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MadameP

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  1. The phrase, "Emperor's new clothes" springs to mind! 😊
  2. INFRA/IN THE NIGHT/SYMPHONY IN 😄 6th February Infra: Sergeev/Stepin/Ermakov/Kim/Tkachenko/Caixeta/Yalinich/Shirinkina/Tereshkina/Gonchar/Chebykina/Lavrinenko - I cannot lie. I am British and saw this Wayne McGregor work at the ROH some years ago and thought then exactly as I did this time round. What a lot of pretentious rubbish. In the UK programme there were pages of programme notes explaining this ballet, much of which was incomprehensible. I do not want to have to read pages of notes in order to understand what huge significance this ballet has. As far as I am concerned, it has none and does not deserve to be in the MT repertoire. Much of the music is dreadful - f you like hoots, whistles, "white" hissing music, snatches of computerised speech, you might like it. Six couples dressed in white and black athletic shorts and singlets dance singly, in pairs and in groups. It's not a style I like, relying on contortionist flexibility with dancers slouching on and off the stage. I found it too fragmented, difficult to concentrate on because often there were so many dancers on the stage, all doing different things. Much of the audience loved it, but I did not. In The Night: Batoeva/Parish; Shapran/Ivanchenko; Kondaurova/Belyakov - I love this beautiful ballet with its starry backdrop, set to Chopin music. Batoeva and Parish in the first movement were romantic and lyrical, somewhat solemn in love, but the lifts were all lovely. Ivanchenko in the second movement looks astonishingly youthful and handsome still despite his senior status in the cast, and with his ideal dancer's physique, still can produce beautiful lines. He gave a great display of effortless partnering of the aristocratic Kristina Shapran. For me, the most successful partnership was Belyakov (debut) and Kondaurova in the third movement. Belyakov's partnering was excellent and so were his expressions. The pair of them danced out an exquisite tale of troubled and finally reconciled love - really beautiful, harmonious and beautiful. I love this ballet! Symphony in C -: Nagahisa/Konovalov; Somova/Korsuntsev; Evseeva/Kim; Gonchar/Timofeyev - The tiny Japanese 2nd soloist Nagahisa was technically good in the first movement, and Konovalov, her partner, excellent in all his jumps and partnering easily. Yes, she is a musical and technically able ballerina, but at only 15 to have danced Manu in the company and then to have been promoted and given roles before her 18th birthday without a day of Vaganova training? I just wish some of my favourites who are stuck in the corps and infinitely more deserving, had her chances. Somova in the second movement was absolutely exquisite, with her long lines, beautiful arms and Mariinsky grandeur on stage. Korsuntsev partnered her immaculately, but apart from that, his performance was so below par as to be embarrassing. He can barely get off the floor now in jumps let alone stretch out his legs in arabesque. In the third movement, both Evseeva and Kim were ideally suited, effervescent, sparkling, technically fast and brilliant. This is Evseeva's territory and she was fabulous, as was Kim. Nothing much to say about the fourth movement, in which both GOnchar and TImofeyev were a little underwhelming. The worst was in the finale where Korsuntsev had the misfortune to be dancing next to Kim, which really highlighted his shortcomings. Honestly, he should stick to character roles!
  3. Better late than never - I had horrible internet today. YOUNG LADY AND THE HOOLIGAN/LENINGRAD SYMPHONY: 5th February Young Lady and the Hooligan: Evseeva/Konovalov - Great ballet with beautiful music and a wonderful performance by Yevgeny Konovalov as the Hooligan. He was one of the best hooligans I have seen since the days of Ilya Kuznetsov. He had that loose limbed, careless insouciant quality - just so nonchalantly threw off two amazing sequences of barrel turns ending first time with a revoltade and second time with a double saut de basque, like they were nothing, whirlwind chaines and also great turns in general. His first variation was received with cheers and bravos - it was brilliant. But most importantly, he had such great expressions and acting. He was just a little unhinged, unable to help himself being bad, but SO poignant his face when it lit up with happiness when he had been dancing with the lady - and SO tearjerking his expression when she kissed him just before he died. Truly a wonderful performance. He made the ballet for me. Evseeva technically was excellent, but for me the greatest Lady I saw will always be Svetlana Ivanova. I think the lady needs to be sweet, pure - an unattainable vision. Evseeva just doesn't have that stage personality, and for me, she was wrong as the Lady, although she acted well at the end when the hooligan dies. Nice to see Alexandra Iosifidi, the tallest Mariinsky ballerina, teetering vampishly across the stage as the leader's girlfriend. I love this ballet, and especially the gorgeous pd2 see to the Gadfly suite. Leningrad Symphony: Kondaurova/Ermakov - Such a wonderful, but difficult and even troubling ballet. As the programme states, "It is performed twice each season, on dates that are vitally important for the people of St Petersburg: the Day of the Lifting of the Siege of Leningrad and Victory Day." Very moving indeed and one of those ballets one cannot take one's eyes from. The first scene is so gentle and has an idyllic quality with its patterns of happy couples, but as soon as the first faint bars of the second scenes motif are heard eerily in the background, the mood changes and becomes more threatening. The second scene is chilling and even brutal. The "frieze" of motionless, mourning corps ladies remains through to the left, and the music mounts as the Nazis advance, with crab like movements. This was an outstanding performance by Andrei Ermakov, with his thrilling jumps,across the stage and pursued by the enemy, bare chested in this act and a symbol of the pure, heroic youth. Kondaurova also both acted and danced well, although to me she could not quite equal Ekaterina Osmolkina in the role. Also, and as my friend also pointed out, her height made the moments where she mirrors each of the frieze of mourning lades in turn, slightly less effective. Nonetheless, this was an intense and moving performance. A great ballet and very special to the people of St Petersburg.
  4. I love Shurale. Such beautiful music, choreography, costumes, special effects... As I said, Shurale and Bayadere are my two favourite ballets and Shirinkina and Kim were the best cast this time around. It is such a shame Mariinsky does not tour with it so more could see it, but I do not know when it was last seen outside Russia, if at all. The problem is, it is such a "Russian" ballet with a large cast of Russian character artists. It also has a huge cast of young Vaganova students, especially in the second act, who would need to go on the tour. With the best will in the world, I can't see any other school being able to supply those children and be able to replicate it authentically.
  5. FOKINE MATINEE: 3rd February This was a shorter performance of two ballets. Chopiniana: Lukina/Ionova/Fernandez/Parish - I loved this poetic performance. I very much like Anastasia Lukina, who is a shorter, feminine looking ballerina with a very beautiful face and beautiful feet! She is what I call an old-school glamorous true Mariinsky ballerina type. She is eloquent, musical and has lovely adagio work and soft curving arms. The waltz with Xander Parish was airy and lyrical. I was also impressed with Daria Ionova in the Prelude. She is one of the new graduates who has been getting roles, and she has long, slender arms and legs and nice lines and movement. I found Fernandez charming even though she is not Vaganova trained. Of course, the corps were immaculate and still in my opinion, the best in the world! Firebird: Kolegova/Oskorbin/Dubrovina - This matinee was not as good as the evening performance. Kolegova is so exquisite to look at, and stunning in the Firebird costume and make up. She also has good arms, great technique and jumps well - but ... for some reason her Firebird did not excite me. Her jumps were not as good as Chebykina's and I felt she was more of a bird like woman than a strange bird creature, which I felt Chebykina was. Of course, Kolegova has the great advantage of her beauty, which makes her watchable anyway! Oskorbin was a good Ivan, but not outstanding as Romanchikov was, but he did partner well. I do not understand why Xenia Dubrovina is STILL being cast as the Princess of Great Beauty when she is ... not the youngest any more. She truthfully looked old enough to be Ivan's mother. This role should be performed by a younger ballerina in my opinion! So ... I enjoyed the Chopiniana very much, but the Firebird was just OK!
  6. I actually saw two Fokine performances today, but I have to write about the one I have just seen first, since it was so outstanding! I just got back. FOKINE TRIPLE BILL: 3rd February Scheherazade: Somova/Shklyarov - this was sensational. This was the best Scheherazade I have ever seen with my own eyes, and I have seen a few! To start with, the orchestra was playing on excellent form, but the performance itself just ignited when Shklyarov as the slave literally erupted onto the stage with a burst of pure masculine energy. OMG. Alina's expressions when she saw him were amazing. When he hurled himself at her feet she fixed him with an intense gaze - like a predator wanting to devour her victim. The scenes where they are writhing on the floor were absolutely smouldering. The synchronicity of movement between them where they were moving in unison across the stage was absolute. They seemed to act and dance as two parts of the same whole. Really stunning. Alina used her remarkable flexibility to great advantage, wrapping herself sinuously around SHklyarov - she literally rippled her back! And her acting - heart rending at the end where she kills herself... And Shklyarov's jumps were extraordinary - he powered himself into the air with seemingly no regard for the law of gravity, and the final grand pirouette with its a la seconds into pirouette just got faster and faster. The audience cheered them to the rafters and called them back for curtain calls... Just a WONDERFUL performance!!! Firebird: Chebykina/Romanchikov/Bulanova - Chebykina is a very tall ballerina with an outstanding jump. Her opening grand jetes ate up the stage and also her long arms were used powerfully to suggest the firebird's wings. She also used her eyes to great advantage and certainly played up the inhuman quality of the firebird. Being tall certainly helped her to command the stage in the section where she was putting Kashchei's evil servants to sleep. Romanchikov was an outstanding Ivan. He and Ermakov must be the tallest male dancers in the company, and Romanchikov is a good looking boy. He was by turns mischievous, teasing and playful with the Firebird and plainly smitten with the Princess of Great Beauty - not surprising when this was the absolutely stunning Maria Bulanova! When she came on stage as a captive of Kashchei, the expressions went across his face of surprise to see her, anxiety for her, determination to get free. I was very impressed by his performance. Maria Bulanova was breath of fresh air as the Princess, a truly beautiful princess who was a natural actress and with lovely expressions and arms. The audience gave this performance great applause also. Petrouchka: Stepin/Martynyuk/Baimuradov - Stepin is a wonderful actor who could have been an actual puppet. He used his arms in particular to great effect. Quite eerie. His expressions were fabulous throughout and the final tableau where he appears on the roof to mock the showman was haunting! Martynyuk as the ballerina had SUCH precise pointework and she was a cold, passionless doll to perfection. This is not one of my favourite ballets, and I always love the crowd scenes the best. This time I was so happy to see beautiful Oksana Marchuk as a fairground dancer (the one with the triangle!) This was the first time I have seen Oksana do fouettes and she CAN do them, and has a lovely technique and personality on stage... so WHY can't she be given better roles?? (She once did the ballerina in Petrouchka incidentally, and was outstanding, but only once.) I just realised I have described the ballets in opposite order to which they were actually performed! Sheherazade was the final ballet. All in all, this was an amazing evening!!!
  7. SHURALE Evening 2nd February: Shirinkina/Kim/Sergeev I have to say straightaway that this was a wonderful Shurale and the best performance of the three by a long way. Sergeev as Shurale was truly evil and menacing, and we really saw the inhuman qualities of the monster, with his twisted contortions. He used jerky movements to great advantage and really commanded the stage well. I have often accused Kimin Kim of being a poor actor, but not in this ballet! His acting was fabulous. His concern for his love, Syuimbike, when she was telling him how much she missed her wings, was so moving, as was the scene right at the end where he clasped both his hands to his chest to declare his love to her. And how tenderly he picked her up when she was asleep. His acting was good throughout! His jumping nearly brought the roof down - he does always get incredible height - his fight scenes were realistic (despite his slight physique) and throughout he danced with such attack and dynamism. He also pulled off 6 pirouettes twice in his variation! Really a fabulous performance. He had good chemistry with Maria Shirinkina and partnered her so well in all the tricky overhead lifts. And as for Shirinkina - she was the Syuimbike I had been wanting to see the last two performances. Finally a Syuimbike who was expressive, sweet and gentle and who radiated with shy happiness during her celebration scene. So touching the way she was genuinely modest and sweet natured and she is so lovely to look at! The scene between her and her friends and the girls was so beautiful it was really tear making. Technically she was very light and managed all the tricky sequences of turns a la seconde and pirouettes with ease. THe role is technically demanding, yet we did not see the difficulty of it. Her arms were outstanding - they are some of the best in the company, fluid and curving and soft. I was very happy when I saw this cast was dancing when the casting came up, because Maria Shirinkina is one of my favourite ballerinas and a nice person as well, and all throughout the performance, I kept thinking how wonderful it was and how happy I was to be seeing it. This Shurale was worth the whole trip!
  8. SHURALE Matinee 2nd February: Martynyuk/Timofeyev/Beishanaliev (debut) In this matinee there was a debut from a corps de ballet member, Ramanbek Beishanaliev in the role of Shurale. This boy was extremely credible, and really played up the lithe sinewy body of the reptilian Shurale, having also curving snake-like arms. He has fabulous jumps and his expression throughout was excellent, even down to the stage calls, which he played up to the great joy of the children in the audience. The little children's dance of trolls was creepy and adorable at the same time! Timofeyev as Ali Batyr was good, but not outstanding, lacking charisma on stage although he partnered tiny Valeria Martynyuk well. Martynyuk is one of the company's tiniest ballerinas, and she was fast and light across the stage in act 1, with beautiful grand jetes and I think she had better arms than Evseeva. Act 2 is the celebration in honour of Ali Batyr and Syuimbike and although Martynyuk showed a little more happiness than Evseeva, she was still subdued for much of it. Syuimbike shows her sadness at the loss of her wings towards the end of this act, but I do think she needs to be happier at the village celebration, which is supposed to be a betrothal. Martynyuk is very strong technically though and acted well generally. It was so interesting to see these Shurales back to back. I have to say, the quartet of matchmakers were very funny both times and the ballet as a whole is just gorgeous to look at, with spectacular flame effects when Shurale's lair is burned down,and lovely costumes. The music also is beautiful! It's a shame Mariinsky only perform it a few times a year.
  9. Thank you Buddy, and I have not seen any here, but I know what they are. Saw two people fall over today so I am just walking VERY cautiously.
  10. I am in St Petersburg from 1st to 9th, mainly because I wanted to take this opportunity of seeing one of my favourite ballets, Shurale, and this block of three might be the only performances this year. It is not often performed. There are also a number of other ballets during the week, ending with Tereshkina in Sleeping Beauty, and my internet is horrible, but I will try to write what I see. It's about -3C incidentally, so not bad for February, but the pavements are just compacted snow and slush over a lovely layer of ice and SO difficult to walk on. Anyway, last nght's performance was good and not quite so good in parts! SHURALE - 1st February - Evseeva/Ermakov/Kolb I have to say - this was a great performance from Ermakov, who I have been guilty in the past of not liking greatly. Last night though, he was fabulous. His partnering throughout all the tricky holds and many overhead lifts was excellent. The fight scene with Shurale (Kolb) realistic, and he has the height, build and strength to make the scenes where he is showing off his strength to the villagers, realistic. He acted well, was jumping out of his skin, and ... must be the first time i have seen him do 5 pirouettes both en dedans and en dehors - bravo Andrei! Kolb as Shurale, was strong, creepy and excellent in all the weird, contorted poses on the floor. Also, funny in his scenes with the drunken villagers. Sadly, I thought Evseeva was the weak wink, for a number of reasons. Technically, of course, she is excellent, and she has a good jump, but she doesn't have any softness in her arms, and generally she is a bright, sparky ballerina, and she was not realistic in the role. She never convinced me she was fragile or gentle, which is what I like to see in a Syuimbike. Truthfully, I felt her interpretation was more like a subdued Kitri. Tricky Final act variation was excellent though The corps of bird maidens and girls were beautiful, although I was sad not to see lovely Oksana Marchuk as one of the four friends. The second act with the village scene is one of my favourites, and so uplifting - the parts where ALi-Batyr is looking for Syuimbike are so moving, but I know Syuimbike is supposed to be a little wistful, wanting her wings back, but Evseeva really did look miserable for most of this act! The Vaganova children as usual were adorable, although the lead girl (sorry no name!) was not outstanding. All the character artists in this act were outstanding. This (with Bayadere) is my favourite ballet, and just hearing the start of the overture makes me feel happy! The audience loved it! Today I will see it two more times - Martynyuk and Shirinkina - and Shirinkina is one of my favourite ballerinas! I am so looking forward to this!
  11. I like Ilyushkina very much also - she danced one of the best variations in Paquita recently - and she does have a lovely, lyrical quality with beautiful arms. This was her debut in Emeralds, so of course she was not perfect stylistically. She's very talented.
  12. I read somewhere that the Evening of American Choreography is to include performances of Serenade and In the Night. I can't remember now where I saw this, but as soon as I do, I will post the link!
  13. Awful prices - top price for Spartacus is £155. Almost as expensive as Bolshoi's own prices for Spartacus with a top price of 15,000 rubles.
  14. Olga Smirnova and Yulia Stepanova are very different ballerinas! I love watching them both, and have seen both their Bayaderes. For me, personally, Yulia Stepanova is my preferred Nikiya, because of that wonderful cantilena, exquisite arms and expression she has. However, I also very much Olga Smirnova's spiritual Nikiya and her command of the stage. Bolshoi Theatre is extremely lucky to have two such wonderful Nikiyas, as well as Zakharova! Of course, personally I would love to have seen Yulia Stepanova featured in Bayadere, but I do think Olga Smirnova was completely valid and worthy to be cast for the broadcast. She has produced outstanding work for the Bolshoi for many years! We can all surmise and listen to gossip and conjecture, but in the end, unless we are inside the minds of the Bolshoi management, we cannot KNOW anything for certain. I think it is a big mistake to adversely compare and contrast Stepanova with Smirnova and also a mistake to try to claim political advantages for one as, personally, all I think it will do is cause difficulties for Yulia Stepanova inside the theatre. Let both ballerinas flourish - they are both wonderful (although personally I prefer Stepanova!)
  15. MadameP

    Yulia Stepanova

    Yulia has a debut on 10th February! FINALLY she gets her Aegina debut! The casting is Tsvirko (Spartacus)/Kaptsova and Belyakov/Yulia! This Aegina debut has been a long time coming!!!
  16. LOL! Well, we'll have to agree to disagree. I thought her Giselle was entirely convincing and well acted and I find Kim extremely UNconvincing in the role of Albrecht.
  17. Honestly, I am disappointed with this year's Festival. And yes, Olga Smirnova has danced Giselle at Bolshoi already and, although I never thought this would be the role for her, she was wonderful, especially in her ethereal act 2. She is definitely worth seeing in Giselle - but I honestly cannot say the same for her partner, Kimin Kim This is an extremely stronge pairing to me.
  18. Yes, every company has politics, but I think both Smirnova and Stepanova are wonderful ballerinas. Personally, I consider Stepanova to be the better - her movement is far more musical, lyrical and flowing, and her acting natural and expressive. I like Olga Smirnova very much also: I do appreciate the care she takes with every aspect of every role - of course, this is seen by some as being "too careful" but I think every ballerina has her own way of interpreting a role and they cannot all be the same. However, Olga Smirnova is clearly the up and coming Prima stepping into Zakharova's shoes and perceived as senior to Yulia Stepanova. I think she is hardly hard done by having Belyakov as a partner - it surely can't be long until he is made principal and he is outstanding. Certainly his Solor debut was outstanding in my opinion - dynamic and well acted. I actually take far more issue with Marchenkova being cast as Gamzatti.
  19. Ah ... thank you for this quote from the 1899 libretto! This makes total sense. I wish all Auroras would read this libretto. Some Auroras do approach the King and Queen, showing them the roses and then dropping them gently at their feet and that seems appropriate, but throwing them always seems so disrespectful!
  20. Can't resist posting this one also!
  21. Buddy, I agree. I, too am very happy that Renata Shakirova was promoted, but there are several others who of course I would like to see promoted. I would love to have seen Maria Shirinkina promoted. She has gone from strength to strength since her year away, and is a beautiful, lyrical ballerina. Female promotions to the role of principal would be VERY welcome and yes, Osmolkina is long overdue a promotion, but every year it seems a little more unlikely, given her age. Novikova, too, should have been a principal long ago, in my opinion. And then there are the men .... Stepin, Ermakov and Zverev ... where are the promotions for them???
  22. Several excerpts are on YT. Here is one:
  23. Completely agree! Spartacus and DonQ - love both of them. Both great vehicles for the Bolshoi ballet. I dislike both Taming of the Shrew and the truly DIRE in my opinion Hero of our Times.
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