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2015-16 season


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With some delay, the Bolshoi Theater announced plans for next season today. Originally, the announcement was to have been made three weeks ago, but was called off at the last minute. So here's what's new (or sort of new):

Alexei Fadeyechev's production of Don Quixote will get new designs by the late Valery Leventhal, who died earlier this month in Maryland.

There will be a triple bill of Hans van Manen's Frank Bridge Variations, Lightfoot and León's Short Time Together, and Jiří Kylián's Symphony of Psalms. Technically, Psalms is already in the company's repertoire, although it has not been performed for several years.

Viacheslav Samodurov will choreograph a new Ondine to the Henze score.

To mark the 60th birthday of Leonid Desyatnikov, Alexei Ratmansky's Russian Seasons will be revived after an absence of several years. They're going to give Apollo another whirl while they're at it.

From July 25 to August 13 the company will visit Covent Garden with Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, The Flames of Paris and The Taming of the Shrew.

http://www.bolshoi.ru/r/_content/cc9f1467ac9e145158d16c326b2e512e/240%20season.pdf

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I want to see Russian Seasons so much. So much. I've only seen the clips on youtube, but that is enough to have me hooked for life. It looks like I might have to plan a little trip to Moscow next year.

I am surprised that they're taking Flames of Paris to London, when they just performed it there. Also - I wonder if Osipova will perform with them in England.

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I was hoping for a slightly different rep for London (especially having seen three of those productions and two very recently). Depending on how they schedule the ballets, I may still try to see Shrew and either Corsaire or Flames of Paris alongside.

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I want to see Russian Seasons so much. So much. I've only seen the clips on youtube, but that is enough to have me hooked for life. It looks like I might have to plan a little trip to Moscow next year.

I am surprised that they're taking Flames of Paris to London, when they just performed it there. Also - I wonder if Osipova will perform with them in England.

(In passing, have you seen this clip of Russian Seasons hidden away on Abi Stafford's bio page at NYCB?)

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I'm just returning from a short week in Moscow, where I saw Lost Illusions three times. Once was with an absolutely phenomenal cast: Vladislav Lantratov, Ekaterina Krysanova, Ekaterina Shipulina, and Alexander Volchkov. I was expecting Lantratov to be fantastic in the part, since I'd seen youtube clips of him performing it, and he did not disappoint. He is a really fantastic dancer, musical and emotional and great at dancing Ratmansky's choreogrpahy. Florine is a perfect part for Shipulina - earthy and fun and seductive, and she does a lot for selling the beginning of the third act, which is probably the ballet's low point in terms of interest. Most surprising to me was just how much I loved Krysanova. I've seen her before, and of course always enjoyed her dancing (she has impeccable technique) but she really was something else entirely on Friday. She had the Sylph style perfectly done - everything always just slightly tilted off its axis and very very delicate. The other cast I saw was not as good - Vyacheslav Lopatin was very good in the part in terms of sculpting the figures, but he's not quite as musical as Lantratov (to me at least), and Anastasia Stashkevich is no Krysanova.

I did really like the ballet. The end of the first act is possibly the most amazing thing I've seen on stage all year. The rest of the ballet doesn't live up to it- but that would be hard. I certainly hope it stays in the repertoire.

I have a longer review in my blog, that goes more into the music and choreography and history.

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2015/10/lopatin-and-stashkevich-enthralled-by.html

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I enjoyed your blog review (which I had actually read before seeing this post)--it's a ballet I very much want to see...

Thanks! I hope you get to see it someday too. I also hope they put it out on DVD, which should be easy, since they did the HD Broadcast of it with Lantratov and Vishneva last year.

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I've just returned from Moscow and am now on a Bolshoi high. : )

Most of the works described in this thread were not being performed while I was there, but I was lucky to see Semyon Chudin turn in a phenomenal performance in Swan Lake. I also saw the new Hamlet.

I'll start with SL: I thought I'd seen good Siegfrieds before, but Chudin was something else entirely. Every leap seemed to hang in the air. Every series of turns and jumps ended with a rock-solid finish -- with no unsteadiness or extra steps. His solo in the pas de trois was without question the best I've ever seen (although granted, most companies don't have a principal dancer in the pas de trois). Still, I found myself sitting up a bit in anticipation every time he came on stage, and I was never disappointed. His performance was in equal parts polished, athletic, and artistic.

In the past, I've read criticisms of Chudin's acting ability, but I thought he did a great job there too. I wouldn't say there was any excessive "dancing with his face" (that I noticed; the Bolshoi stage is deep, so I didn't feel like I could always see their faces well). But he didn't need that. With his movements alone, he told a story. It was an incredible performance.
My O/O was Olga Smirnova. I've read some raves about her on BA! (and in particular about how she is with Chudin). But I wasn't so moved by her. I didn't see any mistakes (except for a turned-in leg during her pique turns and an overcrossed leg during pirouettes), but her Odette left me a bit cold. Her Odile was better but not spellbinding. Unfortunately, one thing that I found distracting during the Black Swan act was that, between the Odile makeup and headpiece, she looked totally different!! I spent a lot of time squinting at the stage and asking myself, is that her? I do think it was -- her physique is pretty recognizable. But the stylists/costumers may have gone a bit too far trying to change her look.
I'll just add, I know that a lot of people hate the Grigorovich SL, but I actually liked this staging much more than I was expecting to. The scenes pairing Siegfried with the Evil Genius weren't nearly as goofy as I was expecting, nor are they omnipresent in the piece. (And Artemy Belyakov as the EG was fantastic. When the Evil Genius mirrors Siegfried, he and Chudin were in crazy-perfect synch.) I wouldn't say this was my favorite SL staging ever, but I didn't find it nearly as offensive as the two other Swan Lakes I saw this year (the Nureyev version in Paris and the new Royal Danish version by Nikolaj Hübbe and Silja Schandorff). I thought the Grigorovich took fewer liberties than those did, and I also admired its simplicity. This is a generalization, but to me, it seems that the main approach of Nureyev's and Hübbe's revisionism was to add a lot of things that suggest bold new elements in the plot, which make both of those works very busy. The Grigorovich staging adds some things, but as far as the plot revisionism goes, it mainly takes things away. There are some downsides to this approach. For example, by dropping the sequences that suggest Odette was transformed into a swan, this staging doesn't give you as clear a narrative as more traditional ones. But on the plus side, it's open to interpretation. And on some level I found it refreshing to have less clutter (fewer props, less of the tutor, and no mime, which to me usually looks silly and almost never makes sense). You can really focus on the dancing, and I think you can read the work in multiple ways.
One of the things I disliked about this staging was the Russian character dance. I know it's a very small part of the ballet, but it's such great music, and I hate to see it wasted. For the first two-thirds of the dance, almost all the Russian princess does is walk back and forth waving her arms around! She occasionally does a little hopping step, and then toward the end she does some simple bourrées and turns. And for this she got bravas!! Maybe there's something culturally significant in the staging that I wasn't getting. As for the other character dances, I didn't like them as much as the traditional, off-pointe character dances that you see in other versions. But stylistically, the on-pointe versions might fit better in this staging. I do wish that these dances had included more couples, rather than being mostly all-women (although featuring women prominently does make a bit more sense with the plot).
The corps was absolutely amazing: gorgeous arms, gorgeous epaulement, great professionalism all the way around.
My only regret is that I was able to see only one performance. I went on my last night in Moscow, and it almost killed me to have to return home when Krysanova was dancing the following night! (They hadn't yet announced the casting when I arranged the trip.)
Also during this trip, I saw Hamlet. I had mixed feelings about this piece. For about the first third of this performance, I was pretty happy. I thought the scenes segued well into one another, and I found many aspects of the storytelling to be deft. However, somehow as the body count climbed, the piece seemed to me less and less compelling. Several scenes in the second act didn't make a lot of sense to me, even though I know the play and had read the program beforehand. And while I liked the modern styling of the dancers (they seem to be in late-50s/early-60s-style street clothes), I found myself wishing to see just one pair of pointe shoes. The choreography is very modern and much of it struck me as unattractive. I also didn't care much for all the voice effects. (Ophelia laughs audibly when she's going crazy; Hamlet makes nonsense sounds when he's pretending to be crazy, etc.)
Despite this list of complaints, I'm glad I saw it! I really admired Artyom Ovcharenko's transformation from nice normal guy to tortured soul. Also, as with the Taming of the Shrew last year, the theater did a great job with costumes, sets, and overall high production values. And I really appreciated the ambition of the piece. It's great that the Bolshoi takes on projects like this. I'll take a Hamlet any day over a tired Bayadere or Don Quixote.
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Thank you Sasark for this review. When I saw Chudin's Siegfried in NY I was just delighted. I had never seen Chudin on video and had read a bit of criticism of his dancing/acting on this site. So, I had no expectations. Then he entered with a leap so buoyant and so graceful, I literally sat up straighter in my seat. For the entire performance his dancing was, very much as you describe of the performance you saw, preternaturally clean and beautifully articulated. At one point I actually thought of Bruhn. At the same performance one friend found him too "academic" and another found him a touch "lightweight"--for me the academic quality of his dancing is infused with warmth and elegance and, well, his 'lightness' didn't seem lightweight to me. (He was a little less preternaturally clean at a performance of Swan Lake a few days later, though still very clean and very refined--but perhaps he has some especially 'on' nights and we were, at different times, lucky enough to see one of them.)

I do quite vehemently dislike the Grigorovich production--which, to my eyes, does add many elements to the inherited form of the ballet. But, at that performance in NY, as Chudin finished his entrance, I remember thinking something like "it's Grigorovich--Siegfied has lots of extra dancing--GREAT!!"

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The national dances in Grigorovich's staging showcase a main female in each national dance because after each solo, then all 5 (Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, Neapolitan, and Polish) become the "would be brides" who dance together in a line/group (they dance to a waltz) in hopes that Siegfried picks them right before Odile and the Evil Genius show up.

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Thanks everyone for the comments!


Drew, I'm glad you got to enjoy Chudin as much as I did. I feel it's one of those great performances that I'll never forget.


Birdsall, with the national princesses, yeah, I noticed that -- when he dances with them all, it's the same music to which the prince dances (in some versions) with random women holding with fans. I thought it was a nice touch using the princess that way (instead of random women). But something about having all-women for the national dances, except the Spanish one, struck me as less exciting than showcasing a couple or male-female ensemble. Or maybe I have that reaction because their choreography wasn't that interesting. I also thought it was a little odd that the prince wasn't there watching the national dances, like he is in some versions. Or at least, I couldn't spot him on the stage.
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