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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 10:23 am 
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Since Gillian Murphy is one of the few confirmed dancers (ABT Site) can I offer several more thoughts about her. Kevin McKenzie (ABT Artistic Director) on the her Swan Lake video says, "In the technical challenges of the White Swan variation alone the control is so, so terribly demanding....Technically now we're talking about the kind of virtuosity....what we understand that word to mean." Angel Corella says,"Who can worry about Gillian's technique, she's such a strong dancer, that it's a pleasure...."

I would add to this my already expressed opinion that her character portrayal is also extremely impressive. I wrote about her March 2007 Swan Lake performance in Detroit....

"Gillian Murphy's dancing last night was generally excellent, but what was wonderful to me was the 'Drama That She Sustained' throughout the entire evening. If the evening had stopped after her performance of Odile, I would have no idea how she could go on living with herself as a normal person. Her Odile was the Woman who Could Collapse Empires. She knocked over a few of mine in regard to my views of who's who in the world of ballet. It was definitely more a portrayal of seductive power than malice."


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 5:58 am 
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I finally received a casting list from the ticket office of the Mariinsky:

VIII International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY
13 - 23 March 2008
Thu, 13 Mar 2008, 19:00
Opening of the VIII International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY
Glass Heart
ballet in two acts
Music: Alexander von Zemlinsky
Choreography: Kirill Simonov (2008)
Irina Golub
Yekaterina Kondaurova
Yana Selina
Islom Baimuradov
Anton Pimonov
Maxim Zyuzin
Conductor: Mikhail Agrest
Fri, 14 Mar 2008, 19:00
Glass Heart
ballet in two acts
Music: Alexander von Zemlinsky
Choreography: Kirill Simonov (2008)
Yekaterina Osmolkina
Nadezhda Gonchar
Alina Somova
Anton Pimonov
Alexei Nedviga
Alexei Timofeyev
Conductor: Mikhail Agrest
Sat, 15 Mar 2008, 19:00
Swan Lake
fantasy ballet in three acts (four scenes)
Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (1895)
revised choreography and stage direction: Konstantin Sergeyev (1950) Diana Vishnjova
Jerve Moro
Sun, 16 Mar 2008, 19:00
Swan Lake Gillian Murphy
Andrian Fadeev
Tue, 18 Mar 2008, 19:00
Swan Lake
Maria Alexandrova (Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow)
Danila Korsuntsev
Wed, 19 Mar 2008, 19:00
Swan Lake
Viktorija Tereshkina
Anhel Korejja
Thu, 20 Mar 2008, 19:00
Swan Lake
Tamara Roho
Igor Kolb
Fri, 21 Mar 2008, 19:00
Swan Lake
Ulyana Lopatkina
Roberto Bolle (La Scala, London Royal Ballet)
Carnaval. For Four. Le Reveil de Flore
Yekaterina Osmolkina
Yevgenia Obraztsova
Andrian Fadeyev
Leonid Sarafanov
Vladimir Shklyarov
Islom Baimuradov
Filipp Stepin
Sun, 23 Mar 2008, 19:00
Close of the VIII International Ballet Festival MARIINSKY
Gala concert With international ballet stars.
Cast to be announced


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:16 pm 
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Thanks, jpc. You got up early in the morning for this one. Hope to see you in Saint Petersburg.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 06, 2008 9:29 pm 
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Yes, JPC, thank you for that updated list. I hope to see you and Buddy both next week! Petersburg has decided to bring us snow in honor of the Festival. It waited all winter, until just last week, to do so -- makes for a prettier city IMHO :-) and not cold here at all.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:35 am 
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I wanted to go back and add the casting for Carnaval -- Natalia N had speculated or asked about it early on in this thread. The following list is what the same press release offers for the March 22 performance:

Evgenia Obratsova, Vladimir Shklyarov, Marianna Pavlova, Sergey Salikov, Sergey Popov, Evgenia Dolmatova, Yana Selina, Stanislav Burov and Islam Baimuradov.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:42 am 
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Thanks, Catherine, for the added information. I'm glad to hear that Evgenia Obraztsova will be performing and a Pavlova always sounds good. We also had a couple days of snow in Switzerland, which makes the area extremely beautiful. I look forward to seeing you as well.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:19 am 
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The Festival will be starting in two days. I am looking forward to Catherine's very fine reviews. Maybe we will hear something from jpc as well. I don't usually have computer access in Saint Petersburg, but if anything really 'wonderful' should happen I will try and post a word or two. I hope to be able to make some comments when I get back to Switzerland. As usual there should be some really beautiful performances.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:20 am 
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Thanks Buddy :-). I hope I can do all the various Odettes and Odiles justice! :-) I'm looking forward to the Glass Heart and the 22nd mixed program the most however. And curious what will be on the gala's bill too.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:56 pm 
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Kirill Simonov's "The Glass Heart" premiered last night. I will post a review as soon as possible-- it was a unique and intriguing ballet based on the libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal depicting a love triangle in juxtaposition to a purer couple in love. More soon!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:26 am 
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Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Opening Night
The Eighth Annual International Mariinsky Festival
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
13 March 2008
By Catherine Pawlick

Opening night of the Eighth Annual International Mariinsky Festival provided a cozy retreat from drizzle and near-freezing temperatures in chilly St. Petersburg this time of year. Curiosity over the much-discussed new ballet by Kirill Simonov, “The Glass Heart”, was sated during its premier to a full house and warm audience reception.

Based on motifs from Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s little-known libretto “The Triumph of Time”, the ballet traces a love triangle offset to the backdrop of an idyllic couple, and takes its themes from some biographical facts from Alexander Zemlinsky, and Gustav and Alma Mahler’s lives.*

The full version of the ballet’s score, written by Zemlinsky between 1903 and 1913, has been lost, but the second act remains, and this evening it was heard for the first time, played expertly by the Mariinsky Orchestra under Mikhail Agrest’s reliable baton.

In the ballet, Gustav, a rich nobleman danced with great finesse by Islam Baimuradov, is engaged to Alma, danced by the stunningly beautiful Ekaterina Kondaurova. Baimuradov’s ability to shift from classical to modern movements and back in the blink of an eye brands him as one of the company’s most tireless and talented dancers. But in this performance his ability to sneer in the role of the physically abusive “loving” husband captured his dramatic talents better than many other roles to date. Kondaurova, she of the longest, leanest legs on the company roster, her bright red locks recalling Moira Shearer’s grace and mystery, was rightfully deemed by Dance Magazine one of “25 to Watch” this year. Doing honor to that categorization, she danced Alma with bravura and emotional abandon. Dressed first in red lace and later in a red velvet sleeved bodice with white lace skirt, she became both a mistress of her character and of Siminov’s unique language of movement. Together Baimuradov and Kondaurova have a physical understanding that make their partnership seamless and intriguing to watch.

Maxim Zuizin appeared as Alexander, the poor poet in love with Alma. Zuizin danced his role with more passion and dramatic energy than I’ve seen from him in the past four years, his bold movements and confident demeanor replacing the tentativeness that has often marked prior performances. In the final scene Alexander first strangles and then tries to drown a doll replica of Alma in the onstage fountain. This interlude approached madness, resulting in water all over the stage and Zuizin more than a little soaked. But Zuizin embraced it all with fervor, revealing the seeds of deeper dramatic talent than anyone might have suspected. He is a company treasure rising out of dormancy who excels when given something meaty on which to chew.

In contrast to this openly abusive and needy love triangle, Triton the Gardener and His Wife the Nymph, danced by Anton Pimonov and Yana Selina respectively, embodied pure unadulterated love. First appearing in a kilt with knee-socks and later in tight baby blue jazz pants, Pimonov is an old hand to the modern steps in “Glass Heart”, his undulating movement and quick transitions seemingly second-nature. Selina kept pace with him, her wide smile constant throughout, as they both floated through brisk arm movements or soaring jetés across the stage. In juxtaposition to the dark lust of the initial trio, a surprising moment of a full kiss between the two sealed the romantic nature of their interaction.

At various interludes in “Glass Heart”, a corps de ballet enters. At first the women appear in pill-box hats with small feathers, long gloves and knee-length flower-print dresses en pointe; the men are in tails and pants, the look reminiscent of Ratmansky’s ballroom in “Cinderella”. Later the men lose their shirts and, the women shift to yellow frocks. A smaller set of women come out in high-waisted ragged edged skirts with gold glitter on their bodices. The unique costumes don’t tell you exactly who the characters are, save for the opening of the second act, when nymphs with watering cans walk across a stage of low fog, with large crossbows hanging from the ceiling which underline the theme of the Glass Heart that is, presumably, about to be shattered. But in each shift the costumes intrigue and color the stage, dressing the libretto in an avant-garde fashion.

The ballet’s title prompts the obvious question to whom the glass heart belongs, and does it break? The answer appears to be Alma – her cold glass heart shatters only the hearts of those around her as she is incapable of anything but teasing men to the point of distraction. The heart theme is emphasized throughout by Alma’s pointed index finger maliciously pushing Alexander in the chest, and his crumpling reaction.

Simonov’s choreography, which will be familiar to those who have seen his very modern “Nutcracker”, is not for everyone, and it is here that most observers will disagree on their conclusions about the piece. He favors a cross between Eifman and Forsythe, with lifts from the modern vocabulary – legs both bent in retire passé position, one then piercing the air with an abrupt battement – and port de bras reminiscent of the near sign-language arm movements used in “Steptext”, only ramped up considerably in speed. The characters repeatedly carve any number of ovals or circles in the air while swiveling their hips and bent knees into various positions. Straight elbows and flat hands add frequent accents. But there are pointe shoes as well as bare feet in this ballet. The overall effect could be called overdone or busy. But if it’s less than the lovely Mariinsky dancers deserve, it is nonetheless not far from the growing trend in contemporary movement shown by many other choreographers in the West. A recent visit to San Francisco left me with rather poor impressions of the caliber of dancer at one of America’s greatest ballet companies when compared to the polished, unified look and unadulterated high level of technique that seeps from every Mariinsky dancer. Whether you like the movement and “look” of “Glass Heart” or not, the entire cast looked comfortably at home in Simonov’s idiom, and that only speaks to their own skill and beauty.

Simonov’s “Glass Heart” is a unique, modern work that reflects the shifting choreographies of our times. Its libretto offers plenty of room for thought; it’s costumes surprise, and its movement –whether you love it or hate it-- intrigues. This short ballet is sure to incite some sort of reaction in each viewer. And isn’t that what art is about, anyway?


Last edited by Catherine Pawlick on Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:29 am 
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FYI
JPC has posted his initial impressions of last night on BalletTalk in case any one is interested.

Kevin Ng, who receives press tickets and sometimes appears on our site, was also in attendance but I haven't seen any reviews from him.

Buddy is here at the festival as well but said it will be unlikely that he will be online given the outrageous prices ($35/day to use internet!)


Last edited by Catherine Pawlick on Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:03 am 
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The preliminary program for the Gala Concert was posted today. It includes "In the Middle", Lopatkina in both "Carmen" and Satie, another round of Tereshkina with Corella, Tchaikovsky Pas with Novikova and Sarafanov, and Ballet Imperiale, among other ballets on the list. This isnt final, but it's what is listed to date.

I'll be watching Gillain Murphy tonight with Andrian Fadeev and will report back as soon as I can.

A brief look at Carnaval rehearsals today, they are still putting finishing touches on the ballet.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 7:01 am 
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“Swan Lake”
Mariinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
17 March 2008
by Catherine Pawlick

The arguably intriguing arrangement of six sequential “Swan Lakes” during this year’s Mariinsky Festival began on Saturday night when Mariinsky principal dancer Diana Vishneva appeared alongside Igor Kolb, who replaced the initially advertised Herve Moreau of the Paris Opera Ballet.

I saw Vishneva’s St. Petersburg debut as Odette/Odile in 2005 which, as many critics noted, left much to be desired. She was not, at that time, a fragile, loving Odette, and technically she faltered at numerous points, starting from the initial arabesque in Act One. The feedback from her Saturday night performance, however, was more positive; the audience gave her a warm reception and numerous curtain calls. Clearly she has improved in this role.

But this festival is about more than the Mariinsky stars – it is, by definition, an “International” festival. Obviously it is both a great honor and a considerable responsibility for any foreign-trained dancer to appear on the Mariinsky stage – the literal birthplace of “Swan Lake”. No doubt one goal of this year’s festival is to compare and contrast various styles and interpretations of the same role in the same production while pairing Mariinsky dancers with foreign stars.

The first mixed couple appeared in the second “Swan Lake” of this sextet. Gillian Murphy of American Ballet Theatre joined the Mariinsky's Andrian Fadeev, who danced as her Siegfried.

Having refined my eyesight by a steady diet of Mariinsky Odette/Odiles these past four years in St. Petersburg, I’ve come to prefer the purest technician of all as the ideal Odette/Odile: that of Uliana Lopatkina. While many argue she is too “cold”, she remains, for me, the example by which other ballerinas can be judged technically. The rest is a matter of drama and expression, and so of course will vary from performer to performer.

That Gillian Murphy is a beautiful dancer with a strong sense of balance and honed technique is clear from the moment she appears on stage. That she was not trained with the strong épaulement and careful wrist and hand placement favored by the Russians is also obvious from the beginning. I found her port de bras distracting, as her hands favor a spread-finger approach with wilted elbows. I also noted a lack of pliancy in her back – she remained more upright than other Kirov Odettes I have seen on this stage, and didn’t have that sharp arch in her arabesque that many of the Mariinsky soloists have. The effect of both arms and back resulted in a very Romantic era feel, but not what one typically sees on Theatre Square these days.

This was compensated for, however, by several moments of technical expertise that stunned more than a few audience members. Murphy’s transformation back into a Swan at the end of Act One was done facing upstage, her back to the audience. As the music hit the appropriate crescendo, she froze en pointe, motionless, and then bourréed offstage as if pulled away by the Evil Sorcerer’s magic. Applause erupted in the house. Likewise, in her Act II variation, a set of double turns à la seconde were models of classical purity.

In this particular performance, several alterations were made to the Sergeyev choreography. At her initial entrance, Murphy did not bourrée onstage; rather she bourréed in place upstage, before the first arabesque. During the White Swan Adagio, she altered the sequence of partnered “step-up” turns; a number of lifts were replaced or otherwise altered. The reason for these shifts were not clear: is this ABT’s version? Or did Murphy have issues with those particular steps?

The partnering sequences with Fadeev, however, were faultless, a testament to his skills. He has been paired with a wide range of ballerinas during his career to date, and never ceases to make the female appear weightless, the double work effortless, no matter who he partners. There is never any fumbling or grasping for hands, never a half-missed turn or failed lift. Fadeev is seamless when it comes to supporting the ballerina, and just as smooth in his solo work. From his very first entrance, he was the noble Prince, and his movements exuded this persona: slow, measured turns, impeccable jumps, all performed with the cleanest of lines. His distraction in the first scene provided ample juxtaposition to his keen interest in Odette after their first meeting. Likewise, after being tricked into pledging his love for Odile, Fadeev’s shock was tangible, his rush to the scene by the lake done with a run that implied the urgency of his grave error.

Other more welcome changes occurred in the dramatic realm. As Odette, Murphy did a fine job of transmitting the warmth and fragility of a white swan in her gestures and interactions with Fadeev. A kiss on the lips, a head on his shoulder, his arms around her – it was clear this was a couple in love, not just going through the motions. As Odile, Murphy’s persona was stronger. She performed triple pirouettes in the Black Swan variation, and her fouettes, dotted with doubles every other turn with the arms in third high, were indeed impressive. She regarded Fadeev as a spider watches a fly; their pas de deux was about her conquest, and she succeeded.

Pavel Bubelnikov conducted the evening, which embraced slower tempos and abrupt endings at several points, presumably at the dancers’ request.

While the house was, strangely, not entirely full this evening, the number of “bravos” that rang out during numerous curtain calls attested to the audience’s approval of the Murphy-Fadeev performance. This American ballerina managed to enrapture the local crowd just as much as our beloved Kirov ballerinas do. It will be interesting to see if the Royal Ballet’s Tamara Rojo, who performs on Thursday night with Igor Kolb, will have the same success.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:27 am 
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
March 15, 2008
Swan Lake
Ballet in three acts, four scenes.
Odette-Odile Diana Vishneva
Siegfried Igor Kolb
Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov
Jester Grigory Popov

Tonight began the series of six Swan Lakes, a rather novel arrangement for a festival, which generally presents a concentration of acclaimed ballets and performers and perhaps some world premieres in a limited time frame.

The Swan Lake sextet will uniformly show the version current in the Mariinsky company: Konstantin Sergeyev's 1950 version of the Marius Petipa/Lev Ivanov 1895 version via Agrippina Vaganova's 1933 amendments (in which Konstantin Sergeyev starred). Whether the K. Sergeyev version is the most authentic of the current versions of Swan Lake seen internationally can be argued. It is, at least for me, the most finely tuned, the most satisfactory and complete in terms of full production values. Its downside is that it keeps the happy ending originating in and dictated by the Soviet era of Russian history.

The only novelty will be found in the performance/interpretation of the principals. Three are dancers of the Mariinsky (in order of appearance): Diana Vishneva, Victoria Tereshkina, and Uliana Lopatkina. Three are invited guests: Gillian Murphy (of ABT), Maria Alexandrova (of the Bolshoi) andTamara Rojo (of the Royal Ballet).

Tonight's Swan Lake featured Diana Vishneva (phonetically vishnyova) and Igor Kolb. Earlier cast announcements had Herve Moreau in the role of Siegfried.
Ms Vishneva triumphed in the double role.

But let me start with the first scene, first act. Never have I enjoyed as much the Swan Lake first scene as this evening. I have seen the K. Sergeyev version twice before. This time the costumes seemed fresher, the décor more harmonious, and the dancers of the ensemble so pleasing and radiant; their performance left nothing to be desired. (This makes me look forward to the five repeats).

Mr Kolb delineated the character of Siegfried clearly and danced handsomely.

The cast of the pas de trois was outstanding. Vasily Shcherbakov showed extraordinary ballon in his aerial work and impeccable landings. He partnered Nadezhda Gonchar and Elisaveta Cheprasova gallantly. I was particularly taken with Cheprasova's beats and her charming demeanor and winning smile throughout the dance.

The second scene of the first act, the lake scene, introduced Ms Vishneva's
magic.

Her magic is, in my view, the unfurling of the choreographic patterns and steps, not as a sequence of preparation and motion and pose, but as a continuous ribbon of dance, flowing on the musical pulse, animated by breath,
and propelled forward by the inevitability of purpose.

This unfurling ribbon, all of one piece, began with her entrance and continued through the pas de deux and variation, until the last pose.

Mr Kolb was a noble partner in demeanor and double work.

The second act is enriched by the Spanish, Neapolitan, Hungarian and Mazurka character dances adding textures and rhythms to the court proceedings before the main event of the presentation of Odile. The K. Sergeyev version, it seems to me, has preserved particularly elegant versions of these dances- which are significant parts of 19th c. three-act ballets.

Ms Vishneva's Odile seemed a creature totally different from the driven Odette.
Odile, though a magical creature in the story, is very much goal-oriented, out there to accomplish a task: pique the interest of Siegfried. From the showy, 'look what I can do' fouettes (two singles, a double, until the last eight singles nicely finished), to the come-hither glances and the 'not so fast, mister' arm gestures
she accomplished her goal neatly and efficiently.

Vishneva was received with thunderous applause and had literally endless curtain calls. Vishneva fans were out in droves.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:34 am 
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Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
16 March 2008
Mariinsky Theatre
Swan Lake
Odette / Odile Gillian Murphy
Siegfried Andrian Fadeyev
Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov
Jester Grigory Popov

Gillian Murphy made a dazzling debut at the Mariinsky.

As Odette, she danced with an impeccable technical purity. From her entrance, she commanded the stage by virtue of the clarity of the path she traced in the execution of the choreography. Blessed with a supple back, she seemed to honor the plastique of the Ivanov choreography in its own home, the Mariinsky.

Looking stunningly beautiful in her ABT tutu (recognizable by the red stones set vertically in the midriff), she quickly established a mood of queenly concern for her subject swan-women with the little mime scene with Siegfried, when she asks him not to harm them.

The partnership with Andrian Fadeyev was altogether felicitous. They made a handsome couple. The supported pirouettes were so cleanly done that they became emotional expressions of passion rather than mere physical feats of coordination. The tempo of the second scene, conducted tonight by Pavel Bubelnikov, seemed somewhat slower than the previous evening's Mikhail Sinkevich reading. The dancers met the challenge, or perhaps choice, in grand style. Fadeyev's double work was solicitous and altogether exemplary.

There was a moment of great tenderness spelled out gently, when Odette lowering Siegfried's arm raised in pledging a vow of eternal love, brings it down and places her head on his shoulder in physical intimacy.

In Odette's variation, the fast series of retires passes releve and batterie could have used an accelerated and accelerating tempo for more effectiveness. One assumes this was conductor's choice.

Ms Murphy has a great sense of balance. Toward the end of the lake scene she stood poised on her pointes, queenly, without a quiver, a second or two extending into eternity. A great moment.

The characterization of Odile presented by Ms Murphy relies, it seems to me, not on acting out the ways of seduction, but on dancing out what she feels attracts Siegfried to Odette. Thus, she dances, not coquettishly, but with the best style in her power.

Her variation was well nigh perfect. The triple pirouettes followed by double attitude turns en dehors, then repeated, were breathtaking. The double a la seconde turns en dedans were classicism incarnate.

Fadeyev, in his variation and throughout, was a model Siegfried, impetuous, spontaneous, youthful. His jumps were eloquent with the qualities mentioned, which is to say, a joy to watch.

The Mariinsky production has a dramatic lighting change in the midst of the Odile sequence, when the lights are extinguished from all but the couple. The lights return for the coda and finale.

The coda again gave a chance for Siegfried to show his prowess and for Odile to highlight her capabilities. Her fouettes showed her in carefree style doing single, single, double with the arms en couronne every other double, and finishing with eight singles.

A debut at the Mariinsky is a great honor. Congratulations to Gillian Murphy for her wonderful performance!

The audience seemed to receive Ms Murphy with rapt attention, and rewarded her with thunderous applause and many curtain calls.


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