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Maria Alexandrova


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News about the supposed debut of Ms. Alexandrova as Aspicia in "The Pharaoh's Daughter" - a fight in four rounds. The red corner - Ms. Alexandrova, the Ballerina. The blue corner - Mr. Akimov, the Bolshoi Ballet art director.

Round 1. Ms. Alexandrova was promised the role and started the rehearsals in January. A partner was not given to her, and the decision was postponed and postponed. To her natural questions during two months Ms. Alexandrova was replied "you should wait", what worried both the ballerina and her fans.

The problem is that the Bolshoi has only three Tahors and two of them (Tsiskaridze and Filin) planned to be absent at the time of the performances on March 18 and 19. The first performance was given to Ms. Gracheva and the second one was supposed for Alexandrova's debut. The cast for the third performance on March 23 was fixed a long ago - Ananiashvili and Filin.

Advantage to Mr. Akimov in this round.

Round 2. The beginning of March. The administration accepted Alexandrova's work on the role but decided to give both performances to Ms. Gracheva and Mr. Belogolovtsev. Our third Tahor did not dance with Gracheva in this ballet as well. The motivation for the decision was that it would be difficult for him to rehearse the duets with two ballerinas simultaneously. No new Tahor was chosen for Ms. Alexandrova.

A knock-down to Masha.

Round 3. Unfortunately Ms. Gracheva was injured at the performance of "Giselle" on March 13 and it became clear immediately that she could not dance in "The Pharaoh's Daughter". One more Aspicia, Ms. Lunkina, was allowed earlier to go to Belgrade for some gala just in these days. Ms. Ananiashvili had her performance already being fixed in her contract. What to do then? The administration could allow Mr. Belogolovtsev and Ms. Alexandrova to rehearse urgently their duets in these four days and to dance both performances. Helas! They gave no chance to Masha and preferred another solution: Ms. Ananiashvili kindly agreed to help the theater, to rehearse and to dance with Mr. Belogolovtsev (this couple was formed also for the first time) BUT only one performance on March 19 (what was her 40th birthday). The performance of "The Daughter" on March 18 was cancelled, the public was suggested to be paid back which was completely unusual.

The second knock-down to Masha.

Round 4. The administration could replace "The Daughter" on March 18 by "DQ", for instance, to compensate Ms. Alexandrova the lost of Aspicia by Kitry at least. Again No! Instead "La Bayadere" was announced with Ms. Volochkova and her permanent partner - Mr. Ivanchenko from Mariinsky.

Finally Ms. Alexandrova danced The Third Shade on March 18, The River Congo variation on March 19 and will dance Ramze on March 23. Besides she will dance the second (jump) variation in DQ's Grand Pas (with Ms. Volochkova as Kitry) on March 25 - this is her schedule for the whole month. There will be no "Daughters" at the Bolshoi until the end of the season. I guess Alexandrova's debut is postponed now forever.

Knock-out and our "Bravi" to the victorious Bolshoi's administration. The end of the match.

P.S. Two days ago the casting was announced for "Raymonda" which will be restored at the Bolshoi in May, after 2.5 years of absence - Nadezhda Gracheva & Andrei Uvarov, Maria Allash & Alexander Volchkov, Anastasia Volochkova & Eugene Ivanchenko. No perspectives again for Ms. Alexandrova. Can somebody tell if Ms. Alexandrova can join a corps de ballet of some Western company and to start her carrier from the very beginning? It seems the Bolshoi does not need a ballerina of her qualities.

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It is announced at the official site of the Bolshoi, that Maria Alexandrova will make her debut as Esmeralda in “Notre Dame de Paris” on May 1st, 2003. Quasimodo – Tsiskaridze, Foebus – Neporozhny, Frollo – Godovsky. Probably the sudden decision to give this role to Masha is connected with her great success in the role of the Ballerina in “The Limpid Stream” by Ratmansky. I will try to present some info on her dance in the “Stream” later on.

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The success of “The Limpid Stream” by Ratmansky was extraordinary. I found about ten articles in different newspapers. Alexandrova, Filin and Yanin are mentioned almost everywhere. In what follows please find some quotations concerning Masha.

Anna Gordeeva, “Vremya novostei”

“And of course Maria Alexandrova - Ballerina. Sticking completely to modern style of dancing, a bit pushing aside and mocking, she managed to hint to the pre-WW2 manners. But not in the way to generate a smell of archaic and dangerous naphthalene, but to revive the glorious Moscow legend about reckless and victorious dance which forces the audience to click the tongues in admiration. Alexandrova throws herself into her partner’s arms as Lepeshinskaya used to do.”

Olga Gerdt, “Gazeta”

“The duet of Classical Dancers (Maria Alexandrova and Sergei Filin) with “fish” jumps was a tribute to the high art. Perhaps, Alexandrova created one of her best roles.”

Tatiana Kuznetsova, “Kommersant”

“The overexcited Ballerina bursts into the male dancers circle with gigantic pas de chats to perform a traditional solo. She performs a bacchanalia on points, a mixture of the Dance with a Snake from “La Bayadere” and a folk dance of Caucasian Djigits.”

“Undoubtedly Maria Alexandrova was a top star of the premiers. The role of Ballerina was created with the account of her essential qualities – huge jump, light rotations, fine phrasing and the sense of style. And Alexandrova was generously repaid by the role of the boy-ballerina which became the best one in her repertory (not so rich for the moment, alas).”

[Also some comments are to the point. I am extremely glad to read this, because Ms. Kuznetsova is the highly professional ballet journalist. She was born in the ballet family, studied in Moscow Academy of Choreography, danced for 20 years with the Igor Moiseev’s company and only after finishing her dancing career turned to ballet critic – M.]

Elena Gubaidullina, “Izvestiya”

“The roles of the Ballerina and the Male Ballet Dancer were performed by Maria Alexandrova and Sergei Filion with an irony and a virtuosity.”

Vladimir Kotykhov, “MK”

“Maria Alexandrova (Ballerina) is a gunpowder, fire, rocket. Alexandorva demonstrates enchanting technique and rare scenic temperament. Her Ballerina pierced the stage by jumps sharp as a razor, screws into the floor by points hard as steel, flies into her partner’s arms in an acrobatic “fish” jump.”

Anna Galaida, “Vedomosti”

“Ballerina demonstrates her temperament by a virtuoso solo with the dancing male corps de ballet at the background as it was common in Kshesinskaya’s times and Maria Alexandrova succeeded to do this brilliantly.”

Violetta Mainietse, “Kultura”

“In the first cast the center of the performance is Maria Alexandrova in the role of Ballerina: her dance is confident, her acting is convincing and without pressure, her looks piquant in a male costume.

Raymond Stults, “Moscow Times” (the original is in English)

“Star among both casts was Friday night's Ballerina, Maria Alexandrova, currently the brightest light among the younger generation of Bolshoi dancers. Heretofore underused and confined to a narrow range of parts, Alexandrova now has a role that seems specially created to give scope to her formidable talents. Though Ratmansky makes little use of her astonishing leaps, her equally astonishing precision and winning stage presence are very much on display.”

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On May 1 Maria Alexandrova made her debut as Esmeralda in Roland Petit’s Notre Dame de Paris. She have the role at last!

In the first act she was assured and technically strong but rather bland. But her second act - it was a miracle!!! Masha showed her stage presence and was full of emotions! In the adagio with Quasimodo (superb danced by tender Nikolai Tsiskaridze) she was bright and playful, she was like splash of cold green sparks! When talked with Frollo (Yan Godovsky) she looked like tiger in the cage, craving for freedom! In the end, when she go out of The Cathedral before the execution, she radiated such a power and hate for Frollo that audience almost physically feel the hit! She go round the stage, staggering, so painfully beautiful!!!

If she danced the first act as beautifully as she danced the second, her performance would be a historical event! May be she began the performance so low because she was not ready - it was her second debut in last two weeks (she danced The Ballerina on the premiere of Ratmansky’s Bright Stream), or because she was not at ease with the new role. I hope Masha will dance it again and we will see her in her full star power.

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Love Legend, September 14

Mekhmene Banu – Maria Alexandrova

Ferkhad – Alexander Volchkov

Shirin – Marianna Ryzhkina

Masha Alexandrova at last made her debut in the part! The role of the oriental Queen is good for Masha’s personality – she was strong leader, showing both charisma of prima ballerina and power of Impress. That queen hold tight her country and all the neighbourhood, and in her love for the court painter Ferkhad she want to forget her duties and be just a simple woman with simple man. In her dancing she showed more enthusiasm than drama (it’s rather sad story) but her stage presence and inner fire made that performance really memorable.

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Masha Aleksandrova’s schedule in September:

4 (opening night) – the main role of Ballerina in “The Bright Stream”

5 – Prince’s friend in “SL”

7 – Hamzatti

9 – 2nd variation in the Shades

11 – Spanish Bride in “SL”

14 – the main role of Mekhmene-Banu in “Legend of Love”

17 – Raimonda’s friend

21 – Raimonda’s friend

23 – Street Dancer in “DQ”

26 – the main role of Esmeralda in “NDdP”

In total we have 18 ballet performances in September, Masha takes part in 10, three of which are the main roles. Not bad!

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Yesterday night, October 16, Maria Alexandrova made her sudden debut as Aspicia in `La Fille du Pharaon'. It was planned on October 19th, but because of some circumstances Nadezhda Gracheva and Dmitrii Belogolovtsev could not dance that night (the next performance on Oct. 19 will be danced as was planned, again by Alexandrova and Ruslan Skvortsov - also a debutant in the role of Tahor).

Alexandrova's dance yesterday was brilliant. Pierre Lacotte changed a bit the choreography (mostly in adagios), made it more complicated. The complexity of the ballet can be compared perhaps only with `Raymonda'. Maria overcame all technical difficulties - numerous small fast movements, ronds des jambs and small leaps, not saying about grand jetes and pas de chat. Nobody doubted she should be very good in bravura parts of the role, but the real surprise for me were her adagios, lyrical fragments. She was so beautiful and tender, her poses were so phrased and fixed, with excellent balance in arabesques and attitudes, her movements were so slow and clear, that I hardly could recognize the ballerina. Even the text of the role itself seemed almost not familiar for me although I watched this ballet 7-8 times before. Alexandrova was very good in all parts of the ballet, but I found that the best one was the scene `The Underwater Kingdom' where the action took place on the bottom of Nile. Masha's movements there were so smooth and slow as how she danced in the water indeed. It was very impressive, and completely unexpected (albeit one could guess that she was able to dance in this style after her Sylphide a year ago). I am not going to compare the newborn pharaoh's daughter with her elder sisters (Ananiahsvili, Gracheva and Lunkina) but Alexandrova joined the family with dignity.

This was Masha's 4th debut in a main role during the last six months (actually four, not counting two months of summer vacations) after `The Bright Stream' in April, `Notre Dame de Paris' in May and `Legend of Love' in September. But yesterday's performance was the most important for her, I guess. The first time she danced the huge classical 3 acts ballet in tutus (she appeared in seven different tutus during the performance) and she looked very beautiful with her long and strong legs, slender waist, graceful neck. I am happy she could overcome the prejudices of the administration about her `emploi' and her own traditions and habits. One of the leaders of the Bolshoi Ballet told me a few months ago that Alexandrova revealed her potential only by 50%. After `La Fille du Pharaon' this number increased may by to 60%, so Masha Alexandrova still have enough power to surprise us in future.

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La Fille du Pharaon wouldn’t have appeared and then returned to the stage of the Bolshoi if it wasn’t for Nina Ananiashvili. And I think that the moral right for the filming belongs to her, not to mention the fact what a wonderful Aspiccia she is. But this right was taken from her – even twice. The first time the filming was planned for the fall ‘2000, but the ballet was excluded from the repertory by Rozhdestvensky, who was brought to Bolshoi as General Artistic Director. The second time is now. In spring the plans were still to film Nina, and she was asked to keep October free from other obligations. That’s why she doesn’t take part in this ABT fall season. Only in August it became obvious that the plans were changed – actually the news came from Zakharova’s interview. I think the clumsy way the final decision with filming was made led Nina to the refusal to dance this ballet in future. So, alas, we will not see her anymore as Aspicia :unsure: . And as far as I know she is not inclined to go to Paris with the Bolshoi Ballet in January.

I guess Alexandrova has no chances for filming: a good debut is not strong enough a motivation. The performances on October 27, 29 and 31 are fixed for Zakharova and Filin, so everything was settled beforehand in spite of the fact that Zakharova never danced this ballet. She is working now with Ludmila Semenyaka and let’s hope she’ll be ready for the mentioned dates.

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Sounds like a very reasonable 'Bolshoi-style' explanation, Mikhail. :unsure: A good debut is not strong enough a motivation, neither is a lifelong career at the top of the Bolshoi, but the arrival of a dancer from another company, who still has to learn the role, is. Oh well....

Speaking of Masha Alexandrova again, there are rumors that she will dance the new, bare-footed "Romeo and Juliet"? Do you something know about this, Mikhail? Anybody else?

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I'd rather skip the comments on Zakharova in "Pharaon" but it seems not entirely the Bolshoi's decision. Zakharova told in one of her numerous interviews that she was chosen by Pierre Lacotte. I heard that French TV suggested a contract with the exclusive rights for filming the "Pharaon", its distributing and broadcasting for 30 years, Bolshoi agrees for 10 years which is actually the same: 30 or 10 years means eternity for a ballet :unsure:. So for many years Zakharova who did not dance yet this ballet will be the only Aspicia in public opinion. Everything is so strange that any reasonable comments are hardly possible.

Indeed, there will be a premiere in December of a new version of "R&J" staged by Donnelan with choreography by Radu Poklitaru. Alexandrova is chosen as Juliet in the first cast, a young ballerina Anastasia Meskova (she graduated from the School two years ago) is supposed to dance in the second cast. But Alexandrova herself got to know about the choice of Poklitaru only recently, from an announcement on a wall with a schedule of rehearsals. As far as I know, she still could not attend the rehearsals because she was busy at the same time preparing for her debut as Aspicia. So for the moment Masha has no idea about the synopsis, the conception and the choreography of "R&J". I guess it is a bit premature to discuss this ballet and Alexandrova's participation.

Actually it is known not too much about that "R&J". Poklitaru mentioned `bare-feet' dancers in an interview, so this is not a rumor. But I cannot imagine Alexandrova dancing this way. I know also, that some Bolshoi's veterans from a team of coaches are invited to play Juliet in her old age. Does it mean Juliet will not kill herself or this will be just in Juliet's imagination before the death? I will try to keep you informed when there is more news.

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“Sounds like a very reasonable 'Bolshoi-style' explanation, Mikhail. A good debut is not strong enough a motivation, neither is a lifelong career at the top of the Bolshoi, but the arrival of a dancer from another company, who still has to learn the role, is.”

It has become so fashionable now to talk about the ‘Bolshoi-style’ in a derogatory manner.

French TV will make this film and they have to market it. Zakharova is better known in France than any other ballerina currently with the Bolshoi. She successfully danced “La Bayadere” at the Opera de Paris two years ago, the audience and the company loved her; a year later she danced there again, in “Swan Lake”. She is also the choreographer’s choice. He obviously has no doubt about her ability to learn the role. Does anyone have doubts about it?

The other ballerina who made a good debut last week is so lovely in the role of Ramsea that she almost definitely will be filmed too.

If the choice was to be made on the basis of “a lifelong career”, then Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova should have had priority.

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Well, if all this is the case, than I can only feel sorry that so many external factors and influences are deciding what's happening at the Bolshoi Ballet. Moreover, Zakharova has been dancing to great success all over the world - as a member of the Mariinsky, not of the Bolshoi. Nobody doubts she will learn the role. Yet some people are bound to have doubts as to what she will eventually do with it.

I take your sense of humor, Akimova, but I guess it was clear to everybody that only "active" (in the sense of "still dancing on stage") ballerinas were considered :) .

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Which "external factors and influences are deciding what's happening at the Bolshoi Ballet"? There is only ONE factor here: the French TV is making the film. So, it is not happening at the Bolshoi . The French TV and the choreographer will decide what is best for their fil m. If the Bolshoi made this film, they could decide what the film will be l ike. Even in this case the choreographer had to be consulted.

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On October 19 I saw Pierre Lacotte’s La Fille du Pharaon with Maria Alexandrova and Ruslan Skvortsov. Both principals made their debuts in the roles just 3 days before. Maria Alexandrova was just superb. She was very strong technically in her variations and did complicated movement that no other ballerina did in the role. More that that, she was so majestic and beautiful, so skillfully show the beauty of the classical movements! She weared her glittering costumes with such a dignity as if it was made of real gold and diamonds. She was real miracle.

The only reason why the performance dont was really great was Ruslan Skvortsov. He cannot cope with the technique, and the adagios apparently gave to Alexandrova many unpleasant moments, he hited her and so on. We cannot talk about chemistry in that case. His own variations did not improve my opinion about him.

Anastasia Yatsenko was very good as Ramze – sweet naive soubrette. Anastasia Goriacheva was nice looked but absent-minded in the grand pas.

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Concerning “R&J” by Donnelan / Poklitaru. Maria Alexandrova started the rehearsals the last week. Because of that she has but a few regular performances in November. The dancers will not be “bare-feet”, they will dance in leather shoes with light soles and small heels (it is called “jazzovki” in Russian ballet slang, I do not know the English equivalent). The ballerina refused to comment the conception and the choreography of the ballet – ‘you will see at the premiere” she told.

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An article was published today in a newspaper “Novye Izvestiya” (here is the link for Russian speaking members of the forum: http://www.newizv.ru/news/?n_id=2537&curda...ate=2003-11-04). According to the author, Mr. Akimov was furious when attended the rehearsals of “R&J” and discovered that Romeo changed his sexual orientation and Juliet became a travesti. The directorate had to remind Akimov that anyway he will be retired in two months and the administration should not interfere the creative initiative of Mr. Donnelan, the famous Western producer. No comments were given from the press-service, only a statement appeared that “the production will be unusual”. The author states that the dancers are interested what will be the end of the famous story but the administration is afraid of eggs and tomatoes thrown to the stage at the premiere. The first performance will take place in the middle of December, still during Akimov’s term as the ARTISTIC director of the Bolshoi Ballet. What does the forum think about this, should I buy rotten tomatoes indeed to protect the great love story? :shrug:

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It may all turn out to be brilliant, of course, but I think if audiences took more tomatoes to performances like these -- just in case, just in case -- the world would be a safer place.

I'm trying to find out who the famous Western producer Donnelan is, but am so far drawing a blank. So is Google.

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