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2015 US & Canada Tour

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One of the many problems I have with Skorik is that she only has one facial expression - sullen.

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Absolutely agree MadameP, awful news. It doesn't make any sense. To your list of three I would also add Matvienko; all four deserve to be promoted way before Skorik. Maybe I am wrong, but who ever goes to see a ballet just because Skorik is in it if they have a choice? As oppose to Osmolkina for example, I would go to a great length to rearrange my schedule to get a chance to see her performing. Oh well...

Yes, I forgot to mention Matvienko! I saw her Raymonda debut in St Petersburg, and she is a lovely ballerina with a glorious jump and excellent all-round technique. I completely agree about Osmolkina, who has a beautiful ballerina body, impeccable Vaganova schooling and also is a wonderful actress. I saw her debut in Leningrad Symphony, in the honoured role that is only danced by a few ballerinas, and she bought the audience to tears, as she did also as Juliet and as Maria in Fountain of Bakhchisarai. She is a fabulous actress and a wonderful ballerina. I truly am very sad that she is not a principal.

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I held off on posting after opening night because I have almost no familiarity with Raymonda, and so wanted to let it sink in with another performance. Sorry to say, but these were fairly banal nights of dancing and the ballet itself offers little rewards, imo, especially if there is no charisma coming from the ballerina playing Raymonda. The company looked like the B-team and everyone seemed to accept that and dance like it.

Tereshkina was technical perfection, as you would expect, on opening night. She is regal, but hard like a diamond and had little warmth for her Jean de Brienne, Shkylarov. I still think they are really mismatched (I believe I saw them in Swan Lake here a few years ago). He struggled with lifts, and she seemed a little peeved at him at one point in a fudged lift. When he did his solo in Act III, he was very successful, but it's hard to buy into a love story where both parties seem pretty disinterested in engaging with each other. It was disappointing to see only changements by Tereshkina in the Act II variation, instead of the beating entrechats done by Novikova in the past.

Act I is made overly long by a ~5 minute musical interlude before the dream sequence. The computer projection on the scrim during this is bizarre (how do orange clouds signify traveling to dream world to meet her lover?) and on opening night, a computer mouse pointer arrow was present through this entire time.

Kristina Shapran was one of Raymonda's friends on opening night. I will be seeing her in Cinderella in a few weeks, and it was disappointing to see how ram-rod stiff her back is. I was second guessing (while watching) if I made up the fact she went through the Vaganova Academy--but, of course, she did. Hopefully this is a one off thing, and not a regular occurrence. Nadezhda Batoeva was Henriette on Friday and she seemed to be the most alive soloist in the whole cast.

Skorik is "improved" (in that she didn't fall out of anything like she did here in Swan Lake last time) but there is still a lack of poetry and shading to her dancing. Everything is hit with exactly the same punch, and her legs seem to move independently from whatever is going on with her torso and arms. She has the same blandish face throughout the entire ballet. I booked it after curtain and missed the promotion, but this certainly wasn't an earth-shatteringly good performance that announced her arrival. It was perfunctory and little went wrong, but neither was there much excitement.

I'm not going to wax on at length about the problematic Orientalism in this ballet--it's something the board has talked about at length with various works. However, it's a real turn off for me especially with the dances in Act II for the "Saracens" and the "Moors"--as did the "evil" music that played anytime Abderakhman was onstage. The hokey duel between Christianity and the Other (de Brienne with a giant cross over his sparkly spandex chain mail) was beyond silly.

I wish I could be more positive because it's the Mariinsky and I have been looking forward to this for the better half of a year, but for me, this didn't work on a lot of levels.

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Tereshkina was technical perfection, as you would expect, on opening night. She is regal, but hard like a diamond and had little warmth for her Jean de Brienne, Shkylarov.

I wouldn't have guessed this, because they had lots of chemistry in the "Little Humpbacked Horse" when they performed it at the Met on tour about five years ago.

Abderakhman just isn't Abderakhman unless Taranda is dancing it, and he danced the Bolshoi version. Thankfully, we have the DVD's of that.

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I saw the Skorik Raymonda Friday night and will see the other two casts on Sunday. Skorik was technically clean, has a gorgeous arabesque, and had lovely carriage and ports de bras that extended beautifully into space, but there was no poetry, no attempt to vary her facial expressions, really no emotion expressed at all. She is obviously very well coached and careful in everything she does. You can see her thinking everything through as she executes the choreography. She was strongest in the first act, or maybe I'm saying that because, after the first act, her lack of expression made her uninteresting to me. I am familiar with different versions of Raymonda and enjoy seeing this ballet for the way it displays the ballerina's capabilities, for better or for worse. I agree with ksk04 that Skorik has grown, as she displays more authority technically and in stage presence than shown in her Swan Lake a few seasons ago. She gave an honest performance and will undoubtedly continue to improve, so I look forward to seeing her in another few years.

I loved Batoeva and watched her constantly when she was on stage, as she has beautiful port de bras and genuine loveliness emanated from her, plus she is musical. She has an inner light and belongs on the stage.

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I would love to see Batoeva created prima ballerina one day, but suspect she's too good to climb the Kirov heights.

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One of the many problems I have with Skorik is that she only has one facial expression - sullen.

I feel the same way. I do think she has "improved" as reviewers have said above, but I still find a lack of artistry in her dancing and acting. I feel Novikova, Osmolkina, and Kolegova deserve the rank much more. They have saved the day and jumped in for cancellations, but they get no reward. I do not see what Fateyev sees in her.

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Thanks everyone for these personal reviews - I just couldn't make it myself this year. (And the fact that the ballet was Raymonda didn't help.)

I'm as mystified about the Skorik ascendancy as I am about U.S. politics. ;)

When I heard the news, my first thought was, "Oh to be a fly on the wall at Mariisnky right now". But now I'm thinking that the conversations would be simply depressing.

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Josette, I look forward to hearing about A. Matvienko and how she compares to Skorik or Tereshkina. If it was a less busy weekend, I would have gotten tickets to see her as well.

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I was present, in my usual way up front seat, for the Saturday night performance of Raymonda. While I can't make dancer-specific comments with good overview and perspective, as many of you have done, I feel I should make some remarks because, as I've mentioned elsewhere, I have strong reason to believe that Raymonda appeared here, premiering on the West Coast, specifically because a letter of mine to the management about two years ago mentioned not only it but also everything else on this season's regular roster (meaning "not Nutcracker," which is an optional add-on); at least, if this was a coincidence, it's the most remarkable one I've ever heard of. I was thus personally pleased to see this rarity in its full length, and indeed liked Act II--enthusiastically--with its exciting diversity much better than what one usually sees from the show, the pas de dix from Act III. About Oxana Skorik, I defer to the opinions of earlier posters; I came away with the impression that she danced beautifully while not feeling the part; but I laid that to the nature of the show (see below). Andrei Yermakov made a noble and handsome Jean de Brienne without the part giving him ample opportunity to dominate. Yuri Smekalov reveled in the lustful sneakiness which mediaeval times characteristically invested in Saracens; exacting technique such as his can too easily be camouflaged by the grand gestures required by such character roles. The show's various friends and troubadours were without exception wonderful, focused and invested in their roles; the various national dances were nothing but thrilling; the corps faultless as always; and I was especially charmed by the children's dances.

Raymonda does not offer the emotional impact of shows such as Giselle, Swan Lake, La Sylphide, or indeed even Coppelia. It is a show of atmospheric moods and tone, not of character development. We are immediately plunged into a mediaeval ethos, and the attitude and action of the work is best digested from this viewpoint. The original's inclusion of the supernatural White Lady would serve to enhance this mediaeval mind-set; its exclusion thus weakens the show's dramatic underpinning. Glazunov's music, while good enough, especially in the ethnic or character dances, does not seem to me to be deeply felt; rather, while it often seems to echo Tchaikovsky, it seems to be echoing a Tchaikovsky having an off day. All of this, I feel, is why one leaves the theater less touched with Raymonda than one is accustomed to be after seeing an acknowledged classic ballet, its unfamiliarity also militating against it.

I had no problem with the clouds per se as the audience is taken into Raymonda's dream; but the length of this passage, combined with the fact that the audience was unfamiliar with it, seemed to be sparking discomfort in the audience as if something had gone awry in the scene change. This--and I try to keep my finger on the pulse of the audience--had a shadow effect in that it distracted audience members with a notion that there would be further such interludes in the show. We have all been to dance performances in which part of the show is for the dancers to come down into the audience and drag audience members onstage; when this happens, the audience remains wary for the rest of the performance that this usually unwelcome development might happen again, and so distracts from the presentation. Same with this segue into Raymonda's dream (though less worrisome). The audience likes to know what to expect, and then likes to have its expectation fulfilled!

While much of the above is of the nature of general remarks on Raymonda, rather than remarks specific to the performance, these elements played their part Saturday night. The audience members who remained to the end of this delightfully long ballet were enthusiastic in their standing ovation; but, between acts--especially after Act I--we lost more than I would have anticipated. Were Raymonda more familiar, were its special and varied charms and serene sophistication more securely placed in the minds and experience of the less cosmopolitan ballet-goer, the greater familiarity would, I am certain, engender exponentially a fuller and warmer appreciation of this ballet. Much as the ripe genius of Verdi pervades his late opera Falstaff, a masterpiece though of a difference sort than the early Rigoletto, so do I sense the ripe and consummate genius of Petipa in Raymonda, still achieving choreographic wonders of the highest level as his career neared its unwilling end. Raymonda is magnificence; it is a magnificence that the audience member has to prepare to live up to. That is what I saw on Saturday night.

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Hopefully Shapran will be the next principal at the MT.

I try not to give too much weight to this sort of thing, but I do think that this may be the case, Natalia. A great performance is a great performance and a great artist is a great artist no matter what the title.

I saw several of this weekend's Raymondas and perhaps the finest performance was the very brief Clemence solo yesterday by Kristina Shapran. It was breathtaking.

I bought tickets before the casts were announced and they consisted of two nights in a row featuring Oxana Skorik and one featuring Anastasia Matvienko as the ballerinas. Oxana Skorik was artistically magnificent showing remarkable command and maturity. Congratulations to her.

All in all it was a real pleasure once again to see the remarkable artistry and feel the warmth of this great group of artists.

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Absolutely agree MadameP, awful news. It doesn't make any sense. To your list of three I would also add Matvienko; all four deserve to be promoted way before Skorik. Maybe I am wrong, but who ever goes to see a ballet just because Skorik is in it if they have a choice? As oppose to Osmolkina for example, I would go to a great length to rearrange my schedule to get a chance to see her performing. Oh well...

It's a shame. Not that Skorik is bad. Now that she's gained some confidence, she's really improved and I would say she's better than any ABT ballerina except Gillian. Still Osmolkina, Novikova and Kolegova are much stronger, more compelling dancers. It's clear that, for some reason, Fataeyev just hates Vaganova trained dancers. He is doing everything to keep them in the corps (except for Shapran and Batoeva). I'm hoping hard working Ermakov gets promoted soon.

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For anyone still deciding whether to attend the Mariinsky in LA, from Facebook:

Special FLASH SALE! Before the clock strikes midnight tonight, use promo code 27887 to get 50%* off tickets to the Friday night and Saturday Matinee performances of The Mariinsky Ballet & Orchestra performing Ratmansky's Cinderella!

Get it now: http://bit.ly/1P0QEfK

*50% off valid for Friday, October 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 10 at 2:00 p.m. performances only in the following sections: Main Orchestra, Premier Founders, Main Founders, Front Orchestra Ring and Orchestra Ring only. Other restrictions may apply. No refunds, cancellations or exchanges. Offer expires on Wednesday, Septmber 30 at 11:59 p.m. If you have any questions, please call the box office at (213) 972-0711, Mon-Sat, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

:wallbash: Had my tickets already.

FYI This would be for the A. Matvienko (Fri) and Shapran (Sat mat) casts.

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It's a shame. Not that Skorik is bad. Now that she's gained some confidence, she's really improved and I would say she's better than any ABT ballerina except Gillian. Still Osmolkina, Novikova and Kolegova are much stronger, more compelling dancers. It's clear that, for some reason, Fataeyev just hates Vaganova trained dancers. He is doing everything to keep them in the corps (except for Shapran and Batoeva). I'm hoping hard working Ermakov gets promoted soon.

Better than Veronika Part?

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Better than Veronika Part?

I don't see Veronika much but IMO Skorik is, at this point, technically stronger (I never thought I'd be saying that) and definitely has a much nicer line. Skorik still needs to build up her confidence, though, and begin to learn how to act. Still her improvement over the past years is remarkable. And because of these things and her training, yes, I think she's probably better than Veronika.

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The Mariinsky presented its matinee of “Cinderella” this afternoon in Los Angeles with 1st Soloists Kristina Shapran and Konstantin Zverev. I’ve seen several ballerinas essay Ratmansky’s heroine since its creation on Diana Vishneva in 2002. After Ratmansky’s first Cinderella, dancers such as Natalia Sologub, Daria Pavlenko, Ekaterina Osmolkina, and Bolshoi prima Evgenia Obraztsova, have each put their own personal stamp on this role. This was Ratmansky’s first draft on this subject, the Austrailian Ballet having mounted his latest adaptation a few years ago. The first Ratmansky version is not one of my favorites. I prefer traditional stagings, such as Ashton’s, or Sir Peter Wright productions, (by the former), for the Royal Ballet, ABT, and the Joffrey, and for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, by the latter. The Dutch National Ballet recently offered it's version following the theme from the Rossini opera “La Cerentola.”

Of the other Russian versions, there's the set aside Konstantin Sergeyev version which used to be danced by the Mariinsky/Kirov, (in 2002 for the Vaganova Academy graduation performance). There is also the original Bolshoi Theatre 1945 production, (1961 film available on dvd), and former Kirov Artistic Director, Oleg Vinogradov’s production, (which premiered in Novosibirsk Theatre in the 1960s, played at the Maly – Mussorgsky, now Mikhailovsky Theatre in Petersburg in the 1970s), and now holds court at both the Tchaikovsky Theatre in Perm and the Stanislavsky Theatre in Moscow. Vladimir Vasiliev’s version, one of the final creations he made on his late wife Ekaterina Maximova in the early 1990s, is in the repertory of the Kremlin Ballet. These are all traditional productions but Soviet in style. The Bolshoi also has Yuri Possukhov’s version, created in the 2000s for Svetlana Zakharova in it’s repertory. That version was a production for the New Russia of the early 21st century. In many respects this Mariinsky production is too. For Petersburgers, Ratmansky’s version was (and is) a new way of looking at a familiar fairy tale, and that’s precisely how the Mariinsky dancers dance it.

This afternoon, Kristina Shapran delivered a very promising, straight forward, and lyrical interpretation of the title role. In the beginning, Shapran got off to a very tentative start. What she wanted to convey in Act 1 in her mind’s eye was reflected in her soft releves, arabesques and clearly delineated pointe work. The intricate solo monologues were well executed. Specifically, Shapran has all of the necessary equipment; however, what she needs to do now (in Act 1), is project more emotion. The steps are already there; it’s the story and how the heroine’s body “tells” it that needs to come out. This production requires an animated dance actress, someone who can flesh out Ratmansky’s monologues on a bare stage with scaffolding, chairs and stairs as props. In Act 2 when she met her Prince, Konstantin Zverev, Shapran came alive. Here is where the story, the romance, and everything cooked. Zverev was absolutely wonderful, from his entrance to the end he was every inch The Prince, and he partnered Shapran with the utmost care, giving her dream quality support. This Prince was in love at first site with his Cinderella. The Grand Waltz, the pas de deux, the various adages showed how well matched they were in temperament. There’s c-h-e-m-i-s-t-r-y between these two dancers. Throughout Acts 2 & 3 they danced as one. It was one of those rare occaisions with this particular production, that knowing full well what was coming next, I was riveted. The audience rose out of their seats at final curtain. I’d like to put in a plug: Zverev will be dancing Siegfried for Shapran’s upcoming debut as Odette/Odile on 22 October in Petersburg. Suffice it to say, this event could be big…

The supporting cast included Sofia Gumerova as the Stepmother, stepsisters Margarita Frolova as Khudishka, Anna Lavrinenko as Kubishka, and Andrei Yakovlev as the Father. They all danced as Team Dysfunctional Family throughout. They were each fully committed to the farce, and the comedy beats in the choregraphy were well timed to seem as if spontaneous. The four seasons were Vasily Tkachenko (Spring), Alexei Popv (Summer), Konstantin Ivkin (Autumn), and Andrei Soloviev (Winter). They each did a superlative job. I haven’t seen this prolonged pas de quatre danced so enthusiastically in years. The sensuous Dance Teachers were Victoria Brilyeva and Yuri Smekalov. Brilyeva in particular made the most of her first appearance in Act 1’s Dancing Lesson. For a moment she almost stole Cinderella’s thunder. Smekalov and Brilyeva danced their ball scene with a liberal dose of slapstick. Cinderella's mother was lovingly and fleetingly portrayed by Elena Bazhenova, and Lubov Kozharskaya toddled about, severly bent over, as the Fairy Tramp. The Act 1 Hairdressers (and Act 3’s “Searchers”), Oleg Demchenko, Fedor Murashov and Denis Zainetdinov, gesticulated and strutted about effectively. During the Prince’s search, Diana Smirnova and none other than Islom Baimuradov did the honors of the Female Dance and Male Dance respectively. The Mariinsky corps de ballet executed Ratmansky’s ballroom dances with grace, synchronization, precision and finesse. At the beginning of Act 2, even the Elbow March and the Conga Line looked elegant this afternoon. Nadezhda Batoeva and Vladimir Shklyarov lead the cast tonight, and the Mariinsky’s engagement closes tomorrow evening with Anastasia Matvienko and Filipp Stepin at the helm. On the whole, this is a production that you either like or don't like; love or hate. I think that multiple Michelin Star winning Executive Chef Gordon Ramsay said it best: “Don’t blame the waiter. He serves the dish - he didn’t prepare it. It’s not the waiter’s fault; it’s the chef in the kitchen.” I’ll leave it at that.

The Music Corner: Gavriel Heine conducted this fiendishly difficult to interpret Prokofiev score at the top of his lungs, so to speak. He pulled the Mariinsky Orchestra up with him into the stratosphere and fully realized the story as "told" in the composition. At the end of Act 2 the brass and percussion sections were particularly bombastic and vivid in depicting the bell tolling midnight. Heine was in simpatico with Shapran and Zverev.

I have rarely heard this score so well played and paced IRL. Quite simply, the pit sounded divine: I can't peck it.

Bravi Mariinsky!

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BAM has just announced their winter season and Mariinsky will be performing in February.

http://www.bam.org/media/4810305/2016-winter-spring-full-season-press-release_FINAL.pdf

BAM and the Mariinsky present
The Mariinsky at BAM
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Musical direction by Valery Gergiev
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave)
Feb 24—27 at 7:30pm, Feb 28 at 7pm
Folk, Form, and Fire: The Prokofiev Piano Concertos (Feb 24)
Tickets: $35, 65, 95, 125;
A Tribute to Maya Plisetskaya (Feb 25—28)
Tickets: $35, 70, 110, 150, 175
(Ticket prices subject to change after Nov 29)
For the second year in a row, the renowned Mariinsky Theatre presents a combination of music and ballet programs at BAM that showcase its rich Russian heritage: a Prokofiev marathon and four distinct ballet programs dedicated to Maya Plisetskaya, one of the greatest ballerinas of the Soviet era who died last May. The Mariinsky at BAM begins on Feb 24 with a momentous music event: four pianists including Sergei Babayan, Alexander Toradze, Sergey Redkin (and one to be announced) will tackle all five Prokofiev piano concertos in chronological order, conducted by Mariinsky’s Artistic Director Valery Gergiev in one marathon concert. The orchestra also accompanies two reigning prima ballerinas—Diana Vishneva and Ulyana Lopatkina—in some of their favorite dances (Feb 25—28), including Woman in a Room and Dying Swan. Gergiev pays a special tribute to Plisetskaya when he conducts Ravel’s Bolero to her filmed performance on February 25.

No more details but same period as the Kennedy Center Raymonda.

Lopatkina and VIshneva will be in this performance at BAM.

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Sadly few details about the content of the programs, or even which ballerina will appear on which night. It's like putting together a pot luck dinner but charging caviar prices. Lopatkina and Vishneva are certainly "caviar" level artists, but it's inappropriate for BAM to provide so little information at these prices.

Is there a video anywhere of Woman in a Room?

My idea of attending a ballet performance does not include watching old films clips as a significant part of the program.

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Is there a video anywhere of Woman in a Room?

I can't remember if I wrote about it when I saw it, but it was not worth a lot of money. I would hope they put some really substantial work on the program in addition.

At the end she cuts up lemons and distributes them to the front row or so while some folk-ish music plays. So those who like to sit in the front may be in for a surprise.

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Thanks. You've confirmed my suspicion that I have no interest in seeing it. And what does this work have to do with paying tribute to Plisetskaya? Anything? Or just a false advertising game?

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Thanks. You've confirmed my suspicion that I have no interest in seeing it. And what does this work have to do with paying tribute to Plisetskaya? Anything? Or just a false advertising game?

I think you're absolutely right, abatt, this does suspiciously sound like another 'lemon' (pun intended) cooked up by Ardani Artists: a program with probably 30-40 minutes of dancing, underrehearsed, underproduced and ridiculously overpriced.

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Maybe Vishneva should hand out refunds instead of lemons.

There is a perception that her adoring fan base will follow her in whatever projects she wants to do based on her history as a great ballerina. Some will follow her in whatever she wants to do. But for me that wore thin a long time ago, and I quit going to Vishneva's Ardani shows because they were awful. It's clear that she is moving further and further from ballet. She's only doing 2 performances during ABT's 8 week season. She has also given up on the Ratmansky SB after one season.

It will be interesting to see how these BAM engagements sell.

It seems like BAM realized it hit the lottery last season when the Mariinsky visited, and now they are trying to ride the wave of that financial success by presenting these programs.

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NYC fans of the Mariinsky Ballet would be more satisfied by taking the Megabus to DC on that weekend and seeing Raymonda at the Kenn Cen. The r/t bus ticket, local transport & a 2nd Tier sides matinee ballet ticket might be cheaper than a ticket to the BAM Maya tribute for three minutes of Lopatkina in Dying Swan danced on a tiny space in front of an orchestra...let alone having to sit through more Vishneva Eurotrash. Save money and see 3 hours (not 3 minutes) of real ballet in DC, with the orchestra in the pit and the dancers on a proper stage.

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Does Ardani represent the Mariinsky Ballet on all tours and negotiate with venues?

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