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"La Bayadere" in Mariinsky

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Once upon a time I found myself seated in a "gouvernement"'s lodge in Mariinsky theatre.

To be precisely it was at April 11, 7:00 p.m.

Even I was very pleased to have a such honor, it proved the things I knew a long time ago, that officials don't care about ballet at all - it was a worst place to watch the performance. Close to stage, on the left side, on the second floor over orchestra pit.

At least, I can see a conductor's face. This night it was Victor Fedotov. The orchestra played very well, but I was told that Fedotov started to loose his memory and because he accustomed to conduct by heart this is a big problem, once he started a variation without a dancer on the stage, another time he waited 5 minutes for unexisted ballerina. Anyway I didn't notice anything wrong with him that night.

Leading roles were danced by Veronika Part - Nikia, first appearance; Dmitry Simeonov - Solor, first appearance; Elvira Tarasova - Gamzatti, numerous appearances. I'm going to start with the best at that night - Elvira Tarasova.

She did grow up a lot from the last time I saw her dance. Her footwork became much stronger and, so, she gained more jump and her technique became stable and solid. Now she is able don't think how to manage this or that movement and put all her thoughts into a character, what she did marvellously. We can see all transformation of a young woman from suspicion to jelousy, from humiliation to fury. Grand Pas in the second act was surerb. I can say, she even wouldn't need a basket with the snake, she did kill Nikia by execution of her variation only, driving in nails in Nikia's coffer with every movement! She really proved her rights to marry a noble warrior Solor. (To my disappointement, because I never saw such interpretation before, when I talk with her after performance, Elvira said she didn't make it on propose, she was just furious, because she was just told she is going to dance the same part tomorrow smile.gif.)

Now we are coming to my greatest discovery in ths trip to Russia. Dmitry Simeonov. Even his name sounds old fashion and noble in Russian and so his appearance. Slim, tall, intelligent! I didn't met him and I don't know about real life, but on the stage I can see some sparkling thoughts in his eyes. It's so rare! He know why he is here and what he is going to do. Light and huge jump, good turning, aristocratic presence and good actor, what can we wish to have more for a danseur noble? He was completely in love with Nikia and just too young to refuse the wedding proposal from Radja. Of course, he has a lot of things to do. His arms don't firm yet, in the third act he droped them too early during assemble by the circle, but this assemble were in the perfect fifth position by the way. I'm just praying he will not hurt himself during the next 2 years. Don't forget, he just came from the school and now he will have a tremendous load on his shoulders to learn a huge Mariinsky's repertoire when his body is still young and not firmed yet. I'm remembering myself, in the first year with the company, when I injured my ankle and didn't dance for 6 months because I was trying to dance in everyting.

Veronika Part. Pitty, pitty, pitty ...

The most beautiful ballerina I ever saw, in every aspect - lines, face, posture. But ... she is not dancing. I don't talk about technical abilities, it's good enough, except her hips need a right alignment and her right toe sickle sometimes (well, maybe just for me, I'm seating on the left side!). Most important, she doesn't feel the music. The dancer have to be inside of the music, it has to belong to her and, so, she can't give it to us for awakeing the right feeling in our souls. But she danced with the music using just rythmic's barres. And she is not an actress. Maybe because it was her first performance and she was very nervous but she didn't see anybody on the stage! Doesn't matter who is staying in front of her, Solor or Bramin, it was the same expression on her face, more or less smiling. And it was very difficult for all others to communicate with her, specially for Bramin - Vladimir Ponomarev, who started performance very well, but after couple scenes became artificial, well, if you don't have any answers to your action, you don't know what to do.

From another dancers, who made a good impression on me, I have to mention Anton Korsakov, who danced Golden Idol with a good elevation and sharp arms and Natalya Sologub, who danced the variation with cabrioles in the Shades scene. It was the first time when I saw her and at once the image of Giselle came to my mind. Later I was told, yes, I was right, she is dancing this role and she is good in it. She has long limbs, pale skin and innocent look. Her beautiful arched toes are strong enough to handle(to feet? smile.gif) all technical difficulties and I think she has to have a very good future.

And now about the best part of the show - the choreography. Oops! I forget corps de ballet, the best in the world, indeed! But they so match together that it's difficult to separate them apart.

This version of "La Bayadere" was made in 1941 by Ponomarev (Jeannie, his is not relative to your favorite dancer Vladimir smile.gif) and Chabukiani. The latter one made duet for Solor ans Nikia in the first scene, variations for Solor in Grand pas, in The Shades and entrance there. Ponomarev was in charge to revive Petipa's choreography taking out, as was said in the program "some archaism and longnotes". I don't know about "longnotes" but I definetely missed the forth act with the wedding, trio of Solor, Gamzatti and Nikia and crashing of the palace. The story wasn't told to the end for me and I'm wondering if it's possible to revive the lost act.

Back to current performance. Alexandra did mention one day that you have to see the same performance over and over again to understand it true value. Then more I see Petipa's works then more I love it. I never get tired of loking "The Sleeping Beauty" for example. The true choreographer show his talent to us through corps de ballet scenes, not variations. And "La Bayadere" has a plenty of them. First of all, it's Jampe - dance with veils in the second scene. Movements are so simple - little hops in attitude devan and derriere and tombe, repeated several times, but it shows us the woman's softness and obedience and it makes a great contrast with the next fighting scene between Gamzatti and Nikia. Jampe was danced very well with lovely soloists Ostreykovskaya and Selina. The same as Shades entrance. The most troubled part for every company - balance in ecarte position was executed perfectly, nobody even stir, arabesque could be done for couple more minutes, I believe, you know, when some girls are loosing the balance and starting to move the leg down to fast, no, here it was in the right time and with the right speed. And now come my favorite moment, when line by lines girls rise from their knees making pas de bourre up on the stage. It's so simple and so eternal, that I barely can hold my tears.

The company now in the great shape. I know that a lot problems inside of the company, a lot of dissatisfied dancers, but being far away from their daily's routines gave me a great opportunity to look at it as a simple bystander and just enjoy the show, wich I did with great pleasure.


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Spasiba balshaya, Andrei!

A couple of notes:

* Veronika Part - A ravishing beauty and seems to have the right equipment (I don't recall sickled feet). Student of an equally beautiful creature - Inna Zubkovskaya! But you a right concerning the lack of musicality. She does everything on 'autopilot.' More artistry and, hopefully, musicality will come, in time.

* Dmitri Simeonov - Now I'm REALLY going to look for him in London! Isn't he the brother of Kirill Simeonov, the fine demi-caractere corps member who occasionally dances Jester, Peasant pdd, etc.? Kirill graduated in '95 or '96. (sorry - I work from memory...)

* Tarassova - Good for her - I've always said that she is the least-appreciated female soloist in the Kirov.

* Ponomariev - You must have sat at the wrong angle, Andrei smile.gif

* Government Box Seat - My husband always loved to sit there--at the seat closest to the stage, because he could practically touch the tutus...as my husband said "I can make eye-contact with ballerinas!" Can you believe that, one night, I saw a couple of the Shades try to stifle their laughter--he must have been winking overtime. MEN--YOU ARE ALL THE SAME! rolleyes.gif

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Andrei, thanks a lot! I thoroughly enjoyed your review: you provided so much interesting information, personal touches and details, that it felt like I was back in SPb, watching the ballet with you. I have many constraints on time and budget (and so do, I'm sure, many other readers of this board who wish to see Mariinsky in London); your review greatly helped me form my travel plans and ticket-buying strategy for the London season.

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Andrei, thanks for your brilliant review.

Dmitry Simeonov is only due to dance 2 matinees towards the end of the Covent Garden season in June, according to the booking brochure; but his name is not listed in the second season in August.

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I'll join the herd!

Andrei, thanks for such an interesting perspective on the Kirov. You give me a new pair of eyes through which to view it.

I have a question for you and all Kirov watchers. You mentioned Veronica Part in your essay, I am curious about a dancer I often saw paired with her whom I very much admired, Daria Pavlenko.

Similarly built to Part (long limbed with dark hair) they were often hard to tell apart until they danced. Especially as one of the demi-soloist wilis, Pavlenko really had something special.

What did you think of her and what do they think of her in Russia?


Leigh Witchel -dae@panix.com

Personal Page and Dance Writing

Dance as Ever

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I'm very sorry, guys, but I didn't see her in my trip and shame on me I even don't how she looks like. But I promise to find more about Pavlenko next time, O.K.?


[This message has been edited by Andrei (edited May 06, 2000).]

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Pavlenko is a bit smaller (shorter) than Part & has slightly sharper facial features. Part has a softer, languid girly-feminine style; Pavlenko is more aggressive & gung-ho. I agree with Leigh - she was very impressive last summer. Tremendous attack. One of the few Kirovites to dance Balanchine with a bit of "abandon." However, I didn't care for her Lilac Fairy; Part had the softer touch that makes Lilac work for me. Pavlenko could be a great Myrtha some day.

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