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Kirov-Mariinsky in Paris

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I will not be in Paris for these performances, but as I have mentioned, I do speak some

French. I will be following everything on the French language internet. I will try to make some brief comments, remaining within the guidelines of this forum as I understand them. Please feel free to 'guide' my discussion if necessary (moderators, anyone). If there is anything that anyone would like to know (casting, etc.) I will try and find out.

There was a very nice photo of Uliana Lopatkina on the cover of Le Figaro Scope, Nov. 23. Le Figaro is one of the country's leading newspapers and Scope is apparently it's weekly events magazine. There is also a lengthy interview with Uliana and another with Mikhar Vaziev, the director. I cannot find any access to these articles except for two very brief responses.

Uliana asks the spectators not only to observe her technique, but also to focus on the feeling that she is trying to convey. She is scheduled to perform Swan Lake.

Mikhar comments that the teachers at the company are extremely important to it's success.

The Kirov did two performances of Swan Lake in Cannes, France before going to Paris.

The Paris performances started Wednesday with a Forsythe program. Tonight Diana Vishneva replaced Daria Pavlenko in Steptext.

A brief aside. There has also been some nice coverage on the French language internet of Maya Plisetskaya's 80th Birthday Gala in Moscow. It appears that she performed a five minute ballet by Bejart and received so much applause that she did it again. She also did a tap dance with one of the world's most famous Flamenco dancers.

Edited by Buddy
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Buddy, thank you very much for your reports. Our policy about news is that it must be official, from a company website or publication, announcement from the stage, or established news source. We don't allow news from other discussion boards or blogs, unless the blogs are from established critics, or from personal contact with dancers/dancers' family and friends. (More details can be found on this thread. But as long as your sources are official, and you tell us where you found them (link to an internet site or name/date or issue of a print publication, i.e., Dec 5. New York Times), you should be fine.

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Thanks, Helene. Although there are complete preliminary cast listing on some European forums I will only post the most recent information from the Theatre de Chatelet, where the performances are occuring.

Swan Lake November 25-27

Odette/Odile Ouliana Lopatkina, Alina Somova

Prince Danila Korsuntsev, Igor Zelensky

Rothbart Ilya Kouznetsov

Edited by Buddy
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Two brief but 'grand' reports.

First, the Kirov-Mariinsky has brought a group of 440 (dancers, singers, musicians and technicians) to Paris. (AFP Nov. 19)

Secondly, the audience response to the Forsythe programs has been Wildly Enthusiastic!!

The second article also mentions that "In The Middle Somewhat Elevated" was actually created for the Paris Opera in 1987. (It may have been commissioned by Nureyev, who was company director at that time.)

The article goes on to say how great it is that the Kirov, so proficient in pure classical technique, can perform something so different, so well. More remarkable in that the Kirov has only been performing Forsythe since 2004. "In The Middle Somewhat Elevated" for example is an excellent place for dancers to exhibit their formidable virtuosity in solos, pas de deux and trois.

(ASP Nov. 23 (http://actu.wanadoo.fr/Imprimer/ext--francais--ftmms--loisirs/051123223903.gaepx8hd.html) )

Of interest is that according to the Theatre du Chatelet website all tickets for the three performances of Swan Lake were/are sold out. There is no casting information for the Balanchine evenings ( "Four Temperments", "Prodigal Son"," La Valse" and "Ballet Imperial" ). Some seats are still available.

I found an interesting review of the Kirov-Mariinsky's 2002 visit to Paris by Rene Sirvin, dance critic for Le Figaro, and one of the best know dance critics in France.

He recalls the Kirov's visit to Paris in 1990, when it danced at the beautiful Opera de Paris. In 2002 it returned. He greatly praises their appearances.

In 2002 as in 2005 it performed at the Theatre du Chatelet. He relates that the Mariinsky Ballet (part of it, anyway) made it's Paris debut at this theater in 1909. Serge Diaghilev introduced to an enthusiastic public Nijinski, Pavlova, Karsavina, Folkine and many other great artists, mostly from St. Petersburg.

To see this article with some very pretty pictures go to http://www.imagidanse.com/francais/presse/critiques.html and scroll down to "Le Ballet du Theatre Mariinski au Chatelet" (Saison 2002-2003). Also there are very nice Bolshoi (Bolchoi) in Paris photos (Saison 2004).

For a look at the Theatre du Chatelet go to http://www.insecula.com/oeuvre/O0012858.html

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Thanks, buddy, for the reports and links. I'm greatly impressed by both the Kirov's touring size and the Parisians' response (so many sell-outs). Paris is lucky to have three wonderful theaters for large-scale dance. And the audiences appear to be enthusiastic, eclectic (both classical and many varieties of contemporary) and quite knowledgeable.

Alas, my only experience of the Kirov in Paris was waiting in a long line in 2002 at the Theatre du Chatelet only to learn that Bayadere was sold out for the sole evening we were free. (Vishneva as Nikiya, I believe.) The lady at the box office was quite sympathetic: Quel dommage, monsieur, and she really seemed to mean it.

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Buddy wrote:

The second article also mentions that "In The Middle Somewhat Elevated" was actually created for the Paris Opera in 1987. (It may have been commissioned by Nureyev, who was company director at that time.)

Yes indeed, and Nureyev had commissioned another work from Forsythe a few years earlier (France/Dance, but it never became as famous as "In the Middle"...)

I wish I could go to Paris to attend some Kirov performances, especially the Balanchine evening as "La Valse" and "Ballet Imperial" have seldom been performed in France- but unfortunately it is not possible for me to travel at such dates and it is quite frustrating :o

bart, I sympathize with your experience in 2002. I saw them once at the Chatelet in a Fokine mixed bill, it was sold out too but I had the luck to be able to buy a ticket for a cheap seat from a person who had an extra ticket.

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I haven't found anything new from the internet that I can relate within the guidelines of this forum. Perhaps I might be allowed to say that the general response from the French language internet has been quite favorable. There has been a great deal of discussion about Ouliana Lopatkina, mostly praising her. The Sensitivity, Knowledge and general Warmth of some of the commentators compels me to make this posting. bart, I believe this is a partial confirmation of what you have said.

Estelle, thank you for letting us know that it was Nureyev who commissioned the Forsythe program. For yourself and others in this forum, who I have discovered speak French, I would like to mention a recent article in the newspaper L'Express. It discusses the general aspects of any Swan Lake production. I haven't had time to read it completely. Since it doesn't talk about the current Mariinsky performances I haven't mentioned it. If I find something particularly interesting I will try to relate it. Mes voeux les meilleurs (best wishes).


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Brief review of Friday night's performance of Swan Lake from an internet news service.

This performance greatly pleased the audience, which responded very enthusiastically.

It illustated clearly the grand tradition of the Mariinsky and the unquestionably fine technique and virtuosity of it's dancers. All first rate.

Ouliana Lopatkina immediately won over the audience with her Odette-Odile performance.

Danila Korsountsev (Prince), Vladimir Chichov (Rothbart) and Andrei Ivanov (Jester) all did very well.

The music of Tchaikovski flows naturally through the veins of this orchestra conducted by Boris Grouzine.

(By the way, it is the Konstantin Sergeev (1950) version that is being performed.)


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  The K. Sergeyev version of Swan Lake is the only version in the active repertoire, unlike Nutcracker, Bayadere and Sleeping Beauty, with two versions each.  Vinogradov's version of Swan Lake, ca-1995, left the active repertoire a long time ago.

Thank you, Natalia, for this information. I would like to say that I think your reports on the internet have been great and I really look forward to reading them.

There is no Mariinsky in Paris news at the moment so maybe I could digress a little.

The Opera de Paris will be putting on it's Nureyev version of Swan Lake after the Mariinsky finishes it's performances. There will be 23 presentations. As Odette-Odile will be the excellent Aurelie Dupont, Laetitia Pujol, Emilie Cozette and.......Svetlana Zakharova.


Under the heading of "former Mariinsky dancers" I would like to mention that Svetlana Zakharova is on a new Swan Lake video with Robert Bolle and the La Scalla Ballet. This is the Burnmeister version.

To me she is unnervingly thin in this video (a sensitive area for me in dance), but her Odette is wonderful. I saw her in New York in the Pharoah's Daughter, which had to have been after she made this video and she had put the weight back on. She was beautiful as usual and she looked much healthier.

I am a White Swan-omane. I have watched this segment on various videos more times than I can count, almost to the exclusion of the rest of the ballet.

Svetlana has extensions through the ceiling in this video, which might be interesting conversation on a new topic. For me they work. Her arms and hands I find to be mesmerizing. Only Ouliana Lopatkina has equaled or surpassed this in my viewings.

One last Mariinsky video item. Diana Vishneva apparently has made a video of Giselle in Japan. It cannot be sold outside of that country. Someone in Japan is trying to get me a copy. If it arrives I will try to comment on another topic.

Will report more Mariinsky-Paris news when I find it.

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Un "Mariage royal." Two brief reviews of the Balanchine programs.

The first review is from the French language internet service mentioned several times before.

Only one sentence actually pertains to the dancing.

It say in effect that in "Ballet Imperial" the dancers of the Mariinsky have no difficulty in showing how the clarity and elegance of their school of dance is in harmony with this piece where women and men alternate between solos and dancing together, ending in a dizzying finale.


"Mariage royal" is a review by Rene Sirvin, the well-known dance critic of the newspaper Le Figaro (mentioned above). This brief but informative review of the Balanchine program will hopefully be followed by a lengthy review of the entire visit at a later date. But as M. Sirvin says, it would be impossible to pass by this evening of Balanchine, the high point of this "saison russe", without saying something. I will do some paraphrasing.

The "Mariage royal", only recently celebrated (1989 ?), is the natural affinity between the choreography of these four pieces and the dancing of the Mariinsky Theater.

Fine lineage doesn't lie as the choreography of "Ballet Imperial", in memory of the Mariinsky of Balanchine's childhood, shows.

In the "Four Temperments" the men, notably Anton Korsakov and Andrei Merkouriev, exhibit a remarkable flexibility. The women are ravishing. The finale requires admiration, because of a dynamism and a discipline, which is worthy of both the school of the Mariinsky and the musicals of Broadway.

With his exceptional talents as an actor, Mikhail Loboukhine, presents a " Prodigal Son" that doesn't rely on effects, but instead captivates the audience, in the presence of the charming siren, Yekaterina Kondaurova.

Almost unknown in France is "La Valse" (as mentioned above by Estelle). This features a very moving interpretation by the star, Ouliana Lopatkina, torn from the arms of her seductive partner, Vladimir Chichov, by a portrayal of death by the impressive Soslan Koulaev. Ouliana Lopatkina conveys an unforgettable magic.

Finally, "Ballet Imperial". This reunites an ideal garland of girls in rose. The devine Diana Vishneva shines alongside the mellowness of Igor Zelensky. The lively Yekaterina Osmolkina is also a lovely success.

For this evening of Balanchine the Mariinsky has presented its most beautiful stars.


For anyone who wants to view this article in French, you should do so in a day or so, as Le Figaro removes it's articles from general internet access at that time.

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Here we go. This article is written by Gerard Mannoni for "altamusica.com", which covers news related to classical music.

This article covers four nights, including two nights of "Swan Lake", used as a point of reference.

Actually it was the 20th century programing that proved to be the most surprising.This abundant programing marks the renaissance of this illustrious company.

With four programs the Mariinsky Ballet is the masterpiece of this "saison russe" at the Chatelet Theatre. (It appears that there are other performances, Mariinsky Opera and more(?), of a Russian theme, planned this year in Paris.)

Already viewed (not yet seen in Paris this year) Simonov and Chemiakin's "The Nutcracker" ("Casse Noisette") should be a success as usual. Much more interesting were the three other presentations.

In reality it is a real novelty for a great Russian company to be able to have entire evenings devoted to 20th century American choreography, such as that of William Forsythe and George Balanchine. Both required a real learning period and one can only admire, from the noteworthy result, the effort provided by this company to resume it's rightful position in the world of dance.

From the Forsythe program, it is "Steptext" that stood out with Diana Vishneva shining. She was accompanied by excellent partners, Igor Kolb, Andrei Murkuriev and Maxim Khrebtov.

"The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude" was less interesting.

On the other hand "In the Middle Somewhat Elevated", created for the Opera de Paris and featuring the glory of Sylvie Guillem, Isabelle Platin and other stars of the Nureyev generation, is a real challenge for the Russian dancers, who delivered with "panache."

Their technique is superb. Their athletic ability is astounding. Their approach to style is almost perfect.

There's no doubt that the energy they display is different from our dancers or those of

Forsythe. They appeared a little "laxe"(?), a bit more distant and less rigorous, but once again, this remains a very impressive effort. ( "Impressionant" )

Please stay tuned for "Balanchine" and "Swan Lake". Just walked into the other room to see Elinore Powell (40s(?) Hollywood) do one of her amazing tap dance routines. At least as amazing was Fred Astaire appearing before her. Great movie also on TV, if you want to be totally charmed this holiday season, is "Pollyanna" with Georgina Terry.

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En plus. Balanchine and Swan Lake.

Same feelings about the Balanchine program. The only complaint is that is was a bit long, almost four hours of performance. One could believe that we had returned to the days of the Grand Ballets of the Marquis de Cuevas. (They were long too?)

We recognise however that the four ballets were chosen with great care, very different one from the other. Austerity and rigor with "The Four Temperaments". Theater and drama with "The Prodigal Son". Journey into modern and vaporous romanticism with "La Valse". Demonstration of pure classicism with "Ballet Imperial".

The dancers have dreamlike physiques: long and fine with of course exceptional arms. The men are less similar to each other physically, but one notices, all the same, their solid technique in jumps and batterie. It's difficult to recite their names because there remains a "certaine fantaisie" (see, French isn't so difficult!) in regard to the names listed in the program and the dancers actually appearing on the stage. They don't always correspond.

A particular mention however for Mikhail Loboukhine, Prodigal Son, who is very theatrical despite his somewhat unusual costume not comforming to the sketches of Rouault.

As for "Swan Lake" there is a double reference to consider. One regarding the Russian version. The other regarding Ouliana Lopatkina. Both anticipated as being really special. Both being a little disappointing.

The company once again showed itself to be magnificient in it's ensemble dancing. The pas de trois benefited from a refined and intelligent interpretation.

Mademoiselle Lopatkina seemed distant and too sophisticated in her White Swan and too human and ambiguous (Sounds ok to me) in her Black Swan. Certainly her technique is superb, the same as in her line and the quality of her dance. We are at a very high level here, but we must not forget the performances of Makarova, Tchentchikova, or in our country, Nanon Thibon, Guerin and Platel.

( I would like to mention again that general internet response to Ouliana Lopatkina's dancing has been quite favorable and that reports indicate that audience response to all the performances has often been extremely enthusiastic.)

The Constantin Sergeyev version adapted in 1950 is a bit weak, with the constant presence of the Jester and giving only one solo to the Prince, the Black Swan solo. The happy ending is totally contradictory to Tchaikovski's music. This version is almost caricatural of the Burnmeister version that preceeded the Nureyev version in Paris. The latter version being much more interesting, deeper, developed and musical despite some mistakes as well.

A very beautiful company, however, in significant evolution and in significant ascent to the summits that it will certainly attain in the near future if it continues in this direction.

("Merci beaucoup , Monsieur Mannoni " )

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Diana Vishneva will perform Swan Lake in Paris according to her website. This will be January 9 & 11 with the Opera de Paris.

Her site says that she will perform Swan Lake in St. Petersburg January 26 instead of January 10 as listed on the Mariinsky site.

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