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  1. I'm a little late seeing this, but for the record I can tell you it was Yulia Grebenshikova, NOT Ana Turazashvili. For the Thursday matinee and the Friday evening performance Smirnova was replaced as Queen of the Dryads by Grebenshikova. On Thursday the switch was announced before the curtain went up, on Friday it wasn't, but it was the same both times. Of course, someone also had to take Grebenshikova's place in the middle of the Three Dryads, and both times that was Turazashvili. It was a delight for me to see a little more of her, so I noticed particularly.
  2. Catching up on this thread I can't help but giggle and be glad that I decided NOT to fly to New York this time round. Instead, I'll be in Saratoga next week -- Alexandrova, Krysanova, and Kretova as Kitri -- with any luck, Tikhomirova and Turazashvili (the latter captivated me nine months ago, and her name has been ever on my lips since then) in the lesser roles -- a more joyous and diverting Bolshoi experience than one could have hoped to enjoy with Grigorovich's excreable Swan Lake... I've seen recordings of that AND their Spartacus, and what is bearable with a fast forward button I wouldn't have liked to pay top dollar to sit through in a theatre. I'd like to thank each and every person who has posted his or her impressions here; they've been a delight to read. My special gratitude to those who had something nice to say about Alexandrova's only Kitri in NYC. Last year's injury and whatever toll it has taken upon her jumps does nothing to diminish my pleasure at the thought of seeing on stage, for the first time, the Bolshoi's true prima ballerina: and with that thought in mind I've sent flowers. Who else is going to Saratoga...? Edited to add a question which slipped my mind: are full cast lists for those four Saratoga performances available anywhere...?
  3. Please forgive the extremely belated way in which I'm sidling into this thread... Krasnokutskaya danced the Violette Verdy role on the 8th of February this year, but I have a funny feeling that wasn't her debut either. To me the surprise is Ivannikova. She danced Gulnara with Somova's Medora in tonight's Corsaire excerpt; and she was apparently going to debut in Diamonds on 7/7 -- but then, NOT a surprise, she was replaced by Skorik. Has there ever been a Mariinsky Jewels cast that actually made sense? Well, she didn't do the eight double pirouettes in the Tsarevna's final variation. Five doubles, with a break in the middle... That's a matter of fact, the rest is personal taste. I imagine many of us could write out this meditation ourselves, word for word...
  4. The title says it all really. Please PM me if you're interested; all offers will be gratefully entertained.
  5. Alea jacta est. I am going to the ballet for the first time in, yes, let's check this, let's be as precise as we can, THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. New York being somewhat cheaper and more convenient than Russia, I'll be there during a certain strategically selected period in the month of May. I rang up the Met box office today to check where I'd be sitting for ABT and I should very much appreciate the opinions of the learned members of this board on whether or not I should be happy. I mean, I'm pretty happy anyway, but could I be happier? If I could be I should certainly like to be; this is a monumental occasion for me. My seats for "Onegin" and "Don Quixote" are here and there in the orchestra, the forwardmost being in Row H. I'm 5'8"; will I be all right vis a vis seeing the feet or should I be moving heaven and earth to get back a few rows? Is it better to be off to the side as some of the posters in this thread suggest, rather than in the central block; if so, within what sort of general range? One of my seats is almost dead center in Row H; the thought of it is tormenting me. For the Ashton/Balanchine I have seats in the front row of the Grand Tier boxes, near to the stage but not actually hanging over it: it was the best compromise I could think of between wanting to be close to the Ashton, and wanting a bit of altitude for the Balanchine. Is this a decent idea or a crackpot scheme? Please, any thoughts or advice you may have. I'm already planning to try to get there early each day and just *see* if any better seats have been returned, but it would be helpful to improve my situation beforehand if I can... Ballet has given me a taste for perfection.
  6. Thank you. One of the many modern concepts which should be explained to them is: redundant data storage. The best way to protect information, if you're truly concerned about its survival rather than its secrecy, is not to keep it in one place with a great big lock on it, but to put as many copies as possible in as many places as possible. If Balanchine's choreography was in the mind and heart of every ballet fan in the world -- not to mention constantly creating new ballet fans, as it surely would -- keeping his legacy alive would not be a problem. You couldn't even kill it if you wanted to.
  7. Thank you for this kind response; I was worried I'd come across as the Devil's Advocate. ;) I do find criticism and technical discussions interesting, but usually I come to Ballet Alert to read that kind of thing *after* I've seen and enjoyed something. I don't like my first impressions to be clouded by, ah, carping. I'd rather have my simple fun first! And to make this post on-topic... My nomination for Most Quotable Ballerina (sorry, Cristian) is Maria Alexandrova of the Bolshoi. Herewith some favourites from my Masha File, collected from various interviews found online. "I've never wanted to be Number One, but I have always wanted to excel. As I see it, those are two very different things. To be the first, is to be a hero for a day, while the next moment someone else takes one's place. To excel, has to do with duration; it is a long-term process." "I do not care to be typecast in the heroico-dramatic genre, and refuse to accept that I am incapable of doing so many other things. I revolt, I will not have someone tell me beforehand that I can or cannot do a certain thing, or that it would be wrong to attempt it. The artist learns so much from error. One is entitled to err, provided one be prepared to acknowledge one's own errors, prepared to go beyond oneself to put them right." "Modern ballet? There are wonderful artists, and ideas that start out well, but somehow, one ends up spinning round in a vicious circle. Both in the literal, and in the figurative sense, I see in modern ballet a kind of over-simplification, despite an apparent complexity. Classical technique is hard perhaps, to grasp straightaway, but it is nonetheless simple and logical in its execution. It has amplitude, it moves through several dimensions of space. Modern ballets strike one as flat." Which modern choreographers would she like to work with? "I have not danced all classical ballets yet. When it happens I would like to be asked this question again. And the answer will be different. But at the moment I am still thinking about classics." Who amongst the dancers of the past does she consider an ideal ballerina? "The list is long. Shall I start with Taglioni or even earlier? They all were imperfect, because they were human. And this is what makes them wonderful." "Through expression, through one's soul, one can make up for certain flaws, whereas the other way round is harder: technique alone will never convey in an instant the lightness, the enthusiasm and then, in the next instant, sadness. One cannot enrich an idea with technique." "I spend most of my time with ballet -- this beautiful, but very difficult, profession. And it is a wonderful profession: today, I may be a slave in ancient Egypt, tomorrow, an 18th century queen, and the day after tomorrow, Balanchine's ballerina in the 20th century, and then again an innkeeper's daughter, or the head of a Roman Legion. What other girl in the 21st century can afford all that, and be so different? This is my game, and I play it with pleasure." "The incentive for my art is neither praise, nor critics, but only my interest. I am in ballet because I am deeply in love."
  8. Ouch! Yes, that was a harsh way to put it; I'm sorry. Perhaps "a revolution in the Balanchine Trust" would have been better. Ascribe it please to my crankiness over being a new ballet fan who is having a hard time learning about Balanchine. This is the 21st century; there are so many ways in which Mr B could be out there in the world, fostering the love of ballet among people who will never see the inside of the Lincoln Center, ensuring his works and his reputation will last a thousand years, but they won't LET him... Recordings are an inadequate substitute for live performances, I agree, but they do better than anything to create an audience for live performances. Not many people have the time and the wherewithal to travel to another city or another country to see a thirty-minute ballet they've only read about.
  9. Shirabyoshi


    I came back to answer the replies to my last post... only to find the discussion has moved far ahead in my absence, and its new direction is much more interesting! I do have something to add here, I hope not entirely without interest or worth. When I first began to cultivate an interest in ballet earlier this year, I went through a(n admittedly brief) period of thinking that I couldn't quite understand what the fuss was about Balanchine. The first recordings I saw, from the meagre selection available commercially, contained some pieces I admired in the abstract, but nothing at all to touch my heart -- hard to believe, if you consider how susceptible I was at the time, how eager to be moved, how thoroughly primed by all the reading I'd been doing about Balanchine this, Balanchine that. My last-ditch attempt to connect with his work was the Mariinsky's recording of "Jewels". I thought I might possibly like it better than the POB version, which had failed in every way to live up to my expectations. In truth I fell in love. Not with "Rubies", but "Emeralds" and especially "Diamonds" changed everything for me. I finally felt I could comprehend the reverence for Balanchine. I finally felt I'd seen works that could stand next to Petipa's. I finally felt that a thread of genius had brushed across my life. I don't think such a revelation can come by choreography alone: it comes when said choreography is given life by dancers of remarkable training and sensibility, each one herself a jewel polished to perfection, each facet of her beauty reflected by those around her. But then I came to Ballet Alert and read here many comments, like Helene's above, saying that when it comes to dancing Balanchine the Mariinsky is vastly inferior to the NYCB. I didn't know what to think. Could my taste really be that bad? I needed a third opinion; so when the opportunity came I tentatively consulted with a friend of a friend, someone who had studied at the School of American Ballet and went on to dance at the NYCB along with a lot of people whose names meant nothing to me when I first heard them, but which now cause my eyes to widen: Farrell, McBride, Hayden. This person told me (I paraphrase), "When I first saw the Russian companies in the 1960s, I thought the Bolshoi was better than the NYCB, and the Kirov even better than the Bolshoi," which opinion has since been bolstered by many visits to Russia (some including company classes with the Mariinsky). This person, who knew Balanchine, agreed with me absolutely that the Mariinsky's recent performances of Balanchine's most classical pieces have been wonderful (especially "Ballet Imperial" and "Theme and Variations"; I'm now even more upset about not being able to see them!), and added that Balanchine himself would surely have been pleased by such performances. We also agreed about the lacklustre nature of the POB "Jewels", and that the stiffness and flatness of Paris-trained dancers is a far cry from the flowing arms and gorgeous epaulement of Vaganova ballerinas. I was much relieved to know that I wasn't barking up the wrong tree in the wrong forest, that there WERE people in the world deeply knowledgeable about ballet who felt as I did. It's true there are some French dancers I like for their particular classical lines, but I would take, for instance, Olesya Novikova, or Evgenia Obraztsova, over any of them any day. I felt there was something missing from the POB recordings I saw before I had seen *anything* of the Mariinsky, and now I know what it was. Mariinsky ballerinas have a style and a perfume beyond compare.
  10. If I were to mention all the marvelous things I saw for the very first time in this, my first year of ballet addiction, the result would probably be a list of my Top 100 Margot Moments, followed by my nomination of Violette Verdy for Best Person Ever. Instead, off the top of the head of a person who has been relying only upon recordings rather than live performances, three favourite things which actually happened in 2012: * Yulia Stepanova's promotion to coryphée and her debut as the Lilac Fairy. * Ekaterina Kondaurova in Nikiya's death scene (which may not have been from this year, but I'm pretending it was, because I want to list it almost as badly as I want to see more of her). * The third recording I saw of Olga Smirnova in the "Diamonds" PDD. (That is, the one from the Bolshoi Ballet television competition. It rose somehow above the other two, or at least I think it did. I'm not the most informed or impartial observer.) My favourite new releases from 2012 -- all from ICA Classics, tireless purveyors of the Good Stuff. * The 1962 "La Fille mal gardée" with the original 1960 cast of Nadia Nerina, David Blair, and Stanley Holden. Arrived in the post on my birthday. What more can I say? * "Tchaikovsky Ballet Masterpieces" with Dame Margot and Michael Somes in selections from "The Sleeping Beauty", "Swan Lake", and "The Nutcracker". Admittedly I've only seen five or six other Nuts, but for me this second-act recording is without question the most magical. I hadn't understood how beautiful the Sugar Plum Fairy's choreography could be -- now I only have to hear the first few notes of the PDD and I start sniffling embarrassingly. * The one with Nerina's "Coppélia" and "Les Sylphides", and, more importantly, eighteen glorious consecutive minutes of Dame Margot and that Russian chap of hers in the second act of "Giselle", filmed in 1962 at the very beginning of their partnership. I'd seen parts of this recording in a documentary (and some enterprising YouTuber excerpted the bits shown therein into a single video), but seeing it all I feel as though I've stolen fire from heaven. I don't like to say "worst", but in my opinion the most senseless and redundant recordings of the year -- all courtesy of Bel Air Classiques. * Svetlana Zakharova's Aspicia has already been released on DVD and Blu-ray, so... we needed a new version from Ballet in Cinema? When they could have given us, say, Maria Alexandrova? * Svetlana Zakharova (yes, again) flings her legs about everywhere and doesn't understand Petipa, so... we needed her Aurora on disc? When they could have given us, say, Evgenia Obraztsova? * Yet another "Giselle", a ballet recorded possibly even more frequently than "Swan Lake", and this one no great addition to the genre. When one thinks of the things they've filmed for cinema release which have *never* been available commercially, one could scream. Villain of 2012 (and quite a lot of other years actually): Yuri Fateyev. Heroine of 2012: Daria Pavlenko. Why, God, why? of 2012: Oxana Skorik. Little ray of sunshine of 2012: Ksenia Zhiganshina. Special wish for 2013: the collapse of the Balanchine Trust.
  11. Have just discovered this thread and read through it with great pleasure. I have nothing to add but this warning against the hypercritical tendency (please nobody shoot me): "I should say that a knowledge of technique is essential to the full understanding of the ballet but not necessary for its appreciation; for the latter I think that emotional or intellectual reaction to the music, movement and decor is quite enough. For my own part, the less I knew of ballet the greater was my enjoyment; too carping an attitude is a great hindrance to enjoyment and a little knowledge can mar a lot of pleasure." (Sir Frederick Ashton, 1947)
  12. Shirabyoshi


    Apologies if this is too emotional; but the thread has wandered about a bit already, so I thought it might not be a wholly inappropriate place in which to express certain miseries -- and fears. As a new ballet fan I had actual physical palpitations when I read, just a short time after my Great Ballet Revelation of 2012, that the Mariinsky would be doing "Swan Lake" in California. Then I researched the soloists whose names were on the list for the tour. If I'd been guaranteed a week of *real Mariinsky performances*, I'd have flown out there and gone to every single one, whatever the cost. As it was I stayed home watching YouTube and eating Nutella out of a jar with a spoon in an orgy of bitterness. Though I've been following this thread with interest, it seems in some ways to be the wrong discussion. One thing I knew without having to be told, one thing that should be obvious even to the meanest intellect (I'm looking at you, Mr Fateyev): if a woman is dancing leading roles with the Mariinsky, at home or abroad, on a big stage or a tiny one, as a regular headliner or as an emergency substitute, the worst thing any balletomane should be able to say about her is: "She's very good, but not really in the style I like." If all the talk is about her technique, even in the context of her not being as weak as she used to be, or having had a surprisingly good night last night, it's... well, I think it's the wrong discussion. We ought to be able to take the soundness of her technique for granted, as something that needn't even be mentioned save in technical discussions, and concentrate instead upon the subtleties of her own individual artistry and what is new or nostalgic about her interpretations. That this standard can no longer be depended upon in the performances of what ought to be the world's leading ballet company makes me inexpressibly sad. Every fibre of my being cries out that I am meant to be a Mariinsky fan. But where is the Mariinsky? Will I ever actually see it, except by serendipitous chance? Can I depend upon the strength of the school underpinning a resurgence of traditional values in the company, under different management, at an unspecified point in the future? Or am I just... too late? War is peace, freedom is slavery, Oxana Skorik is a Mariinsky ballerina. I feel so very, very cheated.
  13. Ordered! Thank you for the recommendation.
  14. Do you know, that's exactly the programme of study I've been following? Rather fun it is too. Thank you for the welcome!
  15. Oh, gosh, I really am terrible at keeping up a conversation, aren't I? I'm sorry. In my defense, I've had rather a lot of things that needed to be watched, some of them multiple times, some of them multiple times in the same day... Let's hear it for escaping into a world of beauty and romance! Sometimes it's all you can do, isn't it? And let's hear it for that too. It's surprising how quickly one can start to pick up things. I'm able already to return to recordings I first saw two weeks ago and get more pleasure out of them. Even just knowing which steps are more difficult and hence more impressive when executed with lightness and verve makes a difference.
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