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Kirov's Fokine programme

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I wish to do it later the summary of the past four glorious weeks of the Kirov's season in London in this new thread. But at the time being, there are a few thoughts of the Fokine programme last night.

The Kirov presented for the first night their final programme, the Ballet of Fokine--a great combination of dance and pantomime. The company showed the supreme lyricism in dance in Chopiniana and the ultimate sense of theatricality in Scheherazade and the Firebird.

In Chopiniana, we had superb casts; Ayupova (Mazurka), Zhelonkina(Waltz), Pavlenko(Prelude), and Kolb(the Youth), together filled the dance with poetic yearning. I have watched the sensational Scheherazade quite a few times, but never get tired of it, especially last night I was impressed by the captivating allure of Diana Vishneva who replaced Lopatkina. Her Zobeide was divinely sensual, majestic, and beautiful. Vishneva's interpretation was slightly different from that of the seductive Yulia Makhalina and sophisticated Altynai Asylmuratova in the same role. The Golden Slave was the magnificent Ruzimatov (who else!?!)who danced with powerful expression. This is, I believe, his signature role. The Firebird is probably the least of my favourites in the Fokine's heritage (I think the finale should be revived), but Irma Nioradze who, although a bit brisk, was technically accurate, vivid, and bird-like in her dancing, made the piece a joy to watch, at least for once!

[ 07-05-2001: Message edited by: NO7 ]

[ 07-06-2001: Message edited by: NO7 ]

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Thanks for that review, NO7!

I'm intrigued by something that you wrote regarding the ballet 'Firebird.' You mentioned that you wish that the finale would be revived. Does this mean that the Kirov no longer performs the final scene in which Ivan & the Beautiful Tsarevna, plus the ladies & knights, are reunited, slowly acsending the steps leading to the castle? What on earth does the Kirov do now - end the ballet with the breaking of the egg?

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I'm with Jeannie--what finale do they do if not the one she mentioned?

Glad to hear your impressions of the different casts--I like this program and am always happy when it is presented. Don't throw eggs at me, I *like* Sheherezade pdd--I've seen Lopatkina and Asylmuratova recently, but always liked it when I was growing up: that sort of female was always vastly more appealing to me than Odette! Better costume, for one thing..... ;)

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I saw the Fokine programme last night, and whilst 'Chopiniana' remains unchanged from earlier Kirov viewings, I did think both 'Scheherazade' and 'Firebird' were disappointing. Since both were 'reconstructions' by Andris Liepa and Isabelle Fokine, perhaps the blame lays at their door. 'Firebird' in particular was a mess, and couldn't even be saved by Irma Nioradze's thrilling technical and dramatic skills.

I thought it was a bit of a limp end to the Kirov's triumpant season here in London - better if they'd gone out on 'Jewels'.

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Oh oh....Isabelle Fokine.

I am surprised that she is working with them--after that "Fighting over Fokine" documentary I saw, I would not think that she would be invited to do much....

However, it takes many different spoons to stir a soup pot and I guess she has her point of view, not to mention having to make a living.

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Guest amalinovski

Isabelle Fokine was indeed working with Kirov on these ballets; I saw a documentary about it on French television, showing her on stage rehearsing with dancers.

I don't know whether she is in good or bad relations with Kirov, but anyway they had no choice but to work with her, since she has the copyright for her father's ballets.

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Yes! Jeannie

The finale is exactly the same as what you described. And that is what I'm not so impressed. :P I wish it would have more dances or something else.

Last night, Irma Nioradze was like a femme fatale in Scheherazade, and Tatiana Amosova showed some splendid arm movements in the Firebird, but there's nothing behind her steps, say, emotionless.

[ 07-06-2001: Message edited by: NO7 ]

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Part of the reason that the finale to "Firebird" looks like that is that there were supposed to be some stage machinery effects that didn't make it past the first night. Here, the Firebird was supposed to appear above the scene on some sort of contraption that creaked, groaned, and gave every indication of giving way at any moment. It ended up on the "cutting room floor" along with the Spirits of Light and Darkness and their horses.

And Isabelle is Mikhail Fokine's granddaughter, not his daughter.

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It eventually comes to the last day of the Kirov's season. Forgot to mention that there is a fabulous blue curtain 'Les Saisons Russe' with caricatures of the characters in Scheherazade, Petrushka, and the Firebird in it. (I'm very forgetful, please anyone tell me if this existed last year in London?)

Whether or not this season's considered successful, based on watching twenty performances out of twenty eight, here is the summary of my impressions:

Best performances: Symphony in C, Diamonds (Jewels)

Best staging: Sleeping Beauty

Least impressive: Manon (of course!)

Most moving: strange enough, Manon with Ayupova and Zelensky

Most enjoyable: Le Corsaire, Homage to Balanchine

Best males: Igor Zelensky and Igor Kolb in whatever they danced!

Very impressive females: Veronika Part in all Balanchine's ballets and Sofia Gumerova in Le Corsaire

Male on the rise: definitely Dmitry Semionov and Maxim Krebtov

Female on the rise: the one and only Irina Golub (but I'm not saying she's most impressive!)

Queens of the Kirov: Uliana Lopatkina in Diamonds (she's not as good as I expected in Swan Lake unfortunately), Diana Vishneva in Rubies and Scheherazade

Dancer of the season: Ilya Kuznetsov; without him I'm afraid the Kirov couldn't get through the end! He was overused this season.

[ 07-07-2001: Message edited by: NO7 ]

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Thank you for that, NO7. I liked reading your summary -- that must have been fun to do :P

(And a huge thanks to all of you for giving us a thread on the Kirov performances

A word on the staging Fokine question, we published an interview with Isabelle Fokine by Robert Greskovic in DanceView several years ago, and while she certainly sounded sincere and reverential, she had not actually had much experience coaching or staging. That's an interview I should put up on the main site, and will some day :)

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along with the Spirits of Light and Darkness and their horses.

Now there's something that could be revived, they may only have lasted for two performances but if the Kirov want to be absolutely faithful to Fokine's original idea, and with some strategically placed air conditioning........

Or maybe not! ;)

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The Les Saisons Russe curtain was certainly used during the 1997 and 2000 Fokine performances.

I attended the Matinee on the 5th July but have lost my List of Performers - did any one attend then and can they Email me the details please?


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On the very last day of the Kirov season the company treated us to a very unexpected debut at the matinee - Nikolai Tsiskaridze in the role of the Golden Slave. He was very impressive indeed. His Georgian sensuality was perfectly suited to a role where simmering sexuality is such an essential element and his actual dancing transformed an old warhorse of a ballet into something vibrant and alive. He was rewarded by a terrific ovation from the audience and was no less impressive when he (again unexpectedly) repeated his performance in the evening. I know that many fans were upset at the start of the evening, when they discovered Ruzimatov was not dancing, but you would never guess that from the well deserved applause that he and Nioradze received at the end. It was if anything, even greater than they received in the afternoon and Tsiskaridze rewarded us with a fabulous jete during his curtain calls.

One small complaint about the evening though. On last nights it is customary for the entire company to assemble on stage for the applause and torrents of flowers. We like to say "thank you" to everyone, not just those dancing in the final work of the evening (Firebird) but to show appreciation for all the company members. That didn't happen and a number of people expressed their disappointment. So please, Kirov management, allow us to pay homage to EVERYONE next time.

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Oh, Mashinka, how lucky you were to see this--I would imagine NT to be perfect in this role!!!!

I agree that it would be a lovely touch for the company to assemble at the end, but if they are "off" that night (not dancing, I mean) it might be hard to cajole them into assembling, getting into costume and makeup, just to walk out on stage late at night.

Glad that it was such a successful season--we are looking forward to their visit here in Washington soon.

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NO7 et. al. - The "Les Saisons Russes" front-curtain existed in 1994 when Andris Liepa & Isabelle Fokine first presented their Firebird-Scheherazade-Chopiniana program at the Mariinsky. [The Petrushka figures were painted prior to the cancellation of said ballet, due to inadequate rehearsal time...with Chopiniana substituted.] Of course, the first performances of the Liepa-I.Fokine 'Firebird' took place earlier, at a special gala in Moscow...perhaps the curtain made its first appearance there? It dates to at least 1994, that is for sure.

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Originally posted by Mashinka:

One small complaint about the evening though.  On last nights it is customary for the entire company to assemble on stage for the applause and torrents of flowers.  We like to say "thank you" to everyone, not just those dancing in the final work of the evening (Firebird) but to show appreciation for all the company members.  That didn't happen and a number of people expressed their disappointment.  So please, Kirov management, allow us to pay homage to EVERYONE next time.

I wasn't present on the closing night last Saturday, but I can certainly understand your disappointment. I heard that artistic director Makhar Vaziev didn't even appear on stage at the end to acknowledge the long ovations.

On the closing night last August Vaziev led all the coaches, teachers, and the entire company (those dancers who didn't dance Don Q that night appeared in casual clothes) on stage amidst the endless showers of flowers, ribbons etc. in the numerous curtain calls. It was a moving sight.

This year the circumstances may have been slightly different. A number of Kirov dancers left London early last Wed. to dance in Granada, and some more left London on Saturday to return to St. Petersburg in time for a performance on Sunday night. But I am still puzzled why Vaziev didn't appear on stage with the coaches.

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Quote from NO7-

>It eventually comes to the last day of the Kirov season.

Sad that it's all over, isn't it?

> I came up with the idea of Kirov Poll.

What an excellent idea, NO7.

>Based on watching 20 performances out of 28

Actually there were 32 performances - 8 per week. I counted, and I had watched 23 performances.

>are my choices:

Will stick to your categories as far as possible.

>Best performances: Symphony in C, Diamonds

I would also add Serenade, Rubies and Emeralds, if you mean the Kirov company as a whole.

>Best staging: Sleeping Beauty

As well as all the Balanchine ballets.

>The least impressive: Manon (of course!)


>Most moving: strange enough, Manon with Ayupova and Zelensky

In my opinion - both Uliana Lopatkina and Svetlana Zakharova as the Diamonds ballerina, Andrian Fadeyev as Apollo, Veronika Part in 2nd movement of Symphony in C and in Emeralds.

>Most enjoyable: Le Corsaire, Rubies(Jewels)


>Queens of the Kirov: Uliana Lopatkina in Diamonds, Diana Vishneva in Scheherazade and Rubies.

Vishneva is a sublime Aurora as well. Svetlana Zakharova as Terpsichore and as the Diamonds ballerina.

>Best males: Igor Zelensky and Igor Kolb in whatever they danced!

I would vote instead for Andrian Fadeyev for his superlative performances as Apollo, Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty, and Lankedem in Le Corsaire.

Anton Korsakov for his brilliance in Emeralds pas de trois, as the Rubies soloist, and in 3rd movement of Symphony in C.

Also Ilya Kuznetsov as the cavalier in the 2nd movement of Symphony in C and in the Elegy in Serenade.

>Very impressive females: Veronica Part in

all Balanchine's ballets, Gumerova in Le Corsaire

I would add Daria Pavlenko as Princess Florine, the Lilac Fairy, in the Prelude in Chopiniana, and as the second girl in Rubies. Also Irina Zhelonkina as Gulnara in Le Corsaire, as the Marzurka ballerina in Chopiniana, and as the jumping girl in the Act 1 pas de trois in Swan Lake.

>Male on the rise: definitely Dmitry Semionov and Maxim Krebtov

Definitely Dmitry Simeonov.

>Female on the rise: the one and only Irina Golub in Rubies (but I didn't say she's most impressive!)

Irina Golub was impressive too in the Odalisque solo in Le Corsaire, and as Polyhymnia in Apollo.

>Dancer of the season: Ilya Kuznetsov; I believe without him the Kirov couldn't go all the way through the end.

Well said.

[ 07-09-2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

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Just for the record Kevin, Vaziev did come on stage after the last performance. He stepped out of the wings a few paces, took a couple of bows and then exited. Anyone blinking would have missed him. Sadly I can confirm that none of the coaches or teachers appeared on stage.

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I also thought Nikolai Tsiskaridze superb as the Golden Slave, especially from my seat 4 feet from the stage! The last-night atmosphere was electric, there was a lady from Moscow with friends in the company who had managed to get in without a ticket just to see him dance Scheherazade kneeling on the floor next to me, she had to dash out quickly at the end before she was caught, only at the Kirov!

I too thought it a terrible shame that the company didn't assemble for the final 'goodbye' applause, both Diana Vishneva and Igor Kolb were in the theatre but didn't appear, I did see Vaziev for a moment but as Mashinka says, blink and you would have missed him.

Now looking forward to the Bolshoi next year.............

[ 07-10-2001: Message edited by: Amy S ]

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Mashinka and Amy, thanks for your description of the atmosphere of the last night of the season.

I find very memorable the last sentence in Nadine Meisner's review in The Independent of the Fokine programme.

"This is ballet as only the Kirov can provide, and London will now be very dull without them."

And a quote from David Dougill's review in The Sunday Times.

"The Kirov Ballet reached the end of its latest London season last weekend, and it was with a real pang that we said goodbye to all those magnificent dancers for another year. They have given a richly varied repertory, ranging from the heritage of old classics to their latest acquisitions of Balanchine and MacMillan. Many stars have shone, and the corps de ballet has deserved the constant plaudits."

[ 07-16-2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

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