I'm back in the quiet Swiss mountain town where I have spent a great deal of time the last fifteen years and I am starting to think more about the Swan Lake performances that I am hoping to see in a few weeks at the Mariinsky Festival.
Interestingly the village figure skating club is performing it's annual show and this year it is...."Swan Lake" ! The club by the way was started about eight years ago by a young woman from Canada, who by herself and with no financial reward, has done a wonderful job coaching about 100 members (almost all girls). Her Swan Lake will be her own take on the story and looks to be very charming with some beautifully choreographed elements.
I told her that I will be going to Saint Petersburg for the Festival and that the ballet company, that rarely performs the same ballet two times in a row, is in fact going to perform six nights in a row of Swan Lake.----"It must be in the air.", she replied.
So I am watching my Swan Lake videos on my computer with Svetlana Zakharova, Marina Rzhannikova, and Yulia Makhalina, all wonderful. I can't watch any internet videos here because I only have low speed access at the moment. So I just found my Gillian Murphy version in a shipping box and hope to view it next.
Could I please take a quick look at Gillian Murphy as one example of the high level of interesting international stars that may be appearing at the Festival this year. It would appear that she might be NYC's representative this year, especially since Maria Kowrosky seems to be out for awhile. I saw Gillian Murphy perform Swan Lake last year in Detroit and she was so well received that they gave her a rescheduled lead in a second performance, probably for that reason. As I mentioned in a post at the time, I feel that her performances and that of the company in general were far superior to those on the previously released video. The video is still pretty good and at least gives some idea of what to expect live.
I think that the Saint Petersburg audience will be in for quite a treat. The difference between Gillian Murphy live and the video is that live she really didn't try to affect her character and in this case the difference for me was impressive. She is absolutely beautiful, so in being herself this time, she really did the job. Her Odette was done with a beautiful, natural focus and her Odile was pure feminine charisma. I have mentioned in the past that I have seen Odile performed as what I consider to be a captivating effort to win over a man with no added meaning (done beautifully by Maria Alexandrova) and I feel that Gillian Murphy's version is like this.
Also, besides being an excellent technician (spins, etc.), she has a wonderfully healthy looking physique for a ballerina, and her beautiful silhouette, standing on the cliff in the final act, is an image that comes to mind immediately when I think about her.
There will be other exceptional dancers as well that will be visitors to the Mariinsky stage. One wonderful possibility, hinted at by the Mariinka discusion forum but never officially mentioned, would be Lucia Lacarra. Her sensual flexibility and expressiveness would be great to see at this Festival.
So I sit back and wait to see which actual dancers will appear. The list of possible Odette-Odile dancers in the world today is exciting. The actual list of dancers that has been proposed so far is very impressive.
The one constant in all these performances will be the Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet Company itself. It will probably offer at least one of it's own female principals as well as it's backup company. The heart of the backup dancers will be the *women's corps de ballet*. I saw every performance of Swan Lake a year and a half ago in Chicago and this corps de ballet is something that I could have watched easily for another month or more. They were always excellent and never quite the same. To get an idea how good they are take a look at the Yulia Makhalina Swan Lake video (I don't have the Uliana Lopatkina one yet.).
Please take a look at my impressions of the corps dancers at the time if you are interested.
The curtain goes up and a large perfectly balanced grouping of angelically beautiful women illuminates the stage. No one moves.
They are all in short white ballet dresses that radiate out from the waist like gorgeous blossoming flowers. Their beautifully shaped legs and their poetically fine arms and hands are all placed in celestially designed poses.
This is the image that I will probably remember the most from all of the performances. It is the beginning of Act IV....
"Images of gracefully wonderful dancing women in gorgeous costumes and handsome men sailing through the air.
Framing all these images will be this grouping of beautiful humanity. The ethereally elegant women who perform the White Swan dances.
In almost every presentation the White Swan dancers performed this Act IV with breath-taking beauty. It was almost flawless. This is where the White Swan ballerinas danced together like perfectly formed waves. This is where I saw some of the loveliest dancing that I've ever seen in my life.
It was an Enchantment of Loveliness."
http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewt ... 849d9d223e
"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."
http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewt ... c&start=75
The possible list of *International Stars* and the exceptionally fine abilities of the *Kirov-Mariinsky Corps De Ballet* should make all the Swan Lake performances (in addition to the other programs) a most beautiful and interesting Festival event.
[some typo corrections made and latter still a correction about the statement that the Mariinsky "rarely perform the same ballet two times in a row". At home in Saint Petersburg, where the Festival will be, this seems to be true from my casual viewing of the schedules, but on the road I know that they often perform the same ballet for several nights in a row.]