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Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet in London

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The site of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden already posted a somewhat different, second version of the casting list for the Kirov tour in London. http://www.royalopera.org/PerformingSpaces...aoca=24&aocr=27

Nothing to surprise us, but still a slightly bizarre line-up. Absent from this tour seem to be Zhanna Ayupova, Irma Nioradze, Yulia Makhalina, and of course Uliana Lopatkina and Maya Dumchenko. Diana Vishneva is now listed for one performance only, "Le Corsaire" in the beginning of the season. For the remainder the performances are more or less "divided" among Svetlana Zakharova, Daria Pavlenko, and Sofia Gumerova. While Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Natalia Sologub, and the new faces for London Ekaterina Kondaurova, Viktoria Tereshkina, and Daria Sukhorukova dance some principal roles as well.

There will be a strong contingent of men with Farukh Ruzimatov, Igor Zelensky, Danila Korsuntsev, Igor Kolb, Andrian Fadeyev, Ilya Kuznetsov, Anton Korsakov, while Leonid Sarafanov and Vladimir Shishov also seem to get more prominence.

The company will present its three recently acquired ballets: "Rite of Spring", "Les noces", and "Etudes".

Any comments?

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I do hope someone goes and reports. Ekaterina Kondaurova is the young debutante I saw here in Washington do "Shades" and I thought her very promising. (And, while Pavlenko isn't one of the "big stars" I'd rather see her than some of her more prominent sisters :D )

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Kate, I'm jealous! I was looking at trying to come up for one of the La Bayadere performances, but Paul can't get the time off (and he won't let me travel back on my own that late - not even going to broach the subject with him!) and I can't believe the prices! They want £45 for our usual £25 seats, so I was even prepared to go in the slips and watch 'half' a performance!

Next time I guess......:)

Have fun, let us know what it's like.


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Tracey, as a regular 'slips' goer, I just wanted to say a word - it's not really bad as long as you can get earlier numbers in the slips. For instance this time round I could book Nos. either 1, 2 or 3 in the front row of the slips and am convinced this is the best value seat at 8.5 quid (remember even Standing area costs 15 quid?). You can get a pretty good view from there - only losing the side of the stage you're on. All the same it's a shame you won't be able to make it....

About casting info. - it's very odd indeed; even 'reinstated' Vishneva (I'd say so as in Japan she officially pulled off the scheduled performances for the very reason of joining Kirov's London tour!) will not be dancing on the first night. Makhalina's absence now is rather dissapointing although she's not my particular favourite, to be replaced in Scherazade by another promising (?) Coryphee, Tkachenko (who's she?). With this line-up all my expectations are on Pavlenko; as long as she's coming there's something to look forward to.....

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Naoko - Tat'jana Tkachenko is one of the brightest lights among the up-and-coming Kirov dancers. New Yorkers may remember her vivacious Street Dancer in the opening 'Don Quixote' one year ago. However...I have a hard time picturing T.T. as a Scheherazade, as she is a shortish soubrete type of gal...not at all in the Makhalina or Ilze Liepa or Alexandra Gronskaya mold. Sort of like Reese Witherspoon as Cleopatra?

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Not that it will surprise anybody, but there are already some important cast changes for the first two programs. Ilya Kuznetsov is not in London for the moment.

Daria Pavlenko is indisposed and there is only a small chance she will dance at all on this tour. For her scheduled Swan Lake on July 25 she is replaced by Sofia Gumerova.

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If the Kirov way with Le Corsaire is still highly enjoyable in general, the performance I saw on Wednesday night at Covent Garden couldn't make me forget performances from previous seasons, led by Asylmuratova, Terekhova, Chenchikova, Nioradze or Makhalina.

It was precisely the leading lady who left much to be desired. Sofia Gumerova was a lacklustre Medora. She had some moments of grace in the final act, but most of what came before was painfully insignificant. The effort it took her to get through the pas de trois was far too obvious, the steps were delivered without any authority, let alone imagination, while in the market scene she got completely drowned by the surroundings. Most of all her character is totally uninteresting and I kept wondering why on earth these guys ever came back to save her from the harem.

Veteran Elvira Tarassova cut a much more interesting Gulnara, danced strongly, even though, there were moments she simplified the choreography in the pas d'Esclave.

The men were on the whole satisfying: Shishov made a solid, well-danced Conrad and if only he could create a rapport with his Medora, his character could become interesting. Igor Kolb may lack the exotic quality for Ali, but he danced with panache, commitment, and joy. Andrian Fadeyev was an excellent Lankedem, and even if he cannot dispell memories of Zaklinsky or Zavialov in the role, his character was alive and witty. Above all he danced superbly in the pas d'Esclave. Islom Baimuradov was by far the best Birbanto I have ever seen.

There was a time when the three odaliques in the 3rd Act were girls of exactly the same heighth, yet now this doesn't seem to matter anymore, with Sukhorukova towering over Gonchar and Tkachenko. None of them was really interesting, but Sukhorukova hurling herself about was properly appalling. They all seemed to dance pretty much on their own, attacking the variations as competition numbers and talking while they were performing.

There were fine supporting roles from Ponomarev as the lusty pasha, from Rassadina and Rakhmanova in the character dances. Corps de ballet dancing was fair and maestro Boris Gruzin provided excellent support.

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Things clearly fell into place on the opening night's Swan Lake, led by superstar couple Svetlana Zakharova and Igor Zelensky. The corps showed impeccable lines and the whole ensemble breathed an air of authority. The pas de trois highlighted some great dancing, mainly thanks to light-footed Irina Zhelonkina and Anton Korsakov.

I haven't seen that many Swan Lakes from the Kirov where the prince has the edge over his Odette-Odile, but in this case I felt he had. Igor Zelensky, slimmer and with a much more attractive haircut, in one of his most inspired moments, made the most ravishing of princes, beautifully danced and above all moving with a great feel for dramatic detail, disproving the often heard criticism that prince Siegfried in K. Sergeyev's version is nothing but a cardboard character. He might be in the hands of many dancers, but not this night with Zelensky. He partnered with loving care and attentiveness, and that he skipped the lifts really seemed unimportant when there was so much else happening.

Zelensky definitely sparked Zakharova off and the duets had a sincerity and warmth not often seen with her. It wasn't the emotionalism we had with Pavlenko and Kolb (Zakharova's dramatic range is far too limited for that), but on the whole it was a highly satisfying partnership.

On her own there was the usual weird phrasing and accentuation, with a tendency to over-emphasize positions instead of showing the flow of the movement, particularly noticeable in the variations. Although in a lesser degree than in some of her other roles (like Le Corsaire) Zakharova's dancing has far too many of the "Wow!" moments of technical bravura, and an overall view seems to be absent. Dramatic or emotional climaxes are only tentative, and even look shy, as in the final scene of the White act, where in spite that Zelensky's pulled out all the stops, she slipped into the wings without much fuss.

The second night's Swan Lake was by comparison a non-event, because of the leading couple Sofia Gumerova and Danila Korsuntsev, adequate, but utterly dull.

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Marc, I will be in London from August 8. The only Kirov performances on from August 9 are Le Corsaire for both matinee and evening. If the casting is not changed (and assuming that there are still tickets), would you recommend the matinee or the evening performance? I am thinking matinee would be preferable? Thank you!

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Thanks for those reports, Marc. The "Corsaire" does sound dispiriting and matches what I've gotten from friends in emails (with promises to post -- are you out there today? :D ) I haven't heard any reports about "Swan Lake" yet and so was all the more glad to read yours. In the performances I've seen from him, I've found Zelensky uneven, yet I've always thought the potential was there, and am very glad to read he was in such good form.

Londoners or traveling Kirov watchers? What did you think?

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Hard to choose for you, Scuffite, but I would take the evening performance, as the closing nights of the Kirov seasons always have something special - but I hope you will still find any tickets; they are really selling well and the final performances will definitely sell out (if they haven't already).

I much enjoyed the final Swan Lake (of the first run) led by Natalia Sologub and Igor Kolb. Sologub was especially interesting as Odile, with a superbly danced variation, in fact very classical, happily avoiding all tricks and excesses found with other dancers. I found her Odette dramatically more uneven and at times there was some hardness in her delivery, but she is definitely a Swan to look out for in the future.

The magic of the Pavlenko-Kolb partnership wasn't repeated, but let's say there were a lot of interesting ideas, as in the final scene of the White Act (something which couldn't be said of the previous night with Gumerova and Korsuntsev) and with some more rehearsing the adages can turn out a lot better than they did last night. Kolb was excellent again, even though his character was less complete and consistent than with Pavlenko.

It's funny that they really didn't succeed all that well in Corsaire this time. It used to be one of their most entertaining night's out - not so long ago.

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Thank you Marc. Not sure about the evening but the matinee still has single seats left. Still checking .....

I just read Clement Crisp's review of Le Corsaire by the Kirov in London. About Svetlana Zakharova, "so compelling in other ballets, tears into the role like an arrow, and kills it stone dead". The 2 male leads get better reviews though - "As the hero, Conrad, we had the unexepected debut of Vladimir Shishov, dancing handsomely and looking handsome, with the young and very gifted Leonid Sarafanov as his side-kick, Ali." This is the very same cast that will be doing the closing.

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Hi everyone!

I was at Swan Lake on Saturday night and I agree with Marc's description! In particular Natalia Sologub was very interesting - quite lovely as the swan - they both took my breath away in act 1. I wasn't sure of her in act 2 in the same way. I went with my mother who is not a big ballet buff and she very much enjoyed it, never having seen a corps of 32 before - never mind such an impeccable one!

Anyway, I don't know very much about the dancers of the Kirov, so if anyone knows what to expect on Saturday night's La Bayadere, please let me know. I will give my haphazard review in return! (Even try and elaborate on this one!) :FIREdevil:

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The "Homage to Diaghilev" triple bill with Chopiniana, Les Noces, and Scheherazade is a rather heavy evening, but I'm still not sure whether this is caused by the ballets or rather the variable quality of the dancing. There was a lot going wrong on Wednesday night, first of all because maestro Mikhail Agrest seemed to attempt his utmost to kill the fun: with his sluggish tempi and playing mostly to himself he sabotaged a good part of the evening.

Chopiniana was something like 3 cherries and a lemon. While featherlight Irina Zhelonkina may be Fokine's dream of the sylph, Daria Sukhorukova definitely is his nightmare. A bigger contrast is hardly imaginable. Where Zhelonkina is all polished plastique, ideally catching the nocturnal atmosphere of the piece, Sukhorukova is earthbound, hard and angular.

Igor Kolb's romantically impetuous poet was an excellent match for Zhelonkina, while Janna Selina was a rewarding prelude girl.

Les Noces, the first of the 3 new ballets the Kirov is bringing to London, looked like an open rehearsal with a totally miscast Alexandra Josifidi as the Bride, resembling a swan in Russian peasant outfit. The ensemble couldn't disguise it is still learning the work, and there is clearly a lot of work to do here.

Scheherazade was another disappointment with a miscast Danila Korsuntsev as prince Siegfried in harem trousers. His jumps were impressive as such, but the duet with Tatiana Tkachenko had about as much passion and sensuality as a Victorian tea party. Tkachenko didn't have much to say in this role either.

Today, La Bayadere starts. Opening night performance will be danced by Daria Pavlenko and Andrian Fadeyev.

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London was finally introduced to Sergei Vikharev's reconstruction of Petipa's 1900 Bayadere. It couldn't have wished for a better first viewing than with yesterday's opening night cast, led by Daria Pavlenko, Andrian Fadeyev and Elvira Tarassova. Pavlenko, who was dancing her first performance on this tour, is currently by far the most complete Nikiya of this company, and is - as was proven again last night - with her stylistic approach and dramatic gifts the best suited ballerina for the new-old production. There is no gratuitous brilliance, there are no cheap tricks, and neither does she knock you out with flashes of technical bravura (although the Shades Act showed some truly magnificent dancing), yet by the quality of her plastique alone she reveals more of the drama, appearing real and true, than anyone I can think of in this company. As somebody remarked during the performance: "Hey, this is a Kirov ballerina!"

Elvira Tarassova is one of the most convincing Gamzatti's as well. Strongly danced (even up to the final bits of this long ballet), passionate and headstrong, giving the character a formidable appearance. The mime duel between the two rival lovers, ending with Nikiya's attack with the knife, had all the theatricality and white hot dramatic intensity one could hope for.

Andrian Fadeyev is an attractive Solor, reserved, yet honest and sincere. He conveyed the doubt and guilt with subtility, and I haven't seen the pantomime scene between Solor and Gamzatti preceding the Shades Act looking so convincing as here. His dancing was generally outstanding.

The ensemble proved quite on top of it (after Les Noces the previous evening that looked even clearer), magic was in the air during the appearance of the Shades, and there were outstanding contributions from Rakhmanova, Baimuradov and Scherbakov in the Indian dance, from Vasyukevich in the manu dance, and from Zhelonkina as the 2nd shade soloist, the only one of the three who danced her variation totally well.

The Covent Garden audience received the new-old production with enthousiasm, although as noticed everywhere some gave up after the 3rd Act, and the old-fashioned sides of the production produced quite a few giggles. There were no marked differences with previous viewings; the entrance of the Balineselike girls in the 2nd Act was kept although their dance was omitted.

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There is no gratuitous brilliance, there are no cheap tricks, and neither does she knock you out with flashes of technical bravura (although the Shades Act showed some truly magnificent dancing), yet by the quality of her plastique alone she reveals more of the drama, appearing real and true, than anyone I can think of in this company.

Just what I remember from her performance last summer. Marc, I am green with envy :yes:

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It was like watching a different ballet last night, with Svetlana Zakhaova and Leonid Sarafanov taking the lead on the second night of La Bayadere. The towering physicality of Zakharova fits awkwardly within the frame of the new-old production. Her unfolding, sky-scraping legs keep unfolding long after the musical accents and if Pavlenko clearly looked first of the Shades, Zakharova resembled an alien visitor not familiar with the language of the corps. What I found most disconcerting is however that her technical virtuosity (impressive it may be when taken on its own) is totally unrelated to the drama unfolding before our eyes, worse it is even happening in spite of the drama.

Leonid Sarafanov, the next Kiev wunderkid in line, was in many senses marvelous to see. His boyishly frail appearance, his sweepingly romantic gestures mirrored the broadness and often impetuousness of his dancing, but even so, he hardly ever managed to get out of the shadow of his Nikiya, who was just too big for him. Yet, he is a talent to look out for.

I much admired Viktoria Tereshkina as Gamzatti, haughty, tough as nails and looking even more fomidable than Tarassova.

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Yesterday evening we had the final of the four Bayaderes. London audiences seem to have warmed for this production and on several occasions I overheard regrets that only four performances were shown this time. (We could have done with a little less Swan Lakes). Last night had exactly the same cast as the opening performance (Pavlenko-Fadeyev-Tarassova), but looked even more inspired. The company in general seemed better attuned, while Daria Pavlenko, now fully recovered from her illness at the beginning of the tour, was absolutely stunning. The Shades Act was a moment of true (and rare) balletic grace - ample, eloquent, beautiful, and finally utterly moving. None of the technical exhibitionism of the previous day, none of the outsized, hyperflex shapes either, but pure, simple and solid classical dancing.

Elvira Tarassova as Gamzatti was on top form as well and demonstrated some great dancing in the final act.

Every second of the long ovations was fully deserved.

The company is now preparing the next program which starts on Monday, bearing the imponderable title "Contrasts": Serenade, Rite of Spring, and Etudes. After several cast changes it is now Yulia Makhalina, flewn in from St. Petersburg (and who danced the premiere), who will perform Rite.

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I was there last night, and I too feel sorry that I only caught one performance! It was absolutely fantastic. I took my partner, who so far has been rather lukewarm on the classic ballets, preferring the things we see at Sadlers Wells (particularly Twyla Tharp a few weeks ago...) But he had a really good time. He particularly liked the shades, and the King, who did a lot of dancing with his eyebrows!

I fell in love with Daria Pavlenko, and thought it a shame that Solor didn't get to do much dancing on his own, because he is obviously technically a genius. A fantastic jumper. He seemed a little bit unsure in some of the partnering. I would like to see Tarassova in another part - she had so much fire and energy!

I'm not going to see any more of the Kirov this time around but I look forward to further updates from anyone that goes. Have a good time!

One last thing, though. I know it was 'the director's cut' of La Bayadere, but I thought it was a real shame that they didn't have the Golden Idol dance in this version. The first time I saw the Kirov (in 1999 or something) that variation really took my breath away.

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Thanks, Kate. Glad you caught this one performance of Bayaderka.

The "King with the dancing eyebrows" :D as you mentioned, is Petr Stasiunas the Raja, who has indeed the habit of miming a lot with his eyebrows.

The reason why they don't have the Golden Idol dancing in this 1900 revival is because it was added in the Soviet period, in the late 1940s by Zubkovsky. You can however see him being carried on the stage, as a real statue, in the 2nd Act.

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