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Finally, I wrote my Kirov report.

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Glance at Kirov Japan Tour

I was in Japan from September 20 to November 28 and had managed to see 5 Kirov performances during that period. Unfortunately, I have been tired and busy since I came back to Beijing. That's why I could not post a report earlier. Sorry for my laziness and the delay, but I have expected to read a report on Kirov Japan tour by someone in Japan, who has seen more performances than myself.

Since I have a lot of things to do at the moment, I can only post a very rough report. I hope I can get more time the next week, then I would like to give you more detailed information about performances that I saw.

The Kirov performances and the casts I saw were:

November 18/ Yokohama/ La Bayadere/ Diana Vishneva (as Nikiya) / FaruhkRuzimatov (as Solor) / Elvira Tarasova (as Gamzatti)

November 19/ Yokohama/ Nutcracker/ Maya Dumchenko (as Masha¡ªit's not Clara in Russian version)/ Igor Kolb (as the prince)

November 23/ Tokyo/ Swan Lake/ Sofia Gumerova (as Odette/ Odile) ,Igor Kolb (the Prince) and Ilya Kuznetsov (as Rothbart)

November 24/ Tokyo/ All Star Gala/ Matalya Sologub and Anton Korsakov (with SATANILLA)/ Elvira Tarasova and Ilya Kuznetsov (with WALTZ)/ Uliana Lopatkina (with Dying Sawan) / Veronika Part and Daniil Korsuntsev (with Grand Pas Classique from RAYMONDA) / Irina Zhelonkina and Igor Kolb (LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE) / Sofia Gumerova and Ilya Kuznetsov (with Black Swan PDD from SAWN LAKE)/ Diana Vishneva and Igor Zelensky (with Tchaikovsky PDD)/ Daria Pavlenko ans Islom Baimuradov (with MIDDLE DUO)/ Uliana Lopatkina and Farukh Ruzimatov (with PDD from LA CORSAIRE)

Nonvember 27/ Rtokyo/ Balanchine Gala / Sologub, Korsuntsev, Tarasova,Gumerova and Firsov (with Serenade) / Vishneva and Zelensky (with Tchaikovsky PDD) / Igor Zelensky, Pavlenko, Serebryakova, Part and Gronskaya (with Apollo) / Gumerova, Khrebtov, Lopatkina, Kuznetsov, Tarasova, Korsakov, Dumchenko and Scherbakov (with Symphony in C)

My impression:

La Bayadere on November 18 was the first show of their Japan tour. According to the earlier announcement, Atynai Asylmuratova would appear on the stage as Nikiya. Later there was a change, and then Diana Vishneva made her Nikiya debut. She looked beautiful and was technically almost perfect (except a small false in the first pdd), and brilliant in her allegro dances. But her Nikiya could not touch me very much and I hoped she could dance in a more oriental way.

Farukh Ruzimatov suffered from his injury in his left leg. He managed to keep his flexibility and style but had lost his power and could not jump very well in his variations. Elvira Tarasova was technically stable, but I am sorry to say that I had expected a more beautiful Gamzatti.

Anton Korsakov danced Bronze Idol. He was quite good. His dancing was very clean. But I guess he was not in his best form.

Ilya Kuznetsov appeared in first Act as a slave and danced a short pdd with Vishneva. They did it very well and cut a beautiful figure.

Corp de ballet was nice as usual; the shade scene was beautiful. But I think the tempo of the music was too fast when the girls did their Arabesques at the beginning.

Actually I saw another La Bayadere on Nov.23 at the new State Opera House in Tokyo. It was a Matinee performance with Anna Antoncheva (of Bolshoi) as Nikiya and Carlos Acosta (of RB) as Solor. It was a wonderful show too. I think Antonicheva was a more moving Nikiya and Acosta was a more powerful Solor. Above all, Naoya Kojima was a surpassingly excellent Bronze Idol. Corps de ballet danced in a very good style too. I enjoyed the music very much as well. It was wonderfully and dramatically played by New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro John Lanchbery.

Back to Kirov. Nutcracker on November 19 was first announced to be danced by Svetlana Zakharova. Later, it changed to Diana Vishneva, and then since Vishneva had danced Nikiya the previous night, it was finally danced by Maya Dumchenko (as Masha) and Igor Kolb (as the prince).

Dumchenko lacked the technical brilliance that Vishneva has. But I think she was a very nice dancer. The movement of her arms was beautiful. Igor Kolb was excellent too. He danced in a very good manner and I think he looked quite handsome and prince like in grand pdd. I enjoyed that pdd and the Waltz very much. It is a pity that I could not see its wonderful corps from an upstairs seat.

Veronica Part appeared in the first act as one of the Snow Flakes. I think she looked lighter than last year when she danced Swan Lake in China.

Swan Lake on November 23 was firstly announced to be danced by Ulian Lopatkina and Daniil Korsuntsev, but soon changed to Sofia Gumerova and Igor Kolb. I heard Veronica Part and Daniil Korsuntsev (substituted for Ruzimatov) had danced the same ballet the previous night, and Daria Pavlenko/ Ilya Kuznetsov had danced it in the Matinee performance the same day (on Nov.23).

Sofia Gumerova was tall enough to do this roll and perhaps safer in technique and lighter on feet than Part. She was a good but not very outstanding Swan. Igor Kolb showed his wonderful manner and style, but in this ballet, the Prince does not dance a lot.

What impressed me was Rothbart. Kuznetsov danced it in a rather emotional way. He looked quite charming even with his black mask and costume.

The national dances disappointed me though, because they were not as exciting as the ones I saw in Beijing and Shanghai a year ago.

Then it was All Star Gala on Nov.24. I had expected that Svetlana Zakharova would appear in this Gala, but again I was wrong. I asked the staff at the theater and was told that Zakharova had not come to Japan yet, and she had been dancing with another part of the company in another part of the world.

There were 7 dances performed in the Gala. The best 5 dances for me were:

(1) Dying Swan with Uliana Lopatkina. She had poem in her dance. She was both elegant and emotional. In another word, she was the most beautiful dying swan I had ever seen.

(2) Tchaikovsky PDD with Diana Vishneva and Igor Zelensky. They were just a brilliant couple, brilliant in technique.

(3) LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE with Irina Zhelonkina and Igor Kolb. Igor Kolb showed us his elegance and power at the same time. His arms were so soft, and his leaps and jumps were powerful. I think many male dancers look more female than male in this piece. But Igor Kolb was different, he was an excellent male ROSE.

(4) MIDDLE DUO with Daria Pavlenko ans Islom Baimuradov. This new piece is choreographed by Aleksei Ratmansky (now with Royal Danish Ballet). I t was a nice piece and quite unique for me. Daria Pavlenko and Islom Baimuradov presented it very well. They were so nice in this piece that I guessed they must be better in contemporary works than in true classical pieces.

(5) WALTZ with Elvira Tarasova and Ilya Kuznetsov (Music by Moritz Mashkovsky, and choreographed by Vasily Vainonen). It was a piece with real Soviet style, more like a sport game (figure skate) than dance. But they danced it in a very exciting way, and I think they were more elegant than the Bolshoi dancers in 1950s (I have watched the Bolshoi dancers dancing the same piece in a TV documentary program). They looked so young and so beautiful, very cheerful and joyful as well.

Nonvember 27 was the last night for me. It was Balanchine Gala.

Tatsu has posted a report about this performance earlier on balletalert ((thanks a lot). So I just want to talk about my impression.


I agree with Tatsu. I think it was a little bit disappointing too. I always take Serenade as one of the most classical piece of all Balanchine's works and guess it must be one of the most well-matched Banalachine piece for the Kirov dancers. Unfortunately the Kirov dancers could not touch me as NYCB dancers did a few years ago. To be honest, I prefer taller dancers to dance this piece, so I enjoyed Gumerova more than other soloists.

Tchaikovsky PDD.

Vishneva and Zelensky were almost as excellent as they had been a couple of days before. But I think Vishneva occasionally had some small technique troubles this time, while Igor Zelensky tried to show his best. He jumped higher and hanged himself longer on the air than last time.


I heard this was the favorite piece of Igor Zelensky. So He appeared for the second time that night.

He looked naive when he (Apollo) was born and he danced the piece quite well. The three Muses (Pavlenko, Serebryakova and Part) looked lovely too.

Symphony in C

I think this was the most exciting piece in that Gala. Unlike Tatsu, I enjoyed Lopatkina and Kuznetsov (in the second movement) very much. I really think Loptkina is the best ADAGIO dancer in world. Kuznetsov was excellent too. He was still a little bit heavy on feet. But his manner and style was elegant. I just wished to watch them dancing forever. Dancers in other movements were very nice too. Korsakov was in very good form that night.

The pity is we could not see Jewels this time, I don't know why they did not do this wonderful piece in Japan.

During the last intermission, I went to see Mr. Vaziev and Ms. Chenchikova to say goodbye to them. I told them all of the ballet lovers in China had been waiting for Kirov.

Sorry for my poor English. I will try to post a more detailed report in near future.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading your report, Hu Xinxin. I'm only a bit sorry that you did not find Elvira Tarassova's Gamzatti to your liking, as she is one of the few remaining true classicists among the Kirov soloists. Perhaps she was having an off-day or recovering from injury? When she is "on" she is truly beautiful.

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Xinxin, your report is most interesting to read. I envy you seeing Vainonen's "Waltz", which I've never seen yet, as well as the new Alexei Ratmansky work "Middle Duo". And you've seen Igor Kolb in more roles than I managed last summer in London.

It's thoughtful of you to say goodbye to Mr. Vaziev. He's a very nice man. I hope that he will bring the Kirov to tour China again soon, and that you can finally see them dance "Jewels".

[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited December 16, 2000).]

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I agree with that. Daria Pavlenko is great in classical roles. She looks to me as one of the more interesting artists of the new generation at the Maryinsky. A beautiful plastique, a lovely quality of movement and she really can make things come alive, which is quite rare nowadays.

Interesting to note that Pavlenko is coached by Gabriella Komleva.

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I remember Daria Pavlenko's assured debut in "Diamonds" at Covent Garden last June after only three days of rehearsals, replacing the injured Uliana Lopatkina; but was not as impressed by her Odette/Odile which was also a replacement cast.

In the Kirov's master class in August, when introducing Pavlenko to the matinee audience, Vaziev himself paid tribute to her ability to learn roles at such short notice.

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That’s of course an entirely different matter, and a fundamental mistake in my opinion, happening constantly in the Kirov: as soon as a new artist is showing some promise, he or she is supposed to be dancing the big roles. Pavlenko is surely a gifted dancer doing great as Florine or in "Chopiniana", but that doesn’t imply that she is ready for tackling "Swan Lake" or "Raymonda". The results of those hasty tryouts are often disappointing and can be detrimental for the rest of the career, especially when everything has to be ready and prepared in no time.

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I don't think that there's that much harm in pushing young dancers into leading roles, just due to the necessity to cover injuries of the scheduled casts.

Returning to the Japan performances, Xinxin, which Kirov dancers were the favourites of the Japanese public? And do you think that Ilya Kuznetsov has made a lot of progress this time since your last viewing of him in Beijing last year?

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Thanks so much and nice to see all of you on the net.

Dear Jeannie

Elvira Tarasova was very nice in Waltz and the third movement of Symphony in C. And I have learned from some Japanese ballet boards that many Japanese ballet fans like her Gamzatti very much. It is only my preference that I hope to see Diana Vishneva doing the same role (with Uliana Lopatkina as Nikiya).

On the day of December 3, Lopatkina danced Nikiya, with Igor Zelensky as her Solor, but I could not see it because I was already China then (I heard it had been a great performance though). Another pity is that I could not see Sleeping Beauty because the performances were given after I had left too.

Dear Leigh Witchel and Marc Haegeman and Jane Simpson

I am very glad to learn that Daria Pavlenko is equally great in classical ballet. She really impressed me a lot with her Middle Duo.

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I think Lopatkina gained a lot of fans in Japan this time. She does not come to Japan as often as the other Kirov dancers do. So very few Japanese ballet lovers had had opportunities to see her before this tour. I did not see her doing Swan Lake (with Igor Zelensky as the prince) this time, but I heard that even Igor fans had been attracted by her beauty and elegance and intelligence and forgot to watch their favorite Igor during the performance.

I guess Ilya Kuznetsov has gained a lot of fans too. I think he has made great progress especially in his artistic presentation. Actually he has become one of my favorite dancers this time.

It seamed to me that the art agency has put Veronica Part as another sales point. I think Part has gained more confidence since I had last seen her in Shanghai. She looked lovely in Raymonda and Apollo, but still a little bit heavy and has something to improve in technique.

I guess Anton Korsakov has gained much popularity too. He looked fresh and lovely, very good in technique.

I hope Kirov will soon tour China too. But the problem is that they have to earn more and the Chinese arts agencies do not want to pay as much as Kirov asks. That's why they canceled their Giselle in Shanghai earlier this year. People in Beijing want to pay more, but we do not have a good theater in Beijing.

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Xinxin, thanks for your information; I am glad to hear that Lopatkina, Anton Korsakov and Ilya Kuznetsov are popular in Japan. Yes, I understand that the arts agencies in Shanghai (and Hong Kong too) may not be able to afford to pay the high fees asked for by the Kirov nowadays. When the new opera house in Beijing is completed, no doubt you will have a much better theatre for ballet.

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Undoubtedly Lopatkina got the highest praise, and Zelensky got the second. Indeed, Lopatkina was a sensation. Even though I wasn't impressed enough, I could understand why the audience got wildly excited.

And I want to mention Diana Vishneva as Princess Aurora in 12/6. She was really breathtaking. She dominated the theater with her brilliant presence. Her superb technique, beautiful posture, and perfect musicality astonished the audience. Korsakov danced the variation from Blue Bird PDD very well and got great applause, but I thought he should polish up his partnering technique much more.

XinXin wrote:

The pity is we could not see Jewels this time, I don't know why they did not do this wonderful piece in Japan.

I think the promoter of the Japan tour doubted the popularity of the piece, because still the Japanese audience love the Putipa's classical narrative full-length ballets, such as Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. Most of them are less interested in modern plotless ballets like Balanchine. Indeed, there were a lot of vacant seats in Balanchine Gala. Though I eagerly want to see it!

Kevin, have you mailed to me about your question? I'm afraid I don't get it for some reason...

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Tatsu, I am glad that you enjoyed so much Diana Vishneva's Aurora. In London, I admired her Aurora as well as Zhanna Ayupova's the most out of the various casts. I am not surprised that the Balanchine gala didn't sell out in Tokyo, I doubt if it will be that popular in China and Hong Kong either.

[This message has been edited by Kevin Ng (edited December 19, 2000).]

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I am sorry to say this, but I think people in Shanghai are quite snobbish. They go to the theater to show their dresses and social status than enjoy performances. Placido Domingo will give a concert (not recital) at the Shanghai Grand Theater on Jan. 5. Do you know how much a single ticket costs? The most expensive one is 3000 RMB, much higher than China's average monthly income, but I heard all tickets had been sold out in a few days. (When I saw Kirov Swan Lake there, the most expensive ticket was 500RMB).

It is reported that the arts agency in Shanghai had paid more than $400000 for Domingo's concert. If they paid this much to Kirov, I think Kirov would do an excellent Sleeping Beauty for us and then would be able to feed thousands of its employees at least for one month.

Cindy has reported on our Chinese ballet board that when ABT performed La Bayadere in Shanghai, the reaction of the audience had been rather cold. But there was an exception: in the matinee performance on the last day, ABT got great BRAVI and applauds there. Do you know the reason? Dancers of National Ballet of China went to see that show. They were NOT Shanghainese at all.

As for Kirov dancers in Japan. I think Farukh Ruzimatov still remains super star there. And Igor Zelensky has gained great popularity through his frequent appearances in recent years with Kirov, RB and his own pick up group.

Among the young female dancers, Diana Vishneva and Svetlana Zakhorova have earned a lot of fans in Japan. But Loptkina had not been as well-known as her colleagues had, because she had not danced a lot there.

I think the Japanese people like to follow so-called super stars. That's why some excellent young dancers like Igor Kolb and Pavlenko can not earn much popularity there.

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TATSU, I couldn't agree more with your assessment of Vishneva's Aurora.It was a blessing and honor to have seen her performances in that role in London, this past summer. They were even better than the one in New York in '99. Simply the finest Aurora I've seen, although Jennifer Ringer (NYCB) conveys much of the same charm & 'perfume.'

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