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Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels
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Author:  art076 [ Sun Oct 26, 2003 3:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

Here are a few thoughts from me on "Jewels" in Orange County. Okay - maybe not just a few - but, its combined thoughts all at once from three performances!!:

Kirov Ballet in “Jewels”
Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa
Friday, October 24 (evening) and Saturday October 25 (matinee & evening)

It’s hard to resist the temptation to make an allusion to jewels when talking about the Kirov Ballet dancing George Balanchine's “Jewels.” The company lives up to the ballet’s title in so many ways, from the dreamy quality of "Emeralds" to the modernity of "Rubies" to the refined classicism of "Diamonds," that really, the temptation begs itself to be made. Oh fine, I give in – each performance was a pure gem.

“Jewels” is a beautiful piece with or without the Kirov. The music chosen is at times sublimely beautiful and at other times incredibly interesting, rhythmically diverse. Considering how closely the choreography is tied to the music, it’s a good thing that the music is so fantastic. In “Emeralds,” Gabriel Fauré’s gorgeous orchestral suites from “Peléas et Mélisande” and “Shylock” are musical bliss especially when paired with Balanchine’s elegant choreography. Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra – the music for “Rubies” – is a marvelous shock, juxtaposed against the restrained lyricism of the Faure music. The choreography is a similar contrast – deliciously unconventional and flirtatious, like its score. Then, “Diamonds’” use of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 is the score for a grand homage to Russian classicism: a perfect pairing of the “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty” composer with the style of dancing that came from the same theater.

The ballet is fun piece to watch because it basically gives you exactly what you go to a full-evening ballet for, but without all the excess packaging. There are no long pantomime scenes to sit through, no extended character dances and no story to scratch your head at and wonder if you are following correctly. There’s just a lot of beautiful and great dancing – without getting repetitive. It is Balanchine’s genius to find three very different things to do with the classical vocabulary for each of the ballet’s three sections. The 30-minute pieces are therefore like wonderful pieces of candy. And who doesn’t like getting lots of candy?

The Kirov gives good candy in “Jewels.” Over the course of three performances this weekend in Orange County, the candy came in the form of soloists and in the corps de ballet. With the corps, it’s the same old story as it has been for the Kirov’s entire two-week run in Southern California – the corps work was magnificent, making the group a star in its own right. For the soloists, “La Bayadere” and the Fokine Classics program had only given a limited view of the company’s wide range of soloists; “Jewels” gives three to four of them at a time, in each of its three segments. Again, more candy.

“Emeralds” was danced by essentially the same cast at each performance – Daria Sukhorukova and Victor Baranov were the first couple; Sofia Gumerova and Andrey Yakovlev the second; and at the two evening performances, Yana Selina, Svetlana Ivanova and Vasily Sherbkov danced the pas de trois (Alesya Novikova and Ruben Bobovnikov substituted for the latter two at the Saturday matinee).

Sukhorukova and Gumerova were both wonderfully light and musical in each of their opening solos, Sukhorukova especially with her arm movements perfectly expressing the quick flourishes of the strings in the music in the first solo (set to the Fileuse from Fauré’s “Pelléas et Mélisand”). The two brought a refined elegance to each of their solos, floating above the music with both their delicate pointe work and their ever-present smiles. “Emeralds” was a little rough around the edges on Friday’s opening performance in Costa Mesa, but it was a perfect dream on Saturday, with the corps and soloists working together brilliantly for a fantastic effect.

“Rubies,” of the three “Jewels” ballets, possesses the dance style most outside what the Kirov might be used to. And it did indeed look a bit odd on the dancers at times; the piece seems to call for all out abandonment of any “classical” attitude, calling instead for flirtation and a willingness to have fun. There were times when the corps looked a bit too refined and perfect for “Rubies,” but then there were times when everyone really let go – in these moments, the results were electric. Tatiana Amosova danced the female solo role at each performance; she seemed to be holding back at Friday’s performance, but by Saturday evening she was throwing herself into the role very nicely.

The revelation, though, was in two remarkably different, yet both great, interpretations of the main “Rubies” ballerina. On Friday, Diana Vishneva was on fire – her dazzling technique and reckless abandon was thrilling to watch. She also flirted relentlessly with the audience and with her partner – Andrian Fadeyev. She flashed cunning smiles, and seemed to wink knowingly at the audience, as though she was both showing off and relishing in the idea that everyone was watching her. But while Vishneva danced the role as a more mature, flirtatious woman, Irina Golub, on Saturday night, was like a young girl with energy flying out of her from all directions. Golub had the same technical flash as Vishneva, but Golub’s personality was completely different. There was playfulness, yes, but it was more innocent and demure. When she did the “jump rope” step in the first movement, Golub was actually jump roping like a young girl – Vishneva, on the other hand, had a self assured smile on her face while she and Fadeyev shot coy glances at each other. Golub’s partner was Leonid Sarafanov, and his boyish appearance, plus endless energy, played off Golub’s girlishness wonderfully. Both Vishneva’s and Golub’s individual ways of dancing the role were equally valid and fun to watch; and both were fascinating because they brought a full stage persona to the role. They were interesting to watch as people, not just as technicians – an impressive feat considering there is no plot. Irma Nioradze danced the role at Saturday’s matinee; she seemed to be taking the Vishneva route, but she was far less appealing and electric in the role.

“Diamonds” closed the evening in grand Russian style – and, being Russian themselves, the Kirov really knows how it to close it grandly. The first and last movements of the dance showed off how marvelously the corps de ballet works together – the women were lyrical and flowing, moving together with continually impressive unity.

A different pair danced the lead couple at each of the three performances: Friday saw Uliana Lopatkina and Igor Zelensky; Saturday afternoon was danced by Tatiana Tkachenko and Igor Kolb; and Saturday evening was danced by Sofia Gumerov and Igor Zelensky.

Lopatkina was beautiful in the second movement on Friday night, despite a few minor mistakes. She danced lyrically and with passion; each of the movements appeared to have some kind of abstract meaning. It was gorgeous. Zelensky was a strong and able partner, with stunning virtuosity to boot. The audience enthusiastically applauded his solo passages on both Friday and Saturday evenings.

Tatiana Tkachenko, listed in the program as a member of the corps de ballet, was brilliant in the “Diamonds” role on Saturday afternoon. The performance was flawless – the way her movements were drawn out over the music was absolutely breathtaking. She shined here the way she did in the Grand Pas Classique last week in “La Bayadere;” while she had dramatic shortcomings in “Bayadere” were of little importance here, where all she had to do was show off some shiny dancing. Igor Kolb was her secure partner, and showed he had technical pizzazz in his solo bits. He ended up pushing himself too hard at points, however, falling over himself in a complicated turn just as the audience was beginning to applaud. On Saturday night, Sofia Gumerova worked double duty as both an “Emeralds” soloist and the ballerina in “Diamonds.” Beautiful in “Emeralds,” she was less impressive in “Diamonds.” She had all the steps down and executed them beautifully, but she lacked a flowing lyricism and musicality to her movements. The second movement thus had a somewhat choppy effect, as her dancing did not quite float over the music the way it did with Lopatkina and Tkachenko.

The sets and costumes, credited to Peter Harvey and Karinska respectively, drew loud gasps and awed applause from the audience each time the curtain went up – without fail, at every one of the three performances. The sets and costumes were indeed eye popping and gorgeous. The pattern of swirling gems on the backdrop against the white costumes of “Diamonds” made it look like the ballet was being danced against a starry plain somewhere in heaven – an apt setting.

Mikhail Agrest again conducted the Mariinsky Theatre orchestra to brilliance. Liudmila Sveshnikova gave the Stravinsky Capriccio a powerful reading.

“Jewels” ends the company’s performances Southern California. It was a joy to watch the company perform such a varied repertoire during the past two weeks – everything from one of its fabled story ballets, to some reclaimed Fokine, to some newly adopted Balanchine. Hopefully, the Kirov will not wait another 11 years before it visits the West Coast again.


<small>[ 26 October 2003, 07:25 PM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Oct 26, 2003 4:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

Thanks a lot art and I was particularly interested in your comparison of Diana Vishneva and Irina Golub in "Rubies". A few years ago I had booked to see Vishneva again, but on the night was miffed, and I'm sure I wasn't alone, to find that she had been replaced by the young Irina Golub. In the event the latter provided a delightful contrast with her more experienced colleague. Golub's youthful verve won everyone over and your description captures the spirit she brings to the role.

<small>[ 26 October 2003, 05:07 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  ripowam [ Sun Oct 26, 2003 10:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

The program obviously transposes these names:
Ivanova and Novikova should be, however, the last names of the two soloists, not the first.

<small>[ 26 October 2003, 02:17 PM: Message edited by: ripowam ]</small>

Author:  art076 [ Sun Oct 26, 2003 4:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

Thanks ripowam; correction appended to the review above. I did think it was kind of odd, looking at the program, that Ivanova's last name was listed as "Svetlana," a name I've only seen as a first name. But, with my relatively low knowledge of Russian, I let it slide.

One other thing I noted - which may or may not have to do with the Kirov Ballet itself - was the sheer length of each intermission. They were 25 minutes a piece, almost as long as each of the dances themselves. That seems exceptionally long for something like this - there isn't a major set change to justify such a long pause (as there was during the Fokine program), and it softens the impact of putting the three different-looking dances next to each other. The evening would be much shorter if the intermissions were minimalized - any idea why this is done?

Author:  art076 [ Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

The two major Southern California papers weigh in on the Kirov's "Jewels."

Apparently, Zelensky threw out his back on Friday (which I didn't notice), causing some issues with his and Lopatkina's pas de deux during "Diamonds." Segal, in the LA Times, saw it as making it difficult for him and Lopatkina; Bleiberg, in the Orange County Register, saw Lopatkina throw a "diva fit" in response to Zelensky's shaky partnering after the injury. Zelensky was back to partner Sofia Gumerova on Saturday, though.

Here are the reviews:

A priceless gem among Balanchine's 'Jewels'
At OCPAC, the Kirov Ballet presents the ultimate display of its George Balanchine prowess.

By Lewis Segal, Times Staff Writer


Although conductor Mikhail Agrest and the Kirov Orchestra provided authoritative accompaniments all evening long, and the Kirov corps remained exemplary, only the performance of the central, "Rubies" section (to Stravinsky) proved a priceless gem.

As in many other stagings, "Emeralds" (to Fauré) offered fine individual performances but no stylistic cohesion. And when Kirov star Igor Zelensky suffered a back injury during "Diamonds," the result left him and his stellar partner, Uliana Lopatkina, in obvious difficulty. (Zelensky reportedly was able to dance the same role again the following night.)
More ... (Requires paid subscription)

Kirov Ballet's talents glimmer in spotlight
One faux pas could not dim a night of lustrous "Jewels" in Orange County.

The Orange County Register

Choreographer George Balanchine loved gemstones. "After all, I am an Oriental from Georgia in the Caucasus," was how he put it.

He combined that one love with his others – for ballet, women and the New York City Ballet – and the world got "Jewels," a story-less, evening-long work made in 1967. Balanchine created stylized dances of glamour and fire that sparkled in reaction to the musical selections for each act: bits from "Pelleas et Melisande" and "Shylock" by Gabriel Faure for "Emeralds"; "Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra" by Igor Stravinsky for "Rubies"; and Symphony No. 3 in D Major" (minus the first movement) by Peter Tchaikovsky for "Diamonds."
More ... (Requiers free registration)

<small>[ 27 October 2003, 01:05 PM: Message edited by: art076 ]</small>

Author:  Andre Yew [ Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

Segal liked Rubies best, and Emeralds least in the Kirov's performance on Friday, October 24.

A priceless gem among Balanchine's 'Jewels'

Lewis Segal, LA Times

At OCPAC, the Kirov Ballet presents the ultimate display of its George Balanchine prowess.

If the Kirov engagements in Hollywood and Costa Mesa confirmed the company's return to greatness, Vishneva's performances in "La Bayadère" and "Rubies" set a new millennial standard for ballerina star power, expressivity and technical brilliance. Other dancers possess some of these qualities, but who else commands all of them in service to the highest achievements of the art?
more (requires paid subscription)

Author:  Andre Yew [ Mon Oct 27, 2003 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

Kirov Ballet's talents glimmer in spotlight
Laura Bleiberg, Orange County Register

The curtain went up on "Jewels" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center Friday and the audience gasped. It was St. Petersburg's Kirov Ballet and Orchestra (with conductor Mikhail Agrest) inspiring the awe, ending a weeklong engagement at the center.

They have danced this ballet for only four years. When the company performed it in the U.S. for the first time 20 months ago, critics worried that the Russians' style was all wrong. Much has improved in that time.

Author:  Andre Yew [ Tue Oct 28, 2003 3:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

Kirov Ballet
2PM Sunday, 26 October, 2003
Orange County Performing Arts Center

What a glittering, albeit brief, respite from Southern California's ashen skies the Kirov Ballet gave this past Sunday! Starting with an effortless, light, almost frothy Emeralds distinguished by the unity of attack by the corps, as well as Daria Sukhorukova and Sofia Gumerova's beautiful arms and shoulders, the Kirov immediately impressed with its overall technical excellence and clarity as well as their gasp-inducing costumes.

Rubies is my favorite of the three ballets because it's the most forward looking of the three, and also a bunch of fun. Diana Vishneva, partnered by an attentive Andrian Fadeyev, dancing her bravura role with an irreverant insouciance, provided an interesting contrast to Tatiana Amosova's powerfully solid second solo. Vishneva however stole the show for me, casually lobbing grand battements in any direction to extreme heights and performing the most extreme extensions and contortions with strength, all the while exuding a flirtatious girl-next-door charm. I couldn't help but think of her wide-ranging transformation from a complex, gloom-ridden Nikiya from a week ago to this light, care-free girl. And as before, the corps again performed with an impressive unity of attack and cohesion that made the final scene of Rubies seem like a field of exploding fireworks.

Wrapping up the matinee show, perhaps providing reassurance to the audience after the unconventional Rubies, is Diamonds, a distillation and concentration of all those classic wedding acts. Uliana Lopatkina, partnered by Danil Korsuntsev, gave a warm and human performance, as if to assert the vitality and relevance of the Kirov's Petipa heritage. Both soloists were technically excellent, as were the corps which gave us clarity of movement and structure even in the most complex of Balanchine's various formations.

It's been an unalloyed pleasure watching the Kirov this past week. I hope they don't wait another 11 years before coming back.


Author:  happymagill [ Fri Oct 31, 2003 1:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in the USA 2003 - Jewels

I was very fortunate to see them perform on friday in costa mesa. My husband who does not care for ballet was just as breathless! It was an unforgetable performance.

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