CriticalDance Forum

Northern American Tour: Oct-Nov 2006
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Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Oct 29, 2006 6:04 am ]
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In what I would consider an unforgiveable error of poor journalism, the following review of Swan Lake incorrectly describes Alina Somova as a "prima ballerina" and also places a picture of principal dancer Daria Pavlenko along with the text about Somova. ... 55189.html

My sympathies go to Miss Pavlenko for not being properly credited in the photo. Unknowing readers will now assume that Somova looks like Pavlenko...

(Andrei Ivanov and Pavel Bubelnikov's name transliterations are also misspelled.)

Author:  Andre Yew [ Sun Oct 29, 2006 11:40 am ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:

I also like how Ivanov tossed out "a jaw-dropping number of plies."

:oops: :roll: :lol:


Author:  Buddy [ Tue Oct 31, 2006 6:46 pm ]
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Ulyana Lopatkina

Here's hoping that some 'extreme zealousness' is allowed here from time to time. After just viewing an internet video clip, that I've refered to on another Kirov topic today, and recalling my "Swan Lake" memories from March in St. Petersburg, could I say...

Please See This Incredible Woman Perform If At All Possible !

She will be at the Chicago Theater Auditorium Friday. It is a huge place so tickets may still be available. I'm going for it myself.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sat Nov 04, 2006 9:23 am ]
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Buddy, as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as overzealousness! Do report back on Lopatkina. I'm dying to hear how she was (although I already know: perfect!)

Andre, yes. I can't say I've ever encountered a jaw-dropping number of plies. Fouettes, jetes, pirouettes -- yes. But plies? The step that is a precursor to almost every other step, no...

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Nov 06, 2006 9:53 am ]
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I just got back from Chicago where I Happily, Happily was able to see all the performances. I think that everyone contributed something beautiful.

The audience, sometimes 3,000 or more, responded to each performance very enthusiastically. At the end of each performance a large part of the audience rose to it's feet almost immediately to give an enthusiastic standing ovation. I don't believe that I've ever seen this happen before at any kind of entertainment series.

I would say that all the lead dancers, especially the ballerinas, did very well, each with their own sometimes very distinct style. Each performance received pretty much the same level of warm response from the audience.

There were a few very nice surprises.

Diana Vishneva--The softness and delicacy of her Act II White Swan dancing.

Viktoria Tereshkina--The beautiful purity of all her dancing.

Alina Somova--The gracefulness and loveliness of her Act II White Swan dancing.

The Corps De Ballet--Some of their dancing was as fine as I've ever seen--absolutely wonderful !

I will try and relate some more of the highlights within a few days.

It was a Wonderful, Wonderful series of performances.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Nov 07, 2006 10:27 am ]
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Ulyana Lopatkina

Hi Catherine. This is for you.

Ulyana Lopatkina gave a wonderful performance in Chicago. The almost endless list of her inherent capabilities to perform wonders guarantees that you will be amazed by one aspect or another of what she is doing. This performance became more unified and complete as it progressed. At first it was a move here, a moment there. Then it became entire sequences--and you knew that you were watching someone very special !

You can focus almost anywhere you like on what she is doing and find something extremely beautiful, often amazing, that is happening. The totality is an enchantment of motion and expression.

Because there can be so much detail happening--I generally just follow the flow of what dancers like her are doing and go on the wonderful journey that they are creating.

Some details did stand out for me in this performance.

What I really noticed this time was the 'incredible softness and lightness' of her moves, especially with her hands. It's wonderfully beautiful ! I'm probably going to say that a lot while writing about her.

Brian, if you are reading this, you noted with 'awe' the way that "Lopatkina coyly fluttered back away on toes...". I watched for this in Act II. I don't think that she was the only one to do this, but the way that she did it was indeed remarkable. Her feet seemed to 'flicker' as she moved them. They had a special flexibility that was beautifully apparent.

And one more, when von Rothbart, during Act IV, was swinging her around in the air, holding her by the waist, she was leaning back with an amazing flexibility and looseness, using wonderful control. This kind of physical abandon is something that I don't usually associate with her extreme refinement. It was excitingly done.

I could probably fill a book with details like this if I were fortunate enough to view her performances more often. These are things that you really have to see for yourself to understand the joy of watching her.

Over-all, though, the ultimate pleasure for me was to experience once again the beautiful form and flow of her expressive and marvelous dancing.

I don't know if I would call it a life changing experience, but it has at least been an attitude changing experience for me. I went through most of the Mariinsky dance festival last March saying, "What a really lovely festival this is. After seeing Ulyana Lopatkina perform, I was saying, "What a really Wonderful festival this is !"

All the things that I have mentioned are just more elements to add to the list of why Ulyana Lopatkina--might be one of the greatest ballerinas ever !

One last comment. I happened to be staying at the same hotel in Chicago that the Kirov-Mariinsky dancers were staying at. I did get to talk to Ulyana Lopatkina for a few minutes in the hotel lobby the evening before her performance. She was very relaxed and unassuming. She has a delightful and airy personality. She speaks English quite well. It was a real pleasure talking to her.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Nov 07, 2006 1:11 pm ]
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Daria Pavlenko

Lovely and Loveable !

Is being Loveable a valid criteria for 'judging' a ballerina ?

In regard to Daria Pavlenko--Absolutely !

And that Face !

Beautiful and Beautifully Expressive !

'Expression' is what she is about.

And by the way----She Dances Too !

She danced two performances. Her dancing was gentle, lovely and beautifully phrased.

She seems to really try and this is part of what makes her so loveable. She reaches for maximum expression within the constraints of the ethereal world of ballet. There was one moment when she seemed to want to break out of herself--to reach way beyond her physical limitations.

But that Face !

She hardly ever loses contact with her partner or the audience. There was one enchanting moment when she did seem to disappear inside her dreamlike dancing, but she snapped back almost immediately to take total control of her stage presence.

She focuses out at the audience rhythmically. She looks you right in the eye to make sure that you fully understand the character that she is projecting. Her characterization stays constant and compelling throughout the entire performance.

In the glorious Act IV, her White Swan dancing is dreamlike. I was drifting in and out of awareness as she weaved her ethereal dreamscape.

After the performance, when she received the usual highly enthusiastic standing ovation, her face lit up with appreciation. Her smile was perhaps the most natural and heart warming of all the curtain call responses.

Is being Loveable a valid major criteria for 'judging' a ballerina ?----Absolutely !

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Nov 08, 2006 11:53 am ]
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Diana Vishneva

A dancer, who is often known for her intense and passionate portrayals, did a remarkably restrained and delicately beautiful interpretation of Odette in her White Swan dancing of Act II.

The expected 'Diana' elements were of course there as well. Her amazing physical control was always apparent when for example she would hold her wonderful lift positions or bring down a highly elevated leg with breath-taking gracefulness and precision while on point.

You were always reminded of her beautiful physical control even in the most lyrical sequences. A balance or a foot placement would always be there to remind you.

She is a wonderfully talented dancer, who exhibited a new and delightful dimension of delicacy in this performance.

Viktoria Tereshkina

She did a beautiful and precise performance. All her dancing moves had a wonderful lyrical exactness.

I and a man, who was sitting next to me, both agreed that her moves were timed precisely to the music. This was especially noticeable when she would do a series of spins across the stage. Every turn was exactly in time with the music. This was done with beauty and grace.

It was a lovely lyrical and refined performance.

Alina Somova

She danced her Act II White Swan Odette with graceful beauty and noticeable surety. She was very secure in what she did and it was very finely done. Her hands were lovely. She had a very nice simplified rhythmn in her arms. She did very beautiful poses.

Her youthfulness enlivened her performance. The Saturday night audience was definitely enjoying what she was doing.

Her long lines and verticality resembled Ulyana Lopatkina. The tall long look is probably going to be with us for quite awhile. I was reminded of this as I also watched the beautifully long Yulia Bolshakova doing her wonderful dancing in the corps de ballet.

Also high extensions were noticeable throughout the performances. All the dancers seemed to be using them here and there, but with restraint. Alina Somova's use of them was not that much more noticeable to me than with any of the other dancers...

'Except' her Act III portrayal of Odile. Here she went on point for several seconds with her other leg--180 degrees !--Straight Up !--at her side. The audience loved it ! They gave her the only applause during all of the performances for holding point. It was pretty 'Impressive' !

In general her dancing seemed fairly restrained and lovely. The audience probably gave her the warmest response so far, although as I mentioned all the performances were about equally well received with great enthusiasm.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Nov 08, 2006 5:15 pm ]
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I have the greatest respect for the men. A large part of what they have to do is to remain invisible so that the ballerina can shine. I am almost always watching the ballerina, but when I do focus on the men doing the lifts and realize the effort involved, I have the greatest admiration.

A Quick Look

Leonid Sarafanov--was of course a show stopper with his through-the-ceiling jumps. He does them extremely graceful as well. As the performance advanced his portrayal became more serious and I found the character that he was creating to have a subtle and interesting calm sense of authority. I did enjoy it. He was a huge success with the audience. His aerial presence and Daria Pavlenko's solid command of the stage seemed to work very well together.

The Jesters--also stole the show. (No, Bob Dylan didn't say that already.) Andre Ivanov and Grigory Popov were about equally good. Grigory Popov may have jumped a little higher. Andre Ivanov did his speed-of-light rotations in four performances. I think that he did them even faster in St. Petersburg--amazing ! This very versatile performer just won an extremely prestigeous award for best male dancer of the year, honoring his lead dancing in Noah Gelber's highly dramatic "The Overcoat".

Neither man faltered for an instant. In addition they both had a very endearing stage presence that added a nice touch of human warmth to the court scenes. Andre Ivanov was deeply moved by the fine audience response. I was deeply moved by him being deeply moved. Grigory Popov seemed deeply moved by the fact that the audience could like him as much as they liked Andre Ivanov. A sentimental group we are.

At the close of Act I, when the court was leaving the stage, there was a crescendo of activity. Anton Korsakov lifted Irina Golub over his head twice and exited. Then Andre Ivanov, the Jester, did a modified soaring barrel roll behind them. It was a moment of bravura that I may always remember.

Igor Zelensky--appeared twice doing very fine jumps. Although they weren't as high as ones that I've seen him do on videos, they were probably the most graceful.

Igor Kolb--was graceful and fine throughout.

Andrian Fedeev--is slightly built and how he can manage the lifts greatly impresses me.

Danila Korsuntsev--looked a little like Nikolai Tsiskaridze and also did some fine jumps.

Ilya Kuznetsov--did most of the von Rothbarts, again with nice airy jumps and good acting.

A Few Other Highlights

Baby Swans--Svetlana Ivanova, Elena Chmil, Irina Golub and Elena Yushkovskaya. Very nicely done and I finally got to identify Svetlana Ivanova.

Pas de Trois--Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina (lovely smile) and Anton Korsakov. They danced very well. They did a final sequence of jumps towards the audience--elevated front foot forward and upward--beautiful.

The Spanish Dancers--Polina Rassadina, Ryu Ji Yeon (from Korea), Islom Baimuradov and Vislily Shcherbakov were delightful. There were huge back bends from the women, especially noticeable in the very graceful and radiant Ryu Ji Yeon.

There was wonderful talent everywhere.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:14 am ]
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This will probably be my last posting of my impressions of the wonderful Kirov-Mariinsky Swan Lake performances that took place in Chicago. I hope that someone will be able to tell us about the final performances in Boston that will be starting today. Cheers !

White Swans

The curtain goes up and a large perfectly balanced grouping of angelically beautiful women illuminates the stage. No one moves.

They are all in short white ballet dresses that radiate out from the waist like gorgeous blossoming flowers. Their beautifully shaped legs and their poetically fine arms and hands are all placed in celestially designed poses.

This is the image that I will probably remember the most from all of the performances. It is the beginning of Act IV.

The lakeside Act II of Swan Lake is certainly the most famous act. It is an Artistic Masterpiece. In this version of Swan Lake--Act IV is a Place Of Enchantment. This is the act that I fell in love with.

All will end well for our heroine and our hero.

A little girl in a question and answer session after a performance informed Makhar Vaziev, the ballet director, that this is the ending that she wants to see.

A lady, who sat next to me, who loves Tchaikovsky's music and seemed quite knowledgeable about classical music, told me that for her the music "works just fine" in this 'happy ending' presentation.

There are other images that will stay with me.

There will be images of a solo ballerina dreamily in the distance--Ulyana Lopatkina or Diana Vishneva--reaching skyward.

There will be images--of Daria Pavlenko's beautiful shape and wonderful smiling face--of Alina Somova's expressively lovely verticality--of Viktoria Tereshkina's poetic flowing across the stage.

Images of gracefully wonderful dancing women in gorgeous costumes and handsome men sailing through the air.

Framing all these images will be this grouping of beautiful humanity. The ethereally elegant women who perform the White Swan dances.

In almost every presentation the White Swan dancers performed this Act IV with breath-taking beauty. It was almost flawless. This is where the White Swan ballerinas danced together like perfectly formed waves. This is where I saw some of the loveliest dancing that I've ever seen in my life.

It was an Enchantment of Loveliness.

Author:  vrsfanatic [ Thu Nov 09, 2006 7:40 pm ]
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Lovely Buddy. Thank you for the enchanting reviews. It is so very appreciated by those of us who are not able to attend the Kirov tour this time round.

Ryu Ji Yeon (from Korea)
Just to clarify, Ji Yeon was born in Korea but has been in St. Petersburg since she was 13 or 14 years old when she began her studies at Vaganova Academy. Since her graduation in 1995 she has worked in the Mariinsky Theatre. She has spent more of her life living in Russia than in Korea.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Nov 09, 2006 9:17 pm ]
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vrsfanatic, thank you.

One of the joys of seeing such wonderful artistry is to be able to share it. I am just trying to reflect the 'wonderfulness' that I experienced and give recognition to these wonderfully talented individuals.

I'm sure all of us here share the same love for this beautiful art form and for beauty in general. We each see them differently and react differently, but the love and appreciation are still the same.

For myself, I am just clinging onto the beauty that I saw. I viewed it for five days and have been keeping it alive in my mind for another four days by writing these reviews. I will continue holding onto it for as long as possible.

Hopefully there will be many more such performances. Hopefully all of us will be able to enjoy as many of them as possible and hopefully the wonderful artists who enchant us will also continue to love what they are doing and pass that love of their art onto us.

Thank you for the clarification about Ryu Ji Yeon. She is a beautiful artist.

Best wishes.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:08 am ]
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A couple of previews from Boston that were posted elsewhere on CriticalDance:

From Theodore Bale in the Boston Herald:
For ballerina, ‘Swan Lake’ still Russian to the corps
Are the only versions of the great Russian classical ballets worth seeing danced by Russian companies?
“Yes - and no,” said Diana Vishneva, the 30-year-old prima ballerina. She’s one of the stars performing the dual role of Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake” with the Kirov Ballet tomorrow through Sunday at the Wang Theatre....



From Valerie Gladstone in the Boston Globe:
Kirov’s ‘Swan Lake’ brims with elegance
... the Kirov Ballet ... will perform its extraordinary Soviet-era version of “Swan Lake” -- with a happy ending. Yes, prince Siegfried and his swan maiden Odette don’t die.
But however controversial the altered climax, Sergeyev’s “Swan Lake” is considered by many to be one of the most artistically satisfying interpretations. In part, that’s because it maintains the legacy of the definitive Petipa-Ivanov choreography, whose simplified concept lets the dancing and drama shine through, free of extraneous sequences and characters.


Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 7:44 am ]
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Buddy - thank you for the detailed and ecstatic updates. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the Kirov, and you're very lucky to have been able to have seen ALL the performances! You captured key aspects of both Lopatkina and Pavlenko's personalities and dancing. Especially for Pavlenko, that smile is the kind that makes you smile back, so genuine, innocent, childlike and straight from the heart. It's just apparent.

You mentioned an award that Andrei Ivanov received. My congrats to him, as it is well deserved. Was the award advertised during the tour or in the programs?

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 12:02 pm ]
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Thank you, Catherine. According to a posting at another forum, Andrei Ivanov was honored with the St. Petersburg "Golden Sofit" award. This can be confirmed at the Mariinsky site. I didn't see it announced in the program. It probably just happened.

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