CriticalDance Forum

"Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)
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Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Feb 10, 2011 4:29 pm ]
Post subject:  "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

Sarah Kaufman reviews the Tuesday, February 8, 2011 performace of "Giselle" with Diana Vishneva in the Washington Post.

Washington Post

Charles Downey reviews the same performance for DCist.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

Alastair Macaulay reviews the Tuesday, February 8 (with Vishneva) and Wednesday, February 9 (with Somova) performances in the New York Times.

NY Times

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

From Joel Lobenthal, an often published New York City area reviewer, in an article at "City Arts," comes these words praising Alina Somova's "Giselle" among other notably fine performances. This review was cited by the Mariinka forum, that mostly consists of discussions about the Mariinsky in russian.

"Nobility requires self-possession, and it’s hard to project that in ballet if you’re physically unstable. Therefore a pleasant surprise of the run was Alina Somova’s Giselle. No longer wrenching her body into extreme contortions that undermine her equilibrium, instead she used her very long and flexible limbs to create a personal as well as idiomatic incarnation of the ballet’s Romantic style, fashioned after biomorphic impressions of wind and blossom. In her mid-twenties, Somova’s Giselle was further anchored by decade-older Evgeny Ivanchenko’s Albrecht, demonstrating again how crucial mature dancers are to a ballet company."’s-not-easy-to-be-noble/

I have referred here before to the internet video clip of Alina Somova and Igor Kolb dancing the famous duet from "Giselle," Act II, because I consider it as beautiful an effort as I have seen on the internet.

I continue my Alina Somova commenting because I truly believe, based on seeing her about ten times in the last five years, that she is one of the most gracefully beautiful dancers in ballet. Much attention has been focussed on her 'bravura' abilities and as much as I am personally impressed by this it is only part of the story. I have to say also that I base my highly positive opinions on my live viewing experiences and not on the huge range of internet video clips, of which I have seen only a few and which are totally valid documents, but which at times have not really represented what I have been fortunate enough to see 'Consistantly' on stage.

Some see her gracefulness as a recent development attributed to the new coaching by the legendary Tatiana Terekhova. My perception of this goes back to the first time I saw her, Chicago, October 2006, dancing Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake." I have been consistently impressed by her gracefulness ever since.

I think that she is a beautifully talented woman who is finally getting more respect and admiration from a wider range of reviewers and I strongly applaud this.

An added thought:

Ultimately, in my opinion, what matters the most, is what each individual viewer takes away from a performance. My viewing experiences of Alina Somova, which are not necessarily anyone else's, have been highly pleasant. I would perhaps suggest to anyone reading my comments to see Alina Somova perform live at least once and I hope that your viewing experience is as wonderful as mine have been.

[added a comment about the internet video clips and a minor words change]

Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

Out of interest, did anyone else see the Kirov Giselles in Washington?

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

I did - and I beg to differ with Buddy (I mean Joel L!), although I loved Somova's use of hands and I could tell that she was really trying. While her extensions of old weren't much in evidence here -- and they would not be in a Romantic ballet -- she still warped the torso and hip line to achieve a sky-high extension during the start of the crucial pdd in Act 2. Worse, even a long romantic tutu cannot hide lack of turn-out, low elevation (in A2 pdd solo parts, including the final diagonal of grands jetes) or a tin ear. However, I give kudos to her newly-trim Albrecht, Yevgeny Ivanchenko (hardly recognizable from old days!), for his solid partnering and helping the 'team' look good.

I WAS looking forward to Somova's Nikiya in Ottawa this Sunday afternoon but I just read that she's off the least that leg of it. There is much to admire in the 'plastique' sections of Somova's Nikia, due to Acts I and II requiring more fluid orientalism and less academic perfection (so the lack of turn out and odd port-de-bras does not shock). I would love to see Somova in the 'tall girl' role of Forsythe's In the Middle... or in some of the Balanchine 'tall girl' roles, such as the Agon pdd...but those roles require keen musicality, so she needs a bit of training there.

Buddy and I still agree on many, many dancers...a little something for everyone, as they say.

I truly loved the performances of the three other Giselles on this tour: passionate Vishneva (I went through all my kleenex on that one!); scintillating technician and budding actress Terioshkina; and regal, simply-gorgeous Lopatkina! Shklyarov certainly stood out among the four fine Albrechts, partnering Terioshkina. And kudos to Kondaurova's incredible Myrtha - nobody messes with that Willi! The Peasant pdd's were all impressive - usually Timofeev (except for the final perf, with Shklyarov), partnering either feisty Cheprassova, delicate Shirinkina or the technically brilliant Martynyuk.

Corps de ballet - a 'masterpiece'!

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

Hi, Natalia.

It's nice to hear your thoughts. I think that one of the differences in our appraisals is that we maybe are focussing somewhat on different things. Of all the wonderful Mariinsky dancers there is just something for me that is very special about Alina Somova. I tend to see her somewhat in the same manner as I see Uliana Lopatkina, both having such beautiful and poetically expressive long lines among other fine qualities. This doesn't mean that someone else has to share my perceptions of beauty, but I do think that my feelings do have meaning to others than myself, which is why I post as much as I do about Alina Somova.

I would like to give you more specific reasons as to why I like her performing so much, but at the moment my analyzing doesn't really express the appreciation or the feelings that I have. I guess I just hope to be carried along by some beautiful happening when I go to a performance and Alina Somova does this for me.

Thanks also for telling us about some of the other dancers. I share your enthusiasm for all of them.

By the way, if you are still here, have you heard anything from any of your friends and relatives in Russia about how Veronika Part did last Saturday? Maybe we'll be able to chat some more in Saint Petersburg if you plan to be at the Festival. I'm hoping to be able to be there.

[minor wording change made]

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

I give kudos to her newly-trim Albrecht, Yevgeny Ivanchenko (hardly recognizable from old days!), for his solid partnering and helping the 'team' look good.

A busy chap, Ivanchenko, after partnering Somova in Washington he was in Paris partnering Irina Kolesnikova. I suppose you could call that going from the ridiculous to the sublime. :)

Edited to correct a typo

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: "Giselle" at the Kennedy Center (February 2011)

I would like to add a few more thoughts.

I was so hoping to see Veronika Part, and as I later discovered, Alina Somova, performing "Swan Lake" last Saturday in Saint Petersburg. I was unable at the last minute to do this, but was very rewarded by seeing some excellent performances by other outstanding artists (Svetlana Lunkina and Nina Kaptsova (Bolshoi), Alina Cojocaru (Royal Ballet), Gillian Murphy, Michele Wiles and Simone Messmer (ABT)....)

It made me think somewhat about how much wonderful talent there is and the validity of ranking individuals.

I guess I will return to an idea that I have expressed before. At such a high level of excellence, that so many of these artists represent, at any given performance the chance of seeing something exceptional is always there.

As much as there are artists that I think are incredible, and Veronika Part comes to mind immediately, and personally value highly, such as Alina Somova, there are so many others for me at the Mariinsky alone, Ulyana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Viktoria Tereshkina, Evgenia Obraztsova, Ekaterina Kondaurova, Igor Zelensky, Igor Kolb, Denis Matvienko, Andrian Fedeyev, Islom Baimuradov, corps de ballet....that I really want to express my admiration for all such dancers and not single out any one of them as being better than the other. Any one of these wonderful performing artists, and so many others, can produce unforgettably rewarding performing experiences.

[typo correction, minor addition and a longer list of artists' names added]

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