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Anastasia Volochkova

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Here in London we've just had a week of ballet at Sadler's Wells "starring" Anastasia Volochkova. She was supported by the Russian State Ballet Comp;any, a group of dancers from the Polish National Ballet and three guest artists from Kiev. There were two programmes.

For anyone who hasn't seen Volochkova she is tall, blonde, very pretty. She trained at the Vaganova school and danced the lead in Swan Lake very early in her career. She then spent a short period with the Bolshoi.

The most notable thing about her dancing are her high extensions which she displays at every posssible moment. She had a pretty hostile reception from most of the London critics, which wasn't perhaps entirely deserved. In my view her main problem is that she sees herself as a great classical ballerina - we saw her Odile, Nikya, etc. but she was really at her most attractive when she was a (wrongly) flirtatious CArmen in Alberto Alonso's Carmen Suite. She also needs some serious coaching as her technique is far rougher than it was when she came to London with the Bolshoi.

Mukamedov's production of Swan Lake Act III was interesting, and very nicely danced by the Poles. Miss Volochkova as Odile however seemed to be doing her own thing entirely, partnered by an unimpressive Evgeny Ivanchenko.

Much more interesting were the guests from Kiev; Artem Datsyshyn (the only person who seemed to have any idea of what he was doing in Carmen Suite)and Olena Filipyeva and Denis Matvienko. The danced Corsaire p de d and the Vainonen Nutcraker P de d. Style, technique, musicality, beautiful stage manners - it was all there.

The really fascinating thing though were two pieces by the Russian State Ballet - neither particularly well danced. First came a number from Ruslan and Ludmilla. This is supposed to be by Fokine, but to me it looked far earlier in style - unless he was a master of pastiche. I've seen it on video danced by the Kirov in a v ery similar version. Does anyone know anything about this? I can't help wondering if Fokine was commissioned to do the dances, found this one more or less intact, tidied it up a bit and collected his fee. It's been done before. But I found those cute Victorian groupings so unlikely for Fokine in 1916.

The other little wonder was The Naiad and the Fisherman which was attributed to Petipa after Perrot, something which I could really believe. This was quite enchanting and I'd love to know more about its history. If anyone has any knowledge of the piece I'd love ask some questions. I'd also like to see it danced by a really good company. Among other things the extracts included the "Pas de l'Ombre" which Perrot originally created for Cerrito in 1843 and later incorporated into the Naiad and the Fisherman which he made in Petersburg. So a real piece of dance history and I'm grateful to Volochkova for that. But any information or thoughts on either of those pieces, please.

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Probably I can explain, why Fokine's lezginka from "Ruslan and Ludmila" looks like from XIX century. Originally it was choreographed by Petipa in 1874. Late on Telyakovsky (the director of Mariinsky)asked Shiryaiev to make new dances for this opera. It was bad and Telyakovsky had have an impudence to ask Petipa to correct "a little bit" Shiryaiev's choreography. Petipa was very angry and refused to do it, of course, so, several years "Ruslan" was performed with Shiryaiev's choreogtraphy. When the new director approached Fokine to change the choreography, may be, (it's just my gess!) he decided to follow Petipa's original version, which he was familiar with and don't change at least the "geography" of the dance.

"Nayad and the Fisherman" was revived by Petr Gusev for Mariinsky in 70th and it really looks like Perrot/Petipa's creation. I heard that they even produced the video with this work, but I didn't see it myself.

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Andrei - The Kirov revival of "Naiad & the Fisherman" was telecast in the early 80s with, if memory serves, Alla Sizova in the lead. I also recall that Pierre Lacotte was involved in that staging, so it may be the Petipa-Gusev "authentic" excerpts (such as 'Shadow Dance' for Ondine, fisherfolk pas de dix for Giannina/Genaro & friends, and pas de deux for Ondine & Fisherman) were supplemented by Lacotte's additions, to make a complete ballet. As far as I know, it was never released as a commercial video, although it was telecast.

There is a commercial video of the Petipa-Gusev excerpts by a Bolshoi Ballet concert troupe (Nina Speranskaya as Ondine, Maria Bylova as Giannina, Stanislav Chasov as Genaro, etc.); this was released in the UK about ten years ago under the title "Magic of the Bolshoi - part 2" (in PAL format). For some odd reason, it was never released in the USA.

[ 10-04-2001: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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