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  1. Have no idea whether this is the right place to put this, but here is Tsiskaridze's explanation of Vaganova's grade system which I ran across on Instagram. Please let me know if there's a better place for this and I'll move it. http://tsiskaridze.tumblr.com/post/149171658093/vaganova-academy-grade-system-explained-kind-of
  2. I hope she's at home or in a nice vacation spot with her husband resting up and eating something!
  3. Thanks for sharing your observations with us. It's great to hear that she was able to convey Medora's personality, which is quite different as you say from the other leading roles she's done. The ability to convey cheerful girlishness that she demonstrated in this debut will hopefully persuade Vaziev to give her Giselle and Aurora very soon. What did you think of "la petite Corsaire"? I wish I could've seen her making the "twirling the mustache" gesture! Did you see/speak with her afterwards at the stage door?
  4. Photo gallery from Dance Tabs of Le Corsaire.
  5. Italian fouettes seem to be out of style at the Bolshoi. Have no idea why, they are just wonderful when done well.
  6. Thank you Drew and Birdsall for responding with your interesting thoughts! This was not intended as a contest about who is the best ballerina but rather to explore musicality and/or lack thereof. I chose videos of the same variation in order to compare apples with apples. Each of these wonderful ballerinas has put her own stamp on the Bolshoi Queen of the Dryads variation, expressing the music in different ways. Although in general I prefer Vaganova style, I have to say that Shipulina is overall the most successful in conveying the choppy choreography of this variation as a continuous flow. As Drew says, there is a consistency across the variation. One section of the variation leads to the next and somehow this makes the tempo seem faster than in the other two videos, although I think it might be actually slower. It's as though Shipulina has the entire variation in her head and is therefore able to "explain" to us how the parts relate. We don't get bogged down. I'm pretty sure she's been dancing this variation for years and that certainly is an advantage she has over the other two ballerinas. As an exponent of Bolshoi style she has a bit of a hard edge which makes her a more imperious queen here, a valid interpretation if less than satisfying to those who prefer a kind and merciful persona for this role. Smirnova prepared this role for the Bolshoi in Cinema recording, and it shows. There is nothing wrong technically with her performance that I can see (although she like the other two was not totally solid with those 5th position endings in the diagonal -- the broadcast transmission showed her practicing that section of the variation during the intermission, so it must be very difficult indeed!) Her phrasing is very smooth throughout yet somewhat featureless compared with Shipulina's. Just now comparing it again with Shipulina, the tempo seems faster. And there's that funny bit at the end of the diagonal where the orchestra usually does an accelerando but not for Smirnova. The accelerando doesn't really fit this choreography anyhow and Smirnova or her coach were somehow able to get rid of it. The flow of this variation in this case is achieved by a faster and more even tempo overall and less emphatic phrasing, but in my view is still less convincing than Shipulina's approach. Oh, and by the way, I find the look in Smirnov's eyes somewhat unsettling -- she reminds me of a 30's silent movie queen, not the vibe I'm looking for in this character! And now to our sweet and gentle queen, Stepanova. Stepanova has performed the Mariinsky choreography for many years, a far more difficult yet easier to watch version (see video below), and as others have remarked, this video is of her debut in the Bolshoi version. It's the least finished of the three, but is clearly superior in conveying the character. The tempo is about the same as Shipulina and it's obvious that Stepanova was not given the freedom that Smirnova was permitted -- there's that POB-type pushing or dragging of the toe just above the floor (very technical term ) before each pirouette in the diagonal and the arabesques that Shipulina does but not Smirnova, for example. This is a "move" I've never seen Mariinsky dancers perform so it must have felt as awkward as it looks. More successful is Stepanova's pirouette at the end of the first diagonal, well timed to the accelerando, which however is not as marked as in the Shipulina version. In the next section, Stepanova beautifully expresses the more playful nature of the second theme, providing needed contrast that is missing in the other two videos. She has yet to fully overcome the choppiness of this variation but we need to remember that this is a work in progress -- I just wish I could see it live once she has refined it! As shown in these videos, each of these ballerinas dances this variation musically in her own way. In my view, musicality can and should be discussed with reference to both videos and live performances so long as we compare apples to apples. Here's Stepanova dancing the Mariinsky version:
  7. Live performances of any art form always provide much more information about the performer's artistry than video does, but that doesn't stop classical musicians from comparing videos of musicians playing the same piece. Let's do the same here, comparing video performances of the QoD variation: Here's Shipulina: Smirnova: and Stepanova: I don't have the vocabulary to discuss steps and would very much appreciate being educated about what (in detail) these dancers are doing differently and which are successful.
  8. It would be just too weird if videos consistently show a dancer in time with the music and errors appear only in live performance. If 100% of a huge number of videos show a dancer moving in time with the music it seems to me that this is highly probative of her ability to do so, consistently. Of course nobody dances musically in time with the music all the time, so there must be videos of this dancer showing tempo errors, but I have never seen one. I really think the burden is on those who say this dancer is unmusical to show us a video where this is the case.
  9. FWIW, there is a thread called "Bolshoi 2016 London Tour" and another called "Bolshoi Under Vaziev" to discuss matters like audience behavior and Bolshoi dancing style. I would be interested in seeing videos in which Yulia appears to be dancing unmusically or not with the beat (two different things, actually). As a musician, I've always been impressed with her musicality, i.e. Her ability to use the music in her dancing. To my eye, there is a sophistication in her dancing - a lack of "beatiness" -- that may be mistaken by some as not being "on" the music. Among solo musicians, it's ok to play with the beat for expressive purposes so long as you get to the down beat in time (if you are not intending to make a ritard.) But let's talk specifc videos about Yulia! Thanks!
  10. Bows and autograph signing.
  11. Sorry, did not mean to discount your observations but rather to point out differences of opinion which are very common with respect to this dancer. In videos she seems to be looking at the audience and it's hard to judge the audience rapport, but I have read criticisms similar to yours. it seems to bother some people while others don't see it as a problem.
  12. No doubt opinions of Stepanova are polarized. However, the reviews of Stepanova's Queen of the Dryads in London that I'm aware have been positive. "In the Dulcinea dream – a ballet blanc reminiscence – the Bolshoi Ballet reminded us of how beautifully versatile the dancers can be. Dryads were as ethereal as swans, picturing an unattainable and idealized fantasy. As Queen of the Dryads, the Bolshoi's latest gem – another Vaganova girl – rivalled Smirnova. A rising soloist, whom Vaziev is increasingly entrusting with roles, Yulia Stepanova is a name to remember. Facing Stepanova's imperial presence and elongated lines, Daria Khokhlova's offered a clever contrast with a vigorous Cupid." https://bachtrack.com/review-bolshoi-ballet-don-quixote-smirnova-rodkin-royal-opera-house-london-july-2016 And another: "In Don Quixote’s dream – a forest-full of dryads in eau-de-nil tutus – Yulia Stepanova flits and shimmies across the stage before landing on point like a dart in a dartboard." https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/2016/448914/
  13. SFCleo


    Kolegova is a good example of a dancer who even in a role not ideally suited to her can nevertheless make something credible of it. It takes an imaginative dancer, with a lot of skill, but also a role that is not too far outside her physical appearance, personality and abilities.
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