I saw last night's performance with Somova and Shklyarov and also the afternoon rehearsal with Kolegova and Zyuzin.
Had not seen Somova dance in the last three years. She's developed artistically. Her Odette was elegant and emotional, and very detailed. Many individual moments where she used everything-- arms, head, eyes and tempo--to express Odette. She has more control of her flexibilty, and made use of it with some exquisitely felt attitudes and a really perfect yearning stretch of upper body. I don't know if it was always there, but she has a glamorous stage presence and I noticed it last night. She has that glow about her.
Opening night of a tour is difficult. She had great energy and attack, but sometimes, as Odile, it looked a bit out of control. The fouettes were fast and became somewhat wild-looking, and with an incompletely stretched working leg after the first few singles and doubles (the Russian a la seconde style can be awkward) and, some of Odile's attitude turns were too fast and "spinny" and instead of clearly stopping, she just took the energy from the fast turn straight into the next moment, so your eye picks up that something is wrong and finessed, rather than mastered. It broke the integrity of the variation for a moment or two. Maybe by Friday things will settle. She had a striking balance in a very high split a la seconde developpe in the pas de deux, but a member of the audience emitted an exclamation ("ooooohhhh!") while it was still being held (I think), so perhaps we missed an extra-long balance. She had some gorgeous gleaming Odile moments, but I did more especially like her Odette.
Along with others here, I also notice the turned-in passe in the pique turns. But in fact many of the Russian dancers in various companies do the same. It's as if for a moment they stop being classically-trained dancers, and step up on their pointes and spin around on one leg for fun. It's eccentric, and you get used to it as part of the deal, along with the sometimes thudding landings which last night made the corps at times sound like a herd.
Shklyarov is pleasant-looking on stage and has beautiful lines, but he seemed a bit "not quite on" last night. The jumps were nice, but the turns were forced and his performance seemed a bit vague and far away. I remember him running a lot, and some elegant arabesques, and some good jumps, but he never really danced. A wonderful performer having an off night maybe. In any case, I did muse on what a great partner last night's von Rothbart might be for Somova.
In the Spanish variation both girls were good, particularly the blonde (on right). I don't know these dancers' names, alas. As one of the two swans, Gonchar had some beautifully smooth and lyrical moments, especially on the diagonal.
The jester was, for me, a joy to watch. He has good lines and nice feet, and his dancing had an ease and elasticity to it, with beautiful jumps and no jarring landings nor forced turns. He also had a perfectly mischievous stage presence. He was playful and naturally virtuosic, rather than determinedly showy. I remember some particularly high beautiful tours in cleanly-placed passe.
In the afternoon I saw Kolegova and Szusin rehearse. It always seems slightly unfair to comment much on reheasals, as dancers may be marking and you don't really know how they will look when they actually perform the role. Kolegova has a pretty face framed with dark hair, like a Disney fairy-tale beauty. She seemed to have a very solid and attractive technique, soft Odette arms and nice lines. I really admired her technique and quiet strength and control. In rehearsal (in performance who knows) she seemed aloof and introverted, but not necessarily in a way that expresses Odette. But she was nice to just watch for awhile. After a few minutes my attention strayed to corps members and I noticed some talented young dancers, which is always reassuring.
All in all it was a good experience yesterday. I do wish I had waited until later in the run. I laugh as I remember that opening night was in past years usually eventful in silly ways, with dropped chalices, small slippery stumbles in variations, and late entrances. It never really bothered me as long as there was good dancing anyway. But as Somova seems to have grown so much, I wish I had seen her later in the run, on the chance that after opening night she may settle down and really show the extent of her development.