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White Nights 2015


Birdsall

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Tonight I saw Swan Lake at the Mariinsky-2 theatre. I prefer the historic theatre, because it is so much more magical entering that theatre, but the M-2's curtain depicting a rough lake and one huge white feather helped set the mood nevertheless.

Anastasia Kolegova was Odette/Odile, and I have championed her for a while on BA. Often she is criticized for failing to act. Whenever I see her I think she almost always has the expression or feeling I would have as Odette/Odile if I were a ballerina. I really don't know what people are talking about when they say she doesn't act. She is subtle, so maybe that is why. To me she is the opposite of flashy or being obvious, but I see a ballerina who acts.

I love the way she moves her arms and hands. Simple moves like when Siegfried picks her up and she places her hand in his hand are so feminine and delicate. These ultra feminine movements and her very subtle depiction of the character seem to go hand in hand. When she falls back with Siegfried catching her it is breath-taking how her arms undulate right before he pulls her back up into arabesque. During her coda diagonal her hand comes gracefully up near her face with every turn. To me she is poetry in motion. Her movements tell the story. Like her lacy looking jewel tiara that she wore tonight as Odette she danced the role with extra little nuances or embellishments...like filigree...

I was able to meet her after the performance and it is amazing how unaffected and normal this beautiful woman is in person. We tried to go to a cafe but it was closing, and I tried to explain they were turning away a great ballerina who needed to eat. All she wanted was a shake. The woman just rolled her eyes. LOL Kolegova was not insulted by her at all. I guess the workers were also tired and wanted to go home. I guess I can't blame them.

Danila Korsuntsev showed some signs of wear and tear with slight bobbles, but his partnering is still great and I can't fault a man who has been a more than reliable partner to so many ballerinas. He is also not the razzmatazz type dancer (not showy), but I think audiences will miss him when he retires. He gave Kolegova a very sturdy partner than she normally seems to get, in my opinion.

Yaroslav Baibordin made a zippy Jester that the audience roared for everytime he finished a big moment. He also stayed in character while standing off to the side. His turns in second were much faster than most recent Jesters at the Mariinsky. Let's hope Fateyev starts giving more chances to young dancers so we can see a variety!

Konstantin Zverev was an excellent Rothbart, but he deserves better roles where the audience can see his handsome face.

It was nice to see Anastasia Nikitina back after a lack of opportunities even if it was just a Big Swan. Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova was the other Big Swan, and despite her incredibly thick muscular legs (unusual look at the Mariinsky) I loved her both as a swan and as the prince's friend (Alexei Timofeyev and Oxana Bondareva were his other friends). She showed off some great high Russian attitudes in her short variation.

Overall, a wonderful night at the ballet! To me there is nothing better than seeing the Mariinsky in Swan Lake. They dance it like a dream come to life. One critic said the Mariinsky dances it more like a tone poem. I agree and love it that way!

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Thank you for your review, Birdsall! I wish I could have been there, Anastasia Kolegova is my favourite Mariinsky ballerina of the moment.

I was in Saint Petersburg back in May, and I saw Danila Korsuntsev's Jean de Brienne at the historic theatre. I do agree with what you say about him; his fantastic partnering makes me forgive his sloppy dancing immediately.

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I was able to meet her [Anastasia Kolegova] after the performance and it is amazing how unaffected and normal this beautiful woman is in person.

In eleven years, I've found that they're all like that, Birdsall.

Anastasia Kolegova makes me light up inside. Besides that she is extremely talented.

Thanks for the review and have a great time.

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Tonight was another Swan Lake at M-2, and I really wanted to like it. I had hoped Chebykina had improved. Last summer I saw her as Gamzatti and she seemed to hardly dance to the music. Tonight she was much better in that respect, but she did unusual things. During Odette's variation when she does developpes a la seconde her legs were more in front of her than a la seconde. I never saw anyone do that. And I love flowing arms but Chebykina's arms seemed like an exaggerated spoof of a Mariinsky dancer. There were a couple of moments I almost laughed out loud because it was almost like watching Les Trocks make fun of a Russian ballerina. Other comic moments were her facial expressions for Odile. Whenever she did an assisted turn she finished with a look of "OMG! Did I just do that?" and when Odette frantically appears in the background as Odile is seducing Siegfried she made a face like, "Uh oh! The jig is up!" Like Lucille Ball would do. I really thought I was watching a spoof!

But the audience greeted her with an ovation like they just saw Anna Pavlova so what do I know? Personally I feel she is not ready for Prime Time. She did do some lovely things at moments, but overall I do not like her artistic choices at all.

Xander Parish has always done well in solos but I was interested to see if his partnering had improved. It has but he still slows ballerinas down during the assisted paddle turns. The minute he starts to paddle they slow down and wobble. The same ballerinas do not do that with other partners so I am pretty sure he is causing it. It literally happens the second he touches them. If he could improve this issue he might become a reliable partner because his overhead lifts are great.

Anastasia Lukina made her debut as one of the prince's friends and I really liked her. She had the misfortune of entering and snagging her costume on one of the side panel backdrops and had to tear the thread clinging to her away before launching into the pas de trois. I want to see more of this dancer who just graduated. Very promising!

Martynyuk is always great. She was the other friend. David Zaleyev was the exciting male friend.

Ilya Zhivoi was a great jester making the character actually seem cute and charming.

Roman Belyakov was an exciting Rothbart.

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I forgot to mention that just before the curtain went down Chebykina chose an unusual and awkward pose with arms reaching above leaning on Siegfried and one foot slightly off the ground but lost her balance and had to put the raised foot down on the ground. To me it symbolized how awkward the whole performance was to me. But like I said, the audience roared way stronger than it did for Kolegova last night. So maybe I am on another planet.

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Tonight was Sylvia.

Oxana Skorik made her debut in the role with Timur Askerov partnering her. I used to dread the idea of a Skorik performance but her Paquita in DC showed a huge improvement so I decided to attend her Sylvia.

She no longer makes huge blunders but there were a couple of times she fell out of a turn awkwardly but that was nothing compared to the mistakes she used to make. I was worried about the pirouettes in the last act when she had to end on pointe in an arabesque and rotate, but she managed them. Not smoothly but not a disaster. There were times she looked like she was counting steps and a couple of times she was not dancing to the music.

I would say that if she appeared with one of the local ballet companies in Florida or even a weekday matinee at ABT she would be just fine, but at the Mariinsky you really expect more. She does look more confident on stage nowadays and that helps. This wasn't a performance of a lifetime but it wasn't terrible or laughable either.

Askerov also still feels like a B cast dancer. Not a disaster but he doesn't rock your world either.

Yuri Smekalov was terrific as Orion making the most out of the role. He looks beefed up (muscular). He was passionate about Sylvia but also a great villain. To me he almost stole the show with his acting.

Alexei Tyutyunnick was enjoyable as Eros, and Tatiana Tkachenko was riveting and on fire as Diana! I wish she would get more chances. I think she went through a period of weight gain but she seems fit now and is always very exciting to watch.

Valeria Martynyuk and Vasily Tkachenko were SO CUTE as the goats!!!

Ashton's choreography is much more enjoyable to see live rather than on the Royal Ballet's commercial DVD. I forgot how many beautiful patterns for the corps!

Basically it was a mixed bag but still fun to see this work and to look around and remind myself I was in the most beautiful theatre in the world!

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Thanks for the report, Birdsall.

In truth be told, the Ashton rep is not one that the Russians can master since many of the Ashton aesthetics are disappearing, even from performances by the Royal Ballet.

Nice to hear Yuri Smekalov gave a terrific performance and Tatiana Tkachenko was featured too; yes, I was told that she gained weight and her coach died. Well let's hope things are better for her now.

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Amy, the Sarasota Ballet has been getting good reviews in its Ashton ballets, and it is a style I am learning by attending Sarasota Ballet and it is a great thing for his ballets to get staged all over. People see that Balanchine is not the only great 20th century choreographer.

For anyone interested in the Mariinsky's staging, the program for Sylvia said the choreography was revived by Christopher Newton.....staged by Anna Trevien and Susan Jones

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Amy, the Sarasota Ballet has been getting good reviews in its Ashton ballets, and it is a style I am learning by attending Sarasota Ballet and it is a great thing for his ballets to get staged all over. People see that Balanchine is not the only great 20th century choreographer.

For anyone interested in the Mariinsky's staging, the program for Sylvia said the choreography was revived by Christopher Newton.....staged by Anna Trevien and Susan Jones

Yes I remembered that company, just couldn't remember the name - yes apparently, they do Ashton's work a lot of justice, but my senior lecturer, who's a former ballerina and who knew and worked Ashton himself said that his aesthetics are disappearing. You're supposed to do Ashton steps with the whole body, not just the lower half. This is part of the problem of not getting to work with the choreographer.

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The Sarasota dancers seem to use the upper body a lot in Ashton as does the Mariinsky.

Royal Ballet seems to prefer very stiff arms and upper body. Maybe that is why critics think their Ashton technique has declined.

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The Sarasota dancers seem to use the upper body a lot in Ashton as does the Mariinsky.

Royal Ballet seems to prefer very stiff arms and upper body. Maybe that is why critics think their Ashton technique has declined.

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... when Odette frantically appears in the background as Odile is seducing Siegfried she made a face like, "Uh oh! The jig is up!" Like Lucille Ball would do. I really thought I was watching a spoof!

LOL!

How exciting that you got to spend time with Kolegova after the theater -- how did that come about!? I tend to see them as unapproachable movie stars.

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A friend arranged for me to meet her. I ran into in the audience twice after that! Very down-to-earth sweet woman and so incredibly beautiful!

I met Alina Somova tonight, and she was nice too.

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Le Corsaire tonight...

I think this was Alina Somova's second assumption of Medora, if I am not mistaken. She was amazing, and I think people who avoid her performances are missing out. She has blossomed into a dancer with a light and airy style. I know all the complaints in the past on this forum but she is a stronger dancer and I encourage everyone to see her. Her acting was great, technically I saw no mistakes, and there was a general feel that this dancer has come of age. Some great balances during her variation in the pas de trois coupled with a persona of someone who is simply delighted to be dancing was infectious and the Russians loved her!

In contrast, I felt Oxana Bondareva's Gulnare appeared mired in self doubt or something. She seemed tentative and glossed over steps that I have seen Yevseyeva, in contrast, do crystal clear. It wasn't listed as a debut. At first I assumed it was since she seemed like she was trying to remember steps.

Yevgeny Ivanchenko has to be the most frustrating dancer on the planet. You see the Vaganova pedigree in his movements especially in the arms but it is like he's coasting on auto-pilot. What he does is fine and you see the potential for elegance but somehow it feels like he is saying, "This is good enough!" and "Why over exert myself?"

I think Ali is Kimin Kim's best role. It is one in which all his best attributes are shown off. His elevation, his deep cambres that end his variation and coda, and his turns look pretty amazing, and the crowd goes wild! He has even worked to make his pirouettes elegant reminiscent of Andrei Batalov. He did one like Batalov and then bobbled on the next but it was minor.

Valeria Martynyuck, Nadezhda Gonchar, and Anastasia Nikitina were the Odalisques. I liked Martynyuk and Nikitina the most. I read on here that Nikitina slipped and hurt herself during the NY tour, so it is great to see her back in great form!

Overall, a fun night at Mariinsky 2....

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If you visit St. Petersburg visiting the little Theatre Museum near the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Ostrovsky Square not far from Vaganova is a must! The museum has ballet slippers from so many historical ballerinas so you can imagine how tiny they were. The only current ballerinas with slippers there are Diana Vishneva and Ulyana Lopatkina. It is shocking to see how huge Lopatkina's shoe is compared to all others! Compared to the others it looks like a giant's shoe!

There are costumes, set designs, photos, etc. from drama, opera, and ballet....a very fascinating museum I skipped this museum the first few trips. I shouldn't have. So posting this to alert others. My guide book made it sound so minor and not a major sightseeing place, but ballet lovers will LOVE it!!!! There is even a drawing of the Mariinsky's original curtain.

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A friend arranged for me to meet her. I ran into in the audience twice after that! Very down-to-earth sweet woman and so incredibly beautiful!

I met Alina Somova tonight, and she was nice too.

Oh wow. That's amazing!!

It is shocking to see how huge Lopatkina's shoe is compared to all others! Compared to the others it looks like a giant's shoe!

LOL!

Thanks so much for the detailed reviews. It's the next-best thing to being there. Keep them coming, please!

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Raymonda with Lopatkina and Korsuntsev tonight! These big stars seem to rise the temperature in the theatre because it felt like a happy audience.

Lopatkina had a very good night. I used to find her on the cold side but she has developed a warmer persona on stage, and her acting is often much better than before. You see a complete professional who knows what to do, and on her best nights like tonight she hits a home run. She no longer holds balances very long but she was totally in character. I actually think she is better in Raymonda than Swan Lake at this point.

She seemed like a young girl in Act 1, very frightened by Aberakhdam in Act 2, and a haughty queen (metaphor) in Act 3 after going through a lot. The girl turned into a woman.

Korsuntsev was in much better form tonight than in Wednesday's Swan Lake. He is a fabulous partner too!

Smekalov is great as Aberakhdam.

Sorry so short. On a night train to Moscow and need to talk to my Russian friend! More later...

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Very much enjoyed reading about theses performances. Am hoping to see Lopatkina again at least once before she retires...perhaps if she dances in Raymonda at Kennedy Center next year (and I can take a day or two off of work)...I imagine that in Raymonda, too, you get a grand view of the whole company--soloists, demo-soloists, corps etc.

(If you see ballet in Moscow, then I hope you will report on that as well.)

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The Bolshoi is done for the season. I went last year. But nothing to report this year. Just returned to see the Kremlin which was closed on the day I traveled to Moscow last summer. The Diamond Fund has Catherine the Great's coronation crown and Orlov Diamond! OMG! So dazzling!!!

Moscow is definitely exciting. I prefer SP but Moscow is very exciting and amazing!

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The Bolshoi is done for the season. I went last year. But nothing to report this year. Just returned to see the Kremlin which was closed on the day I traveled to Moscow last summer. The Diamond Fund has Catherine the Great's coronation crown and Orlov Diamond! OMG! So dazzling!!!

Moscow is definitely exciting. I prefer SP but Moscow is very exciting and amazing!

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The Bolshoi is done for the season. I went last year. But nothing to report this year. Just returned to see the Kremlin which was closed on the day I traveled to Moscow last summer. The Diamond Fund has Catherine the Great's coronation crown and Orlov Diamond! OMG! So dazzling!!!

Moscow is definitely exciting. I prefer SP but Moscow is very exciting and amazing!

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Ok, Birdsall, I've just choreographed my first work (on Anastasia Kolegova, in my head, she doesn't know about it). It's based on Fokine's Swan (happy ending of course) as are all my dream solos because of its pure beauty of motion. It’s set to a slowed down instrumental version of The Beatles "If I Needed Someone." The speed of the video will have to be adjusted in places. George Balanchine stand back!

Please keep the inspirations coming in.smile.png

About Alina Somova, I totally agree. Oksana Skorik and Yekaterina Chebykina we’ll have to talk more. I love their artistry.

Continue to have what I hope is a great trip.

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While searching through Fokine Swan videos I found a rather remarkable one. It was performed by Yulia Makhalina the beginning of this year. I had the great pleasure of seeing her dance the pas de deux from Anna Karenina in 2012 at the Mariinsky. It brings to mind several discussions at Ballet Alert! touching on the value of ‘maturing’ artists and artistry. She is another excellent example. I have no idea if she is scheduled to do anything at this year’s White Nights Festival, but if she is I would consider it another fine occasion to view a ‘maturing’ artist who in many respects just continues to grow more beautiful.

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