I had the great privilege of seeing the Mariinsky perform La Bayadère at Zellerbach 4 times this past weekend. I was only supposed to go three times to see each cast but ended up seeing the Khoreva/Shklyarov cast twice. The program can be downloaded here (some of the casting changed and was unannounced) https://calperformances.org/learn/program_notes/2019-20/pn_mariinsky_official.pdf
October 31 Nikia: Maria Khoreva
Solor: Vladimir Shklyarov
Gamzatti: Anastasia Nuikina
November 2 (matinee) Nikia: Ekaterina Kondaurova
Solor: Andrei Yermakov
Gamzatti: Yekaterina Chebykina
November 2 (evening) Nikia: Maria Khoreva
Solor: Vladimir Shklyarov
Gamzatti: Anastasia Nuikina
November 3 Nikia: Olesya Novikova
Solor: Kimin Kim
Gamzatti: Nadezhda Batoeva
The current Mariinsky is still my favorite company although it’s different than the Golden Era of years past. Here are some random thoughts:
I’m glad they brought their own orchestra which, for the most part, sounded great (they seemed to be tired Saturday evening and there were a few false notes that show). The music is just perfect.
The casts were basically the same, which was nice as I got know the dancers and see if they were consistent or not, but I also wish I could have seen different soloists…
Although I know it’s the thing these days, I prefer when female dancers are correctly placed vs having their legs super high up. I know there’s a certain pressure to get one’s leg up there even if it’s not one’s body’s natural tendency. For example, it’s much easier for Khoreva than Novikova and I found the latter’s distorted à la seconde rather sad and it took me out of the moment. I was glad Khoreva mostly kept her flexibility tasteful. In fact, during the Thursday show, I only noticed it during the lifts toward the end of the Shades when she so effortlessly went into oversplit… She was a bit more whacky throughout her second show.
The company as a whole looks good. The corps is still fantastic when it comes to lines and matching each other which is so difficult and lacking in American companies. Even the soldiers’ demeanors and walking in step with each other and the music from the very beginning of Act I was wonderful. Most of them seem very young.
I hate that 90%+ of the dancers wear Gaynor Mindens! They are not flattering! Only a couple corps girls wore Russian Pointe and Grishkos. Novikova wore Grishkos which she could balance nicely on but could not roll down from. Khoreva wore Bloch Balance in a hard shank which were super loud and did not bend to her foot. She needs to be fit by someone better! I can recommend a great fitter 😛 Also, they all need to sew their shoes better!
Every dancer (aside from a couple of the fakirs who upon watching with binoculars were having a bit too much fun hehe) was fully invested in their character and the story. I love noticing all the details and it was fun to see them doing it a bit differently every show.
One of my favorites was Maxim Izmestiev as Magedaveya, the lead fakir. He did every show, did so beautifully and slightly differently every time. I liked him more and more each time. I’d be curious to see him in a more classical role but really enjoyed this and thought he was perfect for it.
The character dances were awesome as always. So much energy! They are not easy… In the Indian Dance, I preferred Andrei Arseniev to Oleg Demchenko and Alina Krasovskaya to Anastasia Petushkova. I don’t believe Roman Malyshev performed 10/2 as scheduled so I only saw Nail Yenikeyev all 4 shows.
Soslan Kulaev as the High Brahmin grew on me. I didn’t love him the first show but I think I was just expecting something different from previous experiences. For one, he was much younger than I’m used to. He was pretty creepy and dramatic. By the third show, he had won me over.
Svetlana Ivanova is still lovely and it was nice to see her up there after all these years. I first saw her in London in the early 2000s… Her arabesque is incredible and it was nice to have her lead the Shades out. She did one of the kneeling poses funny every time with her front leg bent instead of straight so I wish I could have given her that note ha
In the Act II Grand Pas, Alexander Beloborodov and Roman Belyakov were so tall, princely and paid lovely attention to their ladies. The latter (Bulanova, Yaromenko [as per Dreamer's post below, in for Guseinova unannounced], Chereshkevich, Iliushkina) were not great every time.
The four short girls (Tychina, Ivanova, Mikheikina, Fernandez) were more consistent.
Both Manus, Anastasia Asaben and Tamara Gimadieva, were cute. One went over her shoe funny and I was worried she might have injured herself but she seemed OK for the rest of the dance.
The Golden Idols, Philipp Stepin and David Zaveleyev, both left something to be desired. It was a bit disappointing…
The Shades were amazing. As previously mentioned, they matched each other so well and adjusted when needed. Sadly, the développé à la seconde was wobbly for several each time. Arabesques were a bit more solid though not very clean (standings legs turned in, leg not behind). Otherwise, just lovely. It was too bad they could not fit the ramp as they were all obscured by the boulder on the scrim for their second arabesque.
The Three Shades were OK. Somehow, I didn’t get the same feeling as in years past where the variations were a bit more exciting and varied more greatly from each other in mood.
Vlada Borodulina was fine, not too memorable.
I’m generally not a Renata Shakirova fan but her second section was definitely the best I’ve seen the pirouettes. And it is tough!
I saw Yana Selina all 4 times as Maria Shirinkina did not perform on Saturday as planned which was a bummer. It was unannounced and judging from people’s Instagram stories, unnoticed. Yana was not as impressive as in years passed (I’ve always thought she stood out nicely in the past) and looked, perhaps, a bit out of shape. Has she been injured or on maternity leave? Thursday, especially, she really struggled.
Anastasia Lukina, again, fine, not too memorable.
May Nagahisa was definitely better! Solid technique for sure. The audience loved her.
And now, for the principals.
I was SUPER DISAPPOINTED by the GAMZATTIs!
Of the three casts, only Nadezhda Batoeva should have been dancing Gamzatti. She was technically solid along with very good character development. I recommend that she get/make better fake arches as hers were noticeable and not very good 😂
Anastasia Nuikina whom I saw my first show was disappointing. Technically all over the place and artistically much too young for the role. The Thursday show was worse than Saturday and she began her fouettés with one and half pirouettes and found herself facing backward and had to get back around to the front. It was messy and she generally looked quite nervous during the dancing parts though more assured during the mime scenes.
Yekaterina Chebykina was better when on her own, her variation and coda were pretty good, but also messy when being partnered. And also too young for the role.
I felt badly for their partners... I hope they will grow into the role as obviously the company sees something in them.
I LOVED Vladimir Shklyarov, especially on Saturday night. His acting and technique were both wonderful and he seemed to really lose himself in it. He made the shows for me!
Kimin Kim was very charismatic, his acting well thought out but natural, and his technique, of course, amazing. I really enjoyed him and he had the audience in the palm of his hand from his first jump on!
I was not into Andrei Yermakov. His technique was not clean, shockingly bad actually, and I did not like the way he portrayed the character either.
My first show was Maria Khoreva. I found her too young to be dancing Nikiya already: I don't think she's artistically ready yet. Nikiya is dear to my heart as Bayadère has always been one of my favorite ballets, and she needs to have such soul and divine power pouring out of her. She is a being in constant communication with God in her job after all 😉 Khoreva's technique was great as I knew it would be based on all the videos available. She was better technically on Thursday, a tiny bit less so on Saturday when I found her to be more artistic. She got tangled in the scarf at one point during the beginning of her Shades variation but kept her cool. Her Act III on Thursday was my favorite. I’m sure she’ll be wonderful in a few years! And she does seem lovely and down to earth and certainly grateful for all her opportunities which is a plus.
Olesya Novikova was better. I can’t believe she has 3 kids! I’ve never been a big fan but I enjoyed the show though I was not wowed… And this may seem silly, but I didn’t like her makeup or her shoes (as previously mentioned). Technically, she was good. Her arabesque turns with the scarf were impressive on both sides- 1.5 to start makes it easier to ensure you get all the way around before the pull in! I thought her first act was my favorite. I didn’t like her Act II.
Ekaterina Kondaurova was easily my favorite. She is a true artist. I remember when she was newer to soloist roles when the company toured to NYC and she earned the nickname Big Red. Her hair wasn’t very red this time around ha I wish she had more makeup on. Maybe she thought it would be too much for the smaller Zellerbach Hall… I don’t like her Act II costume as much. I wonder why she uses that one… In the third section of that variation, she stayed on pointe the whole time when opening to arabesque and came down only to go into the pas de bourrée suivis. Anyway, she was just beautiful- technically solid and she *was* Nikiya. I loved her and wish 1. she had a better partner and 2. that I could have seen her again.
I think my favorite part of the whole ballet is the beginning of the Nikiya Act II variation when the music is so quiet and you can feel the intensity of the entire audience focused on Nikiya. I also love watching Solor, the High Brahmin and Magedaveya during it!
So, even though I enjoyed the company as a whole, I found my first show (Thursday) disappointing due to the principal women being too young and inexperienced. However, once I was more prepared, the other shows were much more enjoyable! All in all, I’m so happy I saw so many and can’t wait for them to come back!!!