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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:27 pm 
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Tomorrow night -- Swan Lake -- Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin (from Bolshoi)

(I thought that she was Incredible, twice, in Swan Lake last July in NYC. He was an excellent partner.)

Last night -- Swan Lake -- Oxana Skorik and Xander Parish

There are some brief video clips of Oxana Skorik and Xander Parish. They are rather hard to find. I've only looked at them once or twice. One thing that they do show is that Oxana Skorik can do the technical challenges as well as anyone. In the Odile clip she lowers her highly lifted leg extremely slowly from a développé en pointe with exceptional control. Breathtaking.

I'll look forward to any comments about or video glances at these two performances.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:12 am 
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I guess that I can use Olga Smirnova’s appearance tonight as a reason to continue discussing her at this Mariinsky topic. Also she does come from the Mariinsky ‘sphere’ being a Vaganova graduate. Also, also, I still like comparing her to Oxana Skorik.

I’ve been watching a video clip of her Swan Lake debut in May, 2013. Like almost all video clips that I’ve seen of her, I’ve almost stopped watching it because her two recent and magnificent NYC Swan Lakes blew away any previous video resemblances.

So let’s see how tonight goes. I do hope that someone is able to capture her amazing development on film as it may be awhile before I and many others get a chance to see her again.

As for comparisons to Oxana Skorik, I love them both. Oxana Skorik, from recent video viewings only, shows slight variations from one performance to the next, but in each, certain exceptional qualities are very evident. Olga Smirnova is more like a projectile. She just grows and grows, unwaveringly. It sometimes seems to take her awhile to thoroughly develop a role, but once she’s done it, it’s a Masterpiece. Since her Swan Lake debut, she has added a remarkable dimension of character, or contact, to her lovely ‘Vaganova derived’ dancing. Best wishes to her for a great performance tonight and also to Oxana Skorik for a happy and great future.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:41 am 
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Hi Buddy,
I attended Smirnova + Chudin's Lake last night. So far, no videos are available online that I've noticed. There are static photos of the reverences (each act) up on social media though.
And yes, given that this was a Mariinsky Theatre performance, I'm thinking we should keep the coverage here rather than the Ballet In Europe forum. ))

Review and/or thoughts to come soon.

post script: It was seemingly a miracle that Smirnova performed at all, as rumor had it that she'd be replaced by Tereshkina or someone else, due to a recent injury. She'd broken a bone in the foot that healed incorrectly some time back and either that or perhaps a new injury has been plaguing her. It was only visible in the Act 2 variation when she came out of pique turns sooner than later, her right foot shifting to half pointe several times. I presume she was dancing in pain the entire evening (I don't know for sure) but the pain, if present, was not otherwise noticeable.

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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2014 8:00 am 
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Olga Smirnova, Semyon Chudin
Swan Lake
Mariinsky Theatre
Saint Petersburg, Russia
31 October 2014


Each ballet troupe has, it seems, its own version of "Swan Lake". But there is arguably only one "original" version on which most others are based: the Petipa and Ivanov 1895 production that debuted on the Mariinsky stage. The Mariinsky version of "Swan Lake" has a set choreography. Perhaps slight alterations can be made for men to jump or turn on their good leg (good "side"), or the arguable choice between perhaps, the exclusion of the battu (in theBlack Swan variation), but barring alterations within those standard confines, the choreography rarely if ever differs.

Olga Smirnova, trained at the Vaganova Academy and the star of her graduating year, shocked Petersburg ballet circles when she chose to fly south for not just one winter, but permanently -- she joined the Bolshoi Ballet after a competing offer from the Mariinsky failed to win her over. She has over the past several years, been cultivated in Russia's capital by coach Ludmila Semenyaka on this role --a ballerina who, interestingly, *also* left the Kirov to join the Bolshoi decades ago.

Presumably working in hand with Semenyaka, Smirnova has developed different poses, transitional steps and port de bras for all acts. Her rendition of Odette/Odile was thus overall faithful to the Mariinsky version, but contained definite adjustments. In the flutters of bourrées, she emphasized her arms, wrists and fingers parallel to the floor, as one would see in other Petipa ballets. Some of the soutenus and swan poses had her torso forward and arms behind her, rather than the usual "under one wing" pose. The arabesques in the Black Swan variation were done with the arms in second, rather than third arabesque. And in the White act, her legwork displayed particular prowess in the series of entrechat six-passés, done with sharpness and precision.

Smirnova approaches the role with a somewhat Petersburgian intellectuality that not every ballerina here emulates. Her Odette includes plenty of embraces with Siegfried, but is veiled in an aloof coolness that lends her a certain charm. She is feminine and soft, but just out of reach. Her Odile was warmer, hotter even, but with that same detached aura that suits the nature of the Evil Sorcerer's partner in crime.

Semyon Chudin hails from Novosibirsk, but spent time at the Mikhailovsky --I reviewed him in Romeo and Juliet there years ago-- before joining the Bolshoi. He is a beautiful dancer blessed with lovely proportions, arches, and a light jump. His Act I entrance provided an ample sense of an old-fashioned prince -- he kept to the lower port de bras and princely gestures in the pantomime sections. He was an extremely attentive partner in all acts, and his solo work never fails to impress: His jete manege in Act II managed to send him "upwards" rather than "forward", lending a light airborne quality, whereas most men in the same step go for distance, the coverage of space, rather than height in the air. That same ballon provides him with the ability to somehow manage double tours to the right but starting with his right foot in 5th back. I would not have believed it unless I saw it myself, thrice.

In the airborne category, honors go to the jester, Yaroslav Baubordin, whose clean lines and perfect timing punctuated his comic demonstrations.

The Pas de Trois featured a powerhouse trio: Nadezhda Batoeva, Yana Selina and Filippe Styopin. Selina has always been a solid performer and here she had the turning variation, pulling it off with strength and accuracy. Batoeva's dancing is finer, she can be more delicate, and her charming eyes and smile decorate hops on pointe. IN her variation, the pirouettes that stop aloft before shifting to arabesque were done with utter musicality -- she finished everything in tandem with the conductor. Styopin has learned to direct and focus his boundless energy and the results are visible in his delivery nowadays: sissones and double tours in retire passe are sharp and controlled, but never messy.

And a word about the corps de ballet. Many professional dancers base their interpretations on spur of the moment feelings, and certainly, as with any live performance art, adjustments are made every millisecond for changes in tempo, early entrances or exits, unexpected circumstances, and the like. To note, when Chudin arrived at the lake in search of Odette in Act 1, seconds prior to the White Adagio, he approached the row of swans on stage left approximately 4 counts too early. The first swan to rotate towards the audience, Oksana Marchuk, did so 4 counts early, reacting to him and not to the music, forcing the rest of the swans on her side of the stage to do the same, although some at the back of the row followed the music rather than the other swans... a visual discrepancy that was difficult to miss. There was then a pause as Chudin approached the swans on stage right -- that half of the crop caught up appropriately with the music. This is just one example of the minor adjustments that are made, silently, intuitively and hopefully not disastrously, in live performance.

Boris Gruzin conducted.

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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:54 am 
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Thanks, Catherine, for telling us about the evening. I hope that you enjoyed it and that it went as well as possible for Olga Smirnova and all the others.

There are seven brief video clips posted, three of which are of Olga Smirnova. There is one of her Odile variation (solo) that I consider to be excellent and the closest to what I saw her do so magnificently, twice, last summer in NYC.

Another Act II clip shows some of the things that you mentioned liking so much about Semyon Chudin, his “light airborne quality” and his “ability to somehow manage double tours to the right but starting with his right foot in 5th back,” of which you added, “I would not have believed it unless I saw it myself, thrice.” I think that he’s extremely talented and a very likable, sympathetic and supportive partner.

It was very interesting to read about the stylistic differences that you noted in Olga Smirnova’s dance technique. I think that she’s developing a very personal and compelling identity, both in her dance and in her portrayal. She’s becoming a great theatrical artist as well as a remarkably accomplished dancer. This is shown in what she adds to her beautiful dance style as well as in her extremely fine facial expression. Her dance has drama, character and definition that amplifies the story that she is telling and the person that she is expressing.

Also thank you for describing the technical realities that faced the corps de ballet. There is so much that goes on that only the performers really understand. Yet it’s a great part of their art that they make us primarily see their beautiful imagery and lift us up into a world of brilliance and enchantment.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:54 am 
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Last night I went back and forth between video clips of Oxana Skorik’s Swan Lakes in the past half year and Olga Smirnova’s most recent from several days ago.

I saw Oxana Skorik's Festival Swan Lake in April with the Bolshoi’s Denis Rodkin and felt that it was her best developed. She seemed very comfortable with him. For one thing, she went as far over backward in the overhead lifts as I’ve ever seen from anyone. Her style was finely honed and her presence was convincing and compelling. Her performance came close to being one the best that I’ve ever seen.

On video I’ve been watching parts of this, her September one with Evgeny Ivanchenko and her most recent from last week with Xander Parish. She shows slightly different approaches and qualities in each.

I’ve discussed this very briefly in my previous posts. In approach, she seems to be trying to create an outside character. In the past, she has drawn largely from within herself, which has so impressed me because it seems to come from a profound depth of inner sensitivity and confidence. Olga Smirnova, on the other hand, has succeeded greatly at creating exterior identities, so it will be interesting to see where Oxana Skorik takes this. I have to say that much of what I’m writing is momentary reflection and observation that could change somewhat with Oxana Skorik’s next performance or even with my next video viewing.

Her dancing seems to be more refined with each new performance. In her September one I feel more flow and expression. In her most recent she seems somewhat more controlled and precise. I like them both very much. She always has wonderful sculpture.

For the moment I would say that Oxana Skorik most noticeably shines in her Pure Dance with its beauty and grace.

Olga Smirnova shines in her brilliant Expression. Her characterizations are superb. Her dance has a remarkable sense of composition, calligraphy and meaning. She also has a wonderful gracefulness that must come largely from her years of Vaganova training, will most likely always be there because of this and is probably what I love best in both these outstanding artists, in ballet and dance in general.


Added:

There are now two very brief video clips of Olga Smirnova’s Act I Odette. For those who may watch these, I still feel that the more vibrant, more multidimensional and outward reaching Odile variation (solo) is closer to what I actually saw live in both her Odette and Odile in NYC last July. There was something very theatrically fine in both her’s and Svetlana Zakharova’s Odette/Odiles in NYC that almost transcended the story characters.

Added added:

As for Oxana Skorik's once much discussed fouetté spins, in the September performance she starts with five or six double-single combinations, continues with singles and ends with a very well controlled triple. I've seen her do the same sort of thing (but no triple ending) without any hitches that I can recall in the four last performances that I've attended.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 8:32 am 
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There are a lot of very nice video glimpses on the internet at the moment. I’ve been casually watching a few.

One is from the Mariinsky’s Giselle, October of this year in Ravenna, Italy with Kristina Shapran and Kimin Kim. I’ve also been going back to one of her Dryad Queen (Don Quixote) from October 2010 (at the Stanislavsky?) which clearly shows her lovely dancing. I’ve felt that one of her finest qualities is the ‘articulation’ of her motion, particularly noticeable in her hands and arms as well as her feet.

Clement Crisp, having viewed her Terpsichore in Apollo a few months ago in London, went quite beyond ‘articulation.’

“But Shapran seems to give each step, each action, an inner life that is revealed to us as she moves. The power of the dance – its energies, its forms, its purpose – is clear in her artistry, and simply and beautifully communicated to us. Here is a very rare talent. She is in the proper place for it to be nurtured.”

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/86de8386 ... z3AymRRCm5

I tend to be moving towards his enthusiastic and expanded definition. I do feel a lot is being said in her gestures. They appear to have a richness of message as well as being beautifully constructed.

I have to add that Kimin Kim impresses me more and more. He’s a phenomenon in motion as well as a high poet in presence. He’s amazingly versatile and transcends categorization. At the end of the Ravenna Giselle the curtain didn’t come down in time and he had to improvise some added gestures. They added perhaps the most touching moment of Giselle’s highlight, the final Act II, duet dancing.

There is a video look at Alicia Sodoleva’s very recent Princess Florine (Blue Bird duet, Sleeping Beauty). I’ve admired her grace and personality since I first saw her as one of the three Shades (La Bayadere) over a year ago. In this video I’ve noticed more than before the pure loveliness of her dance. It has such a beautiful flow.

Yulia Stepanova may be equally impressive. She’s no longer at the Mariinsky, but maybe she’ll return someday. She's certainly worth keeping an eye on.

So for now, take Alicia’s Sodoleva’s graceful flow and combine it with Kristina Shapran’s highly articulated and telling sense of motion and where does it lead me. You may have guessed — Oxana Skorik.

Oxana Skorik is slightly the older, thus they have time to develop, to become their very own and even more beautiful selves. Oxana Skorik is beauty, poetry and meaning at its finest. After Ulyana Lopatkina, she is probably the Mariinsky’s loveliest dancer. Alina Somova also captures my admiration with her essential loveliness and creative depth. She amazed me with the power and beauty of her ‘Swan’ (Fokine) at this year’s Mariinsky Festival. There are so many hugely fine dancers at the Mariinsky. Oxana Skorik is certainly one of them along with having something very special.

There is an hour and twenty minute video, very nicely put together, of Viktoria Tereshkina’s recent Sleeping Beauty. I’ve never seen her face more lovely. It’s also very good to see Yekaterina Kondaurova as The Lilac Fairy. She seems to be getting more of the ‘modern’ roles lately, which is what she’s very well known for. Yet her Swan Lakes from several years ago were among the best and most beautiful that I’ve seen. I really enjoy seeing her in the lyrical ‘classics’ and hope that she gets as many chances to do these as possible.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:47 am 
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Olesya Novikova in Nutcracker, Mariinsky, 11/09/2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egysua5eg-o

Has anyone ever seen Novikova dance Masha? At least I don't have her in my video collection, and I have a quite decent Mariinsky collection from YouTube uploads since 2006. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 6:15 am 
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sandpoint, two friends are in SP right now, and they told me via email that Novikova's Masha was indeed amazing. I also saw that clip posted on Novikova's Facebook page that you posted, and that does look wonderful. I haven't noticed her name listed in a Nutcracker cast list very often if at all. I can't remember, and I tend to view the casting often. I vaguely remember seeing her name once before on a Nutcracker list, but I have a feeling she doesn't dance it often.

It is really a shame she isn't a Principal.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:28 am 
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sandpoint wrote:
Olesya Novikova in Nutcracker, Mariinsky, 11/09/2014.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egysua5eg-o

Has anyone ever seen Novikova dance Masha? At least I don't have her in my video collection, and I have a quite decent Mariinsky collection from YouTube uploads since 2006. :)

I was at this performance of Nutcracker and Olesya was magnificent, as was Filipp Stepin. Indeed, it was probably the best Nutcracker I have seen and Olesya was called back by the audience after the adagio section of the pas de six. This hardly ever happens nowadays, but such was the appreciation of the audience! The timing of the partnering and the lifts in particular was just amazing and Olesya's expressions as Masha were wonderful - she is such a great actress! Technically she was superb, with delicate pointework in her variation and clear execution throughout. Filipp Stepin was an elegant prince and his technique also is so textbook perfect and he has beautiful Vaganova arms. What a great pairing they make, and truthfully both deserve to be principals. To my knowledge, this was only the second time Olesya had danced the role of Masha.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:09 am 
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PenneallaNorm, In my mind, she is a principal, so is Ekaterina Osmolkina.

Tiara, So it was indeed rare! Since you mentioned the pas de six, this reminded me a review I read from the Los Angeles Times in 2008. The following paragraph is about the pas de six:

"The ballet powers onward, directly into the grand pas de deux for Masha and the Prince, given that there is no Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. That's OK. But Vainonen envisioned an always-floating Masha for this scene, and four danseurs lifted her about - and away from her beloved Prince. Shklyarov didn't appear frustrated, but this viewer certainly was."

The author was Laura Bleiberg. She didn't seem to like the Vainonen version much. I enjoyed the ballet, just found her above writing funny. Evgenia Obraztsova danced Masha with the Mariinsky Ballet. It's the only Vainonen Nutcracker I've seen live.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:14 am 
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sandpoint wrote:
PenneallaNorm, In my mind, she is a principal, so is Ekaterina Osmolkina.

Tiara, So it was indeed rare! Since you mentioned the pas de six, this reminded me a review I read from the Los Angeles Times in 2008. The following paragraph is about the pas de six:

"The ballet powers onward, directly into the grand pas de deux for Masha and the Prince, given that there is no Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. That's OK. But Vainonen envisioned an always-floating Masha for this scene, and four danseurs lifted her about - and away from her beloved Prince. Shklyarov didn't appear frustrated, but this viewer certainly was."

The author was Laura Bleiberg. She didn't seem to like the Vainonen version much. I enjoyed the ballet, just found her above writing funny. Evgenia Obraztsova danced Masha with the Mariinsky Ballet. It's the only Vainonen Nutcracker I've seen live.

I love the Vainonen Nutcracker and especially the beautiful pas de six so it's hard for me to understand Laura Bleiberg! The part where Masha is lifted high by her cavaliers and then literally dives forwards into their waiting arms is really breathtaking. Olesya accented every highlight of the music She is an amazing artiste and her expressions are always so unique - her interpretations are always so different from anybody else's. She and Filipp Stepin were so well matched - it was a really great performance!


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:23 am 
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I have to admit I had the same thought like Laura Bleiberg when watching the scene. :) But I don't typically care about the plot... and I agree with you, it's a beautiful ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 4:19 am 
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There've been some more video clips posted of Olga Smirnova's Mariinsky Swan Lake. She's quite extraordinary !

We may well be seeing a sort of Galina Ulanova/Maya Plisetskaya contrast developing here between Oxana Skorik and her. Comparing them directly to these two all-time greats would be a lot, for the moment anyway, and the styles are quite different, but there's certainly immense excitement and beauty to be seen here.

Added comment:

Although I'm very partial to Oxana Skorik because of herself and her 'Mariinsky enchantment,' I do feel that Olga Smirnova ( at only 23 years old!) may already be one of the greatest ballerinas ever.

[typo correction made]


Last edited by Buddy on Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 3:03 pm 
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Buddy wrote:
There've been some more video clips posted of Olga Smirnova's Mariinsky Swan Lake. She quite extraordinary !

We may well be seeing a sort of Galina Ulanova/Maya Plisetskaya contrast developing here between Oxana Skorik and her. Comparing them directly to these two all-time greats would be a lot, for the moment anyway, and the styles are quite different, but there's certainly immense excitement and beauty to be seen here.

Added comment:

Although I'm very partial to Oxana Skorik because of herself and her 'Mariinsky enchantment,' I do feel that Olga Smirnova ( at only 23 years old!) may already be one of the greatest ballerinas ever.

Ballet is at once a unifying and dividing art. We are united in our love of it, but divided in our opinions on various dancers. What you say about Olga Smirnova is the way I feel about Yulia Stepanova - when I see her dance, and particularly her Odette/Odile, I am certain that she is a truly great dancer, and the greatest Odette/Odile I ever saw. I still think that. I think that Olga made the right choice in going to Bolshoi, where she has danced so many roles that she would never have danced at the Mariinsky because of the policies of its current management. I may not like her as much as you do as a dancer, but she certainly took her chances, worked hard for her success and I applaud her for that, although I cannot agree that she is one of the greatest ballerinas ever.


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