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Kirov's "La Bayadere" in Washington DC


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#16 Natalia

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 02:06 PM

Thanks for the report, YID. My, that's too bad about the Nioradze no-show but I'm happy that Tereshkina's Nikia impressed. I actually prefer her Gamzatti to Nikia. Just like the legendary Tatyana Terekhova, Tershkina has a special allure -- a snooty-glamour, coupled with powerhouse technique -- that makes her delectable in these villainess roles. Ditto her Myrta in Giselle.

My main problem with Tkachenko and, especially, Golub's Gamzattis is that those two ballerinas have the sort of look (doll-like faces & girley figures) that is more Goodie-Two-Shoes than Villainess. It's hard to think "Bad Girl" when watching a perfect Fairy Doll! I even had a problem watching 'sweet Darcey Bussell' as Gamzatti a few years back. Gamzatti is, to me, a glamourous spoiled B-I-*** it's hard to think of Bussell as that. Just my opinion, of course.

Osmolkina, who essays Gamzatti tonight, *does* have the snooty-allure that should be right for Gamzatti. I've seen her thus far only in the new-old Vikharev version, where she did a commendable job. I look forward to finally seeing her in the traditional Kirov version.

I sure hope that all of tonight's promised principals (Somova/Sarafanov/Osmolkina) appear!

Phooey to the KennCen for not having bouquets for the soloists on all nights, especially after the gorgeous red roses for Vishneva & other soloists on Tuesday. We'll just have to take our own, to present at the stage door. :)

#17 Natalia

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 08:50 PM

Kirov Ballet
La Bayadere
January 25, 2008

Nikia - Alina Somova
Solor - Leonid Sarafanov
Gamzatti - Ekaterina Osmolkina

Generally a stronger performance than Wednesday's (Lopatkina/Kozlov/Tkachenko) because of the superiority of the Solor and the Gamzatti. Osmolkina may not be at the same dramatic level as Tereshkina or dance as expansively because she is rather petite BUT her dancing was of a crystaline purity that is rarely seen on the Kirov-Mariinsky stage nowadays. Sarafanov was his usual brilliant self in the solo moments and displayed passionate acting. His partnering continues to improve and he 'made it' (sometimes barely) when lifting his tall Nikia.

Now the moment that everyone has been waiting for: How was Alina Somova's Nikia? Not bad but still too coltish (semi-wild legs and clodhopper feet) to be in the big leagues of this most classical of ballet troupes. BUT she is less irksome than in the past. The 180-degree developes have been tamed to about 120-degrees in most cases; she even displayed a few attitudes of just-beyond-90-degrees that practically had me shouting for joy, they were so beautiful! In the brisk Coda of Shades, when Solor lifts her and she performs a series of quick splits in the air, she no longer 'claps out' her legs into 180 degrees as she did horrendously, three years ago in a performance of 'Shades' at a mariinsky Festival. Best of all - she LOOKS more mature from the neck up, with dark-brown hair (her natural color), a tamed chin (no longer jutting out constantly) and a decent port de bras. I can even say that I admire her gorgeous tapered fingers and the way she uses her hands! Those hands are her strongest suit.

It's just a shame that a bit of the 'old gymnastics spirit' still creeps through every now and then, in which she sacrifices elegance and beauty for 'wow effects,' such as the loud jumps in the Shades adagio-pdd with Solor, when she even lost her footing and wavered. Had she jumped normally, she would not have lost her balance. In the acting department, Somova delivered a 'by rote' performance -- calculated with little passion, a la Lopatkina. [Somova seems to be trying hard to be the 'new Lopatkina' in many respects.]

Nonetheless, "bravo" to Alina Somova for making moves in the right direction! She's already 22 or 23 years old -- it's time to be coming into her own. I applaud her efforts and look forward to seeing continued progress.

The rest of the ballet was as wonderful as in previous performances, reviewed earlier.

A novelty: I finally saw Lubov Kozharskaya in the Indian Dance tonight & she was wonderful - almost as explosive as Ti Eun Ryu on Tuesday. Whoever we saw on Wednesday was NOT Kozharskaya (someone shorter with light-brown hair...perhaps Lira Khuslamova?).

Also, I've been told that I was right earlier about Bolshakova not being among the four Big Bayaderes in the G-P Classique. The 'mystery brunette' is, I'm told, Victoria Kutepova. Furthermore, it's confirmed that Dmitri Pykhachov is not among the two demi-solo men in the G-P Classique; the uncredited male dancer is Anton Pimonov, dancing with the credited Sergei Popov. All G-P Classique dancers have been spot-on at all performances. It's a shame that not all of them are credited in the printed programme or announced before the curtain goes up.

So it was three performances, three sets of principals. The first (Vishneva/Fadeev/Tereshkina) was the best but all of them were replete with delights!

Bravi to all of the Kirov-Mariinsky's artists. I'm looking forward to seeing them -- along with many others who stayed behind this time, such as Obraztsova/Schklyarov --again at the NY City Center in April!

#18 bluejay

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 02:05 PM

I went to the opening night performance, and while I saw some fine dancing, the evening was less than magical. Overall, I think I prefer Makarova's version better. I think it works better dramatically. And while the ballet has a lot of campy moments, the Kirov version really was over the top. My impressions:
Vishneva - this was the first time I've seen her live, and I had lots of expectations based on crtical reviews and friends. She is certainly a fine dancer, technically assured, strong, and musical, but something just didn't quite add up, something was missing. Could it be the role? I don't know.
Fadeev - I love watching this guy. He's so clean and elegant, reminds me a bit of Mr. Carreno.
Tereshkina (sp?) - good Gamzatti, especially when dancing alone. The pas with Fadeev made me very nervous with the partnering off. The confrontation between Nikita and Gamzatti was one of the best I've seen.
corps and the shades scene - very nice. A minor quip with the production: when they come down the ramp, it looks like there are trees or boulders on the side; I prefer the dancing without that scenery, which marrs the lines. The Bolshoi's version a few years ago in DC had that also.
So, wonderful dancing, but a bit disappointing. One other quip about (some of) the Kirov dancers - I don't like how they throw their legs up in order to get the high extensions. There is no fluidity, no feeling of tension of the leg moving through/against the air.

#19 canbelto

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:28 PM

La Bayadere

Nikya - Uliana Lopatkina
Solor - Ivan Kozlov
Gamzatti - Tatiana Tkachenko

Well I finally saw the Kirov in La Bayadere! In many ways, it didn't disappoint. The production is still beautifully elegant, with the right mix of spectacle, mime, pageantry, and of course, the Shades! The 32 Kirov corps deserve the biggest :P for their breathtaking beauty. They weren't perfect, mind you. During the big group developpe, several girls started wobbling. I happened to see one poor girl in row 2 wobbling painfully, and I saw her face, and she was grimacing. A reminder of all the hard work that is behind the beauty. But their uniformity of movement, exquisite port-te-bras, and elegance made the Shades scene the best part of the afternoon's performance, by miles.
Grigory Popov deserves all the praise he got as the Golden Idol, as does Ekaterina Konduarova as the Third Shade.
I thought the performance of the leads was a bit disappointing. Tatiana Tkachenko was maybe the most disappointing. The best Gamzattis drip both glamour and menace. Tkachenko exuded neither -- she seemed at times rather girlish, other times simply bland. She didn't convey her social superiority to Nikya, nor her determination. The fight seemed somewhat tame and rote, and one who didn't know the storyline might have thought the ever-regal Lopatkina was the royalty, not the other way around. This is also a role traditionally given to the technical heavy hitters. The Turners, the Jumpers. Tatiana Terekhova, for instance. Elizabeth Platel. Tkachenko was technically unremarkable, she finished her variation with a nice triple, but she stumbled a few times during the grand pas de deux. A bland interpretation backed by an unimpressive technique.
As for Solor, ever since Chabukiani I think the expectation is to have a dancer capable of wowing the crowd. I can kind of understand the complaints about Kozlov. I think he'd be fine as a Siegfried or Sleeping Beauty Prince or any other "cavalier" type role. But he's definitely not a bravura dancer. He's tall and handsome, but a somewhat careful dancer, without much speed or elevation. The difficulties of partnering Lopatkina must be numerous, and I noticed that Kozlov when supporting her in turns often breaks classical form and spreads his legs wide and bends his knees slightly, kind of like a basketball player shooting a free throw. I don't think he's a bad dancer, just that maybe Solor isn't the role for him.
Now Lopatkina. Unlike Tkachenko or Kozlov, Lopatkina definitely is not miscast. She walked onstage like she owned it. Her body is, as Natalia said, the Stradivarius of classical ballet. She makes Sylvie Guilliem look stocky. She has maybe the most impeccable classical line today -- her long tapered feet elongate her legs even further, her neck naturally gives her an air of elegance. Still, I felt that she maybe has done this role too many times, or was having a slightly off day. Her dance at the Betrothal Scene was beautifully phrased, and her back was pliant but curiously missing in some bits of acting. For instance, she doesn't really radiate happiness when she gets the bouquet from Solor. She barely smiles. When the High Brahmin gives her the antidote, she doesn't look over at Solor/Gamzatti one last time before dropping it. It's the Kingdom of the Shades scene where she's predictably the most impressive. Here, her air of regal serenity is appropriate, and she used her magnificently long arms/hands to great effect -- her fingers often seemed to dissolve into the air as she reached for Solor. Unfortunately, the Scarf Duet, usually one of my favorite parts of the ballet, was marred by a rare moment of technical insecurity from Lopatkina. She stumbled out of the first series of pirouettes, and seemed shaken. Maybe because of the first bobble, she didn't alternate directions in her pirouettes, unlike most Nikyas. She looked like she just wanted to get the duet over and done with, and so for once, the Queen of Slow was rushing through the steps. I might have been reading too much into it, but I thought she looked a bit circumspect during the curtain calls. I was glad I saw her in one of her trademark roles, but she might have been having an off-day.
Before the Shades scene I saw Makhar Vaziev and Olga Chenchikova sweeping into their seats a few rows in front of me. Vaziev by the way is very handsome.

#20 nysusan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 08:22 AM

I was also at the Lopatkina/Kozlov/Tkachenko performance yesterday afternoon and my take on it is pretty much in line with most of what Canbelto reported, and what Natalia saw in that cast's first performance

I don't find Lopatkina's performing style cool, or calculated (though it may be) and since I've always been a bigger fan of adagio than allegro dancing nobody on this board will be surprised to hear that I absolutely loved her performance. I don't doubt that she had the technical weaknesses that Natalia & Canbelto pointed out (but it does surprise me, isn't she known as a really strong technician?). It's just that I really didn't notice them; I was too enraptured by those magical arms, the plasique, the line. I thought her Nikia reflected a very strong, serene spirit - as devotional and spiritual as a priestess rather than a lowly temple dancer. Vishneva's interpretation was much more full blooded (I didn't see her here but caught her in ABT's version last spring). I see almost opposite conceptions of Nikia in their interpretations, and I love them both.

Kozlov is certainly not a virtuoso, nor did I see the perfect danseur noble line of a Kolb or (reaching back) a Nagy. But he was fine, he wasn't sloppy and it didn't look like he left out steps, he's just not a dazzler. He is a tall, handsome dancer whose partnering & acting skills are superb and who is a great partner for Lopatkina. I can think of a couple of extra tall ballerinas who'd be lucky to find such a cavalier (you know Gomes can't partner them all).

Tkachenko was the weak link for me, I am in complete agreement that her demeanor just isn't authoritative enough for Gamzatti and while her variations were fine they weren't outstanding.

I think I finally identified a coryphée who's dancing I've enjoyed the last few times I've seen the Kirov – I always thought it was Svetlana Ivanova but judging from the casting and Natalia's invaluable descriptions (thanks a million) I believe it is Elena Androssova who was a big bayadere and a d'jampe girl (along with the always lovely Yana Selina).

I loved the 2nd & 3rd shades (Gonchar & Kondaurova) but I found Novikova's performance in the first shade variation confusing – her upper body and especially her arms seemed very out of control.

All of the character dancers were wonderful and despite a few bobbles the corps was magnificent. I LOVED the way the palace walls dissolved into the Himalayan peaks after Solar took a few tokes on that hookah, a perfect background for the corps' descent. It will be interesting to see what the Shades scene looks like at City Center in a couple of months – I'm betting they skip the scenery and cut the corps from 32 to 24 – no way they can fit all of those dancers on the tiny City Center stage.

#21 Ginny Kanter

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 10:08 AM

Already excited by the prospect of the Kirov Bayadere, I was thrilled at the opportunity to see Lopatkina for the first time. (Very generous matinee casting on the past of the Kirov.) She does indeed have the remarkable instrument others have remarked upon. In fact, when I revisit the performance in my mind, I see a succession of gorgeous images of line and plastique, separated by ... shutter clicks, almost a series of still images. By contrast, I see the flow of dancing of everyone else, especially the three shades, all of whom gave me great pleasure. Perhaps this is simply a function of the riveting quality of Lopatkina's line.

Tkachenko faced a daunting task. Given her build, demeanor, and costumes (which seemed an off note, almost a dance-recital conception of opulence and not especially flattering to her), how could she possibly be more regal than Lopatkina? I look forward to seeing her in other roles. And I particularly look forward to seeing more of Novikova, Gonchar, and Konduarova. Wouldn't have missed the afternoon for anything.

#22 FauxPas

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 04:36 PM

I too was there with NYSusan and Canbelto (we chatted during the intermissions). I hadn't seen Uliana Lopatkina in over 8 years, having first experienced her as a very young ballerina in the Kirov tours in 1995 and 1999. Her glory is her upper body and her unique arms - they seem to be the biggest, most powerful part of her body - almost longer than her legs and more flexible. Lopatkina has the "russian back" described here and her rather grand, aloof presence reminds one of legendary stars of the last century - Garbo, for example. The spirituality was more pronounced in her interpretation but then supposedly that was the case with Anna Pavlova when she danced the role in Russia over 100 years ago. Her footwork is solid and her technique, though not as brilliant as such allegro technicians as Vishneva or Tereshkina, is more than adequate to express her ideas. Remember that Lopatkina's long absence from the Kirov and its tours was due to a serious foot injury and maternity leave. Her recovery took time. Like Veronika Part, she favors slow, almost sonnambulistic movements that seem weighted and deliberate and yet have great depth and expression in the phrasing. Lopatkina is very musical too much like Part (now that Lopatkina has returned to her assoluta position with the company, Part's departure from the Kirov seems apposite - they are too alike and there would be one too many).

She is more of the "danseuse noble" as Alexandra described Part and has a reserved but not unengaged stage presence. I saw passion and even saw a smile in the first act pas de deux with Solor. Obviously, Vishneva has more nervous temperment and is more "realistic" in her acting. I have room for both conceptions, like NYSusan and was enchanted by a lot of what I saw from Lopatkina. I felt it was worth the trip and cost to trek down to see her after such a long hiatus.

Kozlov is handsome and an attentive partner. He is not a virtuoso leaper or turner but was pleasingly old-fashioned in his support of his ballerina. I think with more work with the Kirov coaches his level of technique will improve and I look forward to his progress. We must also remember that this kind of tall, solid but not brilliant danseur has a long tradition at the Kirov, not every male dancer was a Nijinsky, Nureyev or Baryshnikov. They were the exceptions, not the rule. There was lots of Vladilen Semenovs and such types all the way back to the beginning. I enjoyed his performance. Tkachenko has the saucy look of a coquette - Gamzatti as Paris Hilton spoiled nymphet. She seemed small-scale and soubrettish next to this heroic pair of lovers. Next to more petite dancers she would seem stronger but there was a real mismatch here, not just of dancer to role but of dancer to dancer.

I love "La Bayadere" in all its many forms (have seen the Makarova production at ABT, the Nureyev production with POB, the Vinogradov production for the Universal Ballet derived from the Kirov traditional version and this Chabukiani/Sergeyev production with the Kirov as well as the Vikharev 1900 reconstruction). In my head I love to assemble my ultimate version combining my favorite aspects of each version. But that is another long post.

Anyway, a fine afternoon.

#23 Solnishka79

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 08:11 PM

Bayadere is my favorite classical ballet and the Kirov is my favorite classical ballet company. I must say that I absolutely enjoyed the performance this afternoon (Sun. 1:30). The corps were supurb despite being exhausted by now, I'm sure. Just impeccable-each foot exactly placed, heads just so, arms on the same lines, legs at the same degree. Who can compare?
Now to the main roles. Sarafanov. A master technician, he soared and wowed the audience. If he were in a boy band, he'd be as popular as Justin Timberlake with those cute looks. (I had a little elderly lady next to me that "aaahhhed" at everything he did. Starting from when he walked on...it was amusing at first and then old by Act III) His double assembles entournant were absolutely amazing-he actually assembled his legs in a moment of suspension and then turned! Even my husband was impressed. (A retired Russian dancer himself, he is more critical of male dancers than me) Sometimes I felt that he did too much technique. Act II for example. His grand pirouettes were going well, he threw in a few repeated double tours, slipped, and then messed up his final pirouettes. It didn't go with the music-was it really necessary?
Alina. She actually did better than I expected her to. Her back and arms were very expressive. She and Sarafanov had almost a school crush sort of pas de deux in Act I. Her extensions were fairly controlled throughout Act I and Act II (there were even a few 45 degree arabesques....wow...) In Act III, there were moments of uncoordination and angularity of arms. She is just so tall and long. She is maturing and maybe in a few years will reach a maturity that will make each performance shine. Maybe if she were coached by an old-school Vaganova/Kirov mentor instead of Perm Chenchikova.... Anyways, I was impressed with her growth and enjoyed her performance over all.
Osmolkina was very regal and aristocratic and very well cast as Gamzatti. She danced very cleanly and braved the super slow tempo of her variation. I'd like to see her as Odette/Odile.
The Shades were wonderful! Novikova seemed to be having a rough day-she seemed heavy and slightly spastic in her variation. I'm sure she's exahausted. Kondaurova was sublime. So smooth, so silky. She had the most expressive epaulement of the three.
The Grand Pas was also very good. Did anyone else notice Androssova today? She seemed like something was wrong-maybe she wasn't feeling well or something. She didn't smile the whole time and almost seemed to be going through the motions.
Another great moment for me was seeing Tatiana Terekhova in the audience just rows from me! I grew up idolizing her and was so happy to see her in person.!
Bravo to everyone onstage tonight! Now they can all go home and rest a bit after this greuling week of performing one of the toughest ballets in classical repertoire. What's next??? How about Raymonda or a Gala?

#24 nysusan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 08:43 PM

Since I bought a ticket to today's matinee before the casting was announced I was feeling a bit of trepidation as the day approached, even thinking about selling it and heading home early. But I love this ballet and I love Sarafanov so Natalia's review of this cast was all the incentive I needed to take a chance and stay.

Although she seems to have a fondness for extreme developees a la second that I find horrendously ugly – and subjected us to 3 or 4 of them during the shades scene - those were the only truly egregious offenses from Ms Somova this afternoon. Aside from those few transgressions she was, well, pretty good. As Natalia pointed out, she has obviously re-thought her stage presentation, and I think the style of the first 2 acts worked in her favor. The exotic costuming & expressiveness of the dancing gave her some cover but there were still some rough edges visible in the unforgiving classicism of the 3rd act. Not sure I'll be clamoring to see her Swan Lake again any time soon, but this was a huge improvement over the first couple of times I saw her and I look forward to seeing if her rehabilitation continues when she performs a varied repertoire in NY.

Sarafanov was super! Not only has his partnering improved but it looks like he's filled out a little bit and his new short hair cut mitigates that baby face a little. I'm glad that his looks are finally catching up with his technical abilities – he's always danced like a Prince and now he's starting to look like one.

Osmolkina was a very good Gamzatti. Despite her petite appearance she reeked of nobility, power and entitlement and her dancing was wonderful – brilliant and effortless.

I was skeptical when I read Natalia's comment that this cast (overall) was better than the Lopatkina cast but I have to admit that I agree. There can be no comparison between Lopatkina and Somova but the dramatic balance between this Nikia and Gamzatti and the excitement and ardor of Sarafanov's Solor really made it a much more compelling drama. It was one of those times when the energy of the principals seemed to lift the whole company - and they had been at a very high level already!

#25 nysusan

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 08:46 PM

She and Sarafanov had almost a school crush sort of pas de deux in Act I.


Yes, that's exactly what it was like!

And as for what's next - I vote for Raymonda!

#26 Solnishka79

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Posted 27 January 2008 - 09:04 PM

I'm keeping my fingers crossed! I would love to see Lopatkina as the title role.....could we coax Makhalina? (I never had the chance to see her live and would love to see her before she completely retires.) Tereshkina would also be impressive with those exotic looks and commanding presence. I'll never forget her Myrtha.

#27 Natalia

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 07:37 AM

I also vote for Raymonda as the next installment in the annual Kirov-Mariinsky visits to the Kennedy Center. However, let's not get our hopes up too high; the K-M has not toured this production in-full since the 1960s or so. The presents sets are incredibly frail, though the costumes have been refurbished. The miracle is that they'll be performing Act III at City Center this April.

I have a strong suspicion that we may be getting Don Quixote next year -- huge popular fave of the Kennedy Center, which was last performed by the Bolshoi in the 2006/07 season...and it usually makes an appearance every other year on this stage...and we have yet to see the Kirov version in DC, after all of these years of annual tours.

Also, the Kennedy Center is getting its first complete Raymonda in 20-odd years next month, when the New National Theater Ballet of Tokyo presents what is, in essence, the Kirov-Mariinsky/Petipa-K. Sergeyev version, with a few little changes. I doubt that the Kennedy Center would program two Raymondas , in same K. Sergeyev version, on consecutive years. But we can dream & hope. :flowers:

If not Raymonda, then how about Flora's Awakening as part of a triple bill (which would alternate with a full-evening ballet)? This would, in part, make-up for Flora having been promised, then yanked from, the upcoming New York/City Center tour.

#28 ami1436

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 08:08 AM

These reviews are making me wonder if I should give Somova another chance. Note I only say 'wonder'.... hmmm.

Hopefully no long fingernails as Nikiya....

#29 Natalia

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 10:12 AM

These reviews are making me wonder if I should give Somova another chance. Note I only say 'wonder'.... hmmm.

Hopefully no long fingernails as Nikiya....


I did not see the nails this time, ami. Well, don't get too excited about Somova just yet. When you think about it, the fact that we are still treading carefully and remarking on her progress, should say something. Yes, it is nice to see her progress...but that's the sort of thing that one does with a dancer 'from the provinces' and not someone being billed as star of a troupe like the Kirov-Mariinsky. She's already freakin' 22 years old! How long are going to continue to cut her some slack?

We should not even be having this discussion. There was a time when "maybe" and mediocrity were not accepted in this company.

But she has improved and is "less horrible" than before. For that we do cartwheels.

#30 Solnishka79

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 10:33 AM

These reviews are making me wonder if I should give Somova another chance. Note I only say 'wonder'.... hmmm.

Hopefully no long fingernails as Nikiya....


I also did not notice the long daggers. I'd like to see her in a few more roles before I make up my mind. And I agree with Natalia-she is 22 yrs old. Look at another 22/23 year old, Obraztsova. She is divine and supreme in her classical presentations. I never have to worry when I see her cast in a role like I do with Somova.


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