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Bolshoi: London 2013 (29 July-17 Aug) @ Royal Opera House


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#121 Mashinka

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 01:06 AM

Actually I thought the Jewels audience strange too, when the curtain opened for Diamonds they applauded either the set or costumes, or perhaps, (and this is becoming common in London), the tutus.

 

Having seen both performances I feel that the Bolshoi is in the same position as the Royal Ballet, that there is only one good cast within the company, so they are distributed on different nights.  Very disappointed that there was only one cast for Diamonds though.



#122 volcanohunter

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 08:50 AM

Swan Lake, August 14

 

Odette/Odile: Ekaterina Shipulina

Prince Siegfried: Ruslan Skvortsov

Evil Genius: Artem Belyakov

Jester: Igor Tsvirko

pas de trois: Kristina Kretova, Anastasia Stashkevich

Dowager: Kristina Karasyova

Tutor: Alexei Loparevich

Master of Ceremonies: Vitaly Biktimirov

Waltz demi-soloists: Yanina Parienko, Anna Leonova, Maria Vinogradova, Ana Turazashvili, Karim Abdullin, Denis Rodkin, Mikhail Kryuchkov, Yuri Baranov

Cygnets: Svetlana Pavlova, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova, Yulia Lunkina

Big Swans: Olga Marchenkova, Angelina Vlashinets, Yulia Grebenshchikova

Hungarian Bride: Angelina Vlashinets

Russian Bride: Anna Rebetskaya

Spanish Bride: Chinara Alizade

Neapolitan Bride: Anna Tikhomirova

Polish Bride: Anna Okuneva

 

conductor: Pavel Sorokin

 

Ekaterina Shipulina and Ruslan Skvortsov make an extremely glamorous pairing. Immediately I could feel my American prejudice for the tall and the fabulous asserting itself. Chronologically speaking, this is probably the Bolshoi partnership of the longest standing, begun in the classrooms of the Moscow Ballet School, which they completed in the same year.

 

Yuri Grigorovich has been persuaded to allow his Sleeping Beauty to be redesigned, so the Bolshoi really ought to work to get his permission to change the costumes and decors for Swan Lake as well. When the corps de ballet dances the opening waltz as well as they do, it seems almost criminal to dress them in costumes that appear to have been sewn out of camouflage fabric bought at an army surplus store. There was a flawless pas de trois for all concerned, and Igor Tsvirko was also near perfect as the Jester. Because he was acting vigorously, he was perhaps more conspicuous that I would have liked, but I can’t blame the man for trying. So far I think he was the only Jester who managed to catch the flower the first pas de trois soloist threw in his direction.

 

This was my first look at the Evil Genius of Artem Belyakov, who made his debut in the role this spring. I thought he acquitted himself very well, dancing with a great deal of force and elevation.

 

Shipulina is an august, expansive Odette. Those who seek Russian grandeur and pliancy need look no further. She took the adage at a slow pace, but was able to sustain it. The first lift of the middle section was a little noisy, but all of the subsequent lifts were remarkably quiet, and while I suspect that a tall dancer like Shipulina may not always be easy to partner, Skvortsov did not let on. In the end the pas de deux was very satisfying. Old Hollywood couldn’t have produced a more splendid pair of lovers. The swans, small and big, who followed were excellent.

 

Toward the end of her variation Shipulina seemed insecure as she performed the final sequence of turns, and indeed at the end she lost her balance. It occurred to me that she might be fatigued, as she was performing for the third day in a row. But she came back strongly in the coda. It was notable how fiercely her Odette resisted being turned back into a swan at the end of the act. Shipulina and Skvortsov brought real dramatic tension to the scene.

 

In the Hungarian dance I was pleased with the épaulement of Angelina Vlashinets. Anna Rebetskaya must be the personification of the Sweet Young Russian Thing. Chinara Alizade had style but couldn’t match Anna Tikhomirova for elevation as the Spanish bride, while Tikhomirova took the Neapolitan dance and knocked it out of the park. Anna Okuneva’s jumps looked a little labored in the mazurka.

 

Shipulina is a natural Odile, so she burst onto the scene and took command of it, not really trying to impersonate Odette. The adage had an up-to-the-minute urgency on both sides. Again, often times Skvortsov seems ready to surrender, but no sooner does Odile begin to impersonate Odette than he feels in his gut what a vulgar fraud she is, and he hesitates once more.

 

Like Ekaterina Krysanova, Skvortsov does a lot of things the “hard” way. He does not dance through the music, evening out a phrase to make it physically easier to perform. Instead he will descend from a jump and hold the landing until the next musical phrase begins. Shipulina’s solo dancing was stronger than had been at her previous performance, and by the time she got through her perfect single fouettés, it was obvious that she wasn’t suffering from any sort of fatigue. Superb dancing from both from start to finish.

 

Perhaps once you’ve seen this version enough times you can start to make peace with Grigorovich’s idea of Siegfried’s victimization at the hands of a Cartesian Evil Genius, in which Odette was never real and Siegfried is doomed to end up alone, but nothing worse. Even the swans are no longer swans but rather turbulent waves conjured up by the Evil Genius to separate Odette and Siegfried. Certainly Shipulina, Skvortsov and Belyakov gave it their all to put this across, so the ending was not without drama, and it was not uninvolving, even if it was not catastrophic. Since it turns out he is flexible in these matters, I’ll add that this time Skvortsov’s Siegfried ended by kneeling down slowly on one knee before raising his arms toward the amphitheater as the curtain fell. So he finished each of his three outings in Swan Lake differently.

 

At the end of the performance there were three curtain calls, the most there have been at the nine Bolshoi performances I’ve attended so far. In truth the audience may not have been clamoring for a third call, but as soon as Shipulina and Skvortsov appeared before the curtain, they were greeted enthusiastically. We’ll see how Smirnova does tonight.

 

I sat among the well-heeled of the grand tier, who are a stingy bunch, not willing to applaud much of anyone or anything, leaving it to the rest of the hall to do such a vulgar thing. If you’re looking for a fun crowd, I’d sit higher up. Excellent views, though.



#123 yudi

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 01:05 PM

But she came back strongly in the coda. It was notable how fiercely her Odette resisted being turned back into a swan at the end of the act. 

 

I am glad to read your praising of Shipulina's performance in S.L.

 

When she danced in Rubies on 12th night, she really surprised me: WOW, a wild American girl! Shipulina's performance reminded me of Diana Vishneva's dancing in Rubies, Diana also showed a little wildness, which is perfectly OK for an open & happy, BSO American girl. -- So, I am not agreed with some professional critics who said "Ekaterina Shipulina is more Soviet siren than American chorus girl."

 

On the second day, in Emeralds, Shipulina surprised me again: WOW, she changed! She became an elegant grown-up girl/lady! It seems to me Shipulina is not only a good dancer, but also a good actress. 

 

thanks.GIF 



#124 yudi

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 01:12 PM

 
As for Andrei Mercuriev, when I saw his dancing Rubies that night, suddenly an idea flashed in my head: this guy can dance Gene Kelly! They both have nimble and quick feet; they both are gentle and graceful, humor and pleasant; ...
tiphat.gif 


#125 volcanohunter

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 02:05 PM

So, I am not agreed with some professional critics who said "Ekaterina Shipulina is more Soviet siren than American chorus girl."

 

I don't agree with that characterization either. On the one hand I can see what they're trying to say, because of all the Bolshoi's ballerinas she is the one who most reminds me of the big, unbridled Old School, which I mean as a compliment. But her sensibility is more modern. In certain repertoire I can't help but think of her as a Bolshoi-American hybrid.



#126 volcanohunter

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 02:22 AM

Swan Lake, August 15

 

Odette/Odile: Olga Smirnova

Prince Siegfried: Semyon Chudin

Evil Genius: Artem Belyakov

Jester: Alexei Matrakhov

pas de trois: Kristina Kretova, Anastasia Stashkevich

Dowager: Kristina Karasyova

Tutor: Alexei Loparevich

Master of Ceremonies: Alexander Fadeyechev

Waltz demi-soloists: Anna Okuneva, Anna Rebetskaya, Anna Leonova, Ana Turazashvili, Karim Abdullin, Denis Rodkin, Mikhail Kryuchkov, Yuri Baranov

Cygnets: Svetlana Pavlova, Margarita Shrainer, Anna Voronkova, Yulia Lunkina

Big Swans: Olga Marchenkova, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Ana Turazashvili

Hungarian Bride: Angelina Vlashinets

Russian Bride: Maria Vinogradova

Spanish Bride: Anna Tikhomirova

Neapolitan Bride: Daria Khokhlova

Polish Bride: Yanina Parienko

 

conductor: Pavel Sorokin

 

How you feel about Olga Smirnova’s Odette-Odile will probably depend very much on the way you respond to her port de bras. Do you think Odette’s arms ought to be very wing-like, or only occasionally so? Do you find Smirnova’s upper body to be flexible and fluid, or angular and hyperextended? Are you bowled over by her physical expressiveness, or do you find her mannered and exaggerated? For now, Smirnova’s interpretation lies mostly in her upper body, and in doing so, she is working to her strengths because, for one thing, she cannot compete with Alexandrova, Shipulina or Krysanova where jumps and turns are concerned. The hovering balances and slow, smooth descents from pointe are not there yet, and the battu at the end of the ‘white swan’ adage are glossed over. That said, her balance in her variation and the coda was very good; there were no technical slips in these solo passages. For now some of the others things, like the couple of sticky partnering moments that happened in the adage, have yet to be worked out. Matters were not helped by the poor playing of the violin soloist (Dmitri Khakhamov?). Her transformation back into a swan at the end of the act is anticlimactic, perhaps because she already undulates her arms so much that this doesn’t look any different. The applause immediately after the adage and her variation was not especially prolonged, but the audience responded more vociferously during the bows at the end of the act.

 

Smirnova did not look entirely comfortable as Odile, but she endeavored to dance as big as she could, though this occasionally looked a little awkward and forced in the adage. She got through her variation without difficulty, and despite slipping off pointe on about her third fouetté, she was able to complete the sequence of singles. Again, I’d have to note that the applause following the adage and variations was not as prolonged as it had been the evening before.

 

She has been paired with him quite a bit, but I do not think Semyon Chudin is the best partner for her. For one thing, she is more musical than he is. Unfortunately, he has a strong tendency toward posing, she exaggerates her port de bras, and together I think they are at risk of getting stuck in their particular exaggerations; mannerisms tend to get worse, not better, over time. A partner with a warmer and more direct style might be better equipped to help her open up emotionally and perhaps dance more freely.

 

It’s a much simpler part, but I came away most satisfied by the Evil Genius of Artem Belyakov, who danced it big and danced it strong, and that’s what his role really needs. No fuss.

 

Alexei Matrakhov’s Jester, filling in for Denis Medvedev, was cloying in the extreme, and I wanted to strangle him. (My kingdom for a BB gun!) But the audience reacted very positively.

 

For the first time the first-act waltz looked ragged in spots, but Kristina Kretova and especially Anastasia Stashkevich were both excellent in the pas de trois.

 

The cygnet quartet of Svetlana Pavlova, Margarita Shrainer, Yulia Lunkina and Anna Voronkova was unchanged at all five performances that I saw, and it’s entirely possible that they danced all eight Swan Lakes, so for that I give them a deep bow of respect. The corps of swans was as fine as ever, which was obvious from my overhead view from the amphitheater.

 

Maria Vinogradova tried to inject some spice into the Russian dance, though she was also severely undermined by the solo violinist. Anna Tikhomirova flew higher than ever in the Spanish dance (the trumpets didn’t begin that one well either), and Daria Khokhlova delivered a lovely and musical Neapolitan dance.

 

Chudin was at his best in the final scene. If earlier in the ballet his soliloquizing had been posey and frustratingly devoid of longing, here he came bursting out as though someone had finally lit a fire under him. I would hope that he could transfer some of that reaching dynamism to earlier scenes. I can’t blame him for not having figured out the ending yet.

 

There were two curtain calls, first for Smirnova, Chudin and Belyakov, and then a somewhat shorter bow for Smirnova and Chudin. The loudest applause of all was reserved for the orchestra.



#127 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:37 AM

The Russian arms undulation is certainly over used.  Sometimes you even see Giselles that seem to be turning into Odettes, particularly during the "initiation" scene in Act II. 



#128 volcanohunter

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:58 AM

According to a notice posted inside the theater, "due to injury" the Marquis will be danced by Ruslan Skvortsov rather than Dmitry Gudanov. But is Gudanov really injured, or is he performing at the festival in Peralada, as the festival's web site claims?

 

http://www.festivalp...lovsky/?lang=en



#129 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 10:22 AM

I think one of the moments I enjoyed the most, choreographically wise, was the structure of the national dances in the ballroom act, which the Bolshoi show as variations for the foreign princesses.   Usually the national dances tend to be a bit boring, the audience just wanting them to be over to get to the pas de deux.  I liked the idea of the pointe women here-(I'm a sucker of pointework, I know, even loving Dudinskaya's black pointes in the Sizova Sleeping Beauty! ;-) ).  Anyway, I think this idea honors pretty much the original scheme of the '77 version and the deleted Grand Pas de Six for the princesses, which leads me to another detail I liked in the Bolshoi production, which is the showing of some of this Petipa-discarded music, like the beautiful "Andante con Moto", which is used here for a Pas de trois between Rothbart, Odile and Siegfried right after the evil couple shows up in the ballroom-(I think this pas de trois works, even if it looks a bit modern at times compared to the traditional choreo),  Then there is the "Allegro" variation-(number four in the '77 pas de six)-used as a variation for Rothbart-(lots of pirouettes a la seconde, as usually with Grigorovich!)- and some silly black swans in the background-(please, no more black swans other than Odile...).  The one substitution I did not like was that of the traditional '95 Drigo orchestrated Tchaikovsly's "L'espiegle", which is used in every other modern staging of the ballet for Odile's variation for the '77 Pas de Six "Moderato, Allegro Semplice"-(the "oboe variation").   The '77 Karpakova's "Danse Russe" for the ballroom scene is used here as an extra variation for one of the princesses-(whereas ABT uses it as a Rothbart's solo). 

I wish someone would dare at one point to stage the ballet to the '77 score, using as much of the '95 Petipa choreo.  That score is superior as the revised Drigo one.



#130 rg

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:02 AM

regarding black swans in SWAN LAKE - originally, i.e. in 1895 for Petipa and Ivanov, there were black swan maidens in last act, Vera Trefilova was one, and Odile was not dressed in black.



#131 Drew

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 11:53 AM

I think one of the moments I enjoyed the most, choreographically wise, was the structure of the national dances in the ballroom act, which the Bolshoi show as variations for the foreign princesses.   Usually the national dances tend to be a bit boring, the audience just wanting them to be over to get to the pas de deux. 

 Not the least bit boring when done well--which admitedly is almost never by 'western' companies.   But certainly not boring with the Mariinsky and, as I recall, not boring in years past with the Bolshoi. Of course, there is still a sense of anticipation waiting for the pas de deux but that would be the case no matter what was going on...(NYCB's version has some of the national dances on pointe though not, as I recall, by the princesses. Someone else may remember better than I.)



#132 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 12:30 PM

regarding black swans in SWAN LAKE - originally, i.e. in 1895 for Petipa and Ivanov, there were black swan maidens in last act, Vera Trefilova was one, and Odile was not dressed in black.

 

I know about the multicolored number supposedly worn back then, but I'm thinking more about the effectiveness of having just the one femme fatale in the black tutu.  Seeing all this dancers wearing black diminished somehow the uniqueness of Odile. 



#133 volcanohunter

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 02:43 PM

(This was written at an altitude of 36,000 feet in a state of extreme sleep deprivation, so I beg your indulgence if I’ve forgotten half of what I wanted to write. It’s too long as it is.)

 

Flames of Paris
 

Jeanne - Natalia Osipova (16), Ekaterina Shipulina (17m), Ekaterina Krysanova (17e)
Philippe - Ivan Vasiliev (16, 17e), Vladislav Lantratov (17m)
Jérôme - Andrei Merkuriev (16), Denis Savin (17m, 17e)
Adeline - Anastasia Stashkevich (16), Anna Rebetskaya (17m, 17e)
Marquis de Beauregard - Ruslan Skvortsov
Mireille de Poitiers - Kristina Kretova (16, 17e), Anna Tikhomirova (17m)
Antoine Mistral - Artem Ovcharenko (16, 17e), Denis Rodkin (17m)
Jarcasse - Irina Zibrova
Gilbert - Vitaly Biktimirov (16, 17e), Alexander Vodopetov (17m)
Sutler - Anastasia Vinokur
Gaspard - Alexander Petukhov
Lucille - Lyudmila Ermakova
Hunstmen - Batyr Annadurdyev, Yuri Baranov, Karim Abdullin, Evgeny Golovin (16, 17e), Maxim Surov (17m)
King Louis XVI - Denis Medvedev
Marie Antoinette - Elena Bukanova (16, 17e), Olga Tubalova (17m)
Amour - Chinara Alizade (16, 17e), Daria Khokhlova (17m)
Apparition of Rinaldo’s Bride - Yulia Lunkina
Armida’s Friends - Maria Zharkova, Yulia Grebenshchikova, Olga Marchenkova, Angelina Vlashinets (16, 17e), Ana Turazashvili (17m)
Furies - Maria Vinogradova, Anna Okuneva, Yanina Parienko, Viktoria Litvinova, Anna Leonova, Anna Tikhomirova (16, 17e), Xenia Sorokina (17m)
Master of Ceremonies - Alexei Loparevich
Auvergnese - Anna Antropova, Anna Rebetskaya (16), Kristina Karasyova (17m, 17e), Alexander Vodopetov (16, 17e), Vitaly Biktimirov (17m), Anton Savichev (16, 17e), Ivan Alexeyev (17m)
Marseillaise - Igor Tsvirko, Alexei Matrakhov, Maxim Surov
President of the Convention - Alexander Fadeyechev
Jacques-Louis David - Yuri Ostrovsky
 

conductor - Pavel Sorokin

 

The best way to summarize the opening night of Flames of Paris would be to say “veniit, vidit, vicit,” because it felt a lot like Natalia Osipova’s coronation. With her spark and one-of-a-kind jump, she effectively overshadowed everyone else on stage. I barely even noticed Ivan Vasiliev until the pas de deux. Nevertheless, it was obvious that Osipova and Vasiliev had been away from the Bolshoi for a while, not because they no longer fit in stylistically (they did), but because what was presumably a fairly short rehearsal period was not enough to overcome Osipova’s synchronization problems with Andrei Merkuriev’s Jerome and even Vasiliev’s Philippe. I also have to note that in the Dance of the Basques, it was not Vasiliev and Merkuriev, but rather Vitaly Biktimirov’s dashing captain who put the dance over the top, which certainly helped me understand why Vassily Vainonen had originally given the lead in the piece to a character dancer.

 

The audience was beside itself during the pas de deux, and when Vasiliev got whoops and hollers during his variation and coda, which included things like triple revolutions in the air and his proclivity for ending sequences of pirouettes very, very slowly, I didn’t mind in the slightest. That’s the nature of the beast.

 

Nevertheless, Flames of Paris suddenly seemed like a much better ballet the following afternoon when Ekaterina Shipulina and Vladislav Lantratov took over the leads. Instead of being the Vanya and Natasha Show with a few extra bits thrown in, the ballet now came across as an integrated whole.

 

Given her height, Shipulina is not an obvious ingenue, but she and Denis Savin as Jerome were entirely synchronized, and so was everyone else on stage. I did not find Shipulina to an inferior Jeanne in any way, She is not exactly earthbound, has just as much Bolshoi style and there were many moments when took full advantage of the length of her legs to drive the choreographic point home.

 

Lantratov can’t do a macho strut anywhere near as plausibly as Vasiliev, but his dancing has greater beauty. He does not have Vasiliev’s bag of tricks in the pas de deux, but frankly Shipulina has the better fouettés. Perhaps because he’d been dealing with an injury during the tour, Lantratov looked visibly pumped up by his own performance of the pas de deux, not quite like the footballer who had just scored a goal, but perhaps like a fan who had just watched his team score. Since Vasiliev is not exactly a model of balletic decorum, I couldn’t blame Lantratov for taking his own liberties.

 

Lantratov’s Philippe is also a nicer guy. Unlike Vasiliev, he does not crow over those being led to the guillotine, though Vasiliev’s reading gives him a dramatic opportunity when he realizes how much distress his behavior has caused Adeline. I can certainly understand what Vasiliev is trying to do, because otherwise Philippe’s character has no dramatic development to speak of.

 

Ekaterina Krysanova and Savin did not have the eerie synchronization he had with Shipulina, but they were by far the most convincing pair of siblings. In many ways, Krysanova was the most persuasive heroine. She looked the youngest, her character underwent the most clearly delineated development, and every jump and turn was there. Her variation was also the best of the three, the hops on pointe and rapid turns being most compatible with her technique.

 

On Friday Andrei Merkuriev as Jerome was largely overshadowed by Osipova, but the following day Denis Savin effectively made him the ballet’s dominant character. Nearly all of Jerome’s choreography is by Ratmansky, and since Savin is a self-described contemporary ballet specialist within the Bolshoi, he was at ease with Ratmansky’s shifts of balance and quirks for hands and feet, all danced with gorgeous flow and, to borrow a modern dance image, a fall-catch-and-suspend dynamic. (Ditto for Shipulina.) He was completely persuasive as a good and innocent teenager, all heart and hope, who endures unbearable tragedy. And Savin’s finale is devastating. At the end of the ballet the stage is crammed with movement and action, but I could see only Savin’s desolation. Having watched the afternoon performance from the seventh row of the orchestra, where every dramatic detail was visible in high resolution, so to speak, I was crushed by his performance and could barely bring myself to applaud when the curtain came down. And then he did it to me a second time in the evening!

 

Ratmansky has both his heroines change footwear during the course of the ballet. If Jeanne spends most of the ballet in pointe shoes, excepting the scene of character dances in Act 2, during which Osipova and Krysanova wore low-heeled shoes and Shipulina wore boots, Adeline wears heeled shoes for most of the ballet until her duet on pointe with Jerome, which is effectively her only passage of what we’d call “real” ballet dancing.

 

At the first performance Anastasia Stashkevich was luminous as Adeline, her expansive dancing punctuated by high extensions and deep swooning backbends. All of changing realities of Adeline’s world registered on Stashkevich’s face, and in the end she was stoic in the face of death. Anna Rebetskaya’s dancing was perhaps not as vivid or individual, but her character was delicately drawn, and she was very touching in her interactions with Savin. She and Ruslan Skvortsov looked sufficiently alike to be plausible as a daughter and father, even if she is actually older.

 

In the absence of Dmitry Gudanov, Skvortsov danced all the performances as the Marquis, though the printed programs would have us believe that he wasn’t scheduled to do any. He was delightfully dastardly, a rapacious predator whose alpha-maleness is expressed through deep, wide strides and dazzling batterie. With merciless, surgical precision he skewered the man of power who abuses it to prey on women. (I’m sure he’s never run across those in the theater. innocent.gif ) Ratmansky has the Marquis observe his rivals, studying their methods and weaknesses, and then outdazzle them choreographically. Even when seemingly paying tribute to the King, the Marquis is really showing him up. Skvortsov’s dancing was especially satisfying because it’s rare to see a six-footer excel at such rapid and intricate footwork, and each performance was stronger and more forceful than the one before.

 

It’s a shame Skvortsov was not able to do at least one performance as Antoine Mistral/Rinaldo because neither Artem Ovcharenko nor Denis Rodkin quite had his droll wit, musicality or grasp of the style. Too often Ovcharenko and his partner Kristina Kretova played fast and loose with the music, while Rodkin needed reminding that he was dancing an enervated Rinaldo and not Conrad. His determination to dance everything as big and as strong as possible negated any chances of conveying the pseudo-Baroque style. As for Rodkin’s potential danseur credentials, he is tall and strong, but in the coda he performed royales rather than entrechats six, and in a spetacular display of ungentlemanliness, he elected to out-jump and out-split Daria Khokhlova’s Amour as they performed what was supposed to be a series of small, rapid flick jetés. In an instant Rodkin managed to negate about three-quarters of the positive impressions he may have made on me during the tour. Evidently his coaching sessions with Nikolai Tsiskaridze did not include lessons on good stage manners. For his part, Ovcharenko did perform entrechats six, but spread out three of them over music that called for four.

 

As Mireille de Poitiers/Armida, Kristina Kretova showed admirable Baroque port de bras, even while dealing with completely anachronistic elements of choreography, such as pointe shoes. Even though she has extremely flexible feet, Kretova hopped and hopped and hopped on pointe perfectly. She and Yulia Lunkina as the Apparition of the Bride engaged in a Dynasty-worthy struggle over the hapless Rinaldo, and she clearly relished every minute of her melodramatic revenge. At her second performance she perhaps elected to ham it up excessively, but she was charming. In her republican incarnation she was more of a hard sell and less attractive as a result.

 

Anna Tikhomirova was somewhat less convincing as a period stylist. Her performance was a 21st-century allusion to the style rather than an attempt to recreate it, and this is, after all, Vainonen’s choreography, not Ratmansky’s. (That said, on the basis of her performance I would very much like to see her take a crack at Balanchine’s Chaconne.) Unlike Kretova, her Armida actually seemed to derive sadistic pleasure from destroying Rinaldo. Tikhomirova was the better and more appealing dancer in her second-act duet, her rhythmic accuracy resulting in each of her movements coinciding with the appropriate musical accent. Tikhomirova recognizes that cymbal crashes are there for a reason and uses them.

 

Both Chinara Alizade and Khokhlova were in fine Amours, Alizade a bit flashier, Khokhlova subtler and charming. Alexei Loparevich as the Master of Ceremonies and Denis Medvedev as Louis XVI were very funny. Medvedev was especially vivid as an alternately cynical, bored, petulant and jealous king.

 

In Vainonen’s character dances, all those who performed the Auvergnese dance gave it verve and personality, and the Marseillaise trio was bursting with both virtuosity and fun, particularly Igor Tsvirko, who overflows with vitality.

 

At the final performance there were some end-of-tour “shenanigans,” for example, one of the Marseillaise dancers wore a thick red beard, and the first of the corps of “Mariannes” carried a small French flag.

 

On the whole I found Ratmansky’s first act more persuasive. The drama flows easily, and the choreography is interesting in its unconventional use of the pas de deux: brother-sister, father-daughter, assailant-victim. In the second act I got the impression that the imperative to preserve as much Vainonen as possible, especially the flashy pas de deux, interfered with the story Ratmansky wanted to tell, and which he had been telling persuasively up to that point.

 

My honest advice to anyone who’s interested in it is to grab any opportunity to see Osipova and Vasiliev perform the pas de deux in a concert or gala setting. But if you’re going to see the whole ballet, choose a different cast. Overall the theatrical experience will be more satisfying and feel less like a circus. The ballet is also probably best seen from a slightly elevated position. There is a lot of stuff going on around the stage, so the ballet benefits from a panoramic view.

 

Audience response was very enthusiastic and there were lots of curtain calls, since all three couples would take them in turn, and then come out together before going separately a second time around. Even though I didn’t record an exact tally, my impression is that the greatest number may have taken place at the last performance, during which Vasiliev had worked very hard to sell himself to the London audience, and they ate it up.



#134 meunier fan

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 03:04 PM

Thanks so much Volcanohunter for yet another BRILLIANT review.  Bless you for ALL.  



#135 bart

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Posted 18 August 2013 - 03:30 PM

Thanks so much Volcanohunter for yet another BRILLIANT review.  Bless you for ALL.  

Definitely add me to this THANK YOU.     I am 4,400 miles away from the Royal Opera House, but I feel -- thanks to the detail and immediacy of your observations -- as though I were there.




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