Natalia

9th MARIINSKY FESTIVAL: Performance Reports

86 posts in this topic

I am surprised that she isn't getting more negative reviews for being tasteless

:P:D

This is just circus, I've seen this dancer in Don Q. pas de deux in London: vulgar beyond belief.

:D:lol:

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I was wondering if in the last act's PDD, she did the "shoulder rolls" that Kitri does in Cuba? For me this is what made me twitch, but I do enjoy the Cuban balance.

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I've only seen clips from last nights PDD, and it appeared as though Valdes had an off-night and was out-classed by Sarafanov. She seemed to be trying too hard and although her triples in the coda were nice, she failed to finish the fouettes with her typical multiple pirouette. Also, I though it was very awkward when she tried for the double turns a la seconde into the penche, while Sarafanov tried to catch her after one rotation. I thought she looked rather stiff in her variation as well. Sarafanov looked brilliant, especially in his variation. I think Valdes is a very entertaining dancer, but I am surprised that she isn't getting more negative reviews for being tasteless considering the lashing Somova typical receives. I was at the festival two years ago when Osipova lit up the stage as Kitri, and that remains one of the most magical nights of ballet I have ever seen.

How did you find the clips on youtube? I tried searching but only came up with older clips.

Or are they on another site?

I keep trying to have an open mind but the more I see, the less I like. Still.....

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I think Valdes is a very entertaining dancer, but I am surprised that she isn't getting more negative reviews for being tasteless considering the lashing Somova typical receives.

Unlike Somova, Valdes has excellent technique, but in my opinion she mis-uses it.

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I've only seen clips from last nights PDD, and it appeared as though Valdes had an off-night and was out-classed by Sarafanov. She seemed to be trying too hard and although her triples in the coda were nice, she failed to finish the fouettes with her typical multiple pirouette. Also, I though it was very awkward when she tried for the double turns a la seconde into the penche, while Sarafanov tried to catch her after one rotation. I thought she looked rather stiff in her variation as well. Sarafanov looked brilliant, especially in his variation. I think Valdes is a very entertaining dancer, but I am surprised that she isn't getting more negative reviews for being tasteless considering the lashing Somova typical receives. I was at the festival two years ago when Osipova lit up the stage as Kitri, and that remains one of the most magical nights of ballet I have ever seen.

How did you find the clips on youtube? I tried searching but only came up with older clips.

Or are they on another site?

I keep trying to have an open mind but the more I see, the less I like. Still.....

The videos are on the channel of Petyarus on youtube. There are clips of the entire PDD, Nikitina, dream sequence variations, and Kondaurova. Try searching Valdes Sarafanov. Good luck!

IMO, Somova clearly has better technique than Valdes. I could see how some might think Somova misuses it.

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Call me crazy, but I kind of expect Don Q to be over the top. I have a lot more tolerance for a Kitri who is showy to the point of vulgar than I would for a Giselle, or even a Swanilda.

I also will admit the occasional soft spot for straight-on vulgarity if I feel the dancer comes by it honestly.

Viengsay Valdez did all that we expected and more, e.g., balances to die for (one for about 30 seconds in the pdd adagio...then slowly lowering her leg...the theater erupted!)

This is just circus, I've seen this dancer in Don Q. pas de deux in London: vulgar beyond belief.

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Call me crazy, but I kind of expect Don Q to be over the top. I have a lot more tolerance for a Kitri who is showy to the point of vulgar than I would for a Giselle, or even a Swanilda.

I also will admit the occasional soft spot for straight-on vulgarity if I feel the dancer comes by it honestly.

Viengsay Valdez did all that we expected and more, e.g., balances to die for (one for about 30 seconds in the pdd adagio...then slowly lowering her leg...the theater erupted!)

This is just circus, I've seen this dancer in Don Q. pas de deux in London: vulgar beyond belief.

I have seen Vladimir Vasiliev and Yekaterina Maximova in full length performances in the theatre and in 1969 saw them dance the pas deux as a concert item. Both pulled out all the stops, performing a highly technical version with perfect control and there was a lot of fun to be admired but no vulgarity. I think Vasilievs performance is best caught on film and perhaps more so than the entirely delectable Maximova who on stage in Don Q, was an accomplished performer who brought true joie de vivre and an impeccable techhnique.

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On the Valdes thread, cubanmiamiboy posted a number of youTube links which show her in a number of very familiar "numbers" from the classics.

Two of them caught my eye:

Black Swan Act III variation/coda

and (relevant to her performance at the Mariinksy):

DQ Kitri’s entrance/Dulcinea variation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEfknMnP66s

Her balanching is indeed extraordinary, which impacts her turning enormously. In the 2002 Black Swan clip, this actually distracted from the dancing and the character. It was like a master class of sorts, and it mesmerised me by technique while obliterating the character..

The 2007 Paris Kitri/Dulcinea, on the other hand, reveael both technique AND a charming and charismatic dancer. As Leigh impliess, some roles are more tolerant of this sort of thing than others.

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I've only seen clips from last nights PDD, and it appeared as though Valdes had an off-night and was out-classed by Sarafanov. She seemed to be trying too hard and although her triples in the coda were nice, she failed to finish the fouettes with her typical multiple pirouette. Also, I though it was very awkward when she tried for the double turns a la seconde into the penche, while Sarafanov tried to catch her after one rotation. I thought she looked rather stiff in her variation as well. Sarafanov looked brilliant, especially in his variation. I think Valdes is a very entertaining dancer, but I am surprised that she isn't getting more negative reviews for being tasteless considering the lashing Somova typical receives.

While Valdes' flashiness isn't totally to my taste, it suited Don Quixote. I thought she was quite good in the clips from last night -- nice balances and fouettes. It seemed to me the over the top-ness was toned down a bit, compared to other clips of Valdes doing this PDD. (Perhaps some nerves?) Sarafanov looked brilliant. He and Valdes appeared a well matched pair.

Oh, and thank you for the wonderful reports, Natalia and chiapuris!!

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You're welcome, Rosa. I failed to mention in the review the surprising 'softness' of Valdes' Don Q pdd variation. Instead of going chop-chop-chop, she floated into her initial attitude arabesques which, I am told, was part of the 1930s-40s-50s Ballet-Russe de Monte Carlo way of performing this dance. Madame Alonso's influence, perhaps? So, in regard to the pdd solo, Viengsay Valdes is among the least vulgar Kitris.

I am back to internet access in my room, so will try to give quick impressions of last night's fab Swan Lake with Terioshkina and Berlin Ballet principal Kaniskin. I had better move quickly before things blank-out again....LOL!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SWAN LAKE

Mariinsky Theater

fantasy ballet in three acts (four scenes)

Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (1895)

revised choreography and stage direction: Konstantin Sergeyev (1950)

Odette-Odile – Viktoria Tereshkina

Siegfried – Mikhail Kaniskin (Staatsballett Berlin)

Act I Pas de Trois – Irina Golub, Nadezhda Gonchar, Maxim Zyuzin

Jester – Andrei Ivanov

Rothbart – Ilya Kuznetsov

Prncess-Mother - Elena Bazhenova

Tutor - Petr Statsyunas

4 Big Swans - Iosifidi, Kondaurova, Lishuk, Vasnetsova

4 Cygnets - Vasyuchenko, Lavrinenko, Selina and ???? (a small redhead -- not Cheprassova -- certainly not the announced Nikitina)

Spanish - Ryu, Baimuradov, Smirnova, Sergeyev

Neapolitan leads - Selina, Khrebtov

Hungarian leads - Rassadina, Ioannisian

Mazurka - Berinova, Belik, Vasiletz, Khrebtova, Nikitin, Salikov, Klimov, Naumov

Act 4 Two Swans - Kondaurova, Iosifidi

Conductor – Mikhail Agrest

Last night's performance of Swan Lake could be subtitiled 'Felicitous Facility.' The leads, as well as the Act I Pas deTrois dancers, are so easily in command of their art that, almost to a fault, there was no tension.

Odette/Odile has become one of ViktoriaTerioshkina's signature roles. One knows that she will never put a wrong foot down. Her body is poetry and the line sublime, very much like another long-limbed-but-diminutive great Odette-Odile of my childhood, Natalia Makarova. Terioshkina has Makarova's body and expressiveness in line. If there is a fault, it is that, like Michele Wiles at ABT, Terioshkina face & acting may be a bit too toned down. [The extreme opposite of this is Veronika Part, also of ABT.]

Mikhail Kaniskin was an able partner and easy-going technician, if not the sort that knocks the socks off you. I loved his floaty manner in jumps and turns, as well as his gorgeous feet.

The pas de trois dancers were elegantly beautiful...if not particularly exciting. Nice and clean.

It was, for me, the lowest-wattage night of the festival, from a crowd-reaction point of view...but nothing was wrong. Felicitous facility. Even the jester, Andrei Ivanov, was in low-key mode. If anybody 'showed the effort' and got the audienced pumped-up, it was Kuznetsov's always-thrilling, ever high-flying Von Rothbart....but his presentation was almost ruined by one obnoxious 'clacquer' in the audience -- we know the guy; I've written about him before -- who loudly 'Bravoed' every jump and turn made by Kuznetzov...four 'bravos' during his initial brief appearance at the start of scene two, imagine that! But it's characters like BRAVO MAN who make coming to the Mariinsky such fun. :D

Last night's presentation paired the traditional 1950s scenery with Vinogradov's over-glittery costumes, e.g., a jester in electric-blue unitard with red glitter in the ball scene. Curiously, according to the playbill, the evening was in honor of the 100th birthday of the designer of the 1950s costumes, Simon Virsaladze! So he was 'honored' trotting out the vulgar costumes of 1995? Geez Louise...

Natalia Nabatova

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18/3/09

SWAN LAKE

Fantasy ballet in three acts (4 scenes)

Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Libretto Vladimir Begichev and Vasiy Geltzer

Choreography Marius Petipa and Lev ivanov (1895)

revised by Konstantin Sergeyev

Set design Simon Virsaladze

Costume design Galina Solovyova

Odette-Odile Viktoria Tereshkina

Siegfried Mikhail Kaniskin

Princess/Mother Elena Bazhenova

Tutor Pyotr Stasyunas

Pas de Trois Irina Golub Nadezhda Gonchar Maxim Zyuzin

Joker Andrei Ivanov

Rothbart Ilya Kuznetzov

Cygnets Elena Yushkovskaya Anastasia Mikitina

Anna Lavrinenko Yana Selina

Big Swans Alexandra Iosifidi Yekaterina Kondaurova

Lilia lishchuk Daria Vasnetsova

Spanish Ji Yeon Ryu Yulia Smirnova Islom Baimuradov Alexander Sergeyev

Neapolitan Yana Selina Maxim Khrebtov

Hungarian Polina Rassadina Karen Ioanissyan

Mazurka Daria Barinova Olga Belik Anastasia Vasilets Svetlana Khrebtova

Igor Nikitin Sergei Salikov Alexander Klimov Nikolai Naumov

Although I made this point after last year's run of five consecutive Swan Lakes,

I'll repeat myself: the Mariinsky's production of Sergeyev's SL is one of the most satisfying productions extant. The first act is a marvel of story telling, scene setting and just beguilingly conceived dance sequences. The lake scene is without fault. The Odile scene sets the standard.

In my view, It is also the one that most needs rethinking to bring its Act III back into consonance with its musical springboard: the score of Tchaikovsky. It needs to let go of its Soviet happy ending.

Tonight's performance featured Viktoria Tereshkina, an artist, who, at least for me, sets the standard of dancing the dual roles as pure vessels of choreography unfettered of personal ornamentation. She was transcendently beautiful throughout. The purity of her line, the acuity of her perception were very moving.

Her partner, Mikhail Kaniskin, a guest from the Berlin Staatsballet, was a solid partner, an accurate dancer, but, at least personally I failed to see him at any point in the proceedings express any passion of anxiety, remorse, pain of love

or anything else that the unfolding events could have provoked in him.

An association I hold for the first act pas de trois is dancing as the abandon of youth. I missed this feeling of carefree delight in tonight's performers of the trio, who were technically superb but somewhat restrained.

The ensemble dances, in all the acts, as always with the Mariinsky company, were fully articulated, rich with details, spilling over with interest.

The character dances of the Mariinsky three-act ballets keep alive the rich musical folk and court traditions upon which the ballet's danse d'ecole is nourished. Tonight's Hungarian and Mazurka ensembles are bright examples.

Tonight's audience was loaded with digital cameras and flashes that kept going off throughout the performance- particularly bothersome during the lake scene.

Another jarring audience event was a clacquer's shouted 'bravo' during the lake scene with Rothbart alone on stage. Simply weird.

Mikhail Agrest conducted energetically.

Applause was warm and curtain calls were extended.

Mr Kaniskin on receiving floral bouquets offered them in turn to Ms Tereshkina. A nice gesture.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

ULIANA LOPATKINA GALA

Mariinsky Theater

I. Diamonds

(Balanchine/Tchaikovsky)

Leads - Ulyana Lopatkina, Danila Korsuntsev

Demi-solo women - Chugai, Ivannikova, Ostreikovskaya, Vasnetsova

Demi-solo men - Ermakov, S. Popov, Zverev, Zuizin

II. Contemporary Divertissements

THE PARTING by Yuri Smekalov - Obraztsova/Schklyarov

THE CRANE solo fm Dreams of Japan by Ratmansky - D. Gudanov (Bolshoi guest)

DUET OF AUTUMN COLORS by Yevgeni Panfilov - Tarasova/Batalov

OLD PHOTOGRAPH by Dmitri Bryantsev - Golub/Sitnikov

CONTRADICTIONS by Francesco Ventriglia - Lopatkina/Kozlov

III. Schéhérazade

(Fokine/Rimsky-Korsakov)

Zobeide- Uliana Lopatkina

Golden Slave - Dmitry Gudanov (guest fm Bolshoi)

Shah- Ivan Sitnikov

Shakezman - Karen Ioannisian

Chief Eunuch- Roman Skripkin

Three Odalisques in Pink- Elena Bazhenova, Ti En Ryu and Yulia Smirnova

The 9th Mariinsky Festival hit a lowpoint in the most unlikely of evenings-- the gala in honor of its greatest star, La Divina, Uliana Lopatkina.

The negatives were NOT due to the night's highlight -- the first ballet, Diamonds, which received a truly majestic delivery from soloists and corps alike. For anybody who thinks that Lopatkina may be 'losing it' at age 35/36, her Diamonds can be held-up as Exhibit A that this is not the case. Everything was creamy and masterful -- deliciously silky double pirouette after the partner lets go of her in the adagio, buttery bourres, sculptural positions that recall the Canovas in the Hermitage. The corps was brilliant, especially the four demi-solo ladies, among whom I'll single-out Daria Vasnetsova with her bronzed complexion and ever-flashing eyes.

It was all dowhill from here, despite the participation of glorious dancers...

In the next section, we were seemingly taken back to one of those gawd-awful 'Contemporary Rounds' of an international ballet competition, such as Varna or Jackson. Lots of sturm-und-drang to display ability to extend limbs and roll on the floor. At least Dmitri Gudanov had a solo and was spared having to fight with a female. What a shame that this will be (I think) our only Festival look at the marvellous Evgenia Obraztsova & Vladimir Schklyarov -- a sturm-und-drang tango! How horrible that anybody's only look in a long time at veteran artists, Elvira Tarassova and Andrei Batalov, was a 'posing piece' in which each pulled the other to 180-degree extensions...quite surprising in the man, be the way. Golub and Sitnikov's piece was brighter -- well, the costumes were white -- but even it had a dark undercurrent (little girl in pigtails with a tall sailor?). Especially horrid was the last piece with Lopatkina and her favorite heave-ho guy, Kozlov, which begins with Lopatkina slapping Kozlov and eating a bunch of roses, then ends with a big kiss for the bum? Why does such a great artist like Lopatkina subject herself to this kind of crap that does her no good whatsoever?

Intermission 2 began at 8:30pm....and ended after 9:30 - ridiculous! The audience got very restless and clapped several times to bring-on the conductor. For a moment I thought that perhaps Valery Gergiev was scheduled to conduct Scheherazade --Gergiev being infamous for stretching intermissions while fetting VIPs in his office -- but, no, it was Mikhail Sinkevich instead. Then began a verrry lonnnng ballet that included the orchestra playing the initial movement before the curtain rose on the 2nd movement to reveal Bakst's luxurious 1001 Nights setting...but even that could not keep me fully awake. I kept waiting for this night to end, which is a shame because Gudanov gave us a truly lively and high-flying Golden Slave. The others in the cast seemed to be going-through-the-motions, La Divina included. I saw several people leave their Orchestra-Stalls seats before Scheherazade began; three people in my Bel-Etage box left in the middle of the ballet, right after seeing a bit of Lopatkina, when the Shah goes to the hunt. I should have followed them.

I may have one more chance to see Evgenia Obraztsova in a decent ballet, as she is listed on the big 'main poster' for the festival as dancing in tonight's Bayadere.....what - as Manu, the water-jug girl? Hopefully as one of the three solo shades but, still, the mistreatment of this great artist is unpardonable. But at least she is dancing a couple of bits. Daria Pavlenko is not so lucky.

Natalia Nabatova

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19/3/09

Ulyana Lopatkina Gala Evening

Mariinsky

Diamonds

Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Choreography George Balanchine

Scenery Peter Harvey

Costumes Karinska/Holly Hines

Lighting Roland Bates/Perry Silvey

Cast:

Ulyana Lopatkina

Danila Korsuntsev

Maria Chugai, Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Daria Vasnetsova, Yekaterina Ivannikova

Sergei Popov, Andrei Ermakov, Maxim Zyuzin, Konstantin Zverev

Part II Divertissements

1. The Parting Music John Powell, Choreo. Yury Smekalov

Yevgenia Obraztsova Vladimir Shklyarov

2. The Crane Music L Eto, M Yamaguchi, R Tosha Choreo. Alexey Ratmansky

Dmitry Gudanov

3. Duet of Autumn Colors Music Arvo Part Choreo. Yevgeny Panfilov

Elvira Tarasova Andrey Batalov

4. The Old Photograph Music Dmitry Shostakovich Choreo. Dmitry Briantsev

Irina Golub Ivan Sitnikov

5. Contradictions Music Yann Tiersen Choreo. Francesco Ventriglia

Ulyana Lopatkina Ivan Kozlov

Part III

Scheherazade

Music Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Choreography Michel Fokine/Isabelle Fokine & Andris Liepa

Set and Costume Design Leon Bakst/Anna & Anatoly Nezhny

Zobeide Ulyana Lopatkina

Golden Slave Dmitry Gudanov

Shah Shahryar Ivan Sitnikov (debut)

Shakhezman Karen Ioannisyan

Chief Eunuch Roman Skripkin

Odalisques Elena Bazhenova, Ji Yeon Ryu, Yulia Smirnova

The gala of Ulyana Lopatkina presented a brilliant tiara of luminous dancing with the performance of the first ballet, Balanchine's third act of Jewels.

What a beauty of a performance it was!

It is easy to praise the pas de deux, the centerpiece of the tiara and the largest jewel of the lot, for its luxurious amplitude of movement, nobility of gesture, and the emotional resonance of its coupled poses.

For me, this performance of Ms Lopatkina's will remain in my memory as one of the most vivid readings of the role that I know.

Danila Korsuntsev was impeccable as the devoted cavalier. His double-work was assured and his variations were handsome.

The ballet, Balanchine's tribute to his Mariinsky upbringing, with its recollection of high-style Imperial Russian dance, boasted, in this performance, an ensemble of dancers showing us the grandeur and elegance (and the deep balancé, typical of the Mariinsky style, stressing the downbeat).

Among the demi-soloists, all excellent, I particularly liked Daria Vasnetsova and Maxim Zyuzin.

The musical finale's polonaise created, in waves of patterns of increasing complexity, a melding of the principals and the demi-soloists and the ensemble, until, at the end, we had before us a collective organism - the ballet, larger that any of its parts. Altogether, a thrilling performance.

The second part with five divertissements was a refreshing collection of dance miniatures showing off the dancers in different choreographic styles.

Standouts for me were the first duet with witty choreography by Yury Smekalov, where Obraztsova and Shklyarov show the sorrows of love with the pulse of the tango.

Save for Gudanov's zen-like solo by Ratmansky, the other duets all dealt with aspects of the pains of sexual needs/love/loss.

The Scheherazade had very-well appreciated performances by Ms Lopatkina and Mr Gudanov.

Since I remember the old Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo performances of the same work in NYC, my memory remains faithful to the old.

Curtains calls for Ms Lopatkina were endless.

Mikahil Sinkevich conducted with his usual panache.

I enjoyed both his Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov readings.

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Thanks Natalia and Chiapuris for the wonderful reports! I'm sorry to hear that Obratzova and Shklyarov danced

a tango. What a waste - such "assignments" do not do them justice. Tereshkina is simply magnificent. Thank you

both for the beautifully detailed reports of her O/O and the performance. Quite simply, this is her Festival. Brava Victoria :) !

I may have one more chance to see Evgenia Obraztsova in a decent ballet, as she is listed on the big 'main poster' for the festival as dancing in tonight's Bayadere.....what - as Manu, the water-jug girl? Hopefully as one of the three solo shades but, still, the mistreatment of this great artist is unpardonable. But at least she is dancing a couple of bits. Daria Pavlenko is not so lucky.

Manu?! Are they serious?! Unfortunately, yes. I hope they don't consign Obratzova to the "Dumchenko Dungeon."

I agree Natalia: At least she's scheduled for this Festival - at all. Post Festival, here's some other things they're serious about: March 28 a "Giselle" debut. Who? A. Somova. No, they're not finished with us yet. April 4 "Don Q" with Tanya Tkachenko as a Flower Seller, Volodya Shklyarov as Basil, Katya Kondaurova as Dryad, and Dasha Pavlenko as the Street Dancer - backing up Somova's faux "Kitri." Imagine that :huh: .

I'm also sorry to hear that the audience was subjected to a one hour intermission before Lopatkina's "Scheherazade." There must have been a very good reason for the delay. IMO a P.A. announcement requesting the audience's indulgence, at 30 - 40 mins. wouldn't have been inappropriate; regardless of whether it was a podium or backstage issue. It's well known that Gergiev's unpunctuality is normal at home. Let's hope the rest of the conducting staff doesnt pick up this, as well as the black p.j. affectation. Bubelnikov has cornered that market.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

LA BAYADERE

Mariinsky Theater

ballet in three acts

Music: Ludwig Minkus

Choreography: Marius Petipa (1877)

Revised choreography: Vladimir Ponomarev and Vakhtang Chabukiani (1941)

Nikia – Polina Semionova (Staatsballett Berlin)

Solor – Igor Zelensky

Gamzatti – Anastasia Matvienko

Golden Idol – Alexei Timofeyev

Shadows – Evgenia Obraztsova, Nadezhda Gonchar, Daria Vasnetsova

Conductor – Mikhail Sinkevich

Note: Review updated on 3-26-09; was unable to complete while in St. Petersburg due to daytime commitments.

Tonight afforded us one of the most complete and satisfying nights of the 9th Mariinsky Festival. Not only did we see perhaps the most old-fashioned 'deluxe' production in the troupe's current repertoire -- in the grand old Imperial style -- but we also enjoyed the artistry of a magnificent guest ballerina who danced as if To the Manor Born, in pure Vaganova style. Polina Semionova of the Berlin Ballet -- trained at the Boslhoi school in Moscow -- is a brilliant, majestic ballerina whose sculptural Nikiya can best be described as Poetry in Motion. Having heretofore seen Ms Semionova only in competitions or in short gala pieces, usually accompanied by Roberto Bolle, I had somewhat written her off as a 'glamor gal' without much substance. Boy, was I wrong! Seeing her in a long, complex classical ballet, I now appreciate what a totally-giving, serious artist she is. I would even venture to write that she is very much in the style and 'big good girl' look of England's Darcey Bussell. Every arabesque, every attitude is a work of art. So musical and gracious. Thin but not a sack of bones - a gorgeous 'true woman' with gravitas. America/ABT deserves to see her soon, she is The Real Thing....the Anti-Somova, shall we say.

Igor Zelensky also impressed, as Solor. He is still eeking out those jetes after all of these years but, to his credit, was able to easily lift an extremely tall-and-big-boned Nikiya. He has always been and continues to be a gracious artist and a joy to watch, despite minor technical faults due to age.

The evening saw three very impressive Shades. Evgenia Obraztsova displayed extraordinary ballon as the first shade, ending in a picture-perfect diagonal of traveling arabesques, hopping on pointe. The ever-improving Nadezhdar Gonchar was sharp as the second shade, displaying high cabrioles. In the lyrical solo of the 3rd shade, tall brunette Daria Vasnetsova was elegantly melting, if a tad tentative in the tricky initial sequence of developes and slow pirouettes; she is one of the Mariinsky's most promising and deserving young soloists and possesses one of the most beautiful and expressive faces and, especially, sets of eyes!

The 'revelation of the night' was quite unexpected: the Mariinsky's new young Lioness of the Dance in the Act II Hindu/Tom-Tom Dance, ANASTASIA PETUSHKOVA. Remember the name -- definitely not the "princessy-angel type" with her angular facial features and largeish torso but....oh, can she dance like crazy as if her life depended on it! NYCB would adore her in the Govrin-Meunier repertoire. Her partner was Islom 'The Energizer' Baimuratov...so just imagine the sparks!!!

The very few disappointments included a low-key Mariinsky debut for new 1st-soloist Anastasia Matvienko as Gamzatti; picture Alina Somova as a brunette, weak (low) jetes and all...and Gamzatti's variation is famous for its jetes. A competition-circuit specialist with a very pretty face, she is nonetheless at the Mariinsky thanks to her husband, Denis Matvienko's, coat-tails. That is a shame for the many home-grown choryphees and 2nd soloists who have waited so long for their promotions to 1st Soloist but, hey, that's life and politics. :) Also, the relatively-new Bronze Idol, Alexei Timofeev, was quite mediocre - fine in the initial straight-up-and-down jumps and poses but embarassingly bad in his final circle of jetes...as if he had forgotten to turn-on his jet-propulsion engines tonight.

The corps de ballet danced the finest that I've seen them in this festival, particularly the wonderful 32 shades in the final scene. They still "have it" unlike any other corps in the world.

Next: GISELLE with Vishneva and Gomes!

Natalia Nabatova

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20/3/09

La Bayadère

Ballet in three acts, five scenes

Music Ludwig Minkus

Choreography Marius Petipa (Vladimir Ponomarev/Vakhtang Chabukiani version)

Additional Dances Konstantin Sergeev & Nikolai Zubkovsky

Nikiya Polina Semionova (Staatsballett Berlin)

Rajah Pyotr Stasiunas

Gamzatti Anastasia Matvienko (debut)

Solor Igor Zelensky

Brahmin Vladimir Ponomarev

Magdayeva Grigory Popov

Toloragva Andrei Yakovlev 1st

Slave Sergei Salikov

Aiya Elena Bazhenova

Jampo Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Yana Selina

Pas de quatre Valeria Martynuk, Yana Selina, Anna Lavrienko, Elena Chmil

Grand Pas Classique Anastasia Matvienko and Igor Zelensky

with Alexandra Iosifidi, Yekaterina Kondaurova, Lillia Lishchuk, Yuliana Chereshkevich, Alexander Romanchikov,Sergei Popov

Indian Dance Anastasia Petushkova Islom Baimuradov Fyodor Murashov

Golden Idol Alexei Timofeyev

Manu Elena Yuskovskaya

Shades Variations Yevgenia Obraztsova

Nadezhda Gonchar

Daria Vasnetsova

This evening's performance featured the work I most enjoy seeing at the Mariinsky --(Well, not exactly; first on my list would be the Vikharev reconstruction of Bayadere, which, at least, I have already seen twice at an earlier festival).

Moreover, this evening's cast featured superb performances by all three principals, the guest Nikiya, Polina Semionova, Igor Zelensky's Solor, and newly joined soloist Anastasia Matvienko's Gamzatti.

To call this a star-studded evening would be no exaggeration.

Besides the principals, the performance included extraordinary contributions from Evgenia Obraztsova Daria Vasnetsova and Nadezhda Gonchar as Shades, Alexei Timofeyev's golden idol, Grigory Popov as a very good Magdayeva,

the very energetic pair of Anastasia Petushkova and Islom Baimuradov in the 'Indian' dance (that, in spite of all, I am learning to like) and, not least, the female ensemble in the descent of the Shades, one and all, crystalline and shimmering as if with an inner, deep-sourced energy.

Polina Semionova, in my first view of her, was truly a joy to watch. She placed all of her profound technical resources in the service of the role. Never once, did she display virtuosic proficiency for its own sake outside the bounds of the role.

She was intensely moving in her dance for the wedding celebrations, extending the wide range of movement, from astonishing balances on pointe before 'developing' the leg, to meltingly slow port de bras.

The 'Shades' pas de deux was impeccably performed. The assurance of her bearing remained serene throughout the proceedings. The scarf dance with its pirouettes en arabesque unfolded seamlessly as if the creature performing it were freed from gravity and other physical laws.

Zelensky gave an outstanding performance with attentive partnering and unleashed power in his variations, with jumps that hovered in the air, and impetuous runs and secure turns both in the air and on the ground.

I have not seen him in years exhibiting this kind of explosive force in his dancing.

Anastasia Matvienko, whom I had the privilege to see win the senior Gold in the 2005 Moscow Competition, was somewhat demure in her first pantomimic scene with Nikiya, but came into her element with the Grand Pas Classique where she showed lush lines and exquisite phrasing in her variations and the double work with Zelensky.

The pas de quatre of the bayaderes in the second act (Martynuk, Selina, Lavrinenko, Chmil) was particularly handsome.

The production as a whole looked exquisite, and it could be that there were a few new costumes. I even enjoyed dances that usually leave me indifferent such as Manu (the dancer with the jug on her head) and the Jampo, which opens the second scene. Jampo was led in this performance by Xenia Ostreikovskaya and Yana Selina.

The Vaganova Academy students danced capably, accompanying either the Golden Idol or Manu.

Mikhail Sinkevich conducted with his usual brisk efficiency, enhancing Minkus' score.

Audience response was enthusiastic and long with applause.

The principals and indeed the entire company deserved all the bravi.

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DIANA AND MARCELO SPILL THEIR PASSIONS AT THE MARIINSKY!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

GISELLE

Mariinsky Theater

fantasy ballet in two acts

Music: Adolphe Adam

Choreography: Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa

Giselle – Diana Vishneva

Count Albert – Marcelo Gomes (American Ballet Theatre)

Hans – Ilya Kuznetsov

Peasant pdd – Valeria Martynyuk, Filipp Stepin

Berta, Giselle's mother - Anastasia Vasiletz

Bathilde- Elena Bazhenova

Albrecht's aide - Maxim Khrebtov

Mirtha – Ekaterina Kondaurova

Moyna - Oksana Skorik

Zulma- Xenia Ostreikovskaya

Conductor – Mikhail Agrest

The flames of red-hot passion ignited the Mariinsky stage tonight as Marcelo Gomes made his Mariinsky debut as Albrecht opposite his ABT colleague - and leading ballerina here in Petersburg - Diana Vishhneva. This is surely one of the finest pairings I've seen live, right up there with Alonso-Esquivel in 1978 and Cojocaru-Kobborg at this festival ca-2003. Vishneva, of course, can always be counted on to deliver a fine Giselle, regardless of whoever is dancing opposite her but when you put her together with a TypeA on-stage-personality soulmate, well....it goes to the hearts of everyone in the auditorium...which is why we kept them coming back for more and more curtain calls well past the lowering of the hard front curtain...some of us "Marcelo-ettes" sitting on the edge of a balcony box, dancing and waving our arms when the pair kept coming out for more late bows. Whew - it was fun!

Just as with the wonderful Part-Gomes Swan Lake in DC last month, this was mostly about the chemistry. Technique was secondary though it was there too...but who cared? Vishneva's Act I solo was gracious and light; yet, she so danced it FOR Albrecht that even I was paying more attention to their interplay than to the actual steps.

Ilia Kuznetsov essayed a multi-layered Hans and danced very well...yes, again 'backed up' by his "Bravo Man' who was seemingly hanging from the rafters way up in cheap seats. [He had my group in stitches...whenever Ilya appeared, Bravo Man would jump out of his seat and lean over the edge of the highest tier and clap his hands loudly...it's a wonder that the ushers let him get away with those antics.]

Ekaterina Kondaurova soared as Myrtha. Young Oksana Skorik performed gorgeous cabrioles into attitude balances during her demi-solo; she is another one on the rise, quickly and deservedly.

The Peasant pdd was graciously delivered, Valeria Martinyuk with a lovely ballon and Filip Styopin with elegant line but a misplaced step or two. I was sorry to see that the famous-but-difficult move in which the girl kneels down then pops up in unsupported pirouette, is now omitted; instead she barely does a demi-plie and the guy already has his hands around her waist to assist her pirouette. Boo to that! Luckily, practically all else this evening was wonderful, with special kudos to the spot-on Wilis.

Tomorrow - The Final Gala. Until now, we're not quite sure who will appear dancing what. For example, will it be Somova or Obraztsova dancing with (maybe) Corella in the Don Q Grand Pas?

Natalia Nabatova

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So glad Marcelo "The Magnificent" Gomes' Mariinsky debut was a success! :lol:

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[Tomorrow - The Final Gala. Until now, we're not quite sure who will appear dancing what. For example, will it be Somova or Obraztsova dancing with (maybe) Corella in the Don Q Grand Pas?

Natalia Nabatova

Per Angel Corella's website he is to dance the DonQ pdd with Olesya Novikova.

Thanks for all the reports Natalia and chiapuris and any others I have missed, it's been a joy to read.

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Thank you Natalia! :) Vishneva, Gomes, Kuznetsov...a casting of my dreams and I missed it. What an evening it must have been. Who the heck is poor bravo man! :off topic:

Please do not misunderstand my question, I have nothing but admiration for the casting and choice of ballet but, was the house filled with tourists or would you say the educated Petersburg audience liked the perfomance? I wish I could read the Russian websites, but my language skills have deteriorated horribly. :blush:

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........Per Angel Corella's website he is to dance the DonQ pdd with Olesya Novikova......

Whaaaaaaat??? So it's three possibilities. Novikova is probably best-known among the three for her Kitri. Come to think of it, we haven't seen Novikova at all in this festival and she had been one of the most visible of dancers not-so-long-ago.

Marcelo will dance a pdd from Manon with Tereshkina.

I'll probably review when back in DC as (a) these closing galas tend to last long and (b) my flight departs at 6am!

EDITED TO ADD: Vrsfanatic, to answer your question based solely on three very nice forty-something Russian ladies in my box who stayed til the last curtain call and "waved" with me...at the lone intermission, they were remarking, "Why is he the prince? He looks more like a Hilarion and Ilya should be the prince." That prompted me to politely go "ahummmm....izvinitie (excuse me)..." which is how I found out that the old rules of emploi are alive and well here, eg, the paler and blonder guy -- also the one with longer lines, as is Ilya -- is the natural prince. All of that changed for the ladies in the box with Act2, when Marcelo won them over with his performance.

By the way, I had never seen Marcelo's Albrecht before....in A2, whenever he collapses to the ground from exhaustion, it's with a huge BOOM! I was afraid that we'd see a gaping hole on those fabled boards!!!

BravoMan is a paid clacquer, which I know for a fact when he asked me a few years back if I would pay him to "ensure a success" for Maria Kowroski's debut the next night. [Why me - he knew that I was Amerikanka?????] Ilya should distance himself from that embarrassment because he does not need him to get 'bravos' or prompt entrance-applause...he gets that on his own merits.

FURTHER EDITED: "Petyaurus'" shaky cell-phone clips are now on YouTube.

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21/3/09

Giselle

Fantastic ballet in two acts

Music Adolphe Adam

Libretto Jules Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, Theophile Gautier,

Jean Coralli

Choreography Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa

Set Design Igor Ivanov

Costume Design Irina Press

Reconstruction Consultant Yuri Slonimsky

Giselle Diana Vishneva

Albert Marcelo Gomes

Berthe Anastasia Vasilets

Bathilde Elena Bazhenova

Hans Ilya Kuznetsov

Sword-bearer Maxim Khrebtov

Duke Vladimir Ponomaryov

Classical Duet Valeria Martynuk

Filipp Styopin

Myrtha Yekaterina Kondaurove

Monna Oxana Skorik

Zulma Xenia Ostreikovskaya

The last ballet of the festival starred Diana Vishneva, ABT's Marcelo Gomes and

the majestic Yekaterina Kondaurova as Myrtha.

The evening as a whole was richly rewarding, with Ms Vishneva's performance thoughtfully replete with a detailed reading of the role, at times even idiomatic.

Certain passages, in both acts, seemed, in my view, performed so slowly, that the flow of the story telling and the musical pulse appeared disrupted.

In earlier views of the Mariinsky's production of Giselle I had commented on how

efficiently the story telling advanced throughout the first act. I don't find that this statement applies to this performance.

Ms Vishneva looked extremely ethereal in the first act, in a pale, dusty pink bodice, which contrasted with the rather bright costumes of the ensemble, and had her hair worn back, gathered, but left down. She didn't loosen and free the hair for the 'mad' scene.

The 'mad' scene relied on her expressive body language to signal the effect of events on her state of being. It was a very moving scene, free of rhetorical gestures, and profoundly simple and clear.

Marcelo Gomes was the impetuous youth/noble cad, par excellence.

The Hans/Hilarion of Ilya Kuznetsov was very well done. I really enjoyed his performance of a character one can only feel sympathy for, since his actions are by no means villainous.

I have no idea whether I have ever seen before the classical pas de deux inserted in the first act or where it came from.

Every time I see Giselle it seems a different pdd.

This one looked 'Bournonville'-like and was very well-danced by the charming Martynuk and Styopin. (Styopin's double tours times two ending in 5th demi-plie were exemplary).

The second act held together better with the imperious presence of Kondaurova's Myrtha, a figure suggesting contained fury. The amplitude of her dancing confirmed her reign over the realm of the Wilis, discontented ghosts seeking redemption -for themselves, or in the case of Giselle for her beloved.

A high-point of Vishneva's performance was, for me, her initiation into the sorority of the Wilis with the grands pirouettes en arabesque at dazzling speed. In contrast, some of her adage movements were slower than usually seen.

Mr Gomes' highpoint was his series of entre-chats six with the arms in different positions, exemplifying a soul in a tormented state of remorse.

Altogether, this was an evening of exceptional dancing.

The audience was appreciative with sustained applause, many flower tributes,

endless curtain calls.

Mikhail Agrest conducted.

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We at Ballet Talk are so fortunate to have these reports! Thanks to all. :off topic::)

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Yes, thank you all for the reports, they've made wondersul reading! Wish I could have been there...

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