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Summer 2014 NYC & Saratoga Tour


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#211 Helene

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Posted Yesterday, 04:17 PM

I dislike the melancholy solo bit.  I dislike amping the von Rothbart role for any reason, although I understand how it can be used to amp the evil part of the equation without going into silly territory.  I dislike the Jester.  I also think the story doesn't require tinkering, but it is so much better with the mime, especially the mime where Odette explains that the lake was made from her mother's tears, and that is like trying to rack down a unicorn.



#212 Mazurka

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Posted Yesterday, 04:36 PM

Glad I failed to read the program....



#213 Amour

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Posted Yesterday, 09:13 PM

Just came back from Don Q and, again, the first cast was a disappointment (why does Filin keep doing this). Alexandrova is really past her prime for performing Kitri and Act 1 showed it. She really has no jump left (let alone touch her head to her back foot) and barely got off the ground; she also has a stiff back and she was rarely on her leg in supported pirouettes. She also had no flair for comedy and little chemistry with Lantratov (Basilio). As a result, Act 1 wasn't the really fun time it usually is. Lantratov is very strong, has some charisma but without a strong, fun partner he was hard pressed to do all the heavy lifting (so to speak) on his own. Luckily, Denis Rodkin as Espada and Anna Tikhomirova as a street dancer had both technique and chemistry in spades and saved Act 1 from being a total bore.

Act 2 was saved by dancers is secondary roles. Maria Zharkova (Spanish) Kristina Karasyova (Gypsy) and Oxana Sharova (Mercedes) had beautifully flexible backs and danced with requisite ethnic flavor. Olga Smirnova was gorgeous as Queen of the Dryads though I did find her beautiful Vaganova epaulement and ultra classical line did stick out in a sea of Bolshoi dancers not similarly trained. And she and Alexandrova did not look good together. But I was happy to see Olga has quite a strong jump so clearly she is working to try to assimilate some Bolshoi features into her dancing. As for Cupid(Yulia Lunkina), she was quite unremarkable, not spritely or playful.

Act 3 was an improvement on Act 1 for Alexandrova. She had good balances and kept up with the very fast tempi (these Bolshoi conductors make Balanchine's pace look slow). Her fouettes were all singles and traveled but she managed them adequately. She was successful in projecting the stately demeanor of this act (as opposed to the comedy of Act 1) and her technical flaws weren't in as much evidence (though the fish dives were a bit of a mess). But, IMO the star of this Act was the lovely Maria Vinogradova, who performed the 1st variation in the Grand Pas. She has a clear, high jump here (in SL, as one of the Brides, she had lovely ballon). I predict she is a dancer going places.

In sum, this was a mixed bag kind of night. Still rather boring and not cast as well as it could have been (I would have liked to see Lantratov with a younger, more able partner). I saw Macauley there; I wonder what his verdict will be.

#214 canbelto

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Posted Yesterday, 09:23 PM

Don Quixote is considered the Bolshoi's house special, and it's easy to see why. The Bolshoi has over 200 dancers, and many of them specialize in character dancing. That's why they can have rows and rows of dancers who don't even look like ballet dancers, but rather like folk dancers, with the emphasis on lower body strength, back flexibility, and dancing on the downbeat. I loved the character dance soloists -- the Spanish dancer (Maria Zharkova), the Bolero couple (Anna Antropova, Vitaly Biktimirov), the Gypsy dancer (Kristina Karasyova). Their solos are short, but do they know how to sell it! The women seem to have jelly spines, and their long skirts become almost like musical instruments as they sashay and shimmy and dance their hearts out.

 

The Bolshoi has been famous for its Kitris -- Maya Plisetskaya, Ekaterina Maximova, Nina Ananiashvilli, Natalia Osipova are just a few of legendary names. Tonight's Kitri, Maria Alexandrova, is coming back from a ruptured Achilles tendon and as much as I'd like to report that she's rebounded from her injury completely, there were a lot of moments when her Kitri seemed weak. For one, her once buoyant jump is gone -- the grand jetes are now low to the ground, and effortful. In the famous Kitri Act One variation, she didn't even attempt the famous Plisetskaya head kick, and also had trouble traveling on the diagonal. Her Italian fouettes in the Vision scene were also effortful. In the final grand pas de deux her balances were shorter, and her variation with its rapid passé and relevé sequence seemed again heavy and effortful. She did finish her fouetté sequence with some very fast singles. Alexandrova's still a solid, likable dancer, but she's no longer the whiz-bang that this role requires. I also wish her upper body weren't so stiff -- she now dances with a tenseness around her arms, neck, and shoulders that is distracting.

 

Thankfully, her Basilio, Vladislav Lanatrov, added the sparkle and joy to Alexandrova's Kitri. She might not be able to do all the tricks that other Kitris can pull off, but her rapport with Lanatrov was wonderful. If she couldn't wow the audience herself, as a couple they could wow the audience. Lanatrov picked her up in two thrilling one-handed lifts, the second prolonged as the corps banged their tambourines longer and longer. Lanatrov's solos were also very fine, if occasionally sloppy in form. I've seen cleaner double assembles and split leaps, but Lanatrov had a real charming personality. The only time his partnering failed him was in the wedding pas de deux, there were a few pirouette/lunges that looked shaky.

 

The rest of the soloists showed that the Bolshoi, despite its quirks, is a company with real depth. The variations were cast from strength. Kitri's friends at the wedding danced two splashy variations -- Maria Vinogradova was notably stronger than Ana Turazshvili, but both showed great promise. Denis Rodkin (Espada) didn't do as much with his back I would have hoped but Anna Tikhomirova was thrilling as the Street Dancer. She looked like a Kitri in waiting. Yulia Lunkina wasn't that memorable as Cupid.

 

Olga Smirnova (Queen of the Dryads) is the big It Girl of the tour. I missed her Swan Lakes last week, but I did see her Nikya when she guested with the ABT. It's easy to understand why Smirnova has a following -- she's one of the most physically exquisite dancers I've ever seen. She looks like the ideal ballerina, with her raven hair, china doll face, and beautifully tapered legs and feet. So I hate to sound sour but I think she's one of those ballerinas who might be too aware of her own beauty. Her Dryad solo was beautiful and pristine, but also contained a lot of mannered "now you may admire the exquisite tilt of my neck" posing. It's impressive, but too calculated by half. I just want her to really dance. The only thing I don't like about the Bolshoi's Don Q is the Dryad variation -- I prefer the developpe/Italian fouette variation that the Mariinsky/ABT does. The Vision Scene corps were beautiful.



#215 Amour

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Posted Yesterday, 09:46 PM

I forgot about Alexandrova's injury (suffered in London last summer, I believe). So her weak dancing was not a matter of age but of not having been able to fully recover from her injury.

#216 volcanohunter

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Posted Yesterday, 10:09 PM

Anna Tikhomirova was thrilling as the Street Dancer. She looked like a Kitri in waiting. 

 

Tikhomirova danced her first Kitri earlier this year. The Bolshoi has already been forced to go to a back-up Kitri in Kristina Kretova following the withdrawal of Ekaterina Shipulina. Theoretically, if the need arose in Saratoga, Tikhomirova could also step in, though she is nowhere near as experienced in the part.



#217 danc1988

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Posted Yesterday, 10:52 PM

Overall, it sounds like the outcome of the first cast is mostly in line with what we expected. I am minorly irked that the roles of Anna Tikhomirova and Maria Vinogradova are inverted for tomorrow's matinee but other than that continue to look forward to tomorrow's show, especially since I don't have much familiarity with the Fadeyechev production.



#218 Amour

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Posted Yesterday, 11:24 PM

Anna Tikhomirova was thrilling as the Street Dancer. She looked like a Kitri in waiting. 

 
Tikhomirova danced her first Kitri earlier this year. The Bolshoi has already been forced to go to a back-up Kitri in Kristina Kretova following the withdrawal of Ekaterina Shipulina. Theoretically, if the need arose in Saratoga, Tikhomirova could also step in, though she is nowhere near as experienced in the part.

I think Tikhomirova would make a great Kitri. Tonight, as I watched Alexandrova & then Tikhomirova, I wished the latter WAS Kitri.

#219 Mathilde K

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Posted Today, 05:19 AM

I forgot about Alexandrova's injury (suffered in London last summer, I believe). So her weak dancing was not a matter of age but of not having been able to fully recover from her injury.

 

When I saw the first sentence of your previous post I wanted to stop reading and tell you about her serious injury. Yes, she hasn't recovered fully. It is a pity and I feel very sorry for her, since over the years she gradually won me over with outstanding levels of technique and artistry.



#220 California

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Posted Today, 06:36 AM

Many thanks to Canbelto and Amour for your very detailed and helpful reports. I have seen this production before and love it, especially the wealth and diversity of the character dances. American productions (especially ABT's) are pale and skeletal in comparison.

I had never seen Alexandrova before and was disappointed, but the account of the serious injury explains why she never astonished us. She was more than adequate, but there was never a moment when I felt, wow, I can't believe she just did that! Her wide smiles during bows, especially at the end, were Sally Field moments ("You like me! You really like me!"), but they seemed to be genuine appreciation of her fans.

I love that she threw a rose into the orchestra pit to thank them. BTW - I've noticed that the orchestra routinely stands during final curtain calls, faces the stage, and applauds the dancers. I've never seen that with American orchestras.

In the trivia department: I'm sure at least one thing changed in this production from when I saw it in 2010: the ensemble in the long white dresses in Act III sat at little tables around the edge of the stage for most of that act in 2010. Now, they disappear into the wings. Perhaps that was an accommodation to the smaller stage at Koch. I don't remember other details changing, though perhaps they did.

More trivia: In Act I, Alexandrova's flesh-toned pointe shoes did not have any ribbons, just a broad band of elastic attached near the heel. I've noticed Osipova in recent rehearsal videos wearing her shoes like that, but have not seen it in performance. In II and III, Alexandrova did have traditional shoes and ribbons, though.

#221 Drew

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Posted Today, 07:40 AM

Age and injury have taken the bite out of Alexandrova's Kitri, but I feel she has a lot to offer in the role - in particular the wonderful ease and naturalness of her classical dancing and profound connection to this ballet and this character. In my eyes, she still has the glow and authority of a leading ballerina. I enjoyed Lantratov, but some of the most fun and exciting and beautiful dancing came last night, as others have reported, from the dancers in secondary roles. I would like to write about all of them, but may wait until I am at a keyboard, rather than on tablet in hotel room! But certainly Rodkin's no holds barred cape-sex and look-at-me stance when doing nothing on side of stage seemed to me exactly right for Espada -- especially a Bolshoi Espada -- and one was always sorry to see Tikhomirova leave the stage.

As Queen of the dryads, Smirnova's upper body was ravishing; I'm not sure she consistently has the same kind of lush control over how she brings everything together. Sometimes it is there and certainly I could not take my eyes off of her. She does though look like she landed from an alien planet on the stage of Bolshoi-- planet Vaganova perhaps, but also her own planet, because she is very distinctive. I would not want her to lose that distinctiveness, but I agree the 'pairing' with Alexandrova does not exactly mesh...

Many other fine dancers deserve mention, but I must stop...

#222 danc1988

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Posted Today, 02:17 PM

Back from the Krysanova Don Q. Overall liked the production very much, and for the most part the dancing was fantastic and only got better as the show went on.

Act 1 highlights -- I liked the extended prologue in this version, which includes more comedy and character development for Don Q and Sancho Panza as well as the smashing of the pasteboard helmet. Following that, the leading pair got off to a bit of a rocky start, with a relatively mediocre Kitri entrance without much flair, then a few shaky lifts from Chudin, and also Krysanova tripped and nearly fell during the beginning of the Kitri variation. Krysanova did manage to execute the other parts of the variation well however including the parts that Alexandrova struggled with or omitted. I attribute this to some nerves at the start of the show and maybe they were not warmed up enough. Biktimirov was an outstanding Espada who certainly outshined Chudin for this act, but did not develop much chemistry with Vinogradova as the street dancer. I would have preferred to see Tikhoimirova in this role with her larger-than-life personality. I was disappointed by this act, but fortunately the following acts more than made up for it.

Act 2 highlights -- The tavern scene in Bolshoi's production comes before the gypsy and vision scenes -- I prefer this order and think it makes more sense. The Spanish dance was memorable although the choreography and percussive score dragged a bit for me, overall corps member Asatiani did a good job, but I liked the gypsy dance later danced by Balukova more. Bikitimirov continued to impress and Mercedes as performed by Sharova was exquisite although not much dancing. I liked Sharova more than Vinogradova in Act I since these two roles are sometimes performed by the same ballerina. In the gypsy scene Don Q leaped offstage "superman" style similar to Siegfried in ABT's Swan Lake, which was pretty funny. He also physically came back down on the rotating windmill prop which was a nice stunt effect.

Vision scene -- Agreed that Cupid was passable but unmemorable although perhaps more memorable for me since previous posters specifically singled this part out for criticism. I didn't think Lunkina did that bad. I didn't like Smirnova as Queen of the Dryads as much as I thought I would, the dancing was gorgeous but I didn't really connect to her, maybe partly just the role. Krysanova's Dulcinea variation was by far the highlight of this scene, clearly the butterflies went away here and she danced with abandon and was as light as a feather.

Finally, I should mention that I found myself frequently observing Kitri's friends during both Act I and Act II, these are often thankless roles but the two corps members in their matching costumes were lovely.

Act 3 highlights -- The bolero was entirely unmemorable, they should just omit this. Next of course I have to mention Tikhoimorova's 180-degree grand jetés in the first variation, she gets so much height and makes them look so easy. The second variation is also unmemorable. During the final pdd and variations, Chudin and Krysanova significantly stepped up their game. The partnering and lifts were flawless and impressive, and particularly of note were Basillo's variation which Chudin performed with virtuosity and the coda. I had already heard about Krysanova's exciting fouettés from her performance in Swan Lake, but it was fascinating to watch her accelerate through them at record speed finishing with a multiple pirouette flourish also without much traveling.




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