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  1. There are Vaganova children in so many Mariinsky productions so they are exposed to stagecraft from their 1st year in exactly the same way. I think if we are to differentiate between more mime/acting type roles and character dancing type roles, then the greatest ballet actor is Ilya Kuznetsov. I have never seen a ballet actor like him - he is completely magnetic and commanding and becomes every character he portrays with such realism. There are so many roles he is just the best ever in for me, and especially, In the Fountain of Bakhchisarai, his Ghirei is powerful and tragic, and never fails to bring me to tears. The MT principal Igor Kolb also is now taking on more character type roles and is magnificent in them - Carabosse for example. For me, Mariinsky has the best mime/acting/character dancers in the world.
  2. The Mariinsky's character dancers are superb, and the list of Principal Character Artists on the roster is just the tip of the iceberg, the elite of the greatly talented body of character dancers that exists just in the corps alone. Watch Oleg Demchenko's fiery Indian dance, or the exquisite, sinuous arms of Yulia Kobzar as the Egyptian in Spartacus; Boris Zhurilov in the Hungarian in Swan Lake; Anastasia Zaklinskaya as an Odalisque in Sheherazade; all the corps dancers who perform in any of the national dances in Swan Lake, for example, or the crowd scenes in Romeo and Juliet. These are just a few examples from the CORPS, but the company is full of them. And the dancers in the Principal Character Artist category are breathtaking performers, their dancing alight with verve and passion. Mariinsky has the best character dancers in the world.
  3. "Character" is such an interesting category and one in which Mariinsky is quite simply unsurpassed. I have to say that out of the current character artistes, Elena Bazhenova is outstanding. I have seen her many, many times and she is always superb. Think of all the variety of roles she does! Everything from Madge and Carabosse to Queen Mother! And then the dancing roles - Gypsy, Mercedes, Hungarian - you name it and she is wonderful in it, and she is also a beautiful woman. She is a great example to the up and coming character dancers, and she will be an indispensable coach. She is a VERY great Mariinsky "character" artiste and I am full of admiration for her. However, I would also like to mention Yulia Stepanova, some of whose amazing Vaganova character examination classes are shown on YouTube. She is a very great actress and, amongst other character type roles, has danced a magnificent Hungarian and Spanish in Swan Lake, 2nd wife in Fountain at Bakhchisarai, Egyptian woman - many character roles. Her arms and expressive quality alone qualify her for best character dancer ever in my opinion, even though she is not in the character category. She could actually dance any role in the repertoire, but now she is finally getting the classical roles she should have got years ago and I hope this season she will get many more! I will not be happy until she has got them ALL! :-)
  4. Tiara

    Yulia Stepanova

    Yes - I absolutely agree! Yulia Stepanova as Zarema and Oksana Marchuk as Maria Yulia Stepanova as Mekhmene Banu and Oksana Marchuk as Shyrin Two of my dream castings for Yulia/Oksana!
  5. Tiara

    Yulia Stepanova

    Yulia's bio page on the Mariinsky website shows two October performances - a debut as the Mare in Little Humped Back Horse on 10th October, and another performance of Sylvia on 25th October. While at least the role of Mare is a debut, it is a shame she could not have had a debut as Zarema in the other ballet heavily featured at the beginning of the month - Fountain of Bakhchisaria. This would be a wonderful role for her dramatic, expressive qualities and also would show off her jumps, back flexibility and those amazing arms. I hope so much this season she can have many more principal role debuts, including her most desired role of Giselle. It seems extraordinary to think that this wonderful dancer has not every classical principal role already in her repertoire, and that this thread only runs to five pages. If Yulia's thread had pages equal to her talent, Ballet Alert might spontaneously combust from overload!
  6. I always thought Polunin would not last long in the ballet profession - he was too restless and too brilliant and was always going to burn out soon. A great shame that he has "retired," but I hope he succeeds in his new chosen profession.
  7. I love this ballet also, and think it has a wonderful, dramatic, score. Some of the instrumentation is just so atmospheric and emotionally appealing. I truly think the great adagio is one of my favourite pieces of music, and when I watch the great Bolshoi dancers in this adagio, I can't help but cry. That very colourful and broadly sweeping music was felt to the depths of his heart by Grigorovich and translated into choreography that fits the heroic style of the Bolshoi dancers. So many great dancers have been proud to dance in this ballet. As you say - Vasiliev and Liepa! How fortunate you were to have seen them! I have seen Lobukhin and Ivan Vasiliev dance it - also both magnetic and transmitting the intention of the choreographer with great emotional intensity and honesty to the audience. I have also seen many others on film. It truly is a GREAT Bolshoi and Russian ballet - and one clearly they take to their international audiences with pride. Spartacus truly is one of a kind. A GREAT ballet.
  8. I do hope Gottlieb never finds himself at the Bolshoi theatre during a performance of Spartacus - he might find himself impaled on some of those Roman spears and brandished aloft himself...
  9. Well, I also have "seen this stuff live" and cannot agree with you at all. I have seen the Grigorovich Bolshoi version in London and the Yacobson Mariinsky version in St Petersburg and numerous videos and filmings of both versions, and all I ever felt was awe at the majestic sweep of the ballet and the emotions it conveys. I think most Russians also would be insulted and incredulous that some people actually considered this great ballet worthy of "giggling". Very many world renowned dancers have performed the roles of Spartacus and Phrygia, and I consider it to be a Great ballet and well served by its beautiful score.
  10. The only time I ever enjoyed the music from Spartacus--and Gayaneh--was when the Coen brothers used it for parody in The Hudsucker Proxy. I remember using a nearly identical phrase to describe Zakharova's Aegina. Nice to have the critical backup. With regard to your comment about the music from Spartacus, I am absolutely astonished to read this. I love the score for Spartacus. How can anyone hear the wonderful, atmospheric swelling up theme of the great adagio and not be moved? It is powerful music as befits the wide canvas of this ballet of huge emotions. I find the music for the massed ranks of soldiers thrilling and blood stirring. I love the spectacular lifts, the whole staging, the sheer theatre of this ballet. It is one of a kind. It is rightly a great treasure of the Bolshoi.
  11. OH - you are right! I completely forgot about Zhiganshina doing Amor and Masha! And also there is Nika Tshvitaria who danced Florine. I suppose what I mean is - she has danced far MORE roles than any other student has done before, because this is a huge amount of roles that she already has - not just one or two - and she also was taken on tour to dance in a solo role, which I think no Vaganova student has done before. She has already got a very impressive resume, as I said, that all corps dancers and many coryphees, must envy.
  12. You're right. The photo in the programme and on the website absolutely does not look like the photo I took. But who am I to argue with the Mariinsky. I also saw DSCH, and also have seen Kamil Yangurazov dancing many times. He is tall, dark haired with distinctive facial features. He was in that performance but it was definitely not him doing those high jumps. From the photograph I would say it is Boris Zhurilov, who is in the corps and more usually seen in character roles. What a shame when he is such a good jumper.
  13. Renata Shakirova has the distinction of being the ONLY Vaganova student not even in her graduate year to be given solo roles with the Mariinsky - amongst her roles are Florine, Little Swan, Juliet's Friend, Amor. lead girl in Rubies, soloist in Concerto DSCH, Terpsichore. She has a resume most corps and coryphee dancers must envy. .
  14. The Russian "side" of the Mariinsky webside has a news item that two of this year's graduates, Vitaly Amelishko and Roman Beishenaliev, are dancing the male soloist parts in act 1 of Fountain of Bakhchisarai on 13th and 14th August, yet the corps de ballet still has not been updated to include their names, or any of the other Vaganova graduates.
  15. Firebird/Marguerite and Armand/Concerto DSCH 12th August ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I also attended this performance. It was an amazing Firebird. Yulia Stepanova has bewitching command of the stage. I do think she is the best Firebird I have seen, and for me much preferable to Kondaurova, Matvienko, Vishneva - actually any Firebird. Here was a Firebird, both inhuman and powerful as well as glamorous and as for those arms .... I have never seen a Firebird with those constantly undulating, magical arms and flickering hands. She truly commanded the stage, particularly at the moment where she is sending everyone to sleep Her grands jetes were magnificent and also her lines in arabesque - but she never just poses. It is all part of a coherent whole. Her expressions were wonderful and she actually glamourized the whole stage! I liked Smekalov's Ivan, broadly drawn, but partnering well, and also Brilyova was for once a real character, and a playful princess. I found the whole performance absolutely mesmerizing. Uliana Lopatkina in Marguerite and Armand also took my breath away. I have to say that I do not like this ballet, which does look somewhat old fashioned and as it was made for Fonteyn and Nureyev, many think only they could make it work. From what I saw of them filmed, even they could not really make it work. I have seen many in this role, including Guillem, and I have to say that Lopatkina is the ONLY dancer I ever saw who made this believable. She was wonderful. Her movement is exquisite, so so graceful, she reacted to every nuance of the score with such musicality. Her acting was wonderful. Really a great performance. Sadly, Askerov was so terrible I cannot believe he was even cast with Lopatkina. Unstretched legs, wobbly balances, complete LACK of panache. Acting? What acting? He had two expression - vacuous smile and pained - nothing in between. Anyone who attempts this role is inevitably competing with the shade of Nureyev - well, Nureyev must have been roling in his grave with laughter at this travesty of "his" role. The ballet rightly belonged to Uliana, who was greatly applauded. In Concerto DSCH, to me the most virtuosic dancer was Vasily Tkachenko, although Konstantin Zverev also was good. Quite frankly, for want of a better word, Anastasia Matvienko is just "meh" - she doesn't have any beauty of line, really she does not interpret the music. She is very ordinary. I wondered how many in the audience realized that Renata Shakirova is only an undergraduate student of Vaganova Academy, since it was not mentioned on the cast list. Actually, she was very good, bright and fast, but how could she compare with Nadia Batoeva or Nastia Nikitina, if they had been given the chance to dance this? Why were they not cast? Why cast a student when there are so many brilliant dancers at Mariinsky just waiting for the chances they never get? Yes, she was good enough - but still WHY? I enjoyed this evening for two truly GREAT performances - the bewitching Firebird of Poster Girl Yulia Stepanova and the exquisitely drawn Marguerite of Uliana Lopatkina.
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