CriticalDance Forum

Kirov at City Center, New York, April 2008
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Author:  Buddy [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:29 pm ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:

I could do with a little Jardin Anime right about now. It has been a while since I've seen that... it is just so lovely to watch.

Catherine, here's wishing you all the "Jardin Animes" that life and the Kirov dancers can bring you !!

These are some personal Highlight impressions from the first ten days. Hopefully some of you who were at the performances will recognize some of my descriptions and/or share some of my imagery.

Viktoria Tereshkina

A Concerto-Like Way Of Dancing

Balancing Beautifully----in one sequence after another in Don Quixote.

Ekaterina Kondaurova

Reaching Out To Space Like A Statueque Materpiece In Motion

Wonderful, linear, Statuesque dancing----solos in Paquita, La Bayadere, Don Quixote and duet dancing in Raymonda.

Women's Corps De Ballet

Absolutely Magnificent Aura In The Entrance Of The Shades----led by Yana Selina (La Bayadere) !

Extremely lovely as the Sylphs of Chopiniana-Les Sylphides. Wonderful everywhere.

Alina Somova

A Circle Of Absolutely Marvelous Jumps With Leg In Remarkably Beautiful Attitude Position----her second La Bayadere

A moment of Exquisite Statuesque Beauty her first La Bayadere. Beautiful statuesque dancing in her second and third (two nights in a row) La Bayaderes. Compelling Facial Expression in the second of these two La Bayaderes.

Ekaterina Osmolkina

Beautiful, Lighter-Than-Air Radiant Dancing----in Chopiniana-Les Sylphides and Diana And Acteon.

Two huge lighter-than-air jumps of her own, two nights in a row, during massive ovations for one of Mikhail Lobukhin bravura jump sequences.

Yana Selina

Compelling Dancing As The Lead Women's Corps De Ballet Shade

Richly Developed Solo Dancing----in Raymonda, Paquita and Chopiniana-Les Sylphides

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:42 pm ]
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So what makes these dancers so special ?

They Stand There Motionless.

It's Absolute Beauty.

Then They Simply Move Their Hands.

The Message Is Clear.

You Are, In Many Ways, As Close To Seeing Angels In Motion In This World As You Ever Will Be !

Besides the absolute beauty of what they did was their ability to sustain.

There was that constant spell to maintain. If for a moment I thought it might be broken, I simply had to look around the stage.

There they were, somewhere, most of the time everywhere, these amazing examples of human poetry. It was in their posture, their carriage. It was in their ability to move as gracefully as the air.

It Was An Almost Otherworldly Beauty In Their Overall Presence.

There was also that simple feeling, that they were, after all, individually still one of us, but no matter what, they were going to do their very best.

Their Very Best, In Many Ways, Was As Close To "The Very Best" As One Can Get.

Where does it come from? Training? Inner Transcendence? Striving? The Heart?

I can't tell you.

It's just there !

* Lifts *

And those Lifts ! Those amazingly beautiful Lifts !

A reoccurring phenomenon. One ballerina after another, performance after performance--looking down at us from up there someplace in

* Their Air Born Magnificence *

How did they get there? It's those 'invisible' men, who aren't supposed to be noticed. They are the ones, who in their strength of steel pursuit, put them there. Not enough can be said in praise as they loft one air born dancing goddess after another towards the heavens.

* One Magnificent Star Bound Maiden After Another Is Set Afloat *

looking out at us, finally secure in their aerial world,

* With All Their Being *

they reach out to us to ignite our imaginations with

* Their Somewhere-Above-It-All Majestic Presence *

A reoccurring image, again and again, not to be easily forgotten.

It is there for us to marvel at

* A Masterpiece Of Human Expression ! *

On my last night in New York I noticed

A Beautiful Crescent Moon

above the towering Manhattan skyline.

In about a week, I thought, when the Kirov dancers are back in their home in Saint Petersburg, Russia, there will once again be

A Moon

Bright Enough To Take Over From These Luminous Star Bound Dancers.

Author:  Andre Yew [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:16 pm ]
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I just read Macaulay's reviews of the Kirov NYC residency, and enjoyed them for their wit and pointed criticisms. I don't understand what the fuss is about.

I did enjoy immensely the two programs I saw last week: the closing Forsythe, and the first Balanchine night. Kondaurova was the big discovery for me: I hope we get to see more of her when the Kirov visits SoCal later this year.


Author:  NataliaN [ Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:34 am ]
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Andrew, the fuss is that Macauley himself declared that he does not care for Petipa-style classicism, which happens to be the backbone of this company. BUT all is not lost, in my mind. In today's (Monday, April 21) review by Macauley of the Balanchine weekend performances , the reviewer singles-out Ekaterina Kondaurova as the best Kirov dancer...echoing the sentiment of most audience members. There is justice in the ballet world! Will there be justice in St. petersburg...or will Kondaurova remain 2nd Soloist, when she should be fast-forwarded to Prima Ballerina on the spot.

IF Kondaurova is selected for the Fall '08 tour to California -- and that is a big "IF"...we saw what happened to another popular fave, Obraztsova -- then the prospects are good that you will see the tall redhead as Myrtha in GISELLE and Dryad Queen and/or Bridesmaid Variation and/or Street Dancer in DON Q. She is neither a Giselle nor a Kitri (should not be)...but she should have plenty of opportunities to shine while on tour.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:48 am ]
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She is neither a Giselle nor a Kitri (should not be)...but she should have plenty of opportunities to shine while on tour.

She could be an Odette/Odile though.

Author:  NataliaN [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 6:39 am ]
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Cassandra wrote:
...She could be an Odette/Odile though.

That's for sure, Cassandra...but is the Kirov bringing SWAN LAKE to the USA this fall? I don't think so. [The Ardani website has kept the casting of the '06 tour just under the '08 info...very confusing.] What I meant - America's best chance to see EK will be as Myrtha and those 2nd-soloist roles in DQ.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:26 pm ]
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This is something that I posted elsewhere, but would really like to post again here.

Alastair Macaulay wrote

"When I first saw this company in 1982, I worshiped just the way its female corps de ballet stood to take curtain calls, stretching a magnificent line from one raised arm down through one back-stretched leg."

Someday someone should take a giant list of all the names of the 'Current' "female corps de ballet" and place it high above Hermitage Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia for at least a month. It should be an annual event. At least one full page this year in the New York Times would have been just fine as well.

( PS--A "Smiley" icon with a great big Smile is also intended )

Author:  NataliaN [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:37 pm ]
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I'm no great fan of Macauley but he is absolutely correct about the overall decrease in quality of the corps between 1982 (around the time when I first saw them live) and now. In fact, as I wrote in several of my reports, I noticed a small -- not huge, but apparent -- drop in uniformity and 'breath' in the corps' work in Shades, Paquita and Chopiniana between the ca-2002 Kirov tour of London and now (2008) I last saw them in Chopiniana in London and they have most definitely gone downhill in that ballet -- instead of exceptional, they are now only "very good' (which is not bad).

In fact, I would venture to guess that the female corps de ballet may no longer be in the hands of Nina Ukhova, as it was until at least the Fall '04 Ardani tour of the US, when I saw her in Detroit during the Sleeping Beauties. Catherine, do you know if Ukhova is still around? If she is indeed still around, is she still the main coach of the corps ladies? I find it hard to believe that she would allow some of the non-uniform mannerisms that I noted in NYC.

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:37 pm ]
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Having read this thread with great interest, it seems that the promotions system at the Kirov is more politically driven than based on talent or accomplishment. Am I wrong?

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:59 am ]
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seems that the promotions system at the Kirov is more politically driven than based on talent or accomplishment. Am I wrong?

No you are quite right, certain conditions prevail at the Kirov that are common knowledge in the Russian dance world but don't exist elsewhere.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:16 am ]
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NataliaN, only saw your question today. Ukhova does not coach the corps anymore, not that I have seen since early 2005. It is typically one of the "in house" pedagogs, which, depending on the ballet, includes Vortontsova (usually her for anything overly classical, ie Bayadere or Swan Lake sequences) and now Rakhmanova, as well as Ponomarev overseeing mass rehearsals frequently. Who else. Maybe Baranov...Fateev maybe also although typically he focuses on just one dancer (ie private rehearsals or pas de deux but not the scenes en masse) I'm trying to rewind photographic memory from all the board listings -- maybe a few other pedagogs but no one else is dedicated to the corps anymore, insofar as I am aware.

So, that would explain your observation!

As a tangential but related fact about pedagogs being shifted around. To the best of my knowledge Chenchikova didn't used to teach company classes although she coached Gumerova and then Somova; but she was listed as teaching company class just a few weeks ago during the NY tour. I don't nkow what that signifies but I know for sure that from 2006 to present she hasn't been teaching (coaching yes, not teaching).

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:20 am ]
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p.s. I disagree regarding Kondaurova and Kitri. Even though it is a soubrette role typically danced (here) by shorter dancers, KK often dances the "cup dance" in Don Q, and does very well with the Spanish nuance. I would love to see her as Kitri and I do think she could EASILY pull it off. Giselle is a question mark -- she would be at ease with the choreography in Act II (witness her eternally strong Myrtha) but I wonder about the image of the peasant girl, dramatically speaking, in Act I for her.

Keep in mind we may have a new director as the new season starts and if that is the case then the sky *may* be the limit, depending on who he/she is! (I can't imagine the Vasiev saga will drag out til then, I do expect him to leave after what I heard at that last press conference).

Author:  NataliaN [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 5:25 am ]
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
....Ukhova does not coach the corps anymore, not that I have seen since early 2005.......

Bingo. That explains the marked drop in uniformity and the decrease in the overall "soft elegance" in Chopiniana and 'white acts' of the traditional repertoire. It wasn't quite as obvious during '05 and '06 (when mostly 'Ukhova's Girls' remained in the corps) but since the last major shift in the composition of the corps ladies (since the May '06 graduation when lots of girls were taken in...girls who never worked with Ukhova), the change has become obvious.

This is sad. An era of corps perfection has ended. Still a lovely corps but never ever what it was even five years ago.

Author:  NataliaN [ Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:54 am ]
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Here's an overall review of the Kirov/City Center season from the highly-respected Robert Gottlieb of the NYObserver newspaper. He is spot-on in describing "the dread Alina Somova" and Leonid Sarafanov as "the Peter Pan of the Kirov"...but there's plenty of praise for Tereshkina, Kondaurova, Fadeev and the two 'primas' Lopatkina and Vishneva.

Author:  ripowam [ Thu Apr 24, 2008 2:07 pm ]
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Then what was Ukhova doing in New York then?
I saw her in the audience several times. Just here because her husband Nisnevich came?

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