CriticalDance Forum

Zhanna Ayupova
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Author:  Buddy [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Zhanna Ayupova

I have been going through my dvd collection and I am just more and more in love with the delicate, understated dancing of Zhanna Ayupova. She is now retired from the Mariinsky but I am sure that her presence will long be remembered. I consider her one of the finest lyrically beautiful dancers that I have ever viewed. I have only seen her on video, but fortunately you can get some sense of her loveliness from these.

I believe that Catherine and others like her very much for her classical purity. This is probably very true.

The quality that I like very much about her dancing is the Continual, Gentle Flow that she maintains throughout a performance. She seems to be able to do this even during the stop-and-go requirements of certain ballets. She does this with such gentle grace.

I have noted what seems to be one important element in her technique for doing this. Some part of her body is 'always in motion' with the overriding current of the music.

Her sweet and unassuming nature is encompassing. She also has an exceptional dancing ability to go with this.

I put her in a list with some of my all- time favorite 'Lyrically Beautiful' dancers. This list would include Galina Ulanova, Natalia Makarova, Uliana Lopatkina, Veronika Part, Svetlana Zakharova, Svetlana Lunkina, Suzanne Farrell, Evgenia Obraztsova, Marina Rzhannikova and others.

They all just move So Beautifully !

I don't know of any complete video performances by Zhanna Ayupova, but she can be seen on the following videos.

"The Sacred Stage", a documentary about the Mariinsky. She dances several minutes as Aurora in "Sleeping Beauty" and in the added features at the end of the video she dances the complete vision scene.

"Nina Ananiashvili and International Stars", volume 2. Here she dances the Shades scene from La Bayadere with an airborn Igor Zelensky in top form. This entire video is packed with exiting bravura dancing along with the delicate magnificence of Zhanna Ayupova and others.

* "Sleeping Beauty" (Altynai Asylmuratova [No]) . She is one the Fairies at the beginning.

"Le Corsaire" (Altynai Asylmuratova). She is an odalisque before the Jardin Anime scene.

* [She is not on the Altynai Asylmuratova "Sleeping Beauty" video. She is the Lilac Fairy on the Larissa Lezhnina version as noted in the next post]

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Nov 03, 2008 11:38 pm ]
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I said above that Zhanna Ayupova is on the Altynai Asylmuratova "Sleeping Beauty" video. She isn't. I just looked at it.

Apparently she is the Lilac Fairy on the Larissa Lezhnina version, according to a post I found.

I also wrote about her ability to maintain a beautiful and constant flow throughout an entire performance. Another obvious way that she does this is that she doesn't stop dancing. She moves right on to the next motion minimizing highlight poses. Also I noticed once that she made such an open arm, airy gesture at a certain pause that her dancing seemed to carry on although she was momentarily motionless.

However she does it, I have yet to notice a continuity of flow done any better by another ballerina.

[PS--I have now just noticed, on another viewing of the La Bayadere excerpts, that while momentarily standing still, the gaze of her eyes seems to carry on the motion. I should start another list I suppose.]

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:44 am ]
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I wonder was Ayupova offered a position of pedagogue at the Vaganova Academy or as a coach at the Ballet company at the Mariinsky Theatre? Or maybe she's now working for another ballet company inside Russia?

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:52 pm ]
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Buddy wrote:
I said above that Zhanna Ayupova is on the Altynai Asylmuratova "Sleeping Beauty" video. She isn't. I just looked at it.

Apparently she is the Lilac Fairy on the Larissa Lezhnina version, according to a post I found..........

Buddy, the Lilac Fairy on the Lezhnina video is Yulia Makhalina.

The Lilacs on all current or recent commercial videos or DVDs of Kirov Beauties are:

1965 Sizova version - Irina Bazhenova
1981 Kolpakova - Lubov Kunakova
1989 Assylmuratova - Kunakova (again)
1989 Lezhnina - Yulia Makhalina
ca 2007 'New Year's Eve Gala' DVD includes the Final Act with Osmolkina as Aurora - Ekaterina Kondaurova as Lilac

The ca-2003 documentary Sacred Stage includes a bit of the Nereid Scene of Act II, starring Ayupova as Aurora -- as you've noted, Buddy -- and a very young Kondaurova as Lilac. [Corrected from earlier guess of Pavlenko as Lilac.]

Other commercially-released films with Ayupova include:

* ca 1977 Bayadere starring Komleva - Ayupova is one of the two little girls accompanying Manu (the water-jug dance); look closely - Ayupova's face in unmistakeable.

* ca 2000 "Kirov Dances Nijinsky" - Ayupova stars in Spectre de la Rose

* ca-1989 documentaty "The Leningrad Legend" tracing Makarova's return to Leningrad - the closing minutes show Makarova coaching Ayupova in Swan Lake Black pdd.

Author:  Cygne [ Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:42 pm ]
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Ayupova never danced Lilac. She danced Aurora in both the 1890 & Sergeyev productions. She also danced Florine and Fairy Candide in the Sergeyev. On the Lezhnina DVD, she is Candide.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:45 am ]
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Thanks Natalia and Cygne. Zhanna as the "Lilac Fairy" ("Sleeping Beauty"--Larissa Lezhnina version) didn't seem right to me either. I went with someone's review at Amazon on that one. Candide does sound much better.

Natalia, is that really Daria Pavlenko as Lilac Fairy on "The Sacred Stage" video? If so, she is a performer of many faces, which is great. Is she listed as such somewhere? The Mariinsky supports what you say as this is one of her roles. ... /pavlenko/

On this one I was going with Elvira Tarasova, who I have only seen once that I can remember about four years ago. The Mariinsky does not support me on this one because they don't list it as one her roles. ... /tarasova/

[PS I just looked again at "The Sacred Stage" video and Lilac Fairy sure looks like the Elvira Tarasova picture to me.--??]

[PS-PS To belabor the subject, yes, I can see this being Daria Pavlenko. Many faces indeed! There are certain ladies in this company that I never recognize from one performance to the next and even offstage from one time to the next. The very beautiful Olesia Novikova is my best example for the moment.]

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:33 am ]
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I've been watching the "Sacred Stage" (Aurora) or the Bayadere excerpts each night for about a week. Every time I watch she seems to have more bases covered and often in the most understated manner possible. Most remarkable, so lovable and so beautiful !

[referring to Zhanna Ayupova]

Author:  NataliaN [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:06 am ]
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Buddy, I took a careful look at the SB excerpts on that Sacred Stage DVD. It is not Pavlenko, although Pavlenko had been originally scheduled to dance that performance during the 2003 White Nights Fest (late May- early June, at the time when the 300th B'day of the city was being celebrated....I was there).

Neither is it Tarasova.

It is, in fact, another redhead, a taller redhead -- Ekaterina Kondaurova. This was at the time that she was still 19 or 20 and being pushed into leading roles like Nikiya (not deserved then but certainly so now). Kondaurova's 'first big push' was 2002-03 period, after her 2001 graduation. Then she cooled off before taking off with a vengeance during 2007.

Interestingly, Kondaurova's appearance as Lilac in the following season -- in the Soviet staging -- was touted as her debut as Lilac Fairy (replacing the 'indisposed' Lopatkina - Dec '03 famous brou-ha-ha) when, in fact, Kondaurova had already debuted the previous season in the 1890 Imperial version -- and the proof is on this DVD, even though she is totally uncredited in the film, probably because the Mariinsky itself insisted to the film-makers that that was indeed Pavlenko in that performance. Rather than make a mistake, the Lilac Fairy was not identified in the film.

Author:  Cygne [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:20 pm ]
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Kondaurova's Lilac in "Sacred Stage" is wonderful. It's a shame that in the beginning, she wasn't put on Vaziev's "Fast Track" sooner. When they were active, both Ayupova and Pavlenko were unjustly under-utilized by the former Director of the Ballet > MO :D.

Buddy wrote,

[PS-PS To belabor the subject, yes, I can see this being Daria Pavlenko. Many faces indeed! . . .]

Pavlenko's Lilac is majestic. Pavlenko is a great technician - a ballerina's ballerina, as well as an excellent actress. In "Sleeping Beauty" alone she has many faces. In addition to Violante, she's the only PD in the company who has successfully covered the three leading roles (Aurora, Florine & Lilac), convincingly. The last Maryinsky prima who accomplished this was Alla Shelest.

Author:  NataliaN [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:01 pm ]
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Cygne wrote:
Kondaurova's Lilac in "Sacred Stage" is wonderful. It's a shame that in the beginning, she wasn't put on Vaziev's "Fast Track" sooner. ....

Oh but she WAS, Cygne. During her very first year with the company, as a corps member, she was given the lead in Chemyakin's Princess Pirlipat, then danced Nikiya in Bayadere Shades at the troupe's prestigious engagement at the Kennedy Center. She didn't quite make the expected impact and was pushed back to occasional choryphee roles (such as fiancees in Swan Lake, six choryphees in Jardin Animee of Corsaire, etc.). We occasionally saw her shine in the Forsythes and as Street Dancer in Don Q. Lilac Fairy every now and then. Her 2nd chance in principal roles came only recently -- five years after her first chance....but she most definitely was pushed straight out of school, for a little while.

Kondaurova's path to stardom is a bit reminiscent of that of New York City Ballet's Maria Kowroski, who made a huge impact her first year or two, then receded to corps roles, only to push back to the front. Very usual -- one (a) gets an early chance and pushes to the top (like so many) or (b) gets a chance, then fades to the corps forever (like Rosalyn Whitten at the RB in the 80s). Kondaurova and Kowroski are very lucky to have received two chances for stardom.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:30 pm ]
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Thanks again Natalia and Cygne for all your additional information and insights. As I said, I sometimes do not recognize some of these ladies at all from one performance to another. This is a credit to their fine acting ability.

I will take another close look when I get a chance. This being Ekaterina Kondaurova is a real surprise ! My feeling about her appearance, as I have expressed before, is that as beautiful as is her appearance onstage, she is absolutely gorgeous offstage with her beautiful long hair. This much of a distinction I have made.

I hope we will be seeing much more of Ekaterina Kondaurova, as I also considerer to be very talented, and from what I have seen and from Catherine's interview she is very nice as well. Also it would be wonderful to see Daria Pavlenko dancing full speed again if this is what she wants to do, being a new mother.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:20 pm ]
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Back to Zhanna Ayupova for a moment.

I think she's great !

Author:  NataliaN [ Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:02 pm ]
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Buddy, I am fairly certain that we shall see Kondaurova at the Kennedy Center this January, as she is one of the troupe's main Dryad Queens and Street Dancers.

Ayupova retired this past spring with minimal fanfare. I have been unable to find out what she is doing. I recall that she was featured in a Mariinsky Ballet performance of Balanchine's Jewels in April 2006 or 2007 -- as the lead in the Emeralds section. However, over two years have gone by and the film is yet to be released.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:25 am ]
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If I could assemble a definitive cast of dancers for Balanchines Jewels made up from casts I've seen over the past thirty years or so. It would have to include Ayupova's perfect performance in Emeralds.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sat Nov 15, 2008 7:28 am ]
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I agree with you on that Cassandra. In my four and a half years living in St Petersburg to date, I saw her dance here only thrice. Once was the revival of Emeralds for filming (the Nioradze's husband filming project) --NataliaN that was February 06 if I recall correctly -- they filmed Jewels and Don Q-- and about a month later she danced in Apollo. In each of those cases she was STILL as beautiful as ever.

That video was done by a German or Austrian filming company and I presume was/is sold locally whereever they were based, although, maybe not. I never heard of it after that either, and the dancers were kept there to all hours of the night for that project...

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