CriticalDance Forum

Kirov Ballet: 2004-2005 Season
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Apr 20, 2005 5:08 pm ]
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Zoe Anderson reviews the Cardiff, Wales performance in The Independent: ... ory=631237

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 2:58 pm ]
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Additional press reviews of Don Quixote in Cardiff.

Lyndsay Winship in The Guardian: ... 83,00.html

Donald Hutera in The Times: ... 87,00.html

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Apr 22, 2005 3:33 pm ]
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Uliana Lopatkina with the key that will unlock the doors of the Wales Millennium Centre

We have revived our "Kirov on tour" forum as this noble company visits Cardiff in April and London in July/August:

Look in the tour forum for all the news and reviews plus your own comments.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Apr 24, 2005 8:32 am ]
Post subject:  Giselle - April 22

Kirov Ballet -- "Giselle"
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
22 April, 2005
By Catherine Pawlick

Balletomanes take note. If one were to judge merely by the overwhelming number of blinding flash bulbs following "Giselle" Friday night, it could be surmised that the unofficial start of the tourist season at the Mariinsky Theatre has begun. The number of English-, Italian- and German-speakers has not been so high in the theatre corridors since last August. Spring has clearly arrived.

Unfortunately its arrival has simultaneously witnessed the departure of the mannered appreciation habitual for at least nine months out of the year as demonstrated by local balletgoers. Due to the non-native invasion, cell phones sounded (one specific ring three times during Act One; a second ring during the adagio of Act Two from an adjacent Benoir), as bored Italian boyfriends uttered overly audible sighs of boredom throughout. Numerous tourists blocked the aisles to photograph the theatre walls or ceilings after the second bell, blocking newcomers on their way to be seated. And of course, there were the latecomers who were nonetheless seated well into Act One, forcing a short game of musical chairs in the orchestra level as the ticketed patrons replaced the unticketed.

Thankfully these measures of disrespect bore no relation to the quality of the performance or performers. One minor disappointment came from the last minute casting change. Daria Pavlenko had been billed to dance the role of Giselle up until about 4 p.m. the day of the performance. Soon thereafter the online casting reflected a change: Sofia Gumerova would take her place. Rumors suggest that Gumerova may have really been cast all along.

Before discussing the performers, a word about the roles in this ballet. There is no bible of interpretation for these characters, no encyclopedic reference for how the details of their psychologies should be portrayed. We know Giselle is a young, innocent peasant girl, pure of heart. Is she energetic and playful? Or demure and shy? Is she passionately in love with Albrecht, or simply flattered, captivated by the young man's advances? These questions are answered individually by each dancer who performs the role. Diana Vishneva’s Giselle is more vibrant, passionate and enamored with her suitor; she’s in love, and she makes that clear. Sofia Gumerova's interpretation is much cooler. She falls in love suddenly, trusts blindly, but isn't overly demonstrative. Hers is the Giselle you would expect to be hurt by Albrecht's betrayal. Vishneva's is the Giselle who probably saw it all coming – and maybe didn't even care.

Gumerova, it has been said, is an aristocratic ballerina. This description fits her well. Cool, reserved, refined, with little sass, spice or heat. Her talent lies in her long, beautifully shaped legs and feet. Her upper body is not as expressive and she isn’t blessed with the graceful shoulders of some of her counterparts, but this seems minor when one considers the amount of control she has in her legwork and balances. One of the taller ballerinas in the company, her long lines lend themselves easily to adagio work.

And then there is the character of Albrecht. Is the already-engaged prince really in love with Giselle, or just playing around? Is he a cad, a womanizer, or a man in love who gets caught at his own (poor) game of dress up? Is his graveyard visit motivated by feelings of the heart or simple guilt? When he blames Hilarion, is it male pride, or a simple defense mechanism because he cannot handle the loss of his love?

Ilya Kuznetsov partnered Gumerova as Albrecht in this performance, and his interpretation seemed somewhere in the middle. He was captivated by Giselle from the start, using every free second to look at her, touch her. But he would not look her in the eye at the moment of truth. That the Mariinsky has a tall, strong partner of Kuznetsov’s bearing is a plus. That he has so much acting talent, an elastic plie and enviable arches is a blessing.

I’ve never considered Albrecht a character role, but based on the Mariinsky’s typical casting for Kuznetsov, they seem to think it is. Regardless of the role’s categorization, Kuznetsov does an admirable job. His acting talents reach the far stalls of the audience, and he has an innate aptitude for projecting sorry and angst into the hall.

The Queen of the Wilis, Myrtha, was danced with perfectly regal, razor sharp coldness by Viktoria Tereshkina. Her praises have already been sung here, and she continues to deserve them. She skimmed across the stage in her first bourree-d entrance, an ephemeral being; her fingers in the first series of arabesque penchees were pointed grave-ward, indicating the realm she protects, and her ballon in the saut de basque circle was virtuosic.

Tatiana Tkachenko and Ekaterina Kondaurova danced the roles of Moina and Zulma, respectively. Tkachenko’s ability to dance with her eyes draws one’s attention; her variation was particularly accurate. Kondaurova would be an excellent Myrtha – her long lines, beautiful feet and clean technique lend themselves to the meatier role. She is one of the more obvious choices for promotion within company ranks, and hopefully in coming seasons that will be reflected in her casting.

Alex Nedviga drew attention even in his minor role as Albrecht’s aide, princely himself in the miming sequences. Ruben Bobnikov as Hilarion did a fine job in acting the role.

Boris Gruzin conducted.

Author:  Cyngenoir [ Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:53 pm ]
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Hi, I'm new to Critical Dance! I am a very big fan of the Maryinsky.
I'm also a big fan of D. Pavlenko. I know casting, (esp. at the M.T.) is subject to change. IMO it seems that she's really the underdog among the Principal females. And its not because she can't compete with the Divas, (Diana and Uliana), - quite the contrary. Perhaps this is debatable, but with great respect to both Lopatkina and Vishneva, IMO Pavlenko is more than their match - artistically speaking.

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but would've April 22's 'Giselle' performance been her first in a number of seasons at the M.T.? Yet, at the 11th hour they give the performance to Gumerova. I hope she isn't injured, or that there aren't scheduling, rehearsal re-prioritization, or other issues that may've caused the last minute cast change. I can't help wondering whether the management hasn't already decided to give what would be only her second Manon performance to someone else - like Sologub-Moskvito. IMO it seems that her unique talent and dance gift aren't appreciated by the M's management.

Author:  ripowam [ Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:33 am ]
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How could anyone think of Pavlenko as the underdog, when it is she, not Gumerova, Sologub, or Dumchenko who was just promoted to principal?
She's overworked because all the favored dancers at the MT are overworked. People are either overworked or neglected there, for the most part.

Author:  Cyngenoir [ Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:20 am ]
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ripowam wrote:
How could anyone think of Pavlenko as the underdog, when it is she, not Gumerova, Sologub, or Dumchenko who was just promoted to principal?
She's overworked because all the favored dancers at the MT are overworked. People are either overworked or neglected there, for the most part.

Daria promoted to Principal in February 2004. I wouldn't describe that as 'just' being promoted :D . We agree on the point about neglect and overwork. However, I was speaking of my perception of Pavlenko being treated as an underdog among the female Principals, not the Soloists. Now, it does seem that some of the Soloists, like Sologub are more popular at the box office and favored by management than other performers. Lately, the coryphees and second soloists are being exposed alot in major assignments. There have been reports on this site and other related links, which indicate that some of these youngsters weren't ready yet for these major assignments.

My point is this: There are six female principals at the M.T., (2/6 of whom, when they cast Principals), are frequently cast. These ladies I mentioned in my previous post. Daria doesn't seem to be popular at her home theatre. Makhalina is nursing an injury, Ayupova is on maternity leave and Nioradze dances major roles occaisionally. That leaves Diana, Uliana and Daria to do the heavy lifting. If it weren't for the recent Ballet Festival and her benefit evening, one wouldn't know Daria was a Principal unless one checked the company roster.

Author:  ripowam [ Wed Apr 27, 2005 12:24 pm ]
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Pavlenko dances major performances frequently. She is not as popular with the home audience as Vishneva or Lopatakina; there is no question about that. But there are equivalent talents in that theater who are treated like off-load, and they are the real underdogs. I was an early booster of Pavlenko's, but I would hardly call her an underdog. In fact, when she is overworked and overexposed she is not at her best.

Author:  ripowam [ Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:06 am ]
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I meant booster, not booter!

Stuart adds: I made the amendment, ripowam and will delete this post in a couple of days. The scissor and paper icon with - edit -above your post on the right allows you to edit your text.

Author:  ripowam [ Fri Apr 29, 2005 1:09 pm ]
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Thank you, Stuart.

There was a two week period in 2004 when Pavlenko danced at the Mariinsky:

Lilac Fairy

Such a schedule engenders "survival" performances only,
more often than not.

Author:  kurinuku [ Sat Apr 30, 2005 10:12 am ]
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In sweep the Russians with a feast of exotic treats
by ISMENE BROWN for the daily Telegraph

All the Kirov's major stars had been promised - in the event, Faroukh Ruzimatov was the A-team's sole survivor, but the profusion of young talents emerging ensured some top-notch shows.

published: April 28, 2005

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed May 04, 2005 5:24 am ]
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All the Kirov's major stars had been promised - in the event, Faroukh Ruzimatov was the A-team's sole survivor

The suggestion that Igor Kolb and Irma Nioradze are from some kind of "B-Team", is both inaccurate and insulting.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed May 04, 2005 10:21 am ]
Post subject:  Manon

speaking of Pavlenko in Manon :-)

Kirov Ballet - "Manon"
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
01 May 2005
by Catherine Pawlick

Bolshoi Meets Kirov: A "Manon" of Magnitude

It is perhaps once, maybe twice a year that performers from the Bolshoi Ballet make their way north from Moscow to dance on the Mariinsky stage. Svetlana Zakharova appeared just last month for a vibrant performance of the grand pas de deux from "Don Quixote" as part of the Mariinsky's International Ballet Festival, and later this summer the Bolshoi Ballet is slated to perform two nights' of "Romeo and Juliet" in St. Petersburg.

It was a surprise then, having obtained tickets for "Manon" well before the casting was posted, to arrive at the theatre with the ultimate of treats. The Bolshoi's Nikolai Tsiskaridze partnering Daria Pavlenko, with Ekaterina Osmolkina in the role of Lescaut's lover, to Andrei Batalov's Lescaut.

Having never before seen Tsiskaridze, for all his fame and publicity, I was curious how he would fit the role of the young lovestruck student. After all, his looks, his stature lend themselves more logically to something spicy and electric - Basil, or even Ali from "Le Corsaire"; would the soft, nurturing persona be his forte?

Whether surprising or not, it was.

Jules' Massenet's ecstatic score lay the perfect background for this passionate partnership. And although on the one hand an unlikely pair, in many ways Pavlenko alongside Tsiskaridze seemed quite well matched. Multiple curtain calls attested to their polished, well-rehearsed and well-acted performances.

In one word, Tsiskaridze is smooth. He was smooth in his adagio solo, his first expression of love to Manon. A wonderful sense of control pervades all of his dancing, which gives one an opportunity, especially in this ballet, to take in the lines of his legs and well-arched feet. He was smooth in his partnering efforts with Pavlenko, calm, and happy in his love for her. In Act Two's Parisian brothel-party scene when Manon enters on the arm of Monsieur G.M., Tsiskaridze was visibly tormented but quiet about his pain, watching her from afar, awaiting the perfect moment to catch her alone and declare, again, his love.

A radiant smile joined Pavlenko's first entrance and remained with her throughout the ballet. She is lovely in this role, her curled smile reminiscent of Vivien Leigh in "Gone with the Wind", a mischievous twinkle in her eye. Her gaze avoided Tsiskaridze's watchful eyes as she made that entrance into the party, belying no sense of regret or emotion in his direction whatsever. She seemed happily ensconced in her new wealthy lifestyle, but upon Tsiskaridze's pleas, it became apparent that underneath she had feelings for him that she was denying to herself. Pavlenko displayed more of her acting talents in the final act. In the couple's last pas de deux she was soaked with floppy lethargy as Tsiskaridze flung her almost lifeless body around him, recoiling in utter horror upon the realization that he had completely lost her.

Ekaterina Osmolkina danced a self-assured, flirtatious coquette next to Andrei Batalov's conniving, often violent Lescaut, and their drunken pas de deux was particularly charming. The poor boys in the first Act did a fine job in the corps de ballet work -- they met the challenge of MacMillan's unique choreography in the arabesque turns, and added a background of boyish playfulness to the main stage action.

Sergei Kalagin, laureate of the all-Russian competition from Tartarsan, conducted the ballet beautifully.

These mixtures of north and south, Kirov and Bolshoi are rare, and met by some with skepticism. The age old debate about which of the two leading Russian classical ballet troupes is "better" is an argument that cannot be won. The gift is that each of them brings elements to the global world of dance that the other does not, enriching ballet along the way. The key then, perhaps, is in continued partnership between the two companies, and more frequent guest exchanges like this one.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed May 04, 2005 10:28 am ]
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Cygnenoir -- To address your question above about Pavlenko and Giselle -- I have been in St. Petersburg for one year now, and have not yet seen Pavlenko dance "Giselle" (and keep waiting for it!) She may have done it elsewhere (London?) but I doubt it. So I can vouch for the fact that in the last 12 months she hasnt danced that here.

Author:  Cyngenoir [ Thu May 05, 2005 3:44 pm ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
Cygnenoir -- To address your question above about Pavlenko and Giselle -- I have been in St. Petersburg for one year now, and have not yet seen Pavlenko dance "Giselle" (and keep waiting for it!) She may have done it elsewhere (London?) but I doubt it. So I can vouch for the fact that in the last 12 months she hasnt danced that here.

Thank you Catherine for your eyewitness verification of this fact! Also
thanks for your detailed review of Dasha & Kolia's "Manon." I guess
white smoke has left the chimney: The Maryinsky has a true Manon. I'm glad to hear that they both danced beautifully. Re the Giselle, on another link a poster who is local in Petersburg declared how miscast Gumerova was. Moreover, she stated that she was disappointed because she had seen Gumerova as Kitri and Giselle and she doesn't 'get' her in either role.

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