Natalia

Fall 2012 Mariinsky U.S Tour (Ardani)

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Kondaurova was utterly sublime last nightwub.png . If you do not have a ticket to her other show and you are in the area, RUN to get one immediately. Wow wow wow. Every part of her body was harmonious; she proves how much one can act through the body, that dancers don't need extraneous facial expressions to "act." What's wonderful about her is that her stature/body carriage separates her so much from the rest of the corps, that it becomes impossible to look away from her (why would you want to?) when she arrives onstage. In the third act, she looked like she was having FUN, which is rare to see onstage. Ivanchenko was in good form as well. Siegfried is a thankless role, I think, but he served it well and was an excellent partner to Kondaurova. In the pas de trois, I got a look at the ex-Royal Xander Parish, looking like the Royal should be kicking themselves over losing him (especially considering their male dancer situation). He was much cleaner and more confident than Popov who was on opening night (he looked like he had a bad case of the nerves). Parish does have a tendency to have a bit of a floppy foot though, so hopefully he can tighten that up.

Both nights the corps has been outstanding-truly. I think the cygnets were in better form Wed night (fixed the head issues that slightly marred the opening night run); the big swans both nights were dominated by Yulia Stepanova who has such a distinctly grand way of carrying her upper body, making it easy to single her out in the big scenes. Really beautiful--I'd love to see her get a big break. Shirinkina continues to have multiple roles each night--she has a sweet face and a sweet demeanor.

Natalia - Shkylarov seemed to have the wrong energy, imo--no melancholy or conflict. Plus no chemistry with Skorik. He was a good enough partner though...she sailed through all the supported pirouettes beautifully (they only flubbed one of the shoulder sits in act IV). Technically, I didn't think he was anything special, and he's looked much better to me in various videos. Maybe jet lag?

Both nights have certainly made the unions happy, I'm sure. Opening night we were 25 minutes over the 3 hour mark and last night, 12 minutes. So at least they are tightening it up. The intermissions (and obviously the excessive bowing, which will not be going away) seem to be the culprit.

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Kondaurova was utterly sublime last nightwub.png . If you do not have a ticket to her other show and you are in the area, RUN to get one immediately. Wow wow wow. Every part of her body was harmonious; she proves how much one can act through the body, that dancers don't need extraneous facial expressions to "act." What's wonderful about her is that her stature/body carriage separates her so much from the rest of the corps, that it becomes impossible to look away from her (why would you want to?) when she arrives onstage. In the third act, she looked like she was having FUN, which is rare to see onstage. Ivanchenko was in good form as well. Siegfried is a thankless role, I think, but he served it well and was an excellent partner to Kondaurova. In the pas de trois, I got a look at the ex-Royal Xander Parish, looking like the Royal should be kicking themselves over losing him (especially considering their male dancer situation). He was much cleaner and more confident than Popov who was on opening night (he looked like he had a bad case of the nerves). Parish does have a tendency to have a bit of a floppy foot though, so hopefully he can tighten that up.

I was able to see Kondaurova as well on her first night and I thought she was very strong. Obviously the Odette-Odile role requires a dancer of strong presence, as well as technical ability, and Kondaurova looked like a star, and a consummate professional. And that surprised me a bit, as she is still young - I expected her dancing to look "young and fresh". But she managed something close to the spellbinding quality of Lopotkina as Odette, and Odile I liked even better as she shows a lot of eye contact with the audience, and Rothbart, and it was hard to take my eyes off of her through much of the performance. Which is what we pay for.

The Corps naturally put on a solid performance (they all look like they're no more than 18 years of age). But of all the ballerinas on stage it was pretty obvious who should be dancing Odette-Odile, Ms. K towers over everyone else in spirit as well as physique.

The low spot for me was Evgeny Ivanchenko as Siegfried: simply dull and plodding, technically uninteresting. He brought no spirit to the role, and his 'acting' was practically non-existent. Fortunately his lifts were competent so there was little impact on Kondaurova. In fact, Siegried's dullness did serve to make Kondaurova look even better. When Siegfried tore off one of Rothbart's wings, he stopped there (and Rothbart collapses anyway). But I thought, "That is so Ivanchenko, doing things half way, half-heartedly." Why not struggle with Rothbart in a realistic manner? I much preferred the dancing of Xander Parish (as well as his stage presence). Parish deserves better roles. Hint, hint.

I also enjoyed the bat that got loose in the performance hall during the break period - fortunately it found its way back into the night sky before ACT III.

Since I was sitting in the 3rd row, I was able to see every detail, and during the encores I was standing against the stage and just missed a fantastic shot of Kondaurova taking her bow in front of the curtain (about 20 feet away). But the darn usher noticed that I and the person standing next to me had our phones out, so she motioned us away from the stage area. I'll always regret not having that extra few seconds to get the picture. ;)

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I also enjoyed the bat that got loose in the performance hall during the break period - fortunately it found its way back into the night sky before ACT III.

Was it a bat or a bird that found its way in?! It was all anyone in my section could focus on during the intermission. I was worried it would be flitting around stage during the final scene, but it conveniently disappeared. I did notice none of the ushers were making a move to do anything about it...nice work, guys. dunno.gif

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Bat/bird removal is probably some other union's job at the theater.laugh.png

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Definitely was a bat, and definitely not Teamsters jurisdiction. The topmost seating section was actually closed to the audience and I did notice some 'personnel' walking about up there trying to think of what to do with a bat. Die Fledermaus passed really close over our heads when I was standing with a few other people by the front of the stage. I thought I was going to get whacked in the head. The main thing is, it was gone before it could ruin the last of the performance. Could you imagine a bat crashing into Kondaurova as she's being held aloft? That would be memorable.

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rofl.GIF I don't think we would be seeing much more of Big Red around here if she was attacked by a bat at our theater! I heard several people around me worrying about getting pooped on.

For the record, I have been going to SCFTA regularly for many many years and I've never seen any loose animals in the auditorium (aside from when the Lion King comes around!)

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In the ushers' defense, if California ushers are anything like Florida ushers, they are usually total volunteers who are simply trained to show people their seats and tear tickets. They are like you and me but volunteering, so they can see free shows. I would not know how to remove a bat or catch it. So I can't imagine an usher ever doing anything except notify someone in administration (for the theatre or performing arts center). In Florida most are retired and elderly and probably wouldn't be able to catch a bat even if they wanted to! happy.png

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By the way, did everyone see the video of the cat running across the stage as Tereshkina was dancing the Black Swan coda? Someone here posted it! Made me laugh! Whoever posted it should post it again!

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Yes, it was probably dumb luck that the creature escaped, but I can't imagine it found too many tasty bugs flying about the Hall either.

I will just mention that this was my first visit to Segerstrom Hall - sound and seats were good, and the entire Performing Arts Center is impressive, who knew? (outside of LA patrons). The stage was smallish though, and that did have some impact on the visuals. I would not want to see the finale to "Diamonds" on a stage of that size - it would be really cramped.

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Everyone, thanks for the wonderfully detailed reports thus far, bats and all! smile.png

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Yes, thanks for all the reports, can't wait to see Kondaurova tomorrow night! Hope the bat stays away...

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Thank you everyone for the reports! I've enjoyed reading them.

By the way, did everyone see the video of the cat running across the stage as Tereshkina was dancing the Black Swan coda? Someone here posted it! Made me laugh! Whoever posted it should post it again!

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The Bolshoi survived an earthquake in Berkeley that shook the building during one big group dance, so I'm sure the Mariinsky will survive this :)

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Rosa,

Thanks for the video! I now bookmarked it, so I can view whenever I want. I love it! So funny! I wonder what Tereshkina was thinking, when she saw it, or maybe she was so busy she didn't notice.

So now someone needs to post video of last night's bat!!!

Bart

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SCFTA released a promo for Friday evening's show (Kondaurova). Use the code ENCORE and receive 50% off Orchestra/Tier 1 (B or C pricing) tickets. Online or on the phone. Wish I didn't already have plans!

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I know this is reality, but I rue the reality that anyone should have to discount tickets for any performance with Kondaurova..

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The way Skorik is slightly 'off axis' in the photo Natalia posted actually makes her look a bit Balanchinesque -- though I realize that may just happen to be the nano-second caught by the photographer.

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I know this is reality, but I rue the reality that anyone should have to discount tickets for any performance with Kondaurova..

Well, it IS Orange County, and I can't believe that the Mariinsky has the name recognition and reputation with the general public in that area to sellout the Hall each night. (The name change back to Mariinsky from Kirov certainly throws off the non-balletomanes.) And it's worth point out that the top tier of seating isn't even being used, so the Segerstrom people must have known there was no way they were going to get enough people to come see Swan Lake each night. There were plenty of people in the auditorium on Wednesday night, Oct. 3, but there was still some open seating.

Kondaurova got her standing ovation, and that's what counts - that the dancers coming from the other side of the globe feel appreciated for their efforts.

Edit: I stumbled across this video documentary that purports to show Kondaurova in her Swan Lake debut. And I think it's safe to say that she has grown into the role since. Lovely girl. Unfortunately there's a lot of dropped-frames in the video so it's choppy. I would rather see "Big Red" in The Firebird, but that's just me - maybe next tour...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxJPVMQZ_f4

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When the Mariinsky came to New York two summers ago, they could not sell out the Metropolitan Opera House either, even with the large Russian population in the New York City area. IN fact, ticket sales were pretty poor for certain nights. Of course, they were performing Ratmansky ballets, not Swan Lake. I think part of the issue was that the Mariinsky ticket prices were sky high. If memory serves, they were chargining $90 for Balcony seats (the balcony is pretty far away from the stage). I guess the thinking is that they should charge sky high at first, and then dump the remaining seats on discount if necessary. By contrast, this summer the Paris Opera Ballet at the Koch Theater in NY was a virtual sell out at every performance, and the ticket prices were, IMHO, reasonable. (I know the Koch has about 1,000 fewer seats than the Met.)

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SCFTA has a capacity of around 3,000 seats. That's a lot to fill every night, though one would assume Swan Lake would sell easily. Tier 3 which has been closed off this week has only around 600 seats. In general, ballet never sells out the hall. In general, the hall rarely sells out anything (not even Les Miserables here this summer managed to sell out more than a few nights). For whatever reason the Bolshoi sold out Dorothy Chandler (same-ish capacity) in their run of Swan Lake this summer, though they only had 4 shows.

A quick google search tells me the Met has around 3,800 seats and the Koch 1,900 seats for perspective.

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Love the video with the cat!

So I am curious: How common is it for a cat to appear on stage at Russian theaters? I'd guess that the theaters have resident cats, but that the cats _generally_ steer clear of the noise and lights of a performance.

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There was a +10 minute standing ovation last night. After the corps came forward for their grande reverence, Kondaurova and Ivanchenko came forward with the ensemble and the audience at once rose out of their seats with cries of “Brava!” Their adulation was for the prima ballerina and her corps moreso than the hero. I hope that I can adequately explain below why this was the case.

Last night, Ekaterina Kondaurova danced an epic performance of Odette/Odile. This Swan Queen dominated the stage and the corps, not only by her presence, but by the brilliance of her technique, her aesthetic, and her concept of a woman trapped in a spell with no hope. Her Odette was exemplary. She thoroughly exhibited those characteristics that separate the good O/Os from the great ones. She was at once, majestic, vulnerable, proud, tender, anxious and submissive to her Prince in the white acts, and resolute, confident, self-absorbed and ruthless in the 2nd Act. The white pdd with the Prince exhibited all of these qualities, including deep, fluid, abiding grace. During the scene 2 curtain call, she was all modesty, assuming the folded wings in tendu with lowered head, along with the swan maidens behind her. In the 2nd act her Odile appeared with the impact of an RPG. This Odile unleashed technical ordinance the likes of which I haven’t seen in this company since the days when her former coach Olga Tchyentchikova danced the role, or in the early –mid 2000s when Daria Pavlenko (used) to be cast. She executed her fouttes sur place in sharp doubles and triples, ending in extended 5th as if they were mere child’s play. Her final act was the summation of her second scene as her final diagonal in the last pdd and her release from the spell reached new pathos.

The corps de ballet was, in a word, flawless. Many thanks and kudos go to corps coach Nina Ukhova for this. The special stamp of her diligence and care enveloped all 32 swans. This was Vinogradov Era perfection. They moved and danced as one. The cygnets, Marina Shirinkina, Svetlana Ivanova, Elena Chmil, and Anastasia Mikheykina likewise were flawless. They were a well matched quartet: (Someone talked to Fateev). The Big Swans, gave us new recruit, the American, Keenan Kampa, Yuliana Chereshkevich, Victoria Brileva and Yulia Stepanova. They were equally well matched and exuded the broad and sweeping movements of the dance. The opening waltz was fluid with energy and soft grace. The pas de trois, with Nadezhda Gonchar, Xander Parish (formerly of the Royal Ballet), and Ekaterina Ivannikova was exceptionally danced. Gonchar and Ivannikova delineated the steps extremely well, with high elevation and clear pointe work, and Parish was quite powerful in his variation. Hopefully, he will receive more opportunities other than this pdt, the Poet in “Chopiniana,” and few other minor roles to showcase his talents.

Elena Bazhenova’s Princess Mother looked absolutely beautiful and mimed with regal authority. Soslan Kulaev, a doting and narcoleptic tutor (who took a curtain call after Scene 1), Alexey Nedviga was a jovial and buoyant Jester. Konstantin Zverev was a Rothbart of exquisite line and elevation. In his death scene he really writhed in anguish and was very dramatic, (re the Prince’s “reaction,”anon, it’s looming ever closer). The character dances were dispatched as usual with consummate Mariinsky expertise and élan. The Spanish, Venetian, Hungarian dances and the Mazurka were all well done. The Spanish was led by Anastasia Petushkova, Yulia Stepanova, Kamil Yangurazov, Karen Ionessian; The Venetian (Neopolitan), was led by a perky Anna Lavrinenko and Ilya Petrov, and the Mazurka was danced by Lilia Lischuk, Xenia Dubrovina, Lyubov Kozaharskaya, Irina Prokofieva, Alexander Beloborodov, Mikhail Degatyrev, Alexei Kuzmin and (the tutor) Soslan Kulaev. However the top honors go to Olga Belika and Boris Zhurilov who led the Hungarians: They poured paprika on that czardas!

“Swan Lake” is supposed to be not only the story of a woman’s plight, but also the story of a young man’s quest and first love. Kondaurova’s Prince Siegfried was Yevgeny Ivanchenko. Overall, his performance last night brought to my mind 1992 Presidential candidate Ross Perrot’s running mate, Admiral James Stockdale’s opening statement during the Vice Presidential Debate: “Who am I? Why am I here?” This was the impression given by Ivanchenko, and the expression on his face during the entire performance.

Ivanchenko is one of the Mariinsky premiere danseurs who seems more focused on getting steps right and landing well, than developing a clear, coherent and decisive interpretation of a role. His repertory includes all the Princes of Petipa’s canon, including Romeo et.al.. Last night Yevgeny Ivanchenko didn’t seem worthy of such an O/O. What we had was an intense O/O paired with a passive Siegfried. For example, when he first appeared in Scene 1 there were crickets until a substantial part of the audience thought about 25 seconds later that, “Oh it’s the Prince” and deigned to applaud. That’s the best way to describe his presence in a nutshell. He is a wonderful, and competent dancer but when paired with an intense prima ballerina like Kondaurova, he fades into the scenery, and is one dancer among many. Here’s another example. In his Act 2 variation, he literally walked (and I mean a normal pace – not presented, devoid of dance) to the throne for his preparation before the sweeps toward the pit for the end. If he could learn to combine emotional investment with technical ability, and if he could have found that synergy, he might have been Kondaurova’s match. Elizabeth Kaye (more on her in a moment), mentioned in the pre-performance chat that when she spoke with Nureyev, he told her that Natalia Dudinskaya had given him this advice: “’ She said to ‘ “…make performance; and to sparkle.’” Last night, the O/O made a performance and sparkled, the Siegfried did not.

Pre-performance Trivia: Last night, I had to go on a safari to get a program book. Usually, these are passed out to patrons in the foyer once you gain admission. They were still in the boxes and for some unknown reason, the ushers were reluctant to pass them out. We were told that they “… would pass them out when the audience is (seated) near capacity.” I know, that doesn’t make sense. Needless to say, they should re-think that policy.

Elizabeth Kaye, author “American Ballet Theatre: A 25 Year Retrospective,” presented a detailed biography of Tchaikovsky’s life, commenting on everything you ever wanted to know about the composer, but were afraid to ask, such as: His parents, the death of his mother, his childhood, his academic career at the St. Petersburg School of Jurisprudence, his attempted suicide after his wedding to Antonina Milyukova, how his brother Modest saved him from drowning, etc. She also covered the history of the ballet, in snippets, and how it evolved from a family entertainment for his nieces and nephews, to the 1877 Moscow premiere, why he wrote “Eugene Onegin,” how he was in love with the character of Tatiana, and how Siegfried was the name he chose for the Prince because of his fascination with Wagner’s “Ring Cycle.” She tied all this together stating that his attempted suicide, and all of the other extenuating circumstances in his life up to that moment were poured into his music for “Swan Lake.” The ballet history was correct until she mentioned that the Mariinsky’s current production, (which premiered in 1950), was premiered by Konstantin Sergeyev - in 1890.

The Music Corner: Mikhail Agrest led a very small troop of Mariinsky Orchestra members. The musicians played the score with swift and sweeping passion, as Agrest guided them through what was an ideally paced and satisfying performance. In fact, the contingent seemed so small that either they were playing very, very softly, or the volume on the Hall speakers was turned down very low. I think it was the latter. When they brought “Don Quixote,” the speakers were so loud that if you were in the first 15 rows, one might have experienced body waves. When Agrest came onstage to kiss Kondaurova’s hand, it was a wonderful moment. I’m happy to report that the Mariinsky conducting staff’s prêt-a-porter black silk pajama trend has ended, at least with Mr. Agrest. He was resplendent in a well tailored traditional dark suit. Brava Mariinsky!

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Last night, Ekaterina Kondaurova danced an epic performance of Odette/Odile. This Swan Queen dominated the stage and the corps, not only by her presence, but by the brilliance of her technique, her aesthetic, and her concept of a woman trapped in a spell with no hope. Her Odette was exemplary.

Yes, but did you like it? ;)

I'm glad to hear that the Mariinsky continued to improve as the week went on. A fine write-up of the performance, by the way. I had much the same impression of Ivanchenko as you did. It's kind of sad really, and perhaps he's simply burned out, or even nursing some type of injury, but he just didn't seem to be emotionally engaged in the performance that I saw. I was just looking at some online photos of Kondaurova dancing with David Hallberg in Swan Lake and a Tudor piece, and I couldn't help but wish we could see THAT pairing in California.

The touring orchestra is indeed small, but they don't sound tiny - I was pretty impressed by the sound they were able to achieve.

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'Brava!' to you, Cygnet! The paprika - the pajamas - everything! re. Poor Ivanchenko alas, he has been 'dialing in' those Siegfried performances for a while. It was the same when he partnered a fabulous Kondaurova in Toronto in March 2011.

How Kondaurova did not receive first cast in L.A. is a puzzlement. At least she opens the run in Berkeley next week.

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