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non-heroic Spartacusdebut of Denis Matvienko


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#1 dachnitsa

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 05:45 AM

Spartacus, 30th of December

cast

Spartacus – Denis Matvienko
Crassus – Alexander Volchkov
Phrygia – Anna Antonicheva
Aegina – Nadezhda Gracheva


As other board members agreed with me in the recent poll, Spartacus is the toughest full evening ballet for a male principal. IMHO not the best choice to make a debut with a company such as the Bolshoi - in the case of Denis Matvienko it was a very unwise decision.

I didn’t expect him to fulfil the role as Irek Mukhamedov did (this would be more than unfair) but I expected to see at least an average performance of the winner of the grand prix of the 10th Moscow International Ballet Competition. Unfortunately he did not succeed in this: there were too many insecurities, missed movements, bad timing… Ok, some jumps and turnings were quite good but nothing spectacular. The worst were the pdd – he just slung Anna on his shoulder as if she were a potatoe-bag… she had big dark-red marks on her legs after the pdd in the third act - oh, how I was pitying her!

Hard to believe, but the rest of the evening was more than fine:

Anna (especially in her soli) was a sweet, lyrical and touching Phrygia. Her dancing was pure and light - she has such a beautiful line!

Alexander Volchkov was a brilliant Crassus who easily outmatched the “hero”. His interpretation was more refined and “classical” than the other Crassus’ I have seen before, but this was not a bit disturbing. His acting was appropriate and he was very secure and fluid in his pdd.

The male corps was outstanding – especially in the recruiting of the shepherds (one of my favourites in this ballet) – special mention goes here to Denis Medvedev.

Even if Spartacus is a male ballet – the etoile of yesterday’s performance was Nadezhda’s Aegina. Not only technically outstanding, she also was the perfect incarnation of an ambitious courtesan. She was intriguing, imperious and just emanated eroticism …

#2 Helene

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 02:10 PM

It's unfortunate when a young dancer is miscast, especially when the anti-hero is such a powerful and seductive role. The women sounded wonderful, though.

#3 nysusan

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 09:13 PM

Dachnitsa, it’s too bad Matvienko was so disappointing. I saw 2 casts in Spartacus when the Bolshoi were in NY last summer, and I was also more impressed with the women than the men - especially Antonicheva’s Phrygia and Shipulina’s Aegina. There was something about Shipulina that made me think of Gracheva, I think it was those creamy, voluptuous developees. Anyway, it made me long to see Gracheva’s Aegina. Maybe someday I will get the chance.

#4 Alena

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 06:39 AM

(I am writing as someone who knows Mr. Matvienko personally.)

Usually I just read the reviews of forum members and not envolved to the conversation, but this time I can not stay away.

First time I've seen Matvienko in the role of Spartacus, but not the first time on the stage. I have to say, that I wasn't sure he will deal with this one of the most difficult male roles. I was sure he will be equal to the technical side of the role, AND HE WAS!!!

there were too many insecurities, missed movements, bad timing...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I am interested, when and where?

But this is not the mane thing. As I said, I wasn't sure that he will be able to be a SPARTACUS. He is very good as prince, fantastic as Romeo, but Spartacus is not the same. From one side this is kind of the top of danser's carrier. And from the first his appearance I couldn't believe that I see that Matvienko I've seen before. There was not youth Denis Matvienko, but the man Denis Matvienko. And at the end of performance I first time saw when corps de ballet is acclaiming to the principal dancer right on the stage.

The worst were the pdd – he just slung Anna on his shoulder as if she were a potatoe-bag… she had big dark-red marks on her legs after the pdd in the third act - oh, how I was pitying her!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It was just make-up on her legs.

#5 dachnitsa

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 06:46 AM

Thank you for your posting - it's always interesting to see, how differently the same performance can appear sometimes. The people who accompanied me at the performance seconded my opinion.

Make-up on Anna's legs is a possible explanation (even if I never saw that before). Despite of that the fact remains that he DID "fling" her over his shoulder! Admittedly these are extremely demanding lifts, but they still have to appear soft and fluid. Especially in the third act, Matvienko had his difficulties holding Anna, therefore setting her down rather rudely. There was no sign of the tenderness with which (the otherwise impetuous) Spartacus should IMHO have treated his adored wife.

As for missed movements: You will have noticed that Matvienko stumbled more than once, sometimes lacked timing in the pdd, and some turns and jumps were cut off prematurely. His gestures (mainly in the monologues and the recruiting of the shepherds) were scant at most. But then maybe that's just his interpretation of the role ...

Don't get me wrong, I'm far from saying Matvienko is a poor dancer, but for me and my fellows in this very performance he's been mediocre at best. I still wonder why on earth he didn't chose another role for his debut, one he feels really at ease with. It's a pity he isn't listed as prince Desiré on January 12th anymore - I'd have loved to read your review.

dachnitsa

#6 Alena

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 07:10 AM

Dear dachnitsa,
As you've seen from my post, I know Denis personally. So I can give the answers for some questions. Concerning another, let it be our personal point of view.

" Despite of that the fact remains that he DID "fling" her over his shoulder! Admittedly these are extremely demanding lifts, but they still have to appear soft and fluid. Especially in the third act, Matvienko had his difficulties holding Anna, therefore setting her down rather rudely. There was no sign of the tenderness with which (the otherwise impetuous) Spartacus should IMHO have treated his adored wife."

There was a problem in this PDD. And the reason is the haste of conductor :) And this is truth, I saw him asking for apologies after the performance.

But he will be in Beyadere.

Best regards.

#7 Alena

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Posted 11 January 2006 - 12:34 PM

Dear Dachnitsa,

I forgot to tell you about prince Desiré on January 12th: because of the trauma Denis was froced to cancel his participationg in Sleeping Beauty at 12th, but he will perform Solor in Bayadere on January 19th. Welcome :)

Best regrds,
Alena

#8 coda

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 02:56 PM

“Make-up on Anna's legs is a possible explanation (even if I never saw that before).”

It is the obvious explanation for “big dark-red marks”. Spartacus’ body must be bronze-colored, so it is made-up with the stuff, which they call “morilka” at the Bolshoi. Unfortunately it stains and soils light fabric. I remember well that Semenyaka and Nadezhda Pavlova had “dark-red marks” not only on their cream tights but also on their light-lilac tunics.

“I still wonder why on earth he didn't choose another role for his debut, one he feels really at ease with.”

It was not his debut at the Bolshoi. I saw him dancing Solor on the 23rd of October 2005, again with Antonicheva. It was a very good performance. I am sure he has a scope to grow as an artist. Technically he was excellent, especially I find his pirouettes outstanding. The Bolshoi is very lucky to have this new dancer.


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