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PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2007 3:52 pm 
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Thanks, Cassandra, for your comments. I hope that you get to see some really great performances and that we get to hear about them.

From what I've seen on the internet so far things look very good for the amazing and lovable Natalia Osipova. I wish her and all the very fine Bolshoi dancers a great success and a wonderful time in London.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:47 pm 
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Could I add another thought about Natalia Osipova. I have mentioned in the past that I look forward to the day when I can see her in a more 'serious' characterization such as Giselle. Based on seeing her in other performances I feel that she could do very well at this.

Since I said this I have seen her in subsequent performances and her focus seems to be more and more in the direction for which she is now famous--the lively-lovable technical wonder. I have personally come to the conclusion that this is--"Absolutely Great"!

Anyone, who can do what she is doing as incredibly well as she is doing it, needs only to be applauded. She is very young, so why not live and express this to the limit. It's a treasure!

She has already switched coaches to develop more 'serious' capabilities.
Wonderful if she wants to, of course. Although most artists like her probably want to be capable of performing a complete range of styles and characters, in this case I see no need to rush it.

She can continue to perform in the same wonderful and magnificent manner that she is doing right now and I would be more than content just to be there watching and applauding for many, many years into the future.


[paragraph three added to]


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2007 12:16 pm 
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There is a belief in opera that as a singer matures physically and as an artist their roles will necessarily change to reflect these changes. I think this is wise and not necessarily what dancers have done in their careers. I would much rather see very young and lively Kitris and Auroras and older and wiser Odettes and Giselles. A dancer should be encouraged to tackle a role when they are emotionally ready to as an artist.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 3:07 am 
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Though full review of Le Corsair and La Bayadere will follow shortly, just wanted to report on yesterday's opening of La Bayadere by the Bolshoi company.

The cast was indeed promising, Zakharova, Tsiskaridze and Alexandrova... and they did not disappoint. Standing ovation for the company at the end, with the corps de ballet getting a rapturous and well deserved ovation at the end of their entrance in the Kingdom of the Shades and at the end of the performance. Alexandrova shone in her role as Gamzatti... what a ballerina!! Her stage presence and extraordinary technique made her Gamzatti one of the best I have ever seen... Tsiskaridze's Solor was so beautifully danced, the solos soaring effortlessly... What a company, what a treat!!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 7:43 am 
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Le Corsaire
Bolshoi Ballet
London Coliseum
Monday 30 July 2007



Archaeological research in dance is not a very accurate science, as there are no living records of what any of the works actually looked like at the time they premiered… So, when a director attempts a “reconstruction” of a ballet we should take this with a pinch of salt.

Ratmanski’s new production of “Le Corsaire” for the Bolshoi Ballet is full of historical references and reconstructions from the surviving notated sources, interspaced with new choreographic material provided by Ratmanski himself. The result is a very long, highly enjoyable piece that lacks dramatic substance and that radically departs from the version the Kirov brought to London years ago. Byronic in look and content, a bit more of Romantic flair could have enhanced the overall style.

On opening night at the Coliseum the cast was led by Svetlana Zakharova as Medora, Denis Matvienko as Conrad, Ekaterina Shipulina as Gulnara and Andrei Merkuriev as Birbanto.

Though the action is not very clear to the viewer from the start, the first act is beautifully characterised in terms of costumes and dances, and it contains some familiar passages, such as the Pas des Esclaves, performed on this occasion by the young Ivan Vassiliev partnering Nina Kaptsova. Though the main adagio was cut out, the entrance, main variations and coda were there and were performed with great sense of style by Kaptsova and obvious explosive zest by Vassiliev, who ended his variation behind another character somewhere in the wings! Expectations were running high to see Vassiliev and I got the impression that the pressure showed on his brief performance. A young likeable dancer, he did not manage to leave that long lasting impression of a great dancer in the making. Sure, his ballon is remarkable, his enthusiasm contagious, but it will be interesting to see him in other roles before proclaiming him the next star in the company. Kaptsova danced her part with great sense of style and careful nuances in her musical phrasing.

The leads were also beautifully danced, with both Matvienko and Merkuriev looking stunning as the young heroes of the story and Zakharova displaying total command of the technical difficulties of the choreography, though not much shading or radiance in its execution.

The famous pas de deux that became a pas de trois in the Kirov version was, we are told now, apparently and after all, a pas de deux… Not that it makes much difference, really. It was danced with bravura from Conrad’s part and sweetness from Medora’s, so no big departures there. There were members of the audience who missed the male traditional costume for this particular piece as it seems that, from above, Conrad’s jumps are not well appreciated because of his Turkish costume in which the short skirt hides the shapes from view. And there were shapes indeed! Matvienko performed steps that I don’t think are even named in any conventional dictionary of ballet technique…

The second act presented more familiar material in unusual settings… The pas de trois for the Odalisques was there and it was the highlight of the evening in terms of pure classical dancing. The three dancers sailed through their variations (though the series of brissés volées could be improved) but it was Natalia Osipova who got the ovation from the audience with her breathtaking jump, assured technique and command of the stage.

“Le Jardin Animé” was, for me the most problematic aspect of the whole production. Crammed amongst hedges, flower pots and what not, the beauty of the scene was hard to appreciate. There was no space for the choreography to breathe, no room for the dancers to execute their movements with the necessary grandeur. At this point, I did miss the Kirov’s performance of this scene. Of course, if one bears in mind that this production will go onto the Bolshoi stage, it seems obvious that all these “problems” will cease to exist on that vast stage, but on the Coliseum they were “problems” indeed and they hindered the dance. Zakharova was correct in her variations, but there was no projection and no radiance in her dancing… one missed Asylmuratova and other Kirov ballerinas in this part.

The last act culminated with the famous Shipwreck, that, once again, became the highlight of the ballet… some things never change! It was a magnificent shipwreck, it has to be said, with full use of the latest technological advances theatres have at their disposal at present.

Overall the ballet was good, but not extraordinary. There was not enough dance and the choreography was not as inspired as other reconstructions of classical ballets. The storyline was somehow subdued by very flat dramatic action and characterisation (though I have been informed that with other casts, this improved enormously). It was definitely long, and yet a good taster of what the Bolshoi has to offer in future performances. It seems the company is in no shortage of young talent rising through the ranks and the corps de ballet looked stunning!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:25 am 
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Quote:
Matvienko performed steps that I don’t think are even named in any conventional dictionary of ballet technique…


Maybe a future dictionary will call what we saw a 'Matvienko special'. He really is quite amazing.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:59 am 
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Le Corsaire
The Bolshoi Ballet
London Coliseum
30th & 31st July and 1st August 2007


Le Corsaire in its very first incarnation choreographed by Albert in 1837, really was based on Lord Byron’s poem of the same name with the story line telling of Gulnare’s rescue from the flames after a pirate raid. The special effects were said to be quite something as Conrad the pirate balanced on a burning rafter with Gulnare in his arms as he saved her from the fire. The next version by Mazilier produced almost twenty years later in 1856 was a kind of prequel to Byron’s poem with a story line of how Conrad first met his beloved wife Medora and it is this scenario that has been used by Alexei Ratmansky in the new version currently to be seen in London. Between 1856 and 2007 there have of course been a number of changes and I imagine all Russian versions stem from Perrot’s Moscow production of 1857 which starred one M. Petipa in the role of Conrad.

Closer to the present day most of us are familiar with the Kirov Vinogradov production which rather feminizes the action with lots of dancing slave girls and fewer unruly pirates, but from my point of view doesn’t really invite frequent viewings. Much more the business was Konstantine Sergeyev’s Bolshoi production of the early 1990’s that returned to the Maziler scenario. Sadly I only saw this in Moscow on one occasion in 1993 when Stepanenko, Peretokin and Alexander Vetrov took the leads. Earlier that year Grigorovich brought a condensed version of this to the Albert Hall that provided some remarkable performances from the company members of the time.

This new production is by the Bolshoi’s outstandingly talented director Alexei Ratmansky assisted by Yuri Burlaka. Some of the choreography is what has become traditional, some is new and some is a reconstruction from archive material and it is to Messrs Ratmansky and Burlaka’s credit that everything blends into an harmonious whole. The storyline follows that of Maziler reasonably closely but with scenes (and music) not used by Sergeyev, most notably the pas des eventailles and the extended shipboard scene. The lengthy classical sequences for the female corps are healthily offset by the earlier very vigorous character dancing by the corsairs creating more of a balance between the male and female dancers.

The look of the production is very nineteenth century with costumes that for the corsairs at least are unusually historically accurate with the elaborate jackets and white kilts worn by Greek men since Byron’s time that are still worn by the Evzones of Athens today. Having had the opportunity to admire Conrad’s first act costume at close quarters I was impressed by the intricacy and detailing of the jacket that must have been something of a challenge to the Bolshoi wardrobe department to make. The girls’ tutus were exceptionally well designed and mercifully we were spared the bare midriffs that so often feature in this work; someone on the production team clearly has taste.

Although the sets have a dated look, I’m sure that is deliberate to enhance the period charm but there is nothing dated about the shipwreck scene with high tech effects creating a storm at sea that won the most applause on the first night. The only criticism of the production I can make is that the famous Le Jardin Animee was uncomfortably cramped with simply too many dancers, props and extras on stage at the same time. A production number on this scale really needs a stage the size of the Bolshoi’s to do it credit and when the main house reopens (next year) this would be the ideal ballet with which to launch.

The first night cast was Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Matvienko as Medora and Conrad. On the whole I thought Zakharova wasn’t bad as Medora and even brought a sense of humour to the part though I’m not convinced about her partnership with the swaggering Conrad of Matvienko. Her Medora is very genteel and looks unlikely to have fallen for a rough pirate and I couldn’t really picture her taking to a life on the ocean wave; most likely she would have jumped ship if she so much as broke a fingernail. Rather disconcerting was the fact that her shoes were far noisier than any of the other girls on stage, she really should switch to a softer pointe to blend in with her colleagues. Denis Matvienko was a very convincing pirate, a kind of softhearted bad boy, his technique couldn’t be faulted and I have to say that he looks very attractive with a beard, but on the whole this pairing missed the star quality that you expect on an opening night.

It was the second night that provided the pizzazz that the premier lacked when the leading roles were taken by Maria Alexandrova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze who dazzled from start to finish, Fonteyn and Nureyev were famously described as a partnership made in heaven and this pairing clearly hailed from the same place. What was so special about this couple (apart from the sensational dancing of course) was that they were so very obviously in love. How could they not be? He is the Byronic ideal personified and she is every pirate’s dream, a girl who would happily take a hand at the wheel and climb the rigging without a second thought. Alexandrova is almost as good an actress as she is a dancer and was most successful of the three Medoras in the scene where she dons male attire and rallies the men to battle to prove to her lover she’s no liability on a pirate ship and could easily become one of the boys.

In this production there are fewer dance opportunities for Conrad putting more emphasis on dramatic ability and Tsiskaridze always dominated the stage whether as the ardent lover or as the fearless pirate chief keeping his rowdy, frequently mutinous crew in check. As Byron puts it:

They make obeisance, and retire in haste,
Too soon to seek again the watery waste:
Yet they repine not – so that Conrad guides;
And who dare question aught that he decides?
That man of loneliness and mystery,
Scarce seen to smile, and seldom heard to sigh;
Whose name appals the fiercest of his crew,
And tints each swarthy cheek with sallower hue:

This is a fabulous role for Tsiskaridze, one I feel he was born to dance and his total mastery of the role combined with Alexandrova’s scintillating portrayal of Medora had the audience in raptures. The curtain calls were the longest so far with flowers both carried onto and thrown onto the stage and the leading couple kept in character for their first call with Tsiskaridze carrying his partner on in his arms still dishevelled from their shipwreck ordeal: the audience loved it and so did I.

In the third cast Svetlana Lunkina’s Medora is sparkier than Zakharova’s but less gung-ho than Alexandrova’s, a girl with spirit who given time would surely have talked Conrad out of his piratical ways. Dancing with her usual grace and warmth she isn’t on paper the ideal Medora, a role more tomboyish than other ballerina parts, but Lunkina’s trademark good-naturedness wins us over and she managed some cracking fouettés in the pas deux. Her Conrad was Sergei Filin who seemed to be having an off night appearing too subdued and low key for this bravura role and not displaying much passion towards his Medora; something of a disappointment on this occasion.

There were three casts as Gulnare, the harem fixer with the heart of gold. First night was Ekaterina Shipulina perfectly cast as the material girl who loves the Pasha for what he’s got in his jewel box. Third cast was young Ekaterina Krysanova who danced beautifully but her sweet little face doesn’t really look like that of a harem schemer, though her sense of mischief as she teases the dopey Pasha hit the right note. It was second night cast of Anastasia Yatsenko that I most enjoyed. Though not as good an actress as Shipulina or as personally endearing as Krysanova, she has outstanding épaulement and near perfect legs and feet giving one a feeling of watching something very special, I hope we see a lot more of her this season.

We had three of the Bolshoi’s finest dancing the three odalisques: Anna Nikulina, Natalia Osipova and Krysanova, actually make that four as Anna Leonova took over the night Krysanova danced Gulnare. Wonderful dancing from all these girls with Osipova gaining even more applause than the shipwreck on the first night. Nice to see Leonova in a featured role, I remember seeing her mother, Marina, dance Queen of the Wilis at the Coliseum some thirty odd years ago so its wonderful to see a family tradition continue.

In the pas d’esclave London got it’s first sight of the new wonder-boy of the company, Ivan Vasiliev, currently being touted as the ‘new Baryshnikov’. Frankly I was under whelmed by what I saw. The pas des esclaves is essentially a very classical pas de deux and I don’t think that pure classicism is going to be Vasiliev’s forte. He is short of stature with a longish body and short legs with thick thighs; in fact he possesses the standard physique of many of the virtuosi of the past. Although the pas des esclaves demands virtuosity it also requires a degree of elegance that Vasiliev didn’t have and he couldn’t make the landings in deep plié look good (difficult when your legs are short). He also experienced some difficulty getting little Nina Kaptsova onto his shoulder. I have it on good authority that Mr Vasiliev will amaze us in Don Q, but in my view his debut has been blighted by a monumental piece of miscasting. The second cast in this was Denis Medvedev who although only slightly taller than Vasiliev has a better proportioned body that gives him a good classical line far more suited to the choreography. He danced as fluidly and flawlessly as ever and he had no partnering problems with Anastasia Stashkevich. However I very much regretted that in this version the Adage from the pas de deux has been cut.

As Birbanto Andrei Merkuriev was almost as dashing as Conrad himself, he’s such an attractive villain that it’s a shame he has to suffer a watery grave. The taller Vitaly Biktimirov took over opposite Tsikaridze and gave a slightly darker more sinister reading of the part. Both dancers led the dances with the corsairs and their girls with tremendous panache.

Lankedem is a mimed role in this production with Gennady Yanin made up to look about eighty as the miserly guardian of Medora who sells her to the Pasha when made an offer he can’t refuse. The Pasha himself was played by Andrei Sitnikov as a lecherous idiot duped at ever turn by Medora and Gulnare. A special mention also for Egor Simachev playing a smugly incompetent eunuch; competing with so many other comic characters he was still the funniest on stage.

Last but never ever least the corps de ballet was revelatory whether as uncouth pirates or dreamily lovely harem girls they were every last one of them utterly superb, particularly in a ballet such as Corsaire that displays so well their amazing versatility. Thank you one and all.


Last edited by Cassandra on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Cast change for Don Quixote
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:46 am 
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I have received the following official news from the Bolshoi press office:

Quote:
I have been informed that the Don Quixote matinee on 11 August will be danced by Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev .


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 Post subject: A round up of Le Corsaire reviews
PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 6:58 am 
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What the critics thought of Le Corsaire, firstly Clement Crisp who says of Zakharova “more absolutely a prima ballerina than any other dancer I know at the moment.”

If that’s the case, then we’re in a worse state than I thought!

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/9fa4e91e-3f73-1 ... fd2ac.html

This review in The Independent doesn’t seem to have an author, but whoever wrote it is more observant about Zakharova than Mr Crisp:

http://arts.independent.co.uk/theatre/r ... 836607.ece

That anonymous author was clearly more engaged than colleague Zoë Anderson who was pretty dismissive of the whole thing a few days earlier.

http://arts.independent.co.uk/theatre/r ... 824151.ece

Over at the Guardian Judith Mackrell was far more impressed:

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/danc ... 65,00.html

Debra Craine at the Times seems to have enjoyed herself too:

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 173848.ece

The Telegraph sent two reviewers along. Richard Edwards was rather intrigued as to how much it all cost (and check out the terrible photograph, couldn’t they find a decent ballet photographer?).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... hoi131.xml

Whereas Mark Monahan was more interested in Zakharova (sigh)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jh ... aire10.xml

The Evening Standard did the ballet proud in its coverage with some wonderful pictures to accompany the following review:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/s ... wReview.do

In the same edition was this interview with Christopher Wheeldon about his work with the company together with a huge picture of the matchless Maria Alexandrova in a double page spread.

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/theatre/a ... article.do


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:14 am 
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I am amazed and jealous of your extensive dance coverage in London. Wish we could get some of that in San Fran.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:39 am 
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Rarely have London audiences been more unanimous in their praise... Monday's performance of Spartacus led by Carlos Acosta was simply magnificent.

Not only did Acosta perform with brilliant technique and characterisation, but also the whole company raised to the challenge in a performance to treasure...

This was a performance that made us all hope for a change in the end of the story... and for Spartacus to live and triumph over Crassus!

Acosta gave the best performance I have ever seen him dance. It seems the role spoke to his heart and his heart danced for us... The rest of the dancers could only either follow this warrior or fight him to death, and the resulting emotions filled the auditorium and made us all rediscover the ballet and its power to transcend... like all good art...

After a night like that, and the others we are enjoying this summer, one can only thank the Bolshoi and, on this occasion, thank Acosta for showing us what ballet can do!!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:46 am 
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La Bayadere
Bolshoi Ballet
Coliseum, London
2nd & 4th August 2007


Stripped down to its essentials, La Bayadere is a love triangle set in one of those exotic locations that attracted 19th century librettists like a magnet, in fact I was struck by the similarity to the storyline of the opera Lakme seen a few weeks ago, where the military hero had to choose between duty together with his English girl friend and the beautiful Indian maiden who has beguiled him. In Bayadere another military man must choose between his lover and an arranged marriage with the boss’s daughter. In both works one of the girls finishes up dying.

Compared to other productions of this ballet, the Bolshoi’s Grigorovich version can be described as somewhat florid, but perhaps that is what this ballet needs, a slightly over-the-top approach that is able to sweep aside some of the absurdities of the storyline. The first night cast of Svetlana Zakharova, Maria Alexandrova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze made a very passionate trio with the first act confrontation between Gamzatti and Nikiya reaching dramatic heights that I can’t remember having seen before. To my astonishment at some time during the past year Zakharova has developed acting skills and now brings an unusually subtle understanding to the role, reacting to the desperate entreaties of Gamzatti with both pity and defiance. Alexandrova was a revelation as Gamzatti, sweeping onto the stage behind her entourage she is the girl who has everything and gives nothing away brought sharply down to earth when the love she thought was hers by right is threatened. After her initial attempt to bribe her rival she comes close to actually begging Nikiya to relinquish Solor. Embarrassed by seeing her having to plead, Nikiya is aware of her rival’s pain and a strange compassion seemed to exist between the two women before the realization that they are deadly enemies and when Zakharova went for Gamzatti with the knife she looked as if she meant it and for once the intervention by Aiya wasn’t just token. Wonderful stuff.

The second act was simply spectacular with Alexandrova at her magnificent best dominating the action with her steely technique. Its hard to drag the eyes away from her but the small corps of girls that back her in the Grand pas Classique were so good they would all be primas in lesser companies. The high drama continued as the unwelcome Nikiya made her entrance and few can deny that Zakharova looked ravishingly beautiful in her flame coloured costume; a sharp shock for Gamzatti on the day of her betrothal and a devastating reminder to Solor of his duplicity. Tsiskaridze’s Solor responds to the situation by skulking in a corner, his face a mask of guilt and pain, he is ashamed of his actions but unable to stop the unfolding tragedy. As Nikiya falls dying his instinct is to rush to her side in her last moments but he is barred by the rajah and so rushes from the scene in anger and frustration.

If I had admired Zakharova earlier I’m afraid her third act was the same old same old as far as I’m concerned, legs forever whacking upwards and making a mockery of the 19th century style. Luckily Tsiskaridze saved the day with his effortless leaps and the six impressive double assembles stylishly executed. One of the very greatest Solors he dances the final act as if the dream he finds himself experiencing is great gift with every second to be cherished as he is momentarily reunited with the woman he loved.

On Saturday night Maria Allash took over as Nikiya and gave a very subdued account of her role, timid in the presence of Gamzatti and more surprisingly timid in the presence of Solor too. Her third act was quite good in a muted kind of way and I appreciated the classical flow of her dancing that doesn’t include the extremes that so marred Zakharova’s interpretation. Her Solor was also Tsiskaridze dancing every bit as well as two nights before.

Two new Golden Gods this time around: Viacheslav Lopatin and Ivan Vasiliev. Neither were particularly gold though, either they are both allergy sufferers or the Bolshoi wardrobe department left the gold paint behind in Moscow, though Vasiliev seemed to have used the kind of body lotion that leaves a gold sheen. Lopatin danced more precisely than Vasiliev but I don’t think this is the right role for him. Vasiliev however is very suited to the part and was far more impressive than in Corsaire as he has a very high jump and the right extrovert approach for this but I still detected a couple of small errors.

After dancing the three odalisques earlier in the week Krysanova, Osipova and Nikulina re-formed their trio to perform the three shades, beautiful performances from all but Krysanova’s solo (the one with the diagonal of relevés) looked a bit rushed and would benefit from the conductor taking the music a little more slowly.

The shades were quite gorgeous with perfect awareness of line and musicality and they should by rights have the last word in this ballet as I’ve come to the conclusion that added on final acts or epilogues are an awful anti climax. The Bolshoi’s temple tumbling down adds nothing to the story dramatically and it would be so much better to bring the curtain down on Solor and Nikiya together in their world of dreams.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2007 10:50 am 
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La Bayadére
Bolshoi Ballet
London Coliseum
Thursday 2 August 2007



The second programme the Bolshoi Ballet presented in London as part of their summer season in the capital was Yuri Grigorovitch’s version of the classic Petipa’s ballet “La Bayadére”.

On opening night the cast was led by Svetlana Zakharova as Nikiya, Nikolai Tsiskaridze as Solor and Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti.

Grigorovitch’s version of the ballet does not depart greatly from the Maryinski’s usual interpretation (prior to their reconstruction of the "original"). Perhaps one of Grigorovitch’s most noticeable changes comes in the character of Gamzatti, who wears point shoes from her first entrance and dances on point throughout the ballet, even in her mime scenes. Also, her characterisation is different, as I cannot recall another version in which Gamzatti is not held directly responsible for Nikiya’s death… nice change of scenario! As danced by Alexandrova, the role if so wonderfully powerful and strong that it is difficult not to sympathise to some extent with her sorrow at realising that her betrothed is in love with another woman.

Nikolai Tsiskaridze was a joy to watch. From his first entrance with a series of grand jetés that zoomed him from one end of the stage to the other, to his Coda at the end of the Kingdom of the Shades, he managed to instil his character with some welcome impulsiveness and abandonment. His technique was soft and beautiful and, though not perfect at all times, the charisma of this dancer always saved the day.

Zakharova’s Nikiya was also beautifully danced. She managed to provide some characterisation and nuance to her acting throughout the first two acts and, her scene with Gamzatti was simply magnificent. However, Zakharova’s overuse and overemphasis of her larger than life extensions and mannerisms sadly affected her dancing in the Kingdom of the Shades. The Kingdom of the Shades – as we know it and have come to understand it- is about purity of style, it is a classical, plotless ballet and, any intervention from the dancers to take this purity and simplicity away from the scene interferes with the overall sense of serenity. Luckily for all of us, the corps the ballet was simply magnificent and more than made it up for Zakharova’s lack of classical line. The ovation at the end of the entrance of the Shades was more than well deserved, as the geometrical patterns of the piece were beautifully presented and the overall sense of eternity in their repeated sequences of steps ad infinitum was achieved.

The three soloists were also very good. Krysanova’s first shade variation was brilliantly danced and, though she did not accomplish travelling the whole diagonal of the stage on her arabesque, she did manage quite a long way… something most ballerinas seem not to even attempt any more, as it seems performing relevés in arabesque on the spot should suffice… but it does not!

Osipova performed the second variation with a grandeur and ease that was breathtaking. Her cabrioles were beautifully high and her sense of balance provided her dancing with perfect phrasing. Nikulina in the third variation had a more challenging task, as some of the variation had been altered, thus affecting the musical phrasing of the variation.

The whole company performed admirably. Though London has seen better Golden Idols that Viacheslav Lopatin on opening night, things got much better when Ivan Vassiliev took the role on the Saturday performance.

As for the end of the ballet, Grigorovitch has decided to finish in a quite abrupt way, with a destruction of the temple and death of Solor that is a blink-and-you-miss-it affair. To be totally honest, though I quite like Makarova’s romantic ending for the ballet, I can be quite content with a proper end of the Kingdom of the Shades…in fact, both the Maryinski and the Paris Opera Ballet have managed to bring a sense of closure to the work with this scene.

At the end of the performance, the company got a rapturous ovation… well deserved indeed, especially for the corps de ballet!


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 Post subject: La Bayadere press reviews
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 4:30 am 
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Location: London UK
A look at what the press had to say about the Bolshoi La Bayadere. Strangely both the Independent and The Times don’t appear to have sent a critic along.


Clement Crisp at the Financial Times loved the whole thing:

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/e8121e4e-436d-1 ... fd2ac.html

At The Telegraph there were reservations about Zakharova

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jh ... hoi104.xml

This Guardian review includes both Le Corsaire and La Bayadere (scroll down for the latter) I would say that the unforgivably bitchy comment about Nikolai Tsiskaridze tells us more about Mr Jennings and his circle of friends than the dancer in question.

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/danc ... 54,00.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2007 5:39 am 
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Location: London UK
Spartacus
Bolshoi Ballet
Coliseum, London
6th & 7th August 2007


It’s rather ironic that it was the Coliseum playing host to Spartacus and his rebels this week because since its recent makeover the auditorium is now adorned with Roman imagery everywhere you look including plaques bearing the legend SPQR. A powerful reminder of the potency of the Roman legacy in a country once crushed beneath the imperial boot. Of course the Romans never got as far as Russia and whereas we cherish every last stone of Hadrian’s Wall and have built A roads over the original Roman thoroughfares, the Russians see not the civilizing influence of that empire but only the tyrannies and injustices that the system perpetuated.

Yuri Grigorovich’s ballet Spartacus has remained stubbornly popular in Britain despite decades of carping reviews from the critical fraternity and their sneering disdain for Khachaturian’s hugely danceable score, but over the years it’s become apparent that as far as the title role is concerned; something has been missing. The role of Spartacus is a killer pushing its interpreters to the limit and few have managed to do it justice. On this occasion the Bolshoi has spread its net beyond the home team and this week presented international superstar Carlos Acosta in the title role.

I admire any dancer brave enough to move into the Grigorovich repertoire; the Russians themselves know just how exhausting his choreography is to perform as it requires endless stamina and almost superhuman strength and Spartacus most of all pushes dancers to the limits. Acosta clearly has both the strength and the stamina, but interestingly he simplified many of the ballet’s death defying lifts, probably because in the staple classical repertoire that he is most accustomed to he hasn’t had to perform the feats of acrobatic skill that require a woman to be held upside down vertically at arms length. On the whole I would say it was wise of him to do so.

What impressed me most about Acosta in this work was not his overcoming the technical difficulties, but his instinctive sympathy for the role. Motivated initially by anger his Spartacus moves from being an angry slave to an angry hero fuelled by a passionate belief in the principle of freedom; a belief totally at odds with the thinking of the time in a society where slavery was the very bedrock of existence. This role is a gift for Acosta, he looks the part and acts and dances the role to perfection. He has a massive fan following in London and they were clearly out in force on Monday night gasping and cheering by turns: it was quite a night

Acosta wasn’t the only dancer to make his London debut as Spartacus this week as Denis Matvienko also danced the role here for the first time the following day. Looking a little like Vladimir Vasiliev at first glance with his blond hair and beard, I admired his attack but thought he found no subtleties in the part. His dancing was pretty fearless with only one error in one of the diagonals of barrel turns and he coped well with the scary partnering. I think he has been dancing Spartacus for just over a year now and I imagine he will develop more depth as his experience in the role increases.

His devoted wife was Svetlana Lunkina who at times reminded me of Bessmertnova’s Phrygia. She was at her best in the final scene in the moment when she is raised above her husband’s dead body. As she lifts Spartacus’s shield above her head before laying it on his chest the expression on her face was not of grief or sorrow but of pride, a gesture of the utmost dignity towards a man whose name would become immortal. Acosta’s Phrygia was lovely Anna Antonicheva, possibly the best interpretation currently to be seen as she makes a real effort to turn this rather cardboard role into something more than a typical Grigorovich ‘good girl’ part. Her Phrygia is a woman whose suffering has become second nature but who retains an inner sense of nobility that her Roman tormentors lack.

As Spartacus’s Roman nemesis Alexander Volchkov gave a very fine account of the role of Crassus on the first night, his partnering having improved immeasurably over the past year (Crassus’s lifts are almost as difficult as those performed by Spartacus) he knows just how far to go in his depiction of the evil despot without tipping over into melodrama. In the second cast I found little to admire in the interpretation by Vladimir Neporozhny, perhaps the Bolshoi needs to look outside the company to find a dancer/actor for this difficult role too.

The two Aeginas were the two Marias: Allash and Alexandrova, two dancers whose careers I’ve been following since seeing them dance as students in Moscow. First cast is Allash, a dancer who often has a certain reticence about her on stage, but not in this role where she continues to find new aspects of villainy in this totally unprincipled character. I find Alexandrova’s Aegina very close in interpretation to the role’s originator, Nina Timofeyeva, an icy wanton, a willing tool in the hands of her lover Crassus. Cold and merciless she has about her an aura of cold vindictiveness, and an eagerness to do harm to humankind, with her on the case you know those poor slaves she enticed into debauchery don’t stand a chance.

Everyone knew that the Acosta performances would prove the hottest ticket in town and that proved to be the case, but I was delighted to see that it was standing room only for Matvienko as well. It seems that this epic ballet is finally developing the fan base that it deserves.


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