CriticalDance Forum

2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Aug 04, 2004 12:47 am ]
Post subject:  2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
“Swan Lake”
3 August, 2004
By Catherine Pawlick

Another Swan Lake, you may think. More white swans, Siegfried’s betrayal, the conquer of evil, and happily ever after. Well, yes and no. The lovely Daria Pavlenko was originally billed for tonight’s performance of “Swan Lake” at the Mariinsky Theatre, so it was with some disappointment that this reviewer read the revised playbill, which announced the debut performance of Elena Vostrotina, a tall (over 5’8”), thin and lanky redhead as Odette/Odile. It was with equal anticipation that the audience awaited the curtain’s opening, wondering what Vostrotina would do in the challenging role.

Unfortunately, it was more of the sort that Alina Somova delivered in her June performance, leading one to think this is a trend among company members (or among companies). In like fashion, Vostrotina’s legs –which bear a strong resemblance to Svetlana Zakharova’s -- were behind her ears, no matter what the position. With feet like hers, this can be beautiful to look at. But to anyone who knows the choreography and the challenges of dancing it, and can see natural “ballerina legs” at a glance, Vostrotina’s extensions did little to impress. It was clear that for her, a position proves very little challenge, whether it’s an attitude or an arabesque. What she had trouble with was control (her legs are so long that sections of the Odette variation were delivered at a very slow tempo so she could complete the choreography in time with the music) and acting.

When it came to emotional delivery, the tourist-filled audience was left empty-handed, whether they realized it or not. (Judging from their reactions to both the Pas de Trios and the Jester during the first Act, they didn’t realize it.) A word first on those two sections. The Jester, danced by Grigorii Popov was perky and bouncy as ever, and deserved his applause. But even more deserving were Irina Zhelonkina and Yulia Kasenkova alongside Maxim Zuizin who danced the Pas de Trois as the friends of the Prince. Zuizin has the perfect legs of a male dancer, well-proportioned, strong, with archy feet. Blessed with good ballon and a disarming smile, he’s one to watch in the next year or two. He was accompanied by reliable, consistent delivery from both ladies, true to Kirov style and Konstantin Sergeev’s choreography. If the audience was more appreciative of Popov’s turns a la seconde than of Zuizin’s elastic ballon and perfectly timed partnering, one can blame it on the tourist season.

But back to our swan. Vostrotina has a tendency to dip her head down, way down, as Odette, apparently in some attempt to express something, but it wasn’t clear exactly what. And while her arms and legs performed the choreography correctly, there was none of the reaching or longing that more effective dancers often add to the role. It was only as Odile that part of her acting ability was demonstrated. Vostrotina was believably deceptive in grin and gesture, and if she was not seductive, she was at least strong, self-assured and evil. However here too there were some moments of confused acting, as her face would change suddenly without reason from a smile to a coy look that was not in synchronicity with the music or choreography. As if she suddenly remembered she was supposed to act.

It was then with welcome relief that the swan corps arrived on stage, in unison, in white, pristine. Victoria Tereshkina stood out among the big swans for her pliant back and musicality. And in the second act, Alex Nedvega’s “Neopolitan” dance alongside Evgenia Obraztsova drew applause for its sparkle and energy.

Our Siegfried, amidst all of this, was Danila Korsuntsev, no doubt matched to Vostrotina in part for his height, and in part for his princely demeanor, which fit the role perfectly. If there are remnants of type-casting still within the halls of the Kirov, this may be one example, but it harms neither Korsuntsev nor the spectators, for he appeared stronger, more muscular, and more clean in line and form than his past performances of “Chopiniana”. He looked more at home in the role of Siegfried, and carried himself as every bit the prince. Even when Vostrotina was slightly off-balance, Korstuntsev would save her. And after defiantly ripping off Rothbart’s wing, it was with a palpable look of sheer joy and relief that he picked Odette up, saving the ballet's ending from the risk of an emotionless close.

Boris Gruzin, rarely seen at the podium for classical ballets during the summer, provided stellar conducting for this performance debut. Any dancer who completes this three-act classic deserves praise for their effort and stamina. Vostrotina has the facility to make of herself a great dancer, but only if she begins to address the internal aspects of the role. Otherwise the risk is simply artistic gymnastics, and ballet is so much more than that.

<small>[ 30 September 2004, 02:06 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Aug 07, 2004 2:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

mariinsky glitters amid flames
By Galina Stolyarova for The St Petersburg Times

The Mariinsky Theater wraps up its 211th season Tuesday, with a performance of Kenneth McMillan's "Manon". Over the past nine months the company's artistic goals were rather tied to financial challenges. The Mariinsky has been not only putting on new shows, but also rebuilding the sets for the thirty-something productions which were destroyed in a huge fire at one of the theater's warehouses.

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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Aug 11, 2004 10:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

The general press' focus on opera (to the exclusion of commentary on ballet at the Kirov) here is quite disappointing. (this article is a good example, there is only one mention of ballet in the first line).

There have been few articles and fewer reviews this summer on the ballets performed at the Mariinsky. However the newspapers and Culture TV channels are filled with operas. I do hope this doesnt indicate a Frankfurt-like trend, although some suggest it may.

<small>[ 11 August 2004, 01:02 PM: Message edited by: Catherine Pawlick ]</small>

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Aug 11, 2004 10:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

Kirov Ballet
10 August 2004
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
Season Close: “Manon”
By Catherine Pawlick

Perhaps it was the sense of joy inherent in the knowledge of an upcoming two-month leave that pervaded the dancers on Tuesday night. Or maybe the inspiration came from Jules Massenet’s glorious score, or Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s fluid, sensual choreography. For despite some unremarkable debuts and uneven performances by stars this summer, the jewels of the Kirov still do exist. One perhaps must simply look for them, or be in the right place at the right time. That place was in the season’s closing performance last night. The ballet was “Manon”, and the ballerina – for she deserves the title -- Natalia Sologub.

“Manon” is of course part of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire, and now also at ABT, but despite the largesse of the work, this three-act ballet is something most West Coast audiences haven’t seen. And they must, for it is a three-hour classical wonder, faithful to the novel by the Abbe Prevost, which details the story of the young and beautiful Manon Lescaut, who is, (in its most reductionist interpretation) torn between love and money.

The ballet’s libretto is pared down considerably from the novel but the plot’s basic events remain. Manon is in love with a young student, De Grieux, but this love is repeatedly interrupted by her competing desire for money and material things. That desire is fulfilled by the rich but old GM (in the novel, the character’s name is M de B) who manages to steal Manon away from De Grieux while he is temporarily absent. Manon’s prostitution is encouraged by her parasitic brother, Lescaut, who also benefits when she proffers her services to rich men. These events are depicted in Act One.

Acts Two begins with a party filled with women of similar make and held at GM’s salon. Here Manon reunites with De Grieux, and persuades him to win money at a card game so they can run off together. He does and the couple flees. At De Grieux’s apartment the two seclude themselves and live happily. Soon the police appear (courtesy of rich GM), with Lescaut who they have arrested. They shoot him in front of his sister, and arrest Manon for prostitution. The final act takes place first at the port (where the main sergeant also takes advantage of Manon, who is being deported) and in Louisiana, where at last Manon has freed herself from money lust, but dies in De Grieux’s arms.

The dramatic challenges inherent in the role of Manon, based simply on the libretto, need no further explanation. What impressed most on Tuesday night was Natalia Sologub’s ability to meet those challenges. She has the exquisite legs that are necessary for the choreography’s repeat suggestions of seduction and attraction, and she decorated her character with a lightness and feminity indicative of a young Parisian beauty. This was a refreshing visual break from the structures of Petipa and the extremes of neoclassicism that pervaded the past several months at the Mariinsky.

That Sologub hasn’t been promoted yet to principal dancer is an inexplicable phenomenon within the Mariinsky theatre. She repeatedly dances leading roles in a wide range of repertoire. Her performance of Ratmansky’s “Middle Duet” during the Gala concert in June was of star quality. She danced a consistent, classical “Giselle” just weeks ago. She alone can carry Chemiakin’s awkward “Pirlipat” with her ability to adapt to and then master any choreographic form. She is as comfortable in an off-balance Forsythe piece as she is in something utterly classical. It is precisely her wide range, combined with the excellent acting ability she displayed last night, for which she deserves to be promoted.

While the idyllic Andrian Fadeev was originally billed for this evening’s performance, his replacement, Ilya Kuznetsov, was no disappointment. A large dancer – tall, muscular, strong – he presented the image of a turn of the century romance novel hero – long locks and romantic white shirt. His partnering was unparalleled. He performed every lift with ease, making MacMillan’s difficult choreography look easy, and Sologub appear weightless. Thankfully, he also matched Sologub’s dramatic abilities in his terpsichoric expressions of love for the heroine. Although and unlikely pair on stage, Sologub and Kuznetsov made the evening theirs.

The evil Lescaut was danced admirably by Vasili Sherbakov, a smaller, thinner dancer who was dwarfed next to Kuznetsov. He was the innocent prince in his first entrance, but exuded malevolence when need be, notably while explaining to De Grieux that Manon had gone off with GM for money, throwing a handful of coins at the man forcefully with a look of utter wickedness.

Although the role of Lescaut’s lover seemed to be more of a dancing “relief” section, Yulia Kasenkova danced it evenly. In a special appearance, Sergei Kalagin of Tatarstan, laureat of the all-Russian Competition, earned his applause for a conducting the lovely score. And the company earned their half-standing ovation at the end. It is bittersweet that the season has come to a close, but this performance ended it on the right note, planting the seed of anticipation for the treasures that may be shown us this fall.

Author:  ripowam [ Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

No matter how the Kirov Jester dances nor how the Pas de Trois soloist does, the Jester by the very nature of his material always receives more applause. True in St. Petersburg, New York, Washington DC, London.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

That has certainly been my experience in London ripowam. Yet, if there was one role I would remove from the classical rep it would be the Jester. Many good things have been added to the classics in the 20th Century, including much virtuosic male dance for the original characters, but in my view the Jester just seems to get in the way, no matter how good he is.

<small>[ 05 September 2004, 02:45 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

Author:  ripowam [ Sun Sep 05, 2004 2:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

I feel the same way, but there's no denying that the Kirov's jesters deliver some high class cheap thrills.
Grigory Popov is a promising dancer who could become outstanding in grotesque/demi-caractere roles, perhaps some classical ones as well.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Sep 30, 2004 12:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 2004 Summer Season Mariinsky Theatre (Kirov)

Korean Ballerina Making Her Name in Russia's Kirov Ballet
The chosun Ilbo

For quite a few Koreans, Russia is a very distant country, especially when it comes to the Russian culture. But there is one Korean who is truly bridging the cultural divide between the two countries, ballerina Yoo Ji-yun.
Yoo Ji-yun is the only non-Russian ballerina in the world-famous Kirov Ballet, also known as the Marinsky, in St. Petersburg. The 28-year-old Korean ballerina left for Russia when she was just 14 and was admitted into the prestigious Vaganova Ballet Academy.

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<small>[ 30 September 2004, 02:07 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>

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