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Mariinsky 2020-2021 Season

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A few instagram video clips have appeared that have prompted some general thoughts. One video is a rarity, for me anyway, of Alina Somova as Juliet.

I still consider Oxana Skorik to be perhaps the most beautiful ballerina today.  But there are also two 'wildcards' at the Mariinsky that can be similarly beautiful, Alina Somova and Yekaterina Kondaurova. I call them 'wildcards' because it depends on their focus as to what qualities they'll emphasise during a particular performance. They both have exceptional range and this is what makes them so exciting.

Yekaterina Kondaurova has possibly the greatest. She's most known for her ability with contemporary and non-Mariinsky norm material. She's also an outstanding actress when she choses. She's exceptional with her expression. But -- she can also perform the lyrical classics -- Swan Lake as Odette/Odile, for instance, as beautifully as anyone. 

Alina Somova also has exceptional lyrical grace, perhaps only bettered by Oxana Skorik. But she also is capable of outstanding expression and theatrical prowess.

As far as pure beauty, Vaganova graduate but now at the Bolshoi, Alyona Kovalyova, possibly comes the closest to Oxana Skorik. At the Mariinsky, other less long limbed dancers, such as Yekaterina Osmolkina, Maria Shirinkina, and the young Maria Iliushkina are also very lovely.

I've been watching the "Bolshoi Ballet" ("Grand Ballet," not related to the theater) tv competition and one dancer (perhaps the only that I've ever seen) comes close to Yekaterina Kondaurova's ability to perform classical or contemporary. She's Elizaveta Korneeva from the Voronezh State Opera and Ballet Theater. Here she's doing classical (Le Corsaire duet, Yuri Bourlaka version) and comtemporary. Perhaps the Mariinsky would like to give her a glance.



Edited by Buddy
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As sort of a followup to yesterday's post, one of the instagrams was of Yekaterina Kondaurova with Andrey Ermakov in Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH. What sets her apart is her ability to take unfamiliar material and be totally at home with it, committing herself completely to make it believable, worthwhile and one of a kind. Her moves, her facial expression, are often brilliant in their interpretation and effect.

The young Maria Khoreva has a similar ability, but I notice it more with the classics. They don't lose their identity, but are enhanced.

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Is it love or is it respect that makes a ballerina so compelling ?

Modern-classical moments.

Yekaterina Kondaurova and Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH. Her performance is of a duet, that I never really noticed before, having seen the entire work at least twice. She has a way of making things special. I briefly discussed this in my previous post. And in this instance the work is really worthy of her.

The performance is from March but it's included at an instagram site with current ones from the Mariinsky.

It's a Modern-classical duet and it's magnificent. I would list this particular performance among my favorites. They would include....

The Act II Divertissement Duet from A Midsummer Night's Dream (George Balanchine) with Allegra Kent and Jacques D’Amboise.

The opening duet from Other Dances (Jerome Robbins) with Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Beryshnikov.

The Two of Us (Christopher Wheeldon) with Sara Mearns and David Hallberg. (This new work was presented in October at the NY City Center. If anyone knows where I could see the video again please let me know).

And now, Concerto DSCH (Alexei Ratmansky) with Yekaterina Kondaurova and Andrey Ermakov. 

Why is Modern-classical different from Classical ? One difference is that we can more closely relate to it.

Love or respect for a ballerina ?  For me, it's probably more love. The end result of a ballerina's creativity and talent is in the service of love. I don't tend to ultimately have evaluative responses as much as loving ones.

Yekaterina Kondaurova's performance is the latest Modern-classical that I really appreciate, feel close to -- and, yes, love.


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Of the Modern-classical works, this should certainly be included in my list from the previous post.

After The Rain (Christopher Wheeldon)

Here it is just posted by Maria Khoreva from the "Bolshoi Ballet" tv competition filmed in July(?). She dances it with Vladimir Shklyarov. (They received a 39 from a possible 40)


And here once again is Wendy Whelan's and Craig Hall's classic performance at 14:10. 




A friend in Saint Petersburg sent me a summary of what everyone said.  It can be seen at today's post here.



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A quick thought. The comparison of what Maria Khoreva and Wendy Whelan do with the emmensely beautiful  "After The Rain" (which can be seen in the two videos posted above) is touchingly poetic and embracing. Wendy Whelan, who probably helped fashion this work, is soulful and transcendent. Maria Khoreva is magnificent sculpture that she can extend into masterful and enthralling motion.

Added: I have to wonder, when some coaches instruct every detail, how a dancer like Maria Khoreva  is able to assert her own brilliance and identity ?  Maybe the coach just says,"Yes, I like the way that you did that." 

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A burst of sunshine, for me anyway -- Viktoria Brilyova.


She appeared as the Street Dancer in Don Quixote, Saturday, and she arrived along with the first video clip that I've seen of her since she starred in Maxim Petrov's mostly delightful "Cinéma" with Andrei Yermakov years ago. She looked vibrant as she did then. I wonder if she could do Kitri ?

Hope to see her as much as possible.

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"Hope to see her as much as possible." (See previous post)

"I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight"

Three nights later Viktoria Brilyova's returned as the Tall Girl in Rubies by George Balanchine -- And does she have personality ! , and it's the right kind -- and once again it's on video.  Brava !


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The Mariinsky had a slight closer for the holiday season and is now featuring the "Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre" until January 23, a few performances after and a two week 'blank space' until February 12 when Alina Somova and Vladimir Shklyarov will appear in La Bayadère. Seating continues with no spacing between seats and the La Bayadere seems nearly sold out. Both the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi (which is only allowing 25% capacity seating, I believe) are running a complete schedule of full scale performances. Although I and others have rather mixed feelings, I do continue to hope for the best final outcome.

I've seen very few video clips being offered on the internet. A recent one of Oxana Skorik does show her performing at an impressive level. 

This is from a rather circumspect and personally sentimental magazine article in russian that might reflect a sort of local sentiment.

Google translator which I have used for the following. 


The article.


(Thanks to Муся at Balletfriends -- Балет и Опера)

"As a Muscovite born in Leningrad, I have always wanted to see the Mariinsky Theater from the inside. At the very end of 2020, I spent a whole day at the Mariinsky, walking around the halls and backstage, talking to singers, dancing, playing and conducting, talked to the audience and caretakers, and attended three rehearsals and two performances. I even thought that I would see up close all these shabby decorations, these glued noses - and the fairy tale will disappear. Did not happen. The theater halls at the end of “covid December” still seemed to me not half empty, but half full.' "

 It does conclude by saying....

"I completely abandoned the time, a difficult year, forgot about Putin, Navalny, closed borders and exchange rates. All this became unimportant. It was only important what the orchestra was doing...." 

"Art [overcame] me and my doubts, as it always does. The Mariinsky Theater was obviously ready for 2021, 2022 and all other years, whatever they might prepare for us, because music and theater are eternal."

Here are a few specifics.

"We walked into the lobby [Concert Hall], noticing a sign of the times - a vending machine selling masks and gloves. I counted a lot of such signs on this day. There was no, say, the usual arrangement of glasses with sparkling wine on the counters of the buffets. Both coffee and wine are now poured into disposable cups. In addition, it was unusual to hear not only calls and invitations to the hall, but also a stern voice that assured us that all measures had been taken for our safety. During the intermission, an intelligent Petersburg woman of the third age, who was listening to the measures next to me, remarked: "[It seemed as if] the army was protecting us today."....spectators under 16 are temporarily prohibited from visiting theaters in St. Petersburg."

"Spectators began to appear in the foyer and buffet. We got into a conversation over coffee with middle-aged, intelligent women from St. Petersburg and found out that they were looking forward to the [end of] quarantine, when their beloved Mariinsky Theater would open and it was possible to come back to Swan and other performances. By the way, if older viewers are now allowed to come to the theater, then the older generation artists have to stay at home. I can imagine how the oldest dancer of the theater, Vladimir Ponomarev, temporarily excommunicated from the stage, who is already 75 years old [Wow! (my comment)], but he is indispensable in running roles, for example, in Dance with Pillows, as Juliet's father from Prokofiev's ballet or as the Great Brahmin from La Bayadère ..."

Here's something about the new Mariinsky II that might be interesting.

"There is a lot of space on the New Stage. There are wide corridors, large dressing rooms (and there are enough of them), and most importantly, there is a main stage, a rehearsal and a rear space between them, separated by soundproof blinds, which allows you to simultaneously play a performance, rehearse and mount the scenery."


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Some video clips have appeared of Renata Shakirova and she's as vibrant and exciting as ever. She makes an interesting contrast to recent views of Oxana Skorik, who's also doing very well. Oxana Skorik features her longer and very sculpturesque lines. Her style is slightly more dramatised, but it changes in emphasis from one performance to the next, as compared to her remarkable gentleness of flow. She does take more technical chances and succeeds commendably. Renata Shakirova has a vibrant spark and surety that makes her a delight and her technical prowess is exciting. Oxana Skorik's exceptionally beautiful use of her hands is always a highlight. Renata Shakirova, with her shorter arms, compensates with her charming and animated hand positioning. Both always exhibit their Mariinsky fineness as an underpinning which makes them and the entire company as special as they are.

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There's a lovely instagram clip of Maria Iliushkina performing Princess Florine (with Nikita Korneyev) from The Sleeping Beauty recently. In December she was given an extra Odette/Odile (Swan Lake). As a Second Soloist, it's always nice to have Odette/Odile as your specialty.  😊

The vibrant and indomitable Renata Shakirova has performed four leads in the last ten days.  She has another tomorrow.

It's fun sometimes to look around the edges of a performance. I remember the Rajah in La Bayadere, who's imperiously seated at a game chess that he's just won, paying no attention to Nikiya, whom he has minimal respect for, as she enters the court to dance. But does he spring to rap attention as she starts her solo and the hierarchy of performers, she's a Principal, takes over. In Maria Iliushkina's entrance as Princess Florine one of the elegant ladies of the court is sitting there reading, but the instant that Maria Iliushkina, whom she can't even see, starts dancing she also snaps to attention.


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Scanning some recent videos, Maria Bulanova, debuting in the Firebird, complimented finely by Roman Belyakov, is a very pleasing discovery. Her's is a rather low-keyed and understated but charmingly sensual and right-on engaging presentation. A pleasure and joy to watch.

She's definitely not the mesmerising Yekaterina Kondaurova at this, but she certainly captivates.

Nuances, like this, are what make our world go round, I guess.   

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Maria Bulanova (cont.)

This afternoon she performed Medora (Le Corsaire) and it's already on the internet. She seems to have a very good video following.

For fouetté fans, she performed all doubles, closing with a triple. I don't believe that I've seen this before and all as clean as can be. She's a picture of health and often a charmingly lovely burst of vibrance.

Also posted today from Wednesday, Oxana Skorik (Odette/Swan Lake) with Nikita Кorneyev.

Along with her always exceptional dancing, it's an unusually fine and penetrating expressive performance, especially in facial expression.

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8 hours ago, ECat said:

Thank you for the link @Buddy   WOW!  Maria Iliushkina has a big debut as Raymonda.  Hopefully lots of videos will be posted.   She will surely be delightful in this role.

I was intrigued to see the Raymonda debut as well. Hope it goes well!

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13 hours ago, Drew said:

I was intrigued to see the Raymonda debut as well. Hope it goes well!

Absolutely!  The role of Raymonda seems like one of the great tests of a ballerina's technique and stamina.  Iliushkina already has Odette/Odile under her belt, so I imagine this will be a success for her.  I would also like to see her as Princess Aurora.

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I don't want to judge the wiseness of the Mariinsky/Bolshoi full scheduling of performances that has been in effect for almost a half year now, but it's certainly a contrast to many other parts of the world.

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The programming is up for April. Casting is listed for the first week. There's no mention of the International Festival, which normally appears at this time.

Personal highlights.

Olga Smirnova, Giselle, April 2, Pas de deux from the ballet Lady of the Camellias, April 3.
Nadezhda Batoeva, Kimin Kim, Swan Lake, April 7
Diana Vishneva, Carmen Suite, April 22
Four George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dreams


There was a performance several days ago of Yuri Grigorovich's choreographic masterpiece, The Legend of Love. Several video clips have appeared and I was particularly charmed by a group dance that featured Maria Bulanova and Anastasia Petushkova. I'm becoming quite fond of the delightful Maria Bulanova, but it was also Anastasia Petushkova who caught my attention. She's been with the company since 2006, although I'm not that familiar with her. I believe that she has the uncommon ability to perform both character dance wildness and soloist ballerina roles equally well. She was a new face and a pleasure to see here. 

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@Buddy Thank you for always keeping us up to date on all things Mariinsky!  Lady of the Camellias happens to be one of my favorite ballets and I would love it if Mariinsky performed it.  My dream casts would be:

Marguerite- Viktoria Tereshinka, Ekaterina Kondaurova

Armand-Vladimir Shklyarov, Andrei Yermakov

Prudence- Nadezhda Batoeva, Renata Shakirova

Gaston Rieux- Philipp Stepin, Xander Parish

Manon- Olesya Novikova, Anastasia Kolegova

Des Grieux- Konstantin Zverev, Ivan Oskorbin

Olympia-Svetlana Ivanova (if she was still dancing) Elena Yevseyeva, Viktoria Brilyova

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Last week the Mariinsky performed Yuri Grigorovich's Legend of Love three times to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

In regard to casting, Yekaterina Kondaurova was a knock out when I saw her as Mekhmeneh Bahnu two years ago(?) in Saint Petersburg. Alina Somova and Nadezhda Batoeva, as Shyrin, should also have been outstanding.

All casting can be seen here.

  This is a five minute video clip posted by the Mariinsky. The video only shows some soloist rehearsal and the conversation's in russian. Probably the most interesting part is the printed introduction.

"23 March commemorates sixty years since the world premiere of The Legend of Love, one of the key choreographic texts of the Soviet era and the greatest ballet produced by Yuri Grigorovich. The Mariinsky Theatre, where this production was created, will be marking the anniversary with three performances – on 23, 24 and 25 March.

The Legend of Love (1961) was a child of "the thaw" under Khrushchev and denoted an aesthetic breakthrough in Leningrad ballet. The young choreographer Grigorovich, like his other Soviet colleagues living in isolation, experienced the most powerful artistic shock when the ballet company of the Opéra de Paris toured to the USSR. Balanchine's Le Palais de cristal[later to become Symphony in C] was seen here for the first time – a ballet without a plot, without pantomime and without sets. In The Legend of Love Grigorovich was not about to reject the principles of Soviet drama-ballets, costumes and sets, though he did afford his opus laconism[*] and dynamic sharpness. The choreographer's co-creator, the designer Simon Virsaladze, dressed the dancers in leotards, focussing the audience's attention on the dancers' bodies and lines."

[[*]laconism - brevity or terseness of expression or style (Merriam-Webster)]

(Thanks to Sophia at Dansomanie)

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39 minutes ago, canbelto said:

Olga Smirnova is canceling performances. She is extremely ill.


Best wishes for a full recovery.

Deeply distressing...The instagram indirectly indicates this is Covid. (She mentions how fortunate she has been not to get it before this time.)

Indeed wishing her a FULL recovery!!!

Edited by Drew
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1 hour ago, canbelto said:

Olga Smirnova is canceling performances. She is extremely ill.


Best wishes for a full recovery.


Canbelto, I don't see anything in this post to imply that she's "extremely ill" which I certainly hope that she isn't. Her site does confirm her cancelation of the Mariinsky performances. I do certainly wish her a speedy recovery.

Here's a Google translation of the post.

leka.spb.ballet's profile picture
Friends, I regret to inform you that my next performances have been canceled due to an illness that overtook me. A special pain is the cancellation of a performance in my native Petersburg. I think that I have withstood resistance in an epidemic for a long time and often went on stage instead of sick colleagues ... but I am grateful to fate, which gave me a recent wonderful premiere in the Orlando ballet staged for me.
Be healthy and take care of yourself and your loved ones! 🙏

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If Smirnova's exact illness is made public through official sources, then it can be discussed here.  And only then.

The only official news to date is that she says she is missing some performances due to illness.

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