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Mariinsky: NYCC

217 posts in this topic

These are some of the things that stood out to me last night (Wed)

Novikova is a lovely and very talented dancer but for me she simply didn’t have the authority or attitude for Raymonda. Her dancing was pristine but the character infused arm movements just didn’t seem natural or have any meaning attached to them (no hauteur, there was no hint of the young noblewoman ascending to her lofty position at her wedding celebration). She could have been dancing the Rose Adagio, and I wished she had been...

Paquita was fabulous again, Tereshkina is such a strong, beautiful dancer I cannot wait for her Raymonda tonight. I’m afraid I have to report that the audience again went wild for Somova’s solo - unfortunately there does seem to be a demand for her type of dancing.

My revelation last night - Danila Korsuntsev. I’ve seen him 4-5 times before and was never impressed with him as a soloist. He is a tall, handsome man, a great partner with a perfectly proportioned body - but his dancing always seemed perfunctory to me. Last night he partnered Lopatkina in Bayadere and I saw a passion in him I’ve never seen before. He was engaged with his ballerina, searching for his Nikiya with desperation, passion and regret and suddenly I noticed what amplitude his leaps had, how perfectly positioned & stretched his line was, the pointed feet and pliant back. Could the hiring of Ivan Kozlov have lit a fire in him, or was it just that at City Center I was sitting much closer to the stage than I usually do for the Kirov?

Lopatkina was, of course gorgeous in Bayadere, though I noticed that in the scarf duet she does all the turns in the same direction. That was irrelevant to me, what mattered was the beauty of her legato flow, the perfection of her line and technique and her warm, passionate Nikiya. Some ballerinas dance this with a coolness suggesting that (even in Solar’s hallucinogenic dream) she hasn’t forgiven him. Lopatkina’s Nikiya was warm and passionate, there was still a strong bond of love between them.

I was sitting much closer to the stage last night than I had been on opening night, and from this vantage point it was far more apparent how cramped it is. You could sense that the dancers were mentally calculating how much room they had to work with, in fact Kondaurova finished one of her variations at the very front edge by the wings, just about one step from going over into the pit. This is in no way meant to be a criticism of the dancers, they are doing a fabulous job, but they would be even more fabulous if they had enough room to dance full out without having to re-calibrate every move to fit this stage.

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+1 to nysusan

totally agree. Been to both, Tuesday & Wednesday. Loved the chemistry between Lopatkina & Korzuntsev (much better than with Kozlov in DC), and their tenderness, you could sense it, when they tilted their heads, almost touching each other, almost caressing without a touch.

Tereshkina, I loved her, her fluidity, her perfection, her classicism ;-))

.... and whoof, I refused to clap to Ms. Acrobat - can someone talk to the company about her ;-(((((

.... going tonight as well ;-))

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Alastair Macauley weighs in via the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/arts/dan...l.html?ref=arts

He also has critical words for Somova but is also giving backhanded compliments to Lopatkina and throwing cold water on Vishneva's success. Sounds all very jaded and been there done that. I mean, this is a mixed program of Petipa showpieces - not an evening of Balanchine or Antony Tudor. These are three classical showpieces engineered to show off virtuoso dancers and dazzle the crowd - the "Bayadere" shades working on a higher level as well (though maybe not with Tuesday night's cast). A certain amount of virtuosity for virtuosity's sake is a given considering the repertoire and the gala opening night occasion.

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Alastair Macauley weighs in via the NY Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/arts/dan...l.html?ref=arts

He also has critical words for Somova but is also giving backhanded compliments to Lopatkina and throwing cold water on Vishneva's success. Sounds all very jaded and been there done that. I mean, this is a mixed program of Petipa showpieces - not an evening of Balanchine or Antony Tudor. These are three classical showpieces engineered to show off virtuoso dancers and dazzle the crowd - the "Bayadere" shades working on a higher level as well (though maybe not with Tuesday night's cast). A certain amount of virtuosity for virtuosity's sake is a given considering the repertoire and the gala opening night occasion.

I agree, Macauley’s review was predictably jaded. His editors must be very pleased to see that he keeps coming up with new and ever so erudite ways to be bitchy.

Apollionaire Scherr’s brief take on her blog was almost as disappointing.

http://www.artsjournal.com/foot/

I disagree strongly with her opinion that everything on opening night before Novikova’s shades variation was “so studied”, but it’s her opinion and she’s entitled to it. However some of her other comments just seem inexplicable. And I’m not talking about the fact that she thinks Novikova was the “top shade” or that Somova is “doll like” (well, her movement is mechanical).

I realize that this is a brief comment on a blog, not a Newsday review but she’s still a “professional” critic. You’d think she’d feel compelled to give her comments some context for her readers. I’m not entirely at odds with her opinion, I too would have preferred a full length Raymonda to a single act but it’s clear from the constricted appearance of these “tidbits” on the City Center stage that deciding not to stage the Kirov’s productions of full length classics here was a wise choice. I feel very luck to live in a city that is home to 2 world class opera companies, 2 world class ballet companies and stages for dozens, if not hundreds of smaller contemporary dance troupes. But it’s still a shame that New York, once the world capital of Ballet only has one stage large enough to accommodate these grand productions. It’s also unfortunate that the Met has so little availability but it is what it is. I certainly prefer seeing one act from each of these grand ballets (carefully staged to fit as well as possible on the small stage) than waiting till 2020, or whenever the Met has a window of opportunity to make available to the great classical ballet companies of the world. Would that the Paris Opera Ballet, Bolshoi etc. were so determined to perform in NY.

Take a look at Joel Lobenthal’s NY Sun review for the most thoughtful and balanced opinion in the mainstream press so far:

http://www2.nysun.com/article/74102

Susan

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It’s also unfortunate that the Met has so little availability but it is what it is. I certainly prefer seeing one act from each of these grand ballets (carefully staged to fit as well as possible on the small stage) than waiting till 2020, or whenever the Met has a window of opportunity to make available to the great classical ballet companies of the world.

I think it's a shame that there is no 'second house' besides City Center. I'll be there next week at one of these performances (fortunately, my Somova experience won't have to be in public, or she's not scheduled for that day), but I hate it every time I go there. This is one 'historical treasure' that ought to have been razed, or either build a new auditorium with decent raking already. That the choice is either the Met or City Center is what I find strange for this city--the Met is hardly at fault, being only one house and it's for opera mainly and should be.

It's probably common knowledge, but I don't understand why the State Theater in the summer--July and August at least--is not used for other ballet companies besides the Reverend Moon's company (or it used to be, I don't think I noticed this past summer). Aren't there fairly long periods when NYCO and NYCB aren't using the place? I just called the theater and, due to renovations, NYCO is not having its fall season, but the person said that July and August usually have only occasionally Lincoln Center Festivals. There must be a simple reason why big ballet companies don't use the theater, but I don't know what it is. Would be so much better than NYCC.

Please inform.

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Thanks for all of the reviews on last night's program. I won't be getting my next 'Kirov Fix' 'til next Wednesday. Can I survive? (ha-ha)

papeeteepatrick - There is one -- make that two -- other decently-sized opera houses in greater NYC: the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Either theater would have probably worked better as a venue for the Kirov Ballet than City Center...but perhaps they cost more to rent. Ardani has a long-standing tradition of presenting ballet at CityCenter (Eifman and such), so they probably get a good deal due to the years of steady business.

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Thanks, Natalia, that helps a lot, and I might have remembered given that I've been to performances at both fairly recently--but probably hadn't because with really big companies like ABT and Kirov, I hadn't thought through that it might be something a bit more practical than that NYCC was the only alternative, this place they would have to 'squeeze into.' In 2005, I saw Martha Graham NY season at both NYCC and NJPAC, and did enjoy the NYCC one better only because there was a live orchestra. I guess I would say Martha Graham Company does not seem too cramped at City Center, it may be the one time I really thought the place had some charm, and you do get a feeling of history when you see the old 'Errand into the Maze' and 'Appalachian Spring' there. Saw V. Redgrave in 'Hecuba' at BAM, but had forgotten that Pina Bausch and other companies do perform there.

Still would like to know what the story is for NYStateTheater in July and August. That is probably expensive, too, and the Universal Ballet, as I remember, rents it for only a couple of days.

Enjoying all these reviews though, can't wait to see Vishneva from my uncomfortable seats!

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The State Theater is very expensive and frequently Lincoln Center Festival uses it for non-dance events. The theatre is fully unionized and that adds to the cost. Also about two weeks every summer is spent cleaning and refurbishing the theatre as it gets very hard use during the year.

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I remember seeing the Bolshoi perform at the NY State Theater about eight years ago and the "Giselle" seemed cramped there. The sets were designed for the huge Bolshoi stage and the flats and ground pieces were so pushed so far downstage you could see the light units behind the upstage set pieces from the upper balconies. Obviously the depth of the Bolshoi stage meant that those set pieces were much further back and the angle obscured the lights behind them. I believe that one of the provisos for the Bolshoi's return two summers ago was that they would be allowed to dance at the Metropolitan Opera House. The unspoken comment was that the Kirov-Mariinsky because of Gergiev and the Mariinsky's relationship with the Met has had a monopoly on the Met's facilities.

For me it has been a major source of irritation that the Royal Ballet, Bolshoi and Kirov have toured extensively in the last decade due to renovations at their home theaters yet their NY exposure has been limited. I read on this board about all these tours to Washington, D.C. and Orange County and L.A. and wonder "why not here?". Especially when the Met Opera house has been dark and unused for several summers. Funding is one thing and corporate sponsorships will be harder to come by in the future, I suspect.

One upside about City Center - I felt very close and intimate with the dancers from my mid-mezzanine front seat. I could see the faces without opera glasses. Try that at the Met in the Family Circle.

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Maybe they should just have an agreement. Alistair MacCauley avoids reviewing full length ballets, especially those choreographed by Petipa. I'm really tired of his relentlessly negative comments.

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Still would like to know what the story is for NYStateTheater in July and August. That is probably expensive, too, and the Universal Ballet, as I remember, rents it for only a couple of days.

Enjoying all these reviews though, can't wait to see Vishneva from my uncomfortable seats!

As others have mentioned, even though the stage at the State Theater is bigger than the City Center stage it's still pretty small for big productions. I missed the Bolshoi's visit but I saw the National Ballet of Cuba's Don Q there a few years ago and it definitely looked cramped. In addition to the cost factor you also have to remember that very few "cultural" events are scheduled for July or August in NY - much of the population that can afford to escape the city in the summer heads out of town as soon as school is out, and even those who stay often head for the Hamptons or the Jersey shore, even if only for weekends. Makes it hard to fill those big theaters.

As to the suitability of BAM or NJPAC - I've never been to the Jersey venue but the stage at BAM didn't seem any bigger than the State Theater to me, maybe even smaller. But I only saw Nina's company there and it was hard to tell.

I'm exhausted and will let someone else offer a description of the last night of the Petipa program - except to say that Tereshkina was SPECTACULAR in Raymonda, and Paquita suited Somova better than anything I've seen her do previously. I don't think I'll ever be a fan but with the exception of her fouettes she was fine and both her dancing and her demeanor seemed appropriate to the piece.

Edited to add- the insert slip in tonight's program says that Kolb is replacing Korsuntsev as the Golden Slave tomorrow night and Zelensky is replacing Kolb at the Sunday matinee. I love Kolb, but am so glad we're going to see Zelensky, too! Yana Selina replaces Golub in Spectre on 4/4 and 4/5 at 8 and Nadhezda Gonchar gets the Sunday matinee (she also danced the first variation in tonight's Paquita).

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tonight Viktoria Tereshkina played Raymonda. The corps, throughout the evening, seemed to have made peace, well, perhaps detante, with City Center's stage, and also have, perhaps, shed jet-lag. Danila Korsuntsev, likewise, and his solo work gained accordingly. What I gather was an atypical Big Smile with Lopatkina, was not the case with Tereshkina. Very focused on expressing her character's purity with a like fidelity to classicism, one could absolutely believe she was Raymonda. In the adagio she did one 180, but it looked perfectly natural, not showy. This time, according to the insert (which, being the same as before, otherwise lost its validity tonight), the solo was taken by Nadezhda Gonchar.

The surprise of the evening was Alina Somova in Paquita. Unlike her opening night's deer-in-the-headlights look, she seemed more at ease. I wonder how much of her opening night was natural shock from Mr. Vaziev's choice not to travel. I would assume much of her most-favored status would have come from his support? While still showing a tense jaw, her dancing was less extreme, with more clarity. Tonight's audience had an obviously greater proportion of true ballet fans. Just as Tereshkina's entrance earlier was well-applauded, so was not Ms. Somova's. She had two 180s in the adagio, but somehow less disconnection. One sensed she was striving to limit her leg-height thereafter, most of the time, and never approached 180 throughout the rest of her performance. She stayed relatively calm, as gradually the audience began warming to her.

But the huge story was with the five variations. The insert was clearly off. But in the second, blue, variation magic happened. One person who refused to compromise with the space (more on that in the third work) was Big Red, Ekaterina Kondaurova. The long variation seemed to grow and grow in grandeur and by its end the audience refused to stop applause and cheers till management (if there is any) had no choice but to send her back out to bask in it. Yet Viktoria Tereshkina's fifth surpassed even this! Even one more bonus call still! This was surely the most powerful audience response I've seen in the two days. And very much merited.

The crowd was heated up and continued to up appreciation for Ms. Somova. The diagonal of jetes, exciting (but not in the way she sometimes excites), some height, was very well received. Partner Anton Korsakov also turned in a virtuoso solo. Her final fouettees, many more multiples than Vishneva on opening night was also thrilling, 'though the very large, wide, swinging motion of her working leg did seem very different. Yet, in its own way, this also added to the excitement. But wouldn't, as a steady diet. The audience rewarded her. While it would really be better if she were placed under the absolute dominion of, say, Irina Kolpakova (after all, ABT is losing its Russian...) for a solid year, at least this performance gave some hope that classical restraint could be possible and most surely rewarding.

Well, I like underdogs (rooted for Davidson in college BB's Big Dance).

Goddess Diana Vishneva's Shades was a dream, literally. I think I've seen all her ABT Bayaderes, and they are all different, as were each of her Shades. Without a whole performance to create a dramatic arc, she clearly built one for just this one act, and very much in cahoots with Solor Yevgeny Ivanchenko. She struck an absolutely frozen pose for her first momentary appearance, then danced with supreme unawareness, purely the object of his hallucination. When she returned for the scarf duet her visage softened, so subtle, so slightly, still not quite real, not quite there, not quite aware. Yet somehow she became Hope. Then a magnificent solo by Ivanchenko. So different from Sarafanov. Some virtuosity of course. But this was a Man. Specifically a real General, with a real general's absolute obedience to his King. Perhaps the very traits that had attracted Nikiya to this man could also give reason for forgiveness. Out came Diana. She could see him. She could feel him. She knew him. And she could love him. Redemption was granted.

The trio of bayaderes were those of opening night. But at greater ease with the stage. Yet the third, Kondaurova, danced without compromise. I was farther up tonight and though I thought I could see all the stage: at the end of her jet-fueled last diagonal part of her disappeared from sight, at extreme stage right. But not in the pit! How Balanchine would love this ballerina!

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I went to see Kirov on the first night. I now know I am a minority. I LOVED Somova's Nikia, though I have never liked Gillem's a la second toward her ear. Her jump was also phenomenal. And I thought she is very elegant and musical. Just she is very young and not polished yet. I saw her big potential. I really want to see her Balanchine work.

I was dissappinted with Vishneva. She has recetnly become somehow sloppy to do steps. She used to be more intensed. She might need to rest....

Whatsoever, I enjoyed the performance very much. I felt "this is the classical ballet", which I fell in love when I was 8 years old. It ,of course, includes these character dances. Nobody except Russian can dance Mazrka, unfortunately. ( I am not Russian,though)

I personally think the relation between executing steps and music is the essence of the excitement of Kirov performance. And also the posture of the upper body. Glacious!!!

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...I LOVED Somova's Nikia,..... Just she is very young and not polished yet. .....

Good grief, for how years are we going to hear this "she is young - give her time" stuff? Somova is entering early-middle age in Ballerina Time -- 23 yrs old. The polish should have happened a long time ago.

So it appears, from reviews of last night, that she has gone back to the semi-restraint that she displayed at the Kennedy Center two months ago. Whoop-dee-doo! Sorry but I hold my Kirov ballerinas to a higher standard.

Delighted to read that Kondaurova and Tereshkina continue to shine in the most positive manner. They are worthy of our bravos. We don't have to say, "They are so young. Give them time."

p.s. to drb: Big Red...I love it! I could picture her as a guest at NYCB, for sure!

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April 1, 2008 Performance

Panda, et al.,

Never be hesitant to add your differing opinions. Variety makes websites fun!

I went to see The Kirov on the opening night at City Center as well.

I did miss the folk claps in the Kirov's Raymonda (pas de dix), but the orchestra (reduced size) more than made up for anything that was lacking. The orchestra was a great pleasure all evening adding such richness and beauty to every ballet.

Raymonda: I'm not a fan of Lopatkina, though she managed a few lovely, spontaneously impressive movements. One in particular, I don't think most would have noticed, but it was how delicately and with full controlled balance, she placed her passe working leg into fifth on pointe, at the beginning of her variation, when the folk, hand clapping usually takes command. She only did this once, but it was quite breathtaking and regal. Other than that, Lopatkina left me cold. Her dancing seemed "old." However, her male partner, Korsuntsev was a tall, fresh, handsome, big-mover dancer, with beautiful long legs and feet. The stage looked much too small for him. The two soloist females, especially the first (Selina?), were excellent.

I loved the Kirov corps in all three ballets. Such elegant lines, beautiful legs, feet, arms, with a bit of flare in pushing past the limits of their fine Russian, classical training. Ditto the soloists. It's not that fussy, super clean stuff... They're classical but with an approach not too unlike NYCB, where the best dancers take risks with what is usually expected and correctly pleasant. My ideal dancer would be one trained in both the Vaganova and Balanchine styles --

Paquita: I've stopped being a fan of Vishneva for awhile now, though she accomplished a good, strong performance of Paquita on opening night here. She's very pretty, but.... yes, a bit sloppy too. No matter, there were plenty of exciting and beautiful female soloists to watch. And Fadeev, Vishneva's partner, was a real, hunky charmer with a fine, strong technique to match.

Bayadere: My favorite male dancer of the night: Sarafanov(WOW!!!!). Talk about pushing the extremes of what's possible in ballet, the ballet body, on top of brilliant technique and sexiness in an elegant, youthful style. Sarafanov was the most fascinating male I've ever seen in this ballet.

Samova: Most here do not like her AT ALL. But perhaps because of my years at NYCB, I have a great appreciation/understanding for why the Kirov does love Samova and why they push her into roles she's not quite ready for. It's that Samova's an extreme dancer who is still growing into her extreme body. I do agree that she could tame some of her extreme lines a bit to focus on other ingredients of whatever ballet she is dancing. But at the same time, I love that she is VERY extreme, and not quite in control of her talent's possibilities. Her lines, her quirks, are interesting.... and she is not without technique.

In Bayadere some of her lines were stunningly executed, eg, when she did her first huge a la seconde into arabesque gently, without the slightest forced adjustment, to whisper into Sarafanov's ear. My heart skipped a beat. It was unearthly gorgeous in execution, with perfect lines and a hauntingly dream in feeling. But then the second time, Samova executed the same movement with a matter of fact harshness.

I think Samova was definitely having an off night, overall, for whatever reasons.....but I'm still looking forward to seeing her again. She executed very difficult steps in Bayadere just fine -- ones that Veronika Part has not even come close to executing well yet. It would take too long to list them all here. So, no, I don't think Samova is just about her extreme extensions. She has a jump, those grande jetes from one corner of the stage to the next were striking. Her arabesque turns were strong if a bit nervous to both sides. Ditto pirouettes done both right and left. And she did the double pirouettes into arabesque facing the audience without coming off of pointe when she reached arabesque (for a second). Many ballerinas just come down to a flat landing.

Special mention should also be given to the stunning first soloist in Raymonda and the first corps girl out onto the stage in Bayadere(!!)...(I think it was Yana Selina). She was as beautiful as I've ever seen in those parts. And Kondaurova, a strikingly tall, lyrical redhead easily distracted me from others on the stage. I'd like to see Kondaurova in Bayadere's female lead one day...

Anyway, I enjoyed this performance very much. Wish I could go every night --

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I'll be there tonight for the Fokine program. Anyone else going to be there?

As for Somova, I also wish the comparisons to Sylvie Guillem would stop. Sylvie could be extreme with her extensions BUT she had musicality, she had line, she had breathtaking technique, and she was also capable of striking the most beautiful classical positions. I disagree with some of the artistic choices she's made, but I'd never put her in the same breath as Somova, really.

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.... I'd like to see Kondaurova in Bayadere's female lead one day...

sz, Kondaurova *did* dance Nikiya in 'Shades' at the Kennedy Center five years ago (March 2003), when the Kirov participated in a special 'International Ballet Festival' at the Eisenhower Theater (as the main KennCen Opera House was being renovated back than). It was a very cramped stage, even smaller than City Center; only 18 shades! At that time, we thought that Kondaurova was being pushed too soon; it was but her first or second season with the troupe but she still made a positive impact. Then she never was asked to dance Nikiya again. Now she seems to be finally coming into her own in a more mature manner. Hopefully she will once again be allowed to dance Nikiya - not just 'Shades' but the full ballet.

As a reminder of the "first sighting" of Kondaurova in the USA years ago - here is a link to a review of the Festival from our own Alexandra Tomalonis (writing for DanceMagazine at the time). Go to the last paragraph:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-105710...shington%202003

p.s. To put things into perspective, Kondaurova graduated two years before Somova, meaning that Kondaurova must be about 25 now....absolutely in what should be the 'prime years' of her career. Time to get a move on!

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I returned from the Fokine evening and it was beautiful! Chopiniana is another one of those ballets the Kirov dances as if it were in their blood. The beauty and harmony of the corps de ballet is breathtaking. Anton Korsakov was a bit dull as the poet (then again, most Poets are rather dull), but Yulia Bolshakova and Ekaterina Osmolkina were exquisite. Bolshakova's dark hair, dark eyes, and willowy figure give her an eerie resemblance to Anna Pavlova.

Spectre with the wrong dancers can look awful silly very quickly (exhibit A: watch Farukh Ruzimatov in the Nina and Friends video). But Igor Kolb's elevation, line, and style made the miniature work. His Spectre also had a recklessness that was fun to watch. He swung the Girl (Nadezha Gonchar) so quickly that she almost tripped and fell.

Uliana Lopatkina's Dying Swan was beautiful, great boneless arms. In the tradition of so many Swans, she milked the curtain calls for all they were worth.

Scheherazade. The Kirov spared no expense with the sets, which is probably why the intermission took about 30-40 minutes. But it was well worth the wait. :smilie_mondieu:, HOT HOT HOT! Igor Kolb and Diana Vishneva positively sizzled in their duets. Diana used her almost insanely pliant back to suggest the exotic dancer. Huge ovations for both Kolb and Diana at the end, well deserved.

Overall, a great tribute to Mikhail Fokine, who I dare say would have been very proud.

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... His Spectre also had a recklessness that was fun to watch. He swung the Girl (Nadezha Gonchar) so quickly that she almost tripped and fell.

That was Yana Selina in Spectre tonight ( I know, you need a scorecard to keep up). I agree that Korsakov was a little dull. Somehow he impressed me more when he was dancing soloist roles like the Swan Lake pas de trois or the peasant pas de deux in Giselle. I thought Osmolkina was beautiful, absolutely pristine & lighter than air, but I had some reservations about Bolshakova. Some of what she did in the prelude was really beautiful but there was something very overdone about it, too. All the head movement & some of her epaulment seemed forced, or perhaps too much like acting rather movement that emanated from the music.

Selina replaced Golub as the third soloist (the program says she danced Valse Op 70 #1) and the style of movement seemed so natural to her it felt like she really was a sylph hearing the call of the breeze through the trees. She was also charming as the girl in Spectre.

Whoever had the idea of casting Kolb in Spectre and Shehezerade on the same night was a genius. Two virtuoso roles with such different modes of expression - he was brilliant in both. And Diana proved yet again that she is perhaps the greatest dancing actress since Makarova. They tore up the stage together.

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Thanks so much for posting these early reports on the first of the Fokine programs, canbelto & nysusan! Sounds like dream casting for each of the ballets.

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Yana Selina may be my new favorite. Such modesty and beauty right down to the tips of her fingers. Her warmth radiated all the way back to (unfortunately) row Q in the rear mezz. Sylphides was lovely, if a bit cramped. Anton Korsakov made a concentrated effort with the steps but did not add much depth to the poet. When I trained my power binocs on him, he seemed quite young.

Kolb in Spectre didn't sweep me into the fantasy, but Selina sure did. Kolb has this interesting and sometimes seductive animal quality about his dancing that was extremely appealing in Scheherazade, but it didn't work for me in Spectre. Selina, on the other hand, was simply magical. Such beautiful arms and hands that were so perfectly Fokine.

It was only the second time that I'd seen a live performance of The Dying Swan, and oh my, Lopatkina made me a believer. She created some stunning images most notably upstage with her back to the audience and arms raised and twisted above her head. Having watched plenty of videos of this piece, I'd prepared myself for some over-the-top death scene, but it never came. Lopatkina was truly beautiful in every aspect. She got the most sustained audience reaction of the evening.

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The White Nights Gala: Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Tsar attends.

When Zobeide Vishneva called out her Golden Slave, suddenly an impressive performance of Sheherazade became one to be cherished forever. Igor Zelensky burst on the scene, and everything was there: elevation, multiple power turns and leaps, clarity of style, perfection of technique, stamina, and monumental charisma and expressive depth. I have not seen male dancing at this level at any previous time this week. Together, this couple burned.

Many may remember this dancer as NYCB's young Prince, so many years ago. Retired??? The fountain of youth must be in Novosibirsk. So, Prince Igor? No way. Sometimes a prince grows into a Tsar.

Still, mention must be made of Vladimir Ponomarev's profoundly drawn Shah, moving, commanding, and complex. Diana's death scene with him was truly noble. We don't grow this type here... . Before this closing dance? Well, I have never been able to see Fokine. I forgot.

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Fokine Bill: Sunday matinee 4/6/2008

Chopiniana: The whole greater than the sum of the soloist parts. Gorgeous corps in perfect style and unity breathing together. Yevgeny Ivanchenko as the Poet very romantic and fluid in line, elegant yet not effete. Nadezhda Gonchar was very fine dancing the Valse Op. 70 with strong footwork and creamy phrasing. Yuliya Bolshakova I think was a little off-toe with some shaky footwork but still delivered an evocative performance. Daria Vasnetsova was strong in her variation. I may be mixing up the women with all the changes in the casting and not knowing these soloists at all. All the ladies were good but sometimes missed images or effects in the choreography - little things like pausing a moment just before a jetée to give a sense of flight or letting an arm linger a bit in the air before launching another step. Subtle things that a Makarova or Alicia Markova would nail. Still as a group they were lovely and well-balanced.

Le Spectre de la Rose: Gonchar returned to fine effect as the Young Girl. Leonid Sarafanov has flashy technique but allowed himself to be less muscular and more aerial and feline as the Spectre. Not the highest jump I have ever seen but smoothly executed with lots of distance. Well performed but not unforgettable due to some missing nuances.

The Dying Swan: Lopatkina is touted in the program notes as the finest contemporary Russian interpreter of the Dying Swan. She did not disappoint. First of all: the arms - seemingly dominating her whole physique like the wings of a bird. She definitely has a certain stoicism and restraint - never descending to hysteria or bathos. Lots of nuance and atmosphere here and she definitely spoke to the audience.

Scheherazade: Again dancing with a great deal of commitment and style - which this piece of semi-kitsch desperately needs. My first thought was "why do they need a virtuoso ballerina like Vishneva in a character dancing role like Zobeide?" The answer is sheer overwhelming glamor, charisma and dramatic authority. Diana looked like some kind of glittering serpent with her boneless, sinuous movement. She radiated allure and decadence. The final scene where she decided to take her life than go on in the harem was a clearly delineated tragedy. Igor Zelensky returned for what is probably his farewell to New York. He is looking more mature and substantial even beefy as in beefcake - but as in muscular, powerful but not awkward. His brooding sexual magnetism here reminded me of the late Alexander Godunov. He is still very strong technically with great jumps and very fast tours a la seconde. Maybe not as absolutely sharp as fifteen years ago but no lack of stamina and power. Zelensky's Golden Slave has no hint of the androgyny that Nijinsky brought to the role but was pure masculine power and sex. Fokine's more loosely structured style here suited him giving the freedom to shape the movements to his body and strengths. I don't remember Zelensky ever giving a dramatic performance that impressed me but here he did impress me with his strong presence and attack. Great chemistry with Vishneva. The corps and character dancers and mime seemed really into the spirit of the piece and having a lot of fun with it.

Gergiev came out at the end and presented a bouquet to Vishneva and took bows with the company, I guess to let everyone know that someone is in charge.

Some general notes: unlike the Petipa grand pas which looked cramped on the City Center stage, the Fokine Bill ballets look very good in a smaller stage with the intimacy adding to the impact of the pieces. Probably not too different from many theaters where Diaghilev's company performed them. The orchestra played very well for all three ballets.

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Did anyone notice if Gergiev conducted for Shehezerade? When he came out during the bows I assumed that he had conducted the orchestra but I'm embarrassed to say that if it was him I must not have noticed when I applauded the conductor & orchestra before Shehezerade started..

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I have a quick question for those who attended on Wednesday and Thursday: in "Paquita" the Paquitas on the second and third performance had also performed solos on the opening night: Somova and Tereshkina. In the later performances, did the ballerinas keep their solos or were they replaced? Did they dance two solos including Paquita's "harp variation" or did they cut the earlier variation? The program listed no alternate ballerinas.

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