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Everything posted by Fleurdelis

  1. Phrygia is generally willowy and fragile. Sevenard is anything but that. That's why it is a curious choice. Maybe she will redefine this role, who's to say? Difficulties with lifts can be overcome with practice and experience. I recently saw the video of the Royal's A Winter's Tale. Looking forward to it premiering at the Bolshoi this coming April. Will be the definitive head-to-head comparison of whether Royal's principals are really all that. I saw Sarah Lamb's Aurora, she is excellent, but in my view Bolshoi does it better. And Vishneva does it better too. I may not have the luxury of seeing 32 Bolshoi performances a year, but the pointing toes at the ceiling part is news to me. Zakharova does this a lot, but she indeed has a unique stretch. Marchenkova did a bit of it during the recent broadcast. But that's all I could think of really.
  2. It means that being a one-trick pony is not a way to greatness. Dancing Nikiya the same way you dance Kitri is not greatness. Kondratieva danced many varied roles. Giselle and the Mistress of the Copper Mountain are very different roles. Range is more than just bravura or non-bravura. I'd be happy to discuss Kovaleva and Kretova on their own threads, or I'll digress too much.
  3. Highly arguably. Natalia Osipova aside. But then she is an ex-Bolshoi product.
  4. Lucky Londoners will get to see Denisova's debut as Phrygia. I have a feeling she will be amazing. Curious choice by Sevenard, would have been a much better Aegina.
  5. I actually see Olga as a throwback to the styles of Pavlova, Ulanova and a bit of Kondratieva, in many of her parts she has a similar otherworldly, ethereal quality. And then you see her Carmen, and she is completely different. Incredible range. To me this is what distinguishes a good ballerina from a great one - range. Vishneva, Guillem, Makarova, Bussel among others had it. I hope Alena develops hers too. Why not be delighted by youthfullness and freshness one day, and be moved by dramatic talent the next one?
  6. I am not aware of Alena switching her tutor or working with anyone else besides Chenchikova, aside from foreign ballet masters who come to set up imported pieces, such as Jewels, Artifact Suite or Etudes. But I have not seen enough of Kovaleva lately to comment on her progress, the ticket pricing policies of the Bolshoi are curtailing my usual theater-going habits, so I do not get to see as much as I used to. More than development of flow, I am hoping to see how much substance Alena has been adding to her roles.
  7. The insight is that it is very common for dancers to switch their tutors at the Bolshoi. Smirnova went from Kondratieva to Allash, who, by the way, was a wonderful Aegina in Spartacus, so it was very timely given that Smirnova debuted as Aegina a week ago. Stepanova has recently left Lyudmila Semenyaka for Kondratieva. And Daria Khokhlova left Nina Semizorova to go back to working with Lyudmila Semenyaka, who was her first tutor at the Bolshoi. Evgenia Obraztsova prepared her first Don Quixote at the Bolshoi with Lyudmila Semenyaka, then switched to Svetlana Adyrkhaeva and is currently with Nadezhda Gracheva. Shipulina went from Kondratieva to Golikova (who passed away) to Nikonov and now to Gracheva. Nikulina started out under Maximova, then went to Semizorova, then to Semenyaka and is now with Chenchikova. Only Zakharova stayed with Semenyaka throughout her career at the Bolshoi (and it shows). Also Adyrkhaeva's ballerinas tend to stick with her. I will not get into the men.
  8. It would be really great to have Bolshoi cast a black dancer as Spartacus on its next US tour. It would add a new connotation to the plot and make Americans see it as an eternal hymn to freedom, rather than condescendingly dismiss it as "communist propaganda". Carlos Acosta was the most amazing Spartacus I ever saw. I am so glad that his performance will live eternal as among the definitive ones, having been recorded and released on DVD.
  9. She already is one and has been for some time. A true jewel with some of the most beautiful arms and hands in classical ballet. Probably equaled only by Lopatkina. That is, to those who know a thing or two about classical ballet. Starting with the great upkeepers of the tradition such as Pierre Lacotte himself.
  10. The Gamzatti debut sounds very enticing. She is one of my favorite characters. And to see a rising young star in this role may be too good of a chance to pass. Looks like it is time to splash some of my savings on a London adventure.
  11. It is unfortunate that because of ROH's tougher policies towards videotaping of performances their wonderful young dancers do not get as much international exposure through the Internet as many of their mostly Russian counterparts of whom there are lots of videos on YT. I am so curious to see Naghdi or Hayward, but will have to go all the way to London, or hope and wait for a guest stint in NY.
  12. If one prefers a more lavish, ostentatious, Moscow-style production, then, yes, it was an absolutely smashing spectacle. The old graduations, the filmings of which can still be traced on the Internet, may not have been as richly produced, but were prominent for the quality of the performances that possessed that unique pure, chilly, ethereal and flowing (like the Neva River itself) mystique that is so unmistakeably St. Petersburg. Whatever St. Petersburg style and amazing graduates that Vaganova still produces is entirely thanks to a few dedicated teachers, who are persevering on and staying true to their teaching methods and tastes.
  13. Getting back to Shipulina and Vaziev. Shipulina has been the Bolshoi's best Gamzatti and among its three best Aeginas in the last fifteen years or more, she was among the original five most accomplished Moscow Academy ballerinas chosen for the Cinque program by Bigonzetti (alongside Krysanova, Semionova, Kochetkova and Osipova), she completely stole the show as Ondine in Possokhov's Hero of Our Time, overshadowing Zakharova's Princess Mary, a more prominent character of Lermontov's novel. Moreover, if we are to esteem the opinions of choreographes and ballet scholars with knowledge of 19th century ballet, then look no further than Pierre Lacotte, who selected Shipulina for the lead role in the upcoming revival of his and Petipa's Pharaon's Daughter at the Bolshoi. I don't think Lacotte really cares about who may be Putin's friend, but he is very discerning about who dances his ballets, so this is a most compelling recognition of Shipulina's undoubted merit and accomplishments. Everything Shipulina has achieved is thanks to her talent and hard work, not marriage to Matsuev. On the other hand, it should shield her from being pushed into retirement before she is ready to retire herself.
  14. Plato may not be my friend, sed magis amica veritas. In the article under the link below, a prominent Russian conductor Roudin also complains that it is notoriously well-known that the Mariinsky theater library does not give anything to anyone. Can't tell whether it is because of Gergiev's supposed malicious whim, or simply a reasonable precaution to protect the library's collection of rare and fragile antique sheet music. In any case, it was also publicized that the library recently acquired a scanner to convert its collection to digital format and make it easy to access. https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/2310500
  15. This is wonderful news, obviously an impressive achievement. I can't wait to see her on the Bolshoi Ballet TV show, I'm dying to know what she is about.
  16. I think the bit that needs substantiation is the allegation that Kuznetsov had an informal agreement with Asylmuratova to push his kids into the Vaganova Academy. As for Asylmuratova's condition, one only needs to watch the video footage of her and the previous rector's removal from the Academy, it is still floating around the internet.
  17. I don't see any evidence that Shipulina started getting major debuts only after associating herself with "a friend of Putin". A quick stroll down her biography on the Bolshoi's website tells us that she debuted as Gamzatti at 22 in 2001, Odile-Odette at 23 in 2002, Classical Dancer from Bright Stream in 2003, Kitri and Aegina from Spartacus at 25 in 2004, Cinderella at 27 in 2006. She married Matsuev around 2006 according to the article at the below link (in Russian only, sorry). The lead debuts she got since then were Mehmene Banu in 2007, Medora in 2009, Fleur de Lys in 2011, Marchesa from Marco Spada and Giselle in 2013, and Carmen in 2018. Hardly looks like acceleration. Filin promoted her to prima in 2011 upon becoming artistic director, it was a well deserved promotion, but she was already 32, once again, hardly an acceleration, as most other Bolshoi primas achieved that rank while in their 20s. http://ego-zhena.ru/blog/denis_macuev_zhena/2016-12-26-159
  18. I am not sure fuller-bodied and more muscular is something I would like to see more of, I would prefer more Lopatkinas, Zakharovas and Vishnevas, or am I advocating an unhealthy look? And what about the men?
  19. Are Maria Khoreva and Maria Bulanova this year's top graduates from the Vaganova Academy? Will the Academy's top graduates will buck the trend and actually go to the Mariinsky, instead of the Bolshoy?
  20. We could never know what's on her mind, but judging by her continuing committment to quality performances and the relentless work she is putting into her roles, I believe that she has no plans to slow down. Not saying it is not going to be an uphill battle, because the administration's youth focus is apparent. The exotic locations could be reflective of a work hard, play hard lifestyle.
  21. Many of your predictions may come true, but Shipulina will most certainly NOT be moved to contract status. In a few years maybe, if she decides so herself, but not in the near future.
  22. Osmolkina looks a bit clumsy for my taste. So does Yana Selina. My picks from among Vaganova graduates who are still active at the theater would be Novikova and Svetlana Ivanova. As for the men, why Stepin when you have Shklyarov? I hope they quickly find some role for Lopatkina. She would be the perfect rector for the Academy. And Tsikaridze can focus on becoming a TV star.
  23. The reviews are written in an excellent language and a clear, informative manner, with wisely selected quotes. What a joy it is that Misty is not only a ballerina with accomplished physical and artistic abilities, but also possesses a high intellect. I will buy the Jacobs book on the strength of Misty's review. Thank you very much for posting the links to the reviews.
  24. Few more impressions from the Petipa Gala. I always treat the Bolshoi's in-house ballet star galas with suspicion, since they are often poorly produced and lack a coherent concept, basically offering a hastily thrown together hodge-podge of dance pieces. For this reason, in the last several years I had tried to avoid them, but this year I let my curiosity get the better of me and I was seduced by the star pull of the names promised, ignoring the obvious signs that the lack of concept problem would still be there, even more so, because for an event supposedly dedicated to Petipa, the program had little to do with Petipa. I should have trusted my instincts and judgment. This event would be best described by the Russian word khaltura (халтура). Its English equivalents slapdash or hack-work do not adequalty communicate its connotation. Rather than just poorly done work, khaltura means work that could have been done well, but was not not for lack of ability, but simply because no one cared. I feel very sorry about having squandered away the steep price of a Bolshoi ticket, because even talented international stars were powerless to rescue such a poor production. The few bright spots that came mainly from the local ballet artists were not enough to compensate for the producers' overall poverty of thought. Impressions one by one. Kovaleva/Tissi in Balanchine's Diamonds: A performance worthy of a high-school talent show. It was a shame to see such good looking dancers having such a subpar outing. This time Kovaleva did not show her trademark confidence, and Tissi looked more confused than usual. I especially noted, to my dismay, how bad Alena's arms were becoming. They looked neither like Balanchine arms, nor Vaganova arms, I would call them Chenchikova arms: listless and flaccid, with uneven, disinterested and unfinished movements, lacking expression. She is not blessed with the most exquisite hands, they are too large even for her proportions, and the way she so carelessly places them as if they were brooms emphasizes this flaw, whereas she and her tutor must figure something out to extenuate it. The girl has a lot of promise, but I fear she encountered the wrong tutor in Chenchikova. Hope she realizes this soon enough and is saved the fate of a Somova by working with someone who can help her develop more gracefulness and expressiveness, someone like Adyrkhaeva or Semenyaka. Khokhlova/Belyakov in the Bluebird pdd: technically Khokhlova did everything well, but showed litte character, while Belaykov was too tentative in a part that would otherwise be a showstopper in the right set of hands (or, better said, legs). Overall impression: okay, but unremarkable Kretova/Ovcharenko in the Margot/Rudolf duet from Possokhov's Nureyev: The duet does not really resonate as a standalone piece, and in my view the dancers did not invest enough psychologically into it to make it memorable. I wonder how Lantratov and Alexandrova perform this work, they probably add more substance to it. Kondaurova/Smekalov in the duet Preljocaj's Le Park: Solidly executed, but offered nothing new to a piece that is so often performed that I have become numbed to it. Stashkevich/Lopatin in the pdd from Talisman: Now this is where things started getting alive and exciting. The pair were true to their nature as engaging, impactful and charismatic dancers with superb technical skills, distinctive bodily plastics and feathery jumps. One of the high notes of the evening. Smirnova/Vogel in the bedroom scene from Cranko's Onegin: Now, I understand that Vogel is an international star, brought, I'm sure, at no small expense, to impress and educate the Russian masses on how the Onegin part should be danced in the enlightened and progressive West. I may be uncouth and unwashed, but breaking up the strong, well-established and well-rehearsed connection between Smirnova and Lantratov in this work was a major mistake, since Vogel showed nothing to justify the trouble and the expense of bringing him in over the legitimate home-grown superstar that is Lantratov. Smirnova probably knows no equals as the most authentic embodiment of Pushkin's Tatiana, but without an authentic Onegin it was pointless. Lacarra/Dino in white pdd from Swan Lake: Whimsical to the point of bizarre. Instead of showing swan wings, Lacarra intensely twisted her wrists in the best flamenco traditions and did small steps en pointe with such violent tapping against the floor, that left no doubt that her Odette escaped from some town in Andalucia. Dino was an effective partner-holder, but not much else Osipova/Kittelberger in Cherkaoui's Qutb: Other than that Osipova does not look good in rolled up jeans and there was little grace in this ultra-modern opus, I really cannot say much, best to withhold judgment. I understand that this is an excerpt from a larger work, which might leave a very different impression if seen complete. Guerin/Legris in Petit's Le Rendez-Vous: Manuel's passion and movement are incredible, but otherwise the work did not engage, looked monotonous and boring, the most anti-climactic on-stage murder I can recall. Pagliero/Heymann in Nureyev's Don Quixote pdd: Placing Kitri and Basilio on the set from Marco Spada was plain goofy. While a town piazza somewhere outside Rome could pass for a Spanish landscape with some imagination, seeing a pair in such an energetic pdd on a deserted sun-flooded town square set the wrong mood. They looked as if they were a couple of village idiots dancing away on their own while the rest of the town was taking a happy siesta nap. The dancers from Paris looked markedly weaker than their Russian counterparts, though from seeing them before I believe that they are capable of a much better showing. In my view, their biggest handicap was Nureyev's choreography, which is as unsightly as it is complicated, so as to leave the dancers' effort and skill unappreciated by anyone except experienced ballet professionals. Tereshkina/Shklyarov in Balanchine's Tchaikovsky pdd: Dynamite! Tereshkina showed her usual steely technique, while Shklyarov was the most loveable ballet rascal in what was probably a very un-Balanchine demonstration of bold and irreverent virtuoso jumps and turns. Lacarra/Dino in Twisted Spiral: Back in their own element, they were mesmerizing. I find the continuous movement of Lacarra's delicate weightless body and limbs captivating, and the contrast with Dino's manly powerful build striking. Beauty in motion. Ferri/Gomes in After the Rain: I found it somewhat similar to the preceding work, except without the same aesthetic quality. Ferri's physical shape is very commendable for her age, but she is no Lacarra. If there was any meaning in this work, it completely escaped me. Felt like the audience was dozing off to this long and boring piece. It would have lost nothing if danced by lesser talents, so the expense of bringing such renowned names to dance something like this feels like money ill-spent. Shrayner/Tsvirko in pdd from Flames of Paris: A welcome pick up from the previous work. Both artists danced very well, but showed no fiery revolutionary drive and devil-may-care attitude, without which this pdd turns into just an assembly of neat tricks. Novikova/Sarafanov in pdd from Sleeping Beauty: Performed as brilliantly as one could ever perform it. But also felt that these two had mastered this pdd so thoroughly, that hey were dancing it almost in auto-pilot mode, without putting much feeling into it. Still, one of the best showings that night. During applause someone from the audience shouted out "Khaltura!", but I am sure they were not referring to these two dancers. Sae Eun Park/Ovcharenko in Grand Pas Classique: Was looking forward to Ms. Park giving a master class in how to dance GPC as a worthy heiress to the French greats of the past. Turned out okay, but lacked the brilliance and sparkle that I expected. She had some trouble in the first part, tipping off balance a bit and not landing on one knee synchronously with Ovcharenko. Her solo bit was decent, but I wanted to see more of a grand dame there. I would have probably preferred Hannah O'Neill in this piece because of her more marked stage presence. Ovcharenko did admirably as well, though I wish he were a bit less restrained. Legris/Guerin in the de Bana's Farwell Waltz: I found it similar to the Petit work that the pair danced earlier, except Guerin traded high heels for pointe shoes, while Legris might have stayed in the same white shirt. I enjoyed this work more than Petit's, because there was more beauty and passion, but it also felt somewhat overlong, probably the late hour and the excessive length of the gala started getting to me at that moment. Zakharova/Lobukhin in Tristan and Isolde: I could never get tired of admiring Zakharova's long chiseled legs and her slender willowed body being framed by the sexy masculine Mikhail Lobukhin in Tristan and Isolde. Set against a screen with a blue sky with white clouds, this duet looked heavenly. For a moment I forgot that I was on earth, it was like flying through the stratosphere! Smirnova/Chudin in the grand pas from Raymonda: What's to say, this was classical ballet in its finest and purest form! Gorgeous, aristocratic and noble Olga and Semyon set the standard on how to dance in Raymonda. Shrayner's showing in a solo variation was clean, sharp and eye-catching. Her Coppelia yesterday would have benefited if she had a similar sharpness and sparkle. One drawback: the piece was set to a background from Marco Spada, with its Italian neo-classical arches and columns not being even remotely related to the chivalrous era of Raymonda. But other than showing a crisis with basic cultural knowledge at the Bolshoi, this anachronism did not detract too much from the performance.
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