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Lynette H

July - Aug 2014 at the Royal Opera House

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ABT also uses the version of Apollo with the staircase.

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The Royal Ballet also uses the same version with the writhing earth mother and the staircase. I thought Shklyarov was a terrific Apollo, both Apollo and Dream were brilliantly executed. The company is on stunning form and full of great talent.

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An instant response to the Mariinsky's Balanchine evening ... and but a few errant scribblings to take for but what they are worth ...

The Mariinsky's Balanchine evening was the Company's finest outing thus far in their 2014 London season IMHO. This is I think entirely understandable given the embracing magic woven inside both pieces selected as created by the master dance maker of the 20th Century.

While not yet scaling the heights of, say, (Peter) Martins, Boal, Hubbe, Finlay or Carreno as Apollo, the exemplary Vladimir Shklyarov was impetuously incisive in his depiction of a young God finding his way in the world. (Is there a one act ballet with a more inviting narrative than Balanchine and Stravinsky's APOLLO? I think not. I only wish that the music had been better played on this occasion. Methinks that Maestro Gergiev has kept all the best Mariinsky instrumentalists at home under his own baton.) After attending more than a few of the performances by the Mariinsky team of balletic performers fielded for this particular London sojourn, I have come to believe that Shklyarov and the incandescently gleaming Viktoria Tereshkina (whose Titania in Balanchine's MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM brought to rapid mind the glories of Krya Nichols in the same role - from the warmth of her glittering smile down) are by some distance the strongest on show. Both did nothing but build on the incisive radiance of their truly outstanding SL performances. One sees well why Kevin McKenzie has selected them as ABT's 'exchange artists'. The enormity of their skill reaches engagingly beyond time; beyond any geographical boundary. Both understand and precisely relate the application of their artistry as embellished both off (as well as on) balance as well as adorn their virtuosity by moving 'through rather than 'on' music much as Balanchine dictated. Sadly a goodly number of their peers do not and struggle to render the 'Balanchinian' magic routine. Balanchine happily sees that they fail. Still there is NO question but that Shklyarov and Tereshkina stand out from that crowd. Without hesitation Tereshkina's artistry is a far cry from the uncertain centre of Oxana Skorik, who almost (but not quite) managed to mangle the stunning glory of that masterful pas de deux which beats at the heart of the second act of Balanchine's DREAM, itself but a thrilling extended divertissement in celebration of the impending nuptials. I, myself, felt naught but sorry for the hard working Konstantin Zverev as her cavalier.

Nancy Goldner in Balanchine Variations quotes the progenitor of ballet as we now understand it as writing: "It was in studying Apollo that I came first to understand how gestures, like tones in music and shades in painting, have certain family relations." These could well be appreciated in the rich sharing between Shklyarov and the finely animated Kristina Shapran in what may well be her (very fine) Mariinsky debut. (London audiences have previously appreciated her animated skill at the Coliseum in the title role of Coppelia with the Stanislavsky Ballet aside their current 'guest artist' Sergei Polunin, a former RB principal.) The stunning central Apollo pas de deux sang through Shapran's guiding limbs as Terpsichore. It was suffused with a much appreciated adroit finesse. I was also taken by the bouncing excitement of Nadexhda Batoeva's Polyhymnia and very much look forward to her Cinderella (again in the more than capable hands of Shklyarov) at the final performance of this particular Mariinsky season.

I confess I prefer Ashton's DREAM to Balanchine's (even though the latter does more fulsomely address the Bard's work itself). That said, I MUCH prefer Balanchine's finely dramatic La Valse to our British master's take. Horses for courses and all that. Still it was wonderful to be able to revisit the Balanchine via the splendour of this far more than merely handsome physical production. I so appreciate that the Mariinsky design team never appear to clutter their stages with scenery, allowing the dance itself to set the scene. While never touching the diabolical glee of Damian Woetzel's resplendent performance, the talented Vasily Tkachenko rightly glorified in Balanchine's Puck. Xander Parish came into his own I felt as Demetrius and Anastasia Matvienko (an artist we have previously enjoyed in London with the Mikhailovsky) rendered her stealth - if not her smile - on Hypolita, a role that for me will FOREVER have the name of Monique Meunier emblazoned on its heart. (Sadly London - that 'mecca of world dance' according to Sadler's Well's Alistair Spalding - was never given an opportunity to sample Meunier's heady flair.) What came close to making me cry, however, was the approximations of Timur Askerov's Oberon in that MASTERFULLY extended variation created for Villella in 1962. How well I remember attending a free seminar at the NY Public Library (Lincoln Center Branch) where Villella himself choked up at watching a film of his performing the same and then spent an unforgettable hour relating details behind the alchemy of its creation. Last night's audience rightfully applauded Balanchine's genius in the construction of this devilishly difficult feat ... but, oh, that the virtuoso that was Peter Boal could have been been reawakened to show this deserving crowd just how those steps might dazzle in the full flight of their undisputed magic. Still, one must be grateful that a likeness was there at all I suppose ... and there was - as I said - much in the overall evening to admire throughout.

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The last time I saw Dance Theatre of Harlem and Royal Ballet of Flanders do "Apollo," it was the longer version. PNB did it as well when Francia Russell staged it, which was until the last time the company performed it a couple of years ago, when Peter Boal staged the later, shorter version he danced with NYCB. When I get home I'll check which version Ballet Arizona and San Francisco Ballet performed.

Edited to add: Ballet Arizona did the full version that Ib Andersen, who did the staging in 2009, would have danced before Balanchine changed it while working with Baryshnikov. The San Francisco Ballet production in 2004, which was staged by Jacques d'Amboise "assisted by Sandra Jennings" also has Leto and the Nymphs, but they are listed as "Mother" and "Handmaidens." The Balanchine Catalogue (print edition) lists the characters as "Leto, Mother of Apollo" and "2 Goddesses."

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I sat in the first box to the left of the coaches' box for every performance I attended ...

Bart, which is the coaches' box? What would it correspond to on this seaing plan?

http://tickets.mariinsky.ru/en/performance/7604/

thanks! Sasha

The coaches box is inside of loge 1 in Mariinsky stall boxes. Tickets are not for sale in that coaches box (I think the door entrance says loge 0). There is a mini Tsar's box directly next to the stage, which is closer to the stage than the coaches box and also not for sale and not shown in ticket diagram.

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I sat in the first box to the left of the coaches' box for every performance I attended ...

Bart, which is the coaches' box? What would it correspond to on this seaing plan?

http://tickets.mariinsky.ru/en/performance/7604/

thanks! Sasha

The coaches box is inside of loge 1 in Mariinsky stall boxes. Tickets are not for sale in that coaches box (I think the door entrance says loge 0). There is a mini Tsar's box directly next to the stage, which is closer to the stage than the coaches box and also not for sale and not shown in ticket diagram.

Alex is right. I like sitting in Box 1 of the stalls' boxes. They are pricey seats compared to others but after spending so much money to get there, I am not going to sit far back! If I lived there and went often I would sit farther back and save money sometimes.

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An instant response to the Mariinsky's Balanchine evening ... and but a few errant scribblings to take for but what they are worth ...

Thanks, meunier fan!

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Most Apollo performances I've seen recently give me a toothache. Lots of cutesy flirting between Apollo and Terpischore. I hate it -- there should be some aloofness between Apollo and the muses. Old videos of Diana Adams or Suzanne Farrell show how it should be done.

I haven't seen the Mariinsky dance Apollo but I hope it's not ruined by the Terpischore smiling her way through like its a beauty pageant.

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ABT also uses the version of Apollo with the staircase.

ABT has the staircase but not the birth of Apollo with the barefoot earth mother. Technically, what we saw was Apollo Musagete. I believe ABT's version is an intermediate version between this and NYCB's current version of Apollo.

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Tonight's Apollo with Alexander Sergeyev was fantastic! He is every bit as good as Robbie Fairchild or Chase Finlay. I much prefer him to last night with Shklyarov. And no, Canbelto, Kristina did not "smile her way through" Terpsichore. She was superb. The 3 muses together could use a bit more rehearsing (some uneven arabesque heights early on) but generally tonight was pretty much as good as we see at NYCB.

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Thank you Amour and Meunier fan for your reports about the Balanchine evening (and to everyone writing about Mariinsky performances in London).

Though she isn't my Balanchine-ideal as she is my Ivanov-ideal, still...I confess I would give much to see Lopatkina dance with a donkey-headed Bottom. In my mind's eye she is always "a most rare vision."

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Tonight's Apollo with Alexander Sergeyev was fantastic! He is every bit as good as Robbie Fairchild or Chase Finlay.... And no, Canbelto, Kristina did not "smile her way through" Terpsichore. She was superb. The 3 muses together could use a bit more rehearsing (some uneven arabesque heights early on) but generally tonight was pretty much as good as we see at NYCB.

Very glad to hear this about both Kristina Shapran and Alexander Sergeyev. I've posted my admiration for her all over the internet and Alexander Sergeyev is also an extremely talented and highly likable ballet artist.

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I have now seen both the opening night (Aug. 8) and Aug. 9 evening performances of Midsummer. I very much enjoyed them both (there was some overlap in the casting). It was as follows:

Aug. 8. Aug 9

Titania: Viktoria Tereshkina. Uliana Lopatkina

Oberon: Timur Askerov. Filipp Stepin

Bottom: Dmitri Vedeneev. Same

Puck: Vasily Tkachenko Vladislav Shumakov

Hippolyta: Anastasia Matvienko Same

Hermia: Viktoria Krasnokutskaya Same

Lysander: Andrei Yermakov. Yuri Smekalov

Helena: Viktoria Brilyova. Same

Demetrius: Xander Parrish. Kamil Yangurazov

Butterfly: Oxana Marchuk. Same

Theseus: Vadim Belyaev. Same

Divert. PDD: Oxana Skorik, Konstantin Zverev. Same

While I loved the uniformity and loveliness of these dancers I found they had a somewhat lyrical quality to their dancing and, in general, not enough attack. This was particularly true of Lopatkina who seemed to flow through her movement instead of using attack to define a step or pose. In fact, I thought Tereshkina was a better dancer but not as good an actor while Lopatkina, with her very regal bearing, was every bit a Queen (and sometimes a pretty funny one). As an aside I really see NO diminution of Lopatkina's technique or flexibility and certainly not her artistry.

As for Oberon, Filipp Stepin was miles ahead of Askerov in both dancing and acting. His beats were numerous and clean and his solo (though one could see him struggle a bit to keep up with the fast tempo) he did. He was rather comic in how he treated the little boy at the source of friction between Titania and himself. He also partnered Lopatkina very well and they had good chemistry.

As for Puck, neither man can hold a candle to the extreme virtuosity and comic timing that Danny Ulbricht and Herman Cornejo (in The Dream) bring to the role. The audience love Tkachenko but I preferred Shumakov because he really played up the comedy in the role.

Anastasia Matvienko was wonderful both nights. She is great jumper and has rock solid fouettes. My only complaint is that she holds a lot of tension in the front of her neck (you can see it through the opera glasses). Belyaev, a giant of a man was also solid both nights. As for the couples I think I preferred the Aug. 9 men better because the were better actors.

Finally, the divertissement with Oxana Skorik and Konstantin Zverev. After all I have read about how awful Skorik is, I found a rather lovely dancer who just need to strengthen both her core and feet abit. She is blessed with gifts: she is very tall (at least as tall as Lopatkina if not taller) with long arms, legs and neck. She has a lovely line, extreme flexibility of both legs and spine. She has a springy, stretchy jump and nice feet. She's also a good turner. And finally, she kept a radiant smile on her face throughout. All I can say is I wish ABT ballerinas were so "weak". As for Zverev, I know many here like him but he is not my fav. I find he can be a little sloppy about finishing positions, especially pirouettes (but he is a lefty turner which may make things harder.)

Last but not least is Oxana Marchuk. What a lovely dancer with such an infectious smile! Why she is still somewhere in the corps is beyond my comprehension.

To finish, this is a lovely Midsummer, perhaps a somewhat differently danced one, but still very special.

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Finally, the divertissement with Oxana Skorik and Konstantin Zverev. After all I have read about how awful Skorik is, I found a rather lovely dancer who just need to strengthen both her core and feet abit. She is blessed with gifts: she is very tall (at least as tall as Lopatkina if not taller) with long arms, legs and neck. She has a lovely line, extreme flexibility of both legs and spine. She has a springy, stretchy jump and nice feet. She's also a good turner. And finally, she kept a radiant smile on her face throughout. All I can say is I wish ABT ballerinas were so "weak.

I agree that those who constantly repeat 'how bad' Skoryk is tend not to notice the progress she made. I attended some perfectly enjoyable performances by her. On the other hand praising somebody for passing an exam on her 30-th attempt after failing it badly at least a dozen times seems to me a bit disingeneous. Skoryk for six years has been literally 'pumped up' and offered optimal conditions for growth at the expense of more talented and much better trained.

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As for Oberon, Filipp Stepin was miles ahead of Askerov in both dancing and acting. His beats were numerous and clean and his solo (though one could see him struggle a bit to keep up with the fast tempo) he did. He was rather comic in how he treated the little boy at the source of friction between Titania and himself. He also partnered Lopatkina very well and they had good chemistry.

Sorry, but Titania doesn't dance with Oberon in this production. She is partnered by Titania's cavalier (the whole scene at Titania's place, 1st act) and then has a little encounter with a character named Bottom. So apparently Titania's cavalier "partnered Lopatkina very well and they had a good chemistry", as you said. Am I right?

Picture by John Ross

Mariinsky+-+Midsumer+Night_s+Dream_100_l

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My bad. Titania's cavalier on Aug. 9 (Lopatkina) was Andrei Yermakov. He was very good.

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A follow-up ....



Attended both of the performances of the Mariinsky's Balanchine programme on the second Saturday of their three week 2014 London Tour presented at the generous behest of the Hochhausers' commercial interests. All seats were - as far as I could see - filled. Sadly the two performances of APOLLO were stung by a collection of Russian instrumentalists and their slovenly leader - one Gavriel Heine - who insisted on homogenising the aliphatic musical mysteries of Stavinsky's glorious drama. Those sitting in front of the position in the upper ROH amphitheatre from which I stood shifted uncomfortably in their seats as the insistent sawing rendered their ears ever more leaden. Even Ms. Shapren who danced all three of the weekend's Terpsichores was not shielded from such effects. (I must confess given the lack of additional interpreters of that major role - [i, myself, would have loved to see the luminous Ms Tereshkina] - and in my own desperate need to find some/any respite from the barbarous musical massacre being wrought - I begun to wonder if this particular lack in notable casting variety might in some covert fashion be a signal as to the diminishing depth of strength in the current Mariinsky soloist and principal ranks on London show. Then suddenly another sour horror was struck from the pit and I was interrupted from even that contemplation. One of course prays that the combined Mariinsky forces will continue to wave and not drown. History happily shows that this will be the most likely course.) That said - and In all events pertaining to Stravinsky yesterday - as much as towards Balanchine's indomitable Apollo Musagete such as is danced by this Company, it proved hard - neigh, almost impossible at times - to 'hear the dance' when - at almost every (and frequently unsteady) turn - we were clouded in our efforts to emphatically 'see' the staggering score of the 20th Century's master music maker. T'was a shame.



The matinee of Balanchine's MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM - much as had been the case with the previous Saturday's SWAN LAKE - proved to be but a rehearsal for an enhanced evening repast (short in this instance for the very delicate turn in the second act's vigorous adagio by the ever appealing Nadezhda Batoeva). Even Oxana Skorik, who had, herself, been a Ttiania of limited largess in the afternoon, found second breath in the evening's Divertessment (certainly when compared with her rather forced efforts in that role the evening before). During this last London performance of Balanchine's take on Shakespeare's insightful frivolities Skorik allowed an enhanced grace to flower in her stunningly elongated extensions. A renewed relaxation was to be found in her smile as it now began to consistently unfold in the the ever hardy hands of her industriously stolid - oh, sorry - solid cavalier, Konstantin Zverev. Uliana Lopatkina - although not perhaps a Balanchine dancer born - sprinkled the radiance of her glowing sincerity - a rarefied entity we have long been privileged to cherish - over all. She made the many happy faces of the talented British children beam within the girth of their second act circle's approbation. (Bless Balanchine for never being patronising in his choreography for these [or indeed any] youths.) Even the entirely endearing changeling child's enhanced grin (surely well worth the price of any familial feud) was wrought even more emphatically delicious as he did his level best to copy Lopatkina in her theatrical grace during the first act curtain call. (Strange as it may sound that, I think, may well prove for me to be one of the highlights of this particular Mariinsky run). Definitively - if proof was EVER needed - Lopatkina gave deafening lie to the song title: '

'. With abundant validity she was here adored by all. The female quotient of the Bard's lovers (again repeated here from the previous evening) were on particularly fine form as was Anastasia Matvienko's ever eviscerating stealth as Hippolyta. Happily she too now found her smile. Viktoria Krasnokutskaya's emotional variation as Hermia was most especially vivid and garnered enhanced and well warranted applause. ABOVE ALL, however, what set this performance apart from the other two sometimes saddened outings was the performance of Oberon. The misery of those previously missed opportunities suddenly evaporated as Filipp Stepin stepped - or should I say - leaped - into the role with refreshing conviction. While not approaching the informed majesty of Peter Boal, Stepin (in the pejorative) 'went for it' and gave more than joy in his elevating execution. Bless him. The audience was rightly buoyed and no one could I think have asked for more on that occasion. Vladislav Shumakov's Puck rose to a happier place in the end.

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I begun to wonder if this particular lack in notable casting variety might in some covert fashion be a signal as to the diminishing depth of strength in the current Mariinsky soloist and principal ranks on London show.

...or how strongly has been Fateev promoting some and shutting out others. Svetlana Ivanova, for example, could provide a very atractive alternative to either Shapran in «Apollo» or to Skoryk - in the «Dream».

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Just came back from Mariinsky triple bill of Firebird, Marguerite and Armand, and Concerto DSCH (I gor tickets for the 11th!). Firebird and Marguerite and Armand were both a bit of a snooze. I have Blu-rays of 2 different performances of Fokine's Firebird (1 with Vishneva, 1 with Kondaurova) and enjoyed them. Live, however, this ballet seemed dated and not terribly interesting. Anastasia Matvienko, the firebird, has a nice jump but not a whole lot of stage presence. Andrei Yermakov, as Ivan, was fine but doesn't have much interesting dancing. I did really like Xenia Durovina as the Princess, as she imbued her role with some personality.

Diana Vishneva and Konstantin Zverev were the principals in Marguerite and Armand. The Mariinsky just premiered this ballet 1 month ago and it showed. IMO, no one looked particularly comfortable in their roles. I kept waiting for the Vishneva magic to emerge but it didn't. I think she may not have the confidence in Zverev that she has with Marcelo Gomes that allows her to really go for it. I felt her dancing was a little careful. Zverev is solid and a good partner but, unlike others on this thread, I don't find him especially interesting. I also am new to this ballet and don't find it as interesting an Ashton work as some others. I will be interested to see how others who are familiar with Marguerite and Armand found this performance.

Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH was a whole other ball game, however. This ballet, alone was well worth the ticket price. I have seen NYCB perform it many times but I have never witnessed as virtuosic and thrilling performance as tonight, the kind of performance where you suddenly "see" a whole new ballet. Tereshkina and Yermakov were the primary couple and Filipp Stepin, Nadezhda Batoeva and Kimin Kim were the trio. Seeing this ballet tonight was like seeing an entirely new ballet, the level of technique and artistry was so high. But the performance of the evening belonged to Kim. He is definitely ballet's latest male superstar. His virtuosity and charisma is unparalleled right now. Not that Stepin or Yermakov are slouches (I think Stepin and Kim's roles are more virtuosic than Yermakov's), just that Kim came on stage and it belonged to him. I have never seen such lightening fast (and perfect) chainees, such angled 580's, jetees and other jumps I just can't remember (he did everything with such speed it was a bit blurred for me). Tereshkina was also lovely as the primary woman and was partnered securely and intimately with Yermakov. There was an unnamed male artist in a yellow unitard who jumped in second position for about 4 minutes, never losing his amazing elevation of about 2 feet (you generally only get that elevation on a trampoline. Mathilde, if you were at the performance on the 11th, maybe you can identify him? if Kim doesn't get promoted soon he should hire a PR firm and a manager. He could easily be a "Kings of the dance" or in galas. He's certainly better than Simkin or Vasiliev. Since Cornejo and Ulbricht are older, more matured dancers it's a bit harder to compare them.the Mariinsky needs to figure out a way to make him an international star. Maybe guest artists spots or galas are the way to start. I would love for the world to get to see him.

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Just came back from tonight's (the 12th) triple bill. The Firebird w/Stepanova a big improvement over yesterday's with Matvienko. I'm just sorry that today we sat in the Amphitheatre, where it is much harder to see nuances in dancing. I also preferred Lopatkina to Vishneva in Marguerite and Armand (though not a fan of Askerov, who fell out of 2 pirouettes, at least). I liked that Lopatkina kept her face quiet (unlike Diana, whose facial expressions were a bit too much) and let her dancing speak for her.

Too bad that Concerto DSCH was nowhere near as thrilling tonight as last night. I like Sergeyev very much but he just can't touch Kimin Kim in this role (lead male in the trio). I would also like to say how terrific the unnamed male dancer was who jumped in place FOREVER and with tremendous elevation. I tweeted his picture to the Mariinsky, who identified him as Kamil Yangurazov. This guy is wonderful and I'm hoping will be a future star (I have no idea what his rank is). I'm sorry this was my last night in London, seeing the Mariinsky but I have come away SO impressed by the company. Can't wait for them to come to NYC.

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Marguerite & Armand was created solely as a vehicle for the unique talents of Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev, Ashton never envisaged it danced by anyone else.

The current Kirov production looked odd, something looked wrong with the staging and the costumes had a cheap tacky appearance, only an approximation of the Beaton designs. Saving grace of the ballet was the excellent playing of the Liszt concerto.

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Yes, I saw Kamil Yangurazov in the front row of the 'unnamed' dancers in «DSCH». He is very distinct. Who was the third female soloist in «DSCH»? By somebody's oversight she wasn't mentioned in the cast sheet. I was seating in Amphitheatre, couldn't see the face. Was it Batoeva? That unnamed girl was better than either Nastia Matvienko whose upper body immediately betrays her lack of Vaganova's training, or Shakirova.

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