CriticalDance Forum

Bolshoi Ballet in Washington
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Author:  Cassandra [ Tue Feb 27, 2007 4:22 am ]
Post subject:  Bolshoi Ballet in Washington

Did anyone go? I'm particularly interested to hear how Osipova fared in Don Q.

Author:  Buddy [ Wed Feb 28, 2007 4:13 pm ]
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Natalia Osipova Was Great! !

I will try and tell you something about her performances when I get home in a few days.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Mar 02, 2007 6:16 am ]
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My Love Is For Their Love Of What They Are Doing And How Beautifully They Do It.

Joy And Wonder Reigned Supreme !

For me there were two dominant threads that ran through all these performances.

I) The comparison of the reigning Bolshoi goddess, Svetlana Zakharova, with the newly arrived and equally exciting Natalia Osipova.

II) The anticipation and arrival of the two male wonders, Ivan Vasiliev and Denis Matvienko.

The viewing of the entirety of the gentler, joyful Cinderella and the flamboyant, joyous Don Quixote was exhilarating and almost overwhelmingly delightful.

**** Two Images Already Are Fixed In My Mind As Defining Highlights Of All These Wonderful Performances.

I) Natalia Osipova As Kitri From Don Quixote Dancing Across The Stage In A Marvel Of Artistic Expression.

II) Svetlana Zakharova Simply Standing Still At The Beginning Of The Dream Scene From Don Quixote Radiating A Luminous Beauty And An Aura Of Artistic Magnificence. ****

If I had to make a list of highlight performances it would be as follows.

I) Don Quixote----Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev----Fourth and Fifth Afternoons

Both of their performances were equally great.

** Fourth Day--The Newly Arrived Ivan Vasiliev Performed The Highest And Most Amazing Jumps That I Have Ever Seen ! ! **

They were possibly a bit more spectacular the fourth day than the fifth. Also the total impact was probably a bit greater the fourth day because of the first time experiencing of the amazing Ivan Vasiliev.

Fifth Day--Natalia Osipova seemed to dance even more beautifully and compellingly. She hardly ever seemed to touch the ground.

II) Don Quixote----Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Matvienko----Fifth Night

Svetlana Zakharova was an absolute beauty dancing beautifully in the Act II Dream Sequence and performing wonderfully in the Act III bravura segments.

III) Cinderella----Ekaterina Krysanova and Sergey Filin----Third Night

I simply love Ekaterina Krysanova ! She is so delightful and loveable. She danced so airily like a fairy princess.

IV) Cinderella----Svetlana Zakhavova and Sergey Filin----First Night

Svetlana Zakharova's statuesque beauty, ethereal motion, fine character portrayal and superior handling of the highly demanding bravura parts of the Act II duet made for an outstanding performance.

I will try to describe these exceptional performances somewhat more completely within the next few days.

[I later changed some of the descriptive adjectives that I had used, but the essence of this posting remains the same. ]

Author:  Buddy [ Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:24 am ]
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Please allow me to relate some of my impressions at the time of the following very fine performances in the order in which I saw them.

Cinderella----Svetlana Zakharova and Sergey Filin----First Night.

Svetlana Zakharova, one of the most beautiful women in the world, performed tonight.

Act I--I pretty much just watched her eye make-up until the arrival of the Four Seasons. I'm sure there were other things happening as well. She did do one 180 (one leg straight up in the air) to remind us who she is. It took my attention away from her face for a dramatic moment. I can sympathize with the desire for restraint in the extensions and sometimes I feel that way myself. In the case of the elegantly linear Svetlana Zakharova, somehow for me the large extensions can work well to add highlight and excitement to her dancing.

Every now and then she floated across the stage to also remind us that she is one of the most beautiful adagio (slow, graceful, ethereal) dancers in the world.

Then she went to the practice bar and did some more amazing stuff--180s, etc., and some amazing looking flexing maneuvers with one of her feet.

After that the Four Seasons arrived. The first two, Anastasia Stashkevich and Anastasia Kurkova were 'gracefully-airily-beautiful'. Then came Natalia Osipova, who was also 'gracefully-airily-beautiful' and everything else as well. A tiny bundle of loveable grace floating around with artistic wonder.

For perhaps ten minutes she and Svetlana Zakharova seemed to play off each other, although at times there were many other dancers on the stage and Natalia Osipova was often located at the back of the crowd doing secondary dancing. Natalia Osipova and Svetlana Zakharova had created their own separate space in my mind--Svetlana Zakharova, elegantly goddesslike and Natalia Osipova, the joyously ethereal dancing comet. I spent the intermission after Act I just glued in my chair in an absolute state of reverie. I was thinking that this is too personally wonderful to even try to relate to someone else.

During the beginning of Act II I was just watching Svetlana Zakhavova's 'made up' eyelashes and the sparkle of her necklace and diamond ornamented white evening gown. The fact that the eyelashes and the sparkling things were on Her I'm sure had something to do with their fascination.

Then came the duet with the prince, Sergey Filin. Her part of the dancing could be described as "Diana Vishneva meets Svetlana Zakharova as performed by Svetlana Zakharova". She was summersaulted over Segey Filin's head and twirled around in the air. She managed all this with exceptional ease and grace. I think that they may have actually simplified this duet for the next two performances. It was absolutely breathtaking here !

The first two acts were a delight. Act l featuring in my mind Svetlana Zakharova and Natalia Osipova and Act II featuring the duet of Cinderella and the prince.

How far is it from San Francisco to Hollywood ? (San Francisco is the current home of choreographer Yuri Possokhov). Yuri Possokhov tried to cover a lot of thematic ground in this ballet and I felt that his blending of Classical Ballet with elements of 1940s Hollywood Musicals was the most successful part of a generally very successful total effort.

Sergey Filin danced very gracefully and was extremely funny as the exhausted prince searching for Cinderella with the glass slipper at the beginning of Act III. Here is probably as good a place as any to once again insert a reference to all the male dancers, who invisibly accomplish the remarkable lifts, etc., that make the ballerinas look so impressive. Sergey Filin certainly did this extemely well in the demanding Act II duet. The other male dancers, including corps de ballet members, did this also throughout the performances with great skill.

The corps de ballet's dancing contained some very clever choreography forming delightful patterns and rhythms.

The Storyteller, Victor Barykin, I thought was a very sympathetic, fatherly character, who did some fun stunts as well.

Little children moving about kept the wonder and magic alive during the intermissions and reminded me afterwards where all this magic and delight really comes from.

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Mar 04, 2007 1:19 am ]
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Cinderella----Ekaterina Krysanova and Sergey Filin----Night Three

Ekaterina Krysanova----An Absolute Delight !

More about children--because it does fit so beautifully here. And this is "Cinderella" after all. The stage couldn't have been better set than by four little sisters who arrived in the row in front of me. I would guess that they were four to ten years old. Each one wore an identical silver and lace evening gown and these were not costumes, they were lovely designed gowns. "These are our Cinderella dresses ! Mother got them especially for us to wear tonight." (A more or less accurate quote from one of the little girls.)

Ekaterina Krysanova could have literally been their older sister.

From the moment that she appeared on stage with her childlike effervescence and look of wonderment the enchantment remained constant for the entire evening.

How to describe her dancing ? Somewhere beyond the delicate side of Alina Cojocaru if you can believe that. Alina Cojocaru has a virtuoso aspect along with her delicacy. Ekaterina Krysanova just floated along like a gentle dream. She was both totally real and a fairytail princess.

I've never seen moves quite like hers. They just effervesced, dreamily bubbled and touched the surface like a dancing cloud. She did one hop over a bit of stage scenery with a flutter of fairylike grace that I have never seen before. In her Act II solo she did a series of jumps where her head airily arched backwards in a beautifully done finishing gesture. (She did similar lovely jumps in the Act III variation from Don Quixote.)

Coming out of demanding bits of choreographed gymnastics she flowed into dream perfect conclusions like an inverted waterfall. Her posturing during the more grounded choreography was done with wondrously delicate grace and poetic command.

All this was performed with the wide eyed innocense of a little child and speaking of little children the four little sisters seemed to be wide-awake and enjoying the entire evening.

It was a most enjoyable evening !

Author:  Buddy [ Sun Mar 04, 2007 2:03 pm ]
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Don Quixote----Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev----Days Four and Five

Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev--Two very young dancers starting at the top, who will probably stay at the top.

The opening scene in the plaza was a burst of light and color and dazzling costumes with beautiful and handsome dancers performing wonderfully in fine unison with enthusiasm and joy.

** Natalia Osipova--A Joyous Presence, Total Surety and Excellence In Her Dancing, A Compelling Personality And An Amazing Bravura Delivery. **

A few of the details of her dancing that I can cite are her amazing jumps and her wonderful spins. In her jumps she further emphasized their huge height by lifting her front and back legs noticeably higher while in 'flight'. Another quality that is harder to describe is something that I noticed the first time that I saw her almost two years ago when she seemed to be on stage for only a minute. She has the ability to to accentuate what she is doing and make even the most fleeting moment into something special.

I have mentioned before that Natlia Osipova has a beautiful lyrical ability. In particular this opinion is based on the lovely expressive use of her hands as the Spanish Princess in Swan Lake (Act IV). In Don Quixote her lyricism was also noticeable in the Dream Scene. I watched her hands again. The expressiveness was there but not quite the same. Then I noticed out of the corner of my eye the absolutely lovely floating motion of the hands of one of the corps de ballet women. It was two different things--Natalia Osipova's 'expressive' hands ( perhaps capable of telling a story themselves ) and the other lady's beautiful dreamlike motion. Also I felt that Ekaterina Shipulina's longer lines as the Driad Queen made a very favorable impression tonight, whereas in Swan Lake, where they both were dancing together, Natalia Osipova's less expansive but beautiful expression really caught my attention. Context I guess is very important--the requirements of a particular ballet, the character, the choreography, the setting and the mood.

I do believe that Natalia Osipova could do a beautiful lyrical performance such as Giselle and I look forward to seeing her in such a role.

I attend ballet performances hopefully to go on a beautiful voyage. This was happily the case many times this week, especially with Natalia Osipova. One of the most wonderful qualities of her dancing was how it flowed along seamlessly from footwork to virtuoso passages with total control and confidence.

Once again I will mention how her steps barely seemed to touch the ground giving a wonderful flow and unity to everything that she did.

On Day Four Ivan Vasiliev burst onto the stage in his second Act I entrance with a jump that I never saw the likes of before ! He soared through the air doing a turn with his legs in a split position. It was the largest, highest, most amazing jump that I have ever seen ! He did it at least once more in Act III to land facing Natalia Osipova as she began her solo.

Natalia Osipova to her credit shone and performed wonderfully amidst the overwhelming bravura of Ivan Vasiliev. To his credit he tried to gesture the attention back to Natalia Osipova after his breathtaking moves. The effect was more a framing of Natalia Osipova rather than overwhelming her. I thought that they danced beautifully together.

On Day Five after Ivan Vasiliev had completed his final circle of jumps and Natalia Osipova had completed her marvelous series of fouettes the audience started to rise with a huge ovation minutes before the end of the performance. It was the first time that I had ever seen this happen at a ballet.

[several typos later corrected]

Author:  Buddy [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:10 am ]
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Don Quixote----Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Matvienko----Night Five

For me this final performance came to life in the middle of Act II with the Dream Sequence. Just to have watched the gorgeously statuesque Svetlana Zakhavova standing still in the middle of this beautiful setting might alone have been worth the price of the ticket. She just stood there and radiated classical elegance with the very lovely and linear Ekaterina Shipulina standing behind her as the Mistress of the Driads. This image as I mentioned earlier will remain in my memory as one of the highlights of all these performances.

Following that Svetlana Zakharova did her absolutely lovely lyrical dancing. I remember in one of my videos of another ballet that a group of soloist ballerinas preceded her. One danced with beautiful delicacy. The next danced with wonderful expansive linearity. Then Svetlana Zakharova came out and did both.

Next in our performance came her huge floating cross stage jumps followed by Ekaterina Shipulina doing the same jumps very impressively.

Act III in the palace started with more beautiful lyrical dancing by Svetlana Zakharova. Then she proceeded to hold one balance after another on point. She was the only woman to do this so impressively in any of the performances. The audience applauded her enthusiastically for this. Then things really accelerated. The spins and jumps started. Denis Matvienko's were a display of speed, height and total commitment. He did one sequence with very impressive backward leaning jump spins which I don't recall ever seeing before.

Finally he did the circular series of alternating jumps and split leg jump spins. It seemed to me that they were as big and as high as those performed by Ivan Vasiliev. An amazing feat ! The audience loved it and Svetlana Zakharova began her 32 fouettes. The applause was thunderous with the second standing ovation of the day to occur minutes before the ballet actually ended. The first similar standing ovation was the one for Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev during the same sequence earlier in the day.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:06 am ]
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Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, Buddy. I agree that it's time to see Osipova in something more lyrical, Giselle would suit her well, I'd like to see her as Aurora too and she would make a perfect Sugar Plum Fairy.

Vasiliev sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing him in London this summer, I notice he's originally from Belarus, like the incomparable Igor Kolb. Have to say I find it a little worrying though that the Bolshoi is looking beyond its own ranks for leading male dancers.

Author:  NataliaN [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:13 am ]
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Actually, Vasiliev is from Vladivostok, Russia. He trained in Belarus.

Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:16 am ]
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Actually that's what I meant, brain not quite in gear on a Monday.

Author:  Buddy [ Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:55 am ]
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You are very welcome, Cassandra, and thank you for your interest and comments. It is great to try and keep alive somewhat the memory of the remarkable talent that I saw and the enjoyment that I felt and hopefully to share as much of this as possible with others.

If I just could add a few more names from the many, many who deserve recognition for their wonderful efforts. One after another they passed across the stage. To even begin to give each of them adequate praise would be an overwhelming task.

Maria Alexandrova--Fine dancing as Kitri in Don Quixote. She is absolutely loveable with a dominating stage presence radiant with joy.

Ekaterina Shipulina--Nice dancing as Cinderella. She handled the flexed feet parts of the Act III duet smoothly and gracefully. Her dancing seemed to improve with each appearance as the Mistress of the Driads in Don Quixote. After each of two spins she would add an entrechat (jump with both feet 'flickering' together), which was a lovely touch. She danced with fine classical style and dignity.

Nelli Kobakhidze--She danced with classical elegance as Winter in Cinderella and in the second Act III variation from Don Quixote.

Yuliana Malkhasyants--As the Gypsy Dancer in Don Quixote she gave her famous interpretation with wonderful dramatic effect.

I would like to say in all honesty that 'Everyone' in every performance that I noticed seemed to be performing skillfully and heartfully.

The wonderful corps de ballet just seemed to get stronger and more committed with each performance. Possibly the often danced Don Quixote coming last had something to do with this. But considering that Don Quixote was performed four times in two days, it was a wonderful effort.

The Dancing, The Performing, The Thematic Material, The Choreography, The Costumes, The Sets, The Music----All Wonderful !

The audience responded after every performance with enthusiastic and well deserved standing ovations.

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