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New Year's Eve in St. Petersburg

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The last act of the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty was filmed in December 2006 at the Mariinsky and broadcast in Russia and parts of Europe as the New Year's gala, along with Lopatkina's Dying Swan. This is being released on DVD, seen so far on Dance Books:


New Year's Eve in Saint Petersburg. Ekaterina Osmolkina, Daria Pavlenko, Andrian Fadeyev, Anton Korsakov, the Mariinsky Ballet.

Published: 2007

A gala performance filmed on December 31 2006, conducted by Valery Gergiev. An hour of ballet (excerpts from Sleeping Beauty and Ulyana Lopotkina dancing The Dying Swan) is followed by a very brief excerpt from Rossini's opera Il Viaggio a Reims. In addition, an hour long bonus film shows the dancers in rehearsal and perambulating the streets of St. Petersburg.

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For the fans of Daria Pavlenko it should be noted that she does not dance in this performance regardless of what the cast list says. She was supposed to dance Florine but was replaced by Yulia Bolshakova who is very nice as Dale notes. The TV credits still said Daria Pavlenko though and I'm surprised to see the error perpetuated on the DVD credits (and Bolshakova going without acknowledgement again).

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A quick note to say that I have received and seen this spectacular DVD (from amazon-japan) and could not wait to write to you about it. This is an absolute TREASURE of a DVD and totally worth the pricetag. Not only does it allow us to see the gorgeous segments of the new-old Sleeping Beauty (+ Lopatkina's Dying Swan) on high-definition...lots better than the low-definition copies-of-copies floating around...BUT, best of all, it includes a 55-minute gem of a bonus-documentary: "Sur la Pointe des Pieds." Anybody who loves ballet and the city of Petersburg will treasure this forever & ever. It is, quite simply, a 55-minute poem -- sans narrator -- to St. Petersburg in winter and to the inner workings of the Mariinsky Theater.

The amazing documentary -- also shot in high-definition -- includes lots of rehearsal, backstage & on-stage footage, e.g., extended passages of Osmolkina and Fadeev in rehearsals, lounging, chatting, etc. Lopatkina philosophises on the history and meaning of 'Dying Swan' as she puts on her make-up. We see Kondaurova rehearsing for her debut as the lead in 'Leend of Love.' There is also lots of footage of Altynai Assylmuratova rehearsing her Vaganova Academy students for the 4 January 2007 performance of the traditional ‘Nutcracker’ – including top students Anastasia Nikitina and Andrei Soloviov in the main pdd (both set to graduate in June 2008) + Arina Barentseva as the child Masha. The film also includes a look at the new ‘Mariinsky 3’ theater in New Holland. In short -- this DVD is much more than "just" the New Years gala. Now we know why it's so pricey...but worth it, IMO.

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We see Kondaurova rehearsing for her debut as the lead in 'Leend of Love.

Is she the redhead who was dancing with white and black scarves?

Thank you so much for your review. I bought my copy for Dance Books (www.dancebooks.co.uk), since it isn't available on amazon.com. Ever since I ordered "Ballerina" and "Variation Lesson: Lopatkina" from amazon Japan, both with Japanese subtitles, I've opted for a version that I knew would have English subtitles. (And the total price, while high [but worth it], was similar when shipping is added.) As it turns out, there are only two parts of the documentary for which subtitles are even used, over 30 minutes into it: a rehearsal of a Lizst piano concerto, in which Gergiev spoke to the orchestra, and the scene where Lopatkina talks about the history and her approach to "The Dying Swan" at her makeup table. The rest, as Natalia writes, is a visual poem to the city and the theater.

I've never seen Pavlenko, and I'm grateful to Dale and chrisk for pointing out that it was Yuliana Bolshakova who danced Princess Florine. While I wish high extensions had been left out by all of the women, I thought she was very articulate. I saw her at Berkeley in the same role a few years ago and found her brittle, but not in this performance. Korsakov I loved just as much as when I saw him live. While it probably isn't fair to any dancer to watch her Aurora after a Kolpakova/Sizova-fest, because I expect luscious port de bras and am often disappointed, I found Osmolkina a very generous dancer, particularly in her wonderfully open thigh in turnout, which was highlighted in the Pas de Deux as she did the attitude to en dedans pirouettes with beautiful turnout and lifted knee. Fadeyev was very elegant as Prince Desire. I was sorry I wasn't able to see his performance in Berkeley.

I again have my usual frustration that so few dancers are credited. (Although with the DVD listing Pavlenko as Princess Florine, who knows how accurate they'd be...) Red Riding Hood had wonderful, skimming steps on point "running" across the stage; although the camera cut in for a close-up part way through her entrance, you could from her upper body that they retained their quality. I loved the feet of all of the featured women.

Although this DVD has only Aurora's Awakening and Wedding of the reconstructed ballet, it would have been worth twice its price to see this version. The costumes are stunning. But it was the entire approach or gestalt that is so appealing: having woken up from a one-hundred-year sleep, this, ironically, was a court with time on its hands, and there was no rush to innovate. The sense of graciousness and decorum -- and oblivion -- was potent, and this was evident in the style of the dancing. This was a production where the divertissements were danced by courtiers playing dress-up, not hired entertainment. As a result, they were more grounded, which makes sense dramatically. When Korsakov did the series of beats in his solo, he did not lurch his upper body back and forth to get higher and higher but kept it still, and in the coda (brise vole?), he did not try to kick his back leg up to match the extension of Princess Florine: he knew exactly where 45 degrees was. I liked Bolshakova's Princess Florine a lot more than when I saw it live because the edge was off: she danced as if each step was meaningful, not something lesser than her ability. It was wonderful, too, to see the faces of the divertissement characters; only the wolf's face was covered with an animal head. The dancer playing white cat was very contemporary glamorous: she could have walked the red carpet in Hollywood.

Watching the Fairy solos made me think that the choreography was made for a different type of dancer, the shorter, stockier, quicksilver petite allegro specialist: they had the only choreography that to me looked rushed. I like Tereskina's Diamond Fairy, but the speed made it a bit of a stretch. I liked the Silver Fairy a lot, but there were no solos for the secondary fairies. The Sapphire Fairy's tutu was to-die-for gorgeous.

Before the Apotheosis, Gergiev spoke to the audience, presumably announcing that Uliana Lopatkina would dance "The Dying Swan," which she did with her magnificent port de bras in an understated way that I found ravishing.

The gala ending was terrific: the King and Queen entered to the Apotheosis music, and clinked full champagne glasses before they descended the stairs. With the dancers gathered stage right and left, pouring down the stairs were members of the Academy of Young Singers of the Mariinsky Theatre, the men in white tie and the women in different dresses in black, white, and silver, and they sang the version of the Apotheosis music that Rossini used in "Il Viaggio a Reims." While they sang, they, too clinked champagne glasses with one another, as did the dancers, as they mingled with each other. The orchestral version then played again, with Gergiev descending the stairs with Lopatkina in a gorgeous black dress, looking a little bit like Marcia Cross.

There were lots of highlights, but one for me was the number of beautiful young men in the chorus. Fadeyev is no slouch in the looks department, but these guys were gorgeous in a mortal way. Oh, and they can sing, too.

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Yes, Kondaurova is the tall redhead rehearsing with scarves, Helene. She's also seen briefly in a bright-green costume as the Serpent/Arabian Dance in Chemyakin's 'Nutcracker' (a role that she fully essays in the recent new DVD of this production).

Glad that you enjoyed my recommendation. It's definitely a keeper.

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I again have my usual frustration that so few dancers are credited

Hope this helps:

Aurora: Ekaterina Osmolkina

Prince Desire: Andrian Fadeyev

Florine: Yulia Bolshakova

Bluebird: Anton Korsakov

Lilac Fairy: Ekaterina Kondaurova

Diamond Fairy: Viktoria Terioshkina

Gold Fairy: Yana Selina

Sapphire Fairy: Daria Sukhorukova

White cat: Xenia Ostreikovskaya

Red Riding Hood: Elena Androsova???

Natalia who knows the Mariinsky so much better can perhaps confirm and fill the 2 missing spots (Silver and Cat in Boots).

Watching the Fairy solos made me think that the choreography was made for a different type of dancer, the shorter, stockier, quicksilver petite allegro specialist: they had the only choreography that to me looked rushed. I like Tereskina's Diamond Fairy, but the speed made it a bit of a stretch.
Could not agree more. Although Terioshkina is wonderful, comparatively compact dancers like Komleva, Chistiakova, Sitnikova etc looked more natural in such parts (even when they, too, danced as if their life depended on speed).
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