MakarovaFan

Vasiliev Gala at City Center - March 27

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Sergei Polunin was excellent and exciting in his "Diane and Acteon" Pas de Deux with Sarah Lamb, tonight :wub: This was the first time I saw Polunin dance live, and the accolades he has received so far are well-deserved. For a dancer his age, his artistry was more developed than most. And his super high jumps and in-the-air spins, with his leg whipping around, were spectacular! :P

Differences that actual program had to that listed on the YAGP page cited above:

-- Gomes/Semionova danced the Manon Pas de Deux instead of the Onegin Pas de Deux

-- Rubinald Pronk (Morphoses) danced a world premiere "L'effleure", choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, to Vivaldi's music.

-- There was added at the end of the first Act a performance by the winner of "So you think you can dance".

I thought Lamb/Polunin, Froustey/Heymann and Semionova/Gomes dance well, but, to me, Polunin stole the show among the professionals.

Joaquin De Luz performed twice, once on his own and the other time with Tiler Peck in "Stars and Stripes". Joaquin made a noticeable mistake at one point after he crossed the stage, with a stumble forward towards the end of this passage. However, he was close to the edge of the stage and sort of stumbled towards the curtained area.

I had a quick bite to eat at Osteria del Circo across the street from City Center. A tagliatelle a la bolognese that was not al dente enough. It's hard to expect too much from Le Cirque and affiliates nowadays. I had been hoping to go to Milos, even closer to City Center on the same sid eof the street. But that restaurant's bar area was fully occupied.

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Cont. ACT II

...

Rubinald Pronk

(Morphoses)

“L'effleuré” – WORLD PREMIERE

Choreography: Annabelle Lopez Ochoa

Music: Antonio Vivaldi

...

Sarah Lamb and Sergei Polunin

(The Royal Ballet)

“Don Quixote” Pas de Deux

Choreography: Marius Petipa

Music: Ludwig Minkus

Looking at tonight's YAGP program, which also lists tomorrow's performances, there are some slight differences from the above-noted items for tomorrow's (Saturday's) program (leaving aside where within the program individual performances are). Don't know which version is more updated, but tonight's program said this about tomorrow:

-- Sarah Lamb and Sergei Polunin will perform the Sleeping Beauty Pas de Deux, instead of Don Quixote Pas de Deux.

-- The L'effleure world premiere already happened tonight (Friday). Instead, Rubinald Pronk is stated to be performing with Shirley Esseboom of the Nederlands Dans Theatre "Bella Figura", choreography Jiri Kylian, Music: Giovanni Battista Pergoles/Antonio Vivaldi/Giuseppe Torelli.

-- Apart from performing with Vasiliev at the end of the program before Fracci's closing remarks, Daria Khokhlova of the Bolshoi is now indicated to be performing the first after Fracci's opening remarks. She will be performing "Mazurka", Choreography V VASILIEV! Music Alexander Scriabin.

-- Ivan Putrov (Royal Ballet) performing "Narcissus" has been added. Choreo Kasyan Goleizovsky, music Ivan Techerepnin.

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I am Anxious to hear thoughts/reviews of tonight's performance Please!!!

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I enjoyed the Vasiliev gala tonight.

Two Vasiliev film excerpts were shown during the evening -- one before each of the two acts. The second film excerpt contained old film on Vasiliev from a number of different performances, including Don Quixote, pieces amusingly playing on tennis and European football, respectively, and of course Spartacus. Wow, the excerpt from Spartacus was something else.

At the end of the evening, Vasiliev received a very extended standing ovation from most of the audience, and very lengthy clapping. He was clearly the object of people's adoration, and had plenty of time alone in front of the curtains to bask in the crowd's admiration and appreciation of his accomplishments. Then, he was like a silent master of ceremonies in using his arms to wave in each set of performers until they were all on stage.

When everybody was on stage, they were also clapping to honor him. At one point, all of the dancers, led by David Hallberg and a few others, placed the flower bouquets that they had received just a bit earlier in front of Vasiliev, to show how much they admired him too. Vasiliev seemed touched by that gesture. The continuous clapping from the audience was amazing -- it could have easily lasted 10-15 minutes.

Hallberg's Dance of the Blessed Spirits -- this is the second time I have seen this performance, the first being the NY performance of Kings of Dance earlier this year. Hallberg does have beautiful lines, but, on further consideration, this piece does not do much to showcase his technical abilities and the beauty of his dancing. I'm not sure this piece has that as its objective, but its emphasis on the visual appeal of Hallberg's physique and lines incurs an opportunity cost when one has such a great dancer who is underutilised in this piece.

Hallberg danced well in the Romeo & Julia pas de deux. He wore a white/slightly off-white unitard which highlighted how his body shape has a shorter torso (no negative connotation at all) and long legs. He did a lot of lifting and generally did well in the piece to showcase the ballerina.

Veronika Part was quite effective as Lady Macbeth. For once, her large frame and broad shoulders were put to good use, to convey the physical intensity of Lady Macbeth and her power of persuasion over Macbeth. She wore a very dramatic red dress, which probably would have been better without a similarly-colored red ribbon across Part's forehead. The excerpt from Macbeth involved Part moving her legs a lot around Macbeth's body, and being lifted on his back or having her legs in the air or in various dramatic positions. She performed those positions fairly well.

Sergei Poulunin looked quite dashing as Sarah L's Prince Charming in the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux that marked the end of Act I.

Thoughts on Vasiliev's piece of the performance at the end of the evening will be separately posted when available.

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Vladimir Vasiliev & Daria Khokhlova (Bolshoi)

Piece d'Occasion -- World Premiere

Choreo: Vladimir Vasiliev

Music: Frederic Chopin, performed live by Max Barros

A grand piano sits towards the back portion of the stage, but it is prominent, being towards the middle of that area. A gentleman begins playing, while Vasiliev is found sitting on the right hand side of the stage (from the audience's perspective) in a dark colored (maybe black) office swivel chair that has a built-in rolling feature to its legs. This chair figures prominently within the piece.

We find Vasiliev seated initially with his head bowed, his face not really visible. He wears throughout the duration of the piece a dark colored suit with a black shirt underneath. While the feelings intended to be evoked by this opening scene are open to interpretation, I found the sentiment conveyed to be that of loneliness tinged with a slight hint of despair. The Vasiliev character seems personal -- he may be portraying himself in some respects? Vasiliev stays motionless for more than a minute. Then, he leans forward a bit and runs his stretched hands along his leg slowly (I think upwards, but don't quite recall). This motion conveys to me fatigue, age.

Then, Vasiliev stands up and moves around the stage for a while, gripping his head at times and conveying an agitated, arguably slightly deranged/disturbed state. He seems to be mentally struggling with something. The way his upper body bends, the way he holds his arms and the slight contortions in his arms and upper body, along with the hands holing his head in different positions, make it seem like he is struggling with something. I interpret it to be his struggling with the effects of his own aging, but other audience members could readily seem something else. At times, Vasiliev moves around the piano, so there is some movement along the different portions of the stage.

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At one point, Vasiliev pushes the chair off the stage. Shortly afterwards, he pulls the chair back and sitting on the chair is Khokhlova. Her role in this piece is one embodying innocence and youth. She wears a simple white outfit, and has her hair in a bun. She looks almost child-like. I think Vasiliev chose her from among the Bolshoi ranks because her thin frame and actual youth allow her to convey these sentiments.

Some movements on the part of Vaseliev I recall from the piece, not necessarily in order:

-- A repeated movement is one where he tries to grab her, and does, but then she sort of eludes him, by moving around a bit. He is, at this stage, a step or two away from grasping her again. To me, this seemed to convey his trying to capture his younger times and/or the sense of promise and possibility that younger people can have. Then, Khokhlova would dance around a bit on her own, including around the back of the piano.

-- He pulls the chair with her posing on it.

-- He lifts her with his two arms, when her body is in a horizontal position.

-- He holds the back of the chair when she is not in it, signaling to me possibly some internal conflict or the need to support himself after a traumatic development.

-- Vasiliev dashes across the stage (not quite a run, but a somewhat rapid movement) at times. He conveys urgency during those steps or a state of being disturbed.

-- The end of the piece involves Khoklova collapsing onto the floor. I don't recall what Vasiliev does for the minute or so left in the routine after that.

I appreciated the choreography of the piece, but don't generally like the use of props like chairs. That being said, Vasiliev moved better than I thought he would for a danseur in his age range. The piece did not involve any technical ballet moves on his part, and involved more the portrayal of a character or portrayal of feelings more than pure technical ballet on his part. That was to be expected.

The more important aspect of the piece was that Vasiliev participated as extensively as he did in its creation. It capped off nicely an evening in honor of Vasiliev.

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My favorite parts of the evening were:

Video Clips

Leilei & Mejnun is one of those lost Vasiliev treasures that Grigorivich banned from the Bolshoi repertoire. The film from the mid-'60s is nothing short of atonishing. The inhuman speed of his turns and the power of his expression/stage presence. And then a gorgeous still of Vasiliev in a lift with Bessmertnova. Don Q and Spartacus clips are always unforgettable, but Leilei is something very precious. I only wish they could have found a clip from Ivan the Terrible.

Obratzova and Thibault in La Sylphide PDD. Thibault was especially strong in his leg beats.

Obratzova in Vasiliev's Sentimental Waltz.

Sarah Lane and Luis Ribagorda in Anyuta PDD

Ashley Bouder in Anyuta Tarantella

Veronika Part and Gray Davis in Macbeth PDD. I know there is divided opinion here on Part, but I think she's a beautiful dancer with strong stage presence.

Polina Semionova and David Hallberg in Romeo & Juliet PDD. I can't stand Bejart, but these two really made the duet lovely.

The worst part of the evening was Ana Sophis Scheller and Joseph Phillips. I've never seen the Tchaikovsky PDD performed in such a slipshod manner. Scheller was just going through the motions and wasn't one with the music or choreography at all. Phillips was just dancing out of control pushing himself with over rotations. No chemistry either.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Piece D'Occasion

Vladimir Vasiliev & Daria Khokhlova

Ambonnay had the same reaction to the dance as my husband -- an older man lamenting his lost youth and trying in vain to recapture it in the person of Khokhlova. I thought that Khokhlova represented Katia Maximova, Vasiliev's wife who passed away over a year ago.

To continue where Ambonnay left off, after Khokhlova collapsed on the floor, Vasiliev lifted her up in his arms as if she weighed nothing and placed her in the chair and pushed it off stage. It was a very poignant performance, made more moving by Maximova's absence. I'm so accustomed to seeing them as a couple that seeing him alone made me weepy.

I was stunned by just seeing Vasiliev in person -- something I thought would never happen in my lifetime. Carla Fracci's opening remarks were lovely. And it was beautiful when the dancers all laid their bouquets at Vasiliev's feet. The love from the audience for him came in floods to the stage.

Two vents:

There was a woman in the row in front of us and throughout the performance she constantly texted. My husband knocked on the back of her seat to make her stop but she just kept on going. Such atrocious concert manners!

The sponsor couldn't find a pianist to play the Chopin Piece D'Occasion well? Max Barros made too many mistakes and that was a disservice to Vasiliev and DK.

Overall it was a lovely, poignant night and the thrill of a lifetime to see my idol, Vasiliev.

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On Part, I think Gray Davis was not a good partner for her for Macbeth. Part of it was wardrobe -- the muted orangish/yellowish cloak that Davis wore was a bit on the large/long side for him, and Davis looked a bit sloppy as a result. He did not have much stage presence, and seemed to lack a bit of polish in his depiction of Macbeth. His facial expressions were not good.

I thought the worst part of last evening was "Gaucho", Dance of the Argentinian Cowboys, performed by 3 members of the Mosieyev Dance Company. Their performance was too long, and seemed out of place in the program.

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Ambonnay had the same reaction to the dance as my husband -- an older man lamenting his lost youth and trying in vain to recapture it in the person of Khokhlova. I thought that Khokhlova represented Katia Maximova, Vasiliev's wife who passed away over a year ago.... And it was beautiful when the dancers all laid their bouquets at Vasiliev's feet. The love from the audience for him came in floods to the stage.

The NY Times' review by Roslyn Sulcas had a similar thought to MakarovaFan's observation about Vasiliev thinking about the passing of his wife in this piece:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/arts/dan...liev&st=cse

"Other high points came from American Ballet Theater’s David Hallberg, who imbued Frederick Ashton’s rarely seen “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” with fluid grace, and, with the striking Polina Semionova (a principal at the Berlin State Opera Ballet), who offered an affecting account of Maurice Béjart’s “Romeo and Juliet” pas de deux."

"Mr. Vasiliev’s own choreography, full of big Bolshoi lifts and dramatic moments, doesn’t add up to much, but was performed with conviction, notably by the New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder in “Tarantella,” and by Mr. Vasiliev and Ms. Khokhlova in the evening’s pièce d’occasion set to a Chopin “Ballad No. 1 in G Minor” (played onstage by Max Barros).

Mr. Vasiliev, a portrait of grief as Ms. Khokhlova floated delicately around him, might well have been paying homage to his wife, the ballerina Ekaterina Maximova, who died almost a year ago. Afterward, the dancers laid their bouquets at his feet, in an unscripted, touching homage of their own."

The photos show Vasiliev introducing Ana Sophia Scheller and Joseph Phillips at the end of the gala, and Polina Semionova being lifted by David Hallberg.

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For the most part, I enjoyed the Gala very much. I thought Gaucho went on for too long, and the piece performed by Picone was, in my opinion, junky choreography. Anna Sophia Scheller and J. Phillips were completely out of their element. It was the worst performance of Tchai pdd I've ever seen. I loved La Sylphide. Also, I have never seen Sarah Lane in such a dramatic role. She did very well, and it made me wonder how she would do as Juliet. Oh well, we won't find out this season.

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... and the piece performed by Picone was, in my opinion, junky choreography.

I agree with that. The problem was not only the choreography in that piece, but also the "costume" that Picone chose to wear with it, which made the piece even campier than it already was. Picone only wore a pair of trousers that were essentially a thin white material that was somewhat see-through. There were vertical thin stripes of less see-through material embedded in the material, but the white trousers were essentially see-through. Underneath, Picone wore a white thong. That costume did not really help make Picone's piece seem substantive.

I don't generally have an issue with danseurs wearing less. But if a danseur wears less, he should try to select something more tasteful, like David Hallberg's white traditional male leotard bottom in the Dance of the Blessed Spirits.

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There were vertical thin stripes of less see-through material embedded in the material, but the white trousers were essentially see-through. Underneath, Picone wore a white thong. That costume did not really help make Picone's piece seem substantive.

I was too far away to notice any of the costume details that you mentioned.

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I got my wish and the screamers were not in attendance as they were on Friday night. There were a handful of rude people in the house, but for the most part, the audience was still and calm. The man sitting in front of me had the urge to talk to the woman he was with between each performance, but the woman sitting next to me discouraged him from continuing to do this. I think she had anger management problems!!

But – on to the Gala! I was late, because of Saturday night traffic and I arrived just as Carla Fracci was ending her talk. It was evident that she was very emotional during her speech.

ACT I

The Gala opened with Mazurka with Daria Khokhlova of the Bolshoi Ballet. This is the young dancer who would join Vasiliev for the closing number which has been commented on in previous posts. This was a very delightful number and Khokhlova was young, fresh, and charming. A nice opening for the Gala!

Next came Narcissus with Ivan Putrov of the Royal Ballet. I have not seen Putrov dance since he was in New York with the Royal Ballet for the Ashton Centennial in the summer of 2004. While I did not care too much for this number, it was obvious that Putrov was the figure from Greek mythology who had fallen in love with his own reflection.

The ballroom dance champions, Anna Melnikova and Slavik Kryklyvyy performed to Samba. Just like the Friday night gala, they were able to get the crowd going. She kind of overshadows him, but maybe it’s because he is such a good partner. Like Friday night, I thought that they were going to do an encore number, but they were just staying in character for their curtain calls.

Olena Dolgikh and Dmytro Kondratiuk of the Kyiv Modern Ballet were outstanding. I usually don’t care for the contemporary numbers, but this one was excellent. I enjoyed the different shapes that the two dancers were making and I also enjoyed the way that they took turns balancing on top of each other. She scared me a little when she started laughing at the end of the number.

I absolutely loved Yevgenia Obraztsova and Emmanuel Thibault in the Pas de Deux from La Sylphide. I enjoyed her on the Friday night gala in Parting, but she was absolutely captivating in this and the classical ballet really showed off her strength. I saw Thibault dance a few years ago at a Stars of the 21st Century Gala and he was outstanding in this as well. I was sad when this dance came to an end.

Oleg Chernasov of the Moiseyev Dance Company played both roles in Two Boys in a Fight. This was unique and very original and I had a hard time telling which part of Chernasov was the front and the back. It took a lot of intensity to keep this going and Chernasov delivered.

I guess Shirley Esseboom of the Nederlands Dans Theatre got “unstuck” in traffic, because she made it this time to dance with Rubinald Pronk of Morphoses. They danced together in Bella Figura – a hodgepodge of musical numbers. This is usually not my favorite kind of dance, but I enjoyed the energy that the two dancers brought to this. Both Esseboom and Pronk are super-flexible!

David Hallberg of the American Ballet Theatre performed to the Dance of the Blessed Spirits with choreography by Frederick Ashton. In this dance it seemed like the stage was too small for Hallberg. One leap and it seemed that he was already on the other side of the stage. In both galas, the solo numbers for the men have been above average.

But speaking of solos, Polina Semionova was fantastic in Alles Walzer. Her legs go on forever, she is drop-dead gorgeous and she has such command of the stage. After her Manon with Marcelo Gomes on Friday night, it was incredible to see her come out in something completely different (and be equally as spectacular!)

Act I closed with Sarah Lamb and Sergei Polunin of the Royal Ballet in the Act III Pas de Deux from The Sleeping Beauty. On Friday night they gave us the more aggressive Diana and Acteon and now they give us the pure technique of Petipa. Again - another outstanding number. Both dancers excelled in their solo numbers. I think I may have caught maybe a hint of hesitancy in Polunin’s partnering skills, but nothing that could tarnish this number.

ACT II

Act II opened with a video of Vasiliev’s performances and then we had Obraztsova again in Sentimental Walse. I love this dancer. For me, Semionova was my discovery of these two galas, but I would have Obraztsova as a close second. She was so charming in this number.

Sarah Lane and Luis Ribagorda of the ABT danced to the Pas de Deux from Anyuta. This was very well done and I was so impressed with the way that Ribagorda was able to balance Lane on his back and then kneel down and have her gently slide off his shoulders.

Ashley Bouder of the NYCB showed a lot of energy in Tarantella, with choreography by Vasiliev (not Balanchine!!). It was amazing to watch her do this number while wearing such a long skirt.

Giuseppe Picone of Balletto di Roma danced to Lacrimosa with music by Mozart. I enjoyed this number and he is incredibly flexible. One complaint – he wore see through pants over his dance belt and we got to see a little more of his backside than was necessary.

Three members of the Moiseyev Dance Company danced to Gaucho, which was an Argentinian cowboy dance. All three were very good – my favorite was the last one who did the dance with his knife.

We then had a repeat of Parting from Friday night’s gala with Obraztsova and Yuri Smekalov. I thought that this was okay on Friday night. I really was not that excited to see it again. I prefer to see Obraztsova in classical numbers than something like this.

Veronica Part and Gary Davis of ABT danced to Macbeth with choreography by Vasiliev. This was a very dark and intense dance. Part looked so elegant and regal in this number.

Daniil Simkin danced to Les Bourgeois with music by Jacques Brel. I saw him do this number two years ago at the Stars of the 21st Century Gala and tonight was just as exciting. His leaps and jumps are just incredible and he has such a stage presence.

Polina Semionova and David Hallberg returned for the Romeo and Juliet Pas de Deux with choreography by Bejart and music by Berlioz. This was well done, even though I prefer the Prokofiev score. I have to confess that I only watched her. (Sorry David!!)

Ana Sophia Scheller of the NYCB and Joseph Phillips of the ABT did a very weak Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux. I want to comment about NYCB ballerinas – they all look alike to me. I could be way out of line for saying this, but they do not seem to be able to project any individuality.

And then came the Piece D’Occasion with Vasiliev and Khokhlova. I also interpreted this as his search for his lost youth. In my opinion, the chair was more of a distraction than a prop.

The ovation for Vasiliev was very touching. And how wonderful to see all the dancers place their bouquets at the feet of Vasiliev. So much variety on the stage tonight and so many outstanding dancers!

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........So much variety on the stage tonight and so many outstanding dancers!

I would agree with most of Ceeszi. Just a couple more of my personal comments.

I've been adoring Evgenia Obraztsova dancing since i saw her in Romeo & Juliet in DC in Jan 2007. For me she was the highlight of the Galas and an epitome of Mariinsky's style & grace. Her La Sylphide, her Sentimental Walse, and even the modern piece of & with Yuri Smekalove (much more relaxed, more abandonment, more passion on Saturday than on Friday).

Bravo to Emmanuel Thibault for great footwork & partnership. I enjoyed the ballroom dancers and Moiseyev dancers, and i wish the lyrics of the russian lullaby were translated, since the dance and moves and that hysterical laugh were reflecting the lyrics (below). I'm very fond of Dariya Khokholova.

And I have to add that Polina Semenova hasn't moved me a single time (after seeing her at numerous YAPG galas & performances), even watching her Manon pa de deux, I kept on recalling Tereshkina & Gomez of last year. She's the gorgeous body & technique, but where's her "DUSHA" soul & heart in dancing?

And I am fond of Mariinsky's version of Sleeping beauty pas de deux (after refresh-pre-view of Kolpakova DVD & 5 Mariinsky's SB's in DC) much more than Royal Ballet's, it just looked good.

Russian Lullaby http://www.magichild.ru/St/musicbaby.htm

The rain's been pouring from early evening, soaking soil, hammering grass;

A brother is putting his sister asleep, and teaches her;

"Grow up faster, become smarter and prettier with a fairer face' & longer braid & cheerful demeanor/character;

When you grow up, they'll marry you off to a distant strange village and to far away";

The rain's been pouring from early evening, soaking soil; The brother's lullabying to his sister - End

I'd have a hysterical laugh after such a song as well ;-))

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Where do the expressions "Merde" and "No Dust, No Feathers" come from?

Are these expressions still used today by Ballet dancers?

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