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mnacenani

Is Alyona Kovalyova "Zvezda" material ??

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Posted (edited)

It's intriguing to read impressions of the video and especially of the performance--thank you Mnacenani--but I do not believe one can draw any conclusions about the latter (the performance, that is) on the basis of the former. The Instagram snippets are what they are--very short amateur videos. I am super grateful for them and the links to them (!!) but I would be leery of basing an extended argument on them.

As a general matter I see the shade Nikiya as unearthly and even transcendent...and the best Nikiyas I have seen answer to that image. But there is leeway for different interpreters to put their stamp on the role as they decide how to show the connection with Solor.

(Still, I can't say that on the basis of the instagram video that I personally would have thought Kovalyova was trying to create a more human, loving shade Nikiya.)  

Perhaps some day I will see her dance a major role live for myself. Hope so.

Edited by Drew
Grammar/precision

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7 hours ago, rhys said:

Buddy, by "them" do you mean Solor/Albrecht, and "they" Nikiya/Giselle"?

 

 

Yes, Rhys. I might also include the last act of Swan Lake in this general category. The love connection is primary, although her/their 'transcendence' does't occur until the very end.

And yes, these are the video clips that I've been referring to.

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23 hours ago, Buddy said:

In her beautiful Land of the Shades she radiates some of the heart, soul and warmth of a young girl, which is a lovely thing. I’ve not seen anything quite like it from other ballerinas.

 

10 hours ago, rhys said:

That's true. But have you seen the videos, Quinten?  How does her NIkiya come across to you?

I believe Buddy is referring to these: 

Thank you rhys for the IG videos.  I had not seen them; what I was reacting to was Buddy's remark quoted above.

Alyona's Nikiya is a work in progress, obviously. I agree with Drew that it's difficult to assess the impact of a performance from video and this may in part explain my perception that this Nikiya is pretty much the same throughout.  I would look for maidenly innocence/love in the first act, despair and mania in the monologue and remote sadness/tenderness at the end but can't perceive it here.  Compared with other artists' debuts I would say this one is technically weaker in many regards: unsteady arabesques, insecure bourrees, missing steps, and a lack of harmony between the extremities and core.  I really wish she could get more control over her arms and hands when they move away from her body; it's almost as if she loses track of them and they kind of flap about. The technical problems detract from the image and until they are worked out we will be watching Alyona, not Nikiya.  

Alyona has been compared to Lopatkina, whom she does resemble in terms of long limbs and height, but if you look at the video of Lopatkina as Clemence at age 20 you will immediately see the difference.  Lopatkina's movements are accurate, perfectly coordinated and completely under her control.  To her credit, Alyona is more charismatic, but she unfortunately lacks the strong technical skills that Lopatkina had at her age.  She can either go back to basics to clean it up now or wait several years (like Alina Somova did) before addressing these problems, but without doing so her ability to put across a convincing Nikiya will be compromised. I say this with regret because I would love to see this talented and beautiful dancer as a complete ballerina, accomplished both as a technician and as an actor.  Too much success too soon may make that impossible.

 

 

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On 5/6/2018 at 10:59 AM, rhys said:

(This reminds me of the problem I have with Wili-Giselles who exude emotion - love, protectiveness, mournfulness etc - when part of the power of the drama is surely the fact that she is beyond them now).

On 5/6/2018 at 11:51 AM, Buddy said:

But still tied to them by love, otherwise why would they be there ?

15 hours ago, Buddy said:

Yes, Rhys. I might also include the last act of Swan Lake in this general category. The love connection is primary, although her/their 'transcendence' does't occur until the very end.

Buddy, I agree that they are linked by love. But I tend to think of it as a love that once was (though great enough for its lingering echoes to save and to redeem). The lovers have been divided by disillusionment and death, and when we next see her, the woman’s nature has changed. Elements of the choreography express her elusiveness, her aloofness, and I like to see the expressions of the dancer reflect that detachment. Odette in act 4 of Swan Lake is different as she is still very much a woman caught up in mortal passions – she can forgive but she will still take her own life in desperation. Giselle will save Albrecht and then let him go, back to Bathilde.

 

22 hours ago, mnacenani said:

rhys ..... you just made my day !  I have a ticket for the Berlin premiere but it hadn't occurred to me that any "reconstruction" might/would include the fourth act, which I cannot stand. Nikiya chasing Gamzatti/Solor around the temple is a farce and totally anticlimatic

😅 Please stay and watch it anyway, and report back.

 

11 hours ago, Quinten said:

The technical problems detract from the image and until they are worked out we will be watching Alyona, not Nikiya.  

Your perspective was illuminating, Quinten. Speaking from a less technically-informed viewpoint, I also had the impression that I was watching not the character but the dancer, concentrating hard on getting the steps and arm positions right. There was little sense of control or ease. But, as with the videos of her in Swan Lake, she does seem to possess a rare combination of youthful freshness and ageless luminosity that’s captivating*. I do hope I will get to see her one day when she reaches her full potential, and that premature exposure won't get in the way of her reaching that.

*I can’t agree that she has more charisma than Lopatkina, but Lopatkina certainly doesn’t have these qualities, much as I’ve loved her dancing. Many thanks for the Clemence video – so much assurance at 20, and natural authority.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, rhys said:

Buddy, I agree that they are linked by love. But I tend to think of it as a love that once was (though great enough for its lingering echoes to save and to redeem).

Rhys, thank you very  much for your well thought out, informative and sympathetic response. I'm a bit busy at the moment but I'll try to get back to this later. As for what you've written above, I simply don't agree, but this is based on my viewing experience, my reaction and my feelings about ballet and life, which are surely different from yours. You're another person.  And, for me, it's a matter of emotion as much as precise detail.

Added thought:

I guess, Rhys, what greatly influences my 'emotional' response is that this is all performed by human beings and as much as they might try to portray something else, they are what they are.

Edited by Buddy
two words added for clarification and a grammar correction

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12 hours ago, rhys said:

Your perspective was illuminating, Quinten. Speaking from a less technically-informed viewpoint, I also had the impression that I was watching not the character but the dancer, concentrating hard on getting the steps and arm positions right. There was little sense of control or ease. But, as with the videos of her in Swan Lake, she does seem to possess a rare combination of youthful freshness and ageless luminosity that’s captivating*. I do hope I will get to see her one day when she reaches her full potential, and that premature exposure won't get in the way of her reaching that.

*I can’t agree that she has more charisma than Lopatkina, but Lopatkina certainly doesn’t have these qualities, much as I’ve loved her dancing. Many thanks for the Clemence video – so much assurance at 20, and natural authority.

Hi, I'm back.  😊

About "technique," I have to say that I'm there for the 'enchantment' and the loveliness. If the 'technical' either enables or doesn't seriously detract from this I'm fine. Not necessarily someone else's point of view, which I certainly respect, but it is mine. 

I simply find Alyona Kovalyova to be absolutely Lovely among many other exceptional qualities. In this performance I'm delighted with how well I thought that she did.

I don't think that her 'fast start' will hurt her at all. She seems to be handling it just fine as an artist and a person.

An interesting thing about Ulyana Lopatkina from my viewing experience. She's always states that her major goal in life is to be a good person and because of this she had trouble wrapping herself around 'unpleasant' characterizations. This may go back to what I just added above -- We are what we are.

Still, in her Swan Lake performance, that I've described as the most beautiful ballet performance that I've ever seen, she did something  that was extremely impressive. For me, she managed to handle this contradiction with absolute brilliance. Her Odile, to my eyes, was totally 'Enigmatic' -- but fascinating, worked extremely well, was completely appropriate, had exceptional poetic depth.....  I was Wowed !

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1 hour ago, Buddy said:

Still, in her Swan Lake performance, that I've described as the most beautiful ballet performance that I've ever seen, she did something  that was extremely impressive. For me, she managed to handle this contradiction with absolute brilliance. Her Odile, to my eyes, was totally 'Enigmatic' -- but fascinating, worked extremely well, was completely appropriate, had exceptional poetic depth.....  I was Wowed !

Dear Buddy :  in 2016 I was going to see two casts of Swan Lake by Bolshoy on tour in London. SL was not my fav classic ballet and to get a bit more insight into the characterisation I went through my dvd archive and took out all the SLs I found (8 or 9 by various companies/dancers) and watched them as homework. Lopatkina (a dancer I found rather "cold and aloof") got my top rating for Odile - I have to date not seen a more "convincing" characterisation. Had seen Lopatkina as Odette/Odile when the "Kirov" were on tour in London in the summer of 1997, but ballet was a "filler" for us opera fans at the time and don't remember anything. Zaharova was one of the Big Swans at this performance, can you imagine !

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Buddy said:

I have to say that I'm there for the 'enchantment' and the loveliness. If the 'technical' either enables or doesn't seriously detract from this I'm fine. Not necessarily someone else's point of view, which I certainly respect, but it is mine. I simply find Alyona Kovalyova to be absolutely Lovely among many other exceptional qualities.

As you might have detected, I tend to fall for dancers who look supremely self assured (to the point of arrogance to borrow a phrase from Fleurdelis) and rarely if ever put a foot wrong :  Zaharova, Vishnova, Alexandrova, Krysanova. Have met the first two and saw the glint of steel in their eyes, haven't met the last two or Lapatkina but am somewhat certain they also would have that glint of steely determination, self-assurance in their eye. Does Kovalyova have what it takes to climb to and stay at the top ?? Don't know, do hope she does - we shall see in due time - I for one am hoping to be able to track her progress over the next couple of seasons if my knees and back can sustain the travel :unsure:

Edited by mnacenani

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34 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

Had seen Lopatkina as Odette/Odile when the "Kirov" were on tour in London in the summer of 1997, but ballet was a "filler" for us opera fans at the time and don't remember anything. 

Then it must have been someone else.  😊

Svetlana Zakharova as one of the Big Swans -- that's something. 

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

 

 

19 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

Does Kovalyova have what it takes to climb to and stay at the top ?? Don't know, do hope she does 

She does, she does, she does, she does.....

By the way, check out the Mariinsky's very young Maria Iliushkina.  Absolutely Lovely !  She may be the next Alyona Kovalyova. Generations seems to be about two years these days.

Edited by Buddy

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Posted (edited)

I haven’t commented on this thread, but have been following it since she was in the Prix de Lausanne and did not pass to finals. She has such a beautiful instrument for ballet and she is definitely unique. What worries me is that Vaziev is pushing her on to the stage in major roles way before she is ready. He did the same with Somova and it was a disaster when the Mariinsky  went on tour. She was thrust forward for all of the international critics and they had a field day picking her apart because she was so underdeveloped. There are so many areas technically in which she is weak, hands (especially) and armsat the top of the list. Why he feels the need to push her in major roles, which almost all of you who have seen her have prefaced that her performances were not perfect although lovely? Part of the amazing art of ballet is starting in secondary roles while major ones are being coached behind the scenes meticulously so that when they are finally ready to put before the critics, the dancer has a loaded arsenal. It allows a dancer to grow artistically, make mistakes, and experiment when it doesn’t count so that they present a finished product when it does. In Somova’s case, so many were turned off by her earlier performances that they all out avoided her performances after she had changed coaches and addressed her technical and artistic issues. She lost a very large potential fan base because of being thrown to the wolves. 

 

Dancers do not cast themselves in roles (unless you are Zakharova of course 😂). She is young and hungry. And with loads of talent. But as mentioned up thread and even with video, even the prima’s themselves, Zakharova and Lopatkina were dancing secondary roles in order to really grow. And both were much more technically assured at the same age as Alyona is now. 

 

I truly hope that that she has a coach that will force her to address the things that might stand in the way of her reaching her full potential in the near future. I’m just afraid that having the same director and coach that a young Somova had that history might just repeat itself. I have shown her videos to my husband as well as several other former dancers and teachers, mostly all Russian, and they all have the same opinion that I hold. She was not ready for Etudes, Diamonds, Swan Lake, and to a slight lesser degree, Bayadere. But we all see just how much potential she has. I guess we can only watch and wait.

Edited by Fraildove

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17 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

I truly hope that that she has a coach that will force her to address the things that might stand in the way of her reaching her full potential in the near future. I’m just afraid that having the same director and coach that a young Somova had that history might just repeat itself.

I believe Alyona is being coached by Chenchikova, Vaziev's wife. I saw Alyona's matinee debut in Swan Lake last September, and her Bayaderka debut last week. As much as I wanted to, after SL ended I could not rush out of the Bolshoy shouting "Uraaa - we have a star !" as I wrote in my report above at the time. But I would strongly disagree with any and all that Alyona made a hash of Odette/Odile and/or Nikiya !!  Both performances were imho quite acceptable, especially so as debuts, but were not absolutely perfect. Like Buddy I take in the overall impression, whether the dancer IS the character, and don't or can't notice whether her arms and hands are "perfect". So, agree with you that we have tremendous talent in absolutely beautiful form (by the metre :D) here ........ if she also has that steely determination required I am sure one day I will make that proclamation to the Teatralnaya crowd !

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47 minutes ago, Fraildove said:

[...] She has such a beautiful instrument for ballet and she is definitely unique. What worries me is that Vaziev is pushing her on to the stage in major roles way before she is ready. He did the same with Smirnova and it was a disaster when the Mariinsky  went on tour. She was thrust forward for all of the international critics and they had a field day picking her apart because she was so underdeveloped. [...] In Somova’s case, so many were turned off by her earlier performances that they all out avoided her performances after she had changed coaches and addressed her technical and artistic issues. She lost a very large potential fan base because of being thrown to the wolves.

 

I was wondering if you meant to type Smirnova above ("[Vaziev] did the same with Smirnova...") -- I thought perhaps you meant Somova not only in the later sentences but in that earlier one as well....

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Posted (edited)

I feel somewhat overwhelmed dealing with the opinions of ballet instructors and others who focus very heavily on technique, but I will stick to my feelings. I think that she's beautiful and is being steered in the right direction. I also believe that 'experts' can disagree on the best way to proceed and what looks beautiful.  There are others whom I respect who are extremely impressed by what they've seen her do.  But the fact that she looks great to me is pretty much my bottom line. [Added: it certainly doesn't have to be someone else's]

Drew, I would guess that Fraildove was referring to Alina Somova both times. By the way, I liked her from the very start. To each, her or his own.

Edited by Buddy

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Buddy said:

I think that she's beautiful and is being steered in the right direction. I also believe that 'experts' can disagree on the best way to proceed and what looks beautiful.

Vaziyev seems to enjoy throwing in new talent at the deep end - imho Alyona did not sink but swam both in Swan Lake and Bayaderka. Didn't Vaziyev suddenly cast Shreiner (correct ?) as the lead for Swan Lake on the London tour two years ago ??

PS :  Shreiner correct,  Swan Lake wrong : she was cast as Kitri in Don Kixot (many thanks to Drew for this correction)

Edited by mnacenani
factual correction

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Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

Vaziyev seems to enjoy throwing in new talent at the deep end - imho Alyona did not sink but swam both in Swan Lake and Bayaderka. Didn't Vaziyev suddenly cast Shreiner (correct ?) as the lead for Swan Lake on the London tour two years ago ??

I don't know if "throwing in" would be the exact term, Mnacenani, but it could be. It seems that she was quite capable at those times and they both knew that it would probably be ok. 

 

Edited by Buddy

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33 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

Vaziyev seems to enjoy throwing in new talent at the deep end - imho Alyona did not sink but swam both in Swan Lake and Bayaderka. Didn't Vaziyev suddenly cast Shreiner (correct ?) as the lead for Swan Lake on the London tour two years ago ??

Don Quixote. It was very poorly received. I infer she has handled opportunities more successfully since then...

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Drew said:

Don Quixote. It was very poorly received. 

By whom, Drew ?

Also in regard to Alyona Kovalyova, if I recall correctly, there was a long interval between the second Swan Lake and the La Bayadere, when she seldom performed. I would guess that this was devoted to preparing for the La Bayadere. There were some secondary performances, which some here felt would be a good idea to give her a more rounded preparation for the leads.

Edited by Buddy

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At least on the subject of Diamonds I feel that Alyona was ready. She performed Diamonds in NYC in front of critics who are well versed in Balachine and most called her sensational and wrote rave reviews about her performance. They even elevated her above the NYCB principals who also performed that night. 

I thought with Swan Lake, I highly enjoyed her Odette but agreed that her Odile needs more work to be more convincing! But again, that is something that comes with age. She might be too young now to fully embrace the Odile role imho. Also, yes I did see some technical mishaps such as the famous fouettes in black swan. They were not done extremely confident but passable in my opinion. I hope she works on that step quite a bit before performing next as I'm sure her great height is a challenge in fouettes. 

With La Bayadere, I quite like what she portrayed and I thought she did a good job emoting. On the subject of emotional portrayal, I do not come from a ballet background but instead from a classical music background. In my honest opinion, as long as the dancer seriously discusses with herself on the portrayal and commits I am happy. What I mean by that is, there are a thousand ways to interpret a piece or role so as long as serious effort was made to portray an appropriate emotion. 

I would love other people's thoughts on above! I am a big fan of Alyona, I generally follow more NYCB, ABT dancers since I live in America but I saw her post on some random ballet instagram and immediately had to look her up. Once I did, I fell in love with her dancing! 

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4 hours ago, balletlover08 said:

At least on the subject of Diamonds I feel that Alyona was ready. She performed Diamonds in NYC in front of critics who are well versed in Balachine and most called her sensational and wrote rave reviews about her performance. They even elevated her above the NYCB principals who also performed that night. 

I thought with Swan Lake, I highly enjoyed her Odette but agreed that her Odile needs more work to be more convincing! But again, that is something that comes with age. She might be too young now to fully embrace the Odile role imho. Also, yes I did see some technical mishaps such as the famous fouettes in black swan. They were not done extremely confident but passable in my opinion. I hope she works on that step quite a bit before performing next as I'm sure her great height is a challenge in fouettes. 

With La Bayadere, I quite like what she portrayed and I thought she did a good job emoting. On the subject of emotional portrayal, I do not come from a ballet background but instead from a classical music background. In my honest opinion, as long as the dancer seriously discusses with herself on the portrayal and commits I am happy. What I mean by that is, there are a thousand ways to interpret a piece or role so as long as serious effort was made to portray an appropriate emotion. 

I would love other people's thoughts on above! I am a big fan of Alyona, I generally follow more NYCB, ABT dancers since I live in America but I saw her post on some random ballet instagram and immediately had to look her up. Once I did, I fell in love with her dancing! 

Balletlover08 -- may I ask were you able to see these performances or are these your impressions from video or is it a mix of both? I would love to hear more from more people who have seen her dance live! And yes, she did get rave reviews from professional critics for her Diamonds in New York including Gottlieb who can be plenty harsh. (Fans on this site were more subdued in their reactions to Kovalyova's Diamonds as I recall.)

6 hours ago, Buddy said:

By whom, Drew ?

 

This was a question responding to what I said about Shrainer's Kitri debut not being well-received in London. I was referring to online discussion of the performances by fans. Fans in the UK, like fans in the US, have a lot to say about what they see.  (If you want more detail about what I'm referring to, then please send me a private message.)

I myself didn't see the performance (or video of it); I did enjoy Shrainer's Jeanne on the recent HD Flames of Paris telecast and would be happy to see her dance live should I ever get the chance. And as a matter of course I assume she is quite a different dancer today than she was in 2016.

But I fear, as a general matter, it's unrealistic to think that developing dancers without a lot of previous coryphee and Soloist experience, by giving them early opportunities in major full-length classics, won't sometimes result in fairly uneven performances that may get a lot of criticism--not simply from fans with an axe to grind or who enjoy tearing down dancers--but from serious lovers of classical ballet who don't like what they are seeing.  Especially at the Bolshoi which, after all, is supposed to be one of the world's great companies. And costs a fortune to see.

Other observers may be more forgiving or value different qualities, or prefer to watch younger, less experienced dancers or enjoy the journey etc. etc. Mileages vary. And, in fact, most fans and admirers of classical ballet DO enjoy watching dancers develop. The question for artistic directors and coaches is how to develop them most effectively.

The fact does also seem to be that some artistic directors, and not just in Russia, like to "test" and develop certain gifted young dancers in a very intense way--giving them a lot of major opportunities very fast.  Is it the best way to develop a ballerina? or the best way to develop some ballerinas (say, Kovalyova) in particular? I'm not a professional and can't pretend to make professional assessments of that kind. I do think, though, that if, for example, in the next five years Kovalyova develops into the Bolshoi's next great Odette -- and for that matter if Shrainer emerges as their next great Kitri -- then only a few people will be worrying about their debut efforts years after the fact. (Though Fraildove did make the point that fans can sometimes be very unforgiving.) In that case, Vaziev presumably will get some credit for how he pushed them forward with maybe only a very little lingering debate about whether he timed this or that debut correctly.

Edited by Drew

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Thanks, Drew, for your response.

Welcome to Ballet Alert! and this discussion ,Balletlover08. Of course I'm glad that you like Alyona as much as you do, which you might gather from reading recent (and ancient) posts at this topic. You did ask for comments about what you wrote and the one thing that I might have some reservations about is rules, especially about aesthetics -- in this case about how an artist should approach a portrayal. Thanks again for your thoughts and please keep posting.

 

 

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11 hours ago, balletlover08 said:

At least on the subject of Diamonds I feel that Alyona was ready. She performed Diamonds in NYC in front of critics who are well versed in Balachine and most called her sensational and wrote rave reviews about her performance.

С Днём Победы !  Today 9th May is Victory Day in Russia, and tonight Alyona will be dancing Diamonds with Tissi at the Historic Stage, while 1,001 fireworks light up the skies of Moscow outside. The livecast of the parade on Red Square is on now, will be followed by the "Bessmertniy Polk" remembrance march in the afternoon and by the show on Red Square and fireworks in the evening. Those who can get Kanal 1, RTR Planeta or Rossiya 24 on sat or cable can tune in. Weather fine in Moscow today and if it holds the fireworks should be quite spectacular.

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11 hours ago, balletlover08 said:

I would love other people's thoughts on above! I am a big fan of Alyona

Good to know, balletlover08 - seems now we are a threesome !  :D

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On 5/8/2018 at 8:30 PM, Buddy said:

I found this interview of Alena where she speaks about her time at the Bolshoi. I don't speak Russian but if you do it might be a nice interview to watch. Her part starts at around 37 minutes. 

 

 

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