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Mariinsky 2018-2019 Season

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More video watching of recent performance excerpts and Alina Somova looks as lovely, in some ways lovelier, than ever. Here she is in Le Corsaire.

I’ve long felt that she’s one of the basically most graceful and beautiful of all ballerinas. In this group I’d include Oksana Skorik and the very young Alyona Kovalyova. At the beginning of her career when she was getting more attention for huge extensions and athleticism she also had a noticeable ‘gazelle-like’, airy loveliness that was very apparent in her jumps, etc.

As she matures with two children this beauty is even more noticeable. She seems to appear more selectively, maybe because of her children, and I tend to forget about her. Yet, at this year’s Festival she danced at the Gala, along with Oksana Skorik, and was equally beautiful.

In the Le Corsaire views, she again shows an airy wonderfulness in all her motion. I’ll add in the ‘prowess department’ that she did as clean and impressive a set of fouette turns (including about six doubles) as I’ve seen. I don’t usually pay a great deal of attention to these, dreamlike gracefulness being my primary interest, but these did capture my attention.

She’s also capable of very compelling drama and characterization.

I hope that we’ll be able to see a lot more of her as her focus and basic loveliness continue to grow.

Edited by Buddy
spelling and brief addition and minor correction

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At the Mariinsky Ballet press conference in Tokyo 2 weeks before, Alina Somova said she decided not to tour overseas after having 2 children (it was 9 years since her last visit here), but as there were withdrawals of several dancers, cast changes happened and she managed to come. I could not see her in a full performance but her performance in Chopiniana was lovely, she seemed to matured a lot. I hope she would be on tour again as well as dancing in St.P 

(She danced in Swan Lake in Hyogo, which is the west part of Japan so I could not see her) 

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15 hours ago, naomikage said:

At the Mariinsky Ballet press conference in Tokyo 2 weeks before, Alina Somova said she decided not to tour overseas after having 2 children (it was 9 years since her last visit here), but as there were withdrawals of several dancers, cast changes happened and she managed to come. I could not see her in a full performance but her performance in Chopiniana was lovely, she seemed to matured a lot. I hope she would be on tour again as well as dancing in St.P 

(She danced in Swan Lake in Hyogo, which is the west part of Japan so I could not see her) 

Thanks, Naomikage, for this added information. I’m glad that you enjoyed her. One quality that I forgot to mention is her beautiful long lines.

And yet another ‘veteran’ surfaces on video excerpt as lovely as ever. This would be Viktoria Tereshkina who performed Giselle yesterday.

I mentioned awhile ago that we could be witnessing a new Viktoria Tereshkina. I forget the exact performance. What accounts for this ?

Facially — she has a new relaxed loveliness and serenity. There is also an acuity, a heightened interest and rightness*, in her facial expression.

I’ve never seen her perform Giselle. It would have taken me some slight effort to visualize it. Giselle, for me, is about delicacy and airiness. Viktoria Tereshkina, as lovable as she is (apparently offstage as well), is more technically noteworthy.

But now something new has been added and it’s very commendable. It shows in her Giselle. As Alina Somova’s loveliness grows with her maturity so does Viktoria Tereshkina’s.

* and sublimeness

Edited by Buddy
* footnote added

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It’s a Mariinsky world ?

Except that three-quarters of it is at the Bolshoi.

Some quick musings, ballerinawise.

It seems that my preference for ballerinas is for the tall, linear ones. At least they look tall. Why the preference? There’s just something special about the way that their wonderful beauty projects even further-out into space.

Oxana Skorik — Possibly the most beautiful ballerina in the world in terms of pure motion and statuesque fineness. She’s the one that stayed at the Mariinsky.

Olga Smirnova — At times, she’s perhaps the greatest today. At times, the name Anna Pavlova comes to mind. She also experiments. She’s already, probably, one of the greatest ballerinas ever. And it’s still not inconceivable that she’ll be one of the top two or three greatest ever, in the company of Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova.   

Alyona Kovalyova — At her very young age, on course to being, along with Oxana Skorik, the most beautifully moving ballerina in the world.

Svetlana Zakharova — Still Queen of the Bolshoi. I sort of consider her, at least in part,  a Mariinsky ballerina. It’s where her career started and where she probably would have stayed if events had been different.

The Bolshoi may possess the most stars, but the Mariinsky may have produced them and continues to be the overall home for graceful wonder. Beyond this, the Bolshoi is certainly equal in its own way, but perhaps because of this, I prize both companies equally.

 

Edited by Buddy
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I’d like to continue this somewhat longer. It’s slightly complicated finding the right place to discuss this because it crosses company lines and concerns more than one ballerina. Since three of them are at the Bolshoi maybe that’s the better place, but I started here. The reason is that these four star ballerinas all have Vaganova and or Mariinsky roots and Vaganova/Mariinsky style is essential in all of them. 

The two that are primary for me at the moment are Oxana Skorik and Olga Smirnova. I think that Olga Smirnova may be considered as the greater because of her range. She has Vaganova fineness. She also has her own ‘genius.’ She has a power of expression that may be developing more because the Bolshoi emphasizes it, but it’s also something totally her own. She also has a stage presence that’s extremely captivating. I don’t think that videos have been able to show what I’ve seen her do so remarkably well on stage. One other element is less predictable. It’s her experimentation. It will certain increase her range and interest. If this all comes together in a sort of super-package then she could become one of the two or three greatest ever.

I’ve mentioned this other contrast. Although Olga Smirnova may be considered the greater because of her range, Oxana Skorik could be the most basically beautiful. I’ve not seen a more beautifully moving ballerina on today’s stage. Which is better or should and will be valued more — probably it’s a personal preference.

Alyona Kovalyova is rather amazing for her very young age. She also could be one of the most basically beautiful ballerinas ever. She may also develop an exceptional presence and sense of expression. For the moment I’m very happy just to enjoy her youthfulness. Her beauty of dance recently took a large step forward that shows in her Raymonda debut. There’s now an unbroken flow. In addition, her phrasing, which is very noteworthy, has now become a much more subtle yet even more compelling element.

Little more can be said about Svetlana Zakharova. She’s proven her brilliance over the years, grows in refinement and continues to captivate her audiences.

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We don't seem to have a thread on this year's Mariinsky Festival yet, so I'm just going to put this announcement here. Pretty much anywhere I put it will be a little incongruous.

Page Six is reporting that a Mick Jagger "curated" work choreographed by Melanie Hamrick to music of the Rolling Stones will have its premier "in March at the Mariinsky Theatre’s ballet festival in St. Petersburg, Russia." Not clear that it will be danced by Mariinsky Dancers. Hamrick is taking a leave from ABT to make this happen and after premiering in Petersburg (assuming that actually happens) the ballet will be danced at the Youth America Grand Prix Gala in New York:

https://pagesix.com/2018/12/26/mick-jagger-curating-ballet-set-to-rolling-stones-music/

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3 hours ago, Drew said:

We don't seem to have a thread on this year's Mariinsky Festival yet, so I'm just going to put this announcement here. Pretty much anywhere I put it will be a little incongruous.

Page Six is reporting that a Mick Jagger "curated" work choreographed by Melanie Hamrick to music of the Rolling Stones will have its premier "in March at the Mariinsky Theatre’s ballet festival in St. Petersburg, Russia." Not clear that it will be danced by Mariinsky Dancers. Hamrick is taking a leave from ABT to make this happen and after premiering in Petersburg (assuming that actually happens) the ballet will be danced at the Youth America Grand Prix Gala in New York:

https://pagesix.com/2018/12/26/mick-jagger-curating-ballet-set-to-rolling-stones-music/

Thanks for this information, Drew. The Mariinsky has not posted anything about the Festival, but the normal time slot from March 17 to April 4 is 'unbooked' so I'm hopeful that the Festival will occur at this time. If so, I hope to be there. It'll be my 15th in a row and I  would greatly look forward to it, as usual. I'll try to start a topic if it's announced  if someone else hasn't already done so.

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It makes most sense as part of the young choreographers evening--I should have realized that must be the context.

I like that picture of Hamrick at the piano. Also the fact that her Instagram avoids the horrible new use (and over-use)  of "curate" to describe Jagger's contribution.

Edited by Drew

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11 hours ago, Drew said:

We don't seem to have a thread on this year's Mariinsky Festival yet, so I'm just going to put this announcement here. Pretty much anywhere I put it will be a little incongruous.

Page Six is reporting that a Mick Jagger "curated" work choreographed by Melanie Hamrick to music of the Rolling Stones will have its premier "in March at the Mariinsky Theatre’s ballet festival in St. Petersburg, Russia." Not clear that it will be danced by Mariinsky Dancers. Hamrick is taking a leave from ABT to make this happen and after premiering in Petersburg (assuming that actually happens) the ballet will be danced at the Youth America Grand Prix Gala in New York:

https://pagesix.com/2018/12/26/mick-jagger-curating-ballet-set-to-rolling-stones-music/

Thank you for the information.

I guess the festival will be March 21-31. The only ballet performance in this week is Jewels which is marked “No Tickets” now.

Looking forward to what Mariinsky will present in this festival and who the guests will be.

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After having seen the Mariinsky live for ten days, I feel somewhat confirmed in a feeling that I’ve had for quite awhile watching internet videos.

Two of the company's most promising youngest ladies have a weight condition that is exceedingly thin, especially one of them. If you haven't noticed me mentioning the very fine performances that she's given, this is the reason. They are both so highly talented that I think putting on a few pounds would help considerably in the enjoyment of their otherwise extremely fine presence.

I would truly hope that the company would give this sort of thing some serious consideration. This is not meant as much as a criticism, but more, as a heartfelt suggestion.

Edited by Buddy

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Oxana Skorik will be returning May 16.

Tatiana — A Midsummer Night’s Dream — May 16

Third Couple — In The Night — May 22

Odette_Odile — Swan Lake — May 29

https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/ballet/principals/baleriny/skorik1

The eighteen year-old Maria Khoreva, already perhaps second to her in pure beauty of dance (along with 'challenging' Everyone else in Every other category), will be sharing the Swan Lake stage as one of The Prince’s Friends in their pas de trois. I’m sure that she’ll be doing Odette-Odile soon enough.

Oxana Skorik is still the Queen in this category with her maturity and fineness. And the beauty of her hands is perhaps unequaled by Anyone. Still, the young Maria Khoreva, a First Soloist into her second season, along with the Bolshoi’s Alyona Kovalyova (Vaganova graduate) have already joined her as the most basically beautiful ballerinas in the world.*

Oxana Skorik has been away on maternity leave. Returns to the stage after this have often produced some remarkable results in terms of character, focus and maturity. It’s possible that we’ll see an even more beautiful Oxana Skorik than we’d have imagined. I know, for one thing, that she has an inner depth and warmth of portrayal, because I’ve seen it, that's more than we’re used to associating with her. So let’s see what happens.

Welcome back !

* I would also add such fine artists as Alina Somova and Yekaterina Osmolkina to this category.

Edited by Buddy
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I’ve been watching the video of Maria Khoreva’s recent Diamond’s duet and the most recent of Oxana Skorik’s. Oxana Skorik’s shows a beautiful refinement of detail.  She hits the highlights like twinkling stars.

But the eighteen year-old Maria Khoreva’s is perhaps equally lovely. For her age it’s quite remarkable. This is one, of many, very good reasons, in my mind, as to why she was promoted to First Soloist, one rank below the highest, just into her second year.

Her artistic beauty is outstanding. If she were to put on a few pounds of critical weight, she’d be breathtaking in appearance.

Contained within her delightfully youthful exuberance is already a polished artist of the highest order.

By the way, I get into “Maria” trouble these days. I recently wrote some comments about the very lovely, young Maria Iliushkina, calling her “Maria Shirinkina” throughout, because I had just written about Maria Shirinkina. I started this post calling Maria Khoreva, “Maria Kovalyova,” now corrected. Alyona Kovalyova is not a Maria, but she certainly shares the same, remarkably ‘lyrical’ beauty of the others. These four are among my favorites. So I keep an eye glued to three Marias and one Not-Maria, Alyona Kovalyova (and one Not-Alyona, Alina (Somova) as well). And of course one — “ Oxana ! ”

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On 4/23/2019 at 12:01 PM, Buddy said:

But the eighteen year-old Maria Khoreva’s is perhaps equally lovely. For her age it’s quite remarkable. This is one, of many, very good reasons, in my mind, as to why she was promoted to First Soloist, one rank below the highest, just into her second year.

just my humble observation/opinion. M. Khoreva is missing a traditional Vaganova/Mariinsky upper body softness, fluidity, flexibility, and opulence. She's super flexible in the chest down, but not in the typical lyrical so soft upper body. She moves kinda rigidly there. She didn't have that "shortness" in videos in her school years. just my 2 cents

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Thanks, YID. All I would want to say in response for the moment is that Maria Khoreva’s Diamonds duet was one of the most beautiful of all duets that I’ve ever seen. This is the part of ballet, and dance in general, that I prize the most.

Let me move over briefly to the young Maria Iliushkina. She just danced the Act II Giselle duets at a Gala. Although they had some elements of a beginning effort, in essence, I consider them to be as beautiful as Maria Khoreva and Oxana Skorik’s Diamonds duet. In other words, I consider them among the best. In terms of pure dance beauty, equating someone to Oxana Skorik is as much of a compliment as I can offer. She has an articulation of detail that separates her from others. Maria Khoreva and Maria Iliushkina have a more uniform flow. Is one better than the other? I would say that Oxana Skorik’s fine detail is the result of much thinking and practice, i.e. maturity, so it can be valued for that. They all have a similar basic beauty of motion. So maybe take your choice, more developed refinement of detail, or (at this stage anyway) an overall flow and a seemingly more youthful naturalness (“seemingly” because I’m sure that much thought and practice have also gone into this.) In addition, Maria Iliushkina and Maria Khoreva have a warm and embraceable loveliness.

 

Edited by Buddy

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I’ve mentioned that I think that Oxana Skorik’s hands are perhaps the most beautiful. So I went on somewhat of an adventure. I looked at video clips of ballerinas that I consider the most beautiful, from Oxana Skorik all the way back to Anna Pavlova, performing the Swan Lake duet and The Swan (Fokine). This was completely a beginner’s effort. There’re so many ways to approach it and I probably just touched the surface.

One ballerina somehow grabbed my attention — Kristina Shapran.

I’ve mentioned before that she may have the most Interesting hands in ballet. In The Swan video clip each finger at times seemed to be trying to tell its own story. There’s calligraphy, narrative and a search for meaning and new ways of expression in the use of her hands. I've gone as far as to suggest that she might be creating a completely new emphasis in ballet expression. In any case, what she does could be fascinating to watch unfold.

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To continue Hands somewhat more, based on what I looked at today, I’d say that

Oxana Skorik has perhaps the most beautiful.

Ulyana Lopatkina has perhaps the most beautiful hands and arms combined. There’s an unbroken flow from her finger tips right through her shoulders.

It’s hard for me to say exactly about Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova. First of all the video quality is very fuzzy. Secondly, they were pursuing something different.

I would say that refinement is most noticeable in today’s Mariinsky ballerinas, whereas Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova were trying for a more total and transcending expression. Other Mariinsky ballerinas today also go for expression but not in the same all encompassing manner.

Normally I start from the facial expression and work outward. With some ballerinas I find that their dance beauty is more noticeable working from the hands inward, so that their pure physical motion is primary. These are some of the variables can vary from dancer to dancer.

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Could I please add a few more thoughts about Mariinsky Hands based on continued video viewing. I would also like to say that these thoughts are more of a point of departure than an attempt at a definitive summary. There’s always new discoveries in the old and constant change in the new. For whatever significance it might have, I’m trying to focus on just one element, the Hands. So here are some thoughts that others might like, want to add to their own or want to further explore or comment on, hopefully adding some enjoyment and appreciation to each new viewing.   

I think that to best have a feel for the current Mariinsky beauty it can be rewarding to look at the past. It gives things perspective and there was Greatness back there. In the next several examples I’ll be using performances of The Swan (Fokine), since it highlights the hands.

These are some very quick thoughts.

Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova were in outstanding worlds of their own, perhaps not to be equaled. Anna Pavlova may have been the greatest ballerina ever. In The Swan, probably her most famous performance, her hands seem to be the expression rather than trying to express. They are a ‘flying’ swan. They are the air. They are the soul.

Galina Ulanova’s hands are those of a dream swan, an idealized part swan, part human. These hands are perhaps the most beautiful combination of pure motion and storytelling in the history of ballet.

I’d like to add the non-Mariinsky Maya Plisetskaya because if you talk about beauty of the hands you will probably think about her immediately. In The Swan her hands are part of an idealized swan as they float magnificently, along with her famous wavy arms. Then the fingers open like wing feathers, after which the hands become transcendent before everything finally comes to rest.

Maria Khoreva and Maria Iliushkina point the way to future Mariinsky loveliness.They are both very young. What’s most noticeable to me in the hands, based on some of their most beautiful performances, is an airy loveliness. They have not yet seemingly explored the wide range of possibilities, but what they have can commendably stand on its own with its refined simplicity and flawless beauty.

Alyona Kovalyova is in certain ways the most interesting for me of the new generation. She’s now at the Bolshoi, but she studied at the Vaganova and is as fine an example of its remarkable beauty and sensitivity as there is. The use of her hands is a work in progress.This actually has a fascination in itself. Something does not need to be perfect to have great charm and interest. In addition, they already have exceptional loveliness and fine expression. Put together you see an element of the combined Mariinsky/Bolshoi enchantment at its finest.

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Still looking through video clips of famous ‘Mariinsky Hands’ I continue to feel that Oxana Skorik may have the most ‘Purely Beautiful’ hands of all. So where does this come from? Her coach? Is there a ‘lineage’?

Her coach is Elena Yevteyeva. Here’s what the much loved commenter and poster of videos, Galina Mochkina wrote about her.

“Elena Yevteeva - a great and one of the best lyrical dancers Kirov Ballet. Graduated from the Vaganova School in the class of one of the best teachers L.Tyuntina. Worked in the Kirov Ballet from 1966 to 1993. Danced all the leading classical repertory theater part. 

'In 1984 graduated from the department of choreography of the Leningrad Conservatory. From 1993-1999 she taught classical ballet at the Vaganova School. Among her students - Svetlana Zakharova and Daria Pavlenko. Since 1993 - choreographer repititor Mariinsky. Winner of the International Competition in Varna (1971). People's Artist of Russia (1991).

Here’s some of her Mariinsky bio. 

“Since 1993 she has been a teacher and coach with the Mariinsky Balllet, she has rehearsed roles with Sofia Gumerova, Daria Pavlenko, Oxana Skorik and Anastasia Kolegova.” 

https://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/repetiteurs/yevteyeva

In the old theater there is a box up front where the Mariinsky dancers and coaches watch the performances. For as long as I can remember there was a lovely little lady often sitting there. I once or twice went over to talk to her if I had a question about a performance. She and everyone else were always very lovely in their responses. When I realized that she coached Oxana Skorik I went over to her once at the new theater and congratulated her for her coaching of Oxana Skorik (and Anastasia Kolegova). She was again as lovely and unassuming as ever. 

I looked at some video clips of her, but haven’t studied them carefully, especially for the hands, to see if there’s any direct connection between her’s and Oxana Skorik’s. I would have to guess that Oxana Skorik’s are one of a kind, but that Elena Yevteyeva has been very helpful. She was certainly a lovely dancer, based on the little that I just looked at. 

Does anyone have any more ideas about her learning ‘lineage,’ especially in regard to the beauty of the hands?  Is she and/or her coach L.Tyuntina known for this or any other specific quality? 

Edited by Buddy

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Please delete. Computer error.

Edited by Buddy

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A Mariinsky World

My interest seems to focus on two compliments, purity and expression. Basic purity of dance beauty would be represented by Oxana Skorik and expression by Yekaterina Kodaurova. Oxana Skorik will be returning in about a week. Following her maternity leave we may see some new emphasis in her expressiveness, possibly in warmth and sensitivity. She’ll be making four appearances in two and a half weeks, all more or less ‘lyrical.’ Swan Lake, at the end, will be the probable highlight of her return.

Two other ballerinas that have a comparable beauty are Alyona Kovalyova (Vaganova/Bolshoi) and Maria Khoreva. Alyona Kovalyova has a remarkable linear loveliness and Maria Khoreva is extremely  lovely in her youthful dreaminess. Both are very young, so their development should be very impressive. Oxana Skorik has the maturity, refinement and articulation that still sets her apart.

Yekaterina Kondaurova, representing expression and versatility, is somewhat in a class of her own. The ballerina who probably shines the most in expression is Olga Smirnova (Vaganova/Bolshoi). Whereas Oxana Skorik may develop a new loveliness of expression, Yekaterina Kondaurova also has a purity of dance. Her early Swan Lakes were as lyrically lovely as I’ve seen. And Alina Somova, whose mixture of expression and dance purity is very noteworthy, recently performed Swan Lake, which I was hoping to get a glimpse of on the internet.

So these are some of the ballerinas that for me are the most embracing. They all shine in either purity or expression, some in both, all being Mariinsky or Mariinsky related. I hope that we'll get to see a lot more of all of them.

Added: 

And -- Maria Iliushkina -- She continues to be as understatedly Beautiful and Precious as ever.  😊

 

 

  

Edited by Buddy
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In the most recent performance of George Balanchine’s very beautiful Serenade, Maria Khoreva made her debut as the lead ballerina and Maria Iliushkina and Anastasia Nuikina made their usual appearances as the third and second ballerinas. There are several video clips.

Maria Khoreva once again shows what a remarkable range and artistically fine agility she has. This is contained within her delightful youthfulness and very effective portrayal. Above all, her lovely gracefulness is evident even in the most animated of her performances. Her beauty, her lines and physical expression, would be even more noteworthy, if she were to add a few pounds of weight to her existing attractiveness. Her ability is exceptional !

Maria Iliushkina has a wonderful sweetness, that she applies to her fine dancing. Although her range may be more contained than Maria Khoreva’s, within it is very lovely subtlety. For instance, she can punctuate her overall motion with remarkable moments of airy flow and sculpture.

One thing that I really appreciate in George Balanchine’s choreography is how the Corps de Ballet is  integrated so distinctly into the primary activity and given a chance to shine equally with the lead dancers. Also I have to say that, perhaps different from some of George Balanchine’s original emphasis and ongoing ‘close-to-the-source’ interpretations, I do love the way that the Mariinsky dancers impart their outstanding, one of a kind, lovely gracefulness to his works.   

 

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Having focused on video clips of the most recent Serenade with Maria Khoreva and Maria Iliushkina I’ve returned to one of Maria Iliushkina recently performing several Giselle duets at a non-Mariinsky gala. I hope that the Mariinsky is considering her for Giselle as well.

Lighter than air and as dreamlike as an angel — She’s absolutely lovely !

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Mariinsky's website has a performance of 'The Fairy Doll' for the 19th of May. I assumed this would be a Vaganova performance, but the webpage has 'Cast Yet To Be Announced', which is typically not there if it is indeed a Vaganova performance (I could be wrong). Does this mean the actual company might be performing the piece? Or is it another VBA performance? 

If it is company, I think it'd be very interesting to see who's cast in what roles. With all of the original VBA cast now in the company, I think it would be exciting to see them re-visit those roles now with some being season professionals in their second or third years with the company, i.e Illiushkina as Japanese, Borodulina as Spanish, etc, and also of course seeing some of the older company members do it. 

Though if this is the case, it's very likely to see Khoreva as Fairy Doll, seeing as she seems to be doing everything now, but I would love to see Shirinkina, Lukina, or Evseeva do the lead. 

Then again, this could just be a Vaganova performance, but I would very much love to see the company do it! 

https://www.mariinsky.ru/playbill/playbill/2019/5/19/1_1200

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