Jane Simpson

Ekaterina Osmolkina guests in RB Swan Lake

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The Royal Ballet has announced that Mariinsky soloist Ekaterina Osmolkina will dance two performances of Swan Lake with Ivan Putrov next month.

Putrov was originally scheduled to dance with Roberta Marquez but she has been switched to partner Johan Kobborg in Cojocaru's absence. A similar chain of events led to Stuttgart principal Silvia Azzoni being brought in to dance Bayadere with Putrov.

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This is a dream come true for me. The only dancer on earth with the same qualities as Margot Fonteyn is to dance in what is surely her spiritual home.

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This is fabulous news for Katya Osmolkina (and) the Royal Ballet. It's great that she received

this invitation. This recognition is quite significant, because it's less than a month after her Maryinsky

debut which, btw, was a decade overdue. :toot::):D:yahoo:

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Here - here! I am very happy for Osmolkina. A most deserving ballerina.

It will be interesting for her to learn the original Ivanov mime and blocking, which are now absent at the Mariinsky.

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Although Osmolkina will of course be very welcome in herself, it does seem that the RB is having problems finding partners for Ivan Putrov - let's hope they will be able to sort something out when all the 11 female principals are fit again.

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Congratulations Osmolkina! :thanks:

Although Osmolkina will of course be very welcome in herself, it does seem that the RB is having problems finding partners for Ivan Putrov - let's hope they will be able to sort something out when all the 11 female principals are fit again.

Who did Putrov partner regularly in the past?

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Although Osmolkina will of course be very welcome in herself, it does seem that the RB is having problems finding partners for Ivan Putrov - let's hope they will be able to sort something out when all the 11 female principals are fit again.

Waiting to have Alina Cojocaru back, also a musical partner for Johan Kobborg would be really appreciated. At least by myself. :wink:

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Putrov has been dancing with Roberta Marquez for the past few seasons but they haven't appeared together recently. Marquez has been switched to dance with Kobborg quite often (she's very small - about 5' I'd guess).

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Yekaterina Osmolkina appeared with the Royal Ballet tonight in their vulgarly trashy, "Swan Lake". As it must have been a culture shock for her I am not going to write about her performance, of which there was much to be admired, until I have seen her again on the 26th.

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Yekaterina Osmolkina may not be a principal of the Mariinsky Ballet but last night she gave a true ballerina performance of Odette/Odile in what might have been a culture shock of coming face to face with the Royal Ballet's disgraceful production of “Swan Lake”. It was only three days earlier, that she made her absolute debut in this ballet..

On Monday it seemed to me that she was a stranger in a new land, without her usual coach to guide her or a former Royal Ballet Odette/Odilel to assist her. Fortunately she had Jonathon Cope to coach her in what after all was a very different approach to the ballet compared to the prevailing Kirov manner of presentation. She appeared tentative at times and perhaps the lack of a rake played a part in some technical unevenness. But brave she was and even made an appealing foray into an exhibition of the highly unfamiliar mime scenes of the white acts. It was more than a rehearsal and I felt instinctively that there was much more to come from this appealing dancer.

Last night she was as in clear command of the mime as one has seen on this stage for a long time. The clean and clear articulation of the choreography was absolutely present and it seemed as if the orchestra played and sounded better than at her first performance.

There was no need for any adjustment in watching Osmolkina perform, here was no exaggeration of technique or thrusting arabesques, instead there was a constant flow of elegant movement that comes from a sensitive understanding of a role. As Odette, was she moving? No, she was inspiring. Osmolkina danced Odette in a manner of her own, but with an interpretation that resonated with historical performances of the past. A subtle Odette, expressing her Mother's tears, her desperate plight and the intense desire to overcome her the power of Rothbart seemingly to be resolved in meeting Siegfried to whom she responded with an intensity that was at first tentative in expression then subtly passionate. I have heard of dancers who are a quick study, but a Kirov dancer in two performances becoming an eloquent exponent of mime in a ballet which Soviet ballet productions traditionally expunged is an extraordinary achievement.

Where there were for me only moments to admire in the lake scene on Monday, she flowed expressively throughout the scene on Thursday.

I was merely expecting the traditional transformation of Odette to take place in the next act as the role demands, but here was a dancer who although still inexperienced, had grown into this demanding role in three days distilling every class she had ever taken and coaching she had received into a complete performance, to conquer her audience and the Opera House audience submitted and resoundedly responded to her. This was a significantly important performance in the making.

Was her Odile different, well it was staggeringly different from Monday. Her first entrance was so commanding that in seconds she had convinced that although she looked like Odette here was and entirely different character. Thrustingly confident, brilliant in technique and yet controlling her line and execution in a way that was somehow menacing. If there was a flaw it was when she appeared to slip slightly in the fouettes which affected her balance somewhat but she never stopped and with a brilliant cover up ended at thirty /thirty one and not thirty two. Never did the confidence on her face slip as did her foot and a triumph with the audience was assured. On Monday, despite travelling forward, Osmolkina was more technically effective in the fouettes with interspersed double pirouettes, but last night she triumphed in the characterisation and we were convinced of the impersonation.

In the last act, she rose to the high emotional drama being fought out between heaven and hell dancing with passion and eloquence and the silent, rapt audience response was palpable. Osmolkina has the ability to articulate the choreography of Odette technically, musically and dramatically. In the last act, her arabesques had a sense of yearning as if to both unite with Siegfried and escape the thraldom of Rothbart.

Anguish, it was there, yearning it was there, and her body sang and swooped as Tchaikovsky’s musically dramatic personification of torment sang out in tumultuous frenzy as the opposing forces struggle for ascendancy. Love overcomes and prevails through death and the dark force has become impotent. It is the ending we seek and it was a full bloodedly drama performed by the protagonists and the audience responded noisily and with flowers.

A great performance by Osmolkina? If not, it was one that showed her personal greatness in commitment and an extraordinary ability to assume a role in a foreign land, on a foreign stage and with a foreign company with a different aesthetic. I loved it.

Osmolkina was partnered by Ivan Putrov more effectively and with more vigour at the second performance than the first. As Siegfried it was a small performance. His hair on Monday was such an extraordinary untamed mess I was shocked that the Director or other authority of the company allowed him to go on stage looking as he did. Last night it was tamed and his performance was better, though I do not think one should draw a correlation with these two events. Putrov has some very good qualities as a dancer. A light jump, which gives the allusion of flight, clean double-tours en lair and almost always excellent beats. His face is small but pleasantly featured but his dramatic expression does not convince me. The connection between face and body when high emotion is expected to be conveyed did not reach me and I was not far from the stage. He was at one time a dancer of great promise and perhaps I was seeing him in a role less suited to his abilities.

The Royal Ballet is cursed in my opinion with the worst production of "Swan Lake" I have ever seen. I do not care about claims of choreographic authenticity (which I might dispute), the designs for both the costumes and settings have nothing to do with the presentation of academic classical ballet. Vulgarly gaudy? Yes! Inappropriate? Undoubtedly! Empathetic for to a highly stylised 19th century ballet? No and yet again, no!

I had upon hearing reports from the original rehearsals of this product, decided to avoid it for all these years. I had after all seen a several hundred plus performances of Swan Lake in my time as many of them memorable and I did not want to have my sensibilities offended. I believe I was right in avoiding this product and it would take a lot to make me see it again even though last night's performance completely surmounted the generally appalling visual nightmare.

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.....the Royal Ballet disgraceful production of “Swan Lake"......

Disgraceful? Kindly read your history, Leonid. The RB is the only troupe on this earth that performs the original Ivanov/Petipa choreography. True, the sets and costumes are absurd. Perhaps you meant to write 'disgraceful design' and not 'disgraceful production'? I, for one, am delighted to have read elsewhere that this production has been filmed for DVD release later this year, on the Opus Arte label, starring Nunez/Soares. Hip-hip, hooray!

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What a gorgeous description of Osmolkina's performance. I hope to see her dance this role one day.

I'm not surprised she conquered the mime--the Mariinsky dancers have excellent training in mime at the Vaganova Academy, and they all mime beautifully when a production calls for it. The Mariinsky Ballet has, in its various incarnations, been performing mime for over a hundred years, after all.

A question: does the Royal Ballet really perform the Petipa/Ivanov choreography? They might use more of it than other companies, but I was under the impression that their production had been altered by Ashton, among others. They also don't seem to have enough dancers to perform it, as it requires a very large corps de ballet.

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I'd like to second what Leonid wrote about Osmolkina, she was gorgeous from beginning to end and all the more astonishing as she was battling with an injury. Iwould love to see her return to the RB as her very pure style and convincing acting would make her suitable for a great deal of the RB's rep.

And this girl isn't even a principal at the Kirov? Time to take the Kirov staff to visit the men in white coats I think.

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.....

A question: does the Royal Ballet really perform the Petipa/Ivanov choreography? ......

They do, Hans, for about 95% of the production - certainly for all of the lakeside parts. It DOES take a larger corps than in modern productions because of the inclusion of 8 or 10 pre-teen or early-teenaged student girls in the first lakeside scene. There also seemed to be more corps dancers than usual for the Danse des Coupes that ends Act I -- here properly performed with a maypole (a nice touch maintained at ABT, by the way).

Most of Ashton's emendations seen in the ca-1980 Makarova-Dowell Royal Ballet video have been excised here. The only remaining bit of Ashton, that I recall, is the Neapolitan Dance in Act III.

Mashinka - I have a very long 'laundry list' of reasons why the Kirov staff should be taken on the paddy-wagon to visit the Men in White, e.g., Daria Pavlenko being recently assigned the role of the Mare in Little Humpbacked Horse (rather than the leading Tsar-Maiden)...also, Street Dancer to Alina Somova's Kitri! We can just add Osmolkina's non-advancement to Principal to the pile of absurdities at the Mariinsky.

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here properly performed with a maypole

The problem for me is that the set with the elaborate gates already takes up too much stage space so that by the time the maypole comes on it gets very overcrowded. But the idea of setting the ballet in 19th century Russia is ill conceived and every Russian I've taken to this production complains about the inauthentic look of the costumes.

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Thank you Leonid for the beautiful report :unsure:! Osmolkina is one of the Maryinsky's high caliber ballerinas "marking time" in the soloist ranks. She is one of the Maryinsky's purists, and I am ecstatic that she had such an important success at Covent Garden!

And this girl isn't even a principal at the Kirov? Time to take the Kirov staff to visit the men in white coats I think.

The management's judgement continues off the chart. IMO it's a disgrace that bona fide ballerinas such as Osmolkina, Obratzova, and others must go abroad, or "guest" with other companies in Petersburg, (such as the Hermitage Ballet), to

get exposure and experience. If they score a major success abroad, and if they're not on the Artistic Director's "Preferred Short List," when they return, they're "rewarded" with the bench, or no tours, for weeks, months, even up to a number of seasons. Unfortunately, if we consider all the notable exceptions extolled in the Mariinsky-Kirov link, the reality is

that non-expressive, turned-in, flexnastic, anti-classicists are in vogue at the House of Blues.

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I have not only watched something in excess 250 performances of Swan Lake by various companies having different traditions, I have constantly researched the history of academic classical ballet since the mid 1960's. I have a wide range of knowledge of 'so called' history books written in some five languages which often get their facts correct, but have little understanding of performance practice in the past, or show that they know how to contextualise what facts they are re-recording.

The manner, in which the Royal Ballet "Swan Lake" performed the dances in "Swan Lake" today, is quite different to the inherited style established by Nikolai Sergeyev for the Sadlers Wells which I believe I am entitled to say I have some contact. I first saw "Swan Lake" with the company in 1960, then again in 1961 and 1962 before major changes in the production were established. I also should say that I saw Royal Ballet dancers who performed in a manner that entitled them to call themselves the only inheritors of the ballet of the St.Petersburg Imperial Theatres.

There is no such thing as a fully, authentic notated performance in the Sergeyev notations and I think no "interpreter" of the notations would claim so and as casting and choreography changed fairly frequently. Not only were interpolations frequent, variations, solos and groupings of classical, demi-caractere and character dances were changed according to casting and the current members of the company.

There is today, a great deal of difference in performing dance material not perfectly recorded a hundred years ago in terms of; actual steps, a good number of stylistic aspects, physical attributes, the prevailing aesthetic in the performing those steps and the huge pool of different dancer types to choose from to fit the choreographer or company directors ideal.

In my opinion, the Royal Ballet has betrayed their own inheritance in the manner of both arrangements of the choreography, the casting of roles and the performing style, not once, but on a number of occasions and that may seem obscurantism to current fans of the Royal Ballet, but as someone who loved the company very much I am here to make my statements based on fact and knowledge.

I am sorry to say Natalia that your comments, "Disgraceful? Kindly read your history, Leonid. The RB is the only troupe on this earth that performs the original Ivanov/Petipa choreography. True, the sets and costumes are absurd. Perhaps you meant to write 'disgraceful design' and not 'disgraceful production'? I, for one, am delighted to have read elsewhere that this production has been filmed for DVD release later this year, on the Opus Arte label, starring Nunez/Soares. Hip-hip, hooray!", are in the first case somewhat too personalised, in the second contain no substantive evidence and you then end with a fan like response which shocks me when so much serious discussion takes place on Ballet talk.

The production design impinges space needed to set off the dances which is disgraceful and the costumes ignore every traditional sense of how the ballet should be presented which is again, disgraceful.

No work of art needs updating. If we are serious about academic classical ballets as a work of art we should respect their integrity and let the audience move towards appreciation as was the case in the past. Academic Classical Ballet does not need to be "dumbed down" with an intrusive 'modern' design for a "modern audience" as if the audience themselves cannot appreciate an old work of art for what it is. To do so is patronising.

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Going back several posts to the "authenticity" of the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake, one thing to note is that the choreography of the first act pas de trois was substantially changed for this production. Dowell brought in Irina Jacobsen to help with the staging and so this number is now very much "fancier" than the version originally done by the Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet.

And I'm pretty sure that there have also been changes to the second act - even leaving aside the omission of Benno. I'm fairly sure there have been changes to the choroegraphy for the "big" swans and as we no longer have the huntsmen supporting the corps de ballet swans, there are obviously changes there.

There have also been some minor changes to the choreography of the last act making it more elaborate. But here the story always was that there was a gap in the notation which de Valois filled. However, I also remember being told that the missing part was only a matter of around a minute or so.

I first saw the Royal Ballet Swan Lake back in in the 1950's and there have been constant changes in all the productions since then. Dowell's version I find particularly unattractive; wrong-headed designs, rudeness, drunkeness and no sense of classical style. I couldn't say whether it is the most "authentic" version on the stage today, but I can state from my own observation that it has changed considerably in the past 50 years.

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I happened to be watching the film of Fonteyn and Somes in Act 2 of Swan Lake this morning, and noticed another change: in the bit where Siegfried supports Odette as she hops in arabesque down the diagonal line of swans, Somes isn't supporting Fonteyn - he's hopping too, in an exactly parallel arabesque. Does anyone still do this any more?

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Going back several posts to the "authenticity" of the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake, one thing to note is that the choreography of the first act pas de trois was substantially changed for this production. Dowell brought in Irina Jacobsen to help with the staging and so this number is now very much "fancier" than the version originally done by the Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet.

And I'm pretty sure that there have also been changes to the second act - even leaving aside the omission of Benno. I'm fairly sure there have been changes to the choroegraphy for the "big" swans and as we no longer have the huntsmen supporting the corps de ballet swans, there are obviously changes there.

There have also been some minor changes to the choreography of the last act making it more elaborate. But here the story always was that there was a gap in the notation which de Valois filled. However, I also remember being told that the missing part was only a matter of around a minute or so.

I first saw the Royal Ballet Swan Lake back in in the 1950's and there have been constant changes in all the productions since then. Dowell's version I find particularly unattractive; wrong-headed designs, rudeness, drunkeness and no sense of classical style. I couldn't say whether it is the most "authentic" version on the stage today, but I can state from my own observation that it has changed considerably in the past 50 years.

As far as I know, the Sadler's Wells four act 1934 production changed little if at all until 1952 when de Valois revised the production with Ashton choreographing a pas de six to the Act I Valse and in Act III a new version of the Neapolitan Dance in Act III.

In 1963 a major revision took place with added theatrical inventions by Robert Helpmann and the four acts becoming three including a Prologue, with various choreographic contributions by; Ashton, Nureyev and

Maria Fay (too many details to remember and list) but including a major revision of Act four with imaginative patterning for the corps which could only really be seen to best effect from the balcony or amphitheatre.

In 1965 the Royal Ballet Touring Company gave a new production going back to the atmospheric Leslie Hurry designs staged by John Field and Ashton which was performed at the Royal Opera House.

In 1971 The main Royal Ballet adopted the Touring Company version but not so long after Ashtons last act was dropped and Ivanov's restored, Petipa's Pas de trois was also restored to Act I and the Ashton's Pas de quatre moved to Act III.

Norman Morrice staged another production in 1979 in which I think some dances reverted to earlier amendations.

1987 Anthony Dowell production which later included Ashton's Neapolitan dance.

I was interested to read Jane Simpson's comment on the film of Dame Margot and Michael Somes. The described unsupported hops were a shock to me as I had never seen them or remembered if that is the excerpt on the film which also included "The Firebird" I saw decades ago.

I am not at home so cannot be exact but I hope not too far wrong as I wrote a history of Swan Lake for my own use sometime ago and know the productions well.

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I must confess that I never much liked what RB did to its Swan Lake during the sixties. They had a nigh-on perfect show, and then lumbered it with a lot of useless (for the most part) excrescences. The Waltz, Neapolitan Dance and Act IV corps parts by Ashton are not included in this evaluation. (I wondered what the Neapolitan had looked like before Ashton's version. I found out - jolly good thing he repaired it, the original was actively boooorrrrrrrring, even to dance.)

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I am very happy to hear how well Osmolkina performed in "Swan Lake". I admired a number of performances she gave at City Center last spring, and I hope this means she'll guest a little closer in the future.

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Thank you very much for the report on Osmolkina's performances in RB's "Swan Lake," leonid! I'm very happy for her.

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