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Bolshoi 2020/2021 Season


Buddy

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On 10/30/2020 at 1:13 PM, Buddy said:

Lizzy, in the Bolshoi World Ballet Day presentation yesterday Vladislav Lantratov said that he's coaching for the first time and enjoying it. He said that the reason that he's doing it is so that the more elderly coaches can stay home during the virus. Seems like a very sensible and understanding decision on his part and the company's.

(I still can't get these to go away)

 

This was really very considerate of him.

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On 11/1/2020 at 7:33 PM, Lizzy said:

This was really very considerate of him.

Yes it was, Lizzy. It's part of a very a sympathetic attitude that Vladislav Lantratov conveyed throughout his moderation and interviews. He presents a very sympathetic case for what the Bolshoi's attempting to do at the moment with its full program of performances.

I’m still watching the Bolshoi’s World Ballet Day presentation and I’ve gone back and forth between the duet rehearsals.  The one that I focus on the most is with Olga Smirnova and Ruslan Skvortsov, for Onegin, coached by Maria Allash. There’s always something new to appreciate. Several elements are most noticeable. There’s the pure beauty of motion. Some of the sculpture in the overhead lifts, for instance, is magnificent and breathtaking. There’s the musicality, how the motion reflects the music. And there’s the emotional and dramatic. How Olga Smirnova responds to the emotional and dramatic is a highlight. She’s already taken on the character and the aura. So the rehearsal is beyond just getting the mechanics. It’s also into expressing the character. This is all done with a beautiful flow and blending of moves and feeling.

Especially touching is the expression on Maria Allash’s face towards the end of the presentation. She’s absorbed and heart touchingly ‘lost in’ the emotion and the aura. Yet, in an instant, she can throw in a key suggestion. What’s happening is much more than an exercise, it’s a lovely and insightful event.

 

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It’s really nice at times to be able to divert from day to day 'happenings' and enter into a world of art and beauty that can add value, perspective, good feeling and ‘elevation’ to our day to day pursuits.

I’m continuing my viewing of the Bolshoi World Ballet Day rehearsal of Onegin with Olga Smirnova and Ruslan Skvortsov because it’s so beautiful and interesting. A good thing about videos is that you can watch for detail over and over. I mentioned in my last post about how Motion, Music and Emotion/Drama are distinct elements so well blended here.

One of the most impressive things that I’m noticing now is how Olga Smirnova is able to blend her acting with her response to the music. Facially, for instance, she’s able to beautifully express the music and then change it seamlessly into the telling of the story.

The challenges here are greater in that there’s a very strong dramatic story, the final, intense encounter from a love drama, to music that wasn’t (I believe) composed for this work. It’s beautiful the way that Olga Smirnova, in particular, and the choreography weave this together.

The other key element, the artistic imagery, or Motion (and Sculpture), that I haven’t watched as carefully, is also quite challenging. Sometimes it blends itself easily with the story and the music. Other times when the Sculpture is extremely ‘flamboyant,’ such as in the overhead lifts, you can see the challenge of blending a true life situation with artistic ‘exuberance.’

It’s all quite interesting to see this being put together as well as being performed.

 

 

Edited by Buddy
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5 hours ago, Buddy said:

. . . I’m continuing my viewing of the Bolshoi World Ballet Day rehearsal of Onegin with Olga Smirnova and Ruslan Skvortsov because it’s so beautiful and interesting. A good thing about videos is that you can watch for detail over and over. I mentioned in my last post about how Motion, Music and Emotion/Drama are distinct elements so well blended here.

One of the most impressive things that I’m noticing now is how Olga Smirnova is able to blend her acting with her response to the music. Facially, for instance, she’s able to beautifully express the music and then change it seamlessly into the telling of the story.

The challenges here are greater in that there’s a very strong dramatic story, the final, intense encounter from a love drama, to music that wasn’t (I believe) composed for this work. It’s beautiful the way that Olga Smirnova, in particular, and the choreography weave this together.

The other key element, the artistic imagery, or Motion (and Sculpture), that I haven’t watched as carefully, is also quite challenging. Sometimes it blends itself easily with the story and the music. Other times when the Sculpture is extremely ‘flamboyant,’ such as in the overhead lifts, you can see the challenge of blending a true life situation with artistic ‘exuberance.’ . . . 

Thanks for the heads-up on the Onegin rehearsal. I've been so busy I haven't had time to look at any of World Ballet Day material this year and I'm glad they're still on YouTube. I'm a huge Onegin fan having gone to the entire ABT run last year. I also have the Stuttgart CD and was able to save it digitally when they showed this last spring online. The interesting thing to me about rehearsals is seeing how they master the incredibly difficult partnering in this ballet. Cranko's partnering is so imaginative and thrilling - a real treasure.

Here's the link to the entire Bolshoi contribution. The Onegin segment comes in at 2:16.

 

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The main, historic stage, theatre continues its one space between each two seats arrangement.  I can't really tell from the ticket sale's seating charts what maximum capacity it's allowing. The next January into February performances are in consecutive groups of approximately four, starting with Nureyev, Manon Lescaut and Le Corsaire. There's a full schedule through March.

https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/timetable/?Y=2021&M=01

Here's tonight cast for Nureyev.

https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/performances/1025/roles/#20210122190000

Edited by Buddy
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What appears to be an interesting debut, Alyona Kovalyova as Mekhmene Banu in Yuri Grigorovich's famous classic, The Legend of Love, May 29.

Scanning the castings over the years, this has been a role that has generally been given to Maria Alexandrova, Ekaterina Shipulina and Ekaterina Krysanova, all appearing in this series, and Maria Allash, who's now Olga Smirnova's coach.

And -- Olga Smirnova, who's been out for a long time because of illness, returned May 8 partnered by Semyon Chudin as Orlando in Christian Spuck's Orlando. 

Welcome back, Olga Smirnova !

Edited by Buddy
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4 hours ago, Buddy said:

What appears to be an interesting debut, Alyona Kovalyova as Mekhmene Banu in Yuri Grigorovich's famous classic, The Legend of Love, May 29.

Scanning the castings over the years, this has been a role that has generally been given to Maria Alexandrova, Ekaterina Shipulina and Ekaterina Krysanova, all appearing in this series, and Maria Allash, who's now Olga Smirnova's coach.

 

 

Regarding casting over the years (not speaking of this series)....I'd add Zakharova. Don't know if it's a role she still dances. (Perhaps not if she hasn't been cast this go round... )

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10 hours ago, Drew said:

 

Regarding casting over the years (not speaking of this series)....I'd add Zakharova. Don't know if it's a role she still dances. (Perhaps not if she hasn't been cast this go round... )

I'll also add Yulia Stepanova.  She debuted that role in 2017.  

 

Viktoria Tereshinka calls this her favorite role so it must be quite an honor to be cast as Mekhmene Banu.  I wish Kovalyova much success on her debut!

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Both Zakharova and Stepanova have danced the role only twice at the Bolshoi, although Stepanova would be likelier to dance it again in the future. Over the past 20 years the most frequent interpreter of the role has been Allash, by a mile.

Kovalyova won't have an easy time of it. She is about 5'11" tall, and the dream duet in particular will be challenging for her partner.

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1 hour ago, volcanohunter said:

Both Zakharova and Stepanova have danced the role only twice at the Bolshoi, although Stepanova would be likelier to dance it again in the future. Over the past 20 years the most frequent interpreter of the role has been Allash, by a mile.

Kovalyova won't have an easy time of it. She is about 5'11" tall, and the dream duet in particular will be challenging for her partner.

Your post made me want to look ay the Bolshoi site and you are absolutely correct-Maria Allash has danced that role the most by far!  Alexandrova and Shipulina have had their fair share, but Allash is danced it the most by a long shot.  Luckily, Kovalyova will have Denis Rodkin as a partner.  Hopefully his height and experience will aid her in the control of those gorgeous long legs of hers.

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The Bolshoi electronic archive includes cast lists from the previous revival, starting in 2002, and Allash was dominant then as well. 

Rodkin is strong, but at 6'1" he's not really tall enough for Kovalyova, and some maneuvers will be difficult from a purely mechanical point of view.

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I join you, ECat, in wishing Alyona Kovalyova much success. For me, Legend of Love is a character work. It requires personality. Alyona Kovalyova's strong point is her lovely, long, statuesque beauty. Of the debuts that I see listed for her at the Bolshoi site, Myrta (Giselle) in 2017 and 2019 and Nikia (La Bayadere) in 2018 would seem to demand the most character so far. Mekhmene Banu is the regal center of attention in Legend of Love. Alyona Kovalyova's height might help her here, Volcanohunter. Also pure loveliness can count for a great deal in any ballet, no matter how dramatic, and this Alyona Kovalyova has huge amounts of.

ECat, your mention of Viktoria Tereshkina also reflects on silent presence which is most noticeable in the scene where Mekhmene Banu is seated on her throne simply watching the whirlwind of dancing below her. Ulyana Lopatkina performed this scene by itself once at a Mariinsky gala. Viktoria Tereshkina was in a similar scene in a new work at the Mariinsky. Once again it involved just sitting there while a flurry of male dancing was going on below her. Who will I always remember from that bravura performance ?  You guessed it. Silent beauty and presence can be very powerful and this could work in Alyona Kovalyova's favor.

Drew, of the names mentioned here, Svetlana Zakharova, after the birth of her child, when she matured considerably in character, would seem highly interesting. Also, Maria Alexandrova, who exudes personality, would seem a fine choice.The only time that I ever saw Maria Allash, Volcanohunter, was in Raymonda almost thirty years ago. Interestingly, which I've mentioned before, Maria Alexandrova's performance of Raymonda with the Paris Opera Ballet about fifteen years ago, was probably the most subtle and fine performance that I've seen her give. 

I've only viewed Legend of Love once on stage. This was at the Mariinsky with Yekaterina Kondaurova as Mekhmene Banu. She took over the stage the minute that she entered. She was outstanding ! 

For me, what makes Legend of Love such a masterpiece is Yuri Grigorovich's invention of dance shapes and motion, most noticeable in the group dancing.

I'd like to quickly add that in my previous post I welcomed Olga Smirnova back after her long illness. I'd also like to do the same for everyone at the Bolshoi who was ill last year and is now hopefully, healthily returned.  

Edited by Buddy
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Something more about the love scene that Volcanohunter has mentioned. I found a version of it since I didn't remember it that well. This features Maya Plisetskaya with Maris Liepa. It does indeed have some challenging lifts, but these have been accomplished regularly with dancers such as Maria Alexandrova, who, for one, is not a particularly petite woman, although a very agile and graceful one.

There may be physical challenges, but ballet has many. What interests me very much is the potential. Alyona Kovalyova, with her remarkably beautiful, long limbs and linear, graceful motion could turn this into a very lovely and impressive rendition, reminiscent, perhaps, of linearly supported, flowing sails at sea, her limbs being the linear support and their motion being the flowing sails.

As for the dramatic implications, as I've tried to explore in my previous post, it will be very interesting to see how she handles this. She's much more of a graceful apparition than a dramatist, but this could be crafted into something very special. 

More news from Olga Smirnova. This is from an interview using a Google translation from russian.

"Olga, let's start with the most important event for you, which is already in May - the premiere on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater of your first solo program POSTSCRIPT, where you will participate in three of the four ballet numbers included in the program - creations of the most famous and very various choreographers Wayne McGregor, Alexei Ratmansky and the duo Paul Life and Sol Leon.

Olga: "This program was initiated by the work "McGregor + Mugler", which premiered in the UK in 2019, but it will be presented for the first time in Moscow. The rest of the numbers are included in the program by mutual agreement, taking into account my ardent desire to dance in the Ratmansky ballet, of which I am an absolute fan of choreography, and my dream of meeting interesting European choreographers Paul Life and Sol Leon.
 
"Is the premiere of a new solo program important for you?

Olga: "Of course, I think that this is going to a new level in the profession. Even while participating in the programs of one-act ballets at the Bolshoi Theater, during the evening I manage to dance only in one of them, and here it is possible to participate in three different works of modern choreography at once, to comprehend the creations of three most interesting and different authors at once. And this is really a way to a different professional level."

https://ria.ru/20210416/teatr-1728437858.html
(thanks to Елена С. at Balletfriends, Большой Балет и Опера)

Edited by Buddy
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Alexandrova is more robust than Zakharova, but they are both about 5'7" tall. They both have long feet. Alexandrova's are long and narrow, while Zakharova's are large all over, so both "grow" disproportionately on pointe. Kovalyova's additional four inches alter the physics considerably, especially when her big feet are on pointe. Kovalyova also has nothing resembling the technique of Alexandrova or Allash. That body of hers is very hard to control.

Alexandrova is not my very favorite ballerina, although I have great respect for what she does on stage. Kovalyova I avoid if at all possible. I've seen her fall off pointe far too many times. (Part of the problem is the parts in which she is cast. She can't hop on pointe. It's doomed to end in failure.)

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You know, I lasted about two minutes. Those extensions are grotesque. 

I have not seen Kovalyova as Nikiya or Odette-Odile because I have no inclination to do so. I have seen her as Myrtha (not very formidable) and the Queen of the Dryads, because I came to watch other dancers in the cast. Two disastrous performances I saw were in Etudes, because she absolutely could not execute the variation, fell off pointe repeatedly and the partnering was very scary, and as "Armida" in Flames of Paris, because during the final diagonal of hops alone she managed to fall off pointe four times. It wasn't her first performance of either ballet; I believe it was her seventh of Etudes. Evidently, management is determined to cast her until she stops falling over, and in the meantime the audience is expected to pay to watch.

This does not mean that tall dancers are incapable of doing these roles, for example Agnès Letestu, who is almost 5'10", was near perfect in her execution in Etudes. Her body proportions are different: longer torso rather than very long limbs, and the lower center of gravity no doubt accounted for part of her technical security. Indeed, no one at the Bolshoi comes close to performing the variation at this standard. (I rather wish it would stop doing the ballet. The dancers no longer look as ragged as they did in the ill-advised cinemacast of the premiere run, but they now look like joyless little automatons.) 

Anna Antonicheva, the original Mireille de Poitiers in Ratmansky's production of Flames, is also not a natural hopper, given her elongated, flexible body and pliant feet, but she did manage it.

I think it's extremely unfair of the management to put Kovalyova in roles to which she is so unsuited technically. It would be rather like asking a dancer who can't jump to do La Sylphide or one who can't turn to do Don Quixote. When I saw her do the second movement of Symphony in C, watching her ankle tremble underneath her as she did the sequence of fouettés into arabesque with pliés on pointe was nerve-wracking.

A role to which I think she is suited is the Ballerina in Béjart's Gaîté parisienne, because height incompatibility and awkward partnering are pretty much built into the choreography (the Bolshoi's other interpreter of the role is equally tall), and because the gaucheness of Kovalyova's stage manner plays into the comedy, and she demonstrated good humor and no vanity while doing it.

Edited by volcanohunter
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I just found a video of Elizaveta Kokoreva excerpts. I've liked this vibrant young Corps de Ballet dancer since I first saw clips of her debuting in January as Swanilda (the lead) in Coppelia. She's vibrant and a lovely dancer. I wish her a fine future.

I also return often to the video clip that I posted of Alyona Kovalyova in La Bayadere. We all have elements of ballet that we admire and for me it's her absolutely lovely and overall essence. As I've mentioned, she'll be debuting as Mekhmene Banu (the lead) in Legend of Love in next Saturday's matinee. I continue to feel that she's much more of a graceful apparition than a dramatist, but she's already shown that she's capable of these demands. I think that she's lovely, lovely, lovely and how this is displayed in next Saturdays highly dramatic and physically challenging presentation is something that I'd really like to see. I wish her much success.      

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I've not found any mention or video of Alyona Kovalyova's debut as Mekhmene Banu in Legend of Love and was not necessarily expecting any. I've found nearly no video clips of recent Bolshoi performances and reviews and comments can be rather intermittent. What I did find was a compilation of excerpts starting at the age of 16.

I'm not particularly strong on technical detail unless it noticeably effects the overall imagery. A few things that I did notice are how fast she can be and how in control she is of her beautiful long limbs. Her flow and timing are extremely lovely. Her sculpture is exact and wonderful. The feel of the shapes that she makes is relaxed and elegantly poetic. Her finely designed jumps sail and float with impressive elevation. And I could probably go on and on.

I hope that she succeeds very well and is treated with kindness and respect  in her creation of this role and throughout her career.

As for heavy drama, which is usually present in the Mekhmene Banu character, I really wouldn't miss it in such a beautiful presence. 

Maybe most noticeable, her overall vibrance radiates from her face to her gorgeous motion.

 

Added: And along the way, low and behold, a video of Nina Kaptsova (with the amazing Ivan Vasiliev) excepts from  La Fille Mal Gardee -- Delightful !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Buddy
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Alena Kovaleva

Okay, you asked for more, here's more.  🙂

Fouettés -- Twelve totally solid single-doubles (Odile 2021)

From La Bayadere (2021) -- Remember those spins across stage in Act III ?  Well she does them at the speed of light, stops on a dime and goes into a totally secure reverse without a single wobble in the free back leg. 

And speaking of the free back leg, her's floats like a sail in the jumps.

As for characterisation, she can change facially, seamlessly, from her youthful vibrance to very believable portrayal.

Her 'linear Statuesque' is a sight to behold.

Yes, in my opinion, she's that good !

Edited by Buddy
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For me, A Legend of Love is a highly energetic work, punctuated by slower but often intense drama. Princess Shirin is more quiet, but she's not really the center of attention.

Since I'm a person who loves the beautiful duets (Swan Lake, Giselle, Midsummer Night's Dream) what would attract me more to A Legend of Love, as brilliant as it is, perhaps comparable in invention to some of the best of George Balanchine ?

Some more quiet highlighting, maybe. I read that Alena Kovaleva used a more warm approach to the central and  usually heavily dramatic character of Queen Mekhmene Banu. I wondered about this possibility in a previous post. I'd be curious to see this and whether it would make A Legend of Love more embracing to a person such as myself, because I do consider it a masterpiece.

By the way, I was just watching a video clip of Alena Kovaleva and Denis Rodkin from Swan Lake at the beginning of May. It's filmed from backstage. You can see dancers in the wings doing whatever it is that they're doing. I always wonder how the performers can stay so amazingly focused. Yet in this one, Denis Rodkin is all alone on stage at the end, heartbroken at the loss of Odette, and for a moment I got the feeling that those slightly out of focus, offstage  corps de ballet swan maidens were comforting him.

 

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Here are some beautiful photos from the Moscow Academy's graduation performance. They include pictures of a young star, Eva Sergeenkova. She, and others(?), look like young Zakharovas. Can never have enough of those !  😊 

https://www.lapersonne.com/post/bolshoi-ballet-academy-behindthecurtain/
(Thanks to Sophia at Dansomanie for this information and the photos)

'Funnyly,' I looked at the photos in the box, bottom of page lower left, and thought, "She sure looks a lot like Maria Kochetkova." Guess what !  Yep !  "Sleeping Beauty," in Kazan,  May 18, 2021.

https://www.lapersonne.com/post/sleeping-beauty-backstage-kochetkova/

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