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Kirov in Wales - 2005
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Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Apr 20, 2004 3:28 am ]
Post subject:  Kirov in Wales - 2005

Kirov dancer Uliana Lopatkina with the key that will unlock the doors of the Wales Millennium Centre

News Release

To Russia with love – from Wales

The beautiful key that will unlock the doors of Wales Millennium Centre, the new international centre for performing arts currently under construction on Cardiff Bay waterfront, took the next step on its global journey today, when Judith Isherwood the Centre’s Chief Executive handed it to Kirov prima ballerina Uliana Lopatkina on the stage of the stunning Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia (see attached photograph).

The world-famous Kirov (known once again in Russia by its original name, Mariinsky), is one of the leading ballet companies in the world, with strict classical traditions of elegance and beauty. It gave the world premieres of such ballets as Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. Legendary artists who performed with the Company included Pavlova, Nijinsky, Nureyev and Baryshnikov. Today the Company is renowned both for its superb principal dancers and the breathtaking unity of its corps de ballet.

The Company will perform during the Wales Millennium Centre’s opening year in April 2005, performing two full ballets and one triple bill. Uliana Lopatkina and other stars of the Mariinsky, including Diana Vishneva, Igor Zelensky, Daria Pavlenko and Leonid Sarafanov will lead the Company for this important residency. In receiving the key Miss Lopatkina said “It is wonderful that the world is to have a new international stage for ballet. I am looking forward to visiting Wales and dancing at the Wales Millennium Centre in April next year.”

Judith Isherwood commented “The Kirov is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading ballet companies, and it continually delights audiences wherever the company performs. They will perform at WMC during its opening year, and I hope that their time with us will lay strong foundations for a lasting relationship between the Kirov and our audiences that we will develop over the coming years”. The Kirov Ballet’s residency at the WMC will be in association with The Mariinsky Theatre Trust, a UK charity.

During the coming months, the key will journey to New York, Saltzburg in Austria, Italy, South Africa, Japan and New South Wales in Australia before returning to Cardiff Bay on 26 November in readiness for the Centre’s opening. Information on each leg of the journey will be issued in advance.

Tickets for the Kirov and all other performances during the Centre’s opening seasons will go on sale in May 2004. For further information, please go to


o Wales Millennium Centre is the new international centre for performing arts currently under construction on Cardiff Bay Waterfront. It is undoubtedly the most exciting cultural initiative happening in Europe today. Not only will it be an international receiving house for opera, ballet, dance and musicals, it will also house under one roof seven diverse and exciting cultural organisations. When the Centre opens on 26 November 2004, it will quickly establish itself as one of the world’s leading performing arts venues.

o Wales Millennium Centre is supported with a grant of up to £37 million from the Welsh Assembly Government, a £30.7 million Lottery grant from the Millennium Commission and a £9.8 million grant from the Arts Council of Wales Capital Lottery Fund.

o Uliana Lopatkina
Uliana Lopatkina is prima ballerina of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet and one of the most acclaimed ballerinas in the world today. She was born in the Crimea, and received her early ballet training there. She was accepted into the prestigious Vaganova Academy of Ballet in Leningrad (St Petersburg) at the age of nine and graduated with honours in 1991 to join the prestigious Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet. In 1995 Uliana Lopatkina was made a Principal Ballerina of the Company.
Miss Lopatkina, one of the world's most elegant ballerinas, is the recipient of many honours, international awards and prizes for her artistry and her international appearances have been extensive; she has performed in Japan, the United States, South America, and throughout Europe.
Her varied repertoire includes Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Le Corsaire, Schéhérazade, Raymonda, Fokine´s The Dying Swan, Balanchine´s Symphony in C (2nd Movement), Serenade, Jewels (Diamonds), Robbins´ In the Night (3rd Movement); Roland Petit´s Le Jeune Homme et La Mort and, most recently, choreography by William Forsythe.

o Ann Catrin Evans
Metal designer Ann Catrin Evans was born in Bangor North Wales and studied at Brighton Polytechnic. She now lives and works in Caernarfon. Here she aims “to make useful and innovative sculptural objects for people to have and use. ”Deriving inspiration from many diverse sources, from mechanical to organic, she specialises in door furniture – knockers and handles – but also produces lighting, furniture, large public sculptures and jewellery. Using steel as her main medium, Ann Catrin constantly strives to find new ways to combine components. Existing work includes pieces for Gwynedd Council, the Deiniol Shopping Centre in Bangor, Caernarfon’s Celtic Hotel and the Museum of Modern Art in Machynlleth.

o The WMC Key began its global journey from Cardiff Bay on 27 March. It was taken on the first leg of its overseas journey by Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan to Paris for the St David’s day festivities on March 1. There he handed it over to international bass-baritone Gidon Saks.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Apr 12, 2005 4:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in Wales - 2005

Message from Wales Millenium Centre

The Kirov Ballet

We are delighted to welcome the legendary Kirov Ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg to the Wales Millennium Centre. This visit is in association with the Mariinsky Theatre Trust (UK).

Don Quixote
Tuesday 19th – Thursday 21st April and Saturday 30th April 2005
This sparkling production of Don Quixote originally created by Marious Petipa for the Mariinsky Theatre, recounts the love affair between Kitri, a feisty peasant girl and her local sweetheart Basil, helped by the chivalrous Don Quixote.

Romeo and Juliet
Tuesday 26th – Friday 29th April 2005.
A vivid retelling of the worlds’ best known romance, the ballet Romeo and Juliet, with music by Sergei Prokofiev, is one of the culminating achievements in Soviet dramatic ballet.

Ballets of Fokine

Opening Night Sponsored by Atradius

Friday 22nd, Saturday 23rd April and Monday 25th April 2005
Three contrasting ballets showing the superb artistry of the legendary Russian choreographer Mikhail Fokine – the ethereal Chopiniana, sensuous and exotic Scheherazade and finally the dazzling Firebird.

click here for online booking

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Apr 14, 2005 1:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov in Wales - 2005

Leonid Sarafanov talks to the Independent in advance of the Kirov performances in Cardiff next week. That he plays down the comparison to Nureyev is to his credit.

I can think of few dancers less like Nureyev than Sarafanov. In terms of stage persona it's like comparing an endearing spaniel to a prowling leopard.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 1:11 am ]
Post subject: 

Don Quixote
By Donald Hutera for The Times

THE Kirov Ballet is the first large-scale company to play the Wales Millennium Centre. London-centrics might regard the Welsh dates as a warm-up for the Kirov’s forthcoming summer season of ballet and opera at Covent Garden in July, but the view in Cardiff is significantly different.

Claims that the Kirov will draw a new audience into the recently opened Wales Millennium Centre are accurate, at least from my perspective.

I sat beside a couple and their teenage son who had never been to a performance at the venue before.

click for more

Author:  herbal42 [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 1:49 am ]
Post subject: 

I went to see the Kirov a couple of days ago and it was beautiful. I've seen other ballet companies perform but never the Kirov and they were certainly impressive.

Unfortunately the Millenium centre wasn't even half full which I thought spoilt it slightly as the applause seemed less than they deserved.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi herbal42 and many thanks for providing this feedback. Over the phone the press people there told me that "Don Q" was proving a hard sell in Cardiff and that the other programmes are selling better.

How did you like the theatre? Is it a good place to watch large-scale dance?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:27 pm ]
Post subject: 

Zoe Anderson reviews the Cardiff, Wales performance in The Independent: ... ory=631237


Another review of Don Quixote in Cardiff, by Lyndsey Winship in The Guardian: ... 83,00.html

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Apr 24, 2005 7:20 am ]
Post subject: 

Come on, Wales, support the ballet
By Jann Parry for The Observer

Welsh audiences don't know their luck. When the Kirov Ballet launched the Millennium Centre's first season of ballet last week with a hugely enjoyable production of Don Quixote, the 1,900-seat theatre was far from full. But there's still a chance to catch two different programmes this week and see one of the world's great companies in the WMC's splendid setting.

click for more

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:43 am ]
Post subject: 

At Thursday afternoons performance of Don Quixote, Clement Crisp was sitting a couple of rows in front of me. It seems he enjoyed himself as much as I did. ... 511c8.html

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:16 am ]
Post subject: 

Don Quixote
The Kirov Ballet
21st April 2005 (mat & eve)
Wales Millenium Centre

The new Wales Millennium Centre might just be the best theatre for ballet in the UK. Although I am usually out of sympathy with modern buildings, this one is imaginatively designed both inside and out. Set in a vast piazza on the beautiful Cardiff Bay, it is the centrepiece of a modern development comparable to London’s Docklands, except it is far more attractive. The theatre is constructed out of local Welsh slate of varying shades creating a striking striped effect topped off with a slanting roof of stainless steel in a pale gold colour. The locals have already started to refer to the building affectionately as “the armadillo”, a description that only begins to make sense when viewed from out in Cardiff Bay.

Much as I admired the original concept of the exterior, the interior quite bowled me over. To avoid the soulless, standard, modern theatre the auditorium is constructed out of wood with each band in different colours, which creates a warm intimate effect in what is actually a large theatre. The sight lines are excellent and even the standing places at the back are thoughtfully equipped with padded cushions to lean against. The actual stage is superb, with room for the most elaborate of sets.

My first opportunity to enjoy this wonderful theatre was at a matinee performance of “Don Quixote” danced by the Kirov Ballet on their very best form with Furoukh Ruzimatov no less as Basil, the role he has made his own. To say Ruzimatov dances as well as ever would not be true, but he performs as well as ever, stalking the stage with a swaggering machismo, with what I always think of as the ‘Furukh smoulder’ coming across as potently as ever. His Kitri on this occasion was young Olesya Novikova, a classicist blessed with the Kirov style of old. As Kitri, she was doing her best, but the sauciness this character should display so far eludes her. Novikova came into her own as Dulcinea in Don Quixote’s dream where her dancing was so beautiful it made my eyes mist over.

One of the joys of this ballet is the large number of character dancers on display with a tremendous Espada from Islom Baimuradov, a breathtaking gypsy dance from Nikolai Zubkovsky and the outstandingly beautiful Ryo Ji Yeon, who must have been born to dance the Oriental Dance, showing us utter perfection.

Because of the ease of access at the Millennium Centre we were able to see the Don and Sancho Panza make their entrances on a white horse and donkey respectively (both creatures impeccably behaved) and the size of the stage meant we had a windmill with moving sails for poor Don Q. to fall from.

Sadly the theatre wasn’t full at the matinee as Don Quixote is a notoriously difficult ballet to sell I’m told. Mostly the audience was made up of parties of school children, all attentive and as good as gold. When the lights went up in the interval I discovered the two rows of little girls in front of me were almost without exception from ethnic minorities with many in Muslim headscarves, and I watched them rush out excitedly into the vast spaces of the foyers to imitate the jumps and turns they had seen on stage with a warm glow as I realized I must have been much the same age when I first encountered a ballet company. Those future little balletomanes were learning fast, as after noting the “bravos” from adult members of the audience, they were quick to imitate the cheers and again copied the adults to provide a standing ovation at the end. It was a most enjoyable afternoon.

After seeing the great Ruzimatov at the matinee, we were treated to the biggest female star on this tour, Irma Nioradze, at the evening performance. Nioradze has the qualities as Kitri that young Novikova lacked. She’s feisty and street-wise and you just know that her father has no chance of getting this Kitri to meekly comply with his matrimonial ambitions. As her lover, Basil, Anton Korsakov looked sleek and sexy most of the time but perhaps this baby-faced potential star, though treating us to some fabulous dancing, doesn’t yet have the extrovert quality the role needs.

Changes of cast in the character roles brought us Andrei Merkuriev as a very glamorous Espada. Merkuriev is exceptionally good looking and seems to want to trade on his looks to some extent, but his continual dazzling smile seemed out of place and he lacked the dangerous edge that Baimuradov brought to the role at the earlier performance.

The only disappointment was the casting of Alina Somova as Queen of the Dryads at both Matinee and evening performances. I had already heard a lot about this young dancer and nothing that I’d heard was good. Somova is in appearance a gymnast; she doesn’t so much dance as display her limbs in seemingly impossible extensions and is ill matched with her more classical colleagues. The Kirov management should seriously re-think the casting of this dancer in so prominent a role.

Happily the evening performance attracted a bigger crowd than the matinee and the curtain calls were a special pleasure, when a Nioradze fan, unable to buy her flowers as the local florist was undergoing renovations (what an opportunity for sales he missed!), threw on stage a very cute teddy bear; both Nioradze and the audience were delighted.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri May 06, 2005 10:48 am ]
Post subject: 

The Ballets of Mikhail Fokine
The Kirov Ballet
23rd April 2005 (mat & eve)
Wales Millenium Centre

If there is one thing I don’t like about the Millennium Centre it has to be the practice of starting matinees at 1.30. Unless you’re a local, it’s cutting it very tight and I had to miss “Chopiniana” after encountering appalling weather and a resulting crawl on the motorway. A 2.30 afternoon start is pretty standard everywhere and unless there is an exceptionally long programme to accommodate, such as a Wagner opera, I don’t see any reason for an earlier start.

The evening performance of “Chopiniana” was danced seamlessly by the corps de ballet, but Ksenia Ostreikovskaya’s bad luck with her shoe was an irritating distraction with her ribbons trailing across the stage as she danced. The other soloists were Yana Selina, Daria Sukhorukova and Evgeny Ivanchenko, all adequate but not outstanding.

I have made my feelings plain before concerning the emasculated version of The Kirov’s “Scheherazade” and I find the only way to view it is to concentrate on the soloists and try to ignore the production as a whole. The matinee performance featured Igor Kolb’s debut as the Golden Slave (Y Gwas Aur in Welsh) dancing opposite the magnificent Zobeide of Irma Nioradze. I had wondered how Kolb would cope with the hot-house goings-on apparently so at odds with his natural classicism, but he was fiery and passionate, inspired no doubt, by his lubricious Zobeide, who visibly throbbed with desire at the very sight of him.

In the evening Nioradze repeated the role, this time with Farukh Ruzimatov in one of those roles he was born to dance. The last time I saw him as the Golden Slave he appeared to struggle to find the necessary stamina, but this time around he was totally back on form and a joy to behold. Great dancing all round: pity about the production.

In the title role of “The Firebird” neither of the dancers I saw was up to scratch. The matinee saw the return of Maya Dumchenko, a former soloist with the company whom everyone thought had retired to a life of domesticity. After what I presume to be a change of heart, she is back with the company, but on very poor form and not up to such a demanding role. The Firebird at the evening performance was Tatiana Serova who was even more unsuited to the role than Dumchenko. She actually flashed smiles to the audience in her opening jetés across the stage, totally disregarding the fact that she is supposed to be fierce magical creature and possessing no human emotion at all. Nioradze is one of the great Firebirds and it was a pity we couldn’t have seen her in one of these performances.

These two apart the rest of the ballet (same cast matinee and evening) was actually rather good with Viktor Baranov perfectly cast as the reckless Ivan-Tsarevitch. As he gets older Baranov seems more and more to bear an uncanny resemblance to Harrison Ford (and that is far from being a complaint!). I don’t think I’ve seen a dancer bring so much vigour to this role. When Kashchei’s monsters surround him his bravado evaporates as he makes a run for the wall and unlike other Ivans’ I’ve seen, he fights back tooth and nail to escape. As his princess Yana Serebryakova has little to do except look beautiful, which she does very well. At least with the dishy Baranov the ‘love at first sight’ scenario makes more sense than usual. The other main role, that of wicked old Kashchei, was danced by that master of character roles, Vladimir Ponomarev. How he relishes this role! Bent and ugly, he still believes he possesses a certain charm as he beckons to the captive Ivan with his long-nailed misshapen finger before unleashing the full force of his evil powers. And Ponomarev stays in character for his curtain calls, sneering at the audience until he is rewarded with the boos Kashchei deserves, only then does he turn away in triumph with a gesture of dismissive contempt for the lot of us – what an artist!

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