mussel

Summer 2014 NYC & Saratoga Tour

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Mathilde, I have seen parts of Grigorovich's Spartacus and Swan Lake on YT but never seen an entire ballet live. So yes, I guess I am unfamiliar with his productions.

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When the box office first opened the least expensive tickets were $28 (or £16 at current exchange rate) and they spread through out the house including orchestra (stall to you) and they were quite decent, not partial views. However, when the dynamic pricing took over, it became outrageous, the top price was $300 and they were all gone. Pricing scheme at the State Theater is not for procrastinators.

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The Met also charges $25 for standing room, I believe. The Bolshoi tickets sales involved wild extremes. People who bought packages early were able to secure good seats at cheap prices. As mussel pointed out, those who waited got burned, and had to pay excessive prices, often in awful seat locations. There were many, many people looking to buy tickets outside the theater last night.

This engagement is more successful than the Mariinsky's engagement at the Met a few years ago because: (1) the Mariinsky brought oddities, like Humpbacked Horse and Anna Karenina and (2) the Mariinsky/Met pricing was extremely high, which kept ticket sales relatively low.

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It is interesting to note that much of this year's Mariinsky season at the ROH seems to be very slow selling - and that in face of a multitude of R&J, Swan Lake and Cinderella showings. A few performances are noted as being sold out ... but the vast majority have swathes of tickets remaining. At this point the 2013 Bolshoi season was close to being sold ... and by the time it opened (for a similar length - three full weeks with Swan Lake, Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty, Jewels and Flames of Paris) it was completely full. The return queues were out the door. Times it seems they do change. Blessedly there was no 'dynamic pricing'. Well, legally. I'm sure some scalpers were, of course, indulging in such. Certainly not the box office.

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Two weeks ago the Bolshoi's New York season was not sold out either, though the Fourth Ring was much closer to being filled than the ROH's Amphitheatre is today.

And yeah, building a Mariinsky season at the Met around the music of Rodion Shchedrin was a pretty nutty idea. (Put that one in Gergiev's column.)

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Anna K and Carmen/Symphony in C sold out, LHH did not. But the Met has 4,000 seats including stand room, more than twice the size of most major European houses.

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Two weeks ago the Bolshoi's New York season was not sold out either, though the Fourth Ring was much closer to being filled than the ROH's Amphitheatre is today.

And yeah, building a Mariinsky season at the Met around the music of Rodion Shchedrin was a pretty nutty idea. (Put that one in Gergiev's column.)

One could wish for a balance--the Bolshoi rep for this NY season is so old-fashioned...Nothing from the company's recent history; nothing new to NY.

(I think the London Mariinsky season looks a fabulous mix of programs and casts...oh well.)

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One could wish for a balance--the Bolshoi rep for this NY season is so old-fashioned...Nothing from the company's recent history; nothing new to NY.

I agree completely that the Bolshoi's choice of repertoire for this visit is very disappointing. I wasn't thrilled with the casting either. It's why I'm not in New York right now. (Yeah, I'm sure Sergei Filin is crushed. dry.png)

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I was at a q and a given by Filin when he was in NY for the YAGP. Filin made it very clear that the Lincoln Center Festival people dictated the repertoire and his choices would have been very different.

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He often says that, but what would he have brought instead? Unlike the Mariinsky, the Bolshoi does not engage in a lot of experimentation and rarely presents mixed bills. They did just unveil a new ballet by Jean-Christophe Maillot, but consider the company's other recent acquisitions: The Lady of the Camellias (1978), Marco Spada (1981), Onegin (1965). When the Bolshoi took Lost Illusions to Paris (a choice dictated by the POB), fans there complained they would rather have seen La Bayadère. Can't win, I guess.

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For me I will treasure this one opportunity in a lifetime to see Zakharova live tomorrow, however contentious a performer she may be

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I attended last night's performance and I have some mixed feelings.

First - I loved seeing Svetlana Zakharova. She is a world famous ballerina who rarely dances in New York. I have only seen her dance live twice - when the Bolshoi came to NYC in the summer of 2005 in Don Quixote and when she danced an awful pas de deux from Tristan and Isolde at the 2012 Stars of the 21st Century Gala. Last night, she was my favorite part of the ballet. I kept waiting for her to come on stage. Her Odette was lovely and vulnerable and her Odile was very spectacular. Her solo work was beautiful and Hallberg did a good (not great) job of partnering her. Unfortunately, there was not much chemistry between Zakahrova and Hallberg, but I truly believe that she outperformed him. (Thinking back, when I saw her as Kitri in the summer of 2005, she also outperformed her partner, Andrey Uvarov).

I usually like David Hallberg very much, but last night, he was not the dancer I saw who wowed me at the Met 3-4 years ago. Hallberg looked very tired. He also seemed to have some trouble getting his jumps all the way around. And the stage of the Koch seemed to be too small for him.

As was mentioned before, I also was shocked to see not one but two falls in the corps. The first took place when all the swans first came out and the second came during the Spanish dance.

I hated the ending of this Swan Lake. I love the ABT ending, with Odette and Siegfried united together in the afterlife. The NYCB ending is sad, but it has Odette gently gliding off into the distance. This Grigorovich version of Swan Lake has the "Evil Genius" just kind of body slamming Odette onto the ground and seeming to say - "Look - she's dead - get over it!"

Overall, I found that there was much more dancing than mime or acting in this production.

The Evil Genius - Ivan Lantratov and the Fool - Igor Tsvirko were both excellent. The two women in the Act I PDT - Kristina Kretova and Maria Vinogradova were both wonderful. And the music during the PDT was very fast paced.

I second the love for Anna Tikhomirova as the Spanish Bride. I was taken back to the summer of 2005 when an unknown Natalia Ospiova came flying out of the wings during the Act III Grand Pas of Don Quixote. Tikhomirova flew through the air during the Spanish dance.

I am happy that I went. I loved Zakaharova and some of the dancers, but the overall production left me feeling a little cold.

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There's a saying in ballet that says "Put Swan Lake on the billboard, and they will come." This certainly seemed the case tonight as the Bolshoi Ballet has kicked off its two week stay at the Koch Theater with a week a Swan Lakes. Well ... I think many of the audience were shocked, to say the least, that in the Bolshoi/Grigorovich version, there's no swan and no lake. In fact, audience reaction was muted, and it made for some awkward moments when the audience was dead silent and the dancers decided to come out for another bow.



Grigorovich decided to make the whole ballet a vision conjured up by the "Evil Genius." The Evil Genius mirrors Siegfried in all his dancing and actions, and swans appear from behind a curtain. In the third act a sextet of black swans and Odile are also conjured up by the Evil Genius from behind this curtain. This robs the ballet of any meaningful romantic connection between Odette and Siegfried. It's all a vision of the Evil Genius, remember? And in the final act, there's no reconciliation or forgiveness between Odette and Siegfried. The Evil Genius again whisks his swans behind the curtain. The end.



Many iconic moments are gone: Odette doesn't make the flying entrance. Instead, she's already behind the curtain, and has to exit the stage before re-entering. The entrance of the swans is also gone: they're already onstage behind that stupid curtain, then a few minutes later they re-enter with the familiar flying arabesque sequence. This production spends so much time getting people offstage for no reason only to haul them onstage a few seconds later. The only things left marginally intact are the White Swan pas de deux and Odette's variation. The character dances in Act Three are also gone: all the princesses dance on pointe, and so the Spanish/Russian/Polish/Neapolitan dances look exactly the same. Oh, the score is cut and rearranged beyond recognition from the usual Petipa/Ivanov arrangements. Even Tchaikovsky's beautiful apotheosis music is gone -- the ballet instead ends with a replay of the overture. What a mess.



All of this would be more tolerable if the production weren't so darned ugly. The whole thing has a cheesy 1970's decor. The guys at court are in pageboy wigs, and the girls are sporting puke-yellow dresses. The sets have lost whatever sheen they might have once had and just look old and tatty. They even get the swan tutus wrong -- they're in flat pancake tutus without the usual feathers to line the tutu. But I guess in this version it's not even clear they're swans -- they're just random girls the Evil Genius whiffed up behind the magic curtain.



The Bolshoi corps, that can look like balls of manic energy in Don Quixote, were sluggish and often uncoordinated with the orchestra. They might have been cramped by the small Koch theater stage, as I noticed many of them making small adjustments to avoid dancing too close to the edge of the stage or near the wings.



It's a shame, because the dancing by the leads was on a very high level. Anna Nikulina doesn't fit with the current O/O aesthetic (very tall, long-limbed, majestic). She's petite and frail. But her dancing had a wonderful delicacy and lightness. She doesn't go for the big flashy extensions that Svetlana Zakharova would display, but Nikulina's portrayal was warm and human. Her arms were soft and supple. I would love to see what she could do in a more traditional production. I also would love to see her in Giselle.



In the White Swan pas de deux Nikulina didn't slow the action to a crawl -- she actually seemed to move through the music. When Odette does the split jump in Siegfried's arms her spirit seemed to soar. Another highlight was her Odette variation. Her sissones really flew, and she ended the diagonal with a flawless set of piroettes. As Odile she was more kittenish than vampish. Her fouettes started off with an impressive series of doubles, before she sort of ran out of steam. Artem Ovcharenko had beautiful lines and elevation as Siegfried, and partnered Nikulina wonderfully. His cabrioles had wonderful soft landings. Grigorovich's choreography for Siegfried is fussy but Ovcharenko made the most of it. Denis Rodkin performed the "look at ME" Evil Genius choreography with the requisite campiness. In the act one pas de trois Chinara Alizade and Daria Khoklova were both excellent -- fast with the petit batterie. And the Russian companies always find great Jesters -- Denis Medvedev was no exception.



All this wonderful dancing is essentially wasted though. The Bolshoi's Swan Lake is DOA.


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All this wonderful dancing is essentially wasted though. The Bolshoi's Swan Lake is DOA.

Thanks for your review. You found the work DOA. Mr. Macauley found it "boring". I found it hilarious! And not in a good way. There were so many moments when I needed to cover my face from laughing so hard. Really? This is the Bolshoi? For a moment there I thought I might be in "Trockadero Land", but without the Trocks' magnificent sense of timing and joie de vive! I too agree that the scenery (and many of the costumes) are simply so ugly that they constantly distract. All those curtains going up and down!! The first Court scene set in what looked like some leftover from a bad "R&J" production had the knights seated at what looked like a large stone casket! And those same knights mostly looked like refugees from some Middle School production of "Richard III". Oh those silly wigs! And all that pointless gesturing! I loved the "ballet for trumpeters" (first in red, and then in Act II they appear in blue and do the same steps!) Seigfried appears from nowhere with no inner life and proceeds to dance with every one, but seemingly has no friends Where's Benno when you need him? Artem Ovcharenko with his overly high helmet of perfectly coiffed hair looked like an Elvis impersonator. He receives a sword from someone and a glittering necklace from his mom, who seems to be saying,"see, now you have a glittering necklace just like mine!" (which he promptly removes so he can go dance with still more people he seemingly doesn't know). He doesn't receive a hunting bow, so when we see him in the forest (by a non-existent lake) he's not hunting anything and therefore isn't any threat to the swans. The Act I waltz clearly showed that not just ABT's is a bit of a mess, choreographically. Steps that repeated over and over and over and over............those thunder thighs on the men trying to do what looked like cabrioles and the women in puce gowns just wouldn't stop!!!! At least ABT goes with a Maypole! The less said about the Jester the better. I felt at times like he was competing for Seigfrieds favors with his overly cute mannerisms. In fact in Act II when Seigfried goes down the line looking at the visiting prospective brides who should be at the end of the line but the Jester! The Trocks would have known what to do with this moment, for sure. Maybe if Seigfried had gone out the wing with the Jester we could have called it a night. Alas, there was more.

What passes for a lakeside scene was more out of something one would expect from Boris Eifman. We see the swans and Odette before we actually get to see them enter. More curtains! Anna Nikulina's portrayal was not just cold, but uninvolved, emotionless. Almost zombie-like. Absolutely no rapport with Seigfried. At one point when she did a high arabesque she came dangerously close to hitting his hairdo! He ducked and avoided tragedy! Because this version has almost no mime, one has to wonder how and why Seigfried knows what's going on. He's totally clueless! Maybe that's why he has no friends! Here again, the choreography had some resemblance to the Petipa/Ivanov, but it was badly danced by a corps that looked to be sleep walking . No interesting patterning. Arms that went up and down and up and down, relentlessly. Poor feet on all the small jumps. If the stage at the State Theater cannot make room for all these ladies, cut back a few to give some air and space to the corps. Just because it's called the Bolshoi doesn't mean you have to put every dancer on stage. I also didn't find Nikulina's technique to be anything remarkable and since there's nothing to act here, she doesn't. The pas de deux was simply tepid. No chemistry here. And now it's time to address the role of the Evil Genius. More borrowing from Eifman. I mean really. All that pointless jumping around, trying to look nasty. I wanted to roll him up in one of his curtains and boot him off the stage! Curtains for you, Mr. so-called Genius! I never thought I would eagerly look forward to ABT's Swamp King of a Rothbart, but after this guy prancing about, our Swamp King begins to look like Hamlet! Odette's farewell at the close of Act I was almost an afterthought. No passion, no lingering arms, nothing. I felt she just wanted to get off stage and have a smoke!

Others have commented on the Act II (III) staging of the National dances. Here I expected the company to excel, but it was not to be. Every dance looked exactly like the one preceding it and the small mincing steps in point shoes seemed to defeat the purpose of these dances. The lead dancers looked like they had stepped out of a badly produced production of "The Dream". And oh, that pesky Jester is still making trouble for everyone. (and not dancing all that well really) When will this end, I kept asking? The "Black Swan" pas was totally off putting (what? An entrance before the entrance to this most famous and loved of pas?) She could barely put it together, he now had a small black curl dangling in his forehead, making him look even more like Elvis, and the two together were abysmal. When he lifts her, he stands with his legs wide apart, plies', and then we saw her legs sort of straight between his legs. Not a pretty sight! If this is nobility we better run for the hills, fast! At last, the act was over and we could look forward to the last rush to the end in the final go. More of the same, choreographically. Did I mention there were more curtains? The Genius grabs Odette in the end, lifts her up and then sort of drops her like a sack of potatoes. Some Genius! Poor Seigfried is left with nothing, but happily, his hairdo was intact! Of course there were many who were yelling "bravo" at every leg being lifted off the ground . But many around me in the Second Ring were simply stunned and gobsmacked at this whole ordeal. The lady next to me offered a chocolate midway through some exceedingly boring section. I happily accepted, hoping it would take the rancid taste from my mouth. This was just a terrible night of ballet in almost all respects. The orchestra did play well at least and I tried closing my eyes (as Balanchine advised) to simply listen to the music when nothing of interest was going on up on the stage. But then I had to open them for fear of missing yet another magic moment of comedy! One of the best came at the moment after the "Black Swan" debacle, the applause had actually stopped and there was nothing but dead air in the house. What does that doofus Seigfried do but almost plead with Odette to come on for another bow!! After a few moments of pure silence (I was sure she had left the theater!), out she comes and we are asked yet again to put out hands together for her. Really?? This was all just so sad. I truly have to wonder what if anything David Hallberg is learning while he is in Russia and why on earth he would want to be a part of it? The Gulag couldn't be much worse that what was on the stage last night. So sad.

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Thanks for your hilarious review Mimsyb. I laughed out loud. The Trocks reference is spot on!

I was there last night too and I found it to be a very disappointing evening. I agree with everything you said about Nikulina. I saw her Giselle in DC a few weeks ago and thought it was wonderful. I guess O/O is just not her forte. There was some "acting" - she made sad faces as Odette and mean girl faces as Odile - but the technique was truly lacking. Her back was stiff as a board and never pliant. Her movements were perfunctory and lacked crispness and elegance. She did manage some nice double fouettes in Act III, but that wasn't nearly enough to elevate the level of the performance. Zakharova's level of technique, her phrasing and her stage presence were considerably more impressive than Nikulina's. I thought Ovarchenko (spell?) was pretty good, but not nearly as good as Hallberg. (Hallberg re-fluffed his hair after the necklace was removed in Act I. I almost burst out laughing when he did that.) As mimsyb pointed out, Ovarchenko's decision to call Nikulina out for a bow in Act III when NOBODY was applauding was an egregious blunder.

No comparison between last night's Evil Genius and Jester and openning night's performers. Last night's performers were sleep inducing.

Given how ugly NYCB's production is, I can't agree that the Bolshoi's is the ugliest ever seen. Yes, the ABT version is looking better and better compared to Bolshoi's.

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I can't really challenge the scathing reviews here so far. But let me add my appreciation for the wonderful orchestra, which is the Bolshoi's own. The attention to nuance, expression, dynamics makes this a great musical performance to really appreciate. I suppose Russians playing a much-loved Russian classic would be expected to be a cut above what we are used to. Special kudos to the first oboe, who gives us so many iconic musical phrases.

Some trivia: these people really take a lot of bows, don't they! The orchestra is asked to stand at the beginning, when the conductor walks on. Extensive bows for the company before the intermission. Principals routinely "break character" to take bows front and center. Someone mentioned that applause had completely stopped when Seigfried insisted Odile come back for another bow. I was in orchestra right, down front, and I could see into the wings that she seemed to be shaking her head "no," but he insisted. Some in the audience caught what was happening and started the applause again, but it was pretty awkward. In the final bows, it seems peculiar that so many in the corps are actually behind one of those big screens in center stage. I did get a kick out of the choreographed bows for the corps, when they all tendu, change position and re-assume their poses.

Another detail: Hallberg's partnering opening night seemed very shaky to me, especially anything involving an overhead lift. It looked like he was really struggling with the heave-ho to get her overhead, time and time again. On at least one, he seemed to need a few steps backward to keep his balance. On another, his legs were visibly shaking. I kept worrying that we were about to see a catastrophe and couldn't enjoy any of those moments. When he is supporting her in a turn, he makes a grimacing face that is just not stage-worthy.

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I, too, saw last night's production with Nikulina and Ovcharenko and agree with much of what was said above. However, my own thoughts conflict with one another--some things good, some things egregious.

The opening oboe solo boded well for the orchestra, and in fact I felt that the orchestra played extremely well throughout, especially compared with ABT's inconsistent orchestra.

I was initially impressed with Ovcharenko's beautiful line and clean technique, but became distracted by his coiffure (to make him appear taller?) and what seemed like emotional immaturity. Basically, he looks like a kid, and lacks an onstage intensity that would have given dimension to his performance. On the other hand, his choreography seemed to be so repetitious--same old jumps, same old turns--that his role became less and less important as the ballet went on. His renverses, on the other hand, showed him to be a dancer with promise, and perhaps with more years behind him he will develop into a dancer with more weight, metaphorically speaking. Although he doesn't have ideal ballet proportions, I don't think the costume did him justice either, lengthening his torso and shortening his legs.

Nikulina, petite though she may be, uses every inch of her body--torso, arms, legs--to its fullest extent. I found her breathtakingly beautiful as Odette, although her undulating arms could have been a bit less extreme and more gently nuanced. Her strong technique served her well as Odile, however I missed the gorgeous eyes-flashing, seductively evil smile of Veronika Part in that role. Drama is not, apparently, Nikulina's forte, but I found her dancing so exquisite, clean, precise, and secure, as to compensate.

I so much wish the Bolshoi would get rid of that jester, who keeps showing up where he isn't wanted, annoying like a gnat.

At first I was glad to see that the costumes for the corps in Act I allowed you to actually see their legs and feet, unlike the enormous heavy costumes at ABT, which should have been retired many years ago. But as others have said above, the dancing for the corps, both in Act I and in the national dances, was so repetitious that I found myself wishing for the character dances of ABT, which have never been a favorite of mine.

As for the curtain calls, yes, there were way too many, and I was shocked to see them at the end of Act I, which completely broke the already minimally portrayed story line. As the Bolshoi presents it, this ballet does not create a story line, you have to know the story in advance to know what's going on.

What struck me most about this performance is that the Bolshoi dancers seem to carry themselves more like the Paris Opera Ballet dancers, with erect torsos, rather than the Vaganova-trained /Mariinsky dancers, with their upper body fluidity. Think Diana Vishneva and Veronika Part. I love that upper-body fluidity and missed it last night. This must be simply a difference in style and taste, but suffice it to say that I'm glad I got only one ticket for the Bolshoi's Swan Lake.

I'll be especially interested to hear about Smirnova's performance in this role.

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"What struck me most about this performance is that the Bolshoi dancers seem to carry themselves more like the Paris Opera Ballet dancers, with erect torsos, rather than the Vaganova-trained /Mariinsky dancers, with their upper body fluidity. Think Diana Vishneva and Veronika Part. I love that upper-body fluidity and missed it last night. This must be simply a difference in style and taste, but suffice it to say that I'm glad I got only one ticket for the Bolshoi's Swan Lake."

Since Nina Ananiashvilli, one of the great O/O's ever to grace the Met stage, was a Bolshoi ballerina, I'm not willing to concede that this lack of fluidity arises from Bolshoi training. Has there been some kind of radical alteration of the training since Nina was there?

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Since Nina Ananiashvilli, one of the great O/O's ever to grace the Met stage, was a Bolshoi ballerina, I'm not willing to concede that this lack of fluidity arises from Bolshoi training. Has there been some kind of radical alteration of the training since Nina was there?

I agree, abatt, about Nina Ananiashvili, who has always been one of my most favorite ballerinas, and who does, indeed, have upper body fluidity. I was therefore particularly struck by the absence of upper body fluidity in the dancers last night. I don't know to what to attribute that, but it was very obvious to me.

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Ok here is something that's confusing me ... I think critical reaction to the Grigorovich Swan Lake abroad has always been negative. Arlene Croce called it the "most senseless .... and the ugliest." And this was in the 1970's. And I understand that Vladimir Vasiliev in the two minutes he was AD for the Bolshoi came up with a new SL production. Did anyone see that production? And is the Grigorovich production still revered in Moscow?

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Well, saw the performance tonight (7/17). Overall very happy to have went, just to have seen Zakharova live in her iconic role as Odette/Odile was worth the ticket.

That said, the ending was most certainly atrocious, as someone noted before pretty much an abrupt "bad ending" with the apotheosis theme replaced by the overture. The lack of mime throughout also felt odd.

Other than that my general impression was that Zakharova was technically brilliant albeit a bit aloof, on the other hand Hallberg felt outclassed giving the impression of a kid in a candy shop.

I did enjoy the jester's performance, he was quite acrobatic and added some decent comic relief.

As for the orchestra, passable but nothing special. Maybe I am just used to different versions on CD but in general I felt that it lacked energy tonight, maybe getting better towards the end but it's also hard to mess up the Act IV music

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And is the Grigorovich production still revered in Moscow?

When Ratmansky did a Works & Process at the Guggenheim about 2 years ago, he said people had returned to a cultural conservatism of liking all Grigorovich. It certainly seems Filin does his best to accommodate Grigorovich.

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I saw the July 17 performance and liked very much. I have never been a big fan of Zakharova's and must admit that I have severely underestimated her - she has so much grown dramatically in the last few years and is in such a tremendous form technically that I find it extremely difficult to name anybody who in my eyes can compete with her today. Lopatkina is in the same class, but so much different that they are really hard to compare.

Lantratov and Tsvirko did very well; Hallberg has visibly struggled with some of the overhead lifts and appeared to be rather intimidated by his Snow Queen O/O, which, BTW, was exactly what was needed.

I know I'm going to be in a huge minority about this but I think the Grigorovich Swan Lake is a masterpiece - it's a very personal, innovative and powerful take on the original, realized by purely choreographic means and without retorting to the total rewrite a la Neumeier. Sure, it's not a love story we're all used to, but a rather philosophical parable about the duality (or even duplicity) of human nature. As Dostoevsky said, "God and devil are fighting, and their battlefield is the human soul" - this is what Grigorovich is all about here. The soul in his SL is, of course, Siegfried's who is being torn apart from the inside by good and evil forces contained within him. He loses the battle at the end and is defeated by the villainous, treacherous, destructive part of his own self.

I found all this heartbreaking and was literally in tears as the curtain went down.

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I think on paper all the ballet schools in Russia supposedly use the Vaganova curriculum. I could be wrong, but I think they supposedly have uniform training across the country on paper, BUT the truth of the matter is that the students who come directly out of the Vaganova Academy are totally different (very fluid upper bodies). You can almost always spot a dancer at the Mariinsky, for example, who did not come out of the Vaganova Academy. You will think, "Hmmm....her arms are sort of stiff......" and you go home and look at her bio and find out she graduated elsewhere in Russia. So in theory the training is the same, but in reality it is not. I think many Bolshoi dancers come close to having a certain amount of fluidity from what I can tell in videos and my one recent trip to the Bolshoi. But they are stiffer than the Mariinsky dancers as a whole.

People who do not like too much fluidity in the upper body probably prefer the Bolshoi ballet. I think it probably comes from being surrounded by others who have the same style. Humans have a tendency to want to fit in with the crowd, so a dancer placed at the Mariinsky will start to get more fluid while a dancer at the Bolshoi would try to fit in there. It will be interesting to see if Olga Smirnova and Evgenia Obraztsova start to have less fluidity since they are at the Bolshoi (Vaganova trained). So far I think they still have a fluidity. Also, I think Perm ballerinas tend to come closer to having more fluidity also. That could be due to the fact that the Mariinsky had to relocate there during wartime for a while and probably some Kirov teachers stayed there.

I think you can have a case where a ballerina who studied only in Moscow has amazing arms and upper body, but I think it is just less likely. Every once in a while a person has her/his own personality and they simply are different than the majority. With that said I would rate Bolshoi dancers in 2nd Place for fluid upper bodies in the world. The Mariinsky would be First Place.

I only know the Grigorovich Swan Lake from video and the movie theatre, and I totally understand why people do not like it. I think it has a lot of problems and does not come close to what we long for in a Swan Lake production, but if the dancers are outstanding I think it can be a marvelous experience. If by some miracle the Bolshoi Ballet came to Gainesville, FL where I now live and were offering Swan Lake, I would run to get tickets even though I consider their Swan Lake to be sort of a disappointment, and even though I consider the Mariinsky Ballet much superior (my own personal opinion.....no attacks!!).

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I know I'm going to be in a huge minority about this but I think the Grigorovich Swan Lake is a masterpiece - it's a very personal, innovative and powerful take on the original, realized by purely choreographic means and without retorting to the total rewrite a la Neumeier. Sure, it's not a love story we're all used to, but a rather philosophical parable about the duality (or even duplicity) of human nature. As Dostoevsky said, "God and devil are fighting, and their battlefield is the human soul" - this is what Grigorovich is all about here. The soul in his SL is, of course, Siegfried's who is being torn apart from the inside by good and evil forces contained within him. He loses the battle at the end and is defeated by the villainous, treacherous, destructive part of his own self.

I found all this heartbreaking and was literally in tears as the curtain went down.

I agree with your take on the production, this is certainly Sigfried's story rather than Odettes - and thats why I don't like it. I think the story is much more powerful when it is about her struggle to break free, to be human again, to find love. However tonight I will try to see it through your eyes.

I also agree with your assessment of Zakharova. I saw her in Bayadere with ABT & in DQ, Pharoah's Daughter & Bright Stream with the Bolshoi. I saw her then as one of the world's greatest technicians however I didn't like her. I found her extensions distracting and she always seemed cold & uninvolved. I saw her O/O on opening night and loved it. I thought her line, musicality and the distinctness of her plastique suited Odette beautifully and found her to be very emotionally involved and expressive. I also loved her Odile and frankly, I wish I'd gotten a ticket for last night, I'd love to have seen her again. Instead I got Nikulina, who I thought was totally undistinguished. Liked Ovcharenko, though and I really love watching the soloists.

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