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  1. Attempting to use microsoft so hope this gets through... I, of course, agree KFW. Certainly we can all identify dead wood principals. Three come to mind who currently lack the skills to have even a prayer of getting into the Company's Corps. Two are, of course, members of the BMIC's family: Darci (one could of course see the Allegra Kent excuse for keeping her on... if it didn't mean axing a number of corps dancers) and her stepson Nilas. And the perpetual question that is Borree... I wonder how many corps dancers could be saved if they all did the "noble thing" for the Company that has paid them all these years?
  2. Closing night, 3 January 2009 This was only my second (first last week's Morgan/T'Angle, Pereira) Nutcracker of this heavily sold season. The performance was far more energetic than the first, as they all seemed to be celebrating the end of the annual "ordeal." I didn't note any specific surprises, as in the old days when one might see Mr. B. or R. sneak in an appearance. Teresa Reichlen was a complete SPF, NYCB's most glittering ballerina (how can management continue to humiliate the Company by cheating her of Principal rank, and salary?) these Bouderless days, and lit up the stage from her first moment. Those legs!--sparkles fly from head to toe. Her partner was the ageless wonder Charles Askegard, who also pulled off the Cav's pyrotechnics. And when Big T flies backwards to mount Chuck's mountain-high shoulders...! (The week before was I think, the fourth time Kathryn Morgan's SPF was partnered by Tyler Angle. His solo work is maturing at a rapid pace--of course he's already the company's premiere at presenting a ballerina. She continues to bring together her flawless "Royal" upper body with better and better Balanchine technique below. Great harmony, of Principal quality, with new dazzle in her pointwork to go with the always present sublime beauty.) Daniel Ulbricht was spectacular as Tea, sweetly supported by Erica Pereira and Rachel Piskin, and Allen Peiffer terrific as Candy Cane, engaging the audience as he didn't miss a single jump through the hoop (last week' dancer probably missed half of them). Kathryn Morgan was a Marzipan of pure beauty and high technical merit. Sara A. Mearns was a Dew Drop for the ages. This is Mearns the great allegro ballerina, who I think began to manifest under the baton of Gergiev in her first Walpurgisnacht, reaching her peak in last season's B-S Quartet. Every moment she combined Prima Ballerina Joy and Glitter with go-for-broke Abandon. Wow! This is how they -- the best of "they" -- danced for Mr. B. So quite a pair of leads tonight, the Company's two most sparkling ballerinas (till Ashley Bouder returns) both on glorious form. Bravi!
  3. Agree, Bobbi. I hope, when she has her retirement Gala, that people will remember her from when she was NYCB's Prima Ballerina, rather than just in terms of the terrible miscastings late in her career. After all, should we blame the miscast dancer or the one who miscasts her? At least Maria Kowroski is back in Chaconne! Regarding other 'missing' dancers, rg's mention of the Bouder boot cast is terrible news, and I hope it won't lead to her losing her Mariinsky Don Quixote. As for Craig Hall, he just danced After the Rain (PdD) to great acclaim in Moscow Sunday (Ratmansky Farewell Gala), so I would not be worried about him.
  4. Here is TV-5's coverage of the Gala, including dance footage and a short interview with Nina Ananiashvili, who brought many to tears dancing Ratmansky's Leah, in which she says "He is a talented person who sees in his own way, hears in his own way. Someone says, 'Alexei, it can't be done.' And he rises to do it." She also praises his 'plastic.' Text in Russian is given on the video's page ('tho you can increase picture size to full screen) that you can have google translate: http://www.5-tv.ru/news/16044/ Russia's YouTube has a collection of videos. So far the Vishneva Cinderella, Ananiashvili Leah and the final curtain calls, in which one may see NYCB's Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall, who had danced Wheeldon's After the Rain PdD (praise given to their plastic and the perfection with which he managed many difficult partnering maneuvers): http://ru.youtube.com/user/kisa2008555 Too many reviews to recount. In general, considered a brilliantly produced gala--it would seem that during his reign Ratmansky has revolutionarily improved the quality of Russian Galas.
  5. Already a few reviews of the Ratmansky Gala have been published, and it seem that those who were announced did perform. I found the first video of the event on Russian YouTube: http://ru.youtube.com/watch?v=7is6g3Ka_Jg Vishneva/Merkuriev in Cinderella.
  6. Yesterday a surprise visitor to the Christmas Fair joined in the fun, striking a coin, kissing a child, painting a letter of the alphabet, donating a plush toy, and warmly addressing the crowd. Vesti supplies a video of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit: http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=237153&cid=5 Vladimir Vasiliev is on the list of letter painting guests, but so far no story or video.
  7. Bart, I share your season/academic year perspective. Trouble is, when you started that version of "best of" we were still mid semester here in NYC. And my "Best" was yet to come. First I must thank two ballerinas that spoiled us this year. Nina Ananiashvili danced both herself and Diana Vishneva for ABT's Met season. I don't know which was better.... But in her 40's maturity I feel she has gained more than she has lost. It is what in Russia they call Artistry. And Nina's Artistry saved a company's season. Brava. The other ballerina, NYCB's Ashley Bouder. Prima Ballerina Assoluta. She not only can save a season, she can save Balanchine. Top three performances: 3. April 19, 2008. Ekaterina Kondaurova's Waltz in the Mariinsky's performance of Balanchine's Serenade. "Big Red" owned NYC during the Saint Petersburg company's visit, and I pick this because it was her greatest role. I much prefer the best of NYCB's performances of this ballet (tempi, leads and corps), but "they" always seem to miscast at least one lead. The dream: Add Katya's Waltz to Ashley Bouder's Russian and Sara A. Mearns's Dark Angel in NYCB's production. 2. April 21, 2008. YAGP Gala, Flames of Paris PdD, Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev. Yes, an audience can get louder than for Nureyev or Baryshnikov! 1. June 24, 2008. NYCB, Balanchine's Rondo alla Zingarese, the fourth movement of his Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet. Sara A. Mearns, partnered by Amar Ramasar. Ballet is as simple as ABC: Abandon, Balanchine, Choreography. They talk about it here: http://vimeo.com/2343223 Worst? Well, I go to the ballet to enjoy it. It is Christmas, so I won't mention that guy who makes things bad...
  8. Alexei Ratmansky's Gala is this Sunday, 28 December. Details of the Gala and of his plans have been appearing in the Russian press. New Izvestiya's December 23 interview covers his experiences at the Bolshoi and goes into some detail of his current artistic projects. http://www.newizv.ru/news/2008-12-23/103678/ Probably the biggest news comes at the end of the piece, and concerns his next work for the Bolshoi. Due in two years, it will be Balzac's Lost Illusions, to a newly composed score by Leonid Desyatnikov [the composer of his Russian Seasons]. When asked by interviewer Maya Krylova "Why Balzac, do you want to respond to the old Soviet ballet of the same name that starred Galina Ulyanova?" Ratmansky answered: The article begins with Ratmansky asked about his feelings leaving the Bolshoi and what he achieved and did not achieve: He was asked whether Gergiev of the Mariinsky was ready to "give him paradise", free from administrative functions, so that he could implement only artistic leadership. Ratmansky said there was no conversation on this topic. The choreographer listed his forthcoming projects. January: Shchedrin's Humpbacked Horse for the Mariinsky, April: Russian Seasons for the San Francisco Ballet, June: ABT's On the Dnieper, end of summer: in Australia Carlo Goldoni's Scuola di Ballo, story of an 18th C. ballet troupe with a Prima, wealthy patrons, talented new debutante etc. He is also in negotiations with Sergei Filin's Moscow Musical Theater, nothing yet finalized. After some talk on the shortage of choreographers for the classical vocabulary and on his ABT contract, Ms. Krylova asked him "Is it true that Natalia Osipova goes to ABT on your recommendation?" The Bolshoi's site now lists the dancers and choreographers for the December 28 Gala. Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall will represent America, presumably dancing the PdD from After the Rain. Ratmansky's Leah will be danced by Nina Ananiashvili probably with Uvarov as partner. Diana Vishneva will dance (perhaps in his Mariinsky Cinderella). Recently retired Sergei Filin is also on the schedule. Svetlana Zakharova is one of very few principals who will perform, having danced his work at the Mariinsky and elsewhere, and recently having scored a sensation in Russian Seasons at the Bolshoi. The young stars Mr. Ratmansky has developed will otherwise dominate at the event. For those wondering about the lack of principals, his difficulties will senior Bolshoi stars is somewhat covered in his Ismene Brown interview that can be found under her thread in Writings on Ballet, or directly at: http://web.me.com/cijc/ib/L-Z_files/Exit,%20In%20Flames.pdf This latter article also includes his commentary on why he was not allowed to produce a new Sleepinig Beauty to replace Grigorovich's production at the Bolshoi this year. May be interesting news to ABT fans...
  9. From today's Gia Kourlas article in Links, a singularly beautiful farewell to Mr. Barnes: Whenever I see her again, I suspect I'll think of Clive. There could be no more beautiful monument.
  10. If you look at ticket availability for NYCB's George Balanchine's The NutcrackerTM on their site, it has been pretty much sold out all season. When I've gone to buy tickets at the Box Office extremely little has been available. If memory isn't failing me, sales look better than last year, and Nut is much more expensive than rep. There is greater availability for after Christmas performances.
  11. Diana Vishneva was the featured celebrity at the opening of the third Saint Petersburgh Christmas Fair last weekend in Ostrovsky Square. This is a charity event, lasting through January 7, to benefit children in the city's orphanages. Under the main tree is a "Magic Box" where visitors may place clothes, shoes and soft toys for the children. Later, Father Christmas will deliver the gifts to them. Ms. Vishneva may be seen about 1 minute 50 seconds into the video report. She is painting an "A" onto a painting of an Angel (a symbol she says is important to her). The painting will be auctioned to raise money for charity. http://news.ntv.ru/spb/146468/ Toward the lower right of the vid screen one can click to get a full-sized picture.
  12. drb

    Russian Seasons

    Marc Haegeman has added a number of photos of November 16th's performance of Russian Seasons--some casting variation from those seen above, but lots for Osipova fans. Thanks! http://www.for-ballet-lovers-only.com/bols...easons2008.html
  13. Saturday matinee, December 13, 2008 Varna Champion Whitney Jensen in Valentina Kozlova's Nutcracker Even though Ms. Kozlova plays Drosselmeyer (here a Countess) this is a very traditional Nutcracker, and even though there are some professional dancers this is very much a school performance. And it is the school's style that stands out. Very Russian, of course, but far more Bolshoi than (contemporary) Mariinsky. No ballerinas here trying to kick stars out of the sky, just the harmony of indivisible upper and lower bodies, dancing with rigor and personality. Sugar Plum Fairy Whitney Jensen first appears early in Act II, welcoming the participants to Land of the Sweets. Toward the end, she and her regular partner Albert Davydov dance the grand PdD: adagio, two variations each, and coda. Ms. Jensen's first moments on stage speak wonders. She seems to tower majestically over the scene: Symphony Space's stage is small and many of the student dancers are, of course, not yet to full height. But it is, I think, her posture, so admired by Vladimir Vasiliev at Varna, that accounts for much of this majesty (her natural blonde beauty doesn't hurt, either). There is a rightness for the authority of this role, and a right for her to be the ballerina dancing it. If Ms. Jensen does go beyond competitions (frankly winning anything else after Varna Junior Special Distinction Grand Prix would be a step down), I hope she finds a company with strong coaching and a sense that, though she might well begin with some non-principal roles, this authority would best not be held back or deflected for certain very homogeneous corps work. Throughout her performance she projects loads of warmth, but real interaction (to miss a kiss of Clara's cheek by more than a foot, for example) probably needs the nourishment of being in a company. Technically, she reflects the school's whole-dancer approach. The arms and hands amaze, but always and only in context of the complete picture. There are the prize-winning, yet never excessive moves, fouettes especially. These turns have none of the flailing-too-high working leg's foot that may be seen in some St. Petersburg ballerinas... There are other dancers coming of age under Ms. Kozlova. Among those who seem just about company-ready is Snow Queen (and later in Waltz of the Flowers) Lindsay Colavito (clearly ready for a physically larger stage!), and among the Snowflakes (this Snow Scene is among the highlights of Valentina's production), a long-stemmed blonde who brought hints of NYCB's Tess Reichlen, within context of the school's softer style. In Act II Zsofia Solta showed splendid allegro as the Russian. The young Clara (Masha), Maggie Yin Horowitz, later got to flash her pointes in a diagonal of pirouttes in which she rapidly changed legs. There are a lot of gifted young talents here. My favorite Whitney Jensen memory came after the ballet ended. The dancers on stage for their bows, and out came Valentina Kozlova to praise and thank the audience, and tell us that they would be back on June 13, graduation performance, with Act III Swan Lake, some of Russlan and Lyudmilla, and a premiere. Throughout this Whitney's faced glowed with the kind of love that I've seen Bolshoi and Mariinsky ballerinas radiate on occasions when their teachers joined them on stage. This was a Russian ballerina and her Russian teacher. Where you're born doesn't matter. A ballerina is a ballerina.
  14. Getting back to the dancer in question, Whitney Jensen, it seems that competition as such was her motivation to study ballet. From a September 7th interview in Utah's Deseret News she explains why--as a little girl studying tap, jazz, and ballet--ballet took over: A bit of googling shows she has entered YAGP in '05 (Junior Gold at age 12), '06, and '07 (Junior Silver); WBC Orlando '07 (Junior Gold); Seoul '07 (Gold); Varna '06, '08 (Special Distinction, above Junior Gold). She has surely been active! Yet there are Vladimir Vasiliev's words: Surely this will be an interesting career (if she choses to have one) to follow...
  15. Further information on Whitney Jensen's win was given by Nina Alovert* in last week's issue of Brooklyn's Russian language weekly, Russian Bazar. Included was an interview with Ms. Jensen's teacher Valentina Kozlova that included a quote from Varna's judge Vladimir Vasiliev. Referring to Ms. Jensen as Grand Prix winner, the first American to do so in the competition's 44 year history, Ms. Alovert quotes former Bolshoi and NYCB ballerina Kozlova: The rest of the article goes into great detail about Ms. Kozlova's school, and also alerts readers that Whitney Jensen will be dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy in Valentina Kozlova's production of the Nutcracker this coming Saturday at NYC's Symphony Space. * http://www.russian-bazaar.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=13887
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