CriticalDance Forum

Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
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Author:  ksneds [ Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Moved from another topic:

Cosmo49au writes:
Hello there,
I have an opportunity to see La Bayadere at the Mariinsky theatre in July.
What can I expect?
I'm on a cruise to St Petersburg and don't want to see any performances arranged for tourists.
Will this be a good choice?
Thanks, Meg

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Apr 08, 2005 12:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Hi Cosmo,

Glad to receive your question and thrilled to hear you will be visiting St. Petersburg! It is a beautiful city, especially charming in the summertime. I hope you enjoy your stay here.

To answer your question, if you're seeing the Mariinsky, there aren't specific performances set aside for tourists or non-tourists. The playbill is for the public in general, and the quality of the performance you will see depends entirely on the dancers who happen to dance on that night. Casting usually goes up generally a few months in advance, but is filled in as the performance date comes closer and often changed the day of the performance for various reasons. The Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet is a large enough company that part of the troupe tours to other cities at times, while the other part remains at home. As a rule, the "name" dancers tour more often, and during the summer there is a risk that the more famous dancers might be on tour in another city when you are here. That is difficult to know ahead of time, because casting can change last minute and isn't often something people know until the day of the performance.

I hope that helps answer your question. You can be guaranteed you will be seeing the Kirov Ballet on its home turf. In sum, the quality of the performance and the casting is hard to determine ahead of time and depends on many factors.

Author:  cosmo49au [ Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Thank you so much, you have answered my question.
I didn't expect that the Kirov would put on a show for the tourists. However,on a cruiseship we are offered all sorts "World Famous Dance Troupes" performing just for us type deals. We are a little breakaway group determined to see the the Kirov at the Mariinsky. As a Classical Ballet Teacher it is expected I wont let the group down.
Thanks again, Meg

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 08, 2005 2:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Cosmo, everything Catherine writes makes good sense. Just one word of caution: a couple of years ago my Mother and Aunt were also on a cruise to St. P and booked for the Mariinsky. It turned out that the performance to which they were bussed back and forth took place in the theatre at the Hermitage, rather than the Mariinski, but was performed by the Mariinsky company. It was a very beautiful theatre and they enjoyed high quality dancing, but the dancers' shoes were very worn and they were expecting to go to the Mariinsky. My Aunt is an ex-pro ballet dancer, so know's what's what.

My guess is that "La Bayadere" will need the huge stage at the Mariinsky Theatre, but it might be worth seeking confirmation. And you will be able to check on the Mariinsky website, nearer the date for confirmation that the performance will take place there. At present it only goes up to June:

<small>[ 08 April 2005, 04:48 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Apr 08, 2005 5:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Whoa, Stuart, I had no idea they did that sort of thing on cruises. It makes sense though, as most non-dance-savvy Americans would be easily fooled into thinking they saw the Kirov if it was instead another troupe in pointe shoes...

Incidentally, there is a small classical troupe that performs regularly at the Hermitage Theatre, I believe it's usually the St Petersburg State Ballet Theatre, and they're in no way connected to the Kirov. Usually they do "Giselle" or "Swan Lake" (haven't yet seen a Bayadere billed there). So, keep that in mind too Cosmo. Stuart knows *his* stuff! ;-)

<small>[ 08 April 2005, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

Author:  cosmo49au [ Fri Apr 08, 2005 8:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Thank you Stuart, that's exactly why I'm taking this very seriously.
I'm sure those OTHER performances are very enjoyable and well received, but not for us.
We are using an independant tour company in St. Petersburg called "Red October".
The performance of La Bayadere is listed in Classic Performances of Opera and Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre on the www.
Thanks again, Meg

Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Apr 11, 2005 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

A spring of great promise
by CLEMENT CRISP for the Financial Times

She [Viktoria Tereshkina] has formidable technique, all-conquering, forceful yet elegant, and astonishing in its ease. She was, indeed, the heroine of the performances I saw, since, in addition to Swan Lake, she appeared as the leading ballerina in Ballet Imperial (the latest Balanchine acquisition to the Mariinsky repertory), and in another recent novelty, William Forsythe's Approximate Sonata.

published: April 12, 2005

Author:  ksneds [ Thu Apr 14, 2005 6:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

comso49au writes:

Hope this is the place to post and perhaps someone would be kind enough to advise me.
A group of 6 will be attending a performance of La Bayadere on July 1 at the Mariinsky Theatre.
Where would you suggest we try to be seated?
I looked at the Hall plan and thought :
VIP (lower Boxes) 6-17 or Dress Circle 7-15(boxes)
I think these seats are within our budget but would pay more if we really had to!
Thanks, Meg

<small>[ 14 April 2005, 08:31 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Apr 14, 2005 11:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

This is just personal preference, but I always prefer to sit lower rather than higher up.

If by lower boxes you mean benoirs (same level as orchestra), those are always my first personal choice because you're not looking down on the dancers, you're looking at them. (I would even choose a place in the orchestra over those).

FYI There are 8 chairs in each benoir, but the numbers dont go left to right; seat number 2 is behind #1; seat #4 is behind #3, etc.

The Belle Etage level (one above the Benoirs) is also not bad. You're on the same level as the large Tsar's box and for something like Bayadere, it does give a better perspective for the corps de ballet work.

Does that help?

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Apr 15, 2005 4:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Kirov Ballet, Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
By Catherine Pawlick
14 April 2005

Long a staple of the Bolshoi Ballet's repertoire, which toured with Grigorovich's version last fall to the States, and a new addition, "revised" of course, to American Ballet Theatre's repertoire, "Raymonda" remains a historical full-length ballet danced only by a handful of companies worldwide. The Kirov Ballet is the first on that list, retaining its production from Petipa's 1898 original, with only minor updates to the libretto (1938) and the choreography (1948). That year, Konstantin Sergeev edited the ballet's composition, unifying the choreography to enhance the plot's action and the male roles, and this version remains in the Kirov repertoire.

And yet for these editions and its more than 100-year history, the ballet is rarely danced on the stage where it was born. Glazunov's gorgeous score is enough to draw in any listener or viewer, ballet lover or otherwise, but perhaps a few of the oddities of this production prevent it from being performed more frequently. Thankfully someone in the Mariinsky administration had the good sense to dust off the costumes and put this ballet back onstage, and the first "Raymonda" at the Kirov since May 2004 (and perhaps for months before that) was danced last night to the St. Petersburg audience's delight.

The Kirov dancers are at home in this historical commentary on love and honor in the age of knights in shining armor. In this story, the young Raymonda, niece of the Countess Sybille de Doris and Hungarian Tsar Rene de Brienne, is awaiting the arrival of her fiancé, Jeanne de Brienne, on her birthday. The sanctity of pending matrimony is challenged with the arrival of an aggressive Arabian (Saracen) suitor, Sheik Abderakhman, who attempts to conquer Raymonda as if she too were a piece of land or another jewel. The quiet, blue-blooded Raymonda softly resists his advances, Jeanne returns from a crusade in time to kill Abderakhman, and the two betrothed wed.

Depending on the version of the libretto one reads, Raymonda lands at various places on the scale of refusal towards Abderakhman's advances. Some versions suggest she is tempted by his charms and, in the absence of her fiancé, longs for him, but finally acquiesces to marry her fiancé after the sheik is dead. Others suggest her absolute disgust at the prospect, and the Kirov version holds to the latter interpretation.

The role of Raymonda was danced with refined taste and utter professionalism by Viktoria Tereshkina alongside Vladimir Shishov as Jeanne, and talented Ilya Kuznetsov as the evil Abderakhman. The general consensus among audience members and critics alike confirms that Tereshkina's crown is long overdue. This first soloist joined the company just 4 years ago but dances with a polish and maturity well beyond her years. The whacked out acrobatics of Somova, Vostrotina or other young dilettantes are thankfully absent here. Instead we have a ballerina at the core, with just as much flexibility and technique as her slightly younger counterparts, but radiant and controlled, never sacrificing femininity for the sake of majesty or strength. She is like a slowly developing flower, and having taken four years to reach her current position, she is now clearly ripe for the "principal" harvest, but promises to grow even more if the administration continues to gift her with deserved roles such as this one.

Shishov, the Kirov's cookie-cutter prince, is tall and handsome. When the Kirov casting director, not to be confused with the ballet's overall director, tends to make decisions based on personal preferences rather than objective talent, this is the result. Shishov *looks* great on stage. One expects, then, that his dancing will take one's breath away. He's not there yet. He faltered in a series of lifts with Tereshkina, but to his credit, this was a sequence of three of the most awkward lifts in ballet's vocabulary. The singular lift, repeated three times, is one in which she balances on his shoulder on one knee, her other leg in arabesque behind her, her arms without support from him. He, facing her, walks downstage, his back to the audience. Nonetheless, these were places where Kuznetsov would have been rock solid and steady. In one of the partnered finger turns Tereshkina came off pointe briefly, and there were other minor, but notable, mishaps that were not the ballerina's fault. Shishov managed his variation fine, but the articulation in his feet, arguably a common problem among male dancers, was lacking. There are stronger partners in the corps de ballet; stronger male dancers there as well. Sometimes casting decisions at the Kirov are inexplicable.

It was in great contrast to the cool noble newlyweds, and with all of the smouldering passion of a brutal, hot-tempered sheik, then, that Ilya Kuznetsov debuted in the role of Abdarkahman in this performance, each hand gesture suggesting middle eastern violence, and his love for Raymonda almost visibly escaping his very bones. Kuznetsov, despite his height and strength, is rarely cast in princely roles. His De Grieux in Manon comes close, but is too confining for his stature and emotional range. Nonetheless, despite the lack of challenging choreography, he danced the unlucky sheik with gusto in those passages given him, and never faltered in his partnering sequences with Tereshkina. He may be too lumbering to be cast as a prince, but there are non-character roles that would allow his physical strength more expression as well.

Ksenia Ostreikovskaya, as Henrietta, and Yana Selina, in the corps de ballet, also drew attention, Ostreikovskaya for her classicism and soft grace in the variation as one of Raymonda's friends, and Selina for her supremely erect carriage in the corps de ballet.

Tatiana Tchachenko danced with lightness and joy in her Dream variation, sharp but not harsh in allegro, strong, as always, of technique. Unfortunately her counterpart Irina Zhelonkina, despite her petite size, seemed weighed down and sluggish this evening. Her hands were tense, not mannered; she looked like she needed a vacation.

A flaw, if there is one in this ballet, is the mixture of classical and period dance, along with space allotments onstage. Following the duel between the two suitors and Abderakhman's death comes the lavish wedding reception, unfortunately made choreographically heavy by the various lengthy ethnic dances. That we have a series of character dances here, preceded and followed by extremely classical dance is odd; that the additional dancers onstage are dressed in medieval costume or metal helmets is equally strange. And that similar levels of dress – from long dresses to tutus and everything in between-- exist in "Swan Lake" or "Sleeping Beauty" somehow doesn’t make this seem habitual, perhaps because it is so rarely performed. Nonetheless, the dances themselves were well done. The Saracenic dance was delivered with fire and brimstone by Nikolai Zubkovsky and Polina Rassadina; Elena Bazhenova stood out in both the second act Panaderos Spanish dance with Karen Johannisyen and in the Mazurka with Artyem Yazhmennikov. This last is a talented young dancer who might be as suited to classical roles but who, like Kuznetsov, seems unrecognized as such. Polina Rassadina returned with Islam Baimuradov to dance the Hungarian dance with attitude and polish, lending strength to the ballet's Hungarian theme.

Despite the corps de ballet's best efforts, traffic patterns in the garland scene were obscured by the overwhelming sets. For perhaps the first time, the Mariinsky's giant stage seemed too small for so many people standing, sitting and dancing on the stage. Stranger still, since this is the stage on which the original choreography (read: spacing) was set.

"Raymonda"'s choreography is not as intuitive as the classical ballets with which we are most familiar. The step combinations, lifts and arms have Hungarian themes at times, and demand high levels of technical virtuosity throughout, to say nothing of artistic expression for the leading roles. This is ballet is a legacy in the Kirov repertoire, and the test of any ballerina's strength. Tereshkina rose to the occasion. An American company would struggle with "Raymonda"'s flavor, and have a hard time matching the grandness of its processions and sets, but these are innate to Kirovians. One hopes that the ballet won't endure another long absence from the stage.

<small>[ 15 April 2005, 06:37 AM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

Author:  ripowam [ Fri Apr 15, 2005 11:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Catherine, I've never heard of a "casting director" at the Kirov who is distinct from the "overall director." What exactly are you referring to?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season


Forsythe sweeps the board
By Raymond Stults for The Moscow Times

Once the Mariinsky showed its "An Offering to Balanchine" and "Forsythe at the Mariinsky" late last week, the Golden Mask ballet competition became pretty much a "no contest," except for choosing a winner between the two. The Bolshoi's stunning modern version of Sergei Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" might still have been in the running, although when considered in terms of pure and superbly executed dance, it seemed almost bound to lose out.

click for more


Golden moments
By John Freedman for The St Petersburg Times

Another big and popular winner was the Mariinsky Theater's "Forsythe at the Mariinsky." It won best ballet, best female dancer (Natalia Sologub) and best male dancer (Andrei Merkuryev).

Accepting his mirrored plaque decorated with a winged face masked in red and white, Merkuryev jested that the athletic theme of the evening suited him fine. "I've been training for this moment for three years," he quipped.

Other shows generating multiple winners among musical productions were the Rostov-on-Don Musical Theater's version of Dmitry Shostakovich's opera "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk" (best conductor Alexander Anisimov and best designer Zinovy Margolin) and the Novosibirsk Musical Comedy Theater's "Only Girls in Jazz," which won best operetta and best actor for Alexander Vyskribentsev.

click for more

Author:  cosmo49au [ Sat Apr 16, 2005 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

Thank you again Catherine, much easier to understand the seat plan.
I can't wait to see La Bayadere at the Mariinsky!

Author:  djb [ Sun Apr 17, 2005 2:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season

From the article in the St. Petersburg Times about the Golden Mask Theatre Festival:

[T]he Novosibirsk Musical Comedy Theater's "Only Girls in Jazz"...won best operetta and best actor for Alexander Vyskribentsev.
This is based on the movie "Some Like It Hot."

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Apr 19, 2005 11:23 am ]
Post subject: 

The Kirov is performing at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, Wales through April 30. In The Independent, Charlotte Cripps interviews Leonid Sarafanov, who will be performing Basilio in Don Quixote: ... ory=628982

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