CriticalDance Forum

Kirov 2005-2006 Season
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Author:  Cyngenoir [ Tue Sep 06, 2005 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Kirov 2005-2006 Season

The Maryinsky lists Vishneva's home debut as O/O in "Swan Lake" on opening night of the new season. On's website, it was mentioned that the reason the MT never cast her as O/O was that they ruled that her legs and feet weren't 'beautiful.' What? Perhaps what they really meant was that it was an issue of temperament and fluidity of movement? Maybe, maybe not. Vishneva's legs and feet are chiseled in appearance, and not particularly 'beautiful' to regard, but they get the job done. 'Things' like this are a matter of preference. Personally, I don't know why the MT waited a decade before they allowed her to essay O/O. For example, Terekhova had chiseled legs and feet, was larger boned and much shorter than Vishneva, and she excelled as O/O. Makarova also, but she was very small boned and fragile. But then again, both Makarova and Terekhova, IMO were far more superior ballerinas than Vishneva. Unlike the other productions she has danced with ABT, Tokyo and Berlin, the Sergeyev ends on a high note. It will be interesting to see what she does in her home team production. In any case, youngsters such as Somova and Tereshkina will benefit from watching her.

Author:  ksneds [ Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:09 am ]
Post subject: 

I am moving this topic over to Ballet in Europe as this forum is for discussion of Kirov tours.


Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:24 am ]
Post subject: 

Opening Night 2005-2006 Season
“Swan Lake” – Diana Vishneva’s debut
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
21 September 2005
by Catherine Pawlick

The opening night of the Mariinsky’s 2005-2006 ballet season, the last season to be held in this theatre before its year long closure for renovation, began with a stunning display of virtuosity on September 21 as Diana Vishneva joined Igor Kolb in her St. Petersburg debut of “Swan Lake”. Although Vishneva has performed Odette/Odile with the Berlin State Opera Ballet company, she has never before danced “Swan Lake” as part of her Kirov repertoire. The new role offered her yet another opportunity to display the strengths of her technical and dramatic talents alongside Kolb’s matching skill.

This performance, despite odd sounds emerging from the orchestra pit under Boris Gruzin’s normally steady baton, offered plenty for rumination. Diana Vishneva, the queen of passion. How would she dance the innocent, graceful Odette? How would she meet the technical challenges of the full-length evening, especially in the Black Swan pas de deux? The full house waited with eager anticipation, and, judging from the ovations at curtain fall, was not disappointed.

The ballet begins, as we know, with the Prince celebrating his birthday with the court, offering us context for the storyline. Kolb in this role was not the cool, regal sort. He was more boyish than mature, more joyous than reserved (Korsuntsev and Ivanchenko come to mind), more attainable and thus, more human, which was in fact to everyone’s benefit. He set the stage, both literally and figuratively, for a more tangible swan queen.

It would be amiss to say that Kolb is the only male in the company whose steps are infused with grace and careful execution, but this performance highlighted his vigilance and set him several steps above the rest. His approach is akin to Lopatkina’s: well thought out and well rehearsed without ever nearing dry or static in his implementation. When he received the crossbow as a gift from his mother, his happy demeanor was contagious. What better gift could a guy possibly want? His sauté assemble sequence just prior to the pas de trios in Act One was infused with an unbelievably light ballon. His tour-jetes were accompanied by perfectly placed port de bras. Kolb cares how it all looks and is gifted enough that he need not worry (as other males may need to) about meeting technical demands. Kolb is a pleasure to watch.

The pas de trois, danced by Ekaterina Osmolkina and Tatiana Tkachenko with Anton Korsakov, was steady although the orchestra accompanying them, at this point in the ballet, was not. An overpowering solo horn stood out at several points, and the over-fast tempo made one cringe. Osmolkina didn’t finish a partnered pirouette on time, and one had the nagging feeling that the music would finish before the dancers. Korsakov, in typical fashion, again changed his first diagonale to a series of triple cabrioles moving downstage left, and drew applause for his entrechat six. He didn’t manage to support Tkachenko in the closing pirouettes of the coda however, forcing an awkward finish. Osmolkina and Tkachenko in their variations were secure and confident; Tkachenko performing the echappe, attitude entrechat six variation and faille cabriole series in the coda, and Osmolkina the variation with hops en pointe. Despite the sudden musical instability of the sequence, the dancers managed an admirable performance.

And then came the swans. Among the corps, it is to be noted that Liobov Kozharskaya, who stood out in the Vaganova graduation performance this year for her roles as the Lilac Fairy and the lead in Vikulov’s "Valkiri", is now in the corps de ballet, second in the line of 24 swans behind Yana Selina.

For the most part, the corps de ballet was in fine form for the season opening. Marring their perfection was one instance when Elena Vostrotina fell completely to the ground in the First Act. Compensating for that was the four Big Swans’ expansive, space-consuming movements. If one came only to watch this section, it would have been a treat indeed, but as it was, the audience enjoyed far more than that.

Vishneva’s appearance on stage was awaited with more than eager anticipation. Her entrance was accompanied by an equally speedy tempo. She is not of the ethereal diva set to which Lopatkina or others may belong, and hers is not the langorous, adagio that Odette’s choreography lends itself too. Instead she was a flighty, ever-moving Odette, quick, frightened at first at the strange man in her presence, never stopping to pose, and in fact not even holding the initial pique arabesques for very long.

As the White Swan pas de deux began, Vishneva motioned as if to say “don’t touch me” to Kolb. His partnering was flawless and they were well-synchronized choreographically.
In her variation with the rond de jambs en l’air her epaulement was evidently something she had worked on for the role, her torso leaned significantly forward, her bourree here a fast flutter of feet until she posed.

Care and feeling made their way into her interpretation only after Kolb swore his love to her: she pulled his hand to her cheek and pressed it to her skin where other dancers simply bring the hand towards them or wrap it around themselves in an embrace. This human quality between the two dancers made their coupling more believable, more attainable and more earthy than other partnerships.

But all this was tame compared to what was to come. Vishneva’s fiery passion found its vehicle, its means for escape in the Black Swan pas de deux. Entering with a tutu studded with blue sapphires and a crown with red rubies, she was a vision of evil seduction waiting to happen. And one could sense this in the White Act: Vishneva is no Odette. It isn’t her nature, it is not her core personality, at least on stage. Her talent is drama, and the more she can sink her teeth –or feet—into, the better.

She entered strong, confident, energetic. No prince would have been able to resist her charms or her self certainty. Her every movement spoke of Diana the Siren: her quick penche after the first diagonale was snappy and evasive; her luxurious develop a la seconde was an offering of meat to a hungry animal before it becomes her prey. Diana-Odile, the huntress. Conductor Boris Gruzin saved the end of the partnered pirouette to attitude derriere so that it was on time with the music (emphasizing here that perhaps the quick tempos were at the dancers’ request, earlier in the ballet, for he is not a temperamental conductor). The penche in the pas de deux was a kiss between Kolb and Vishneva, the first step towards securing Vishneva’s spell on the poor prince.

In his variation Kolb was elegant but fumbled slightly, evidently due to nerves. Vishneva’s variation was solid but she finished the final pique to step-up turn one count early, moving her arms to complete the musical phrase. The fouettes were as promised: 32 singles, finishing one count late.

For those looking for a strictly traditional Swan Lake, or one in which Odette is the heroine, Vishneva’s interpretation is not the one to watch. She draws outside the lines, or even draws the lines herself, extending boundaries, shifting them, sometimes only slightly and sometimes to an extreme. The colors are her own mix, but sometimes, that makes for a more interesting evening.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:29 am ]
Post subject: 

To your point Cygnenoir, I personally am not convinced that decisions about Vishneva's repertoire are made by the MT administration. She is a big enough star that her demands or refusals would be listened to by those in power so to speak. So I dont know that it was the Administration's choice or hers... but I would not be surprised if it was her own choice.

I do agree with the assessment on her legs: if one is judging purely on physique, her feet are not ideal by most professional classical standards to date. Others in her company have more beautiful and more supple legs and feet. However -- line is not everything and very supple anything is often had at the expense of strength and stability. When watching a dancer with less flexibility (be it in the hip or in the feet), I always look for more stability bc that seems to be a usual tradeoff. I knew many uber flexible dancers in class who had a very hard time getting "on their leg" or achieving the modicum of strength that others have. Think of Fonteyn versus Guillem...

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Sep 29, 2005 11:29 am ]
Post subject: 

“Le Corsaire”
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
28 September 2005
by Catherine Pawlick

“Le Corsaire” is perhaps the Kirov’s single ballet “production” in the larger sense of the word, complete with shipwreck, firing guns, beautiful maidens and, as their promotional material so often says, “swashbuckling pirates”. Unfortunately for the viewers on this fall evening, the pirates were swishing more than swash(buckl)ing, and with few exceptions, the dramatic impressions were lukewarm.

In a 1999 interview with Mark Haegeman, Kirill Melnikov, formerly of the Kirov Ballet, (well known for his numerous performances as the Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty in the company’s US tours in the early 90’s), and member of the Bavarian State Opera Ballet, shared his views on the company at the time. Six years later, his comments remain not only valid but an increasingly common point of view for Kirov and Russian ballet followers. Melnikov said of Kirov performances in Germany at the time, “It could be done with more soul.” Unfortunately the same applied to this performance of “Le Corsaire” on the company’s home turf.

The evening began well enough. The fantastic onstage shipwreck, pirates abandoning ship to the crashing waves below, and a foggy mist that shifts to an opaque scrim before opening onto the main scene of lovely maidens doing split-jetes in a circle onstage. Soft landings abounded, and Olesya Novikova as Gulnara, easily recognizable for her bright youthfulness, stood out from the rest.

Upon the scene shift to the trading market, Andrian Fadeev drew attention to his capable acting abilities. As Lankedem, the slave trader, he was cunning, energetic, playful, and not a moment of his mime was lost on the far reaches of the house. Later, in the second Act, his gesture of nose-pinching as he tiptoed offstage with the poisoned flowers was cleverly comical, a nice touch.

But where was the panache of Farukh Ruzimatov as Ali, and Altynai Assylmuratova as Medora? Where was the expression in Conrad’s depiction of the shipwreck? The spark in the cabriole manege in the character sequence of the Corsaire ‘s grotto? Medora’s angst at being captured, her joy at reuniting with her love? Sadly these elements were absent from the ballet on Wednesday night, despite adequate levels of technical proficiency and the above-mentioned dramatic talents.

Leeway may perhaps be granted for the casting changes, if they had been last minute, which is difficult to determine. Long billed as Irma Nioradze with Sofia Gumerova, in fact Gumerova danced the role of Medora to Olesya Novikova’s Gulnara. Unfortunately Novikova overshadowed Gumerova in every way, leading to a lopsided feeling.

Gumerova has been noted before by this viewer, and by others, for her coolness. This evening was not an exception. Gifted with exquisite legs, and well-trained, she doesn’t manage to deliver any internal feelings externally. If she is feeling joy or sorrow, it is hard to feel it with her. In this performance that lack of feeling, or rather misplaced emotion, was evident from her first entrance, which was marred by a strange smile as she danced among the slave traders. Against Novikova’s energetic dancing and appropriate vibrancy, this formed a strong contrast.

Novikova’s strongly-centered torso was evident throughout. Her ease of delivery can be relegated to this firm technical foundation. Her arms float beautifully from position to position, her legwork is precise, and she has a long graceful neck to emphasize her excellent carriage. For her young years, she has a natural talent (she is a Laureate of the International Ballet Competition), and despite her equally gymnastic capabilities, she does not flaunt them at the expense of the art. Her first entrance with Fadeev displayed lifted cabrioles in which she split her legs, and then a pique penche, again at 180 degrees. Fadeev’s double tours to fourth position recalled Albrecht’s variation in Giselle, and were as fine.

As with Gumerova and Novikova, so with Fadeev and Vladimir Shishov. Shishov, normally the prince extraordinaire, here in the role of Conrad the pirate, was not as colorful as the role demands. His mime for the shipwreck was not as vibrant or dramatic as others before him have done; his dancing was acceptable but not awe-inspiring. One wished Fadeev could have done both roles.

But one pleasant surprise was encountered. The young Dmitri Semionov danced Ali with attack and certainty. Gifted with well-arched feet, he managed a manege of split jetes to rival Sarafanov’s and did not miss a partnering opportunity with Gumerova. He completed four pirouettes, slowing to a stop en releve more than once. He is one to watch.

Among the Odalisque trio, Tatiana Tkachenko approached her jumping variation with energy and strength; Evgenia Obratsova’s petit allegro variation (with gargouillade) sparkled while Daria Sukhourova’s long limbs fought to keep pace with the speedy tempo, managing a very high and fast leg in her attitude releve sequence. The trio’s tour jetes were perfectly synchronized in the coda, providing, in addition to the corps de ballet’s “Garden of the Animals” in the third Act, a pleasing visual study. As is so often noted, this is what the Kirov does best, and this evening’s corps work was no exception.

Mikhail Agrest conducted admirably.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Oct 07, 2005 3:12 am ]
Post subject: 

Interview with Andrei Merkuriyev of the Kirov/Mariinsky as he guests with a Japanese company:

Quick silver
By Kevin Ng for The St. Petersburg Times

NAGOYA, Japan — Mariinsky dancers are very popular with Japanese audiences. So perhaps Nagoya, Japan’s fourth largest city, is not such an unlikely venue as it may seem to meet one of the finest male dancers of the Mariinsky Ballet — first soloist Andrei Merkuriyev, who was guesting in late September with the Michiko Matsumoto Ballet, a 50-strong ballet company with a 47-year-old history in the city.

click for more

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Oct 07, 2005 3:53 am ]
Post subject: 

An interesting article on tourism from the Moscow Times, an excellent, outspoken English-language newspaper that some educated Russians read to find out what is really going on.

The article makes clear that high visa and tour costs combined with poor infrastructure, advertising and information are ham-stringing the tourist industry. This is despite the extraordinary richness of Russian culture with the most wonderful art galleries in the world and, of course, the Kirov/Mariinsky, the Bolshoi and others.

"Last year, 2.86 million tourists visited the country [Russia], a 9.2 percent drop from 2003 and "a laughable number for a country such as Russia," Shpilko said." To put it in perspective: the population of Russia is 140m. Tiny Estonia, next door to Russia, has a population of 1.3m and in 2004 had 1.7m foreign visitors.

For all of us who hold Russian culture in high esteem, one can only hope that the authorities get their act together. St Petersburg and the Mariinsky are an overnight train ride from Tallinn and I would certainly have gone by now if there was a tourist-friendly culture in Russia.

Tourism Industry Decries Red Tape
By Anna Smolchenko for The Moscow Times

Russia is losing tourists to destinations like China and Poland because tours are expensive, visas difficult to obtain and the country's cruise fleet a "floating museum," the Russian Tourism Union said Thursday.

The problem is exacerbated by a lack of a coherent government strategy to attract visitors from abroad, said Sergei Shpilko, president of the RTU, a nationwide association of more than 1,000 tourist organizations.

click for more

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Sat Oct 08, 2005 10:47 am ]
Post subject: 

Kirov in the US, Autumn 2005

We are covering this tour in our dedicated "Kirov on tour" forum: ... 3&start=15

Join us there to read all about it and share your thoughts.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Oct 10, 2005 9:47 am ]
Post subject: 

Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
09 October 2005
By Catherine Pawlick

While the rest of the company began its US tour in Los Angeles this week, the Kirov Ballet’s reserve troupe entertained audiences at home with a “Giselle” of several unanticipated surprises. While one might expect those left at home to be second rate, and while that would be logically explainable by the need to finance a 220-member company largely with proceeds from foreign tours, Sunday night’s performance proved otherwise, in which newcomers debuted pleasingly in several roles.

As Giselle, Maya Dumchenko’s veteran experience expressed itself through in her dancing and acting abilities. The character’s innocence and fragility was perfectly portrayed through Dumchenko’s movements: impossibly light ballones, emotion stemming from her epaulement and smile at the very first entrance. Only after Albrecht’s declaration of love did joy and abandon seep into her expression, but she maintained the shy, peasant demeanor throughout the First Act.

Evgeni Ivanchenko is a well-known Albrecht in this theatre. His cool, princely looks take him far, but animal magnetism, or even simple energy was lacking -- he appeared tired and not up to his usual technical feats in this performance. His first set of sissone arabesques sported a high leg, but by the time Act Two arrived, it wasn’t clear if he would in fact have the strength to fend of Myrtha and the other wilis. His cabrioles en avant were acceptable, but he has the capability to go further with his physicality and technical talent.

The first surprise came in the debut of Dmitri Pikhachev as Hans, or Hilarion. He brought all the fiery passion of Tybalt to the role, lending it a sense of realism that rarely comes through with those who dance this part. One could see and feel not only his sincere love for Giselle but his even more sincere hatred towards Albrecht. A combination of extremely well-timed gesture and mime in his moments on stage could have won him an award. Upon Giselle’s death, when Ivanchenko ran toward him with a sword, one almost heard the words “Go ahead, kill me, you’ve already killed her”, as Pikhachev kneeled in front of Albrecht, chest up and head flung back, ready to die. Pikhachev deserves not only praise but a promotion for this performance.

Another newcomer –- although not debuting in the role -- was the lovely Viktoria Kutepova as Myrtha. She had the beauty and cold, unforgiving stance of the wilis’ queen, and the icy perfection of technique that lends the role its sense of otherworldliness. Her jete landings were relatively light, and while she does not carry the fireworks of Tereshkina to the role, she held her own with regal serenity.

Daria Vasnetsova, just out of the Vaganova School this June, danced Mulna with the most upright carriage of anyone in the company, doing justice to the solo role and her training.

Mikhail Agrest conducted admirably, although one of the oboes had difficulty at one point during the performance.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:24 am ]
Post subject:  Oct. 24 - “Don Quixote”

“Don Quixote”
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
24 October 2005

By Catherine Pawlick

‘Don Quixote’ – one of the lightest, most comedic ballets in the classical repertoire is always a pleasant mood-lifter, with its combination of technical feats (32 fouettes and one-armed lifts), comedy (Basil’s “suicide” scene) and storyline. Monday night’s surprisingly full-house greeted Elvira Tarasova and Mikhail Lobukhin as Kitri and Basil, respectively, who offered a steady, balanced performance that hinted at the heritage of the Kirov.

Tarasova is one of the elder artists in the company, meaning she doesn’t fall into the “under 26” age group. Seldom seen on stage, this soloist seems to have come out of the woodwork to perform a leading role. She has a strong, polished technique with a dash of old-fashioned trustworthiness rarely seen among the high legs and gymnastics of the younger generation. Her strength of technique brings a smoother delivery, and one doesn’t worry if a step will be completed or if she will falter. While her Kitri did not have the fire of Olesya Novikova, Tarasova is a reliable, mature artist graced with beautiful arches and true Vaganova style port de bras. Watching her, one had the distinct impression that she was one of the few remaining Kirov ballerinas who pay tribute to the company’s traditions and past greatness.

As her partner, Mikhail Lobukhin debuted as Basil, proving himself more than worthy of the role. Equally steadfast in both his solo and partnering work, he was the aimable guy next door, whose attentions were easily attracted by other women, but only just enough to have Kitri racing back to his side. Lobukhin managed both overhead, one-armed lifts on time, pausing enough to allow Tarasova to tilt her head to the audience after she was airborne, one eyebrow-raised, as if to suggest the pyrotechnics were a piece of cake. He managed to infuse the suicide scene with adequate humor that had the audience laughing aloud. He was more good-natured than fiery, but the temperament was a fair match for Tarasova’s similar qualities.

Daria Vasnetsova also debuted in this performance as one of the flower girls next to Marina Zolotova, and both danced quite well save for one slight bumper car moment in the step-up turns overlay section. Vasnetsova’s lanky, seemingly pre-pubescent frame stands out from the rest, and her port de bras will need some polish, but her stage presence and leg work are already impressive.

As the Queen of the Dryads, Tatiana Serova was adequate, if not lengthy and ethereal. Her Italian fouettes appeared difficult, but her solo work was sufficient. Amour, danced by Elena Chmil, was bright, quick and ebullient, her strong legs and musicality lending a cute quality to the role that seconds only Evgenia Obratsova’s interpretation.

The Fourth Act variation was performed by Elena Sheshina, agile and self-assured in the role. This act contained two separate slips, suggesting maybe something had been left on the floor during intermission. Galina Raxmanova, in the colorful Fandango dance with Kerin Johanassen, after an audible Velcro-like sound, got tangled by her skirt and tumbled briefly to the ground. But she was back up and dancing in the blink of an eye. One of the tutu-ed guests in the pre-wedding pas de deux sequence also slipped to the ground briefly before she was back up seconds later.

Despite these minor faux pas, the evening had an old-fashioned taste to it, hinting at the Kirov’s rich heritage. Reliable performers such as Tarasova and Lobuhkin ought to be examples for some of the company’s younger dancers, as they’re proof that dramatic quality and reserve of line can often produce a more beautiful performance than acrobatic feats devoid of thespian intelligence.

Mikhail Agrest conducted.

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:09 am ]
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Thank you for this, Catherine. I'm glad to read that Tarasova is back & being used in major roles. She had not been heard from in a while.

Actually, Lobukhin is himself among the younger set of dancers. Didn't he graduate only three or four years ago, in the class that also included Obraztsova? I have fond memories of his Apollo at the Mariinsky, a year or so ago. He's definitely one to watch!

Author:  Cyngenoir [ Fri Oct 28, 2005 8:47 am ]
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Thanks Catherine for the review! I'm wondering how long
Elvira will have to wait to become a Principal - if ever. . . She's
shlepping through the same wilderness that Zhelonkina, Pavlenko and others find themselves consigned to. When I saw her Gamzatti, she was so on in that performance she reminded me of the young Terekhova - need I say more :D :D :D? She's one of the faithful few left.

Author:  @urelie [ Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:02 pm ]
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hello Cyngenoir :D ! Is your nickname a joke or a misspelling :?: ?

Author:  ripowam [ Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:51 pm ]
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Lobukhin graduated from Vaganova and joined the Kirov in 2002.
I'm glad Chmil is finally getting to dance a solo again. She's delightful.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Oct 30, 2005 11:37 am ]
Post subject: 

You're most welcome! (My pleasure as always!)

And - here is another first -- she danced one of the leads in Corsaire on Friday night -- that is two meaty roles in five days!


‘Le Corsaire’
Kirov Ballet
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
28 October 2005
By Catherine Pawlick

In what was a second homage to their historical heritage this week, both Kirov stars and lesser-known newcomers to the company demonstrated a mastery of artful expression and classical technique in Friday’s performance of “Le Corsaire”.

Just four nights after her wonderful rendition of Kitri, Elvira Tarasova appeared as Gulnara to Sofia Gumerova’s Medora in this production that heralds from 1858. Tarasova’s doll-like face and polished technique did honor to the roll. Her relaxed self-assurance highlights her professionalism, and both the choreography and costuming of ‘Le Corsaire’ are more flattering on her than Don Quixote’s short tutus and sleeveless Spanish tops. She’s one of the few links to the older generation of Kirov stars – her expression is never sacrificed for the sake of high legs or faster turns. She is refreshing to watch, a true Kirov ballerina, if not as well-known as some of her contemporaries.

Warmer, and more self-assured than previously, Gumerova delivered one of her best performances yet as Medora. Her trepidation from the first entrance was more visible in her eyes; likewise her joy at being reunited with Conrad at nearly every turn was also nearly palpable. Gumerova’s dramatic ability was significantly stronger this evening, lending her dancing a sense of well-rounded completeness that has been missing in other performances. She completed all 32 fouettes on time with the music, and unblemished. Her pas de deux with Ilya Kuznetsov in the bedroom/den scene was more relaxed, perhaps aided by Kuznetsov’s easy dramatism. And in the final act she was every bit the regal, sophisticated ballerina among the other garden entities.

Nikita Sheglov, as the slave trader Lankedem, didn’t carry the magnitude of Andrian Fadeev’s interpretation of the role, but his miming was clear. Technically he was also not at Fadeev’s level. But where his jumps lacked ballon, his turns were at least steady, and the choreography for one diagonale in one of his variations was altered to be an indescribable hand-touching-foot air spin.

The fire, passion and electricity in the evening, however, all came from one person: Ilya Kuznetsov as Conrad. From the very first, his energy was barely containable in his large frame. The mime sequence explaining the ship wreck was accented with easily “readable” gesture and emotion. In the famous pas de deux with Ali and Medora, his one-armed lift drew applause for its unfaltering strength. Likewise his solo work – sporting powerful split jetes and untarnished tours – highlights his place as one of the Kirov’s best.

Igor Zelensky is normally lauded just for walking onstage, and tonight was no exception, but he also deserved his applause. His smooth, flawless technique was the perfect match for the role of Ali. Equal in stature to Kuznetsov but more reserved in delivery, Zelensky nonetheless flew out of the wings and easily molded into the role as one of Conrad’s close confidantes, close by and supportive but not detracting from Conrad’s limelight.

As the three Odalisques, Daria Sukhorukova, and Yulia Kasenkova danced alongside Daria Vasnetsova in her debut in this role. All three sparkled, dancing the delightful pas de trois completely in unison. Sukhorukova’s long limbs made her variation a challenge – hitting a releve in attitude after emboites on time with the quick tempo is more difficult when there is further to move – but she succeeded with grace and musicality. Kasenkova was sturdy in the pirouette and petit allegro variation, if less feminine than the other two ballerinas, and visibly much shorter of limb than they. Vasnetsova never fails to impress and this was no exception. Her brise variation was crisp, the smile on her face constant. Only the transitions between steps are slightly raw – and only slightly, because her technique and placement cover for quite a bit. Save for a minor bumper-car moment in the interweaving bourres at the finale, she proved herself equal to this soloist role. Based on the administration’s quick placement of Vasnetsova in soloist roles, one would not be surprised to see her in her first ‘Swan Lake’ within the course of the next year or two.

Alexander Vikulov, son of Sergei Vikulov (former Kirov dancer) conducted to warm applause at several intervals.

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