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Buddy

XVIII Mariinsky International Ballet Festival 2018

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I am certain Buddy will post a detailed review of tonight's "Petipa 200 Gala" so I would just like to post a few words re my take on this evening. I bought my ticket before the program was announced and when it was posted it was something of a letdown for me - I was expecting something bigger, also taking into account the unheard-of price for Piter of R15K for best seats. OK, the program being what it was a train of thought can be extracted :  Petipa (SB) inspired Balanchine, thus M.N. Dream, Balanchine (Jewels) inspired Keikhel, thus The Seasons - presented in reverse order - Big Deal !  The funny thing is this was supposed to be the Petipa Gala but the third act of SB which concluded the evening was SEVERELY cut compared to what I saw on Friday 9th evening :  tonight only the White Cat-Puss in Boots and the Florine-Bluebird sequences were danced - NO Red Riding Hood and Wolf, no Cinderella-Fortune and no Cannibal chasing Tom Thumb&Bros !!  The broadcaster Mezzo must have imposed a duration limit I thought, otherwise it just didn't make sense, not to me.

I have often heard that Gergiev doesn't pay attention to the stage action to pace the music and tonight I witnessed it in unmistakeable fashion : at the start of the act the PdQ etc of the Fairies were conducted at such a faster tempo compared with Friday that I was waiting to see which of the dancers was going to slip up - none did.

Keikhel's The Seasons was  a take on Jewels I thought, with costumes changing colour with changing seasons, and at almost an hour much too long for what it is, should be cut to 30 mins. The "wedding" scene of Midsummer Night's Dream is my least favourite bit of this work - the story for anyone who cares about it is in the previous scenes. Did Petipa choreograph anything without a story ?? Serious question - I would like to learn.

Edited by mnacenani

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29 minutes ago, mnacenani said:

I am certain Buddy will post a detailed review of tonight's "Petipa 200 Gala"....

 

Yes, indeed. And here it is.

I Loved Every Minute !  :)

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3 hours ago, mnacenani said:

I am certain Buddy will post a detailed review of tonight's "Petipa 200 Gala" so I would just like to post a few words re my take on this evening. I bought my ticket before the program was announced and when it was posted it was something of a letdown for me - I was expecting something bigger, also taking into account the unheard-of price for Piter of R15K for best seats. OK, the program being what it was a train of thought can be extracted :  Petipa (SB) inspired Balanchine, thus M.N. Dream, Balanchine (Jewels) inspired Keikhel, thus The Seasons - presented in reverse order - Big Deal !  The funny thing is this was supposed to be the Petipa Gala but the third act of SB which concluded the evening was SEVERELY cut compared to what I saw on Friday 9th evening :  tonight only the White Cat-Puss in Boots and the Florine-Bluebird sequences were danced - NO Red Riding Hood and Wolf, no Cinderella-Fortune and no Cannibal chasing Tom Thumb&Bros !!  The broadcaster Mezzo must have imposed a duration limit I thought, otherwise it just didn't make sense, not to me.

I have often heard that Gergiev doesn't pay attention to the stage action to pace the music and tonight I witnessed it in unmistakeable fashion : at the start of the act the PdQ etc of the Fairies were conducted at such a faster tempo compared with Friday that I was waiting to see which of the dancers was going to slip up - none did.

Keikhel's The Seasons was  a take on Jewels I thought, with costumes changing colour with changing seasons, and at almost an hour much too long for what it is, should be cut to 30 mins. The "wedding" scene of Midsummer Night's Dream is my least favourite bit of this work - the story for anyone who cares about it is in the previous scenes. Did Petipa choreograph anything without a story ?? Serious question - I would like to learn.

:jawdrop:They dumped Flora for that!?!?! It sounds like they butchered it more then feared. I mean even the companies that "cut the fat" still perform Red Riding Hood and yet they couldn't even do that :wacko: Did they at least do the apotheosis? Was that butchered too? 

The Mezzo site said the program was two hours and fifty minutes long. How much of it was actual Petipa material and not "Petipa inspired" :huh: Sounds like very little. And I thought The Seasons was suppose to be a reconstruction of Petipa but from what you descible is sounds like a Balanchine tribute where the only connection to Petipa is the ballet name and music used.

Overall it almost sounds like it could be a tribute to Balanchine disguised as a tribute to Petipa 

Edited by NAOTMAA

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18 hours ago, NAOTMAA said:

The Seasons was suppose to be a reconstruction of Petipa but from what you descible is sounds like a Balanchine tribute where the only connection to Petipa is the ballet name and music used.

Total new choreo by a young choreographer who appeared at the curtain calls. I took it as a tribute to Balanchine, wasn't bad but imho too long for what it is, a la "Alice in Wonderland"  :P

Edited by mnacenani

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And for another point of view.

                                                      [advertisement — voyage to the heavens] 

 In the often gray skied of winter city of St. Petersburg the Sun is shining brightly today. 

The ballet gods and goddesses are smiling glowingly. The ballerina wonders (and their amazing partners) had cast their spell. I once again floated home as light as air.  

And as I looked into the balconies after the evening’s performance a little girl dressed as impressively as a ballerina princess was ecstaticly flirling up and down like a star kissed fliggahmahbopp. Not very ballerina-ish at all. Beauty comes in all manners, forms and sizes.

Many lovely memories.

I’ll try to write some more at another time.

 

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Sometimes there are memories that you want to hold on to as long as possible. At last year’s Festival Olga Smirnova was that with her La Bayadere performance. And later in the year she was again with a gala excerpt from Carmen Suite.

Last night Oxana Skorik accomplished this with her beautiful duet from The Midsummer Night’s Dream. I just sat quietly in my seat afterwards hoping to maintain the images as long as possible. This was as much as I could hope for in one evening. Then Alina Somova appeared with Xander Parish performing the final act duet from The Sleeping Beauty and once again I was in the heavens. This memory I still strongly carry with me, being the most recent.

Who did I like better ?  Perhaps both equally.

I’ve often written that I consider Oxana Skorik to be possibly the most basically beautiful ballerina in the world. I’ve recently added the very young, Vaganova trained (now at the Bolshoi) Alyona Kovalyova.  

One whom I tend to forget is Alina Somova. This is because she’s so multitalented that I overlook her basic beauty, which is outstanding. Also she doesn’t travel and she doesn’t appear as much, which I would guess is because she’s taking care of her two children. The last time that I saw her was when she performed an amazing Swan (by Fokine) at the Festival several years ago.

Oxana Skorik has a more mature and developed beauty than the very young Alyona Kovalyova, who has a wonderful sweetness and youthfulness. Last night Oxana Skorik was Perfection and Beauty.  She had such a refined and linearly captivating precision. She also had very fine nuancing. For instance, as she walked alongside her partner, their arms circling clocklike together, she introduced some ever so subtle extra ‘vibrations’ in her torso that made the moment even more special. Each time that I see her she’s more beautiful.

Alina Somova was perhaps as linearly refined but with a slightly softer manner. She was absolutely and embraceably lovely.

I hold on warmly to these memories. They were both Beautiful Dreams.   

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Could I please add a few more remarks about the Gala. The first work was The Seasons, choreographed by Konstantin Keichel. Thanks to CharlieH we got some insight as to why it might have been included. 

As it was presented I can see no direct connection to the classical theme of the series. It’s a modern, abstract work that I happened to like very much. A Balanchine connection has been proposed here, but it didn’t register with me except for the loveliness of the opening tableau, which is very typical of Balanchine but also of many of the classical dream scenes. 

What I liked so much was it’s flowing beauty that remained unbroken. The choreography is typical of many abstract works that I’ve seen at the Festivals, but this one had a very nice continuity and interest. All the flying arms, etc. had a harmony and a poetry. They expressed the four seasons.

The main thing that it represented was a classical continuity into our modern age. It was modern and abstract, but it also had a classical lyricism and vocabulary. For this reason it fit very well into the program.

The next two works have been mentioned here. The classical Sleeping Beauty being led into by the more modern Balanchine. 

The Sleeping Beauty has already been discussed quite thoroughly, but the thing that made this excerpt so special for me was the absolutely beautiful duet featuring Alina Somova with Xander Parish. It may in fact have been the loveliest of the Aurora duets performed this week. I would really like to have seen what she would have done with an entire performance. That would have also shown her theatrical prowess, which at it’s best is extraordinary. I was also very impressed by the quality of what she did considering that she doesn’t seem to perform that much. Not only is she holding her own, but she’s maturing beautifully both in artistry and pure dance loveliness.

I personally liked the choice of the second half of Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream very much. It’s the most directly related to what we’re used to seeing at the Mariinsky. First of all, it contains the remarkably beautiful duet that featured Oxana Skorik, who danced it with great loveliness. It's one of Balanchine's several finest that also rank among the finest in all ballet. Then there is a more traditional, processional element, but done with Balanchine’s genius for construction and innovation. It also includes  many magical elements that give it a dreamlike character and so resemble the Mariinsky at it’s finest. 

Edited by Buddy
Several sentences added to last paragraph and corrected above Xander Parish danced with Alina S, not Oxana S

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6 hours ago, Buddy said:

Last night Oxana Skorik accomplished this with her beautiful duet from The Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Dear Buddy imho with her pdd performance in MN Dream last night Aksana Skorik put the naysayers on and off this forum to shame ...... Russianballetvideos do you copy ???  I'll stop there so as not to become more unpopular ! :D

 

6 hours ago, Buddy said:

Alina Somova appeared with Xander Parish performing the final act duet from The Sleeping Beauty and once again I was in the heavens

First time I saw Xander Parish live .... damn good dancer imho, technique as good as the other Marii male leads I have seen so far excepting maybe Kimin Kim, good "princely" looking ..... so maybe Fateyev is not as dumb as some people make him out to be. I recorded the Mezzo livecast and they did an interview with Fateyev at the interval, have not been able to watch it yet.

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Thanks Mnacenani for your thoughts. I can maybe get back to them later as I was just about to post the following.

I guess I could please address one more thing, the question of how Valery Gergiev relates to the dancers during a performance. What Mnacenani said is probably correct. Does he even notice the dancers during a performance. He doesn’t seem to. 

Still there is something of interest. The quality of the orchestra under his direction is exceptional, at least to my untrained ear. Thus a challenge. Can the artistic value of the dancers rise to the occasion ?

For me, in the first work, The Seasons, it was back and forth, based mostly on the quality of the choreography, which was still very good. But when it came to the critical high points of The Sleeping Beauty and The Midsummer Night’s Dream, for me, the duets, the dancers carried the performance. As great as the music is at a ballet, my attention and main appreciation are always carried by the dancers.

During these two wonderful duets, the dancers commanded my total attention with their magical beauty and high artistry. Yet I have to wonder if Valery Gergiev was also somehow tuned into this, since it all went so beautifully well at the critical moments.

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1 hour ago, mnacenani said:

PS :  I may incur the wrath of Buddy for saying this....

Not really. To each his own.

The Gala -- I Loved It !  :)

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1 hour ago, Buddy said:

Not really. To each his own. The Gala -- I Loved It !

I am glad that you enjoyed it - I was expecting something bigger and "better".  Before they posted this "insipid" program how many people who bought tix blind like myself would have expected to get new choreo and Balanchine instead of classic Petipa ??  Why not put on the wonderful 3rd Act of Paquita which is in repertory, and the "white scene" from Bayadere for example, to make it a true celebration of Petipa, instead of Keikhel and Balanchine ??  But the Vikharev Sleeping Beauty on Friday eve, at the historic stage with the panorama and the violin solo more than made up for the "gala".

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16 hours ago, Gnossie said:

If one is not familiar with the Mariinsky style one can consider such atrocities like Skorik and Parish acceptable. When one knows and has seen the best of the Mariinsky it is normal to consider such "dancers" as an atrocity. And Yuri Fateyev's tenure has taken the Mariinsky Ballet to a level of mediocrity never seen before. 

I rest my case.

Yuri Fateyev's casting and ranking of the dancers in the company is really unacceptable - Oksana Skorik is a principal, yet Olesya Novikova, who is exquisite in every role she dances, and was wonderful in the Vikharev reconstruction Sleeping Beauty, is STILL only a first soloist?  Totally unacceptable.  

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I've moved the discussion about Laura Capelle's review to the Writings on Ballet forum:

 

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On 3/12/2018 at 5:02 PM, mnacenani said:

Dear Buddy imho with her pdd performance in MN Dream last night Aksana Skorik put the naysayers on and off this forum to shame ...... Russianballetvideos do you copy ???  I'll stop there so as not to become more unpopular ! :D

I am happy for you that you enjoyed the gala and Ms Skorik's performance. However, there's no shame for being a naysayer of Skorik. People with different tastes and standards go to ballet for different reasons. 

As for me, Mariinsky is not just one "prestigious" ballet company in the world. It is Mariinsky. It hurts me to see Skorik dancing on its stage as a principal. But I won't press my opinions on anyone else.

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10 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

Rosalie, I suspect you are far from alone with that view.

Yes, Mashinka! I know I am far from alone. I think it's not an issue to "discuss". People who get it, get it immediately. People who don't, won't get it even if I explain it in the best way possible.

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Many are perfectly capable of understanding points, but who either don't agree or don't find them as critical.

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If you don't understand why it's critical, you don't understand. It's a master of taste instead of "points". It's purely personal.

I hope every balletomane enjoy his/her own favorites, and will have many more cherished ballet going experiences to come. I'll rest my case.

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4 hours ago, Rosalie said:

there's no shame for being a naysayer of Skorik. People with different tastes and standards go to ballet for different reasons. 

Certainly !  My ballet friends at home and abroad quite frequently agree to disagree with me, especially those who became ballet-goers from an early age, not at 65+ like me !  :D:D

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To look ahead for a moment.  :)

After a two day break the Festival begins again tonight.

These Festivals are certainly one of the highpoints of my year. When I’m here I’m usually as immersed as possible. Often when I travel I like to see as much as I can, but when I’m here the Festival dominates almost everything. I sometimes say to myself that I’m not actually seeing the real Russia. Perhaps so, but I like to think that maybe I’m touching  — The Russian Dream. 

And I am experiencing Russia in the sense that what I do and see and the Festival, usually at night, become part of the same thing. The beauty of all things runs together. The Festival, for me, is perhaps the finest event in ballet, and ballet is one of the finest statements of human artistic beauty. And what makes this Art Form really fascinating is that the Artists (the Dancers) are also the Works of Art.

In addition, the Festival is a representation of love and warmth. And the real Russia ?  Well, I’ve been treated as nicely here over the years as I have been anywhere — at times the nicest.

So tonight is Yekaterina Kondaurova’s big night. She’ll dance Odette/Odile from Swan Lake, probably the most coveted role in all ballet. If I’m not mistaken she made her debut at the 2011 Festival. I saw her follow that up in August in London. I also believe that she was the first, in my fourteen years anyway, to do this twice at a Festival. Now, she’ll be the first ever to do it three times.

Many agree that she’s the Mariinsky’s most versatile dancer. At the beginning she was featured for her  ability to perform modern. She’s still the best, although such dancers as Yekaterina Chebykina, as she showed at the Gala’s The Seasons, and others like Renata Shakirova, may also become quite good.

When I first saw her do Swan Lake I realized immediately that she was a fine ‘Classicist’ and felt that she could become a great Odette/Odile. Going back and forth between the best in modern and one of the best in classical the excellence can vary. I would have said two years ago that she shined brightest with the modern. A video clip of her dancing La Bayadere last year, showed once again that she’s an exceptionally beautiful classicist. And not to be forgotten, she’s such a statuesque beauty, that if she stood totally still all evening she’d probably be a sensation. And she can do absolutely outstanding portrayals.

I wish her the best for tonight.

Edited by Buddy
typo correction and minor word changes

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On 3/10/2018 at 11:09 PM, Quinten said:

This.  I love the way Sizova seems to be under enchantment, dreaming, not quite awake even as she dances.  In the Tereshkina video above, she seems wide awake which I guess is just a different interpretation, but I prefer this one.

Sorry I forgot to reply to this reference - seems I somehow missed it and then looked for it myself. That makes two of us who miss this beautiful melody - glad that sometimes we are in sync !  :D

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I have posted Ismene Brown's 2009 Moscow interview with Vikharev under "Writings on Ballet". With his Sleeping Beauty reconstruction (?) revived at Mariinka and his Coppelia coming up at the Bolshoy on April 20th this might be well worth a read by any members who have not read it before. (incidentally, I am hoping to see Coppelia at the Bolshoy on April 20th and 21st - so sad he isn't around to supervise it)

Edited by mnacenani

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Swan Lake

Yekaterina Kondaurova

Some of The Best Ballet Performing that I’ve Ever Seen ! 

Her Act I Odette was possibly the finest theatrical presentation that I’ve seen on a ballet stage. It was a dramatic achievement of the highest order — An Absolute Masterpiece !  She might have been the ‘Garbo’ of ballet tonight. This carried through to and was reflected in all her dancing which was excellent. Her Act III Odette was almost its equal. 

The only other performance that I’ve seen that could compare was Olga Smirnova’s Odette/Odile, which was perhaps the finest overall Expressionist performance that I’ve experienced.

Edited by Buddy

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Don Quixote

Renata Shakirova  — An Absolutely Precious Bundle of Sunshine Sweetheart !  :)

Kimin Kim — Why can’t I do that, or even dream about doing that ? (By the way, he replaced Filipp Stepin)

My only problem with their performance was that she moved so fast at times I couldn’t see her and he kept bumping his head on the stars.

Real fun evening. Lots of fine stuff. Hope to say some more.

 

 

Edited by Buddy

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