CriticalDance Forum

Kirov Ballet in London 2011
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Aug 15, 2011 12:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

Clifford Bishop reviews both "Anna Karenina" and the Balanchine/Robbins program for The Independent.

The Independent

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Aug 15, 2011 1:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

Ismene Brown reviews "La Bayadere" for The Arts Desk.

The Arts Desk

Sarah Crompton reviews "La Bayadere" for The Telegraph.

The Telegraph

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

I was so very fortunate to have been able to see some of the final performances of this remarkable series, "Swan Lake," Balanchine/Robbins.... I have hardly had a chance to look over the enthusiastic press coverage, but much of the commentary by Clement Crisp has really caught my immediate attention because of its soulful appreciation. He wrote five reviews. Thanks, as usual, Francis, for posting these.

In his first review of Uliana Lopatkina and Daniil Korsuntsev's "Swan Lake," as Catherine has already noted, he says,

"It seems I am writing more of a love-letter than the critical review....we must love the best when we see it."

In his review of the Balanchine/Robbins program he starts out by saying,

"Impeccable dancing. Heart-lifting dancing. As the week ended, the Mariinsky Ballet staged a triple bill of works by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and made them sublimely their own. Over the past two decades, the company has reclaimed its Old Boy, Balanchine, whose Scotch Symphony and Ballet Imperial were on view, together with Jerome Robbins’s In The Night."

The idea that the Mariinsky has "reclaimed" George Balanchine is one that I feel strongly about after seeing both these performances and could write a great deal about. Is it possible that with its recent, extraordinary interpretation of these works that the Mariinsky has in fact reclaimed George Balanchine and, beyond that, even shown that he is indeed and perhaps always was one of its own ? * In addition, did the Mariinsky actually carry his work to a new level or at least another place of great meaning ? (I would even include Jerome Robbins' "In The Night" in this possibility, based on the extent to which it might have been influenced by and the result of an admiration for George Balanchine). This is an idea that fascinates me and it is, of course, a statement dependent on definitions, degrees and differing points of view, but the future may produce some exciting insights into this way of seeing things.

I so share his sentiments here and commend the beauty with which they are expressed.

"Words that hardly serve to describe a phenomenal performance of In the Night. Three couples, varied in their emotions. Chopin piano music. Love serene (Yevgenia Obraztsova and Filipp Stepin); love more mature (Alina Somova and Yevgeny Ivanchenko); love as anguish and final joy (Ulyana Lopatkina and Danila Korsuntsev). Flawless dancing, born of the music, alert to every possibility, to every emotional breath, exquisite in nuance, from each artist."

I equally share, and I think that Cassandra would totally agree, his praise for Viktoria Tereshkina in "Ballet Imperial." In his comments about Viktoria Tereshkina in "La Bayadere," which I was unable to see, he writes,

".... in this Shades scene, the purity of Tereshkina’s style, the unfailing elegance of her technique, the purity of her line and the sheer brilliancy of her effects (daunting multiple pirouettes shown with an effortless delicacy, an intoxication of clarity that denied any sense of forced bravura) were phenomenal, and testimony to profound artistry. Here is a ballerina of beautiful gifts and I do not recall, after all these years, an interpretation more potent in spirit and style."

I would agree completely with this enthusiastic praise in regard to her performances in "Ballet Imperial" (all aspects) and "Swan Lake" (for her exceptional dancing and touchingly beautiful portrayal of Odette). I would add one more thought in regard to her "style" and "technique." It was Alive and it was Exciting ! I believe that Cassandra expressed similar feelings in her comments about "Ballet Imperial."

Clement Crisp begins his "La Bayadere" review with this comment and ends it with the following. I believe that they apply equally well to all the remarkably wonderful performances that I was able to see.

"There are extraordinary evenings in the theatre when the spell of a performance, the power of an interpretation and a sense of undeniable spirituality revealed by the artists, make for a community of feeling and awareness between stage and public."

"The sum effect was heart-lifting: these are dancers touched by greatness. And so this season, memorably fine, ends on this tremendous note. To the superlative corps de ballet, to the guardian teachers and coaches of these dancers, to Tereshkina and Shklyarov, to Victor and Lilian Hochhauser who make these seasons possible, profoundest gratitude."


* Added comment: From Sarah Frater about the Balanchine/Robbins performances.

"The Mariinsky perform his [George Balanchine] ballets as if he were their own, which of course he is."

[typo corrections made]

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

In regard to what I just saw in London, I would say that both Alina Somova and Ekaterina Kondaurova are going through a remarkable growing process at the moment. I say, "at the moment" because so much can change from one performance to the next in the amazing development of these two outstanding young artists.

Perhaps in the case of Ekaterina Kondaurova, who has shown brilliantly in the last year in her new leads in "Swan Lake" and "La Bayadere" (so I've heard, but not yet seen her in this ballet), the greatness may have already been there, but the chance to show it did not arrive until recently. Still from her two "Swan Lake"s that I've seen in the last several months there is a subtle growth process occurring.

In regard to Alina Somova, she always seems to be growing, experimenting and refining. What she does is often a subtle surprise and she remains somewhat of an unknown when it comes to trying to predict what shades of nuancing will be prevalent from one performance to the next. I find this to be both Fascinating and Beautiful. She can be an Adventure and yet a sea of calm in her Graceful Essence.

I would make this distinction.

Alina Somova -- Willowy.

Ekaterina Kondaurova -- Statuesque in the sense of a Classical Greek Goddess.

Still, both women do have many similarities in regard to their Statuesque manner and their wonderful sense of flowing transcendence.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

Evgenia Obraztsova

She is one more artist that I really want to mention. There isn't that much that I can say.

She was here. And she was gone.

And -- Wow ! -- Twice !

She was an Evgenia Obraztsova that I hadn't seen before.

A Step Beyond.

These were not long appearances. She danced in the first couple from "In The Night" and as the introductory ballerina in "Ballet Imperial." This year, at several performances that I've attended, she's been Outstanding. First at the Gala in honor of Galina Ulanova in London, where she performed one of her magnificent duets from "Romeo and Juliet." And secondly at the Gala to benefit Japan in Paris where she came out at about midnight and set the auditorium aglow with a radiant Kitri in an excerpt from "Don Quixote."

In the first couple from "In The Night" she extended herself out into space by leaning back, reaching out....with such compelling and heartfelt intensity that it was as if I had never seen her before. Breathtakingly Beautiful !

As the other ballerina to Alina Somova's lead in "Ballet Imperial" she just Floated on the stage with a Lovely Airiness that, from my viewings of her, attained a new level of poetic and dreamlike enchantment.

She has been Just Remarkable this year and remains in my mind as one of my finest memories from the London Mariinsky performances.

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

Anastasia Matvienko

She danced a very beautiful Odette-Odile ("Swan Lake"). I have liked her since I first saw her at a gala in New York City several years ago, where I thought that she performed at least as well as most of the more famous stars. In London, her leads in "Scotch Symphony" and in the first couple from "In The Night" were extremely lovely, but the really pleasant surprise, for me, was her "Swan Lake." I was looking forward to seeing this.

What I liked so much was the clarity and beautiful articulation of her motion, being most noticeable in the placement of her arms, shoulders and head. I can only best describe it, for the moment, as having the elegance of a super fashion model. It was so sophisticated and precise in its linearity, but also so lovely in expressiveness. The linear, constructed beauty of her entire figure was especially noticeable in her last Act Odette.

I would somewhat equate this to similar qualities in Nina Kaptsova (Bolshoi) and Irina Kolesnikova (St. Petersburg Ballet) -- a beautiful clarity and definition of motion.

My notes also say -- " Wonderful ! " -- " Lovable ! "

Among the men I would quickly like to mention David Hallberg (ABT guest), who was his usual charismatic self along with some very fine sailing through the air. His overall gracefulness had me, at times, thinking "Nijinsky.' He did the "Swan Lake" lead two performances in a row (Saturday and Monday) with Viktoria Tereshkina and then Ekaterina Kondaurova. This is quite an honor and quite an accomplishment. In his final Act dancing with Ekaterina Kondaurova as Odette, he was exceptionally compassionate and supportive in his Portrayal, creating a Very Sympathetic and Noteworthy Presence.

Also Alexander Parish (formerly Royal Ballet), who I've seen several times before with the Mariinsky, was the best that I've seen him as one of the prince's friends in the Act I pas de trois from "Swan Lake." With his statuesque gracefulness, physical solidity and noble manner, I could see why the Mariinsky had asked him to join the company.

Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  Final thoughts

The last season the Kirov gave in London came in for a great deal of criticism, with the faded productions of both Sleeping Beauty and Romeo & Juliet being judged not fit for purpose by many, and in between we had a Bolshoi season that left both audiences and critics alike singing that company’s praises. This Kirov season saw an improvement of sorts, but there were still some worrying areas of concern such as the insipid ensemble dancing on certain nights and even poor orchestral playing. Perhaps we should look at the punishing touring schedule for explanations of these worrying developments, after all the company arrived in London straight after performances in the US and left to embark on an exhausting series of Swan lakes in South America.. Standards do drop under these circumstances.

For the fans the biggest draw this year was the long awaited return of Diana Vishneva, arguably the company’s biggest star and absent from London for far too long. Also creating some excitement was the prospect of a new work from Ratmansky, Anna Karenina, though unfortunately this didn’t fire Londoners up at all and received the same half hearted response it got in America. As it turned out, it was the Balanchine/Robbins programme that deservedly received the most acclaim with a benchmark performance from Viktoria Tereshkina in Ballet Imperial.

In all I saw eleven performances and with the exceptions of a God-awful Dryad Queen in Don Q. and Somova out of her depth in Ballet Imperial (she was okay in the Robbins though), the performances I witnessed were good to excellent from the principals. The season’s heroine has to be Tereshkina with astounding performances all round though divine Vishneva also dazzled, particularly in Swan Lake: hopefully we won’t have to wait so long to see her again. On the male side Matvienko was the man to watch though Shklyarov danced almost perfectly throughout – if he could just beef up his stage presence a bit he would have the world at his beautiful feet.

Of the others some special praise for Filip Stepin and Alexei Timofeyev, dancers I thought so-so last time around but who really impressed me two years on. A trio of dancers that were new to me were Maria Shirinkina, Yuri Smekalov and Vassily Tkachenko with all three being singled out for lavish praise by the fans: Shirinkina for the sheer beauty of her dancing and the other two for their up-front personalities as well as their performing skills. Special favourites with the Londoners are Kondaurova, who just goes from strength to strength and Obraztsova of whom we saw too little (one Kitri, a cameo role in Anna Karenina and second lead in Ballet Imperial). Further down in the pecking order it was good to see both Svetlana Ivanova and Yana Selina getting featured roles. Daria Pavlenko was also in London, but sadly just to watch rather than to dance (note to Kirov management: kindly remedy this situation for the next tour), Osmolkina was also absent, perhaps recent motherhood had something to do with the decision for her not being here – I do hope she hasn’t fallen out of favour.

Lastly the corps de ballet is still a miracle of the ballet world, displayed to perfection in Swan Lake and Bayaderka. The Kirov bedrock remains firm whilst the quality of those dancers remains supreme.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Aug 25, 2011 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

Thanks, Cassandra, for posting your thoughts and descriptions about what you saw and, hopefully to the greatest degree possible, appreciated and enjoyed.

I have thought so much about what made the performances that I saw so special, in particular the Balanchine/Robbins evenings. I could do an analysis and in fact have done so in my mind. Still an analysis is not poetry and poetry is what we were so beautifully being offered here.

In dealing with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins these dancers were dealing with something perhaps new and yet also so essentially a part of themselves artistically and a part of us all soulfully. So maybe someone simply said to these amazing artists, " You are performing 'angels,' so just go for it ! "

And this is how I would honestly want to respond to what I saw and felt.

Angel Child, Goddess Child
Looking For The Perfect Wave To Ride Beyond The Stars

Dancing To The Music Of A Sea Of Dreams
Making Children And Angels Smile

Perfect Grace
And A Child's Heart

Angel Eyes
Fly So High

Take My Heart
And Give It Life

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Aug 26, 2011 11:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

Kevin Ng reviews the London season in the St. Petersburg Times.

SP Times

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Sep 01, 2011 10:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kirov Ballet in London 2011

I saw a Miami City Ballet performance of "Ballet Imperial" in Paris about a week before I saw the Mariinsky do its in London. They were both equally wonderful and yet so different that I'm still not sure that I was seeing the same ballet, although I must have been.

The Miami City Ballet version was so full of life,

The Joy and Beauty of Being Alive.

I never 'cheered' so much as I did for their series of performances.

The Mariinsky took their two performances of "Ballet Imperial," especially the first, to --

Somewhere In The Heavens.

This is not unusual, in my experience, for the Mariinsky.

What made these Mariinsky performances different from other Balanchine and Robbins performances that I have seen them do, is that the dancers seemed so Natural and Comfortable with what they were doing. What made it 'Their Own' and 'Something of the Heavens' is the way that they brought it back into their own sphere, or way of doing things. This is where it all started, since George Balanchine certainly can be viewed as a product of the Mariinsky, and this is where it may well have returned in London.

In one respect, the Mariinsky may have taken some of the 'edges' out the normal Balanchine way of doing things. They smoothed it out, perhaps. But it is not as if the Mariinsky dancers simply took it back in time. The Mariinsky hasn't stood still in the nearly one century since the birth of George Balanchine. I'm sure that it has undergone a growing process, as well, that might make it unrecognizable to someone from a hundred years ago.

** Not Only Did The Mariinsky Possibly Carry George Balanchine To A New Level In London,

It Might Have Also Carried Itself To A New Level. **

It started the first evening of Balanchine/Robbins with George Balanchine's "Scotch Symphony." This featured Anastasia Matvienko, Alexander Sergeyev, Yana Selina, Vasiliy Tkachenko and Anton Pimonov. Anastasia Matvienko was the focus and she was as beautiful as ever. Yana Selina always seems to put her remarkable signature on anything that she does. The men framed these women handsomely and confidently.

"In The Night" (Jerome Robbins) Was Where Things Really Took Off !

I have already mentioned that I thought both Evgenia Obraztsova and Viktoria Tereshkina may have gone A Step Beyond in London and this is where Evgenia Obraztsova first made hers. With Filipp Stepin she went at this material with a completely personal and captivating show of exuberant commitment and artistic fineness that was A Step Beyond !

Then came Alina Somova with Yevgeny Ivanchenko, and like Anastasia Matvienko, she performed beautifully. Ulyana Lopatkina with Daniil Korsuntsev was next and she shone brilliantly as the shining star that she is.

Then came 'Shock Wave Two.' Viktoria Tereshkina with Vladimir Shklyarov danced the lead in "Ballet Imperial." I'd seen her dance this once before and it was magnificent, but this time she took over the stage completely. Once again, like Evgenia Obratzova, she went at this on her own terms with a complete understanding and total mastery of what she was doing.

In regard to "Ballet Imperial" I did chat briefly with one of the male dancers (I don't know his name) after the performance. He stated that the company was very happy with how the first night's "Ballet Imperial" had gone.

On Night Two I would say that it was Evgenia Obraztsova again that made one of the greatest impressions as the Lighter Than Air Like Never Before second ballerina to Alina Somova in "Ballet Imperial." Among the other women that danced so brilliantly that night were Maria Shirinkina and Valeria Martiniuk ("Scotch Symphony") and Anastasia Matvienko, Ekaterina Kondaurova and Viktoria Tereshkina ("In The Night").

I would like to make one further observation about how I see some of the Mariinsky approach to George Balanchine. Alina Somova is one interesting example and Evgenia Obraztsova (who I sometimes may have confused stylistically with the wonderful and similar young star, Maria Shirinkina) is another. Alina Somova in "Ballet Imperial" seemed at times to be finding her way through the Balanchine style. She seemed to be trying to embrace the more 'hard edged' Balanchine manner, but on her own graceful terms. I have seen her do this with other choreography, where she also seemed noticeably to be trying to find just the right approach. It is a commendable effort at exploration and experimentation and if it may seem like someone who is still learning the ropes, it has the effect and subtle beauty of an Angel who is finding her way through a new world.

Evgenia Obraztsova in the same ballet remained essentially her Mariinsky self with beautiful and delicate use of her hands and arms.... It was lovely beyond description, but in many ways different from Alina Somova's lovely but more 'adaptive' approach.

In summary, it may well have been Evgenia Obraztsova's ("In The Night" and "Ballet Imperial") and Viktoria Tereshkina's ("Ballet Imperial") performances that perhaps best illustrated what the Mariinsky had accomplished in London. They had made that giant step into another world....

Knowingly, Confidently and Magnificently !

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