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Bolshoi Ballet Summer 2019 ROH London Residency

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On 7/10/2019 at 1:26 PM, Mashinka said:

With less than twenty days to go before first night I'm saddened that so many tickets remain unsold.  Only Swan Lake has sold out and most performances of Spartacus are selling well too.  However Bright Stream is doing badly and so too is Don Q.  For the last night there are literally hundreds of tickets available whereas the first night is sold out.  My solution would be for Vaziev to recall Alexandrova or negotiate with the RB for one of its principals, either Osipova, Nunez or Naghdi to get backsides on seats for the evening of the 17th.

Yes, Alexandrova has been out of commission since March, and while she's no longer in a cast, she's still undergoing rehabilitation.

This comment reflects the two-tier pricing system at the Bolshoi, because tickets for the new stage are substantially less expensive, but there are two productions for which I really have trouble stomaching the astronomical prices charged: Jewels and Don Quixote. There's nothing wrong with the ballets, obviously, but they are cast atrociously. I've seen the current production of Don Quixote four times, but I've stayed to the end only once.

As for The Bright Stream, @Xiaoyi is probably correct: the ticket prices are too high.

At this point the presenters are probably hoping that interest will grow once the season begins.

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What about the beautiful Evgenia Obraztsova? Her calendar appears to be clear between late July (after galas in China and Korea) and October (guest appearances in Melbourne and Rome as Aurora and Kitri).

http://evgeniaobraztsova.com/afisha.html

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Generally, the Bolshoi doesn't take dancers on tour to appear in only one ballet. Jacopo Tissi is an exception, but he is one of Vaziev's Most Highly Favored, so different rules apply.

Londoners may feel differently, but in Moscow Obraztsova does not go over well in Don Quixote. She danced excerpts from the ballet at the Maximova gala in February, and when she made her entrance, the silence was deafening.

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This may be slightly off topic but I read this review that @dirac was kind enough to post.   https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2019/jun/29/the-bolshoi-ballet-review-russian-greats-are-big-bold-and-bombastic-in-brisbane

The article mentions that Igor Tsvirko and Margarita Shrainer are an item but I thought that he was married to Evgenia Savarskaya.  Just wanted to know if anyone could clarify this for me as I have seen recent social media posts of Tsvirko with his wife.

Thank you!

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It would take official news to counter official news.  If anyone has some, please feel free to post. 

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Posted (edited)

During the recent Australian tour Shrainer and Tsvirko were promoted as a human-interest story. So that's the official Bolshoi position. I suppose it might have been a little less appealing if the stories had mentioned that Tsvirko used to be married to someone else.

https://thewest.com.au/news/qld/art-imitates-life-as-boyfriend-and-girlfriend-set-to-star-in-bolshoi-ballets-spartacus-ng-037056912680ee639785e65bc280e7f7

Edited by volcanohunter

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Par for the course, Russian ballet marriages tend to be somewhat fragile.  Not something we generally hear about though.

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Things are a bit different in the age of Instagram. It's true that prior to the Australian press push Tsvirko hadn't been very public about the end of his marriage to Savarskaya or his relationship with Shrainer. This is understandable, since there is a child involved, one old enough to understand what is taking place.

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A few more tweaks from the ROH site.

Mon 29 Jul 2019, 7.30pm: Spartacus (Rodkin/ Sevenard Denisova / Lantratov Ovcharenko Belyakov / Zakharova)

Tue 30 Jul 2019, 7.30pm: Spartacus (Tsvirko/ Nikulina Vinogradova/ Ovcharenko Belyakov Ovcharenko / Smirnova)

Wed 31 Jul  2019, 7.30pm: Spartacus (Lobukhin/ Vinogradova Nikulina / Belyakov Skvortsov / Stepanova Shipulina)

Thu 1 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Spartacus (Vasiliev Rodkin/ Denisova Sevenard/ Skvortsov Belyakov/ Shipulina Stepanova)

Fri 2 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Swan Lake (Smirnova/ Chudin / Lobukhin; Kruteleva, Chapkina, Gusev)

Sat 3 Aug 2019, 2pm:  Swan Lake (Kovalyova/Tissi/Gerashchenko; Bochkova, Denisova, Putintsev)

Sat 3 Aug 2019, 7.30pm:  Swan Lake (Zakharova/ Belyakov Rodkin / Kryuchkov; Khokhlova, Turazashvili, Gusev)

Mon 5 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Swan Lake (Stepanova/ Ovcharenko / Lobukhin; Bochkova, Denisova, Gusev)

Tue 6 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Swan Lake (Nikulina/ Chudin / Soares; Kruteleva, Chapkina, Putintsev)

Wed 7 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: The Bright Stream (Zhiganshina Khokhlova/ Vasiliev Tsvirko/ Skvortsov/ Krysanova)

Thu 8 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: The Bright Stream (Nikulina/ Lobukhin Chudin/ Lantratov Skvortsov/ Shipulina)

Fri 9 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Spartacus (Rodkin/ Sevenard Denisova/ Belyakov Ovcharenko Belyakov/ Zakharova)

Sat 10 Aug 2019, 2pm: Spartacus ( Tsvirko/ Nikulina Shrainer/ Skvortsov/ Krysanova)

Sat 10 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Spartacus (Vasiliev Lobukhin/ Denisova Sevenard/ Lantratov Belyakov Ovcharenko/ Smirnova)

Mon 12 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Swan Lake (Stepanova/ Ovcharenko/ Soares Lobukhin; Bochkova, Denisova, Gusev)

Tue 13 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Swan Lake (Marchenkova Krysanova/ Belyakov/ Kryuchkov; Khokhlova, Turazashvili, Gusev)

Wed 14 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Swan Lake (Kovalyova/ Tissi/ Gerashchenko; Bochkova, Denisova, Putintsev)

Thu 15 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Don Quixote (Shrainer/ Vasiliev Tsvirko; Tikhomirova, Skvortsov, Chapkina)

Fri 16 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Don Quixote (Krysanova/ Lantratov Soares; Vinogradova, Biktimirov, Marchenkova)

Sat 17 Aug 2019, 2pm: Don Quixote (Sevenard/ Tsvirko Belyakov; Turazashvili, Alexeyev, Trikoz)

Sat 17 Aug 2019, 7.30pm: Don Quixote (Stepanova/ Rodkin Belyakov Rodkin; Vlashinets, Skvortsov, Kovalyova)

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20 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

During the recent Australian tour Shrainer and Tsvirko were promoted as a human-interest story. So that's the official Bolshoi position. I suppose it might have been a little less appealing if the stories had mentioned that Tsvirko used to be married to someone else.

https://thewest.com.au/news/qld/art-imitates-life-as-boyfriend-and-girlfriend-set-to-star-in-bolshoi-ballets-spartacus-ng-037056912680ee639785e65bc280e7f7

Thank you for this article and the clarification!!

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On ‎7‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 10:27 AM, volcanohunter said:

Generally, the Bolshoi doesn't take dancers on tour to appear in only one ballet. Jacopo Tissi is an exception, but he is one of Vaziev's Most Highly Favored, so different rules apply.

Londoners may feel differently, but in Moscow Obraztsova does not go over well in Don Quixote. She danced excerpts from the ballet at the Maximova gala in February, and when she made her entrance, the silence was deafening.

Obraztsova is extremely beloved in Russia but has had the bad luck of being politically out-of-favor during most of her career, except for the few months when she was favored by Filin at the Bolshoi. In my long experience attending live ballet in StP and Moscow, the reports of so-called "silence" towards Obraztsova seem to come especially from Zakharova fanatics. Two different aesthetics but both have their proponents.

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Zakharova is immensely popular in Moscow, and claques at the Bolshoi are very real things. But I don't see how Zakharova supporters could compel other members of the audience from responding to Obraztsova if that's what they wanted to do. My impression is that Bolshoi audiences have never really warmed to Obraztsova. If memory serves, I've seen eight of her performances this season, and looking through the snapshots on my phone, each time her partner received more flowers than she did. I don't think Zakharova fans would go so far as to supply Obraztsova's partners with flowers. What they spend on Zakharova's massive bouquets would be enough to break most budgets. When conversation has turned to Obraztsova, my Muscovite acquaintances tend to speak of her as technical and correct, but not engaging. "Not my ballerina" is a phrase I hear often. For the record, neither Obraztsova nor Zakharova speaks to me, and I don't go out of my way to see either of them, although my instinct to avoid Zakharova is stronger.

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Over here there is some interest in Zakharova because she is a name and has an international career, on the other hand Obraztsove has danced with the Royal Ballet and is therefore better known.  Male dancers don't receive flowers in London except perhaps at a last performance prior to retirement.  Generally speaking the London audience responds to warmth/strong personalities, the hard Russian ice queens aren't admired.  Also I fear the Russian Dancer cachet goes for very little now that we have home grown stars of our own

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5 hours ago, Mashinka said:

Male dancers don't receive flowers in London except perhaps at a last performance prior to retirement. 

It's unscientific, but flower hauls are some measure of a dancer's popularity, and in Russia that goes for the men, too. Personally, I haven't seen a male dancer bestow one of his bouquets on a partner who had received fewer--this would be an insult to the admirer who had brought the bouquet--but if his floral bounty is larger, most will set the flowers down on the ground quickly and discreetly. But not all.

I agree with you about the relative strength of the ballerina rosters. The Royal Ballet's is superior, and English National Ballet is home to some very remarkable ballerinas as well.

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Monday's performance opened with former RB director Monica Mason giving a curtain speech in tribute to the recently deceased  impresario, Victor Hocchauser, there was also a brief biography of his remarkable career in the giveaway cast sheets.  Wholly appropriate for such a titan of the classical arts world. 

Opening with Spartacus proved the right choice as it is a big audience pleaser and in the three performances I've seen so far there was a lot to admire.  On opening night Denis Rodkin danced the title role and although  up to now I've liked him best in princely roles he gave Spartacus his all, his intensity and burning eyes stay in the memory, but it's a killer of a role and I felt he was flagging a little in places.  Denisova, his Phrygia couldn't match Rodkin's passion, she looked nervous and her acting was a look of permanent anxiety.  Perhaps it would have been wiser to put a more experienced dancer in the role.  In the other female lead Zakharova was very good if you ignored her ugly jetes, Aegina has always been one of her best roles and she throws herself into it with vigour.  Artemy Belyakov danced Crassus as an out and out maniac, relentlessly insane from start to finish, if he could give more thought to his acting he could make this role his own because his actual dancing was phenomenal.  I don't think he has danced a leading role in London before and people I spoke to were overwhelmed by what they saw, extrovert technique in a role every bit as tough as the title role.  He made himself a lot of fans on Monday night.

On Tuesday Igor Tsvirko took on the lead, Tsvirko is popular in London, not just for his performances in the last London Bolshoi season, but because he has been appearing in one off galas here too (I have a fond memory of him in Flames of Paris at the Savoy Theatre).  Tsvirko is of similar height and build to the role's creator, Vladimir Vasiliev, and the choreography fits him like a glove, his elevation is jaw dropping and he can act too.  His partnering was faultless, but I did feel his Phrygia, Maria Vingradova, was a little too tall to be his ideal partner.  She was however far more convincing in the role than Denisova the night before.  I also felt that Smirnova was a bit too tall for Ovcharenko as well, but apart from that they were utterly convincing as Aegina and Crassus.  A scheming amoral pair that shared a ruthless nature.  Smirnova was perhaps more sexually aware in the role than others I've seen and brought a real erotic charge to the scene where she corrupts Spartacus's men.  Too often the pole/thyrsus dance can look ridiculous, but not with Smirnova, a girl who clearly understands the phallic significance of that particular prop.

Mikhail Luboukin was the third Spartacus, more gritty than heroic and ultimately more moving in the role, his final scene really tugged at the heartstrings.  His elevation wasn't as great as the other two but his tremendous speed and stamina made up for that.  His Phrygia, Nikulina, was the best of the three by far and you felt her tragedy was almost as great as his.  Crassus was played by Ruslan Skvortsev whose acting was superb, a haughty patrician unable to restrain his blood lust, less virtuosic than the others dancing Crassus, his nuanced approach to the role compensated for that, but he wasn't helped by the vulgar posturing of Shipulina who simply couldn't compete with Zakharova and above all Smirnova.

A word about the orchestra, wonderful, exciting playing.  There is a lot of brass in Spartacus and I never once heard a wrong note.  As the playing and conducting of the RB's orchestra becomes progressively worse year on year, getting to hear faultless playing becomes a real pleasure.  Lots more performances to go, I'm crossing my fingers that the standard will match what I've seen so far.

 

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Posted (edited)

I was able to see the opening Spartacus. I had to laugh at Mashinka’s  (accurate) description of Belyakov’s Crassus as “an out and out maniac.” Even in the context of THIS ballet it would have to count as an un-subtle performance—but count me another new-minted Belyakov fan. His dancing was just...electric. I almost became overexcited every time he started up. And I think the dancing sometimes did have interpretive qualities in the emphasis he gave the steps. When Aegina spurs him to action after he has been humiliated by Spartacus, Crassus executes three double assemblees—one downstage left, one downstage right, and one upstage center. Belyakov seemed to build one on top of the other, going higher each time, as if to symbolize Crassus’s rising confidence. It didn’t look at all like ‘pacing’  to me— it looked like the expression of the character’s growing determination. But ... definitely a maniac. 

I thought the whole ensemble looked great—regarding the leads, perhaps I had a few more reservations about Rodkin’s Spartacus than Mashinka. Also, to me, Rodkin did seem to be pacing himself (understandably) and I rather thought the performance got more effective as the evening went along. I’m inclined to cut the inexperienced Denisova some slack: she showed strength and, I guess, guts in some of those acrobatic lifts and seemed very committed to the drama at the end. And I am very glad I finally got to see Zakharova’s Aegina in the theater. Without seeming in any way ever to hold back she did build her performance up to a climax —masterfully I would say. Belyakov, on the other hand, was at 1000 percent the moment the curtain went up and stayed that way until the moment it came down. No complaints from me though. It seemed entirely “Bolshoi” and made me very happy.

Edited by Drew
grammar

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Posted (edited)

I decided to post re the Bolshoi Swan Lakes I saw on the British forum where others have been attending and are discussing them  but remembering what a pasting Zakharova took in New York for her Swan Lake with Hallberg in 2014, I decided to post a slightly edited version of my comments about her performance with Rodkin in London here.  I saw three Bolshoi Swan Lakes in London and I found her performance to be in an entirely different class from the other two I saw which were Smirnova (with Chudin) and Kovalyova (with Tissi). The very beautiful Smirnova remains a bit opaque to me, though still fascinating, and Kovalyova of course is still at an extremely early stage of her career. I enjoyed aspects of both of their  performances and I also--and especially--enjoyed Chudin's Siegfried. (I find his aristocratic bearing and pure classical style a profound pleasure.) As for Zakharova -- Both live and in "HD" I have always found her riveting to watch but not always interpretively memorable....Still, in fairness I also have not seen her dance live in many years--so I did not have strong views on the matter going into this past week's performances. Her Saturday night performance as Odette-Odile on top of her Aegina earlier in the week has entirely rewritten my personal experience of her as a ballerina in the theater.

Five years ago in New York (where I missed her) Zakharova was lambasted in the press (and online among some fans--though not all) for giving what was described as an uninvolved or "cold" performance; in London opposite Rodkin she gave a performance I found not only exciting  but tremendously moving. (I didn't just have tears in my eyes watching; I have tears in my eyes writing about it.)

I think Rodkin played a key role here. He is not the seamless stylist Chudin is. Also, though his leaps are impressive, when it comes to turns, a double pirouette seems about as much as he can muster and he sort of fakes his way through the chaine turns through which Grigorovich has Siegfried express much of his agitation in the final scenes of this staging. Not just Chudin Friday night, but Tissi at the matinee was able to do more with these. But in other respects not only did he dance very impressively, but he seemed a much superior actor to either Chudin or Tissi and his dancing also carries much more of a sexual charge than theirs -- the result was genuine chemistry with Zakharova and a deeply romantic performance of the ballet insofar as Grigorovich's approach allows for it. Apparently no-one told Zakharova that the souvenir program describes her as primarily a specter in Siegfried's mind. And when she looked up into Rodkin's eyes towards the end of the first lake scene you could believe she was in love with him.

Overall, unless one values an Odette-Odile solely on whether she makes it to 32 fouettes (I counted Zakharova at 27 with the last one a double) her performance throughout was wonderful--profoundly involved and involving. At any rate, and obviously, I found it so--articulate, fluid, soulful, and exciting, with a coda to the black swan pas de deux that I thought well worthy of her coach Semenyaka--shooting across the stage like lightning and closing with a striking balance.  

At all the performances I attended I also thought the dancing of the corps and some of the coryphees was a genuine highlight, and the different featured women in both acts of this two-act version made a good and some, a very good, impression (some of the featured men--jesters and evil geniuses--a little less so, though I thought Geraschenko wasn't bad). As in New York five years ago, Tikhomirova as one of the "brides" (she did Spanish the night I saw her in NY and Neapolitan the night I saw her in London) was outstanding.

But for me the event of the three Swan Lakes was undoubtedly Zakharova--and though, going in, I was quite confident I would admire and enjoy her performance (she's not "Zakharova" for nothing!) I did not anticipate that it would be such a memorable evening.  Huge gratitude to Zakharova and Rodkin both.

 

Edited by Drew
Diction

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Posted (edited)

I just returned from London, where I saw the Aug. 5th performance of Swan Lake with Stepanova/Ovcharenko/Lobukhin. I won't get as technical as many you as I simply don't have the knowledge and am just a little beginner in this ballet world, but I truly did have a memorable evening. 

Stepanova was stunning, what a treat to watch her dance. She made Odette and Odile, particularly Odile, truly come alive. I was sitting on the balcony so I didn't necessarily have a great view of her facial expressions, but I didn't need to as I could feel the very different emotions through her dance and movements. The contrast she was able to show between her Odette (softer, shy, in love, pained) and her Odile (sharper, playful and a tease yet devilish) was impressive. Her Black Swan was to die for. She did look like a swan throughout most of the ballet, and made it all look effortless again with her magnificent presence, technique and interpretation.

Her port de bras is delighful, and her dancing and interpretations were detailed, nuanced and fluid. I did not count her fouettes, but I do remember being stunned by them. I could have watched her dance and pirouette and jump the entire night, and she really did look like a mystical creature, elegant, captivating, sentimental and insighftul. Ovcharenko was great as well but honestly I just could not keep my eyes off Stepanova most of the time. That said, he looked as captivated and smitten by Stepanova's characters as I was.

The corps itself was also particularly stunning. I had never watched a full-length version of Swan Lake, only the shortened Balanchine one, so I truly was able to appreciate the corps here. The dancers were sharp and just sublime during the lake-side scenes. Each movement or pose held was so symmetrical and precise to the millimeter that I also found myself absorbed by it. They all truly did look like a group of swans as well. 

I did find Lobukhin a bit bland, heavy and quite wobbly at times. At one point it looked like he stumbled on his own feet, although he saved it nicely, but anyways I wasn't particularly blown away by his dancing. On the contrary, I found Georgy Gusev as the fool particularly astounding. Very light on his feet, explosive jumps and steady pirouettes, and truly in his character the entire time. I honestly thought he stole the show whenever he was on stage, from my perspective and the crowd's reaction. I also enjoyed Bruna Gaglianone Cantanhede as the Neapolitan Bride, and maybe because she reminded me more of the style of dancing I'm used to as she's Brazilian and I have been to a handful of Miami City Ballet productions, where a lot of the dancers are Brazilian.

The production itself was indeed interesting, and some of you on here had warned me of the ending. I am not quite sure how to feel about it yet, again as I have no 'true' point of comparison with another full-length production. It did not bother me greatly at the time, but I don't think I like having the prince being alone on stage at the end too much. Other than that, I did find the imagery great and successfully and effortlessly linking the eerie, hazy lake scenes to the more festive and crowded palace ones. 

I am very glad I went to see this, and I wished I was in London longer to see the ballet with a different cast. All in all, Stepanova and the corps de ballet were the true big stars of this ballet for me.

Edited by sohalia

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Thank you Sohalia for writing on Stepanova's performance. I would have very much liked to see her but was unable to stay that many nights in London.

I think the Balcony at the Royal Opera House is great for Swan Lake--especially great for registering the beauty of the corps de ballet.

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22 hours ago, Drew said:

Thank you Sohalia for writing on Stepanova's performance. I would have very much liked to see her but was unable to stay that many nights in London.

I think the Balcony at the Royal Opera House is great for Swan Lake--especially great for registering the beauty of the corps de ballet.

Exactly, that's why I decided on these seats in the end. I figured since it's a ballet with a prominent corps presence, it was probably better to view it from a bit further up. I was very happy with that decision in the end.

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I don't think this has been mentioned elsewhere, but the souvenir program includes updated ranks. 

principal dancer - Artemy Belyakov

leading soloist - Alyona Kovalyova

first soloist - Olga Marchenkova, David Motta Soares

soloist - Anastasia Denisova, Eleonora Sevenard

Other dancers in featured roles (Bochkova, Chapkina, Gerashchenko, Kruteleva, Kryuchkov, Putintsev, Trikoz) remain in the corps de ballet. 

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Last night I went to Swan Lake to see Alyona kovalyova, she has a whole thread about her here so I wanted to take a look for myself.  Not having seen the Grigorovich production for years, I suppose I had pushed it's horrors to the back of my mind, but it really is pretty grim.  It wasn't well danced either, the pas de trois ladies, particularly the first, were off the music for their solos and the third act national dances were performed very indifferently.  In the white act one of the big swans was unable to perform a satisfactory rond de jambe en l'air.

The principals kovalyova and Jacopo Tissi, delivered up to a point, but couldn't save what was for me an acutely disappointing evening.   kovalyova is a very attractive dancer but her height works against her, to me she wasn't in full control of her long limbs and I wondered if she had come to the role too soon, or indeed that it isn't her role at all.  In the black act she pretty much mastered the difficulties apart from a couple of small hiccups, but her sweet, pretty face seemed unable to harden into a look appropriate for cruel Odile.  I was also seeing her partner, Tissi, for the first time and I actually rather liked him, in fact I found his assured dancing a highlight of the evening.  He has an innate elegance but also performs with typically Russian expansiveness.  On reflection, he wasn't much of an actor last night, but taken all round it was a classy performance, he's tall but sadly he isn't tall enough to be the ideal partner for kovalyova, ideally she needs someone of the stature of a Kenneth Greve, though sadly I don't think there is currently anyone out there of that height.  After the black act I called it a day, but that is a reflection on the production rather than the dancer and of course an excerpt from act four is actually performed in act three.  What did I like best?  the corps de ballet in act two, quite superb and without question the stars of the evening.

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42 minutes ago, Mashinka said:

but her height works against her, to me she wasn't in full control of her long limbs

She does not have control of her limbs. It's not unrelated, but my greatest objection to Kovalyova is that despite her enormous height (even a tall, strapping dancer like Egor Khromushin looks short next to her) is that her dancing is actually quite "small."

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Kovalyova needs a tall partner, an exceptionally tall partner.   Much as I like Tissi, with his elegance and beautiful lines, he is not tall enough for Kovalyova, just as Ovcharenko is not tall enough for Stepanova.  

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I would say that Kovalyova's difficulties are also apparent in roles, where she has no partner, such as Myrtha or the Queen of the Dryads. 

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