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I had to leave before the gala, but just some thoughts about the two Cinderellas I saw at Mikharilovsky.  Anyway, they were part of my trip, and honestly, for fairy tales, the Mikhailovsky Cinderella and Mariinsky Sleeping Beauty are both just magical!

I managed to attend two Cinderellas back to back at the Mikhailovsky Theatre.  This ballet is a real triumph in every way for the company.  The scene was set  from the moment of entering the auditorium - the lights around the pretty apricot painted interior were set to flicker exactly as if it were candlelight and not electric light bulbs, and the crystal drops in the chandelier were glittering.    The colours of the costumes, scenery and special effects are just gorgeous - soft pastels in many glowing colours and this production to me is the truest representation of the actual fairy tale that I ever saw.

 THe first cast was Angelina Vorontsova and Ivan Zaitsev, who often are paired.  Angelina is such  strong technician and a very pretty girl and had a good rapport with her partner.  Everything is easy for her.  Zaitsev is also a good technician, although truthfully I could not rank him at higher than Mariinsky 2nd soloist, if that.  Although he jumps and turns well, he does not have great extensions in arabesque and also for me lacks a little elegance.  He does have a nice princely presence though,

 The second performance I saw - the matinee the following day - was  the married couple of Viktor Lebedev and Anastasia Sobeleva ,and was  the better in my opinion.  Viktor Lebedev is an amazing dancer - he could and should be Mariinsky principal since he was Vaganova trained .  I can’t think of anyone else who has his blend of elegance and charm, and smoothness and ease of movement.  His jumps are amazing - in particular, his opening grand jete flying across the diagonale of the stage, was spectacular.  His turns are phenomenal, with both speed and precision and high up on demi pointe.  I think I counted 8 at one point, but it is his control that is so exception.  He has all the time in the world to finish off every pirouette perfectly.  His lines also are beautiful - stretched legs and feet and just perfection in arabesque and exquisite attitude turns.  Honestly, it is worth going to St Petersburg just to see him in this ballet.  His wife, Anastasia Soboleva, is a slender, long-limbed dancer, dancing with lovely lyricism and with a touching, poignant quality as Cinderella.  I loved her performance - actually I even preferred her Cinderella to Vorontsova’s - much as i love hers also.  

What to say about the special effects? …. they ARE very special.  They truly add to the magic of the production.  Some of the most beautiful are while the fairies of the seasons are dancing, first with  pink blossoms to the rapid allegro work of the spring fairy, Veronica Ignatieva particularly good in the first performance - and then with swirling leaves and snow as the seasons progress.  There are also what look like “real” fireworks but of course are just back projected - but how lovely they are.   Cinderella’s sisters are portrayed not ridiculous and spiteful, but actually amusing - and Valeria Zapasnikova was especially quick footed and comical.  The choreography is beautiful - the pas de deux for the prince and Cinderella containing some beautiful lifts set among a stage full of stars - just so pretty!  The corps is also very well served with intricate lacework of ensemble work.  For the second performance I was sitting higher up and this was especially evident.  The final act contains some effective solos for an oriental snake dancer and a Spanish scene, and also some stunning virtuoso dancing for the prince - Lebedev’s chaines must be the fastest I have seen a male do!  This production completely puts the horrible Mariinsky Cinderella production to SHAME!  It is FABULOUS! 

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