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Kennedy Center Jan 2015- Rite of Spring and others

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The end of Paquita from Friday evening (the 30th). (photo by my husband Owen).

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My thoughts on tonight's program. Well, for starters, it's a little thin. Only 4 pieces, 1 of which is 11 minutes (Spectre), the other (Dying Swan) only 4 minutes. At least we got 3 substantial programs at BAM.

As for Sacre, I like the music and generally find the dancing interesting. Tonight, I really missed the Mariinsky orchestra. The Kennedy Center Orchestra is ok but the Mariinsky would have made the loud passages very exciting. As for the dance (I won't call it ballet) I've seen it done by both the Joffrey and the Mariinsky in a Blu-Ray entitled the Mariinsky Dances Fokine. Both were danced with more enthusiasm than what I saw tonight. The corps was really kind of ragged, everyone dancing to their own slightly different rhythm. And I didn't especially like Petushkova as The Maiden. She didn't jump high enough or twist her body around. I think Sacre can be a very exciting piece if danced well. It certainly still looks modern (despite all the stomping) even though it was choreographed more than 100 years ago.

Then we had Shapran and Kim in Spectre. I like Shapran but don't think she has yet developed into the artist her fellow Vaganova student Smirnova has. I do think it will come with time, consistent hard work and good coaching. I also would like to see her gain a little weight. She is now much skinnier than even Skorik (she'd gain some stamina). I don't think she simply went from pose to pose but I didn't see a full fledged interpretation of a young girl having a kind of erotic dream either. As for Kim, I was surprisingly mixed. When he first came out, he wasn't really on his legs and his attitude turns and pirouettes were a bit off. But when he started to jump, that was the Kim I saw in London. His jetés, tour jetés, and tours en l'air were very high and exciting. He just hung in the air. But somehow the upper body and arms were not delicate enough and Kim didn't really convey the androgyny of the character. I, too, remember Ruzimatov (and Kolb) doing the role more successfully. I think both Shapran and Kim can get there (and they seem to have chemistry), they just need some time.

Kondaurova danced The Swan. She was beautiful, liquid arms, arched back, beautiful face. I assume Lopatkina is still the gold standard but the audience loved Kondaurova and she got a standing ovation.

On to Paquita. I don't know the names of all the variations but thanks to YT (and Russians disregard of copyright) I'm familiar with many of the dancers. Oxana Marchuk is blond with big eyes and a big, toothy smile. Tonight she wore gold and danced the variation Lezhnina used to dance. Asaben is a brunette.

Anyway, Paquita's first opening minutes were rough. The 8 dancers (2 formations of 4 dancers) were not together in their timing and their spacing was off. Also where is the Vaganova epaulement going? Every generation it seems to get weaker. Disappointing. The lead corps dancers were steadier and stronger. Skorik and Ivanchenko were the leads. Again, he was a great partner, made her look better than she is and was great with lifts, etc. His technique in terms of the solos is pretty sloppy but he still has beautiful epaulement and posture. Skorik was not at all bad technically. She pulled off her fouettes without a hitch, even throwing some triples in. She also was secure in the rest of the piece. But when you look through the opera glasses at her face, you can see how tense she is. The best variation was danced by Kondaurova. She was lovely and its a travesty she didn't get the lead. Marchuk followed her and did a good job but nowhere near what Lezhnina used to do. I thought Matvienko (in the last variation) did well with the grand jetés (she seems to be a great jumper) getting height and covering space. However, she's not the strongest turner in the world. As for the PDT (tonight Gonchar, Diana Smirnova and Stepin) I loved him but the girls were not together. So, while it was definitely the strongest piece tonight, Pacquita was a bit of a mixed bag.

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For the Nijinsky/Hodson Rite of Spring, I'm wondering if the complete colorful designs will be presented in DC? Hope so. Sometimes they omit certain design elements - such as the colorful flooring - when on tour. Let's see.


From what I saw the floor was omitted. Just gray marley.

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Hi maps,
I'm sorry, there is one error in the program and that is that Asaben takes her curtain call (brunette with green tutu) before Marchuk (blond in glitter tutu). They had that reversed in the program. Otherwise the program accurately reflects the leads and demis.

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Maps, sorry but it was definitely Asaben, not Marchuk, with costume change in the evening. Confirmed 100% by company member with 'unofficial' record, showing Asaben stepping forward from her position standing with glitter girls, to take solo bow immediately after Marchuk (Marchuk wearing her olive-green soloist tutu from the Amour variation...not a glitter girl).

I did not attend dress rehearsal, so cannot vouch for that.

Oksana Marchuk danced the variation that Lezhnina danced (4th variation) and can be seen clearly in the curtain calls. So, she did not fall out of her pique turns, since the Lezhnina variation (the one with the pas de cheval and delicate pointe work) does not contain any. Since I last posted, someone has put up a video of these curtain calls, and Marchuk can be seen clearly. Moreover, a friend who attended, confirmed that Marchuk did dance the "Lezhnina" variation, and indeed, will dance it at all performances.

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Thanks, all, for the reports and clarification of the Asaben-or-Marchuk question! I've corrected my earlier reports...giving credit where truly due.

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I pretty much agree with comments above. Kim is great at jumps. One irritating thing is his landings look totally wild to me, barely an approximation of 5th but for the acrobatics he is great. Shapran was nice but did not create magic for me as the sleeping girl. Maybe more rehearsals for Spectre were needed.

Skorik and Ivanchenko were announced as if last minute replacements for Paquita, but they had been listed on the Kennedy website for last night. The program listed Kondaurova and Yermakov. I think the printed program is totally mixed up on the casting for the days. Skorik has definitely improved and is technically fine and gained confidence (triples during her fouettés), but almost every corps girl up there had more regal and elegant arms than she did. Her musicality is sometimes on and sometimes off but it is no longer a face palm situation.

Kondaurova is not one of my faves (usually ultra strong in classical roles, more Bolshoi-like; not like the delicate flowers Mariinsky ballerinas usually are), but for most of the Dying Swan I enjoyed her, although some of the final arm flailing looked a bit over the top...that's her "strong" personality coming through. I like her but I don't see what others see in her. If she were at the Bolshoi she would be one of their best, but I like her less at the Mariinsky.

I don't really like Rite of Spring but the paintings and costumes are nice and the score is an important work in 20th century music. But it does seem like choreography by a madman to me. However, I found myself enjoying it as just a piece of theater (as opposed to ballet). I was surprised I had fun watching it but maybe because as I sat down the lady next to me and a Russian guy were finishing a heated conversation. He called her an ignorant American and she said he should go back to Russia! LOL So the primitivism of Rite seemed fitting after that. Ironically the Russian seemed to enjoy all the flawed dancers while the "ignorant American" loved the better ones.

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A few quick notes on the matinee. Sacre was better; corps was more together and Pavlenko far superior to Petushkova ( bigger jumps, more perfect profile poses).

I liked Spectre a lot with Selina and Latypov. He is not a big jumper like Kim but his limp wrists and elegant upper body gave him the androgynous quality Kim lacked. Selina had a more thoughtful interpretation of the girl than Shapran.

Did not like Shapran's Dying Swan. At all. Her rapidly flailing arms looked like she was hysterical.

Paquita had 2 mishaps. Kondaurova fell off pointe towards the beginning and Batoeva almost landed on the floor during the PDT (which was Batoeva, Selina and Tkachenko) Luckily, Kondaurova regained her confidence ( she looked like she was going to lose it) and ended up doing a nice job. But now I've seen her have mishaps several times, too many. Yermakov was fantastic, especially his split air jumps. Shapran did a nice job in her variation (2nd). Viktoria Brileva (corps couple in blue) dances so beautifully, like the Vaganova dancers of yesteryear. She should get promoted.

On to the evening performance.

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I agree with what Amour says above, and I think Ermakov was a GOD! The way he moved his arms as he turned....so elegant!

Despite her minor flubs mentioned above Kondaurova (who is not a fav) had what Skorik lacked....a regal quality....and I say this feeling that Kondaurova is not the most regal dancer but much, much more than Skorik although Skorik did better fouettés!

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Another thought I missed before is that Asaben (3rd variation in Paquita) kind of reminds me of Tiler Peck in her musicality and attack. I'd love to see her dance Balanchine.

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Marchuk has been doing the 4th variation. Asaben has been doing the 3rd "Amor" variation. The website and programs have the two mixed up.

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Marchuk has been doing the 4th variation. Asaben has been doing the 3rd "Amor" variation. The website and programs have the two mixed up.

You're totally right. Sorry. Asaben is 3rd variation in the green tutu.

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Just my humble opinion: Yana Selina was much better than Shapran as the girl in Spectre de la Rose at both shows today even keeping her eyes closed. Latypov was better in the matinee but Kim was better than last night.

I feel I deserve a medal watching Rite of Spring 3 times in a row and a fourth tomorrow. Will never want to see it again in my life!!!

Despite not being perfect for the role I think Kondaurova was the best Dying Swan out of the 3 I saw (Kondaurova, Shapran, and Skorik). She did the back bend the best where the swan practically folds in half backwards. Shapran barely went back.

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I'm starting this evening's review off with Paquita because it was utterly confusing to me (until YID thankfully explained it). Matvienko and Askerov were the leads. She danced with confidence and few mistakes. However, I'm used to seeing much taller dancers in the role. The confusion came during the variations. Ivannikova danced the 1st variation (as in all 3 performances I saw), Shapran danced the 2nd and did a nice job, like this afternoon, Marchuk danced the 4th variation (reddish tutu)although she appeared on stage third, Asaben the 3rd variation although she was on after Marchuk. Again, Asaben dances with great speed, musicality and attack, to my eyes similar to Tiler Peck. Then my confusion started. Out came Kondaurova in a purple tutu but she didn't dance the 5th variation. I wasn't sure what she was doing but YID explained it was part of the lead variation. Meanwhile, she looked a bit ragged and fell out of 2 or her 3 pirouettes. Then Matvienko came out in her white tutu and danced the 5th "jumping" variation she's done at all the performances I've seen. She was fine. Her grand jetés are great! She did all single fouettes and travelled a bit but that was ok. Askerov came out and did his solos adequately though nowhere like Yermakov this afternoon. YID also noticed there were fewer lifts. Despite all that, they got a standing ovation. Go figure!

As for Sacre, it was Petshkova tonight. The corps was better than last night but I still far prefer Pavlenko as The Maiden for the reasons stated earlier.

Tonight, Spectre was Selina and Kim. I like Selina's interpretation. It looks well thought out and practiced. I'm sure that Shapran will get better with time. As for Kim, he was the same virtuoso as last night and I have the same complaints. I think he uses his arms and upper body to gain elevation, so they seem very stretched out and proud looking. If you do what Latypov did (go more limp and delicate in the upper body) it's hard to achieve that same elevation. I prefer Latypov but I still went Wow when Kim did his triple air tours.

I liked Skorik's Swan a lot better than Shapran though she, too, had a bit of hysterical arm flailing. Still, I thought she had some soulfulness in her interpretation. She really has gotten overly negative reviews from some in Russia, IMO. I don't know if she'll ever be a star but she's truly not bad.

And that's it for me and the Mariinsky this year (unless we go to Russia). It's been great:)

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Speaking of Fokine's Dying Swan.... I was at Carnegie Hall this evening for a concert. In its museum area, Carnegie has a TV screen with video excerpts of important historical events that have occurred at Carnegie. Tonight they had video of Gelsey Kirkland doing Fokine's Dying Swan at Carnegie. Gelsey was before my time, but people always rave about her. Tonight I understood why. Her performance was absolutely gorgeous. Nothing was overdone. Such eloquent and fluid use of her arms and her back. Isaac Stern was the violinist. Upon arriving home I found out that the performance was in 1981 at a Carnegie Gala. Did anyone see this performance live?

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You said Marchuk did the 3rd variation again. Only point this out because there was confusion throughout this thread. Marchuk did the 4th variation. Don't mean to correct but people were confused and it keeps staying confused. Marchuk was listed in the program and on the Kennedy website as the third, but that is incorrect. She was the 4th variation.

Ermakov was divine in the matinee performance. He did such elegant movements with his hands and arms that most males never do.

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... In its museum area, Carnegie has a TV screen with video excerpts of important historical events that have occurred at Carnegie. Tonight they had video of Gelsey Kirkland doing Fokine's Dying Swan at Carnegie. Gelsey was before my time, but people always rave about her. Tonight I understood why. Her performance was absolutely gorgeous. Nothing was overdone. Such eloquent and fluid use of her arms and her back. Isaac Stern was the violinist. Upon arriving home I found out that the performance was in 1981 at a Carnegie Gala. Did anyone see this performance live?

One of the few times in my life when I have spent money on gala tickets. I did so to see Kirkland (who was not dancing much of anything at the time and not in the best of shape) and I sat far, far away. I remember admiring her simplicity in the role--I also felt that "nothing was overdone"--though at the time I could not take the ballet itself seriously even as old-fashioned gala fare. I'm actually more open to it now.

When Kirkland first appeared with the Royal Ballet in London, De Valois was quoted as calling her "a young Pavlova."

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You said Marchuk did the 3rd variation again. Only point this out because there was confusion throughout this thread. Marchuk did the 4th variation. Don't mean to correct but people were confused and it keeps staying confused. Marchuk was listed in the program and on the Kennedy website as the third, but that is incorrect. She was the 4th variation.

Ermakov was divine in the matinee performance. He did such elegant movements with his hands and arms that most males never do.

Yikes! Sorry, I'll correct it now.

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Speaking of Fokine's Dying Swan.... I was at Carnegie Hall this evening for a concert. In its museum area, Carnegie has a TV screen with video excerpts of important historical events that have occurred at Carnegie. Tonight they had video of Gelsey Kirkland doing Fokine's Dying Swan at Carnegie. Gelsey was before my time, but people always rave about her. Tonight I understood why. Her performance was absolutely gorgeous. Nothing was overdone. Such eloquent and fluid use of her arms and her back. Isaac Stern was the violinist. Upon arriving home I found out that the performance was in 1981 at a Carnegie Gala. Did anyone see this performance live?

Unfortunately,no. Gelsey is just a few years older than me and I did see her dance but infrequently. I simply didn't have the money, especially for a gala. Also in 1981, NYCB was really the company I wanted to see (the years of Merrill, Maria, Heather, Stephanie Saland, Lourdes, even Suzanne and Peter were still dancing). Gelsey was already at ABT so I saw her infrequently. Misha did dance then, even as AD, and I tried to see him (he was still the best guy in ABT even during the late '80's) but I didn't go to ABT nearly as much as NYCB. I never saw Gelsey's Dying Swan but her T&V with Misha is on YT and I think it's the best one I've ever seen. Also, Makarova really kind of had more press and attention as the '80's progressed while Gelsey became a coke addict and was finally fired from ABT.(Have you read her book, Dancing On My Grave?) I do wish I'd seen Gelsey when she was with NYCB but I was in college, I think.

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You said Marchuk did the 3rd variation again. Only point this out because there was confusion throughout this thread. Marchuk did the 4th variation. Don't mean to correct but people were confused and it keeps staying confused. Marchuk was listed in the program and on the Kennedy website as the third, but that is incorrect. She was the 4th variation.

The problem is that Marchuk appeared onstage third so unless you know the choreography and the right order of the variations (which you clearly do, Birdsall), you assume it's the 3rd variation, when it's really the 4th. Same problem with Asaben. And tonight the Kondaurova/Matvienko switcheroo.

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More thoughts on the Tuesday opening night:

Cinnamonswirl, I totally agree about Oksana Marchuk being a standout soloist among the PAQUITA variations (Pavillon d'Armide solo with celeste accompaniment); beautifully controlled and adorably sweet aura. Oksana is a lovely doe-eyed blonde with a charming smile, reminding me of Lezhnina in this solo. Interestingly, she also danced one of the two demi-solo 'glitter girls' in golden tutus...so she bowed twice after the performance - with her 'glitter' partner, then stepping forward with a bow for her solo. I feel for her this week, quickly changing tutus twice at every show...from Gold Glitter Girl, to the red/white Pavillon-solo tutu, then back to Gold Glitter for the finale!

Ivannikova delivered a lovely 1st solo (Little Humpbacked Horse water goddess), with exception of end of Italian fouettés. Anastasia Matvienko, while an elegant presence, could not muster the soaring jetes that one expects to see in the opening diagonal of the 5th solo (from A3 of Petipa's full Paquita); Matvieko kicks the front leg way-up high and back leg is low...not a natural soarer.

Asaben (Amour solo fm Don Q) was a disappointment, as she fell off point during the mid-way diagonal of pique turns. The other big disappointment for me was a somewhat raggedy Batoeva in the pas de trois solo (Demi pointe in what should have been a diagonal of piques on pointe); however, I loved her high floating jetes in the entree. On the other hand, Jana Selina was perfect in her pas de trois solo! (I've already reported the greatness of Filip Stepin as the male member of the Pas de trois.)

The three pairs of 'glitter girls' dancing in the midst of the corps segments were very good, with each duo featuring one blonde and one brunette. The ones who I identified are:

Blue tutus: Ostreikovskaya & Brileva

Salmon-pink tutus: Androsova & ???????

Gold tutus: Marchuk & Lavrinenko

!

Do you know if Androsova is blond? We've been seeing this one blond corps girl for AGES. She's even in the SL Blu-Ray with Lopatkina (and I think that dates from 2006). And I'm not thinking of Marchuk, I know who she is. Plus, again I will stress how brilliant Brileva is. She dances like a previous generation of Vaganova dancers: the epaulement, long neck , slightly tilted back head, the perfect arms. I hope she will be promoted but,sigh, Fateyev doesn't like Vaganova:(

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Marchuk danced 4th each time. Last night like you I noticed Kondaurova danced what is traditionally the lead's variation but I have read that dancers can choose from a variety of variations so if the lead doesn't want to dance that she can choose another and so can the other dancers. However, the Mariinsky does have a "traditional" set of variations that tend to stay in the same order. But supposedly it is not set in stone. In fact, the Vaganova Academy did Paquita during its graduation shows last summer but did different variations if I remember correctly. Since Matvienko has been dancing the grand jetes variation throughout the run at Kennedy Center it was probably the variation she feels best at and wanted to do it as the lead one last night, so Kondaurova took over the variation that would normally be the lead's. This is my assumption. Of course, Fateyev probably had to approve all this (my guess).

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Another thought I missed before is that Asaben (3rd variation in Paquita) kind of reminds me of Tiler Peck in her musicality and attack. I'd love to see her dance Balanchine.

You are talking about Oksana Marchuk, not Asaben! You are right that Oksana is a beautiful Balanchine dancer - I have seen her in Emeralds pdt and also as chief fairy (can't remember exact name of role!) in Midsummer Night's Dream, and she has softness, lightness and speed. Her musicality and use of arms are some of the best in the company in my opinion.

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Do you know if Androsova is blond? We've been seeing this one blond corps girl for AGES. She's even in the SL Blu-Ray with Lopatkina (and I think that dates from 2006). And I'm not thinking of Marchuk, I know who she is. Plus, again I will stress how brilliant Brileva is. She dances like a previous generation of Vaganova dancers: the epaulement, long neck , slightly tilted back head, the perfect arms. I hope she will be promoted but,sigh, Fateyev doesn't like Vaganova:(

Yes, Elena Androsova does have blonde hair.

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