CriticalDance Forum

7th Annual International Ballet Festival Mariinsky April'07
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Author:  jpc [ Thu Apr 12, 2007 1:19 am ]
Post subject: 

[writing from St Petersburg]

Thanks for the Apollo casting info, Catherine.

In the complete list of the dances in the original Petipa 'Awakening' production the names that appear are:
Dew (La Rosee)
Apollo and Zephyr
Amour and her cupids
Bacchus and Ariadne

Until tonight's performance!

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Apr 12, 2007 5:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Hi JPC! Welcome to Petersburg -- and see you tonight!

Thanks for that list. This is going to be a great review of Greek mythology! I saw part of the dress rehearsal yesterday, and after tonight I'll be better able to match casting and roles with costumes, but Svetlana Ivanova was first onstage (no costume) bourre-ing through the sleeping nymphs; Maxim Chashegorov enters dressed as a Greek god (well, they're all dressed like Greek gods, but he has some sort of claim to the kingdom) and he mimes that Flora should marry. That's as much as I'll say for now. Of course, a review to come later! :-)

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

“The Russian Project”
International Ballet Festival
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
12-13 April 2007

by Catherine Pawlick

The opening of the seventh annual International Ballet Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre greeted locals and tourists alike with the premiere of two new works by Mariinsky choreographer Alexei Miroshnichenko and Sergei Vikarev’s reconstruction of Petipa’s “Flora’s Awakening”.

The evening, entitled “The Russian Project” is a three-hour glimpse at Russian ballet over the centuries. From Petipa’s structured classicism in “Flora”, through Balanchine’s neoclassical “Apollo” to the fresh choreography by Miroshnichenko, it takes one on a visual journey, presenting various genres of ballet to suit every taste.

Igor Kolb debuted as Apollo alongside Victoria Tereshkina’s Terpsichore, in one of the more virtuosic renditions of the role on the Mariinsky stage to date. Kolb understands Balanchine on a level that many of the Kirov do not; his generous flexibility and strong technique allow him the basis from which to take the movement further, and this he did. Sofia Gumerova’s Calliope was clean, her variation more unleashed and expressive than is often the case. As Polygymnia, Tkachenko was also a delight. However, having seen “Apollo” on the Mariinsky stage numerous times, the second ballet of the evening was the bigger draw, and no doubt more than one audience member attended with curiosity for the same reason.

Alexei Miroshnichenko’s “Like the Old Organ Grinder” carries with it a cool, somber overtone in which two dancers explore complex movement patterns to the sounds of famed Russian composer Leonid Desyatnikov’s fresh score. Daria Pavlenko entered in a simple flesh-toned dress with pointe shoes. She pulled open the black curtain hanging upstage to reveal a warehouse cityscape from which light streamed onto the otherwise dark dancing space. Moving alone to the onstage piano’s notes and the sounds of a solo singer, Pavlenko’s steps were precise; it was as if she was testing the ground with her feet, or testing her shoes, all the while seeming to reflect an internal search or thought process. She infused every movement with emotion and meaning, thereby promoting the suggestion of melancholic pensiveness and injecting a level of intrigue.

After her first dancing interval, Anton Pimenov joined her. They both danced until a violinist entered the stage to provide music for Pimenov’s solo. Pimenov’s untiring exploration of complex stop-and-go movements included an interesting series of steps through his own clasped hands. Towards the end of his exhausting foray, his arms began to trace step patterns, as if his hands were his feet. The commonly recognized “marking” language that dancers use in rehearsals was presented quite cleverly here. At this point, Pavlenko entered again, unseen by Pimenov, and performed the leg movements that he was marking with his hands. The couple did not dance a pas de deux, although they finished lying side by side onstage, their heads looking backwards at the audience as the stream of light slowly closed.

Miroshnichenko’s choreography is similar to Forsythe, but with emotion and Russian soul added to the mix. He uses classical forms – plenty of fourth and fifth positions, and port de bras that move through second and first or fifth – and accents them with speed or neo-classical tendencies, tweaking them slightly. His impressiveness, to this reviewer’s eyes, lies not in the technique so much as the emotion, the libretto, the themes that he embraces in creating a ballet. His work is not just about steps – it incorporates a storyline, and even in a lack of interaction with each other, his characters speak volumes. For this Ukrainian born, Vaganova-bred choreographer, the future seems bright indeed.

Unfortunately not everyone in the Mariinsky audience appreciated this second piece, and those that left during the second intermission missed the strongly contrasting debut of “Flora’s Awakening”, which presented Petipa’s glorious, structured classicism in purest form. With Svetlana Ivanova opening the ballet as Diana, protectress of the night, one was carried immediately to the realm of Greek mythology. Ivanova’s erect spine and creamy bourrees gave a sense of vibrancy and lightness as she danced among Flora and the other sleeping nymphs. Upon the entrance of Aquilon, whose very brief interval was danced by Islam Baimuradov, his cool breeze awakened Flora and the nymphs. Coming to their aid was the lovely Ksenia Ostreikovskaya as Aurora, whose calming smile and smooth movements invited a sense of safety and warmth. As Apollo, Maxim Chashegorov announced the will of the gods: that Flora be wed to Zefir. And thus the crux of the libretto is presented.

As Flora on April 12, Evgenia Obratsova was unspeakably marvelous. Her perfection in classical roles is awe inspiring for someone of her youth. Her footwork is highly articulated, and a beaming smile never leaves her face unless it should. Unfortunately, the equally talented Vladimir Schklarov as Zefir was stronger in his solo work, failing to keep her on balance in many of the partnered sections although, watching her, one would not have noticed his mistakes. Both presented a bright display of pristine classical dance – what the Kirov does best.

The second night’s cast was different: Ekaterina Osmolkina replaced Obratsova in a much cooler rendition of the leading role. Andrian Fadeev, after pouring his soul into “Apollo” earlier on the same bill, reappeared as Osmolkina’s partner here, surprisingly with energy to spare. Yana Selina danced Aurora, also more coolly but as precisely as Ostreikovskaya. And instead of the long, lithe, leggy Daria Sukhoroukova as Geba, Ekaterina Petina appeared in the role, slightly more pert but no less lovely. A new name on casting lists, Maria Shirinkina, replaced Svetlana Ivanova as Diana with equally pleasant line and grace.

The costumes – large, flouncy tutus for the main soloists, and Greek draped garments for wine bearers, satyrs, nymphs, and other members of the corps de ballet – appear nothing if not authentic to the time and setting of this Petipa masterpiece (1894). Likewise, Ricardo Drigo’s beautiful score was a refreshing addition to the classical repertoire whose sounds endlessly pervade this theatre’s hall. “Flora” is an example of something unique to the Mariinsky theatre: purely classical Russian tradition. They are home to it, they present it authentically, and it is truly a gift to all who watch.

On April 13, the program repeated itself with one change. Instead of “Organ Grinder”, Miroshnichenko’s second new creation entitled “Ring” premiered to wild applause by the full house. Of Miroshnichenko’s three Petersburg premieres to date, this is by far the most innovative and cutting edge. Set to electronic music that incorporates a fast-talking Russian rap section as well as vocal sound effects (inhaling, giggling, and the like), the curtain opens to a referee in the middle of four dancers in sleek leotards with horizontal racing stripes across their chests. He leads them each to the center and seems to command them to dance; there is a short pas de deux, entailing a mix of classical (a poised attitude derriere en pointe held securely by Daria Pavlenko) and avant garde (as she is promendaed in slinky catlike style by Alexander Sergeev with turned in, low steps). The other couple, Viktoria Tereshkina and Mikhail Lubokhin, were strong and accurate in their delivery as well. In all, the combination of music and dance inspires and invigorates. Once again Miroshnichenko has taken modern movement and infused it with a storyline and meaning, but here the mood is upbeat, everchanging, and energetic. The dancers emote and express themselves; the steps and port de bras vary from classical to modern. And there is the custom-made score by Russia’s 2H Company, a hip club music group, to carry it all through. Credit goes to Miroshnichenko for his efforts in less than ideal choreographic conditions. In the month of March, the cast was on tour for 3 of 4 weeks; in February they went from Moscow’s Golden Mask Festival to Munich. In an incredibly short period of time, this young choreographer has created two new works of promise – promise for the efforts he has made, and for the fresh approach to movement in the most classical of theatres that he has brought to this stage.

For both performances Mikhail Agrest conducted “Apollo” and Pavel Bubelnikov conducted “Flora’s Awakening.”

Author:  jpc [ Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:05 am ]
Post subject:  performance of 14-4-07 Romeo and Juliet

Mariinsky Festival 14-4-07 Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet remains a star-driven production the world over. The Mariinsky Festival's production certainly had internationally recognized stars in Alina Cojocaru and Johann Kobborg, both of the Royal Ballet, London. The 14-4-07 performance had a third star up its sleeve: Leonid Sarafanov as Mercutio.

Leonid Lavrovsky's 1940 production is rich in detail: an opening scene with a stageful of swordfighting, a Capulet ball scene with dances of pomp and ceremony (servants picking up pillows dropped for the knees of the dancing noblemen), in the Act II, scene 8, Verona square a brass band and a troop of acrobats, the dramatic ceremonial mourning of Juliet's mother (the indispensable Elena Bazhenova) over the body of Tybalt, and, lastly,
the funeral procession at the Verona cemetery bringing Juliet's body to the vault.

Cojocaru and Kobborg have all the attributes to make them ideal interpreters of the roles.
She is a dancer modest in demeanor but moves with a full-scale, three dimensional projection that etches lines of action clearly as after-images. Her jump is buoyant, its peak defined and clearly shaped.

Physically the two are well matched. The lifts are secure and have an effortless look.

Kobborg's technical prowess is amazing. He accomplishes aerial revolutions with seemingly no preparations. He tosses off technical feats as easily as breathing.

It seems to me, that the two eased into the Lavrovsky choreography smoothly.

One nit-picky detail: Cojocaru's point shoes looked dirty to the point that they marred the complete look in costume. Perhaps she likes well-broken in shoes-fine, she could at least do what dancers in small companies resort to---using pancake makeup to give old shoes a clean look.

The ace in the sleeve of this production was Sarafanov as Mercutio. What verve! What youth! What superb characterization and what dancing!

Boris Gruzin conducted.

Curtain calls were endless.

Author:  jpc [ Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:42 am ]
Post subject:  15-4-07 Giselle

Mariinsky Festival 15-4-07 Giselle

It was a pleasure to see the Mariinsky production of Giselle in its own theatre and with a truly first-rate cast. The production is a model of direct, efficient storytelling with stylistic integrity. The cast featured Olesia Novikova as the protagonist, Victoria Tershkina as the Queen of the Wilis, and guest artist from the Paris Opera, Mathieu Ganio, as Albert.
This was a performance to remember.

Novikova and Ganio are well-matched as a pair. In last year's Festival they performed together in Don Quixote.

Ganio is an ideal Albert. His portrayal includes elegance, poise, and a bit of caddishness
--easily forgiven as youthful folly, all at the same time. His mime is very good. Novikova, a long necked beauty, was very good in the first act: delicate in expression and musical in her physical responses. Her 'mad' scene was convincing, inward in focus and profound in its spareness of gesture and expression.

The 'classical duet' in the first act, as it is called in the program, had interesting choreography and was given superb execution by Ekaterina Osmolkina and Vladimir Shkliarov. Shkliarov, in his variation, performed double tours /double tours en l'air, twice, with good finishes and spectacular effect.

The second act was a marvel of jumps-by all the leads.

Tereshkina as Myrtha was a force of contained fury in her maneges and diagonals.

Giselle, in contrast, seemed a misfit in this group of vengeful spirits, as she sought reprieve and redemption for her love's life.

In Novikova's first appearance by the gravesite, she assumes the long-necked pose memorialized in the O. Spessitseva photograph. When Myrtha commands her to dance,
her grande pirouette en arabesque looks like a whirlwind. I don't recall having ever seen it executed faster or cleaner.

Novikova's command of the style and the technical demands of the second act are
astonishing. Ganio, for his part, seems to match her in his part. His double tours en l'air with arms en couronne, his series of entrechat-six with arms starting en bas and slowly
rising to open 5th remain strong in memory as do Novikova's entrechat-quatre series and what looked like the cleanest, fastest double ronds de jambe en l'air sauté I've ever seen.

The corps of Wilis were exemplary in synchrony, precision, and classic deportment.

The Mariinsky's Giselle maintains its historic integrity as an artwork, yet breathes freely in the 21st century.

Boris Gruzin conducted.

Author:  jpc [ Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:39 am ]
Post subject:  performance of Mariinsky Festival 17-4-07 Bolshoi Ballet

17-4-07 Mariinsky Festival Bolshoi company mixed program

Tuesday night's Festival program featured and hosted an entire company as guest, The Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow. The program was a mixed bill of Stravinsky/Ratmansky: Jeu de Cartes, Part/Wheeldon: Misericordes, and Glass/Tharp: In the Upper Room.

What a program! And what dancers! It was like seeing a company re-inventing itself for a new century.

Jeu de Cartes, a neoclassical work by the company's director, Alexei Ratmansky, with a cast of seven women and eight men, is fresh and handsomely mounted by Igor Chapurin. The work is plotless, tracing with care the spirit and wit of Stravinsky's score.

The outstanding cast consisted of Alexandrova, Krysanova, Kurkova, Leonova, Lunkina, Osipova, Yatsenko; Godovsky, Golovin, Ivata, Lopatin, Medvedev, Savin, Savichev and Khromushin, My personal favorite remains the upcoming Krysanova, bubbling over with joy for dancing.

Wheeldon's new work for the Bolshoi, Misericordes, is a stately essay to Arvo Part's Third Symphony. It consists of variations for a melancholy-Dane-kind of-figure, Dimitri Gudanov, and four couples performing in various permutations. The set design by Adrienne Lobel and the costumes by Paul Gregory Tazewell suggest an historic, medieval court environment.

Gudanov and the couples, Alexandrova with Klevtsov, Lunkina with Skvortsov, Yatsenko with Lopatin, and Rebetskaya with Godovsky were exemplary.
The work bears repeated viewings.

The final work is the endorphin-raising In the Upper Room. A good choice for the Bolshoi, in that it permits us to appreciate other facets of its dancers' talents.

The sneaker-wearing Natalia Osipova and Ekaterina Shipulina and the trio of Anton Savichev, Denis Savin, and Alexander Smol'yaninov were outstanding.
Osipova looked like she was born in sneakers and was loving it.
What a bright light she is on stage!

The red-point-shoe women were Elena Andrienko and Ekaterina Krysanova, partnered by
Andrei Merkuriev and Denis Medvedev. The ebullient Krysanova tore over the stage and took off in the air with an irresistible zest and verve.

Other participants included Anna Nikulina, Nuriya Nagimova, Morikhiro Ivata and Marianna Ryzhkina. (I hope I didn't leave anyone out).

The work ended an evening of new and refreshing dance.

There was enormous applause and many curtain calls for the company.

It was a brilliant stroke on the part of the Mariinsky direction to invite the Bolshoi Company to the Festival.
I, for one, am grateful.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:03 am ]
Post subject: 

Many thanks for all your reports, jpc. I'm looking forward to seeing Alexei Miroshnichenko's choreography. The Bolshoi rep has certainly been revitalised by Alexei Ratmansky's new work and it would be great to see another new Russian choreographer make his mark.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Apr 18, 2007 8:04 am ]
Post subject: 

Yes, JPC thank you -- i can barely keep up with your fast reports!

I would only add that in his return to the MT stage Mercuriev's jumps seemed even more bouyant, his demeanor happy and carefree in the Tharp piece. It was a refreshing change from the year-round Mariinsky repertoire to be able to see this Bolshoi bill locally.

Stuart -- you have much good in store if you can manage to see one of Miroshnichenko's pieces! I dearly hope at least "The Ring" is kept in the repertoire and repeatedly performed. The MT needs new blood (as Miroshnichenko himself has said at many points) and quite frankly, I think Miroshnichenko is their man. It is so so rare to have new Russian choreographers here, as you know. If I can figure out how to post press photos in the forum, I'll share what I have.

Author:  jpc [ Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

Mariinsky Festival 18-4-07 La Bayadere

La Bayadere appears to be one of the most cherished productions of the Mariinsky.
(There are ten coaches for it listed in the program). This evening it was presented with one of its most esteemed principals, Uliana Lopatkina, as Nikia. The other two principal roles were filled by guests from the Bolshoi Ballet: Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti, and Nikolai Tsiskaridze as Solor. The proceedings were appropriately spectacular.

Lopatkina was at her sculptural best in the 2nd act dance for the wedding ceremonies, every gesture carefully incorporated. Spontaneity has little place in her art. Her movement is measured and pure.

Alexandrova was a Gamzatti of no half measure. She was a princess who took no prisoners. The Grand pas Classique was full-scale dancing with razor-sharp lines and buoyant jumps.

Tsiskaridze remains charismatic and unpredictable. His 2nd act variation seemed off the music. He seemed to find his high performance level in the Shades scene variation, where he performed a circle of double tours en l'air with arms overhead to great acclaim.
As a partner to both ballerinas, he was, as always, gallant and attentive. The double work was faultless.

Of the various wedding celebration dances, I want to single out the quartet of red-sashed-tutued demi-soloists, Elena Chmil, Yana Selina, Svetlana Ivanova, and Valeria Martynuk,
and the impressive Golden Idol of Vladimir Shkliarov.

The heart of La Bayadere is the scene of the Kingdom of the Shades, particularly the descent of the Shades from the heights of the Himalayas. The stardom of the thirty-two corps de ballet women shone with brilliance in this performance.

The three Shades variations were performed (in order) by Olesya Novikova, Tatiana Tkachenko, and Xenia Ostreikovskaya. All were excellent; my personal favorite was Tkachenko, for her sensitive musicality.

After having seen the Vikharev reconstruction of Bayadere, I miss the 4th act.
The Sergeev production of this evening ends with the Kingdom of the Shades scene.

Alexander Polyanichko conducted.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:25 am ]
Post subject: 

Mixed Bill: “Jeu de Cartes”, “Misericordes”, “In the Upper Room”
and “La Bayadere”
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
April 17 – 18, 2007
By Catherine Pawlick

Tuesday and Wednesday nights this week presented opposing genres of dance as part of the Seventh International Ballet Festival at the Mariinsky Theatre. From a mixed bill danced entirely by members of the Bolshoi Ballet on Tuesday, to “La Bayadere” with two Bolshoi soloists the following night, the audience was treated to a wide range of dance styles within just over 24 hours.

The mixed Bolshoi bill began with Alexei Ratmansky’s “Jeu des Cartes”, a busy ballet set to Stravinsky’s equally complex score. Between the multilayered movements and various dancer groupings, the eyes were never given a rest. Dressed in purple unitards with skirts, and headbands decorating their heads, the women danced through various combinations interspersed by the men, whose elasticity and powerful jumps appeared only slightly less impressive than Bolshoi male corps of 15 years ago.

In “Jeu”, several women drew one’s attention, Maria Alexandrova for her well-advertised face and a tall, curvaceous blonde for her light features and long, sensuous lines. Following the ballet, Ratmansky was pulled onstage to warm applause by the audience.

The tone shifted to one more somber and medeival in nature with Christopher Wheeldon’s dark “Misericordes”. Wheeldon is already recognized as a talented choreographer; that the Bolshoi Ballet dances his work further underlines this point. “Misericordes” featured Dmitry Gudanov as the soloist with finely chiseled legs and beautifully arched feet in silver jacket and tights, decorated by four couples in rich jewel-toned costumes. The movements are modern with hints of classicism provided by very clean lines and lifts. Following a pas de deux between Maria Alexandrova and Yuri Klevtsov, Anna Rebetskaya and Yan Godovsky danced a slower adagio pas de deux with great lyricism. Although the meaning of the piece is slightly elusive, the final tableau pose with arms intertwined left plenty of food for thought.

“In the Upper Room” was by far the highlight of the evening. Tharp’s gymnastic, energetic choreography kept the dancers running – literally – for the entirety of the piece. Dressed in striped jumpsuits, the dancers reappear at various intervals at various stages of undress, ending the ballet in simple red leotards and jazz shoes. The attitude is casual, as if they’ve all gone for a jog in the park, and playful.

Of note was Andrei Mercuriev’s return to one of his home stages (he has danced at the Maly/Mussorgsky as well as the Mariinsky). His jumps appeared feather light, and the beaming smile on his face displayed a lighthearted joy that was a pleasure to behold. Of the women, Natalia Osipova’s acrobatic tendencies and endless energy caught the eye.

The theatre left no seat empty for Wednesday’s performance of “La Bayadere”, and no doubt the casting was responsible for that. On loan from the Bolshoi, Nikolai Tsiskaridze danced the role of Solor alongside Petersburg’s revered Uliana Lopatkina; Maria Alexandrova reappeared as Gamzatti.

Puzzling was the great welcome to Alexandrova as Gamzatti before the dance had truly begun. Although their greeting of applause upon the appearance of Tsiskaridze or Lopatkina onstage seems understandable, this reviewer had yet to discern what it was about Alexandrova that set her apart – that is, until the wedding grand pas. Alexandrova’s legs seem to carry her skyward in any split jete. Likewise the series of fouettes – 16 Italian followed by 21 en tournant, then stopping on a dime – were nothing if not virtuoso. In addition to acting the role of a believably jealous bride, this Bolshoi ballerina’s talents lie in her legwork, the faster the better.

What can be said of perfection? Lopatkina’s Nikita is one of, if not her signature role, and the audience adores her for it. This performance was impeccable in every respect, from her first refusal of the Great Brahmin’s advances to her flawless interpretation in the Third Act. Her solo during the Second Act was filled with mournful melancholy, which shifted immediately to hopeful joy at the arrival of the basket of flowers. As has been noted before, Lopatkina’s thorough regard for detailed nuance are her trademark, and this performance was no exception. Throughout the length of the ballet, no gesture, movement or step was other than ideal. Her interpretation is almost impossible to critique – it is textbook perfect.

Tsiskaridze is a wonder of another kind. In the wedding pas he greeted Gamzatti and the audience with a smile of sheer joy; his manège of split jetes was impossibly high and light (the back leg in a slight attitude), the series of double tours en manege simply dazzling in their speed and clarity. In general Tsiskaridze seems born for the stage, his ballon and lightning-fast chaine turns only half of the equation. A sense of warm Georgian hospitality extended to the reaches of the theatre, as if he had invited us all to take part in a life event – for a moment, it was not ballet, it was life.

In the Shades scene, soloists Olesya Novikova, Tatiana Tkachenko and Ksenia Ostreikovskaya danced the three variations to a suddenly high-speed tempo in the first two cases. Alexander Polyanichko’s baton seemed to disregard Novikova’s own timing, meaning she began the final diagonal (arabesque releves) about four counts late. In contrasting manner, the tempo for the adagio variation (Ostreikovskaya) seemed almost too slow. In all however, these soloists glowed like pearls among the rest of the pristine corps de ballet.

Mention must be given as well to the reliable dramatic passion of Vladimir Ponomarev, without whose esteemed acting chops the momentum of the libretto would never be able to take off as it does.

Alexander Titov conducted the Bolshoi; Alexander Polyanichko conducted “La Bayadere”.

Author:  jpc [ Fri Apr 20, 2007 12:51 am ]
Post subject:  19-4-07 Festival performance Forsythe

Mariinsky Festival 19-4-07 Forsythe

Tonight's program was all Forsythe: Steptext, Approximate Sonata, The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, and in the middle, somewhat elevated. All were acquired by the Mariinsky in 2004. The first three were new to me.

Steptext seems to be about the deconstruction of movement and discontinuities in stage/audience, light/darkness, music/silence.
The musical text is the Partita No. 2 Chaconne of J. S. Bach,
played, paused, restarted, silenced, restarted and so on.

The cast consisted of the wondrous Daria Pavlenko and Alexander Sergeyev, Mikhail Lobukhin and Maxim Khrebtov.

Approximate Sonata, along with The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, is subsumed under the surtitle: 'Two Ballets in the Manner of the 20th Century'. I wish I could use the information to shed light on what kind of work Approximate Sonata is.

The music is by Tom Willens and Tricky 'Pumpkin' (Unless the latter is the music's title). The cast was athletic and diligent: in order of appearance, Andrei Ivanov with a long slow walk from upstage to downstage, joined by Elena Sheshina, Anna Lavrienko and Maxim Chashchegorov, Ekaterina Petina and Alexei Nevdiga, and Victoria Tereshkina and a substitute for Maxim Zyuzin who is listed in the program and did not appear in this work [No cast change announcement was made].

The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude is danced to the finale of F. Schubert's 9th Symphony. With costumes by Stephen Galloway that suggest the 'essence' of a tutu, the cast of three women and two men were given various elements of the classic academic vocabulary for a reading of the symphonic finale.

The playful and virtuoso cast included Evgenia Obraztsova, Olesia Novikova, Tatiana Tkachenko and Vladimir Shkliarov and Maxim Zyuzin.

The last work, in the middle, somewhat elevated, created for the Paris Opera in 1987,
received a wonderful reading by a cast that included Daria Pavlenko, Ekaterina Kondaurova, Sofia Gumerova, Elena Sheshina, Yana Selina, Ti Yon Riu, Mikhail Lobukhin, Alexander Sergeyev, and Anton Pimonov.

Outstanding contributions (besides Pavlenko's) were given by Kondaurova, Gumerova, Sheshina and by the bright, fine-lined dancing of Alexander Sergeyev.

All the works were well-received by the audience.

Author:  jpc [ Fri Apr 20, 2007 11:20 pm ]
Post subject:  20-04-07 Don Quixote


Tonight was the first time during the VIIth festival to see extra chairs added to the center aisle of the main floor for the performance of Don Quixote, starring the Bolshoi's Natalia Osipova and the Mariinsky's own Leonid Sarafanov.

Others in the cast included the indispensable Vladimir Ponomarev as Don Quixote, Islom Baimuradov as Espada, Ekaterina Kondaurova as the Street Dancer, Yana Selina and Tatiana Nekipelova as the Flower Sellers, Alina Somova as the Queen of the Dryads, Maria Shirinkina as Amour, Galina Rakhmanova as Mercedes, Polina Rassadina and Rafael Musin as the Gypsy Dancers, Ti Yon Rieu in the Oriental Dance, Elena Bazhenova and Andrei Yakovlev in the Fandango, and Alina Somova also dancing the Wedding variation.

It can be said without dispute that the evening belonged to Natalia Osipova.
Her natural ballon made her appear in all her aerial work like a force of nature.
She was indeed spectacular.

All her finishes were secure, precise and elegant. In one variation, her bourees couru with parallel feet were fleet and traveled an impressive distance. She made all space, vertical and horizontal, her domain.

The blond insouciance of Sarafanov was a good match for Osipova's raven-haired Kitri.
Sarafanov has vastly improved in the execution of overhead lifts, from earlier performances. He caught her well (if not nonchalantly) in both the running 'dives'.

Osipova was charming as Dulcinea in the dream sequence, maintaining her soubrette charm and naturalness.

(The tendency of some young soloists to change choreography into a gymnastic display of contortedly high limbs at the expense of the musical pulse and the three-dimensionality of the classical vocabulary seems to continue at the Mariinsky).

Both principals maintained a very high level of performance in the wedding pas de deux. Osipova's beautifully etched double pirouettes a la seconde were caught well by Sarafanov. His variation was also on a high level.

A Festival first: After Osipova's coda variation of double and triple fouettes, concluding with a fast series of singles and a perfect finish in fourth, cries of 'Bis' were heard from several parts of the audience. Osipova, taking curtain calls, asked the conductor if she could repeat the section. The conductor assented.

And repeat it she did.
It was almost as good as the first time. She certainly can't be charged with running out of energy!

A very enjoyable evening. The audience's appreciation was long and loud.

Pavel Bubelnikov conducted.

Author:  KirovFan [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 2:33 am ]
Post subject:  Osipova's Kitri


I have also been lucky to attend a few of the International Festival performances and I wanted to give some feedback on the Don Quixote ballet.

I agree that undoubtedly, the evening belonged to Osipova. What a treat to be able to see her! I respectfully disagree with jpc's feeling that Sarafonov was a good match for Osipova. I have not seen his previous lifts therefore am unable to comment on if he has improved, but in the first act the famous one-hand overhead lift - the lift that is repeated twice -- on the second lift he lost control and she was rotated to a diagonal angle, so noticable that some around me gasped. I've seen the Bolshoi's Sergei Filin in this role and he seemed an ideal Basil.

After seeing Osipova's awesome performance I thought she deserved a stronger Basil partner. No doubt Sarafonov can turn and jump amazingly, but his second lift in that sequence was lacking.

I thought that her encore fouettes were better than 'almost as good' as the first set -- in my book they were AMAZING!

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 3:01 am ]
Post subject: 

Seventh Annual International Ballet Festival
“Don Quixote”
April 20, 2007
Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg
By Catherine Pawlick

Ballerinas worldwide, take note. The fouette barometer has been officially raised, and on the greatest of classical ballet stages, no less. Fouettes – a series of uninterrupted turns done on one leg while the other leg extends out to the side, and folds back in again, never touching the floor – are one of the most difficult steps in the classical ballet repertoire for the stamina and strength required to complete an uninterrupted series.

No fewer than 64 fouettes were performed, in two sets of 32 each, on Friday night at the Mariinsky Theatre by the Bolshoi Ballet’s Natalia Osipova during the final act of “Don Quixote”.

At lightening speed, Osipova began with nine double fouettes; the tenth was a triple, and the remaining were singles. After completing the turns in time with the music, and stopping on a dime, she received wild applause from the audience, who urged her to perform an encore. She returned to the stage, negotiated with the conductor and repeated the entire 32 (with the initial 10 double turns). Such a feat is rarely if ever performed on any other world stage, and indeed few balletomanes have ever seen the likes of Osipova’s talents.

Compact, with an expressive face, at 20, Osipova is a rising star within the Bolshoi. Her praises have already been sung by leading ballet critics, who have noted her sprightly jumps, boundless energy, and professional command of drama while onstage.

Her performance on April 20 was the second of two in St. Petersburg. She appeared in the contemporary mixed bill on April 17 in Ratmansky’s “Jeu de Cartes” and Twyla Tharp’s gymnastic “In the Upper Room.” In “Don Quixote, Osipova danced alongside Leonid Sarafanov.

For someone her age, Osipova is already a master in her art. Although still listed as a member of the corps de ballet, Friday’s performance proved Osipova a ballerina of highest caliber, arguably higher than many principal dancers worldwide. Her technique balances refined lines with enough bravura sprinkled in to keep it interesting. Osipova’s Kitri was vibrant, energetic and dignified, upholding the greatest of Bolshoi traditions even while carrying them forward with inspiring freshness. Every jete was crisply airborne; every bourree a flutter of quick feet. Her stunning displays outdid even the award-winning Sarafanov, whose clean lines and jumps repeatedly gain him immediate favor with the international audience. But this time, Sarafanov danced almost in her shadow, so amazing was Osipova’s technique.

As Espada, Islam Baumuradov is perhaps second on the list from this particular performance deserving mention. His stealthy, debonaire stance as the Toreador set an apt Mediterranean tone for the flashing cape sequence in the first act, and in his brief dance with Mercedes, danced by the incomparable Galina Raxmanova in the Tavern scene. Next to Baimuradov in the first act, Ekaterina Kondaurova’s sultry sensuality in their dance together displayed enough coquettishness to maintain everyone’s interest; her bourres through the toreador’s goblets placed on the floor were an essay in well-estimated, precise steps. Likewise, Rakhmanova’s glowing smile, unbelievable flexible back and Spanish sensibilities were a joy to behold. Both ladies exhibited the essence of their characters and were pure delights.

The single misfortune of the evening existed in the presence of Alina Somova as Queen of the Dryads. Before a chasse tour-jete that Osipova and Somova were to dance in unison, Somova chose to languish in her initial arabesque, blocking Osipova’s path and forcing the latter to pause, creating a jarring moment. Somova’s arms were repeatedly bent at the wrist and followed the rest of her body seconds later. She was unable to maintain any sense of legato in her dance: she can deliver a pose, but has trouble connecting steps in a clean manner. Despite acrobatically high legs, which appeared distasteful alongside Osipova’s textbook classicism, Somova’s delivery was sloppy, and her persona misplaced. During the Dryad variation, she incorporated a “come hither” look over her shoulder at the audience which is entirely inappropriate for the Dryad role. Nonetheless, she drew applause for her gymnastic extensions. Hopefully, after seeing the colorful poise of Osipova’s Kitri, some audience members will be wiser in dispensing their appreciation.

Financial Times’ critic Clement Crisp has compared Osipova’s vitality and bravura to Plisetskaya – a compliment of immeasurable degree, and one that few would find reason to disagree with. Both Osipova and Sarafanov received brimming bouquets of flowers at the final curtain, and even this volume of gratitude seems meager when compared to their talents.

Pavel Bubelnikov conducted an impeccable orchestra, supporting the dancers throughout the evening.

Author:  jpc [ Sun Apr 22, 2007 6:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Osipova's Kitri

KirovFan wrote:
I thought that her encore fouettes were better than 'almost as good' as the first set -- in my book they were AMAZING!

The reason I said the encore set were 'almost as good' as the first set, is because the second set, midways, started traveling forward.

The first set were 'on a dime', no travel at all.

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