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Mariinsky's Raymonda To the KC in Feb 2016

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Last night's Raymonda was my first of this run so I can't compare it to opening night, but I concur with all the other posters (and great to see you all!) that Kondaurova was fantastic. I thought she'd make a great Raymonda and I'm glad I was right. Her clapping variation was tremendous, she really made the most of it.

There is not much dancing for Jean de Brienne in this version, his main job is partnering and for me, Korsuntsev is the Mariinsky's best partner. He's also the only on on this tour who actually relates to his partner so I'm glad Kondaurova got him!

The night's Clemence was Yekaterina Chebykina. She does a long adagio solo in the second act and she did it just beautifully with long, spun out lines and perfect control.

Ernest Latypov was one of our 2 troubadours in addition to dancing in the 3rd act male variation. He is my favorite of the up and coming men but I also really loved the other Troubadour Evgeny Konovalov. He was slightly taller with beautiful stretched lines.

All in all a great night and now I am looking forward to Kolegova

Very glad to hear about Yekaterina Chebykina. I like her very much, although in the several Costa Mesa performances, for me, Oxana Skorik in two performances did eclipse everyone with the artistic fineness (no mistakes that I noticed) of her dancing except for Kristina Shapran’s vey brief appearance.

So glad to hear that Yekaterina Kondaurova did so well. I always appreciate Danila Korsuntsev very much. Anastasia Kolegova should be technically outstanding (watch for her cambre(?) backbends), and delightful.

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There must be "the curse of the sautees in pointe" against the Russian ballerinas. Kolegova fell off pointe during her series of sautees tonight.

There were a few minor bobbles - she listed off center several times during supported pirouettes but of course her partners reeled her in and those killer lifts that looked so effortless with K/K looked a bit effortful with K/I. She's also not a natural adagio dancer like Big Red, but those are minor quibbles. Her technique was more than strong enough for the role and she was charming and vivacious.

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Kolegova is normally technically immaculate but she did have a couple of slight mishaps falling off balance. However, she was in a daring mood and threw the veil, for example higher than I have seen in the past almost losing it at one point but catching it and hopping onto pointe for a couple of poses like the balance on one foot in the coda of Act 3. These small daring feats told me she was taking some risks and paid for them. She has to be the most beautiful ballerina in the world. She could turn a gay man straight, in my opinion. She is the sweet, delicate, and innocent Raymonda in Act 1 but commands the stage for the final variation.

Ivanchenko was more energetic than I have ever seen him which isn't saying much, but it was very nice to see him this way.

I think Smekalov is turning into the new Kuznetsov (giving all he has to Abderakhman).

Batoeva is a joy to see as Henrietta (yesterday she danced the Act 3 variation). Shapran is not quite up to Clemence and that ultra difficult adagio variation. She even had an unfortunate slip, although that happens to everyone, but I do feel she is being pushed into difficult roles before she is ready.

Petushkova and Kuzmin have been electric as the Spanish couple this run. Her back bends aren't quite as amazing as other dancers in that role but pretty amazing nevertheless. She is always extroverted in her dancing.

Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova danced the Act 3 variation which I view as a "Mini-Raymonda." She is a talented dancer but her legs are rare even if this were Soviet times when Russian dancers were meatier. Huge muscular calves. I actually find it refreshing but I suspect it might limit her roles. It will be interesting to see.

It was so refreshing to see all four males land in 5th. There is usually one who messes up his landings.

Overall a fun night. The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra sounds better each night. I am hearing darker colors and less sour notes in the horn section. In their defense they might be new to this score.

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I made it to the 2/25 (Thursday) performance. It was a bit of a mixed bag.

GOOD: The dancing was uniformly crisp and tasteful, as is the usual for Russian companies. Raymonda and the various variations babes turned in stellar performances. The costumes were great. The dancers seemed more committed to the story than the ABT dancers did for Sleeping Beauty.

NOT-SO-GOOD: The choreography for the primary male characters was pretty lackluster - well below the capabilities of dancers in an elite company. The first act is in serious need of editing. Not a lot happened during it. Too much prancing and posing. A few nice solos for Raymonda and a couple of variations babes, but the rest of the choreography in the 1st act was pretty basic. I kept waiting throughout the production for Abderakhman to take off on a power solo, but it never happened. No wonder that Raymonda preferred the other guy. Too many dances by characters who didn't have names.

I had a very bad day in a pretty bad week, so I forgot to check BA to see where other attendees were going to be hanging out :(.

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Ivanchenko was more energetic than I have ever seen him which isn't saying much...


ROTFL! I hope that he recharges for the Saturday matinee. I sincerely want to be proven wrong about "Zombiechenko"!

About Sofia I-S/SIS: I noticed those physical attributes that you mentioned PLUS the shortish arms. She seems to be the current Mariinsky Go-To Gal for solos requiring petit batterie. I love her ultra-clear entrechats, for ex. Her face registers to the highest rafter, too. She may be a great candidate to dance the Pierina Legnani roles in reconstructions someday.

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ROTFL! I hope that he recharges for the Saturday matinee. I sincerely want to be proven wrong about "Zombiechenko"!

About Sofia I-S/SIS: I noticed those physical attributes that you mentioned PLUS the shortish arms. She seems to be the current Mariinsky Go-To Gal for solos requiring petit batterie. I love her ultra-clear entrechats, for ex. Her face registers to the highest rafter, too. She may be a great candidate to dance the Pierina Legnani roles in reconstructions someday.

Don't get your hopes up too high Natalia, remember - it isn't saying much!

Ivanchenko was more energetic than I have ever seen him which isn't saying much, but it was very nice to see him this way.

Jean doesn't have much to do here but support Raymonda so it's a perfect role for Zombichenko! He is a big guy and a great partner so I was surprised that some of the lifts early on didn't look as easy as they did with Kondaurova/Korsuntsev. No disasters, they just weren't as smooth as I'd expected them to be.
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ROTFL! I hope that he recharges for the Saturday matinee. I sincerely want to be proven wrong about "Zombiechenko"!

About Sofia I-S/SIS: I noticed those physical attributes that you mentioned PLUS the shortish arms. She seems to be the current Mariinsky Go-To Gal for solos requiring petit batterie. I love her ultra-clear entrechats, for ex. Her face registers to the highest rafter, too. She may be a great candidate to dance the Pierina Legnani roles in reconstructions someday.

Sofya is the entrechat queen of the company currently - few can do entrechat6, yet she does them with ease, and she has both ballon AND elevation to perform all those little petit allegro steps immaculately. Her sissones are fabulous and yes, she has strong legs, but if they give her that wonderful flight across the stage in jetes, then I am pleased she has them! She is a fabulous Diamond Fairy in Sleeping Beauty also.

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Skorik showed a HUGE improvement tonight from opening night. I noticed she wore less makeup, so her face was less harsh and relaxed. She also smiled more both to the audience and to Askerov, and in general they showed much more chemistry than on Tuesday. She still looked pretty scared when she was lifted, looking down nervously, AND she still struggled to do the sautees on pointe-(she didn't fell off pointe, but did them on the same spot, or maybe advancing just a tiny bit..)

A couple of impressions on some performers from various performances.

Shapran. Less than perfect technique and stage projection. Unsteady during landings and with a face that look as if she is condemned to the guillotine.

A WONDERFUL Kirill Leontiev leading the czarda. Such great spirit and character!

Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova and her wonderful technique and powerful calves. Brava!

I'm skipping Kolegova's matinee tomorrow-(didn't impress me that much..)-but back at Big Red's evening performance. Hell... she IS Raymonda!!

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I thought Skorik was absolutely gorgeous tonight. That stunning arabesque line, the long legs and uber flexible torso and back served her well as Raymonda. Her face is not very expressive and that can be problematic in certain roles but not here, at least not for me. I think that's what some people are reading as fear, she does sometimes have a "deer in the headlights" look, but I think that's just her natural expression.

Askerov acquitted himself well. His variation was the best of the 3 but then again, he's probably 15 years younger than Korsuntsev & Ivanchenko!

And I've found a new favorite that I will look for from now on - Yekaterina Chebykina who once again KILLED Clemence's 2nd act adagio variation.

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Very enjoyable to meet several fellow fans from BalletAlert at Kennedy Center this past evening. By sheer chance I was sitting next to NYSusan which was very nice. Unable to type at length but wanted to say that I, too, greatly enjoyed Skoryk's performance this evening. I gather there is plenty of agreement that Tuesday was...uh....not her best night. But this evening she danced beautifully and by the end, in the final grand pas, even at times with a kind of playful mastery. The harrowing Act II variation in the purple tutu had one or two moments when she.looked, just for a nanosecond, to have to catch herself -- though I thought she covered about half her diagonal of changements on pointe before cutting it short -- and I could wish her chaine turns were faster, but overall Act II went quite well. And especially in the adagio of the vision scene and the final grand pas I found her, as NYSusan wrote, gorgeous. I know reliability matters, but I have now seen Skoryk twice live and she gave really lovely performances both times. I can't help but be won over.

Love the ballet--love the production. Find the backdrops, especially for Acts I and II utterly wonderful -- the best sort of medievalist (that is, 19th-century medievalist) ballet poetry. Like the costumes too--wouldn't mind the shredded romantic tutus for the corps in vision scene if they didn't clash with the classical ballet tutus worn by the demi-soloists. Did have trouble seeing the final departure of the lovers from about two thirds back in the orchestra. Plan to catch two more performances and will try to write again.

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The Saturday matinee starring Kolegova & Ivanchenko was 100% better than the opening night with Skorik/Askerov.

Anastasia Kolegova was a sheer delight -- the perfect mix of aloof sharpness, physical beauty (that face! those feet!) and joyful manner (she smiles!). All variations went well but she absolutely nailed the Hungarian "clapping solo," playing delightfully with the piano - little shakes of the head and sly smiles - that signals total mastery of the art. I'm a Kolegova uber fan now!

The only thing that some may consider a negative in Kolegova is that, in her A2 solo (navy blue tutu), she performs a diagonal of simple hops on pointe rather than changements.

Ivanchenko offered easy support of his ballerina -unlike Askerov who "made obvious effort" when lifting and carrying his Raymonda, especially when walking backwards while holding Skorik. No problem for Ivanchenko, making Kolegova look light as a feather! Also, he survived his one solo in A3 with minimal puffing.

The other soloists were the same as on opening night. I'll only name Sophia Ivanova-Skoblikova who once again wowed us with her outstanding petit allegro technique.

The only faux-pas was at the end of the Saracen couple's dance, with the girl finishing awkwardly and almost splatting, were it not for the big and quick hands of the male partner who saved her (Oleg Demchenko, hero of the day).

On to Big Red Kondaurova tonight!

- Natalia Nabatova

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I feel happy. I saw my first live Raymonda today, and my first Mariinsky performance! I've watched snippets of this ballet on YouTube (and have bought 2 videos, but have yet to watch them), so this was my first live viewing, and I LOVED it! The good thing about being a ballet newb, is that I don't have older versions in my head, so I'm not let down when they omit things (like the white lady). I loved everything about this ballet..the dancing (so beautiful), the costumes, the sets, the lighting (especially in the dream sequence).

I thought Kolegova was lovely. I was worried I was going to find her cold, after reading others comments, but I thought she was quite warm on stage. She has a lovely port de bras and beautiful arching back (a quality I admired in all of the Mariinsky ladies!) As Natalia stated above, she owned her act 3 solo. It was beautiful and regal and I was mesmerized. I thought Ivanchenko was a good partner. His solo was ok, but he doesn't seem to finish his movements very well.

As it was my first time seeing the Mariinsky, it was my first time seeing Shapran, whom I know garners mixed reviews. I thought she was lovely.

I wish I could have stayed to see the night performance, but I was too tired and didn't want to drive 3 hours back to Philly so late. Sorry I didn't get a chance to come out and meet folks by the Kennedy head, my fiance was grouchy and was in kind of an antisocial mood today.

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Flash! So many errors tonight but Big Red most regal! My favorite cast, in all, was this afternoon (Kolegova) but Kondaurova was lovely.

Kondaurova seemed so tired at the end that she even forgot to do her Mazurka steps and Korsuntsev whispered to her something, and she realized "where she was" in the ballet. Doesn't matter. Her solos were mostly exquisite. Korsuntsev offered fine partnering and "looked the Prince" but seems to not be quite back from his surgery, as evinced in a watered down A3 solo.

Smekalov brought so much passion to Abderakhman, especially in his slow death. But....What was up with his loose metal belt, clang-clanging throughout the A2 Pas d'Action/Pas de Six? Wardrobe malfunction, methinks. Most distracting.

Chebykina, as Clemence, showed why she is being entrusted with juicy roles like Odette/Odile back home. Gorgeous legato dancing. Gonchar, as Henriette, survived a horrendously loud splat during the A2 adagio to dance a good solo minute later, even if in pain. She must be one tough cookie.

Thank you, Mariinsky Ballet!

On to NYC tomorrow morn for the last of the BAM gala concerts.

- Natalia Nabatova

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Too tired after 2 shows in one day to write much but thrilled that Kolegova is getting good reviews from fellow BA members. In my opinion, she is treated as a B cast ballerina who they use to fill in whenever someone cancels, and I find her artistry and her facial beauty amazing. In both of her DC Raymondas she comes running downstage for her final coda (a Hungarian pique March thing) and literally jumps onto pointe, holds the first pique pose longer than most and then begins. I see little details like this in every performance of hers. Anyway, more later....going to bed...

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Wow this was exhausting, an early morning day trip to Washington DC. But I'm so happy I went -- great to meet Birdsall and Drew in person, and also saw a wonderful performance of Raymonda! Kolegova is a dancer I've never seen before but she was exquisite and has great terre a terre technique. Loved her fast diagonal of entrechats.

More thoughts here:


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Between museums, Raymonda performances, and SLEEP it has been hard to find time to review.

On Friday Skorik was better than I have ever seen her, but I have to say I hate the idea of people new to the Mariinsky who do not really follow ballet viewing her as the best the Mariinsky has to offer. Many casual ballet lovers think a principal ranking means the ballerina is one of the best. I heard a comment about Kolegova ("She's just a First Soloist"), but she can dance circles around Skorik in her sleep due to musicality, artistry, and acting.

With that said Skorik had one of her best nights on Friday night but some "deer in the headlights" looks as nysusan says. This is one of my problems with her. I don't want to travel and spend money on a ballerina with a "deer in the headlights" look. It would be fine at a regional company in a debut to have this look. For me it is not good for a venerable company like the Mariinsky to have a principal who often looks scared or like she's concentrating on remembering the steps. I do think she's come a long way and is better than when she came onto everyone's radar. I would applaud loudly if she were appearing as a principal in a regional company, but I still think she is not yet principal material for the Mariinsky (so many other dancers are better).

In contrast Kolegova was smooth as silk during the Saturday matinee. She has the delicate, sweet, and happy persona on stage that fits Act One. But for me her arms are the real Vaganova trained deal. Her arms are shorter than Lopatkina's so not as obvious to notice at first glance but if you pay attention her arms move with incredible grace and always to the music. Her arms flow, flow, flow. The best Vaganova graduates have this quality, and some people don't care for it. The flowing arms put me in ecstasy and make Vaganova graduates seem like unique sea creatures or alien dancing beings who have come to earth to teach us what beauty is. This is the special Mariinsky style that you see in no other company in the world and why I tell people that if they are looking too much at dancers' feet they are totally missing the unique quality of the Mariinsky. For me the Mariinsky has been a blessing and a curse. Blessing for the joy the company brings to me, but a curse at the same time because when I don't see flowing arms I lose interest and just feel the dancers are stiff at other companies even when I tell myself it is a different style and try to enjoy this other style. Even the Bolshoi doesn't do it for me because of this.

Kondaurova has always struck me as a strong diva looking ballerina who would fit the Bolshoi much better. For me she would actually look delicate at the Bolshoi but she looks like an Amazon at the Mariinsky. I have always thought she was more of an Act 3 Raymonda. Imperious looking and strong and commanding. I didn't think she was delicate and sweet enough for Act 1. Basically she does not fit a "damsel in distress"....she looks like she would karate chop Abderakhman herself or burn his body up with a glacial stare. So I was quite surprised how much she softened her natural persona on Wednesday night, and I very much enjoyed her. But last night I felt she was back in her "strong" persona. She was still good but I liked her better on Wednesday. She also has more flow to her arms than Skorik. My main quibble last night were Kondaurova's very shallow renverses. I like the leg to go up higher as it rotates back.

More later...

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Skorik was the only one of the three Rays to perform changements on pointe during the A2 solo. The other two just performed hops on pointe without switching the feet. This of course contrasts with the 1898 version at La Scala in which Ray performs a long series of entrechats six...but that's the great Novikova!

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I woke up this morning wanting to see this again, but unforunately there are only a few seats left and they aren't very good. So instead I'm going to stay home and watch the Kolpakova video, finally. Would have liked to have seen Skorik, since she also garners such mixed reviews.

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People who attended both Tues and Fri also agreed Friday Skoryk was much better. She may divide opinions, but there was pretty clear consensus about that at least. Also, we have Raymonda experts on this site, few and far between are any fans who have seen the 'white lady' as a major factor in modern productions. The La Scala reconstruction of course is different.

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