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Kirov in Berkeley: Balanchine

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[A point of view from a Balanchine fan.]

Danila Korsuntsev is quite exceptional, He is long limbed and slightly languorous, like Darcy Bussell or Maria Calegari, a tiny bit behind the beat, in his own time. Yet he is capable of surprising articulations, such as a quick set of sharp and almost invisible beats, and his solo turns around the stage are natural and don’t have don't have an athletic heaviness to them.

He was partnered in Diamonds on Friday night with Daria Pavlenko and they were quite wonderful, with seamless transitions between lifts and walks and little runs. She tended not to hold certain Balanchinian figures for their full effect, such as the strange mid-air squats (she had held some of the Fokinean figures longer on Tuesday night).

Sometimes it seems as if the Kirov dancers don’t know what what riches they’ve come across in Balanchine and rush right through them. They don’t know where the punctuation marks belong, Balanchine’s commas and semi-colons. Also the thrusts and shoves. And their liquid arm movements shift the center of gravity towards the wrists rather than down to the legs.

That said, the evening was a delight. The first part of Diamonds was good, the corps seemed to have lost their way in the second, and the last third was magnficient. The Korsuntsev & Pavlenko pas de Deux in many ways surpassed the excellent one I saw earlier this year by Julie Diana and Vadim Solomakha at the SF Ballet. With the summary statements by the Kirov corps eveything fell together wonderfully. There was none of aftertaste of empty brilliance that this ballet sometimes leaves.

The Kirov orchestra under Mikhail Agrest was so consistently good that I often found myself listening more than looking. Underneath the overall richness and oneness there is a slight sourness to the string playing that sets eveything off. And the piano playing of Sveshnikova Liudmila--in Shostakovich glasses?-- for the Stravinsky piece was like the quick sound of loose stones on the sea shore being turned and snapping together by the incoming tide, very rollicking, almost dangerously so.

Emeralds didn’t quite come off. In certain ways I think it is the most difficult. The Miami did it at Zellerbach four years ago--more coherently and eloquently--and I remember people saying oh, that’s not ballet, it’s just walking through. I don’t think that’s true, but I have no idea of the technical difficulties of dance.The performer who seemed have the best understanding of Emeralds was Sofia Gumerova, who did the second ballerina solo, the strange mediative slighty neurotic stitchy dance, with a very nice calmy rubato to her movements.

Rubies was well executed but the Kirov seemed to be having too much fun with it. For me it lacked sarcasm and bite. But don’t let me leave the feeling that this wasn’t a very special evening.


1.Did anyone else online see this performance and what did they think?

2.How would Kortsunsev be as Apollo?

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Thanks so much for the preview. We will be going to see this program in Orange county later this month and are looking forward to seeing the Kirov dance Balanchine. Will share later with you later this month after our performance down here. We are also seeing the other program. Did you happen to see the mixed bill with "Chopaniana"?

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Thanks very much for that, Quiggin. I saw the Pavlenko and Korsuntsev in Diamonds in DC last season and liked them very much. Korsuntsev is the one Kirov man I've seen who can present a ballerina. I also felt the same way as you did about "Emeralds." (Rhetorical qudsiton to the gods: why must Paris put on "Balanchine's final thought" of a ballet made for them -- i.e., dance Symphony in C rather than Palais du crystal -- yet the Kirov is allowed to dance the rough draft of "Emeralds" and not the later version Balanchine made for NYCB?)

Korsuntsev as Apollo -- does he have enough wildness and energy? I don't know -- he may well. I've only seen him in a different repertory. But Zaklinsky was a noble and, for me, a wonderful Apollo. Thanks again -- I hope we will hear more from you :thumbsup:

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Yes, Socalgal, I saw the other program and recommend it. It's really important to see this stuff while it's around. You live on stale bread and lentils for the following week, but your heart is full.

Alexandra, you make a good point about Korsuntsev not being wild enough for Apollo. Zelensky was a little unpredictable the times I saw him at NYCB, but he could do it well--better than Nilas Martins and quite differently than Peter Boal.

Perhaps the Kirov did not do the afterword to Emeralds because it would have been just too much. The additional, post-ending ending seems to reverse all the prior emotional gains, and already in its short form Emeralds doesn't seem to be much of a crowd pleaser. You can often feel audiences embracing Rubies not only for itself, but also as a way of forgetting Emeralds.

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Hi Quiggin, thanks for your report on the Kirov. I hope others will join in and say how they've been feeling about this visit by such an important company.

I'm in an awkward spot, since I've got to write about hte whole series for Ballet Review, so can't steal my own thunder..... but I dont want the conversation to die down. So maybe I'll just say how much I enjoyed the performances of Anton Korsakov, the OTHER boy in Chopiniana.....

Don't know if you saw him, Quiggin, but he also danced the pas de trois in Emeralds opening night, and he partnered hte impossible Nioradze in Rubies and got in some good kicks of his own...

He's just a delicious dancer, he tastes his own movement, relishes it, his feet lick the floor, he's got a deep cushy fondu and he enjoys it. If you didn't see him, he's in some ways the opposite of Korzuntsev -- both his body type, which is more like Nijinsky's (lots of thigh, lots of calf, whereas Korzuntzev has flamingo legs), and his demeanor, which is not at all sincere, but rather knowing, though circumspect.... I found him a totally intriguing creature.

Korsakov's got a fantastic sense of his own line -- in entrechat-sept (Emeralds), he opens slightly more before the last coupe, and shows you the pointed toe in the back, AND he shades the whole thing slightly croise and finishes it with a beautiful eyes-down tilt of the head. Cat-like, seductive use of hte head -- he knows all the head positions, and uses them, but only when it suits his purposes. In Rubies, he announced the beginning of his solo by landing a huge assemble at an extremely improbably angle and bouncing out of it like Ray Bolger -- THey must have been all coached in this, for in one way or another the boys all made some clownish moves at one time or another, but Korsakov's were genuinely witty, or rather they were both witty and funny -- for as the solo went on he "got happy" (as the Gospel singers say) -- he did his double sauts de basque in hte Basilio position (I mean the way they do them in Don QUixote, with the knees together turned in), and started off his line of emboites grinning hugely, like Villella in Tarantella....

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Guest Angel2Be

Thanks for posting that! I live nearby and, after reading all these reviews, can't believe I missed it. (I actually was in Berkeley on Saturday, but my parents made me attend a presentation of Japanese kyogen theater instead. :) )

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