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


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#61 chiapuris

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 05:41 PM

22/3/09
Closing gala of the 9th Int'l Ballet Festival -Mariinsky

The closing gala of the festival has, in my experience, been somewhat of a hit- and-miss affair. This year's, had a lot of bright spots, some inexplicable choices, and some 'stuff happens' moments.

Bright spots were 1) the participation in the festival of the Novosibirsk Company (Siberia) directed by Igor Zelensky (who also danced the male lead), performing Balanchine's Who Cares?, 2) MacMillan's Manon pairing Viktoria Tereshkina and Marcelo Gomes; 3) some other nicely done pdds, and 4) the staging of Balanchine's Theme and Variations, even if all the dancing in it was not top-drawer.

Some negatives were 1) the inclusion of a Dying Swan, in a company that boasts the unparalleled interpretation of Ulyana Lopatkina in the role; while Ms Lopatkina 2) in the same program 'amused' the audience in a long-drawn-out pdd of Christian Spuck that satirized ballet conventions to overtures of Rossini; the kind of thing the Ballets Trockadero does better, more wittily, by targeting the point of the satire without prolixity. Mr Spuck needs to learn about editing.

The opening work introduced, (to, indeed many others besides myself) the Siberian company, and what a joy it was!

Beautifully prepared (the program mentions no rehearsal coach for the work), it was nice to see the director, with his accumulated knowledge of the work and the style of Balanchine, passing on his knowledge to his company members and dancing with them at the same time. There was something very admirable about Zelensky. While dancing with his three soloists, he showed a pride and love for them that I found very touching.

The company displays a wider range of body types, even among the men, more like what is found in smaller companies than what is found in the Mariinsky company.
The first eight songs of the work, danced by the corps de ballet, ten women in bright pink tutus, five in bright blue tutus, the five men in gray shirts and pants, all danced with a sweet disposition and a bright spirit. I'd like to see more of them.
The next eight songs danced by Zelensky and his three soloists were lovingly prepared and intelligently interpreted.

The inclusion of the Novosibirsk Theatre Ballet added luster to the grandiloquently named Gala Concert of World Ballet Stars

So did the Tereshkina- Gomes Manon which was in one word hot hot HOT.
Truly a performance of technical wizardry and personal chemistry serving the expression of emotional outpouring and spontaneity.

The other pas de deux in order:

Flames of Paris was nicely danced by Golub and Lobukhin but the choreography struck me as soviet bombast: cheerless. But good fodder for competitions.

Agnes Oak and Thomas Edur of the English National Ballet danced a romantic pdd of Derek Deane to Schubert played on piano onstage. It was carefully rendered, elegantly precise but lacking enough spontaneity to turn it into a performing work of art.

Vishneva and Malakhov danced Angelin Preljocaj's The Park duet very intently.
The audience loved it and 'bravoed' it repeatedly. I have no idea what it is about, or whether it was well-danced. I simply have no clue. It seems to be a good star turn.

The final duet, everyone's favorite ballet chestnut, the Don Quixote pas de deux,
was elegantly danced by Eugenia Obraztsova, enthusiastically partnered by Angel Corella of ABT. At times too enthusiastically. No need for details. You've probably seen it already on YouTube. Obraztsova remains a dancer of extreme refinement and technical facility.

The evening closed with Theme and Variations, elegantly set with a backdrop based on the Mariinsky painted 'curtain' and tutus for the ensemble in the colors of Mariinsky blue and gold with the addition of dark peacock blue. The principals' costumes are white for the tutu and pale gray for the man.

Vladimir Shkyarov was exemplary as the cavalier, Alina Somova was elegant in appearance but, in my view, lacking in qualities that are requisite for a ballet
that, when it was first commissioned from Mr. Balanchine from (then) Ballet Theatre was requested by the commissioner to be a ballet."in the grand manner".
And that's exactly what George Balanchine created (or as he would say, 'crafted').

In her opening presentation the principal dancer has in her choreography gargouillades to perform. I saw pale imitations of gargouillades sketched by Ms Somova.

In the stately adage when the two demi-soloist women support the principal while the six other demi-soloists weave daisy chains around them the prinicipal dancer performs developpés in body positions of croisé, effacé, ecarté.

Ms Somova simply concentrates on the highest extension of her developed leg, without the niceties of creating contrapposto lines of croise, ecarte, and so on, lines of complex symmetry that are part of certain choreographies. She simply lifts her leg and forgets body positions. Is the choreography not impoverished?

My problem with her is not personal dislike. I think she is charming. But I think she ignores as inconsequential what some of us consider as requisite behaviors in classical dance.

It could be that classical dance is changing. It could be that she is in the vanguard of a reforming art, one that I am not aware of.

Still, a whole ballet cannot be ruined by one person's flaws. There are still any number of moments of beauty in a ballet that uses the unadorned vocabulary of the classroom more than any other ballet Balanchine created. In one way it makes it the one ballet closest to Petipa in spirit.

The male variation of Shklyarov with its diagonal ronds de jambe en l'air sautés, and the jumps crossing the front of the downstage area, followed by the series of tours en l'air and en dehors pirouettes initiated at the back of center stage moving forward, all without any filler steps was thrilling work.

But then so is the finale with its polonaise melody building force little by little until after a long diagonal line the entire cast led by the principals dance in unison to bring the work to an end.

And also the end of the festival; at least for another year.


Edited twice to correct garbled names.

#62 bart

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 06:18 PM

And also the end of the festival; at least for another year.

But not, I hope, the end of this thread. Chiapuris, we are counting on you to be back at the Mariinsky next year. :thanks:

There has been so much to read about and learn from -- and to envy. Among the smaller bits, I especially appreciated the information that they are now dancing Balanchine and Gershwin in Novosibirsk. It's a small world, now, and globalization is truly with us. :)

#63 Helene

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 07:45 PM

So did the Tereshkina- Gomes Manon which was in one word hot hot HOT.
Truly a performance of technical wizardry and personal chemistry serving the expression of emotional outpouring and spontaneity.

I knew she was more than a technical whiz! I was thrilled to read this.

#64 Natalia

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 06:14 AM

Sunday, March 22, 2009
FINALE: INTERNATIONAL STARS GALA
Mariinsky Theater

I. WHO CARES?
(Balanchine/Gershwin)
staged by Nilas Martins and Monique Meurnier (uncredited in the playbill)
performed by Igor Zelensky, Elena Lytkina, Natalia Yershova, Anna Zharova and artists of the Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre

II. DIVERTISSEMENT

1. Manon pdd - Viktoria Tershkina, Marcelo Gomes
2. Flames of Paris pdd - Irina Golub, Mikhail Lobukhin
3. Impromptu (Derek Deane choreography) - Agnes Oaks, Thomas Edur
4. Le Parc final pdd - Diana Vishneva, Vladimir Malakhov
5. Tarantella (Balanchine) - Leonid Sarafanov, Nadezhda Gonchar
6. The Swan (Fokine) - Irma Nioradze
7. Le Grand Pas de Deux (Spuck/Rossini)- Uliana Lopatkina, Igor Kolb
8. Don Q pdd - Evgenia Obraztsova, Angel Corella

III. THEME AND VARIATIONS
Balanchine/Tchaikovsky
Staging by Francia Russell

Performed by Alina Somova, Vladimir Shklyarov and artists of the Mariinsky Ballet

IV. DEFILE to the final music of Czerny's ETUDES

entire cast

********************


This closing gala served as the perfect, glamorous ending to what has been a mostly-positive 9th Mariinsky International Ballet Festival. I personally loved the diverts the best -- and so did the audience, in general -- but the two Balanchines were also very capably performed, with the home team's T&V perhaps having the edge (despite horrible leading ballerina) over the fine-but-cautious Novosibirsk troupe's Who Cares?

I. WHO CARES? danced by Igor Zelensky's Novosibirsk Ballet's soloists and corps

I was impressed by the way that this amazing company from far-off Siberia presented the jazzy American-Gershwin style, with a dash of Russian flair! Certainly the leading male (also the troupe's AD), Zelensky, knows how to do it, having spent a good part of his career at NYCB in the early 1990s. He still 'has it' and seems to have passed-on the secrets to his ensemble, if not quite to his three leading ladies who seem to think that they are still caught in the lakeside scene of Swan Lake, particularly Ms. Zharova, who was painful to watch in 'Fascinatin' Rhythm,' softly tip-toeing through what are supposed to be precise staccatto jabs to the floor on pointes. Angel-faced soubrette Elena Lytkina showed promise, but also too many technical flubs, in the virtuoso solo "My One and Only." The first of the three female soloists had the best and cleanest dance -- adorable Natalia Ershova was spiffy in maroon-red, building her "Stairway to Paradise."

The ensemble totally rocked the theater with the socko ending, "I Got Rhythm," with perfect synchronization and panache.

II. DIVERTISSEMENTS - Mariinsky soloists and guests

1. Manon pdd - Viktoria Tershkina, Marcelo Gomes

The first ended up being THE BEST of eight divertissements. Marcelo once again drove the audience to a frenzy, this time with the beauteous Viktoria Terioskina as his lady. She was sublime putty in his hands. One for the ages, for sure. As in Giselle, Marcelo threw caution to the wind while dropping to the ground in lusty delight, with a 'boom!' that could surely be heard all the way to Nevsky Prospekt! :) BRAVI!!!!

2. Flames of Paris pdd - Irina Golub, Mikhail Lobukhin

Charming and delightful. LOTS better that the travesty by Lane & Simkin/ABT that I saw at the Kennedy Center one month ago. Golub and Lobukhin have it, technically, stylistically, musically. Only quibble: Lobukhin tried too hard to pull-off the "Sarafanov Certified Four-Consecutive-2ble-tours" sequence and had to abort on the second of the four planned 2-tours...he should have stuck to what he does best, as it marred an otherwise perfect pas de deux.

3. Impromptu (Derek Deane choreography) - Agnes Oaks, Thomas Edur

A sweet little piano-pdd in three parts (slow - fast - slow repeat) that hearkens to MacMillan style of partnering (tough lifts) and even to the costumes of the heroine and hero in Manon, Act I. I don't know -- it was impressive as a showcase in which Edur showed how easily he could continously lift his partner, Oaks. One straight-up lift in which she posed absolutely still - rendering him no assistance -- sure looked difficult. Heave-ho! But is that the art of ballet? I think not.

4. Le Parc final pdd - Diana Vishneva, Vladimir Malakhov

I must admit that I am a rare American fan of the complete Preljocaj ballet and have long loved this particular pdd-adagio that ends the complete work...man and woman, in nightshirts, finally consumate their love. Vishneva triumphed last night and she would be delicious in the entire ballet, some day. She MUST do it...but not with Malakhov, who was a total fish out of water and came very close to ruining the total mood of the piece with his 'little curly-top' longish hairdo and sissy mannerisms. Sorry - he just doesn't 'do' romance well, even though he is one of the most exquisite male dancers around, when he dances solos or even other pdd's. Next!

5. Tarantella (Balanchine) - Leonid Sarafanov, Nadezhda Gonchar

The audience, myself included, whooped and wooo-hoooe'd every move...but not every move was Balanchine. There came a point, in the middle of this work, that each soloist just did his or her own thing. It may be time for the Balanchine Foundation Police to take a look at this one.

6. The Swan (Fokine) - Irma Nioradze

Pathetically bad non-Fokine (up-and-down spasms while on the knee pose???), I'm sad to report. A dead swan in maribou feathers. Next!

7. Le Grand Pas de Deux (Spuck/Rossini)- Uliana Lopatkina, Igor Kolb

THE HIT of the night among more locals in the audience and, I must confess, I guffawed along with the rest of them. How often do we get to see 'La Divina Lopatkina' let loose and do genuine comedy? This is the now-famous modern pdd in-the-classical-style that the Stuttgart Ballet's Alicia Amatriain and Jason Reilly danced at the 2005 Stars of the 21st-C Gala in Paris: the daffy ballerina with eyeglasses and a red purse, upstaging her vain male partner. He continues to try to steal and throw-away her pocketbook; she continously retrieves it...all the while dancing a grandiose adagio to Rossini's La Gazza Ladra overture! Half of the fun was seeing Lopatkina cutting up; Kolb showed perfect comic timing as the arrogant guy who, alas, was constantly one-upped by his nearsighted ballerina. Audience went bezzerk...#1 on the applause-meter for the night, followed by Vishneva/Malakhov, then Terioshkina/Gomes. [Important costume note: I wonder if Lopatkina purposely decided to wear Aurora's white-and-silver tutu from Nereid Scene of the 1890 Vikharev Sleeping Beauty reconstruction? We all know that she despises the reconstructions and was instrumental in having them removed from the repertoire...so this may have been her way of telling us that this tutu is now part of the Recycling Pile??? ]

8. Don Q pdd - Evgenia Obraztsova, Angel Corella

Saddest ballet of the night. Corella seemed to have not made it past his jet-lag, having flown in the previous day. In the adagio, he dropped (or nearly so) Obraztsova fron the high presage, as he was trying to get her into the low fishdive position. Thank goodness that Obraztsova PULLED HERSELF UP by arching her back all the way, until Corella could steady his hold. The crowd gasped. It was all shaky from there, including some "Angel on Uppers" weird, weird extra-fast dancing from Corella in his solo moments....even falling out of pirouettes and gnawing his teeth. Terrible. Obraztsova salvaged the piece with a spot-on solo and some lovely fouettes in the coda but even those were marred...the poor thing had experienced the 'booby partnering prize' of the night and was obviously shaken. I hope that this does not ruin her future at the Mariinsky but I am extremely fearful. Corella should never dance on these boards again. He will forever be an embarrassment, in my book. [Perhaps he had not gotten over his disappointment in having found out upon landing that Novikova was out and the 'unknown' -- to him -- Obraztsova would be his partner? Whatever, he did absolutely no good to the home ballerina.]

III. THEME AND VARIATIONS - Mariinsky Ballet soloists and ensemble

This grand ballet by Balanchine in the Imperial Tsarist style received a To-the-Manor-Born delivery from the demi-soloists and corps de ballet is teal-blue tutus and tunics, to complement the famous teal-and-gold Mariinsky front-curtain by Golovin...which was here replicated as a backdrop to the ballet. It's a shame that the two soloists, particularly the female, did not do justice to the work and marred what should have been a splendid final ballet of this festival.

Alina Somova should never be allowed to come within a stage-length of this ballet, she is horrendously bad in it. And the scary thing is - she upsets me LESS in this than when she dances the Petipa classics...yikes! Where do I begin, let me count the travesties? The initial set of tendus sans turn-out -- her pointy chin pumping forward with each step, while her droopy spaghetti-arms and bent wrists seemed to be trying to mimic Plisetskaya's swan arms...all the while her partner, Schklyarov, correctly held his arms out without up-and-down wavy motions. Later, in her first solo, Somova tried the gargouillades, but only to her right, and only kicking the right lower-leg out-and-in (not a propper round circling of the lower leg at the knee). Then, during the daisy-chain segment with the female corps, in which Somova, instead of performing Balanchine's standard arabesque-poses in different directions while holding on to the corps ladies' arms, hiked her working leg up to beyond-180-degrees every which way, totally ruining the concept of the segment!!! Then the little allegro solo that immediate follows the daisy-chain: totally washed-out steps, without accents, NOT in time to the music....huge audible sigh on her face when she finished into the 4th-position pose a second before the final 'boom' of the timpany!

Schklyarov is a capable and musical dancer but it seems like the daunting task of partnering this Loose-Cannon-Ballerina got the best of him, his countenance visibly nervous. He watered-down his big solo, including an initial diagonal of highly-angled kicks (not the necessary 90-degrees)...then a huge pause and catch-the-breath during the music for the first two "2ble tour-2ble pirouette" segments before actually commencing his set of "2ble tours-2ble pirouettes.' A disappointment from him.

The big pdd was an exercise in Schklyarov's ability to survive to another day.

Thankfully, the entire ensemble, so majestic and proper, joined in for the final polonaise segment.

Not-so-cryptic message to the Balanchine Foundation of certified stagers: SOS!!! SOS!!! SOS!!!

IV. GRAND FINAL DEFILE - entire cast minus Novosibirsk solo ladies and corps

At least the audience was able to blank the last ballet out of our collective minds with a final welcoming onto the stage of ALL the evening's participants in a simple little Defile staged to the grand final music of Czerny-Lander's Etudes. Bravi to almost-tutti!!!! 'Til we meet again at next year's festival.

P.S. In retrospect the four best nights of the Festival were, to me, in this order:

1. GISELLE w/ Vishneva/Gomes/Kondaurova
2. DON QUIXOTE w/ Valdes/Sarafanov...and triumphant Tkachenko as Dryad Queen
3. BAYADERE w/ Semionova/Zelensky...and three gorgeous Shades
4. LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE opening night w/ Terioshkina/Lobukhin

Natalia Nabatova

#65 mariinskyfan

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 08:48 AM

Sunday, March 22, 2009
[Entire post]


Thanks for this wonderful report! You had me laughing out loud several times :-)

#66 Natalia

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:10 AM

You're most welcome, mariinskyfan! Sometimes it's better to laugh than to cry. :)

#67 Rosa

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 10:44 AM

So did the Tereshkina- Gomes Manon which was in one word hot hot HOT.
Truly a performance of technical wizardry and personal chemistry serving the expression of emotional outpouring and spontaneity.


Is there any hope someday Tereshkina and Gomes will do a full-length ballet? They were amazing together in the PDD!

Thank you chiapuris and Natalia for all the wonderful reports of the festival!! They made me feel like I was there. :flowers:

#68 Natalia

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 02:03 PM

......Is there any hope someday Tereshkina and Gomes will do a full-length ballet? .....


I've heard nothing but one can hope, in that Ratmansky is now affiliated with ABT and is knowledgeable about both artists and how they work together. Terioshkina is a long-time 'muse' of sorts for Ratmansky. She was the original 'long and skinny' stepdaughter in his 2002 Cinderella, selected by him during just her first year with the Kirov-Mariinsky. Now she is his first-cast Tsar-Maiden. One can surmise that an invitation to appear with ABT someday is in the cards.

#69 4mrdncr

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 09:59 PM

Saddest ballet of the night ... Corella should never dance on these boards again. He will forever be an embarrassment, in my book. [Perhaps he had not gotten over his disappointment in having found out upon landing that Novikova was out and the 'unknown' -- to him -- Obraztsova would be his partner? Whatever, he did absolutely no good to the home ballerina.]

Natalia Nabatova


Yes I will agree, it was a problematic performance; I noticed many many things, and was VERY concerned. My question is why?
JET-LAG? Very possibly, and overwork in Spain, and a few other issues I can think of.
FAST TEMPI? I thought that the coda was excessively fast at the end (more the conductor's fault than dancers'); consequently causing both dancers problems. (It was v. shocking to see Corella fall out of that turn.) However, the adagio and variation tempi were both ok, but again there were problems. (Why did Obraztsova just do retires/passes instead of the hops on pointe? Her variation, though technically clean, was VERY easy compared to others I've seen.)
RAKED STAGE? Might have affected some things now that weren't affected last year.
DISSAPPOINTMENT with his partner? No, unless he had no (or obviously limited) rehearsal time, which was probably true.

But to say Corella should not dance there again? I thought that was a little excessive considering, at last year's Mariinsky Festival, he did a beautiful and technically fine Swan Lake with Tereshkina (my favorite dancer), suffered through Corsaire pdd with Samova ok, and then did fine in Wheeldon's "For4" and his "We Got it Good" solo. I also don't think the Mariinsky would be so stupid as to blame her for a bad night and affect her entire career over it. I've seen Corella in off nights, and I've seen him in great nights, that's normal for any dancer to experience. The question remains though, "Why now?"

Thanks anyways for all your posts, it's great to have BT eyes there.

#70 Catherine

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 11:09 PM

I wanted to just concur withmost of Chiapuris and NataliaN's observations on the final performance of the festival (and many of the previous comments on other festival performances). I too attended each night and overall enjoyed this year's program much more than the repeat SLs of yesteryear.

Three additional comments:

About Corella, I was able to watch the stage rehearsal that afternoon, during which he asked for the coda tempo and his variation tempo to be faster, faster faster. The tempo in the performance was at his request. I agree it was overdone and the result appeared silly -- silly until he missed the fishdive and almost had Zhenya on the floor as the conductor triieedddd to draw out the music a bit. I'm not sure why he needed it so fast or spun out of control. But I can say the tempo was what he'd asked for, and not a mistake of the conductor.

I truly enjoyed the Spuck pas de deux with Lopatkina for the reasons you, Natalia, mentioned. It is so rare to see Lopatkina in a non-serious role, and this one I thought she did well, in comparison to the rose-eating, borderline abusive pas with Kozlov. Here she did a fantastic job in the lighthearted piece, to the point where I could see her even as a (very tall) Copellia at some time in the future. She deserves kudos for going outside her usual typecast mode -- and the audience loved it.

Regarding Somova, Chiapuris, I agree on all points. It was a travesty to see, and worse to think the company supports this. Her left wrist is constantly bent, the fingers hyperextended. The gargouillades were jerky, not smooth, and looked like hyperactive popcorn. I still do not understand why she was cast in the crowning ballet of the night AND of the festival. I have hope that under Terekhova's watch things will improve but it will take a long time.

#71 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 11:18 PM

I still do not understand why she was cast in the crowning ballet of the night AND of the festival.

A lot of people are asking themselves this same question, and there's an answer of course. It just has to pop out from a formal/"legal" source, which is what I'm trying to get at this very moment...Just give me some time.

#72 Azulynn

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 12:15 AM

(Why did Obraztsova just do retires/passes instead of the hops on pointe? Her variation, though technically clean, was VERY easy compared to others I've seen.)


4mrdncr, I think it is now more or less a standard version at the Mariinsky. In Baden-Baden in December, both Novikova and Somova performed retires/passes as well. I agree the hops would probably fit her better, but I wonder if they really have a choice in this case ? Anyone knows ? I'm not familiar with the "history" of the different versions.

#73 Catherine

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 01:47 AM

In five years of Petersburg Don Q's, I"ve only ever seen the retire passes done here. Not the hops. Not to say they may not do them at some point, depending on the ballerina, but as Azylunn pointed out, that is the standard here.

#74 canbelto

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 08:04 AM

Saddest ballet of the night ... Corella should never dance on these boards again. He will forever be an embarrassment, in my book. [Perhaps he had not gotten over his disappointment in having found out upon landing that Novikova was out and the 'unknown' -- to him -- Obraztsova would be his partner? Whatever, he did absolutely no good to the home ballerina.]


Corella is an uneven dancer and an uneven partner, but I think saying he's an embarrassment is a bit harsh. For whatever reason I've seen lots of "uhoh" moments in the Don Q pdd. I saw Fadeev almost drop Vishneva during a series of supported pirouettes. And then of course Fadeev got injured during the Don Q run with Tereshkina as his partner. I've seen dropped fans, fouettes that just seemed to stop dead in the tracks, and so on and so forth. I think in this case the audience expects all the tricks in the book and when the dancers feel the pressure they make mistakes.

#75 bart

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 08:23 AM

I hope that this does not ruin her [Obravtsova's] future at the Mariinsky but I am extremely fearful.

:flowers:
Would this a real possibility? I would think that sympathy from management would be the appropriate response.


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