CriticalDance Forum

Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season
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Author:  Buddy [ Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

In my previous post I forgot to include Alina Somova. She is indeed another source of extreme interest. Like Yekaterina Kondaurova, she has an amazing range and both artists show even greater and unlimited promise. I’ve always admired her basic grace and flow, which after Ulyana Lopatkina’s, is perhaps the finest in the world. (Oxana Skorik has a similar loveliness that is slightly more poetic in emphasis.) In addition, Alina Somova's ‘Swan’ (Fokine) at this year’s Festival was a complete revelation. She was riveting. Her depth of expression and focus went well beyond all my high expectations. There’s also a video clip of a recent Swan Lake performance where she shows a newly delicate and heart touchingly innocent sensitivity.

Also, I don't want to lose sight of Olga Esina, who I feel has airy and delightfully alive dreaminess and grace.

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Friday, August 1, Veronika Part (ABT, formerly Mariinsky) performed Giselle. I’m not sure if she’s ever given a major performance of this before.

There are two short video clips from Act I now on the internet. Based on prolific audience filming at the Mariinsky there is hope for more, which from my very selfish point of view I would long to see. Films of Veronika Part doing anything are quite rare.

Why the interest? In at least one of her wonderful Swan Lakes (I’ve seen seven), for me, she became the greatest ballerina in the world !

One thing that I always have to keep in mind with Veronika Part is my first impression of her.

* Presence *

From the first times that I saw her doing absolutely minimal stage appearances, her presence was

* Riveting ! *

It modulates considerably since then and remains fascinating. One thing that she has done, partly because of the ‘varying involvement’ of her partners (Marcelo Gomes being probably the best) is that she has created her own stage reality. She can perform amazingly without her partner seemingly there.

For me, her Swan Lakes have always been awesome, her claim to greatness. I’ve also seen two Sleeping Beauty performances years ago that I thought were outstanding. It became apparent that she is an exceptionally great dancer as well as an overwhelming stage presence. Even in subsequent ‘cameo’ appearances, her stage presence alone, has been remarkable. ABT seems to give her a very limited agenda, but, in my personal and somewhat strong opinion, they did have the wisdom to make her a Principal. This at least gives us the opportunity to see what we can of her, as there’s no telling where she would have wound up otherwise, as is the case with the super talented Simone Messmer (formerly ABT) at the moment.

Hopefully Catherine was able to see her Giselle and can tell us something.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Please find the review of the Mariinsky's July 23rd performance in honor of the 110th Birthday of Balanchine here:

Apologies for the delays, as it took some time for the team to get it into format.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Aug 03, 2014 12:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Veronika Part in Giselle
Mariinsky Theatre
Saint Petersburg, Russia
1 August 2014

On the heels of Novikova's standard-setting Giselle just a week ago with Xander Parish (please look for the review of that stunning performance in Dance Europe magazine), Veronika Part from ABT visited her previous employer, the Mariinsky, for her world debut in "Giselle" alongside Evgeny Ivanchenko.

It is difficult to embody a more perfect Giselle than Novikova, who retains the low Romantic port de bras, epitomizes the reserved peasant girl, and emits a magnetism towards Albrecht that is felt to the back of the house, energy that is easy for her partner to feed off of. By the same token, Parish infuses his Albrecht with equal intensity -- the result is an evenly balanced energy that colors both main characters. But when Part pairs with Ivanchenko, that energy is sadly misbalanced or at times one-sided.

Part herself is one of the most beautiful ballerinas on the world stage today. Tall, with an impossibly tiny waist and lush, articulate feet, she emits a sense of grandeur and elegance befitting a queen, and seems well-suited for Paquita, or even Swan Lake. It's difficult to imagine her the peasant girl, then, because her offstage persona is the antithesis thereof. Perhaps the issue of typecasting comes into play. Part's technique cannot be faulted, and her beauty is unquestionable. She believed in Ivanchenko's Albrecht, in his love for her. But the role, at least in Act I, did not quite fit her as it might.

The remnants of 12 years in America are visible in Part's technique. In Act I, she infused the dance with deep articulation of her gorgeously pliable arches. The Vaganova method historically teaches a different approach to pointework, with less roll-through, and the contrast is palpable here. Her feet themselves were expressive. Part's port de bras are now decidedly American in their abandon; but absent were the delicate Vaganova finger positions that mark the Russian style in such lovely fashion. Refinement in the pantomime sections was also missing: where a nod or gesture could have been emphasized, they remained small. Missing too was that sense of quiet depth, the magical draw. Her rendition was appropriate, but one wanted more. Gone, then, it seems, are most technical traces of her Russian roots. Yet she adhered to the Romantic style with low arabesques throughout, a tasteful decision.

In Act II, her Giselle was more human than ethereal, with warmth transcending the otherworld rather than coolness seeping from it. That's not a problem, as long as there's no expectation of the ghostly phantom who breezes through. It was similar to the difference between Odette the Swan and Odette the "temporarily human princess." Here, it felt as if Giselle had transformed from a sylph back into a flesh-and-bone human in sylph's clothing, rising, literally, from the grave, in order to save Albrecht. Technically speaking, Act II went smoothly apart from two partnering glitches, one in the penché promenade and another when Ivanchenko tried to set Part down from one of the overhead lifts. This may be relegated to lack of rehearsal time together, as Part arrived not long ago from New York, and to Ivanchenko's overload lately, as he fills in for an injured Korsuntsev, Part's advertised partner.

Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova's light jump and sunny disposition decorated the Peasant Pas de Deux with Aleksey Popov, whose cleanly landed double tours punctuated his variation. Her solo displayed excellent musicality, and Popov's timing allowed him a quadruple pirouette with a breath in relevé before he finished.

In sum, Veronika's Part debut in Giselle offered a Western alternative to the Mariinsky approach, and reflects her years spent abroad. Should the administration at ABT wish to grant her a go at home, they would not be displeased.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Catherine, thanks very much for your Veronika Part review. I definitely sympathize with what you love so much at the Mariinsky.

Veronika Part, for me, is someone very special and perhaps best appreciated on her own terms. Sometimes in my viewing experience, she has to be watched second by second, otherwise something great might slip by unnoticed.

I’ve watched all the video clips of Act I, four of them. Video clips have often been only the roughest of sketches of actual performances that I’ve seen. Almost always I’ve found the live presentations far superior and even substantively different. So I always have to treat them with this qualification.

In the first three videos I really had to look carefully to find some of the high points, but they are indeed there. In the fourth, the so called “mad scene,” which I usually try to finesse, her dramatic prowess and handling are as fine as I’ve ever seen.

Veronika Part, for me, is a Phenomenon. There’s always something Magnificent happening, somewhere. In her Swan Lakes every moment has often been a study in greatness and beauty.

I do hope that ABT, her home company, will give her as many opportunities as they can to express her entire range and that the Mariinsky invites her back as often as possible. My dream for years of seeing her perform Swan Lake at the Festival remains as strong as ever. Not everyone of her performances is of the same level, but I feel she is one of the greatest ballet artists ever and every chance to experience her can be historic.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Le Corsaire
Mariinsky Theatre
Saint Petersburg, Russia
3 August 2014

When Gennady Silutsky shouts "Bravo", it means something. And it meant something last night, that rare, singular word of praise, coming from the typically silent and most esteemed male pedagogue in northern Russia, when his student, Ernest Latypov, revealed the magic of the Mariinsky in his performance as Ali in Le Corsaire. Latypov, under Silutsky's tutelage since his years at the Vaganova Academy, and remaining so since his 2012 admission to the Theatre, is an unquestionably talented young man. Born to choreographer-parents in Kyrgystan, and already the holder of awards from the 2013 Moscow International Competition and Ekaterina Maximova's 2014 Arabesque competition, his path into future as a leading ballet star is now solid. The Sunday night performance, which occurred in the absence of the troupe's director, Yuri Fateyev, who is now on tour with the company for a nerve-testing three-week run London, confirmed Latypov as the most promising young man in the company.

In the full length Corsaire, we only see the fireworks in Act II. Ali's presence in the first and third acts is relegated to pantomime and defense of the good guys against the bad. But that entry into the long-awaited, silence-ridden Act II pas de deux that tests the stamina and technique of every dancer proves to be a hallmark of greatness when done correctly and with passion. And so it was on Sunday night with Latypov heating up the stage. The partnering went smoothly, but the real draw was in Latypov's solo. Aptly feline, indescribable airborne feats punctuated his first two diagonals. And yet they were accented with lovely Vaganova-positioned hands that tinged the raw talent with the right balance of beauty. A triple turn à la seconde gave us a hint of his power, and during the coda, the series of tours in second were taken at lightning speed-- light, brisk, perfectly positioned, and alternating with turns in low arabesque.

A word must be said of Shapran, whose two years at the Stanislavsky, and six months at the Mikhailovsky culminated in her shift back to home territory at the Mariinsky around July 6, 2014. Already an expert from these few years of experience, Shapran commands the stage and draws the viewer into the libretto. Her very carriage suggests "ballerina," and her physique supports that: a small, round head, wispy arms that form impeccable port de bras, plush arches that bend her pointe shoes just so, and an expressive face. In size, she recalls a young Altynai Asylmuratova, the former prima ballerina who has in fact coached Shapran until very recently. The young lady has the ability to extend a balance in a transition step to accent the music, exuding control. In Shapran, one doesn't worry about the technique, there is utter certainty that she will deliver, and that leaves the viewer to enjoy a physical model of the Vaganova ideal that is increasingly hard to find on the stage today.

Other soloists also drew attention. Islom Baimuradov dances one of the most evil and humorous Birbanto's on earth, and deserves an award for expressive, clear acting. Alongside him Liubov Kozharskaya was a bright lead Gypsy, though she is a dancer equally at home in the classical roles. In the Odalisque trio, Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova offered the cleanest lines and a bright disposition to complement the dance. And last but by far not the least, in Maxim Zuizin in his debut as Conrad one could not help but see traces of his own late coach, the beloved Sergey Berezhnoi, in both demeanor and delivery.

The August 3 Corsaire surpassed many previous performances of this ballet. Perhaps in the relaxed summer atmosphere, away from the critical eyes of the administration, these dancer debuts found room to blossom to the full extent of their talents. Aleksei Repnikov conducted with expert attentiveness to the dancers' timing.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

I’ve come across video clips of Oxana Skorik performing Giselle, April 17, 2014, shortly after her remarkable Swan Lake at this year’s Festival.

Clement Crisp just called her 'fascinating" in her London Swan Lake and Fascinating she is !

I’ve been comparing her to Olga Smirnova (Bolshoi, Vaganova graduate) and saying that one of the major differences in their development is that Olga Smirnova is becoming an incredible Expressionist, while Oxana Skorik is moving more towards Refinement and Subtlety.

Well along comes Oxana Skorik to throw me a bit of a curve. Her Giselle from April and from September 2013 are perhaps among the more animated and expressive Giselles that I’ve seen. She definitely has a mind of her own.

In the most recent one, her Etherealness shines most noticeably in the Act II, the kingdom of the Shades . Here she is at her sublime finest as a portrayalist. Her Act I is, for me, the most commendable for her dancing. She floats like a cloud and her nuancing while in the air is as fine as I’ve ever seen her do. As fine as anyone. It’s so beautiful and brilliant how she arches herself or positions herself to get the maximum airy expression.

Her Act II dancing is also extremely fine with a great deal of expressive nuancing, still lovely in it’s underlying refinement.

Oxana Skorik — in her refined and subtle ways, in her remarkable basic beauty, in her expressive capability, in her inner depth and poetry, in her one of a kind distinctiveness is

Fascinating — Indeed !

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Catherine Pawlick wrote:
Le Corsaire
Mariinsky Theatre
Saint Petersburg, Russia
3 August 2014

A word must be said of Shapran, whose two years at the Stanislavsky, and six months at the Mikhailovsky culminated in her shift back to home territory at the Mariinsky around July 6, 2014....Her very carriage suggests "ballerina,"....The young lady has the ability to extend a balance in a transition step to accent the music, exuding control. In Shapran, one doesn't worry about the technique, there is utter certainty that she will deliver, and that leaves the viewer to enjoy a physical model of the Vaganova ideal....

Thanks, Catherine, for the Le Corsaire review. I look forward to seeing Ernest Latypov.

Since Kristina Shapran will be performing twice this weekend in London in George Balanchine’s Apollo I went to my video file to refresh my very pleasant memories and was extremely impressed. According to your translation and the look on her face, Diana Vishneva, for one, was highly impressed with her on the Bolshoi Ballet TV contest in October, 2012. I think that she has a remarkable future, her classical fineness being among the best that I’ve ever seen.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

The Mariinsky -- Balanchine -- 'The Ethereals’

I’ve just found a June video clip of Oxana Skorik (with Konstantin Zverev) performing the duet from George Balanchine’s Diamonds and — I’m Spellbound !

Probably my favorite internet video clip for the last several months has been of Oxana Skorik (with Yevgeny Ivanchenko) performing George Balanchine’s Symphony in C duet.

This can offer two interesting topics. How the Mariinsky handles works by George Balanchine and how a group a ballerinas, that I like to think of as the ‘Ethereals,’ is progressing.

The definitive performance of Diamonds, as George Balanchine intended it, is probably that of Suzanne Farrell with Peter Martins, which can also be seen on video. One of the most enchanting and poetic versions may well be that of Oxana Skorik. This comparison may also apply to the Mariinsky’s interpretations overall. They may not be as George Balanchine envisioned them, but they are remarkably beautiful and compelling. Although not literal recreations stylistically they might well touch the soul and essence of George Balanchine (educated at the Vaganova (Mariinsky related school)) in a way that is profoundly meaningful.

The ‘Ethereals’ is a name that I like to give a group of Mariinsky (or Mariinsky related) ballerinas because that’s what I think that they are, as is the entire company.

Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova….Ulyana Lopatkina

Natalia Makarova, Altynai Asylmuratova, Zhanna Ayupova….

Svetlana Zakharova, Alina Somova, Yekaterina Kondaurova (equally fine at ‘modern’ and as an ’interpretist’)…. All have the ability to rise to the top of the list ‘Pantheon.’

Oxana Skorik, Olga Smirnova....Yulia Stepanova, Kristina Shapran….

Of the last grouping, Oxana Skorik and Olga Smirnova are personally the most fascinating. I believe that they are both capable of rising to the top grouping as well, Olga Smirnova being perhaps the most obvious, but Oxana Skorik being perhaps the most subtly intriguing. Olga Smirnova has become the Expressionist of the two, but her Vaganova fineness also makes her Ethereal. Oxana Skorik is also an extremely fine Expressionist, but her manner in essence and emphasis is Ethereal.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Please let me add a few more thoughts to my post above.

In regard to Suzanne Farrell’s presence in Diamonds, it’s quite special. Not only does she seem to give everything that George Balanchine would have wanted, but may even go beyond that in her heartfelt and soulful commitment as well as her gracefulness of motion.

I also suggested that the Mariinsky in its distinct interpretations might touch the Soul and Essence of George Balanchine in a way that’s deeply meaningful. I think what is possibly more important is that the Mariinsky in its own way is -- Enriching -- the essence of — the entire Art Form and its World — by — Interpreting and Interacting — with what George Balanchine has created.

George Balanchine seemed to refine things down to basic structure, which is often said. Suzanne Farrell, like Oxana Skorik, gives this additional warmth, additional humanity.

Also George Balanchine changes the physical challenge. His two duets here do not have the challenging lifts and turns of a Swan Lake, or even the intricate and rapid motion that he often uses, but they do have his extreme sculptural demand. Oxana Skorik, whose main challenge in the past has been lifts and spins, seems much more comfortable here. She can easily handle the sculptural demands and the elegant simplicity of the rest gives her still more freedom to become poetically expansive and compelling.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:29 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

And could I please do one more addition? I mentioned that in the last grouping of young 'Ethereal' ballerinas (Oxana Skorik, Olga Smirnova....Yulia Stepanova, Kristina Shapran….) Oxana Skorik and Olga Smirnova are perhaps the most fascinating.

Well more and more, Kristina Shapran is Very Subtly having a similar impact on me. Many reviewers were extremely taken by her in London. One of the most noteworthy was the often very admired and respected senior reviewer, Clement Crisp.

The title of his article about the Mariinsky’s first Balanchine evening is:

“Apollo was blessed with the presence of Kristina Shapran, a young Mariinsky dancer of huge promise”

He then continues his praise and brings in Olga Smirnova.

“I am not given to falling in love with dancers’ artistry – notwithstanding my recent joy in Olga Smirnova’s great talent. But with Kristina Shapran – set against Vladimir Shklyarov’s grandly drawn Apollo – I saw dancing of astonishing promise.”

I’ve felt strongly about the fineness and clarity of “each step, each action.” He expresses this in even more poetic terms.

“But Shapran seems to give each step, each action, an inner life that is revealed to us as she moves.” ... z3AymRRCm5

Here is what Diana Vishneva said in regard to Kristina Shapran on the Bolshoi Ballet TV contest in October, 2012, as reported and translated by Catherine.

“She concluded her commentary by stating "Russian ballet will live on" (has a future) because of dancers like Shapran.”

Kristina Shapran —- Perhaps someone to keep a very close eye on.

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Aug 25, 2014 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Oxana Skorik

Videos clips are pretty much all that I have at the moment. I enjoy them very much, but I always try to appreciate them separate from stage reality. In the case of Oxana Skorik, I’ve seen hopefully enough of her actual performances, so that I can keep the videos in perspective and discuss them with reasonable relevance to her live presentations.

The video that most fascinates me currently is the Act II duet from Giselle with Yevgeny Ivanchenko, September 2013. Of equal interest and a favorite for months is her April, 2014 duet from Symphony in C, also with Yevgeny Ivanchenko.

What both these duets show is her Remarkable and Subtle Depth of Expression along with her Mastery of Detail, all Contained within a Dreamlike Fineness and Grace. Subtlety and Containment are keys. She creates magnificent, often elongated, shapes and moves with exceptional grace. She alternates with great agility from one expressive moment to another, both with her face and with her limbs. She can take chances. She reaches out for a highly expressive moment and then reins it in. She can shift the emphasis in an instant. She can be reaching beyond physically and then a second later become a study in classic harmony and composure. She can become a starstruck dreamer and at the same time exhibit a goddess-like state of awareness.

I’m still strongly inclined to make direct comparisons with Olga Smirnova (Vaganova graduate now at the Bolshoi) because their parallels are so intertwined. Once again I’ll say that Olga Smirnova is becoming incredible at expression while maintaining her Vaganova fineness, while Oxana Skorik is more about ’Subtlety.’

In my mind, both amazing artists are equally remarkable and equally Likely to attain all time greatness.

Oxana Skorik continues to fascinate me immensely, with her Fineness, her Brilliance and above all her Profound and Compelling Beautiful Breadth of Poetry.

Correction made: One of the duets that I referred to above is Symphony in C and not Diamonds.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Oxana Skorik

In trying to define why she could be the equal of an Ulanova, a Lopatkina or even possibly a Pavlova, the answer seems apparent.

Her * Face *

The story it tells. The feelings it conveys. The awareness that it represents. The translating of the beautiful state of poetry that she has found within.

It sometimes has to be viewed carefully, very carefully, to detect and appreciate all the nuances and subtleties.

Her dance is fine enough that she can be viewed alongside the greatest. It has its own distinct excellence.

But what makes her perhaps their equal? What best conveys the profoundness and beauty of her artistic essence?

Her * Face *

Author:  Tiara [ Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

Buddy wrote:
Oxana Skorik
Her * Face *
It sometimes has to be viewed carefully, very carefully, to detect and appreciate all the nuances and subtleties.

That is because there are none - she cannot act. I have seen her dance many times, and she must be one of the most expressionLESS dancers I have ever seen. How you could place her in the same category, or even the same paragraph, as such Great dancers as Pavlova, Ulanova and Lopatkina quite frankly beggars belief. The history books will remember these true Greats when Oxana Skorik is long forgotten.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Aug 27, 2014 3:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky 2013-2014 (231st) season

I guess that what I’ll say again is that * Subtlety * is the key.

Appropriateness of expression, which she emphasizes, (and which I might like to return to at another time) among other factors can be as important as dramatic punch.

And back to Clement Crisp’s comments about her recent Odette/Odile (Swan Lake) portrayal in London.

“….an intriguing air of mystery, of an inner passion.” ... z39SD6AnVH

I would definitely agree about “an inner passion.” As for “an intriguing air of mystery” I see something perhaps different and this to me is critical. I would call it something

* Sublime *

and this is what might make her different from other great dramatists. Many can go deep within themselves, but what they find there and bring to us can be something different.

What Oxana Skorik finds and expresses from deep within herself, for me, is something Sublime and this is what makes her so absolutely special.

Her dancing is exceptional but what part of her most communicates something Sublime.

Her * Face *

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