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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:12 am 
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Nikolai Tsiskaridze Benefit Performance – The Phantom of Romanticism
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
March 22, 2006 – by Catherine Pawlick

The first of three benefit performances performed by male principal dancers took place Thursday night as Nikolai Tsiskaridze, on brief loan from the Bolshoi, danced a unique program.

Tsiskaridze’s following is a phenomenon unto itself. Atypical for male dancers, he cannot be relegated to a certain dancing type. He is blessed with loose ligaments, long legs (he is at least six feet tall), and as such fits the bill for a legato-based danseur noble. But his feet have arches that many ballerinas would kill for, and his deep plie suggests a light jump, and by deduction then a facility for petit allegro, thus perhaps placing him more in the character category (the Jester, Mercutio – roles demanding speed and excellence in jumps and turns). But above those beautiful legs comes a surprise: his port de bras is not restricted to pure academism, nor is it overly masculine and rarely is it powerful. Rather it appears to belong to the era of romantic classicism, where softly folded elbows, lightly curved wrists and fluidity complemented the idealistic renderings of ballets such as Chopiniana or Spectre de La Rose. In fact, when watching Tsiskardize, this last ballet is what most frequently comes to mind: Tsiskaridze as the phantom of romanticism, the fleeting spectre of grace and lightness.

Not all of the program alluded to these traits, however, instead emphasizing his Georgian roots, placing him in fiery red for both “Rubies” and “Carmen”, and in somber, deep green for Forsythe’s pulsing “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated”. Only the solo of “Narcisse”, choreographed by Kasian Goleizovski in 1960, truly captured the natural traits of Tsiskaridze, a charming short piece in which the character plays with various pools of light on the floor of the stage, and for which his shadow is projected behind him onto the back scrim, the scenographic “lake” into which he falls and dies. In this charming (despite the ending) piece, Tsiskaridze exuded innocent, childlike bewilderment, speaking in gesture to the images around him, a silly smile strewn across his face. His softness and beautiful lines matched the ballet’s subject and music by Nikolai Cherepnin perfectly. It is an ideal vehicle for Tsiskaridze’s talents and was a gift to the audience in every respect.

Tsiskaridze’s form and personality seemed ill-matched for the other three ballets, but he was still intriguing to watch. During “Rubies” one is often reminded of Diana Vishneva’s command of the soloist role and her electric partnership with Andrian Fadeev in the ballet. That interaction was several degrees cooler between Tsiskaridze and Olesya Novikova, but Novikova nonetheless managed to fulfill the playful, spicy qualities of the ballet with both energy and virtuosity. The difficulty lay in the mismatch of Tsiskaridze with this ballet. Despite his Tblisi beginnings, his innate sensuality and softness dilute the powerful edginess of ‘Rubies’, creating a different effect. If one expected aggressive passion, it wasn’t found here, but playfulness was at the ready.

Roland Petit’s “Carmen” solo set to Bizet’s famous music was a curious endeavor. For the ballet, Tsiskaridze dances in black pants as a toreador/bull, and then in red pants with a fan-daggar as Carmen herself, through to the death scene. Without more information on the idea behind this choreography, I was left perplexed as to why a man was dancing both roles. For a moment it seemed as if Tsiskaridze could have donned the red skirt and pointe shoes and no one would have been the wiser for it, so believable was his Carmen.

For the final ballet, Tsiskaridze fulfilled Forsythe’s “In the Middle” with verve if not aggression, next to Ekaterina Kondaurova and Ekaterina Petina’s elastic extensions. Although he has no trouble with the complex partnering or step combinations in Forsythe’s choreography, Tsiskaridze’s old-world nature seemed out of place in this electronic whirlwind. I prefer to picture him in fields of narcissus on a spring day, or flying through the air as a phantom of romanticism, for that is where his talent lies.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:26 am 
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Last edited by fedora on Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:13 am 
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Igor? Which Igor? I believe there are two.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:18 am 
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Last edited by fedora on Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:09 pm 
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A few additional pieces of news on the Sunday gala:

Vishneva and Mercuriev will dance the pas de deux from Ratmansky's "Cinderella".
Agnes Letestu and Jose Martinez will dance the Pas de Trois from Swan Lake along with a third dancer (TBA).
Lopatkina will join Kuznetsov in a new piece (TBA).
Finally, Olesya Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov will dance the pas de deux from Don Q.

And in a repeat of tonight's sparkling performance, Pavlenko will again dance with Zelensky in Diamonds.

It should be a wonderful evening!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:50 pm 
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The Kirov truly seems to exist today solely or almost-soley to further the careers of a few favorites.

The company will be performing Jewels on April 4/5/7, filming it for a TV special on Balanchine at the Mariinsky.
is Vishneva dancing Rubies? No. Instead we will get Novikova, who is definitely a capable dancer but on a much lower level of achievement at the moment.

21-year-old Vladimir Shkylarov, another promising dancer, not naturally suited for Balanchine -- too big a plie, too soft legs -- will be making his DEBUT in the Emeralds pas de trois in the the filming. This will be prior to his debut as Albrecht later in April!!

Once again: no way to run a baseball team, no way to run a ballet company.

By the way, does anyone know why the Gala is no long being held in honor of Makarova? Did she back out?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:39 pm 
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:41 pm 
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I'm sorry to have to completely disagree with you, Fedora. Knowing the way the Kirov is operating, it is apparent to me that the company waited until it knew Vishneva was going to be unavailable to film Rubies. Sarafanov will undoubtedly star, and Vishneva is no longer dancing with him. Vishneva makes just as much $ at the Kirov as she does anywhere else.

Shkylarov, by the way, is rehearsing Giselle with a back injury suffered after the March 1 Sleeping Beauty. And he is dancing Beauty in Florida this week. There is no possible justification for this kind of overload.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 6:37 am 
Yes, it’s unfortunate that Mariinsky doesn't tame their primas nearly as successfully as they did in the past. And if Mariinsky administration sees it more productive to develop their young talents, rather than baby-sit their stars, so be it. Company always comes first. It is thousands time bigger than any one "star". They have century old traditions to guard, you know ;-)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:28 am 
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Anonymous wrote:
.....if Mariinsky administration sees it more productive to develop their young talents, rather than baby-sit their stars, so be it. .....


Are the true 'young talents' being developed or only those of questionable talents who happen to be coached by Mme Director? For example, I wouldn't be surprised if Mlle Somova ends up appearing prominently in that film of 'Rubies,' as the Tall Girl...or maybe they'll be giving her the lead in 'Diamonds'?

Ripowam is 100percent correct in his observations.

Catherine, I beg to differ with you but Vishneva could only be thrilled to be included in a film. This is no run-of-the-mill performance of 'Rubies.' Novikova is a wonderful Kitri but she pales in comparison to Vishneva -- or Nioradze, for that matter -- in 'Rubies.'


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:13 am 
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Too true Natalia :D : Vishneva would love to be put on film for posterity. But consider, Vishneva's recent performance choices do give the impression that her whims have parity over and above the others in the company - her recent bout with the flu not withstanding. The problem is this time, it threw everyone else's schedules off. Igor Kolb, her Matteo, was left high and dry, with no premiere and no performance after all the hard work, and others didn't even get the opportunity. You had two excellent performances of "Ondine" by Yevgenia & Leonid, but there didn't appear to be a back up cast. If there wasn't, there should've been at minimum a second cast. IMHO, this is highly questionable management practice, when a production like Ondine is four years in the making, you know an annual Festival is coming, there are 200+ dancers on roster, and you don't think about, or have (?) a contingency plan in case of injury or illness. The company is very fortunate that the premiere was a success. Re the Administration's attempts to develop young talents, I co-sign on your comment.


Last edited by Cygne on Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:25 am 
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I have very mixed feelings regarding the Kirov "youth policy". On the one hand it's essential to encourage young dancers, but surely this should never be at the expense of more experienced soloists? With their cramped touring schedule it should be possible to accommodate both, but much of the casting I've seen in recent years has been close to disastrous. I think the rot set in with Vaziev's predecessor, Vinagradov, who was notorious for his obsession with young ballerinas. Vaziev seems to have little regard for the older male soloists as well though.

Sometimes the early exposure works, Tereshkina was a revelation from day one and her contemporary Tkachenko too has talent even though its rather uneven; Novikova also should develop well and I'm very glad to see Obratzova getting her chances. Others though have been disgraceful: without naming names I think some should have been quietly discouraged from the stage before their careers even began. I've started to believe the Kirov management has gone collectively mad.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:19 pm 
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:30 pm 
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It is hardly a matter of Vishneva being "tamed." Catherine, surely you are close enough to the company to realize that Vishneva is at constant loggerheads with the ballet administration over their insistence that she dance with their proteges, etc., etc., If not for Gergiev's interventions, Vishneva would probably have already left the Kirov, and indeed, she may well do so.

But Catherine I agree with you that Vishneva has taken on too much.
She has proved that she is an international diva and it is time to settle down.

Vishneva was so ill with flu, by the way, that reportedly when she left her sickbed and went to class her doctor threatened to tie her to a chair in her apartment.

The ballet administration apparently thinks that it can simply replace Vishneva with Novikova and that will be the end of it. Vishneva's leaving, however, would be the end of the Kirov's Western touring plans for the foreseeable future. And not only Vishneva, but any number of important Kirov dancers are either about to leave or trying desperately to do so. A 28-year-old ballerina said to me, "In this company, a ballerina my age is considered old."

The ballet administration, including the coaches, are certainly not thinking of the company's best interests, but of advancing their proteges.

Cassandra and Natalia you are all too right. The idea of Vishneva turning down this type of exposure is ridiculous. Vishneva is going to Berlin to dance Bejart's Ring next week and has just returned from Moscow, where she will dance Swan Lake on April 29. I doubt she even knows what they're cooking up with the Jewels filming, but I wouldn't be surprised at this point if Gergiev cancels it when he is informed.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 2:17 pm 
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Ripowam, NatalyN and Cygne,

Thank you for the comments and replies. I am aware of Gergiev's strong support of Vishneva, but was not aware that the rest of the "administration" had such a strong say over her activities within the theatre. I would only add one comment: that many dancers are masochists and push themselves to return to work too soon after injury/illness. Yes, often it is pressure from pedagogues, unprofessional doctors, scheduling or administration issues, or even simply due to the nature of the art, knowing one can be passed by very quickly for a premiere due to illness (case in point!) or even due to their own inner desire to push themselves.


Last edited by Catherine Pawlick on Sat Mar 25, 2006 2:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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