CriticalDance Forum

Northern American Tour: Oct-Nov 2006
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Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:09 pm ]
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Since there doesn't seem to be much news coming in from Boston at the moment, maybe I could add some more about Chicago. As of that Thursday morning I was under the impression that what was supposed to be a children's performance was not going to happen at all--no performances that day.

I decided to drive about 20 minutes from downtown to Oak Park to see the amazing collection of FL Wright houses. (A visit to his home-studio and the French Impressionist art collection at the Art Institute of Chicago is a must ! )

I was ready to go at about 10:30 in the morning, when I saw who I thought was Andrian Fadeev standing in the lobby. I asked him if he or any of his group would care to join me for a few hours. He spoke very little English, but he understood and told me that the dancers would be performing across the street that morning. He was returning to St. Petersburg. I thanked him and ran across the street. They had general admission tickets available and I rushed inside.

The children's audience turned out to be about 2/3 university students and the rest grade school students. Daria Pavlenko and Igor Zelensky performed. I'd say there were about 1,500 students total.

Interest in the performance gradually picked up and the students became much more enthusiastic. To illustrate that these performances were not uniformly the same, the corps de ballet, which always danced beautifully, suddenly 'took off' several minutes into the White Swan Act II dancing. They were dancing the best that I had ever seen them dance and as well as they danced during all of the performances. They stayed consistent right to the end. Not only were they dancing beautifully, but they really seemed to be wanting to do their best.

Daria Pavlenko and Igor Zelensky danced beautifully as well. Whether the students knew it or not they were being given an unusually magnificent peformance. They certainly responded enthusiastically.

One last note of interest. When the conductor, Pavel Bubelnikov, appeared to begin Act IV, he was greeted with an unusually huge spontaneous applause. He really seemed delightfully surprised. I was certainly surprised. There may have been a lot of music related students in the audience. I'm not sure. The couple sitting behind me, who were university students, told me that they were studying "Spanish dance".

This was definitely not a ballet audience. There was not one "bravo" to be heard from them. They responded much more like a 'pop concert' audience, but their response was as warm and enthusiastic as were any of the other performance responses. They seemed to have had a wonderful time. I know that I did.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:51 pm ]
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Indeed, the Press Office announced the winners of Russia's Golden Sofit awards.

Aside from Ivanov, Viktoria Tereshkina has won an award for her dancing in Pierre Lacotte's "Ondine" as the best female role (as Queen of the Sea Creatures). Noah Gelber's "The Overcoat" and Benjamin Britten's "The Turn of the Screw" were chosen as the best opera, and ballet performances, respectively.

Author:  celebrityseries [ Fri Nov 10, 2006 2:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Boston Phoenix review of Kirov Ballet's Swan Lake in Boston

Here is a link to the Boston Phoenix review (by special arrangement/promotion written overnight) from Jeffrey Gantz.

It's nice not to have to wait a week:[/url]

Author:  jpc [ Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:39 am ]
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Buddy wrote:
This will probably be my last posting of my impressions of the wonderful Kirov-Mariinsky Swan Lake performances that took place in Chicago.

Thanks Buddy for sharing your enthusiasm and appreciation of the extraordinary artists of the Mariinsky Ballet. Sorry I couldn't have been in Chicago to see them.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:45 am ]
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Originally posted by NCGNET in the 2006 season thread. I"m moving it here to keep all the tour news in one thread. -CP.


Reviews from the Boston papers. Karen Campbell in the Globe:
Stripped of tragedy, Kirov’s ‘Swan Lake’ still dazzles
If you’ve never seen “Swan Lake,” now’s the time. The famed Kirov Ballet and Orchestra is in town, and the company’s signature production of the ballet lays claim to a legacy that extends back to its premiere in 1895.
Historic import aside, however, the Kirov’s production is breathtakingly gorgeous, from the opulent costumes to the alluring sets, especially the opening scene’s gold-tinged, tree-framed park in the shadow of the great castle.

More from the Globe

T.J. Medrek in the Boston Herald:

Kirov turns in a beautiful ‘Swan’
As 32 Swan Maidens from the Kirov Ballet filled the Wang Theatre’s huge stage in the famous Act Two lakeside scene of “Swan Lake” on Thursday, not a feather or foot out of place, it was hard not to think: It doesn’t get any better than this.
Let there be no doubts: The dancing on Thursday was sublime at every level. The 11th Swan on the left, for instance, danced with the same extraordinary suppleness and dazzlingly complete technical freedom as the stars

More from the Herald...

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sat Nov 11, 2006 11:52 am ]
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How sad to compare the Mariinsky, a historical theatre with such rich, entrenched traditions, a theatre that continues to peform THE authoritative (original) version of "Swan Lake" to perfection despite the growing distance in time from its origins, to something as contemporary as Matthew Bourne's work. The two are not even in the same class of Art in my opinion.

Author:  NataliaN [ Sat Nov 11, 2006 5:45 pm ]
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Buddy, you seem to be the only 'webwriter' (or any writer, for that matter) who has seen and reviewed Daria Pavlenko's Odette/Odile. In fact, you are one lucky many of us in the East Coast will not be graced with Pavlenko's rare essaying of the role. Apparently, she has 'pulled' from the tour, did not travel to Boston and, instead, Lopatkina will dance the final performance of the tour tomorrow (Sunday matinee). Sure, it's "La Lopatkina" so most of the paying public will not be disappointed by the change in casting. However, for many cognoscenti, Pavlenko's Odette/Odile is the most elusive of treasures...and that is now being denied to us.

Hence, could you please elaborate a bit more on Pavlenko's very rare Odette/Odile? Your eyes saw what many of us up & down the East Coast of America were hoping to be seeing tomorrow in Boston. Lopatkina, for all of her icy, calculated beauty, dances the ballet at the Mariinsky & on tour as often as Plisetskaya used to do in the 1950s and 60s. For some of us, Lopatkina's essaying has become almost cookie-cutter in style -- almost robotic, albeit a gorgeous robot! Autopilot, regardless of who dances Siegfried. Daria Pavlenko is almost the anti-Lopatkina -- a creature of emotion who rarely essays a role the same way twice. A ballerina who is not afraid to 'let herself go' and change her phrasing from performance to performance. Did you feel this spontaneity from Pavlenko?

In all of my years following the Kirov at home & abroad, I have yet to see Pavlenko' Odette/Odile, which she probably has danced only a half-dozen times in her life (2-3 times in StP, 2 times in London, once in Chicago...maybe once in Ottawa but nobody has posted anything). So, Buddy, you are very, very lucky. As much as I enjoy reading your poetry on Lopatkina, I am even more interested in your impressions on that rarely-seen artist, Daria Pavlenko.

p.s. Now I feel even more blessed that I saw Pavlenko perform 'Giselle' in Washington, DC last summer.

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Nov 11, 2006 9:00 pm ]
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Hi Natalia.

Contrasted to her 'lighting up the sky' performance of Giselle, this was a much softer and more subtle performance as far as the dancing itself was concerned. Her dancing was nuanced, lovely and lyrical with beautiful attention to detail.

Her face is another story. I have probably already described it as best I can. I don't think that there is anything that she can't do with her face.

There wasn't any one sequence that stood out from the others for me, except possibly Act IV of her first performance. This scene was done so softly and dreamlike that I just rode along loving every minute.

I don't tend to focus on technical detail so I probably can't help you here. I'm not that knowledgeable in this area. Also I realized something last night that may be obvious to others. A dance performance is a blending of details. The feet sometimes have to be viewed at the exact same instant that you are viewing the face to complete the 'composition'. Thus I tend to focus on the entirety, which can leave me with a 'general' impression afterwards and hopefully a wonderful but not necessarily easy to define experience.

Having said that, can I say that the dancing flowed evenly and beautifully for the entire performance. There was a moment here or a moment there that was 'special', but at no particular place. I tried to relate how at one instance she projected so strongly that I thought she wanted to break out of herself. These were the things that were happening to remind you that if she wanted to 'light up the sky' she could certainly do it. Like Diana Vishneva's Act II Odette the decission was made to keep it soft and lyrical to beautiful effect.

If I can think of anything more specific to tell you I will try to do so at another time. I will certainly give it more thought. A book could probably be written about any one of these wonderful performances.

The audience response Sunday afternoon was probably the most enthusiastic of all the responses. The Thursday performance for the students was almost equally well received. She seemed happy with what she had done and very appreciative of the very warm reception that she was given.

Author:  NataliaN [ Sat Nov 11, 2006 10:31 pm ]
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Buddy wrote:
.......Act IV of [Pavlenko's] first performance. This scene was done so softly and dreamlike that I just rode along loving every minute.....soft and lyrical to beautiful effect.

Thank you, Buddy. Your quotes, above, remind me why Pavlenko is, to me, the most perfect performer of the Prelude in 'Chopiniana' -- the dreamy solo in which the sylph bourres, then pauses with a gentle hand to one ear. It also reminds me of her Act II in those Giselles in DC. In lyrical roles, she goes well beyond the steps.

I wish that the casting gurus in St. Petersburg would uphold Pavlenko as a great model to youngsters. She may not have the longest legs & she may not be able to throw her foot above her head (or maybe she can - but has the taste not to do it in classical roles), but she has something much more important: she is a total artist.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Nov 12, 2006 1:03 pm ]
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NataliaN, I'm simply co-signing your post in 300 percent agreement. :-)

As a side comment -- your mention of the hand to ear prompted a thought. Might it not be eerily symbolic that Pavlenko so well inhabits that role in the Prelude: the beautiful sylph, set aside from the rest, but not quite included in the group? Special, separate, not one of the crowd, distinct and even more ethereal than the rest ...

Author:  NataliaN [ Sun Nov 12, 2006 11:51 pm ]
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**Happy Newsflash!**

Daria Pavlenko DID perform that last matinee in Boston today, replacing Lopatkina (who had replaced originally-announced Pavlenko).
SPECTACULAR, one-in-a-million performance! A full review will follow in time.

Miracles DO happen!!! Perhaps those "Casting Gurus" listen to die-hard fans, every now & then??? (wink) Whatever - there were many happy Kirov Watchers in Boston today.

Author:  nysusan [ Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:36 am ]
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Hi Natalia (& Buddy & Catherine) – wasn’t it amazing that Pavlenko actually wound up dancing in Boston this afternoon? Natalia I’m so glad to hear that you were as impressed with the performance as I was! I was also out in Chicago last weekend, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to post much. Since I just got back from two 4 hour train rides to catch a 3 hour performance I had time to put my thoughts together. I posted my impressions on another forum, but since you expressed an interest in hearing about Pavlenko’s Swan Lake I decided to post them here as well. It will be interesting to compare notes!

Natalia, I was surprised to hear that you haven't seen her Swan Lake before, and that she hasn’t danced it often. I first saw her in SL 2 years ago in DC and was so overcome by the depth of her portrayal I felt sure that she’d been dancing it for years. I wrote then that in the 2nd act “she created the effect of one continuous flowing motion, a deep, long, desperate sigh. I have never seen a more fully realized expression of sorrow & despair in the second act adagio”

Her Sunday matinee performance in Chicago wasn’t quite up to that level in my eyes, I felt that her performance there was merely extraordinary. Her dancing was lyrical and fluid, her expressive back, torso, neck, head and arms created a soft, beautiful legato flow that spoke of her longing and despair and complemented her beautiful arabesques and attitudes. Along with the pathos and poignancy of her Odette her humanity always came through. There is something very genuine about her so that even when her dancing is soft and ethereal you still feel such a direct connection to her and to what she is feeling onstage. She and Lopatkina both have very pliant backs & arms, and a similar way of moving so although I could describe them with many of the same words – soft, flowing, warm- their personalities and bodies produce completely different, almost opposite effects. Lopatkina, through all her beauty & sadness is every inch the Queen, while Pavlenko sometimes looked so achingly sad that you just wanted to reach out and comfort her.

Her performance in Boston was brilliant, the same kind of performance that had such a strong impact on me in DC. From the moment she bourreed out on stage and stopped in her tracks, terrified by Zelensky’s Prince Siegfried you knew this was a different Daria Pavlenko from the one who had danced the role just a week ago in Chicago with Sarafanov. She had been great then, but today she was in another zone entirely. The electricity coursed through her veins and out into the audience. This was the kind of performance that takes your breath away. In the 3rd act she stumbled out of a turn, and nobody cared. Her 32 fouettes were completed decently, but nothing more – but we all loved her Odile with that enchanting smile – first mischievous, then haughty and finally triumphant. Zelensky must still be nursing his injury because they skipped a lot of the big lifts – and nobody missed them. Instead of the overhead lifts in the first lakeside scene he turned her in arabesque penchee. They skipped the big climatic lift at the end – and nobody cared. I think they substituted a series of pique arabesques punctuated by desperate embraces as they made their way through the 2 lines of swans but I wouldn’t swear to it – I was so entranced by the spell they cast I couldn’t take time away from watching the action to actually analyze what they were doing. This was an incredible performance – one that sent chills down my spine and left me with goosebumps.

Last week what struck me most about her performance was her beautiful legato phrasing, the softness and perfect integration of her dancing with her poses stretching and changing and flowing into movement. Today what struck me was the way that this subtle, lyrical style of dancing was wed to such powerful emotion. And she wasn't over the top dramatically, either. It’s hard to explain, because she did act – she just didn’t overact & she acted with her body, with her steps as well as with her face. It was total integration, total commitment.

A couple of examples – at the end of the first lakeside scene when she turned back into a swan, her desperation not to leave Siegfried was so strong that she reached for him with her entire body and thru the tips of her fingers as the power of von Rothbarts spell was tugging the rest of her in the opposite direction. She clung to her dream and fought for it until she was absolutely forced her back into her swan body and back to the lake. I thought she was going to be torn apart by the force she was exerting in opposite directions. As the last act was approaching the finale, again, the desperation her arms expressed as she was caressing & clinging to Siegfried just broke your heart. When it was over and von Rothbart lay defeated she gave us my favorite version of the Kirov ending, the one I saw from her the last time I witnessed a Swan Lake of this caliber. Battered & defeated she lay on the floor and as Siegfried tenderly lifted her up she looked around with a tremulous, disbelieving look. First down at von Rothbart, then up at Siegfried, then down again at her hands and then this incredulous look came over her face as she realized that her nightmare was over. Her face this afternoon is the best argument I can think of in favor of the happy ending

Author:  NataliaN [ Mon Nov 13, 2006 3:43 am ]
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I just kept missing Pavlenko's SL, nysusan. I was living in Russia during the 'Tchaikovsky Tour' to the Kennedy Center a few years ago. I knew that Tereshkina & others had done that tour but didn't realize that Pavlenko was among them. It appears that she dances the big roles much more often on tour, than back in Russia. Very odd.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:40 am ]
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nysusan, deep thanks for your post. *It* sent chills down my spine. I wish I could have been there, but from your description (and what I know of Pavlenko's beauty and grace), putting them together, I almost felt as if I *was* there. Thank you!

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Nov 14, 2006 12:18 pm ]
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Thank you, nysusan, for your very fine review of Daria Pavlenko's Chicago and Boston performances. For myself, anyway, I would also like to belatedly thank wrightjack for allowing us to see the Phoenix review of the first Kirov-Mariinsky Boston performance in advance of it's publication.

I am very glad to hear that Daria Pavlenko's Boston performance was so 'electrifying'. Based on about four years of viewing live and video performances, mostly Kirov-Mariinsky and Bolshoi, I would really like to consider all time greats for a moment.

If I could use 'Single Roles' as a basis for chosing all time greats, I would make some additions to my 'pantheon' of Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya. Anna Pavlova still remains 'untouchable'. I would especially consider adding Ulyana Lopatkina for her Swan Lake (seen twice). I would also consider adding Diana Vishneva for her Cinderella (Ratmansky version, seen twice plus a short excerpt).

I would also possibly include Daria Pavlenko for her Washington DC Giselle (seen twice). Now that her Boston performance has been equated by yourself and Natalia to some of her other 'super-brilliant' performances, I am ever more inclined to include her.

I thought that her Giselles were 'electrifying'. I felt that her Chicago Swan Lakes were done on a more 'relaxed' level. I'm very glad to know that she can do this performance on different levels.

As I mentioned before, her Act IV first presentation in Chicago was a "dreamscape". "This scene was done so softly and dreamlike that I just rode along loving every minute." I will again equate it to Diana Vishneva's "remarkably restrained and delicately beautiful interpretation of Odette in her White Swan dancing of Act II." Both of these dance sequences carried 'softness and gentleness' into the realm of the unforgettable and brilliant in my mind. This is the most that I can ask from these artists.

nysusan, you also mentioned that Daria Pavlenko was not 'technically infallible' during her dancing. For me this is not a fault. It just makes her more endearing for trying. Sometimes she has had to reach out to complete what she was doing and what I wanted to do was just give her a big loving hug. This makes it all human and makes her all the more loveable.

I will add something else. In one of her brilliant Giselle performances she slipped. I didn't even think it worth mentioning at the time because her over-all effort was so incredible. I figure skate for a hobby. In figure skating, if you take a fall, an immediate recovery and continuation of the program is the norm. I've been watching this happen for years. I have watched many World Championship and Olympic figure skating events on the television. In all this time I have never seen anyone recover as strongly and retake such total command of a performance as I saw Daria Pavlenko do that evening.

Daria Pavlenko's apparently more 'relaxed' versions that I saw in Chicago, beautifully exemplified by her dreamlike Act IV first performance dancing, for me was as rewarding and enjoyable as an 'electrifying' version. It's great to have experienced both in her Giselles and her Swan Lakes. I now look forward more than ever to seeing as many as possible of Daria Pavlenko's wonderful presentations.

It's great to see Wonder on a stage. It's also great to see simple Human Warmth.

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