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Feb 25-28, 2016 @ BAM: Lopatkina & Mariinsky Stars

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I think the Mariinsky flies by the seat of its pants a lot of times. I think they spread themselves way too thin touring both NY and DC at the same time plus shows in 2 theatres at home.

They probably meant for the BAM shows to be better thought out but then it never happened. They ended up throwing it together. Just a guess.

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I didn't mean to correct, rather I was explaining a reason. I follow the playbill of the Mariinsky almost everyday and there were lots of tributes planned even at their home theatre. I just want to be clear that I was just saying what I thought why the Mariinsky did a Plitsetskaya tribute.

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Aw, it doesn't matter whose tribute it was or whose name is used, good grief. All that matters is that the general audience (many speaking Russian) and at least one balletomane (moi) had a jolly good time tonight at BAM with the glorious Lopatkina and a few of her friends. It was an evening of selections that could have been titled "The Heart of a woman." In ten numbers + an "extra" (Dying Swan), we saw the deepest emotions of a woman...from young love, to maturity, jealousy, forgiveness, etc....so deeply portrayed by the eight master artists and the Mariinsky Orchestra.

Details to follow after sleep...writing on train tomorrow morn. :)

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I thought the final program, and only one I attended, which seems to have been conceived partly as a dual Ulanova/Plisetskaya tribute and partly as just a showcase of Soviet and Russian choreography (plus Giselle which almost counts) was very pleasurable. And we certainly did get a beautiful sense of range from Lopatkina--ghostly, sensual, ethereal, joyful, despairing. And wonderful dancing from the whole company she had with her. Loved all of them.

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Oh wow... Tonight's performance was just amazing... Lopatkina/Ermakov's Melody and La Rose Malade almost had me in tears.. Ermakov really is a sublime partner.

It was very clever to close the performance with light hearted Little Humpbacked Horse (I love this ballet!). Shklyarov seemed more relaxed in it after performing his close to perfect Albrecht variation (no botched turns, higher jumps, and quieter landings).

Osmolkina and Zyuzin's balcony pas de deux was another highlight. I'd love to see the whole ballet because I prefer Lavrovsky's R&J to MacMillan's.

While the rest of the cast took a bow, Lopatkina changed her costume to prepare for Dying Swan. She only needed a minute. What a professional! I would see anything she dances in.

I know I've whined a little about their last two performances but today made up for everything. I just hope Lopatkina and her friends come back again next year!

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Leave it to Lopatkina to make me ignore the Oscars. Oscar what? Brooklyn is where it was happening last night. I loved every number but a couple of highlights:

Asaf Messerer's MELODY, to Gluck's Blessed Spirits, performed by Uliana

Lopatkina & Andrei Ermakov was, on its own, worth the price of admission. It encapsulated the beauty of ballet. The huge chiffon piece, the costumes, black background, dreamy choreography...a masterpiece!

Ekaterina Osmolkina and Maxim Zyuzin in the Balcony pdd from Lavrovsky's Romeo & Juliet, portrayed youthful love with delicacy...his powerful jumps and spins were secondary. How I long to see these two in a complete ballet again! When's the last time that lovely Osmolkina was featured in a full-length ballet at the Kennedy Center? She is the most overlooked ballerina of the Mariinsky, who should have become a principal years ago!

Valeria Martinyuk and, again, Zyuzin, in the adagio from A3 of Yakobson/Yarullin's Shuraleh...with glorious lifts and Tatar-tinged port de bras. (The full Shuraleh is my hope for the Mariinsky to perform at the Kennedy Center next year.)

...but my "Ballet Oscar" goes to....

Maria Shirinkina and Vladimir Schklyarov in the A2 pdd from Giselle. Ah...what a perfect pairing! He was powerful yet tender; she a spirit caressing the stage with buttery bourrees. I must see these two together, in this ballet, some day.

The Mariinsky Orchestra added so much to the wonderful gala concert. No canned music as usually happens with such potpourri programs.

What a perfect event to cap a magnificent week with the Mariinsky in two cities!

- Natalia Nabatova

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Btw, was your wife able to give Lopatkina the gift she brought for her?

Unfortunately, no. We waited by the Stage Exit for about an hour, and when UL still has not come out, we left - it was getting pretty cold and pretty late.

Hope, there will be other opportunities - Dear Ms. Lopatkina, please come back to New York soon!

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Since this happened at the stagedoor I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to talk about this but Uliana actually said that she prefers this type of galas more than dancing in full length ballets now. She was so gracious for all the supports and even apologized for coming out so late (I think I waited for an hr and 20 min). That's fine since she's worth the wait. She's a great ambassador of Russian art and I'm grateful that she staged this in Brooklyn.

I just hope she comes back next year.... or sooner...

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If 'Lopatkina and Friends' return (please), then I hope they appear at the Koch Theater rather than BAM--though I know BAM is now the Mariinsky's 'go to' place in the NY area. The former seems to have more in the way of friendly site lines and comfortable (un-squished) seating.

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As far as I know, this performance has nothing to do with Ardani. They are (business)friend with Vishneva but have no ties with Lopatkina.

If Lopatkina and friends were to visit NY again next year, they will have to plan their visit on March in order to perform at the Koch Theater because NYCB will be performing there throughout January and February.

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If Lopatkina and friends were to visit NY again next year, they will have to plan their visit on March in order to perform at the Koch Theater because NYCB will be performing her throughout January and February.

Hmm...That would have some benefits for travelers like myself too!

Anyway, this final program--the only BAM program I saw--was quite a lovely event. I also found it rather suggestive to see the excerpts from Fountain of Bakhchisarai right on the heels of seeing Raymonda in D.C.

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Right, Drew, re. Fountains and Raymonda...big hulking villains of Arab descent...sweet European heroines strumming lutes....

I love Fountain! It is one of my favourite ballets and I do not know why MT does not tour this wonderful ballet instead of the horrible Ratmansky Cinderella. Well - I do ... Fateyev and Gergiev! Anyway, It has everything - great dramatic dancing roles, music, stage sets. Shame one has to go to SPb to see it. I will never forget seeing the truly amazing Ilya Kuznetsov as Ghirei, who made me cry so much at the end where he is grieving by the fountain. Smekalov also is an excellent Ghirei. I also have seen some beautiful Marias - Kolegova, Novikova, Shirinkina and Osmolkina. Unfortunately, the Zaremas cast were not so effective, although Petushkova had great jumps and acting.

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Ghirei is not of Arabic descent (and arguably not really a villain—not in Pushkin’s poem anyway). He is a Tatar. Bakhchysarai is in Crimea and used to be the capital of the Crimean Khanate—a state that split off from the Golden Horde in the 15th century and was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire for 300 years before being annexed by Catherine the Great of Russia.

It was interesting to see the two excerpts from The Fountain of Bakhchisarai. The pdd of Maria and Vaslav was especially impressive and beautiful—in my mind, Osmolkina and Zyuzin fully redeemed themselves with it after Friday’s awful Sheherazade. The scene of Maria and Zarema was well performed, but is impossible to understand for someone who does not know the story already. Why wouldn’t Zakharov use mime? The over-the-top melodrama at the end of the scene illustrates the dangers of trying to collaborate with Pushkin: the poem, quite a bit more nuanced than the ballet, never makes entirely clear how Maria died.

Sunday’s program seemed to have fewer technical glitches than Friday’s, although the tricky partnering in the Shurale and The Legend of Love excerpts looked a little shaky at times, and could probably have benefitted from some extra rehearsal time. Shklyarov wisely omitted the double assemblé from the Giselle variation, but finished long after the music.

As on Friday, Sunday’s program had its share of questionable programming choices. As I previously remarked, Lopatkina is a great dancer, and I am willing to watch her in almost anything. But why would she subject both herself and the audience to the unattractive triviality that the Carmen Suite is? I was mildly bored by “La Rose Malade”, especially since the orchestra didn’t do much justice to Mahler’s sublime Adagietto. I was both bored and perplexed by the excerpt from “The Legend of Love”. Messerer’s acrobatic yet lyrical Melody (with Yermakov) and Ratmansky’s humorous Little Humpbacked Horse (with Shklyarov) were, by far, Lopatkina’s best appearances of the evening.

The Shurale excerpt performed by Martynyuk and Zyuzin was wonderful, and the music gorgeous. I wish they would bring the full production to the US. Commercial risks of such a venture could probably be mitigated by casting big stars, the way it was done when they brought Anna Korenina and The Little Humpbacked Horse to the Metropolitan Opera.

The balcony pdd from Lavrovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, performed by Osmolkina and Zyuzin, was also one of the highlights of the evening. As on Friday, Shirinkina and Shklyarov’s Giselle was breathtaking.

Altogether, I’d say Sunday’s program was a big improvement over Friday.

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Mariinsky brought Fountain of Bakhchisarai to the Met in 1999. I had to look up the date (which I didn't remember) but I actually saw it that season with Zakharova and Lopatkina. Honestly, at that time I had little tolerance for that kind of Soviet choreography and was faintly bored especially by the 2nd Act. I would probably like it a bit better now or, at least, appreciate it more.

Though there are important differences as noted above, I would say that, as far as ballet tradition goes, there is still a family relation of sorts between Fountain and Raymonda.

I also thought the Shurale excerpt was wonderful and would love to see more of Martynyuk.

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