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9th MARIINSKY FESTIVAL: Performance ReportsMarch 14 - 22, 2009


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#16 Natalia

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 06:51 AM

Drew, I am sure that you and most other habitues of Ballet Talk would love Ratmansky's Little Humpbacked Horse. I absolutely love it and would sincerely hope that impressarios can throw caution to the wind. Maybe one or two of them have the wherewithal to make our dreams come true?

By the way, Bright Stream is totally different in that it does have bright (no pun intended) and luxurious designs, as well as a bouncy, tuneful score. LHH has a major problem with the minimalist 'look' and a secondary one with the "non-Minkusian" (!) score. Casual Western audiences would have preferred the lilting Pugni and Drigo tunes from the Imperial-Era version of LHH...think 'Animated Frescoes Pas de Quatre' or the 'Ocean and Pearls pas de trois.' Tsar Nicholas II wrote that his favorite moment in all of ballet was the performance of the March that opened Act IV of the St. Leon-Petipa version of LHH...I wonder where on this earth we could now see and hear that march performed live?

To enjoy the Ratmansky LHH, it is important to "turn off your inner Tsar" and stay in the 21st century. I did, so I enjoyed. :dry:

My "inner Tsarina" remains off, as tonight we'll have VISHNEVA: BEAUTY IN MOTION. Interestingly, it will feature an ensemble of dancers somewhat different from what toured the USA last year.

#17 Natalia

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 09:41 PM

Monday, March 16, 2009
DIANA VISHNEVA: BEAUTY IN MOTION
Mariinsky Theater

PIERROT LUNAIRE
Music by Arnold Shönberg
Choreography by Alexei Ratmansky; Assistant of choreographer - Elvira Tarasova
NEW designs (since the US tour) by Tatyana Chernova
Performed by Diana Vishneva, Islom Baimuradov, Mikhail Lobukhin, Alexander Sergeyev

F.L.O.W. (For Love of Women)
ballet in three parts
Choreography and Direction by Moses Pendleton
Performed by Diana Vishneva, Yekaterina Ivannikova, Yana Selina

THREE POINT TURN
Music by David Rozenblatt
Choreography by Dwight Rhoden
Performed by Diana Vishneva/Alexander Sergeev (in red costumes)
Irina Golub/Anton Pimonov (green)
Yana Selina/Mikhail Lobukhin (blue)

The hall was packed with Vishneva's enthusiastic fans who bravoed like crazy but...but....this show was, to me, very much a mixed bag, much as it was a year ago when I saw it in NYC. The best part came first, with Ratmansky's minimalist-intellectualist Pierrot Lunaire; followed by a nice'n' easy set of three choreographic bon-bons by Moses Pendleton (For Love of Women); ending with a techno-loser that did no justice to six great dancers, Three-Point Turn.

Pierrot Lunaire

Keeping the all-black 'non set' and projection-screen of Little Humpbacked Horse, this heavy-going ballet for lone female and three men was nonetheless masterfully crafted by Ratmansky...his excellent norm. A series of 20 or so poems, the first half are lighthearted and the second group sinister, e.g., Vishneva mistreats all of the men, at one point stepping over one, another time walking another guy on an imaginary leash, like a dog.

Unlike the US tour in 2008, the dancers were dressed in new street clothes -- Vishneva in a knee-length black lycra dress with short sleeves, the men in black trousers and white shirts. While the new togs are elegant and truly show off Vishneva's 'beauty' more so than the unisex white clown outfits and pointed hats from '08, I am not sure that they enhance the theme of the work. Another lovely but nonsensical innovation was the large projected backdrop of pink roses and cherubs, a-la Fragonard or Watteau. Huh?

F.L.O.W.

This seemed to be the audience's favorite third of the show...three sweet and simple short pieces. First, we were treated to a trick-light-show in which three seated women (whose faces were not shown) maneouvered their blue-lit limbs into many cute figures, such as swans, smiley faces and a big heart. Next came Vishneva's slinky Mme Narcisse reclining on a tilted mirror, making sexy poses. (Lots of audience flash-cameras out for this one!) Finally came my personal fave -- a silver-gowned, bare-footed Vishneva twirling endlessly while sporting a huge hooped headress from which emanate floor-length streams of beads...the faster she twirls, the farther the strings fly out...a Beauty-Helicopter in Motion! Vishneva was particularly lovely during the bows following this piece, garbed only in the simple silver-lame sleeveless gown, barefooted, hair down, she conjured images of Isadora Duncan during her St. Petersburg debut ca 1905. A magical moment, simply standing still, hand to heart, soaking in our applause.

Three-Point Turn

Set to truly-ghastly techno-marimba music, this peel-off-the-clothing and see 'em sweat work did nothing for me. Three couples dance together, make love, switch partners, don't seem to ever care for each other, yadda-yadda-yadda. Nice muscle tone..but where is the art? Particularly so when the saving grace of this work on the US tour -- African-American King of Dance, Desmond Richardson -- was not here, although the wonderful Alexander Sergeev tried his best to substitute. I almost fell asleep, as did everyone around me, it was that bad. Oh well, it still got a bundle of bravos from the Vishneva Groupies, here in full force in the upper galleries.

Apotheosis

Ah...but the show was not quite over with the final ballet. As in NYC, the audience was held captive for several minutes awaiting the appearance of LA VISHNEVA in a fancy gown. What would she be wearing, we all asked...as we applauded, and applauded, and applauded. Corps dancers took at least three bows...then the musicians from Pierrot Lunaire came back out...then the marimba player from the last work...then all of them together. FINALLY La Vishneva emerged with a red-and-gold beaded gown, and a Makarova-style long red headscarf, also totally beaded. It was the most luxurious costume seen on this stage in three nights!

Although an official part of the Mariinsky Festival, the evening was, as per the playbill, a production of Danilian/Ardani Artists.

Tonight the 'three-day vacation' ends for the set, costume and prop departments with DON Q! Back to the type of ballet that made the Kirov-Mariinsky name. It's time to turn my 'Inner Tsarina' back on. :devil:

Natalia Nabatova

#18 Helene

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 10:26 PM

FINALLY La Vishneva emerged with a red-and-gold beaded gown, and a Makarova-style long red headscarf, also totally beaded. It was the most luxurious costume seen on this stage in three nights!


:rofl:

That description just made my day!

#19 Natalia

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 11:03 PM

Glad that you liked it, Helene!

By the way, our Japanese fans will be happy to read that the LHH will tour Japan this coming November/December! I just ran into a nice Japanese journalist who confirmed it. No word yet on a North American or Western-Euro tour featuring this ballet. We already know that the big 2009 London tour will not include LHH; neither will the troupe's annual visit to Washington, DC, in 2010. Maybe NYC in 2010? Or perhaps Ratmansky may take it to ABT? Hard sell for the Met, though, especially with ABT's current troubles.

#20 naomikage

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 07:39 AM

Glad that you liked it, Helene!

By the way, our Japanese fans will be happy to read that the LHH will tour Japan this coming November/December! I just ran into a nice Japanese journalist who confirmed it.


The Mariinsky Ballet will have a Japan tour in November to December to perform LHH. I don't know how many performances of LHH will be done because tickets have not started booking yet. Other programs are Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, and a gala.

I will introduce you the official blog of the impresario that reports about the premire.
http://ja-ballet.see.../115802765.html

Natalia, I have enjoyed your reports and that gives me a very positive expectation of the LHH with the Mariinsky. Hope we can see Tereushkina's Tzar maiden.

Also some pictures from the rehearsal.
http://ja-ballet.see.../115557127.html

#21 Natalia

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 11:57 AM

Dear Naomikage, thanks so much for this additional news and links about the upcoming tour of Japan. This may end up being the 'tour to see' next season. Let's all hope for an upswing in the int'l economic situation...so that we can book our tickets to Tokyo!!!

#22 Natalia

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:15 PM

Edited, 9am, 3-18-09: Ran into hotel internet glitches last night so couldn't write full report 'til today. Sorry!

SHE CAME, WE SAW, SHE CONQUERED! VIENGSAY'S KITRI AT THE MARIINSKY!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
DON QUIXOTE
Mariinsky Theater

ballet in three acts (six scenes)
Music: Ludwig Minkus
Choreography: Alexander Gorsky (1902)

Kitri – Viengsay Valdes (Ballet Nacional de Cuba)
Basil – Leonid Sarafanov

Espada – Konstantin Zverev
Street dancer – Yekaterina Kondaurova
Flower-sellers – Nadezhda Gonchar, Yana Selina
Dryad Queen – Tatyana Tkachenko (instead of announced Alina Somova...Tkachenko totally unannounced!)
Amour - Valeria Martinyuk
Gypsy soloists - Alisa Sokolova & Islom Baimuradov
Oriental Dance - Yulia Slivkina-Smirnova
Mercedes - Elena Bazhenova
Fandango leads - Ti En Ryu & Karen Ioanisian
Act4 Classical Variation - Anastasia Nikitina
Don Q - Vladimir Ponomaryev
Sancho - Stanislav Burov
Gamache – Soslan Kulaev
Lorenzo - Nikolai Naumov
Tavern Host - Alexander Efremov


You know that a magical performance is afoot when the babushki who tend the coat-check rooms enter the auditorium to witness the big pas de deux. That's what happened tonight when Cuban star Viengsay Valdez made her Mariinsky Festival debut in her signature role of Kitri, opposite the home troupe's bravura master, Leonid Sarafanov, as Basil. For afficionados of good, old-fashioned technique -- and a chance to see Cuba's Cechetti/Ballet-Russe de Monte Carlo charm paired with a Vaganova-style man-- this was one for the ages, even if it 'pushed the envelope' of highest taste, for some. It doesn't matter; they cheered like crazy and kept the theater personnel up way past the usual closing time.

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!), multi-fouettes (superb 1-1-3 series in the pdd coda, opening her fan for the triples), and plenty of natural Spanish brio. Ole!

Sarafanov also drove the crowd crazy...doing his now-signature "double-tour/double-pirouette x 4" sequence as part of his Act I solo. He lifted the ballerina securely most times but had one small glitch when trying to lift her onto his shoulder in the tavern scene (prompting a very cute improvisation and "Oh, don't worry...nichovo!" miming by her). We all held our collective breaths for the presage lift into throw-swan-dive in the Act 4 pdd...and it succeeded without a hitch!

Surprise of the night: a gorgeous, unannouinced, Tatyana Tkachenko as the Dryad Queen in place of Ms. Somova. Oh, my...let's just say "Vive la difference!" Tkachenko has so streamlined -- but still womanly - and now has straight darkish-blonde hair that I hardly recognized her at first. She performed her variation splendidly, with high degree of musicality and no strain -- repeat, no strain -- in her extensions and positions. Her diagonal of jetes in the coda was actually higher than that of Valdes, garnering huge bravoes.

Also, kudos to Konstantin Sverev's sharp Espada and, of course, the elan of our 'Big Red'!

Finally, one must mention the fine work by Anastasia Nikitina in the Act 4 Bridesmaid Solo, where she substituted the usual variation with the "jete variation" from Paquita. Much, much better than her forays into the traditional bridesmaid solo in Washington, DC!

The ensemble was magnificent, seemingly very happy to be back in its Comfort Zone of the classics. A standout among the demi-solo Dryads/Bridesmaids: elegant Oksana Skorik, of the recent Perm Ballet School DVD fame, in bright orange tutu in the last act.

TONIGHT: Swan Lake starring Terioshkina!


Natalia Nabatova

#23 Mashinka

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:01 AM

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.

#24 chiapuris

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:35 AM

17/3/98
Don Quixote
Grand ballet in three acts, six scenes with a prologue
Libretto by Marius Petipa after Cervantes
Choreography by Alexander Gorsky after Petipa
Gypsy and Oriental dances by Nina Anisimova
Fandango by Fyodor Lopukhov
Set design by Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin
Set restoration by Mikhail Shishlianikov'
Costume design by Konstantin Korovin

Don Quixote Vladimir Ponomarev
Sancho Panza Stanislav Burov
Lorenzo Nikolai Naumov
Kitri Viengsay Valdes
Basil Leonid Sarafanov
Gamache Soslan Kulaev
Espada Konstantin Zverev
Street Dancer Yekaterina Kondaurova
Flower-sellers Nadezhda Gonchar Yana Selina
Lady Dryad Tatiana Tkachenko
Amour Valeria Martynyuk
Mercedes Elena Bazhenova
Tavern Owner Alexander Efremov
Gypsy Dance Alina Sokolova Islom Baimuradov
Oriental Dance Yulia Smirnova
Fandango Ji Yeon Ryu Karen Ioanissyan
Variation Anastasia Nikitina

I looked forward with anticipation for yet another Kitri in this age of Osipova.
Ms Valdes from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba shone brightly.
Gifted with an open face and a forthright style, she developed her characterization in stages, showing us various facets of her theatrical demi-caractère personality.

I found the pairing of Ms Valdes and Mr Sarafanov entirely felicitous. His blond sleek looks and her dark-haired Mediterranean disposition created palpable synergy.

And just to get it out of the way in this review as early as possible, the as yet developing double-work skills of Mr Sarafanov notwithstanding, they worked very well together.

They were delightful in the first scene, generally carried out musically at a brisk pace, establishing the parameters of their growing relationship.

Konstanin Zverev made a fine Espada with his deeply arching backbends and acute rhythmic precision. He partnered the always glamorous Yekaterina Kondaurova with panache.

Nadezhda Gonchar and Yana Selina were flower-sellers of free spirited, stylish extroversion. Very smart.

The character and pantomimic parts, from Soslan Kulaev's Gamache to Don Quixote's team of Vladimir Ponomarev and Stanislav Burov maintained the high standards of the Mariinsky's 'grand' ballet traditions. It was a pleasure to see them all.

The same can be said of the male corps de ballet toreadors. What a fine showing they make!

The dream scene had a beautiful performance of Lady Dryad (as the program calls her) by the unannounced Tatiana Tkachenko (for the program's listed Alina Somova).

I checked the lobby at intermission to see whether they had listed the substitution on the poster as they've done at other performances -rather than announce it over the loudspeakers-, but there was nothing.
It seems to me a curious omission on the part of the Mariinsky management.

Ms Valdes exhibited a total conviction in the choreographic material she was exhibiting, a legacy of the Alicia Alonso tradition she has inherited.

Valeria Martinyuk was, as usual, as fresh as a spring bulb as Amour.

The female corps and the Vaganova academy students were a joy.

Ji Yeon Ryu and Karen Ioannisyan danced Lopukhov's Fandango
with precision and style. A stunning performance.

A standout of the third act was the wedding variation of Anastasia Nikitina.
She is another one to watch for in future performances.

The wedding pas de deux was a totally fulfilling experience.
The entrée and adagio were in the grand manner with some thrilling balances by Ms Valdes, and save for some double-work difficulties, in a clear style.
The variations were models of technical achievement.
The coda brought astonishing feats from both principals, contributing to a lovely evening of classical dance from the principals, and indeed, from the entire cast.

Audience applause was warm and long.

Pavel Bubelnikov conducted with zest and authority.

#25 mariinskyfan

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 04:59 AM

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.

#26 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:59 AM

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:

#27 Mireille

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:29 AM

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.

#28 richard53dog

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:53 AM

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.....

#29 Mashinka

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 08:55 AM

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.

#30 mariinskyfan

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:27 AM

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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