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Helene

Kirov-Mariinsky Forsythe Program in DC, June 13-15

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Now for a bit of "name that dancer": in the second-to-last piece (green leotards, black tights), there was a blond dancer who, relative to the others, was downright zaftig (meaning, of course, that she is likely a size 2 rather than a size 0) with fantastic presence. Who was she?

For that matter, who was the tall redhead?

I'm not sure which blonde you're referring to. The Vertiginous Thrill (3rd piece, after Sonata and before the last intermission) had 5 dancers including 3 women with flat, "platter" type tutus. The tiny blond with the big personality was Obraztsova (who, by the way, was fabulous) , the taller blondish woman was Tkachenko, and the third was a mystery brunette. Tkachenko also danced in the last piece.

There were 2 redheads in the last piece, I’m assuming that the taller one with the lighter red hair who danced one of the leading roles was Kondaurova and the shorter one with the darker red hair was Yana Selina.

I also noticed another shortish, blondish,heavyish female dancer – first as part of the 1st couple in Sonata and then again in the last (4th) piece. By comparing casts I’m deducing the shortish one is Elena Sheshina. This is fun, I feel like Sherlock Holmes…

BTW did anyone notice that they listed 1 less dancer for Thursday night’s In the Middle than for the other 2 performances? You notice things like that when you pour over the program trying to figure out who’s who!

Yana Serebryakova was listed as part of the 2nd couple in Sonata (tall blond, neon green pants). Is this the same dancer who did the Sheherazade pdd with Zelensky at the YAGP gala? The name sounds the same but she sure looked like a petite brunette in Sheherazade.

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(this ended up being long -- I'm sorry!)

I agree -- I think the blonde in question is Elena Sheshina, and the tall redhead is Kondaurova.

I went to the Thursday night performance and it looked as though the house was close to full, at least at the orhcestra level...and there were multiple calls for each piece, so it appeared as though others in the audience were enjoying the performance as much as I was.

I love Forsythe's work, so my opinions of the performance may be a bit biased, but overall, it was very pleasing to see such strong and talented dancers performing his choreography. Steptext starts with the house lights still up, which is great for several reasons -- it forces latecomers to hustle to their seats -- and is so different. Of course, throughout the piece the house lights are coming up and down, which serves to blur the distinction between the stage and audience (which is something that Forsythe also does in a different way, by having conventionally silent dancers -- in a historically silent art form -- speak or vocalize.) My boyfriend came with me, and while he thought that the choreography for Steptext was interesting, he thought that the visual elements (the lights and music mostly) were distracting. I didn't particularly enjoy Nadejda Gonchar -- thought she was too stiff and not right for Forsythe movement -- but one of the three men was incredible! I have no idea who he is -- he has sort of shaggy dark hair and performed a solo about 2/3 of the way through -- but his landings were so quiet and his connection of each individual movement was amazing. I could watch him for hours.

Approximate Sonata -- loved the beginning and the end -- Forsythe likes to play with some of the ritual and formality of a "dance performance" in a way that I (as a dancer) enjoy...seeing the work that goes into a performance, seeing someone doing something so "un-dancerlike" suddenly morph into performing virtuosic movement...but what's struck me throughout all of Forsythe's pieces is his respect for the dancers he works with and the ways in which he includes them in creating movement, so it seems a bit odd that he would consciously label one couple as "too" anything; however, I can say that I did enjoy each successive couple more than the previous one, so maybe there is something going on there.

Vertiginous Thrill -- hadn't ever seen it before and was very excited to see it -- I also loved it, and especially Obraztsova. She looked like she was having so much fun performing (and it does look like a very fun piece to dance in), as opposed to the other two who didn't express any of the joy that Obraztsova did. I'm surprised the small brunette wasn't the announced replacement dancer -- her timing was consistently off and she had some pretty bad turning sequences throughout the piece (it looked like she needed more rehearsal.) The men of course were incredible.

And -- In the Middle -- one of my favorite ballets! -- made me want to get up and start dancing in the theatre. The Kirov dancers really attacked this one; you could feel the emphasis and the power they put into the stops and starts of the movement, the accents, the energy, the presence...Kondaurova was enchanting, as was the small dark-haired lead (Pavlenko?), but no one on stage had the presence of Kondaurova. Even when she was in the back and simply shifting positions during the more "sculptural" section where there's a male solo in the front, your eye was drawn to her. I think the difference between Kondaurova in this piece and Gonchar in the first is the committment to movement; it's easy to see when a dancer feels unsure (for whatever reason) about the movement they're performing -- it's also equally easy to appreciate when a dancer is completely committed to the movement and is fully invested in the performance.

(PS -- my boyfriend [not a dancer, or even a dance-goer before he met me!] really liked the last two pieces...wasn't so sure about the first two. The last two are a bit more audience-friendly, IMO.)

I think it's great that the Kirov is performing Forsythe; we drove 6 hours to see the performance and it was worth it. It didn't seem "dated" or "wrong" on them -- it just looked like good dancers expanding their rep and taking a risk (which I thank them for) by not performing the classical ballets that they're known for...and not all were perfect, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be performing this type of work.

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(this ended up being long -- I'm sorry!)

That was a wonderful review, nmdancer, full of descriptive detail of three works I've never seen. Please don't apologize for length, and feel free to write as much as you'd like.

one of the three men was incredible! I have no idea who he is -- he has sort of shaggy dark hair and performed a solo about 2/3 of the way through -- but his landings were so quiet and his connection of each individual movement was amazing. I could watch him for hours.

I hope someone can identify this dancer for you.

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-- but one of the three men was incredible! I have no idea who he is -- he has sort of shaggy dark hair and performed a solo about 2/3 of the way through -- but his landings were so quiet and his connection of each individual movement was amazing. I could watch him for hours.

Yes, from someone else who was there your post was very descriptive, please keep posting! I think the dancer you admired was Anton Pimonov - he caught my eye, too! My identification is tentative - I've never seen him before but he also danced in Appx Sonata (3rd pdd with Selina), so that's his name if the program listings can be trusted!

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I think the difference between Kondaurova in this piece and Gonchar in the first is the committment to movement; it's easy to see when a dancer feels unsure (for whatever reason) about the movement they're performing -- it's also equally easy to appreciate when a dancer is completely committed to the movement and is fully invested in the performance.

[ ....]

I think it's great that the Kirov is performing Forsythe; we drove 6 hours to see the performance and it was worth it. It didn't seem "dated" or "wrong" on them -- it just looked like good dancers expanding their rep and taking a risk (which I thank them for) by not performing the classical ballets that they're known for...and not all were perfect, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be performing this type of work.

Thanks for these insights. I especially appreciate reading about performances from the point of view of articulate dancers llike you.

I wonder whether this is because dancers empathize with the their colleagues on stage so much and can "feel" the dancing in ways the rest of us cannot. When you said you felt like getting up and "dancing in the theater," I experienced envy -- possibly because you actually COULD. :blink:

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That was a wonderful review, nmdancer, full of descriptive detail of three works I've never seen. Please don't apologize for length, and feel free to write as much as you'd like.

Thanks, Helene! I wish I could post more frequently, but I live so far away from most performance venues :dunno:

Yes, from someone else who was there your post was very descriptive, please keep posting! I think the dancer you admired was Anton Pimonov - he caught my eye, too! My identification is tentative - I've never seen him before but he also danced in Appx Sonata (3rd pdd with Selina), so that's his name if the program listings can be trusted!

Yes!! I think that's him!! I did some google image (re)searching (haha) and the images that appear agree with my memory.

Thanks for these insights. I especially appreciate reading about performances from the point of view of articulate dancers llike you.

I wonder whether this is because dancers empathize with the their colleagues on stage so much and can "feel" the dancing in ways the rest of us cannot. When you said you felt like getting up and "dancing in the theater," I experienced envy -- possibly because you actually COULD.

Doesn't it look like so much fun?? (I wish I could dance as well as the Kirov dancers!) Thom Willems' score for that piece is so compelling.

Forsythe's choreography is based in ballet technique but expands on basic vocabulary and extends the range of movements that can be generated using conventional ballet steps (and that well-known prosthetic device -- the pointe shoe!) If you listen to Forsythe explain how he creates movement (there are a few CD-ROMs out there with him demonstrating various principles of this philosophy; it seems to be more of an explanation of the more contemporary work he's created) it's based on creating a line or a shape, and then seeing how many permutations of that line or shape can be made -- either literally by the dancer's body or more figuratively by the movement itself -- and then combining those elements with movement generated by other shapes or lines...I think it's a lot of fun to do, though his work certainly fits some bodies better than others. I would argue that it works quite nicely with Kirov bodies.

However, one thing I noticed that the Kirov dancers really didn't do well (almost uniformly) was running on and off stage appropriately. It looked a bit odd to have a dancer run onstage as though she were wearing a tutu and tiara, stop, and then start a movement sequence with no seeming similarity to classical ballet steps. I think what was missing was the sense of "groundedness" (if you will) that you usually find in modern dance and very rarely in classical ballet -- perhaps this element was overlooked in the rehearsal process.

Bart, your point about how dancers may empathize with those on stage is very interesting :) (this is off-topic but I promise to keep it short!) I did a research project once about how dancers and "non-dancers" (though I think of everyone as a "dancer", the difference is in training!) watch performances differently, and there are definite differences in what is being looked at...though I would bet that even untrained dancers can empathize to a degree with those on stage, especially if someone looks particularly nervous or joyful. I was always told during my training that the audience can sense if you're not dancing with the music or are unsure of what you're doing, but that they probably won't know if you don't complete a triple pirouette perfectly...as long as you keep smiling, haha.

I hope I'll be able to post more in the future! :)

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nysusan,

Yana Serebryakova is a blonde, and she did dance Sheherazade pas de deux w/ Zelensky at YAGP gala. But she wears a brunette wig for the Sheherazade piece.

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nysusan,

Yana Serebryakova is a blonde, and she did dance Sheherazade pas de deux w/ Zelensky at YAGP gala. But she wears a brunette wig for the Sheherazade piece.

Thanks pj. When I took a good look at her photo on the Mariinsky website I realized that it was the same face. It's confusing sometimes since dancers often wear wigs, or just look different with different hairdos and the Kirov so rarely announce casting changes.

I guess Zelensky must be very tall, cause she looked really petite with him, and really tall in the Forsythe!

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