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Mariinsky: NYCC

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...Uliana Lopatkina continues her trend of warming up and being adorable (with smiles) and not just regal. It did not matter one iota that she omitted the usual 32 fouettes (coda of the Pas de 3) last night and substituted quick chaine turns. .....

Well, perhaps it did matter: especially when those chaine turns were danced as if on a cloud, and there was no show-biz trickster break in the perfect flow of a dream. This is what I'd been hoping for all season, and now I feel I've seen Lopatkina. She was so inside the music/steps that she could play within them, delivering moments of almost Bouder-like rubato. And her warmth, ...enveloping.

While it would be unfair to compare anyone (so far) to Viktoria's Diana, Mikhail Lobukhin's Acteon continues to amaze. This one's worth the price of a ticket all on its own! Meanwhile, Viktoria Tereshkina took on Kitri. It surely seems she has the range of a Principal! While there was a bit of wandering during her fouettes, single-single-double, compared to some of ABT's turning-specialists (on their home stage, in their younger days, and at their best), there was, too, strength and classical form in them as well... It is amazing how this ballerina dazzles without straying from the art's purity!

Aside from Lobukhin (and Tsar Igor Zelensky), I continue to find the company's men just a bit under-whelming in the big virtuosic show pieces, obviously the strong point (albeit that age is now very much taking over) of ABT's men. But in Bayadere, Andrian Fadeyev gave a brilliantly complete and balanced performance opposite an unannounced cast change for Nikiya. Early on this mystery ballerina jumped in front of her partner, both front and back leg 15 degrees above the horizontal... yet flowing smoothly, for this was the opening night Nikiya in name only. Tonight Alina Somova put it all together. Calm and courage, and not just a little bit: determination and defiance.

BUT the highlight of Shades was -- prepare yourselves -- the Nikiya of Alina Somova, who was absolutely BEAUTIFUL in a more-restrained delivery than what we saw one week ago. Yes, we saw hints of the wild legs especially in the initial adagio with Solor and, yes, she still needs to work on emotional connection. That doesn't matter -- we want her to concentrate hard on elegance. It paid off big-time last night and I added my voice to the 'bravos' at the end of the show. A huge step forward for Alina Somova.

Of course this meant the triumphant Ms. Somova did not dance her scheduled third bayadere. Her replacement: Big Red! This night, things were very much right in the Mariinsky Kingdom.

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I was there too, Tuesday, April 8, 2008.

Corsaire: I loved Vishneva's tutu including the rhinestone bicep bracelets. She looked absolutely drop-dead glamorous, gorgeous, and danced very well, inspite of some bumps along the way. Vishneva gets extra star points from me for not letting the couple of "off" fouettes rattle her nerves. Vishneva's experience was surely evident in the way she rescued what was "off" and continued with the remainer of fouettes as if nothing had happened. That's a most horrible place to lose one's balance and then have to get back into a spinning mode.

Diana and Acteon: I don't think I will ever see a better Diana than in this performance with Tereshkina. If it was an "off" night for Vishneva, it was most certainly a huge, "ON" night for Tereshkina. Sharp as a fresh razor, her attack was elegantly strong for all of the very difficult technique required. Her turns, jumps, big, long-legged extensions, bright footwork, everything was daring and beautiful in their extremes. Tereshkina was a bright star.

[Re Alastair's bitchy review today..... Seems he's just suffering from being spoiled -- having seen so much of the incomparably fine Balanchine choreography. These early Kirov programs are not about that sort of sophisticated style (of choreography). But there is so much else to enjoy... beginning with bravura technique and that Russian strongly elegant way of presenting it. I think that the Kirov has many of the finest dancers in the world. I hope it will not be another six years before they return to NYC.]

Don Quixote Pas de Deux: Somova completely blew me away with her flirtatous style (not Spanish, not Cuban, but plenty of Kirov charm, attack, extremes, pride, and elegance.) Her fouettes single-single-double, to the end of 32, were absolutely amazing. I loved the new level of lines she added to her fouettes without sacrificing the brilliantly fast turns, on a dime (until the last two or three which barely moved from the starting spot). WOW!! Samova definitely has a style, all her own, and confidence / strength to dance just about anything. I may have to go back to see her in Balanchine's Ballet Imperial.... I'm so curious now....

Sarafanov, as Somova's partner in DonQ, was completely beyond impressive with more beefy, flawlessly fantastic technique. Double tours into double pirouettes with hands on hips (no less!) were a spectacular success. I confess, I still much prefer him in thin harem pants, nearly bare-chested and with a headband..... but.... in DonQ he was a fine compliment to Somova. Fearless is the adjective I keep thinking of when watching these two thrilling dancers.

So, yes, it was a very exciting evening overall. Convinced me to buy yet another ticket for tonight's (4/10)!!! performance. Thank you Pres. Bush for the soon-to-arrive stimulus package ($$)!! And I need another dose of Samova in Bayadere without the opening night's nerves.

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I was very, very annoyed by Alistair MacAuley’s review. He should return to UK, I think.

Oh no, you wanted him and you're stuck with him as Alistair MacAuley is one emigrant I really don't want to see returning. I seem to remember some 15 pages eulogizing over A.M. on this forum when he first went to the New York Times with mine being just about the only dissenting voice.

so please forgive this Londoner with a very long memory for saying: I TOLD YOU SO.

I wish he would just review the ballet(s). There is never much of a review--ballet history? yes. But review of dancers, not so much.

as was quoted in today's links, he said the most recent visit to the Kirov left him thinking:

“Maybe I don’t like ballet after all?...Almost all of it left me cold."

His friends admitting they felt the same reassures him that he does in fact like ballet, however I've seen nothing in any of his reviews for the times to indicate that he likes very much of it, certainly anything that isn't by Balanchine. I think perhaps he should ponder the question some more.

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however I've seen nothing in any of his reviews for the times to indicate that he likes very much of it, certainly anything that isn't by Balanchine. I think perhaps he should ponder the question some more.

I absolutely agree. I can't stand reading his reviews anymore. They are joyless, bitter, and pompous. He seems like a miserable human being. I wish he would leave the Times (or they would get rid of him).

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I came back from the ballet, and for the first time, I actually left because of an audience member. After two acts I couldn;t take the woman sitting next to me anymore. From the very first she was disagreeable, she sharply asked the woman next to me, "Are those programs different, or are you just taking pleasure in reading the same program three times?" The woman next to me was taken aback and said, "These programs are for them" (meaning her two friends). Then the lady complained that she couldn't see, and demanded that the people in front of me slump down. Then she flipped through the program and was like "Diana Vishneva? Ugh she's awful. And Viktoria Tereshkina? Sarafanov's the only dancer worth seeing." Great.

When the program began, she started to grumble. First according to her the people in front of us were talking (they weren't) and she hectored them to quiet down, even though they weren't talking. Then she started following the dancing, and she shook her head in rage and muttered nasty comments the ENTIRE TIME. She in particular seemed to hate Fadeev and Vishneva, and during the entire Don Q pdd grumbled, "Awful, awful, just awful."

But the dancing? :off topic: Viktoria Tereshkina really is proving her worth as a principal. Tall, regal, with mindblowing but never vulgar technique, she won all hearts as Medora, and held her own against Leonid Sarafanov. Sarafanov is a miracle. He leaves the audience in a frenzy, with his elevation and speed. Still a bit boyish looking and gawky, I wonder if he'll ever outgrow the "boy-wonder" role. Still, what a wonder! :blushing: Evgeny Ivanchenko was elegant but more understated, and the three Odalisques were very charming. I particularly loved Svetlana Ivanova, so cute and doll-like! Light as a feather in her solo.

I confess that I dislike the Diana and Acteon pdd, and although I appreciated Osmolkina's elegance and Lobukhin's hunky muscularity overall the piece didn't work for me. Next.

Don Q with the vets Vishneva and Fadeev. I thought both of them had some shaky moments in the pas de deux. The first series of supported pirouettes almost resulted in a fall for poor Diana (and my charming seat-mate spit, "See! Awful!"), but they saved themselves like the pros they were. I was commenting to nyususan that Diana's now at the point in her career when technique is no longer so effortless, and sometimes you can see the work and concentration. But her variation (she's one of the few ballerinas who still does the grande jete variation) and fouettes (doubles with the fan over her head) proved that she's still a prima ballerina. Fadeev looks strikingly like a blond Nureyev. Again, he's not Leonid Sarafanov but who cares?

After that I left. :devil:

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My impression was that Viktoria Tereshkina was very much in control and quite elegant. I think she has a good future. I thought the Odalisques were the weakest part of the entire evening, and seemed to lose the tempo at one point. They seemed a bit tired at the end. The corps were great, beautifully in sync in Bayadere. Alina Somova is also wonderful. I want to see more or her and Viktoria.

What stuck me about the principals in this performance was their "flourishes" at the end of a piece and their curtain calls. I was trying to read their broad smiles. Were they thrilled that they were well received, or glowing that that had shown off their virtuosity? Was it ego or humility?

My impression was that the very talented Vishneva is very full of herself, knows she's good and is somewhat smug about her talent. I did not have the same impression from Somova or Tershikina who impressed me as more humble and honored to be on the stage.

This was the first performance of ballet which got me thinking about how these performers feel about themselves, their craft and the audience. How much is performing about the audience and how much is about the performer. Shouldn't it be about the role and not the audience or the ego?

The audience was noisy. I prefer to see a full length ballet where you can see some sort of character development. I return on sat afternoon for some more Russians. I liked the way Gergiev did the music too. He seems to like quicker tempi. What do I know?

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Soul of Somova

What a nightmare, canbelto. While not nearly so bad, I did seem to have a single leftover clack man from opening night a few rows away. Much in agreement with your comments. Sarafanov's Slave was a miracle tonight. After Tereshkina's huge and perfect variation that ended with an eternal balance (the music only wanted a second, so that is all it lasted, but its glory stopped time), his following variation would remind of Baryshnikov, not because of just its difficulty level, but because it was so flawless. And his next, also miraculous! Mea Culpa. She chose to do the fouettes. Truly Grand, 1-1-2's, but so richly large yet perfect, in place, in control. Surely winner of this season's competition. Was that actually Ivanchenko? Looked young and seemed an inexperienced partner? I don't have much faith in their program's "update." Anyhow, the dynamic duo put together the most spectacular performance I've seen in the classical subset of this season, and with great taste and style.

Agree re Vishneva and these showpiece roles. Of course she can glitter, and that beauty... Which was enhanced by the presence of that classical prince, Andrian Fadeyev. She did not repeat her over-striving fouettes ( Paquita ). Going for a couple 1-1-2's, but at a more civil pace. Less was much more. But her Bayadere, where her dramatic mind can bring depth, that is where you see the artist. I thought Osmolkina improved over yesterday, and by now want to see what else Lobukhin could do. Spartak?!

Somova III. Alina's great technical leap forward Wednesday might have taken place in some other, distant life. For tonight she came out deeply at peace. Her face had the calm of a death mask, yet in no way frozen. She embodied the Spirit of Nikiya and you could feel the human behind the mask. Could this last? In the early supported leap in front of Solor, her legs stayed below the horizontal line! But really not "!" for that would break the peace and she did not break her character. The following diagonal of high jetes, formally spectacular, yet somehow the silent fleeing of a saint... Upon return, her face subtly hinted at a memory of this man before her, a yearning, a flicker of who she was before. She sustained Nikiya throughout. Great applause, of course. But this time for Nikiya: not for a trick, or a peek. Lost my program insert, but I think her partner was Korsuntsev, if not, he was good enough to be. Alina Somova's three performances seemed to trace a career, from a scared, talented but misguided student, to a developing ballerina, to an Artist with Soul. This was wonderful. Who is this Mystery?

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..Somova... Who is this Mystery?

Drb, thanks for the progress report. I can't help but imagine that this past weekend, while all other dancers were performing the Fokine program, Somova may have been sequestered in some far-off studio with a mystery 'miracle coach'. Didn't Somova's regular coach, Olga Chenchikova (Mrs. Makhar Vaziev), stay back home with her husband? Somebody has taken this girl under his or her wing and shaken some elegance into her. It's just too dramatic a difference but one that many of us have noticed.

Canbelto, that sounds like the Audience Member from Hades. Sorry to read this

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My impression was that the very talented Vishneva is very full of herself, knows she's good and is somewhat smug about her talent. I did not have the same impression from Somova or Tershikina who impressed me as more humble and honored to be on the stage.

I get that impression from Sarafanov actually, but not Vishneva. After each jaw-dropping tour'en air Leonid came out for a curtain call with a "hey I'm awesome" face. By the way every time I wait for will call I meet someone special. First time it was Irina Kolpakova. Last night it was Sarafanov's mom, who is GORGEOUS.

Tereshkina's balances at the end of her variations were indeed marvellous.

One more thing about my charming seat-mate. During each piroette she would hold her fingers up real high and start turning her fingers along with the dancers. When they inevitably didn't turn EXACTLY the way she wanted, she'd shake her head and say, "I can't believe this." During the curtain calls she'd only clap for Sarafanov, and during the Don Q pdd curtain calls, she said, "I'm not going to clap for them" very loudly. Lovely.

One more thing: Ekaterina Konduarova danced the Don Q variation and I loved her. Please someone give her more opportunities!

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.....I saw Mr. Vaziev in the hallway of City Center - he finally made it to NYC after all:)

Sounds like Gergiev got on the ol' Hot Line telephone and said, "Son, now listen up. Haul yarself here on the next Aeroflot..." :wink:

At Wednesday night's performance, it was defintiely Fateev and Schwartzkopf alone who took their Row-A Front Mezz seats right before the house lights dimmed for each act. No Vaziev, who must have shown up yesterday.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Count me among the very happy, very attentive audience members who were completely thrilled by this night's performance of Le Corsaire pas de deux with Tereshkina and Saranfanov!! And then Bayadere with a more soulful, on top of her beautifully extreme technique, Somova!! Didn't hurt that the orchestra was in fabulous form too, as was the corps and Kondaurova ("big red") as the red-tutu'd soloist in DonQ, as well as the third soloist of Bayadere.

Bayadere: Somova was hauntingly beautiful on many levels as she found a new tender expression in her upper body. I had tears in my eyes, many times, watching her as a creature from another world, not just a great balletic athlete with a stunning body. She danced Bayadere as I've always dreamed it could be done. Somova, accompanied by her strong partner, Korsuntsev (tall, dark, handsome), received a standing ovation in front of the curtain for three well-deserved calls, after taking a couple of bows with the entire cast.

Le Corsaire: Opening the night was Tereshkina and Sarafanov in this bravura pas. They both were flawless, extreme in lines and daredevil show-offs with their beautiful technique. I know, I know, I keep using the same adjectives over and over, and they barely describe what is so exciting and great about these accomplished two dancers. Some things escape words.... Tereshkina's solo ended with a perfect, extreme arabesque, holding there on balance, on pointe, for what seemed like 3 seconds! But that was just the delightful cherry on top of her amazingly strong performance overall, full of gorgeous attack with princess-like presence. I think she'd be a great Raymonda.

Back to Le Corsaire, Tereshkina's entrance, I just can't get it out of my thoughts. It was rich with proud ballerina feeling, a strong open chest, long, expressive arms. Her feet, as well as her legs were expressive too, not just jabbing into positions. The choreography here is fairly simple, but it takes a fine ballerina to make it work as something more. Tereshkina ended her divine entrance with a brilliantly controlled triple pirouette. It was as if I was watching a different ballet from Tuesday's because of the way Tereshkina (and Sarafanov) danced Corsaire. They don't struggle with the challenges. You don't see the hard work involved. What you see is thrilling magic.

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Friday evening's Fokine/Etudes program:

Chopiniana was again mesmerizing thanks to Osmolkina and Selina and a focused corps. Selina is gifted in so many ways and lovingly respectful of every Fokine gesture and glance. (She, too, wears the nail extensions (as do several corps members), but her's are less immodest and a natural color as opposed to Somova's which rival those worn by working girls hanging out in front of any housing project in Brooklyn.) Selina's Valse was beyond lovely in its lightness. Soundless jumps when the orchestra was at its quietest. Breathing balances that beautifully filled the music. Oh how I hope to see her Giselle one day. Osmolkina was just as wonderful as the first night that I saw her. Her poet, Ivanchenko, picked her up and lifted her over his head like she was made of paper - effortlessly and to great effect. But he was unimpressive otherwise. I was surprised at how inarticulate his double cabrioles were. Granted, they are not supposed to be huge, but they should be defined. Bolshakova was okay but a bit overdone in some of her movements and in her pained facial expression.

Le Spectre de la Rose, again was Selina at her finest. Even more engaging and magical than the first night. Kolb's rose had improved lightness and virtuosity from the first night, but I continue to be bothered by the way he dances with his mouth opened. A little of that goes a long way. The emotional connection between the two dancers was far more evident last night than on the first night. Selina seemed to draw this out of him with her own warmth and fantasy.

Lopatkina's Dying Swan once again overwhelmed the audience with 3 1/2 minutes of crushing sadness, beauty, and dignity. Her ovation lasted longer than her dancing.

So, which Somova showed up for Etudes last night? All of them! Every time her inner-editor looked the other way, Sybil emerged from Somova. Surprisingly, her strongest and most authentic dancing came during the Romantic skirt part. She certainly does have a special quality in her upper body which must be what the Kirov powers hope will evolve into greatness. On the other hand . . .ugh (with amplified exasperation). To her credit, she managed to moderate the extensions except for the first couple. She has rather unremarkable feet, by Kirov standards, so maybe throwing her leg to her ear is to compensate for that. We'll let the therapists figure that out. Again to her credit and great effort, there were only two instances of mugging grins at the audience. But, some of what I saw last night was highly disturbing: the hops on point with the leg developpeing to the back resulted in the most (and worst) open hip second postion arabesque I've ever seen under a tutu. Sitting in the third row of the Grand Tier on the far side, I simply could not believe how hideous her line was. Her fouttees were odd if not seizure-like. She fell off point during some of the partnering, but I could not tell whose fault that was. She employs a sway back when walks that hurts to watch. Sarafanov and Fadeev were okay with some very good moments in the brissee voles and barrel turns.

The corps performance was very good, but hampered by the small stage. The opening and dramatically lit-in-the-dark tendues at barre were astonishingly beautiful. The degages as well. The ronde jambe en l'air were almost perfection, but for one person who was off on the continuous single ronde jambe. It hurt to watch simply because everyone else was so perfect. During the opening segment, there were a couple of flubs at the center barre on the battment clouche, but all in all, the barre work was admirable. The current roster of Kirov men at City Center is dancing at late 1980's standards, which is to say, good but not world class. There were some substitutions of less challenging choreography, and I was disappointed not to see the repeated entrechat quatre or six and double tours near the end. We got extra passe-type sautes instead. The diagonal work of both men and women was good but didn't build to the hoped for intensity. Most likely, Etudes suffered from initial adjusting to the small stage. Hopefully, by Sunday, the dancers will be delivering a blow-out performance

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Just in fm NYC and have personal stuff to take care of, so it's only a quick note here to write that yesterday (Saturday's) matinee bill of Chopiniana, Spectre, Dying Swan & Etudes was quite good, if on a slightly lower level than the other Kirov-CityCenter shows I've seen so far. The Big News: Olesya Novikova DID dance Etudes, despite a very respected press member's word last Wednesday that Novikova was apparently out for the rest of the run. [The Kirov is notorious for misinformation, alas.] I have no idea if the original news was due to injury but she was 90% OK yesterday...but had some off-point moments and tentativeness. However, she was fine overall -- great turns, for example. Sarafanov was impressive, as was THE star of the show, Vladimir Schklyarov, who just arrived to NYC for the tail-end of the run. The corps danced splendidly...esp. the demi-solo men in grey.

Elegant Anton Korsakov subbed for Sarafanov in Spectre. I could swear that it was NOT Nadezhda Gonchar in Spectre...was it Lil' Red (Elizaveta Cheprasova)? Gonchar has a tan -- had it in Chopiniana in the previous act -- and the girl in Spectre is very fair skinned and with reddish hair. EDITED ONE DAY LATER TO ADD -- It was Gonchar, for sure, according to trusted friend who sat in the orchestra section.

Chopiniana - Danil' Konsuntsev excellent of line, elevation, and care for the ballerinas. The three lady soloists were nice -- capable of the steps but somewhat lacking in poetry. Daria Vasnetsova (Mazurka & pdd) disappointed; she went through the motions and does not have the elegant extensions and line required for this role...she is a bit too Somova-ish in trying to hyper-extend. Yulia Bolshakova (Prelude) was almost unrecognizable due to her recent physical changes & danced 'by rote' - as if her coach were standing in the wings pulling strings. Nadezhda Gonchar alone (1st solo) possessed the perfume of this ballet but even she did not reach 'Ayupova level' in poetry. The corps was fine but, again, not quite what the Kirov-Mariinsky has performed even in the recent past, e.g., London Tour ca 2001. Shame.

THE ballerina of this tour, Tsarina Diana Vishneva, was gorgeous in Dying Swan...more real (spontaneous-seeming artistry) & less 'calculated' than Lopatkina, although the latter possesses the most naturally divine line. But Vishneva brings out the pathos in the role; her arms truly weep. An interpretation for the ages, IMO.

Finally, a note about the ROWDY audience in the Rear Mezz this afternoon.... during the initial minutes of Chopiniana running around all over the place 'testing out' the best unoccupied seats...making loud 'booming' sounds (seats springing up) when they jump out of the seats. Very disrespectful to performers and fellow audience members.

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I attended Saturday's matinee and I must say I was not prepared for the Chopin military polonaise that was used as an overture; the first time I came across this beginning. Unfortunately, the curtain rose while there were still a few bars left of this piece, and it was a jarring beginning to the ballet.....I had no idea the Kirov did it this way....and...the stage lighting was much too bright. That said, nothing can ruin this ballet for me, which is my favorite. The Kirov is really having a problem with the size of the stage at City Center; other 'Sylphides' I have seen on this stage use only 16 corps dancers, and the Kirov had twenty. Of all the dancers I liked Daria Vasnetsova (mazurka &PDD) the best; perhaps because she looks so much like Maria Tallchief. In "Spectre" I wished the girl wore the lovely bonnet with the satin ties instead of a head full of curls and a flower; the girl in the bonnet had a sweet innocense and one could believe that she would dream of a rose coming to life. Korsakov was the replacement for Sarafanov; he has beautiful port de bras and impeccable entrechat-huit; which he did all over the place. Recently, Vishneva's 'Dying Swan' had not received favorable reviews, and I didn't know what to expect....and I thought she was a marvel...no overdone theatrics; she brought the same pathos I have seen in her 'Giselle"; understated and hard felt. I haven't seen "Etudes" since ABT did it and it was fun seeing it again (particularly through my soon-to-be 8-year old budding ballerina granddaughter's eyes). Radiant is the word I would use to describe Olesia Novikova...at one point she did the fastest chaine turns I have ever seen---she was practically a blur. Sarafanov replaced Korsakov and I was glad I would get another opportunity to see him; but it was Vladimir Shklyarov's day. A dancer with a beautiful line and a most handsome face.

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....I liked Daria Vasnetsova (mazurka &PDD) the best; perhaps because she looks so much like Maria Tallchief. ....

How right, atm711! While gazing at Vasnetsova's lovely long face and strong jaw, I kept thinking "I've seen this face before." Also, she uses her sparkling blue eyes -- unusual for a lady with naturally dark-brown hair -- to great effect while dancing.

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I noticed Vasnetsova on opening night in a demi-solo role but I had no way of identifying her; she was not listed in the program. The Kirov is very skimpy at revealing all the names of the dancers and only list the principals and main soloists.

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Correction: I am now fairly sure that it was indeed Nadezhda Gonchar dancing the girl in SPECTRE last Sat afternoon & not 'Lil' Red' Cheprasova. I was up in Rear Mezz but a trusted fellow-fan and Kirov expert who sat in orchestra can vouch that it was NG's very distinct face (mouth)...but wearing reddish wig with ringlets. The pinkish lighting made her skin seem paler than normal. Sorry about the confusion...hey, one never knows with this company!!!!

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Sunday, April 12, 2008 Performance

Well, that tacky, audition-tape-like ballet of Etudes came together gorgeously at this performance with Alina Somova, Leonid Sarafanov, and Vladimir Schklyarov in the leads. All were in top form with every technical trick in the book excelled (and then some). I've always thought very little of this ballet except that it does show the many sides of a ballerina's (eg, audition tape) artistic and technical talents... And it shows one trick after another for the rest of the cast. The barre work of the corps makes me giggle with glee though it hardly resembles anything in a real class today. Still, the production value is extremely effective in size and quantity.

Somova danced every technical demand of Etudes with full comand, sparkles and smiles -- huge jumps, hops on pointe, turning grand jetes (coupe jetes in a circle - WOW), gorgeous lines, fast and slow controlled pirouettes -- all with complete ease. She was even more wonderful than I had expected (and stunningly pretty, I was sitting close to the stage)....

But what totally teared me up was how beautifully (warm, mysterious, light and dreamy with femininity) she danced the romantic ballerina excerpts -- Etudes tribute to LaSylphide for example. This young lady can dance anything, and she has shown NYC that she is rightfully Kirov's new diamond in the crown. A white tutu and tiara suits her most perfectly... After this performance, I kept imagining Samova in Diamonds of Mr. B's Jewels... I do hope we get to see that very soon...

Sarafanov was beyond belief. I don't think there was a technical demand in the ballet volcabulary that he didn't execute in Etudes, and he does everything with full attack and brightness, charm. Yes, you could count 'em, he did eight, double tours, en l'air, in a row!! This after several entrances of very difficult jumps and turns. Sarafanov seems to never have an "off" moment.

The newcomer to this season at City Center who danced the third lead in Etudes was Schklyarov. Very American looking actually, and extremely charming in his performance style. Schklyarov has beautiful legs and feet, arms, legs, with a strong technique. Sound familiar?! I never get tired of saying this about the Kirov, because it's true, it's the norm, rather than the exception.

But what makes Schklyarov really special is that he has some of Fadeev's charm: when/if he almost messes up, eg, landing to his knee from a turn series, yet he doesn't completely fall over or put his hand down to the floor, Schklyarov flashes the audience a sweetest smile, and that makes whatever almost happened all the more clever in its rescue.

Etudes' last performance here with the Kirov was divine, crazy fun!!

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I was so amazed by Sarafanov on Friday night that I came back on Sunday to see those prep-less double tours again. I counted 9 on Sunday! I'm sorry they're not doing it again this week!

I want to thank sz for having something positive to say about Somova. I really think at this point we have a reverse-Emperor's-New-Clothes thing here. Instead of it being a situation where people are rushing to rave about the next big thing, they are competing here to make petty and downright nasty comments about her. I'd never seen her before, but to read most of the comments here, it seems she can't do anything right, including her hair. If I were Somova, I'd be afraid that the people here were going to rough her up and post the video on YouTube.

Parenthetically, I note that I haven't posted since I had my knuckles rapped a few months ago. A post of mine was "edited" by one of the moderators a few months back because she considered my statement that someone who was posting negative comments "likes who he likes and we're not going to be able to reason with him" to be unduly critical - on my part! I asked the moderator what happened to that part of my post, and was told that she deleted it because we're not allowed to attack other people. Apparently, my position of "let him have his opinion" was deemed an attack on the people who were preparing the tar and feathers for him.

Meanwhile, a scurrilous, ad hominem comment that Somova has hair extensions like a Brighton Beach Russian girl is left untouched.

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I was there on Sunday too.

First of all, the "Sylphides" just gets better on reviewing - the soloist women were looking better than before and the whole thing gelled very well. The intimate stage gives a warmer, chamber feel to the piece much to its advantage.

"Spectre de la Rose" this time had Kolb and Gonchar and there was a real difference here. Kolb doesn't have the greatest jump with the highest elevation but he had all the nuance this fragile ballet needs. His arms wafted through the air like the intoxicating perfume from a rose. His turns and landings were all soft and connected. Kolb had more connection and chemistry with his partner than Sarafanov so the whole premise worked better. Subtle little touches like this can be the difference between a "well-danced but left me cold" and "gorgeously danced and wow!" performance.

"Etudes" looks very different on the Kirov than it does on say, ABT - the only other company I have seen do it. The speed with little preparation that this ballet needs is not quite in their blood - same as in Balanchine. Still looks gorgeous though. The women's corps looked lovely but the men (despite some good jumpers) are working hard and it shows. Shklyarov is boyishly charming but I found him technically wobbly especially next to Sarafanov as the "turning boy". He did have some sloppy landings and looked to be at his limit dancing the less showy but still demanding second male role. Sarafanov was a wonder and was shamelessly wowing the audience. You can do that here since this is a ballet about dance and dancers. Somova though I am not inclined to give her the prima ballerina palm is capable of fine things. Here her technical strengths showed and she has tamed her excesses. She has strong feet and is a good turner though her technique is idiosyncratic and not always "clean" (neither is Vishneva or several others aren't always "clean" technicians in the company though exciting in ways that cleaner dancers aren't!). Somova did manage some charming phrasing and style in the "sylphide" section. The chin and 180 legs were held in check and she only did some high kicking in the last "let all the technical arsenal loose" section.

Like the ever wise Natalia I suspect that Somova has been working with a different coach and the difference is striking. I always thought she had physical talent (you have to have a lot of technique to do such stupid things and not fall down). But she must be held accountable for lacking the taste and musical sense that would allow her to be led as far astray as she formerly was (and will again if Chenchikova gets her hands on her again). Perhaps Macauley's slap in the NY Times had one salutory effect despite his sour, jaded negativity re: old-school classical ballet.

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You know, I think Alina Somova has been the Dr. Jekyll/ Ms.Hyde of this engagement - which is a vast improvement over the previous times I’ve seen her when only Ms. Hyde showed up. Everyone has their own opinions, but I had seen her 3 times prior to this tour and the first 2 times she was hideous - absolutely hideous. Uncontrolled contortionist extensions, no flow to her dancing, static poses, ugly positions, playing to the audience - and this was in Bayadere (excerpt) & Swan Lake. The third time I saw her (in the recent Kennedy Bayaderes) she was markedly improved - and almost every one of her detractors who saw those performances (including me) commented on how much better she looked.

I doubt that anyone who posts here takes any joy in bashing a dancer - but you gotta call them as you see them. Especially in a company that is revered as the paragon of classicism. Who cares how many fouettes she can do if she jumps up and down like she’s on a pogo stick and kicks her leg out with each revolution. Or how long she can hold a 180 degree extension when the position is ugly & she pays no attention to musicality, phrasing or any other aspect of her portrayal.

I felt that her Bayadere on opening night here showed most of the flaws that I had seen from her previously, but since then she has been up & down, mostly up. I thought she was excellent in Paquita, and her Bayadere on 4/10 was beautiful - amazingly so. I don’t know what happened to make her change her approach - but guess what? I went back and saw her Bayadere again the next night and she was Ms. Hyde again. I counted three 180’s in the opening and her adagio was so squeaky I wondered if she needed an oil can for those joints as I watched her grind it out. What saved it was that even though she slipped back to her (bad) old dancing habits she continued to offer her new appropriate & lovely demeanor. Then in Etudes her entrance was so beautiful that I literally did a double take, not believing it was her. The “sylphide” variation was just gorgeous, and she glittered in the rest at both performances I saw.

I don’t know if this change is due to a coaching change, or more appropriate repertoire, or if she finally started reading the critics, or if she’s just a young dancer who was pushed too far too fast trying to pull it all together. I can see that she has great talent, and the potential to be a great ballerina but right now she veers from one extreme to the other. I’m looking forward to seeing her in the Balanchine program but as for her classical rep -I wish her well & hope for the best but as far as I’m concerned she’s still way too inconsistent to be considered in the same category as the Kirov’s great ballerinas - Lopatkina, Vishneva, Pavlenko and now Tereshkina.

By the way, FauxPas - I agree completely about Kolb in Spectre. Some people found his Rose too “out there” but I loved it. And I loved Chopiniana.I must have seen it 6 times and each performance was beautiful but the Sun matinee with Osmolkina, Vasnetsova & Gonchar was my favorite. Individually I preferred Selina to Gonchar, but switching Vasnetsova for Bolshakova in the prelude made all the difference.

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I have to ask this, because I'm relatively new. It's a bit off-topic, but I'm posting it here since everybody has seen the Mariinsky. (Anyway, the Mariinsky's not doing a performance until tomorrow, so we have a few moments.)

This is the first time I've seen the Mariinsky. I know the ABT extremely well. I'd like to hear how the people who've been posting comments on the Maryiinsky dancers would compare them to those of ABT. I've had friends make comments placing the ABT and its dancers all over the range of quality - comments on the company range from "not much better than what you'd see in a regional company" to "best in the world". And, while I won't name names, comments on individual dancers were similar - "S/he'd be a star anywhere" to "A principal? S/he couldn't be in the Corps at the Paris/Bolshoi/Royal/Mariinsky."

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