CriticalDance Forum

Kirov 2007-2008 Tours
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Author:  Cygne [ Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Baden Baden casting

Cassandra wrote:
Its now less than two weeks to go before the Baden Baden performances and frankly I think it a disgrace that no casting has been made available.

Baden Baden is an excellent venue for this company with its massive stage and huge seating capacity. The last time I was there people had come from all over Germany and many, like myself, from much further afield. Why are we not given the courtesy of advance casting?

Hi Cassandra. At this late date, it's terrible that no advance cast lists
have been published. That's one way to subject the audience to last minute surprises.

Author:  Azulynn [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:52 am ]
Post subject: 

Here is the full casting information for the upcoming Baden-Baden tour. Some surprises (Alina Somova doesn't seem a natural for Masha in Nutcracker, but she's making her debut nonetheless) - and a few Christmas gifts : Ulyana Lopatkina in The Dying Swan and Sheherazade, as well as The Ring and Flora's Awakening as part of the gala evening.


Sleeping Beauty

22 December
Aurora - Alina Somova
Désiré - Anton Korsakov
Lilac Fairy - Ekaterina Kondaurova
Bluebird pdd - Sofia Gumerova/Vasily Scherbakov
Diamond - Viktoria Tereshkina

23 December - mat
Aurora - Olesya Novikova
Désiré - Vladimir Shklyakov
Lilac Fairy - Anastasia Kolegova
Bluebird pdd - Sofia Gumerova/Vasily Scherbakov
Diamond - Ekaterina Osmolkina

23 December - eve
Aurora - Viktoria Tereshkina
Désiré - Igor Kolb
Lilac Fairy - Anastasia Kolegova
Bluebird pdd - Sofia Gumerova/Anton Korsakov
Diamond - Ekaterina Osmolkina

And for all three performances :
Fée Tenderness - Nadejda Gonchar
Fée Temperament - Evgenia Obraztsova
Fée Generosity - Yulia Kasenkova
Fée Bravery - Irina Golub
Canary Fee - Yana Selina
Carabosse - Igor Petrov ou Islom Baimudarov (le 23 en matinée)
Jewels (Sapphire, Gold, Silver) - Nadejda Gonchar, Irina Golub, Yulia Kasenkova
White Cats - Yana Selina & Grigory Popov


25 December
Masha (Clara) - Evgenia Obraztsova
Nutcracker - Anton Korsakov

26 December - 13h30
Masha - Ekaterina Osmolkina
Nutcracker - Vladimir Shklyakov

26 December - 19h
Masha - Alina Somova
Nutcracker - Igor Kolb

And for all performances :
Drosselmeyer - Petr Stasyunas
Fritz - Polina Rassadina
Luisa - Svetlana Ivanova
Snowflakes - Ekaterina Kondaurova & Anastasia Kolegova
Trio - Nadejda Gonchar, Irina Golub, Vasily Scherbakov

Fokine Evening, 27 December
Le Spectre de la Rose - Irina Golub, Igor Kolb
The Dying Swan - Ulyana Lopatkina
The Firebird - Ekaterina Kondaurova, Sergei Popov
Sheherazade - Ulyana Lopatkina, Ivan Kozlov

Gala Evening, 28 December

1st part : RING (chor. Alexei Miroshnichenko)
Irina Golub, Viktoria Tereshkina, Mikhail Lobukhin, Alexander Sergeev

2nd part : Divertissements
Talisman - Ekaterina Osmolkina, Mikhail Lobukhin
Festival in Venice - Evgenia Obraztsova, Vladimir Shklyakov
Auber Grand pas de deux - Viktoria Tereshkina, Anton Korsakov
La Rose malade - Ulyana Lopatkina, Ivan Kozlov
Tchaïkovsky par de deux - Alina Somova, Leonid Sarafanov

3rd part : Flora's Awakening (as reconstructed by Vikharev)
Flora - Ekaterina Osmolkina
Zephyr - Andrian Fadeyev
Aurora - Yana Selina
Diana - Svetlana Ivanova

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:16 am ]
Post subject: 

Interesting -- Kozlov and Lopatkina danced La Rose Malade last week in Bangkok as well but they have yet to perform it here in Petersburg.

The company also never dances the Vainonen Nutcracker here -- it's only the Vaganova students.

Azulynn you are in for a treat! I will be curious how the German audiences like Miroshnichenko's "Ring". It is rather avant-garde.

Author:  Azulynn [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

One thing I find worrying about the Mariinsky casting policy is their complete disregard for partnerships. Leading dancers seem to be paired randomly, and partners switched for no reason. For instance, why is Alina Somova paired first with Anton Korsakov, then with Igor Kolb, while they both dance the other ballet with a different partner ? And Anton Korsakov will dance over three performances with Somova, Obraztsova, and then Tereshkina.

It's not just the touring schedule, as this "mix-and-match" policy seems to dominate as well in Saint-Petersburg, while all the dancers would probably gain immensely from working with one main partner if they had the opportunity to (and the right person to dance with).

Author:  Cygne [ Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:27 pm ]
Post subject: 

The late Sir Peter Ustinov once said, " . . . I'm surprised; but I haven't been taken by surprise." This is the velcro approach to emploi: Throw everyone "up in the air," and whoever "sticks on the wall," cast them. As far as casting is concerned, there doesn't seem to be artistic direction, vision or focus. In today's Maryinsky, it's not important that certain dancers aren't suited for certain roles, or paired effectively.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:02 am ]
Post subject: 

Maybe this is due to the prevalence of the "cult of the ballerina" at the MT in a way you don't see at other theatres -- by that I mean, take the Bolshoi. You can rattle off a list of famous, established partnerships: Bessmertnova/Mukhamedov; Vasiliev/Maximova; Liepa/Ananiashvili. At the MT that hasn't really been the case since...since Sergeev and Dudinskaya...? Do I have to go back that far? I suppose you could list Altynai and Farukh or Makhalina with Zelensky but even in those cases one of each "pair" was known in his/her own right -- it wasn't so much about the partnership as about the individual. There tends to be a focus on "single stars" of either gender less so than forming long term partnerships. I agree, especially with certain dancers, it would benefit the company and the dancers themselves to be able to work longterm with a single partner rather than pursuing the "trade off" (or as Cygne said, "Velcro") approach. Some individuals just have better chemistry with other individuals; and then there are in fact physical requirements to think of -- the wrong physical match will never make a "good" partnership no matter how fantastic both dancers are as individuals.

One other note that I think plays into this is the ranks of the MT men. They aren't as strong as they could be, and they aren't (IMHO) as strong as the Bolshoi at present time. You don't see any of those Cavalier Partners that some companies have, you know the tall males who turn partnering itself into an art, showing off the ballerina at her best. Here it seems more every man (and woman) for him/herself.

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:26 am ]
Post subject: 

I think one of the reasons everyone gets to dance with everyone else might be down to the modern trend of dancers injuring themselves more regularly than in the past. The pragmatic approach is to let all the dancers experience one another’s partnering skills in case someone needs to be replaced at short notice.

Personally I love the seamless partnering of long established couples and my favourite pairing of today is Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur of English National Ballet.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:45 am ]
Post subject:  Greetings from Baden Baden

Some excellent performances here in Baden Baden. Tonight will be the last night with an exciting looking gala programme. I shall be posting a couple of reviews when I return to London , but must go now as a very sweet young dancer needs this terminal, More anon.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:10 am ]
Post subject:  Sleeping Beauty in Baden Baden

Dornröschen (The Sleeping Beauty)
The Kirov Ballet
Baden Baden, Germany
22nd and 23rd (mat & eve) December 20007

The Kirov Baden Baden performances of Sleeping Beauty (Sergeyev Version) were all hugely enjoyable with just a couple of reservations about casting here and there. As it had been almost eighteen months since I had last seen the company dance I may have approached the first performance in a more indulgent mood than usual, so will start by saying that the first night Aurora, Alina Somova, appeared to have improved somewhat since I last saw her as she seems to finally be addressing that annoying habit of sticking her chin out. Her lack of co-ordination is becoming slightly less noticeable now and she looks more at ease in the Sergeyev version of Beauty than in the now notorious clip of her on You Tube in the Vikharev reconstruction featuring one error after another. In the first act her legs slammed up at every opportunity, though far more jarring to my sensibilities were her ultra gymnastic jetés that weren’t so much dropped crotch as actual ten to two’s; fortunately she was a bit more restrained for the rest of the ballet. Of course Somova does look the part of Aurora being pretty and blonde with coltish limbs but for me that’s as far as it goes: acrobatics and ballet simply don’t mix in my book.

Somova apart, there was a huge amount to admire. In the prologue every single fairy variation was danced as well as you will see anywhere today and the corps de ballet was praiseworthy throughout. Two dancers stood head and shoulders above the others though; firstly Viktoria Tereshkina in the Diamond variation of the last act, a miracle of musicality with perfect phrasing to match her speed and accuracy but sadly only appearing in this role on the opening night. The second dancer to send a shiver of pleasure down my spine was Vasily Scherbakov as the Bluebird, performing a series of brisés so perfectly executed that he brought to mind the great Valery Panov and was a reminder to me of exactly why this superb dancer has a fan following way out of proportion to the meagre number of roles he is allocated at the Kirov.

In the other two main roles Ekaterina Kondaurova danced a sweetly gracious Lilac Fairy who was both gentle and regal. I like this dancer very much: a willowy redhead, she has a similar body type to Somova but unlike that lady she is able to control her long limbs and has the épaulement and placement that Somova lacks. Like Tereshkina, Kondaurova only danced on the first night but her Lilac Fairy left an indelible impression. The Prince on this occasion was Anton Korsakov, one of the company’s finest, but I found him a little under par in all his Baden Baden performances though to be fair an under par Korsakov is still better than many dancers I’ve seen in this role when on top form. I didn’t consider him the right partner for Somova though as she was taller than him when on pointe, but Scherbakov was also matched with a taller partner: Sophia Gumerova, so maybe they aren’t too fussy in the Kirov about height compatibility.

The matinee Beauty of the following day was perhaps the best all-round performance of the three, with a gorgeous Aurora from Olesya Novikova who danced a Rose Adagio that was far more assured than is usual with Russian dancers who in my experience rarely raise their arms en couronne. Novikova did though and held a completely wobble-less set of balances quite perfectly, the only fault I could find is that she over-extends, but to be fair to her the high extensions are very controlled and not thrown wildly towards the ceiling. Her prince was Igor Kolb, ardent and elegant from start to finish, he dances well with Novikova and his partnering was as exemplary as ever with their last act pas de deux displaying real imperial grandeur.

This matinee performance featured a Carabosse I hadn’t seen before: Islom Baimuradov giving a very personal reading of the role. Tall and slender and more majestic than Aurora’s mother, he resembles a catwalk model gone to the bad, but his controlled viciousness was so effective you would have been forgiven for wondering if on this occasion evil was going to prevail. His opponent as Lilac Fairy was Anastasia Kolegova, recruited to the Kirov from St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, and although she didn’t have quite the impact of Kondaurova the night before she nevertheless gave a very effective and well danced account of the role. The other main cast change was Ekaterina Osmolkina replacing Tereshkina as the Diamond Fairy. She dances beautifully but with the warm glow of a pearl rather than the diamond glitter than Tereshkina possesses. The Sapphire, Gold and Silver Fairies were Nadezhda Gonchar, Irina Golub and Yulia Kasenkova at all three performances and all danced beautifully.

The matinee was so good that I actually toyed with the idea of skipping the evening show as I felt nothing could top it and would just be an anti climax after the delights of the afternoon but luckily I changed my mind. To be honest I couldn’t quite picture Viktoria Tereshkina in the role of Aurora as I’ve always seen her as a technical dazzler and the nearest thing the Kirov has to Alexandrova. It turned out that I was totally wrong, as Tereshkina was to give a performance that was quite simply inspired.

Although in the first act as she had problems with the first balance of the Rose Adagio, the second was more successful. This initial mishap aside she went on to give one of the most intelligent readings of the role I’ve seen as here was an Aurora that wasn’t just the prize of an intrepid fairytale prince, but a sensitive young woman responding to every aspect of the drama unfolding around her. There is what I would call an appropriateness about Tereshkina’s dancing, she can certainly let rip when the role requires it but in the many faceted part of Aurora she knows when to exercise restraint, and the lyricism of the second act vision scene where she was both elusive and ethereal contrasted perfectly with her sumptuous reading of the final act where she demonstrated exactly what the ‘grand manner’ should mean. Unlike Somova and Novikova, Tereshkina never over-extends and her working leg never goes higher than the optimum to retain the beauty of her line. In the pas de deux for example, her backbend was far lower than the other two dancers because she aligned her leg with her partner’s arm instead of raising it vertically and throughout the entire ballet I was impressed by her thoughtful approach to the role.

Her partner was the very youthful looking Vladimir Shklyarov who has come on a lot since I last saw him and with a little more experience will make a very decent prince, but at present there are still a few small flaws in his partnering that need ironing out. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a credit in the programme as the names of the matinee and evening princes had been transposed, so a large part of the audience never got to know whom they were watching. There were other errors too such as Obraztsova being listed as the second prologue Fairy Leidenschaft when in fact Elena Chmil danced at all performances and Nikolai Zubkovsky was listed as the Wolf when in fact he wasn’t even in Baden Baden. A printed cast sheet displayed on the wall was no better as at the matinee performance it claimed Aurora was being danced by Alina Somova instead of Novikova. I do hope the latter was a genuine error and not an attempt to mislead.

Author:  Cygne [ Mon Jan 14, 2008 6:04 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks Cassandra for the wonderful report and play by play!

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:42 am ]
Post subject: 

Glad you enjoyed it Cygne, over the Christmas/New year period I saw a total of 15 ballet performances in Baden Baden and the Spanish Canaries and hope to write about them all. In Gran Caneria I even found myself playing an active part (albeit behind the scenes) in a performance of Nutcracker.

Sadly all good things come to end and I'm now back at the daily grind.

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:51 am ]
Post subject:  The Nutcracker in Baden Baden

The Nutcracker
Kirov Ballet
Baden Baden, Germany
25th & 26th (mat & eve) December 2007

Looking out at the Baden Baden skyline with slender columns of smoke emerging from the chimneys of frost encrusted covered roofs; the same Christmassy atmosphere seemed to prevail both inside the theatre and outside in that pretty town, the perfect setting for this seasonal ballet. I’ve seen a great number of Nutcracker productions over the years but have to admit to a special fondness for this Kirov version and it bears the test of time rather well as it is a very straight forward telling of the story. There is little to dislike though I would prefer to see Masha fall asleep under the tree rather than be put to bed wearing a ridiculous night cap and bed jacket by a maid and in the last act pas de deux I’d like to banish the four cavaliers that to me seem to gatecrash a party that should by rights be just for two. Reservations apart the ballet remains a perfect Christmas treat.

Christmas day’s Masha (Clara) was Yevgenia Obraztsova, a dancer I have heard great things about and although I had seen her before and liked what I saw, this was to be my first sight of her in a full-length role. She doesn’t disappoint: she is a lovely dancer who reminds me a little of Larissa Lezhnina in terms of performance and who facially reminds me of a very young Antoinette Sibley. Masha is a gift for Obraztsova who is able to portray a very young girl with very little effort and who delivered a good all round performance if lacking a little light and shade. Her prince was Anton Korsakov who also gave a sound if rather unexciting performance.

On Boxing Day it snowed, bringing about a welcome increase in the outside temperature that had caused the dancers to comment that Petersburg had been nowhere near as cold. Of the two performances on the 26th it was the matinee that I was to enjoy by far the most with Ekaterina Osmolkina as Masha dancing as if she had been breathed on by the muse as she stepped on stage. In the first act she was very much big sister joining in the fun but still young enough to be experiencing the magic of Christmas, but the second act transformation showed us a Masha falling willingly under the spell of the Nutcracker prince, rapturously closing her eyes and leaning back into his arms as he spins he around amid the falling snow. In the last act Osmolkina was a gorgeous Sugar Plum Fairy, full of sweetness and radiance, her variation unhurried and precise (some take it too quickly to disguise the killingly difficult footwork) and the audience clearly adored what they were watching.

As the Prince I thought Vladimir Shklyarov more at ease than in Sleeping Beauty a couple of nights before with the less demanding choreography of Nutcracker seemingly a better fit for him than that of Beauty. As I noted before he still needs to work on his partnering but nevertheless seemed to be developing a good rapport with Osmolkina. I am definitely warming to Shklyarov and although I can’t help thinking he’s gone into the big roles a little too soon he looks as if he will develop into a very interesting dancer in the near future.

The evening performance brought us Alina Somova as Masha looking to me severely under rehearsed. She had quite a few sticky moments throughout the ballet though Igor Kolb’s partnering instincts saved her from complete disaster in the double work, with a lesser partner I think the performance could well have fallen to pieces.

Apart from the principal couples there were some memorable performances from just about everyone especially Ryu Ji Yeon as a sleek Spanish dancer and Vasily Scherbakov in the Mirlitons giving what I think may prove a definitive interpretation to arguably the most famous passage of music in the ballet, flanked by the porcelain perfection of Gonchar and Golub. By the way Drosselmeyer was danced at all performances by Roman Skipkin and not Pyotr Stasiunas as erroneously printed in the programme.

The corps was breathtaking and to my relief are now wearing softer shoes so hopefully the infamous ‘Kirov clatter’ of the past few years may now be a thing of the past.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jan 21, 2008 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Giselle & Romeo and Juliet in Las Palmas

If anyone is at a loose end in May, you could do worse than take a trip to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria where the Kirov will be performing Giselle and Romeo & Juliet.

From the 7th -11th May they will be dancing at the Teatro Pérez Galdós, a large theatre situated on the seafront and with top price tickets of just 50 euros it looks a bargain.

Gran Canaria is a fantastic place to visit and has two other theatres with first class programmes of opera and dance. Well worth a visit.

see link below
(click on 'en' on top left hand corner for the English version)

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sarah Kaufman previews the Kirov's presentation of "La Bayadere" Tuesday through Sunday, January 22-27, 2008 at the Kennedy Center in the Washington Post:

Washington Post

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:57 am ]
Post subject:  Fokine Programme, Baden Baden

Fokine Programme
Kirov Ballet
Festspielhaus, Baden Baden
27th December 2007

The title on the programme for this performance was ‘Rimsky-Korsakov: “Scheherazade” and other masterworks of Mikhail Fokine’, rather as if it is Rimsky that has the biggest pulling power. Perhaps he does, as a concert with both Scheherazade and Stravinsky’s Firebird on the programme with an orchestra as good as the Kirov’s would certainly pull an audience, but makes it sound as if the emphasis is on the music rather than on the dance.

The opening Spectre de la Rose conjured a romantic mood from the start with pretty Irina Golub’s Young Girl returning from her ball in a daze of happiness. Igor Kolb’s Rose, more dynamic than when I saw him in the role before, contrasted well with Golub’s dreaminess with both catching the elusive mood of the poem and breathing life into a piece that many dancers simply can’t pull off. After a short pause came The Dying Swan danced by Yuliana Lopatkina, one of the oddest performances of the work I’ve ever seen as it was danced completely in slow motion. I’ve often felt uncomfortable with the drawn out tempi that certain Kirov dancers seem so fond of, but DS is already a slow number and to render it even slower diminishes the impact of the piece. No drama, no pathos, just arm waving: Boring.

Firebird followed after the interval with Ekaterina Kondaurova looking both magnificent and dangerous in the title role; she knows how to portray a bird, no simpering at the audience and definitely no human emoting. A tall girl who you felt could have clawed Ivan apart given the opportunity; she was an exotic bird of prey rather than the fluffy budgerigars that lesser dancers portray. Her captor was Sergei Popov as a very boyish Ivan Tsarevich; young, handsome and daring, he thinks its fun to find himself in a magical realm with supernatural birds and beautiful princesses until he discovers the grim reality of Katschei’s kingdom. However every performance I see of this ballet danced by a Russian company seems to drift further and further away from Fokine and on this occasion I was surprised by some high lifts to the side that had crept into the pas de deux for the Firebird and Ivan. Nor did I like the odd little jumps that Katschei performs across the stage as the Firebird compels his creatures to dance, as surely he should be almost immune to her magic with only the breaking of the egg containing his soul putting paid to him for good. It remains a handsome production but more care should be taken with maintaining the original choreography.

Scheherazade featured Lopatkina as a Zobeide so bedecked by bling you almost needed dark glasses just to look at her. Very imperious and grand you would have thought slave-shagging was beneath her, and Ivan Kozlov, her newly imported partner previously with the Eifman Company, hardly looked worth the effort as he was the dullest Golden Slave I’ve ever seen. Enthusiastic dancing from the company in general in this work didn’t compensate from the failings of the central character and Igor Petrov’s scampering Eunuch in his Coco-the-Clown wig (whatever happened to the traditional hat) looked particularly absurd. The slaying of the Golden Slave wasn’t a minute too soon for me.

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