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La Bayadere

85 posts in this topic

Since Tereshkina and Shkylarov are regularly paired together at the Mariinsky, lack of familiarity will not be an issue for them.

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OK, but if you have two people who barely know each other, as professionals and artists, they should be able to get past that and deliver a performance that is, if not sizzling, than is at least compatible. It's called "acting". Dancers tell a story, both with their technique and their expressiveness. This is not a year end recital. It's the Met. Or maybe this also goes to the degree of all the hiring of guest artists in the first place. Maybe too much odd pairing is going on. If the hiring is to continue (which given the current state of affairs seems to be the way), than why not bring two artists who actually dance together year round to the Met. At least that way, they will have said hello before they step on the stage. I don't need "one for the ages" every single night, but as an ardent and frequent ballet goer and one who spends excellent money for seats, I do expect a bit more from visiting artists than just the steps done to music. I expect it from our local dancers also. As I said. It's the Met. It's ABT.

Agreed, and I don't think we should be getting "works in progress" from guest artists, which is what several here have called Smirnova's Nikiya. (I was not there.) We can (and should!) be getting "works in progress" from ABT's own soloists instead! How are they supposed to grow as artists within the company if they never get to dance the company's signature roles and if the company is instead giving those very opportunities for "progress" to non-company performers? It's one thing to have a Cojocaru come in and give a performance -- I do not like her dancing, personally, but even I would not say her performances are "works in progress." It's quite another thing to be giving one of the company's precious few evenings on the Met stage to an artist from outside who doesn't yet have a finished product to put forth.

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I attended on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Both were largely well-danced performances with striking features but were not transcendent dramatic experiences.

Tuesday May 27, 2014 - Murphy, Nedak, Boylston, Zhurbin: Murphy has strong technique and has been well-coached in this part. However, the kind of delicate romantic lyricism underpinned by iron-strong classical technique that is the essence of Nikiya is not her thing. Her phrasing was strong and direct but seemed athletic and the element of spirituality was more a surface affect rather than something inherent in her phrasing. After having seen Vishneva, Part, Semionova and even the young, undeveloped Smirnova in the role, I have come to believe you have to be Russian or at least Slavic and Russian-trained like the Roumanian Cojocaru to capture this quality. Nina Ananiashvili had it in spades. I could see that Murphy was coming off an injury in the strain she showed in some of her arabesques. Notably in her harem-pants solo in the Garden Betrothal Scene at the end of (ABT's) first act, the sequence where she does an arabesque on pointe and then lowers the foot and goes into a deep penchée showed uncharacteristic stiffness and strain. However, Gillian in the "Shades" scene did have strong unsupported pirouettes in the scarf variation and fast diagonals of piques in the coda.

I suspect that Natalia Makarova recommended Denys Nedak to Kevin McKenzie after having taught him the role of Solor when she set her staging of "Bayadere" for the National Ballet of Ukraine. Like Matvienko and Maxim Beloserkovsky, he was trained at Kiev. He is a fine dancer - tall, well-built with clear, strong technique and is a good partner who is extremely attentive to his ballerina. One always knew that Murphy was in very good hands - like Marcelo. Nedak has a virile authoritative stage presence with excellent mime - he commanded the stage. His solos went very well but unfortunately he had one very bad moment just before the grand pas de deux in the "Shades" scene - he had series of turns and was to land on one knee before Nikiya as shade enters. Nedak unfamiliar with the stage either slipped or misjudged his landing and took a very bad spill on his backside. He quickly recovered and delivered the same flawless performance he had given us at all other times. Except for that one bad spill it was a near-perfect rendering of the role.

Isabella Boylston continues to gain authority as Gamzatti and her dancing had a lot of strength and panache. I particularly like her solo in the third act but I also have loved Murphy, Herrera and Dvorovenko in that solo as well. Christine Schevchenko danced the first shade with great speed and vivacity but without the lightness and clarity that Sarah Lane brings to it. Devon Teuscher showed strength and pliancy in the difficult variation for the second shade while Katherine Williams had all the steps but not the phrasing and articulation for the third shade's variation - she is very promising though. Roman Zhurbin's High Brahmin glowered like a young Herbert Lom but seemed a younger more insecure priest than Victor Barbee's mean old lech. He seemed to have genuine feelings other than lust for Nikiya and regretted his vengeful actions against her. Major role debut: Zhiyao Zhang as the Golden Idol - very exciting, high-flying, fast and precise and one of the best since Simkin, Corella and Cornejo.

Wednesday May 28, 2014 - Smirnova, Muntagirov, Seo, Zhurbin: Smirnova's oval face has an exquisite almost oriental beauty that reminded me of Asymuratova while her elongated supple body reminds me of Guillem and Zakharova without the exaggerated extensions and gymnastic edges. Smirnova's dancing is effortless, smooth and serene like spun silk - that is both her glory and currently, her big defect. It all looks too easy and lacks tension - musical and dramatic. Vishneva's current level of technique can't match Smirnova's flawless pirouettes and turns but every movement has emotional significance and tension. However, I first saw Diana Vishneva in her early twenties on tour with the Kirov in 1999 as Giselle and Aurora and she was not the dramatic powerhouse she developed into later with ABT and other companies. She was a very pretty young girl with gorgeous perfect technique and lovely training - the interpretations were conventional and lovely but not individual or revealing. The full artistry came later. So it will be with Smirnova - everything is there but in latent form. Muntagirov really danced superbly but he has never shown a lot of dramatic spark - however he was an ardent partner in his first act pas de deux with Smirnova's Nikiya. I thought his solos were stunningly buoyant and secure and he has grown immensely in the part in two years. Hee Seo also built on her dancing performance from Monday night - managing to add some acceleration to her single fouettes in the Pas D'Action coda and even doing a multiple at the end. I think that both Smirnova and Muntagirov are beautiful dancers and would happily see more of them. But they are both young and developing - it is a luxury to be able to compare them in the same week with finished artists like Vishneva, Part, Semionova, Gomes and Cojocaru. This is one luxury I haven't been able to deny myself going every night including tonight for Tereshkina and Shklyarov!

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The question is more how guests Tereshkina and Shklyarov will interact with Boylston and the rest of the ABT ranks. Tereshkina and Shklyarov are two of the greatest artists dancing now, but a warning that Tereshkina registers on the cold side compared to a Vishneva or Zakharova or Obraztsova. That's a quality I prize, and if I were in NYC and had to choose one cast, it would be Tereshkina, even were she meeting her partner five minutes before curtain, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

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I agree with most of what Faux Pas said above, with a couple of caveats. I thought Murphy was disappointing. She lacked fluidity and lyricism. She is a much better Gamzatti. Regarding Nedak, he was very engaging. Good actor. Tall, strong presence. Good technique, but not a flashy trickster. A very elegant dancer. I also must mention the Bronze Idol on Tues. evening, Z. Zhang. He is one to watch. Though he can definitely use some additional polishing, he was the best of the Idol's I've seen this season, and he seems to have very strong technique.

I thought Semionova's Nikiya on Monday evening was her best performance with ABT. She is often bland, but this role suited her well. Her gorgeous line and extension were marvelous.

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The question is more how guests Tereshkina and Shklyarov will interact with Boylston and the rest of the ABT ranks. Tereshkina and Shklyarov are two of the greatest artists dancing now, but a warning that Tereshkina registers on the cold side compared to a Vishneva or Zakharova or Obraztsova. That's a quality I prize, and if I were in NYC and had to choose one cast, it would be Tereshkina, even were she meeting her partner five minutes before curtain, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

I saw Tereshkina as Gamzatti back in 2008 when the Mariinsky came to DC. The coldness was perfect for the role of the Princess Gamzatti and her dancing was superb. Her coldness was a perfect contrast to Vishneva's Nikiya.

The next time I saw her was as Aurora when the Mariinsky came to DC in 2010. There, the lack of warmth was a hindrance. Again, her dancing was gorgeous, but at that performance I ended up watching Kondaurova as the Lilac Fairy more than her. Shklyarov was Prince Desiree at that performance, but he was still a work in progress back then. The next time I saw Shklyarov was when the Mariinsky came to the Met in 2011. I saw him in Symphony in C and I marveled at his growth as a dancer and as an artist.

I am really looking forward to tonight's performance and seeing Tereshkina and Shklyarov again. I also want to see how Isabella Boylston holds her ground as Gamzatti.

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The three dancers are schooled differently, hence approach their roles from different perspectives even when their work melds together dramatically into a storyboard whole. One does not need biographical information to quickly grasp Shkylarov is from the Kirov, Semionova is from Berlin via the Bolshoi school and Seo is not Russian in training. With the cast changes and apparent limited rehearsal time discussed earlier in more formal published reviews.there was an issue in the pas de huit. With the stages of both the Royal in London and and the Met narrower than the Russian stages, the cast change and the otherwise noted limited rehearsal time Shkylarov had an issue with the dance floor he certainly did not experience when he danced recently Ivan in THE LITTLE HUMPBACKED HORSE on the Met stage with a Russian laid dance floor. Two pas de huit dancers were too close to him and were nearly in an accident but Vladimir, an experienced performer, managed to avoid this and stay in character. Following the pas de huit, Shkylarov and Seo soon have back to back variations and Semionova a major dance sequence several minutes later. All were well done yet from different ballet perspectives. What really came together were Shkylarov and Semioniva onstage and the concertmaster in the wings for the violin solo in the grand pas de deux and the true glory of the execution of the closing movement of the grand pas which rocked the house as one of the most exciting renditions i have seen over the years in more than forty performances by different companies.

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OK, but if you have two people who barely know each other, as professionals and artists, they should be able to get past that and deliver a performance that is, if not sizzling, than is at least compatible. It's called "acting". Dancers tell a story, both with their technique and their expressiveness. This is not a year end recital. It's the Met. Or maybe this also goes to the degree of all the hiring of guest artists in the first place. Maybe too much odd pairing is going on. If the hiring is to continue (which given the current state of affairs seems to be the way), than why not bring two artists who actually dance together year round to the Met. At least that way, they will have said hello before they step on the stage. I don't need "one for the ages" every single night, but as an ardent and frequent ballet goer and one who spends excellent money for seats, I do expect a bit more from visiting artists than just the steps done to music. I expect it from our local dancers also. As I said. It's the Met. It's ABT.

Agreed, and I don't think we should be getting "works in progress" from guest artists, which is what several here have called Smirnova's Nikiya. (I was not there.) We can (and should!) be getting "works in progress" from ABT's own soloists instead! How are they supposed to grow as artists within the company if they never get to dance the company's signature roles and if the company is instead giving those very opportunities for "progress" to non-company performers? It's one thing to have a Cojocaru come in and give a performance -- I do not like her dancing, personally, but even I would not say her performances are "works in progress." It's quite another thing to be giving one of the company's precious few evenings on the Met stage to an artist from outside who doesn't yet have a finished product to put forth.

I share your sentiments. Unfortunately, this has been McKenzie's policy, for good or bad. The policy is certainly detrimental to the company's own dancers. Concerning Smirnova, she is still very much "a work in progress". Her "stardom", after all, was created by Filin who put all the resources at his disposal to develop her technically and artistically as a dancer. From the very beginning he has been casting her in leading parts in spite of multiple signs that she was not ready for many of those roles. No young ballerina has been as favored and promoted at Bolshoi as her for as long as I can remember. Olga is a very serious young woman, she was ready for the challenge from the start, seemingly unaffected by jealousy and "wishing her ill" by those in the troupe who were sidelined by Filin. That, however, only deepened the internal divisions and tensions in the troupe.

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No AD can make any dancer a star. Filin can give a dancer opportunities and marketing machines can publicize the dancer to the hilt, but the public decides whether a dancer is a star, or as it has been seen many, many times, the public decides that they're not interested in a dancer who is forced on them. It is hardly a unique occurrence when an Artistic Director pushes a young dancer, and there is resentment within the company against that dancer. As far as why an AD pushes a dancer, we have a strict "official news" policy on Ballet Alert!, and that's the limit of what can be discussed here.

Smirnova's performances haven't been universally lauded, but she has been embraced by much of the public and critics. Whether ABT should hire a rising, young star instead of only guest artists who are in their primes and leave the growth to company members is a question.

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Smirnova was pegged as a future ballerina when she was still a student at the Vaganova school--Assylmuratova even cast her as the lead in the Bayadere Shades scene at a school performance. As many people reading this probably know, her alternate in the role that year, ie the second cast (Shapran) is also on a fast track career albeit at the Stanislavsky which is a less high profile company than the Bolshoi. In other words, she wasn't cast because she was lacking for competition or it was a 'weak' year.

When dancers at the Mariinsky penned a letter concerning working conditions at the theater, they even mentioned the loss of Smirnova to the Bolshoi as evidence of the company's problems. Vishneva, too, has been quoted praising her highly. Smirnova may or may not be being pushed too hard and too quickly by Filin--I have seen other major dancers pushed this way and been dubious, though sometimes their careers worked out pretty spectacularly--but she is not exactly his invention.

Personally, I think that it's not out of line for Mckenzie occasionally to bring in "rising" stars as guests if he has reason to think they are potentially major artists and especially if he hopes to build a longer term relationship with them. Like other ABT fans, I have my opinions about and occasional frustrations with ABT management decisions (and loss of dancers like Simone Messmer) but I don't think the invitation to Smirnova was unworthy of the company.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone for these reviews/responses to Bayadere. Looking forward to reading about this weekend's performances as well.

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JUst a word about Tereshkina's performance last night. In the final scene of the first act, Nikiya stands on point, and then lifts one leg into arabesque while the foot of the working leg rolls down off the pointe. Tereshkina did something I have NEVER seen anyone do. Her working leg remained on pointe the entire time as she lifted the free leg into arabesque and held the position. She did this twice. Never a bobble or a hesitation. The foot on pointe remained rock solid,steady and fully in control. It was amazing - superhuman.

I always enjoy seeing Stella, but it was disheartening to see her as the third shade. The other two shades were corps members

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JUst a word about Tereshkina's performance last night. In the final scene of the first act, Nikiya stands on point, and then lifts one leg into arabesque while the foot of the working leg rolls down off the pointe. Tereshkina did something I have NEVER seen anyone do. Her working leg remained on pointe the entire time as she lifted the free leg into arabesque and held the position. She did this twice. Never a bobble or a hesitation. The foot on pointe remained rock solid,steady and fully in control. It was amazing - superhuman.

I was there and was gobsmacked by this as well. Furthermore, she starts into it from a soutenu, so she has to stop her rotational motion before she can do the balance.

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Does Tereshkina do this regularly at the Mariinsky Bayadere's? Do all the Mariinsky ballerinas do this? Astounding.

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I'm so sorry I didn't see this in the theater. I did find a clip of her "death scene" in a (mislabelled) YouTube clip. Is the move you're talking about the one that starts about 1:42?

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I saw someone do something like this at the Mariinsky Festival in April and was very impressed. It might have been her in Sylvia. I looked through all my very sketchy notes, but can't find anything for the moment.

At the Festival's New Choreographers matinee she did a physical feat that was quite amazing. Her partner was sitting on a very small chair and she leaped up onto the edges of it.

Added:

Her partner may have been ready to artfully catch her if it didn't work, but he never touched her as she remained upright standing above him.

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I saw both the Wednesday and Thursday performances. I think Smirnova is a lovely dancer with silky smooth technique, but she has a ways to go in terms of characterization. She wasn't the proud temple dancer, just Beautiful Russian Ballerina. Her chemistry with Muntagirov was non-existent. Add to that the rather lady-like Gamzatti of Hee Seo and you had an aesthetically pleasing but low-impact performance.

Tereshkina/Shklyarov/Boylston performance was much more exciting. Tereshkina doesn't have Smirnova's beautiful tapered limbs or her china-doll delicacy, but she has such superhuman strength. As mentioned she did much of her betrothal variation on pointe. In the lifts she has such a strong core that she seems to lift herself -- I don't know how to explain it, but there was no sense that Shklyarov was using his weight to hold her up. She held such a strong pose that it was as if she was holding herself up in the air. Shklyarov has such ballon and in his double assembles in his variations he was able to make each successive one go higher in the air. Boylston was a bit sloppy in technique and posture but more exciting than Hee Seo.

It really broke my heart to see Stella Abrera dancing the third shade variation.

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In case anybody missed this...LaKarsavina posted two YouTube clips of the bows for the 5/23/14 Vishneva-Gomes-Murphy Bayadere. In the first, Gomes gestures to acknowledge the corps and soloists (at 1:36), one of his more endearing qualities.

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I have also thought that Tereshkina / Schklyarov pairing was more thrilling (of course, they dance together in Mariinsky which helps). On Wednesday night I was struck by the lack of inner connection between Smirnova and Muntagirov. Neither of them conveyed any drama. It was a surprizingly complacent performance of two accomplished dancers.

Boylston was engaging Gamzatti, although her tecnique leaves much to be desired. Z. Zhang on Thursday was very good as a Bronze (Golden?) Idol.

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Those of you speaking about Stella Abrera only doing the 3rd shade. Stella danced Gamzatti on Saturday (albeit the matinee). In the performances that I saw, all the other soloist women (except for Kristi Boone who I believe is not dancing this season and whom we know is retiring) were also doing a lead shade: Sarah Lane, Misty Copeland, Yuriko Kajiya, and Isabella Boylston

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In case anybody missed this...LaKarsavina posted two YouTube clips of the bows for the 5/23/14 Vishneva-Gomes-Murphy Bayadere. In the first, Gomes gestures to acknowledge the corps and soloists (at 1:36), one of his more endearing qualities.

Marcelo's gesture to the corps/soloists warmed my heart as did Diana's gesture to the entire orchestra. I don't often see ballerinas acknowledge the pit.

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Nina used to sometimes drop one of her roses into the orchestra pit as a sign of gratitude to the orchestra. Classy.

California, yes, we are talking about the choreography shown in the youtube clip you posted beginning at 1:42. Last night she held the pointe while in arabesque for much longer than in the youtube clip.

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Thanks to FauxPas and abatt for already writing what I wanted say about Tuesday's performance. I agree that Murphy is not a natural Nikiya, and she may have been dancing at less than 100% capacity, but since I'm still stuck with a mental image of Murphy as human gyroscope, she was better than I expected, so admire her for expanding her artistic range.

Nedak is indeed commanding and expressive, with excellent mime and very fine port de bras. The range of motion in his upper body is terrific. His chaîné turns are slow, but the way he moves through space laterally is very impressive, so spill notwithstanding, I'm guessing he was enjoying dancing on the Met's wide stage. If anything I think he was too tall to partner Murphy and certainly Boylston, but I'm sure there are many tall ballerinas out there who would value such a big, strong, manly and attentive partner.

I suspect that Natalia Makarova recommended Denys Nedak to Kevin McKenzie after having taught him the role of Solor when she set her staging of "Bayadere" for the National Ballet of Ukraine.

http://jetsetter.ua/ru/Stati/SOBYTIE/Repeticiya-Bayaderki-v-Nacionalnoy-Opere-Ukrainy.html

Yes, I think it's likely. When a Ukrainian journalist asked Makarova whether any of the company's dancers particularly impressed her, she mentioned Nedak and two young ballerinas. http://gazeta.dt.ua/CULTURE/legenda-svitovogo-baletu-nataliya-makarova-tilki-viktyuk-zmusiv-mene-plakati-na-sceni.html

The recommendation may also have come from his former boss Denis Matvienko, whom Nedak was replacing. It's also possible that someone from ABT saw the National Ballet of Ukraine production when it was performed in Montreal in February.

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I remember the Mariinsky appearing in Costa Mesa in 2008. I'm pretty sure that it was Don Quixote. Until then I'd considered Viktoria Tereshkina's finest quality as being a technician, most notable for being right on each note of the music. She started out the same and then the Dryad scene arrived with Alina Somova brilliantly flying across the stage as she did at the time. Then it looked like Viktoria Tereshkina was thinking, "Okay, watch this!" and she ripped into high 'virtuosa' gear and it's been no stopping since along with her other many lovely qualities.

In addition, sitting still with her legs together slightly folded, she is one the most beautiful sculptural entities on the Mariinsky stage, i.e. in the world. If anyone has seen a picture of the statue of Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid on a rock in the harbor of Copenhagen, this is exactly what I mean. I can remember one evening of very intense dancing with Viktoria Tereshkina simply sitting at the top of a staircase through most of it. It's an image that I'll never forget.

https://www.google.ch/search?q=little+mermaid+copenhagen&client=safari&rls=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=awWLU73qDMar7Ab48YDoBg&ved=0CCkQsAQ&biw=1113&bih=698#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=a8-fASFmfpuqMM%253A%3B7Iffb2LIaIg4qM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fimages2.fanpop.com%252Fimages%252Fphotos%252F2700000%252FThe-Little-Mermaid-Copenhagen-the-little-mermaid-andersen-2763876-1656-1242.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.fanpop.com%252Fclubs%252Fthe-little-mermaid-andersen%252Fimages%252F2763876%252Ftitle%252Flittle-mermaid-copenhagen-photo%3B1656%3B1242

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What a difference a day and a performance makes! I too was gobsmacked at Tereshkina's impressive technique, but was also moved by her singular portrayal of Nikiya. The pairing of Tereshkina and Shklyarov was like fire crackers going off! Not only did they convey the passion necessary for these roles, they lent an energy to the ballet that carried over into the entire company. I've not seen such electricity from the company in a while. Any time these two would care to defect to ABT I would be a happy camper! I'm too overwhelmed to write further!

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