Fall 2012 Mariinsky U.S Tour (Ardani)Costa Mesa & Berkeley, CA + Wash, DC
Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:41 PM
Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:29 AM
Posted 05 October 2012 - 10:35 AM
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...
Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:04 AM
Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:55 PM
A quick google search tells me the Met has around 3,800 seats and the Koch 1,900 seats for perspective.
Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:17 AM
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.
Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:55 AM
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!
Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:51 PM
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.
Posted 06 October 2012 - 03:04 PM
How Kondaurova did not receive first cast in L.A. is a puzzlement. At least she opens the run in Berkeley next week.
Posted 06 October 2012 - 09:23 PM
A quick google search tells me the Met has around 3,800 seats and the Koch 1,900 seats for perspective.
The State Theater had 2800 seats before the renovation and has 2600 seats after.
Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:14 PM
Posted 07 October 2012 - 10:16 AM
Sat night was almost the opposite. Schklyarov was a wonderful Siegfried. He showed great elevation, absolutely soaring leaps in the BS Pdd that drew gasps from the crowd. He was fully engaged with his O/O and all the other dancers around him, very invested in the role. He does make a slightly puppyish impression but that's due to his looks. It really can't be helped and I think it works ok in the Mariinsky version.
Skorik was curious. She was not the disaster that Somova's early performances were or that her youtube clips would lead you to expect. She was ok technically most of the time and there were no big, noticable mistakes but she did simplify some of the steps. They didn't do the iconic overhead lifts on the diagonal in the 1st lakeside scene and my friend pointed out that she didn't really do all the beats we're accustomed to seeing in Odette's coda. Her beats sur le cou d'pied (I think thats what they're called) at the end of the WS pdd were very weak. She made it through the BS fouettes with no problem till she fell out of them at the very end. This was not a big flub, it was hardly noticable unless you had seen Kondaurova the night before who ended under perfect control in a beautiful, solid, triumphant 5th position!
What I didn't like about her was her manner of dancing. She is very skinny with very long arms & legs and a long neck. That may sound like I'm describing Lopatkina, but their physiques couldn't be more different. She looked scrawny to me, all elbows and hands and head and her arm motions were distinctive but not fluid. She has an extremely flexible back, which I usually love but with her it looked like her dancing was all about hitting these specific positions, making just this or that impression. Many of her poses were striking but the sum total didn't add up for me, and she didn't seem to have much rapport with her Siegfired or her audience. I did not feel one ounce of tragedy or empathy for her plight - in fact she didn't bring out Odette's plight at all, at least not to me. So, for me she was not "unworthy" of being a Mariinsky O/O, just an unemotional performer whose style of dancing is not to my taste. It is inconcievable to me that they had her open the engagement when Kondaurova is on the tour, she should be given time to develop under less high profile circumstances.
The corps was impeccable and Anna Lavrienko really stood out for her verve in the Neopolitan dance. Xander Parrish cut a very fine figure in the pas de trois and all the women I saw in it were very good (Nikitina,Ivannikova,Gonchar & Shirinkina) but with the exception of Shirinkina I can't help feeling that they weren't quite up to the Golub, Tkchenko, Osmolkina perfomances we used to see.
Posted 07 October 2012 - 12:34 PM
I feel sorry for her, actually, as she may be experiencing sheer terror on some nights: that's not what any artist needs to develop their craft. This isn't just bad for the audience, it's bad for the dancer's psyche.
Kondaurova moved through the ranks at a fairly typical pace for a principal dancer (though some think she should have been promoted to principal sooner), and she's proven to have that rare ability that every company director dreams of: a dancer who continues to grow and absorb new techniques and roles without hesitation, year after year.
Posted 07 October 2012 - 05:24 PM
I also saw the Saturday matinee with Kolegova and Korsuntsev. I think I've read a lot of criticisms of Danila's acting before but he was practically Daniel Day Lewis in comparison to Ivanchenko and Shkylarov. Lopatkina has clearly trained him well. I too would have preferred to see him with Kondaurova. He seemed the most engaged of all of the dancers onstage, and thoughtfully responded to all of his partners even those he only partnered in big group numbers. He also tried out this new and interesting acting technique where he MADE EYE CONTACT with his partners. Hope the word spreads around that this is something you can do if you want to attempt to relate to other people on stage. I thought his best moment was after the Act III pdd where he pledges his love to Odile: he looked so dumb and happy at knowing he could have her that I actually teared up a little at his crestfallen face afterward.
Kolegova was the most remote of the O/Os for me, but I think that was purposeful. She is extremely glamorous (looks like an old movie star with her new dark hair and her big eyes). Her performance was more static than Kondaurova's but not quite the pose-a-thon that was Skorik's. She's clearly a capable and beautiful dancer, but it's hard to follow the memories of Kondaurova from the other night. Kondaurova never stopped moving, and I prefer that to turning the Act II pdd into a bunch of static arabesques and attitudes with no quality of movement in between. I think that Danila must have the strength of several bulls as they slightly flubbed a shoulder sit in Act IV and he just carried her in a semi-sitting/semi-extended position at his chest level across the stage to not mess up the counts. My partnering experience tells me that is not the most fun position in which to hold a lift.
Vasily Tkachenko has his best outing as a Jester. He's a great actor and dancer (he didn't have the slight wobbles of the Wed night performance). The audience has loved the Jester at every show.
Each performance has been a battle of wills not to laugh at the floppy fish death of Rothbart. Is there not a more dignified way for him to go?
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