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Everything posted by chiapuris

  1. ABT 7:30 pm 15 June, 2009 Airs/La Sylphide I'll start with a dissenting view. I liked the dancers in Taylor's Airs and my view is that they did very well with the choreography. I agree with an earlier poster that the Tipton lighting was rather dim. But since we had seats in the second row of the orchestra, we had no problems, even with facial expressions. I singled out Arron Scott for his full projection, his facial connection with his partner, and his bright stage presence. The entire cast was, in my view, splendid and glowed brightly as dancers on the stage of the Met. If Airs seemed to some a sparse offering on the Met stage, La Sylphide's first act seemed, to this viewer, crowded and somehow chaotic with Desmond Heeley's scenery and costumes and full cast on stage. In short, I had trouble liking ABT's production of La Sylphide, especially the first act. The cast principals were nevertheless excellent. Ms Osipova, with her air-borne gifts and the fullness of her characterization, was matched by the virtuosity of Mr. Cornejo's virile dancing. My first view of Daniil Simkin as Gurn leads me to believe he will be a formidable major dancer in time. Just not yet. Ms Raffa's Madge was outstanding as visual theatre and mimetic concision. The second act with its verdant, post-card pretty setting is a better background for the romantic/Bournonville style that Ms. Osipova has, in this viewer's eye, mastered so artfully and so convincingly. Mr. Cornejo was simply spectacular in this act. The corps of eighteen sylphs looked well rehearsed but lacked the final stamp of stylistic cohesion. I singled out Christine Shevchenko for her lovely stage presence. Programmatically, it would have been better for La Sylphide to have preceded the performances of Giselle. La Sylphide's tale, of a young man's folly in chasing after an out-of-the-ordinary fancy of his is not the heart-warming story of love and redemption. The audience responded warmly to Ms Osipova and Mr Cornejo at the curtain calls.
  2. NYCBallet Dancers' Choice 7:30 pm June 14, 2009 I agree with the comments of the posters before me, DeborahB and vipa: this was an evening of great dancing and of excellent works presented with care and great love. My favorite works, both for choreographic content and performance execution, were the "In G Major" excerpt with Rebecca Krohn and Adrian Danchig-Waring; and the delightful "Valse-Fantaisie" with Tiler Peck and Christian Tworzynski and the quartet of Collins, Johnson, Keenan and Sell. Performers who stood out for me were the charismatic Russell Janzen, partnering Savannah Lowery in "The Waltz Project", Zungre and Prottas in the "Dances at a Gathering" excerpt, and Kathryn Morgan and Tyler Angle in "The Sleeping Beauty" pdd -and the three soloists of "Serenade". This is not to say that I didn't thoroughly enjoy the fresh and original choreography of Ashley Bouder with its bold musical selections and the full-out and joyful dancing of Gilliland and Ramasar, and Pollack and Suozzi. I found it, as well as the costumes of Janie Taylor, witty and delightful. And, of course, the closing "Union Jack" made everyone leave the theatre with a smile. A great evening.
  3. ABT 8 pm June 13 2009 Giselle Natalia Osipova David Hallberg Jared Matthews (Hilarion) Susan Jones (Berthe) Kristi Boone (Bathilde) Hee Seo, Blaine Hoven (pdd) Veronika Part (Myrta) Melanie Hamrick (Moyna) Leann Underwood (Zulma) Ormsby Wilkins, conductor This was a performance with a dream team! From her very first entrance, Ms Osipova executed her manege of ballonnés en avant by sketching the step itself but taking the propulsion of the step in the air as a declaration of love for dance. It was like a platonic template of a ballonné. She placed into service her many gifts, including her extraordinary buoyancy, for delineating the character of Giselle. The results are impressive. Never have I recalled the mimed scenes in the first act being so expressive in telling the story. In this respect, kudos is also due to Susan Jones, for her enactment of the role of Giselle's mother. She gave us a very moving portrait. Mr Hallberg, with his striking physical appearance, is a serendipitous match for Osipova's Giselle. His dancing is impeccable. At the very end of the 'mad' scene his miming reached a level of conviction that promises further development away from the rhetorical response, and the pointing of the foot when things heat up. In the second act, his performance seemed to me to be deeper felt and more profoundly integrated. At the end of his variation, lying prostrate on the ground, his head and face continued to register the inner turmoil he was facing with remorse. His sequence of entre-chat-six (replacing the brises) was a brilliant example of pure dance evoking for the viewer inner-felt passion. Ms Osipova was, simply put, dazzling in the second act. Everything she did, served to realize the story she was telling. She told it very, very well. Ms Part, as Myrta, showed us the platonic template of unrequited love and its consequence of rejecting all communication with others. She was the perfect foil and background for the redemptive love of Giselle. Her authoritative interpretation was exemplary. And she is probably, in my view, one of the most beautiful Myrtas ever. The two demis were excellent. Underwood received the most enthusiastic audience ovation at the end of the Zulma variation. I haven't much to say of the ensembles except that it is notable that they are trained in various schools, esp. in the treatment of epaulement and head positions. Even the attack of the first movement in the beginning of a sequence suggests different training backgrounds. I liked very much the Hilarion of Jared Matthews, even though he reverts to an older tradition of Hilarion as a somewhat villainous character in his rivalry with the village and social 'outsider'. The pas de deux in the first act was better integrated story-wise than in other versions as entertainment for Bathilde and her entourage. It still doesn't make sense to me why it is there except as filler to make the ballet longer. It was, nevertheless, beautifully danced by Hee Seo and Blaine Hoven. Kristi Boone looked gorgeous as Bathilde in the costume of Anna Anni. The shimmering surface of her riding outfit's fabric created an opulent effect along with the resplendently dressed hunting party and its accompanying pair of elegant Borzoi (Russian wolfhounds). All the costumes of Anna Anni were beautiful. Ms Osipova remained true to her character even in the curtain calls. When she moved to bring on stage the conductor, Ormsby Wilkins, she took his hand and kissed him on the cheek. She also, at some point, kissed the cheek of her partner David Hallberg during the extended curtain calls. Bravi to Ms Osipova. Bravi to all in the dream cast.
  4. Thank you cygneblanc, for writing so movingly of this historic evening.
  5. 22/3/09 Closing gala of the 9th Int'l Ballet Festival -Mariinsky The closing gala of the festival has, in my experience, been somewhat of a hit- and-miss affair. This year's, had a lot of bright spots, some inexplicable choices, and some 'stuff happens' moments. Bright spots were 1) the participation in the festival of the Novosibirsk Company (Siberia) directed by Igor Zelensky (who also danced the male lead), performing Balanchine's Who Cares?, 2) MacMillan's Manon pairing Viktoria Tereshkina and Marcelo Gomes; 3) some other nicely done pdds, and 4) the staging of Balanchine's Theme and Variations, even if all the dancing in it was not top-drawer. Some negatives were 1) the inclusion of a Dying Swan, in a company that boasts the unparalleled interpretation of Ulyana Lopatkina in the role; while Ms Lopatkina 2) in the same program 'amused' the audience in a long-drawn-out pdd of Christian Spuck that satirized ballet conventions to overtures of Rossini; the kind of thing the Ballets Trockadero does better, more wittily, by targeting the point of the satire without prolixity. Mr Spuck needs to learn about editing. The opening work introduced, (to, indeed many others besides myself) the Siberian company, and what a joy it was! Beautifully prepared (the program mentions no rehearsal coach for the work), it was nice to see the director, with his accumulated knowledge of the work and the style of Balanchine, passing on his knowledge to his company members and dancing with them at the same time. There was something very admirable about Zelensky. While dancing with his three soloists, he showed a pride and love for them that I found very touching. The company displays a wider range of body types, even among the men, more like what is found in smaller companies than what is found in the Mariinsky company. The first eight songs of the work, danced by the corps de ballet, ten women in bright pink tutus, five in bright blue tutus, the five men in gray shirts and pants, all danced with a sweet disposition and a bright spirit. I'd like to see more of them. The next eight songs danced by Zelensky and his three soloists were lovingly prepared and intelligently interpreted. The inclusion of the Novosibirsk Theatre Ballet added luster to the grandiloquently named Gala Concert of World Ballet Stars So did the Tereshkina- Gomes Manon which was in one word hot hot HOT. Truly a performance of technical wizardry and personal chemistry serving the expression of emotional outpouring and spontaneity. The other pas de deux in order: Flames of Paris was nicely danced by Golub and Lobukhin but the choreography struck me as soviet bombast: cheerless. But good fodder for competitions. Agnes Oak and Thomas Edur of the English National Ballet danced a romantic pdd of Derek Deane to Schubert played on piano onstage. It was carefully rendered, elegantly precise but lacking enough spontaneity to turn it into a performing work of art. Vishneva and Malakhov danced Angelin Preljocaj's The Park duet very intently. The audience loved it and 'bravoed' it repeatedly. I have no idea what it is about, or whether it was well-danced. I simply have no clue. It seems to be a good star turn. The final duet, everyone's favorite ballet chestnut, the Don Quixote pas de deux, was elegantly danced by Eugenia Obraztsova, enthusiastically partnered by Angel Corella of ABT. At times too enthusiastically. No need for details. You've probably seen it already on YouTube. Obraztsova remains a dancer of extreme refinement and technical facility. The evening closed with Theme and Variations, elegantly set with a backdrop based on the Mariinsky painted 'curtain' and tutus for the ensemble in the colors of Mariinsky blue and gold with the addition of dark peacock blue. The principals' costumes are white for the tutu and pale gray for the man. Vladimir Shkyarov was exemplary as the cavalier, Alina Somova was elegant in appearance but, in my view, lacking in qualities that are requisite for a ballet that, when it was first commissioned from Mr. Balanchine from (then) Ballet Theatre was requested by the commissioner to be a ballet."in the grand manner". And that's exactly what George Balanchine created (or as he would say, 'crafted'). In her opening presentation the principal dancer has in her choreography gargouillades to perform. I saw pale imitations of gargouillades sketched by Ms Somova. In the stately adage when the two demi-soloist women support the principal while the six other demi-soloists weave daisy chains around them the prinicipal dancer performs developpés in body positions of croisé, effacé, ecarté. Ms Somova simply concentrates on the highest extension of her developed leg, without the niceties of creating contrapposto lines of croise, ecarte, and so on, lines of complex symmetry that are part of certain choreographies. She simply lifts her leg and forgets body positions. Is the choreography not impoverished? My problem with her is not personal dislike. I think she is charming. But I think she ignores as inconsequential what some of us consider as requisite behaviors in classical dance. It could be that classical dance is changing. It could be that she is in the vanguard of a reforming art, one that I am not aware of. Still, a whole ballet cannot be ruined by one person's flaws. There are still any number of moments of beauty in a ballet that uses the unadorned vocabulary of the classroom more than any other ballet Balanchine created. In one way it makes it the one ballet closest to Petipa in spirit. The male variation of Shklyarov with its diagonal ronds de jambe en l'air sautés, and the jumps crossing the front of the downstage area, followed by the series of tours en l'air and en dehors pirouettes initiated at the back of center stage moving forward, all without any filler steps was thrilling work. But then so is the finale with its polonaise melody building force little by little until after a long diagonal line the entire cast led by the principals dance in unison to bring the work to an end. And also the end of the festival; at least for another year. Edited twice to correct garbled names.
  6. Tarantella was danced by Nadezhda Gonchar, I believe a debut for her.
  7. 21/3/09 Giselle Fantastic ballet in two acts Music Adolphe Adam Libretto Jules Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, Theophile Gautier, Jean Coralli Choreography Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa Set Design Igor Ivanov Costume Design Irina Press Reconstruction Consultant Yuri Slonimsky Giselle Diana Vishneva Albert Marcelo Gomes Berthe Anastasia Vasilets Bathilde Elena Bazhenova Hans Ilya Kuznetsov Sword-bearer Maxim Khrebtov Duke Vladimir Ponomaryov Classical Duet Valeria Martynuk Filipp Styopin Myrtha Yekaterina Kondaurove Monna Oxana Skorik Zulma Xenia Ostreikovskaya The last ballet of the festival starred Diana Vishneva, ABT's Marcelo Gomes and the majestic Yekaterina Kondaurova as Myrtha. The evening as a whole was richly rewarding, with Ms Vishneva's performance thoughtfully replete with a detailed reading of the role, at times even idiomatic. Certain passages, in both acts, seemed, in my view, performed so slowly, that the flow of the story telling and the musical pulse appeared disrupted. In earlier views of the Mariinsky's production of Giselle I had commented on how efficiently the story telling advanced throughout the first act. I don't find that this statement applies to this performance. Ms Vishneva looked extremely ethereal in the first act, in a pale, dusty pink bodice, which contrasted with the rather bright costumes of the ensemble, and had her hair worn back, gathered, but left down. She didn't loosen and free the hair for the 'mad' scene. The 'mad' scene relied on her expressive body language to signal the effect of events on her state of being. It was a very moving scene, free of rhetorical gestures, and profoundly simple and clear. Marcelo Gomes was the impetuous youth/noble cad, par excellence. The Hans/Hilarion of Ilya Kuznetsov was very well done. I really enjoyed his performance of a character one can only feel sympathy for, since his actions are by no means villainous. I have no idea whether I have ever seen before the classical pas de deux inserted in the first act or where it came from. Every time I see Giselle it seems a different pdd. This one looked 'Bournonville'-like and was very well-danced by the charming Martynuk and Styopin. (Styopin's double tours times two ending in 5th demi-plie were exemplary). The second act held together better with the imperious presence of Kondaurova's Myrtha, a figure suggesting contained fury. The amplitude of her dancing confirmed her reign over the realm of the Wilis, discontented ghosts seeking redemption -for themselves, or in the case of Giselle for her beloved. A high-point of Vishneva's performance was, for me, her initiation into the sorority of the Wilis with the grands pirouettes en arabesque at dazzling speed. In contrast, some of her adage movements were slower than usually seen. Mr Gomes' highpoint was his series of entre-chats six with the arms in different positions, exemplifying a soul in a tormented state of remorse. Altogether, this was an evening of exceptional dancing. The audience was appreciative with sustained applause, many flower tributes, endless curtain calls. Mikhail Agrest conducted.
  8. 20/3/09 La Bayadère Ballet in three acts, five scenes Music Ludwig Minkus Choreography Marius Petipa (Vladimir Ponomarev/Vakhtang Chabukiani version) Additional Dances Konstantin Sergeev & Nikolai Zubkovsky Nikiya Polina Semionova (Staatsballett Berlin) Rajah Pyotr Stasiunas Gamzatti Anastasia Matvienko (debut) Solor Igor Zelensky Brahmin Vladimir Ponomarev Magdayeva Grigory Popov Toloragva Andrei Yakovlev 1st Slave Sergei Salikov Aiya Elena Bazhenova Jampo Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Yana Selina Pas de quatre Valeria Martynuk, Yana Selina, Anna Lavrienko, Elena Chmil Grand Pas Classique Anastasia Matvienko and Igor Zelensky with Alexandra Iosifidi, Yekaterina Kondaurova, Lillia Lishchuk, Yuliana Chereshkevich, Alexander Romanchikov,Sergei Popov Indian Dance Anastasia Petushkova Islom Baimuradov Fyodor Murashov Golden Idol Alexei Timofeyev Manu Elena Yuskovskaya Shades Variations Yevgenia Obraztsova Nadezhda Gonchar Daria Vasnetsova This evening's performance featured the work I most enjoy seeing at the Mariinsky --(Well, not exactly; first on my list would be the Vikharev reconstruction of Bayadere, which, at least, I have already seen twice at an earlier festival). Moreover, this evening's cast featured superb performances by all three principals, the guest Nikiya, Polina Semionova, Igor Zelensky's Solor, and newly joined soloist Anastasia Matvienko's Gamzatti. To call this a star-studded evening would be no exaggeration. Besides the principals, the performance included extraordinary contributions from Evgenia Obraztsova Daria Vasnetsova and Nadezhda Gonchar as Shades, Alexei Timofeyev's golden idol, Grigory Popov as a very good Magdayeva, the very energetic pair of Anastasia Petushkova and Islom Baimuradov in the 'Indian' dance (that, in spite of all, I am learning to like) and, not least, the female ensemble in the descent of the Shades, one and all, crystalline and shimmering as if with an inner, deep-sourced energy. Polina Semionova, in my first view of her, was truly a joy to watch. She placed all of her profound technical resources in the service of the role. Never once, did she display virtuosic proficiency for its own sake outside the bounds of the role. She was intensely moving in her dance for the wedding celebrations, extending the wide range of movement, from astonishing balances on pointe before 'developing' the leg, to meltingly slow port de bras. The 'Shades' pas de deux was impeccably performed. The assurance of her bearing remained serene throughout the proceedings. The scarf dance with its pirouettes en arabesque unfolded seamlessly as if the creature performing it were freed from gravity and other physical laws. Zelensky gave an outstanding performance with attentive partnering and unleashed power in his variations, with jumps that hovered in the air, and impetuous runs and secure turns both in the air and on the ground. I have not seen him in years exhibiting this kind of explosive force in his dancing. Anastasia Matvienko, whom I had the privilege to see win the senior Gold in the 2005 Moscow Competition, was somewhat demure in her first pantomimic scene with Nikiya, but came into her element with the Grand Pas Classique where she showed lush lines and exquisite phrasing in her variations and the double work with Zelensky. The pas de quatre of the bayaderes in the second act (Martynuk, Selina, Lavrinenko, Chmil) was particularly handsome. The production as a whole looked exquisite, and it could be that there were a few new costumes. I even enjoyed dances that usually leave me indifferent such as Manu (the dancer with the jug on her head) and the Jampo, which opens the second scene. Jampo was led in this performance by Xenia Ostreikovskaya and Yana Selina. The Vaganova Academy students danced capably, accompanying either the Golden Idol or Manu. Mikhail Sinkevich conducted with his usual brisk efficiency, enhancing Minkus' score. Audience response was enthusiastic and long with applause. The principals and indeed the entire company deserved all the bravi.
  9. 19/3/09 Ulyana Lopatkina Gala Evening Mariinsky Diamonds Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky Choreography George Balanchine Scenery Peter Harvey Costumes Karinska/Holly Hines Lighting Roland Bates/Perry Silvey Cast: Ulyana Lopatkina Danila Korsuntsev Maria Chugai, Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Daria Vasnetsova, Yekaterina Ivannikova Sergei Popov, Andrei Ermakov, Maxim Zyuzin, Konstantin Zverev Part II Divertissements 1. The Parting Music John Powell, Choreo. Yury Smekalov Yevgenia Obraztsova Vladimir Shklyarov 2. The Crane Music L Eto, M Yamaguchi, R Tosha Choreo. Alexey Ratmansky Dmitry Gudanov 3. Duet of Autumn Colors Music Arvo Part Choreo. Yevgeny Panfilov Elvira Tarasova Andrey Batalov 4. The Old Photograph Music Dmitry Shostakovich Choreo. Dmitry Briantsev Irina Golub Ivan Sitnikov 5. Contradictions Music Yann Tiersen Choreo. Francesco Ventriglia Ulyana Lopatkina Ivan Kozlov Part III Scheherazade Music Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Choreography Michel Fokine/Isabelle Fokine & Andris Liepa Set and Costume Design Leon Bakst/Anna & Anatoly Nezhny Zobeide Ulyana Lopatkina Golden Slave Dmitry Gudanov Shah Shahryar Ivan Sitnikov (debut) Shakhezman Karen Ioannisyan Chief Eunuch Roman Skripkin Odalisques Elena Bazhenova, Ji Yeon Ryu, Yulia Smirnova The gala of Ulyana Lopatkina presented a brilliant tiara of luminous dancing with the performance of the first ballet, Balanchine's third act of Jewels. What a beauty of a performance it was! It is easy to praise the pas de deux, the centerpiece of the tiara and the largest jewel of the lot, for its luxurious amplitude of movement, nobility of gesture, and the emotional resonance of its coupled poses. For me, this performance of Ms Lopatkina's will remain in my memory as one of the most vivid readings of the role that I know. Danila Korsuntsev was impeccable as the devoted cavalier. His double-work was assured and his variations were handsome. The ballet, Balanchine's tribute to his Mariinsky upbringing, with its recollection of high-style Imperial Russian dance, boasted, in this performance, an ensemble of dancers showing us the grandeur and elegance (and the deep balancé, typical of the Mariinsky style, stressing the downbeat). Among the demi-soloists, all excellent, I particularly liked Daria Vasnetsova and Maxim Zyuzin. The musical finale's polonaise created, in waves of patterns of increasing complexity, a melding of the principals and the demi-soloists and the ensemble, until, at the end, we had before us a collective organism - the ballet, larger that any of its parts. Altogether, a thrilling performance. The second part with five divertissements was a refreshing collection of dance miniatures showing off the dancers in different choreographic styles. Standouts for me were the first duet with witty choreography by Yury Smekalov, where Obraztsova and Shklyarov show the sorrows of love with the pulse of the tango. Save for Gudanov's zen-like solo by Ratmansky, the other duets all dealt with aspects of the pains of sexual needs/love/loss. The Scheherazade had very-well appreciated performances by Ms Lopatkina and Mr Gudanov. Since I remember the old Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo performances of the same work in NYC, my memory remains faithful to the old. Curtains calls for Ms Lopatkina were endless. Mikahil Sinkevich conducted with his usual panache. I enjoyed both his Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov readings.
  10. 18/3/09 SWAN LAKE Fantasy ballet in three acts (4 scenes) Music Pyotr Tchaikovsky Libretto Vladimir Begichev and Vasiy Geltzer Choreography Marius Petipa and Lev ivanov (1895) revised by Konstantin Sergeyev Set design Simon Virsaladze Costume design Galina Solovyova Odette-Odile Viktoria Tereshkina Siegfried Mikhail Kaniskin Princess/Mother Elena Bazhenova Tutor Pyotr Stasyunas Pas de Trois Irina Golub Nadezhda Gonchar Maxim Zyuzin Joker Andrei Ivanov Rothbart Ilya Kuznetzov Cygnets Elena Yushkovskaya Anastasia Mikitina Anna Lavrinenko Yana Selina Big Swans Alexandra Iosifidi Yekaterina Kondaurova Lilia lishchuk Daria Vasnetsova Spanish Ji Yeon Ryu Yulia Smirnova Islom Baimuradov Alexander Sergeyev Neapolitan Yana Selina Maxim Khrebtov Hungarian Polina Rassadina Karen Ioanissyan Mazurka Daria Barinova Olga Belik Anastasia Vasilets Svetlana Khrebtova Igor Nikitin Sergei Salikov Alexander Klimov Nikolai Naumov Although I made this point after last year's run of five consecutive Swan Lakes, I'll repeat myself: the Mariinsky's production of Sergeyev's SL is one of the most satisfying productions extant. The first act is a marvel of story telling, scene setting and just beguilingly conceived dance sequences. The lake scene is without fault. The Odile scene sets the standard. In my view, It is also the one that most needs rethinking to bring its Act III back into consonance with its musical springboard: the score of Tchaikovsky. It needs to let go of its Soviet happy ending. Tonight's performance featured Viktoria Tereshkina, an artist, who, at least for me, sets the standard of dancing the dual roles as pure vessels of choreography unfettered of personal ornamentation. She was transcendently beautiful throughout. The purity of her line, the acuity of her perception were very moving. Her partner, Mikhail Kaniskin, a guest from the Berlin Staatsballet, was a solid partner, an accurate dancer, but, at least personally I failed to see him at any point in the proceedings express any passion of anxiety, remorse, pain of love or anything else that the unfolding events could have provoked in him. An association I hold for the first act pas de trois is dancing as the abandon of youth. I missed this feeling of carefree delight in tonight's performers of the trio, who were technically superb but somewhat restrained. The ensemble dances, in all the acts, as always with the Mariinsky company, were fully articulated, rich with details, spilling over with interest. The character dances of the Mariinsky three-act ballets keep alive the rich musical folk and court traditions upon which the ballet's danse d'ecole is nourished. Tonight's Hungarian and Mazurka ensembles are bright examples. Tonight's audience was loaded with digital cameras and flashes that kept going off throughout the performance- particularly bothersome during the lake scene. Another jarring audience event was a clacquer's shouted 'bravo' during the lake scene with Rothbart alone on stage. Simply weird. Mikhail Agrest conducted energetically. Applause was warm and curtain calls were extended. Mr Kaniskin on receiving floral bouquets offered them in turn to Ms Tereshkina. A nice gesture.
  11. 17/3/98 Don Quixote Grand ballet in three acts, six scenes with a prologue Libretto by Marius Petipa after Cervantes Choreography by Alexander Gorsky after Petipa Gypsy and Oriental dances by Nina Anisimova Fandango by Fyodor Lopukhov Set design by Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin Set restoration by Mikhail Shishlianikov' Costume design by Konstantin Korovin Don Quixote Vladimir Ponomarev Sancho Panza Stanislav Burov Lorenzo Nikolai Naumov Kitri Viengsay Valdes Basil Leonid Sarafanov Gamache Soslan Kulaev Espada Konstantin Zverev Street Dancer Yekaterina Kondaurova Flower-sellers Nadezhda Gonchar Yana Selina Lady Dryad Tatiana Tkachenko Amour Valeria Martynyuk Mercedes Elena Bazhenova Tavern Owner Alexander Efremov Gypsy Dance Alina Sokolova Islom Baimuradov Oriental Dance Yulia Smirnova Fandango Ji Yeon Ryu Karen Ioanissyan Variation Anastasia Nikitina I looked forward with anticipation for yet another Kitri in this age of Osipova. Ms Valdes from the Ballet Nacional de Cuba shone brightly. Gifted with an open face and a forthright style, she developed her characterization in stages, showing us various facets of her theatrical demi-caractère personality. I found the pairing of Ms Valdes and Mr Sarafanov entirely felicitous. His blond sleek looks and her dark-haired Mediterranean disposition created palpable synergy. And just to get it out of the way in this review as early as possible, the as yet developing double-work skills of Mr Sarafanov notwithstanding, they worked very well together. They were delightful in the first scene, generally carried out musically at a brisk pace, establishing the parameters of their growing relationship. Konstanin Zverev made a fine Espada with his deeply arching backbends and acute rhythmic precision. He partnered the always glamorous Yekaterina Kondaurova with panache. Nadezhda Gonchar and Yana Selina were flower-sellers of free spirited, stylish extroversion. Very smart. The character and pantomimic parts, from Soslan Kulaev's Gamache to Don Quixote's team of Vladimir Ponomarev and Stanislav Burov maintained the high standards of the Mariinsky's 'grand' ballet traditions. It was a pleasure to see them all. The same can be said of the male corps de ballet toreadors. What a fine showing they make! The dream scene had a beautiful performance of Lady Dryad (as the program calls her) by the unannounced Tatiana Tkachenko (for the program's listed Alina Somova). I checked the lobby at intermission to see whether they had listed the substitution on the poster as they've done at other performances -rather than announce it over the loudspeakers-, but there was nothing. It seems to me a curious omission on the part of the Mariinsky management. Ms Valdes exhibited a total conviction in the choreographic material she was exhibiting, a legacy of the Alicia Alonso tradition she has inherited. Valeria Martinyuk was, as usual, as fresh as a spring bulb as Amour. The female corps and the Vaganova academy students were a joy. Ji Yeon Ryu and Karen Ioannisyan danced Lopukhov's Fandango with precision and style. A stunning performance. A standout of the third act was the wedding variation of Anastasia Nikitina. She is another one to watch for in future performances. The wedding pas de deux was a totally fulfilling experience. The entrée and adagio were in the grand manner with some thrilling balances by Ms Valdes, and save for some double-work difficulties, in a clear style. The variations were models of technical achievement. The coda brought astonishing feats from both principals, contributing to a lovely evening of classical dance from the principals, and indeed, from the entire cast. Audience applause was warm and long. Pavel Bubelnikov conducted with zest and authority.
  12. 15 March 2009, Mikhailovsky Theatre, St. Petersburg Le Corsaire (premiere 13 March 2009) Ballet in two acts, four scenes with prologue and epilogue Music Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Ricardo Drigo and Peter Oldenburgsky Libretto Henri Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier, edited by Yuri Slonimsky Choreography Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa, Pyotr Gusev revised by Farukh Ruzimatov Choreography of Palestinian and Algerian dances and the fight scene of the corsairs George Kovtun Set & Costumes Valery Levental Lighting Mikhail Mekler Conductor Andrey Danilov Conrad Mikhail Sivakov Ali Aydos Zakan Birbanto Andrei Kasianenko Medora Irina Kosheleva Gulnara Yulia Tikka Seid Pasha Andrei Bregvadze Isaac Lankedem Alexander Omar Eunuchs Pavel Novosyolov, Igor Filimonov Odalisques Elena Kotsyubira, Valeria Zhuravlyova, Viktoria Kutepova Corsairs' friends Olga Semyonova, Kristina Makhviladze, Nina Osmanova Birbanto's friends Roman Petukhov, Nikolay Arzyayev Algerian dance Alexander Abdukarimov Little moors Students of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet My first visit to the Mikhailovsky theatre (at present the theatre has returned to its original name, after having been known successively as the Maly, and then the Moussorgsky) was an altogether pleasant evening viewing the third showing of the Mikhailovsky's revised Corsaire. The revision is the work of its new artistic director, Farukh Ruzimatov, retired Mariinsky 'star'. A St.P newspaper article states that in the new version: "changes have been made in several solo performances and in the famous Pas de trois of Conrad, Ali and Medora". Another reason for the revision is to trim the work to two acts from the conventional three. In Ruzimatov's words: "…in the modern world time is very dynamic, and I want the public to enjoy a spectacular performance; I want to avoid a situation in which the audience would be bored." While I didn't time the length of the performance (it started a little after 7, ended sometime after nine and before ten; forgot to check the time), boredom never came near the theatre. My impressions in order of relevance: The aural component. The theatre's orchestra is an exceptional ensemble of some fifty members. The musical pastiche -of Adams original score and all the accretions over time supplementing it- has never sounded better to me than as played by the Mikhailovsky orchestra, conducted this evening by Andrey Danilov. The pace was brisk, a reflection of the pace of the modern world? The visual component. The sets (and costumes) of Valery Levental are lavish and arresting compositions. They tend to travel a path from naïve realism to abstraction. I particularly enjoyed the Act II palace scene for its 'orientalist' color but with non-objective qualities. The tutus of the Jardin Anime scene reach a peak of refinement in coloration and decoration which contrasts with the earthy sun- soaked colors of the shore and market scenes and the status- revealing garments of the merchants and the rulers. The story line. For anyone who reads synopses of the libretto, the Mikahilovsky's is as confused as any other I've read. Forget the story. It never made sense. Choreography. It is spectacular and it is not boring. Dancing. The ensembles were energetic, concise and handsome. The heart of the evening is in the Jardin Anime scene, which exhibits through classical dancing the female ethereality of being. The principals were at their best in this scene, Irina Kosheleva as Medora and Yulia Tikka as Gulnara. Among my first impressions, I liked the work of Andrei Kasianenko as Birbanto, especially his character dancing, which makes me want to see him in other roles. In my view, Alexander Omar gave a strong performance as Lankendem, both in his classical dancing and his characterization of an unwholesome personality. The other dancer I noted was the 19-year old Aydos Zakan, whom Mr. Ruzimatov selected for the role of Ali. A dancer gifted with exceptional ballon, he is one to watch as he grows. I look forward to seeing more performances of this gifted and bright company. The theater itself is in spic-and-span condition and has a wonderful, intimate feel.
  13. 14/3/09 The Little Humpbacked Horse Ballet in two acts, eight scenes Music Rodion Schedrin Choreography Alexei Ratmansky Libretto Maxim Issayev after Pyotr Yershov's tale Set & Costumes Maxiim Issayev Lighting Damir Ismagilov Conductor Valery Gergiev Ivan the Fool Mikhail Lobukhin Tsar Maiden Viktoria Tereshkina Humpbacked Horse Ilya Petrov Tsar Andrei Ivanov Bed Chamberlain Yuri Smekalov Young Mare Yekaterina Kondaurova Horses Kamil Yangurazov, Sergei Popov Danilo Ivan SItnikov Gavrilo Konstantin Zverev Father Roman Skripkin Princess of the Sea Yekaterina Kondaurova Sea Horses Kamil Yangurazov, Sergei Popov Gypsy Dance Elena Bazhenova, Alisa Sokolova, Ji Yeon Ryu, Yulia Smirnova, Polina Rassadina, Fyodor Murashov, Karen Ioanissian, Anton Pimonov Wet-nurses Elizaveta Cheprasova, Yana Selina, Maria Chugai, Anastasia Nikitina, Yekaterina Ivannikova. Xenia Romashova Firebirds, sea people, people, boyars. What a great opening for the 9th Mariinsky Festival Alexei Ratmansky provided with his restaging and rethinking of The Little Humpbacked Horse! What a great evening of dancing! Unfettered of formalism and consonant with the richly textured musical score of Schedrin, Ratmansky provides a vibrant vocabulary of demi-caractere dancing- a heritage within the canon of l'ecole de danse, oddly neglected by other choreographers looking to express their vision in the context of the 21st century. I think Ratmansky has hit the mark on how to deal with a popular Russian fairy tale and make it choreographically interesting for our age and our crises. He's made a ballet for our times, that speaks to us, mindful of the music of another century and respectful of its beauties and sonorities, and when necessary, kindly placing tongue in cheek. The highest praise I can bestow on this ballet, is, that it remains throughout its development interesting in its choreographic voice, true and vibrant. I enjoyed every minute of it. And what a cast to realize this true and vibrant choreographic voice! For start, my personal choice is the character and impersonation of the little humpbacked horse in the dancing of Ilya Petrov. Well nigh perfect in his insouciance and laissez faire attitude- this is a creature who can do magic and it works! Central to the core meaning of the Yershov poem is the character of Ivan the 'fool'. Lobukhin embodies it beautifully. What keeps growing throughout the ballet is his likeableness. Lobukhin was spot-on. The tsar of Andrei Ivanov is a buffoon. One looks for signs of malign behavior. There are none. The evil is his total lack of awareness. Ivanov creates a searing portrait of trivial, self-absorbed human behavior. The 'boiling water pot' of Yershov's tale becomes a gruesome bit of Grand Guignol theatre in this ballet (that could be made briefer by judicious editing). And the briefer the better. For malign behavior look no further than the portrait of the Bed Chamberlain, created by Yuri Smekalov. This is my first view of his work, and I am duly impressed; a very talented dancer. The Tsar Maiden of Viktoria Tereshkina is a dance portrait of someone living in our times. Ms. Tereshkina creates a modern heroine, armed with independent thinking, directness of manner, and with resoluteness of action without any allusion to forces imposed from the 'outside'. She is her 'own' person. The expansiveness of her persona in her variation sets new standards for wit, inventiveness and musical acuity. It was truly path-breaking. For a world premiere, her reading of the role is astonishingly fully developed. Ms Tereshkina continues to surprise with the range of her versatility. The plasticity of equine and underwater creatures takes on new meaning with the dancing of Yekaterina Kondaurova and Kamil Yangurazov and Sergei Popov- as a young mare and two horses in the first act, and a sea princess and two sea horses in the second act. Like bold calligraphic designs, the double work of the dancers engraves imageries of astonishing originality and interplay as undulating lines in the retina. The work of the two horses in the first act is, in my opinion, somewhat diminished by the heavy,' jokey' commentary provided by their costumes. Since the librettist and costume designer are the same person, this was obviously intentional. Another noteworthy contribution of Ratmansky's choreography is the mastery of his groups dances. Among them, the dance of the wet-nurses was outstanding in achievement of dignified demeanor, economy of expression, and lyrical concision. The six dancers are beautifully costumed, in white and sparse colors, suggestions of traditional garb, with heads covered, longish skirts, loose fitting tops, making altogether a harmonious ensemble that shows itself to the world as being at peace. The gypsy dance on the other hand was more a commentary on gypsy dances, as we've come to know them and love them. Commentary on the 'hotness ' of gypsy dancing, commentary on the surprise-ness of gypsy dance, commentary on the exoticism of gypsy dance. The dancers are wittily dressed in tops that have pictures of gypsy faces with 'fake' smiles. Another group dance, less to my liking, is the people of the sea dance, with both sexes in unitards and romantic tutus. Their unitards have an 'alien' face on the chest printed upside down. The guy in tutu joke is tired. From the opening scene introducing the father and his three sons, whose moves include 'air guitar' to the closing tableau of people (in green=hope?) coming forward in various reverences this was vibrant dancing from a gifted creative team and a gifted company. Bravi to all. The Mariinsky orchestra under the baton of Valery Gergiev sounded masterful. Unfortunately, I will miss the second performance of TLHH and will see instead the Mikhailovsky theatre's performance of Ruzimatov's new Corsaire.
  14. I am really excited about seeing her at the festival. Have been watching YouTube clips of her in various ballets and she seems to have it all. I certainly look forward to her Kitri, and to anything else she may dance at the Gala. John
  15. Give some, take some away....... The Mariinsky website added the cast for the first-night Little Humpbacked Horse: Tsar Maiden Viktoria Tereshkina Ivanushka Vladimir Shklyarov Humpbacked Horse Ilya Petrov Tsar Andrei Ivanov (no second night cast yet). And then took away the dancer's name for Kitri in DQ (TBA) and gave the rest of the DQ casting (including Street Dancer E. Kondaurova).
  16. I just checked the Mariinsky website: 'Beauty in Motion' is now posted for the Festival evening of March 16th.
  17. I just received an email from the Mariinsky box office that the evening of the 16th, with participation of Diana Vishneva, has been added to the Festival. Beauty in Motion very likely??? I'll still look for alternate performances for Monday, the 16th.
  18. Natalia, I had an email from the Mariinsky box office about my tickets just two days ago, and they asked me whether I would want tickets for Monday, the 16th if and when the evening was added. I replied I would be interested (I wouldn't if it's Beauty in Motion). But I take it there's hope for an added night. Otherwise, this is one of the shortest of festivals.
  19. chiapuris

    Alicia Alonso

    I can't help with identification, but it is a stunningly beautiful photograph!
  20. Thanks Natalia for your Festival post! I just hope that Pavlenko dances (in anything) during the festival. And that the 16th's program is......Raymonda.
  21. Condolences to the family of Clive Barnes. May he rest in peace. He was an eloquent writer about dance and ballet as a performing art. We had met him in recent years at ballet intermissions at the Met through his wife, Valerie, a longtime friend of ours. Last June we had lunch together before an ABT matinee. He was a delightful conversationalist! Dance has lost one of its most grounded and deeply knowledgable advocates.
  22. I saw her on stage in Paris several times (in the fifties) when she was with the de Cuevas Ballet. A vivid recollection remains with me of taking a class taught by John Taras, which she also took. Among her roles, if my memory is accurate, was a ballet called Piege de Lumiere. On stage she radiated an aura of serenity, confidence and nobility that I found phenomenally unique. She was an exceptional artist of the ballet.
  23. I agree with you on the assessment of Ratmansky's Cinderella; I saw it twice at a Mariinsky Festival a few years ago. BUT I've also seen The Bright Stream and Le Corsaire, both full-evening works, both works for which Ratmansky (in Corsaire along Burlaka's) provided classically based choreography that, in my view, would enrich any company's repertoire.
  24. If the contract has been signed, then, this is a great move of K McKenzie- good, both for the dancers of ABT and for the audiences. New classically-based choreography!
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