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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:45 am 
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The first review of R & J has appeared in the evening standard:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/s ... d=23727804

Quote:
The pretty 23-year-old could also learn to stop waving her arms and shaking her head. She, too, may have been encouraged to flash her split leaps and high kicks, but they’re a million miles from the passionate humanity of Shakespeare’s Juliet.


Clearly Somova didn't cut it with Ms Frater.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:21 am 
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Cassandra wrote:
The first review of R & J has appeared in the evening standard:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/s ... d=23727804

Quote:
The pretty 23-year-old could also learn to stop waving her arms and shaking her head. She, too, may have been encouraged to flash her split leaps and high kicks, but they’re a million miles from the passionate humanity of Shakespeare’s Juliet.


Clearly Somova didn't cut it with Ms Frater.

OMG. I'm not surprised. This was an unnecessary and mis-calculated risk that spectacularly failed. If someone took Yuri Fateev aside, one and one, and said "I told you so," my guess is that it still wouldn't compute. Covent Garden is used to excellent Juliets. Unfortunately, for the Maryinsky Ballet and Volodya Shklyarov, "Juliet" just didn't happen last night.

I posted months ago, that it would have been wise to either cast the Juliets in reverse order, or bar Somova from the production altogether, given her track record. Tereshkina would have been a more suitable opening Juliet. And Tereshkina was the June 6 debutante before Alina last night. Again, seniority and bona fide artistry and experience means nothing with this management. Fateev should have at least considered that fact, since they insisted on fielding a "Principal Dancer" opening night. For the record, Obratzova is the most experienced Juliet in the lineup, (sans Vishneva, who danced it in Amsterdam last week), having danced it for years prior to the other three Juliets cast. Hindsight is 20/20 vision; and what's been done can't be undone now. The 2009 opening night is history. This was a most inauspicious start to the Covent Garden engagement. Atrocious.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:29 am 
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Sounds like a bomb. There was a time when "Kirov" meant first class.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:54 am 
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The rest of the reviews aren't much better I'm afraid, but here we go.

The Times wasn’t impressed by Somova:

Quote:
She is one of those extreme movers who can twist her body into any shape. What she is not, however, is one of nature’s Juliets.


http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 738737.ece

The Independent describes Somova well:

Quote:
Alina Somova, the first night Juliet, is being heavily promoted as a new star. She's an elongated dancer, a tall blonde with a very flexible frame. She's toned down her more extreme positions for this role, but she can still look exaggerated. At the height of a jump, she'll yank her front leg higher – pulling the line of her legs past the 180 degrees of the splits. Finishing a phrase, she jerks her chin up


http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 67250.html

At the F.T. Clement Crisp wrote a fairly diplomatic review

Quote:
……Alina Somova, seemed altogether too contemporary in style, in drama, in dance.


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a10a7cba-8157 ... abdc0.html

The Guardian is relatively kind to Somova:

Quote:
Alina Somova is not a subtle dancer; her preternaturally long limbs make amazing shapes but rarely register internal shifts of tension, rhythm and music.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2009/au ... iet-review

More of the same from The Telegraph

Quote:
Somova, by contrast, in her debut as Juliet, is never anything more than a dancer making steps.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/thea ... eview.html


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Thank you, Cassandra, for providing all of those links!

I sense a general consensus among all of the London critics, which overall makes a very big statement, in my opinion.

To have Crisp, who has seen Ulanova (lucky man) as Juliet, state, "Somova is ultra-modern in her long-limbed physique, the drama seeming done by rote, never convincing me of the dance’s values, of Juliet’s identity," gives further credence to that growing consensus.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:05 pm 
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Yes, thank you so much Cassandra for the links! Catherine, the consensus has reached all the way to the hallowed halls of Oxford. What a difference 24 hrs. makes. And now, let's leave the "anti-ballerina" for the real one; the ridiculous for the sublime. This just in - Obratzova and Matvienko triumphed at Covent Garden in "Romeo & Juliet" last night :D :!: It's criminal that she, with either Matvienko or Shklyarov, didn't open the season Monday night. Well done and congratulations to Obratzova and Matvienko! Here's David Bellan's review in the Oxford Times:

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/leisure/45 ... ent_Gardn/

Now let the games begin!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:05 pm 
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I'm breathing a sigh of relief over that deservedly upbeat review. *That* is more like it! :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:36 am 
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The very harsh reviews of the Kirov’s R & J may to some extent be justified, as on last night’s viewing the ballet overall didn’t have the impact as on previous viewings. I found that the ensemble dancing lacked vigour and although one or two individuals had the real Kirov character style, the majority did not. There were some serious problems with the casting of minor roles typified by the totally ineffective playing of the Prince of Verona by Sergei Popov and generally speaking there was no one on stage that totally inhabited their roles, with the honourable exceptions of Islom Baimuradov’s sensitive Benvolio and the playing of Juliet’s parents by Bazhenova and Ponomarev. Mercutio was just about adequate as were the Troubadour and his girl but Tybalt’s histrionics are jarring to an audience used to a less melodramatic conception of the role.

I was very much looking forward to seeing Victoria Tereshkina’s Juliet; young roles would not seem to be her forte as she has a woman’s face rather than a young girl’s, but her interpretation of Aurora is superb (why is she not dancing that in London?) so I thought she might be better as Juliet than emploi would suggest. Sadly she wasn’t totally successful: at the ball it seemed that Romeo had singled out the most striking young woman in the room rather than falling for the gauche young debutante we assume Juliet to be. Tereshkina’s dancing? Utterly gorgeous. Her acting? Passionate and thrilling. Was she Juliette? No.

Of course her Romeo didn’t help as Evgeny Ivanchenko was possibly the most uninspiring Romeo I’ve ever seen. Stolid and boring, he plodded his way through the role without ever giving a hint of any fire in his belly. His dancing and partnering were undistinguished and he seemed to lose his line every time he jumped, in other words he was no help at all and really poor Tereshkina was forced to carry the ballet single handed. Despite her beautiful dancing and at times searing acting skills it wasn’t enough to raise the entire evening out of the category of mediocre.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 5:31 pm 
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Thanks for your feedback on the performances Cassandra. I share your general impressions of Popov and Ivanchenko, not just for these roles but in nearly everything they appear in. I have never understood why the former is repeatedly cast as Paris, aside from the tendency for casting powers to consider him handsome, and I suppose facially he is. But I"ve seen less "handsome" faces do more justice to the role, as it does require acting chops in order to not be a vacant character. We want to feel he is totally absorbed in himself and Popov''s characterization is too light to have any impact, at least when I've seen him in this role here in Petersburg.

I can't believe Ivanchenko was actually cast as Romeo so I will leave it at that.

Based on your feedback, I can easily understand why the overall impact of this R&J was mediocre. It's disappointing that this is happening on the London tour since -- as you have seen in the past-- that's not always the case. But so it is.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:55 am 
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Catherine Pawlick wrote:
I'm breathing a sigh of relief over that deservedly upbeat review. *That* is more like it! :-)


It was a real pleasure to read this review, Catherine.


The Oxford Times -- David Bellan

"The Mariinsky is one of the world’s great companies, and it’s a thrill to see the stage crammed with dancers of such quality, with a superlative Juliet and an athletic and ardent Romeo. First and foremost, Evgenia Obraztsova really looks the part, young and pretty with a delightful personality. But that isn’t enough on it’s own; this woman can act – ranging easily through kittenish fun with her nurse in the opening scenes, to the tragic heroine who follows her lover to the grave. In-between she is a young woman overwhelmed by a sudden, unexpected love. Dancing in a state of euphoria with her lover, she gives a wonderful performance, lyrical, passionate, abandoned.
She is so much in command that it looks as though she is improvising the choreography according to her feelings, and in this she is well matched by Denis Matvienko’s noble Romeo."

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/leisure/45 ... ent_Gardn/


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:57 pm 
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Thanks Buddy - Cygne had actually posted the Oxford Times link just a few posts above yours. Have you been in London for this round of performances?


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:20 am 
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No, Catherine, I would like to be in London for this, but maybe the next time. I did get to see former Mariinsky 'Ballerina', Veronika Part, there last April -- Twice -- which you might recall. That was one of the highlights of this year so far. Viktoria Tereshkina's "Swan Lake" in Saint Petersbrug was another. I believe that she's dancing it again Tonight. I would really recommend it.

I am at least trying for Saint Petersburg again next March.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 1:11 pm 
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Then we will probably see each other in March! I'm still waiting for the dates for that festival, they don't seem to have them just yet.


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 Post subject: How are they doing so far?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:33 am 
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With the first week of the Kirov season now over, I thought it would be interesting to ask members of the audience what they thought of it so far. I asked a number of friends and acquaintances and even a couple of strangers chipped in with opinions; altogether about a couple of dozen people most of whom are general London ballet goers including a couple of RB fanatics and one or two who only show up for Russian companies.

Two dancers have so far emerged as audience favourites, and it wasn’t the two I would have imagined would make the biggest impression: they are Victoria Tereshkina and Igor Kolb. I personally had a couple of reservations about Tereshkina’s Juliet, but those I spoke to praised her passionate approach to the role and her dramatic conviction. Kolb was praised in the same terms noting his ability to live his part on stage. Both were considered to have impressive technical abilities but it was the fervour they display that appears to be winning people over.

A surprise: Irina Golub’s Juliet was very much admired too; I’m pleased about that as she gets a lot of negative comments on this board that I’ve never felt she deserved. Most people went to the first night of R & J but not the second so not many were able to comment on Obraztsova, but the couple that did were highly complimentary.

Without exception those that saw the first night R & J regarded it as the balletic equivalent of a car crash. Somova was totally disparaged by everyone; however most felt sorry for her with a consensus that is was cruel to put someone in leading roles who simply isn’t capable of them and several that disliked her dancing were never the less taken by her youth and good looks, but it was telling that those with tickets to see her again in SL and/or SB are planning to off load their tickets. Strangely no one mentioned Shklyarov; perhaps because they were so shell-shocked by Somova they failed to notice anyone else on stage.

The biggest shock of all was the lack of enthusiasm for Lopatkina’s Swan Lake. London audiences have seen stellar performance in the ballet over the years and even in todays less than admirable Royal Ballet they have a couple of top interpreters of Odette/Odile. Most thought Lopatkina cold and emotionless with those most familiar with her dancing saying that she hasn’t developed in the role. She was compared most unfavourably to Kondaurova whom just everyone seems to have fallen in love with.

***********************************

I’ve had a quick look at this mornings SL reviews that are all raves for Lopatkina and will post some on line links later. I’ve been told there was an astonishing defence of Somova’s dancing in the FT at the weekend (has Crisp gone gaga?). As we keep copies of the FT where I work, I’ll dig it out and read it later and see if it’s available on line. So more anon.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:49 am 
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Here is the FT article which is most definitely not written by Clement Crisp

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/6c1bf20e-82e2 ... abdc0.html

The author of this piece, Peter Aspden, appears to be a staff journalist covering a variety of subjects including:

Quote:
travel, religion, politics, history, most art forms and sport: he covered the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, and the World Cup in France in 1998.


In other words someone with no particular interest in ballet at all (disregard the reference to ‘most art forms’ as UK arts journalism tends to include such things as rock concerts and stand up comedy as art forms). This entire article has the whiff of a piece of damage limitation; could it be commissioned by the Kirov management I wonder? Or perhaps the writer is inspired by Ms Somova’s sporting links as he informs us she was once involved with some ice skater and is a fan of Zenit football club, as a sports writer perhaps he feels an affinity, but I must protest over this:

Quote:
But I sense broader issues at play here. Not only is Somova’s style of dancing controversial; her personality too displays 21st-century tendencies that are not normally associated with the famously severe Russian schooling. For one, according to the gossip columns, she was once romantically involved with a handsome figure skater, Alexei Yagudin, an Olympic and world champion, no less.


Frankly this is news to me as I have no more interest in the private life of the lady than I have in anyone else in the dance community, nor can I remember anyone commenting on her personal affairs on this board or else where. If anyone were so crass as to post gossip about her love life (or any other dancer’s for that matter) I would hope the moderator would quickly censor it, unless of course a dancer indulges in no holds barred antics such as Volochkova’s

And what are we to make of this?

Quote:
Then there was her distinctly proletarian behaviour last year at the Lowry Centre, where she was dancing at the same time as the football team she supports, Zenit St Petersburg, was contesting the UEFA Cup Final up the road, at the City of Manchester stadium. “Yes! We were dancing but really we were all at the football match!” she told The Daily Telegraph. “We celebrated at the hotel afterwards with the players.”


Since when has enjoying football been ‘distinctly proletarian’? I can remember even members of the royal family admitting to watching Match of the Day. If I read this correctly Aspden seems to be saying that the British public and critics dislike her because of innate snobbery towards someone who likes sport: bizarre.

Now I have no problem with people liking Somova, it goes against the grain, but that’s people for you, after all there are many out there that still believe the world to be flat. I have to say though that Aspden's trawling the scary comments on You Tube is an odd thing to do, it would be the last place I would go for informed information about any dancer.

This however is rather disquieting:

Quote:
The company’s commitment to excellence survived every twist and turn of Russian and Soviet history. But now it must take its place on the global cultural stage: a place that is promiscuous, fast-moving, wilfully superficial, and that offers stellar rewards for little more than a transfixing smile.


Sounds as if we’re all off to hell in a handcart.


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