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VI Int'l Ballet Festival-Mariinsky

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Here's a bit more on the casting of Ondine.

Earlier, I reported as follows:

March 16 (premiere) - Vishneva as Ondine & Kolb as Matteo

March 17 - Obraztsova as Ondine & Sarafanov as Matteo

Mariinka.com site now reports a 3rd pairing of principals rehearsing the two leading roles:

Ondine - Olesya Novikova

Matteo - Andrei Merkuriev

Also, the two ladies being rehearsed in the role of Giannina are Yana Serebriakova and Ekaterina Osmolkina.

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I'm overjoyed to see that Zhanna Ayupova is participating in the Makarova Gala--March 26, the closing night of the VI Intern'l Ballet Festival at the Mariinsky. What a treat.

Sixteen participants, including Makarova, are now listed on the Mariinsky website.

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I'm overjoyed to see that Zhanna Ayupova is participating in the Makarova Gala--March 26, the closing night of the VI Intern'l Ballet Festival at the Mariinsky. What a treat.

Sixteen participants, including Makarova, are now listed on the Mariinsky website.

ZHANNA IS BACK?!! HALLELUJAH!! :flowers::flowers:

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:clapping: Vishneva took out Ondine from her performances as she is sick. Would anyone know who will be performing the premier on the 16th?

Most likely the second cast of Obraztsova/Sarafanov/Osmolkina will 'move up' to the premiere on Thursday, with the 3rd cast of Novikova/Merkuriev/Serebriakova taking over the Friday performance. The only problem with this scenario is that Novikova is scheduled to dance 'Don Q'/Kitri on Saturday night. Even if Novikova gets the premiere, that would amount to only one night of rest for the young ballerina. We all wait.

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Here's the schedule from the official site:

Thu, 16 Mar 2006, 19:00


romantic ballet in two acts and six scenes

Music: Cesare Pugni

Choreography: Pierre Lacotte (2006)

Casting: TBA

Libretto: Jules Perrot and Fanny Cerrito (after the novel by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque)

Choreography and staging: Pierre Lacotte (2006)

Set and costume design: Pierre Lacotte (2006)

Assistant Choreographer: Anne Salmon

Lighting Designer: Alexander Naumov

World premiere: Her Majesty´s Theatre, London, 22 June 1843

St Petersburg premiere (as Naiad and the Fisherman): 30 January 1851, St Petersburg´s Bolshoi Theatre

New production and choreography: Marius Petipa (under the title Naiad and the Fisherman): 27 October 1874, St Petersburg´s Bolshoi Theatre

Fri, 17 Mar 2006, 19:00The VI International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY


(see info from above)

Casting: TBA

Sat, 18 Mar 2006, 19:00

The VI International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY

Don Quixote

grand ballet in four acts (seven scenes) with a prologue

Music: Ludwig Minkus

Choreography: Alexander Gorsky (1902)

Olesia Novikova

Mathieu Ganio (Opéra de Paris)

Sun, 19 Mar 2006, 19:00The Sleeping Beauty

ballet-féerie in three acts with a prologue and apotheosis

Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Choreography: Marius Petipa (1890)

Alina Cojocaru (London Royal Ballet)

Andrian Fadeyev

(revival of the 1890 production)

Tue, 21 Mar 2006, 19:00New names

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. Du Cote de chez Swan. Overcoat after Nikolai Gogol.

ballets in one act

Music: Richard Strauss. Leonid Desyatnikov. Dmitry Shostakovich

Choreography: Nikita Dmitrievsky (2006). Alexei Miroshnichenko (2006). Noah D Gelber (2006)

Bourgeois gentilhomme premiere

Music: Richard Strauss (Bourgeois gentilhomme, Ballet scenes) by arrangement with Fuerstner Musikverlag Mainz

Choreography, sets and lighting: Nikita Dmitrievsky (2006)

Costumes: Tatiana Mashkova

Du cote de chez Swan premiere

Music: Leonid Desyatnikov (Du cote de chez Swan for two pianos, 1995)

Choreography: Alexei Miroshnichenko (2006)

Design: Philipp Dontsov

Piano solo: Polina Osetinskaya, Alexei Goribol

Overcoat after Gogol premiere

Music: Dmitry Shostakovich (music from the films Alone, Conditionally Killed)

Choreography: Noah D Gelber-mt (2006)

Set design: Samuel Gelber, Noah D Gelber

Costumes: Tatiana Noginova, Noah D Gelber

Lighting: Juergen Koss

Wed, 22 Mar 2006, 19:00

Nikolai Tsiskaridze Gala Performance


Music: Igor Stravinsky (Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, 1929)

Choreography: George Balanchine (1967)

Scenery: Peter Harvey (1967)

Costumes: Karinska (1967)

Conductor: Boris Gruzin

Nikolai Tsiskaridze

Olesya Novikova, Sofia Gumerova

and artists of the Mariinsky Ballet


Music: Nikolai Cherepnin

Choreography: Kassyan Goleizovsky (1960)

Nikolai Tsiskaridze


Music: Georges Bizet

Choreography: Roland Petit (2003)

Nikolai Tsiskaridze


Music: Thom Willems in collaboration with Leslie Stuck (1987)

Choreography, staging, lighting and costumes: William Forsythe (1987)

Nikolai Tsiskaridze

Irina Golub, Yekaterina Kondaurova, Tatiana Tkachenko, Yekaterina Petina, Yana Selina, Xenia Dubrovina, Alexander Sergeyev, Mikhail Lobukhin

Thu, 23 Mar 2006, 19:00

Igor Zelensky Gala Performance


Music: Igor Stravinsky (Apollon Musagete)

Choreography: George Balanchine (1928)

Conductor: Boris Gruzin

Igor Zelensky

Viktoria Tereshkina, Irina Golub, Olga Yesina


Music: Georg Friderich Haendel (Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Wilhelm Furtwaengler, 1944 recording)

Choreography, set design and lighting concept: Alla Sigalova (2006)

Igor Zelensky


Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky (from Symphony No. 3 in D Major, 1875)

Choreography: George Balanchine (1967)

Scenery: Peter Harvey (1967)

Costumes: Karinska (1967)

Conductor: Boris Gruzin

Igor Zelensky, Daria Pavlenko

Yana Serebryakova, Yana Selina, Xeina Ostreikovskaya, Daria Sukhorukova; Sergei Popov, Alexander Klimov, Denis Firsov, Alexander Sergeyev

and artists of the Mariinsky Ballet

Fri, 24 Mar 2006, 19:00

Farukh Ruzimatov Gala Performance

PRODIGAL SON Music: Sergei Prokofiev (1927)

Book: Boris Kochno

Choreography: George Balanchine (1929)

Scenary and costumes: Georges Rouault (1929)

Conductor: Mikhail Sinkevich

Farukh Ruzimatov

Yekaterina Kondaurova, Vladimir Ponomarev, Anton Pimonov, Maksim Khrebtov

and artists of the Mariinsky Ballet


Music: Henry Purcell (arranged by Simon Sadoff)

Plot: Jose Limon after Shakespeare´s Otello

Choreography: Jose Limon (1949)

Costumes: Pauline Lawrence

Farukh Ruzimatov, Carles Jude (Ballet de Bordeaux),

Giliane Bubl, Stephanie Roublot (Ballet de Bordeaux)


Farukh Ruzimatov and

Compania Suite Espanola:

Rosario Castro Romero and Ricardo Romero (Dancers)

Pablo Garcia Palomo (Guitarist), Manuel Cazas Penas (Guitarist),

Nieves Diaz Ortiz (Singer), Pavel Sakuta (Violin),

Jose Maria Uriarte Serrano (Percussionist)

Sat, 25 Mar 2006, 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)

Ulyana Lopatkina

Jose Martinez (Opéra de Paris)

Sun, 26 Mar 2006, 19:00

Natalia Makarova Gala

With the participation of:

Natalia Makarova

Zhanna Ayupova (Mariinsky Theatre)

Alina Cojocaru (Royal Ballet)

Lucia Lacarra (Bayerisches Staatsballett)

Agnes Letestu (Opera National de Paris)

Ulyana Lopatkina (Mariinsky Theatre)

Daria Pavlenko (Mariinsky Theatre)

Diana Vishneva (Mariinsky Theatre)

Andrian Fadeyev (Mariinsky Theatre)

Johan Kobborg (Royal Ballet)

Igor Kolb (Mariinsky Theatre)

Jose Martinez (Opera de Paris)

Andrei Merkuriev (Mariinsky Theatre)

Syrill Pierre (Bayerisches Staatsballett)

Leonid Sarafanov (Mariinsky Theatre)

Igor Zelensky (Mariinsky Theatre)

and artists and the corps de ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre

Programme TBA

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3/16/06 Ondine Mariinsky IV Intern'l Ballet Festival

Ondine opened with the scheduled second night cast:

Evgenia Obratztsova Ondine

Leonid Sarafanov Matteo

Yana Serebriakova Giannina

Victoria Tereshkina Queen of the Sea

My personal synopsis:

A stellar, brilliant cast in a work full of divertissements that please and make aesthetic sense but tell a story, at best creakily, and at worst poorly.

The work described as in two acts and six scenes has a story that serves to pin the dances together. Need happy dances? A wedding!

Need sad dances? Forebodings of a death.

Be prepared to recollect any 19th century work with underwater scenes or fairies and any queen of an otherworldly society that does gorgeous sauts de basque.

I feel I need to see the work a second time (the 17th) before saying any more about it.

Now for the dancing: absolutely first rate.

Obraztsova created a portrait of refinement, mischievousness, and innocent love that was very moving.

Serebriakova, as the fiancee, was equally convincing as the good and beautiful Giannina, pained by the inconstancy of her intended husband.

[One viewer felt that the sameness of physiques and coloring between the two dancers blurred the role contrasts between them.

The viewer told me: "They could have exchanged parts without a loss to us".]

I took that to be a compliment to the two dancers, but think I understand the point.

Tereshkina was superb as the severe and powerful monarch of her underwater kingdom.

The surprise of the evening for me was the portrayal of Sarafanov as Matteo. He seems to have undergone some physical and artistic transformation that made him totally convincing as a young man,

without his earlier look of a precocious boy playing a man's part.

Secondly his partnering skills are reaching a level of competence expected of artists of his level.

His adagio work with Obraztsova was in my view exemplary--including an anachronistic overhead lift.

His solos showed a degree of unforced accomplishment, a buoyancy and form in high jumps, and understated and secure landings that were breathtaking.

In demi-soloist parts, Olga Yesina, Ekaterina Petina, Nadezhda Gonchar, Olesia Novikova and Maxim Khrebtov, and Anton Pimonov were all of them outstanding.

The choreography seems to have a thematic content, perhaps promoted by thePugni music, that to my ear, providesa better ballet score than the one for Pharaoh's Daughter.

Pugni's Ondine is listenable and furnishes a good platform for the academic divertissements that fill the ballet of Lacotte.

I think most ballet lovers will rejoice.

Mikhail Sinkevich conducted.

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ONDINE (or 'The Naiad and the Fisherman')

Pierre Lacotte/Cesare Pugni

Performances of March 16 and 17, 2006

Mariinsky Theater Ballet

St. Petersburg, Russia

Wow. Triple wow!!!

Where to begin? This was perhaps my happiest night at the Mariinsky since the opening of Vikharev's new-old production of 'The Sleeping Beauty' in 1999. French choreographer Pierre Lacotte has created a miracle -- a 'new' full-evening classic for the Kirov-Mariinsky troupe. What a breath of fresh air -- the Kirov-Mariinsky, performing (gulp!) classical romantic ballet. That for which they have been traditionally known since the Tsarist Era. FINALLY! Yes, finally, a premiere that truly showcases their historic strengths, presented in gorgeous realistic sets and costumes, to the accompaniment of an orchestra playing tuneful melodies. My kind of ballet...and, judging by the great ovations accorded the work after the first two performances, the kind of ballet that Mariinsky audiences adore. As for the local ballet critics who seem to be on a “what’s kinkiest or goofiest is best” kick, we’ll have to wait and see if they’ll fall into line. In the meantime, classicists can rejoice.

Yevgenia Obraztsova -- the undisputed young ballerina-star of the Mariinsky, in my book and in the hearts of Petersburg balletomanes. The diminutive blonde beauty displayed fabulously crisp terre-a-terre dancing and floating jetes, as on a cloud. She spun lace with her feet, as is often called for in mid-19thC Romanticism. Her gorgeous face & magnificent curved insteps are sure to ensnare any fisherman! [she was delectable in the little 'en travestie' solo in Act II/sc i, perfectly mimicking the photo of Mathilde Kchessinskaya in that very costume, which is reproduced in the souvenir programme.] Best of all, Obraztsova dances with true musicality. She is the violin that accompanies the harp. I'm sure that Diana Vishneva -- currently ill & unable to dance the premiere, as planned -- will do a credible job with this role but Obraztsova was born to be Ondine (just as she dances Sylphide with the petite gentility seldom seen in this sort of role nowadays). That the Kirov management failed to accord Obraztsova a bio-page in the 2006 Festival programme book is a crying shame. That she is still listed as coryphee (rank just above corps de ballet) is a downright abomination.

Leonid Sarafanov – Matteo is an ideal role! The young star devoured the air with non-stop petit-batterie dancing and delivered honest, convincing miming as the enraptured fisherman. The nicest surprise was his secure, steady partnering of Obraztsova. This is a particularly difficult partnering role, replete with long, low floating lifts, in which Ondine is supposed to appear as if swimming in the seas. Sarafanov passed his test with an "A+" grade. ‘Bravo’ to him!

Yekaterina Osmolkina danced the role of the jilted fiancée, Giannina, in the second performance. She is a beautiful brunette known for her pure classical style. Lacotte fashioned many filigreed solos and pas de deux for this meaty ‘second ballerina’ role and Osmolkina did it justice. Also very good, if a bit unidimensional in characterization, was Yana Serebriakova, on opening night. It did not help matters, that there was little physical contrast between Serebriakova (as Giannina) and Obraztsova (as Ondine), so that one wondered why Matteo was so quick to cast-aside a petite blonde in favor of another petite blonde who could pass as her twin.

There was much lovely dancing during the Naiad Scene (scene iii of Act I) by Viktoria Terioshkina (as Hydrola - Queen of the Naiads), and her two lieutenants, Nadezhda Gonchar & Olesya Novikova. The tall copper-haired Gonchar was particularly commendable in her cabriole solo; it is good to see her back in top form after a protracted maternity leave. Novikova seemed a bit 'off' on both nights, with messy finishes to her pirouettes; perhaps she is saving herself for Saturday night's Kitri in Don Quixote? Terioshkina commanded the stage in her jete variation, so reminiscent of the dance of the character Myrtha in Giselle. Again -- this role seems tailor-made for Terioshkina’s talents.

The Ballabile in Act I, sc i, and the Tarantella in Act II, sc. i, are long, all-classical-dance sequences. Both segments included spectacular opportunities for corps and demi-soloists to show their stuff. Tatyana Nekipelova & Elena Chmill were especially good in a ‘mirroring duo’ as 'two girls in green' in Act I. Also commendable were Maxim Khrebtov and (especially) Anton Pimonov as Matteo's main friends, who also danced a pas de quartre with, respectively, Olga Yesina and Ekaterina Petina. These two couples (Khrebtov/Yesina and Pimonov/Petina) flanked the Matteo-Giannina couple during much of the Act I, sci Ballabile.

Kudos to the children of the Vaganova Academy, who have quite a bit to do in the lakeside crowd scenes. Several of them perform delightful miming cameos, such as the little lad who steals a loaf of bread & is chased by his rattled mother. Two other children are marionettes in a traveling circus that appears on stage in a donkey cart, which received one of the loudest applauses of both nights. ["If all else fails, give 'em children & animals!" Sol Hurok used to say.]

This being a quintessential Romantic ballet, Lacotte has conceived of many interesting stage 'tricks,' such as various 'flights' by Ondine, an enchanted spinning wheel, and a boat in which Matteo rows Ondine across the moonlit lake… crossing the stage high above the stage level, halfway to the top of the proscenium. The few technical snafus experienced in the opening night were corrected by last night's second performance.

The orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Sinkevich, delivered Pugni's melodic score with inspiration. This, like ‘Esmeralda,’ is Early Pugni, when the Italian-born Romanov Court Composer was at his most inspired, before he settled into oom-pah-pah mode with ‘Pharaoh’s Daughter’ and the like.

I'm still in Seventh Heaven, wafting in the perfume of this magnificent ballet and the glorious classical dancers of the Mariinsky Theater. Finally -- returning to their roots. Pure, unadulterated classical dancing and joyous mime. Nary an elongated gumby-ballerina dancing Eurotrash, with ear-high extensions, in sight. How utterly refreshing!

Natalia Nabatova

St. Petersburg, Russia

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Ondine 3/17/06 Mariinsky IV Intern'l Ballet Festival

The cast prinicpals for the 2nd night Lacotte's Ondine were the same as 1st night, save for the role of Giannina danced by Ms. Osmolkina.

Stellar cast indeed.

It was disappointing at a festival not to have the chance to compare interpretations of a 'new' role, but, given the direction's predicament, the cast was very fine indeed. For my part, I had the chance to notice nuances in Obraztsova's and Sarafanov's performances that I missed on the first night.

As Natalia already noted, the short episode of Ondine en travesti as a musician was a charming moment, easy to miss when not expecting it.

Comparing first and second nights, I found the second night more cohesive than the first night, partly because technical transitions worked

much more smoothly. Corps de ballet segments had greater precision on the first night; overall, the second night's 2nd act adagios of Obraztsova and Sarafanov were so cleanly articulated, that it made them, to my eye, more emotionally touching.

Osmolkina's Giannina gave us a fully developped portrait of the 'good'

bride-to-be. I did feel that Serebriakova's harmonious and classically 'correct' port de bras as Giannina added dimensions of meaning to her interpretation, that I appreciated as much.

Ondine's second performance reinforced for me what the first viewing suggested. This reconstruction works on the level of providing divertissements of a high quality that may not advance the story line but hold interest on their own. Pugni's music and the vocabulary selected by Lacotte of ballones and terre-a-terre ballotes and permutations thereof, and eschappes a la seconde saute, and entre-chat-six, and pirouettes a la seconde (for Sarafanov)and variations of steps ending in elegant 5th position provide the dancers with expressions of the classical canon that are ignored by 'modern' choreographers. Bravo Lacotte! Bravo Mariinsky!

End of performance applause the second night seemed even stronger than the first night. M. Sinkevich conducted with distinction.

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Marius Petipa/Ludwig Minkus

March 18, 2006

Mariinsky Theater Ballet

St. Petersburg, Russia

Kitri – Olesya Novikova; Basil – Matthieu Ganio (etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet)

‘Don Quixote’ is one of the Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet’s most joyous productions, always sure to leave the audience with smiles. Thus was the case tonight, particularly due to the amazing Kirov-Mariinsky corps de ballet, the character soloists and a fabulous leading ballerina in young (22-year-old), raven-haired Olesya Novikova -- surely the troupe's leading Kitri of the present generation, as Diana Vishneva rarely essays the role nowadays. Novikova was good throughout but her piece de resistance is the series of 32 fuettes, performed “on a five-kopeck piece,” as they say here.

I was ready to be 'wowed' by Ganio, in light of the wonderful things written about him during the past year. I'm sorry to say that I was quite underwhelmed. Yes -- he has a wonderful tall, muscular-yet-long body and manly presence. However, his partnering leaves a lot to be desired; for example, almost every 'finger turn' left his Kitri off-axis and stumbling. For such a hunky, muscular man, he seemed to have trouble lifting his diminutive Kitri although he managed the high ‘presage lift-carry’ at the end of Act I very nicely. Furthermore, Ganio’s jumps were barely a foot high & rather 'heavyish' in feeling; there was no flair, no extra something. To top it off, he almost always displayed a somewhat silly 'gufaw grin,' even in the midst of a flub. There were times during the Act I partnering when Novikova threw him some glances that had me fearing for his well-being during the intermission! Well, he is very young (about 21) & will surely learn the art of partnering and projection with time.

Alexander Sergeev's Espada -- a last-minute replacement for Andrei Merkuriev -- was fine yet seemed less impressive than at his debut in the role one year ago, when I saw him at the 2005 Festival. His initial Act I dance (in front of the line of matadors) went well at first, then he lost the beat of the music and performed some odd funky moves with his cape. His Tavern Scene solo began marvelously, then ended in a fall. Again – Sergeev is young (19 or 20), with loads of natural style and talent, so that I’m sure that he will eventually dance an Espada that rivals that of Merkuriev or Islom Baimuratov, who is the greatest Espada of the current generation. [Why the management keeps Baimuratov bottled-up for ‘slow nights’ and doesn’t showcase him in prestigious festivals or tours is another one of those Kirov Mysteries.]

Tall, redheaded Ekaterina Kondaurova should stick to modern ballet and eschew the classical roles, such as last night's Street Dancer in Act I (Espada's girlfriend). She seemed to punch her way through her solo with the cups on the floor (formerly knife props were used...now cups), could barely weave her way around the cups (almost knocking down a couple of cups...correcting herself midway), then she fell just as she finished her bourees, having reached the back. Even with that sad display, I heard some well-placed 'bravos' coming from above -- the familiar, booming voice of 'Zhenya the Lead Claqueur.' I suppose that he had to render his services, regardless of quality of performance.

Ekaterina Osmolkina was delightful in the Act IV Bridesmaid Variation. This solo is the choice of the dancer, who selects from the 'Petipa Bon-Bon Box' of variations. Osmolkina danced the first variation from Paquita -- which is also the White Pearl variation from the Gorsky/Pugni 'Little Humpbacked Horse.' It included a spot-on set of Italian fouettes at the end.

A much less impressive set of Italian fouettes was performed by Alina Somova as the Dryad Queen. Somova, in fact, massacred the perfect beauty, gentle tone & delicate atmosphere of the Act II classical Dream Scene with her Valkyrian gymnastics and absence of musicality. During the opening Galop's diagonal for the Dryad Queen, for example, she grabbed the wrist of Don Quixote (V. Ponomaryov) and punched her way into past-180-degree backward leaping splits - PUNCH! PUNCH! BOOM! BOOM!...in what is normally a gentle floating move.

Then came Somova’s big solo. The young dancer only cared about taking the opening penchee split pose past 180-degrees...so she remained and stretched on pointe well past the music, forcing maestro Gruzin to adjust. After a few seconds, he could no longer wait for her so he (the orchestra) played on & Somova just did-her-thing, at one point stretching so far in her penchee that she fell off pointe. At the end of the variation came her Italian fouettes; at the start, these looked great! I thought, "Super! Finally a well-performed move from this dancer!" Boy, was I wrong. Somova struggled in the pennultimate Italian fouette to such a degree that she had to use her hands & arms to 'pump' herself to the finish. Sorry -- this woman is a disgrace to everything for which the Mariinsky stands.

Like balm on a wound, Elena Chmill, as Amour-Cupid, followed Somova with her own delicate, musical variation. That, in turn, was followed by Olesya Novikova's Dream Variation -- about as perfect as I've seen the variation performed. Magnificent balances. Brava!

No review of the night would be complete without showering kudos on the character soloists whose fiery Spanish and gypsy dances provide much of the spice in this production. Especially commendable were Keren Ioannisian as the Main Gypsy Man in Act II, Ti En Yu in the exotic Oriental Dance of Act III and the inimitable Galina Rakhmanova as Mercedes – the flouncy-skirted, backbending phenom in the Tavern Scene.

In short, it was a night of mixed blessings. Hopefully tonight's new-old 'Sleeping Beauty' will provide us with harmony from beginning to end.

Natalia Nabatova

St. Petersburg, Russia

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Don Quixote March 18 2006 Mariinsky


Kitri Olesia Novikova

Basil Mathieu Ganio (Paris Opera)

Espada Alexander Sergeyev

Mercedes Galina Rakhmanova

Queen of the Dryads Alina Somova

Don Quixote Vladimir Ponomarev

Sancho Panza Vladimir Ivantsov

Gorky's Don Quixote at the Mariinsky is a work fiiled with tableaux vivants, that are teeming with life and anecdotal details. The sets and costumes are bright, full of color, and suggesting Mediterranan sun-soaked days. It's a ballet that bears repeated viewings, before the various incidents going on simultaneously on stage come into focus.

(This is my first viewing of it).

The leading parts are certainly well-cast. Olesia Novikova, sharing the privileges of youth with her guest partner, has a phenomenal command of academic technique. She promises to become a Kitri to remember as she accumulates the benefits of exposure and artistic confidence.

As I noted of her in another 3-act work (SB), her first scene was the one in which she made the least impression; then, gained in artistic expression in the second, and finally put it all together in the third.

I feel the same about her Kitri. Her first scene had the bravura in all her 'elements' but without the sense of non-chalance and carefree joy that we see in the best of Kitris. She looked too focused on getting everything 'right'. That she certainly did.

Ganio was an attractive and likeable Basilio, charming and attentive to his partner, a stage-natural personality.

It's impossible not to mention the contribution of the Vaganova School students, boys and girls, who populated the production throughout its scenes, and carried out their assigned tasks impeccably.

I especially enjoyed the 'Flower sellers', Yana Selina and Xenia Dubrovina, for their vivid personalities.

Alexander Sergeyev made a dashing figure in white as Espada--and in black in the fifth scene, when he danced with the sinuous Galina Rakhmanova (Mercedes).

In the dream scene, Novikova, I thought, came into her element as a classically pure impersonation of Don Q's ideal Dulcinea.

Somova as the Queen of the Dryads had a series of grand jete de cote

where she landed en fondu each time very noisily. On the fourth one

with the loudest landing, she could not achieve a releve on pointe with the landed leg.

My companion thought that the enormous height of her jumps accounted and justified(?) the noisy landings. My question to Ms Somova's coach is: Where is the notion of silent landings?

The wedding pas de deux was the climax of the ballet and the most impressive section of Novikova's performance. Both Novikova and Ganio were at their best in the adagio got better in their variations, and then somehow better in each part of the coda.

Ganio's variation was very formal, with what I can best describe as a POB sense of reticence. All the bravura steps were performed impeccably without an air of bravura.

Novikova's fouettes were simply impeccable. The extended leg 'whipped' at exactly 90 degrees each and every time. The sense of security was astounding.

Altogether a wonderful evening. Boris Gruzin conducted; never has the music sounded better.

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SLEEPING BEAUTY - 1890 version

Marius Petipa/Peter I. Tchaikovsky

March 19, 2006

Mariinsky Theater Ballet

St. Petersburg, Russia

Aurora – Alina Cojocaru (guest from the Royal Ballet-England)

Prince Desire – Andrian Fadeev

Lilac Fairy – Daria Pavlenko

Quite simply, last night's spectacular performance of the new-old 'Sleeping Beauty,' starring the Royal Ballet's Alina Cojocaru, was the greatest night of ballet-viewing in my fifty-odd years on this earth. The apogee of glory. The zenith of my existence.

Yeah - I liked it!

Seriously, this was as practically-perfect an essaying of this, my favourite ballet, as I have ever seen. Why? Because it combined this most beautiful 'luxe' production with -- for once! -- a classically restrained, yet amazingly strong Aurora, in Alina Cojocaru.

For everyone who has lamented the 180-degree extensions of a Zakharova or a Vishneva or even an Assylmuratova during the Rose Adagio, here you finally have, in Cojocaru, a ballerina in all of her strength (in her mid 20s) who eschews the neoclassical style of dancing during this purest of classical ballets. Cojocaru delivered perfect epaulement, glorious balances, convincing youth (looking as a child of 16 at her birthday) and (gasp!) ninety-degree arabesques. Cojocaru wore that famous red-and-gold tutu with pride....the natural successor to Brianza, then Kchessinskaya, then Trefilova. The first ballerina since Trefilova, I would guess, to perform this role, in this original production, as it was intended to be danced. [Had Fonteyn ever appeared in this production, she would have been on the Sacred List, for sure.] For her classical elegance and old-fashioned charm, Cojocaru was accorded one of the warmest, most explosive ovations I've ever seen at the Mariinsky Theater or anywhere else, for that matter. I had goosebumps during the Rose Adagio and for much of the night.

Beside Cojocaru, the other reason for my glee was the witnessing of the entire ballet as it is supposed to be enjoyed -- slowly and regally, within the Imperial opera house in which it was created, something that is impossible to replicate on tours. Sitting in the front row of a right-of-center Bel-Etage box, surrounded by the luxurious gold-leaf stucco and crystal chandeliers, I could see Petipa's plan more clearly than ever before. The ballet 'works' in this setting as it does nowhere else.

At the Maiinsky, one experiences the full Panorama; not one note of music was missing, my friends! The Panorama rolled on and on for a good four or five minutes, displaying beautiful landscapes that changed from autumn to spring to a lilac-hued sunrise.

The wondrous Mariinsky Orchestra literally levitated from its pit, to play the Act II violin-solo entr'acte. One of the evening’s warmest ovations was accorded that piece.

I greatly admired the circular patterns of the corps de ballet, which appear to be in harmony with the tiered balconies of the auditorium. Every scene includes a classical adagio, featuring a leading ballerina (either Lilac or Aurora), surrounded by halos of soloists and corps dancers. I also loved the clever way in which the little chandeliers hanging over the boxes turn on or off, according to the story; for example, when Carabosse enters, the chandeliers go dark & when the Lilac Fairy enters to counter the death-curse with the 'sleeping gift,' the little chandeliers flicker back on. The same thing happens when Prince Desire kisses Aurora -- the chandeliers flicker back on. We in the audience become a part of the action.

Cojocaru was not alone in dancing excellently. This was a miraculous night when EVERYONE -- principals, soloists, and corps -- performed exquisitely:

Andrian Fadeev - the handsome, blonde 'reigning prince' of the Mariinsky, dancing with great ballon and impeccable form in his Act III solo.

Daria Pavlenko – the beautiful Lilac Fairy, commanding, get gentle

Xenia Ostreikovskaya's Florine & newcomer (age 18) Maxim Eremeev as an energetic, high-flying Bluebird, garnering one of the biggest ovations of the night. Remember his name.

Yana Selina - always the ideal White Cat in Act III and Canari in the Prologue

Viktoria Terioshkina's Diamond Fairy - surely this is 'her' role! Explosive. Brilliant.

Daria Vasnetsova as the unannouced Fairy Violente -- the programme listed Ekaterina Petina -- dancing with elan and to the beat of the music, greatly improving on her Kennedy Center ‘Proteges’ performances in January. The other Prologue fairies were equally impressive: Candide - Nadezhda Gonchar; Coulente - Yulia Kassenkova; Miettes - Olesya Novikova; Canari - Yana Selina; and, of course, Pavlenko as Lilac.

Vladimir Ponomaryov as King Florestan -- What would the Kirov-Mariinsky ever do without him? When he is on stage “The King Lives!”

The Corps and Vaganova Academy students - absolute perfection in each scene, uniform in their look, carriage, mannerisms, technique! Each and every one, To the Manor Born.

As long as this production lives on, there is hope for society. Goodness will reign.

Natalia Nabatova

St. Petersburg, Russia

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Sleeping Beauty (reconstructed version) March 19 2006 Mariinsky

Aurora Alina Cojocaru

Desire Andrian Fadeyev

Lilac Fairy Daria Pavlenko

Florine Xenia Ostreikivskaya

Bluebird Maxim Eremeyev

Diamond Victoria Tereshkina

The reconstructed SB is a leisurly paced telling-of-the-story that recalls something of the setting considered necessary for the presentation of classical dance.

Even the fairies, in the Prologue, enter with their retinues walking rather than dancing; only when they are in place do they rise on pointe to dance.

The principals for the peformance were simply ideal.

Ms. Cojocaru is simply incadescent on stage. In her coming-out party as a twenty-year-old in the Rose Adagio, she radiated youth, and promise, and a modest decorum, that seemed true for the role and the artist. Technically, she followed a line of descent from Fonteyn, where correct port-de-bras and communication with the partner were part of the choreography's three-dimensional design. It was for me an astonishing performance of purity of style and delight.

In the vision scene, the Lilac Fairy carries a mime part only; her staff is used as support by the vision of Aurora. Actually, the vision scene is much clearer in its intent when the Lilac Fairy is not involved in the dancing. If Aurora radiated youth, Daria Pavlenko as the Lilac Fairy radiated beauty. Her mime scenes were riveting. It didn't matter that she didn't dance with her every appearance. She won your attention with her every appearance.

Andrian Fadeyev as Prince Desire has a fairly limited role; a fact that 19th c. traditions dictated for male dancers. In the pdd he partnered with distinction and danced his variation with elegant virtuosity. In the hunting scene, he wore a large hat over a wig of blond curls. That meant he never took of his hat during the entire scene. [in the wedding adagio he wore an appropriate pony tail].

I will not say anything about the fairy variations because I am uncertain of who danced what. In following the program, I suspect a substitution, so I'll leave for other viewers (maybe Natalia) to enlighten us.

As Diamond, Tereshkina truly sparkled.

The Bluebird pdd had impressive costumes of cobalt blue for the bird, and a white tutu with cobalt traceries for Princess Florine, I really liked them.

I also liked the dancers: the delicate Ostreikovskaya, even though she sometimes strayed from the musical pulse, and Eremeyev who had a satisfying demi-plie.

I still wonder about the original choerography of the pdd. Are all the grand assembles supposed to be without beats? [Excluding the brises vole and the entre-chats-six]. Does Doug know?

The ballabiles and demi-solo parts were as usual the crowning glory of the Mariinsky ballet; here's a note of thanks to all the dancers who remain anonymous but are the essential artists of ballet.

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It was very interesting for me to read the reviews of Don Q. as I saw the Kirov dance this with Novikova and Somova in the female leads in Cardiff almost a year ago. Novikova was very impressive, though at the time she seemed a little too refined in the role, as I tend to like an earthier interpretation of Kitri. Refinement used to be the stock in trade of the Kirov not so long ago, so that’s not exactly a complaint when it is suddenly in such short supply.

I strongly agree with Natalia’s take on M. Ganio; he has a very colourless on stage persona and I’ve yet to discover those qualities that led him to be advanced to the rank of etoile at such a young age. Pulling in a few guest artists at these festivals is a good idea but care should be taken that they are at least equal in ability to the home team. Last year I saw Ruzimatov as Novikova’s Kitri and although he’s getting a bit long in the tooth he still brings a lot to the role and I suspect he could manage the partnering in his sleep as at no time did Novikova appear insecure in the double work.

Somova was a jarring presence in Cardiff too. In fact it was the first time I had seen her though her reputation had preceded her. She absolutely shattered the romantic atmosphere of the dream sequence with her acrobatics. I was sitting behind the critic Clement Crisp and unlike some critics he is generous with his applause, but his back stiffened at the sight of her and although he had applauded the other girls heartily, he ‘sat on his hands’ for Somova. Can’t say I blamed him.

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Sleeping Beauty - 1890 version

( 4 hr - 15 minutes in length)

Sunday, 19 march 2006

Mariinsky Ballet with Guest Alina Cojocaru as Aurora

Quite simply, last night's spectacular performance of the 'new-old' 'Sleeping Beauty,' starring the Royal Ballet/UK's Alina Cojocaru, was the greatest night of ballet-viewing in my fifty-odd years on this earth. The apogee of glory. The zenith of my existence.

Wow, that is high praise indeed! What an experience to see the old/new Beauty in the theater for which it was created. Sounds like the performance of a lifetime. It's great to hear how well the festival is going and as a side note, that Pavlenko is back!

Thanks for the wonderful reports & please keep them coming!

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New Works March 21 2006 Mariinsky

In order:

Nikita Dmitrievsky's Bourgeois Gentilhomme with music by Richard Strauss, is, according to the choreographer's notes based on Moliere's play. It has a cast of 16 dancers including principal Igor Kolb and princ. character dancer Islom Baimuradov, as well as E Obraztsova as the maid Nicole, and four dancers listed as Dancers that included Olga Esina and Xenia Ostreikovskaya. What a waste of talent.

The goings-on were reminiscent of provincial operettas rather than the gestural translation of a classical play. If the choreographer intended to do a dark satirical ballet in the mode of Paul Taylor, I beg to disagree with him, he did not accomplish his task.

The costumes (esp of the maid and Dancers)and the gestural language used were vulgar and unclear in intent. The word misogynism comes to mind.

The written notes were much more interesting.

Alexei Miroshnichenko's Du Cote de Chez 'Swan' to music of Leonid Desyatnikov (1995) is a duet that deconstructs Saint Saens Cygne and also refers to Proust's character of Swann. The dancers, Olesia Novikova, and Alexander Sergeyev were clad in black and offered sleek silhouettes. Ms Novikova was in Louise Brooks black wig, while Mr Sergeyev had his hair combed to a V point between the brows, suggesting M Bourne's male swans.

The choreography, intense and vertical to the 2-piano musical score, offered pointe work (unlike the first work), percussive power and original phrases of port de bras.

The work reached a level of hypnotic intensity.

The background scenery was a stark black and white enormous universal number code, like what cashiers scan to record price. The dancers were also tagged on an ankle with their UNC.

I thought this an original contribution to classical dance. I look forward to seeing more from the choreographer.

The third work was by far the most impressive in accomplishment, dance power, and narrative flow.

Noah Gelber's Overcoat' After Gogol with music of Shostakovich made for silent films

tells the story of Akaky Akakievich (Andrey Ivanov) and adds an afterlife postlude.

The cast of 10 dancers contribute to the story in clear, wonderfully sketched episodes

that carry the story to its sad conclusion. The tale of the overcoat is told with passion, focus, and clarity. A wonderful start for one clearly destined to become

a maker of classical dances. Bravo to Gelber and to the strong cast, led by Ivanov, who realized his vision.

The impressive sets were created by Samuel Gelber, a New York artist, and father of Noah.

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Tsiskaridze Gala 22-3-06 Mariinsky

I had expected somehow a different program from Tsiskaridze: one that displayed pyrotechnic virtuosity and so on. Instead we got a Balanchine/Stravinsky (Rubies), two solos, and a Forsythe/Willems (in the middle.....).

In sum, a very well-danced evening, highlighting important works rather than charismatic personality displays.

Rubies featured Olesia Novikova and Maya Dumchenko in the leads.

Both looked sensational in the work, and the music, led by Boris Gruzin, sounded wonderful. To me what was missing was the zest of a fast reading. The pace seemed somewhat leisurely.

The first solo, Narcissus, by K. Goleizovsky (1960) with music by N. Cherepnin seemed like a bland piece for Tsiskaridze.

The second solo, choreographed by R Petit in 2003 (Carmen.Solo) was a much better vehicle for the charismatic Tsiskaridze. Wry and witty, it provided the performer with the opportunity to create miniature portraits of don Jose, Carmen and the toreador. It seemed, deservedly, an audience favorite.

The evening concluded with Forsythe's In the middle.... , in which exceptional performances were given by Novikova, Kondaurova, Sheshina, and Mikhail Lobukhin. Others in the cast included Ekaterina Petina, Yana Selina, Xenia Dubrovina and Alexander Sergeyev.

Tsiskaridze as a performer often surprises. This time he surprised by his thoughtful choice of works.

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Zelensky Gala 23-03-06 Mariinsky

Zelensky’s Gala evening was one of the best evenings of the festival so far.

The Balanchine/Stravinsky Apollo was a magical performance. Everything went right.

The music under Boris Gruzin’s baton, sounded great.

The cast led by Zelensky, with Victoria Tereshkina as Terpsichore, Maya Dumchenko as Polyhymnia, and Olga Yesina as Calliope was well nigh perfect.

The cast was so attuned to the musical pulse, one and all, that I have to repeat the only word that seems to say it all: magical.

If only the mood had not been repeatedly broken by applause—in a work that has no place for pauses.

I felt this was one of the very special performances of this work. Which is another way of saying, I was very touched by it.

The solo titled Concerto Grosso (after Handel’s Concerto Grosso, op.6, recorded) provided Zelensky with a fresh platform of steps, gestures, and poses framed in a background of a novel set and a lighting design created by the choreographer (Alla Sigalova 2006). A somber and elegant solo, well applauded.

The closing work was Balanchine/Tchaikovsky’s Diamonds with the regal Daria Pavlenko,

and Xenia Ostreikovskaya, Yana Selina, Daria Vasnetsova and Yana Serebriakova as demi-soloists. What a treat of glorious dancing! Pavlenko and Zelensky were thrilling in the adagios, with swooning falls that were breathtaking.

There was a jarring moment when Pavlenko looked unsteady as if dizzy, before falling.

She exited and came back quickly and danced gloriously for the rest of the work.

The stately and swelling finale of Tchaikovsky’s 3rd symphony brought to a glorious close a thrilling evening of dance.

Flowers abounded at the bows and glittering confetti fell from above, as applause continued, calling for many, many curtain calls.

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Thank you chaipuris for the daily updates on the festival. It leaves me a bit torn between feeling your thrill from afar and wishing we were in the seats next to you.

Can you or others fill us in on the current plans for renovations to the theater? Are the repairs now expected to be completed in time for next year's festival?

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Ruzimatov Gala 24-03-06 Mariinsky

Ruzimatov’s gala was the first one that forewent the classical academic tradition for forays into other traditions, such as the ‘new’ ballet of the 20th c. (Fokine’s Scheherazade, 1910’s?), the American modern dance (Limon’s The Moor’s Pavanne, 1940’s) and the Spanish classical dance/flamenco tradition (appearance of the Compania Suite Espanola, with dancers, guitarist, singer, percussionist) a tradition that covers, very likely, centuries of development.

The theater was packed. Extra seats could be seen in the aisles. At the end of the performance there was a very modest number of early departures, compared to other evenings. Applause after each work brought endless numbers of curtain calls. This seemed to be a deeply appreciated gala.

Scheherazade featured Svetlana Zakharova as Zobeide, Ruzimatov as the Golden Slave, and the indispensable Vladimir Ponomarev as Shah Shahriar. The demi-soloist Odalisque roles were enticingly filled by Yana Serebriakova, Ti Yon Riu, and Xenia Dubrovina.

This Fokine work is one that is now seldom seen outside Russia.

Zakharova’s, and for that matter Ruzimatov’s, dancing was passionate and large-scale. Both were accorded enthusiastic receptions. The recreations of the sets and costumes of Leon Bakst were opulent and vividly colorful.

Limon’s Moor’s Pavanne has survived times and tastes by the formality of its dance structure.

Purcell’s music, conducted by Valery Ovsyanikov, was appropriately stately.

The role of Iago was filled by the now director of Ballet de Bordeaux, Charles Jude (formerly etoile POB). Two Bordeaux dancers, Viviana Franciosi and Stephanie Roublot, performed the roles of Desdemona and Iago’s wife.

The third section of the program was a most satisfying ending to the evening with its lively rhythms of Spanish guitar and percussion and….violin (Pavel Sakuta) and the songs of Nieves Diaz Ortiz and the entrancing dances of Rosario Castro Romero and Ricardo Romero. Both were absolutely magnificent in their solos – she with a fringed shawl and a gorgeous white-orange costume, he with his heel work on a tabletop.

[i’d love to elaborate but my web time is running out].

In the final section Ruzimatov joins for a strong Spanish-ballet solo and, then, a trio with Rosario and Ricardo, sort of a ménage-a-trois story.

The Spanish section had wonderful lighting effects.

The audience was wildly enthusiastic. Deservedly.

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