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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2004 10:48 pm 
>I have had trouble accessing the St P. Times for the past couple of days, when I have had time to check this fine online newspaper.

Actually the St. Petersburg Times is a printed newspaper which appears twice a week.

The Kirov is touring Taipei this week, after giving several performances of Swan Lake in Seoul last weekend.

<small>[ 02 November 2004, 04:15 AM: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:33 am 
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Ripowam - My mistake. I wasn’t able to see those performances, and the Mariinsky Press Office told me that this was Dumchenko’s return to the stage, so I took their word for it. I was not at the Serenade or Paquita appeareances.

Serova was fine, but this is the first I’ve seen the ballet, so I have fewer points of comparison> she is a tad on the fleshy side for my tastes, but seemed to do the part well enough. There is so little dancing, (in comparison) in her role that it seems a lot depends on the dancer’s ability to emote. Did you like her?

Kevin & Stuart – To Stuart’s point, the St P Times is also online (same issues, appear on Tues and Fridays). I also have trouble accessing the site sometimes. I think they tend to have server issues, I’ve noticed (at least, I think its on their end, not on mine)… and it is a resourceful paper. It’s too bad they don’t have regular ballet reviews however. I’ve seen some of yours there, Kevin, but it seems they like to spread the wealth and cover different arts, but not always ballet in every issue.

Editor's note: part of the company is in Taipei. They can be in two places at once!!

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Sat Nov 06, 2004 11:35 pm 
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ripowam, by the way, are you living in St P now also?

here is Friday's Don Q review:

+++

Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
Don Quixote – Lighthearted Humor
05 November 2004
By Catherine Pawlick

If one act ballets are appetizers, the four act “Don Quixote” is always a full meal. Friday night’s performance at the Mariinsky was no exception, proving to be one the Kirov’s more pleasant performances.

Andrian Fadeev’s punctual, clean Basil was a pleasure to behold. He is a strong dancer, his blonde locks connoting Apollo but his mannerisms mediterranean in this ballet. Nearly every finish was perfectly timed, whether the end of a turn or a variation. Following the mock suicide in the third act, his series of double tours were flawless. As Basil he was energetic and enthusiastic, a trustworthy partner.

Kitri was danced by the Bolshoi-esque Olesya Novikova. The young brunette sports legs that remind one of Semenyaka or other Bolshoi ballerinas – well-muscled, but still streamlined, strong but refined, reliable, not weak. Her Kitri was both spicy and sweet. She accented movements with just the right amount of staccato, but when taking Basil’s hand she was usually soft and feminine, an interesting combination for this role. As Dulcinea she was even more the princess in pink, an ideal of beauty, calm and serene. And yet her 32 fouettes – completed in their entirety – were of lightning speed.

Andrei Mercuriev was the slick, smooth toreador, Espada. He drew more than one “bravo” after his cape manege, and again in the final act. His dancing is clean and not at all cumbersome, and he has a certain magnetism that makes him pleasing to watch. His pas de deux with partner Tatiana Serova, who seemed to suffer from worn out pointe shoes, was electric and seductive. Despite her handicap, she managed all of the bourrees through the cups.

The Dream Sequence was led by the always smiling Evgenia Obratsova as Amour. Having just seen her in “La Sylphide”, her ability to fit both roles is not surprising. Here she was the happy spirit of Love, vibrant, light and quick. The Queen of the Dryads was danced nicely by Yulia Obratsova, who was also in last week’s “La Sylphide”. Clearly the administration is using Obratsova’s talents to the fullest. Just out of the Vaganova school, she is already dancing soloist roles (and in some cases, better than some soloists). Her casting to date suggests the more fairy-like roles: sylphs, dryads. It would be easy to imagine her in “Swan Lake” or the second act of “Giselle” as Myrtha as well – her neck seems endless, all of her limbs long, and her technique, if not completely polished, shows that sense of refinement that comes with increased professionalism. She completed the Italian fouettes seamlessly in her variation.

Other dancers of note were Natalia Tsiplakova and Galina Raxmanova, as the Eastern (Arabian) dancer, and Mercedes, respectively. Both offered the same degree of nearly 180-degree spinal flexibility that is impressive to watch.

The conductor, Boris Gruzin, who holds the title “People’s Artist of Russia”, was highly attentive to all dancers on stage. When he waited for Novikova to finish her many en dedans pirouettes into the partnered attitude in Act One, or paused slightly before Mercuriev began his variation, his sense of timing was expert.

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 2:26 am 
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Kirov Ballet
07 November, 2004
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
“Manon”
By Catherine Pawlick

Some things never change, or even improve with time. Virtuosic ballerinas are, in that way similar to a good wine – open the bottle and it is just what you expected, perhaps even better due to the anticipation of its flavor, knowing it is of a good year.

Sunday night’s performance of “Manon” at the Mariinsky exemplified this phenomenon. Those of you who have read prior reviews already know this reviewer’s opinion of Natalia Sologub’s rendition of the role. One might assume that yet another viewing would dull the impression, but it did not. Following repeat viewings, one might even say this performance gets better with time. Or perhaps Sologub’s Manon is simply ever-fresh and therefore doesn’t wear on the viewer, so that each time it seems like a debut performance. She appeared on stage the image of happy femininity, light and playfulness. Fresh, lighthearted and teasing, she was every bit the flirt until De Grieux came into view, and then love struck her, visibly, tangibly.

Andrei Mercuriev as De Grieux was a cooler student, the more reserved type, but clearly no less infatuated with his mistress than Ilya Kuznetsov has been in the role. He was less expressive facially but moreso choreographically in his amour for Sologub. Their pas de deux together was liquid, and Mercuriev is a very strong partner despite his smaller (comparatively) build. His pirouettes are certain and grounded – he seems to turn from somewhere internally first, and although at times one thinks he will falter, he doesn’t.
His passion was more visible in act two’s ballroom approach. And his jetes following the murder of the port authority were wrought with angst.

Yana Serebryakova was Lescaut’s lover, energetic, confident, exuding French chic at every glance. Lescaut was danced reliably by Ruben Bobovnikov, and although his lines aren’t as pleasing as some others’, his dramatic ability --whether dancing drunkenly or abusing his girlfriend -- was noteworthy.

The rape scene with the Port director, danced by Ivan Popov, was even more sexually suggestive than before, clarifying his role in the ballet’s plot.

Sergei Kalagin of Tatarstan, laureat of the all-Russian Competition, again conducted.

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 12:35 am 
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Kirov Ballet
18 November 2004
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
“Romeo and Juliet”
By Catherine Pawlick

The first snowfall in St. Petersburg this week was accompanied by an equally cool performance of “Romeo and Juliet” on Thursday night. One begins to think perhaps the choreography is to blame, for this Lavrovsky version just seems more tame compared to MacMillan or Cranko’s versions, no matter how you slice it.

The dancing itself was in decent form. Despite a slip here by Irina Golub during the balcony pas de deux, and another well-covered slip by the Jester in the third act, technically nothing significant was amiss. Golub’s Juliet was energetic, bubbly, youthful and vibrant. She did a fine job of acting -- her anguish at being engaged to Paris was quite visible -- but that intangible spark between partners was absent between her and Mikhail Lobukhin, who danced his debut as Romeo.

Lobukhin is a compact dancer, shorter of stature, blonde, but strong. His lines are not long but his lifts are secure and reliable. His emoting was visible but not felt; just before he receives news of Juliet’s death, he took his angst a few steps too far, pounding the stage with his fists like a child would have done. It seemed out of place for a love-struck man; but on the other hand Romeo was just a boy, and perhaps such actions are indicative of the character after all.

Leonid Sarafanov again danced exquisitely as the fun-loving Mercutio. Once more one wonders why he isn’t cast as Romeo. His split jetes and leaps are a salve for the eyes.
He excels as Mercutio, but his long lines and physique would lend themselves well to the title role.

Ilya Kuznetsov, with the exception of his repeat performances as De Grieux in “Manon”, is frequently cast as the bad boy in this theatre. This ballet was no different: he was the cocky, red-headed Tybalt dressed in a strangely avant-garde costume with a superman-like red cape. He was appreciably despicable, and his sword fight with Sarafanov was intriguing to watch. The sword-fighting scenes in general were riveting, and perhaps help maintain interest in the ballet for those non-balletomanes in the audience.

Mikhail Agrest conducted.

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 9:13 am 
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Sarafanov was not cast as Romeo, thank goodness, because his acting is more superficial than Lobukin's. Sarafanov's Siegfried and Solor were not convincing; Tobi Tobias in her online column described his Siegfried as by way of Peter Pan, and I have to say I agree. He is too immature to do justice to these roles. Mercutio is a better role for him.

<small>[ 20 November 2004, 04:26 PM: Message edited by: ripowam ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:44 am 
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I have to respectfully disagree with both you and Tobias. I found Lobukhin's Romeo flat and a bit immature as well. His "temper tantrum" on stage maybe was an effort to emphasize the youth of the young lover but, still. I thought it inappropriate. I have not seen (to my best recollection) Sarafanov as Siegfried yet, but his build lends itself to those roles moreso than character or charicature roles, in my opinion.

<small>[ 30 November 2004, 02:45 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 1:45 am 
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Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia
A bouyant “La Sylphide”
29 November 2004
By Catherine Pawlick

Slowly falling snow crystals decorated St. Petersburg Monday night, turning frosty, sparkling streets into a winter wonderland, as a half-empty house filled the Mariinsky Theatre to escape the cold and enter, for a few hours, a world of fantasy and dreams. “La Sylphide” is perhaps not among the top three that come to mind when discussing classical ballets, but it is a charming short work with much room for rumination.

This cast featured the increasingly lithe Maya Dumchenko as the cheery, innocent Sylphide, characterized as much by lightness of spirit as lightness of foot, and clearly entrancing James, danced by Nikita Sheglov. Sheglov was visibly bewildered by the beauty and elusive quality of this spirit of the air, his earthy petit allegro in contrast to her light pointework. If the height of his jumps was not always notable, he delivered everything cleanly, including perfect double tours. Moreover, his acting ability extended to all reaches of the theatre, an essential component of a ballet so dependent on plot.

Having never seen the Royal Danish Ballet perform “La Sylphide”, it is difficult to compare, but the Kirov’s mastery of Bournonville technique and style is remarkable. Dumchenko seemed airborne despite the grounded quality of this choreography. The two youths, Alexander Sergeev and Alexei Timofeev were expert in their short duet during the first act, shoulders and arms held in relaxed fashion as strong legwork prevailed. And although not blessed with a role including pointe work, Kitti Papava danced the distraught fiancée with tangible emotion and enthusiasm.

The small corps de ballet of pristine sylphides was charming to behold. Again Yulia Bolshakova danced the lead sylphide, accompanied by Maria Lebedeva, Olga Esina and Maria Yakovleva. Bolshakova’s mature grace at such a young age cannot escape notice, her regal carriage connotes a professionalism beyond her years, to say nothing of her beautiful, long feet and nice lines.

The developpe devants sustained a minimum of wobbling in the corps, and their arm positions were true to romantic style. The Sylphide’s graceful death is one of the most tragically beautiful on ballet stages – she is upheld horizontally and carried offstage by six sylphides, all in white. It makes an impression.

<small>[ 30 November 2004, 07:59 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:23 am 
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I agree with you about Lobukhin's acting, although he's certainly a promising dancer, but currently being given many more responsibilities than he can comfortably shoulder at this point.
But I find Sarafanov's acting more callow and mechanical than Lobukhin's.

Papava is the neice of Irma Nioradze; she is a definite personality -- in the Drum Dance of Bayadere she could not surpass Galina Rakmanova or Alisa Strogoya, of course, but she put her own stamp on the role.

By the way, do you really think Mercutio as envisioned by the Kirov is a character/caricature role? One of its greatest exponents there was Boris Bregvadze, who was also famed for his Solor and Basilio. Sergie Vikulov also danced the role, and he was one of the Kirov's leading danseur nobles in the 1960s and 1970s.

<small>[ 30 November 2004, 01:41 PM: Message edited by: ripowam ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:42 am 
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About Mercutio -- you do make a good point. I guess I consider it a character role because of the nature of the *character*. And maybe seeing how some US companies cast the role has influenced that view. But as you noted, others such as Vikulov (who I had the pleasure to interview this summer) did dance it and they were anything but character dancers.

<small>[ 13 December 2004, 05:47 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:43 am 
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An Evening of Balanchine:
Four Temperaments, La Valse, Ballet Imperiale
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
By Catherine Pawlick
12 December, 2004

To the rather cool reception of an unpacked house Sunday night, the Kirov Ballet danced one of its Balanchine programs, a well-rounded bill in which black-and-white morphed into color, both visually and metaphorically.

The black-and-white ballet was, of course, “Four Temperaments”. This spare and bare ballet leaves much to visual and musical interpretation. There is no plot to follow, no extravagant costumes, and no story line -- aside from the temperaments depicted in each of the four sections of Stravinsky’s score. Against a plain backdrop and under a fully lit stage, the dancers are on display, showing off Balanchine’s choreography with nowhere to hide.

The Kirov dancers rose to the occasion, more or less. This is a difficult ballet and the Balanchine style is still slightly foreign to members of the troupe. However, there were moments of inspiration and no major disappointments.

Perhaps the most pleasant of surprises was Maxim Ziuzin cast as “Melancholic”. His clean technique and bright, emotive approach was a breath of fresh air on stage. The coltish Yulia Bolshakova was partnered by Ivan Popov in the Theme, and the two stood out – she for her impossibly long limbs and ability to hit each line correctly; he for his attentive partnering and strength. (the “spider crawl” at the end of their section comes to mind, in which he supports her under her arms as she extends each leg separately up-out-and-down, as they move offstage). Irina Zhelonkina and Maxim Khrebtov danced Sanguine; but their cheer was less evident than their reserve. Anton Pimonov was another beam of hope. In Phlegmatic, he was not only technically sound, but expressive even in his indifference. His energy was tangible, which made this variation quite effective and, oddly, didn’t contradict the intent of the temperament.

The corps de ballet was sufficient, musical, and accurate. There is something charming about Balanchine a la Kirov, when even a hip thrust forward looks well-placed. Balanchine devotees would perhaps gasp in horror, but this isn’t New York City Ballet, and they’re doing their best.

The second piece of the evening, “La Valse”, set to Ravel’s beautiful music, was a bold and colorful departure from the black and white abstractions of “Four Temperaments” and a ballet that nonetheless houses abstraction of its own. The man who embodies Fate – in this case, Death – is a human representation of an intangible phenomenon. Ballet is one art that tends to transpose abstract ideas – love, hate, death, birth – into live, if fleeting, physical movement. “La Valse” is an excellent example of this. The whirling couples, the undertones of sinister darkness, a feeling of impending doom – is it from the costumes, the choreography, the glances and gestures, or the music? Or perhaps all of these?

Three women begin the ballet – Ekaterina Kondaurova, Alexandra Iosifidi and Elena Androsova – all perfume and curls and gloved refinement. Among the three partnered couples, Maxim Ziuzin’s attentive, gentlemanly manner towards Sofia Gumerova was most apparent. Kissing her hands, looking at her in the eye, she smiling back at him – it is the stuff of which romance is made. Yana Selina danced elegantly alongside Maxim Khrebtov as well. And Evgenia Obratsova was smiley and fluid next to Vasilii Sherbakov.

Daria Pavlenko led the waltz, partnered by the noble Andrei Mercuriev. Luminescent, her beautifully arched feet were visible just below the length of her long white tulle skirt; her slender, gloved arms moved perfectly within the choreography. She exuded luxury and femininity, but bound with a certain sense of foreboding and evasiveness.

The manner in which the couple find each other onstage seems as fated as her death. They both turn and reach towards each other simultaneously. There is no chasing, they were simply meant to be together. In the interaction with Mercuriev just before the two begin to dance, Pavlenko’s movement seemed to say “What is it you want? Is it this?” She is not love-struck; she is strong, willful, and devastatingly beautiful.

In honorable fashion, Mercuriev was captured by her charms -- and equally devastated after her death. He looks right and left, seeking help, but the couples whirling around them remain indifferent. Fate, danced by the sinister, black-clad Islam Baimuradov,
has left her lifeless, and the ongoing movement in the ballroom only underscores part of the message: This was fated, this was meant to be. The couples cannot help, no one can. Destiny has dealt its cards. And four men carry her off, overhead, in the form of a cross while the couples continue to whirl.

“Ballet Imperiale” was the crown of the evening. Void of “La Valse”’s ominous undertones, we moved to pink skirts, diamond tiaras, attentive gentlemen in white and glorious choreography. Irina Golub was the soloist in pale blue; Tatiana Tkachenko danced alongside Andrian Fadeev as the leading couple. Of the two ladies, Golub impressed most. She exudes energy from her sternum, proud, sparkling, refined and self-assured. Her jetés were high and light, her dancing in general regal but approachable and warm. Tatchenko was her earthy counterpart – more grounded, less lofty. She seemed a tad out of her element, and might be more well-suited to something less regal and balletic.

Andrian Fadeev matched Golub’s ability to captivate. Fadeev is the noblest of danseur nobles. His partner could be a circus animal and you would never know it – he treats her, whoever she may be, with utter respect, adoration in his glances and care in his partnering. His own dancing is top-tier among Kirov males. His legs more well-proportioned than most, he pulls off double cabrioles with clean ease, his brisés are sharp and crisp, his pirouette perfectly centered as he slows to a stop, still en relevé. He is the dream partner, an exquisite soloist, one of the true gems among the Kirov men. “Ballet Imperiale” managed to put an elegant finish on the three-work evening, taking the photographic negative of the Four Temperaments and transforming it into color, line and purity – what the Kirov does so well.

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 8:42 am 
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"Sleeping Beauty"
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
15 December 2004
by Catherine Pawlick

It is difficult to imagine a performance at the Mariinsky Theatre being unentertaining or dull. Some could argue that the Kirov in Forsythe or Balanchine works does not impress, or that the works themselves are too modern, too misunderstood by some viewers to be fully appreciated. But that argument doesn'¯t hold when you turn to the Kirov dancing a historical Russian classic on its own stage in its home city. In Konstantin Sergeev's version of the classical fairy tale, "The Sleeping Beauty", one is drawn in by a multiple-act, full length theatre experience. Wednesday night's performance, at four and a half hours long, was not for the weak-hearted or early retirers. And despite its length, the many children attending the ballet remained entranced and awake throughout.

The production holds one's attention. The curtain opens to a tableau vivant, a frozen display of the members of the court upon Princess Aurora's birthday, soon followed by 16 lilac fairies-in-waiting, the entourage of the Lilac Fairy herself, danced by Ekaterina Kondaurova. Some might consider her the master of all things Chemiakin -- she is often featured in his works and excels in them -- but she has a calm elegance that fits well in this role. Her main variation in the first act was altered slightly: after the a la seconde ronds en l'air, instead of a full chasse, she did a chasse to soussus, twisting her shoulders to display a flexible back. Her dancing was languorous, as if every step was a gift bestowed on those watching her. Her closing Italian fouettes (reversed) also impressed.

The beginning of the second act in this production is another perfect image -- at nearly any moment one could take a picture and it would be flawless. If the costumes -- a melange of fresh pale greens and violets -- are not new, they at least appeared so, whispering the promise of spring behind Tchaikovsky's well known waltz. The highlight, of course, comes in the form of participating Vaganova students, charming, poised, exquisitely trained, who exude a professionalism beyond their years and an understanding -- instilled or innate, no matter -- of the tradition they are upholding with every step, glance or gesture.

Despite a few wobbly moments, Ekaterina Osmolkina managed to present a coherent picture of youthful joie de vivre with a poise that implied it wasn't her first performance as Aurora. In this debut, her pirouettes were solid as steel, her jetes as light as clouds. It seemed just a matter of nerves in moments of uncertainty here or there, never a question of technique. Osmolkina has the appearance of an old-school ballerina, firm in tradition and line. Hers is not a delivery of legs-behind-the-ears and how many fouettes can you count. Rather it is an essay in careful placement and correct choreography, exuding the essence of the character without being overbearing or underdone. She was radiant, light, even, and reliable. One could see her developing Aurora as her own, she has it inside her.

The third act in this version is where the ballet starts to feel long, but at the same time it is crucial to the plot's continuity. The hunting scene is our first introduction to Prince Charming, audience-charmer Leonid Sarafanov, who appeared onstage electric and regal. For this performance, his formerly blonde locks were dyed brown, lending a bit more seriousness to his character. He was the favorite of all, his split-jete drawing significant "bravos". His moments of reverie, before encountering the Lilac Fairy, exuded a sincerity that suggest acting is one of his talents. Likewise, his interaction with her during the dream sequence was believable, and his partnering utterly attentive. Alongside Osmolkina, he made an impressive Prince Charming, and together the two make a pleasing physical match. She is shorter than Sarafanov even en pointe, and her coloring complements his nicely; her lines are certain and controlled, a refreshing change from some of the show-stopper pairings that have begun to happen on world stages.

A purely Russian touch to this ballet is the orchestral interlude following the third act. As the prince climbs the stairs to the palace, the curtain closes, the orchestra rises on its bandstand to audience level and a violin solo ensues. It is a lovely departure before the opening of the final act, which offers a fantasy wedding celebration, with characters from nearly every children's fairy tale appearing to wish Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming well.

Some of the best dancing appeared in this act. Yana Selina was the sexily mischevious, curious White Cat to Anton Loukovkhin's Puss in Boots. The couple were charming in their feline fits and playful gestures. Natalia Sologub danced beautifully as Princess Florina to Vasili Sherbakov's airborne Bluebird. Sologub can tame her flirtatious "Manon" down to a pure-as-happiness, controlled and utterly graceful Florina. Sherbakov is almost overly flexible, but his small-boned frame still managed significant ballon as the bluebird, even if strength is not his forte.

The Jewels were also noteworthy. Together their emboites should be the envy of every Western corps de ballet - hip high, with only the legs moving. The Diamond variation was danced sharply by Elena Sheshina, despite lack of audience recognition for her efforts. The Sapphire, Gold and Silver jewels also drew attention for their slenderness and sparkle.

Alexander Polyanichko is to be commended for his conducting during the four and a half hour program, and his efforts to help out soloists with musical pauses during several finishes. The Kirov's "Sleeping Beauty" is something every balletomane should see at least once in their lifetime.

<small>[ 17 December 2004, 09:56 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Fri Dec 17, 2004 2:03 pm 
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Catherine I've read a great deal on line about Lopatkina's no-show as the Lilac Fairy and her unannounced replacement by Kondaurova. Is it true that this was not even announced by loudspeaker?


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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 1:04 am 
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hi ripowam,

Interesting. Where did you read this? Not only was there no announcement over the loudspeaker, there have not been (since I arrived here in May) any casting changes announced in that manner. About a week ago I noticed on yesterday's bill that the poster/bills on the outside of the theatre had listed up-and-comer Bolshakova as doing a variation from the ballet "the Butterfly" for yesterday's (Dec. 18) performance. When I got to the theatre, the program had a different list of Divertissements, and she was not on it. How they go about this process is beyond me. It would be nice to use the loudspeaker, but I guess they assume most audience members don't know or care who they will be watching? (?) Although I find that hard to believe.

Also, they actually forgot or decided not to turn on the usual "please no flash photographs, turn off your cell phones" announcement for that same performance. Subsequently quite a few cell phones were going off. That happens even with the announcement, but one would hope it would cut down on the quantity of phone disturbances.

As for Lopatkina, it would have been fantastic to have seen her in the role! As it was, it is hard to believe that Kondaurova was not specifically rehearsed for the performance, she did such a fine job.

<small>[ 19 December 2004, 02:06 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2004 1:07 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1738
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Mixed Program: Apollo, Divertissements, Etudes
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
18 December 2004
by Catherine Pawlick

The pleasant excitement of a Mariinsky matinee in the winter – brisk, cold air outside, and the ornate, warmly lit theatre inside – carries with it a touch of the holiday spirit, faithful patrons filing into the theatre just before noon on a Saturday. Most of them attend for a love of the art, some for a distraction from daily life, a brief respite into music and visual beauty. Today’s program displayed several ballets that spanned the range of choreographic genres: Balanchine’s modernistic “Apollo”, followed by three historical Divertissements, and culminating in Landerra’s movement-packed “Etudes”. The bill provided adequate distraction to suit anyone’s fancy.

“Apollo” pleased. If other Balanchine works in this theatre have yet to fully adopt Balanchinean style, “Apollo” is well on its way, if not already there. Of particular note were the hands. They seemed freer, less set in classical Kirov poses. Gestures and movement also seemed to fit the piece. Yuri Fateev is to be commended for his hard work in rehearsing this ballet, for the results were visible.

Sofia Gumerova as Calliope was cool and accurate. Irina Golub seemed happy as a clam as Polizimnia, spurred by a jazzy energy that came from inside.

Daria Pavlenko graced the audience as Terpsichore with her wide-eyed smiles and pristine lines. Whispers of Suzanne Farrell, dare one say, seemed to escape her performance here and there. Her pas de deux with Apollo, danced impressively by Ilya Kuznetsov, seemed to bring the latter to life. Kuznetsov was the awkward new god, being taught how to live, sleep, breathe, by his three muses. His facial expressions relayed the curiosity and naivete of a child, entranced by the newness surrounding him. He was strong and masculine, but boyish. His interactions with Pavlenko made him appear happy in his new human form. For her part Pavlenko is an endless delight to watch. Inspiration comes from her beauty, and her technique continues to refine itself, even when further tuning doesn’t seem possible.

The pas de deux from “Harlequinade”, a charming short piece set to music by Drigo and choreographed by Petipa, is a captivating ballet. Evgenia Obratsova was aptly cast with Andrei Ivanov as the ballerina and her lovestruck Harlequin. Obratsova is the optimistic, petite ballerina in pink, every little girl’s dream. Ivanov is a jumper, turner and even a strong lifter. The two were a charming couple and won the audience over.

Boris Eifman’s “Knowledge”, a short solo that was last performed here this summer, is a philosophical commentary on introspection, cognition and the struggle between inner and outer worlds. Alexander Sergeev danced the solo to the backdrop of six men restraining him. All are clothed in potato sacks, suggesting poverty or restraint, holding on to his outstretched arms. As the music begins, they sway right and left, and then Sergeev wrenches free. The piece, set to Tomaso Albinoni’s haunting music, carries deep religious undertones. Sergeev is a handsome young man with great facility. His variation begins as he breaks free from the other men, struggles to remove his garment, and then dances without it, now curling over in shame, now racing around the stage in search of something, repulsed by his own outreaching hand. He portrays the angst of someone trying to escape the limitations of his own skin or psyche, or perhaps the constraints of society on a larger metaphorical level. Sergeev’s acting ability is paramount, and, along with his solid technique suggests he might fit well in some of the theatre’s larger classical roles. The ballet ends as the men return and reclaim Sergeev into the group, his moment of freedom gone, the lock back on the internal cage.

“Grand Pas Classique”, danced by Victoria Tereshkina and Anton Korsakov, was a classical departure from the preceding work. The pair danced nobly, a coolness pervading the air, revealing just technique, line and style. Tereshkina dances as a queen – accurate, serene, withdrawn. She has technique and legs that are to be envied, the arches in her feet of the sort that Sylvie Guillem is known for. Her releves en pointe in the variation were rock solid, and Korsakov’s brises effortless, light and strong. If they did not emote, it was not a great loss, as this piece is more a technical display than a story ballet. Korsakov’s partnering was steady and overall the pair were strong together, dancing evenly and reliably.

The same, unfortunately, could not be said of the pas de deux from “Sleeping Beauty” danced by Olesya Novikova and Vladimir Shklyarov. That Novikova was visibly bothered by Shkylarov’s poor partnering was understandable; while strong enough on his own, he only served to pull her off balance in supported turns – repeatedly. In a pas de deux where supported turns are both plentiful and paramount, this is a problem. Novikova is a young, long-necked, slender girl. In the variation her arms had a floating quality, giving it a soft graciousness befitting Aurora. She has the technical facility to carry off classical roles. Shklyarov shines when he is on his own. In the final “fish” however, Shklyarov had her face only inches from the floor. Both dancers hold promise but perhaps simply not as a pair.

“Etudes”, for the uninitiated, is a movement-filled essay in overlapping steps, dancers and themes. Set to music by Carla Cherni, and having first premiered in 1948 with the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, its first appearance on the Mariinsky stage happened only in April of 2003.

The curtain opens to a stage with three ballet bars, (placed to the left, the right, and center) and dancers on each one, clothed in black tutus, doing various barre exercises, beginning with the first step any dancer learns, the tendu. Each barre completes a different exercise to the same music; then they trade off, switch sides, join together to perform the same rond de jambs en l’air. The Mariinsky dancers begin and end in perfect fifth positions throughout. There are no wiggles or adjustments. The lights dim, the barres are removed and girls in white tutus replace the black ones, dancing in space.

Then we have the soloists. Shklyarov reappears here with Victoria Tereshkina in the tiara-decorated ballerina role, flanked also by Andrei Batalov. The two men partner her in a pas de trios, and the lights dim again. She reappears this time in a Sylph-like costume: romantic (calf-length) white tutu, flowers in her hair, and dances a solo to violin music. Her partner in this section, the Adagio, is Denis Firsov. Rarely seen on the Mariinsky stage, he is a dancer of regal bearing and princely form, a trustworthy partner and strong lifter with a bit of French flair to his aura. The couple complete some romantic, floating lifts together; the style of this section echos the second act of “Giselle” or “La Sylphide”. Following this interlude all of the tutu-clad women reappear on stage with men, in four rows, reminiscent of a 1950s Broadway water-ballet: girls on the floor, girls on their knees, girls on pointe, all in diagonal formation, doing different steps. This approach is distinct from other ballets, perhaps due to the angle, or the choreography; it is a pleasant eye candy. Then another section with girls in white tutus doing pique turns and turns from fifth. Yana Selina, although not noted separately in the program, stood out for her perfect double pique en dedans turn; Olesya Novikova (again not separately listed) held a retire passé balance well into the music and then caught up to finish on time.

As “Etudes” seems to be a sort of summary ballet, encompassing regal, classical, romantic, soloist and corps de ballet work, and partnering, it seems only fitting that it ends with one of the most difficult though impressive steps in ballet vocabulary: fouette turns. Here they were done expertly, which was to be expected. In sum, “Etudes” held moments of mastery sprinkled in with simply pleasant dancing. It’s a ballet the Kirov would do well to perform more frequently.

Mikhail Agrest conducted “Apollo” and “Etudes”; Mikhail Sinkevich conducted the Divertissements.

<small>[ 19 December 2004, 02:50 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

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Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)


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