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Kirov in Ottawa: Swan LakeReviews


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#1 Paquita

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 01:23 PM

Well, I'll get the ball rolling on the Canadian shows... I attended the saturday matinee at the National Arts Centre. This was my first time seeing the Kirov live, so it was very exciting for me! I can't think of a more suitable ballet to showcase the depth of talent in the company. Overall, the performance was everything I expected it to be-- powerful, dramatic, and assured. The dancing, most importantly, was splendid overall. I was very moved and impressed.

There were definitely things that I didn't like about the production. The jester's costume and choreography, the way Rothbart loses a wing in Act IV (and the whole ending in general), the touches of red in Odile's tutu and the mechanical swans upped the cheese factor. But these did little to detract from the overall effect. There is currently no such thing as a flawless production of Swan Lake, and with the variations we are getting now (Kudelka, Martins, McKenzie, etc.), it is really a relief to see a Swan Lake that is more or less true to its roots.

For me, Act II was the highlight; no question about it. The corps moved in perfect unison. Stylistically and musically, every swan was on the exact same page. Their entrance was so beautiful, each jump so light and each port de bras so soft. Sometimes certain segments can feel rushed, but this was not the case here. Every little transition step was carried to completion and flawlessly timed, giving a sense of wholeness to the dancing. This is something that really sets the Kirov apart, IMO. I find that the dance of the baby swans is a crowd pleaser and gets enormous applause no matter how sloppy the feet are. But this time, they deserved all their applause. Svetlana Ivanova, Elena Chmil, Irina Golub, and Elena Yushkovskaya were precise and totally in sync. Act IV was also beautifully done. I did not recognize the music used for the beginning of act IV. Do many other productions use it?
I liked that the Act III national dances were done in character shoes/boots rather than pointe shoes. The order (Spanish, Neopolitan, Hungarian, Mazurka) is a little different from what I'm used to. It's too bad they don't do the Russian dance, though.
In the Act I pas de trois, both Nadezhda Gonchar and Tatiana Tkachenko were lovely. Vasily Scherbakov was clean, but not particularly exciting. His beats looked a little overcrossed and he "cheated" a bit on the double tours (1/4 turn on plie before jump).

As for Odette/Odile, I found Victoria Tereshkina compelling. Her extension in attitude derriere is remarkable and she is blessed with a very pliant spine. Despite her flexibility, she seldom resorted to kicking, the way I have seen Alina Somova do in the past. At first, her sorrowful Odette seemed pretty standard. The act II pas de deux was technically sound, perhaps initially lacking in emotion. As the dancing progressed however, Tereshkina's Odette started to grow on me as she started to tell the story. But I felt her Odette was missing a spiritual element and vulnerability. Still, her strength allowed her to portray a serene and majestic queen. She was especially stunning in the series of entrechats quatre/retires during the coda. Tereshkina's Odile was more distinctive. She exuded unbridled confidence and conviction as she seduced Siegfried. Once the pas de deux began, he was hopeless. She was on a mission. I admire her for really going for it. Tereshkina only had one performance in Ottawa (only Lopatkina got to dance twice, because of a sunday evening show that was added) and it showed. She pulled out all the stops. For the coda, she did fouette, fouette, tour a la second, double! She did this several times before finishing up with single fouettes. She has so much momentum that she stumbled out of the last turn slightly. To me, this was a sign of inexperience, but her performance was impressive nonetheless. She certainly has tremendous potential and has already developed a strong stage presence.

Everyone was surprised to hear that Igor Zelensky would be dancing the prince instead of Danila Korsuntsev, since he apparently injured himself during practice. At times his dancing had the finesse of an experienced principal, which contrasted with Tereshkina's attack. His jumps did not have a lot of height or extension, but his finishes were cleanly placed and well timed. During the 3rd Act however, fatigue set in and he was visibly struggling to make it through the arduous black swan pdd. He had difficultly getting all the way around in his double tours and attempted to disguise off-balance landings with small hops on the spot. During the manege in the coda, I was just hoping that he would make it. Still, he certainly has the looks and poise of a prince. I enjoyed his dancing in the first two acts. He was powerful yet controlled. Even in act III when he looked exhausted, he was a responsive partner. At one point, I could see very clearly from my seat (a little off to the side) that Tereshkina was off-balance entering an en dedans pirouette, but he made the split-second adjustments so that she was right on her foot. So maybe he was just having an off-day, which would be understandable given his recent injury.

All in all, it was a wonderful performance. Us ballet-starved Canadians will take whatever we can get, but this time we really lucked out! I hope the Kirov will visit again-- given how quickly tickets sold out, there certainly is a demand! Hopefully they can stop in Toronto/Montreal the next time around!

#2 dancemomCA

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 06:42 AM

I attended the Saturday evening performance with my dancer son, daughter and friend. I will have to provide more details later, as I need my programme for notes!

Well, WOW - finally, a grand ballet production in Ottawa, with such precise, wonderful dancing, beautiful costumes, stunning lush sets. And the audience was completely quiet for the entire performance - not a peep! That in itself was amazing and so appreciated.

Few brief comments for now - I liked Vishneva's Odile better than her Odette - she brought more verve, energy and life to the role - I felt something was missing with Odette, didn't quite feel the chemistry between she and Andeev ? I think he was tired by Act III - he took a few seconds to catch his breath between variations, cheated on his double tours, was a bit shaky on a few lifts - I much prefered the male who danced in the pas de trois - will have to get name. My son said the he was doing something more difficult than just "beats" something called "quatre ??" - he said, "Do you know how hard that is to do?" Corps was sublime, such strong dancers on their own, beautiful feet (loud pointe shoes!). I think they really stole the show in Act II>

I agree with Paquita about the Jester - costume was garish, too many "tricks", plus I really don't like short, heavy-thighed male dancers...I loved Rothbart's costuming - as compared to Kudleka's over-the-top weird headpieces and gowns of NBoC "Swan's Lake".

Ending was a bit strange, somewhat abrupt in my mind, but overall it was a truly great night of ballet.

#3 Marga

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 01:24 PM

My son said the he was doing something more difficult than just "beats" something called "quatre ??"

He probably meant entrechat quatre -- where you beat twice, each crossing of the feet counted as two (one for each foot!), hence the "quatre".

And, I think you mean Andrian Fadeev (instead of "Andeev", which is not a name of a Kirov dancer, although it makes for a nifty contraction. :angel_not: ). Vishneva and Fadeev partner often, so maybe he was having an off night?

Thanks for your review! I was planning on driving up from Trenton, where we live, but my usual procrastination resulted in tickets being sold out before I got into action. I'm glad that they filled all their houses, but sorry I could not get to see them right here in Canada and so close to home!

#4 WindFlyer

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 01:58 PM

Thank you, Paquita for the detailed review. I'm glad you enjoyed the performance.

...I did not recognize the music used for the beginning of act IV. Do many other productions use it?

I think you may be talking about one of the 'Drigo' pieces... whose story goes a bit like this:

For the 1895 Petipa setting, a fair amount of the original partiture was re-ordered, some music was cut, and some was added. Tchaikovsky was already dead, so the music that was added, while composed by Tchaikovsky, was orchestrated by Riccardo Drigo (an in-house composer at the Mariinksy Theatre at the time). The music came from a set of 18 Piano Pieces published as op. 72. The following three pieces were added: No. 11 (Valse bluette), the corps piece inserted early into Act IV; No. 15 (Un poco di Chopin), inserted toward the end of Act IV between the beginning and closing of the Scene finale of the original partiture; and No. 12 (L'Espiègle), inserted into the Black Swan pdd before the Coda.

I do not recall having ever heard these 'Drigo' pieces performed by companies other than the Mariinsky–though they may have.


Everyone was surprised to hear that Igor Zelensky would be dancing the prince instead of Danila Korsuntsev, since he apparently injured himself during practice. At times his dancing had the finesse of an experienced principal, which contrasted with Tereshkina's attack. His jumps did not have a lot of height or extension, but his finishes were cleanly placed and well timed.

I was surprised reading that! Sounds like he was at less than 100% rather than having an off day... He does make a very good prince, in my experience.

#5 WindFlyer

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 02:02 PM

...I liked Vishneva's Odile better than her Odette - she brought more verve, energy and life to the role - I felt something was missing with Odette, didn't quite feel the chemistry between she and Andeev?

Interesting observation! I'd like to have seen that Odile...

...and you're not the only one not seeing much chemistry between Vishneva and Fadeev (I take it that's who you mean by 'Andeev' :angel_not: ).

#6 WindFlyer

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 02:06 PM

...Vishneva and Fadeev partner often, so maybe he was having an off night?

Perhaps the partnership has not yet really developed... at the O.C.'s performance of Romeo & Juliet, there wasn't much chemistry between them either. OTOH, he and Obraztsova were reported to have plenty good chemistry (I saw those two in Ondine in Petersburg last spring and they seemed made for each other).

#7 jabot

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 07:14 PM

Just got back home from Ottawa earlier this evening. Will give a brief report for now and a complete one later one. First off everyone who saw any of the performances should consider themselves blessed, because this company and this production, with it's flaws and all, offer the ultimate Swan Lake at the moment. Nowhere alse will you witness the corps of swans possesing Kirov's brand of elegance, beauty and power. Though one had to be lucky to see the "right" principal cast, which unfortunetuly ranged from sublime to "no comment". I was fortunate to see all six performances.
The astonishing revelation of seeing Lopatkina on the second night raised the bar to such unprecedent heights , I didn't think it was possible for any one else to uphold. I turned out to be wrong. The next night Vishneva invaded the lake and defied all established boundaries. Will post detailed account of all performances by the weekend, so stay tuned."

#8 WindFlyer

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 07:33 PM

Welcome to Ballet Talk :angel_not:

...Will post detailed account of all performances by the weekend, so stay tuned.

Look forward to reading them; particularly as you had the fortune of seeing all six performances :)

#9 bart

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Posted 01 November 2006 - 04:49 AM

I was fortunate to see all six performances.

Wow! I've my maximum saturation of a single production in single week was 4. What a great opportunity!

Will post detailed account of all performances by the weekend, so stay tuned."

Along with WindFlyer, I'm really looking forward to your reports.

#10 dancemomCA

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Posted 01 November 2006 - 03:21 PM

:wink: Thanks everyone for the name correction to Fadeev - I didn't have my program in front of me. :wink:

I wanted to add a few comments, especially with regards to Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina and Anton Korsakov who performed the Pas de Trois on Sat evening. I thought they were outstanding, the footwork of the two females was so fast, so clean and effortless - it was simply a joy to watch them - they also looked radiant in their roles. Korsakov was breathtaking to watch - high, graceful leaps, he had this lyrical quality to his movement which I felt was missing in Fadeev. Not that he wasn't intense, he was, his technique was impeccable, he was performing to his utmost, but it was never over-the-top (like the "Jester"). The three of them connected beautifully on stage - effortless partnering as well. Korsakov was my son's favourite!

I think so far, this is the ultimate "Swan Lake" for me - not sure if I will go to another for a few years! Once you watch this production with this corps de ballet and principals, it will be very difficult to exceed this version.

As a side note, we were in the theatre restaurant after the show and who should walk in but Fadeev, Vishneva and the Ballet Master who had taught the Master class on Friday which my son and his partner attended. My son and his dance peers were so excited to see them, the teacher recognized them, smiled and nodded at them - it was a perfect ending to a perfect evening of dance!

Looking forward to windflyer's and bart's reviews - I'm certain they will be more detailed than mine!

#11 bart

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Posted 01 November 2006 - 04:02 PM

Looking forward to windflyer's and bart's reviews - I'm certain they will be more detailed than mine!

I apologize for not making it clear that my "four performances" were elsewhere, and a few years ago. (Giselle) I'm now located far, far down the North American continent. So it's nice to ge the chance experience this production second hand through your -- and others' -- words. :wink:

#12 Cygnet

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 08:53 AM

"I do not recall having ever heard these 'Drigo' pieces performed by companies other than the Mariinsky–though they may have."

Hi WindFlyer! Drigo's arrangement is also used for Dowell's production for the Royal at Covent Garden.
After the overture and intro, the pas de trois is danced before the waltz. :wink:

#13 Fraildove

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 07:57 PM

Just curious,
How long did the performances last?

#14 Paquita

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Posted 02 November 2006 - 08:22 PM

Almost 3 hours including intermissions.

#15 WindFlyer

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 08:18 PM

Hi WindFlyer! Drigo's arrangement is also used for Dowell's production for the Royal at Covent Garden.

Thanks. I haven't seen that production.

After the overture and intro, the pas de trois is danced before the waltz. :)

:confused: That re-ordering of the original partiture is what the Mariinsky dances as well... are you suggesting that a Drigo piece was inserted in there?


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