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Bolshoi 2016 London Tour

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Full casting for the Bolshoi's London tour this July and August has been posted on the Bolshoi website. I'm in complete envy of anybody who has tickets to any of these performances and hope to read many long and detailed reviews!

CAST:

 
Don Quixote
 
25 July, 7.30 pm
Kitri: Olga Smirnova
Basilio: Denis Rodkin
A Street Dancer: Anna Tikhomirova
Espada: Ruslan Skvortsov
The Queen of the Dryads: Yulia Stepanova
Don Quixote: Alexei Loparevich
Sancho Pansa: Roman Simachev
 
26 July, 7.30 pm
Kitri: Maria Alexandrova
Basilio: Vladislav Lantratov
A Street Dancer: Anna Okuneva
Espada: Vitaly Biktimirov
The Queen of the Dryads: Yulia Stepanova
Don Quixote: Alexei Loparevich
Sancho Pansa: Roman Simachev
 
 
27 July, 7.30 pm
Kitri: Ekaterina Krysanova
Basilio: Semyon Chudin
A Street Dancer: Anna Tikhomirova
Espada: Ruslan Skvortsov
The Queen of the Dryads: Anna Nikulina
Don Quixote: Alexei Loparevich
Sancho Pansa: Georgy Gusev
 
 
28 July, 7.30 pm
Kitri: Margarita Shrainer (debut)
Basilio: Artem Ovcharenko
A Street Dancer: Angelina Karpova
Espada: Vitaly Biktimirov
The Queen of the Dryads: Anna Nikulina
Don Quixote: Alexei Loparevich
Sancho Pansa: Georgy Gusev
 
 
 
Swan Lake
 
29 July, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Olga Smirnova
Prince Siegfried: Denis Rodkin
The Evil Genius: Artemy Belyakov
Friends to the Prince: Nina Kaptsova, Kristina Kretova
The Fool: Vyacheslav Lopatin
 
 
30 July, 2.00 pm
Odette-Odile: Anna Nikulina
Prince Siegfried: Ruslan Skvortsov
The Evil Genius: Mikhail Kryuchkov (debut)
Friends to the Prince: Kristina Kretova, Дарья Хохлова
The Fool: Denis Medvedev
 
 
30 July, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Ekaterina Krysanova
Prince Siegfried: Semyon Chudin
The Evil Genius: Igor Tsvirko
Friends to the Prince: Nina Kaptsova, Kristina Kretova
The Fool: Georgy Gusev
 
 
1 August, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Olga Smirnova
Prince Siegfried: Vladislav Lantratov
The Evil Genius: Artemy Belyakov
Friends to the Prince: Kristina Kretova, Дарья Хохлова
The Fool: Vyacheslav Lopatin
 
 
2 August, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Yulia Stepanova (debut with the Bolshoi Ballet Company)
Prince Siegfried: Artem Ovcharenko
The Evil Genius: Igor Tsvirko
Friends to the Prince: Anna Okuneva, Ana Turazashvili
The Fool: Georgy Gusev
 
 
8 August, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Svetlana Zakharova
Prince Siegfried: Denis Rodkin
The Evil Genius: Artemy Belyakov
Friends to the Prince: Anna Okuneva, Ana Turazashvili
The Fool: Vyacheslav Lopatin
 
 
9 August, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Olga Smirnova
Prince Siegfried: Semyon Chudin
The Evil Genius: Mikhail Kryuchkov
Friends to the Prince: Nina Kaptsova, Kristina Kretova
The Fool: Denis Medvedev
 
 
10 August, 7.30 pm
Odette-Odile: Svetlana Zakharova
Prince Siegfried: Denis Rodkin
The Evil Genius: Artemy Belyakov
Friends to the Prince: Anna Okuneva, Ana Turazashvili
The Fool: Vyacheslav Lopatin
 
 
The Taming of the Shrew
 
 
3 August, 7.30 pm
Katharina: Ekaterina Krysanova
Petruchio: Vladislav Lantratov
Bianca: Olga Smirnova
Lucentio: Semyon Chudin
Hortensio: Igor Tsvirko
Gremio: Vyacheslav Lopatin
The Widow: Юлия Гребенщикова
Baptista: Artemy Belyakov
The Housekeeper: Anna Tikhomirova
Grumio: Georgy Gusev
 
 
4 August, 7.30 pm
Katharina: Kristina Kretova
Petruchio: Denis Savin
Bianca: Nina Kaptsova
Lucentio: Artem Ovcharenko
Hortensio: Alexander Smoliyaninov
Gremio: Denis Medvedev
The Widow: Анна Балукова
Baptista: Karim Abdullin
The Housekeeper: Yanina Parienko
Grumio: Georgy Gusev
 
 
The Flames of Paris
 
 
5 August, 7.30 pm
Jeanne: Ekaterina Krysanova
Philippe: Igor Tsvirko
Adeline: Nina Kaptsova
Jerome: Vyacheslav Lopatin
Mireille de Poitiers: Yulia Stepanova
Antoine Mistral: Denis Rodkin
 
 
6 August, 2.00 pm
Jeanne: Kristina Kretova
Philippe: Mikhail Lobukhin
Adeline: Anna Nikulina
Jerome: Denis Savin
Mireille de Poitiers: Anna Tikhomirova
Antoine Mistral: Artem Ovcharenko
 
 
6 August, 7.30 pm
Jeanne: Maria Alexandrova
Philippe: Vladislav Lantratov
Adeline: Nina Kaptsova
Jerome: Alexander Smoliyaninov
Mireille de Poitiers: Yulia Stepanova
Antoine Mistral: Denis Rodkin
 
 
Le Corsaire
 
 
11 August, 7.30 pm
Medora: Maria Alexandrova
Conrad: Vladislav Lantratov
Gulnare: Anna Tikhomirova
Birbanto: Denis Savin
Pas d'esclaves: Nina Kaptsova, Vyacheslav Lopatin
 
 
12 August, 7.30 pm
Medora: Anna Nikulina
Conrad: Mikhail Lobukhin
Gulnare: Nina Kaptsova
Birbanto: Vitaly Biktimirov
Pas d'esclaves: Kristina Kretova, Igor Tsvirko
 
 
13 August, 2.00 pm
Medora: Yulia Stepanova (debut)
Conrad: Denis Rodkin
Gulnare: Kristina Kretova
Birbanto: Vitaly Biktimirov
Pas d'esclaves: Margarita Shrainer, Alexander Smoliyaninov
 
 
13 August, 7.30 pm
Medora: Ekaterina Krysanova
Conrad: Igor Tsvirko
Gulnare: Anna Tikhomirova
Birbanto: Denis Savin
Pas d'esclaves: Nina Kaptsova, Vyacheslav Lopatin
 
Seyd, the Pacha: Alexei Loparevich (all the performances)
Isaac Lanquedem: Yegor Simachev (all the performances)

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Thanks for these cast lists. A lot of debuts for a major tour. I assume the various ballerina pregnancies are playing a role, but still...interesting.

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I notice that Stepanova is getting both Odette/Odile and Medora as well as two Queen of the Dryads and two Mireille de Poitiers.....Vaziev is recognizing her talent.....

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To me the most interesting program probably is

The Taming of the Shrew
4 August, 7.30 pm
Katharina: Kristina Kretova
Petruchio: Denis Savin
But, they would come to NY next year, I guess.
If there is Svetlana Zakharova as Kitri and Andrei Merkuriev as Espada in D.Q.,
I would like to go to London again.
Olga Smirnova certainly has her own attractive style.
However, I love natural dancers like Ekaterina Krysanova more.
:flowers:

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If you're most interested in Taming of the Shrew, it probably would make sense to wait until the ballet comes to New York.

I am not at all happy about casting for the London tour. Either an appealing dancer is paired with a dancer I find unappealing, or I find both leads unappealing. (But I'm not among those devastated by Osipova's absence.) I've booked a bunch of tickets, but I suspect I will end up using few, if any of them.

Some leading dancers will be present for only part of the tour because they've got other projects scheduled, notably in Japan. When faced with the choice between per diems in London or proper performance fees in Tokyo, I can understand their decision, and apparently the company has been willing to oblige them. This, in addition to pregnancy leaves and injuries, accounts for a lot of the casting choices.

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If you're most interested in Taming of the Shrew, it probably would make sense to wait until the ballet comes to New York.

I am not at all happy about casting for the London tour. Either an appealing dancer is paired with a dancer I find unappealing, or I find both leads unappealing. (But I'm not among those devastated by Osipova's absence.) I've booked a bunch of tickets, but I suspect I will end up using few, if any of them.

Some leading dancers will be present for only part of the tour because they've got other projects scheduled, notably in Japan. When faced with the choice between per diems in London or proper performance fees in Tokyo, I can understand their decision, and apparently the company has been willing to oblige them. This, in addition to pregnancy leaves and injuries, accounts for a lot of the casting choices.

It seems that Zakharova may have reasons other than financial gain for participating in the Tokyo gala -- she and her husband the great violinist Vladimir Repin will be opening the gala: On June 17 in Japan starts The Year of the Russian Culture. The Program Pas de deux on Points and for Fingers will be open by a violinist Vadim Repin and the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi and La Scala theaters, Benois de la Danse laureate, Svetlana Zakharova. Her partner is going to be Benois nominee, a premier of the Bolshoi, Mikhail Lobukhin. http://benois.theatre.ru/english/massmedia/news/

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What will be keeping Zakharova and Lobukhin away from London in late July is a more standard "all-star" gala, which I understand will also be visiting other cities after Tokyo.

http://japanarts.co.jp/concert/concert_detail.php?id=392〈=2

Ruslan Skvortsov will be appearing in a new ballet in August, which will require more substantial rehearsal time than simply jetting in for a familiar role.
http://www.ambt.jp/perform2.html

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What will be keeping Zakharova and Lobukhin away from London in late July is a more standard "all-star" gala, which I understand will also be visiting other cities after Tokyo.

http://japanarts.co.jp/concert/concert_detail.php?id=392〈=2

Ruslan Skvortsov will be appearing in a new ballet in August, which will require more substantial rehearsal time than simply jetting in for a familiar role.

http://www.ambt.jp/perform2.html

Thanks for the site references. I can't read the one in Japanese but I do see Skvortsov's photo. I'll take your word that it says something about a new ballet. :)

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First, our policy has long been no third-party reviews, professional or otherwise, in the company forums.  The company forums are there for you to describe what you see.

Second, in the forums where it is appropriate to discuss third-party reviews and commentary, like the Dancers and Writings on Ballet forums, only reviews and blog entries by ballet professionals and established critics are permitted on their own public-facing media and blogs and specific compilation sites, as well as in print.  For online, that includes danceviewtimes and dancetabs.  

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On 8/17/2016 at 6:50 AM, Helene said:

First, our policy has long been no third-party reviews, professional or otherwise, in the company forums.  The company forums are there for you to describe what you see.

Second, in the forums where it is appropriate to discuss third-party reviews and commentary, like the Dancers and Writings on Ballet forums, only reviews and blog entries by ballet professionals and established critics are permitted on their own public-facing media and blogs and specific compilation sites, as well as in print.  For online, that includes danceviewtimes and dancetabs.  

Okay, I forgot. The reviewer that SF Cleo and I posted was by someone who has written for Grammophon, so I assume it is okay to post his review of the Bolshoi London tour in the Writings on Ballet forum even though everyone reading this particular thread probably want to read it, but it is the rule, and they can easily go to Writings on Ballet. Rules and rules. In education we are told not to inundate kids with rules and have just a few, because otherwise they forget all of them, and I think adults are the same. But that is fine. Rules are rules.

 

Also, I was recently involved in a UX (User Experience) study to improve libraries, and the researcher who was consulting us said he actually went around libraries and took down all the posted rules and people actually started acting better.

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We have reasons for each rule, based on hard experience.  We've never been a place for everyone or every kind of discussion.

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This time around my attendance at the Bolshoi tour was limited to two performances of Don Quixote. I was not happy about casting, nor was I particularly enthused about seeing a lot of Grigorovich’s Swan Lake, and London is an expensive city in which to spend evenings wishing that ballerina X or ballerino Y were dancing with someone else, especially with a top ticket price of £145. So if initially my plan had been to see the last week and a half of the tour, I opted to see just its beginning and combine it with the close of the Australian Ballet’s run at the Coliseum, and I was fortunate to snag some good returned tickets and in turn to sell off the ones I had bought initially.

 

The Bolshoi’s Don Quixote was given new costumes and scenic designs earlier this year, but the only significant choreographic changes to Alexei Fadeyechev’s production are the removal of the dance for Amour and the little cupids from the third act, which is impractical to tour anyway, and the insertion of a preposterous “sailors’ jig” by Rostislav Zakharov into the tavern scene. The other interpolations by Zakharov, Kasyan Goleizovsky and Anatoly Simachev included in past productions also remain, regardless of how awkwardly they may fit choreographically and musically with the (more or less) traditional choreography.

 

I am loath to argue with Petipa, but I don’t think it was a good idea to move the faux-suicide scene to the beginning of Act 2 as it resolves the story too early. I have to agree with Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Ratmansky et al. that it should immediately precede the wedding it ultimately precipitates. I also can’t imagine why the wedding of an innkeeper’s daughter and a barber should possibly take place at a duke’s palace. Again, I’m with Nureyev, Baryshnikov and Ratmansky on that one.

 

I have great difficulty swallowing Russian versions of the gypsy camp scene since what we see is stylized Russian gypsy dancing. We all know how the dancing of Spanish gypsies looks, and it’s called flamenco.

 

Finally, the ending of the ballet is very abrupt and anti-climactic.

 

Designer Valery Leventhal died before the production reached the stage, and presumably the Bolshoi treated his designs as sacrosanct and recreated them exactly, even, as in Act 3, when they are obviously flawed. Unfortunately Elena Zaitseva did not adapt her costumes to them. The first act is a red-on-red riot, and as a result the stage looks very crowded and it can be difficult to make out the dancers. There is a blue bay down the center of the backdrop, but it is largely obscured at stage level by a large quasi-bridge contraption toward the rear. It eats up a lot of stage space, forcing some choreographic alterations on the narrower ROH stage, and Basilio’s entrance down one of its crowded staircases gets lost in the shuffle. Oddly, the bridge is still there at the beginning of the second act, presumably to create the impression of city architecture beyond the tavern walls, although it is barely visible, and it must be extremely inconvenient to have to roll it away during the short transition to the gypsy camp scene. I can’t help thinking some sort of urban backdrop would have been preferable.

 

On the front curtain during the overture and prior to the gypsy camp scene there are video projections of a book and turning pages (a little cheesy), although the short selections from Cervantes have been left in Russian translation, which is fine for expats but incomprehensible to most of the London audience. Surely, it would be possible to use alternate projections when on tour, or to have an “international” version with the original Spanish texts. In the gypsy camp scene, the blades on the windmills are barely visible, although they turn very quickly, and the tossing of Don Quixote looks absurd. A heavier dummy is probably needed, because the one now used looks like a rag doll. The backdrop of white trees during Don Quixote’s dream would perhaps be better suited to a production of The Snow Queen, but it was the only design piece to elicit applause from the audience.

 

The designs for Act 3 are a mess. In place of the old backdrop of a pale stone courtyard, there are now large dark banners at the back, whose purpose I cannot understand. Is the palace in mourning? Has the King of Spain died? On the movie screen they looked black. In reality they are dark brown. But the net effect is to make Basilio, dressed almost entirely in black, invisible. Parts of him become visible only when he jumps in front of the narrow slivers of blue sky between the banners, but never all of him, so anyone dancing the part is operating at a huge disadvantage. Apart from Kitri, all the classical women have black tutus beneath their pale bodices and skirts, and while I don’t have a problem with a black underskirt when the entire costume is black, here it looks like blank space. Kitri wears a dreadful, shiny, fire engine red tutu, and all the women’s tutus have garish black and gold lamé ornamentation.

 

I was in the minority, but when I first saw her three years ago my reaction to Olga Smirnova was very negative. Sadly, this impression has not improved much, and it didn’t help that she was badly miscast as Kitri on opening night. As far as I know, Smirnova is 24 years of age, but she comes across as much older—and not in a good way. There is no sense of spontaneity or joy in her dancing; everything seems studied and forced. She is not a grand allegro specialist, but she could have helped her cause with more emphatic rhythmic accents, particularly in the high kicking waltz before the minuet in Act 1, but instead she was a little slow. (Ekaterina Krysanova, who has no problems with grand allegro, made her point that much more strongly by kicking right in time.) Smirnova executed some elements extremely well, including hops on pointe and piqué turns. But the rises onto and descents from pointe are surprisingly bumpy. So I’m afraid I find Smirnova mostly angular and mannered, and I don’t know whether it would be worth waiting another few years to see how she develops, or whether I’m a hopeless case.

 

Krysanova, at the third performance, was at her best in the first act and the tavern scene: exciting, natural, ebullient. In the dream scene she, in a way I have not seen from others, endeavored to find a distinct Dulcinea style—as opposed to a somewhat happier vision-scene Aurora—by dancing with the greatest purity, clarity and grace she could muster. I don’t think she quite succeeded, since she lacks the ideal refinement, particularly obvious in her spiky hands, to pull this off, but I genuinely admired her effort. For some reason the third act didn’t take off for me the way I would have predicted, although her dancing was brilliant, and her alternating double and single fouettés were extraordinarily fast. If she’d had greater chemistry with her partner, if they had seemed to hear the music the same way, they might have been able to blow the roof off the performance, but they didn’t. Perhaps my expectations were too high.

 

I cannot find it now, but some time ago I remember reading an interview with Clement Crisp in which he described the principals of the Royal Ballet at the time as super-soloists rather than ballerinas, including the most popular among them. In this case I identified with what he said. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy performances by the super-soloists, because I do, even if I come away knowing that I had seen greater performances of Giselle or Theme and Variations from other interpreters. I have enjoyed Krysanova in every role I have seen her dance—Giselle, Kitri, Gamzatti, Aurora, Odette-Odile—although in each case I have seen greater performances from other dancers. I have seen only three Jeannes in Flames of Paris, all of them excellent, and among them I did think Krysanova the best. But for me she remains a super-soloist rather than a ballerina, which doesn’t mean I don’t think she’s terrific. A combination of virtuoso technique, daring, sincerity and unpretentiousness will always have great value.

 

Smirnova’s Basilio was Denis Rodkin, and the two had very little chemistry. He jumped very high, and while he didn’t spin like a top, he did turn cleanly. His Basilio was good-looking, brash and cocky, but without the wit and self-irony that would have prevented his character from becoming insufferable, and unfortunately I find Rodkin mostly insufferable. I abandoned the performance after the second act, after the bulk of the character dancing had passed, and while I was sorry to miss Vitaly Biktimirov’s bolero, I did catch it two days later.

 

Krysanova was paired with Semyon Chudin. With his lopsided grin and small chin, Chudin is not obvious heartthrob material, although this made for a good contrast with the full-on, flaring-nostril glamour of Ruslan Skvortsov’s Espada. While Chudin has limited dramatic range, he’s pretty good at playing befuddled, even though this made it a little difficult to believe that he might smooch with Kitri’s girlfriends when she wasn’t looking. The blocking of his faux-suicide scene was more effective than Rodkin’s, and unlike Rodkin, he didn’t paw at Kitri’s breasts when lying apparently dead. Chudin rushed through the first act and was rarely synchronized with Krysanova, but by the second act he had settled down, although neither pair was particularly successful at dancing together. The unfortunate darkness of the backdrop and costuming meant that I got a very poor view of his dancing in the third act.

 

It turns out I miss the old-school joyous abandon that used to define the Bolshoi’s Don Q, because these pairs came across as small-scale.

 

Neither performance seemed to engage the audience until the appearance of the Street Dancer, Espada and the toreros. Anna Tikhomirova’s dancing was, unsurprisingly, high-flying and very exciting, although her Street Dancer had more attitude than logical character development. Skvortsov’s Espada was no cape-twirling pretty boy. I could readily believe his matador was the real thing.

 

When Rodkin and Chudin danced their first-act variation alongside Viktoria Yakusheva and Xenia Zhiganshina, I found my gaze drawn firmly toward Yakusheva.

 

The bulk of the tavern and gypsy camp scenes consist of quasi-national dances interpolated long after the ballet’s creation and set to music with little resemblance to Minkus, but the character dancers provided the best performances of the evening. As the soloist of the “guitars” dance, Vera Borisenkova was ravishingly lovely, elegant, graceful and the living incarnation of “willowy.” Kristina Karasyova’s Mercedes was less refined, but more obviously glamorous. It’s mildly silly that the two women should vie for Espada’s attention by engaging in a backbend-off, but there’s no denying that Karasyova bent her spine in half most impressively. Conceptually, Skvortsov’s variation was probably the most interesting performance of the evening. Why would a matador suddenly begin dancing in a tavern? But he could regale those present with a story of his illustrious exploits, and in Skvortsov’s performance an entire narrative is made visible: his cape, the bull, lances and the thrusts of a sword, revealing a layer of the choreography I had not seen before.

 

It would be difficult to convey just how much I dislike the sailors’ jig and Goleizovsky’s gypsy dance, but these, too, were danced with great spirit and complete commitment, especially by Anna Antropova as the unhinged gypsy. (It’s a characterization I find vaguely offensive, but it is what it is.)

 

In the dream sequence, I found Yulia Stepanova to be a somewhat nondescript Queen of the Dryads, and I was bothered by the fact that she seemed to heave from the shoulders a bit, but her performance was preferable to that of Anna Nikulina, who, oddly, danced the role in the manner of Odile. Perhaps this is Nikulina’s way of doing “grand,” but the impression made is not very munificent. On the other hand, I found Daria Khokhlova’s Amour entirely satisfying. She danced the part with less emphatic sparkle than some, but I could not fault her gentler approach.

 

Where I probably lost out by leaving the first performance early was the grand pas variations, because the two young corps members I saw perform them were not up to the task. Their dancing was awkward, bordering on clumsy, and not worthy of one of the world’s great companies.

 

Finally, in the mime roles I found the “tall” interpreters most compelling: Alexei Loparevich as Don Quixote and Alexander Fadeyechev as Lorenzo.

 

Opening night was attended by Vladimir Urin, Makhar Vaziev, Olga Chenchikova, Marina Kondratieva and Alexander Vetrov.

Edited by volcanohunter
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