CriticalDance Forum

Kirov 2005-2006 Season
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Author:  Azulynn [ Sat Feb 04, 2006 1:34 pm ]
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Catherine - I had compared the roster for the Paris tour with the roster of the website, and there were only three or four differences, which I assumed meant the dancers had been promoted. I had listed them as such :

Evgenia Obraztsova is now listed as a second soloist
Daria Sukhoroukova and Elena Vostrotina are now listed as coryphees
Alexei Nedviga and Maxim Ziouzine are now listed as coryphees

And btw, I've just noticed that Obraztsova's promotion was quoted in her recent interview with The St. Petersburg Times, here. So that must mean she's really been promoted ?

Author:  fedora [ Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:41 am ]
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Author:  Cygne [ Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:54 am ]
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Fedora, thank you so much for posting the Paquita clips! I agree -
Katya K. danced beautifully (shades of Lyubov Kunakova who, BTW used to own variation #2)! IMO, of the variation clips posted Maya D. was superior to all - her 4th had both the presence and delicacy of the young Larissa Lezhnina :D. And if verified, (the MT website hasn't been updated yet), congratulations to Zhenya Obratzova
on her promotion to 2nd Soloist rank!

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:54 am ]
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As silly as this sounds, I'm awaiting confirmation from the press office regarding those promotions. Incidentally, I confirmed that no published literature (online or in print in the theatre) lists those promotions! But if it was thus listed in Paris, I am quite convinced it is so. And congratulations to all of those dancers!

I will have a review of the Feb. 5 performance up shortly.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:41 am ]
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still awaiting a press office reply. in the meantime:


Swan Lake
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg

February 5, 2006 – by Catherine Pawlick

What can be said of perfection? When the subject at hand is Uliana Lopatkina as Odette/Odile, the descriptions are endless. If ‘perfect’ is inaccurate, she is at least much closer to this description than to other adjectives in the spectrum. Her first performance in ‘Swan Lake’ this calendar year was met by a house packed full of adoring followers and fans, dozens of flower arrangements, and an ovation that lasted well after the stage hands would have probably preferred to have headed home, and all but her most adoring fans had left the theatre.

Her partner, Igor Zelensky, handled her from the start as if he wore white gloves, his wrists managing most of the partnering, fingertips held away, as if she were a fragile creature made of crystal, a precious work of art that one dare not tarnish.

In that manner Lopatkina meets the bill. As with her well-respected tributes to Fokine’s ‘The Dying Swan,’ in many ways, the role of Odette/Odile displays Lopatkina’s strongest artistic gifts. Precision arabesques, thoughtful placement, innate musicality – these are only some of what she brings to this and other roles. To see her dance is to see a true ballerina in complete mastery of her art. After watching her rendition, one would be hard-pressed to find an equally impressive, traditionally classical approach to this historical role. Although each ballerina will interpret the role in her own way, Lopatkina is arguably one of a handful of dancers in the world, at best, who dance Odette/Odile as it was intended, lending equal weight to both white and black roles, and offering a pure interpretation void of superfluous gesture and drama.

Her phrasing is genius. A movement begun early ends on time; a sequence slowly phrased ends in an exclamation mark, her quick releve arabesque. Part of this comes with knowing Tchaikovsky’s score inside and out. Part of it is her gift, as an artist, to us all. In the White Swan Adagio she moved like honey: slow, consistent and fluid. Mistakes do not exist in the world of Lopatkina, this too is a stamp of her professionalism.

And lest we be duped into thinking her Odette carries all the strength, it is not so. As Odile, Lopatkina has a mastermind approach to the role, from which, surprisingly, others do not seem to take lessons. She has thought through the steps and gestures, the meaning of it all, and this is visible in her approach. In her very first entrance, a slight sway in her hip into the tendu pose with Rothbart immediately suggest “the other woman”: this isn’t the white swan in any sense of the word. She is pure conniving seduction, with a goal. And for her Black Swan variation, she entered and quite openly acknowledged the Queen Mother sitting behind her. A small but clever detail, for we must persuade not just the Prince, but his Mother as well.

Minor choreographic changes were noted in this performance. During the White Swan Adagio, no doubt due to Zelensky’s old back injury, the series of lifts following the downstage diagonal (hops in arabesque plie) were replaced by an attitude promenade. And during the Black Swan pas de deux, instead of saut de basque on the third pass, Lopatkina chose to do pique turns.

Other talented creatures, if not heavenly then equally worthy of the limelight, graced the stage along with her. Maxim Ziuzin danced a near perfect Pas de Trois in the First Act with Elena Sheshina and Yulia Kasenkova. Zuizin’s lines are better than many others’, and the only regret is that he does not yet play with the audience emotionally as others of his talent do. He could exude more self-confidence and it would only benefit his performances. Sheshina’s beats impressed, and Kasenkova danced well, but how refreshing would it be if two yet unexposed dancers were offered similar roles, as this duo is, of late, most frequently cast in the Pas de Trois.

Grigori Popov brought sparks to the Jester, completing all number of airborne pyrotechnics, and in fact holding together the drama of the entire First Act, and the Second Act “princess selection” scene, almost like glue. He excels in such roles, lending an electric energy and bright sense of comedy to the otherwise serious libretto. His goal, aside from acquiring a kiss from any one of the ladies onstage, or (in Act Two) persuading the Prince to choose a bride, is simply to entertain, and in this he succeeds.

In Act Two, among the four Large Swans, my eyes were drawn to Ekaterina Kondaurova. Noticeable immediately for her spot of red hair, and the tallest of the four, her epaulement extended appropriately in every direction. Kondaurova completed movements to the reaches of each long limb that the other three swans tended to curtail, and in this she was set apart. It is almost as if classical ballet is too easy for her, she is so blessed with natural talent, both physically and musically. She deserves a try at a larger role; as Odette/Odile she would be beautiful.

As Rothbart, Dmitri Semionov, who had been off of the stage for quite some time due to injury, repeatedly shows expertise in the role. He danced Rothbart a few weeks ago to Vishneva’s ‘Swan Lake’, and here again danced the role. One of the taller males in the company with sleek lines, his height and built suggest that he too would not be disappointing in more princely roles.

This evening’s performance suggested competence no matter where one looked, and by continuing to challenge gifted dancers (at any level of the company roster) with more demanding roles, these Kirov talents will continue to blossom and reach new heights in their artistic careers.

Alexander Polyanichko conducted quite attentively.

Author:  fedora [ Wed Feb 08, 2006 7:19 am ]
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Author:  ripowam [ Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:55 am ]
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The Paquita variation uses the same music as Amor's in Don Quixote, but has different choreography.

Catherine, was this Grigory Popov's St. Petersburg debut as the Bronze Idol? He danced it with the Kirov in London last summer, as did Vladimir Shklyarov, who was originally scheduled to do it on Feb 1st.

Author:  NataliaN [ Wed Feb 08, 2006 3:07 pm ]
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ripowam, I have seen Grigori Popov dance Bronze Idol at the Mariinsky, although I'd have to dig-out my playbills to say exactly when. I remember that he was relatively weak then. It was at least three years ago -- a rare inclusion of the Idol solo within the 1900 version. I'm happy to read that he has become stronger in the role.

Author:  ripowam [ Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:12 pm ]
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Yeah, come to think of it I saw him dance it in the 1941 production at the Mariinsky about 18 months ago.

Author:  Cygne [ Thu Feb 09, 2006 3:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Lopatkina Honored

Today, the Maryinsky's website's mass-media, 'chronicles of the season' link states that Uliana has been awarded the title of People's Artist of Russia, (Presidential Decree #1490)! Congratulations :D !

Author:  fedora [ Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:55 pm ]
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Feb 13, 2006 1:57 pm ]
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Hello all,
Regarding Popov, the board had posted it was his debut, but the program did not state it was his debut. I assumed the programs were wrong but obviously they were not. Apologies for the error then. It was though, the first time I had seen him in the role that I recall.

As for Amour/Amore's variation, the choreographic differences from Paquita are negligable based on that film clip!!

“Forsythe at the Mariinsky”
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia

February 12, 2006 -- By Catherine Pawlick

To say that Forsythe’s choreography is forgiving would be amiss, but one benefit of his movement lies in its complexity. The eyes follow a continuum of ever-changing lines and poses, accented with unexpected changes in speed, sudden snaps of the head, right angles and unusual circular lines. The Kirov dancers managed to emphasize all of this with fair accuracy on Sunday night during the third all-Forsythe evening this year.

The program, which has grown from three pieces to four, is now a full evening of Forsythe. Beginning with his enigmatic “Steptext” as an audience warmer, it featured Ekaterina Petina in her debut as the sole female in the ballet. To the backdrop of Anton Pimenov, Mikhail Lubokhin and Maxim Krebtov, Petina danced in nothing but a bright red unitard with power. Repeated viewings of this ballet suggest the female lead’s indifference with the men on stage. Between her “get your hands off me” gestures and urgent arm-language (akin to sign language, but using the elbows and fists instead of the hands), Petina’s message was the same, “leave me dance in peace”. But having pushed a boy or two away, she would then dance with them, the supposed meaning of each gesture suddenly lost in the movement. Petina is graced with an impossibly lean frame, and her flexibility fits this role well. Among the men, Lubokhin began the ballet as in the previous two performances, with the arm gestures downstage. Pimenov this time excelled in his solo, expending more energy in a matter of minutes through lightning speed movements than perhaps some of the other dancers combined. Krebtov was attentive in his partnering efforts but lackluster in solo work. Nonetheless, the overall impression was one of a fresh, modern ballet with sharp accents.

Following a brief intermission we viewed “Approximate Sonata” with its ever-puzzling opening sequence. Here Alexander Sergeev carried out the roaring, purring, pawing lion with certainty, despite some inappropriate snickers from the upper reaches of the balcony. Once his dancing began, Sergeev showed not only a mastery of steps, but a mastery of Forsythe’s style on a deeper level. His energy set him apart, as did the clarity of his movements. Evidently a scholar of motion, Sergeev’s serious and thorough approach to his work is visible. He devours the choreography rather than fearing it as can easily be the case. He already surpasses others in the same ballet for his professionalism.

The rest of the cast however, must also be noted. Sergeev’s partner was the agile Elena Sheshina who danced with fluidity and conviction. Maxim Chasegorov stood out for his attentive, accurate partnering of Yana Serebriakova in a pas de deux that demands ultra alertness. Yana Selina lent fresh accents to her work with Anton Pimenov, dancing the section previously danced (in other performances, including the ballet’s premiere) by Ekaterina Petina. Pimenov again stood out for his vigor and evident enjoyment of the piece. Ksenia Dubrovina and Alexei Timofeev, relevant newcomers to the ballet in this their third performance of it, while energetic in their approach, were slightly less clear in their lines -- an issue, no doubt, simply of experience.

The third ballet of the evening, “The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude” is, if nothing else, and accurate description for its own choreography. The whirlwind of more classically-based steps begins to Schubert’s 9th Symphony in D Major, and the movements do not stop until the final note of the whirlwind is played. Here Tatiana Tkachenko, Olesya Novikova and Ekaterina Osmolkina danced between Vladimir Shklyarov and Alexander Kulikov for the marathon of pointe work, pirouettes and petite allegro. Of them all, Novikova drew the most attention for her unbelievably pure and beautiful lines. Each echappe displayed exquisite feet, each arm movement was fluid but never messy.

Osmolkina deserves the prize for the most manifest emotions, for larger smiles and more palpable expression. And while Osmolkina tended to languish in the steps, taking her time within the phrasing, Tkachenko played with her sequences, dancing even the most complex of them with ease. Both Shishov and Kulikov are veritable power houses of petite allegro work, and undoubtedly for that reason excel in this ballet.

The final ballet of the evening, “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated” is Forsythe’s tribute to the extremes of flexibility pushed to the limit, set to Tom Williams’ pulsing electronic music. Irina Golub danced the leading role; Viktoria Kutepova danced the second soloist role, while an absent Sofia Gumerova was replaced by Olesya Novikova in the other second soloist role. Golub’s slight frame managed to contort itself into any number of positions, but the shock quality, delivered so well by a much-missed Natalia Sologub, was absent in this performance. Kutepova also seemed too meek a match for the acute extensions and whipped up momentum of this piece. Only Novikova and Sheshina managed to hit the requisite energy level, which is easily overlooked among the constant maze of moving bodies, formations and steps.

Despite a few moments of unevenness, the evening underlined the Kirov’s growing mastery of Forsythe, whose choreography is able to utilise these dancers' lines and movements, and, in a roundabout way, emphasize the best of their Vaganova foundation and historical traditions.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Feb 17, 2006 5:22 am ]
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I have posted a link to this critique in the New York Sun by Joel Lobenthal under Ballet in the Americas and unfortunately to read the whole of the article you need to be a subscriber, but this paragraph praising the outstanding French dancer Emmanuel Thibault really does need to be posted in this forum

I always think of Mr. Thibault as a counterpart to the Kirov ballet’s Vasili Scherbakov; both are unique talents trapped too long in what I call “pas de trois limbo” — not allowed to do the principal roles they deserve because of the Byzantine internal politics of their companies. When Mr. Scherbakov finally danced Albrecht in “Giselle” in 2004 at the same time as Mr.Thibault danced Basilio in “Don Quixote,” I wanted to stand up and cheer at what looked like a global convergence.

As a huge admirer of both these dancers I have to say I agree with every word.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:35 am ]
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I cannot say I've ever seen Emmanuel Thibault dance. But I do agree with Mr. Lobenthal's assessment of Scherbakov. He is a dancer of immense natural facility that one all too rarely sees displayed onstage. I've seen him mostly in Bluebird here, or, when Manon was still being done, as Lescaut. I fear the administration already views him as 'on the way out'.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:07 am ]
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I'm very sorry to hear your information about Scherbakov being "on the way out", such an attitude is inexplicable in the case of this wonderful dancer, and I despair at the Kirov's treatment of many of its dancers. Last year we saw him in Bayaderka (Drum Dance), as Mercutio and in the inevitable Swan Lake pas de trois: such a waste of a brilliant talent.

Thibault was treated very similarly until being promoted to premier danseur last year; now suddenly his career has taken off with overseas appearances. There was fury among the Paris Opera fans and many of the French (and foreign) critics at his years of neglect by management. He is a pure classicist and perhaps that is why the increasingly modern dance oriented POB saw fit to sideline him. One Russian principal dancer of my acquaintance once described Thibault to me as "a genius": I won’t argue with that assessment.

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