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Ballet Festival '03 - JEWELS - Feb. 25

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Mariinsky Theater – St. Petersburg, Russia

February 25, 2003

Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet


Full-evening ballet, in three sections, by George Balanchine (created 1967 for New York City Ballet)

I. Emeralds (mus. Faure)

Lead pas de deux soloists - Laetitia Pujol/Karl Paquette (Paris Opera Ballet guests)

“Walking” pas de deux soloists – Eleonora Abbagnato/Yann Bridard (Paris Opera Ballet)

Pas de Trois – Yana Selina/Xenia Ostreikovskaya/Anton Korsakov (Kirov)

II. Rubies (Stravinsky)

Pas de Deux soloists – Wendy Whelan/Jock Soto (New York City Ballet)

“Tall Girl” soloist – Maria Kowroski (New York City Ballet)

Demi-Solo Men – Maxim Khrebtov/Vassily Scherbakov/Anton Pimonov/Anton Lukovkin (Kirov)

III. Diamonds (Tchaikovsky)

2nd movement Pas de Deux Soloists – Daria Pavlenko/Danila Korsuntsev (Kirov)

Two Demi-solo girls, 1st movement – Yana Serebriakova/Xenia Ostreikovskaya (Kirov)

Additional Demi-soloists, 3rd and 4th movements – Ekaterina Osmolkina/Victoria Teryoshkina; Denis Firsov/Sergei Salikov/Dmitry Pykhachov/Alexander Klimov (all Kirov)

Balanchine intended each of the three sections of this ballet as a tribute to one of the three great ballet troupes with which he was associated – the Kirov-Mariinsky (Diamonds), his own New York City Ballet (Rubies), and the Paris Opera Ballet (Emeralds). Tonight’s performance was billed as “Jewels International”, due to the guest soloists from France and the USA in the first two sections. It was a triumph, living up to most expectations; however, the highest accolades went to a member of the ‘home team.’

Cutting to the Quick…THE BIG PICTURE:

Daria Pavlenko finally had the opportunity to show-off her true artistry in a memorable rendition of “Diamonds.” She was appropriately icy in the pas de deux, then warm and radiant in her solo appearances in the 3rd and 4th movements. Pavlenko radiated magnificence that could be felt all the way to the highest row in the upper balconies! Finally, finally – hurrah!! The modulation in character between icy and sunny, coupled with beautiful classical (no over-extended) positions , is what makes Pavlenko’s rendition of this role distinctive from those of the two other Kirov ballerinas who I’ve seen in this role, in the past – Uliana Lopatkina and Svetlana Zakharova. [For the record, Pavlenko has much improved since the first time I saw her in the role, in Washington, DC, February 2002.] She received, by far, the wildest cheers & ‘bravos’ accorded any soloist tonight, although the foreign guests, in the other two sections, were also received warmly by this audience.

Maria Kowroski, as the ‘tall girl’ in Rubies, seemed to capture hearts of many audience members, especially for her dancing in the 1st movement and overall glamorous persona. Everyone is highly anticipating her Odette/Odile in ‘Swan Lake’ this Saturday night!

Among the POB soloists, Eleonora Abbagnato was accorded ‘bravos’ for her initial waltzing solo (Sicilienne) in Emeralds.


It was appropriate that the lead soloists in tonight’s special performance would be French. The four soloists tonight were understated, elegant. As the lead female, Laetitia Pujol evoked the charm and perfume of the Romantic Ballet with her sunny countenance…maybe a bit too constantly sunny, as she is always ‘ooing and aahhing’ every movement. But the Kirov’s own Zhanna Ayupova, in past performances, does almost the same thing, so this audience is used to the ‘oohh and aahh approach’! Her partner, tall and sandy-haired Karl Paquette, balanced Pujol’s smiles with a straight-laced elegance.

With her long, slim torso, aristocratic features, and aloof beauty, Eleonora Abbagnato was perfection in the waltzing ‘Sicilienne’ solo, eliciting ‘bravos’ from the audience. In the Walking Pas de Deux, she ran into problems during the final walk across the stage, when she and partner Yann Bridard bumped into each other, breaking the magical spell.

Anton Korsakov displayed high, brisk entrechats in the trio.

The corps ladies were fine, if emoting a bit too much; then again, they were echoing the sunnyness of the POB’s own principal, so all is OK, I suppose.


The three wonderful soloists from NYCB showed the Mariinsky audience how this is done – RAW and with abandon; not ‘pretty’…as the dainty corps ladies were dancing, behind the soloists. It took a while for the audience to get it. But they were fascinated and appreciative.

Wendy Whelan unfurled her long and muscular limbs to powerful effect and Jock Soto brought zippiness and excitement to the lead male role. They were really ‘into it’ and having a blast, which translated across the footlights to us!

The 3rd (final) movement of this ballet saw a couple of crazy mishaps among the NYCB dancers, though. First, Maria Kowroski slipped and fell on her derriere as she was running out of the wings onto the stage & into her first position for the 3rd movement. The audience let out a collective ‘oooooh’! But she was OK, got up, and danced brilliantly. Later, well into the 3rd movement, Jock Soto crashed into the downstage/audience-left wing – a wooden panel painted to resemble a fancy curtain – as he was exiting from the scene with the four demi soloists, in which he twirls very quickly. BOOM!! He hit it HARD and we all thought that he was badly hurt but, thank goodness, he came out to dance the final few bars of music with the ensemble.


Tonight’s performance of ‘Diamonds’ was a true regal tribute to Petipa & Tsarist Russia that Balanchine intended! At the start of the 4th movement, as the corps de ballet entered the stage to the strains of a Polonaise, my peripheral vision caught sight of the golden filigreed adornments on the royal boxes bordering the stage, and chills went down my spine. Suddenly it all made sense, what Balanchine had in mind. One has not seen ‘Diamonds’ until one sees it in this setting!

Finally, as I cited above, this ballet was an unqualified triumph for the ballerina Daria Pavlenko. She was every bit of an aloof Suzanne Farrell in the pas de deux, then a heartwarming Margot Fonteyn in the 3rd and 4th movements. [Yes – I know that Fonteyn never danced this role, but Pavlenko’s warmth, joy and musicality made me think of Fonteyn in the film of the ‘Sleeping Beauty Rose Adagio,’ such was the effect.] As Pavlenko’s cavalier, the tall and handsome Danila Korsuntsev was the icing on the cake!

The orchestra gained a rich sound -- better than ever, during this festival -- under the baton of guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda of Italy.

In sum, another great night at the ballet!

Jeannie Szoradi

St. Petersburg, Russia

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Marc et al -

I just checked over on the Mariinsky site's forum (Russian-only) &, apparently, folks are up in arms about some of my reviews!! I make no apologies - I call ém as I see ém!!! :o

I'm going to try to meet some of these Kirov 'regulars'to assure them that I do like the Kirov-Mariinsky & have been attending performances here, regularly, since 1994 (not to mention seeing them on tour since mid-80s).

Isn't the world amazing? :mad:

I'm pleased that I have stired things up a bit. We care - that's what matters.

- Jeannie

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I'm glad that russian people enjoy Eleonora Abbagnato, for me she is with Marie-Agnès Gillot the two best premiere danseuse of POB and they should be etoile, but Direction prefered to promote etoile Laetitia Pujol who is always like you describe Jeannie in each part she dances, or Clairemarie Osta :o .

Eleonora is absolutely wonderful in Sicilian variation, I think little problem of partnership with Yann Bridard is certainly due to a lack of rehearsals. We must not forget that Bridard replaces previous Hervé Moreau Both dance this part of Jewels in Paris actually but they don't dance this pdd together A dancer of POB who danced this part a week ago, said to me that for himself who was cast in Paris, he had just three rehearsals with his partner for the "sleepwalker pdd" and not only one for the final movement with the seven soloist.

Jeannie, they always don't present the slow movement in St Peterbourgh or did they present him as they have French dancers who knows it and could dance it.

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Thanks for the report, Jeannie. I have wondered how the Kirov audience would take to Kowroski. I'm very curious about their reaction to her upcoming Swan Lake.

Pavlenko was sensational in Diamonds last year at the Met (as well as Emeralds and Rubies, for that matter). But, Fonteyn/Diamonds/Rose Adagio? Well, maybe when she was younger, after all, he did teach her Ballet Imperial way back when, although he was much more enamored of Moira Shearer, whom he also taught the role. I think I can say without fear of (much) contradiction that Fonteyn was not exactly one of Balanchine's favorite dancers, and I can just imagine his reaction to anyone saying someone danced one of his ballets "like Fonteyn."

Which is not to say you shouldn't enjoy picturing Fonteyn in any of Balanchine's roles if it works for you (I can see her in Night Shadow, actually, and the second movement of Western...).

So now I know why Charles Askegard had to partner Darci Kistler in Symphony in C last Sunday. It was, shall we say, interesting. On the whole, I think, Soto's outing last night sounds like the more painful one. Just. But that's for another thread.

I really wish I could've seen this Jewels. Sigh.

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Hey, Manhattnik!

re. Fonteyn & Pavlenko, I'm referring more to face & 'generosity of spirit' (quality of looking like she is embracing and hugging the audience). Something that would have served her well in the 'human'segments of 'Bayaderka' with Tsiskaridze, the other night. ;)

Soto's crash into the wing 'hurt' all of us...ouch!!

I am counting the minutes & hours until Kowroski's Odette/Odile in the traditional Kirov version!! Wowee... :)

Francoise - No, they did not perform the slow ending. The Kirov has never performed it, to my knowledge.

To whoever asked about the raked stage in the new theater - yes, it is being planned as a raked stage. And, as someone mentioned elsewhere, the plans are now on hold, until a new exterior design can be agreed upon.

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Me, too, Jeannie -- thank you so much...

I got shivers when you mentioned the gilt filigree on the Maryinsky boxes that you noticed in your peripheral vision as the Diamonds Polonaise began -- all those white gloves, and all those cavaliers, they throw so much light from the stage, you'd actually have more light to see the gilding with -- but that's SUCH a Balanchine effect, that kaleidoscopic effect when suddenly dazzling faceted things appear in hte corners of the picture.....

What an evening--and Jock Soto crashing into hte wings....

Am i right in thinking the Kirov stage is raked? Can he be used to doing those emboites on a raked stage? -- he was probably angling upstage in order not to go too far DOWNSTAGE and fall into the pit.... I wonder; maybe hte lights disoriented him..... was it the emboite exit?

When NYCB visited London not too long after World War II, when hte English were still too poor to repair things, the stage was full of holes, and some Englishman offered to dedicate a plaque "to hte dancers who fell at Covent Garden"; sounds like there should be a Jock Soto memorial wing at hte Kirov.....

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Paul - You make me laugh re the Jock Memorial Wing!! If any of us see the Kirov's production of 'Jewels,'with its unique "heavy-curtain" wings, we should take a minute to gaze at the very first audience-left wing...maybe look for an indentation or two.

This happened as he was doing a dizzyingly fast series of turns off the stage...you know, the end of the "jogging boys"sequence, when the lead guy and the four demi-solo guys jog up and down the stage (Jock does a series of jumps as the guys jog around). What made this moment so dramatic was that Jock was cranking-up the speed purposely, so that he would be the fastest speed possible at the moment he got to the wings...we were all cheering and 'bravo-ing"as he was gaining momentum then - BANG!....he flops into the wing. We figured that someone was administering first-aid. It was incredible that he appeared a minute or two later, joining Whelan center-stage with the corps behind, for the final measures of the ballet.

Little did "Mr. B"realize what he was setting-up when he choreographed those dizzying turns off the stage!!! Maybe that's why NYCB elected to NOT construct the wings portion of the designer's stage set. (The Kirov is the first company to fully realize the complete, intended stage setting plus Karinska costumes. For some reason, Mr B nixed the wings...)

Dale - They seem to really admire Whelan's dancing style - so different from Vishnyova & Golub in the role (although they are pretty darn good too). Sure, there is a different look. But most folks in this town are super-polite and, if they would think the body-look odd, they would never say it. The comments I overheard at intermission, in the promenade lobby (where the audience walks counter-clockwise around a grand piano) was that Whelan & Soto were so very different in their approach - energetic & less concern about being 'pretty and correct'. They know well enough that the Balanchine style in America looks different.

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Oh, Jeannie, you are sooooo lucky to have seen this Jewels, and thank you for writing about it for us--

I think it sounds like perfect casting--I was wondering about the response to the NYCB dancers in Rubies....and the spectacle of the Diamonds portion (with Pavlenko, no less) must have been just wonderful, in that theatre.....

thank you again--

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Yes ,Jeannie, we know that exit -- speeding up faster than the music....

Mr B made one for a ballerina, to, in Tchaikovsky pas de deux -- the ballerina gose off back left doing pique turns that speed up faster and faster and faster -- I saw Kyra Nichols do it once so fast that the steps looked liked jetes, it looked like she never actually touched the ground on hte piques.... I know she MUST have, but hte surprise and excitement were so great, to have such a musical dacner go faster than hte music, the acceleration drove us out of our minds..... It WAS the first time I'd ever seen that ballet danced by makor artists, and it was in here Berkeley, on hte little stage at Berkeley HIgh School, where she was dancing in a benefit for her mother's school and company, so it really took us by surprise when she applied world-class power to it.....

By the way, let me ask again -- do you think hte stage-rake might have had something to do with Soto's disorientation? (Is hte stage raked -- we've got a whole thread going on about raked stages on another thread right now, vrsfanatic is telling us many fascinating htings about teaching Vaganova in America occasioned by questinos of dancing on a rake)

Just curious -- accidents happen of course, under ordinary circumstances, on flat stages, in your own house

THis evening does sound like a thrilling performance under marvellous social circumstances, very electtric for the audience, and that always excites performers.... But he's done that exit before and should be used to the difficulties of finding hte wing -- though of course, as you say, they never use that part of hte set in New York......

What a WONDERFUL evening you must have had-- thank

you so much for reporting on it....

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And thanks to ALL of you for your kind words!! I'll be a bit slower in getting-off the last four reviews, due to family commitments over weekend, but I'll be sure to post them once I return to Moscow, on Monday. In meantime, I'm doing a couple of 'quick progress reports'just to let you know how the 'Pirlipat'premiere and Kowroski's Odette/Odile fare!

Paul, re. the rake, I believe that this occured quite far downstage, where the rake levels off (very little incline, if none at all). I've actually walked (not danced...ha-ha) on that stage and seem to recall a flatter section.

The rake most probably contributed to Kowroski's skate-and-skid incident as she ran to her opening pose for the 3rd movement in Rubies. She was halfway up the stage, where the rake is in full effect. Too, she may not have put enough rosin on her shoes...

psssst...secret....I need to be backstage tonight, briefly, during one of the intermissions and I'll be sure to sneak a peak at the forward part of the rake for you, OK?? [similar, but unrelated...I got to say 'hi'to Assylmuratova backstage, last Wednesday, as the Vaganova kids were preparing to go onstage in the Paquita Mazurka. AA is still gorgeous! I'll miss her on the stage!!]

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Jeanie, I can't TELL you how thrilled I am to think that you're go0ing to walk on hte floor of the MAryinsky to settle a question for me....... It goes to my HEAD!!! as we say.... just hte sense of having hte feel of that hallowed floor....... wow....

I know it's important to Russians, but you know, all AMerican ballet is a decendant of Russian ballet -- San Francisco Ballet was founded by Bolm, you know, the first Polovetsian warrior -- so that stage is ancestor for all of us......

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