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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 10:57 pm 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Happy New Year everyone. Just a few comments about upcoming performances to share.

As previously mentioned, Uliana Lopatkina will appear in two performances of the full-length "Raymonda" on Jan. 27 and 31. Tatiana Tkachenko will dance the same role on Feb. 6. Let's hope this means the company is ever closer to touring the ballet to the States.

February brings another treat, the return of Balanchine's "Theme and Variations" after a 3+ year hiatus from the stage. That performance will be given twice, on Feb. 11 and 23.

Additionally, Daria Pavlenko will give a rare appearance in St. Petersburg as Odette/Odile next Tuesday, Jan. 16. Yulia Bolshakova will also dance that role on Jan. 21st.

Welcome to 2007!


Last edited by Catherine Pawlick on Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 9:11 pm 
>All 3 performances should prove to be interesting as it has been years since this ballet has been performed in St. Petersburg.

Actually "Raymonda" was last performed in the Mariinsky Theatre in April 2005. I was in St. Petersburg at the time, and attended both performances, which were led by Viktoria Tereshkina and Irma Nioradze.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 12:24 am 
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Post corrected, sorry for the error. I was renewing visas in Helsinki at that time, so I realize that's why I didn't see them. I last saw the ballet when Lopatkina danced excerpts in her Gala two years ago. Thanks Kevin for catching my error!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:38 pm 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
where: Stars of the 21st Century
New York State Theatre,
NYC, NY

when: Feb. 12

announcement:http://www.balletto.net/giornale.php?sezione=news&articolo=1526

Cast includes Olesya Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov in two pas de deux -- Tchaikovsky Pas and Don Q grand pas.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:03 am 
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I was happy to see both Kevin Ng and several New York critics at the Saturday night "Raymonda" performance. I am finishing a lengthy report and will post it here shortly. So far, no other publications seem to have posted reviews.

Thankfully, "Raymonda" will be danced two more times in coming weeks, once tomorrow by Lopatkina and again on Feb. 6 with Tatiana Tkachenko in the leading role. More to come shortly.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:23 am 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
“Raymonda”
Kirov Ballet
27 January 2007
St. Petersburg, Russia
By Catherine Pawlick


* temporarily removed for editing*


Last edited by Catherine Pawlick on Sun Feb 04, 2007 8:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:18 am 
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Location: London UK
I love Raymonda and only wish it was danced more often. Here in London the Royal Ballet only dances the last act unfortunately, though the Bolshoi has danced the Grigorovich production here several times. That version is very different from what you describe here though dramatically it probably works better. What I miss in the Bolshoi version is the first act variation with the roses, I saw Fonteyn dance it with the Australian ballet back in '65 and she was unforgettable.

Regarding that clap in the last act: I like it loud and resounding to add to the drama of the music, the way Nureyev had it performed in his versions. By the way I've seen more male dancers come to grief in that last act pas de quatre than almost anything else.

Must admit I can't quite picture Lopatkina in the role. Vishneva would have been my choice.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:54 am 
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Hi Cassandra,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This version is based on Petipa's original, as I'm sure you know, and revised by Konstantine Sergeev in 1948 (which is actually quite recent), although there were a few revisions prior to his version. After reading an excerpt from Doug Fullington's book on Raymonda in which he outlines the original libretto and step sequences, this version is clearly much closer to the original than Grigorovich's version, although I don't think the latter aimed to have his similar to the original.

I can understand what you mean by the clap, but given that ballet is a silent art, I actually prefer this "absence of sound" in the gesture. In this case it fit the setting so much better, and as I said, the audience was on pins and needles at that point, waiting for this famous sequence. Since the volume of the musical chords at that point is so low, the clap seems (to me) to almost interrupt the mood. The way it was done by Lopatkina seemed completely in character with the rest of the evening and the dancing.

I also have to add, that, as a mostly legato role (tempo and choreography) in so many sections, Lopatkina seems ideally suited for it. I can't imagine a shorter, more soubrette-like ballerina in this role; to me that doesn't fit as well.

Oh - and I do agree -- that pas de deux choreography is a killer. The lift where she is essentially kneeling on his shoulder but in arabesque facing upstage -- more than one time -- I agree. Most partners would not handle that too well! Korsuntsev pulled it off smoothly though.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2007 4:26 am 
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Just a note to the Vishneva lovers. The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, awarded Diana Vishneva the title People's Artist of the Russian Federation for her services in the area of culture, as of January 31, 2007.

The announcement appeared this morning on the MT site.

07.02.2007
Указом Президента РФ от 31.01.2007 No 110 солистке Мариинского балета Диане Вишневой присуждено почетное звание Народный артист Российской Федерации за большие заслуги в области искусства.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:13 am 
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Just a note to any faithful readers - due to plagiarism issues I have not posted my last 3 Raymonda reviews. If anyone would like to see a copy before they come out in the monthly Ballet Dance magazine, please email me!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 3:00 pm 
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Hi Catherine.

I haven't finished your fine Raymonda reviews yet, but will do so as soon as possible.

Could I muse for a moment, based on what I have read so far.

I have the Bolshoi version on video. It features Ludmila Semenyaka and Irek Moukhamedov and seems different in parts from what you have described of the Kirov-Mariinsky version.

Abderakhman is performed by Gedeminas Taranda. I personally find his portrayal to be somewhat sympathetic. Abderakhman seems to be genuinely in love with Raymonda. He follows her all over the stage unable to be out of her sight for a moment. Even when his attempt to forcefully carry her away is finally stopped, he falls to her feet in an almost heart wrenching display of longing. A lot I guess depends on how a dancer decides to interpret a role.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 12:18 pm 
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Hi Buddy,

Thanks for sharing your impressions. Yes, a lot can depend on the interpretation. I haven't seen the Bolshoi version, so can't comment on it. I do know however that the libretto is slightly different and the choreography is entirely different. The Kirov version adheres to the original (based on the notes of Douglas Fullington regarding step sequences) quite faithfully with minor exceptoins. So I'm not sure the attempt to compare even results in apples-apples..more like apples/pears.

But in this version, I can say that the choreography and libretto seem to "read" only one way - Abderakhman as the barbarian whose love Raymonda will have no part of. There aren't any moments where you feel sympathy for him, but there are plenty when you fear him, and fear for her. Kind of like "How could she possibly ever want *that guy*?"


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 12:43 am 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Three of my interviews have just been published in this month's online magazine:

Svetlana Ivanova
http://www.ballet-dance.com/200702/arti ... a2006.html

Ekaterina Kondaurova
http://www.ballet-dance.com/200702/arti ... a2007.html

Anton Pimenov
http://www.ballet-dance.com/200702/arti ... v2007.html

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:31 am 
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Maslenitsa Festival: “Cinderella”
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
14 February 2007
by Catherine Pawlick

What better way to spend Valentine’s Day than taking a loved one to see the greatest fairytale of all time? That is what Russian couples of all ages decided to do in St. Petersburg on February 14, filling the house of the Mariinsky Theatre to the brim for a performance of Alexei Ratmansky’s contemporary “Cinderella”.

This was just one of the performances billed under the Theatre’s Maslenitsa, or Shrovetide, Festival, held from February 12 to 18 this year. Commemorating the end of winter, historically Maslenitsa has been celebrated with various festivities, including charity balls and masquerades, the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre playing a particularly significant role. It did so again tonight, creating a world of fantasy where dreams come true for a few hours.

As an added treat, we witnessed Daria Pavlenko’s debut in the title role. Cinderella seems ideally suited to Pavlenko in many respects. Not only does it parallel her personal life in some ways (she lost her parents at a young age, for example, and has climbed the ranks inside an increasingly political art world in Russia), but this character is a great match for her own demeanor. Pavlenko’s shy, girlish smile is an honest one that emits, even in its moments of utmost joy, a sense of underlying tragedy. I can think of no dancer on the Kirov’s current roster more deserving of a fairytale ending than Pavlenko for her hard work (unlike other principal dancers, she paid her dues in the corps de ballet before being promoted), and her dedication (while others may guest at the Met or the Bolshoi, or even leave the company for higher paying European posts, Pavlenko maintains her home base in St. Petersburg).

Pavlenko danced beautifully throughout the evening alongside Alexander Sergeev, her dashing prince. And dashing he was. A handsomer prince could not be found, but moreover, Sergeev has all the makings of a star. With the panache of Ruzimatov’s delivery, and a technique that rivals the best male dancers worldwide, he is the future of the Kirov’s male component. More than one sequence of jetes drew audience favor, and his initial appearance onstage in a white suit and pants suggested nothing but the most ideal of men. More than simply being “one to watch”, he is, it seems, already well on his way to greatness.

As if this was not enough, the chemistry between the two dancers was electric, and unlike previous renditions by other casts. In the grand ball scene, upon first catching sight of one another, the stage slowly emptied as Sergeev and Pavlenko began their dance. At more than one moment, their mutual gazing at each other seemed almost intimate – it felt as if one was intruding upon a highly romantic moment between young lovers, and yet it was impossible to look away.

Technically, Sergeev’s partnering efforts were perfectly timed, his split-second maneuvers providing constant reliability throughout the dance. Sergeev's bravura lies in both his line and his ballon. His arabesque displays a high leg and arched, erect back. Tour jetes are always finished in a high split, and nearly any jump of his soars. He turns like a top, and has an innate sense of stage presence. His talents onstage seem unlimited.

The couple’s language of gesture seemed perfectly natural. The series of curled arm movements gestured by Cinderella and the Prince in the air as they walk, arms intertwined and heads together, were created by Ratmansky to show the lovers’ conversation. Here were soulmates who, after introductions, felt completely at home with one another. Sound is another unique part of this production. Cinderella’s spitting on the window as she polishes it is heard from the orchestra seats, and the squeal of the ballroom full of ladies reaches even the upper balcony, to cite a few examples.

Other dancers also deserve mention. As the mother, Tatiana Serova led the two ugly stepsisters – Elena Sheshina and Ksenia Dubrovina – through their jealous, raving antics with haughty pride and commandeering gestures. Alla Sisoeva led the female “ladies of the night” section with sultry abandon. Islam Baimuradov appeared both as the impatient, effeminate dance instructor (woe to him, being forced to teach the clumsy mother-daughter trio) and, geniusly as the lead of the pack of effeminate men in blue, where he received plenty of audience chuckles for his smooth attempt to distract the Prince.

The Act I hairdressers and, in Act III, magical fairy godmother aides, Alexei Nedvega and Grisha Popov stood out for their own sleek moves. Elena Bazhenova, as the Fairy Godmother carried the libretto forward with her mysterious magic and evident care for the motherless Cinderella.

This evening was one of the Mariinsky’s more magical ones. Perhaps it was Maslenitsa, or the day of hearts that filled the air. But under Mikhail Agrest’s baton, one left the theatre with the distinct impression that fairytales do come true.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2007 11:42 pm 
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Hi Catherine,

Thank you very much for the above interviews. I have just finished the lengthy and very interesting one with Svetlana Ivanova and look forward to reading the others.

I have known her name for several years, but have never been able to identify her on stage until this season when I believe that she was in one of the groups of four swans in the Chicago performances. I have never seen her do a solo or a duet and look forward to that. Maybe you could tell us a bit more about her--her dancing style, strong points, visibility in the company, etc.--based on your viewing experience and knowledge. Are we likely to see her more prominently 'displayed' in the future? Other dancers such as Yana Selina seem to have come through the ranks and are now more visible than Svetlana Ivanova.

She said many interesting things and alluded to others. One thing that interested me was her statement that 'western' companies are ahead of Russian companies in their developement of 'technique'. I have to comment that I have also seen fine 'technical' displays from 'western' dancers, but there is that hard for me to define element that always makes dancers from Russian something special. It's perhaps their 'soul' or their 'living' their art as well as their obvious technical prowess.

There are a lot of insights offered in this interview.

She seems very open, likeable and sensible. It was a pleasure to read this interview. Thank you again and thanks to Svetlana Ivanova for sharing her thoughts and feelings with us.

PS--I am very glad to read that you once again thoroughly enjoyed a Daria Pavlenko performance. I hope that her future continues to shine.


[some typos later corrected]


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