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 Post subject: Bolshoi La Bayadere
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:27 pm 
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Bolshoi Ballet, La Bayadère, Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, CA, June 6, 2009

Ballistic energy, shimmering dancers, brilliant costumes, artful sets and virtuoso spirit lifted the Yuri Grigorich version of Marius Petipa’s La Bayadère out of its choreographic puzzlements up into the stratum of highly entertaining dance theatre.

Headliners were dancers whose reputations have reached us long before they have: Svetlana Zakharova as Nikiya, bayadère; Ekaterina Kysanova as Gamzatti; Nikolay Tsiskaridze as Solor and Ivan Vasiliev as the Golden Idol. They opened their capacities o the Berkeley audience as if they were a diamond cutter’s set of glistening tools. Framed by a synchronous corps de ballet who breathed as one, their tableaux enthralled us. Zakharova, in particular, offered a performance to which she dedicated every corporeal resource and an entire repertoire of treasures from her inner life. The detailed articulation of her role began with her feet. They look and act like most people’s hands in their deftness. To maintain such unwavering control and at the same time send out meta-messages about how every plot twist more precisely sculpts your character is the special feature of Zakarova’s dancing that is her siren song. Kysanova’s Gamzatti was a crowd pleaser as well. Her spitfire piqué turns showed this First Soloist at her technical best. Her strongest quality is her zest for the challenges. The two women are worthy rivals, but when we see Solor, danced by Tsiskaridze, we must ask ourselves whether he is worthy of either of them. Tsiskaridze is a well-trained technician and when he dances with Zakarova, they are like an etching that has come alive against a sumptuous backdrop in mustard hues. Zakharova’s neck seems to stretch beyond its limits in the pas de deux and once again, no body part languishes. By contrast, Tsiskaridze dances a bit indifferently, offering a polite smile that has no discernible voice under it and little connection to the plot.

Just as one scrutinizes the Rose Adagio in “Sleeping Beauty,” one can’t help but compare the Fakirs (no tambourines), the Jug Dance (short on risk taking comedy) or the few(er) steps taken by the Shades to, for example what I am told is the Makarova version. The placement of the Golden Idol in the second act seemed arbitrary. Surrounding the shining Vasiliev with child students doing a distracting fan dance that mostly consisted of precipité hat dance-type steps felt very distracting and out of place. The scarf dance was marked by its plainness compared to the lushness of the sets and costumes, and came before, not at, the ballet’s end. The scarf itself was relatively abbreviated, and there was not that surfeit of dancing required to send it the distance one has been led by other versions to expect. Perhaps most disappointing was the choreography for the Shades. No posé-penchée followed the arabesque in profile and instead of a full cambré back, we got a port de bras écarté where arms went to high second. Solor didn’t seem overly put out about the way things turned out in the end: Gamzatti becoming his bride and Nikiya dying of a snakebite.

Overall, it was a performance spiced by full-out brilliant dancing that was unnecessarily limited in its heft by an abortive version of the story.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:11 pm 
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Toba, I wrote this before seeing your review. I will try to read your comments as soon as possible. I was at the same performance that you were at as well as the afternoon performance.

Both Performances Were Extremely Fine !


Maria Alexandrova--Alexander Volchkov (afternoon)

Svetlana Zakharova--Nikolai Tsiskaridze (evening)



Svetlana Zakharova, not unexpectedly, gave a Stellar Performance.

Maria Alexandrova also danced Extremely Well as Nikia.

Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who actually wound up dancing in three of the five scheduled performances in four days, was very good and very consistent, also being a Very Strong and Reliable Partner.

Alexander Volchkov was also a Very Reliable Partner with some very good solo elements.


There were Exceptional performances by Other Bolshoi Dancers.


The Women's Corps de Ballet of Shades

Consistently Wonderful and Magnificent -- So Absolutely Together !!


The Soloist Shade Dancers were also Exceptional.

Nina Kaptsova, Anna Tikhomirova and Anastasia Goryacheva (each dancing one of the performances) and Nelli Kobakhidze.


Ekaterina Krysanova -- Gamzatti

Fine Technical Dancing with Charming Personality and Wonderul Expression -- An Absolute Delight !


Ekaterina Shipulina -- Gamzatti

Consistently Excellent and Technically Very Impressive dancing. She danced as well as I have ever seen her dance !


Fireworks

The Golden Idol

Ivan Vasiliev and Viacheslav Lopatin

Both dancers' High Virtuoso dancing brought the house down with thunderous applause !


Anton Savichev -- Magedaveya, fakir -- as the lead spiritual 'wildman', set the pace right from the beginning that ignited the ballet's fireworks.

Anna Antropova, Denis Medvedev and Vitaly Biktimirov, as the Drum Dancers, kept the character dance energy level sailing after the Golden Idol Ignition.


Chinara Alizade and Anastasia Stashkevich -- Manu -- in the 'water jug balancing on top of the head' dance, did very well and were very charming.


The Children -- The Court Attendants -- Just Fine and Delightfully Charming.


Both performances were very well received with Long Standing Ovations by what seemed to be almost full house audiences.


[some minor word changes made]


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:36 pm 
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I attended the June 6th evening performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. I hadn't seen the Bolshoi in quite a long time, so I was really looking forward to it. There were more sets on display than I expected knowing the small scale of the Zellerbach auditorium. I had read somewhere that the ramp in the Shades scene would not be used, but there it was...The sets and costumes for this production of La Bayadere were absolutely stunning. I enjoyed the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra led by Pavel Klinichev. The music is still spinning in my head days later!

The corps de ballet in the famous Shades scene was spellbinding. You could hear a pin drop until they all separated to either side to assume the finishing pose for their opening dance. Then, the audience (including me!) gave a roar of approval. I really noticed, in general, that the pointe shoes were not as distractingly noisy as were the Kirov's shoes on this stage. I felt that the dancing of the Bolshoi dancers in general seemed more connected to their core than the Kirov dancers I have seen of late. Arabesques were shaded, not always as high as possible. This is a pet peeve of mine...Even Svetlana Zakharova, who has almost disturbing facility, used this shading of her arabesques throughout. She held an amazing balance in the Kingdom of the Shades scene with a beautiful, tasteful first arabesque line. I particularly enjoyed Ekaterina Krysanova's Gamzatti. Her second act solo (one of my favorite variations in the ballet) was a highlight for me. She is one of the most natural, accomplished turners I have ever seen. Really, really fine dancer! I really enjoyed Nikolay Tsiskaridze as Solor. I felt his energy was a little low for this performance and he definitely had trouble with the space. He needs a much bigger stage, and I sensed that the tempo was a bit too slow for his big variation in Act Three. Even though I could sense this was not his best performance, I just think he is an amazing talent. He has, hands down, the most gorgeous grande jete developes I have ever seen! And he is a very caring partner. Every aspect of his attention to his partner was genuine and gentlemanly...On a final note, the young dancers from San Francisco Ballet School did an exceptional job. They had a lot of dancing to do, and they did so with charm and poise. Good for them! :D


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:04 pm 
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Toba and Gina, I enjoyed very much reading about what inspired you both in this performance. Toba, I especially like your beginning paragraph and your fine comments about Svetlana Zakharova and Ekaterina Krysanova. Gina, I just read your post and have not yet had time to reflect on it although I certainly agree with what you wrote about the excellent performances by the Corps de Ballet Shades, Ekaterina Krysanova, etc.


Svetlana Zakharova


Toba, you wrote--"Zakharova, in particular, offered a performance to which she dedicated every corporeal resource and an entire repertoire of treasures from her inner life."

I certainly feel the same as I now watch her on the "Swan Lake" video with Roberto Bolle dancing the famous Act II duet. I definitely recall how in the "La Bayadere" Act II, after a brilliant performance by Ekaterina Krysanova as Gamzatti, and the explosive Golden Idol and Drum Dancers displays, 'Svetlana' returned to the stage to perform her highly delicate and understated court dance and within seconds the evening was once again complelely in her hands.

You also wrote--"Zakharova’s neck seems to stretch beyond its limits in the pas de deux and once again, no body part languishes."

I remember several times watching her do some leans and dips and saying to myself, "Can you really do that??"


Please let me add a few more very brief thoughts about her.

Refinement -- Refinement

This is how I would describe the ongoing artistic progression of Svetlana Zakharova.


The Basic Element of Her Style

that has always enchanted me, is

Her Refined Gracefulness.


Her Dancing Just Moves So Beautifully and Looks So Beautiful !


One more element of refinement is in her Portrayals. Her ability to portray is greatly developing. In this "La Bayadere" her facial expressions seemed to be a purer and purer rendering of a classical ideal. There was one moment when her face took on a goddess-like appearance. It was almost expressionless and yet the Depth of its refined beauty seemed to approach an ultimate statement of classical purity.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:54 am 
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Maria Alexandrova and Ekaterina Krysanova along with Nina Ananiashvili, Natalia Osipova and others, because of their remarkable lively talent and charming, airy personalities just make me want to Smile.


Maria Alexandrova

I hope very much to be able to make a few comments later about Maria Alexandrova because she danced an excellent Nikia and because her "Raymonda" performance in Paris last December remains in my mind One of The Most Magnificent Perfomances That I Have Ever Seen !

In this "La Bayadere" performance, Maria Alexandrova displayed her wonderful qualities. Some of these were....

Masterpiece Images

All Embracing Personality

Very Impressive Technical Prowess


I do feel for the moment a compelling need to discuss Ekaterina Krysanova because there is so much of interest and high emotional content happening with this young lady.


Ekaterina Krysanova


A Star-beam Ascending


Toba wrote -- "Krysanova’s Gamzatti was a crowd pleaser as well. Her spitfire piqué turns showed this First Soloist at her technical best. Her strongest quality is her zest for the challenges."

Gina wrote -- "I particularly enjoyed Ekaterina Krysanova's Gamzatti. Her second act solo (one of my favorite variations in the ballet) was a highlight for me. She is one of the most natural, accomplished turners I have ever seen."

I agree with both these comments and was also very impressed with her exceptional talent. She seems to definitely be developing a wide range of highly impressive abilities, in particular, as noted by Toba and Gina's comments, some excellent technical abilities.

But as also mentioned by Gina -- "Her second act solo (one of my favorite variations in the ballet) was a highlight for me." This second act solo, if I remember correctly, is an extremely beautiful and lyrical solo. This idea of

Delicate Lyrical Beauty

is what I so associate with Ekaterina Krysanova and is what I never want to lose sight of. Because of this I would really like to go back about two-and-a-half years to recall my strong and compelling initial impressions of Ekaterina Krysanova. I would like to reprint what I wrote here at that time, because I think that I expressed my essential feelings about her as well as I am capable of doing. This was when I really felt -- The Essence of Something Very Special !



The Bolshoi Ballet -- "Cinderella" -- Washington DC -- February 2007

Cinderella----Ekaterina Krysanova and Sergey Filin

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

Ekaterina Krysanova----An Absolute Delight !

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....

It was a most enjoyable evening !

http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=29281



In "La Bayadere", as Gamzatti, I would say that the natural brightness of her dancing and of her personality in addition to her ability to nuance her portrayal carried her above the story's format .

Her dancing flowed from one element, such as single-double ending in a triple fouette spins, to the next with an impressive level of accomplishment and above all with


An Ever Present Aura of Brightness and Grace.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:27 pm 
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[quote="Gina Ness"]

The corps de ballet in the famous Shades scene was spellbinding. You could hear a pin drop until they all separated to either side to assume the finishing pose for their opening dance. Then, the audience (including me!) gave a roar of approval.

I did too, Gina ! I did too !


"....a synchronous corps de ballet who breathed as one, their tableaux enthralled us." -- Toba

The procession of Corps de Ballet Shades wound its way back and forth across the stage. It was a lovely progression as softly lit, beautiful ladies with the sensitivity of presence and motion, that a woman possesses, became a poetic reality. Every few seconds the dancers stopped, did a slight curtsy on one leg while lifting the other leg backward into the air, then returned the leg to the ground and leaned backwards in an ever so graceful curving arc.

I tend to focus on the dancer who leads in the group. There is usually something quite special about her. This time the lead lady was of average size and there was nothing, to my eyes, that made her moves largely distinct. Hers were of a compelling subtlety. She just did it all So Naturally, from the motion of each of her limbs to the expression on her face. It all just seemed to belong to her. I would really like to know her name. Hers was a performance of exceptionally charming beauty.

The sixth lady in the line also caught my attention. She was slightly taller and more linear in style. Her moves were more defined, but like the first lady, what she did had a special rightness and sense of poetry.

All these remarkable ladies, that I noticed, had something distinct and special. Still they all came together to create such a marvelous unity. Afternoon and evening -- of all the "La Bayaderes" that I have viewed, this was probably

The Most Together Performance of This Scene !

At the end of the procession everyone formed rows facing the audience. The lighting was brighter and beautifully effective. This is where the word that I used in my first day's comments to describe their presence and the word that continued to apply as they did their final dancing sequences became so apparent.

The word is

Magnificent !


[typo corrections]


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:29 pm 
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Ekaterina Shipulina -- Gamzatti

I was so glad to see her put on such a fine and consistent performance. As far as I could tell it was flawless ! She has a slightly animated style with a somewhat linear look. Her moves are often very crisp and very clearly defined. There is a definite classical elegance underpinning it all.

She handled some real physical challenges with excellent control, balance and grace.

As I wrote earlier -- " She danced as well as I have ever seen her dance ! "

She is a very fine dancer and when she achieves a high level of consistency she is one of the best dancers around.


The Shade Soloists

Nina Kaptsova, Anna Tikhomirova and Anastasia Goryacheva (each dancing one of the performances) and Nelli Kobakhidze.

These four ladies as I mentioned earlier performed beautifully as the Shade soloists. After the 'Magnificent' entrance of the Shades, these four ladies reinforced this state of dreamlike perfection with their excellent solos.

Nelli Kobakhidze, who danced the Third Shade Variation at the two performances, stands out most in my mind. I often mention flow and am generally referring to moves across the stage. To my eyes, Nelli Kobakhidze had a different kind of 'flow'. Her variation contained a number of in-place turns or spins. These 'in-place' turns were done with such a remarkable smoothness and airiness -- a sort of

Self-contained Flow

which to me was very distinct to this beautiful dancer and very wonderful to experience.

Nina Kaptsova dancing the First Variation had a fine, Lively quality.

Anna Tikhomirova and Anastasia Goryacheva danced the Second Variation at one of the performances each. Anna Tikhomirova, as I recall was taller and had a lovely 'sculpturesque' presence. Anastasia Goryacheva was also very lovely and embracing.



Before I had ever seen my first real ballet, which was only about five years ago, a friend of mine was discussing the Bolshoi ballet company and she said, "They are always in the air". I immediately had images of Moiseyev folk-like dancers sailing over each others heads--a lot! I soon discovered that ballet isn't like that. I was immediately overwhelmed by the beauty and grace of ballet (and have been ever since), but 'Russian ballet' was not quite what I had expected. I guess I was expecting 'Rudolph Nureyev-and- beyond' at all times.

I think that there are others, not familiar with ballet, who share my initial ideas and who during a performance long to see those dancers from the four corners of Russia sailing through the air. That is why I have to admit to feeling a spark of satisfaction when I see a "Swan Lake" Jester or a "La Bayadere" Golden Idol racing through space. To new ballet watchers in the audience I am thinking -- "See, they really can do it!"

Anton Savichev -- Magedaveya, fakir

So the curtain goes up on "La Bayadere" and there are all these devotional 'crazies' weaving away on the floor, then through the air. I sometimes wonder how a ballet with all its gentleness and subtlety is going to grab the attention of someone just off the streets. It always does. Sometimes during a ballet, after a whirlwind of activity, a Svetlana Zakharova or a Veronika Part can appear on stage, and with a few of the gentlest motions render an audience spellbound. This for me is the summit !

In the Bolshoi's "La Bayadere" as in its "Don Quixote" we are given a full blast right at the beginning and we are theirs immediately.

Finally to my point. Anton Savichev's performance, as high energy and bravura as it was, is not a nonstop Jester or Golden Idol. Through all his 'wildness' and 'thrashing' through the air there is a remarkable aura of restraint and grace. This is Ballet after all.

Anton Savichev, in my mind, did a marvelous job of combining a whirlwind of breathtaking bravura with an otherworldly sense of transcendent grace. This has to be one the essentials that makes ballet so special.


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