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Mariinsky Paquita KennCen Oct 8-13, 19

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My biggest problem with Smekalov's "Paquita", again, is the twisting-( as I prefer to call it instead of changing)- of the libretto. The way Paquita was conceived, with the whole political background and how the original librettist placed the story, makes complete sense vs what Smekalov proposes. My biggest points of complaint being:

- Andres is a proud officer who comes to Madrid's plaza in the company of his four officer friends.

- Then officer Andres decides to dessert the army and run away with the gypsies. No shame or regrets-( oh...Carmen)

- ex officer, now gypsy Andres is introduced in the art of goods looting-(he's not good at stealing techniques, as we can see in one scene)

- Gypsy Andres kills one of his ex fellow officers during the fight at the inn. His ex officer friends are there, and somehow they don't recognize him, even if he's not trying to disguise himself.

- For all of this gypsy Andres is reinstated as officer Andres and given Paquita's hand in marriage. He's again a proud uniformed officer at the wedding, with his four officer friends in attendance. Someone with an army background, no matter the time in history, would laugh at this.

Why re invent something that doesn't need re invention...? Why adding, varnishing, twisting-( as in a masterpiece painting)- just to have to reverse the whole process at some point in history to be able to see the beautiful original....?  Isn't that enough that many people believe that La Bayadere's Grand Pas happens in some invented betrothal scene or that Odette turns into a human...or that Raymonda is just in the middle of a triangle, where two cavaliers are competing for her love..?-( ABT's)

This is not a good thing for the holiest of holy stages.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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4 hours ago, MadameP said:

Personally, I like Smekalov's choreography for both Bronze Horseman and Paquita and think it's great that MT gives him these opportunities to choreograph!  OK, can't resist posting this, which is one of my favourites of his.  "Parting"


I like his choreography also, MadameP. It's consistent, solid, artistic and entertaining. I was also impressed for the first time with some of the other young Russian choreographers at this year's Mariinsky Festival. Maybe a substantial base is beginning there. Still, considering the great names that have emerged from the Mariinsky, both dancers and choreographers, there are big shoes to fill. Also the Mariinsky's strength is in the classical, whereas noteworthy invention is usually found elsewhere. The one Mariinsky choreographer that I do find the most inventive and world class within a certain range is Maxim Petrov. I hope that he continues to grow.  

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Here's what the Mariinsky website (very easy to google) says about this Paquita: 



Continuing to revive titles that are significant for the playbill of St Petersburg ballet, the Mariinsky Theatre is presenting a new version of Paquita. This is not a revival of the 19th century production, created in Paris by the ballet-master Joseph Mazilier and which was performed in St Petersburg from 1847 with choreography by Marius Petipa. Choreographer Yuri Smekalov is working on a new three-act ballet using his own libretto based on the plot of the novella La gitanilla by Cervantes. The basis of the score of the new ballet comprises music by Édouard Deldevez that was composed for the Paris premiere of Paquita in 1846. Yet today this one-and-a-half-century-old opus will sound different: the order of the numbers has changed, several of them have been re-orchestrated and, moreover, Deldevez' score has been added to by excerpts from works by Minkus and Drigo. The famous wedding Grand pas staged by Marius Petipa to music by Minkus, which triumphantly crowned the plot of the St Petersburg production, will occupy its place of honour in the new ballet, too. This parade of classical dance that demonstrates the skill of the corps de ballet and the virtuoso qualities of the ballerina and the soloists appeared in the 1881 production, and as an independent piece, unconnected with the ballet's plot, it has survived to this day. It is true that over the decades Petipa's choreographic text has undergone many changes. In the contemporary Paquita, the Grand pas will be included in a version brought close to the historic original – Yuri Burlaka is reviving Petipa's choreography using surviving records of the production from the early 20th century. The new ballet, which combines dances and scenes created by Yuri Smekalov, together with historic rarities, will be a hommage to the golden age of classical ballet, a mark of respect and gratitude of the new ballet generation to the aesthetics of the unsurpassed master of classicism – Marius Petipa.

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12 minutes ago, Birdsall said:

Choreographer Yuri Smekalov is working on a new three-act ballet using his own libretto based on the plot of the novella La gitanilla by Cervantes.

I will have to go and find if Cervantes actually backs up this messy libretto. If it does, then I keep my mouth shut. One doesn't argue with the Spanish Shakespeare.

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I've seen Smekalov's staging of THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, of which at least 65-75% are the steps of Rotislav Zakharov, since films exists of substantial portions of the original ballet. It's a great production, which was webcast a couple of years ago, starring Terioshkina and Schklyarov. The decors are similar to the 1940s originals and the scenario is not mangled. A totally different animal than what he's giving us in PAQUITA.

I'm sorry that the Mariinsky didn't go with the gorgeous Lacotte PAQUITA for POB. The only negative of the Lacotte, IMO, is that he did not include multiple female variations in the grand pas...just the "jete variation" for Paquita (plus the variation for Lucien). C'est tout.

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This is an interview with Yuri Fateev, “Acting Director of the Mariinsky Ballet,” about the visit, the here-and-there and the future. (Posted yesterday by Dirac. Thank you.)


Mariinsky Ballet Invited to Perform in Washington Next 2 Seasons

Russia's renowned Mariinsky Ballet has already received an offer to return to Washington, DC in the next two seasons, Yuri Fateev said.

"We received an invitation to come next season and the season after. We already have the concrete dates and will coordinate them tomorrow as well as choose the repertoire,” the acting director said. 

Mariinsky has delivered a number of classical performances on tour, so it might opt for modern ballet in the future, Fateev added. 

[If you want to know what this might be about]

"My dream is to bring here an Evening of American choreography that includes three absolutely amazing ballets of American choreographers from different eras. These ballets are George Balanchine’s ‘Serenade,’ Jerome Robbins’ ‘In the Night’ and the ballet by now-living choreographer Twyla Tharp ‘Push Comes to Shove,’ that we did last year with her participation. I think that it would be interesting to bring here and show how Russians dance American choreography, and I think it would be interesting to the Americans too,"  Fateev said. 


Young students of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet also received a warm welcome.  

"They dance mazurka very nicely, complement the ballet with a cute children's choreography presentation performed very professionally. These are very difficult dances and we insisted on bringing our children here from Russia. This is the first time we bring the children to the United States. Despite the difficulties in the relations, we were able to bring even children," Fateev said.


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Saw the matinee today with the divine Tereshkina! A few last minute changes: Yekaterina Chebykina performed act I as Christina but then Maria Shirinkina subbed in for the last two acts. Maria Illiushkina also subbed for May Nagahisa in the act III pavlova in king candaules variation. 

This was my first time seeing Paquita and I was nervous I’d be really disappointed I’d made the trip down to DC after reading people’s reactions here! Though it’s not my new favorite ballet, I really enjoyed it for what it was. Would I rather have seen La Bayadère? Yes. But opportunities to see the Mariinsky are rare for me sadly and I’m glad I came. 

Tereshkina brought fireworks, as expected, but I also really enjoyed two new-to-me corps dancers. First, Maria iliushkina who did the best of the act III variations after Tereshkina in the pavlova in king candaules one. She has a lovely, lyrical, floating quality and her balances were beautiful. I also really enjoyed lira khuslamova as the widow. It’s a small role, but she made a lot of it with her gorgeous poet de bras and the air of stately grief she brought to it.

Though Paquita has a silly plot and no real emotional weight, I did appreciate all the substantial solos that gave me the opportunity  to see soloists shine, particularly Shirinkina and Shakirova. 

Was just reading above that this was the first time the Mariinsky has toured here with kids and I’m glad they did—they were a highlight for me. I was so impressed by their refinement and coordination with one another, doing MUCH harder choreography than I’ve ever seen similarly aged kids from ABT or NYCB or the Royal Ballet do. They were really great. 

I wish I had the chance to see Tereshkina more often. She just sparkled. She always radiates this strength and absolute technical security. 

So, even though Paquita may not be a fabulous ballet in its own right, more than happy I got to see this performance. 

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If only for the Mazurka des Enfants I take Paquita anytime over any Corsaire, Esmeralda or even Sylvia. Seeing this beautiful kids onstage so proper, the boys as miniature cavaliers showing the type of chivalry  quite extinct from today's world so full of vulgar behaviors always gets me. I truly get emotional at seeing the gallantry from the little gentlemen, and the responsive curtsies  from the lady-like elegant girls...something that's basically non existent anymore, even in the adults world. I know it is a fantasy setting, but it still puts me in a better place for an instant.  Bravo to the Vaganova kids!!! 🤗🤗🤗🤗

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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I was at the Saturday Matinee.  I will stop short of saying I hated it.  It was like one long and ridiculous can-can-equivalent. I couldn't follow it, and I really didn't care.  It was all just a mish-mash of silly.  I have never seen Tereshkina dance live, and she did not disappoint, but I felt like there was no meat to her roll in this ballet. I got the sense that she could have done it all in her sleep.  Such a waste of what looks to be a great ballerina.  Yea, her fouettes were great, but hardly worth sitting through three hours of pure nonsense. 

I will say this though, I totally agree with cubanmiamiboy, and others who have mentioned the wonderful Vaganova kids.  They were a delight.  It was like going back in time.

I hope when the Mariinsky returns next year, they bring something with some kind of emotional substance, or any kind of substance. Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I need some kind of drama when I'm seeing a ballet.  A circus in pointe shoes is not for me.  

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Congratulations to her.  Despite my feelings about the Paquita redux overall, I thought   Maria Shirinkina looked really good.  So much improved from Corsaire last year,  transformed actually.  Didn't think of it until now.   Out of a shadow maybe. Good for her!!!

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4 hours ago, MadameP said:

Vladimir Shklyarov has just announced on Instagram that his wife, Maria Shirinkina, has just been promoted to First Soloist!!!  I am so happy for this lovely, lyrical, expressive ballerina!  

Well....I was in all performances, and it looks to me she danced every day! I could be wrong ..but the woman danced A LOT. Quite a trouper  

Some thoughts on this Paquita.

1- I retract my words on the libretto. I read the whole synopsis of Cervantes' La Gitanilla, and Smekalov really followed through. Andres indeed desserts his post, becomes a gypsy, learns how to steal, kills another officer and then gets re instated and marries Paquita.

2- The secretary variation for Act I doesn't seem necessary. This character is way bigger on the novella, but here is way simplified, and his appearance doesn't really adds that much . He could had been just a mime character 

3- The maid carrying the basket with the silver in act II was, from Tuesday to Saturday matinee, an honest servant who felt ashamed about being part of Carducha's plot. She hesitates , tries to stop her and then runs away in shame. Then on Saturday evening she becomes a conspirator, helping Carducha hide the goods in the cart and looking very eager to blame the gypsies. I wonder why.

3- The moment when Paquita and Andres are in shackles, the black curtain comes down for a change of scenery happens sans music...in an akward dragging of the culprits by officers that lasts for too long, while one can hear the noisy background of scenery change .

4- The cross handled by the priest over the lovers, which happens just for a sit of a split of a second, but still feels very significative, considering the times we're living.

5- The horrible sets of the Grand Pas. All that pink folliage, and the tacky two jardinieres with flowers on the top...and the hanging portraits from previous acts. Too much, and lacking elegance .

And I would pick Paquita any time over Le Corsaire .

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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I quite enjoyed it! It had been a while since I'd seen Mariinsky because I missed Corsaire in April. However, I do agree that there wasn't much meat in the plot. It was difficult to follow, even already knowing the plot before hand. 

I stand with my previous sentiments about Khoreva-- stunning technique, but no stage presence and can't really act or play a character other than smiling. And her shoes were distracting. She has such beautiful arches but those shoes make her seem like she's barely pointing her foot, and for the first act at least, were tanned too light for her legs, and it cut off her line and distracted. But, she gave a very clean and impressive performance for a nineteen year old. Once she matures a little and gets better with artistry, she'll be a showstopper. 

Maria Shirinkina-- wow! She subbed in for Chebyakina both shows yesterday and today-- and was promoted today! Much deserved. She was an utter delight to watch. Konstantin Zverev was also a joy. 

Renata Shakirova was the strongest dancer in this performance. Her personality was explosive, even during the short amount of time she was onstage and her dancing was stunning. 

I was actually quite surprised by May Nagahisa, her variation was delightful and quite impressive. Her lines were long and breaktaking, and she held quite a few of those moments. However, she didn't seem totally effortless. While I don't think she has the ability to carry a full length, this variation really played to her strengths. 

A personal favorite of this performance was Vlada Borodulina. I've been very excited to see her in action, and she certainly did not disappoint! As Roberta said in the Paquita thread, very charming with the use of face/eyes! She was very strong throughout the entire ballet, and between the four friends, she got one of the stronger rounds of applause. 

Ionova a surprise as well, though I still don't know how to feel about her. Her port de bras was captivating throughout her variation, however she struggled through the last line of développé-arabesques. Throughout the first act she didn't participate on the sidelines and play her character, she just kind of stood there and watched the whole ballet happen in front of her. 

My stance on Nuykina also remains unchanged. She was sloppy in her variation, and lacking in some areas of basic technique. 

The children were a highlight, an utter joy to watch. Those lines & the crispness of their movement-- outstanding. They received quite the round of applause at curtain, and even some more at the stagedoor. 

The horse and moving trees were also moments I found quite humourous. 

But I also agree, the awkward moving of Paquita and Andres around during the prison scene in the silence went on too long and defeated the magic when you could hear sets moving and people backstage. 

Also possibly another set timing error-- the roses of Act III didn't come down until much after Paquita's fouettes, when a friend told me who went to the Wednesday show that they came down during her fouettes. Anyone else catch this? 

Overrall, while it wasn't the strongest plot-wise, I quite enjoyed it! As someone with an understanding of technique, this show was an utter delight as these are some of the finest dancers in the world. The music was beautiful and I got goosebumps quite a few times in the third act. Costumes (especially those tutus) were stunning, and the Act III set was charming (I found the pink hues and portraits to be unique and complimentary. While not ideal, I've seen worse). 

I think one way to describe this ballet is that it is not a ballet I'd recommend as a first time ballet, or for someone who has little ballet knowledge. This isn't Swan Lake or Nutcracker, it's for someone who has a more keen eye for technique and nuance. 


Edited by annaewgn
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Love to see all these reports on Shakirova. I’ve been watching videos of her for a couple years now, and in those short clips, she’s struck me as a really charismatic performer with killer technique. Glad to hear that she delivers in live performance! I’m now all the more eager to see her onstage someday...

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I seem to be in the minority on Khoreva's performance--but I'll go ahead and write up a "minority report." I thought this was a decided step up from her Medora. In Paquita, she didn't just come across as a talented young dancer with a fine technique and high extension; in the grand pas in particular, to me it felt as if she was coming into her own as a ballerina-in-the-making and her performance had more than touches of brilliance in the showier sections including wonderful speed. (I thought she had better speed in turns than either Tereshkina or Batoeva.)  Her beauty in the adagio was certainly greatly abetted by Zverev's fine partnering. Everything between them just flowed. The adagio Friday night (when I attended) looked relaxed and pure and spacious and grand all at the same time.

I agree that she still has to develop. Goodness knows she does not have Tereshkina's grandeur or Batoeva's acting skills. (And, on the technique front, she did not articulate her gargouillades as they did.) I also agree that her shoes are a touch distracting. But I enjoyed her performance and not just for its "promise."  As for acts I and II: in this ballet her light personality and charm seemed more than adequate. As Medora she was still something of a blank to me...in Paquita I didn't find her a blank. I don't deny that Batoeva and Tereshkina were able to do more with the ballet's story . . . such as it is; but the story is so slight dramatically that the "more" didn't make the difference to me that it might in another ballet.

Have I drunk Instagram Kool-aid? At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing how Khoreva develops further.

Where I am happy not to be in the minority, at least among those posting here, is ... Shakirova!! I can't put into words how wonderful I found her; I was not quite anticipating such a strong reaction though of course I know her to be an excellent dancer and expected to like her performance. I loved it!  She is a natural actress and, for want of a better expression, a natural dancer. That is, during her variation and the partnered dance sequence with the men of Andres's band, I never felt I was watching ballet steps just as I never felt I was watching dramatic posing during her mime; her variation was a flash of movement, a dance, and every moment of it and of her entire performance expressive. Can't wait to see more of her.

I had a few disappointments this trip--dancers I had thought to like more than I did and dancers I missed entirely due to cast shuffling--and many pleasures, but I think I will stop with the two pleasures discussed above. I very much love the company.

Edited by Drew
typo correction
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I returned to give this ballet a 2nd chance on  Saturday night - the Batoeva-Parish-Shirinkina cast. I sat in the same seat, front row of 2nd tier, smack in the middle. This time, Acts I & II were slightly more enjoyable. I believe that spacing among various clusters of dancers was fixed & the lighting was brighter and sharper in group scenes, making a big positive difference. Still, there are way too many characters and the stage business is to busy and fussy for a ballet. It made me recall a similar problem with the long-gone Pulcinella by Balanchine (& Robbins?)...a rare Balanchine lapse in spacing and staging! So I guess that means that Yuri Smekalov is in good company. :thumbsup:

The dancers tonight - magnificent! Batoeva nailed her 32 fouetees, her delectable variations, and was even more convincing an actress than was Terioshkina on Tuesday. AND...she had the far superior Xander Parish as her Andres. It was only my 2nd time seeing Xander live and he was terrific in every respect. Maria Shirinkina, who I haven't seen live in a while, has really transformed herself - always exquisite (wonderful Juliet!) - but now truly "prima" material. I'm thrilled about her promotion. The four other solo variations all had tiny shaky moments, except for the PERFECTION that is recent (2019) Vaganova graduate, Alexandra Khiteeva, in the 2nd variation (harp solo by Zabel from Corsaire). Eyes on Khiteeva. I preferred gorgeous Maria Bulanova's Carducha (the villainess "rich girls" in A2) to Shakirova...Bulanova has that certain glamorous face that gives her the edge in such roles, IMO.

Like cubanmiamiboy, I believe that the Vaganova kids were the true stars of this show! Each and every one a miniature Romanov Grand Duke or Duchess -- to the manor born! The audience on Saturday night was even more demonstrative of its adoration for the kids than was Tuesday night's crowd; huge volley of "Bravo!"s whenever the kids appeared, even in the midst of the dance, at times.

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I will echo Drew's assessment of Khoreva. I saw her the three times she danced, and if on the first performance she looked disengaged during the acting/miming scenes, she made up more than enough with her great fouettes.  Sharp, leg in perfect a la seconde in beautiful ronde de jambe-( unlike the very favored by Russians kick in the front , much used by Somova). Her fouettes were the best among the three ballerinas. Tereshkina is definitely a diva already at the Mariinsky. Her dramatic skills are over the top, and she's not shy at showing them. But....I have a problem with those uber accents she does with her mouth and head whenever there is a big "boom !" variation finishing. Almost as if saying "YEAH!!!" to elicit more reactions from the audience. I have seen many dancers do this, and never been too much of a fan. Khoreva looks definitely shyer-( although not insecure)- onstage, but her "lack" of big drama faces didn't really bothered me. 

Batoeva had the unfortunate event of getting Parish on her way while he tried to catch her on her double turn a la seconde . Her leg hit him hard, and she looked pissed for a second. 

Last night I watched Lacotte's production. It is definitely superior, libretto, sets and costumes wise, although he goes by Petipa's original 88 staging with only one variation for Paquita in the Grand Pas.

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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10 hours ago, Roberta said:


The dancers tonight - magnificent! Batoeva nailed her 32 fouetees, her delectable variations, and was even more convincing an actress than was Terioshkina on Tuesday. AND...she had the far superior Xander Parish as her Andres. It was only my 2nd time seeing Xander live and he was terrific in every respect.


Except for the scene where Xander stood too close to Batoeva to support her in a spin or turn and her leg smacked right into him and caused her to stop mid-spin.  Mr. Abatt turned to me and noted that we've been attending ballet for about 25 years and have never seen that  error.  It was egregious.     All in all, however, it was a wonderful weekend of ballet from the Mariinsky.

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52 minutes ago, abatt said:

Except for the scene where Xander stood too close to Batoeva to support her in a spin or turn and her leg smacked right into him and caused her to stop mid-spin.  Mr. Abatt turned to me and noted that we've been attending ballet for about 25 years and have never seen that  error.  It was egregious.     All in all, however, it was a wonderful weekend of ballet from the Mariinsky.

That's  exactly the same sequence done in the DQ Adagio. Very tricky, given that the dancer has to quickly get into the ballerina's space while she's doing a double pirouette a la seconde to get her into a deep penchee. I have always thought "what if the guy's timing is not the sharpest and he hits her on pirouette"...Well, I finally saw it, and HEARD it-( the hitting was loud).😶

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16 hours ago, abatt said:

Except for the scene where Xander stood too close to Batoeva to support her in a spin or turn and her leg smacked right into him and caused her to stop mid-spin.  Mr. Abatt turned to me and noted that we've been attending ballet for about 25 years and have never seen that  error.  It was egregious.     All in all, however, it was a wonderful weekend of ballet from the Mariinsky.

Yes, now that you mention it, I checked my notes...during the adagio, as she went into the first of two supported turns a-la-seconde, she stumbled when her foot hit him in "a tender spot"...but of course it was he who failed to get out of the way! :toot:The repetition, 10 seconds later, went much smoother. This reminds me of Balanchine's pdd for Liberty Bell and El Capitan in Stars & Stripes...El Capitan almost makes a joke of stepping way back every time that Liberty Bell's foot comes close to him in a supported pirouette...he jerks way back in a funny manner 3 or 4 times. Xander needs to study the Stars & Stripes pdd for some pointers!

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He did pull away the second time leaving lots of extra space in a way that (to me) would have seemed comical had it not followed on a real mistake that interrupted the adagio just as it was reaching its climax. I like Parish and partnering mistakes happen....but this one was plenty awkward. 

Edited by Drew
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I have actually seen Parish mess up so many excellent ballerinas during partnering especially during turns. I have witnessed him almost cause Anastasia Kolegova to fall onto the floor, and she is a rock solid technician, and she has no such problems with Korsuntsev or Shklyarov. During paddle turns for years the moment he put his hands on the ballerina's waist she practically stopped or slowed down considerably. He has gotten better as far as that is concerned (paddle turns), but I have seen the exact moment people are discussing concerning Batoeva and her leg hitting him causing her to put her leg down via alternative means. This is a bad mistake. A partner is supposed to help the ballerina shine. This is not an isolated event for Parish. It has been ongoing. In my opinion, this is a serious issue, because he could end up injuring a ballerina due to his partnering issues that, I repeat, are ongoing. 

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