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mnacenani

Alyona Kovalyova Swan Lake Debut

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1 hour ago, mnacenani said:

 

... a dancer can have his/her off days.


This is VERY true. Something to remember about live performance ... and also just one of the reasons why the "youtube" examples of dancers can be misleading. I don't live in a city with much in the way of ballet and my travel budget is limited, so I'm grateful to youtube and the people who post videos there, but...I can't help but be aware of the problems. So much of the joy of ballet is a "live" and living joy.

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7 hours ago, mnacenani said:

 

I found a couple of others, hopefully members will comment on whether they see a Zaharova Jr. and a Bolle Jr.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIkGnsxPjP4

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ip8ElPVBtX0

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl21LclkaHw

 

 

Do they represent well what you saw, Mnacenani ? Perhaps you could point out some things that the videos might not show.

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9 hours ago, mnacenani said:

 

I found a couple of others, hopefully members will comment on whether they see a Zaharova Jr. and a Bolle Jr.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIkGnsxPjP4

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ip8ElPVBtX0

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl21LclkaHw

 

Unfortunately I have only see Zakharova a handful of times. I will say that I found that the young Zakharova sometimes used her ultra long limbs in rather undisciplined ways--almost like a gymnast--a flaw that also made her seem unmusical at times (for example, as Aurora with the Mariinsky). In these videos there is nothing of the gymnast about Kovaleva, though she certainly has beautiful long tapering limbs and can extend them outward and upward.  It may be she isn't as ultra flexible as Zakharova, so she isn't tempted in that direction but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Either way, in these particular video bits, Kovaleva isn't going for super high extensions at every moment and flinging her legs in the manner of the young Zakharova -- and that is to her credit. Obviously I haven't seen video of the Act II adagio. 

 

To be clear--I don't mind high extensions per se. Indeed I've come to like them on certain dancers (those who don't have to distort their line)  even in a few parts of nineteenth-century ballets, especially Swan Lake.  What I dislike are extensions that are undisciplined, undifferentiated, and come across as flexible for the sake of being flexible. I also think Zakharova has developed a lot as an artist since her Mariinsky days--and even when young had a lot of charm and charisma.

 

From everything I read I thought I would not care for these videos at all, and there is quite a bit to criticize. Still, these are debuts and watching these snippets, I was also pleased by some things--Speaking as an amateur, I think Kovaleva might develop just beautifully (Lilac Fairy anyone?) and I would definitely like to see her live.

 

I'm curious though--how did she PROJECT in the giant Bolshoi theater? That seems an important piece of the puzzle that one can't judge in video of this kind.

Edited by Drew

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50 minutes ago, Drew said:

 

I'm curious though--how did she PROJECT in the giant Bolshoi theater? That seems an important piece of the puzzle that one can't judge in video of this kind.

 

Imho she projected well, had very good stage presence. Will see whether any of my Russian ballet friends can

find the adagio. One of the reasons why I did not rush out after the performance bellowing "Eureka - it is a star"

may be that Swan Lake is not my favourite ballet as drama. Have never been affected by Swan Lake the way

R&J, Giselle or Bayadere touches me. Last year I saw two casts of Swan Lake at Bolshoy London tour, Smirnova/

Chudin and Zaharova/Rodkin, and did my homework before flying over by watching 9 different productions of

various houses on dvd looking at characterisation : did not change my feeling for Swan Lake. The British critics

could not praise Smirnova enough but I thought Zaharova was the better of the two - seems I just don't connect

well with this work.

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3 hours ago, Buddy said:

Do they represent well what you saw, Mnacenani ? Perhaps you could point out some things that the videos might not show.

 

Watching all these clips a couple of times now I wonder why I wasn't too impresssed by Alyona on Saturday,

should have been. As a late starting amateur can't even dream of evaluating or even noticing the subtleties

of technique, but this aside she looks fine and could very well become Zaharova-2 !  Same for Tissi, surely

will take over Bolle's mantle, and to my eye seems to have better mime and characterisation than Bolle.

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56 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

 

Watching all these clips a couple of times now I wonder why I wasn't too impresssed by Alyona on Saturday,

should have been. As a late starting amateur can't even dream of evaluating or even noticing the subtleties

of technique, but this aside she looks fine and could very well become Zaharova-2 !  Same for Tissi, surely

will take over Bolle's mantle, and to my eye seems to have better mime and characterisation than Bolle.

 

Videos are very interesting things, Mnacenani. I find that in general that they never convey as well as the actual performance. For one thing, they are a copy and very seldom is a copy better than the original  -- but ! You've stated something very interesting. I believe that Drew covered this ground a long time ago. Detail. Yes, indeed you can study detail probably much better than you can at a one shot performance. So being at a performance is probably the best thing, but ! To actually evaluate the inherent, overall quality, that which goes beyond one performance, videos may offer that. Which road you take in making an evaluation, I guess, is a totally personal thing. 

 

In any case I'm very glad that you feel better about what she did. I think that she's a beautiful talent whom I would personally liken more to Ulyana Lopatkina artistically than Svetlana Zakharova at the moment. Still I totally agree with you that she has many of the qualities of Svetlana Zakharova. I keep saying that I think that she's the ideal Mariinsky ballerina and I really hope that she stays that way as much as possible no matter where she's at.

 

In regard to this performance, I really want to stand back in my comments, not having been there. I'd rather leave that to you. I will say that she may have been a little 'hesitant' at times, based on these few clips, but that she also shows wonderful, inherent grace and beauty of stature and motion. She also seemed very secure in both her entrance sequences as Odette and Odile  showing fine theatrical control and confidence. My hope is that as she 'matures' that she also retains as much as possible of her youthful freshness and her Mariinsky-like fineness and dreaminess.

 

I'm very sorry that you lost all your posting material at the airport. If I can offer a suggestion, I always enter what I'm writing in another memory file as I go along, which I just did with this one. Again, thanks so much for all your efforts in relating what you saw and your enthusiasm. 

Edited by Buddy
typo correction

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A short clip of Odile's variation. I find it to be a good example of why extraordinarily  long limbs are not necessarily a desired attribute in a ballerina. Nor are they estetically pleasing.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Dreamer said:

A short clip of Odile's variation. I find it to be a good example of why extraordinarily  long limbs are not necessarily a desired attribute in a ballerina. Nor are they estetically pleasing

 

Polina at the 2009 Zurich Spoerli staging : any resemblance would you say ??

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU0DPmcjvYc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBk8XzVGfWo

 

The more I watch the clips being posted on YT the more I am thinking Kovalyova and Tissi put up a very acceptable performance

regardless of it being their debuts. Matters of aesthetics are quite personal and I have total respect for your view - I have yet to

arrive at a final appraisal. One cannot, at least I cannot capture everything as the live performance flashes past : saw Vishnova

as Giselle (with Ganio) live at Mariinka last year and could not really connect, probably because I was infatuated with Vishnova

as Juliet for a long time (her performance made me dump opera for Russian classical ballet). Earlier this month Mezzo Live HD

telecast the very same performance I saw and I recorded it, watched it three times so far. Woken up to what a great, possibly

incomparable portrayal Diana made of Giselle - now she is my joint No. 1 Giselle, tied with Cojocaru. For me it does take some

time to fully digest and appreciate a performance or portrayal.

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I think a video of a performance is really just so different from a live performance it's like a different entity--and I don't think there can be any question but that ballet in all its greatness is a live performing art. So, for me the value of someone's thoughts on what they saw/felt in the theater counts for a lot.  That's also why I asked about projection.

 

It's interesting too....when I have loved something live, I often don't want to see video of it or even of the same dancer in the same role.  I feel as if the video image will obscure/replace my live experience even when a few images in my head and the memory of my response to the performance are all that's left to me. It's not a hard and fast rule and I am able to see so little ballet now, I am really becoming "dependent" on video for much of what I see...but I do have mixed feelings about the whole transformation of the ballet going experience.

 

I suppose one day a mature Kovaleva may not be altogether thrilled that excerpts from her first stab at Swan Lake are all over the internet.

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Some videos of Eleonora Sevenard's Black Swan from her instagram. At this point, she seems to have more refined technique. We'll see how those two mature. (those videos were filmed in May, while she was still a student)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTqY-80AN9e/?taken-by=elya_7ard

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTvfrF-A6KA/?taken-by=elya_7ard

 

Kovaleva's Black Swan (last pic of this Instagram, scroll to the right)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BZGgvnnjcg3/

 

Edited by naomikage

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2 hours ago, naomikage said:

Some videos of Eleonora Sevenard's Black Swan from her instagram. At this point, she seems to have more refined technique

 

Dear Naomi I saw Sevenard live as Paxita last June at Mariinka during the Vaganova graduation show. Imho damn

good dancer technically but does not have the "allure" of Kovalyova and can never have, it's a gift of God. I could

maybe liken Sevenard vs Kovalyova to Alexandrova vs Zaharova. Alexandrova was my default Gamzatti - not even

knowing her name at the time I was simply stunned by her performance when Mezzo livecast the current production

of Bayaderka from Bolshoy in 2012 or 13. But she does not have the allure of Zaharova "who can simply go out on the

stage, just stand there and not move at all and still create incredible beauty" in the words of Vaziyev.

 

PS - between you and me : my friends in Moscow used to and still tease me regarding my sympathy for Alexandrova,

saying I have betrayed my affinity towards "strongly built women" !  Hope I won't get reported and censored for

these harmless quips !

Edited by mnacenani
Correction : replaced "attraction" with "affinity"

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Alexandrova's strength is one of the reasons she's among my favorite dancers I've ever seen live.  The penchant for skinny has never intersected with my taste.

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10 minutes ago, Helene said:

 

Alexandrova's strength is one of the reasons she's among my favorite dancers I've ever seen live.  The penchant for skinny has never intersected with my taste.

 

 

Dear Helene I was devastated when I missed Masha's last performance as Gamzatti at the Balshoy end of past January

and she resigned couple of days later - I had tix but could not make the trip and gave my tix away to friends. It was my

dream cast :  Zaharova, Alexandrova, Rodkin.

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My favorite part of the interview is Kovaleva's reaction to the audition for the Vaganova Academy prepatory classes. Her six-year old self immediately intuited that the ballet world is a peculiar place:

 

"When I went downstairs after the audition, some children were crying, some were joyful and I told my parents that they had accepted me. Then I told my mother that I would not attend, I said I was afraid and the people are crazy."

 

With Chenchikova coaching her, I infer at least some Mariinsky traditions are alive and well...at the Bolshoi. 

Edited by Drew

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These are a few things from Catherine Pawlick's interview that catch my attention.

 

"Kovalyova, a 2016 Vaganova Academy graduate who was immediately accepted to the Bolshoi, was not offered the most obvious position, one in the Academy's neighbouring theatre, the Mariinsky. The director apparently had concerns about her height. In discussing the selection process with Makhar Vasiev, now artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet but the man who held the same post at the Mariinsky for over a decade, Vasiev said incredulously, "How could one not accept her?" 

 

"About halfway through the rehearsal, Vasiev enters the stage area to observe part of the rehearsal and provide his own input...He is stern but there is an underlying sense of care in his words.

 

"The Mariinsky Ballet, the obvious troupe for you, didn't accept you after graduation?

 

" No, I understood during my last year of studies that they probably wouldn't, they said I was too tall."

 

 

In regard to differences between the Mariinsky and Bolshoi style, what she says is interesting.

 

" Technically speaking, no. It's possible there are nuances that differentiate the Moscow style, the expansiveness of gestures or arm positions maybe, but not technically."

 

 "Expansiveness" is perhaps a key word. I've a tendency to feel that Bolshoi dancers often try to create a strongly defined character while Mariinsky dancers try to create a dream state. Which do I like better? I'm very partial to 'dream state' but am extremely impressed by Bolshoi 'expressionism.' Bolshoi artists such as Svetlana Zakharova and Olga Smirnova (both from 'Vaganova/Mariinsky' beginnings) seem to excel at both. Svetlana Zakharova appeared to achieve her mastery of expression after the birth of her child. Olga Smirnova seems to be gravitating more to 'expressionism' for the moment, but must certainly still be capable of remarkable dreaminess, the result of Vaganova/Mariinsky grace and fineness.

 

"What advice would you give to aspiring dancers?

 

"….And remain yourself. There is an individuality and something special in each person, not just in artists, that is attractive and unique. " 

 

As I've suggested before, Alyona Kovalyova, for me, is the epitome of 'dream state,' Mariinsky-like beauty. I hope she always remains so.

Edited by Buddy
slight rearranging

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I'd like to back up somewhat. In regard to Alyona Kovalyova's long limbs, I really like the way that they are used, in particular her hands as a dynamic extension of her arms. I was watching a Swan Lake video by one of my favorite, not-tall artists and then I switched to Alyona Kovalyova and was wowed by the way that her hands seemed to give flight to her long, flowing, outstretched arms. For me, Oxana Skorik has perhaps the most beautiful hands in ballet today. They are so finely sculpted. I've not really compared the two carefully, but Alyona Kovalyova's have a wonderful and beautiful excitement.

 

I would cite the two video clips posted here of her entrances as Odette and Odile. I think that they show her at her best from this series.

Edited by Buddy
spelling correction

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On 9/21/2017 at 9:58 AM, mnacenani said:

 

Polina at the 2009 Zurich Spoerli staging : any resemblance would you say ??

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vU0DPmcjvYc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBk8XzVGfWo

 

 

 

Hands, arms -- I would say definitely. I like them both very much. I might even prefer Polina Semionova's, but it's hard to tell from these distant and fuzzy video clips of Alyona Kovalyova, who's also just starting her career. She's still Corps de Ballet !  Corps de Ballet to Principal 'in one easy step.' Quite possible.

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Interesting article, though the photographs accompanying it raise lots of questions, nice jumps, but her hands look terrible, on the one from the black pas de deux with the prince it looks as if she is flipping the sign of the horns, as if she were at a Motley Cru concert. Will give her schooling the benefit of the doubt and lay the blame on the photographer, but the author could have used better judgment when selecting pictures for the article.

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53 minutes ago, Fleurdelis said:

Interesting article, though the photographs accompanying it raise lots of questions, nice jumps, but her hands look terrible, on the one from the black pas de deux with the prince it looks as if she is flipping the sign of the horns, as if she were at a Motley Cru concert. Will give her schooling the benefit of the doubt and lay the blame on the photographer, but the author could have used better judgment when selecting pictures for the article.

 

I've noticed this too. It's a hand position that I've seen fleetingly in many ballerinas and have assumed that it's standard. Not the best connotation from my background, but a totally different context for these artists.

Edited by Buddy
slight rewording

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And back to hands and arms for a moment. I can see how keeping the hands under control is very important for a long armed dancer. It's hard for me to tell how well Alyona Kovalyova is doing this from the distant, but critical, video clips that I've seen. She  did impress me very much with what I first saw. I feel that shorter dancers really have to add expression to their hands and arms to compensate.

 

Alyona Kovalyova is also quite linear, especially in her back. This seems to work very well in many respects, maybe akin to a one mast sailing ship that glides and adjusts so magnificently over the waves. Her resulting sculptural beauty is captivating in its pose and motion. She floats, transitions and positions with wonderful timing and emphasis.

 

She has a very quiet back. Her head placements add sculpture and drama to beautifully counterpoint this. It's a lovely balance. I've commented on the same thing in Olga Smirnova. Perhaps it's a Vaganova characteristic, but I can't recall it as much in anyone else. 

 

In Catherine Pawlick's interview, posted elsewhere, Alyona Kovalyova states that her mother got her into ballet because it produces lovely posture in any young girl. It couldn't be more true  than in her case. 

 

A contrasting quality that I like very much is a softer, pliant and relaxed back. Yekaterina Osmolkina has this as does Olga Smirnova. Probably a combination of the two would be ideal. Olga Smirnova, for me, has perhaps the desired physical balance in appearance. She's not as tall and thin as many ballerinas, which gives them a sculptural fineness, but she has a very healthy look. Her arms aren't extremely long which makes them easier to control, yet she uses them with exceptional beauty and expression.

 

Added:

 

Something that seems increasingly interesting is how Alyona Kovalyova uses the placement of her head. Her back seems to float. It's her center. Her head also seems to float and yet direct and carry the rest of her body. Its positioning, the tension in her neck,  the focusing of her eyes, even the expression on her face help to accomplish this. Once again similar to what I've seen in Olga Smirnova.

 

Part of what I'm saying is taken from looking at this video clip posted elsewhere by Mnacenani,

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=_JqlNY7JiCE

 

Edited by Buddy
typo correction and "Added"

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