CriticalDance Forum

International Mariinsky Festival, 13-23 March 2008
Page 5 of 6

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:34 pm ]
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The pleasure is really our's as well, Catherine. Thanks again.

Could I please go back to the fifth Swan Lake performance, which was the last of the Swan Lakes that I was able to attend, and convey my thoughts at the time.

Tamara Rojo--"Swan Lake"

Her performance was Excellent--At Times Amazing !

As Odette she was just lovely. She floated around the stage as light as air. For me she was a bit like a little kitten, in a way seeming so lovable and cuddly. To my eyes she performed everything with technical virtuosity and fineness. She was as graceful as could be.

At the end of Act I, she turned her back to the audience and waited on pointe, then rapidly exited the stage on pointe doing the standard swan arm flutter. It was one of the most dramatically impressive interpretations of this famous dance sequence that I have ever seen.

She also expressed her character in a fine theatrical manner, which I enjoy attributing to the great English literary and stage tradition. I certainly feel the same way when I watch Margot Fonteyn videos and I also sense it strongly when I see Alina Cojocaru (Royal Ballet, London) perform. I tend to assume that it is present in the coaching somewhere. Alina Cojocaru has said that she watches lots of television movies just to develop her acting ability. Tamara Rojo's facial expression was worthy of a very fine actress. She seemed to take her character literally like a stage actress would, almost acting out her perception of things in a wordless manner rather than using symbolic expression.

The Earth Shaker was her Act II Odile performance!

There were two major highlights.

The first was a Balance On Pointe that she might still be holding had not the orchestra insisted on continuing the performance.

The second was her series of Fouette turns. If I recall correctly, they went single, triple, single, triple....consistently to the very end when she did what some of us thought was a quadruple turn. They were done as securely as could be and as smoothly and gracefully as you could possibly hope for from a classical ballerina.

I saw five or six Mariinsky ballerinas in the audience sitting stageside just to see this Act.

Act III was a return to normal----lovely classical dancing with all the highlight moves performed excellently and a total commitment once again to her captivating swanlike gentleness.

Tamara Rojo is a soft graceful dancer with the ability to rival the technical feats of the NASA outer-space programs. In fact having seen her bravura performance there may no longer be a need for an outer-space program.

Tamara Rojo is a classically beautiful and extremely exciting dancer, who performed marvelously and received another super-enthusiastic Mariinsky audience response.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:08 pm ]
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Yevgenia Obraztsova et al----"Le Carnaval" and "Le Reveil De Flore"

In addition to "For Four" (previously mentioned) the second-to-last evening saw Yevgenia Obraztsova and Vladimir Shklyarov doing two lengthy performances in one evening----Le Carnaval and Le Reveil De Flore. They managed to gather the energy to do two extremely fine performances. Yevgenia Obraztsova went on to do Le Carnaval again the next night at the final Gala.

Le Carnaval

Both Le Carnaval and Le Reveil De Flore are very charming. I liked Le Carnaval more the second night being more familiar with it and seeing a slightly more developed performance. Like Le Reveil De Flore it has a very delicate character that probably needs to be performed with a lot of sensitivity. I have a feeling that if the Mariinsky continues to perform this work regularly it will develop into a very lovely ballet in the same way that Le Reveil De Flore seems to have become even more beautiful since last year.

Le Carnaval, as choreographed by Mikhail Fokine, seems to be a pleasant late 1800's love fantasy created around the music and persona of Robert Schumann. It has a ballroom setting with lots of ballroom dancers. The principal dance characters are a young woman, two 'clowns' and a butterfly.

Yevgenia Obraztsova, as the young woman, danced in her usual light, graceful and totally charming manner. She is a delight! She created her somtimes nymph-like character in her radiantly smiling manner, which although similar in feeling to her young Juliet, as seen on the internet, is definitely a different personality. She projected her character strongly, believably and consistently with her smiling radiance. It was very convincing and when I remind myself that these dancers have to try to maintain their character while performing all the exacting elements of a complete dance program I become somewhat amazed.

Another character that I really thought was done so well was the Pierrot or 'melancholy clown' performed by Islom Baimuradov. He also danced the tailor in Noah Gelber's very fine "The Overcoat". I believe I thought of Noah Gelber as a 'choreographer of personalities' and I see Islom Baimuradov as a 'dancer of personalities'. He is totally able to project his character's distinct identity into the essence of his dancing. His Pierrot was so touching and so sensitively done. He also performed brilliant personality-charged dance sequences. One was a skipping-gliding series of steps across the back of the stage that was a not-to-be-forgotten moment of inspiration. I can't say enough about how warmly his performance touched me !

Le Reveil De Flore

I saw this ballet performed three times at last years Festival. I felt last year that it got better with each performance as the dancers seemed to become more comfortable with the new material.

This year it seemed even more lovely. Some of us agreed that there had been some refinements made to the production since last year. For me the total appearance of the ballet in the first half seemed cleaner looking. Yevgenia Obraztsova and Vladimir Shklyarov appeared center stage most of the time surrounded mainly by a group of female corps de ballet members. Last year there seemed to be more dancers on stage giving the central dancing less definition. This year the focus was clearly on the lead couple. It looked to me as if they were doing more dancing as well. One of our internet friends thought that some more steps had been added at times.

In any case I thought that Yevgenia Obraztsova and Vladimir Shklyarov did a wonderful job at center stage. Yevgenia Obraztsova was as lovely as ever and danced in her usual fine and charming manner. At least twice she did a jump onto Vladimir Shklyarov's shoulder landing in a sitting position. It looked so effortless and was perfectly completed. Brava ! Their dancing moved along so smoothly and so dreamlike.

The second half, which was part of an uninterrupted total performance, seemed essentially the same as last year. It is embellished with more dancers, costumes, colors and theatrical objects. All this ended with a large number of dancers on stage forming a magnificent final tableau grouping.

Svetlana Ivanova began the performance as the goddess, Diana. She danced as beautifully as ever in her clear and graceful way.

Vladimir Shklyarov did some very impressive jumps.

The dancing of a group of young Vaganova girls was irresistible charming.

And there was much more.

This innocent, highly romanticized interpretation of classical mythological could well become a signature work in the Mariinsky repertory.

Performed with the talent and warmth of the Mariinsky dancers it is raised to the level of high art and Heart Touching Loveliness.

Author:  jpc [ Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:00 pm ]
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Mariinsky Theatre
21 March 2008
Swan Lake
Odette/Odile Ulyana Lopatkina
Siegfried Evgeny Ivanchenko
Rothbart Ilya Kuznetsov
Jester Grigory Popov

Ulyana Lopatkina's Swan Lake was certainly planned as the culmination
of the six performances of the ballet at the 8th International Ballet Festival this year.

I have seen Ms Lopatkina as the swan queen only once before, at the 6th festival
of the Mariinsky in 2006, when she performed Odette/Odile with Jose Martinez of the POB as Siegfried. At that time I had written:

“Ulyana Lopatkina as Odette-Odile remains a standard by which others are measured. To me she seems the definitive Swan Queen. The reason is that she 'nails' her performance with clarity of motion, precision of means, and command of space.
In the supported adagio of the first lakeside scene, every pas' line design was brought to completion with a definitive placement of the head. The overall effect of the completed design became expressively powerful; that, in turn, translated into emotional content.” ………

…….“Lopatkina's Odile created a brilliant silhouette in her black tutu decorated with red stones. Her Odile, while etching in space a sharp presence, had the illusive quality of a phantasm.”

On the basis of the recollection of the earlier performance, I offer my comments on this year's performance. The performance of 21 March 2008 seemed, in both scenes, to be an off night.

The lakeside scene, while finely etched as design, seemed to proceed at a glacial pace. While Ivanchenko offered solid support in the lifts, all beautifully executed, there was an infelicitous moment in the finger pirouettes, occurring after the first one, untypically a double, when, somehow Lopatkina lost her equilibrium momentarily.

Another infelicitous moment occured in the variation's opening sequence of ronds de jambe, when after the second one, there was an unsteady shift of weight from one leg to the other. Mishaps, while seeming minor and inconsequential, marred the flow and the pulse of the dance phrases. And mishaps, I was told, are not typical of Ms Lopatkina's performances. But off-nights happen.

In the Odile pas de deux there was loss of verticality during supported pirouettes.
In the coda, by the fourth or fifth fouette, the conductor, M. Sinkevitch, had to slow down the tempo drastically so there was a semblance of concord between dancer and music.

Swan Lakes have other riches beside the stellar roles of the protagonist/antagonist female and the prince. Swan Lakes have the riches offered by the corps of swans/women. And the Mariinsky company's corps de ballet offers riches unparalleled worldwide.

The swans and the cygnets in the second and fourth scenes offered us the choreographic vision of Ivanov in Sergeyev's production with the finely tuned musicality of their uniform schooling, the luscious plasticity of movement inherent in their classical training, and the selectivity of body type that results from the Mariinsky system of developing professional artists. Kudos to them all.

The little swans continued to enchant, night after night, no matter who danced them. Tonight's cast were Elisaveta Cheprasova, Svetlana Ivanova (always a standout), Elena Chmil, Valeria Martynuk.

The two swans in the fourth scene, Daria Vasnetsova and Ekaterina Kondaurova, danced their solos with distinction, and on different nights.

In the third scene character dances, Alisa Sokolova had a debut tonight in Spanish; she danced with Polina Rassadina, Islom Baimuradov, Alexander Sergeyev.

Ms Lopatkina was very warmly received by the audience, with many flowers and many curtain calls.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Thu Mar 27, 2008 4:39 am ]
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Thanks jpc for your insights into Lopatkina's performance, highlighting the technical slips. I'd also be very interested to hear your comments on the artists' interpretation of the roles, including one of my favourites, Kuznetzov, as Rothbart, and the overall effect of this performance of a major art work.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Mar 27, 2008 10:37 am ]
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Hi Stuart,

I will await JPC's answer to your question but I wanted to chime in -- Kuznetsov as Rothbart (in every single Swan Lake performance during the festival) is a force to be reckoned with! He takes what in my younger years I had considered a boring character role, and really makes it wickedly exciting (and wicked, and exciting). I now realize that a role like that is only as exciting as the dancer in it -- no doubt what I saw in the States *was* boring in comparison!

His initial entrance, the series of scissor-split jetes (I don't know the French term for those) drew applause each time. He also has a very bird-like snap of the head which adds to his character. From the second he enters, he is an Evil Genius intent on victory -- that comes through more in the Second Act, when he steps between Odile and Seigfried and demands more than just the bouquet of white roses from the latter. Kuznetsov brings Rothbart to the forefront of the ballet -- in my humble opinion.

Author:  jpc [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:21 am ]
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Sorry I took so long to respond. I am writing this at 5:15 in the morning.
First on the sixth Swan Lake of the 2008 festival.

Let me say what I probably didn't make clear: that I still consider Ms Lopatkina to be the Odette-Odile, by which others are measured.

This standard, in my view, ensues from the clarity with which she projects the design of the choreography, the precision of means in execution, and the intensity with which she takes command of the stage space. Her dancing, to quote what I've already said, becomes deeply powerful, and translates movement into a narrative subtext with emotional content.

What I also find deeply affecting is the contrast between her emotionally expressive Odette and her Odile. The latter, while maintaining a clear, sharply defined stage presence, has the illusive quality of a phantasm. True artistry, in my view, to make palpable the real, Odette, and the imaginary by way of magic, Odile.

Which brings us to Rothbart. Catherine said it very nicely on Kuznetsov's performance. Let me add, that I found his performing the role six times, well nigh flawlessly each time, an amazing feat. His leaps were phenomenal.

Moreover, his projection and potency in his role of Rothbart brought a balance between the yin and yang, the good and evil, that propels the story, and Tchaikovsky's music, of Swan Lake. As Catherine already pointed out, he made the role an interesting one, as well as an important one.

I have not commented on Evgeny Ivanchenko's performance, other than that I found his lifts very secure in the lakeside scene. In the first scene he showed a fine figure of a prince, tall, fair of face, and not too involved in the general proceedings.

Was there a lesson to be learned by having six Swan Lakes serially at a festival?
I'll let others answer that question.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:54 am ]
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JPC you captured perfectly my exact sentiments regarding Lopatkina.

I [too] consider Odette the foundation from which the best Odiles stem. If you have a ballerina who is only a strong Odile, to me the ballet as a whole is weakened. I find it ideal when you have a strongly portrayed Odette -- by that I mean innocent, trembling, feminine, and skilled in the technique of the swan port de bras -- and from there the Odile character is drawn in contrast, using only those parts of Odette that are needed in order to trick the Prince. Lopatkina does just this with utmost skill and polish. She's a mature Odette/Odile at this point in her career. And in fact, I actually find her uber slow tempos to be an asset in this role; few ballerinas could take things that slow and have the legato look-and-feel, the continuity of uninterrupted movement during long phrasing. THAT is a skill and a talent too.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 9:49 am ]
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And in fact, I actually find her uber slow tempos to be an asset in this role; few ballerinas could take things that slow and have the legato look-and-feel, the continuity of uninterrupted movement during long phrasing. THAT is a skill and a talent too.

Sorry, but I can't agree with that at all. It was Makarova who first initiated the trend towards unbearably slow tempi and the present crop of Kirov dancers all seem in various degrees to be following her misguided example. You would think that as Russians they would have more respect for Tchaikovsky's music.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 10:59 am ]
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hi Cassandra ~

I can't see how changing a tempo is a sign of disrespect for the composer. Lopatkina -- of ALL people -- is anything but disrespectful of classical composers, she practically breathes them. Having danced myself, I can tell you not every human body has the same "internal tempo" -- shorter human beings move faster more easily; taller ones can provide a long uninterrupted flow of movement that is not jerky (as it often is when shorter humans try to do the same). They're different. If someone speeds up the 32 fouettes does that make them disrespectful of the composer? I dont think so.

Author:  Cygne [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:07 pm ]
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Cassandra wrote:
And in fact, I actually find her uber slow tempos to be an asset in this role; few ballerinas could take things that slow and have the legato look-and-feel, the continuity of uninterrupted movement during long phrasing. THAT is a skill and a talent too.

Sorry, but I can't agree with that at all. It was Makarova who first initiated the trend towards unbearably slow tempi and the present crop of Kirov dancers all seem in various degrees to be following her misguided example. You would think that as Russians they would have more respect for Tchaikovsky's music.

Hi Cassandra, :D

In Russia, both the dancers and their coaches decide which tempo best suits them, and what they both want to present and emphasize in that role/variation. In the best case scenario, it's a collaboration which also includes the conductor once rehearsals move to the stage, and also in performance. Russian stars, both male and female traditionally request tempi which suits them. This practice might be considered an indulgence in most Western companies. Makarova wasn't the first (nor is she the last) to do this. When she first appeared in the West, this "habit" of her's was considered unique. It was atypical of Western primas who, on the whole, followed tempos as written.

For example, Semenyaka's tempo for the clapping variation in "Raymonda," was slower than Kolpakova's tempo. Kolpakova followed Glazunov's tempo as he wrote it. On the other hand, the late great Bessmertnova, took that variation slower than Semenyaka.The men also modify variations and make cuts in scores to suit their individual technique. I recall that Zaklinsky danced a very simplified and cut Don Q Act 3 variation, compared to Ruzimatov. Ruzimatov danced the complete variation with no score cuts, inserting all the embellishments he was known for.

Back to "Swan Lake." "Lake's" score was tampered with from the very beginning. At the Bolshoi in 1877 the very first Odette requested that Tchaikovsky make cuts and add the Russian Dance so that she would have a show-stopper in Act 3. This dance wasn't apart of his original score. In fact the composer complained that it would upset the tonality of the entire score. But he obliged her. The first choreographer in 1877 also slashed Tchaikovsky's score. The Maryinsky did justice to Tchaikovsky's work after they revived it and premiered the standard text in 1895. Russian musicians and dancers adore Tchaikovsky, and this score in particular, because it's considered the genesis of Russian ballet, and Russian ballet music. However, Gergiev's recent "treatment" of the score in Lopatkina's live performance DVD and CD contradicts the latter point. The corps de ballet could barely keep up with his baton. Now, if that's not disrespect for the composer, (and the dancers onstage), I don't know what is. Although he's AD of the Maryinsky Theatre, he's not a ballet conductor.

P.S. IMO Victor Fedotov is still the best ballet conductor; he put the music under their feet. May he rest in peace.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:37 pm ]
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Thanks everyone for your most recent comments. There is a lot of fairness of thinking and informative response here.

May I just offer some more comments about what I saw at the Festival. There are some other dancers that I really would like to mention.

Alina Cojocaru

Always a treasure to see at the Mariinsky Festivals (this is at least her fifth straight year) she gave a brief performance with Johan Kobborg of the pas de deux from Coppelia. She showed some of the brilliant natural looking dancing, exciting virtuosity and wonderful stage presence-personality portrayal for which she is famous. She seems to have been away from the stage for awhile, possibly still recovering from an injury. Hopefully in the future we will see many more complete and wonderful performances for which she is as famous as she is loved.

Alina Somova

Alina Somova has at times performed some of the most beautiful and graceful 'Statuesque' dancing that I have seen on a stage.

Although well known for her large extensions (one leg straight up), which I feel at times can be very exciting, it is her passages of beautiful statuesque dancing that I really look forward to. She exhibited some of this in her Gala performance of the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. Her performance of the Driad Mistress (Don Quixote) at last year's Festival was a very good example as was her Act I Odette (Swan Lake) in Chicago a-year-and-half ago. I am hoping that in New York she will do some fully complete programs of this quality once again.

Igor Kolb

Always a strong and reliable partner, he looked as impressive in his jumps, etc, and as graceful in general as I have ever seen him.

I mentioned once that I don't tend to focus much on the men in ballet. It's not that I don't appreciate what they do on stage, I really do. It's more a matter of not having the ability to take it all in. Since a big part of a male dancer's job in a ballet performance is to give maximum support to the ballerina and make her the center of attention, this is where most of my attention goes--to the ballerina and the Aura that she creates. The amazing feats that the men perform in doing this are so important and at this Festival they were so often, so well accomplished. These men once again certainly deserve a great deal of praise.

And some other dancers that also did very well.

From Swan Lake.

As the Two Swans in Act III----the statuesque, amazingly beautiful Yekaterina Kondaurova and the young Daria Vasnetsova. Yekaterina Kondaurova also did some Act I Big Swans. Both the Little Swans and the Big Swans had their moments of glory.

Yana Salina----was a lead swan in the swan corps de ballet and she performed a duet in the Act III Neapolitan Dance. Also she danced the Butterfly in Le Carnaval. She should be someone to keep an eye on if she appears in NYC as the lead Shade in the corps de ballet. She was described a few years ago in an LA newspaper article by one of the other dancers as having the most beautiful arabesque in the company.

As the Prince's Friends----Nadezda Gonchar and a joyful, agile Yelizabeta Tcheprasova whose role was later seamlessly taken on by Yelena Sheshina in the same manner. I have actually seen Yelena Sheshina perform her own very beautiful Odette-Odile elsewhere.

There was also a changing cast of ladies in the Spanish Dance with their incredible backbends.

And from the Gala Evening----Tatiana Tkachenko who danced the pas de deux from the Talisman with Mikhail Lobukhin who performed some great leg-tucked-under-in-every -sort-of-way jumps in the very bravura man's role.

And to everyone else----Bravo !

I will mention also that I slipped over to the Mikhailovsky (Mussorgsky) at the beginning of my stay to see a fine performance of, yep! , Swan Lake. The Mikhailovsky is a beautiful theater about 2/3 the size of the Mariinsky. The tall, blond, very healthy looking and charming Yekaterina Borchenko did a very fine Odette-Odile excelling in her airy supported spins. Her partner, Artem Pykhachov, did some tours-en-air (jump spins) with entrechats (feet 'flickering' together) while turning in the air. I have never seen this done before.

A Festival side note.

Daria Pavlenko

A very pregnant Daria Pavlenko was at the Gala Reception with her husband, Aleksander Sergeev. If I heard the English translation correctly, Mikhar Vasiev (Mariinsky Ballet Director) in his speech made some very warm, sincere remarks thanking her very much for being there and highly complimenting her dancing, wishing her a speedy return to the Mariinsky stage and forecasting some very impressive results if this should happen. For a lady, who many feel is not seen nearly enough, this is a hopeful indication of her future at the Mariinsky, if as a new mother she decides that this is what she really wants to do.

My overall impression, as I expressed earlier, is that....

Once Again The Mariinsky Ballet Turned The Evenings Of Saint Petersburg Into A World Of Enchantment !

[corrected name of ballet that Alina Somova appeared in this year to Le Corsaire and last year to Don Quixote, also made several typo corrections]

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Mar 30, 2008 10:47 pm ]
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jpc wrote:

Was there a lesson to be learned by having six Swan Lakes serially at a festival?
I'll let others answer that question.

jpc, I feel in total that the Swan Lake performances did work extremely well as a Festival event.

"Was there a lesson to be learned....?" Well maybe the lesson was that taking a chance on something different may divide opinion and produce uncertain results, but that the chance for producing something distinct and outstanding is well worth the try.

As a Festival event if variety was what was desired then, for me anyway, the changing cast of sometimes significantly different lead dancers certainly provided that.

The use of the Mariinsky Ballet dancers each night may not have offered the most variety possible, but in so many ways it set the scene for a state of the art series of performances and a desire for excellence on the part of the different lead dancers. Each of these lead dancers that I saw, especially the guest performers, really tried to put on an exceptional performance and succeeded. I was regretfully unable once again to see Ulyana Lopatkina dance. I feel that the event of a Mariinsky Festival was a large factor in stimulating these outstanding efforts.

Of the guest principal dancers, I would say that Gillian Murphy and Tamara Rojo surprised most everyone, including myself, with the marvel of what they did. Maria Alexandrova gave the most graceful and beautiful performance that I have seen her do. Angel Corella quite simply danced his heart out and if I feel that his "For Four" performance may have been the most successful I never saw anyone try harder to be worthy of appearing at such a world respected center of the arts. The home artists, Diana Vishneva and Viktoria Tereshkina, did extremely well along with very fine support and dancing from Igor Kolb, Andrian Fedeev and Danila Korsuntzev.

It was perhaps a very rare opportunity to see such a combination of exceptional artists, the Mariinsky dancers and the guest principals, perform One Of The Greatest Works Of Art that there is.

I feel that all this was well worthy of being considered a Festival event of the highest order.

[minor format and typo correction made]

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:18 am ]
Post subject:  Tempi

I can tell you not every human body has the same "internal tempo" -- shorter human beings move faster more easily; taller ones can provide a long uninterrupted flow of movement that is not jerky (as it often is when shorter humans try to do the same). They're different.

I take that as a given, of course there are personal variations and it is right that they should be accommodated musically. What I cannot accept is the current trend for self indulgent posturing to music drawn out way beyond a composer’s intention. In a ballet such as swan Lake there is a danger of the dramatic line of the story being lost while we are forced to admire a dancer's exaggerated line (frequently not as beautiful as she thinks it is) and no where is this trend more marked than at the Kirov.

Recently I saw the New York City Ballet dance Serenade at a far faster tempo than any other company I had seen dance it before. It was breathtaking and exhilarating to watch and a reminder of how exciting it can be to watch a company whose ethos is to dance rather than to simply pose.

Author:  jpc [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:59 am ]
Post subject:  Le Carnaval 22 March Festival performance

22 March 2008
Le Carnaval
Libretto: Mikhail Fokine
Music: Robert Schumann
Choreography: Mikhail Fokine
Sets and Costumes: Leon Bakst
Reconstruction: Sergei Vikharev (after notes of Mikhail Fokine)
Columbine Yevgenia Obraztsova
Harlequin Vladimir Shklyarov
Chiarina Marianna Pavlova
Eusebius Sergei Salikov
Florestan Sergei Popov
Estrella Yevgenia Dolmatova
Papillon Yana Selina
Pantalone Stanislav Burov
Pierrot Islom Baimuradov

The program of the 22nd was the most delightful of the 2008 festival evenings.

The revival/reconstruction of Le Carnaval was, for me, the highlight of the festival. I found it an enchanting production; not that I could compare it to any other since I had seen none, but that it fulfilled everything I believed it would be.

I've had a lifelong admiration for the Schumann score. The early history of the ballet, with its 1910 Paris premiere featuring Nijinsky, Karsavina, Bolm (as well as Schollar, Fokina, Nijinska, Cecchetti and Kussov) has held a fascination for me.

My appreciation for Vikharev's reconstruction is enormous. Congratulations to him and all who were involved in this production. I can honestly say I found the work thrilling.

The setting, the ante-chamber of a ballroom, a deep blue curtain with a gold frieze at the top, and two striped little settees (exactly as described by C. Beaumont's Complete Book of Ballets -1951-) was recreated by Mikhail Shishlianikov, beautifully lit by Alexander Naumov and Mikhail Shishlianikov and with the elegant costume designs of Bakst recreated by Tatiana Noginova.

The cast was superb, down to the last waltzer and last philistine.

Obraztsova and Shklyarov sparkled as the central commedia del arte pair of Columbine and Harlequin, she with the beckoning forefinger and delicate bourees, he with his shaking head and carefree leaps and dazzling pirouettes.

Baimuradov created a moving portrait of pathos and loneliness as Pierrot, a truly wonderful performance.

Yana Selina charmed as Papillon, “a vivacious lady, all high spirits and fluttering ribbons” [Beaumont, p. 699]

Pavlova, and Dolmatova, and Burov and Salikov and Popov, all gave outstanding performances in this delicate, seemingly simple, treasure of a ballet.

Bravo Vikharev. Bravo Mariinsky.

Author:  jpc [ Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:25 am ]
Post subject:  22 March festival performance (cont'd) For 4 - Flore

March 22 Mariinsky Festival
For Four
Choreography Christopher Wheeldon
Music Franz Schubert
Costumes Jean-Marc Puissant
Lighting Antonio Marques
Andrian Fadeyev
Angel Corella
Alexander Sergeyev
Mikhail Lobukhin

The second ballet after Le Carnaval was Wheeldon's “pièce d'occasion” made in 2007 for the Kings of Dance tour and danced here with one of the original cast members, Angel Corella.

The bright, virtuosic choreography suited the Mariinsky dancers very well. Among them was a principal dancer (Fadeyev), a first soloist (Lobukhin), and a newly promoted second soloist (Sergeyev) --although the Mariinsky website still listed him as a member of the corps de ballet.

The spontaneity of Corella's stage persona endeared him quickly to the Mariinsky audience, especially his bravura aerial work designed on him, which brought much applause in immediate reaction.

I found especially pleasing the dancing of Sergeyev, with his total command of space, leaving afterimages of his long lines and virile plasticity.

I also enjoyed the strong attack of Lobukhin's dancing, fully articulated movements replete with details of gesture.

An excellent performance by the whole cast.

Schubert's orchestrated chamber music made a fitting accompaniment to Wheeldon's choreography and was nobly conducted by Pavel Bubelnikov.

Le Reveil de Flore (1894)
Choreography Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Reconstruction by Sergei Vikharev
Music Riccardo Drigo
Flore Yevgenia Obraztsova
Aurore Yana Selina
Diane Svetlana Ivanova
Hebe Natalia Sharapova
Zephyre Vladimir Shkliarov
Apollon Victor Baranov
Aquilon Sergei Kononenko
Cupidon Valeria Martynuk
Mercure Alexei Timofeyev
Ganimede Salikh Bikchurin

Le Reveil de Flore, Vikharev's reconstruction of the choreography of Petipa and Ivanov includes the reconstruction of the original decors of Mikhail Bocharov and the original costumes of Yevgeny Ponomaryov.

Altogether it is a striking visual and aural experience, an immersion into the imperial Russian ballet and its ethos, having been created as a celebration of a specific royal family wedding. This is a ballet that only the Mariinsky company, with its distinguished feeder school dating back to imperial times, could carry off successfully.

And it does so with distinction. The exemplary cast led by Obraztsova and Shklyarov had outstanding performances throughout.

Of special note were Svetlana Ivanova as Diana, in the opening scene of the work. Her promenade in arabesque en fondu en dedans, repeated three times with different arms, was notable for its academic purity, as was her entire performance.

Valeria Martynuk was notable for the freshness she brings to Cupid, making her steps look like they were just invented.

Alexei Timofeyev's Mercury was dashing, and danced with a fine musicality.

Some of the choreography in the latter half of the work, seemed to me to have been fine-tuned for the benefit of the protagonists. Or maybe I noticed details that I missed in the first two performances of the work last year.

Obraztsova and Shklyarov were splendid in this ballet, as they were indeed in the stylistically very different work of Fokine, earlier in the evening.

I look forward to future performances from both of them.

This is the last 2008 festival performance for me.
Tomorrow, the day of the gala, we fly home.

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