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  1. Buddy

    Olga Smirnova

    Fleurdelis, I've only seen Olga Smirnova on stage for two Swan Lakes, one La Bayadère, the toreador duet from Carmen-Suite and a few other brief gala pieces, so your viewing of her may be much more than mine. I've also seen many video clips and hope to see her on stage next month in St. Petersburg doing Giselle and possibly the entire Carmen-Suite. I continue to feel that she's more in the present than the transcendent, by choice. Substance -- 1,000%. I also feel that she's capable of doing about anything. If she were to gravitate more to the 'transcendent,' as I see it, she could probably excel. This is just based on my viewing, but you could be absolutely right. Range -- she has, definitely. And I do agree with you that it can be a major factor in determining greatness. Also, as I've mentioned before, if she were to focus more on developing and integrating her Vagonava-style loveliness of motion, I think that she could become someone even more exceptional. It might make for a combination never seen before. If she were to continue her excursions into modern it could also be something totally new and exciting, somewhat like Diana Vishneva. As for youthfulness and freshness, I see this as something slightly different. Alyona Kovalyova, for instance, is very young and that's what you see when she's on stage. She also has some very mature character abilities. This sort of 'youthfulness,' I feel, is generally the domain of the very young. Once you develop character substance, you perhaps become something else. Galina Ulanova could touch the soul of a 20 year-old in her 50s, but be one again? I've not yet seen an 'actor' who could do this. If one comes along as you suggest, I'd be thrilled. Volcanohunter, the only thing that I could say in regard to what you've written is that I was knocked-over by the first video clip that I saw of Kristina Kretova. I've haven't had a chance to see her on stage, but would certainly like to. Then I would feel more confident in sharing my opinions. Added: By Vaganova-style loveliness of motion, I would once again cite Alyona Kovalyova. She appears to be emphasizing her's and it's wonderful to see. How her development contrasts with that of Olga Smirnova will also be exciting to see.
  2. Buddy

    Olga Smirnova

    Thanks again very much, Fleurdelis. I’m not sure what Olga Chenchikova strengths are as a coach, perhaps you could tell us, but Olga Smirnova stayed with her through quite a range of debuts. I would guess that she sees more than one new ballet as a reason to change. I was unaware of Maria Allash’s prowess as a dramatist in this particular work, but a comment on the internet that I read yesterday definitely agrees with you. Olga Smirnova’s greatest strength at the moment seems to be her dramatic power and her captivating stage presence. I would guess that she wants to really pursue this and sees Maria Allash’s advise as being very helpful. Olga Smirnova’s exceptional sense of drama is quite different from the amazing one that the ‘older generation’ possessed, as exemplified by Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova. Their’s I would describe as being more transcendental. Her’s could be equally compelling in its own way. And I’m still highly interested in how her refined Vaganova capabilities will be used, developed and adapted. I can sympathize with you about ticket prices. When I look in, the Bolshoi is about twice the price of the Mariinsky, but world prices in general can sometimes get very expensive. Also knowing more in advance who will perform would be helpful. When you comment about the substance of someone like Alyona Kovalyova, I assume that you are referring to portrayal. I’m actually delighted with her youthfulness and freshness, and with that of similar young artists, along with her remarkable talent, but this could be a totally personal preference.
  3. Buddy

    Olga Smirnova

    Thanks so much, Fleurdelis. I didn't know about any of this. I thought that if you have a 'super-coach' you'd essentially stay with that person. Awhile ago I thought I saw a large 'improvement,' a change of emphasis, in Alyona Kovalyova. She seemed much more continuous in her flow. Her coach remains the same, Olga Chenchikova. It could be growth or new imput from others. Would you have a guess as to how this could happen ?
  4. Some added information has been posted in a Mariinsky news letter dated February 7. https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/news1 (thanks to Olga K at the Mariinka forum for catching this) Of most interest to me is that Olga Smirnova will be making a second appearance with Kimin Kim performing Carmen-Suite at the final night gala. I saw her do this at a gala two years ago and thought that she was excellent ! Also Lauren Cuthbertson (Royal Ballet) with Xander Parish are scheduled to perform Marguerite and Armand the same evening. There was some speculation that Natalia Osipova might have been the dancer. None of this has yet been posted on the official schedule. Twyla Tharp will be in St. Petersburg to oversee the debut of her Push Comes to Shove. It was first choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov, originally from the Mariinsky. Maria Kowvroski’s (NYCB) name is listed as a visiting star in the russian printout but not the english. We’ll see if anything comes of it. It would be lovely to see her again in St. Petersburg. The very talented young Mariinsky choreographer (and dancer), Maxim Petrov, may be debuting a new work at the Young Choreographers evening. This is not yet confirmed on the schedule. As Drew pointed out, he has done a work for the Atlanta Ballet, which may give him a toehold in the US. Apart from the usual are Melanie Hamrick (ABT) and Mariinsky dancers, Vladimir Shklyarov and Alexander Sergeev (with costumes designed by his wife Daria Pavlenko), presenting their works.
  5. Thanks very much for your reviews, MadameP. You really got to see a great deal and found much to enjoy. Of highlight to me, is what you wrote above. Alina Somova, is an exceptional artist in so many ways. My preference in ballet is gracefulness of motion. Oxana Skorik is probably my favorite at this, but others such as Alina Somova come close and can also have compelling expression. I've just started watching a video clip of her adagio duet and once again don't want to rush through it, and it's only about ten minutes long, to post my feelings. When she first appeared I couldn't believe that it was her, her facial expression was so captivating. She can excel at this. Another Mariinsky artist who has the same qualities is Yekaterina Kondaurova. I just finished watching an older video clip of her performance and it's equally embracing in loveliness of dance and display of feeling. Danila Korsuntsev, for me, has always represented pure class. I also agree that he's an excellent partner, no excesses for one thing, and he's partnered some of the Mariinsky's best. I hope that he's able to maintain his technical competence, which you felt necessary to comment on. Added: I just finished watching Alina Somova's duet and her delicacy of expression at the end is as lovely as can be.
  6. In my experience the Festivals have always been beautiful. To add to the interest they don’t totally play out as expected. Certain things don’t change. The company as a whole is usually exceptional, unbelievably so, if you consider that it performs a different major work almost every night. We just take it for granted as we do the fact that during the entire year the artists shift sometimes nightly from a slanted stage to a flat one, from the old theater to the new one. Artists such as Yekaterina Osmolkina always give flawlessly consistent displays of ethereal loveliness. Artists such as Oxana Skorik or Alina Somova (when in that environment) set the standard for pure gracefulness. The Corps de Ballet is unquestionably beautiful, consistently giving background and support. Then there’s the expected that exceeds expectations. Olga Smirnova more or less walked off with the entire Festival two years ago because of her amazing La Bayadere. Then there’s the glimpses of greatness. Last year Maria Alexandrova and Vadislav Lantratov in Don Quixote and Yekaterina Kondaurova in Swan Lake, started their evenings with unseen before, exceptional brilliance. Then the surprises. Nadezhda Batoeva debuted her Swan Lake last year like a seasoned veteran. Then the total surprises. For instance, Alina Somova, several years ago, performed Fokine’s Swan with such unexpected expressiveness that I was spellbound. And more total surprises. Who would ever expect to be charmed, perhaps the most ever, by the audience itself ? The two-thirds, little children audience of the Vaganova’s Die Puppenfee last year did that to me. Visiting artists almost always give their best, often rising to the level of the legendary company that they’re performing with. Sometimes they do what only they are capable of. The Forsythe dancers appeared several years ago with a brief work that had no music. They were brilliant in a way that was probably never seen before on a Mariinsky stage. As was Ashley Bouder, performing George Balanchine’s Tarantella several years earlier, when she projectiled around the stage in the same manner as Edward Villella when he received thunderous applause and numerous encore calls on this very same stage. So this year, what might happen ? Hopefully Olga Smirnova’s Giselle will equal her La Bayadere from two years ago. With the possible absence of Oxana Skorik, Alina Somova may once again command considerable attention. What Maria Alexandrova and Vadislav Lantratov do with The Legend of Love could be quite something. Natalia Osipova, one of the greatest Kitris ever (Don Quixote), will be giving it another shot. From the younger ranks, Nadezhda Batoeva, Renata Shakirova, Kristina Shapran, Yekaterina Chebykina, Maria Khoreva and others could produce some fine surprises. Kimin Kim, Xander Parish, Vladimir Shklyarov and other men could do the same. For sure there’ll be the unexpected bursts of Starwonder.
  7. Thinking more about The Evening of American Choreography I come back to Jerome Robbins’ Other Dances. This work fascinates and charms me. One characteristic is the subtle variety of moods and ‘situations’ that flow together so beautifully. So much is so remarkably compressed with so little excess. In regard to Jerome Robbins’ In The Night, which will be presented at the Festival, I find an interesting comparison. Other Dances, first performed in 1976, seems like a reflection, perhaps a refinement, on In The Night, first performed in 1970. Interestingly, Jerome Robbins created Other Dances for Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, both originally from the Mariinsky. In The Night is more expansive, more dramatic. The performance from it that I’ve enjoyed the most is the final duet with the Paris Opera Ballet’s Delphine Moussin partnered by Stephane Bullion. It can be seen on the internet. She’s a ballerina that I saw several times and wished that I could have seen a lot more of. Here she’s wonderfully and believably expressive with a beautiful sense of poetry. And what could the Mariinsky offer? Two Festivals ago I saw Diamonds performed by Yekaterina Chebykina and Xander Parish. They were magnificent and were an excellent example of what the Mariinsky could excel at with Balanchine and Robbins. So I’ll probably continue to watch video clips of the New York City Ballet performing Other Dances with adoration while seeing how In The Night compares. A lot depends on the individual performances and performers. When the actual evenings at the Festival arrive I hope to love what I see. Maybe I’ll compare it to Other Dances or maybe I’ll just sit back, love it for what it is and forget that I ever wrote any of this. In either case I’m sure that it will be something very special and very beautiful, part of a journey that for me has already begun. Here's how the New York City Ballet describes In The Night. "Exploring his fascination with the music of Chopin, Robbins created three vastly contrasting sets of lovers, from innocent to impetuous, who meet beneath a midnight sky. After the enormous popularity of Dances at a Gathering in 1969, Jerome Robbins built on his love affair with Chopin’s piano works with In the Night. While the earlier ballet primarily uses mazurkas, waltzes, and études, In the Night, which premiered in 1970, conjures up a post-dusk scenario to four of the composer’s nocturnes. Choreographed for three couples of distinct personality, the ballet uses the music as a jumping-off point to explore subtle dance dramas. The Nocturne Op. 27, No. 1 takes on a stately quality before melting into lyricism. Nocturnes Op. 55, No. 1 and No. 2 are, respectively, bittersweet, and tempestuous in their melodies. The final piece, Nocturne Op. 9, No. 2 uses the rondo form, but in a tender, almost ethereal andante." https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/i/in-the-night.aspx .
  8. This would be correct, MadameP, with the addition of Twyla Tharp's Push Comes to Shove. https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/playbill/2019/3/21/1_1931 For me, the adagio White Swan duet from Swan Lake is perhaps the 'soul' of ballet. Adagio duets such as those from Giselle, La Bayadere and other classics approach it. Also include George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. George Balanchine's divertissement duet from A Midsummer Night's Dream comes close to Swan Lake for me. And now I would add Jerome Robbins' Other Dances, which I just discovered. Being an adagio lover, I like very much the way that George Balanchine is able to distill this in works such as Serenade. The classics seem to have a lot of 'filler material.' Is this bad? Not necessarily, if you consider it such, because it frames and gives impact to the beautiful highlights. In addition, the Bolshoi's Yuri Grigorovich, in his tweaking of the classics, raises some of the secondary material to a higher artistic level by doing such things as ballet choreography for character sections. Also the Bolshoi's emphasis on drama can add more interest and artistry throughout. The Mariinsky excels at taking this sort of Balanchine into the realm of ethereal fineness. I've seen his Midsummer Night's Dream duet performed in two distinct ways. One by the Mariinsky as described and one by his own company, most noticeable in a performance by Allegra Kent and Jacques d'Amboise. Here it's carried into the realm of high theater as well as dance. Both can be exceptionally compelling. Jerome Robbins can also excel at adagio. HIs duet from Other Dances, as well as other parts, are outstanding. The experience is so fine that I haven't tried to analyze it. I've watched the final duet from In The Night many times and consider it to be on a similar level. So George Balanchine may have brought classicism into the 20th century, but it's a two way street as the Mariinsky's interpretations show. Twyla Tharp goes a step beyond in combining classic and 'contemporary.' Her work is highly inventive. It will probably be more of a challenge for the highly refined Mariinsky. Is it of the same level as Balanchine and Robbins? This might be a matter of personal preference. I'm particularly fond of what George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins have done in this area. The two evenings should be excellent in showing where refined 'wonderfulness' can venture as interpreted by perhaps its finest performers.
  9. Thanks for the report, MadameP. In regard to slippery walking, I know. In March and April, the Festival season, it's not too bad. There are cleats that clip on easily to regular shoes and help greatly. I use them all the time in Switzerland, but never see anyone using them is St. Petersburg. I would take a pair in winter. Possibly you could find them in a sports store while you're there. Have a fine visit. Added: I don't think that there are any regulations against using them (because they could damage sidewalks, etc.), but you might want to check if you find a pair.
  10. A few more quick thoughts. In character she can be so ‘quietly’ lovely that she could almost slip by unnoticed. But — She’s real — heart-touchingly real — The equal of anyone on the Mariinsky stage. In pure dance she’s undeniably beautiful. The instagram excerpt of the Emeralds duet is as lovely as I could imagine. https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/44469-jewels-performances/ (thanks to Howpureisivory) Like Yekaterina Osmolkina you could put her on a cloud and float her through the entire Mariinsky repertoire. You didn't have to be so nice I would have liked you anyway If you had just looked once or twice And gone upon your quiet way..... You came upon a quiet day You simply seemed to take your place I knew that it would be that way The minute that I saw your face (by The Lovin' Spoonful)
  11. Ah yes. The famous Paquita variation. "She moves like an angel and she radiates like a sunbeam." Who said that ? Or for that matter this ? 😊 "Not to belabor the point, but I will. At the 2017 Mariinsky Festival, in the final performance of Paquita, the face of Maria Iliushkina during the solos was perhaps the brightest burst of sunshine that I've ever seen on a ballet stage."
  12. I also continue to think that she's quite wonderful, Drew. Her lyrical loveliness is what I love most at the Mariinsky and ballet in general. For the moment she shares this with such artists as Oxana Skorik, Alyona Kovalyova, Yekaterina Osmolkina and Maria Shirinkina. Maria Khoreva is also absolutely lovely in the Diamonds excerpt. She has a certain maturity and range, as well, which is probably why she's rising as fast as she is. Maria Iliushkina is more quiet but no less compelling. She has a quality that I love -- a childlike manner. I find it to be precious and hope that she holds on to it for the rest of her life. Yet, for the first time, in the instagram duet I see that's she also has a heart-touching maturity. She'll be appearing again as the Lilac Fairy from The Sleeping Beauty the middle of next month with Maria Shirinkina and Xander Parish. I hope that this is just one of many more wonderful performances that she'll be giving.
  13. I’ve been watching various Giselle duets to compare with Olga Smirnova’s. These include ones by Galina Ulanova, Eva Evdokimova, Alina Cojocaru, Oxana Skorik and Yekaterina Osmolkina. Alina Cojocaru's and Yekaterina Osmolkina's (two or three for each of them) have been Festival high points. Probably the most fascinating on video is that of Galina Ulanova who in her 50s(?) could at times elicit the soul of a twenty-year-old. All these Giselles are quite wonderful. The one I’ve been watching of Olga Smirnova is almost two years old. The most noticeable quality is her detail in structuring, in particular the placement of her head, which is a masterpiece of motion and sculpture. The quality that she’s most noticeable for is her expression. Facially she can approach the sublime. She holds up fine in comparison to the others. Hopefully in March we’ll see something quite beautiful.
  14. I would guess that you’re right about Serenade, MadameP. The ‘cover photo’ for the Festival, posted several days ago, is apparently of Serenade (pointed out this morning by Sophia, once again, at Dansomanie). (photo upper right) https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/festivals/fest2018_2019 The probable highlight this year will be Olga Smirnova’s Giselle. I’ve been hoping that she’ll become a Festival regular and star as was Alina Cojocaru for many years. One more lady that I would like to add to this list is the very young, Vaganova/Bolshoi’s Alyona Kovalyova. Another highlight will be Odette/Odile (Swan Lake), not yet announced. I’ve often written this, but the main attraction of the Festival is the quality of the performances, no matter what the material. It’s sort of assumed that the Mariinsky artists will do the best that they’re capable of and the guest artists also. The quality that I’ve seen is the best. What brings me back year after year ? The Enchantment and The Quality. It’s not a long trip. I’m usually in Europe at the time so it’s no more than flying from New York to Dallas, although I have made several trips from the States, last year from California. Aside from Olga Smirnova, the attraction this year will probably be the uniform excellence of the company. This can always be counted on. As far as stars are concerned, my favorite is probably Oxana Skorik because of the absolute loveliness of her dance. I haven’t seen her name lately so it’s possible that she won’t appear — maternity leave ? So it might fall to the always outstanding Alina Somova to carry this banner. She can be the equal of Oxana Skorik in pure beauty and she also has a very impressive range in which dramatic prowess has become a shining element. In terms of pure loveliness of dance I would also add the names of Yekaterina Osmolkina, Maria Shirinkina and a personal favorite, the young, still Corps de Ballet dancer, Maria Iliushkina (scheduled to be the Lilac Fairy in several weeks). The company has a huge list of young talent. Nadezhda Batoeva was perhaps the most pleasant surprise at last year’s Festival when she debuted Swan Lake as if she’d been doing it all her life. The Enchantment ? It’s everywhere. It’s especially the evenings when I return to the hotel sailing on a cloud. Two years ago Olga Smirnova’s Nikiya (La Bayadere) did this to me. Last year, various appearances by Oxana Skorik and Alina Somova did the same.
  15. The Divertissement of the final evening Gala is now posted. One of the main highlights, for me, it that we’ll have a second chance to see performances of two of the most beautiful works of ballet, The Adagio from Scene 2 of Swan Lake and The Pas de deux from Giselle. Olga Smirnova and Kimin Kim ( Both should be great ! ) are scheduled to do the full performance of Giselle and the cast isn’t yet listed for the full Swan Lake. 1. Gentle Memories (premiere) Music: Karen LeFrak Choreography: Jiří Bubenĺček Piano: Anatoly Kuznecov 2. Tarantella Music: Louis Moreau Gottschalk Choreography: George Balanchine Piano: Lyudmila Sveshnikova 3. Méditation Music: Jules Massenet Choreography: Yevgeny Kliavin 4. Pas de deux from the ballet Giselle Music: Adolphe Adam Choreography: Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa 5. Pas de deux from the ballet The Talisman Music: Riccardo Drigo Choreography: Marius Petipa 6. Adagio from Scene 2 of the ballet Swan Lake Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky Choreography: Lev Ivanov 7. Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky Choreography: George Balanchine https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/playbill/playbill/2019/3/31/2_1900?sid=48696 (thanks to Marfa at Ballet Friends for finding this)
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