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Bolshoi La Bayadere in Cinema January 2018

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Often the trailers for the Bolshoi in cinema broadcasts feature dancers different from the ones who actually dance in the broadcast itself. (That happened recently with the Coppelia trailer. For a couple of seasons, it seemed to happen with almost every broadcast.)  So I'm not sure Stepanova dancing in the Bayadere trailer but not dancing in the broadcast means she has been "pushed aside" or that the trailer reflects Vaziev's original casting intentions. That just seems to be the way the company does the trailer sometimes. You could be right, but one can imagine other reasons as well.

I'd have enjoyed an opportunity to see Stepanova in the broadcast--Nikiya and Raymonda are the two roles I would most like to see her dance. (Smirnova too as it happens.)

 

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The Bolshoi's cinema trailers are filmed toward the end of the preceding season, long before casting decisions are made, and don't reflect actual casting more often than not. The trailer for the repeat broadcast of Don Quixote featured Margarita Shrainer, even though the performance starred Ekaterina Krysanova. And the original trailer for the live broadcast featured Maria Alexandrova, not Krysanova. The promotional material for the forthcoming repeat of Sleeping Beauty features Evgenia Obraztsova, despite the fact that Aurora was danced by Olga Smirnova in that broadcast. The trailer for this season's La Sylphide featured Daria Khokhlova and Artemy Belyakov, while the actual performance did not include Belyakov, and Khokhlova danced the first sylph, not the lead. This has been the pattern for years. The trailers are totally unreliable indicators of who will actually dance and probably reflect who was available and/or fit to film them at the time they were shot.

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Smirnova's website indicates she is dancing Nikiya on Jan.20.  Perhaps this is the same performance as the live broadcast?

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Yes, every company has politics, but I think both Smirnova and Stepanova are wonderful ballerinas.  Personally, I consider Stepanova to be the better - her movement is far more  musical, lyrical and flowing, and her acting natural and expressive.  I like Olga Smirnova very much also: I do appreciate the care she takes with every aspect of every role - of course, this is seen by some as being "too careful" but I think every ballerina has her own way of interpreting a role and they cannot all be the same.  However,  Olga Smirnova is clearly the up and coming Prima stepping into Zakharova's shoes and perceived as senior to Yulia Stepanova.  I think she is hardly hard done by having Belyakov as a partner - it surely can't be long until he is made principal and he is outstanding.  Certainly his Solor debut was outstanding in my opinion - dynamic and well acted.  I actually take far more issue with  Marchenkova being cast as Gamzatti.  

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Achieving an international following is a hard ask, the aesthetics currently in vogue in Moscow cut less ice outside of Russia.  I'm seriously thinking of missing this year's London Bolshoi season if it's to be led by those two indifferent 'talents' as neither covered herself in glory on the last London outing.  The Royal Ballet has far superior dancers at present, so unless some young unfamiliar dancer is pulled out of the hat to delight us I'm predicting a falling out of love with the company.

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Posted (edited)

Stepanova has many supporters on social media, and was promoted to principal at the Bolshoi with some swiftness. She has faced career obstacles or, at least, complications, but she is not exactly a hard luck story--in part because she took matters into her own hands by leaving the Mariinsky, a company that is her natural home. If Stepanova had no "ambition" to dance more roles or to be promoted then she would have had no reason to leave the Mariinsky, which--as it happens--was a very smart move for her both as an artist (giving her more opportunities) and as a professional (becoming a principal dancer with a company of comparable prestige and, indeed, greater fame than the Mariinsky).  It also took some nerve since there was no guarantee it would work out as well as it has or that she would end up at the Bolshoi at all. I can't read into people's hearts, but still can't help but feel that no-one becomes a principal dancer with the Bolshoi, without both dedication to the art for its own sake and ambition. It demands too much of one--not just in physical terms, but in terms of character, emotion, and grit. I would say this even of ballerinas at the Bolshoi I don't particularly respond to or like.

Edited by Drew

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I’m thrilled Smirnova is dancing the broadcast, her Diamonds was one of the highlights of ballet watching for me.  I can’t wait to see her Nikiya.

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Kaysta said:

I’m thrilled Smirnova is dancing the broadcast, her Diamonds was one of the highlights of ballet watching for me.  I can’t wait to see her Nikiya.

Hi, Kaysta. If you've read any of my posts you probably know that I'm a great admirer of the artistry of Olga Smirnova. I also agree with what you've written. Since you've mentioned Diamonds, if you would like  to see what I consider a beautiful contrast in style, relevant beyond just this work, I would suggest an internet Diamonds video of Oksana Skorik. I feel that both these artists in their own way are two of the greatest highlights in ballet today and watching them perform 'side by side' adds to the appreciation of both of them.

Added: I would also say that Olga Smirnova is probably always thinking about the direction of her career and acts accordingly. Yet, from interviewers’ comments, etc., she also seems like a very decent person and I think that this would be reflected in all her actions.

Edited by Buddy
end of last sentence added before the "Added" , "always thinking" replaced "quite concerned" in "Added"

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Olga Smirnova’s husband, Dmitri Kostov, held a position of an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs Russia.  (I don’t know if he still does.) Equaling an ED to the company’s head is an exaggeration. 

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I'd like to throw this into the equation, if I can.

"I [Olga Smirnova] believe that the main thing is not wish for something better, rather than remain in harmony with yourself and with your loved ones," confesses the modest prima ballerina. "When I was a child, I could not even dream of such a fulfilling creative life as I have now. I think I just want to cherish and enhance it."

https://worldofballet.com/smirnova_en

For me, her exceptional artistic ability speaks for itself. There's nothing in my outsider's view of her personal life that would supersede this in importance. We all have our favorites. This should by no means exclude us from appreciating everyone else's ability.

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18 minutes ago, Quinten said:

@Buddy nobody’s suggesting she’s not a wonderful dancer. 

😊

By the way, I also think that Yulia Stepanova is a very fine ballerina.

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Meanwhile, the latest issue of the Italian dance magazine Danza & Danza has a photo of Olga Smirnova on its cover. Smirnova is also a recipient of magazine’s “Ballerina of the Year” award for her role of Nikiya performed during the Bolshoi’s tour of La Bayadere at La Scala last September.

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Daria Khokhlova narrating, unidentified prima ballerina Anastasia Stashkevich dancing. The dancers demonstrating the choreography are not named, sadly. Sometimes they also appear in the trailer as talking heads so viewers can put two and two together, sometimes they don't.

 

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Other than the black faced children which makes me want to crawl in a hole....

 

i am LOVING this cast.  Super impressed with all 3 leads, especially Marchenkova, who may be the fiercest Gamzatti I’ve ever seen.

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Olga was beautiful in the second act, even with a little bobble.  And watching Belyakov makes me realize how depleted the male principal ranks are at both NYC companies right now.

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Glad I went.  Some bobbles by all 3, but the 3 leads were all great.  Outside of Tiler Peck, Smirnova may be my favorite current dancer.  I thought she was a hauntingly beautiful  Nikiya.

My only complaints besides the black faced kids (which is completely unnecessary and should be changed) is the camera work during the corps Kingdom of the Shades.  I don’t want to see close up shots during the Shades entrance.  I also was not that impressed with Shrainer or Chapykina’s solos.  But overall, an afternoon well spent!!!!

Edited by Kaysta

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I enjoyed it as well. Lots of Russians in the audience and no ballet students which is terrible! When I went to Don Q a bit ago, movie stopped before the pas and they couldn't get it going again so got our money back. Wonder if that happened at all the theatres. They said it was a transmission problem....

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6 hours ago, MRR said:

Bolshoi uploaded the cinemacast on its website (you have to register an account):

http://media.bolshoi.ru/play#/vod/play/435


In the end I had to miss this in the movie theater and was grateful to be reminded in time that I could find it on the Bolshoi website. I just finished watching it this evening.

I very much enjoy and admire the Bolshoi's production of Bayadere with a few caveats: I seem to appreciate pure pantomime more than Grigorovich; and I prefer Solor see Nikiya's dance with the veil in Act I since it explains the dream imagery of Act III; also, the placement of that Act I "veil" pas de deux in the Mariinsky's production doesn't interrupt the Djampe dance the way it does here. The Mariinsky's Djampe exit, ever turning in arabesque, is also more impressive. Additionally, I take it as axiomatic that Solor entering Act II on an elephant is far superior to any other possible entrance.  (As I've expressed my concerns about blackface in this ballet before and at length -- I won't go into it again.) But those caveats aside, and allowing that I only have video to go on, I do very much enjoy this production which I've also watched complete in the Zakharova/Lantratov/Alexandrova version that was broadcast a few years ago. And I hope one day I get to see the Bolshoi Shades scene, with its four ramps, live in the theater.

I did find the leading performances in the Zakharova/Lantratov/Alexandrova recording superior to those in today's broadcast, but I still found lots to admire in today's leads (Smirnova/Belyakov/Marchenkova)--especially, at times, Smirnova. Still, I'm afraid I have to second Quinten's suggestion that she might have given a freer performance opposite Chudin and regret we didn't get that pairing. I do think Belyakov is a fine dancer and I imagine he can develop still as a performer. 

Edited by Drew

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[Admin Note: This is a response to a deleted post]

The synopsis on the Mariinsky website reads: "The time for the marriage to be consecrated is close and Nikiya is requested to dance in the holy rites." But I'm afraid I don't know much more about it than you.  I saw the Mariinsky version when they brought it to Kennedy Center a little over a year ago and she is brought in to dance shortly after Solor and Gamzatti become engaged and dances it in front of them. It does very much give the impression of being a pas de deux in honor of the newly engaged couple and a blessing or consecration of sorts especially when she casts flowers down from a high lift. 

Since the dance involves the unwinding of that elaborate veil I always thought it helped make sense of the prominence of the veil in the Shades scene. However, it's not performed as if Nikiya knows about the engagement or as if she comes to any sort of realization about it either. It's as if she doesn't even see Solor there. I find that a little odd and it might account for why Grigorovich changed the timing of it to make it just a generic entertainment (or blessing perhaps) with no Solor around...which, come to think of it, is a point in favor of how Grigorovich re-arranges the scenes.  Makarova cut it entirely. 

I LOVE the elephant and it perfectly corresponds to the deepening, brassy parade music at that point, but it's definitely an old fashioned kind of stage effect when you see it live, so perhaps not everyone finds it impressive.  I will note though, that Nureyev keeps it too. I have only seen his production once and it was many years ago. One of the things I remember best about it is the elephant. But I've been thinking I should watch his version on video sometime soon...

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I always thought that the slave pas de deux was meant to show the difference in social standing between Solor/Gamzatti and Nikya. In the first scene we saw Nikya and Solor as equals. They dance together and are in love. In the second scene Nikya is essentially entertainment for Gamzatti. The placid dance is a contrast to her passionate pas de deux with Solor in the first scene. It's a little dance that shows Nikya her place, so to speak.

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8 hours ago, MRR said:

Bolshoi uploaded the cinemacast on its website (you have to register an account):

http://media.bolshoi.ru/play#/vod/play/435

Thank you for the link. Having missed the broadcast at the movie theater I was happy I could still see it on my iPad. 

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19 hours ago, MRR said:

Bolshoi uploaded the cinemacast on its website (you have to register an account):

http://media.bolshoi.ru/play#/vod/play/435

Thanks so much, MRR, for finding this.

I’ve watched most of Olga Smirnova’s performance and I really don’t want to rush through the rest in order to write these few words. As I’ve written before, I think that we are witnessing at least one of the greatest ballet artists that I’ve ever seen live.

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I’ve now seen Olga Smirnova’s entire performance and I think that it’s outstanding. It’s no longer available at the Bolshoi site.

I may be doubling back on myself, but for a couple years I’ve been writing that she could possibly be another Galina Ulanova or even an Anna Pavlova. This would be an ideal for me, because I’m very much into lyrical loveliness and dreaminess, perhaps above all else.

But Olga Smirnova has chosen a more dramatic direction, for the moment anyway. She could, I’m certain, be a lyrical masterpiece, if she chose to be. She was, after all, a star student at the Vaganova school.

But she also possesses a dramatic prowess that is remarkable. It’s compelling. It has depth and substance.

Anna Pavlova and Galina Ulanova were of the 'Stars.' Olga Smirnova is more of the here and now, with the ability to carry that into the stars. It should be fascinating and beautiful to see what she chooses and what she accomplishes.

Edited by Buddy
spelling correction

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