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Marc Haegeman

Bolshoi stars of today

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The Bolshoi Ballet recently completed a major tour across the USA. Although the proposed regime of Swan Lakes, Bayadères and Nutcrackers undoubtedly showed only a limited part of the company's strength, I was wondering which dancers caught your attention during this tour? Who were the big (and lesser) stars, male and female, of this tour and whom would you definitely want to see again?

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Marc, I can't speak to the US tour but how about the future stars of the Bolshoi, among the current students? I have been very impressed by two young female dancers among the senior class of the Moscow Choreographic Academy (the feeder school for the Bolshoi) - Polina Semyonova and Natalia Osipova. In particular, I love Osipova, who is shortish, vibrant (bubbly personality) & with a beautiful (glamorous) face and possessing a spectacular grand jete. She has the 'look' of a Jenifer Ringer or Irina Golub - stunning face framed by black hair. She dances one of the two female leads in "The Magic Flute" student performances.

Polina Semyonova is on super-star fast-track here...winner of gold medals at Vaganova Prix 2002 and Moscow 2001 (where she shared top jr prize with Japan's Misa Kuranawa). Back then, I was not that impressed with Semyonova's hyper-extension (a-la-Zakharova...maybe even more exaggerated!) but, in recent concert appearances, I've enjoyed her musicality. Besides, she has developed an expressiveness (in face, in use of the long tappering fingers) that I did not really notice in '01. She has seemingly-superhuman LLLLLoooooooggg arms and legs with a small torso, perhaps from the same genetic pool that produced Guillem and Zakharova? :)

Semyonova is to the Bolshoi's school, as is Yelena Vostrotina to the Vaganova Academy - the possible top ballerina of the future. By the way, Marc, what do you think of Vostrotina? Have you seen her or heard about her? She graduates this May and, I bet, will be pushed into principal roles in the main Mariinsky troupe very soon (if not already?), a-la Volochkova/Vishneva/Zakharova when they were students. New Yorkers may remember Vostrotina as a 12-yr-old long-legged wonder during the Feb '98 Brooklyn Academy joint-concert with SAB; she was one of the two girls dancing 'Nutcracker' flutes.

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Thank you, Jeannie. The Bolshoi dancers didn’t seem to have made much of an impression :)

I have heard a lot and seen a few things with Polina Semionova (who is a pupil of Sofia Golovkina). At first glance I thought she makes Svetlana Zakharova look like a model of pure classicism. Semionova was offered to join the Bolshoi Ballet as a soloist, although she preferred Berlin and Malakhov. I can understand what the fuss is all about, but to me it looks all quite unhealthy and extremely clinical to say the least. BTW, have you seen Anastasia Meskova, Jeannie, who is another worrying recent graduate of the Bolshoi School and considered by some a future star? And where are the new boys in Moscow?

I have seen Yelena Vostrotina a few times in 1996/97 when she was dancing young Masha with the Kirov Ballet in the first act of Vainonen’s good old "Nutcracker", but haven’t seen her recently. I gather we will hear from her soon.

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Marc, none of the young men have made as strong an impression on me as the young ladies.

Bolshoi - The very best young lad in the December performances of 'Flute' at the Bolshoi was a long-legged, super-elegant, tall, dark 'hunk' named Karim Abdullayev...but he is already a member of the main Bolshoi troupe (as corps?) and attends the Academy as a senior student of choreography. One young fellow who is VERY talented, and is still 'only' a student, is Vyacheslav Lopatin, who was a laureate of the recent Moscow & Vaganov competitions. The only problem is that he is 'demi-caractere' (shortish & lively face...not so princely-aloof as Abdullayev) - an Andrei Batalov/Rasta Thomas type. But what a jump with perfect-split (180-degrees) in grand jetes across the stage!

Vaganova/Kirov - Oh, the curse of the lightweight princes yet again. Mikhail Loboukin is one of the 'stars' of the current class but, to me, is a bit 'lightweight' to make a full impact at present. Perhaps he will build muscle-bulk and develop a true presence in time, like a fellow who he resembles a lot: Andrian Fadeev. (So, of course, there is hope for Loboukin!) Vladimir Scklyarov is also very good but, again, needs to develop.

It is funny how it is easier to spot mature potential among the female students, as opposed to males...although I eat my words with Rasta Thomas & Mikhail Ilyn, both of whom I first admired at pre-teen age, years ago...

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I'm surprised there hasn't been more response to this thread, too. To those who've seen the company on tour this season, which dancers impressed you?

I'll cast a vote for Alexandrova, whose dancing is on as high a level as anyone I've seen recently. Confident, strong. Not especially poetic, but she's by no means a circus performer, either. The dancing is beautifully modulated -- by which I mean I enjoy her phrasing, and the way she varies the dynamics; she's different as a ballet progresses.

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Maria Alexandrova made quite the impression on me, cast as one of Sigfried's friends in Act I's pas de trois, and as the Spanish princess. She had an amazing grand jete. Her fluidity and port de bras were very lovely.

Anna Antonicheva was stunning solely because of her facility. She had gorgeous hyper-extended legs and bulging insteps. Her extension was 2nd only to Guillem's and Lacara's. I have never seen anyone turn as fast as she did in a supported en dedan pirouette in the Black Swan Pas de Deux. She seemed unstable in certain moves and her fouettes looked taxing. She didn't have an extremely strong interpretation of Odile or Odette, but her Odette was more lyrical than her Odile was sharp. She was fascinating to watch, and I found myself staring at those legs of hers. Ah, if only....

Rachel

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I don't know if she was on the Bolshoi Tour being discussed, but I saw her dance last night at the Stars of the 21st Century International Ballet Gala in Toronto and was completely captivated! She is my new Bolshoi favourite.

I have seen other Bolshoi dancers, both in rehearsal and performance in the past few years (Anna Antonicheva {many times} Elena Andrienko, Maria Allash, Svetlana Lunkina {several times}) in this gala and/or performing with my daughter's ballet school in the Nutcracker (Andrienko, Allash, Antonicheva) and Giselle (Antonicheva). It was always a privilege to be in the presence of such ballet greatness.

Kaptsova was beguiling as Aurora in her pas de deux with Dmitri Gudanov....even a little flirty in her variation. Technically, I'd say she is pretty near perfect!

She also danced La Sylphide (with Gudanov) with the amazing lightness and lift I would expect of a true nymph. She is beautiful of face and figure, her blond hair a refreshing change from all the dark-haired ballet beauties. Her supple arms transformed her Sylphide into an other-wordly creature of sublime intrigue. I'll bet she does a knockout "Dying Swan"!

The use of her arms in Aurora, as well, was stunningly compelling to watch -- the epitome of Vaganovan training! -- that I wished I could see an instant replay of her whole performance. In this case, once was not enough!

Anecdote posted by "Irony" at another ballet site in reference to the "best" ballet dancers at youth ballet competitions:

..."It involves the owner of the winner of the prestigious Westminister Kennel club a few years ago. At the end of the show, when asked how it felt to have the best dog in the country, he smiled and said, "The best dog in the country is sleeping under a bed somewhere in Kansas. The dogs here today just have better finances!"

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Can we hear more about the Toronto event, please?

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I'd be pleased to give my review of May 4th's performance, but in a different thread (since this one is only for Bolshoi stars) and not until tomorrow, since it's around midnight here now.

There were couples from Cuba (Hormigon/Torrado), ABT (Reyes/Cornejo), and Alvin Ailey (Fisher/Rushing) as well as Moscow. Also, flamenco artist Antonio Marquez and 3 dancers of the Virsky Ukrainian folk dance ensemble performing as members of Canadian Ballet Theatre.

Look for my review tomorrow night!

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My favorite at the Bolshoi is Goriacheva :wink:. I also like Evgeny Ivanchenko, but I'm not sure he counts, as he's a Maryinsky import. I'm partial to Ilze Liepa as well; I love her port de bras.

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Thank you, Inga for posting this, and congratulations with the wonderful job you are doing by writing these biographies. Having them in English is really luxury :blushing: I hope many more will follow.

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Thank you, Inga. He is really the man to look out for in the next three years at the Bolshoi. Great work. I'm sure somebody will be found to translate the text in English :thumbsup: .

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