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Summer 2014 NYC & Saratoga Tour

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Kretova had prior experience as Kitri at the Kremlin Ballet and the Stanislavsky, which undoubtedly made her integration into the Bolshoi's production much easier. And Bolshoi casting can be very funny. Some dancers seem to perform certain roles only on tour. That Alexandrova, Smirnova and Ovcharenko hadn't danced their roles all season in Moscow (understandable in Alexandrova's case) was no impediment to their casting for New York.

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Are you saying this was Smirnova's first SL? I'm sure I've seen her do on YT (maybe it wasn't filmed in Moscow though).

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I've been searching YouTube for those amazing Krysanova fouettes. You don't really get a sense here of the excitement (or even the speed) we saw in both her Don Q and SL, but it's close. At the Don Q, it seemed to me the conductor was trying to keep up with her. At the SL, he just gave up and she went her own way:

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Both Krysanova at the matinee and Kretova in the evening gave us plenty of "guilty pleasures," for which Kitri is well known. The running fishdives at the beginning of Act II were amazing at the matinee; she started in the far corner, ran fast and threw herself from an amazing distance, twice. Kretova was more cautious, only traversing half the stage, and throwing herself with caution.

Kretova showed us lots of long, long amazing balances. In one especially long pose in the PdD in Act III, Lobukhin was at the ready to put hand on waist, but she kept holding that balance. He shrugged his shoulders, looked at the audience, as if to say: "how amazing is she!" That got a laugh. I don't know if that was spontaneous or rehearsed, but it was great fun.

Krysanova's speed and precision in turns was amazing throughout. She also had the best Plisetskaya leap.

Interestingly, both omitted the Italian fouettes in the dream sequence on Wednesday. Alexandrova had done three the night before.

Both pairs on Wednesday seemed to be having so much fun, great chemistry. What a joy to have seen this.

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I saw all three casts. The lead men (Basilio) were terrific in all three casts. My favorite of the three Kitris was Krysanova. Kretova had some very fine moments, but there was an overall lack of polish which I assume will improve with additional performances in the role. Most disappointing was Alexandrova. Although she had fun with the characterization, the diminshment of her technique was evident. Time and injury are taking their toll.

All of the character dancers were fabulous.

As noted above, on the night Alexandrova performed I too wished that our Kitri was Tikhemerova.

Nikulina's Dryad Queen was disappointing. Smironova was wonderfully lyrical as Dryad Queen.

Next up is Spartacus. I saw Vasiliev do the role a few years ago at the KC. Will any of the men on the tour measure up to my memory of Vasiliev? We'll see.

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Both Krysanova at the matinee and Kretova in the evening gave us plenty of "guilty pleasures," for which Kitri is well known. The running fishdives at the beginning of Act II were amazing at the matinee; she started in the far corner, ran fast and threw herself from an amazing distance, twice. Kretova was more cautious, only traversing half the stage, and throwing herself with caution.

Kretova showed us lots of long, long amazing balances. In one especially long pose in the PdD in Act III, Lobukhin was at the ready to put hand on waist, but she kept holding that balance. He shrugged his shoulders, looked at the audience, as if to say: "how amazing is she!" That got a laugh. I don't know if that was spontaneous or rehearsed, but it was great fun.

Krysanova's speed and precision in turns was amazing throughout. She also had the best Plisetskaya leap.

Interestingly, both omitted the Italian fouettes in the dream sequence on Wednesday. Alexandrova had done three the night before.

Both pairs on Wednesday seemed to be having so much fun, great chemistry. What a joy to have seen this.

What a difference a night and a ballet can make! At last the company looked energized and seemingly were having a whole lot of fun in this crazy ballet! During "SL" everyone looked like they had been lobotomized. Here there was much to admire on all fronts; I agree with the previous posts. I especially was fond of Kretova's "go for it attitude". Her extraordinary balances aside (and they were pretty amazing!), I found her to be the sunniest, just happy to be dancing for you gal in this role. Also thought Lobukhin was a perfect foil for her. Good looking, funny, a nifty actor, he also came through (well, mostly) with some strong technical stuff. I think the one arm lifts didn't always register because he's a "lefty", and his free arm didn't always get behind him enough for the audience to actually see it. It always was a bit obscured by Kitri's flouncy dress. He had just the right amount of "take a look at this" attitude without seeming arrogant. I'd love to see him again. Anna Nikulina was again barely passable as Queen of the Dryads, which didn't surprise me, as she was sort of DOA in her "Swan Lake" last week. I sat up a bit straighter for the lovely Ana Turazashvili as the second variation dancer. She reminds me of a taller Nina Ananishvili. Beautiful long legs and upper body. And that face! I had also noticed her in "SL" as one of the three "big swans". I see she's just in the corps,but I think she's possibly a comer. Anyone know anything about her? All the Spanish dancers were outstanding, as was Rodkin as Espada. This is a joyous production of this war horse! Speaking of which, I see "Spartacus " on Sunday!

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Anyone know anything about her?

Ana Turazashvili was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. She trained in Tbilisi and Moscow, after which she joined the State Ballet of Georgia in 2007. She joined the Bolshoi in 2009. Her roles include Moyna, Prayer, Princess Florine and the Silver Fairy, the third Shade, the first Odalisque and all three sections of Jewels, including the Emeralds trio, which she danced on film.

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I went to the Wednesday night Don Q and thought it was a terrific performance. I agree about much of what has been previously said about the performance. Kretova and Lobukhin had great chemistry, as did Espada and Mercedes. I thought Rodkin was a particularly thrilling Espada. I also loved his Evil Genius in Swan Lake.

But why was Rodkin missing from the last act? The dancer playing Espada in Act III and at the curtain calls was definitely not Rodkin. The woman next to us noticed the change as well. I hope he is okay as I am really looking forward to his Spartacus on Saturday night.

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Rodkin was not supposed to be in Act 3. It was a Bolero Dance-different cast vs Espada. The casting within the program was VERY DIFFICULT to figure out and trace who's who.

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The wedding party in this version occurs in the Duke's palace, so there are no guests from the street scene . That's why Espada is absent, as well as Kitri's friends. So there is no reason to worry about Rod'kin. Hope he'll be convincing as Spartacus , despite the lack of experience in this role. Lobukhin was quite impressive in the performance shown in the cinemas last autumn. Enjoy!

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I saw all three Don Qs and found them very enjoyable - I did think that each cast had strengths and weaknesses; but Wednesday especially the whole company lit up every inch of the stage during matinee and evening. I have already written about Smirnova's Queen of the Dryads--I liked it even more Wed afternoon....

Minor notes--I allow they may even seem quibbles when the dancing is so much fun...Alexandrova, Krysanova, and Kretova all seem to perform their fouettes with low legs--Alexandrova and Kretova from beginning to end. Krysanova at least begins with a higher leg, for example, in the doubles (I thought they were doubles) with which she began her sequence in Don Q, only decidedly lowering the leg when she switched to singles and, simultaneously, picked up more and more speed. I'm not a fan of this look, but at least with Krysanova we get the blazing speed as a pay off. With the others not really - I just have to write it off as a "Bolshoi" thing...Krysanova also offered the most brilliant line of pirouettes down the diagonal at the end of her big Act I solo, moving with stunning speed AND covering space (getting all the way downstage, to the end of the line of the cape wielders--something Kretova did not quite manage, and Alexandrova even less). But she was strangely lacking in charisma until she turned it on for the pas de deux--with Alexandrova you never doubt for a second that you are watching a prima ballerina and I actually preferred Kretova to Krysanova in the vision scene.

In the pas de deux Krysanova and Chudin were decidedly my favorites of the three casts I saw--the smoothest of the three in the adagio, wonderfully well matched too in their lines, very noticeable when they jumped next to each other. For me they were also the most satisfying in their variations. She, again, dazzled with lightning speed--but remaining always playful and confident; and he got more air in his big jumps than the other men and, at the same time, had a certain elegance. (Though Lantratov and Lobukhin of course were also very fine.) Kretova's balances were I think without exception wobbly; she stayed up there but you could see her working to do so. Viengsay Valdes she's not, though perhaps one day....I do agree that her sunny personality was a pleasure throughout. (I also very much enjoyed her dancing in the Swan Lake pas de trois.)

Of the three leading men, I thought Lobukhin seemed the only really natural Basilio (ironically, since he is the Mariinsky dancer)--the fire and fun fitting him like a glove; but his dancing in Act III was a little less consistently dazzling than I expected. Both Chudin and Lantratov seemed like quality male dancers performing Basilio skillfully, but perhaps not naturals as Basilio in quite the same way. Lantratov had the most supple back of the three men which was a pleasure; Chudin rather cleverly made his ramrod straight back part of his dance-characterization and his Basilio was all shooting legs, but I think he may be more patrician than plebe...(I was smitten with his Siegfried about which I may try to write later.)

In some ways, Rodkin is the one male dancer in Don Quixote who I felt gave an unabashed, over-the-top - in a good way - "star" performance and of course one can't tell from Espada what kind of classical dancer he is. But can he go for broke wielding a cape and look dashing - to put it politely - while doing so? A resounding "yes" from this happy fan.

I loved every single one of the character dances in every single cast, and I thought the quality of the classical variations was for the most part at least good--better with Tikhomirova. Unfortunately, I have been disappointed in Nikulina--except for the liquid bourrees in Swan Lake (bourrees I remember from seeing her dance "prayer" in Coppelia a few years back) and some charming light jumps as Queen of the Dryads, I have found her really undistinguished for someone who is being featured so prominently. Vinogradova, Alizade, and the dancers doing the three big dryads (also for some casts I think these dancers were the three big swans) I have enjoyed...program is packed away or I would type in their names along with some other dancers.

All in all, Don Q made for a very jolly occasion--and the big ensemble character dances in Acts I and III, and the gypsy dancing in Act II will be with me for a long time.

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I saw Don Quixote on Wednesday night and it was a really excellent performance. The corps and the character dancers were probably the best part - great technique and synchronization. The orchestra was also wonderful. I miss Russian ballet orchestras so much. It was good to be reminded of how great they are. I thought Kretova made a good Kitri - I was actually a little underwhelmed in the first act, but by the end she was on fire. She had excellent chemistry with Lobukhin, who was the comedic as well as athletic star of the production. I have a full review on my blog. http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2014/07/don-quixote-szaharova-mlobukhin.html

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Rodkin was not supposed to be in Act 3. It was a Bolero Dance-different cast vs Espada. The casting within the program was VERY DIFFICULT to figure out and trace who's who.

The wedding party in this version occurs in the Duke's palace, so there are no guests from the street scene . That's why Espada is absent, as well as Kitri's friends. So there is no reason to worry about Rod'kin. Hope he'll be convincing as Spartacus , despite the lack of experience in this role. Lobukhin was quite impressive in the performance shown in the cinemas last autumn. Enjoy!

Whew! Thank you YID and ina!! I was so confused!

I had hoped to see Lobukhin as Spartacus, but I didn’t want to wait for casting to be announced before buying my tickets. At least I was lucky enough to see Lobukhin as Basillio. I loved Rodkin as the Evil Genius and Espada so I am hoping his Spartacus is exciting. Of course the role of Spartacus is in another league. Fingers crossed!

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There is a short YouTube snippet of Rodkin and Vinogradova's April 2013 debuts as Spartacus and Phrygia taken by an amateur in the audience. I was particularly impressed by Vinogradova who appears to be well cast in this role and frankly, wish she were dancing in the first cast instead of Nikulina, which is pretty much an identical casting as the most recent Bolshoi cinecast with the exception of Volchkov (seen in the Acosta 2008 DVD) instead of Lantratov as Crassus. On the other hand I wouldn't want to miss Zakharova's Aegina. Decisions, decisions.

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I watched the first two performances of Don Quixote, and I liked both of them very much. While it's certainly fair to say that Alexandrova no longer has the elevation she used to have, I found her performance the superior of the two. Krysanova was able to jump higher, spin faster, and eat up more space, yet Alexandrova was more natural, more radiant, and had better chemistry with her Basilio. Her Act III variation was brilliant. Olga Smirnova was a beautiful Queen of the Dryads in both performances. Both Maria Vinogradova and especially Anna Tikhomirova were great in the first variation in the Grand Pas, and I also liked Ana Turazashvili very much in the second variation on Tuesday night. Denis Rod'kin was an electrifying Toreador on Tuesday, but some of his gestures during his Tavern Scene variation were unintentionally funny. Vitaly Biktimirov did not make the funny gestures on Wednesday and was an overall more refined Toreador, but then he didn't have Rod'kin's amplitude, conviction, and abandon.

For the Wednesday matinee, the back of the Fourth Ring was occupied by a large group of kids in T-shirts with inscription "Dance Theater of Harlem". The kids happily squealed and furiously applauded after every bit of pyrotechnics---and there were many, especially from Krysanova!

All things considered, this production is decent, but I doubt that a great production of Don Quixote is humanly possible. It's a pity that Lincoln Center Festival and the Bolshoi decided to showcase such great artists in such inferior ballets. Perhaps next time they can bring some more interesting repertory.

Bolshoi's season is over for me, as I'm traveling the rest of the week and therefore skipping Spartacus. After two Swan Lakes and two Don Quixotes, the major revelation for me is still Olga Smirnova's Odette and Odile. She single-handedly breathed life, warmth, drama, and poetry into a helpless production. One can only hope that she will come back to New York soon and frequently.

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There is a short YouTube snippet of Rodkin and Vinogradova's April 2013 debuts as Spartacus and Phrygia taken by an amateur in the audience. I was particularly impressed by Vinogradova who appears to be well cast in this role and frankly, wish she were dancing in the first cast instead of Nikulina, which is pretty much an identical casting as the most recent Bolshoi cinecast with the exception of Volchkov (seen in the Acosta 2008 DVD) instead of Lantratov as Crassus. On the other hand I wouldn't want to miss Zakharova's Aegina. Decisions, decisions.

Yes, I agree about Vinogradova! I can't wait to see her on Saturday! Thank you for posting!

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If anybody managed to get tickets to this event with Sergei Filin, you'll have to tell us about it:

Events Related to Bolshoi

Discussion with Sergei Filin

Wednesday, July 23 at 6:00

Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse

A discussion with Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, and former New York Times chief dance critic Anna Kisselgoff will take place at 6:00 in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. This ticketed event is free and open to the public. Please reserve your tickets in advance. NOTE: Tickets will be will call only. Will call opens at the venue one hour prior to the event. Tickets are valid until 15 minutes prior to the event, at which point they will be released to the stand-by line. Seating is general admission on a first-come, first-served basis.

SOLD OUT

Meanwhile, add this to my list of complaints with the management of the Lincoln Center Festival. I first learned about this in an e-mail as I was getting ready to board a plane home from NYC. I tried to grab a ticket via my Smartphone, but their site wouldn't accept the Friends code they had sent. By the time I got home and could try again on a regular computer, it was "sold out." For special events like this, especially those that will go quickly, we should get a "heads-up" e-mail at least a few days before tickets become available. I guess that didn't occur to the LCF staff.

I went and had no problem getting a stand-by ticket. The venue was only 65% full, there were more no-shows than people showing up for stand-by tickets.

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Denis Rod'kin was an electrifying Toreador on Tuesday, but some of his gestures during his Tavern Scene variation were unintentionally funny.

I'm just curious. Do you remember what exactly he did?

After two Swan Lakes and two Don Quixotes, the major revelation for me is still Olga Smirnova's Odette and Odile. She single-handedly breathed life, warmth, drama, and poetry into a helpless production. One can only hope that she will come back to New York soon and frequently.

Sounds amazing! Thanks for posting!

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Denis Rod'kin was an electrifying Toreador on Tuesday, but some of his gestures during his Tavern Scene variation were unintentionally funny.

I'm just curious. Do you remember what exactly he did?

Obviously, I can't answer this for Ilya, but for my two cents I was also a little unsure of his performance Wednesday night. It was fun, but for the first time ever I thought, "Wow, maybe you can overdo Don Quixote." I thought his gestures with the cloak were a little much, like he had been tangled in a sheet and was trying to get out of it.

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Denis Rod'kin was an electrifying Toreador on Tuesday, but some of his gestures during his Tavern Scene variation were unintentionally funny.

I'm just curious. Do you remember what exactly he did?

Obviously, I can't answer this for Ilya, but for my two cents I was also a little unsure of his performance Wednesday night. It was fun, but for the first time ever I thought, "Wow, maybe you can overdo Don Quixote." I thought his gestures with the cloak were a little much, like he had been tangled in a sheet and was trying to get out of it.

I was also at Wednesday night’s Don Q. I didn’t think Rodkin overdid it with the cape, nor did I see him get tangled in it. He was sensational! It was all done with skill and style. Jared Matthews (who I have seen as Espada many times) gave a similar execution with his cape during one of his final performances with ABT, and it was equally fun to watch.

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Just came back from Spartacus. This was my first time seeing the entire ballet live and it was a lot of fun. I (and much of the audience) found parts of it a little campy and started laughing (some of the male corps scenes with the Roman outfits and sword). However, an acquaintance of mine who was born in Moscow didn't understand the laughter and was a bit offended. (I tried to explain that for Americans, some Grigorovich can be a little over the top).

I thought Lobukhin was really fantastic as Spartacus. All his dancing was terrific but the PDD in Act 3 was spectacular. He held Nikulina (Phrygia) high aloft in 1 hand and did a huge circle around the stage with her. A little circus like but still thrilling. Volchkov was very impressive as well. His triple tours were perfect and he did a great job of portraying the powerful Roman leader. For her part, I thought Zakharova did a very good job with the role of Aegina (and I'm no fan of hers). She finally came alive in the role and did some acting, showing cunning and sensuality. Her lines are fantastic, she still has great flexibility and what gorgeous feet! She does, however, have a rather annoying tendency (as Macauley noted in his Times review of Swan Lake) to be conducting the audience during bows. (And the audience only gave a standing ovation when Lobukhin finally came out to take his bow). These are also very skimpy costumes and Zakharova looks rather emaciated. For her part Nikulina was more than adequate as Phrygia. She has a long solo in Act 1 and I was impressed by her stamina (though not the actual dancing so much). She also got through the Act 3 PDD without a hitch and the audience gasped when she righted herself while being held high by Lobukhin.

Tomorrow will return to see the 2nd cast of Spartacus. We'll see how they compare.

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I was at the July 25th performance, too and came out of the theater absolutely elated. Until tonight I haven't seen Spartacus live in many years and didn't even realize how much I missed it. For me, it is definitely one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) ballet of the XX century, and nobody does it like the Bolshoi.

Of the four principals, I thought Nikulina was the weakest link, although technically they were all amazing (as were the comprimarios and the corps). Volchkov did OK, Lopukhin was outstanding, and Zakharova gave a performance for the ages. Her lines, her drive, her perfectionism, her sense of the drama - probably, the best Aegina ever. Definitely, the scariest and the most arachna-like one:)

Overall, a tremendous night at the ballet - I feel truly privileged to having been there.

Unfortunately, I don't have tickets for tomorrow. Would love to compare casts, so will be eagerly awaiting the reports from others.

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I also saw Spartacus tonight. It was my first time seeing the ballet live, also my first time in 4th ring, which I thought was an interesting perspective versus the view you get from the DVD and cinecast. I actually wasn't that impressed overall, and I didn't think it was a better experience than watching it on video, which I enjoyed a lot more. One point, it sounds silly but when you are higher up you see the patterns more clearly and a lot of the times the formations weren't lined up very precisely which created a sloppy look (though I recognize Spartacus isn't exactly the Bayadère white act, you'd still hope for more impressive formations especially in a militaristic ballet). If viewing on a flatter plane in orchestra or 1st ring I think I'd probably overlook this.

Also I thought Lobukhin and Nikulina outdid Volchkov and Zakharova tonight, Lobukhin was outstanding and Nikulina definitely exceeded my expectations. The famous Act 3 pdd (as also seen in my last video post) was done very well and had me sitting on the edge of my seat (though pretty much the only scene that really captivated my interest). From the distance I felt strangely apathetic to all of the Crassus/Aegina scenes, and Zakharova seemed to be holding back in her performance, often even seeming "matronly", as well as having a bit of an off night with the jumps vs. the cinecast. I think I'd describe a lot of these moments as having a lot of sexuality without much sensuality or eroticism from a distance, which was very boring, especially the Act 3 seduction scene with the traitors, it dragged on way too long. The ensemble dancing/battle scenes were sometimes interesting, although again marred by the problem I previously described.

Finally, upon some reflection I don't know that I find the story that compelling, and the rigid and sequential ABC structure of the ballet (bad guy does bad things to good guy, good guy exacts revenge on bad guy but is merciful, bad guy comes back and punishes good guy despite his earlier mercy), together with its unsophisticated binary division between good and evil, doesn't exactly leave a strong emotional impact. The score, while noted for its pulse-racing energy, is also relatively monotonic and unmemorable over a 3-hour horizon (Swan Lake it is not). As cheesy as it sounds, I'd rather re-watch Russell Crowe's "Gladiator" than the Bolshoi perform Spartacus again, although I admit those who were sitting closer to the stage may have had a different experience.

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Thanks for reports (my Bolshoi season is over--I am back home); am looking forward to reading about Sat. cast as well.

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