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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 4:53 am 
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I also like Yulia Stepanova very much, Tiara, although I’ve only seen her a few times briefly on stage and in a Swan Lake video clip with Xander Parish (18 minutes, published in March.) Have you seen her perform Swan Lake on stage? If you care to sometime, could you describe some of her qualities that you like so much?

I think that Olga Smirnova is capable of doing almost anything as a ballerina. It depends of where she decides to place the emphasis. She is extremely talented and also highly intelligent. Her perhaps artistic ‘genius’ is that she can translate this intelligence into remarkable and highly meaningful physical beauty.

Once she moved to the Bolshoi she appears to have decided to develop differently. She has become more of a dramatist. Still, I wouldn’t call it Bolshoi as much as being distinctly herself. Her Vaganova beauty of dance is still very apparent, but expression has become increasingly important. In the last couple years I’ve seen similar parallels in Svetlana Zakharova.

Possibly more than in her two Swan Lakes in NYC last summer, her character has deepened in these most recent video clips. Her dance gestures vividly and soulfully bring her character to life. Different from Galina Ulanova, who in my mind was a transcendent and otherworldly presence, Olga Smirnova is here and now. Her portrayal is totally convincing with great depth of feeling and intelligence, but it does’t stop there. It goes beyond as well, but not to the extent of Galina Ulanova. I don’t think that she is trying for the more dreamlike imagery that she may have developed at the Mariinsky, from where Galina Ulanova came before being moved to the Bolshoi, but it still shows. This we are seeing more of in the contrasting development of Oxana Skorik, although it also is very personal.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:04 am 
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Buddy wrote:
I also like Yulia Stepanova very much, Tiara, although I’ve only seen her a few times briefly on stage and in a Swan Lake video clip with Xander Parish (18 minutes, published in March.) Have you seen her perform Swan Lake on stage? If you care to sometime, could you describe some of her qualities that you like so much?

I think that Olga Smirnova is capable of doing almost anything as a ballerina. It depends of where she decides to place the emphasis. She is extremely talented and also highly intelligent. Her perhaps artistic ‘genius’ is that she can translate this intelligence into remarkable and highly meaningful physical beauty.

Once she moved to the Bolshoi she appears to have decided to develop differently. She has become more of a dramatist. Still, I wouldn’t call it Bolshoi as much as being distinctly herself. Her Vaganova beauty of dance is still very apparent, but expression has become increasingly important. In the last couple years I’ve seen similar parallels in Svetlana Zakharova.

Possibly more than in her two Swan Lakes in NYC last summer, her character has deepened in these most recent video clips. Her dance gestures vividly and soulfully bring her character to life. Different from Galina Ulanova, who in my mind was a transcendent and otherworldly presence, Olga Smirnova is here and now. Her portrayal is totally convincing with great depth of feeling and intelligence, but it does’t stop there. It goes beyond as well, but not to the extent of Galina Ulanova. I don’t think that she is trying for the more dreamlike imagery that she may have developed at the Mariinsky, from where Galina Ulanova came before being moved to the Bolshoi, but it still shows. This we are seeing more of in the contrasting development of Oxana Skorik, although it also is very personal.

Yes, I have seen Yulia Stepanova perform many times "live" on stage, both in St Petersburg and also in her last performances with Mariinsky in London this year, where she danced Odette/Odile and Firebird. I saw her Swan Lake debut and also her debuts of Myrtha, Lilac Fairy, Gamzatti, Sylvia in St Petersburg, as well as numerous other performances of hers. What I liked about her Odette-Odile is this - I have never seen another ballerina who had her completely magical and instinctively musical arms, head, shoulders and upper body. If you watch her and then compare with ANY other ballerina, you will see the difference immediately. She uses every inch of her to express the music, quite instinctively and with an innate "rightness" of movement. This quality was unique to her in Mariinsky Theatre, notwithstanding other wonderful ballerinas there. She embodied the great tradition of the Vaganova training, where technique is used solely as a means for EXPRESSING rather than demonstrating technique. It is a phrase often used, that a good ballerina "becomes the role" but I never saw it to the extent that I did with Yulia's performances. She has an all round wonderful technique, but always the role comes first. Her Odette was the most womanly and feminine I ever saw, and her Odile dazzling and evil, but still with those gorgeous curving arms. I am very sad that she left Mariinsky, but I am very grateful to have seen her in so many roles. She richly deserved the Taglioni Award for most promising young ballerina that she received just before she left Mariinsky.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 3:55 am 
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Thanks, Tiara. Hopefully we'll still get a chance to see a lot more of Yulia Stepanova.

Added comment:

The way that you describe Yulia Stepanova made me think somewhat of Kristina Shapran ("an innate "rightness" of movement" in particular). Interestingly a video was posted of her dancing in last night's performance of Parc. Although much of the choreography in this work impresses me very much for its inventiveness, there is one three minute scene with no music, just Kristina Shapran in a long evening gown performing a slow motion solo. It made me think of Japanese Kabuki (of which I'm not at all familiar) in its minimalist, refined use of enchanting motion. It's a beautiful several minutes that can remind us of the numerous possibilities of refined dance enchantment and it shows how wonderfully an artist, such as Kristina Shapran (or Yulia Stepanova and others), can portray such abstract loveliness.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Wed Dec 03, 2014 2:02 pm 
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Something else that I’ve seen in Olga Smirnova’s recent Mariinsky Swan Lake video clips is that she takes her Vaganova beauty of shape and motion and builds on it. She adds interest, meaning, language (or calligraphy) and an otherworldly, abstract beauty of shape and motion particularly noticeable in her arms.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 3:31 am 
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A word that I should have included about Olga Smirnova is ‘personal.’ The style that she displayed is very much her own.

I’ve settled into the video clip of Oxana Skorik’s white swan, Act I duet, with Yevgeny Ivanchencko, September 2014. One reason is that it’s a full length recording. Another is that it shows the most interestingly developed of her dancing that I’ve seen, similar to what I just described in Olga Smirnova. Again, it’s the arms that catch my attention. Although I think that her Swan Lake with the Bolshoi’s Denis Rodkin, which I actually saw at this year’s Festival, reflects herself in inner depth and confidence (which I like very much) rather than an invented characterization, especially in her facial expression, the September video shows her dancing at perhaps its finest.

I would compare it to what I just described in Olga Smirnova as being slightly more refined and airy. Olga Smirnova’s dancing, which is also very beautiful in its Vaganova loveliness, has a special fascination and invention.

I have to emphasize that it’s video reality that I’m discussing, but I’ve seen both these artists perform this live, many times with Oxana Skorik and twice with Olga Smirnova, so my comments are grounded in live performances.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:44 am 
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There are a handful of video clips of Oxana Skorik's Raymonda from last night with Andrei Yermakov. I've looked at them briefly. There is a duet and a solo from what I think is the dream scene that for the most part are extremely lovely in every respect. For the first two minutes of the 2 1/2 minute solo she resembles Ulyana Lopatkina more than I've ever seen. This is quite an accomplishment.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:08 am 
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I continue to watch the two video clips of Oxana Skorik’s dream scene(?) from Raymonda, mentioned in my previous post. For me they show her at her finest. Her dancing is at its most beautiful. I used to like it especially for the shapes, both in motion and in poses. For one thing, her hands have a remarkably lovely sculptural quality. Now the flow and poetic beauty of the motion has added something essential, bringing it much closer to the beauty of motion that I’ve only seen in Ulyana Lopatkina. This is most noticeable in her arms. The limbs start to sing, as Natalia Makarova said.

Her facial expression, which sets her apart from all others, when it’s derived from within herself, is very evident. I think that if she continues to build in this direction she’ll be one of the most beautiful and meaningful ballerinas today and maybe beyond.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2014 3:49 pm 
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Two very fine recent performance have appeared on video clips. I’ve only had a chance to view them partially.

Oxana Skorik (debut) and Andrei Yermakov — Romeo and Juliet — yesterday

Kristina Shapran and Xander Parish — Giselle — December 11

I’ve never seen Kristina Shapran and Xander Parish look better. They seem to compliment each other beautifully. Both are exceptional here. Kristina Shapran for the beauty and extreme interest of her dance. Xander Parish for his male elegance and compelling portrayal. At first glance, her dance seems to 'play off' his characterization, almost like two reinforcing sources of energy. Both are fascinating.

Oxana Skorik, debuting Juliet, seems off to a very promising start. She is growing noticeably in her dance and her characterization, always a source of much interest for me, is grounded and convincing, at times extremely compelling. She seems very comfortable with Andrei Yermakov (in their Raymondas as well). He is a very fine and sympathetic partner.

I certainly want to watch these much more to be better able to comment.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:04 pm 
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Welcome to 2015 - may it be a wonderful year for everyone!

Just catching up with some news. On Dec. 27, Xander Parish debuted with Uliana Lopatkina in Marguerite and Armand. Unfortunately it was a "closed" performance -- not advertised -- as a company had purchased the house for the evening. But according to my colleagues who attended, it was a beautiful performance that moved the viewer to tears. Bravo Xander and Uliana!

Also of note, Lopatkina debuted in the Don Q Grand Pas with Ermakov in her gala in Moscow on Dec. 31st. This is a first since she's never been given the role of Kitri at the Mariinsky, and it was performed in addition to Death of a Rose and the Legend of Love pas de deux, all in the same evening. (Stamina!) Here is to hoping that the rest of the Mariinsky season may give us a glimpse of Lopatkina in this role on the Mariinsky stage as well.

_________________
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:07 pm 
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Some of our friends on the internet have had the good fortune to be able to see the Mariinsky recently in New York City and now Washington DC. I have not been able to be at these performances, but I have been enjoying some video clips of other ones very much. Again I have to say that videos and actual performances should be accepted as the often separate realities that they are.


Oxana Skorik

A video of her Swan Lake (with Xander Parish — posted January, 1, 2015) is as fine a representation of her as I’ve seen. It reminds me very much of her magnificent Swan Lake at last year’s Festival. I still consider her (after Ulyana Lopatkina) to be perhaps the Mariinsky’s most beautiful dancer. All my viewing eventually returns to her.

What I currently find to be so beautiful is the amazingly lovely use of her hands, perhaps the finest I’ve ever seen. In the Act I 'White Swan' duet, her overhead hands in the supported spins have a crowning effect that is perhaps unequaled in its sculptural loveliness.

Xander Parish balances the highlighting of his ballerina partner with his very fine self-expression as well as I’ve seen him do.


Alina Somova

Her recent Giselle (with Kimin Kim - posted January 22, 2015) once again confirms for me the artistic greatness that she is capable of. Her dancing is alive with beautiful nuancing and grace. Her portrayal has a depthful and highly poetic sense of serenity that recalls some of the qualities seen in her expressive masterpiece, her performance of Fokine’s ‘Swan’, at last year’s Festival.


Yekaterina Chebykina

I’ve just discovered her and I find her innocent loveliness and beautiful dancing to be heart touching. (Also having recently read a brief interview, which made me want to take a look at her actual dancing, she seems as lovely a person as she is a performer.)

Her Henrietta solo from Raymonda (posted December 6, 2014) is absolutely charming. Two very brief videos of her recent La Sylphide performance (posted January 15, 2015) simply confirm her artistic fineness and delicate warmth.


Correction and comment:

I changed Kimin Kim's name to its correct order, last name first. Also I want to mention one of his leaps, while following Alina Somova off stage, that just sailed. The man is indeed an amazing talent in so many ways.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 12:21 pm 
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I’ve been watching more videos of the Act I ‘White Swan’ duet, possibly the best ones. Two feature Galina Ulanova and one, Ulyana Lopatkina. The reason for doing this is to see how Oxana Skorik looks in comparison. To equate her with these two greats at this time would be a lot, but she does hold her own.

Galina Ulanova and Ulyana Lopatkina may have more dimensions with Galina Ulanova perhaps being in another dimension. Yet Oxana Skorik has something very special. It has to do with a contained refinement or perfection which also has lovely feeling. It’s in fact a minimizing of dimensions that’s so interesting because I’ve seen her accomplish an extremely impressive range of feats. Yet, unlike the remarkable Olga Smirnova, she appears to be reining it in. Her dimensionality has not been the same as that of Galina Ulanova or Ulyana Lopatkina. For them it’s a matter of almost otherworldly sensitivity and loveliness with each limb, each movement taking its own poetic voyage. Hers has been more about gripping expression and physical fireworks, but still with exceptional poetry and artistic ‘genius’.

I would like to add something that I forgot to mention about her ‘White Swan’ duet with Xander Parish. At 5:20 into the video she does a backbend positioning that I find outstandingly beautiful. It involves extreme flexibility, which isn’t something that I necessarily value as highly as restraint and it somewhat contradicts what I praise her for above, but it’s so brilliantly composed. It’s not flexibility for its own sake, but rather it’s part of a breathtaking totality and its containment does make it more consistent with the overall refinement that she seems to be accomplishing so beautifully.

One added thought:

More viewing and I tend to see Oxana Skorik's shapes, both in motion and in pose, as being what makes her so individually remarkable. With Ulyana Lopatkina it's the life and motion of the individual parts of her body. With Galina Ulanova it's perhaps the highlighting (often the arms) and the drama of motion. (Her facial expression, as with Oxana Skorik at her best, is also fundamental to her 'genius'.) Oxana Skorik's motion is beautiful and becoming more so all the time, but, for now anyway, it's the shapes that she forms that really make it all so special.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:23 am 
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Yekaterina Chebykina

Still a Coryphee, she recently performed the lead, Medora, in Le Corsaire (video posted January 31) and I’m smitten. Once again, in this most recent of video recordings, her lovely disposition and manner, her magnificent sculpture and shaping, are just as uplifting and artistically captivating as can be.

She’s a remarkably beautiful breath of fresh air and I look forward to seeing her artistry being displayed as much as possible as she ascends to what will surely be highly deserved prominence in the Mariinsky’s world of magnificence and dreams.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:05 pm 
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Yekaterina Chebykina

I continue to be fascinated by this vibrant and statuesquely magnificent young artist. I’ve noticed a lovely looseness of flow and aliveness of motion in various video clips. A recent interview might explain some of this.

“For me it is important, when in the repertoire combines classic and modern performances, because today ballet dancer should be universal – he can not only be a classic or contemporary dancer. The sooner you begin to master modern ballet, the sooner you begin to feel your body differently. In the modern choreography from the dancer has more freedom, there are no boundaries, there is a possibility of improvisation, expression of genuine feelings and sincere emotions– all this certainly helps to open up differently in the classical ballet also.”

http://www.balletinsider.com/en/archive/q_and_a/729


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:13 pm 
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There are already some video clips posted of Oxana Skorik’s debut today in Anna Karenina. What they show clearly is how versatile and expressive she can be. I’ve been watching other video clips of her and sister Mariinsky artists and what once again is noticeable to me is her sense of poetry, which also shows in this most recent appearance. Her dance in Anna Karenina has a very fine artistry of flow and shaping as well as a sense of drama that so well articulates Alexei Ratmansky’s style of motion, distinctness of detail and level of expression. As I continue to feel that Oxana Skorik is becoming more and more noteworthy for her refined gracefulness and subtlety, this performance once again reminds us of her remarkable range.

I would also like to quickly mention Islom Baimuradov, who portrays Alexei Karenin. His theatrical prowess has always greatly impressed me as well as his range of style. In this respect he is very similar to his extremely talented wife, Yekaterina Kondaurova.


Added:

I would like to thank very much the poster of numerous Mariinsky video clips, many of which I’ve recently mentioned, although I won’t post a name at this time for various reasons. We also seem to share a love for artists such as Oxana Skorik (especially), Alina Somova, Anastasia Kolegova, Yekaterina Chebykina….which makes me feel good.


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 Post subject: Re: Mariinsky 2014-2015 (232nd) season
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:18 am 
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With more viewing I’ve become fascinated with what may be Oxana Skorik’s opening duet from Anna Karenina with her husband (he is dressed in a black tuxedo). Her portrayal is more a mixture of emotions and realities than a definable character. Her dance moves seem to be complete stories in themselves, each one carrying considerable meaning.

There is also a brilliant Ratmansky ‘quirkiness’ that she appears to grasp completely and translates perfectly. I’m not familiar with the story so I don't know if it's easily explainable, but, for instance, in the midst of a stream of high anxiety she simply yawns as if she stepped out of the picture and is coquettishly bored. The entire duet is imbued with this sort of thing, a display of Alexei Ratmansky’s complex and unpredictable rendering of usually straightforward human response. This Oxana Skorik articulates with brilliance. All this is played off against Islom Baimuradov’s very knowing and supportive partnering with its steely, one dimensional rendering of her husband.

Her dancing is the strongest element in telling the story, not the portrayal. It’s one of the finest examples of dance drama that I can recall. It’s more an abstraction or isolation of emotions and meanings than a definable reality, yet it does have direction. I’m sure I’ll discover much more as I continue my viewing.


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