CriticalDance Forum

Bolshoi: 2007 - 2008
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Author:  Buddy [ Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:37 pm ]
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A few more thoughts about Natalia Osipova's performance of Giselle after having looked further through the internet.

The Physical Combined With The Ethereal

One of the more interesting features, mentioned in Michail Alexandrova's observation referred to above, is Natalia Osipova's ability to perform marvelous feats of Physicality and still make them so Airily Beautiful. He states that he didn't think that this was possible. Now that he has seen such displays of physical prowess (huge jumps with amazing force, for instance) accomplished in such a graceful and airy manner he feels that this has set a new standard as to what can be done here. This is possibly one of the really remarkable things that Natalia Osipova may have added to performing Giselle.


Perhaps one of the most important traditional things in Giselle is the beautiful Lyricism most evident in the 'otherworldliness' of Act II. Apparently Natalia Osipova has managed to convey this very well. Comments generally range from 'she did much better at this than I thought she would' to 'she is absolutely wonderful!'. Some posters have attributed much of this to the new coaching of Marina Kondratieva.

Youth--Being Herself

This one fascinates me. I really feel that when Natalia Osipova takes on a character she can do it with wonderful Charisma. Thus if she decides to just more or less be herself it can still be compelling. If Natalia Osipova can convey a youthful innocence, in a sense be herself, into a powerful theatrical realm such as Act II of Giselle, than this could be a wonderful new addition to the various nuances that can be performed here. From what I have seen she is quite capable of doing this. I would like to add that at least one poster has commented that she seems to be very respectful of the traditional interpretations of Giselle.

I may as well add here that at least one poster has commented that she has been reasonably restrained in her use of extensions (no legs straight up, etc.). From what I have seen on the internet this is quite true. This is again being respectful of what many feel is the traditional and more pure manner of dancing this ballet.

I really look forward to seeing an actual and complete performance of Natalia Osipova's Giselle.

Author:  sophia [ Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:57 am ]
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Please, could you indicate more precisely the sources of all these comments (I dare not say "critics")? Are they translations from Russian?

I know it's easy and pleasant to find our own tastes confirmed by others' views, but to post these comments on a Western forum without any explanation of any sort is quite disturbing to me, as one have no idea at all of who the authors are (maybe Natalia's mother or her boyfriend, who knows?... :mrgreen:) and therefore can't re-balance or moderate their judgement. Internet forums allow anyone to talk on the same level and that make all things very relative. So please, let us know just a little bit of the origin of all that, if possible.

From what I have seen so far from videos on the Internet, I'm not so convinced by Natalia Osipova's performance as Giselle, to stay polite (as I know it is not the best way to have a fair opinion, but...). Anyway, that's not the point.

Apart from that, I would have also liked to hear from Merkuriev who was also making his debut as Albert (at the Bolshoi). I mean, Osipova, despite her great talent and abilities, is not such a goddess able to make her partner disappear to the audience...

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:19 am ]
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Hi, Sophia, and thanks very much for your interest in this discussion.

Most of the comments that I have referred to come from translations from the Bolshoi forum mentioned above. There have been five reviews, I believe, and two of them mentioned above have been translated quite thoroughly for me by a friend. I feel from several years of casually regarding this forum that these posters are well informed observers of the Bolshoi ballet. Although they probably are quite enthusiastic about their 'hometown' world famous ballet company they can be very critical sometimes of performers and performances.

Another comment or two come from posters in the US who also seem to be well informed ballet observers at another forum. They base their comments on the recent video clips of this performance.

I would say that about 90% of these comments have been favorable.

I also have not seen this performance, but I have already viewed all the video clips on the internet many times. I have only been following ballet for about four years, but I have seen a lot of performances in that time. I have also had a lifetime interest in the visual arts. I have actually seen Natalia Osipova perform about ten times, but only one major role (three performances of Kitri in Don Quixote). I am very impressed with her abilities.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:48 pm ]
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As much as I love Natalia Osipova I've made it my job to constantly remind myself not to ever forget about Svetlana Zakharova. She is not one that we should ever lose site of in all the excitement. She appeared as Giselle the following night with Roberto Bolle (Albrecht) and Maria Alexandrova (Myrtha).

There a complete video of her and Roberto Bolle performing Giselle with the La Scala Ballet that can be purchased.

This is another woman who never ceases to amaze me !

PS--"This is a woman who never ceases to amaze me!" Why? Statuesque magnificence simply standing still. A wonderful adagio gracefulness. A never ending display of bravura (sometimes happening so apparently effortlessly that you may not even notice it) that has left me saying to myself, "Did she really do that?"

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:50 am ]
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She appeared as Giselle the following night with Roberto Bolle (Albrecht) and Maria Alexandrova (Myrtha).

Roberto Bolle?!!!!!!!!!! What on earth is he doing at the Bolshoi? Surely the company has any number of far superior male dancers within it's ranks that Zakharova could have danced with. Unless of course the performance was a publicity stunt to sell copies of their DVD.

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:06 am ]
Post subject:  Olga Pavlova

Now here is something curious that I have found on the Bolshoi web site: included in the list of principal dancers is the name of Olga Pavlova, a dancer I remember from her time with Gediminas Taranda's Imperial Russian Ballet.

Has she been made a Bolshoi principal? I would have thought it unlikely but her name and biographical details are included alongside the likes of Alexandrova and Tsiskaridze.

Here is her biography page (sorry, I couldn't find an English version).

If any of our Russian contributors, such as Coda perhaps, could shed more light, I would be grateful.

Author:  coda [ Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:07 pm ]
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Don’t worry, Cassandra. This is not the Bolshoi’s official website. Someone who had been linked to the Bolshoi at some stage used the name of the theatre for his own website. :roll: :!:
This website is not updated on a regular basis.
True that Olga Pavlova is listed there but it is clearly stated that she is a soloist with the Moscow Classical Ballet led by Kasatkina & Vasilyiov:

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:30 am ]
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I don't know if this has been posted elsewhere in the forum, but as it hasn't appeared yet in this thread, I thought to pop over and add it here. This might have been mentioned during the summer elsewhere but as we approach the mid-point of the season, I thought it appropriate to repost here.

Apparently Alexei Ratmansky will be leaving his position as the Director of the Bolshoi Ballet after the end of this season. I've heard different reasons for this -- that he wants to return to choreography full-time and that the Board has fired him. I don't know which version is true (maybe both hold some truth?) This news is apparently not "new" in Russia, but I don't believe it's been publicized much internationally if at all. Maybe there are still some question marks about the plan and I'd assume, certainly many question marks about who the successor might be.

In either case his departure will be, in my humble opinion, a great loss to the company. He's managed to expand their repertoire, cultivate several big name artists, and generally maintain growth through the closure of the main stage and in a very volatile/challenging period in Russia. I hope this "event" proves to be untrue, but if he does leave, my personal best wishes to him in the future.

If others find similar information that relates to this topic, do feel free to add it to this thread!

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Dec 10, 2007 8:13 am ]
Post subject:  Alexei Ratmansky and the Bolshoi Ballet

The new Bolshoi Ballet season is now in full swing having opened with performances of their fabulous new production of Le Corsaire, and recently youthful superstar Natalia Osipova has made her debut in Giselle to tremendous acclaim. This 2007/8 season looks exceptional with a revival of the Soviet classic Flames of Paris in a new version by Alexei Ratmansky and a new production of La Sylphide by Johan Kobborg. In addition the company will celebrate the 100th birthday of the great Marina Semyonova with a special gala and lucky Muscovites have now seen the remarkable Kings of the Dance programme that was first seen in the U.S. earlier this year.

By common consent the Bolshoi’s 2007 season in London was a total triumph, in fact several months later I’m still suffering withdrawal symptoms. Towards the end of the run I joined a group of dance writers for what was a very informal question and answer session with the Bolshoi’s director, Alexei Ratmansky. He was clearly more than happy with the company’s London success and considered the performances by Carlos Acosta (whose acting skills he particularly praised) as Spartacus and Ivan Vasiliev in Don Quixote to be the season highlights along with the triple bill that included a new work by Christopher Wheeldon. Mr Ratmansky has high hopes for the career of Ivan Vasiliev and told us the dancer’s ambition is to eventually dance Spartacus. When someone pointed out that he would appear to be a little short for the role, Ratmansky replied, “He’s still growing”.

In the coming year the Bolshoi will dance no fewer than twenty full length ballets, something I can’t imagine another company even thinking of undertaking. One ballet that the company won’t be dancing though is the Declan Donnellan production of Romeo and Juliet as the company has had to withdraw it after objections by the Prokofiev family. I wonder if it was the actual production they didn’t like or the treatment and cutting of the musical score. Possibly both I imagine. For me the most interesting will be the new version of The Flames of Paris currently only known in the west for its sensational virtuoso pas de deux. Ratmansky will oversee the new production himself assisted by members of the Bolshoi staff that appeared in the ballet in the past. I for one am very pleased that the company isn’t going to totally discard the works created during the Soviet era as many were works of great quality. Mr Ratmansky is attracted to the theme of “brotherhood” that runs through Flames of Paris, seeing at as an antidote to the less savoury aspects of the society he lives in, typified by the ‘New Russians’ of today. I suggested to Mr Ratmansky that a revival of Gayane might be a good idea as it has such a hugely popular score but he says that the story is perhaps too difficult to make a revival feasible.

Questions were asked regarding dancers missing from this years London season and it seems that injuries and maternity leave were responsible for the omissions of Stepanenko, Uvarov and Gracheva. Of course everyone wanted to know if we would see divine Ananiashvili with the company again and Ratmansky assured us that he would love her to dance with the company once more but that her work with her own company in Georgia has been making her unavailable for some time now, though it seems it isn’t an impossibility for her to dance with the Bolshoi again. I asked Mr Ratmansky about the recent acquisition of male dancers from outside the company (Merkuriev, Shpilevsky, Vasiliev) and was told that the reason for this was that there have been a couple of lean years at the Bolshoi school with no one deemed good enough for entry into the company. Happily things are now looking up and there will be some new boys accepted next year. Ratmansky also commented on the much-publicized reports that there will be no future exemptions where conscription into the army is concerned. He is confident that this will not have an effect on the company and that it will be possible for the male dancers to continue their careers uninterrupted.

Of special interest to me was news of the choreographic workshops that the company now presents and Ratmansky believes he has found solid talent in budding choreographers Morihiro Ivata of the Bolshoi and Viacheslav Samodurov of the Royal Ballet. As it happens, I once saw a solo that Samodurov choreographed for himself as a teenager in a televised competition (he won) and I was impressed by the maturity of the piece he created. When I asked Mr Ratmansky if these workshops featured purely classical works he confirmed that they did and sounded mildly surprised that I felt I needed to ask. Very reassuring.

Sadly the company won’t be returning to London in 2008 and they still haven’t any arrangements in place to dance in New York either. Ratmansky is keen for the company to perform at all the major world centres of ballet, but insists that the venues have to be right and quite rightly wants to repair the damage to the company’s image that occurred when it misguidedly appeared at venues such as a Los Vegas casino. In New York he wants the company to dance at the Metropolitan Opera but negotiations for that theatre have so far failed. London is fortunate in having two theatres that match the Bolshoi’s requirements, but apparently the company rank and file favour the Royal Opera House over the Coliseum because it has the better back stage facilities. Ballet fans of course prefer the Coliseum because of the excellent sight lines.

Mr Ratmansky himself comes across as both serious and relaxed; his proudest claim is that during his tenure as director no one has left the company (unlike the rival Kirov where dancers now leave in droves). He was also fulsome in his praise of his predecessors Akimov and Fadeyechev, who handed the company on in such good shape. Difficult questions were answered with honesty and the only question he avoided was about the rumour that he will be leaving the company to join NYCB, something he will neither confirm nor deny. Few can deny that the glory days are back at the Bolshoi and although I wish Mr Ratmansky well in all his future endeavours, I most fervently wish that he stays put.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:19 am ]
Post subject: 

Cassandra, thanks so much for sharing the details of that summertime meeting with Mr. Ratmansky! During my interview with him in 2005 I was also impressed by his friendly demeanor and approachability. He carries none of the elitism that someone in his position might find reason to do and is utterly cordial, it seems, to both journalists and fans.

You made a fine point about 20 full-length classical ballets. I don't know that the Kirov even has that many in its rep anymore, certainly not in its actively circulating repertoire. Gone are the days of Vinogradov when Sergeev's "Cinderella" and "La Fille Mal Gardee" were danced by the company. So many ballets are gathering dust...

To say the Bolshoi has flourished under Ratmansky would be putting it mildly. I assume by late summer we will hear news of what his official plans are in terms of next steps. Whereever he lands, that company will be lucky to have him!

Author:  KANTER [ Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Have just had an idea

Have just had a fab idea.

What about bringing in Ratmansky to run the POB?

If things get any worse here at Paris, we shan't need a Ballet Director, but a team of those shrinks who counsel survivors at Disaster Areas.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:52 pm ]
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Buddy wrote:
I really feel that when Natalia Osipova takes on a character she can do it with wonderful Charisma.
A quick thought back to Natalia Osipova.

In the case of her performing a ballet such as Giselle

Charisma = Lovable !

Or as Luke Jennings wrote about her Don Quixote performance, August 12, 2007, in The Observer.

"Resistance is futile; you adore her on sight." ... 12,00.html

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:34 pm ]
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A few interesting comments from Alexei Ratmansky in the Russian daily, Izvestia, posted here from a summary by Dansomanie in french.

(This article in russian won't print out on my computer. Maybe you'll have better luck if you want to take a look.)

Alexei Ratmansky confirms that he will not continue as director of ballet at the Bolshoi. He will now devote all his time to being a choreographer.

The Bolshoi, he says, will progressively open itself to modern dance such as the work of Twyla Tharp, but the Russian public really likes classical ballet and this will remain the heart of the Bolshoi's repertoire.

Johan Kobborg's (Royal Ballet (London)) version of La Sylphide will enter the Bolshoi's repertoire in February.

Some of the young talent that he likes and mentions at the Bolshoi consists of Ivan Vasiliev, Ekaterina Krysanova, Anna Nikulina, Denis Savin, but he reminds us that established stars such as Svetlana Zakharova, Svetlana Lunkina and Maria Alexandrova are not yet 30.

He loves the Chagall painted ceiling at the Opera House in Paris. (So do I)

]Correction made. Izvestia is a daily newspaper.]

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 4:57 am ]
Post subject:  Alexei Ratmansky

I have very mixed feelings about this, on the one hand Ratmansky is probably the most talented classical choreographer around and the news that he will in future dedicate his time to new choreography is to be applauded. On the other hand he has helped the Bolshoi to the dizzying heights of excellence it now occupies and I wonder where the company goes from here. The cynic in me remembers that when you're at the very top, the only direction is down. Also I don't see any natural successor to fill the role of new director, Ratmansky's deputy is Gennady Yanin but I can't somehow see him taking over. Mikhail Lavrovsky perhaps?

Author:  EsperanzaTM [ Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:06 am ]
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What about Mark Peretokin / Ilze Liepa, successors ??

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