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The TV program "Bolshoi Ballet" started last night.

Daria Khokhlova & Igor Tsvirko (Bolshoi)
Renata Shakirova & Kim Kimin (Mariinsky)
Nadejda Batoeva & Ernest Latypov (Mariinsky)
Anastasia Soboleva & Victor Lebedev (Mikhaïlovsky)
Ekaterina Boulgoutova & Yuri Koudriavtsev (Krasnoyarsk)
Inna Bilash & Nikita Chetverikov (Perm)
Midori Terada & Koya Okawa (Kazan)

You can watch all the performances on this program here.

http://tvkultura.ru/brand/show/brand_id/59616/

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Yay! I'm so excited about this tv show. It's my favorite. Unfortunately, the judging isn't nearly as good in this first episode as it was last time, but hopefully that'll improve over the course of the season.

I've done a two-part write up of the first episode on my blog, with summaries of the judges' comments for anyone who's interested but doesn't speak Russian. (Also it gives me the opportunity to give my own marks - go Tsvirko! go Batsuev!)

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-1-part-1.html

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-1-part-2.html

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Yay! I'm so excited about this tv show. It's my favorite. Unfortunately, the judging isn't nearly as good in this first episode as it was last time, but hopefully that'll improve over the course of the season.

I've done a two-part write up of the first episode on my blog, with summaries of the judges' comments for anyone who's interested but doesn't speak Russian. (Also it gives me the opportunity to give my own marks - go Tsvirko! go Batsuev!)

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-1-part-1.html

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-1-part-2.html

Thanks for the summary! I watched this last year and always wanted to know what the judges said.

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Can't wait for swanhilda's comments. Just watched the second episode. my favorite Giselle EVER was anastasia soboleva's and Victor Lebedev's. They are too good to be judged by anybody. Like saying Van Gogh is a good painter but needs to work a little harder.

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Can't wait for swanhilda's comments. Just watched the second episode. my favorite Giselle EVER was anastasia soboleva's and Victor Lebedev's. They are too good to be judged by anybody. Like saying Van Gogh is a good painter but needs to work a little harder.

I'm glad you're looking forward to the new post. It'll probably take me another day or two to get up (sorry!).

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I join macnellie in looking forward to Swanilda8's continued comments along with the generously translated insights of the judges.

Interestingly the seventh placed couple, Ekaterina Boulgoutova & Yuri Koudriavtsev (Krasnoyarsk), continue to attract me very much. They are probably in seventh place because of the very commendable technical consistency of the others. Yet these two have some very fine qualities.

They are young, fresh and natural. They have a very sympathetic connection with each other and with us. In addition there is a loveliness to their artistry. There is an underlying fineness and delicacy to Ekaterina Boulgoutova. Yuri Koudriavtsev has a handsomely similar and supportive quality with a very fine nobleness, likability and believability that reminds me of the Mariinsky’s noteworthy new First Soloist, Xander Parish. Along with a basic fineness of technical expression is an even more endearing and compelling overall beauty to their performance.

I look forward to seeing the rest of their performances and hope that this charming couple from faraway Siberia does get recognised among the other more acknowledged and highly talented couples. They did make it onto the program, so someone does really like them.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1266755/video_id/1431626/viewtype/picture/

[slight clarification made to one sentence]

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I join macnellie in looking forward to Swanilda8's continued comments along with the generously translated insights of the judges.

Interestingly the seventh placed couple, Ekaterina Boulgoutova & Yuri Koudriavtsev (Krasnoyarsk), continue to attract me very much. They are probably in seventh place because of the very commendable technical consistency of the others. Yet these two have some very fine qualities.

They are young, fresh and natural. They have a very sympathetic connection with each other and with us. In addition there is a loveliness to their artistry. There is an underlying fineness and delicacy to Ekaterina Boulgoutova. Yuri Koudriavtsev has a handsomely similar and supportive quality with a very fine nobleness, likability and believability that reminds me of the Mariinsky’s noteworthy new First Soloist, Xander Parish. Along with a basic fineness of technical expression is an even more endearing and compelling overall beauty to their performance.

I look forward to seeing the rest of their performances and hope that this charming couple from faraway Siberia does get recognised among the other more acknowledged and highly talented couples. They did make it onto the program, so someone does really like them.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1266755/video_id/1431626/viewtype/picture/

[slight clarification made to one sentence]

Thanks for the video! They were very fun to watch. I was interested to see them performing black swan to Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux music -- I do know it was written as an (alternative? additional?) black swan pas de deux but didn't think it was actually used. Are there versions of Swan Lake that use this music for the black swan pas de deux? Do they have an extended/second pas de deux?

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Thanks for the video! They were very fun to watch. I was interested to see them performing black swan to Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux music -- I do know it was written as an (alternative? additional?) black swan pas de deux but didn't think it was actually used. Are there versions of Swan Lake that use this music for the black swan pas de deux? Do they have an extended/second pas de deux?

According to Sophia at Dansomanie this music was first used in the original Moscow version of Swan Lake and later used in the Bourmeister version.* I assume she means for the Black Swan segment. This is a new version by Sergei Bobrov which seems to work quite well for Ekaterina Boulgoutova & Yuri Koudriavtsev. I'm enjoying it very much along with their performance.

I keep trying to put my finger on what I like so much about Ekaterina Boulgoutova & Yuri Koudriavtsev's presentation. One thing is that at times there's a loose, almost novice feel to Ekaterina Boulgoutova's dancing, giving it an innocent freshness, but this in turn is highly underpinned by such a fine mastery of refined technique.

* The original Moscow Swan Lake and Bourmeister uses of this music are more or less confirmed here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tschaikovsky_Pas_de_Deux

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Ok - it took me a really long time this week to get everything up. Hopefully next week will be better - because this is obviously coming in under the wire. But thank you for the kind remarks - it's great to know that some people are reading!

I think that the judges (or the producers) agreed with you, Buddy, about the pair from Krasnoyarsk, because at the end of the last episode, the judges got the option to give an extra vote to a single couple, and they agreed on Bulgutova and Kudryavtsev.

The internet is abuzz about Ruzimatov's judging. I'm not sure if it's just that he's biased for his own pair, but he does seem to be unfairly harsh (in my opinion) on Kimin Kim and Renata Shakirov and on Midori Terada and Koya Okava.

I must say that I did not agree that the Giselle duet from the Mikhailovsky pair was particularly good. There were some interesting elements there - and Levedev's variation was particularly clean - but there's a real awkwardness to some of the dancing. I wonder if these two aren't really well matched.

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-2-part-1.html

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-2-part-2.html#more

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Ok - it took me a really long time this week to get everything up. Hopefully next week will be better - because this is obviously coming in under the wire. But thank you for the kind remarks - it's great to know that some people are reading!

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-2-part-1.html

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-2-part-2.html#more

Definitely enjoying your blog plus the summaries of what the judges are saying. From the dancers this week, I especially enjoyed the Terada and Okawa Flower Festival pas de deux. (And I am kicking myself for not having bothered with this show last year--somehow I hadn't realized how much substantive dancing one would get to see.)

Edited to add: Buddy corrected me below re "last year"--Anyway I'm kicking myself for not having bothered with this show before.

Edited by Drew
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Definitely enjoying your blog plus the summaries of what the judges are saying. From the dancers this week, I especially enjoyed the Terada and Okawa Flower Festival pas de deux. (And I am kicking myself for not having bothered with this show last year--somehow I hadn't realized how much substantive dancing one would get to see.)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I've not heard mention of this program since 2012. I assumed that if it was produced again before this year, it wasn't available for us to see.

Thanks again, Swanilda8. I've just started to read this issue of your blog, but look forward to the rest. It's beautifully put together and a generous effort on your part.

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Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I've not heard mention of this program since 2012. I assumed that if it was produced again before this year, it wasn't available for us to see.

Thanks again, Swanilda8. I've just started to read this issue of your blog, but look forward to the rest. It's beautifully put together and a generous effort on your part.

Ah...I should have written "the last time it was on..." or "the first season" not "last year. But for sure I'm kicking myself for not having watched the show before. I really enjoy it.

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Ok - it took me a really long time this week to get everything up. Hopefully next week will be better - because this is obviously coming in under the wire. But thank you for the kind remarks - it's great to know that some people are reading!

I think that the judges (or the producers) agreed with you, Buddy, about the pair from Krasnoyarsk, because at the end of the last episode, the judges got the option to give an extra vote to a single couple, and they agreed on Bulgutova and Kudryavtsev.

The internet is abuzz about Ruzimatov's judging. I'm not sure if it's just that he's biased for his own pair, but he does seem to be unfairly harsh (in my opinion) on Kimin Kim and Renata Shakirov and on Midori Terada and Koya Okava.

I must say that I did not agree that the Giselle duet from the Mikhailovsky pair was particularly good. There were some interesting elements there - and Levedev's variation was particularly clean - but there's a real awkwardness to some of the dancing. I wonder if these two aren't really well matched.

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-2-part-1.html

http://itinerantballetomane.blogspot.com/2016/01/bolshoi-balet-episode-2-part-2.html#more

Thanks so much for these translations! I find it interesting that in American dancing competitions there's usually a "Simon" who is very harsh, and then two judges who are usually positive but a bit bland, but in Russia I've noticed these judges are ... gentler? Which isn't what I'd normally associate with Russian ballet but ... (I'm just remembering Irina Dvorovenko harshly dismissing almost everyone on So You Think You Can Dance).

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Actually Farouk Ruzimatov (as Simon?) really liked my seventh placed 'raves,' Ekaterina Boulgoutova & Yuri Koudriavtsev (Krasnoyarsk), and gave them a "Yes." Quite a surprise! In addition Brigette Lefevre said....

"that the pair really moved her and she would really like to choreograph something for them. They dance very gently and quietly." (according to Swanilda.)

She did give them a "No" but then apparently gave them an extra "Yes" with the other judges. Good going, judges! :flowers:

Added comment:

There seems to be some discussion about their commitment to their facial expression. I think that it's fine. It's not huge projection and it doesn't have to be. It is contained, but it's meaningful and heartfelt.

More complicated is that it also seems to be more about their relationship, a poetic and good one, than a storybook portrayal of characters. I think that it's not out of line with the message of the work, the love of a man and a woman. The fact that this duet features Odile rather than the obviously loving Odette makes it more difficult for me to express, but I still feel it to be appropriate and totally fine.

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Thanks so much for these translations! I find it interesting that in American dancing competitions there's usually a "Simon" who is very harsh, and then two judges who are usually positive but a bit bland, but in Russia I've noticed these judges are ... gentler? Which isn't what I'd normally associate with Russian ballet but ... (I'm just remembering Irina Dvorovenko harshly dismissing almost everyone on So You Think You Can Dance).

I agree that the style of judging on Bolshoi Ballet is very different from the style on American reality competitions, even though Farukh is kind of doing Simon-lite this season. For me, the big difference is that the critiques, however harsh, are really about the technique and the artistry. They are meant to help the dancers and educate the audience, not to show off the judge's sharp tongue. The judging in the first season was even better - Azari Plisetsky, Vladimir Derevyanko, and Diana Vishneva were the permanent judges, and they seemed to have no desire to like "make it in show business" by being entertainingly cruel. They just had really smart remarks about the performances. I think it also makes a difference that, while these dancers are all relatively young, they do have jobs in major Russian ballet companies. No one is thrown out on their ear for failing to impress the judges.

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Having watched at least parts of most of this week's performances I have some general impressions.

The main realisation is that Kimin Kim is perhaps the most capable dancer that I’ve seen in ability to move from ‘high classical’ to ‘comtempory.’ The Mariinsky’s Yekaterina Kondaurova is possibly at the same level with, interestingly, her husband Islom Baimuradov, Mariinsky Principal Character Artist, being similarly versatile.

Kimin Kim can make any of these modern abstract pieces rewatchable simply because of his compelling command of character, expression and his ability to adjust his considerable dance prowess to any situation. For overall presence I would say that I might like him even more for the moment in the contemporary works because of the freedom of expression that they allow him. But please allow me to add that he is as good as anyone in the classics.

These shows seem to highlight the difference between ‘classical’ refinement and abstract contemporary. For me all these artist shine most brilliantly in the 'classical' style.

Of the contemporary performances there are a few that I’ve enjoyed from all the shows.

The first was Vaclav Kunes’ “Getting Ready” with Ekaterina Boulgoutova and Yuri Koundreavtsev (Krasnoyarsk). I like the mood set by the song, the interest of the moves and the artists’ handling of it.

http://telepoisk.com/peredacha-tv-archiv/696795891/16-1-2016

(starting at 64:55)

One from this week would be Viacheslav Samodourov’s “J’etais malade” because it does have a quirky quality to make it interesting and the Bolshoi’s Daria Khokhlova and Igor Tsvirko do a good job with it. It’s reasonably worthy of the level of artistic fineness that all these artists possess.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1267502/video_id/1432930/viewtype/picture/

Another from this week would possibly be Vladimir Varnava’s “Rive de piere,” perhaps simply because Kimin Kim is in it. (I’ve used some French titles because I got the names from a french speaking forum)

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1267537/video_id/1432892/viewtype/picture/

I do like many abstract contemporary pieces, because, for me, for one reason or another, they work.

On the other hand I actually appreciate the semi-classical pieces here because they do show off the wonderful, refined beauty in which these artists excel.

One that I like for this reason is Sergei Bobrov’s reworking of the Odile duet from Swan Lake with Ekaterina Boulgoutova and Yuri Koundreavtsev (Krasnoyarsk). I think that they are charming and very good in it and I also happen to like it on its own.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1266755/video_id/1431626/viewtype/picture/

One that I like from this week’s show is Assaf Messerer’s “Class Concert” which once again shows off the refined elegance of the Mikhailovsky’s Anastasia Sobolova and Victor Lebedev.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1267539/video_id/1432893/viewtype/picture/

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I have to be somewhere else this morning, but I’d like to make a quick comment. I’ve heard that first impressions are sometimes the best, so here they are. I’ve only had time to watch the first five performances, but these include the most recognised dancers. Ekaterina Boulgoutova and Yuri Koundreavtsev (Krasnoyarsk), seventh place couple, continue to really hold my admiration, in particular Ekaterina Boulgoutova. They dance a duet from Yuri Grigorovich's "The Stone Flower." They may be slightly the more tentative couple, perhaps explaining their seventh place. Also they generally have done the shortest performances, making me wonder. Maybe it’s about their range?

Yet Ekaterina Boulgoutova has some lovely qualities that for me make her highly enjoyable. These would be youthful freshness and naturalness combined with beautiful presentation. They both seem quite young so time to mature should be in their favor. Yet, even their slightly youthful ‘looser edges’ have an attraction. I watch the first part of their second performance, a reconstructed Odile duet from Swan Lake, as much as any other ballet video on the internet, and there are some very fine ones. With so much excellent ballet talent in Russia I hope that they are still able to get the best guidance and resulting recognition that is possible.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1269696/video_id/1436568/viewtype/picture/

[Added the official video release along with the other performances]

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When the Bolshoi appeared in NY in 2014, fans on this site complained (with reason) about the dirty--to the point of blackened--pointe shoe boxes and filthy bottoms of the shoes too. I fear the Bolshoi's Khokhlova wins the prize in this competition for filthiest pointe shoe boxes, all the more noticeable in the all white aristocratic 18th-century based garb of the pas de deux Tsvirko and she danced from Marco Spada this week--including white wigs. (I was watching on youtube, but I'm not sure the bottoms of his white slippers were in the best shape either, and his solos all featured beats.)

This seems a very odd trait in leading dancers from the Bolshoi--do they have a smaller shoe budget than dancers from St. Petersburg...or Perm? It seems doubtful...I thought Khokhlova and Tsvirko didn't have the right lighly graceful aristocratic manner for this pas de deux in any case, but the shoes would have distracted me even if the dancers had looked like they stepped out of a Fragonard painting.

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Kim Kimin can do no wrong for me. Best Man (or dancer of any gender) in this year's competition, IMO. Lebedev very good but a bit affectated for my taste.

Agreed - Kim is phenomenal. I wish they would give him better roles, though. It's been a succession of fairly similar bravura pdd every week - except for week 3, when the theme essentially ruled it out. It makes for very dull viewing. Surely he does other types of roles at the Mariinsky?

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I see Kimin Kim as being an Expressionist powerhouse. I think many comparisons will be made between him, Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Yes, Swanilda, he does excel in bravura, both in dance and character, but he does it with an immense poetry that is totally his own. In ballet, where letting the ballerina shine in a partnership is given very high consideration, he walks an intricate line, as do many male stars. He does his very best not to overwhelm his partner, always trying to direct the attention to her even after his most breathtaking moments.

He is such a one of a kind that I believe he really should be accepted for what he is. He may develop more subtlety, which would be great for his classical career. On the other hand I could visualise him even going solo someday becoming a remarkable phenomenon of dance theatre. Kabuki or Shakespeare meets ballet, perhaps. He goes beyond East meets West.

Once again. I also like Renata Shakirova's very expressive dancing.

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1267537/video_id/1432892/viewtype/picture/

[video added]

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Since the discussion of Kimin Kim brought me back to this video, I’ve taken a renewed interest in it. I’m watching it primarily for its abstract motion and drama. The work is by Vladimir Varnavas and Swanilda translates it as “Stone Beach.”

http://tvkultura.ru/video/show/brand_id/59616/episode_id/1267537/video_id/1432892/viewtype/picture/

The image that remained last night was of Kimin Kim being the background for Renata Shakirova with his very impressive bravura and virtuosity. Her shapes are front stage and compelling. He not only frames and positions her, but also creates an exciting backdrop. For me, the choreography, while ‘weighty’ in emotion, is also very interesting in structure and has fine sensitivity. It’s equally well performed.

Renata Shakirova has a nice looseness of motion that seems very suited for a contemporary work. Some linear moves are evident, particularly in Kimin Kim. A few of his moves are more ballet looking (this may be specifically asked for by the choreography) but all have an elegance and intensity that work very well. Even when he’s standing still at the beginning this is true because of his facial commitment and tilting forward. He has a fine sense of drama, both in motion and positioning, along with depthful and compelling facial expression. His motion and positioning are very articulate and brilliantly structured. Renata Shakirova is especially noteworthy for her dance and does have some fine moments portraying a youthful innocence.

Swanilda writes about Kimin Kim in her blog summary.

“….for the first time I felt that I really understood what he is capable of as an artist. He uses his body judiciously, every movement of muscle contributing to the overall form of the dance. There seems to always be one spacial point around which he is focusing his movement. When his fingers fan out, they show a clear line back to his wrists and then in towards his spine. He also changes the pace of his movements to match accents in the music. The concentration and emotional connection in his interactions with his partner sustain the piece.”

I’ll watch more carefully for all of this although I totally agree with “He uses his body judiciously, every movement of muscle contributing to the overall form of the dance.”

Both these artists have classical excellence along with a wider range. I feel that Kimin Kim can ‘explode’ into a much wider artistic range, when he desires to.

[one sentence slightly changed for clarification and spelling of Vladimir Varnavas' name corrected ]

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