Lynette H

July - Aug 2014 at the Royal Opera House

161 posts in this topic

I am aware that 'acting' is something expected of a classical dancer in London. In France that would be considered 'bad taste': la danse classique after all is supposed to make the 'face of the Soul' visible exclusively through the medium of the body in graceful movement, not through acting. The 'soul' here stands not for individual 'emotions' but for the universal concept with noble connotations. Spilling emotions on stage may please the crowd and undemanding critics yet is alien to the spirit of classical dance.

In Russia, especially in the Petersburg School, this visualization of the Soul through the medium of dance takes the form of what, for the lack of a better term, I will translate as 'image construction'. This is an ideal, and the ideal is rarely attained. A few dancers are capable of achieving unusual depths, like Lopatkina, others possess one or two emploi that they wear on stage, most are content with simplistic solutions, or are plain bland. Not being able to 'create image' that is deeply moving doesn't prevent a dancer from acquiring even the highest levels of technical prowess sometimes bordering on wizardry. This, however, is not considered Artistry. The latter must be always accompanied by a high degree of refinement and, especially in France, gracefulness, tenderness, elegance.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you. I have watched on YT many clips of some of the Acting Director's favourites. I'm going to see Lopatkina this evening. I presume Yulia has this Artistry, are there equivalent men, even perhaps in the corps ?

Share this post


Link to post

Stepanova has been in this category even before she graduated from ARB yet I must admit she really surpassed my expectation in «Swan Lake». Before, I felt she needed to improve in some important areas in order to pass to the 'principal' level.

Many mention Nikitina, Batoeva, Marchuk. The foremost, however, is for me Svetlana Ivanova. It's a tragedy that such a truly refined ballerina spent all her career in the corps de ballet. There are several others, 'artistic', if less prominent or technically accomplished.

Among the men Kim Kimin has developed into a very interesting artist, and Konstantin Zverev is more refined than others.

I'm going to see Lopatkina this evening.

This one is a must. If you can afford, watch as many «Swan Lakes» as you can, irrespective of the principals. Mariinsky's corps de ballet is beyond comparison and, today, is the real glory of the company.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you. I have watched on YT many clips of some of the Acting Director's favourites. I'm going to see Lopatkina this evening. I presume Yulia has this Artistry, are there equivalent men, even perhaps in the corps ?

I think that there is no-one else in the company with Yulia's artistry, because it is so exceptional. However, there are amongst the men some very interesting dancers who are as yet little known. In fact there are so many that just are not seen much except by those in St Petersburg. The one who stands out most to me is Andrei Arseniev, who only graduated last year I was completely mesmerized by his faun at Vaganova graduation. What is so outstanding about him is his use of upper body and arms and head - no other male in Mariinsky has his unique qualities. He has an instinctive and uncanny rightness of movement and outstanding acting ability allied with wonderful technique. So far he is featured in small roles, such as the goat in Sylvia, one of the Etruscan in Spartacus, Gamache in DQ, the Tsar in Little Humpbacked Horse, but he was also a magnificent Benvolio and Mercutio in R&J. He has a very bright future. Latypov, also in the corps, is a tall, thin boy with wonderful lines and turns - recently he had his Basiliio debut, but he is also a fine Ali. Tkachenko, also coryphee, strong boy with great jump and turns - very fine Idol in Bayadere and would be a magnificent Basilio, in my opinion. Another corps boy, Konstantin Ivkin, has probably the best ballon and elevation in the company - he is a magnificent Bluebird. Konstantin Zverev, recently promoted to 1st soloist, is in my opinion the best Prince in the company - he has wonderful presence, acting and partnering, and an elegant technique. Filipp Stepin, currently 2nd soloist, is in my opinion, probably the cleanest technician in the company and very elegant also and a good actor. Alexei Popov - currently coryphee - another talented boy with technique to spare. Going back to the corps, Baibordin and Tyutyunnik (spelling is wrong, I think!) are both greatly talented boys. The future is very bright at Mariinsky Theatre, if only all these talented boys could be promoted and used more often. There needs to be a new generation of males dancing the principal roles, and those at the top who are going or gone over the hill need to be dancing less or not at all .

Share this post


Link to post

Monday, August 4

Odette & Odile - Ulyana Lopatkina

Prince Siegfried - Evgeny Ivanchenko

Rothbart - Andrei Ermakov

Jester - Vasily Tkachenko

The Prince's Friends - Anastasia Nikitina, Nadezhda Gonchar, Kim Kimin

Cygnets - Anastasia Asaben, Oksana Marchuk, Anastasia Mikheikina, Elena Firsova

Big Swans - Viktoria Brilyova, Alisa Sodoleva, Yulianna Chereshkevich, Zlata Yalinich

Two Swans - Nadezhda Batoeva, Nadezhda Gonchar

Spanish Dance - Viktoria Brilyova, Anastasia Petushkova, Yaroslav Pushkov, Kamil Yangurazov

Neapolitan Dance - Oksana Marchuk, Oleg Demchenko

Hungarian Dance - Ksenia Dubrovina, Kirill Leontyev

Mazurka - Olga Belik, Elena Androsova, Ekaterina Bondarenko, Maria Shevyakova, Dmitri Sharapov, Roman Belyakov, Maxim Petrov, Vadim Belyaev

After the performance I met the ROH balletomane who I befriended on Saturday. I tried to talk about Lopatkina but my friend was constantly returning to Stepanova, talking especially about the 4th Act on Saturday, and bitterly complaining about Stepanova not dancing Balanchine.

Share this post


Link to post

I saw Lopatkina tonight and promise to review it a bit later. It's out first day here, I'm sleep deprived and need to sleep &. get myself coherent. Until tomorrow then.

Share this post


Link to post

Tiara, thank you so much for your post about the younger dancers, I will look out for them.

I was only able to stay for Act 1 of Lopatkina's Swan Lake last night but what struck me most about her performance was how much Stepanova has the same quality of movement and how different it seems from the other two Odettes.

Share this post


Link to post

Of all the Mariinsky ballerinas Lopatkina and Stepanova are the ones that possess the strongest stage presence, the images they project are far deeper, finally, what sets them apart is the awareness of the utmost importance of detail. Lopatkina is ascetic and meditative, for Stepanova I am still in search of the right word, the 'breadth' and expansiveness of her dancing, her delicate singing hands and melancholic gaze, the refinement in her movement - are just some of her characteristics. For me, she is currently the most interesting ballerina, and not just at Mariinsky.

Share this post


Link to post

Tonight I will attend the performance of Swan Lake. I did a guided tour of the Royal Opera House this morning, I caught a glimpse of one of the morning classes and saw Diana Vishneva and Maria Shirinkina at the barre, I loved it!

Share this post


Link to post

I'm going to slip this in and hope that it's within the guidelines for this discussion. I've watched Oxana Skorik for years and think that this recognition is so overdo.

“And an Odette/Odile from Oxana Skorik of fine-drawn beauty. She possesses exquisite line – eloquent for Odette; dazzling for Odile – and an intriguing air of mystery, of an inner passion. I thought her fascinating.”

Clement Crisp
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/6892dfd0 ... z39SD6AnVH

To introduce one more name, Kristina Shapran will be appearing next in Apollo and I think that she is someone to really keep an eye on. Based on my video viewing (with all its necessary qualifications) I think that she has perhaps the finest classical articulation that I've ever seen.

Share this post


Link to post

Tiara, thank you so much for your post about the younger dancers, I will look out for them.

I was only able to stay for Act 1 of Lopatkina's Swan Lake last night but what struck me most about her performance was how much Stepanova has the same quality of movement and how different it seems from the other two Odettes.

Of all the ballerinas in the world, the one who I would definitely stay for every second she was on stage would be Lopatkina in SL. I've never had the privilege of seeing her do the role live, but the video I've seen of her doing SL is incredible. Sorry you had to leave.

Share this post


Link to post

Tiara, thank you so much for your post about the younger dancers, I will look out for them.

I was only able to stay for Act 1 of Lopatkina's Swan Lake last night but what struck me most about her performance was how much Stepanova has the same quality of movement and how different it seems from the other two Odettes.

Of all the ballerinas in the world, the one who I would definitely stay for every second she was on stage would be Lopatkina in SL. I've never had the privilege of seeing her do the role live, but the video I've seen of her doing SL is incredible. Sorry you had to leave.

I saw Lopatkina dance Swan Lake just over a year ago and I am still not over the experience--one of the greatest performances I have ever seen; I would say the most purely beautiful if one allows for the emotional and spiritual power of that kind of really transcendent beauty. But I can add that the "1st act" (that is, the lake scene or what I think of as Act II) was definitely at the core of that particular performance...

Tonight I will attend the performance of Swan Lake. I did a guided tour of the Royal Opera House this morning, I caught a glimpse of one of the morning classes and saw Diana Vishneva and Maria Shirinkina at the barre, I loved it!

Sounds wonderful! Wish I could be in London this summer...

Share this post


Link to post

[Admin beanie on]

Official sources only. Details are in the Rules thread. One commonality is that all officially sourced news is public-facing.

Only Editorial Advisors are exempt.

[Admin beanie off]

Share this post


Link to post

Back home after short business trip to Middle East. Spent a day in London in-route back and, of course, saw a performance of Mariinsky Swan Lake at the ROH, the Sat. matinee. Most impressed by the corps, which seems to be even more finely honed than it was in DC earlier this year. I was surprised, in different ways, about the two principals. Xander Parish was truly outstanding as Siegfried, as soloist and partner (and actor - not a zombie like some other Mariinsky Siegfrieds); he must be 'packed' for the next Kennedy Center run, please. On the other hand, Stepanova was a bit of a mediocrity, shaky in technique (esp. balances) and oblivious to the music. She has a gorgeous face and is a good 'poser.' I prefer to keep my eye on one of the four Big Swans - Alisa Sodolyova - who displayed spectacular line, finesse, and musicality. The neck and bodice of a true swan!

Sorry to have missed Lopatkina and Skorik, the latter who seems to have improved a lot (as did Somova in DC). So some ups and some downs.

Share this post


Link to post

The comment that Stepanova was a bit of a mediocrity and a "poser" is patently incorrect. I was there also - and one thing she has above all else is wonderful flow of movement. All steps connect and flow into each other so to say she is just a poser is completely wrong. Moreover, there was no shaky technique. I am completely mystified where all these adverse remarks come from that are so at odds with what I actually saw with my own eyes. As for Sodoleva - who I have seen numerous times, and as a singularly inexpressive stiff-armed Zobeide - she is not in the same league as Stepanova.

Share this post


Link to post

I'm going to see Lopatkina this evening.

This one is a must. If you can afford, watch as many «Swan Lakes» as you can, irrespective of the principals. Mariinsky's corps de ballet is beyond comparison and, today, is the real glory of the company.

I saw both Lopatkina and Somova in SL on Monday and Tuesday and I agree with Mathilde. I saw Lopatkina from the orchestra stalls (which are the only raked section in the back). I saw Somova from the lower amphitheater. I knew the corps was amazing seeing from the stalls but from the amphitheater you could see they were perfect! All their formations how they traveled on diagonals are straight lines: any type of possible deficiencies would be very apparent from high up. But there were none. They were a lovely, living and breathing unit. That is why one can tolerate a principal dancer one might not like, simply because the corps (which is absolutely the best in the world) is a star in its own right.

As for the performances, I thought Lopatkina was marvelous. Yes, she only did single fouettes, no triples, but she was so sexy and sedutctive it didn't matter. There may be a minute diminishment of her flexibility but it has not affected her artistry or ability to convey such extraordinary feeling. I'm so glad I got to see her live in SL (I saw live do Anna Karenina) she's 40 and getting close to when she might start giving up roles or retiring.

That night was pretty top casting all around ( in fact, it apparently was the only night the three stars took curtain calls in front of the closed curtain). Ivanchenko was kind of dull on the acting front but his technique and partnering were excellent. He and Yermalov lifted Lopatkina high overhead like she weighed nothing. I did like Yermakov as Rothbart; his dastardly (but spectacular jumps) and struggle at the end to stay alive were very moving.

As for the soloists, I was SO impressed with Kimin Kim in the PDT. The height and breadth and ease of his jumps were spectacular. He certainly had more life in him than poor Siegfried. He danced with Nikitina and Gonchar, both of whom I like a lot. And the London crowd (which is VERY reserved in its applause and bravos/hollering in contrast to NYC) went wild for Tkachenko (I was ready to holler for Kim but people would have thought I was crazy). All in all it was the most perfect SL I've ever seen live and I feel privileged I got to do do.

The next night I saw Somova, Zverev, and Smekalov in SL. I first saw Alina perform SL about 7 years ago and I thought shw was awful (and I'd never seen such ugly fouettes). Somova has clearly worked hard and come a long way but she is still developing. Her fouettes in Odile were quite wild and between her singles and triples there was no consistent pattern. They also travelled a lot and at one point I thought she might fall off pointe. I thought Zverev was a much better actor than Ivanchenko but he is also still developing; he lost his footing at least once and had a bit of a hard time with pirouettes (he's a lefty turner). Smekalov as Rothbart, though, couldn't hold a candle to Yermakov. In general, though I flung it hard gauge the dancing from the Amphi.e

The soloists the second night were very good but compared to the previous night, a letdown. Parish has nice long lines but he is not the jumper or the charismtic presence Kim is. He danced with Batoeva and Krasnokkutskaya who were lovely and he partnered them well. In general, though, this performance simply wasn't as good as the one the night before.

Finally, I would like to add some minor complaints. One is that the ROH stage is VERY noisy. I don't know if it is because the auditorium has no carpeting or the floor itself. Unfortunately, even when one dancer with soft landing jumps, there is a thud. When the corp borrees or jumps, it sounds like a herd of elephants. Second, the stage is very small, definitely smaller than the Koch, maybe the size of City Center. Thus, everything looks very cramped. Finally, the music conductor, Boris Gruzin, is conducting at a positively glacial pace. It was worse for Lopatkina than Somova. (They really slowed down the music in the lakeside scene, where Odtte brings her leg up to passé quickly, places behind then does the same thing with other leg about 8 times) I almost thought Gruzin was trying to mess up Lopatkina because she was clearly chomping at the bit. The next night that that music was played much faster for Somova. In any case having just seen the fast SL ever (the Bolshoi's Grigorovich version). I have now seen the slowest. Still these are amazing dancers in an amazing production. Brava to all.

Share this post


Link to post

Thank you for the report. The combination of Grishko pointes and the ROH stage surface indeed produces the effect you are describing. I was unpleasantly surprised by it myself.

Kim Kimin developed over the last year into an artist who is currently more interesting than any other male dancer in the company.

Did you notice that Yulia Stepanova was one of the Four Big Swans? She was replacing Yalinich (the change was neither reflected in the cast sheet nor announced; yesterday her name was printed Speranova).

Share this post


Link to post

"Speranova" isn't half bad. During last year's Bolshoi tour one cast sheet rendered Nina Golskaya as "Golskayawwow."

Share this post


Link to post

Somova/Zverev Swan Lake on 5th August 2014

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

This was another sell-out for the Mariinsky. Konstantin Zverev is the prince that Yulia Stepanova was to have danced with and ALina Somova was lucky to have him as her Siegfried. He is an extremely tall, handsome dancer, strong and a good partner. He is also elegant and a wonderful actor. Several times I found myself watching him rather than the corps in Act 1 as his interactions with every character on stage are so real and believable. He does have beautiful lines and particularly neat finishes to his turns and jumps. He partnered Alina Somova to perfection - for those who like to count there were numerous 6 supported pirouettes and also a 7. The height of the two overhead lifts in the White Swan Adagio was truly breathtaking.

Alina Somova entered to applause from the audience. She is a beautiful woman with long slender legs and her ease in just finding instinctively the perfect line in arabesque is awe inspiring. Her arms were fluid and ever changing, ever reaching or rippling. She had great chemistry with her Siegfried, and certainly he appeared totally spellbound by her. She is a lovely actress and her expressions throughout were wonderful, making great use of her eyes. Her White Swan Variation was soulful and poetic.

Odile was just masterful. Technically she was superb. In her variation each time she performed double pirouette into double attitude turn, ending that little section with a triple. The last diagonale of turns before the pique turns she interspersed with fluttering swan arms - just beautiful to behold. The fouettes were thrown off with extraordinary virtuosity - single single double double double twice, then single single double and singles to the final double - yes, I did count!!! She finished them perfectly. Her Odile was cold, hard, bewitching, glamorous and entirely in control of the situation. I particularly loved the moment where Odette appears at the back of the stage and one could actually see Odile thinking - OH no! What shall I do? Oh yes!! I will pretend to be Odette and bewitch him. The transformation so suddenly was uncanny! Siegfried was palpably bewitched! At the end of the scene she threw the whole bouquet of flowers outwards in a huge dramatic gesture and her expression was one of pure wicked, triumphant glee!

The final act was finely acted and her arms here told the story of desperation. Zverev's expression of determination when he knew he had to kill Rothbart was thrilling as was Odette's expression of joy at the end! There was huge applause and rightly so.

The corps was on magnificent form as always, and I very much enjoyed the Prince's Friends of Batoeva, Krasnokutskaya and Parish, Parish for me dancing much better in this role than as Siegfried, and landing his double tours with aplomb. Nadia Batoeva's virtuosity and charm would make her a fine Kitri incidentally. I loved her variation and the pdt was much applauded.

I was surprised to see Yulia Stepanova as one of the big swans, replacing Zlata Yalinich, and this was not announced beforehand. Her soft flow of movement and beautiful arms made me notice her straightaway.

Others who deserve mention were Nastya Nikitina as one of the Two Swans - she is a small, beautiful ballerina, with lovely physique and technically fast and brilliant, but here she was refined and poetic. Also, again, Anastasia Petushkova was a sexy Spanish dancer. The Mariinsky has so many wonderful ballerinas throughout its ranks.

On the negative side, unfortunately, Smekalov's Rothbart was not memorable. He does not have any beauty of line and his arabesques were very sloppy. Also, quite simply he could not compare with the breathtaking elevation of Andrei Ermakov in the same role. I have to say that Grigory Popov as jester did receive much applause, especially for his grande pirouette, but I do find him rather sloppy and he is looking stocky these days.

This was a magnificent Swan Lake and Alina Somova's Odette-Odile quite superb, memorable.

In my opinion, the Mariinsky has the three best Odette-Odiles in the world today - in ALPHABETICAL order! - Lopatkina, Somova, Stepanova.

Share this post


Link to post

This was a magnificent Swan Lake and Alina Somova's Odette-Odile quite superb, memorable.

In my opinion, the Mariinsky has the three best Odette-Odiles in the world today - in ALPHABETICAL order! - Lopatkina, Somova, Stepanova.

Tiara, thank you for the detailed review! I have tickets for a few upcoming Mariinsky "Swan Lakes." I have been so curious to see who will be cast. Now I am really hoping Somova is one!

Share this post


Link to post

This was a magnificent Swan Lake and Alina Somova's Odette-Odile quite superb, memorable.

In my opinion, the Mariinsky has the three best Odette-Odiles in the world today - in ALPHABETICAL order! - Lopatkina, Somova, Stepanova.

Tiara, thank you for the detailed review! I have tickets for a few upcoming Mariinsky "Swan Lakes." I have been so curious to see who will be cast. Now I am really hoping Somova is one!

You are very welcome and I hope you will enjoy whatever performances you see, but Alina Somova is certainly very special. Just a funny thing that happened - before the performance I was in the Ladies' (bathroom if you are American) and a woman said to me, I hear Alina Somova is the glamour-puss of the company, like Sarah Lamb is of the Royal Ballet, and I said to her, yes, she is very beautiful! It just made me laugh! There are many beautiful ballerinas in the Mariinsky and when they can dance as well as they look ... just W-O-W!!!!

Share this post


Link to post

Did you notice that Yulia Stepanova was one of the Four Big Swans? She was replacing Yalinich (the change was neither reflected in the cast sheet nor announced; yesterday her name was printed Speranova).


No, Mathilde I'm sorry I didn't notice Stepanova. I found it difficult in the Amphitheatre (where I was sitting that night) to make out the faces of the dancers or really the nuances of the dancing. When I got the tickets, I had never been to the ROH searing/sight lines would be so I got a variety to tickets (also even in early July a lot was sold out).

I assume I will my get my chance to really Stepanova on Tuesday night when she dances the Firebird (unfortunately we're in the Amphi again unless better sears open up). I'm really looking forward to it)

Share this post


Link to post

I was also there at the August 5th performance.

I have seen the Sergeyev production on DVD many times, as well as live back in 2009, and only this time I noticed how bland the choreography for Act I is (except the pas de trois). Also the music wasn't entirely as I like it, however I can't put my finger exactly on what was wrong, it just felt off.

The pas de trois was lovely. Nadezhda Batoeva stood out to me, but Krasnokutskaya and Parish were very good as well. I loved his soft, deep pliés when landing his double tours. His confidence in the variation made the lack of it in Konstantin Zverev's solo all the more striking.

I liked Zverev's acting and partnering very much, but his variation just looked too cautious and he seemed stressed. Somova, on the other hand, looks very comfortable on stage and her 2 variations were beautiful. And as always, the character dancing was a highlight to me, Anastasia Petushkova was on fire in the Spanish dance. Another standout was the man in Neapolitan, I will look up his name later today. The jester was very sloppy in Act I, in Act II he did much better.

The star of the evening was the corps de ballet, they were truly perfect. My companion noticed Oksana Marchuk in the corps (and Little Swans) for her beauty, I could not keep my eyes off Yulia Stepanova whenever she was on stage.

Overall I had a wonderful night, but I was a little underwhelmed by the principals, they were not up to my (admittedly, high) expectations.

Share this post


Link to post

I just watched the Royal Ballet's Swan Lake on video. A friend told me the choreography, especially in Act 1 is closer to Petipa's original. But there was so much walking around and it seemed like forever before any dancing started. For that reason I love how the Mariinsky opens with the young men dancing. My friend would disagree, but I like Sergeyev's additional dancing that he added to the ballet.

Share this post


Link to post

I just came back from Mariinsky's Balanchinr. First they performed Apollo using a very early version that not only has a staircase but a barefoot earth mother writhing on top of it. I don't believe anyone in the US performs this version anymore and it is VERY different from what NYCB dances now. I only once saw this version in b&w on YT with Jacques D'Amboise as Apollo. Here, Shklylarov was Apollo, Shapran Terpsichore, Batoeva Polyhymnia, and Krasnokutskaya Calliope. I thought the best performance by far came from Shapran. Shklylarov was too boyish and playful to be a good Apollo IMO; Apollo should be strong, noble and a bit impassive. Shapran was lovely to look at, had the role's impassivity but also the technique (outstretched flex arms and hands). The other 2 muses need some work and extra rehearsal time. The Mariinsky dancers tended to put too much "personality" into it (especially Shklylarov.). I was left feeling I'd seen a curio piece not a living breathing piece of choreography.

The Mariinsky also much more successfully put on Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream but I will get to that later since it's very late now and time to sleep.

Share this post


Link to post