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When do the principal dancers dance?

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I did not start reading this forum until a month ago, when I arrived in St. Petersburg to study at the Smolny Institute for five months. Thus, I am quite ignorant about Russian ballet and have at least one (for now) pressing question about it.

I have been to the Mariinsky many times in the last month and have several tickets for the weeks ahead. I have seen several good dancers, but I'm always surprise to find afterwards that they are either first or second soloists or coryphees. Not once has a dancer listed as "principal" on the Mariinsky website danced the principal (or any other) role in a production. I have tickets for the Daria Pavlenko and Ulyana Lopatkina benefits, but other than that, when do they dance in St. Petersburg?

Another (less pressing) question: from where does the Mussorgsky get its dancers? I've seen some in the past few weeks who were better than any I have seen thus far at the Mariinsky.

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Welcome, DancingGiselle! Thanks for posting & we'd love to read your impressions of some of the specific ballets that you see, if you have the time & inclination to post!

re. current principals - The principals seem to dance the 'principal roles' less often than the First/Second Soloists and Choryphees (or even corps de ballet, on occasion!) these days, it seems. However, Lopatkina *has* danced 'Legend of Love' during the past two weeks & Pavlenko danced in either the Forsythe or the Balanchine mixed bill very recently. Ruzimatov seems to dance *too* often, some say. ;) Vishneva did some performances in late Jan/early Feb related to her 10th Anniversary of service to the theater.

You seem to have arrived at a time when the soloists & choryphees are being given more opportunities to dance, on purpose, as part of the recently-completed Tchaikovsky Festival and the just-begun Maslenitsa (Butter Week) Festival. Gergiev has stated publicly that his desire is to give young artists a chance to dance major roles during those two weeks, which includes lots of tickets for 'locals' at very reduced (or even free) rates. HOWEVER, all 'top guns' are being promised for the bigger, more expensive 'Mariinsky Int'l Ballet Festival' at the end of the month.

The Maly-Moussorgsky Theater's troupe's members come mostly from the Vaganova Academy...usually the 'next level' of students who are not offered contracts with the Kirov-Mariinsky. However, even 'next rank' in a Vaganova graduation class is pretty special! The Vaganova also feeds young dancers to the Boris Eifman, Konstantin Tkatchine & 'Choreographic Miniatures' a.k.a. 'St Petersburg State Ballet' troupe. [The latter is now headed by a recently-retired male star of the Maly, Yuri Petukhov.] Not to mention that Vaganova graduates who don't find jobs locally go to Novossibirsk & other high-quality Russian companies. A lot of graduates from the 'provinces' simply return to their home troupes, too (or that was the case prior to 5-6 years ago).

So they're all one big family, in a sense.

Natalia Nabatova

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Thank you, Natalia! I have much to learn about ballet here in St. Petersburg, but I have several months ahead of me.

Yes, you're right: Lopatkina did dance "Legend of Love" recently, which I was unable to attend. And I think Pavlenko was listed for Forsythe and/or Balanchine, although I can't confirm because none of my acquaintances in the city caught that performance. I just bought a few more tickets for late March/early April, so I will have to double check the Mariinsky website to see if any of the principals are listed for those performances (the tickets are so cheap, I buy them without knowing -- or caring -- who's dancing).

I would love to post a bit about the performances (although today I'm already running late, so that will ahve to wait). Sofia Gumerova (who, as a first soloist, is the highets-ranked dancer I've seen thus far) danced her first Kitri last Wednesday, but I must admit that I was less than impressed by her performance. Technically, she was a bit shaky once or twice -- which is something I would have overlooked, had she not seemed a bit emotionally empty in the role. But perhaps I judged her more harshly than I should have, due to the fact that I was not a huge fan of the Gorsky version.

On the other hand, I enjoyed "Fountain of Bakhchiserai" quite a bit on Sunday, with Yekaterina Kondaurova as Zarema and Xenia Ostreikovskaya as Maria.

I figured that the Mussorgsky dancers are also probably Vaganova trained (or something similar). As I said in my first post, I have really taken a liking to several of them. So I shouldn't be upset about the fact that I haven't seen any Mariinsky dancers dance -- sometimes I see the best dancing from those who weren't even offered a contract with the Mariinsky!

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Sofia Gumerova (who, as a first soloist, is the highets-ranked dancer I've seen thus far) danced her first Kitri last Wednesday, but I must admit that I was less than impressed by her performance....

Interesting observations, DancingGiselle. When I heard that Gumerova was being given the role of Kitri, I almost fell off my chair, as I cannot in my wildest dreams imagine her as a sparkling soubrette type. What you write confirms my fears.

You will surely see many principals during the late March/early April timeframe, as that corresponds with the international festival.

Who, among the Maly-Moussorgsky dancers, do you particularly like, if I may ask? I love Oksana Kucheruk and Roman Mikhailev among the younger principals, and Elvira Khabibulina among the more seasoned ballerinas. Have you seen these dancers? Who else?

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