CriticalDance Forum

Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016
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Author:  Buddy [ Fri Apr 08, 2016 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

“Sleeping Beauty”

An Evening of Magical Beauty

Hee Seo (ABT) has a remarkable sense of poetry that is totally her own. She’s an extremely talented young artist, who for the second time at a Mariinsky Festival charmed us all.

Great performances everywhere. For the moment, I’ll single out Yekaterina Kondaurova as The Lilac Fairy and Maria Shirinkina as Princess Florine in the Bluebird duet.

I'll try to say more at another time.

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

“Sleeping Beauty”

Yesterday, so much went so well. Two hours passed at the Hermitage Museum of Art with the Rembrandts, Leonardos and a Michelangelo is a hard act to follow, but this Mariinsky performance, as usual, was both an artistic experience of the highest order and a source of pure enjoyment and - yes — Enchantment.

Hee Seo (ABT) —- Princess Aurora

Poetry - Subtlety - Invention - Rendering

Like Héloïse Bourdon (Opéra de Paris) several days earlier, she brought a slightly different emphasis to the Mariinsky stage. Her presentation was a subtle, artistically brilliant and sensitive one.

I would say that it emanated from her face. It would have best been appreciated viewed through theatre glasses, which I always bring with me. Probably most noticeable in Act I was how exceptionally well she was able to merge her theatrical prowess with her beauty and expressiveness of motion. As the young princess, she was radiant and this translated into a constant and remarkably agile interaction between her motion and her portrayal.

She also has a lovely, airy quality. She is so flowing and light, like a sonnet, a poetic whisper.

In Act II her character took a personal and somewhat different direction. As a dream vision visiting the prince, she was aware of her enchantment and the power of her love, which she wove in a spell-like manner around him.

Her style is contained. Her motion (as is her portrayal) is very precisely articulated and modulated. It’s extremely fine and effective phrasing. Her use of sculpture, particularly in her hands, was very sensitive and meaningful, making definitive and beautiful final statements.

Technically, Hee Seo seemed strongest in her spins. She moved very quickly and gracefully when circling them around the stage.

Something else that was fascinating and beautiful was the contrast between her and Yekaterina Kondaurova, as the Lilac Fairy. Yekaterina Kondaurova is much taller and highly statuesque. Theatrically, they created a dramatic rhythm with wonderful effect. A fine comparison was also made with Maria Shirinkina, much closer to Hee Seo in size and style, who appeared as Princess Florine in the Bluebird duet.

A truly talented young artist. A truly lovely performance.

Other names that surely deserve their own recognition if time is available.

The Lilac Fairy: Yekaterina Kondaurova
Princess Florine: Maria Shirinkina
Prince Désiré: Philipp Stepin
Bluebird: Alexei Timofeyev
Carabosse the Wicked Fairy: Islom Baimuradov
The Diamond Fairy: Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Apr 09, 2016 4:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

“La Bayadère”

Oxana Skorik

Amidst Kimin Kim’s incredibleness, it was still Oxana Skorik’s Act II solo at the Rajah’s palace that left me —-

Spellbound !

I felt much the same for most of Act III.

Also a quick comment on Yekaterina Chebykina’s solo as one of the three Shades. She has the amazing ability to be a dancer within a dancer. Outwardly she is fairly loose and expressive, but contained within this motion is another dance of remarkable refinement and grace.

Let me get back briefly to last night’s “Sleeping Beauty.”

Maria Shirinkina’s solo as Princess Florine was possibly the loveliest dance of the evening. It was so light and graceful. It was what I love most at the Mariinsky and probably in all of dance.

Yekaterina Kondaurova as The Lilac Fairy was a fine counterpoint and interaction to Hee Seo’s Aurora. At times she was the one that held it all together. In the scene where she sails off with Prince Désiré, her sculptural beauty was at its breathtaking highpoint. Her dancing throughout was elegantly wonderful.

Her husband, Islom Baimuradov, as Carabosse, brought a sensitivity to this character that I’ve never seen before. He did the same with Hans in “Giselle” earlier in the Festival.

The Entr’acte violin solo was played, for the second time only in my viewing experience, by a lady (not the one from last year). It was the most gentle version of this wonderful music that I've heard and it was outstanding.

And a very quick comment on “A Creative Workshop of Young Choreographers.” It was once again Maxim Petrov who was the highlight for me. His “Pavlovsk” was a rather brief classical work. It did have his fine sense of place and character. I do hope that he produces more works at the same level as his “Cinema” and “Ballet No. 2 to A. Tsfasman's Score” (now part of the Mariinsky repertoire) that were featured at previous Festivals. These are truly world class, highly inventive and entertaining dance masterpieces.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

A Great Evening !

"Symphony in C" -- A Perfect Ending.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Apr 13, 2016 3:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

For the first time ever, I’m in Moscow. I’ve been here for several days and tonight was the first of several evenings of La Bayadere at the Bolshoi.

The Evening Was Electric !

And Magical.

I’ll try to write something at the Ballet in Europe - Bolshoi forum. It may take awhile.

There’s so much to see and do here.

And so much to love.

Tonight Anna Nikulina (Lovely!) was Nikia, Maria Alexandrova (Brilliant!) was Gamzatti and Vladislav Lantrato (Very Fine) was Solor.

Tomorrow —- Svetlana Zakharova (former Mariinsky Principal), Maria Allash and Denis Rodkin.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

Swans and Butterflies

Looking back on the Festival and the La Bayadere performances that I saw immediately following from my first visit ever to Moscow and the Bolshoi, it's, once again, the women who remain so impressively and warmly in my recollections. And once again, they mostly fall into two categories that I’m fond of referring to —- Swans and Butterflies. Swans are tall and statuesque. Butterflies are not tall and equally lovely. Certainly, many ballerinas, such as Viktoria Tereshkina, are in-between in size, but it’s pretty much Swans and Butterflies that I found so outstanding this year. These artists, with the exception of Maria Shirinkina, all performed lead roles.

Male artists, such as Kimin Kim, for his huge presence and incredible technical prowess, Alexander Sergeyev and Danila Korsuntsev, for their poetic aura as well as their very fine dancing and partnering and the Character Principals and perhaps theatrical geniuses, Vladimir Ponomarev and Islom Baimuradov (also a very fine and versatile dancer) are among the men that made very fine impressions. They are joined by so many others.

Among the women, perhaps for the first time, it’s the Butterflies that rest slightly more predominant in my memories. They include Yekaterina Osmolkina and Maria Shirinkina from the Mariinsky and Anna Nikulina and Ekaterina Krysanova from the Bolshoi. (The Mariinsky uses "Yekaterina" (phonetically correct) and the Bolshoi uses "Ekaterina" (letter correct, "Екатерина").

Of all dance artistry, it’s the lyrical, airy, refined loveliness of the Mariinsky women that I perhaps love most. The Bolshoi ballerinas, being equally beautiful, as well as theatrically brilliant, are surely just as wonderful. I cannot say that I like one company more than the other. It’s just an almost non-existant difference in delicacy that makes the Mariinsky ballerina so special, for me. The Bolshoi, more than ever, appearing on its own stage, made a huge impression this year. A ballerina, such as the Bolshoi’s Vaganova trained (Mariinsky 'affiliated' school) Olga Smirnova, represents both worlds and will possibly become one of the most prominent artists in ballet history because of this, as well as because of her own remarkable talent. I’d like to discuss the Bolshoi ballerinas later at their own forum.


Yekaterina Osmolkina and Maria Shirinkina

They are both are so airily beautiful. They just float and their motion is dream perfect.

Yekaterina Osmolkina

She gave possibly the loveliest performance of all. Others by Svetlana Zakharova (at the Bolshoi) and Oxana Skorik (both Swans), for instance, were equally great, but Yekaterina Osmolkina lingers so pleasantly in my recollections as the possible highlight (totally a personal choice). She was just so absolutely lovely ! Her maturity of portrayal was also extremely impressive. As I wrote earlier, her Giselle was one of the finest that I've ever seen, in some respects maybe the finest. Other Giselles, such as those by Svetlana Zakharova and Alina Cojocaru, both at Mariinsky Festivals, were perhaps the greatest. I referred to Svetlana Zakharova's Giselle as the finest performance of 'Anything!' that I'd ever seen.

Maria Shirinkina

She gave another, absolutely lovely, but much briefer, performance as Princess Florine from the Bluebird duet (Sleeping Beauty). She was a most beautiful, dreamlike highlight placed in the midst of a world of remarkable artistry.

I’ll try to continue all this at another time.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

Yekaterina Osmolkina -- Giselle

Please let me make this additional comment about her exceptional performance.

One image that remains so strongly and summarises the beauty of Yekaterina Osmolkina, from the ethereal world of Act II, is of her arms in a circle in front of her with the veil-like fabric flowing from them. As her arms moved so delicately and airily, the fabric floated with them. This created the illusion of waves of air passing through. It was like actually seeing the flowing air and her arms were a part of it.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

The Swans

Very prominent this year were Oxana Skorik and Yekaterina Kondaurova. Noticeably absent was Ulyana Lopatkina, probably the most beautiful ballerina of this generation and beyond. Absent as well, was Alina Somova, also one of the most beautiful and fascinating ballerinas of our time. She was scheduled to perform Giselle for the second year in a row, a first. Maybe for variety’s sake this was given to Yekaterina Osmolkina at the last minute.

Oxana Skorik

She is possibly the most beautiful ballerina today, after Ulyana Lopatkina. Other Mariinsky Swans, that are capable of similar beauty, are Alina Somova and the young Yekaterina Chebukina. At the Bolshoi, this would include, of course, Svetlana Zakharova (who many feel is the greatest ballerina of our times), quite possibly Yulia Stepanova and perhaps Olga Smirnova, depending on where she puts the emphasis of her amazing range.

Oxana Skorik’s major appearance was as Nikia in La Bayadere with Kimin Kim as Solor. Here she was at her best.

She was The Princess of The Ball in The Bronze Horse.

At the final night Gala, she danced George Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky’s Pas de Deux with Philipp Stepin.

With the technical challenges, she was secure and, at times, exceptional. In the very impressive, and rather scary, lift from La Bayadere, where her partner throws her onto his shoulder, facing forward, from her backward reclining position at his side, I was holding my breath, as usual. No need — she arrived at the summit as secure as could be, looking out at the audience like the Queen of the Universe. (The Bolshoi, somewhat surprisingly, does what seems to be a simpler version.)

Motion and shapes were of the highest order. She was artistic excellence and refined beauty at its loveliest.

Yekaterina Kondaurova

She can perform anything brilliantly. This varies from any dance style to any choice of portrayal. Like Alina Somova she is also fascinating because of her exceptional range and how she choses to use it.

She made the most major appearances of anyone, but did not receive a lead this year, which I forgot to mention. She was in several classical/neoclassical works as well as in at least one contemporary one. Where she shines brightest is pretty much based on the quality of the material that she’s given. This year, for me, it was the classical/neoclassical. I love to see her in these, along with any other Mariinsky ballerina, because this is where they excel.

As the opening night’s Princess of The Ball in The Bronze Horseman, she was lovely.

As The Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, she was a wonderful contrast to ABT’s Hee Seo’s charmingly poetic and theatrically compelling Aurora. At times, it was her that held everything together. Throughout, her statuesque elegance cast its spell.

In the Adagio from George Balanchine’s Symphony in C, she gave one the most beautiful performances of the entire Festival.

In all of these she was statuesque elegance at its finest. Her characterisations were often theatrically brilliant and her beauty of motion was embracing.

Diana Vishneva

For exceptional performances, I would have to include her, although she is neither a Swan nor a Butterfly, but is one of the greatest ballerinas of our day. She can make any work look remarkable. This year, in Hans van Manen’s “The Old Man and Me”, with her 'old-time’ dance partner, Vladimir Malakov, she was as fine and delightfully and sensually captivating as could be in this work's cleverly and artistically impressive first half.

Héloïse Bourdon (Opéra de Paris)

Also in the Swan category and actually performing Odette/Odile from Swan Lake, I would like to again mention her. She did so many things so well with a gracefulness totally worthy of being seen on the Mariinsky stage.

Author:  Buddy [ Thu Apr 28, 2016 4:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

I was asking myself again last night, “Who really gave the finest performances?” Some of my choices, already mentioned here, are Oxana Skorik, Yekaterina Osmolkina, Maria Shirinkina and Yekaterina Kondaurova. Preferences can be very personal, but I think that most who saw these artists would agree that what they did was very fine. I'd like to add another name to my list.

Hee Seo (American Ballet Theater) -- The Sleeping Beauty

Although she might be slightly too tall, I would include her in my group of Butterflies. Her artistry, I thought was exceptional.

She was slowed down technically at times, losing energy, it seemed. To some, this would be very important. To me, her artistry was so fine that it hardly mattered. If I see something that I consider to be dominantly outstanding throughout a performance, unless another element, such as an imperfect technical delivery, disrupts my Overall pleasure or appreciation, I enjoy and prize the performance highly. This was the case with Hee Seo.

What she did was totally her own. She is able to combine a remarkable sense of theater with a very beautiful and meaningful dance response. She has subtlety and poetry. She has a wonderful sense of timing and drama. She makes descriptive choices that demand attention and respect. At the time, I tried to describe all this in more detail and express my enthusiastic response. This can be seen at the top of the page.

Her manner of dancing is very fine, airy and graceful. It’s totally in keeping with the aura of the Mariinsky.

I saw her perform Giselle at the Festival two years ago and I was extremely impressed. In addition it was technically fine and flawless. This year, the poetry and artistry were just as fine, perhaps even more developed.

I think that she is remarkably talented and greatly look forward to the next time that I can see her on a stage. My overall feeling this year was that I had seen a performance of beautiful, almost magical enchantment.


And while I’m in “A New York State of Mind” (thanks, Billy Joel), I’d like to start my guest wish list for a future Festival. I would also like to emphasise that Hee Seo’s being from New York or the United States has absolutely nothing to do with my admiration for what I’ve seen her do. I would feel the same no matter where she comes from.

My wish would be to see the Miami City Ballet at the Festival. As Edward Villella (its founding Artistic Director) did when George Balanchine brought his New York City Ballet to Russia, I think that the company would bring the house down ! It certainly did, deservedly so, in Paris. I was there for almost a week of their performances.

No, they’re not from New York and they’re very much their own being, but their ties are strong — basic Balanchine rep, Edward Villella’s very fine legacy, Lourdes Lopez’s (current Artistic Director) long career at New York City Ballet, and on and on. As I mentioned at the beginning of the Festival discussion, I made a special detour on my way back to Europe to see the company and especially its new Principal Dancer, Simone Messmer. I enjoyed the company very much and continue to think that Simone Messmer is a dance phenomenon of the highest order, one definitely deserving to be seen at a Mariinsky Festival along with the rest of the company.

Elena Yevseyeva

She is neither Swan nor Butterfly in size, but I would like to include in my list of performers from the Festival that I enjoyed immensely. She danced the lead in the second showing of The Bronze Horseman and as I mentioned earlier her dancing was very fine, her technical prowess was very commendable and her loveliness — stole my heart.

There are so many fine performers and performances that I’ve not mentioned.

It was, once again, a Mariinsky Festival of the highest quality and enjoyment.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Apr 29, 2016 5:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

For anyone interested, I'm continuing my discussion of Mariinsky and Bolshoi dancers at the Bolshoi forum.


Author:  Buddy [ Thu May 12, 2016 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mariinsky Ballet Festival: 31 March - 10 April 2016

It’s a little early to start the topic for next year’s Festival, so I’ll add another performance to my 2017 Wishlist —

George Balanchine’s “Mozartiana, (Theme, Variations, and Pas).”

Who to dance ?

For the moment, Alina Somova and Alexander Sergeyev would be just fine.

I think that this lovely, brief * and very imaginatively nuanced work fits in just fine with the type of Balanchine material that the Mariinsky does so well, such as “Symphony in C” (whose duet, performed by Yekaterina Kondaurova at this year's Festival, was one of the most beautiful) and “Ballet Imperial.”

While in a Balanchine state of mind, my first choice on the Wishlist, as mentioned above, would be The Miami City Ballet (Balanchine and beyond) with Simone Messmer performing at least one lead. This high energy, technically brilliant and loveable company would be a wonderful contrast to the Mariinsky's very fine, lyrical interpretations of George Balanchine's (and other contemporary) works.

* [Apparently what I referred to from Mozartiana is only about ten minutes of a half hour work. This segment could probably stand on its own, although the entire work would surely be just as exceptional.]

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