Zachary

Olga Smirnova

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Just saw Olga Smirnova in the Bolshoi Sleeping Beauty cinema broadcast. It was our first time seeing her and we were so impressed. We thought she was a bit unsteady at first and took a little bit of time to find her feet. That happened pretty quickly, though, and by the end of the ballet she was full of confidence and on fire. Her final dances were electrifying -- incredible power, precision and speed. A very dynamic performance -- at times she kind of made me think of Plisetskaya just in terms of dynamism, power and energy. We are definitely fans of hers now.

 

Also really liked Stepanova as the Lilac Fairy -- she has such elegance, grace and femininity, and also Semyon Chudin was wonderful as the Prince, and the male Bluebird -- I didn't catch his name -- but he was terrific.

 

I was a bit surprised at how low-quality the video feed was. Is that normal? I was expecting something in high definition. 

 

 

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40 minutes ago, Snail said:

Just saw Olga Smirnova in the Bolshoi Sleeping Beauty cinema broadcast. It was our first time seeing her and we were so impressed. We thought she was a bit unsteady at first and took a little bit of time to find her feet. That happened pretty quickly, though, and by the end of the ballet she was full of confidence and on fire. Her final dances were electrifying -- incredible power, precision and speed. A very dynamic performance -- at times she kind of made me think of Plisetskaya just in terms of dynamism, power and energy. We are definitely fans of hers now.

 

Also really liked Stepanova as the Lilac Fairy -- she has such elegance, grace and femininity, and also Semyon Chudin was wonderful as the Prince, and the male Bluebird -- I didn't catch his name -- but he was terrific.

 

I was a bit surprised at how low-quality the video feed was. Is that normal? I was expecting something in high definition. 

 

 

 

I believe the bluebird was Artemy Belyakov.

 

I have found the lighting quality of several of the broadcasts astonishingly poor. 'Astonishingly' because fans regularly post unofficial video of the same ballets on youtube that looks much brighter and, indeed, altogether better. 

 

I also enjoyed Smirnova's performance -- and was often impressed by both her poise and her speed. She is certainly not typecast as Aurora, even arguably a little miscast, but a compelling ballerina always has something to offer and I do think she is compelling. 

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in case this hasn't been noted before, f.y.i. the casting as provided by the promoters of this transmission:

 

CAST:

King Florestan XIV:    Alexander Fadeyechev
The Queen:     Ekaterina Barykina
Princess Aurora:   Olga Smirnova
Prince Desire:       Semyon Chudin
Catalabutte:   Vitaly Biktimirov
Four Foreign Princes:  Ivan Alexeyev, Artemy Belyakov, Egor Khromushin, Alexander Vodopetov
Duchess:  Vera Borisenkova
Peasant Dance:  Anna Antropova, Alexander Vodopetov
Evil Fairy Carabosse:   Alexei Loparevich
Lilac Fairy:       Yulia Stepanova
Fairies of Kindness:  
Tenderness (Candid): Daria Khokhlova 
Carelessness(Fleur-de-farine): Bruna Cantanhede Gaglianone    
Generosity (Breadcrumb scattering Fairy): Daria Bochkova  
Playfulness(Twittering canary): Olga Kalinina  
Audacity(Violent):  Elvina Ibraimova       
Jewels Fairies:
Margarita Shrainer (Diamonds)
Xenia Zhiganshina (Sapphires)     
Victoria Yakusheva (Gold)          
Yanina Parienko (Silver)
Characters
White Pussycat:Victoria Litvinova
Puss in Boots: Denis Medvedev
Princess Florine: Anastasia Denisova
Blue Bird: Artemy Belyakov
Little Red Riding Hood: Maria Mishina
Grey Wolf: Anton Savichev
Cinderella: Daria Khokhlova
Prince Fortune: Vladislav Kozlov

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I also saw the Sleeping Beauty broadcast today. I was excited at first, because it would be the first time I would get to see Olga Smirnova and Yulia Stepanova in a full role. I had just seen the Bolshoi DVD version from 2011 with Svetlana Zakharova and Maria Allash the day before for a frame of reference. I have to say, the 2011 DVD version was outstanding compared to the broadcast. I know that the Bolshoi is trying to bring along a younger group to take over from the established stars. But IMO, they have some way to go before they can stand up to the 'old guard.' I did not see much to be excited about in either Olga or Yulia's performances. Many people have raved about both, so I must be missing something. In the DVD version, Svetlana Zakharova captivated as Aurora with her every move. As much as I love ballet, I actually caught myself nodding off during the broadcast during a few of Olga's parts. That should not happen. Yulia likewise did not inspire me with her performance. Maria Allash is a 'veteran', but still finished and held the end of each move for that 1/10 of a second in her role as the Lilac Fairy, and was able to project that regal air necessary for the part - enough so that I was impressed with the professional job that she did. I saw Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Lilac Fairy at the Mariinsky last year, and I was even more impressed.  Both Yulia and Olga appear to lack something to me - it could be confidence - they both appear to dance very conservatively. I am actually asking for help on this. I must be missing something on their talents, but I do not know what it is. I have seen many posts where people refer to Olga Smirnova as 'the prodigy'. She has the body type to be one - the long graceful arms especially. The implication appears to be that she will be Svetlana's replacement in the future. Perhaps she has already been anointed. I am not sure if I would pay to go to one of her performances.... On the other hand, in the broadcast, I have to agree that Semyon Chudin (as Prince Desire) and Artemy Belyakov (as the Blue Bird) were both excellent - good enough to raise eyebrows. Perhaps that is the measurement that I go by - if it is good enough to raise my eyebrows, I want to see the performer again.

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Thank you rg for the full cast list. 

 

I had difficulty warming to Zakharova's Aurora at the earlier Bolshoi Sleeping Beauty broadcast because she seemed oblivious to her prince. But I don't expect anyone can argue another person into liking or not liking a performance. For myself, too, I don't mind and indeed sometimes rather enjoy seeing dancers as they develop and what I look for in Zakharova at the height of her career might be different from what I look for in someone dancing her second or third performance of Aurora as Smirnova was here.

 

That said, I enjoyed the speed, power, and even the sharpness of Smirnova's dancing without always thinking she is exactly right as Aurora. What sometimes comes across to me as a slightly febrile, high strung quality in her manner gives her a hot house appearance at the same time as the speed and power with which she swings her legs into action can seem very modern and fresh. I found her more in control of these qualities in this performance than some others' of hers I have seen on video or live, and in general I find her very distinctive--which captures my interest. 

 

(The term "prodigy" was the title of a documentary about Smirnova -- it's not a term I would use, but she has had a very quick rise to 'stardom' in the ballet world.)

 

I love Chudin's dancing and was thrilled to see him in this broadcast. Also was impressed with Belyakov.

Edited by Drew

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2 hours ago, Drew said:

 

That said, I enjoyed the speed, power, and even the sharpness of Smirnova's dancing without always thinking she is exactly right as Aurora.

This is exactly how I felt too. She looks a bit unconventional as Aurora, and I didn't warm to her immediately. I also felt she did (as Eddienono said) lack in confidence a bit early in the performance until she found her footing. But towards the end I was completely taken in. 

 

Perhaps, Eddienono, it's just a matter of personal taste. I have seen the Bolshoi's "Sleeping Beauty" disc with Zakharova and couldn't connect with her in that role (I like her much more as Nikiya on their recording of that ballet). Then again I am not a huge fan of Zakharova. I am one of those in the camp that finds her technically gifted but a bit cold, distant, and sometimes lacking in dynamism. I found I could connect with the dynamism and energy of Smirnova. 

 

As a non-expert and non-dancer, for me the dancers I like either have a soft elegance and grace, an exciting dynamism, or (rarely, but ideally) both. I would say Smirnova falls much more on the dynamism side. To me, her final dances were quite thrilling. 

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9 hours ago, Drew said:

 

That said, I enjoyed the speed, power, and even the sharpness of Smirnova's dancing without always thinking she is exactly right as Aurora. What sometimes comes across to me as a slightly febrile, high strung quality in her manner gives her a hot house appearance at the same time as the speed and power with which she swings her legs into action can seem very modern and fresh. I found her more in control of these qualities in this performance than some others' of hers I have seen on video or live, and in general I find her very distinctive--which captures my interest. 

 

(The term "prodigy" was the title of a documentary about Smirnova -- it's not a term I would use, but she has had a very quick rise to 'stardom' in the ballet world.)

That is what stood out about Smirnova to me--her speed.  She did not appear to be one whom slows down the music that much, which I appreciate.  And even though I wasn't as blown away as I expected to be, I also didn't know it was only her 2nd or 3rd time dancing Aurora.  That changes the performance for me, because I think she has the opportunity to grow into the role.  It also explains why (to me) she appeared nervous until after the Rose Adagio.

 

I hope I get the chance to see her in different roles in the coming broadcasts.  I am not a fan of Zakharova, so I'm not sure I'll be watching the Swan Lake stream.

Edited by Kaysta

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6 hours ago, Snail said:

This is exactly how I felt too. She looks a bit unconventional as Aurora, and I didn't warm to her immediately. I also felt she did (as Eddienono said) lack in confidence a bit early in the performance until she found her footing. But towards the end I was completely taken in. 

 

Perhaps, Eddienono, it's just a matter of personal taste. I have seen the Bolshoi's "Sleeping Beauty" disc with Zakharova and couldn't connect with her in that role (I like her much more as Nikiya on their recording of that ballet). Then again I am not a huge fan of Zakharova. I am one of those in the camp that finds her technically gifted but a bit cold, distant, and sometimes lacking in dynamism. I found I could connect with the dynamism and energy of Smirnova. 

 

As a non-expert and non-dancer, for me the dancers I like either have a soft elegance and grace, an exciting dynamism, or (rarely, but ideally) both. I would say Smirnova falls much more on the dynamism side. To me, her final dances were quite thrilling. 

I completely agree with all of this, Snail, including your assessment of Zakharova.  I prefer Smirnova over Zakharova in just about any role.

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Having just had a few internet glimpses of her Sleeping Beauty performance I'm most impressed, once again, by her dimension. Her classical fineness is so apparent along with her remarkable theatrical prowess. This is a combination that brings to mind Alina Cojocaru and some of what I've seen Alina Somova accomplish.

 

I like to make ongoing comparisons between her and Oxana Skorik. For the moment Olga Smirnova has wonderful projection. Also her purity of dance is so evident in her statuesque posturing, her clarity and her attention to nuance and detail. All this she projects radiantly. Whether she is looking you in the eye or composing an image with her back turned, it's expressively gripping.

 

Oxana Skorik, for the moment, is a study in lyrical loveliness. She has shown remarkable ability at times to portray and perform technical breathtaking feats, but for now her emphasis seems to be on the poetic beauty of motion, making her one of the most gracefully lovely ballerinas today. She goes more inside herself, letting the lyrical beauty of her dance predominate.

 

Another ballerina that I like to compare with Olga Smirnova is Svetlana Zakharova. In the most recent stage performance that I've seen her do, about a year ago, I was very taken by her artistic maturity and perfection. Olga Smirnova is much younger in terms of performance age and one of her excitements is her exploration of possibilities, somewhat like Diana Vishneva. Olga Smirnova's perfection or fineness of dance I'm sure will become even more evident, but she'll probably develop an equally impressive range of expression.

 

Watching her and the wonderful artists that I like to compare her with, Oxana Skorik, Zvetlana Zakharova and Aiina Somova, for instance, because of their similar statuesque fineness, refined beauty of motion and expressive capabilities, is a treasure of an experience. It's living art, in many ways at it's finest, and it's enchanting. 

 

Added comment:

 

Semyon Chudin is such an excellent partner for her. He's so sympathetic, supportive and capable.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Buddy

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A few more thoughts. Olga Smirnova's Aurora is a study in linear beauty, as is so much of what I admire in Svetlana Zakharova. They both create wonderfully long lines or silhouettes, wonderful shapes together with their exceptional beauty of motion. For example, regard the creative and remarkable structure of Olga Smirnova's finger placement or the subtly and brilliantly thought out positioning of her head, emphasised by her elegantly beautiful long neck.

 

  Oxana Skorik seems to fill in the lines with a richness of inner detail, a poetic intricacy of lyrical motion. Olga Smirnova also fills in (and amplifies) her silhouette or shape but with a richness and detail of expressiveness. Her character and the forms and motion that define it project. She reaches out to us, both mentally and physically. 

 

I would think that she could  accomplish what Oxana Skorik is so beautifully developing, having been a Vaganova star student, but has chosen (personal choice and Bolshoi theatrical emphasis) a more expressive manner. I find both approaches to be equally satisfying and extremely beautiful.

 

Added thought:

 

Perhaps I could say that Oxana Skorik draws us in to focus on the essential beauty of her dance. Olga Smirnova more uses her totality to reach out.

 

Equally important might be to just sit back and enjoy.

Edited by Buddy
Sentence and "Added thought" added

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Buddy, thank you for these excellent comments. It is good to hear from someone who admires and appreciates both Zakharova and Smirnova. Also, you write so beautifully about the way you experience each dancer and the effect they create. It is indeed very subtle things that we appreciate and that create that impression of grace, elegance, power and beauty. Expressiveness is indeed something I am always looking for and hoping for in a dancer.

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Thanks so much, Snail, for your very kind comments.

 

The reason that I inserted "Equally important might be to just sit back and enjoy." at the end of my last post, besides hopefully being the truth, is to remind myself of something. I feel that sometimes if I try to define something carefully then that becomes what I look for and judge a performance by. In fact, other things may be just as important and enjoyable. So it seems important to keep an open mind and take in as much of what's happening as possible beyond what we have committed ourselves to.

 

For me, Olga Smirnova is a very young, extremely talented and intelligent artist, who is very noticeably exploring, experimenting and growing as well as refining. In a case like this, it seems very important to keep an open and flexible point of view because so much of diverse interest and value is still in the stage of development.

 

Added:

 

For instance, in a recent interview she discusses her participation in Jean-Chistophe Maillot's version of "The Sleeping Beauty." This will be yet one more something of interest to keep an eye on. She says,

 

"Jean-Christophe moreover asked us to immerse ourselves completely in the action and to co-exist with the other dancers onstage at that moment. Whereas in classical ballet a dancer is mostly concentrated on themselves. I’m trying to bring this new perspective to the role of Aurora now, to find different connections with the four prince-suitors, Prince Désiré, even with the Lilac Fairy."

 

http://www.ilona-landgraf.com/2017/01/olga-smirnova-on-the-sleeping-beauty/

 

 

 

 

Edited by Buddy
"Added" so as not to lose what I already wrote

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I just got back from watchinng Smirnova in SB - we receive the broadcasts later in Puerto Rico - and I loved it. 

 

I enjoyed Olga Smirnova a lot - and indeed way more than I expected. She is not a typical Aurora either, but she makes it work in her favor more than Zakharova does (in my humble opinion). You can tell she and Chudin dance a lot together, she trusts him and lets go. I hope their dance partnership continues to grow. 

 

Stepanova was as beautiful, graceful and protective as I expected her to be in her role of Lilac Fairy. 

 

I went with a friend who had never seen a full length ballet. She enjoyed it and left wanting to see more ballet. :) 

Edited by elena

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On 19 Feb 2017 at 1:33 PM, elena said:

I just got back from watchinng Smirnova in SB - we receive the broadcasts later in Puerto Rico - and I loved it. 

 

I'm very glad that you enjoyed her, elena. Having watched some other favorite video ballerinas' excerpts, I returned to this one and was more than ever taken by her statuesque elegance.

 

Saturday night she danced the part of Giselle. I don't recall her doing this before. Debut?  If so, it's another really important one for her. I'd love to see how she looked. This part probably requires the most airy delicacy of anything that she's attempted.

Edited by Buddy
last sentence added

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Posted (edited)

During the first Bolshoi (meaning “Big,” not the ballet company) tv dance competition Diana Vishneva said that Olga Smirnova had managed to combine the Mariinsky and Bolshoi styles. 

 

Olga Smirnova was about Twenty-One at the time.

 

I look at some video clips of her at the Vaganova and I can see already that she was adding expression (what some would call more a Bolshoi characteristic) to her lyrically beautiful training. She was adding dramatic highlights. These days, I would say that her Expression is the dominant part of her approach. Consistant with what I’ve seen at the Bolshoi, the development and expression of the character are very important. At the Mariinsky, I feel that the enchantment of the pure dance is primary.

 

Her ability to do this alone could make her one of the greatest ballerinas ever, perhaps more like Anna Pavlova than Galina Ulanova. Yet, not exactly like Anna Pavlova. My cornerstone reference for Anna Pavlova, from extremely limited film documentation,  is the one minute video clip of her dancing Fokine’s Swan. It’s magical. It’s also more transcendental that what Olga Smirnova is doing, but not as much so as what Galina Ulanova did. From my so limited glimpse of Anna Pavlova, she was probably the greatest, not necessarily because of her emphasis, which was remarkable poetry, but because of how she could do it.

 

For the moment Olga Smirnova is more of this Earth. Yet, she has her years of Vaganova training ingrained. In a more recent video glimpse of her training at the Bolshoi, she momentarily practices a sweep of her arms that is  breathtaking in the Purity of its Vaganova/Mariinsky-like Beauty and Flow. In my post above I mentioned that she debuted Giselle in February. This would be an excellent  chance for her to move in this direction.  

 

How much I would love to see more of this as she develops. I say ‘develops’ because she is only twenty-five and everything that she does seems to be part of a building process. Each time that I’ve seen her repeat a work there’s a noticeable progression and development. So it seems very possible to me that she could reemphasise  her Vaganova capability any time that she choses. In combination with what she’s accomplished since, it would be a treasure to experience. She would have moved closer to Anna Pavlova, of whom she could become the closest resemblance in ballet history. Or she could even move towards Galina Ulanova. It would be more likely and dream fulfilling that she could settle somewhere in-between.

 

Some day there is also the possibility that she could move into areas of dance, theater and expression well beyond the scope of ballet. This is a very possible and exciting prospect.

Edited by Buddy
typo corrections

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Well, some more video watching and I think that I see some of the direction that I mentioned above. In this instance there is more beauty of flow, but rather than really emphasising it she seems to be taking a more statuesque approach. Each move contains a portrait of linear fineness, her long limbs constructing so clearly and so articulately. It’s probably more a refinement of form more than motion. I guess what I have in mind above is closer to Ulyana Lopatkina whose pure beauty of motion is perhaps the finest that I’ve ever seen.

 

I have to call Olga Smirnova a genius. With each work that she performs, she creates a new personal identity and a new way of seeing things, of doing things, a new reality. I could probably list at least ten different outstanding elements that she accomplishes with every performance. A chapter could be written about each of them. Where ever she goes should be an adventure in great artistry.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The Beginner’s Guide — A Few Points of Departure   :)  

 

Olga Smirnova

 

Aura — envelopes, elevates and transports

 

Presence — “a magical presence” (Merrill Ashley), “an indefinable authority”(Clement Crisp)

 

Expression

Facial Expression

Soulfulness — (“that touches the spirit”, Clement Crisp)

Loveliness -- that touches the heart

 

Beauty of Motion

Phrasing

Flow

 

Sculpture — Forming Shapes

 

Physical Beauty  (“lovely extraterrestrial who landed among us”, Jim Lewis, NY Times)

Statuesque

 

Genius

 

Intelligence

Perfection of Presentation, of Details

Invention

Searching — For Meaning, For Method 

 

Technical Prowess

 

 

Edited by Buddy

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Yes...but do you like her, Buddy?:P

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20 minutes ago, Natalia said:

Yes...but do you like her, Buddy?:P

:)

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Posted (edited)

On 5 May 2017 at 2:38 AM, Natalia said:

Yes...but do you like her, Buddy?:P

 

Ok, you two !  :)

 

I was ready for this one !

 

If you really want to know -- "Loveliness -- that touches the heart"

 

Yes, I'm smitten -- from my artistically respectful and grandfatherly distance, out there somewhere, among all the most beautiful thoughts of all the beauty of all womankind. 

Edited by Buddy

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Buddy - Ballet Alert's own Theophile Gautier for the 21st Century! :thumbsup:

 

By the way, I highly recommend the following book by my own King of Ballet Historians, Ivor Guest, on Gautier. It's my latest acquisition from amazon. com & it's keeping me very happy on a rainy day home. There's a lot of "Buddy Style" admiration of dancers here:

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1906830339/ref=ya_st_dp_summary

 

Of course I, too, admire Smirnova. We're so lucky that she's been featured on many of the recent Bolshoi cinemascasts. Not just that spectacular BEAUTY, but HERO, SHREW, ETUDES, DIAMONDS, etc.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I was quite unprepared for this one, Natalia.

 

Thank you so much and very best wishes.  :)

 

Added muse:

 

"Of course I, too, admire Smirnova. We're so lucky...."

 

Yes, it's nice indeed to have someone that you want to dream about.

Edited by Buddy

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Thank YOU, Buddy, for praising favorite dancers. I wish that more people would be so fascinated with specific dancers, so that our art would flourish. I still remember the era of Nureyev, Makarova & Baryshnikov.  "Misty Mania" doesn't have quite the same effect in building interest in the art of ballet, in general. Shall we add "Olga Mania" and "Polunin Mania" to the mix?

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Posted (edited)

Natalia, the fact that she can do so many things so well moving seamlessly from one to the other in a continuing building process makes her great in my mind.  Based on my fifteen years in the audience and video watching, this is how I feel.

 

I’ve seen five of her performances. Two of these were her Swan Lakes in New York City, June 2014, which I considered absolutely outstanding. 

 

Her La Bayadere performance at this year’s Mariinsky Festival elicited the feeling that she is Already One of The Greatest Ever.

Edited by Buddy

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Posted (edited)

This is something that I consider very important in her identity. All that she does so beautifully seems to radiate from this.

 

She has a fundamental place in her mind, visible in her face, that lovingly knows exactly and expresses so clearly the essential need for and unquestionable value of a woman.

 

Added: I probably should have written, "She *seems to have* a fundamental place in her mind...."

Edited by Buddy
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