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XVIII Mariinsky International Ballet Festival 2018

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Thanks, Mnacenani, for the suggestion. Over my fifteen years or so of ballet watching I’ve generally favored the Mariinsky. I like the slight stylistic difference and I love the Festivals. I always wanted to visit Moscow during the Festivals, but I was waiting for both the fast train and then the theater to be completed. It took quite a while. Often there isn’t anything that I really want to see at the Bolshoi when I’m in St. Petersburg and ticket availability is somewhat of an effort. Ticketing is excellent at the Mariinsky.  

I finally got to Moscow several years ago and I really enjoyed it. I like the city very much and the performances (La Bayadere) were excellent. I’ve never seen the Bolshoi, from top to bottom, do better. And you are correct. There was an electricity, especially for the main star that I saw, Zvetlana Zakharova. Now, with Olga Smirnova and Alyona Kovalyova at the theater I’ll make every effort possible to be there. I’ll probably only be in Europe once a year for awhile, but I’ll certainly try to tie Moscow into my Festival visits or go there direct. I’ll also try to catch both companies when on tour, especially in the US.

As I’ve said, I do tend to favor the Mariinsky ‘style,’ even its resemblances at the Bolshoi.  And I must say that the ballerinas that I saw did have Mariinsky resemblances. They were Svetlana Zakharova, Anna Nikulina and Ekaterina Krysanova, who does have a wonderful dreamlike manner when she choses. But the excellent performances that I saw in Moscow showed the Bolshoi ‘style’ at its finest.

One of the big differences for me is this. With the Mariinsky I sense a dreamlike flow. With the Bolshoi it’s the portrayal. For example, Olga Smirnova’s beauty of motion is undeniable, but her expression and portrayal are outstanding. Oxana Skorik, on the other hand, is pure beauty of motion, which I love, perhaps most. This is the essence of ballet, for me. Yet the Bolshoi does its more theatrical approach so remarkably well that I have to consider it with equal admiration and enjoyment.

This year Yekaterina Kondaurova entered Bolshoi waters somewhat. I’ve often commented on her exceptional portrayal and expressive abilities, which it seems she uses very selectively, so that it can be missed by many. But when I call her the Garbo of ballet, I mean just that. Her first act of Swan Lake was a theatrical masterpiece. She’s probably the best at this at the Mariinsky as she is in versatility. When doing this, she could be the Mariinsky’s best connection to the Bolshoi’s dramatic prowess.

To continue with the Festival for a moment, I always have to mention the absolutely wonderful Corps de Ballet. It did great this year, as usual. And there were so many excellent supporting performances that I would hardly know where to begin.

I would like to briefly touch on May Nagahisa, "Trainee," because she's new to the scene, but seems to be ascending rapidly. I put her in a grouping with Yekaterina Osmolkina and Maria Shirinkina, petite and dreamlike. I appreciated her two brief appearances very much. Weight might become as issue, for me. She's extremely thin. I hope that she doesn't go over the edge. I also believe that MadameP found her arms to be somewhat stiff in comparison to the lovely flow of Maria Shirinkina. I partially agree, but they also have a beautiful expression and articulation, which, for me, makes it all work very well. And she has a fairylike aura that I found to be captivating. 

If anyone has an artist or work at the Festival that they would like to hear more about, I’ll try to respond.  

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Posted (edited)

It’s a week later

New worlds, new realities

Yet, in the back of my mind something’s still dancing, something’s still warmly embracing 

Dance — our poetry without words

Life continues to dance through our senses

The sun floats across the horizon, the stars twinkle in the sky

Artists will always try to capture its beauty, it’s illusive

But it’s always there to embrace — somewhere, somehow. 

Edited by Buddy

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

“Come with me
To the sea
To the sea 
The sea of love”

Oxana Skorik —  Her feather-light profile of dancing air was all that I could have asked for.  Swan Lake, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II Duet  2018

The Fairy Doll — The Half Little Children Audience — * Precious ! *   2018

Olga Smirnova  — La Bayadere  2017  I believe that about half the comments that I posted from that Festival were about her.  

Ulyana Lopatkina   Swan Lake  2006  — Probably the most purely beautiful dance performance that I’ve ever seen.  

Alina Cojocaru  The Alinas.  “Is That Really Her?”  “Did She Really Do That?”  Year after year. "Time after time".

Svetlana Zakharova  —  Giselle 2013 —  I wrote that this was ‘possibly the best performance of Anything!’ that I’ve ever seen. 

Alina Somova   The Swan (Fokine)  2014  — Her finest hour ! 

Veronika Part   2014   “I don’t know where, but she sends me there!”   She did some Gala Divertissement as only she can do. It was just great to finally see her on the Mariinsky stage and at the Festival no less.

Yekaterina Osmolkina     “Sail on Sailor”  Giselle 2018, 2016 and on and on….

Yekaterina Kondaurova   Swan Lake 2011  —  The first time that I realized that she could do anything.   Jewels 2013 —- And then she went and did it — all the leads in one evening. 

Diana Vishneva   Cinderella (excerpt) (Ratmansky) 2006?   I saw her do the whole thing in DC in 2004 — twice. It’s the first time I ever went “Wow!” at a ballet performance. 

Yulia Makhalina    To see this incredibly beautiful legend on stage was a dream come true. Most of the time she looked as young as ever. 2013  Marguerite and Armand(?) (excerpt)

Olga Esina   Swan Lake  2013   I thought that this would be the beginning of an amazing career for her at the Mariinsky. I’d been watching and hoping since the first time that I saw her. That didn’t happen, but I believe that she’s still the Queen of Vienna. 

The Big Apple  — The Land of Balanchine  —  Always had fun when these guys showed up and paid tribute to where it all started. As much as I love the Mariinsky’s interpretations, it’s great to see ‘The Real Thing.’

“You put your right foot in
You put your right foot out…
That’s what it’s all about”

Maria Kowroski   The evening before her performance they gave her the front box to sit in. They didn't need lighting that evening. With Damian Woetzel -- The Prodigal Son   Year?

Teresa Reichlen   Prodigal Son 2012   What a delight she turned that work into.  

Ashley Bouder   Doing 'The Villella' -- Tarantella 2011   I don't think that the Mariinsky ever saw anything like that before. Probably never will.

And then there's the rest of NYC.

Gillian Murphy  2008 The Year of the Swans (six Swan Lakes at one Festival) I've always maintained that the Festivals bring out the best in anyone. This was the second in a string of her Swan Lakes that I saw. She just grew and grew. I used to keep what was almost a score card comparing her's and Veronika Part's Swan Lakes.

Hee Seo   Giselle 2014  Sleeping Beauty 2016  I'd like to think that it didn't matter that she came from the States. She put her heart out there and she was pure poetry.

Ballet Imperial 2008  "I did it my way."  Probably the first time that I felt that the Mariinsky could excel at Balanchine. 

Le Parc (Preljocaj)  I felt that the way that the Mariinsky interpreted this was magical.  Year?

Gala for Gennady Selyutsky  2112   I got out of bed after several hours of sleep to retype the entire program so that it could be seen on the internet.

A memory that lingers  --  A little girl walking down the streets of this frozen capital, her arms smilingly, flyingly danced through the air.

One of the last evenings of one of the Festivals there was a near full moon and over the hotel music system came....

"Moon river, wider than a mile
I'm crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you're goin', I'm goin' your way
Two drifters, off to see the world
There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same rainbow's end, waitin' 'round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me"

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Just landed - no contest except for Le Parc :  if this is "ballet" I am Apollo !!

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"Le Parc (Preljocaj)  I felt that the way that the Mariinsky interpreted this was magical."  :) 

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On 4/14/2018 at 3:15 PM, mnacenani said:

Just landed - no contest except for Le Parc :  if this is "ballet" I am Apollo !!

You’re not Apollo, I assure you Le Parc leaves many viewers cold. 

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34 minutes ago, Jayne said:

You’re not Apollo, I assure you Le Parc leaves many viewers cold. 

Had to sit through this at Mariinka last year - there was no interval and many people just walked out mid-performance. However, if it had been his "New York Pieces" which Mezzo livecast from Montpellier Festival last June I would probably have left "feet first" !  :speechless-smiley-003::speechless-smiley-003:

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1 hour ago, Jayne said:

You’re not Apollo, I assure you Le Parc leaves many viewers cold. 

I have to agree. I had seen it on video and  decided I would see it "live" once to give it a chance, on the basis that maybe video just did not do it justice.  WRONG.  I saw Batoeva "live" in this at Mariinsky and honestly, much as I love Nadia, I could not wait for it to be finished.  At least the Mozart is wonderful though...

Edited by MadameP

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Someone who’s resurfaced from my recent video viewing is Alina Somova. She’s performing the last act duet from The Sleeping Beauty with Xander Parish at this year’s Gala.

Oxana Skorik replaced her in my Festival memories because she did an entire Swan Lake in addition to her Gala excerpt. Yet Alina Somova’s appearance was just as beautiful.

Alina Somova is much harder to categorize. She has bravura and unconventionality as well. But her pure beauty is an fine as there is and it seems to get better. And as she ‘matures’ this seems to be taking precedent.

If you’re ever fortunate enough to catch one of her less frequent performances I would highly recommend it. And I have to say that once again the video distorts the totality, but if you just focus on the beauty of her dance it reveals a lot.

She’s a gem, not to let slip away.

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