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Russian Seasons


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Tonight Alexei Ratmansky's final program as AD premiered (on December 28th there will be a Farewell Gala for him). It began with the premiere of his successor Yuri Burlaka's reconstruction of the Grand Pas from Paquita (including many discoveries), followed by the company debut of his NYCB masterpiece Russian Seasons, and concluded with Balanchine's Symphony in C. Russia's betatvc gave a video preview based on two dress rehearsal performances. In the 3+ minute news program we first see Mr. Burlaka's work, then Mr. Ratmansky's. At 2'35" that is Natalia Osipova flying in, dressed in red.


The text of the broadcast is printed on the page, so you can copy/paste into Google. Remarks by Russian Seasons composer Leonid Desyatnikov: "The only thing I did not really like is that between sections there are breaks because of applause... if the audience applauds, as if at a sporting event, it destroys the integrity of the perception of a work." To which the announcer responds "... judging from the enthusiastic audience behavior for the dress rehearsal, fears of the maestro are not in vain."

Here is the casting listed by the Bolshoi, preceded with names of the ballet's NYCB role creators. Subsequent cast changes listed within parentheses:

Yellow-orange (later white) Whelan/Evans: Zhakharova (Shipulina)/Merkuriev (Yachmennikov)

Red Sylve (Krohn)/Ramasar: Osipova (Meskova)/Savin (Volchkov)

Green Ringer (Rutherford)/J. Stafford: Shipulina (Kobakhidze)/Dmitrichenko (Vodopetov)

Blue Dronova/Suozzi: Rebetskaya (Goryacheva)/Lantratov (Koryagin)

Violet-purple A. Stafford/Henrickson: Krysanova (Alizade)/Tsvirko

Magenta-burgundy Pazcoquin/Carmena: Nikulina (Stashkevich)/Lopatin (Matvakhov)

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The first review* of last night's premieres is in: by Svetlana Naborshchikova for Izvestia. The headline:

The Clacques are Whole, and Cats are Alive: The Bolshoi's First Premieres of its 233rd Season.

I will summarize, with some quotes. In explanation of the "Cats are Alive" the reviewer explains that at the 1847 Mariinsky premiere of Petipa's Paquita, Nikolai I rewarded the choreographer with a ruby ring with 18 diamonds; later, at its Moscow premiere, the audience rewarded him by throwing a dead cat onstage. (This time there was audience approval: no dead cats needed for throwing.) She said that Burlaka showed respect for leading ladies of the Bolshoi (compared to Ratmansky, who was often reproached for selecting others instead of the established stars), choosing them for the leading role and for the six soloist parts. But she felt the choice of Nadezhda Gracheva as lead was not justified, for reason of faulty technique, and that only Ekaterina Shipulina of the six star soloists was fully successful. Still she felt this was a good addition for The Bolshoi "if Burlaka can polish it up to diamond brilliance."

Russian Seasons does not need polishing. It resembles the structures of wooden Russian architecture: parts without gaps are matched to each other, and the whole is impressive, ideally refined into the landscape provided by the stylish yellow-red-green design of Galina Solovyeva and music of Leonid Desyatnikov (originally written for violinist Gidon Kremer): [the music's] luster, elegance [combined] with originally rough material can be defined as a conflict of interest. Ratmansky went the same way, elegant classical dance combined with folk movement... however, instead of conflict of interest he created full harmony: the balance of the West with the "Russian"--with merriment to exhaustion and grief to rage--they were formed into order. Maybe so also the history of Russian soul, not likely to find its way to heaven...

For the same reason the main character--the classical Prima Zakharova--turned out an organic marvel, mourning her husband, deceased in war. A nonclassical "athlete" Natalia Osipova without problems alternated domestic [Russian] excess with western restraint. All 12 dancers performed well.

Claquers, who tired out throats for Paquita, were able to rest at Season's curtain. "Bravo!" Russian-European Ratmansky and his team, cried voices of the ordinary spectators.

* http://www.izvestia.ru/culture/article3122615/

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A nonclassical "athlete" Natalia Osipova

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Hmmm.... good question! On the surface it might just be a perspective of the anti-Osipova faction (see posts in the Ismene Brown thread in writings on ballet), that for example speaks of her as "Kitri dancing Giselle"... But I think not, for the review is quite positive about her.

Since the Izvestia review, 10 more have followed already. Most are very favorably disposed toward the ballet and to both Zakharova and Osipova. Tatiana Kuznetsov writing in Kommersant speaks of a true triumph of the new generation and calls Russian Seasons "a subtle psychological study of national character." She goes on to contrast "the heart-rending, expressive dancing of Natalia Osipova" with Svetlana Zakharova's "eloquent body and entire beauty of amorous weeping and almost religious cleanness of melodic dancing." She adds that "if pathos did not contradict the natural gift of Ratmansky, one would possibly say that Russian Seasons is the most patriotic and most piercing ballet in the history of the New Russia. Now, also, for the Bolshoi Theater, that is over."

At any rate, one can see a video that focuses on Ms. Osipova's performance at the dress rehearsal. It is on rutube*, not youtube, and I needed to search it in Russian, so will just give the link:


Osipova speaks, but is hard to hear her over the music, something about it being a big burden or effort for The Bolshoi to put on this ballet. When comparing her performance to that of the role's originator Sofiane Sylve, the dancing is as virtuosic, but Osipova is much more dramatic in her acting. This raises a question: how different must it be for dancers performing to vocal music when they understand the language? The same might be said for audiences viewing a ballet to vocal music when they understand the language.

After reading all the reviews, the woman in Green is virtually ignored in Russia, while Jenifer Ringer, who created the role, was a huge part of the early American performances. Ratmansky also made a point of her selection and significance.

*If you click the upper RHS icon you will get a quite hi-res full-screen picture. Perhaps because of this, it may be slow to load, and you may benefit by "pausing" until it has loaded. Osipova is in Red.

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with hardly more than a primitive understanding of russian, i suspect the writer is trying, in a clipped way, perhaps too clipped, to contrast a personal classification of Zakharova as a true, classical dancer and Osipova as something other, and probably lesser (in this writer's view), suggesting that the former is truly classically 'toned' while the latter is athletic but, for reasons of physical or temperamental aspects, not strictly 'classical.'

i'm not defending or seconding any of this, but just trying to understand what's been written.

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It's probably lost something in the translation, but is it possible the writer is trying for a distinction of genre or emploi similar to the discussions we've had here?

Well, I've never considered "sportsmenka" (no translation needed, it's very clear...) a ballet genre or emploi, Leigh :P It's anything but flattering even when used to make a contrast and between " ".

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It's probably lost something in the translation, but is it possible the writer is trying for a distinction of genre or emploi similar to the discussions we've had here?

Well, I've never considered "sportsmenka" (no translation needed, it's very clear...) a ballet genre or emploi, Leigh :wub: It's anything but flattering even when used to make a contrast and between " ".

I love "sportsmenka". I can remember a number of Russian dancers of the past for whom this descriptive would have been most apt.

Unless Osipova has changed dramatically in the last two years, it is most definitely an inappropriate term to apply to her. She struck me in type as an excellent demi-classical dancer by stature, temperament and manner of technical execution. She was definitely a young star who might one day, achieve the company status to a similar, but much more extraordinary type example, Yekaterina Maximova.

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There are now 10 short videos of the third (November 17) performance of Russian Seasons, that may be found by entering:

lexxrussia "Russian Seasons"

into YouTube. Together they constitute about a third of the ballet. The casting is very different from opening night and from the dress rehearsal video posted earlier on this thread. The cast as listed on the Bolshoi site (and, to the extent I can tell, this looks pretty accurate):

Yellow (white): Shipulina/Yachmennikov

Red: Meskova/Volchkov

Green: Kobakhidze/Dmitrichenko

Blue: Goryachova/Koryagin

Purple: Alizadeh/Tsvirko

Burgundy: Nikulina/Lopatin

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