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Bolshoi's "Jewels"


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#1 Helene

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 07:59 PM

On the West Coast we get the Bolshoi broadcasts on tape delay.  This afternoon was "Jewels."  The full cast is listed here:

http://www.bolshoi.r...nces/456/roles/

 

Originally Evgenia Obraztsova was cast in the Violette Verdy role in "Emeralds" but this was updated on the Bolshoi website and through a press release posted by volcanohunter and rg on a Bolshoi HD update thread.

 

Spokesperson Katerina Novikova mentioned in her intro to "Emeralds" that Anastasia Stashkevich and Vladislav Lantranov would perform.  Stashkevich (in the Violette Verdy role) was partnered by Ivan Alexeyev, and Ivan Alexeyev* Lantranov partnered Anna Tikhomirova (in the Mimi Paul role).  The Pas de Trois was performed by Yanina Parienko (lighter hair) , Igor Tsivirko, and Ana Turazashvili (darker hair).  The original trio was Suki Shorer, Sara Leland, and John Prinz; I'm not sure which woman danced which variation.  In the "Choreography by George Balanchine" program, Heather Watts danced the role Parienko did today, and Bonita Borne danced the role Turazashvili did.  In "Rubies" Ekaterina Krysanova and Vyacheslav Lopatin danced the central couple, and Ekaterina Shipulina danced Tall Girl.  In Diamonds, Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin led the ensemble.  (Turazashvili was one of the two demis in the first movement and one of the four demis in the third and fourth movements.)

 

The camera work, for much of it at medium range and level with the dancers, made it difficult to see the patterns of the corps whenever there were soloists in front of them.  There were some overhead and long shots of the corps in action that gave glimpses of the geometry.  Still, if this were released on DVD, I would buy it for a few key performances.

 

It seems that there are two steps in learning to dance Balanchine:  the first is to be able to handle the speed, and the second is to be able to hide the work that goes in and give the steps breath.  My overall impression is that while many parts were beautifully danced, far fewer dancers got to step two, and that made the choreography look busier than usual.  I've really liked Krysanova in the past, and it's not that she danced badly, but 45 years ago, while most of the current crop of Bolshoi dancers' mothers were children, Balanchine created a devil of arole for Patricia McBride, who tossed it off as if it were play, riffing on the music, and Krysanova didn't have that luxury.  Lopatin projected more ease in the man's role.  Stashkevich was regal, especially in the main PDD, but the wasn't much luxuriousness or perfume in her solo, which looked rushed.

 

Anna Tikhomirova's first entrance is her solo, immediately following Stashkevich's, and almost immediately, she created a world and atmosphere by breathing with and responding to the arc and character of the music.  She has the remarkable ability to move her feet and arms at two different temps, but in complete harmony.  She never looked rushed, and her phrasing breathed.  It was as fine a performance of the solo as I've seen in many decades of watching the ballet, and her walking PDD with Lantratov was a highlight.

 

Ekaterina Shipulina did not dance the Tall Girl I am used to, but she commanded the stage and was the center of the ballet.  She could go from energized pose to full movement without showing any preparation whatsoever.  She got it.

 

I think Olga Smirnova is a beautiful dancer, but the central PDD of "Diamonds" is not "Swan Lake," and Smirnova, like Lopatkina in the Mariinsky DVD and Letestu in the POB DVD, danced it as if she was dancing Odette.  To her credit, she was dancing the Balanchine one-act "Swan Lake," and not distorting the tempo, line, or phrasing to do it.  I much preferred her in the Scherzo and Finale:  her allegro dancing was sensational.  Chudin's variations were terrific: he does double tours and pirouettes as if they are a piece of cake.  Neither distorted line or traded elegance for virtuosity.

 

I hope other people saw it and post about it.  I already know from Links that there's at least one critic who has opposite opinions smile.png, and I'm sure others here have different impressions.

 

Edited:  *See volcanohunter's correction below.  The notes handed out at the theater had the wrong pairings.



#2 volcanohunter

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 09:05 PM

I think you mean that in 'Emeralds' Stashkevich danced with Lantratov, and Tikhomirova was partnered by Alexeyev, who also reappeared as one of the 'Diamonds' demi-soloist partners.



#3 sandik

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 09:16 PM


I think Olga Smirnova is a beautiful dancer, but the central PDD of "Diamonds" is not "Swan Lake," and Smirnova, like Lopatkina in the Mariinsky DVD and Letestu in the POB DVD, danced it as if she was dancing Odette.  To her credit, she was dancing the Balanchine one-act "Swan Lake," and not distorting the tempo, line, or phrasing to do it. 

 

I've been thinking about the references that we often see in Balanchine, to Petipa and even sometimes to himself, and it occurs to me that perhaps this is related to what you're seeing here.  We saw Diamonds (in a stand-alone production) last spring, and as usual, I saw Petipa peeking out of several corners in the work, but you've put your finger on something really central here -- a reference or a quotation is not a carbon copy of the original work, and isn't necessarily danced in the same way.



#4 bart

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 09:18 PM

I'm not familiar with these dancers, but my take on this is somewhat different from yours, Helene.  Emeralds seemed to me without feeling or atmosphere.  For me, the most familiar moments -- the hands variation and the walking pdd -- were a disappointment.  The music seemed plodding, somehow, unlike the orchestra's vivid playing of the Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.

 

This Bolshoi Rubies was thrilling in a way that the Mariinsky and POB versions are not.  I saw the first NYCB cast several times long ago but have given up wanting to find something that matches the impression they made at that time.  If I am honest, I'm not even sure I remember details all that much,though I do continue to have  brief visual flashes of Verdy, Paul, Villella, McBride, and Farrell.  I do remember the impact made by Jewels that first year, however.  This Bolshoi version of Rubies and Diamonds illuminated the choreography and connected with the music in a way that left me happy and satisfied.  I agree with you completely about Shipulina -- a magnificent and highly original interpretation -- but give higher marks than yours to the lead couple (Krysanova and Lopatin), and also to the corps and to the costume designer (especially the best Rubies dresses I can recall).. Lopatkin had amazing speed when required, but never lost attention to the details.  His body shapes -- especially recurring oriental poses of torso, curved arms and limbs -- were beauttiful.  The ARE in the choreography, but are rarely done so exquisitely.  Should this role contain elements of the exquisite?  Why not?

 

I agree with you that Smirnova brought more than the usual touches of Odette to her performance.   Most dancers in this role I've seen are rather bland.  (Farrell was mysterious and regally aloof, which is something very different.).  Smirnova at times did, as you suggest, seem to be channeling the White Swan, and was more passionate and quick than most I've seen in this role. I loved her, and her cavalier too.



#5 Helene

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 10:38 PM

I think you mean that in 'Emeralds' Stashkevich danced with Lantratov, and Tikhomirova was partnered by Alexeyev, who also reappeared as one of the 'Diamonds' demi-soloist partners.

 

I can't tell the difference between the two from the photos on the site, and they both had their hair swept back.  Novikova did sound like she was saying that Lantratov partnered Stashkevich, but in the casting sheet they gave us, Alexeyev was paired with Obraztsova and Tikhomirova was paired with Lantratov.  When they scrolled the credits, I thought I saw Alexeyev listed with his ballerina, and Lantratov with Tikhomirova.  The credits weren't in alphabetical order mixing the couples like on the Bolshoi site.  Maybe the (movie) theater got the wrong casting info.

 

They had a lot of interesting casting according to the Bolshoi site.  Last season, Parienko, the lighter-haired woman in the trio, and Stashkevich did Emeralds, and Shipulina, Tall Girl in "Rubies" did the Mimi Paul role in "Emeralds."  (We've had that casting in Seattle, too, with Ariana Lallone.) Ryzhkina and Smirnova, today's "Diamonds" ballerina, did "Emeralds" too.  Obraztsova did "Diamonds" and the Verdy role in "Emeralds." (Carla Korbes did that in Seattle, too.)    Merkuriev did "Rubies," like he did in June with Kaptsova, Stashkevich, and Kretova (a few days ago.)  Krysanova has also done "Diamonds." 



#6 volcanohunter

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 11:24 PM

Shipulina does the Paul role in Emeralds, and I loved her in it. She was paired with Alexeyev when I saw it. Smirnova and Parienko do the Paul role also.

 

I don't know why it's so hard for companies to make Emeralds casting clear. There was similar confusion on the POB DVD, when, by alphabetical order, Clairemarie Osta and Kader Belarbi were listed first, and then Laëtita Pujol and Mathieu Ganio, when they actually appeared in reverse order. This led the New York Times to get it wrong in its review.

http://www.nytimes.c...nted=print&_r=0



#7 Helene

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 11:28 PM

That makes sense:  the theater might have gotten:

 

Alexeyev

Lantratov

Obraztsova

Tiikhomirova

 

and thought the first man and the first woman would be dancing together.



#8 volcanohunter

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 09:34 AM

IMO, the cinematography work was very poor for Bolshoi's "Jewels" HD broadcast of yesterday. It looked like that the audiences were sitting in the very front row of the orchestra level, so our eyes were looking straight upward for most of the 2.5 hours. ermm.gif

 

I can't argue with that. From watching the Bolshoi broadcasts, it appears to me that those who film them place two cameras in the front row, one at each corner of the orchestra pit, two at the rear of the central aisle, one to the house left side of the royal box and another in a box a couple rings up, more toward the house right side. If in Emeralds the ballerinas were spared "crotch shots" by virtue of their long tutus, and if they seemed sort of in character in Rubies, the almost nonstop view of the underside of Olga Smirnova's tutu was most unfortunate in the second section of Diamonds.

 

I also hated the effect of having the dancers "magically" materialize on stage at the beginning of each ballet, especially since it was so obviously at odds with audience applause each time the curtain went up. But at least they didn't force us to look at Alyona Pikalova's horrible gold curtain.



#9 Drew

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 08:21 PM

There were 5 of us at the Conyers GA theater showing Jewels.

 

I found the camera work for Diamonds --when they cut back and forth between various perspectives--way too busy, very much interfering with my ability to follow the choreography.  Like VolcanoHunter I also disliked the magical materialization of the dancers in the empty stage, a "special effect" that completely undermined the live performance aspect -- and, in fact, undermined the choreography since the opening pose of the dancers as the curtain rises is a not trivial part of the latter. Otherwise my only problem with the camera work was briefly in Emeralds and maybe a nano-second in Rubies when the feet of the downstage dancers were cut off. Perhaps too there were times when the camera should have stayed still as the male lead raced by (especially in Rubies), rather than racing along with him--which tends to minimize the impact of the dancer's speed.

 

In fact, I quite enjoyed the broadcast. I liked Stashkevich very much in Emeralds. Maybe not the first few seconds of her solo--which, not coincidentally are the one part of the ballet for which I have very vivid memories of Verdy and which, in Stashkevich's performance seemed a little rushed to me. But otherwise, thought she was wonderful with her very supple back and slightly cool affect. I liked Tikhomirova much less; her facial expression seemed too archly dramatic to me and her dancing just didn't feel strongly articulated.

 

I had a mixed reaction to Rubies. Certainly I was impressed with Shipulina. When she started I thought perhaps she would be too cautious, but as the ballet proceeded she really seemed to dance the steps.  I shared Helene's reaction to Krysanova, though I appreciated at least that she didn't want to pretty things up. (Some time ago I watched a few minutes of a tape of the Mariinsky's Novikova in it, and she appeared to be dancing Theme and Variations in a red tunic.) Also, I don't know how Krysanova's performance would have seemed in the theater, but in the HD broadcast her facial expressions seemed over the top to me and made the "Americanness" feel very externally put on. I was impressed by the quality of Lopatin's dancing, but it did sometimes feel too pretty to me. Still overall I enjoyed Rubies too. 

 

Diamonds I liked very, very much. Loved Smirnova, though in the later parts of the pas de deux I did see the tendency to turn into "Odette" Helene mentions; for much of it she seemed more a young and slightly mysterious Tsarina to me--and throughout I found her dancing just gorgeous.

 

I thought that Novikova (the Bolshoi's spokesperson Novikova, not the Mariinsky ballerina) made a mistake in her French introduction, referring to Balanchine's three cities as Paris, New York and "Moscou"--in English she said St. Petersburg and I would be curious if anyone heard the French the way I did or if I imagined it. But overall I thought she did a good job. Her questions to Filin seemed more interesting actually than his answers, though I suppose he saw his job primarily as being a booster for his company and dancers. Was happy to see him in any case.



#10 dirac

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 09:34 PM

Diamonds I liked very, very much. Loved Smirnova, though in the later parts of the pas de deux I did see the tendency to turn into "Odette" Helene mentions; for much of it she seemed more a young and slightly mysterious Tsarina to me--and throughout I found her dancing just gorgeous.

 

 

You shouldn't dance "Diamonds" exactly as you would "Swan Lake" but Odette and the "Diamonds" ballerina may be sisters under the skin. There are hints  of "Swan Lake" in both the score and the choreography -- the hunting motif, what seem to be echoes or refractions of the second-act pas de deux. It's certainly always given me that feeling. Looking forward to seeing Smirnova.



#11 Helene

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:37 AM

The difference between the two is the momentum that's part of the Balanchine style.  At any point in Smirnova's performance of the PDD, you could take a beautiful photograph, and her dancing was beautiful, but what was missing for me was the propulsion and the risk of being off balance and hitting a non-standard or non-pretty postion.  The woman in the "Diamonds" PDD is not a subdued or controlled creature, and she's not explaining herself.  She just is.



#12 bart

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 05:42 AM

Alistair Macaulay addresses these issues in his review of this performance, published in today's NY Times.  He notes that the Russian approach to such things as "the thrust and musical sharpness of the choreography" is different from tthe original Balanchinian approach.  For example:
 
 

Where American dancers have learned to arrive in a position, these Moscow artists eased themselves a fraction more gradually; but that missing fraction can be tehe very breath of choreography.

 
For me, one can notice these differences while still loving the performance.   The Bolshoi version differs from the original New York version in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways, but it has the energy and what Macaulay calls "spaciousness", as well as impressive attention to detail, so that the impact is similar to what I remember from long ago. (I exclude the Emeralds, as I mentioned above.)
 
Macaulay focus on the work of two dancers:

... Ekaterina Shipulina a dancer I well recall in the difficult fourth movement of Balanchine's "Symphony in C" in a 2006 performance), who excelled as the second female soloist of "Rubies":  She was debonair, witty glamorous.

 
Macaulay also devotes an entire paragraph to praising  Olga Smirnova, the ballerina in "Jewels."

#13 volcanohunter

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 10:14 AM

I thought that Novikova (the Bolshoi's spokesperson Novikova, not the Mariinsky ballerina) made a mistake in her French introduction, referring to Balanchine's three cities as Paris, New York and "Moscou"--in English she said St. Petersburg and I would be curious if anyone heard the French the way I did or if I imagined it.

 

I heard the same thing. She made that mistake in French, but corrected herself in English.



#14 Helene

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 11:35 AM

I think she also thanked the "Bolshoi" Foundation and Trust in French, but the Balanchine Trust and Foundation in English.  I don't know how she does it at all, in addition to doing greetings in at least three other languages than Russian, English, and French.  Not to mention the difficult year she's had...



#15 abatt

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 11:49 AM

Novikova is such a great personality and does a wonderful job as host. She is very engaging.  Also, I personally know only one person who is fluent in 3 languages, so I regard her language skills as impressive.  Compare her to the disaster when some Russian model (forgot her name) hosted the Mariinsky's Swan Lake.  She did not have a clue about ballet or much else.  She was just awful and totally unprepared.




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