CriticalDance Forum

Kirov 2005-2006 Season
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Author:  rita [ Fri Jan 06, 2006 10:27 am ]
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I miss very much Mrs.Pawlick's reviews !

Author:  fedora [ Mon Jan 16, 2006 7:20 pm ]
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:02 am ]
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Hi Ladies! That is sweet to hear, that I'm missed! I apologize for the long absence from the forum. I got back to St. Petersburg after a nice holiday with my family in San Francisco a week or so ago, and am now getting back into the swing of things. I saw "Jewels" on Sunday night -- the performance was quite good-- and a review of that will be posted shortly.
Alina Somova debuted as the lead in Diamonds and Daria Vasnetsova danced one of the corps girls (also her debut) in the same Act. Unfortunately she fell hands and face down -- splat -- to a large "ooooh" from the audience, but got up and kept going... (Daria, that is).

I"m also following some theatre developments that I'll share with you all. There is an evening of new works that will open the March festival, featuring two Russian and one American choreographer(s). I've been privy to a few rehearsals, which has been amazing. We will see what comes of this, the premier is March 21 and you can check out the billing on the Kirov's web site. Vasiev is keen to promote new works, and this is really more progressive than any past "new name" ballets the company has shown at one time.

Other than that, I'm readjusting to a barren cold winter over here! :-)

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Jan 17, 2006 6:18 am ]
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Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
By Catherine Pawlick

January 15, 2006 – “Jewels”

Adding brightness and vivacity to the stage, the sparkle of the Kirov’s ‘Jewels’ on Sunday night was an apt choice that cured, for a few hours, the mid-season doldrums of an arctic winter.

In addition to old hands, the program featured several newcomers in the Balanchine masterpiece, a three-act work that has only gained in luster in subsequent seasons. Faure’s hauntingly beautiful score accompanied Ksenia Ostrakovskaya and Maxim Zuizin in the opening of ‘Emeralds’. They danced the first couple with nobility, Ostrakovskaya smiling softly throughout, and Zuizin paying rapt attention to both steps and partnering. Sofia Gumerova danced the second solo with help from Sergei Popov in equally regal fashion. Continuing the elegant mood, Gumerova floated effortlessly through her attitude turns, gracing the audience with her own enjoyment of the dance. She appears increasingly relaxed and self-assured, lending an additional level of refinement to her dancing. When added to her usual sophistication, this spells the makings of a great ballerina.

‘Rubies’ opened with its usual near-shock quality: Karinska’s signature bright red costumes, Stravinsky’s irregular phrasing and pounding notes. Ekaterina Petina was the center attraction at the opening of this act, smouldering in the partnering section with her four suitors – Anton Pimenov, Maxim Krebtov, Alexei Nedvega and Vasilii Sherbakov.
Petina was stern and powerful, unforgiving in both her glances and her flexible extensions, as the men ran around her, rearranging her four limbs. This contrasted with Olesya Novikova’s more playful sequences in the role often danced by Diana Vishneva. For Novikova the message was more about brightness than severity, more sparkle than power. The effect was a slightly diluted (read less acrobatic but equally gumby-like) version of Vishneva, surprisingly pleasant for its balanced nature. Anton Korsakov was the slightly disappointing partner for Novikova, his lackluster presence suggesting fatigue or disinterest or both.

‘Diamonds’ however, stole the show, easily the highlight of “Jewels”’ triptych. It featured the accomplished Andrian Fadeev supporting Alina Somova in her debut in the role. This Balanchinean tribute to Imperial Russia opens with hints of Swan Lake in the port de bras, and closes with a grand march reminiscent of the royal courts. Somova danced adequately, though appearing unpolished during moments of faster phrasing. She is of the bambi category – long, slim legs with lovely feet that aren’t quite 100% under her own control. The result is legs shot up without consideration, mostly due to faster tempos but sometimes even in the slower sequences. To his credit, Fadeev was not only ever-adoring (his enraptured glances suggested he was completely taken with her) but unwaveringly steadfast in all of his partnering efforts with Somova.

The corps de ballet was a visual accolade to Russia’s ballet traditions – streamlined, synchronized, coordinated, brilliant like the Diamonds they portrayed, and even more valuable in so many ways. Necks held high like true nobility, they were a metaphor for the riches of Russia, and an exemplar of sparkling dance.

Mikhail Agrest conducted.

Author:  rita [ Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:21 pm ]
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Welcome back, Catherine, thank you very much! :D

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Jan 27, 2006 5:07 am ]
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You're welcome. Again apologies for the dearth of reviews lately. That should pick up some this week.

I will also be posting (at least) one article regarding the March 21 premier here during the festival, which should appear in the February BDM, out soon. Stay tuned! :-)

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:14 pm ]
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Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia

By Catherine Pawlick

January 29, 2006 – “Prodigal Son”, “Reverence”, “Etudes”

Sunday night’s mixed program offered a range of delights danced by the Kirov for a sadly half-full house, but the evening gained momentum until the electric excitement of ‘Etudes’ topped it off with displays of St. Petersburg’s historical balletic virtuosity.

The first ballet of the evening was George Balanchine’s ‘Prodigal Son’, to Prokofiev’s score commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev in 1927. The powerful music, played by the Kirov (Mariinsky) Orchestra, remains as fresh as if it was created only yesterday, acting as a logical backdrop for this ballet’s potent storyline.

Unlike Mikhail Lobukhin’s emotional rendition of the title role in “Prodigal Son” danced just last week, Andrei Batalov’s more temperate approach on Sunday night, while slightly less expressive, was characterized by even delivery and solid technique. His lean, well-defined muscles almost detracted from the immature, wide-eyed nature of the role, but he nonetheless carried out the choreography reliably.

In a rather surprise appearance, Yulia Makhalina appeared in the ballet as the Siren. Having seen her in nothing but Scheherezade recently, the ballerina’s sudden shift to pointe shoes and a more serious “ballerina role” raised this writer’s eyebrows. Makhalina appeared very slim – so slim that the lines of her legs were interrupted by bony knees and unarched feet that broke the line. Again in this role other dancers have offered more emotion. Whereas Pavlenko’s Siren is powerful, seductive, cold in her elusiveness and materialism, Makhalina’s Siren went through the steps methodically but not always successfully – she tripped on the velvet cape in the first entrance, and failed to create the leaning en pointe pose (when the bald-headed men form the “train” on the makeshift fence/table downstage right). One’s eyes were repeatedly drawn to her feet, which seemed strained to actually remain, in fact, en pointe. She failed to complete the releve ronds de jambes en l’air, coming off pointe each time. For a Kirov “ballerina”, and one as revered as Makhalina has been, disappointing is an understatement.

The one shining moment in this ballet was the brothers – Anton Pimenov and Alexei Nedvega danced with energy and verve from their first entrance. Nedvega’s increasing strength places him at the top of the corps de ballet, warranting more challenging roles. He is a clear actor with clean lines and increasingly potent technique. Pimenov’s constant reliability was ever-present: he never falters in steps, always approaching movement from somewhere deep inside. The two danced their duet and the short fight during the Siren scene admirably. Of similar stature and built, it will be pleasing to watch both of them rise among the ranks of the company in coming years.

‘Reverence’, David Dawson’s addition to the Kirov repertoire last March, is an intriguing ballet with Forsythean undertones and somber overtones. Said to be an ode to saying farewell, and alluding to grief, the ballet offers a curious abstract approach to such themes. Dawson’s dance vocabulary is based in modern movement; his experiences with Ballet Frankfurt come through in his choreography. At moments one might be watching a sequence from ‘Steptext’ and suddenly the steps will metamorphose into a complex, sweeping lift, or something as simple as a girl running across the stage. He plays with action-reaction in his choreography, and also plays with the music. At one point two pairs of dancers are each doing something separately, but several counts apart. Then they all pose together and again fall out of sequence. The ballet is set ‘in a black box’ – the only wing exits are at the four corners of the stage. The dancers, too, wear black. The womens’ long sleeved leotards have a small gothic-looking sleeve at the wrist point; legs are bare.

For this performance, Yana Selina fulfilled the role that Natalia Sologub, currently out on maternity leave, performed in last year’s premiere. Partnered by Mikhail Lobukhin, she was the “running girl” this time. Selina’s dancing is marked by a precision and reliability that not all dancers can claim. While still in the corps de ballet, she is usually cast at the front of the lines, and here one sees why. She is strong, accurate and consistent. While she doesn’t have the extremes of flexibility of Sologub, she offers a unique interpretation that one can relax into accepting as only hers; and this is the mark of a true ballerina. In his turn, Lobukhin attacked his movements – recalling again the opening of ‘Steptext’ -- with energy, and the partnering sequences with Selina – running with her thrown over his shoulder, for example -- with appropriate abandon.

Ekaterina Petina, recognizable always for her unequalled muscular legs and flexible extensions, danced the pas de deux with Andrei Mercuriev. The two are an incredible pair to watch, she for her lines, and he for his sense of never ending, smooth movement. Mercuriev then danced a brief synchronistic duet with Alexander Sergeev, just out of the Vaganova Academy, but already being cast in solo roles. Judging by this performance, Sergeev is easily able to hold his own despite being the youngest of the six dancers onstage. The two then broke into separate movements highlighted by circular arm gestures. Dawson’s choreography is difficult to follow for its constant variation. For the same reason, it remains intriguing to watch.

Sofia Gumerova was Sergeev’s partner. She moved through her sequences with grace and nobility, maintaining the authenticity of her dancing personality through the choreography. The tallest of the three ladies, her long lines are a pleasure to gaze upon. Her technique long secured, she continues to grow in warmth and emotion.

Harold Lander’s surprisingly simple concept behind ‘Etudes’ never fails as an audience pleaser, and tonight was no exception. Alina Somova was gifted the ballerina role, supported by Andrei Batalov and Andrei Ivanov. Ilya Kuznetsov danced as her partner during the Sylph sequence.

Much can be said about Somova, unfortunately not all of it flattering. Others have already noted her disagreeable tendency of whacking her extensions to all manner of heights. That habit has neither been tamed nor eliminated yet. Are we to be impressed by her youth and her bambi-like, uber-flexible legs? Or by her inability to listen to the tempo? It is no surprise that the Kirov administration is grooming her to become a ballerina – but she is not there yet. Others of her generation – Bolshakova comes to mind – have an inner soulfulness already visible in their dancing. Countless corps de ballet females are much stronger than she is. It will be interesting to see if such soulfulness and strength can be taught to a young Kirov female. The administration is certainly going to try.

Despite Somova’s cosmetic approach to this role, both Ivanov and Batalov flanked her with interludes that displayed their respective virtuosic talents, and both danced with more sincerity. ‘Etudes’ is unforgiving in nature – like a ballet class it begins with girls at the bar. Adagio, pirouettes, petit allegro and grand allegro are all shown by various groups of men and women. Here both Ivanov and Batalov excelled in the allegro sections; Ivanov for his pirouettes and Batalov for his turns a la seconde. Ivanov’s compactness almost detracts from his pristine technique – only halfway through one had the impression that a taller dancer would have brought the house down with the same execution. But Ivanov dances with such ease that even difficult sequences appear undemanding. It is said that Ivanov is already headed towards a teaching career at the Vaganova Academy. His endless well of energy would certainly not go unused there, but one hopes that he won’t be forced to retire as early as most dancers in the company do. He surely has many good dancing years left.

The women of the corps sparkled like stars in their snow white tutus throughout. Pique turning around Batalov in a circle in his display of (the aforementioned) turns, they then completing 32 fouettes – in unison – to warm applause.

One trio stood out early on in the ballet, that of Maxim Ziuzin, Alexei Nedvega and a third unidentified male in the sauté section. The men jump in first position, in fourth position, then in fifth position, just as the ‘petit’ in allegro starts go grow.

One favorite section in ‘Etudes’ is the brise vole sequence performed by the men a bit later on. An essay in aerobic exercise, this diagonal appears much less effort than it is, in reality. Maxim Chashegorov led the first line with strength and aplomb. The simple steps, danced in perfect uniformity remind one, among the sparkle of the stage lights and the sheen of pointe shoe ribbons, that here lies the heart of the Kirov Ballet.

Mikhail Agrest conducted the marathon evening seamlessly, as usual.

Author:  NataliaN [ Mon Jan 30, 2006 4:20 pm ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
...... It will be interesting to see if such soulfulness and strength can be taught to a young Kirov female. The administration is certainly going to try......

Why, Catherine? Why? It's not as if they have to look too deeply in their corps to find dozens of more beautiful and talented women with natural soulfulness? With the exception of Yulia Bolshakova, "the administration's" latest pet projects make no sense.

The Kirov-Mariinsky & Vaganova Academy's trend of breeding 'Unmusical High-Kicking Morons' (because that is what they look like on stage) was on glaring, painful display in Washington, DC, this past weekend. Every other major ballet academy shows us beautiful, musical ballet dancers -- Danish, English, American, Japanese, French -- all with modern technique, even with hyper-extensions at times, but never performed in excess & with vulgarity. No other participating schools of the Kennedy Center's 'Proteges' Festival showed us extensions of the vulgar, self-serving variety that we saw with Vasnetsova's Nutcracker pdd. Alas, the Kirov-Mariinsky is quickly gaining a reputation as the most UNclassical of major ballet companies, at least on the female-soloist side. [Evgenia Obraztsova is a miraculous aberration of that trend.] Hope remains with male soloists and the female & male corps de ballet.

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:16 am ]
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Catherine, any reason you can think of as to why the house was half full for what looks on paper an enjoyable triple bill? Also how does the St Petersburg audience react to Somova? I have to say I totally agree with NataliaN's view of the lady.

After reading the reviews of Vasnetsova's recent performance in Washington I was left wondering as to how the Kirov management could even contemplate sending a dancer of her ilk to be overshadowed by younger dancers from most of the other dancing nations.

Author:  fedora [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:19 am ]
Post subject:  Alina Somova


Author:  ripowam [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:57 am ]
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I'm sorry to say this, but I no longer trust anything I read in the Russian press about the Kirov, since it seems as though the company is feeding party lines to shills in the media who are all too willing to be mouthpieces. The scurillous comments about Vishneva's Swan sounded like they could have been written in 1937.

After having attended many performances at the Mariinsky in the last year, I no longer trust the judgment of its audience either. The tickets are so expensive that informed balletomanes probably cannot afford to attend, and how the audience can even sit through some of the performances I saw is beyond me.

Samova is a talented dancer, totally mishandled by the administration.
Just this season alone she has debuted as Aurora and in Diamonds, and is headed for Gamzatti. No 19-year-old can pull all this off.
And her grotesque extensions are either the result of bad coaching or of her own wilfullness; if the latter, she should be kept out of any lead role until she can do justice to herself and to classical style.
I spoke to a teacher at the school who lamented the fact that Samova has not been allowed to do roles like Florine, Swan Lake pas de trois, and gradually evolve into leads.

It's great that Batalov is doing Prodigal, because the one-dimensional -- either wide-eyed or just randy -- approach taken by the other leads does not do justice to this role. The Balanchine stagers were not entirely happy with the casting when it was set on the Kirov in 2001.

Natalia, it's also true that the men have started over-abusing their extensions: some of them now look like can can dancers.

Author:  fedora [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 12:13 pm ]
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Author:  NataliaN [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Somova and Lopatkina

fedora wrote:
[...Somova and Fadeev are very well matched as a dancing couple. But then, there is such strong chemistry between the two, it’s in the air :-D.

You obviously attended a different performance of Sleeping Beauty than I did. When they danced together in Detroit, Fadeev looked as if he could strangle Samova by Act III. His smiles at the end were because that was his birthday & he was attending a small party after the show, not because he was enraptured by Somova. I'm sure that his wife, Sasha Gronskaya, will agree with me on this.

The truth is more important that smiley faces and exclamation marks galore, my dear.

Author:  coda [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:20 pm ]
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Thank you for this link, Fedora.
In this very interesting clip Lopatkina is rehearsing with Ninel Kurgapkina who is her permanent repetiteur.

Author:  fedora [ Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:26 pm ]
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