; maybe Natalia can help. I was very impressed with both, but especially was taken with Vostotrina's authority on stage. (Particularly since she followed Lopatkina in the role the night before). I hope it augurs promotions for both of them.

I thought I would have more 'opinions' on Somova's dancing with the second viewing.
I don't.
While technical challenges were met with equanimity, meeting those challenges still does not spell great or even good dancing. There tends to be a flatness to movements that always end in a hyper developed leg extension. Three-dimensionality is a requisite in classical dance.
When the two are combined, that is, when high extensions are combined with the dimensionality of the classical canon, that's fine. We can say the aesthetic premises have shifted. But take away the space conquering dimensions of the classical ballet, then, we are left with a diminished art form. For what?
OK, off my high horse.

The Vision scene adagio of Somova/Fadeev impressed me with its precision and expressiveness. I really liked the Wedding pdd, even with some of its musical overemphatic moments.

I enjoyed the Prologue with the detailed staging of group dancing and the variations of the fairies. This time I took time to appreciate the lavender-tutu-ed retinue
of the Lilac Fairy. The corps de ballet dancers are truly the company's treasure chest.

After three nights of veritable feasting, I've left out a bothersome question.
What's happened to the Bluebird pdd? Why is it such a shamble of inconsequence and
confusion and unmusicality? The Florines were faultless (X Ostreykovskaya on the 20th and 22nd and S Gumerova on the 21st). The Bluebirds (it's better to leave their names out since I don't know who really danced.) were difficult to comprehend. How were they coached? Only one of the three acknowledged that he was dancing with another person and actually looked at her while doing double work. The others looked like they were in separate universes, smiling to the audience (blithely?)
What were they coached? Only on the third night did the male dancer do assembles battu after the first two simple assembles. Are beats no longer 'required'? Or do they know that Cecchetti /Petipa didn't originally include them?

As Doug Fullington has pointed out, the choreographic addition for Florine, in the 1950s, of the flicked wrists after the shoulder lift makes the pdd ending unmusical - with the final pose after the musical ending. Why does the management perpetuate this unmusical 'improvement'?

And why did only one of the three Bluebirds take the arabesque pose behind the kneeling Florine at the end of the pdd? (The other two just stood behind her).

Without a buoyant male dancer with elevation and plasticity for the entre-chats six and the brises vole and the assembles battu the duet doesn't make much sense. It's hard to believe the company can't fill the role appropriately.

The other Wedding divertissements are so beautifully coached. The standout is the White Cat of Yana Selina. Witty and technically interesting.

The corps de ballet shone all three nights in the Vision scene.
All in all, the visit of the Mariinsky was an artistic treat of first quality for Detroit.

#19 Natalia

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:57 AM

Chiapuris, Red Riding Hood was danced by corps member Elena Yushkovskaya at each & every Detroit performance. The 'errata sheet' inside the printed programme was a comedy of errors. I fully expected that, by the final Sunday matinee, they would prepare 'Errata on the Errata' but, no. Some audience members probably believed -- as per the errata -- that Anton Korsakov danced *both* Desire and the Bluebird, in the same performance, yesterday.

I also loved the way that the gentleman in charge of the Michigan Opera season spoke to the audience prior to the last two performances, imploring them not to leave the theater after Aurora is awakened by Prince Desire. "The kiss comes at the end of Act II; there is a whole other act ahead of us. If you leave after the kiss, you'll miss some of the best dancing!" he said. This seemed to have worked, as the audience didn't leave en masse after 'the kiss,' as they did at the Saturday matinee.

canbelto - Vostrotina has danced Lilac in this (1952) production a couple of times back home, shortly after the revival of this production in Dec '04. As far as I know, Esina debuted Lilac on this tour, in L.A....unless she stepped-in for Vostrotina or Kondaurova back home (Vostrotina & Kondaurova the usual Lilacs last season). Lopatkina performed more Lilacs on this tour than she has in the whole of her life at the Mariinsky Theater. Remember the broo-ha-ha after her abrupt cancellation last December, at the premiere of this revival? Russians are dumbfounded, in fact, that the long-awaited return of Lopatkina to the role of Lilarc took place in America & not back home. [Correct me if I'm wrong, someone, but Lopatkina backed out of the December '04 Lilac and wasn't listed for any SB performances at the Mariinsky since then. It won't happen anytime soon, either, as the version being presented this season in St.P. is the 1890 one, which Lopatkina does not perform.]

'Sleeping Beauty' -- in either production -- is a rarity at home. There are seasons when only two, maybe one, performance of Beauty will be given. Foreigners may not realize how incredibly fortunate they are to see tours with multiple Beauties, given on simultaneous nights. [The dancers, while grateful for the opportunity to tour, may have a different feeling about dancing four 'Beauties' in the span of 48 hrs!] LA, Berkeley & Detroit were truly blessed to have such a rare string of Beauties performed in their cities. Not just any version but THE version that means the most to today's Russian audiences -- the staging of Konstantin Sergeev.

#20 Helene

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:45 AM

This seemed to have worked, as the audience didn't leave en masse after 'the kiss,' as they did at the Saturday matinee.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:jawdrop:

#21 Natalia

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 11:03 AM

Yes, believe it, Helene. I can only imagine what the dancers thought, backstage, as they heard this guy over the p.a. system. More great p.r. for American Culture, I fear.

#22 canbelto

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 11:18 AM

Natalia,
Thanks for the info about Sleeping Beauty! I had no idea how rare it was for the MT to perform Sleeping Beauty: I always thought it was a war-horse that they'd trot out every year. I thought the Sergeyev version was lovely except for some bits that I would re-do: for instance, in the Vision Scene Aurora kind of pops out of nowhere, and this is where I wish some of the mime would be replaced. As well as in Act 1, with Carabosse. As is, Carabosse kind of runs around like a crazy person but doesnt tell the story of what her evil plans are.
I also think it's time to give the wigs a rest. They look old and ugly. Why is it that only Aurora and Florine are allowed to wear their real hair?
And as I said before, I was tickled pink when I saw Yulia Bolshakova, whom I think has some rough edges but also real talent (energy, charisma, and gutsiness).

#23 Natalia

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 11:32 AM

I also think it's time to give the wigs a rest. They look old and ugly. Why is it that only Aurora and Florine are allowed to wear their real hair?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



LOL! But, you must realize, those wigs are venerated by the old guard among Russian audiences, much like they adore the cotton-candy pink wigs of the Waltz of the Flowers in the Vainonen 'Nutcracker'! Lenin's Tomb will be closed before those wigs are ever retired!

And what about our Prince Desires' coifs this weekend? I give a Medal of Valor to Andrian Fadeev for having the guts to sport his own hair, rather than succumb to the 'Elvis Pouf' worn by Schklyarov and Korsakov!

#24 canbelto

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 11:44 AM

LOL!  But, you must realize, those wigs are venerated by the old guard among Russian audiences, much like they adore the cotton-candy pink wigs of the Waltz of the Flowers in the Vainonen 'Nutcracker'! Lenin's Tomb will be closed before those wigs are ever retired!

And what about our Prince Desires' coifs this weekend?  I give a Medal of Valor to Andrian Fadeev for having the guts to sport his own hair, rather than succumb to the 'Elvis Pouf' worn by Schklyarov and Korsakov!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


LOL about the Elvis pouf! What was funny about that was that it was in this totally mousy brown color, which matched Desire's outfit in the Vision Scene. So overall, Desire looked like he'd shot a squirrel that happened to land on his head.
By far the ugliest wigs have to be the Snowflake wigs in Grigorivich's Nutcracker. They look like Norman Bates's "mother's" wig, and are fitted so loosely on the heads of the dancers that you can literally see the crack between the wig and the head.

#25 Natalia

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 12:13 PM

re. Grigorovich snowflakes - :jawdrop: :yahoo: :yahoo:

I felt a bit sorry for the darker-complexioned kids in Detroit's Garland Dance, all having to don the blonde wigs. They did a great job, though, and always garnered big applause when entering, in the middle of the dance. You could see that a lot of the Kirov corps dancers were anticipating the reception for the kids -- the smiles on the main corps ladies in front (Elena Androssova & Tatyana Bazhitova) said it all. Their faces 'registered': "Here come your kids! Time for applause!" Once that applause came, their faces lit up even more than usual.

I think that the Kirov dancers took home a lot of wonderful & unique impressions of this tour. By that I mean: There's a lot more to America than New York City and Washington, DC. In this tour, a lot of the more junior dancers acquainted themselves with the West Coast & even tasted a bit of Middle America.

#26 carbro

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:19 PM

You could see that a lot of the Kirov corps dancers were anticipating the reception for the kids -- the smiles on the main corps ladies in front (Elena Androssova & Tatyana Bazhitova) said it all. Their faces 'registered':  "Here come your kids! Time for applause!" Once that applause came, their faces lit up even more than usual. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thank you, Natalia, for adding this delightful detail. It adds a breath of humanity the whole experience of reading these very good accounts.

I think that the Kirov dancers took home a lot of wonderful & unique impressions of this tour. By that I mean:  There's a lot more to America than New York City and Washington, DC.  In this tour, a lot of the more junior dancers acquainted themselves with the West Coast & even tasted a bit of Middle America.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I hope so, but gee whiz, couldn't they have stopped by New York for at least a brief hello? :jawdrop:

#27 nysusan

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 02:57 PM

Chiapuris, Red Riding Hood was danced by corps member Elena Yushkovskaya at each & every Detroit performance. The 'errata sheet' inside the printed programme was a comedy of errors. I fully expected that, by the final Sunday matinee, they would prepare 'Errata on the Errata' but, no. Some audience members probably believed -- as per the errata -- that Anton Korsakov danced *both* Desire and the Bluebird, in the same performance, yesterday.
...

'Sleeping Beauty' -- in either production -- is a rarity at home. There are seasons when only two, maybe one, performance of Beauty will be given.  Foreigners may not realize how incredibly fortunate they are to see tours with multiple Beauties, given on simultaneous nights. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



The Kirov's disdain for providing correct casting information is exasperating and inexplicable. At the second performance in L.A. an announcement before the curtain informed us that " Maxim Russinsky & Igor Meskevitch will dance the roles of the bridegrooms in this evening's performance" (paraphrasing & inserting fake Russian names here). Never mind that Aurora has 4 cavaliers in the Sleeping Beauty, but why the choice to announce such a minor casting change and not address major changes to the casting in the program by informing us that Vostrotina was replacing Nioradze as the Lilac Fairy? And there was no announcement at all on opening night when Bolshakova replaced Pavlenko as Florina. Of course, I'm not even 100% sure that I saw Vostrotina or Bolshakova - I'm relying on Marc Haegemen's post here that it was Vostratina on 10/6 and on a member of the Kirov's entourage that it was Bolshakova as Florina on opening night.

The casting in L.A. also listed Obratsova as Little Red Riding Hood for all 5 performances. I've never seen her, but I've seen photos of her Juliet & now that I think of it - it didn't look like her. The dancer was small & blondish with a very sweet face and since I'd never seen Obtratsova I never questioned it!

I didn't love Bolshakova's Florina when I first saw it, but there were things I liked about it and I keep getting a really vivid positive image of her when I think back on the L.A. performances. I was expecting Pavlenko so it's possible that I was just too taken aback when I realized that it wasn't her to really focus 100% on Bolshakova, but I definitely did feel that her extensions were too extreme. I hope to see more of her in the future, I think she has great potential and it will be interesting to see how she develops. I was also glad to hear all the positive reports on Somova. It's important to keep an open mind!

I also didn't realize that the Kirov doesn't perform Sleeping Beauty regularly anymore. I really do feel privileged to have seen it, I just wish I could have seen all the casts and every one of Lopatkina's Lilac Faries. I can nitpick all day, but I love the Kirov and the performances were wonderful. I just hope they do a season in NY soon. I would so love to see their Bayadere & Raymonda...

#28 drb

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 03:54 PM

One picks up the sense from many posts that the Mariinsky has "undercast" many major roles during their current American tour. Yet looking at their Paris casting for November/December at the Chatelet, the three Swan Lake O/O's are Lopatkina (obviously), but then Somova and (this not yet on the theatre's site posting, still provisonal) Bolshakova.

#29 canbelto

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 04:13 PM

To those in Paris, I definitely recommend seeing Bolshakova! As I mentioned before I think this girl has tons and tons of potential. A little rough around the edges, and sort of hyperextended, but she has energy and charisma to spare. It's not very often that I see one danced variation and think "star" but that was the case with Bolshakova.

#30 Helene

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 04:25 PM

Many thanks to our reviewers, some of who travelled hundreds of miles to see the Kirov. Your descriptions and impressions are invaluable.


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