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Leigh Witchel

Kirov Jewels

30 posts in this topic

A good performance. To me, the most interesting thing was how American Vishneva looked in Rubies. It was as if she had no "accent" - it doesn't make her better or worse, it's just surprising, almost like discovering a changeling. She looks like she could be put into NYCB with almost no adaptation if she had a mind to do it. This has been mentioned before - I wonder if that is what makes her controversial?

Having seen Zakharova three times I haven't really warmed to her. I find her dancing very external; concerned more with the shapes it makes than any impulse. And if she distorted her hip any further in her developpe to the side in Diamonds, we would have seen her tuches (pardon my Yiddish.) Korsuntsev partnered her, and it was not his best moment. He is an excellent partner, but the role seemed beyond him; maneges went wild and his ankles just gave out in jumps, leaving his feet flapping behind him.

In all the ballets, the corps was in good shape. I'm sure this is my own fevered imagination, but at one point in the Emeralds pas de trois, Yana Selina went off for an exit and it seems she came back on with almost twice the rhinestones as when she left. I entertained myself for quite a while imagining her feverishly sewing and pasting them on her thirty seconds offstage. Sometimes a girl needs a little extra sparkle in a role. More seriously, both she and Xenia Ostreikovskaya did a very nice job in it. I do prefer the 1976 ending Balanchine appended, not performed in the Kirov version.

More comments? I know other BalletAlertniks were there!

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Okay, I'll weigh in on this one.

Emeralds:

This has always been my favorite section, but I don't think the Kirov "got" that it was all about the music. Maybe it's better they don't do the full Emeralds until they absorb the style more.

On the positive side, I was happy with (the new ABT solosit) Veronica Part in the second ballerina role. She has the technique to be able to play with musical phrases and choose when to fall off point. She used her ability to the hilt. From the Dress Circle view, I thought she may have faltered for a nao-second in the "walking on point" sequence (my very favorite section) but that is quibbling. She turned in an A+ performance.

I was not happy with the lead ballerina (Ayupova) though; there was no pliancy or fluidity -- which is what Emeralds is all about. And two nit-picks though: (1) what's with the dirty toe shoes? The bottom of Part's tow shoes were actually black!! (But on the other hand, the sound of their toes shoes was more muffled than in other performances in the Kirov run); and (2) why all this radiant smiling in what should be a mysterious, romantic atmosphere? Ladies, look at tapes of Violette Verdy in this role: all mystery.

Rubies:

Vishneva turned in a very satisfying performance. They were many moments when I saw flashes of Patty McBride in my mind. She has absorbed what the ballet is about. Very nice. The dancing of her partner, however, Samodurov, reminded me that this is a very new style for the Kirov. The second ballerina role was attempted by Sofia Gumerov. The two signatures steps of this part (the grand jetes and the exaggerated arabesque penchees) were not executed well at all. A disappointment.

Diamonds:

First of all, Kudos for the corps here. Wow! the first section with all those zillion balancees was beautifully done. (I always called it was the "waiting for Suzanne" section.) Sakharova and Korsuntsev were the leads. Sakharova certainly has the grand ballerina manner and turned in a very satisfying adagio section. Again, I had flashes of Suzanne before me. Very, very nice. However, when it came to the allegro sections, she seemed to have run out of steam and there were some flubs, but let's chalk them up to first night jitters.

The coda -- with the corps -- was just a wonderful ballet experience. It gave one "chills." One major nit-pick though: What's with the beige color for the tutus? The tutus for this should be dazzling white. Does anyone know whether Karinski had originally envisioned this beige (and is this why the Kirov in its camaign for authencity didn't use white)? I didn't like the tutus at all; in fact, they were distracting in their un-grandness.

Note to NYCB: bring back this ballet!!! I was very happy to see how magificently it filled the huge Met stage (and with the relatively "original" scenery). I'm looking forward to seeing the closing night Kirov Jewels. But it just makes me realize how much I want to see NYCB do it!!!

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I think Yana Selina has to be the hardest-working woman in ballet. She was a demi in both Emeralds and Diamonds last night, and doubtless in the corps of Rubies, too.

I liked Emeralds very much -- it was lovely to see it performed with the Kirov's beautifully homogenous corps, which seemed to me to hit just the right delicate, undersea-grotto effect. Although it was my first, long-awaited look at Ayupova, it was Part who really impressed in, I think, the Mimi Paul role. I seem to have misplaced my program, so I'm not sure who the lead man was in Emeralds, who was adequate, but not spectacular. Korsakov, leading the pas de trois (which was particularly well-performed by the well-rhinestoned Selina) seemed to dance his solo as if he were more concerned with elevation instead of pointing his feet.

I enjoyed Vishneva tremendously in Rubies, although I wish she hadn't been quite so restrained (just kidding). Seriously, she was a trip and a half. And that smile! Samodurov was game, and was trying very hard to look insousciant, which just doesn't work. The corps was also game, but seemed as clueless in the jazzier bits as the recent NYCB cast of Interplay. I could almost picture them thinking "Now we stick butt up in air and shuffle offstage? Alright, but we make it preety."

The corps was magnificent in Diamonds, and I liked the four soloist very much, including the hard-working Selina. Diamonds are supposed to be cold and glittery, and in this respect I thought Zakharova was indeed well-suited, although the extreme extensions certainly distorted the shape of Balanchine's choreography. But I didn't get much sense of grandeur from Zakharova in this grandest of all Balanchine adagios. As for lumpish Korsuntev, the less said the better.

Considering that the Kirov's Serenade and Symphony in C were huge disappointments three years ago, their performance here was a very welcome change.

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Sigh.

Sorry to have missed this. I think the Kirov corps in Diamonds would be Really Something. Congratulations to them all.....

I enjoyed reading the reviews....not surprised by the impressions ventured, but wish I could have seen it, nonetheless--thanks to all who post.

I agree with Bobbi that it has been too long since NYCB did this--I'd like to see it once every year during the winter season!

Tutus look may appear white, but are generally not built with white fabric, as it looks dead on stage, I think. Depending on the lighting and fabric, your eye may have read "beige." This is usually fixable, but who knows what sort of lighting rehearsals they may have had.....

hope to hear more impressions....

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I liked it. For me a welcome change from the ultra long Bayadere.

Emeralds. I, contrary to some, liked Ayupova, I thought she musically just fantastic. Her port de bras is spectacular. And Part was also just stunning, looking forward to seeing her more at ABT. I remember NYCB's last casts (Rutherford, K. Tracey, Lorenzo, Kowroski and Lopez) and just thinking that none of them had the arms to carry it off. I never saw Verdy do it (and I'm a bit reluctant to watch it on tape) but I'd second the nomination of seeing Korbes do the role.

I liked the Kirov's attempt at being "French" though.

Rubies, was my favorite. They really did seem to enjoy themselves. A perfect vehicle for Vishneva to show off. And she did. Made me forget who even dances it at NYCB.

And Diamonds. Perfection from the corps, nicely danced by the prinicipals.

Seeing a "foreign" company do Jewels made me appreciate just how very "international" the piece is. If only we could have an international performance of it, with POB doing Emeralds, NYCB doing Rubies and the Kirov doing Diamonds!

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I have a very good idea where the dirty pointe shoes come from...the rehearsal rooms and stage floors are dirty (do they ever mop over there???) and cause black marks on the bottoms of the shoes. I would guess that given the financial constraints the Kirov is probably operating under they can't buy new pointe shoes each performance and are using shoes that have been used in a prior rehearsal and or performance.

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Calliope, did you ever see Stephanie Saland in the Verdy role?

She was mesmerizing! :)

It's interesting to read about how well the Russians are doing 'Jewels".

I did not like the Russian dancers in 'Mozartiana' a few years ago at the Balanchine Celebration. Their technique was excellent, but they didn't look right. They lacked the American chic I had grown so accustomed to in that ballet.

You New Yorkers are so lucky to be able to see these fantastic performances.

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only a vague recollection of Saland, I think actually I may have only seen photos.

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For me there is nothing vague about Saland. :)

The memory of her in Emeralds, those arms and the presentation of the foot, the gorgeous neck and face are seared in my brain.

:)

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I was rather disappointed in the Kirov "Jewels". First of all, the tempi were far too slow - but then they never could move at NYCB speeds. I liked Ayupova in "Emeralds" - especially her arms, and I thought Part also did a good job. I think "Rubies" came off best: possibly because the style is so alien to the Kirov's natural state that they really had to work at it. "Diamonds" bothered me the most. First of all the brown in the costumes was irritating (and yes, it was a distinct brown-gold color). Then, I think because "Diamonds" was created by Balanchine as a nod to Imperial Russia the Kirov had a problem in trying to dance it as it should be - American style. They probably felt more "at home" in it and didn't think they had to adapt. Zakharova looked gorgeous, but had some problems, and those excessive extensions really spoil the line and therefor the "look" of the ballet.

I'm going to have a second look tomorrow night: the closing. I shall also go to the matinee "Swan Lake" to see how Part does.

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I'm puzzled by the references to the "beige" or "brown-gold" color of the costumes in Diamonds. When the Kirov danced in Washington in February, the costumes looked just as white as those at City Ballet. Perhaps Juliet is right about its being the lighting.

Maybe they'll adjust it for the second performance.

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No, I was sitting very close and their was a layer of beige or gold tulle under the white. It bothered me also.

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One wonders, sometimes, about "artistic license".....

The ballerina costume in Diamonds is indeed built of a darker, more beige fabric than the corps and the top layer of tulle on her tutu is gold.

One wonders about such things....copying costume design is one thing, changing it and then attributing it to Karinska is quite another ....it is not as if the Karinska costumes are not available for reference.

Those interested should see:

/www.nycballet.com/costumeshop/diamondsphotos.html

The Costume Shop section of City Ballet's site is quite wonderful and has been available for some time.

Sorry to veer slightly off topic!

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I guess nobody else went last night?

Cast was much the same as Thursday, except Rubies was led by Golub and Fadeyev. Golub seemed clean, dutiful and a bit young and unformed. Anyone would seem wan following Vishneva's high-voltage performance Thursday night. I liked Fadeyev very much -- he was also clean, light on his feet and less effortful than Samodurov.

Diamonds was led by Pavlenko and Kolb. This was the Pavlenko's only lead this season, as her Swan Lake was given, instead, to Zakharova. What a shame! Pavlenko was senational, I thought, dancing with a fierce passion and joy which was totally lacking in Zakharova's magisterial performance Thursday night. It also helped that Pavlenko didn't scratch behind her ears with her instep at ever developpe.

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I saw all four kirov productions in the past two weeks and jewels was my favorite! I saw jewel's thursday night and thought it was amazing. I was very interested to see the Balanchine style on them, after seeing the three classical, russain ballets, and was amazed by how versatile the dancers were. You could have convinced me that they were new york city ballet.

Rubies was my favorite section, and loved the soloists extensions and firey personality. It was amazing. I too noticed the biege tutus for diamonds, and thought they looked dirty. I also noticed that the men didn't adapt as easily to the new style, they are also much less expressive then the woman. During some of their bows (diamonds especially) i thought the men looked annoyed at the applause. Overall I loved the performance and enjoyed the rare opportunity to see the kirov so close to home.

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Well, it seems like this has been Daria Pavlenko's weekend, and Jewels is her ballet.

Friday night she led Diamonds, and last night she danced the Mimi Paul part in Emeralds, AND the Patricia Neary in Rubies. As with Diamonds, she was sensational in both. I don't think any NYCB dancer has ever "doubled up" like that in one night, and I rather doubt any NYCB dancer has ever had a lead in each Jewel ballet in her repertoire.

I'd rather liked Gumerova in the Neary, but after seeing Pavlenko I realized how wan and clueless Gumerova really was, as she was in Diamonds last night. Very beautiful legs and feet, but not much else going on. No gradeur.

In Emeralds, Pavlenko delicacy and deep-breathed phrasing didn't belie her inner strength and passion (I use that word a lot with her), and in Rubies she just dominated the stage, certainly commanding more attention than Golub, who was clean and dutiful, but not terribly interesting. Samodurov seemed more relaxed than Thursday night, but this still isn't his role.

Partnering Gumerova, Kursuntsev once again showed that there's more to being a danseur than pretty legs, especially if one lets one's feet flop around at the end of said legs. Not to mention almost killing one's self while landing from a double saute de basque.

I must say that overall the men didn't impress very much this visit, Kolb being the most interesting of a rather lacklustre lot.

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I agree, the men were a disappointment. None of them really seemed to understand Balanchine musciality and their partnering technique made for some scary moments in the Swan Lake I saw. They also fail to straighten their legs fully much of the time and it makes them look heavy.

Is this the company that produced Baryshnikov?

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I already commented on the opening night Jewels and want to add an addendum about the closing night.

Emeralds:

It worked more for me than the opening night. And actually, the second ballerina role here (the "walking on point" role) was beautifully done by both Part on 7/18 and last night by Daria Pavlenko. This was the highlight of the entire evening for me; Pavlenko was exquisite. I suspect that role was so well done because one of the coaches was Karin von Aroldingen, who was herself a major and exemplary exponent of this role. Here, Karin von A had two major ballerinas to work with and imparted all her knowledge about the role to them. Boy, did it show!

Rubies:

Last night's lead was Irina Golub. What a charmer!! She was totally in control and in command of the part. Fun, fun, fun. Pavlenko came out again in the second ballerina role and, although I think she is miscast here as this role usually calls for a very tall girl, she was very enjoyable. Her rock solid arabesque penchee's as she exited quelled the audience into attentive silience. And -- a surprise here -- the lead male role was done by Viacheslav Samodurov, which was the same as opening night. I didn't care for him at all on 7/18, but last night he was perfectly fine and more so.

Diamonds:

Regrettably, Pavlenko didn't come out for a third time last night and do the lead in Diamonds (which I understand from other balletomanes who saw her last night was wonderful). The lead on closing night was taken by Sofia Gumerova. Her dancing was so out of shape that somone viewing Diamonds for the first time would wonder what the fuss was all about. Her partner, the stalwart of the Kirov run, Danila Korsuntsev, acquited himself very well.

General Notes:

This is one classy company. Just look at the way they stand in repose when others are taking their bows. Elegant, elegant, elegant. Thank the stars (or should that be the Tsars?) for this company!!

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Thanks to everyone for your vivid accounts of Jewels. I wish I could have been there.

One minor point: Karin von Aroldingen danced the Verdy role in Emeralds, not the Paul (walking on pointe) part.

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Ari, I'm not sure you're right about Karin von A. doing Verdy's role. But then again maybe I just didn't describe the part I was referring to properly. In my memory, after Violette Verdy retired in the mid-seventies, the lead ballerina/Verdy role was taken over by Merrill Ashley and Stephanie Saland. I really don't remember Karin ever doing the first ballerina role, only the second, which is the one with the extended walking on pointe sequence. Since I am have too many senior moments lately though, I would appreciate other long-time NYCB-goers for their recollections on this point.

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I can't take a Bible oath that K von A never danced the Verdy role, but I don't think she did. I also remember von Aroldingen in the Mimi Paul part -- for several seasons, both when Verdy was still doing the lead, and during the Ashley inter-regnum.

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If I'm not mistaken, I believe that it is von Aroldingen who is dancing the walking on points sequence (or "The Step Duet") on Dance in America video (selection from Jewels).

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I was there Thursday and Friday.

Aside from the radiant performances of Ayupova, Pavlenko, and Vishneva, Jewels, though valiantly attempted, was not, as far as I am concerned, a great success. A far cry from the glowing performances given by Miami City Ballet last June. It seems to be a very fragile work, and perhaps the reason the ballets didn’t look quite right is because of who the stagers were. Nothing against Borne, von Aroldingen, and Leland, but Verdy, McBride, and Farrell they are not. Nevertheless, it was a good effort and I think it’s fantastic that the Kirov has it and other Balanchines in their regular repertoire. I just wish that they would import some coaching once in a while, but then I could say the same of NYCB.

The one thing that I found really annoying was the extensive bowing after the solos—it broke up the flow of the choreography.

I have to disagree about Part’s performance. I remember being very impressed with her in 1999, not so much in Apollo, but in Symphony in C where she was meltingly beautiful. This week… The two performances of the Mimi Paul part were sorely lacking in, well, just about everything. I don’t think she has the technique to carry it off--she had noticeable trouble in the solo on both nights, and in a ballet that’s all about arms her port de bras lacked any kind of refinement or even shape. There is a gorgeous step in the solo where she does a grand battement and goes down to the knee. It should be executed in one smooth breath and she broke it up into three different segments—up, down, to the knee—and that’s a question of both technique and musicality. And in that sweeping, dreamy solo she was actually flirting with the audience. Did she not hear the music at all? As the ballet went on I found her more and more grating—if she had rolled her eyes any more they would have fallen out of her head.

Ayupova on the other hand was just perfect. Her phrasing was so sensitive, and there is such a light about her when she dances. I love her, to me she personifies the very best of the Kirov training and style. And those gorgeous "cut from marble" arms…

Vishneva was excellent on Thursday, but maybe trying a little too hard.

Of Golub the less said the better. Gumerova in some bizarre way reminds me a little of Ansanelli, and I really enjoyed her delicate legs, but she completely lacked the power appropriate for the Patricia Neary role. She tried to substitute for it by lowering her chin, and looking at the audience from under a furrowed brow in the most menacing way she could manage, which was not very menacing at all. The men.. oh, the men. Both Samodurov and Fadeyev made me wonder why they couldn't tell the difference between subtle wit and the Three Stooges. On Thursday, Samodurov was still in his Don Q. mode, milking the ballet for laughs, and on Friday Fadeyev tried to counter his own delicacy by excessive aggression, going after every movement as if he wanted to strangle it. I found Korsuntsov less objectionable in Diamonds than in Swan Lake, but has he ever heard of plie?

Diamonds. Maybe Vaziev decided that his ballerinas are as rare a breed as yellow diamonds-- thus the brown-gold tutus ;) It bothered me a little on Thursday, but on Friday I didn’t even notice—I just couldn’t take my eyes off Pavlenko. From the second she stepped out on stage, I knew this was going to be very special. Technically and musically flawless she danced with such passion and such sincere joy (smiling to herself a little after difficult passages in the solos), with every bit of feminine grandeur the role requires -- it just left me breathless. Sensational--on a completely different plane of existence than anyone else on stage that evening. I am so sorry I missed her in Emeralds and Rubies but at least I got to see her in La Bayadere. For me she has been the greatest soloist delight and discovery of this season (And Ayupova, of course, but I’ve loved her for years)

On Thursday, Zakharova flowed beautifully through the shapes of the pas de deux, but again it looked like her brain wasn’t connected to the rest of her body. And what was going on with that permagrin in the variations and finale? She was smiling so much, I was afraid she’d hurt herself. And the extensions… In the very first supported developpe it looked as if she was going to stop her leg shoulder high—I almost let out a little sigh of relief—but no, up and up it went until she nearly hit herself in the head. A friend once called her La Radiostantsia, and was she ever right :).

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This is what is great about ballet, everybody can see different things.

I thought Part was wonderful in Emeralds (but, I have to come clean, she's one of my favorites). One of the things that was interesting to me was that she was different on Thursday and Friday, and different from the way she's danced the role earlier. I agree with Roma -- the Kirov does not seem to take risks. You can't have everything, they are rehearsed very well and it shows in positive results. But it is fun to see a dancer vary their approach -- picking out something in the music to highlight one night, and then hearing something different on another night. In Washington, Part was a little lighthearted in the solo. Evidently, between performances she worked on the part with Paul and Thursday came out much more mysterious, to me at least, and didn't flash her trade mark smile until she bourréed across the front of the stage, opened her arms and had such a look of delight. I thought she was extremely smooth and dreamy, her arms embracing a cloud and her phrasing one long ecstatic sigh. Friday, she was a back to a more flirtatious mode, but it didn't bother me.

The pas de deux could have had more mystery, but I think von Aroldingen makes too much of the herky-jerky motions when she coaches it.

Ayupova was a little more up and down. On Thursday, to me, she started off a little choppy. I chalked it down to possible jet lag. She was performing in Giselle the week before in St. Petersburg while the other half of the company was here doing La Bayadere. But her solo was pretty and the second pas de deux lofty and delicate. However, on Friday it seems to me that it was reversed, she was much more at home in the opening and solo and more pose-to-pose in the later part of the ballet.

On Rubies, I'm sorry I didn't see Pavlenko in the Neary role as I was so happy after Part's Swan Lake, I gave my ticket away, wanting to end my season right then. The Kirov women -- Gumerova and Dumchenko -- have never to me gotten the part. Vishneva was beautiful in the McBride role, she just needs a little elegance to go with the showgirl. I agree with Roma in that the men seemed to miss the mark, opting for a slapstick, circuse tone. Fadeyev didn't please me at all.

Diamonds was just stunning. The corps is lovely in this, definitely making more of the opening than what used to seem like filler until Farrell (or Nichols and Kistler) came on. I enjoyed Zakharova's remote quality, and she danced on such a grand scale, I could only hope for a little risk taking here. I also thought by making so much of the, I think, three developpes she changed the climaxes of the long pas de deux. She triumphed with speed and brillance in the solo. Pavlenko took a more Swan Lake-like approach but was no-less stunning. However, on the tutu -- I did think that Pavlenko's was dirty.

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Dale, thank you so much for your comments on Part. It really is amazing how two people can see the same exact performance and take away such drastically different impressions. But that's probably the best part:)

About Emeralds though. To me it is such a self-contained private world, and that's how it should be danced--as if unaware of the audience. (It's somewhat similar to the adagio of Bizet in this way). Part was very much aware of us watching her, and she showed it. Maybe that's what bothered me most about her performance. But then again, I often think that what we love (or not) about any particular dancer has less to do with his or her dancing, and everything to with his or her, shall we say, more metaphysical qualities. And that's not something one can argue with:).

The bodice of Pavlenko's tutu, by the way, really was dirty. I decided that Korsuntsov must've forgotten to wash his hands before going out on stage;)

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