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Everything posted by chiapuris

  1. I totally agree with your statement, atm711. And I'm going only by Monday night's (23rd June) performance.
  2. ABT La Bayadere 23 June Part/Gomes/Wiles This was my first view of Veronika Part in a three-act work, and I was enchanted with her work. She is strikingly beautiful, her movements luxuriously expressive, her musical sensitivity acute, her command of classical technique profound. In the first act, with her every appearance, alone or with Solor or with the High Brahmin, she invested meaning during her time on stage, passionately, --either advancing the story line or explicating her part in it, through her movements and gestures and mime. She made the first act something interesting on its own, instead of something to get through ‘until the good parts come’. Craig Salstein was the best Magdaveya I’ve seen. In the party scene her ‘Bayadere’ dance was sinuous and somewhat melancholic; I missed the fast, ‘corny’ section that Makarova must have excised. Surprising to me was Makarova’s choice of having Solor with Gamzatti leave the scene before the death of Nikiya. It just makes him appear to be more deeply caddish and unregenerate. Ms Part’s dancing in the Shades scene, appeared to me to be dancing of the highest quality. Her grand jete developpe has a buoyancy, and a millisecond’s lift at the top of the jump, while the body maintains its lifted center, that is breathtakingly beautiful. In my view it has no equal. As earlier posters have noted, the multiple supported pirouette finishing in attitude, in the pas de deux, was simply transcendent. I found all the various pirouettes of Ms Part beautiful, in that none called attention to itself but simply became part of the flow of the dance phrase. A brilliant example of that was the scarf dance; a smooth succession of revolutions creating a flowing line, a stand-in for an emotional connection, between the protagonists. Never have I seen the drama of the dance captured so seamlessly. Mr. Gomes deserves equally extravagant praise for his Solor. He is a dancer of such power and conviction. And he jumps, oh yes. The three shades, Sara Lane, Yuriko Kajiya, and Melissa Thomas were elegant and impeccable in their turn. I noticed the tempi seemed generally slower than in other versions. But then the tempi for the shades in the dress rehearsal (Mon. afternoon) were different than those of the Mon. performance. The third variation (I don’t know the dancer) was excruciatingly slow in the dress rehearsal (my companion thought it was dazzlingly beautiful because of the required control), whereas the second variation was quite quite fast (Misty Copeland). (The dress rehearsal had a different cast for each act: 1st Kent/Stiefel, 2nd Murphy/Hallberg, 3rd Herrera/Corella). [On the photographer taking flash photos in the wings: I thought the lighting designer was trying to suggest the presence of fireflies (in the Himalayas?)] I liked Makarova’s third act, although it was a little odd to have the bronze idol dance with no one else onstage. Sometimes the 3rd act music wasn’t too supportive of the planned dance action. The womens’ sari-like costumes, for principals and ensembles I thought were very effective. Part looked gorgeous in her white clinging outfit. I agree with Aurora’s comments about Wiles’ Gamzatti. Technically she has command of the requirements of the role. But I find her dancing neither compelling nor technically dazzling. I suppose it’s a matter of taste. For example, italian fouettes, it seems to me, need more than correct execution to be interesting. They need a sense of style. My take on Ms Part: she is incredibly, majestically compelling. Why is she not yet a principal?
  3. NYCB June 22 3 pm The Goldberg Variations Part I Abbi Stafford Megan Fairchild Tyler Angle Amar Ramasar Adam Hendrickson Andrew Veyette Part II Rachel Rutherford Jared Angle Sara Mearns Stephen Hanna Wendy Whelan Gonzalo Garcia Brahms/Handel Ashler Bouder Philip Neal Wendy Whelan Andrew Veyette Jason Fowler Amar Ramasar Rebecca Krohn Teresa Reichlen Georgina Pascoguin Tyler Peck Ana Sophia Scheller Adrian Danchig-Waring David Prottas Giovanni Villlobos The Goldberg Variations is a work that requires enormous concentration to absorb its musical and choreographic intricacies. It’s a work that deserves several viewings before releasing its wealth of architectonic construction and linearity in development. I really enjoyed this rare for me viewing of it and wish I could see it several times more in rapid succession. The opening Theme led by Kaitlyn Gilliland and Jason Fowler was followed by the variations of Abi Stafford and Megan Fairchild and their partners. While both impressed me in past performances, both have grown in their command of stage virtues: Stafford in spontaneity, Fairchild in variety of expression. The variations of Part II were equally rich in the diversity of dance gifts offered. I have to single out as my favorite the pairing of Rachel Rutherford and Jared Angle. What gifts! My profoundest admiration is reserved for the ensemble dancers (What is it? three dozen in this work?) who create magic, so easily, on the stage to the sounds of Bach and the steps of Robbins. Brahms/Handel is a work I had never seen before. I benefited from watching an hour-long rehearsal of it on the 20th of June. Let me tell you, it was exciting to see, first thing, Ashley Bouder, claiming the stage as her own, from the second she steps on it. Her rehearsal was as exciting as her performance. No holding back. Whelan and Veyette were great in the intricacies of Tharp’s dance-making. The surprise of the piece was the effervescence in the dancing of Philip Neal. Anyway, the blue team (Robbins) and the green team (Tharp) dance it out until the end when they merge into a close-color-match whole. Great fun.
  4. ABT Sleeping Beauty 19 June 2008 This is my first view of ABT's 'new' SB. I have nothing of interest to say about this misbegotten production that either hasn't been said or shouldn't be said. Allow me one sentence: The sets are awful and the colors of the costumes are bilious. Sarah Lane had, what I viewed as, a most promising debut. Her most successful scene was the Rose Adagio. The taxing double work was beautiful to behold, precise, full of ardor, elegant party manners, with clean control that allowed the Petipa choreography to breathe and to be seen. In the Vision scene her arabesque and attitude turns were exemplary. In the Wedding pas de deux, while we don't notice any particular clues to the growth of her inner life, that would let us know this is symbolically a long time after her sixteenth birthday, nevertheless, the pairing with Cornejo is a felicitous one. Bravo to Ms Lane and bravo to Mr Cornejo. Two quibbles: The preparations into the three 'fish-dives' remained too careful (read: slow) to achieve the virtuosic effect of confident maturity. The coach who advised triples for the three pirouettes following the Rose Adagio misguided her. The debut was not the place for them. (She did nicely two and then forced the third revolution. Three times!) The triples will come. Ms Lane is a gifted turner. I have no quibbles with the six fairies (Ricetto (Lilac) Hamrick, Boone, Pavam, Reyes, Messmer). But I would have liked to have seen more sincerity, fervor, charity, joy, valor, from all of them. The Bluebird pas de deux left me perplexed (Kajiya/Saveliev). I did not understand what the dancers (or their coaches) intended. Too many changes from the canonical.
  5. Garcia seems to me to have a low center of gravity. That could be changed somewhat with the right kind of classes.
  6. June 21/2 pm Dances at a Gathering Y Borree (pink) M Fairchild (apricot) S Mearns (green) R Rutherford (mauve) A Stafford (blue) J Angle (purple) A Hendrickson (brick) J De Luz (brown) A Ramasar (green) J Stafford (blue) Other Dances Julie Kent (ABT)-Gonzalo Garcia The Concert S Hyltin, A Veyette, G Muller We were able to see some NYCB working rehearsals (19th and 20th) before our ticketed performances; one of the rehearsal works was Dances at a Gathering. What a treat! What a beautiful work! Having memories of original cast members in the work - dancers with vivid personalities, who would never be confused with anyone else - I found the cast overall, of June 21st, outstanding. I found particularly fine dancing in the linchpin of the piece, Joaquin De Luz, and I enjoyed as well the fine partnering and nuanced musicality of Jared Angle. Yvonne Borree, a dancer who has appeared to me in other works as sometimes mannered, I found in this work to be entirely convincing and committed. Rutherford was totally cool in her control and savoir–faire. Sara Mearns, whose Lilac Fairy I remember as first-rate, looked to me, in Dances…, uneasy in the shoulder line. This is a ballet where I paid more attention to the choreographic text than to the dancers, whom I hardly know. I was really impressed with the work at NYCB. But I couldn’t have ‘seen’ the choreography if the dancers hadn’t shown it to me. Ergo, the dancers were excellent. Other Dances We lucked out on seeing one of the two guest performances of Julie Kent in Other Dances. (Serendipity- not planned). This was truly a memorable occasion to see Ms Kent in this fine-lined and lovely piece made in 1976 by Jerome Robbins for artists he admired, Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The occasion was enhanced by the partner of Ms Kent, Gonzalo Garcia, NYCB principal, who joined the company in 2007 (from SF Ballet, I think). The muscular, virile Mr Garcia complemeted the partnership with Ms Kent like a yin/yang of strength/fragility. The fragility of Ms Kent, without a trace of a superfluous gesture or movement, created lines of transcendent purity. This pas de deux reaffirmed my belief in values, that I, among many, view as important and embedded in classical dance. The program ended with Robbins’ The Concert, his tribute to Chopin lovers and under-rehearsed dancers everywhere, exemplified by Saul Steinberg’s wonderful frontdrop and Irene Sharaff’s witty costumes. Clotilde Otranto was the guest conductor. June 21, 8 pm Mozartiana Wendy Whelan Tom Gold (Gigue) Philip Neal D Abergel, S Beskow, D Johnson, G Muller (Menuet) Le Tombeau de Couperin Divertimento from Le Baiser de la Fee Megan Fairchild Joaquin De Luz Faye Arthurs, Alina Dronova La Sonnambula Coquette Sara Mearns Baron Amar Ramasar Poet Sebastien Marcovici Sleepwalker Yvonne Borree Pas de Deux Ana Sophia Scheller Vincent Paradiso Harlequin Daniel Ulbricht This was an evening where all the works (all Balanchine) were interesting to me, no matter who was dancing them; but especially the two middle works, which I was least familiar with; although I had seen both before. Whelan’s Preghiera had her unique signature of creating a crystalline abstraction of the subject at hand and offering it to the audience without fuss or bother. Tom Gold gave what seems to be the definitive interpretation of the Gigue among current casts. Philip Neal in the fourth section (Theme and Variations) danced with a verve and energy that seemed freshly minted compared to some other performances of his I have seen. The quartet of SAB students in the Preghiera section appeared to me to be a very accomplished lot. Fortunately I saw an hour’s rehearsal of Le Tombeau conducted by Rosemary Dunleavy on the 19th, which helped me become familiar with the structure of the piece: two quadrilles (of four couples each) dancing in unison or echoing the movements of the opposite quadrille as they proceed with Ravel’s music through the 18th century forms of the Prelude, Forlane, Menuet and Rigaudon. Enjoyable performances from all. What extraordinary dancers are in the corps! The performance of “Le Tombeau…” on the 21st was an exhilarating experience. The work that thrilled me the most was the Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss. The final scene evokes so much pathos and serves to justify the size of the corps de ballet involved; for it is the corps that creates the conditions for the mystery and the inevitability of the parting. A wonderful cast with excellent leads. La Sonnambula used to strike me, in my earlier years, as a disjointed work. Now, it appears to me to tell a dark tale in a perfectly natural way. The orchestra was led by guest conductor Andrews Sill.
  7. What I recall about her is that she had great success in a ballet called Blanche Neige, and was considered a good Giselle. For some reason I seem to remember that she achieved etoile status rather speedily over her competitors.
  8. Thank you, Helene, for your comments. I've been following your BT tour diary, and have been enjoying your perceptions and reviews of the performances you saw all over the EU map. What amazes me is not only your critically sophisticated take on what you saw, but the fact that you can recall it all to share with us. You also must be an indefatigable traveler!
  9. The ballet community has lost a unique artist. I last saw her, some years ago, teaching a class at New York Theatre Ballet school, when my daughter was in the company.
  10. March 22 Mariinsky Festival (continued) For Four Choreography Christopher Wheeldon Music Franz Schubert Costumes Jean-Marc Puissant Lighting Antonio Marques Cast: Andrian Fadeyev Angel Corella Alexander Sergeyev Mikhail Lobukhin The second ballet after Le Carnaval was Wheeldon's “pièce d'occasion” made in 2007 for the Kings of Dance tour and danced here with one of the original cast members, Angel Corella. The bright, virtuosic choreography suited the Mariinsky dancers very well. Among them was a principal dancer (Fadeyev), a first soloist (Lobukhin), and a newly promoted second soloist (Sergeyev) --although the Mariinsky website still listed him as a member of the corps de ballet. The spontaneity of Corella's stage persona endeared him quickly to the Mariinsky audience, especially his bravura aerial work designed on him, which brought much applause in immediate reaction. I found especially pleasing the dancing of Sergeyev, with his total command of space, leaving afterimages of his long lines and virile plasticity. I also enjoyed the strong attack of Lobukhin's dancing, fully articulated movements replete with details of gesture. An excellent performance by the whole cast. Schubert's orchestrated chamber music made a fitting accompaniment to Wheeldon's choreography and was nobly conducted by Pavel Bubelnikov. Le Reveil de Flore (1894) Choreography Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov Reconstruction by Sergei Vikharev Music Riccardo Drigo Flore Yevgenia Obraztsova Aurore Yana Selina Diane Svetlana Ivanova Hebe Natalia Sharapova Zephyre Vladimir Shkliarov Apollon Victor Baranov Aquilon Sergei Kononenko Cupidon Valeria Martynuk Mercure Alexei Timofeyev Ganimede Salikh Bikchurin Le Reveil de Flore, Vikharev's reconstruction of the choreography of Petipa and Ivanov includes the reconstruction of the original decors of Mikhail Bocharov and the original costumes of Yevgeny Ponomaryov. Altogether it is a striking visual and aural experience, an immersion into the imperial Russian ballet and its ethos, having been created as a celebration of a specific royal family wedding. This is a ballet that only the Mariinsky company, with its distinguished feeder school dating back to imperial times, could carry off successfully. And it does so with distinction. The exemplary cast led by Obraztsova and Shklyarov had outstanding performances throughout. Of special note were Svetlana Ivanova as Diana, in the opening scene of the work. Her promenade in arabesque en fondu en dedans, repeated three times with different arms, was notable for its academic purity, as was her entire performance. Valeria Martynuk was notable for the freshness she brings to Cupid, making her steps look like they were just invented. Alexei Timofeyev's Mercury was dashing, and danced with a fine musicality. Some of the choreography in the latter half of the work, seemed to me to have been fine-tuned for the benefit of the protagonists. Or maybe I noticed details that I missed in the first two performances of the work last year. Obraztsova and Shklyarov were splendid in this ballet, as they were indeed in the stylistically very different work of Fokine, earlier in the evening. I look forward to future performances from both of them. This is the last 2008 festival performance for me. Tomorrow, the day of the gala, we fly home.
  11. 22 March 2008 Le Carnaval Libretto: Mikhail Fokine Music: Robert Schumann Choreography: Mikhail Fokine Sets and Costumes: Leon Bakst Reconstruction: Sergei Vikharev (after notes of Mikhail Fokine) Columbine Yevgenia Obraztsova Harlequin Vladimir Shklyarov Chiarina Marianna Pavlova Eusebius Sergei Salikov Florestan Sergei Popov Estrella Yevgenia Dolmatova Papillon Yana Selina Pantalone Stanislav Burov Pierrot Islom Baimuradov The program of the 22nd was the most delightful of the 2008 festival evenings. The revival/reconstruction of Le Carnaval was, for me, the highlight of the festival. I found it an enchanting production; not that I could compare it to any other since I had seen none, but that it fulfilled everything I believed it would be. I've had a lifelong admiration for the Schumann score. The early history of the ballet, with its 1910 Paris premiere featuring Nijinsky, Karsavina, Bolm (as well as Schollar, Fokina, Nijinska, Cecchetti and Kussov) has held a fascination for me. My appreciation for Vikharev's reconstruction is enormous. Congratulations to him and all who were involved in this production. I can honestly say I found the work thrilling. The setting, the ante-chamber of a ballroom, a deep blue curtain with a gold frieze at the top, and two striped little settees (exactly as described by C. Beaumont's Complete Book of Ballets -1951-) was recreated by Mikhail Shishlianikov, beautifully lit by Alexander Naumov and Mikhail Shishlianikov and with the elegant costume designs of Bakst recreated by Tatiana Noginova. The cast was superb, down to the last waltzer and last philistine. Obraztsova and Shklyarov sparkled as the central commedia del arte pair of Columbine and Harlequin, she with the beckoning forefinger and delicate bourees, he with his shaking head and carefree leaps and dazzling pirouettes. Baimuradov created a moving portrait of pathos and loneliness as Pierrot, a truly wonderful performance. Yana Selina charmed as Papillon, “a vivacious lady, all high spirits and fluttering ribbons” [beaumont, p. 699] Pavlova, and Dolmatova, and Burov, and Salikov and Popov, all gave outstanding performances in this delicate, seemingly simple, treasure of a ballet. Bravo Vikharev. Bravo Mariinsky. (edited to add a name) More on the rest of the program in another installment.
  12. Mariinsky Theatre 21 March 2008 Swan Lake Odette/Odile Ulyana Lopatkina Siegfried Evgeny Ivanchenko Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov Jester Grigory Popov Ulyana Lopatkina's Swan Lake was certainly planned as the culmination of the six performances of the ballet at the 8th International Ballet Festival this year. I have seen Ms Lopatkina as the swan queen only once before, at the 6th festival of the Mariinsky in 2006, when she performed Odette/Odile with Jose Martinez of the POB as Siegfried. At that time I had written: “Ulyana Lopatkina as Odette-Odile remains a standard by which others are measured. To me she seems the definitive Swan Queen. The reason is that she 'nails' her performance with clarity of motion, precision of means, and command of space. In the supported adagio of the first lakeside scene, every pas' line design was brought to completion with a definitive placement of the head. The overall effect of the completed design became expressively powerful; that, in turn, translated into emotional content.” ……… …….“Lopatkina's Odile created a brilliant silhouette in her black tutu decorated with red stones. Her Odile, while etching in space a sharp presence, had the illusive quality of a phantasm.” On the basis of the recollection of the earlier performance, I offer my comments on this year's performance. The performance of 21 March 2008 seemed, in both scenes, to be an off night. The lakeside scene, while finely etched as design, seemed to proceed at a glacial pace. While Ivanchenko offered solid support in the lifts, all beautifully executed, there was an infelicitous moment in the finger pirouettes, occurring after the first one, untypically a double, when, somehow Lopatkina lost her equilibrium momentarily. Another infelicitous moment occured in the variation's opening sequence of ronds de jambe, when after the second one, there was an unsteady shift of balance to the other leg. Mishaps, while seeming minor and inconsequential, marred the flow and the pulse of the dance phrases. And mishaps, I was told, are not typical of Ms Lopatkina's performances. But off-nights happen. In the Odile pas de deux there was loss of verticality during supported pirouettes. In the coda, by the fourth or fifth fouette, the conductor, M. Sinkevitch, had to slow down the tempo drastically so there was a semblance of concord between dancer and music. Swan Lakes have other riches beside the stellar roles of the protagonist/antagonist female and the prince. Swan Lakes have the riches offered by the corps of swans/women. And the Mariinsky company's corps de ballet offers riches unparalleled worldwide. The swans and the cygnets in the second and fourth scenes offered us the choreographic vision of Ivanov in Sergeyev's production with the finely tuned musicality of their uniform schooling, the luscious plasticity of movement inherent in their classical training, and the selectivity of body type that results from the Mariinsky system of developing professional artists. Kudos to them all. The little swans continued to enchant, night after night, no matter who danced them. Tonight's cast were Elisaveta Cheprasova, Svetlana Ivanova (always a standout), Elena Chmil, Valeria Martynuk. The two swans in the fourth scene, Daria Vasnetsova and Ekaterina Kondaurova, danced their solos with distinction, and on different nights. In the third scene character dances, Alisa Sokolova had a debut tonight in Spanish; she danced with Polina Rassadina, Islom Baimuradov, Alexander Sergeyev. Ms Lopatkina was very warmly received by the audience, with many flowers and many curtain calls. (Edited for clarity)
  13. 20 March 2008 8th Mariinsky Festival Swan Lake Odette/Odile Tamara Rojo Siegfried Igor Kolb Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov Jester Grigory Popov Ms Rojo, the fifth of the festival Swan Queens, harkens as a physical type to an earlier balletic era, when, a woman of five feet eight inches would have been considered too tall to dance in a classical company. In the contemporary era of balletic 'basketball squads', Ms Rojo, like another principal at the Royal Ballet -Alina Cojocaru, broaden the physical aesthetics of the classical dancer to include the woman of small stature. Such dancers also remind us that physical stature has little to say of artistic accomplishment. In this, my first view of Ms Rojo in any role, I found her to be a dancer of greatly focused intensity. Odette, in the lake scene, proceeded with sequences of mesmerizing interest. Particularly notable are her arabesque lines and her exquisite extended balances. The pas de deux with Igor Kolb, who repeated his role first performed at the festival on the 15th, seemed to me a very successful match. His strong protective presence complemented her character's vulnerability, at once soft, fragile and precise. Her variation unfolded slowly, but with sequences of compelling urgency. In the Odile sequences, Ms Rojo looked simply beautiful, of face and of demeanor. Her enchantment of Siegfried proceeded as planned strategems. In the pas de deux, Kolb's portrayal of Siegfried's fascination with Odile was clearly drawn. Her variation created phrases of increasing complexity, like a spider's web, with which to draw in the victim. But then came the coda with its fouette sequence. The beautiful Odile revealed herself, in another strategem, as a whirlwind of passion. Rojo unleashed a series of two singles followed by a triple fouette, over and over again until the whole series of thirty-two were completed with a secure finish. A truly exciting technical display. When I asked my companion what she thought of the performance, she said: “Her slow work was spectacular, her fast work was spectacular, her pirouettes were spectacular”. The only new casting in tonight's performance, that I noted, was Alexei TImofeyev in the pas de trois of the first scene. Pavel Bubelnikov conducted.
  14. 19 March 2008 Mariinsky Ballet Festival Swan Lake Odette/Odile Victoria Tereshkina Siegfried Angel Corella Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov Jester Grigory Popov Tonight, Victoria Tereshkina danced, in my view, the most completely realized choreographic portraits of Odette and Odile that have been seen at this festival. Ms Tereshkina accomplished this with an economy of means, the fulfillment of every demand of Ivanov's choreographic design, and a finely pitched musical sensitivity. Angel Corella's portrait of Siegfried personified youth- a thirst for life, energy, impetuosity, a search for love, and to boot, top-rate dancing. Together, the pair created a synergy, which seemed to extend its effects to the performance of the whole company. In the lake scene, there were moments in the pas de deux when time seemed to slow down- so clear and articulate were the partnered poses and movements of Tereshkina and Corella. This exemplifies what I mean by 'economy of means' when the dancer exhibits the choreographic design and shows everything given to perform in the completest sense of the word, within the frame of the musical platform. Tereshkina's 'plastique' was completely at the service of the Ivanov choreography. All her poses carried the design of the fully arched back to its fullest realization in her attitudes and arabesques, both in the solo and the supported work. The quality of her dancing is diamantine, needing no embellishments. My companion and I both noticed a nicety of phrasing seldom seen. In the second sequence of Odette's variation, there is a short phrase of a sissone en avant, pas de couru ending in 4th front en fondu, followed by a developpe en arriere ending in arabesque with the back fully arched and the arms thrown back; most dancers try to stretch out this moment with rubato phrasing. Ms Tereshkina had the leg back in 5th position, the point of origin, on the 4th count. Classic purity creating transcendence. Her Odile followed this same path, that is, of trusting the choreography to tell the story. Her smiles throughout the scene were directed at Siegfried, never the audience. The pas de deux and the two variations maintained a very high standard of dancing. Corella's running on stage was notable for its attack and uninhibited abandonment- creating by itself a portrait of an impetuous youth. Tereshkina's fouette sequence was almost impeccable. This was an evening of great classical dancing. I have not so far mentioned the Rothbart of Ilya Kuznetsov, who has appeared in all four Swan Lakes so far. He makes a menacing figure as the ballet's villain; most of his choreography consists of split-in-the-air leaps rather than high-arching grand jetes en avant, all of it executed in excellent style. The pas de trois of the 1st scene had a new member tonight, Filipp Stepin (Styopin). I believe he is in the corps de ballet, a young man bursting with potential. Wonderful demi-plie, great beats, handsome figure. Grigor Popov gave the best of his performances tonight. But then, it seemed to me, so did everyone else in the company. Tereshkina and Corella received a very warm reception from the audience. Mikhail Sinkevich conducted with verve and distinction.
  15. It's a good question, Ostrich. It seems there's a few changes, such as the male in the pas de trois change after three performances (in this case Fillip Stepin (Styopin). Or a big or little swan substitute. I noticed in the Spanish Dance last night there were two debuts. I'll try to report any changes.
  16. Mariinsky Theatre 18 March 2008 Swan Lake Odette/Odile Maria Alexandrova Siegfried Danila Korsuntsev Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov Jester Grigory Popov Maria Alexandrova is a dancer capable of revelatory moments, when the stage proceedings are illumined with meaning expressed through movement and dance. I have highly enjoyed her dancing in other works -including Grigorovitch's version of Swan Lake- where I found her spontaneity in movement and her intensity of movement rewarding. She had revelatory moments tonight, two such being, the first arabesque she took after her initial appearance as Odette, a dazzling arabesque, and another the fouette sequence of the coda in the Odile Grand Pas. In between there were sequences that appeared, at least to me, understated. As Odette, in the lake scene, the partnership with Danila Korsuntsev worked out well in terms of physical appearance and double work. Story-wise, there didn't seem to be much of an emotional connection between them. Korsuntsev, a noble partner, has a gestural language suggesting rhetorical sources, as his first act demonstrates, rather than a deep well of emotional needs to fulfill. The pas de deux was beautifully clean but lacking an urgency of gesture and, on Odette's part, a fuller expression of plasticity of movement. Her variation ran into some trouble in a sequence of pirouettes that could have had something to do with spacing rather than execution. There was vibrancy and sparkle in the retire passés, entre-chat quatre series, which the conductor Pavel Bubelnikov directed at a faster tempo than the previous evening. The Odile variation, it seems to me, needs to be, as a requirement of the story, a bravura display. Ms Alexandrova's variation was somewhat underpowered to give that effect. The double pirouette-single attitude turn sequence followed by renverses that, in my view, appeared sketched rather than fully danced out, were lovely, but lacked passion. Ms Alexandrova came into her own with the fouette series, where, in a care-free and confident mood, she started with a sequence, repeated four times, of two singles followed by an attitude-en-avant turn with arms in 5th open (3rd Vag) and a sequence of 16 singles with a clean finish. As an extra, in the finale diagonal of developpe-into-arabesque series she added after each arabesque a pas de chat(?) with first leg stretched out -a crowd pleasing sequence. In other casting, the character dances of the 2nd act, and the pas de trois of the 1st act, 1st scene, have been performed by the same dancers all three Swan Lakes (with one dancer changing in the pas de trois). Tonight, the glamorous Ekaterina Kondaurova replaced a dancer in the Big Swan quartet. So far I have failed to mention the Jester. The role has been danced all three nights by the very talented Grigory Popov. Gifted with buoyant ballon, he is a natural turner in the air and on the ground, has a sure sense of mime, and a wonderfully expressive face. His dancing etches the most delightful designs on stage.
  17. 16 March 2008 Mariinsky Theatre Swan Lake Odette / Odile Gillian Murphy Siegfried Andrian Fadeyev Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov Jester Grigory Popov Gillian Murphy made a dazzling debut at the Mariinsky. As Odette, she danced with an impeccable technical purity. From her entrance, she commanded the stage by virtue of the clarity of the path she traced in the execution of the choreography. Blessed with a supple back, she seemed to honor the plastique of the Ivanov choreography in its own home, the Mariinsky. Looking stunningly beautiful in her ABT tutu (recognizable by the red stones set vertically in the midriff), she quickly established a mood of queenly concern for her subject swan-women with the little mime scene with Siegfried, when she asks him not to harm them. The partnership with Andrian Fadeyev was altogether felicitous. They made a handsome couple. The supported pirouettes were so cleanly done that they became emotional expressions of passion rather than mere physical feats of coordination. The tempo of the second scene, conducted tonight by Pavel Bubelnikov, seemed somewhat slower than the previous evening's Mikhail Sinkevich reading. The dancers met the challenge, or perhaps choice, in grand style. Fadeyev's double work was solicitous and altogether exemplary. There was a moment of great tenderness spelled out gently, when Odette lowering Siegfried's arm raised in pledging a vow of eternal love, brings it down and places her head on his shoulder in physical intimacy. In Odette's variation, the fast series of retires passes releve and batterie could have used an accelerated and accelerating tempo for more effectiveness. One assumes this was conductor's choice. Ms Murphy has a great sense of balance. Toward the end of the lake scene she stood poised on her pointes, queenly, without a quiver, a second or two extending into eternity. A great moment. The characterization of Odile presented by Ms Murphy relies, it seems to me, not on acting out the ways of seduction, but on dancing out what she feels attracts Siegfried to Odette. Thus, she dances, not coquettishly, but with the best style in her power. Her variation was well nigh perfect. The triple pirouettes followed by double attitude turns en dehors, then repeated, were breathtaking. The double a la seconde turns en dedans were models of classical purity. Fadeyev, in his variation and throughout, was a model Siegfried, impetuous, spontaneous, youthful. His jumps were eloquent with the qualities mentioned, which is to say, a joy to watch. The Mariinsky production has a dramatic lighting change in the midst of the Odile sequence, when the lights are extinguished from all but the couple. The lights return for the coda and finale. The coda again gave a chance for Siegfried to show his prowess and for Odile to highlight her capabilities. Her fouettes showed her in carefree style doing single, single, double with the arms en couronne every other double, and finishing with eight singles. A debut at the Mariinsky is a great honor. Congratulations to Gillian Murphy for her wonderful performance! The audience seemed to receive Ms Murphy with rapt attention, and rewarded her with thunderous applause and many curtain calls.
  18. March 15, 2008 Swan Lake Ballet in three acts, four scenes. Odette-Odile Diana Vishneva Siegfried Igor Kolb Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov Jester Grigory Popov Tonight began the series of six Swan Lakes, a rather novel arrangement for a festival, which generally presents a concentration of acclaimed ballets and performers and perhaps some world premieres in a limited time frame. The Swan Lake sextet will uniformly show the version current in the Mariinsky company: Konstantin Sergeyev's 1950 version of the Marius Petipa/Lev Ivanov 1895 version via Agrippina Vaganova's 1933 amendments (in which Konstantin Sergeyev starred). Whether the K. Sergeyev version is the most authentic of the current versions of Swan Lake seen internationally can be argued. It is, at least for me, the most finely tuned, the most satisfactory and complete in terms of full production values. Its downside is that it keeps the happy ending originating in and dictated by the Soviet era of Russian history. The only novelty will be found in the performance/interpretation of the principals. Three are dancers of the Mariinsky (in order of appearance): Diana Vishneva, Victoria Tereshkina, and Uliana Lopatkina. Three are invited guests: Gillian Murphy (of ABT), Maria Alexandrova (of the Bolshoi) andTamara Rojo (of the Royal Ballet). Tonight's Swan Lake featured Diana Vishneva (phonetically vishnyova) and Igor Kolb. Earlier cast announcements had Herve Moreau in the role of Siegfried. Ms Vishneva triumphed in the double role. But let me start with the first scene, first act. Never have I enjoyed as much the Swan Lake first scene as this evening. I have seen the K. Sergeyev version twice before. This time the costumes seemed fresher, the décor more harmonious, and the dancers of the ensemble so pleasing and radiant; their performance left nothing to be desired. (This makes me look forward to the five repeats). Mr Kolb delineated the character of Siegfried clearly and danced handsomely. The cast of the pas de trois was outstanding. Vasily Shcherbakov showed extraordinary ballon in his aerial work and impeccable landings. He partnered Nadezhda Gonchar and Elisaveta Cheprasova gallantly. I was particularly taken with Cheprasova's beats and her charming demeanor and winning smile throughout the dance. The second scene of the first act, the lake scene, introduced Ms Vishneva's magic. Her magic is, in my view, the unfurling of the choreographic patterns and steps, not as a sequence of preparation and motion and pose, but as a continuous ribbon of dance, flowing on the musical pulse, animated by breath, and propelled forward by the inevitability of purpose. This unfurling ribbon, all of one piece, began with her entrance and continued through the pas de deux and variation, until the last pose. Mr Kolb was a noble partner in demeanor and double work. The second act is enriched by the Spanish, Neapolitan, Hungarian and Mazurka character dances adding textures and rhythms to the court proceedings before the main event of the presentation of Odile. The K. Sergeyev version, it seems to me, has preserved particularly elegant versions of these dances- which are significant parts of 19th c. three-act ballets. Ms Vishneva's Odile seemed a creature totally different from the driven Odette. Odile, though a magical creature in the story, is very much goal-oriented, out there to accomplish a task: pique the interest of Siegfried. From the showy, 'look what I can do' fouettes (two singles, a double, until the last eight singles nicely finished), to the come-hither glances and the 'not so fast, mister' arm gestures, she accomplished her goal neatly and efficiently. Vishneva was received with thunderous applause and had mounds of flower bouquets and literally endless curtain calls. Vishneva fans were out in droves. An enjoyable evening.
  19. St. Petersburg March 14 The second night repeated the 1 hr and 35 min. ballet The Glass Heart. All announcements as well as the souvenir program promised a different cast for the second night. Instead, the first night cast repeated their parts, except for the couple (the one I referred to as the 'pure love' couple) which was danced by Nadezhda Gonchar and Alexei Nedviga, as listed in the programs. The lead part of Alma had been listed (even in the March 14 program) as Alina Somova. Instead, Kondaurova danced without any cast change announcement. Ms. Kondaurova was indeed very good in the part, and her strong performance made the whole thing watchable. But I found this omission of announcing the cast change curious and inconsiderate of the audience on the management's part. [Weird thought: does this mean Somova has a Swan Lake coming up?] Buying the souvenir program cleared up some facts: ---Zemlinsky's music for the ballet is (basically) his Symphony in B Flat for the first act, and his Three Ballet Pieces for Orchestra for the second act -(not a composed ballet in two acts as I wrote yesterday). ---the libretto for the ballet is Kirill Simonov's own based on some motifs from Hugo von Hoffmanstahl's The Triumph of Time of 1901. This seems to involve Gustav Mahler and his wife Alma, and the composer Alexander Zemlinsky in some kind of amatory triangle. Since the acts of the ballet are presented as dreams of Alexander, there is no conflict with historical facts, since we all know that dreams are surreal….etc. Still, it's worth noting the characters in the cast are presented as Gustav, a rich and powerful nobleman Alma, his wife Alexander, a poor poet in love with Alma The Duke's gardener (Triton) The gardener's wife (Nymph) Hours Corps de ballet: Courtiers, heart fragments, roses Everything clear now? ---the costume designs are by Stefanija von Grawock [who seems to have an inordinate fondness for sequins and long satin, crayon-colored gloves] ---the light design is by Ryan Schmidt [with all the latest in trend setting] ---set design is by Emil Kapilyush [with a fondness for Giacometti sculptures] One interesting fact I failed to mention about the choreography is that the first act, which is essentially a number of scenes that set up and tell the story, has all the women on pointe. The second act, which seems more like a set of divertissements, perhaps dictated by the nature of the music, is danced by everyone in bare feet. The stage is covered by some kind of fibrous carpet for the second act; the carpet is fairly colorless save for three large white asymmetrical spots. Perhaps further reading of program note would clarify WHERE the second act takes place, and account for the bare feet. Otherwise, the need for bare feet remains unclear. The steps of the choreography are not notably different in style or kind between the two acts. The conceptual reason for the shift remains, at least to me, mysterious. My impression of Simonov's choreography remains unchanged after second viewing. (Edited to delete one sentence that misidentified cast character 3/16/08)
  20. Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg 8th International Ballet Festival 13 March 2008 The festival opened with The Glass Heart, a world premiere of a two-act ballet with music of Alexander von Zemlinsky and choreography by Kirill Simonov. Zemlinsky was a composer of romantic music in the post-romantic era of Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, for whom time has not been kind as it has for the other two. If I've understood this right, Zemlinsky wrote this work as a two-act ballet. The work has some kind of story line and I also heard it is based on a literary work of 1902. Unfortunately, the festival printed no programs in English for opening night. Since I'll be seeing the same work the second evening I may have more on program notes later. The cast of dancers was exceptional. The lead role of Alma was danced by Yekaterina Kondaurova with astounding technical fluency, an energetic intensity, and a vibrant personality. Her partners in a love triangle, mavbe better said, a love-hate triangle, were the authoritative Maxim Zyuzin and the multi-faceted Islom Baimuradov. There is much misogynistic physical battering of Alma in the first act, a choice the choreographer presents to us for his own reasons, that I find off-putting and artistically crude. Another leading pair, perhaps embodying 'pure love', were Yana Selina and Anton Pimonov, an exceptional partner in double work. The two made a radiant pair, their movements clean and soaring. A soloist in divertissements of the second act, was Svetlana Ivanova, an elegant and pure dancer, who deserves to be seen more. I'll comment on the second act divertissements after tomorrow's performance. The choreography of Kyrill Simonov belongs, in my view, to the 'Frenetic School of Dancing' (with thanks to Tobi Tobias for the expression). Glass Heart is Frenetic School of Dancing meets Romantic Music. There are no winners. The only other choreography of Simonov I've seen was the 2003 Nutcracker, a production V. Gergiev promoted for the designs provided by the comtemporary Russian-French-American sculptor and artist, Mikhail Chemiakin. While Chemiakin's designs and costumes were interesting, Simonov's Nutcracker choreography seemed wrong-headed. His Glass Heart appears to me to be derivative, convoluted, and for all that, rather bare of image accumulation, and bare of even hints of meaning, or structure, or anything else. But frenetic. The less said about the costumes, and the sets, and the lighting, the better. At least until tomorrow, Michail Agrest conducted.
  21. I agree with your opening and closing sentences. Not very festive for the corps either. I would still like to understand the programmers' rationale for this unfestive programming. As a workshop maybe....
  22. I just received this from the ticket office of the Mariinsky Theatre: VIII International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY 13 - 23 March 2008 Thu, 13 Mar 2008, 19:00 Opening of the VIII International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY Glass Heart ballet in two acts Music: Alexander von Zemlinsky Choreography: Kirill Simonov (2008) Irina Golub Yekaterina Kondaurova Yana Selina Islom Baimuradov Anton Pimonov Maxim Zyuzin Conductor: Mikhail Agrest Fri, 14 Mar 2008, 19:00 Glass Heart ballet in two acts Music: Alexander von Zemlinsky Choreography: Kirill Simonov (2008) Yekaterina Osmolkina Nadezhda Gonchar Alina Somova Anton Pimonov Alexei Nedviga Alexei Timofeyev Conductor: Mikhail Agrest Sat, 15 Mar 2008, 19:00 Swan Lake fantasy ballet in three acts (four scenes) Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (1895) revised choreography and stage direction: Konstantin Sergeyev (1950) Diana Vishnjova Jerve Moro Sun, 16 Mar 2008, 19:00 Swan Lake Gillian Murphy Andrian Fadeev Tue, 18 Mar 2008, 19:00 Swan Lake Maria Alexandrova (Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow) Danila Korsuntsev Wed, 19 Mar 2008, 19:00 Swan Lake Viktorija Tereshkina Anhel Korejja Thu, 20 Mar 2008, 19:00 Swan Lake Tamara Roho Igor Kolb Fri, 21 Mar 2008, 19:00 Swan Lake Ulyana Lopatkina Roberto Bolle (La Scala, London Royal Ballet) 22 March Carnaval. For Four. Le Reveil de Flore Yekaterina Osmolkina Yevgenia Obraztsova Andrian Fadeyev Leonid Sarafanov Vladimir Shklyarov Islom Baimuradov Filipp Stepin Sun, 23 Mar 2008, 19:00 Close of the VIII International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY Gala concert With international ballet stars. Cast to be announced
  23. What a rush of memories the name brought back! I studied with Maria Swoboda in NYC from 1953 until early sixties, at the Ballet Russe School on W 54th (near 7th Ave.). She was a caring teacher, with a no-nonsense approach to teaching and life. She was not particularly intellectual in methodology, but made clear to every student what she expected of each in class. The carriage of arms she taught in all combinations was particularly challenging (in that it avoided the conventional wind-milling arms) and promoted attention to epaulement. Irina Koutchoubey, who worked as an administrator for Denham, told me she had seen Mme Swoboda’s debut at sixteen (she was then Maria Yurieva) at the Bolshoi in Moscow. I asked her for a photo once. It was a glossy 8x10 probably from Chicago. She wore a voluminous white tutu and was on pointe in a sort of allonge/penche fourth arabesque. Sadly, I’ve lost it. A few of us would go out for dinner with her mid-week when she stayed in a small apt. in the area before she left for Lakewood on week-ends. I have fond memories of some small Italian restaurants in the area of the school, as well as (rarely) the Russian Tea Room on 57th st.. Since we shared upbringing in the Orthodox church (I am Greek Orthodox) she had one or two times invited me to her Lakewood home for Easter midnight service followed by dinner. Her dinner guests included Alexandra Danilova, who also lived in Lakewood. While the dinner group was large –mainly Russians save for Ms Twysden, Danilova’s companion- I only remember Danilova, a real thrill for me. Maria Swoboda was a gracious hostess and an excellent cook. I believe Roni Mahler has done interviews with Mme Swoboda that can be found in the NY Public Library Oral History files.
  24. Thanks so much for the beautiful pictures, as usual! I managed to see the first two Corsaires in Paris. What a treat!
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