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Mariinsky's Raymonda To the KC in Feb 2016

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Birdsall, could you please analyze the three Jean de Briennes for us, assuming you've seen them all as Jean....Askerov, Korsuntsev & Ivanchenko? Who is your fave?

I think Korsuntsev is probably the best Jean de Brienne out of the three. He is a great partner most of all, and Raymonda's partner is very important. There are many overhead lifts and mostly partnering duties for Jean de Brienne. He gets one variation in the final act. Korsuntsev's partnering of Lopatkina in Raymonda this past summer was terrific, and he did a very good solo at the end. Earlier on my trip he danced Siegfried and was showing his age, but I think Raymonda is a good ballet that plays to his strengths. He is tall, strong, and his acting is good. He isn't a dancer like Barishnikov or anything (he doesn't make your jaw drop), but he gets the job done very well.

I know some will groan about Ivanchenko. I think he needs 5 espressos before going on stage. However, since Jean de Brienne is mostly about partnering, believe it or not, I think Ivanchenko will do a very good job. He is a good partner. His personality seems laid back and he has the strength for lifts and tends to help the ballerina look her best, in my opinion. So even though he would probably be most people's least favorite male dancer at the Mariinsky he is actually decent (mainly for his partnering) in Raymonda.

I have not seen Askerov in Raymonda. I don't remember seeing him cast in the role ever, so maybe this is his debut as Jean de Brienne. I just went to his bio on the Mariinsky website and did not see Raymonda listed in his credits, so it could be his debut on this tour. I could be wrong.I have seen him in other roles, and he seems fine in some respects, lacking in others. I distinctly remember him in Marguerite and Armand with Lopatkina, and I thought he did okay, but then the very next night Shklyarov (with Tereshkina) blew him out of the water. He is technically okay and has more zip than Ivanchenko, so some reading this will prefer Askerov, but I believe he is shorter than the other two Jean de Briennes listed above and I also remember him omitting the falling backward down the steps at the end of Romeo and Juliet this past summer. I don't remember what I thought of his partnering skills in the past. I think he is okay, but for partnering I believe the other two are better partners.

Anyway, I suspect that is the order of my personal choices in the men.

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Askerov seemed hugely improved since I last saw him in London, he was first rate in the Auber Grand pas Classique with Tereshkina, in fact as a pair they stood comparison with any of the previous couples I've seen. I don't think he's short, my guess is about six foot, but the other two are definitely taller.

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Skorik dancing Raymonda, let alone first cast of a major tour, is an insult to this great company. Her dancing is completely without soul. There is nothing of artistic value in her. She is forced and robotically unnatural. Just appalling.

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Thanks for your thoughts on the guys, Birdsall. ROTFL on the "5 espressos" for Ivanchenko! He can be a 'sleeper' then, the next minute, astounds us. For example, he was one of the 3 Mariinsky Principals featured in last summer's "Knights of Dance" program at the MT (in honor of their coach, Selyutsky). At first I thought, "They have to be kidding." Then Ivanchenko broke into the sexiest, most passionate tango during the final modern piece....and we all went "WHOAH!" He must have had those espressos just before the tango

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Skorik dancing Raymonda, let alone first cast of a major tour, is an insult to this great company. Her dancing is completely without soul. There is nothing of artistic value in her. She is forced and robotically unnatural. Just appalling.

I have to say, I sat right next to the Mariinsky stage for her Raymonda with Ermakov JdB and I could see that she had actually improved technically. The problem is that everything looks careful and rehearsed: it is like the performance of someone learning the role, and even her acting LOOKS rehearsed, and not natural. She is a very inexpressive dancer.

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It might be a perfect role for Skorik, as Ray is an icy character. That's why dancers like Lopatkina and Platel are/were so great in the role. Line, ice, aristocratic pomposity (the character of Ray, I mean).

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Thanks for your thoughts on the guys, Birdsall. ROTFL on the "5 espressos" for Ivanchenko! He can be a 'sleeper' then, the next minute, astounds us. For example, he was one of the 3 Mariinsky Principals honored in last summer's "Knights of Dance" program at the MT. At first I thought, "They have to be kidding." Then he broke into the sexiest, most passionate tango during the final modern piece....and we all went "WHOAH!" He must have had those espressos just before the tango

I saw Ivanchenko's JdB in Alina Somova's Raymonda debut, and have also seen Korsuntsev, Askerov and Ermakov in the same role at the Mariinsky and all the current JdBs either on stage or on video. I think Ivanchenko actually is the most princely in bearing and appearance of the three who will be appearing at the KC, and a wonderful partner. Technically he has the edge on Korsuntsev, although ERmakov is superior to them both. Askerov unfortunately cannot act. But ... for a medieval image of a courtly knight with perfect manners and partnering, Ivanchenko does fit the bill and is still technically able to execute the role, although he is not exciting ... agree with Birdsall ... massive doses of espresso first!

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It might be a perfect role for Skorik, as Ray is an icy character. That's why dancers like Lopatkina and Platel are/were so great in the role. Line, ice, aristocratic pomposity (the character of Ray, I mean).

An icy character?! Raymonda's anything but icy; she's a 16 year old damsel-in-distress. If she was icy, then Petipa would've very likely chosen Kschessinska to create the role, not Legnani.

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Kolegova has gorgeous legs and feet. She jumps, she turns, has very nice extensions. She's pretty with a lovely princess quality.

videos on you tube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSPtqLI3a c

(Le Corsaire with Matvienko)

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkcsAciwEGM

(Sleeping Beauty - see her variation)

It looks to me as though she may also be a wonderful Raymonda.

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That's your opinion. To me, it's an ultra-aristocratic role. Not warm-and-fuzzy soubrette. Think Lopatkina, Platel, Bessmertnova. Novikova too...magnificent at La Scala. I have great hopes for all three Rays at the Kennedy Center because they all have a certain degree of "snooty air"...in a nice way, of course.

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That's your opinion. To me, it's an ultra-aristocratic role. Not warm-and-fuzzy soubrette. Think Lopatkina, Platel, Bessmertnova. Novikova too...magnificent at La Scala. I have great hopes for all three Rays at the Kennedy Center because they all have a certain degree of "snooty air"...in a nice way, of course.

No it's not my opinion, Natalia, it's a fact; it's how Lydia Pashkova, Petipa and Glazunov created the role. Raymonda is a 16 year old countess on the verge of womanhood, is madly in love with Jean de Brienne and is waiting for him to return from the Crusades so they can marry, but then finds herself in danger when Abderakhman shows up. Like Medora, she's one of ballet's ultimate damsels-in-distress; the story is a medieval cliché where a beautiful young noblewoman finds herself in danger and is rescued by her dashing knight-in-shining-armour. Didn't all this seem obvious in the reconstruction?

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I haven't seen a live full-length Raymonda in some years, but I should think that--like Aurora--Raymonda should be subtly different in each act. Fresh and youthful in her entrance certainly, though still a blue-blood and, by the end, radiating aristocratic grandeur. (At least "ballet" aristocratic -- which is as absurd in its way as "ballet" peasant. Though very beautiful.)

And any good ballerina will mold the role a bit towards her particular strengths--the role has its requirements, but if the ballet didn't allow for some interpretive range it could be danced by holographs.

Despite the damsel in distress aspects, the choreography endows Raymonda with more agency and character than the story does. I like that about Petipa.

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I haven't seen a live full-length Raymonda in some years, but I should think that--like Aurora--Raymonda should be subtly different in each act. Fresh and youthful in her entrance certainly, though still a blue-blood and, by the end, radiating aristocratic grandeur. (At least "ballet" aristocratic -- which is as absurd in its way as "ballet" peasant. Though very beautiful.)

And any good ballerinas will mold the role a bit towards her particular strengths--the role has its requirements, but if the ballet didn't allow for some interpretive range it could be danced by holographs.

Despite the damsel in distress aspects, the choreography endows Raymonda with more agency and character than the story does. I like that about Petipa.

Yes, although she's in a spot of bother (!) Raymonda is an aristocrat, not just any girl, and so the quality of aristocratic refinement should be present in each variation, although, as you say, each variation should be "subtly different"!

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I choose the path of beauty and love because ballet brings only beauty to my heart. How lucky we are to be seeing an entire week of exquisite Raymondas at the Kennedy Center next month. Life is good.

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I haven't seen a live full-length Raymonda in some years, but I should think that--like Aurora--Raymonda should be subtly different in each act. Fresh and youthful in her entrance certainly, though still a blue-blood and, by the end, radiating aristocratic grandeur. (At least "ballet" aristocratic -- which is as absurd in its way as "ballet" peasant. Though very beautiful.)

And any good ballerinas will mold the role a bit towards her particular strengths--the role has its requirements, but if the ballet didn't allow for some interpretive range it could be danced by holographs.

Despite the damsel in distress aspects, the choreography endows Raymonda with more agency and character than the story does. I like that about Petipa.

You're absolutely right, Drew, especially since the parallels between Raymonda and Sleeping Beauty are very clear. Petipa was a choreographer who would use references to his works in his new creations. Obviously, the big parallel to Sleeping Beauty in Raymonda is the Visions scene when the White Lady shows Raymonda a vision of what awaits her and she dances a splendid pas d'action with her beloved, which is just like the scene in Sleeping Beauty when the Lilac Fairy shows Prince Desire the vision of Aurora. This is also a parallel to the Underwater Kingdom scene in The Pharaoh's Daughter when Princess Aspicia is shown a vision of her beloved Ta-Hor by Father Nile before she ascends to back up the surface - and just for the record, Pierre Lacotte didn't restore this in his revival for the Bolshoi; instead, he utilised the music for this piece as an adagio for Aspicia partnered by Father Nile and four cavaliers.

But yes, Raymonda is like Aurora - she starts off youthful and playful, but is more alert and afraid in the second act following the disturbing vision the White Lady showed her and by the third act, she's matured into a young noblewoman, but she most certainly is not "icy"; that's just how certain Kirov/Mariinsky ballerinas (e.g. Lopatkina) have been portraying her for years for some odd reason and boy, did they get her character all wrong... it's like they've been getting her confused with Gamzatti!

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[...] How lucky we are to be seeing an entire week of exquisite Raymondas at the Kennedy Center next month.

Absolutely!

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The only time that Medora is a damsel in distress is at the beginning, when she's about to be sold into marriage. She takes to Petite Corsaire like a fish to water, and even survives a shipwreck.

Raymonda is an interesting character who is allowed a discomfiting vision scene, or at least a discomfiting dream vision scene, highly unusual in at least the surviving Petipa classics. Sergei Filin (in the Bolshoi version) is the only Jean de Brienne I've ever seen who I thought should make her forget Abderakhman. Unless, of course, Gediminas Taranda was dancing Abderakhman.

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One of the things that I like about Raymonda is that ballerinas seem to feel freer to interpret it differently: it just doesn't come with the same emotional baggage as Swan Lake or Giselle. My favorite take on the role actually isn't any of the ones mentioned!

I like seeing a more worldly, adult, playful Raymonda in the final act: it provides a great--but logical--contrast to the fresh (and then vision) maiden of the first acts of the ballet. I can't speak to their full interpretations of the role, but the Act III clips I've seen online of Plisetskaya and van Hamel locked this interpretation in my head: they seemed intent on showing how much fun it was to become an adult woman and wife, free from the uncertainties of girlhood.

That said, I also enjoy the grand, severe approach taken by Kondaurova and Marie-Agnès Gillot. Like folks have said, it leaves one few places take the characterization...but what an impression it makes in the final act!

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The grandest of the "grand aloofs" was perhaps Sylvie Guillem, loud slaps and all. This captures it all:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YjWrI5ityFw

I expect Big Red to give Sylvie a run for her money, even though the Mariinsky version omits the slaps...but I can also imagine both Skorik and Kolegova "bringing it" in the aristocratic snoot department. Oooo, I can't wait.

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The only time that Medora is a damsel in distress is at the beginning, when she's about to be sold into marriage. She takes to Petite Corsaire like a fish to water, and even survives a shipwreck.

Raymonda is an interesting character who is allowed a discomfiting vision scene, or at least a discomfiting dream vision scene, highly unusual in at least the surviving Petipa classics. Sergei Filin (in the Bolshoi version) is the only Jean de Brienne I've ever seen who I thought should make her forget Abderakhman. Unless, of course, Gediminas Taranda was dancing Abderakhman.

Medora, Gamzatti, Raymonda, Aurora are different characters by nature and nurture. And we will have as Abderakham's, Smekalov and Zverev. .

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Medora, Gamzatti, Raymonda, Aurora are different characters by nature and nurture. And we will have as Abderakham's, Smekalov and Zverev. This link is to the full Segerstrom cast so we should have some wonderful dancers in variations: http://www.scfta.org/scfta/media/General/PDFs/Program_MariinskyBallet_Raymonda.pdf

I'm happy with all the casts.

Both these Abderakhams are excellent, in particular Zverev, who really can steal the scene away from any of the current JdBs! He has such presence on stage! But he should be given JdB. He is a wonderful dancer!

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The KC is displaying huge beautiful posters of Skorik.

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Had it been a different cast i would visit, but not this one

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To be honest, I don't really care about the casting, and I knew I was to have my share of Skorik, but Raymonda is not a role of fouettes, so she should be fine. I will be there just to see this rarity.

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Yes--I'm not indifferent to casting, but the chance to see this ballet is the great thing with me too. Especially this ballet as danced by this company. (Weather and ballet gods cooperating, I will be there Friday and Sat, and see all three casts. And I hope to meet some fellow posters on this site, too, as Cubanmiamiboy earlier suggested.)

Edited to Add: Maps I would love to see the poster, but haven't been able to track down an image of it.

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