Swan Lake, July 30
Odette/Odile: Maria Alexandrova
Prince Siegfried: Ruslan Skvortsov
Evil Genius: Yuri Baranov
Jester: Alexei Matrakhov
pas de trois: Chinara Alizade, Daria Khokhlova
Dowager: Kristina Karasyova
Tutor: Alexei Loparevich
Master of Ceremonies: Vitaly Biktimirov
Waltz demi-soloists: Anna Okuneva, Anna Leonova, Maria Vinogradova, Ana Turazashvili, Karim Abdullin, Denis Rodkin, Mikhail Kryuchkov, Artem Belyakov
Cygnets: Svetlana Pavlova, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova, Yulia Lunkina
Big Swans: Angelina Vlashinets, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Ana Turazashvili
Hungarian Bride: Olga Marchenkova
Russian Bride: Anna Rebetskaya
Spanish Bride: Anna Tikhomirova
Neapolitan Bride: Anastasia Stashkevich
Polish Bride: Yanina Parienko
conductor: Pavel Klinichev
Gorgeous performance. I won’t stop to enumerate the faults of Yuri Grigorovich’s production, because there are many, and no doubt they have been discussed on the board before. Fortunately I’m steeled to them by now. Safe to say that Alexandrova and Skvortsov transcended them.
For reference, I sat in the fifth row on the house-right aisle. That meant a big dose of brass and percussion from the orchestra pit, and its biggest upside was that I could hardly hear the swans’ clomping. My view of some of the footwork on stage left was restricted because of the people sitting ahead of me, but I had fantastic views of faces and upper bodies, and being about level with the stage itself, I was in a great position to admire the height of jumps.
Maria Alexandrova seldom dances Odette/Odile in Moscow. She last did it there almost three years ago when the ballet was filmed. http://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/36/roles/#20100926190000 (Incidentally, a new DVD of La Bayadère was fast-tracked for sale during the tour, but that Swan Lake has yet to be released; perhaps it’s doomed to stay in the vault owing to Nikolai Tsiskaridze’s Rothbart.) But Alexandrova continues to dance the part on tour, recently in Japan, in Toronto and now in London. Obviously, she is not a delicate dancer. Perhaps she isn’t even particularly lyrical, but she has intelligence, individuality, wit, great speed and enormous technical accomplishment. Her Odette is no shrinking violet, and by Russian ballerina standards her tempos are positively brisk. I appreciated this directness, her refusal to milk anything, and greatly admired the flexibility of her arms and shoulders. In her variation the clarity of her footwork was remarkable, and her balances were rock solid. Not a budge or wobble. For once the sequence of entrechats and passés in the coda did not look frenzied or out of control.
As Odile I got the feeling that she was not trying to impersonate Odette so much as seduce Siegfried in her own right. Grigorovich’s turning variation--taken very quickly--held no terrors for her, and her combination of fast fouettés and turns in attitude en avant elicited roars of approval from the audience.
It was noted in almost every review of the opening-night performance that Svetlana Zakharova and Alexander Volchkov had no chemistry between them. In truth, following my eight-and-a-half hour flight, I could not muster the strength or enthusiasm to attend that performance and returned my ticket. Demand for this run being what it is, it resold almost immediately. (Thank you, buyer.) On the other hand it was obvious that Maria Alexandrova and Ruslan Skvortsov have lots of chemistry and a great deal of mutual trust. He partnered her splendidly, always setting her down from lifts quietly and gently. Both of them have enormously high jumps.
Skvortsov was a Prince Siegfried of great beauty and poetry, very romantic, very sincere, unfailingly attentive to the music and characterized by plush dancing. His alignment is always exemplary; he does not engage in the single most common cheat seen today: opening the hip in arabesque. Speaking of upper bodies, he is one of the few dancers who invariably draws my attention to his. It wasn’t until The Pharaoh’s Daughter that I realized how dazzling his legs and feet were. Most of the time I find myself mesmerized by the stillness of his upper body in grand allegro. The usual arm flapping and heaving from the chest have been virtually eliminated, and the windup-free double tours are particularly remarkable.
In the first act his was not a melancholy prince but an entirely gracious one. And since in this version there is no ultimatum from his mother regarding marriage, why should he be burdened by any anxieties? It’s not until Grigorovich has Siegfried wander into the third act, as if unaware that a ball in his honor is being held that evening, that he realizes anything is up. So essentially Siegfried has only the fiancées waltz to sketch out his inner conflict (and I have to say that on film Olga Suvorova’s Dowager gave Skvortsov more to work with than did Kristina Karasyova). In his interaction with Odile you could see him vacillating between fascination and a suspicion that she may be toying with him before letting himself give in to her charms. I don’t know whether his projects to the top of the amphitheater, but up close it’s all written on his face. Likewise, with Alexandrova there’s a lot to be gleaned up close from her darting eyes.
As the Evil Genius Yuri Baranov was muy macho in the Grigorovich manner, not always comfortable with the tempos given to him, but always working around them successfully.
Khokhlova and Alizade were fine pas de trois partners. I can’t really comment on Alexei Matrakhov because my conditioned response to Swan Lake jesters is to ignore them.
The swans’ first entrance was very fast. The quartet of cygnets was excellent, heads bobbing almost perfectly in sync. Among the big swans I particularly admired big and bold Yulia Grebenshchikova and am looking forward to her “Rubies” Tall Girl.
As the Hungarian Bride Olga Marchenkova displayed big jumps but sadly no épaulement. (What is a csárdás without épaulement?) Anna Rebetskaya’s Russian Bride got very far on the charm of her meltingly lovely smile, but the choreography inevitably reminds me of Balanchine’s Scherzo à la Russe, and I have a hard time taking it seriously. Anna Tikhomirova’s Spanish Bride flew high, but then Anastasia Stashkevich’s Neapolitan Bride appeared and jumped even higher.
In the first-act Waltz Denis Rodkin tried very, very hard to outdazzle his colleagues. Pavel Dmitrichenko’s buddy Batyr Annadurdyev appeared in the waltz and mazurka and danced admirably.
One of the things I genuinely admired about Grigorovich’s Swan Lake was that in the last scene he kept the action moving straight from the finale without any interpolations. A reconciliation duet may be deemed dramatically necessary, but it breaks up the musical flow of the score something fierce. Once the mandatory happy ending was no longer required, he returned to his original conception, and while the score still keeps chugging through the finale, at the very end, where the primary theme is supposed to change to the major key, Grigorovich reverts to the ballet’s introduction. The “it was all a dream” ending is more dramatic and successful in Nureyev’s version, so I think it can be made to work, but here it’s merely anti-climactic. Nevertheless, given the strength of this performance, on this occasion I even cried a little.