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Jeannie's White Nights Reviews, May 31 - June 9

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#1 Natalia


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Posted 28 May 2002 - 12:55 PM

Hi Everyone!

I'm just commencing a thread in which to place my reviews of the Kirov-Mariinsky performances during the first week of the hite Night's Festival. I'm also attending performances in other theaters (on non-ballet-nights at the Mariinsky) & plan to post these here. Here's the expected line-up of shows; assume the Kirov-Mariinsky unless noted otherwise:

May 31 - Bayaderka (premiere of 1900 new-old version)
June 2 - Manon
June 3 - Conservatory - Gala Concert of stars from all of St Pete's Professional Ballet Troupes
June 4 - Alexandrinsky (Pushkin) Theater - Boris Eifman's Don Juan
June 5 - Le Corsaire
June 6 - Nutcracker
June 7 - Hermitage - Giselle
June 8 - Maly/Moussorgsky - Swan Lake

It's easier to for me to find them in one spot. Hopefully, the thread won't become too unwieldy. If so, I can split it.

Anyhow...next stop, St Petes!! Poka!!

#2 Kevin Ng

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Posted 29 May 2002 - 01:34 AM

Jeannie, La Bayadere this Friday will be danced by Daria Pavlenko and Igor Kolb. I will try to come to St. Petersburg next week. The flights from London are very full this weekend because of the Queen's Golden Jubilee holidays.

#3 Natalia


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Posted 31 May 2002 - 11:22 PM

La Bayadere-1900 reconstruction
May 31,2002 at the Mariinsky Theater

The highly-anticipated Bayadere-1900 premiere took placel ast night.


Not a disappointment; not quite a triumph, either. I am happy to have stuck around for Act IV (the 'all-new'act), even though it began around 11pm!!The old Betrothal Gnd Pas Classique is now here (Gamzatti & Solor+Nikiya and4 little bayaderes...no longer G+S+4+2men)


IGOR KOLB WAS THE BEST AMONG THE DANCERS!!! -SURPRISE!!! HE FLEWWWWW!!!! Audience went nuts for him.Daria Pavlenko had a mixed night (nervous?); Elvira Tarassova's Gamzatti was fine in first three acts in which she only mimes...then wonderful in final act. BUT it was IRINA GOLUB as the first shade who made the greatest impression among all women; Irina Zhelonkina was spot-on as #2 Shade; and recent-graduate Nadezhda Gonchar (tall brunette) 'cheated' the 3rd variation with quick-high-kicks..minimal control & sublimity. Vladimir Ponomaryev--my favorite King Florestan in Sleeping Beauty!--stole the first three acts with his deft miming skills...transporting us to the true era of Marius Petipa!! Corps dancers were magnificent; very well drilled, obviously!

Production staging/mise-en-scene

re. the production, I have mixed feelings about yet another half-baked reconstruction...purporting to be 1900 Petipa, yet retaining vestiges of 1941 Chaboukiani et.al..Golden Idol (a 1930s creation by Nikolai Zubkovsky is still here. The biggest treats of this production are the not-recently-seen dances, such as a dance for 12 Balinese(or are they Thai?) girls in the Betrothal Divertissements, to recently-discovered music by Minkus, for this dance (Doug Fullington - where are you? I wish you could have been in my 'loggia' last night, LOL!) Another curious novelty that I instantly adored is a sweet Garland Waltz for 24 corps girls in Victorian tutus & Gibson-Girl wigs,wearing white pouffy tutus with kelly-green accents(4-leaf clovers & hearts, methinks!). AND Nikiya dances her sinewy Betrothal Scene solo with a long-necked LUTE (small guitar) now,rather than a basket (although the basket-with-asp appears later). Earlier, she strummed the lute outside the temple as she awaited Solor.

Several well-known divertissements are retained...yet the work to imbue them with authentic Petipa Era touches has robbed them of their 'punch' e.g., the Tom-Tom Dance no longers 'zings'...Galina Rakhmanova & Islom Baimuratov no longer perform their signature backbends; rather,they tiptoe through the tulips (comparatively speaking). NO yells of 'Bravo' as before. (In fact, the only 'bravos' of the night went to Golub's 1st shade & to Kolb's solo in Shades scene (the Chaboukiani variation...now danced incanary-yellow silk outfit).

Local non-favorite

I sat with 'locals' in 2nd tier. Most Russian afficionados were lukewarm, especially for Pavlenko.The lady sitting beside me, a scientist who goes to almost every Kirov-Mariinsky ballet perfomance, whispered, after Pavlenko botched her solo-with-scarf: "Can't they find a decent Nikiya in the city of St.Petersburg?" Ouch!! [I disagree with the lady...I thought that Pavlenko was lovely especially in mime;obviously had first-night jitters in the big classical dances.)


Sets reworkings of the old familiar ones forthe multiple scenes in Acts I & II...yet strangely muted/faded!! ActIII (Shades) was awild moonscape; the 32 shades descend a ramp amid high rock outcroppings! The ActIV temple is similar in look & feel to the ActII,sc i palace...flat, muted. The anxiously-anticipated crumbling of the temple ,at the end, barely happened-- one or two columns collapesed.

The costumes ranged from Victorian-sublime (the shades are 32 GibsonGirls in beige/off-white pouffy tutus & pompadour hair!!) to ridiculous (Gamzatti'sfather, the radja, wears a blue-and-yellow Scarlet O'Hara prom dress for the betrothal!).

The props are a hoot: the tiger is twice as fat as before...while the elephant is half the size (and zooms across the stage at a briskpace..we barely get to see it). Oh- the 12 'parrot girls' now hold parrots of the same blue color...ahhhhh. Where did the stager,Sergei Vikharev shop for these critters? FAOSchwartz on the Neva?

I would write more, but the darn computer-keyboard on which I write this doesn't 'take'my spaces between words easily.

Overall, it is a splendid show-- don't get me wrong. It was a pleasure to have attended it last night & I hope that the few 'kinks' can be ironed out by the time of its next outing,in NYC next month.Everything is being crated & packed today for shipment to the Met; last night's premiere was the only performance before the Met season premiere on July 8, to star Vishneva/Tsiskaridze.

Jeannie Szoradi

#4 NO7



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Posted 01 June 2002 - 12:32 AM

It's not a surprise, Jeannie. I was sure my favourite 'Igorushka' would do the best!:)
Not until can I see this new production myself that I would be able to tell you if that dance in Divertissement is Thai or Balinese;)
Oh..and if Tsiskaridze dances the first night for the Met season, what about the rest then? a big change again?

Thanks very much for your vivid report. Can't wait to read more!

#5 Natalia


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Posted 02 June 2002 - 02:08 AM

Sunday, June 2, 2002

Thanks, NO7! Always many surprises in Rossiya, re casting!

I did not attend the Maly last night, as planned, as the 'Sleeping B' was cancelled & Boyarchikov's version of 'Bayaderka' substituted. So I spent the night hanging-out with my Russian friends instead. We rented a sailboat & saw the sunset of White Nights, around midnight. Nice bottle of Russian champagne, etc!!!!

Tonight (Sunday) it's MANON with Makhalina/Kuznetsov!

I've added a performance - tomorrow night there will be a special ballet gala at the Conservatory, including stars from about 12 different ballet troupes in St Petes. Mariinsky to be represented by Ayupova-Fadeev-Makhalina-Tarassova, among others.

Also tomorrow, I hope to get the key to my own apartment (finalize purchase). God, I love this place!!


- Jeannie Szoradi
St Petersburg, Russian Federation

#6 Natalia


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Posted 03 June 2002 - 12:46 AM

Sunday, June 2, 2002

Last night's performance at the Mariinsky of McMillan/Massenet's 3-act ballet, MANON, was an intensely satisfying one. (Now THAT's the Kirov-Mariinsky that I know & love...not the tentativeness of Friday's BAYADERE-1900 premiere!)

First off, this sort of ballet -- with heightened melodrama & lush sets & costumes (much more detailed & realistic than the sets of the RB original)--is 'tailor made' for a troupe like the Mariinsky. And the Russian audiences expect and ADORE this sort of romanctic melodrama!! I see more McMillan oevres in the Mariinsky's future - perhaps MAYERLING ore even ANASTASIA...now wouldn't THAT be 'tailor made' for them, subject & all!

Back to last night's MANON...

Yulia Makhalina scintillated as the young French courtesan. My, hasn't this ballerina really grown into a true artist during the past 2-3 years. She is no longer playing the same-old/same-old 'prima diva' in her interpretations but, rather, imbuing every role with gentility & subtle nuances. First the Raymonda & Cinderella's Mother in March; now this Manon. Makhalina is an artist of the greatest magnitude in every sense...reed-thin beauty (she has lot weith - or muscle, it seems, & is very sleek now), crystal-clear technique, keen musicality, but - nicest of all - a sense of total drama that was missing during her Vinogradov years.

Tall, blonde & handsome Ilia Kuznetsov was no less amazing as Manon's true love, Des Grieux. Kuznetsov - now here is another principal dancer who has grown into a true ARTIST since I last saw him. No longer just the hunk-matador, Kuznetsov is the finest, ost sensitive Des Grieux I've seen since the role's creator, Anthony Dowell. This is a Des Grieux who not only recites poetry with his movements but who knows who to act so to elicit tears in the audience. Bravo, Ilya!! [So perhaps the Kirov-Mariinsky is finally getting its long-awaiting prince-noble type of leading man who is not only tall & handsome but of excellent technique and great acting?? YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS HOPE IN THIS WORLD!]

And let's not stop with the two lead principals.

As the 'second pair' of Manon's brother, Lescaut, and his mistress, Maxim Khrebtob & Natalia Sologub were spectacular. Simply spectacular! No wonder that both of them have won multiple awards for their interpretations of these roles! Khrevtob is seen all-too-little on American tours. Here, he not only danced brilliantly but acted with a devilish air. And, finally, young Mariinsky darling, Natalia Sologub, has convinced me of her favorable position in the company. She is no Petipa ballerina...but - boy! - s she a McMillan & 20th-21st-century one! Sologum even made me forget the magnificent Monica Mason for a few split seconds - LOL! And...Elena Bazhenova made the role of 'Madam' into a more youthful & glamorous, but still coniving, one.

The corps are all well-honed actors, as well as brilliant dancers.

The new costumes -- more colorful than the London originals but very much modeled on similar designs -- are magnificent & lush. Glamour with a capital "G"! And the sets, as mentioned above, are much more satisfying than the drab minimalist rags from the Royal Ballet original version. It takes the Kirov-Mariinsky to turn an already-grand ballet into a true EVENT!

-Jeannie Szoradi
St. Petersburg, Rossiya

#7 Dale


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Posted 03 June 2002 - 07:45 AM

Here's the Mariinsky's picture gallery for the new/old Bayedere production to look at while reading Jeannie's review:


#8 Ari


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Posted 03 June 2002 - 09:12 AM

Thanks, Dale, for the link.

Goodness, that "garland" photo certainly looks like Jardin Animé, doesn't it? Or the Garland Waltz without the men? Can it be that the great master recycled his choreographic ideas from ballet to ballet?

It makes me think of Arlene Croce's remark, after seeing some never-before-presented-in-the West Petipa: "The Petipa legacy is a puzzle—the more we see of it, the less there is."

#9 Dale


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Posted 03 June 2002 - 09:40 AM

I might be crazy, but I really love the costumes from the old productions. They're gaudy and over the top, much more like vaudeville than the all-the-pale-colors-must-match produtions of today.

#10 Natalia


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Posted 03 June 2002 - 10:20 PM

I love them too, Dale. And those props! Wait til you see 'Tony the Tiger' in NY!!

re. Garland Dance - this was a Petipa Standard. Don't forget the Garland Waltz in Act I of Raymonda, that prefaces Raymonda's pizzicatto variation.

I'm just waking up from last night's star-studded gala at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory, so I'll post my review later today. I have to meet with apartment decorators now. I'm just one block from the Lion Footbridge, on the Griboyedov canal. Close to Mariinsky, Nikolsky Cathedral and a BANYA! Now I feel truly Russian!!!

#11 Natalia


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Posted 04 June 2002 - 08:09 PM

Monday, June 3, 2002

At the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory:
'Russian Yarmarka' Cultural Center Presents
St. Petersburg Ballet Stars

The Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory Theater, built on the foundations of St. Pete's first great opera house (The Bolshoi of St. P) & situated across Teatralnaya Square from the Mariinsky Theater, was the venue for a most entertaining evening of ballet chestnuts, danced by a pleiad of the finest soloists from four local ballet troupes: the Kirov-Mariinsky, the Maly-Moussorgsky, Choreographic Miniatures, and the Konstantine Tkatchine Troupe.


One has to have a really, REALLY vivid imagination to picture the dreary, Stalin-Era auditorium as a grand ca-1820 gold-and-red opera house that saw the premieres of all of choreographer Marius Petipa's early classics, e.g., Doch Faraona, Camargo, Corsaire, Bayaderka. *Nonetheless, the original blue-and-white staicase and foyer remain...and for that we can be grateful!

Back to the present & tonight's gala potpourri; passionate audience:

We certainly got our 200 Rubles (or $6.50) worth for a front-orchestra (stalls) seat for a three-part/two-intermission marathon of pas de deux and solos from the classical and modern-classical repertoire that Petersburgers so adore! The audience was so emotionally touched that, at the end of the show, various spectators crossed the narrow bridge above the orchestra pit onto the stage to hand floral bouquets to their favorite dancers among the 22 soloists who performed tonight. One fellow even got on his hands and knees up on that stage, to kiss the feet of his favorite ballerinas!!! Ah -- only in Rossiya! What emotion! Blame it on the White Nights? If carriages existed today, I'm sure that that fellow would be pulling the one belonging to Yulia Makhalina...

As with most such galas, Marius Petipa reighned supreme tonight. The few novelties included two solos from a work-in-progress by Maly-Moussorgsky Theater choreographer V. Medveyev, as well as his recent reconstruction (or 'imagining' a-la-Lacotte?) of a pdd from a rare late-Romantic Era ballet, composer Adolf Adam's 'The Sea Robbers' (or...could that be a literal Russian translation for 'Le Corsaire??...in any case, this was new music for a so-called 'Sea Robbers pdd' with the exception of the music for the male solo, which is from 'Corsaire'...more below).

Here's the blow-by-blow...errrr...I mean, the dance-by-dance from last night's programme:


1. Nutcracker pdd - adagio (choreography Vasily Vainonen/music Tchaikovsky)

Tatyana Shashina & Alexei Shashin, both of the Maly Ballet

Secure rendering of this Soviet-era classic by a delicate young blonde couple...a Slavic prince & princess who are the up-and-coming soloists of the Maly-Moussorgsky Theater.

2. La Sylphide pdd (August Bournonville/Herman Lovenskjold)

Natalia Bashkirtseva of Choreographic Miniatures Troupe & Roman Mikhailev of Kirov

The powerful Bashkirtseva -- a Moscow 1993 IBC silver medalist -- was precise, if not quite ethereal, while Mikhailev displayed an easy lightness, including splendid entrechats-huit.

3. The Legend of Love, solo of Queen Mekhmene-Banu (Yuri Grigorovich)

Alexandra Iosifidi of Kirov

Iosifidi is a tall & striking, reed-thin brunette, whose height is probably keeping her from attaining principal status at the star-packed Kirov company. Ahe was one of my personal favorites among the many great graduates of the Vaganova Ballet Academy's legendary class of 1995 -- which also includes, Vishneva, Dumchenk, Gumerova, Ti-Eun Ryu, Kuznetsov, Fadeev, etc, etc. I fondly recall Iosifidi's 'Legend of Love' solo at her graduation...and she reprised it tonight, better than ever. Amazingly pliant body on a thoroughbred physique; endless legs; musicality-with-emotion; George Balanchine would have adored her!

4. Giselle Act II pdd (Perrot & Coralli/Adolphe Adam)

Elvira Khabibulina & Kirill Myasnikov of the Maly Ballet

Khabibulina -- a drop-dead-gorgeous brunette ballerina who is a superstar in Japan (where the Maly troupe regularly visits) and the star of the beloved recent video of 'Esmeralda' -- and Myasnikov delivered one of the highlights of the night. Elvira Khabibulina FLOATED -- there's no other word to describe it. There were audible gasps in the audience as she boureed onto the stage, as if on a silken cloud. Elvira Khabilulina is a goddress to Petersburg Balletomanes...the great Romantic-dramatic ballerina of our era.

5. The Sea Robbers pas de deux (V. Medveyev/Adolphe Adam)

Elena Glurzhidze of Tkatchine Troupe & Stanislav Fecho of the Maly Ballet

She is a tall & striking beauty who resembles Alla Mikhalchenko of the Bolshoi; he is dark & elegant. Both danced an ultra-difficult novelty of a late-Romantic Era pas de deux...although the stiff black-wtih-gold tutu for her & black velted jacket on him were more appropriate to 'Swan Lake - Black Swann pdd'!

This work follows the standard pas de deux format: opening adagio for both; male solo variation; female solo variation; ending with zesty-paced coda for both.

Three of the musical tunes are novelties to my ears; the music for the male variation is familiar - as it was incorporated into Petipa's first version of 'Le Corsaire' as the solo for the 3rd Odalisque.

Adagio - majestic & powerful
Male Solo - full of pirouettes allowing minimal preparation time
Female solo - danced to a lilting waltz, this is likewise full of pirouettes, as well as an extended diagonal of frisky hops on pointe.
Coda - includes the usual bravura moves of 32 fouettes for the woman & pirouettes-a-la-seconde for the guy. VERY impressive technique from both dancers.


1. Grand Pas Classique (Victor Gsovsky/Auber)

Irina Badaeva & Feton Miozzi of the Kirov Ballet

It's a treat for me to be able to see these two fine soloists who are rarely included on Kirov tours to the West! She is a petite redhead; he is tall, dark & lanky with a passing resemblance to Farouk Ruzimatov. Awesome technique from both, especially her L-O-N-G miraculous balances and the spring in his leaps. Audience goes gah-gah with this pair!

2. Spartacus - 'circle dance' of courtesans (Leonid Yakobsen/Aram Khachaturian)

Elena Kuznetsova of Choreographic Miniatures troupe, with corps of 14 females

This is a segment of the ca-1955 ORIGINAL version of 'Spartacus' created by Leonid Yakobsen for the Kirov Ballet many years before the now-more-famous Yuri Grigorovich version for the Bolshoi-Moscow. This is a rarely-seen ballet that is completely performed with sandals (no pointe shoes on the females)...with the effect of a classical frieze. Tonight we saw an exotic circle-dance for a group of courtesans. They enter veiled then, one by one, cast aside the veils to reveal slinky 'harem-like' attire. Thanks to the skill and beauty of these dancers, this number doesn't tumble over into the realm of kitsch. [Note: The complete, full-evening, Yakobsen 'Spartacus' is being revived by the Choreographic Miniatures troupe soon, commencing June 12. I'm sorry to be leaving it...as I will attend Bolshoi tour in Washington, DC...next visit to St P, perhaps?]

3. Suite en Blanc, final female solo (Sergei Lifar/Eugene Lalo)

Alexandra Iosifidi of Kirov Ballet

*Among the many great numbers tonight, THIS ONE WINS MY TOP HONORS!! WOW - WOW - WOW!!!! Dancing with bravura and crustal-clear classical technique, the tall Ms. Iosifidi seemed totally French & not Russian in this chestnut from the neo-classical repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet. This is the final female solo of 'Suite en Blanc', the one that Elisabeth Platel used to perform regularly... begins like spun sugar...very languid & flirty..builds up to powerful & majestic ending with series of high entrechats alternating with razor-sharp pique-arabesques, almost piercing the stage with her pointes. An unforgettable dance! HOW ALEXANDRA IOSIFIDI IS NOT A SUPERSTAR OF BALLET IS BEYOND ME...GET HER TO A COMPANY WITH A TALL MALE PARTNER!!!

4. Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux (George Balanchine/Tchaikovsky)

Elena Glurdzhidze & Yuri Vetrov (sp?) of the Tkatchine Troupe...this number was not on the printed programme so I'm relying on my Russian-listening skills for the names!

A commendable performance, if lacking in true Balanchine neo-classical style & nuances. They gave it their all, then somewhat 'lost it' int he final seconds of the coda, when she threw heerself into his arms for the fishdives...both times almost landing on the floor.

5. Raymonds Act II Panaderos-Spanish Dance (Konstantin Sergeyev-after-Petipa/Alexander Glazunov)

Yulia Slivkina & Dmitri Korneev of the Kirov Ballet

Where does the Kirov find the endless supply of tall, exotic, great female character dancers? -- from Anisimova in the 1940s to Gensler, Strogaya, Sherstnyeva, Rakhmanova, Gronskaya and now Yulia Slivkina, a recent graduate of the Vaganova Academy. Here she was teamed with the dynamic veteran character dancer Dmitri Korneev, setting the stage on fire in this all-too-brief Spanish-flavored number.

6. Manon Act I, sc i "Meeting pas de deux" (Kenneth McMillan/Jules Massenet)

Yulia Makhalina & Ilya Kuznetsov of the Kirov Ballet

A reprise of a glorius romantic pas de deux from Sunday night's memorable performance at the Kirov-Mariinsky Theater. Slavic blonde god Kuznetsov the tall Makhalina appear as light as a feather & age 16...straight from the convent school. Danced with love & abandon. Big audience pleaser!

7. Le Corsaire pdd for Ali & Medora (Marius Petipa/Adolphe Adam)

Natalia Bashkirtseva of Choreographic Miniatures and Andrei Ivanov of the Kirov Ballet

This shortish-and-muscular couple punched out a dazzling competition-style rendering of this pas de deux. Ivanov spins like a tops - made me dizzy just watching!!


1. Swan Lake 'White Swan pdd' adagio (Lev Ivanov/Tchaikovsky)

Zhanna Ayupova and Igor Kolb of the Kirov Ballet, with modified corps of eight swans.

Pure as spring water, the essence of the Art of Ballet was captured by Ayupova and Kolb tonight. Simple, no-frills beauty. Understated elegance that is so rarely seen on the international ballet scene nowadays.

When on earth was the last time that Zhanna Ayupova danced the full role of Odette/Odile in 'Swan Lake'? What a treat to see her in this excerpt, partnered by the secure & gallant Kolb. Between tonight's performance & Friday's Bayadere-Solor at the Kirov, the 'new Kolb' is erasing my negative memories of a sappy Prince Desire in 'Speeling Beauty' in Washington, DC last February.

2. 'Carnival in Venice' pdd (Marius Petipa/Cesare Pugni)

Irina Badaeva & Feton Miozzi of the Kirov Ballet

This is an early-Petipa treasure that is a 'standard' at Russian gala programs or Vaganova Academy graduations...yet rarely seen in the West. Miozzi's elevation AND ultra-magnetic stage presence won the night here! On the other hand, Badaeva seemed a bit out of step in her solo of classical poses, unlike the earlier Grand Pas Classique...but she came back strongly in the coda.

3. Eugene Onegin, Olda & Lenski pdd (V. Medvedev/Tchaikovsky 'Manfred Symphony')

Tatyana Shanina & Alexei Shanin of the Maly Ballet

These next two pas de deux are from a work-in-progress, a full-length 'Eugene Onegin' ballet promised for 2003 at the Maly-Moussorgsky Theater, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the founding of St Petersburg. There will be inevitable omparisons with that most famous balletic rendering of the Pushkin tale - that of John Cranko for the Stuttgart Ballet, which is performed all over the globe nowadays. But this will be a Russian 'Onegin' ballet - 100percent creation of Russians. So we will see.

This Olga/Lenski pdd, set in a birch-tree forest, is full of sweeping lifts & throws, echoing the passion of the young lovers in Pushkins poem. Her yellow chiffon, empire-style dress adds greatly to the romantic effect. A lovely pdd.

4. Eugene Onegin , final pdd of Tatyana & Onegin (Medvedev/Tchaikovsky - 'Elegie' from his Suite no. 3...used by Balanchine in his ballet 'Tchai. Suite 3)

Elvira Khabibulina and Stanislav Fecho of the Maly Ballet

A passionate & highly acrobatic pdd, as Tatyana -- that quintessential Pushkin heroine -- is torn by old feelings for her childhood 'love' and by honor & respect for her present husband. Comparing to the Cranko version of this moment in the story...I would say that the different, more passionate & loud music in the Cranko version allows for a more gut-wrenching and effective dance. 'Elegie' is a bit too gentle. Nonetheless, here we saw powerful drama from Khabibulina. She is THE 'Drama Queen' of today's Russian ballet scene, for sure!!!

5. Don Quixote, gypsy character dance (Nina Anisimova/ Ludwig Minkus)

Yulia Slivkina & Dmitri Korneev of the Kirov Ballet

Slivkina & Korneev once again sizzled on stage with dep backbends & high leaps. Character folk-dancing as we only see nowadays from Russians.

6. The Dying Swan (Michel Fokine, as restaged by grandaughter Isabel Fokine/Camille St-Saens)

Yulia Makhalina of the Kirov Ballet

Makhalina was pure-pavlova in the 1920s-style wide & longish classical tutu and feathery headress. The is the very-rarely-seen original Fokine version, as danced by Anna Pavlova...so very different from the Soviet version that we all know (e.g., as danced by Ulanova, Plisetskaya, Makarova et. al.). This one is more melodramatic, less 'quiet' & neoclassical. Both are masterpieces. Makhalina did the original version proud tonight. Audience was truly cranked up by now...as if it needed forther cranking - LOL!

...and what else to close tonight's marathon gala BUT...

7. Don Quixote pas de deux (Petipa/Minkus)

Elvira Tarassova & Anton Korsakov of the Kirov Ballet

The audience was further whipped to a frenzy with this one...not that they needed my whipping, mind you!!! Razor-sharp technique & eloquent musicality by both star-dancers. Beautiful redheaded Tarassova is presently at the top of her game -- as evidenced by last Friday's Gamzatti (in Bayadere, at Kirov) and now this. Korsakov is roaring back after a long injury that has kept him off the stage, on-and-off, for the past year or so. Here, he displayed soaring leaps & spiffy pirouettes. Korsakov even overcame what seemed to be poor orchestral conducting -- his solo music began right after the applause for the opening adagio...so the entire first passage of music for the male solo was dancer-less..no Basil on stage! Perhaps the conductor was afraid of missing the last trolley to his home?

A fun night for all - long live the stars of Petersburg ballet!!!

- Jeannie Szoradi
St Petersburg, Russian Federation

#12 Natalia


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Posted 04 June 2002 - 08:55 PM

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Boris Eifman Ballet Troupe at the Alexandrinsky Theater,
"Don Juan and Moliere"

OK, I realize that most Ballet-Alertniks don't fancy the contemporary ballet choreographer Eifman...a guy who knows how to deliver a spicy dramatic 'punch' with every new ballet. But Russians ADORE him...and I happen to join my Russian friends in this admiration. If you like full-bodied passion with a *hint* of kink...this is your man! His latest ballet -- which, I believe, was shown in the latest Eifman tour of the USA, a couple of months ago -- is the story of that rogue lover of 17th-century Spain, Don Juan, as told by the French playwright Moliere...so there was more than a *hint* of sex in this one, my friends. As if the earlier ballets 'Red Giselle' and 'Russian Hamlet' and the rest did not have enough - LOL!

And the jam-packed audience at the red-and-gold, multi-tiered Alexandrinsky Theater (the one down the road from the Vaganova Ballet Academy that one sees in photos of Theater Street) was SHOUTING FOR MORE after last night's performance. If you think that the City Center Theater crowd in NYC is rowdy...whew - come to Russia & hear 'em yell here! That alone is worth the price of admission. And I happen to agree with them on this outing. Eifman seems to be back in top form after (for me) a move back with his last-year's creation, 'Russian Hamlet - Tsar Paul'. "Don Juan' is one of his finest creations, not only choreographically but musically & scenically (is that a word?...well, I adored the sets & costumes...awesome dramatic visual effects).

The two-act ballet, set to some of the most famous Mozart tunes, plus Berlioz's 'Symphonie Fantastique, tells the story of the playwright Moliere's life, as he 'imagines' the tale of Don Juan, juxtaposing the adventures of the fictional rogue with the real-life episodes of the playwright. In fact, the ballerinas who dance Moliere's long-time girlfriend and his wife are also, respectively, Don Juan's two most famous 'episodes' - Donna Elvira & Donna Anna (remember the opera story?).

Eifman's superstar male dancer, blonde Albert Galichanin, was spectacular as Moliere. Dark-haired Yuri Ananyan embodied Don Juan to perfection. Super-slim Natalia Poboroziyuk was moving as the wife of Moliere/Donna Anna, while Alina Solonskaya danced the girlfriend of Moliere/Donna Elvira...whose father, the Commendatore, was murdered by Don Juan, so that he could get to the daughter. Sergei Zimin provided comic relief as Don Juan's faithful servant Leporello. Oleg Markov was menacing as the Commendatore who returns as a huge statue to Don Juan's banquet, taking Don Juan to hell as the Mozart Requiem's 'Lacrymosa' booms in the orchestra pit (or on tape - no live orchestra last night).

Lovers of quintessential 'Eifman Effects' were not disappointed. Let's see...we have a rape on a cathedral altar...multiple-seduction of a corps-de-ballet of nuns...a grotesque village wedding...a cart-full of white harlequins....a menage-a-trois for Moliere/wife/girlfriend...a menage-a-quatre for Moliere/wife/her two boyfriends....and - my personal favorite - a doctor injects a gigantic syringe up Moliere's ass. (NO - not really my favorite - just kidding!!!! But it was there to see.)

One thing was for sure - Eifman's creative & shocking compositions don't lose your attention for one second. No sirrreeee!!!! Last night, I finally figured out why I love Eifman's ballets so much. Movement aside, Eifman is a master of simple placement-of-character to render a powerful visual scene. Like a Delacroix or Roger Van Der Weyden painting...the figures are so perfectly placed to make you gasp. Boris Eifman surely studied the compositions of old-master painters...like those found in abundance at the 'local' art gallery here, The Hermitage (some local art gallery!!!). This mastery of visual composition/poses, coupled with a keen musicality - just the right movement for a tune - makes him today's living treasure of a choreographer. Certainly in Russia and, for me, the world. He wrenches the heart & soul of the viewer.

Oh - and did I mention the enthusiastic audience? Instant standing ovation...hooting & hollering of 'bravos' went on for 15-plus minutes. Especially when Eifman himself came on stage for a bow. Bravissimo!!!!

Next up: tonight's LE CORSAIRE at the Kirov. Svetlana Zakharova/Ilya Kuznetsov/Irina Zhelonkina/Nikita Sheglov (just returned from long time away!)...at least, that is the promised cast. Stay tuned for actual casting.

Jeannie Szoradi
St Petersburg, Russian Federation

#13 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 04 June 2002 - 09:22 PM

Jeannie -

What fun you must be having! I have to admit that reading your great time at Eifman made me almost curious to see him again. Almost :D

It sounds like there is incredible energy in Saint Petersburg for the festival, and I am so glad you are soaking it up and telling us about all of it. And for me, I'm as thrilled by Russian balletomane footworshippers as I am by the ballets themselves, so thank you for the vivid descriptions. If only Lali Kandelaki were somewhere backstage screaming. . .

And much happiness for your new home!

#14 Estelle


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Posted 05 June 2002 - 01:50 AM

Thanks for your reviews, Jeannie! It's great to be able to know what is happening in Saint-Petersburg, and there are so many bright Russian dancers who are not known in the West...
Also it's nice to know that Lifar still is performed somewhere (and that "Suite en blanc" solo is lovely indeed).

#15 Kevin Ng

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Posted 05 June 2002 - 02:52 AM

Like Jeannie I've also greatly enjoyed the Stars Gala at the Conservatory on Monday, which for its length is really good value for money. I've nothing to add to Jeannie's vivid, and detailed review. I was glad to have the opportunity to see dancers from the Maly and other St. Petersburg companies. And I look forward to seeing Le Corsaire again tonight. It's a great experience to be here for the White Nights.

Hotel Astoria,
St. Petersburg

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