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Note #3 Almaty State Ballet (WHO's on)


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Greetings to All from Almaty, Kazakhstan!

Here is a brief review of the lead dancers of the Almaty State Ballet. I will break down the list into FEMALE and MALE dancers as it may not be always easy to figure out the dancer's gender by their names. The first name of a dancer will be given first, and the family name will be given second - to make it easier to perceive their names.



KURALAY SARKYTBAYEVA - a natural-born SWAN-BALLERINA. Graduated from the Almaty State Choreography/Classic Dance School.

After I've seen her in Swan Lake as Odette/Odillia for the first time, it took me a while to perceive her as a 'just a human girl' in Giselle (as Giselle) or Nutcracker (as Marie/Claire). Her fragile delicate body with most graceful "singing" (as we say it in Russian) long arms and legs forced me to think of her as more of a real Swan, than of a human princess-turned-swan (even when I meet her in real life! :).

Kuralay's style in the Swan Lake is a mysterious and beautiful mix of being a really fragile Swan-Princess Odette, yet that Swan Princess has some of those deeply hidden "magic powers", which become more noticable when she performs Odillia's part - and Prince is better be careful with those powerful.

ALMA ASKARBEKOVA - graduated from the Almaty State Choreography/Classic Dance School.

I view this ballerina as THE MOST ROYAL DANCER AND THE MOST MANIPULATIVE ACTRESS of the Almaty State Ballet.

Her Odette is waiting with a royal patience to be returned to her reign as a human by an earthly man, and it is not important to her that he is a Prince (he is just an earthly man). She is a Queen Swan, not a Princess, and her "magic powers" are world's top. Her Odille is villain, but her charismatic and powerful performance makes you love her, not hate her. Prince Siegfrid MUST be VERY careful with her Odette, let alone Odille!

If anyone has happened to see the Soviet-era ballet Fountain of Bahche-Sarai (Fountain of Tears) - or to read Alexander Pushkin's poem by which the ballet was created, you may know the story of Zarema - a Queen-Wife of the Oriental Khan's harem. The Khan invades a castle in Poland and brings back a beautiful Polish princess Maria (after he'd killed Maria's father and her fionce' Vatslav). Zarema's heart is broken by her beloved and admired husband, who's turned away from her for Maria.

The moment when Zarema realizes her husband is not hers completely anymore - is ALWAYS made by Alma Askarbekova SO breathtakingly powerfully tragic, one feels the time stopped in Zarema's life, and maybe in ours, too? Alma's powerful capability of forcing the audience to follow and feel Zarema's pain always feels like GREAT MIRACLE!

Other parts the Alma is performing in the Almaty Theater - Myrtha in Giselle (watching her, I could believe that she was capable raising those souls from the dead - eerie!), Lylac Fairy in the Sleeping Beauty (here her powerful and royal style makes one doubt if she is just ONE of those fairies - she appears to be a Queen of Fairies - and the evil Fairy Carabos is better off not to stand in her way).

LEILA ALPIEVA - graduated from the Almaty State Choreography/Classic Ballet School. First time when I've seen Leila - it was Kitry in Don Quixote (the main female part, I'm not sure about the English spelling of that character's name). Leila's most brilliant acting gift made me think for one quick second - "oh, what a comedy - it is NOT a ballet, for goodness sake! It is just too hilarious and humorous for such a serious art" :)

Silly, naive me - Leila made me hold my tears BACK SO HARD when her Giselle lost her mind and died in her mother's arms, AND she made me try even harder to fight my tears when her Sylphide was dying - IN SUCH PAIN - losing her little delicate wings, in James' arms. I HATED HER PARTNER FOR CAUSING HER SO MUCH PAIN AND BEING GUILTY OF HER DEATH!! LITERALLY! (Well, the partner, is a nice guy in a real life but being taken by the moment SO MUCH I completely forgot all that - I just hated that Dmitry-guy :) Talking of manupilating people! :)

On the top of that Leila is blessed with a superb dance technique, which never fails her (it is there, always, so much - you forget about it - as she does the most difficult pas' so effortlessly!). And if her partner is not there to hold her in the right moment (a big OOPS!) - a confident queen's smile, blessing everything around, is on her face! Then I feel greatful for another lesson taught - don't break down, hold strong!

GULJAN TUTKIBAEVA - a reliable and strong ballerina, her excellent technique and persistance in every move she does on stage technique-wise are her best points, which I admire.

AIUGUL JUMAGALIEVA (coryphee) - graduated from the Vaganova Ballet School, St.Petersburg (Janna Ayupova's class mate, they're still friends!). A petit, incredibly cute ballerina, whose style I would describe as 'always little magic in everything'. I guess, Vaganova would've been proud by this graduate of her Ballet School!

On Aigul's list - Little Swan in the Swan Lake, A Chirping Bird Fairy in the Sleeping Beauty (I'm not sure of the English language equivalent to this part, but hers is that cute solo done to the flutes, imitating a little bird's chirping); Dancing Doll and Chinese Doll in the first and last parts of the Nutcracker; Cupid in Don Quixote (seeing her perform that cute, not-from-this-world character made me get brave enough and ask her to give me private lessons. I've sensed she wouldn't laugh at me - a 27 year old, 5' 11'' girl, dying to learn 'how they do that en pointe' :). In the Fountain of Bahche-Sarai Aigul does a part of a Silver Bell-Dancer Girl.

As a bottom line - THERE IS ALWAYS A BIG, HUGE OVATION TO AIGUL'S SOLOS ON THE STAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (this long :)) Another true miracle, brought to us by ballet, that our stage is blessed with.

ALIYA SAPUGOVA (coryphee) - graduaged from the Vaganova's Ballet Academy, St.Petersburg.

A delicate, feminine, beautiful ballerina, with beautiful manners on and off stage. When she dances her part in pas-de-trois (Swan Lake) - you feel that joie de vivre (sorry if I mis-spelled, French is not really 'my' language), she shines with and generously shares with everyone around, while dancing! Ballerinas like Aliya make little girls want to tell their Moms they WANT TO BECOME BALLERINAS.

Aliya's precise technique is always a GREAT pleasure to watch - her arms and legs always "know" exactly what they're doing, and what it means "translated" to the human language - joy, pain, sadness, happiness!! This must be that Vaganova's academy's style - an academic style as they say it in Russian language.

On Aliya's list - Queen of Driades (Fairies) in Don Quixote (III part); Pas-de-trois and Little Swan (Swan Lake); Kitry (Don Quixote's main female part); parts in the Balanchine's Serenade and grand pas from Paquita.

At this point I would like to stop (hope, it wasn't too tiring to read. I wish I could put the photos along - very soon, I hope, I will be able to do that!).

I will continue with great pleasure in my next post - to tell you some more - on the Almaty State Ballet male dancers.

A presto, Marianna

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