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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 3:45 pm 
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Thanks for all of the updates Cassandra! I too enjoyed reading them.

Speaking of Kozlov, I spoke to him about the transition to the Mariinsky in an interview that should appear in the March or April edition of Dance Europe magazine. (www.danceeurope.net).

Cassandra, I noted similarly that parts of "Giselle" were a challenge for him. However, the Kirov repertoire is new to him and he has had to learn and rehearse the leading male role in at least one full-length ballet per month so far this season. To date, the list looks something like this:

September: Giselle with Lopatkina
Oct/Nov: Corsaire and Swan Lake (although he fell sick for the latter)
December: Raymonda with Lopatkina
January: Legend of Love with Lopatkina and now, Bayadere with her also.

This is in addition to tours to Thailand, Japan and Amsterdam last fall dancing smaller works, all with Lopatkina.

Most Western or European principal dancers have more than a few weeks to work on a major classical ballet. Ivan, in the best case, has no more than that. What's more, coming from Eifman, he hasn't had these roles in the past to the extent that someone from, say, Paris Opera Ballet would have. Not defending, just pointing that out. I can only imagine the pressure on him. Lopatkina is a polished ballerina in her own right -- she's danced these roles hundreds of times in some cases. He hasn't. It's certainly a very unique situation. I also dont know of other dancers who have come from modern/neoclassical troupes. Andrey Mercuriev and Elena Sheshina are from the Maly, and Kolegova from Tchatchkine's troupe (sorry for butchering that) but again, those are classical. This is a really "wild" step for the Kirov if you ask me.

As a side note, for other Kirov fans, the December issue of Dance Europe mag has my interview with Alexander Sergeev, a highly talented dancer and the youngest man to tour with Vishneva in her February "Dance in Motion" series promoted by Sergei Danilian's Ardani Artists company.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:05 am 
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Thanks, Catherine. I'm surprised, however, to learn that these principal classical roles are new to Kozlov. Prior to his relatively-brief stint with Eifman, wasn't he a principal with the now-defunct "Ballet Internationale" of Indiana (USA), which was virtually a mini-Mariinsky in the heartland of America (mostly classics)?

Maybe I'm mixing the Kirov-Mariinsky's Ivan Kozlov with another Ivan Kozlov? The Kozlov in Indiana performed Nutcracker Prince in the PBS telecast of Indiana's 'Nutcracker' 3-4 years ago, just before the troupe sadly went out of business.

edited to add (and answering my own questions):

I found the following text in a printed programme from a recent gala tour of Russian stars, which included Kozlov:

Kozlov was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1982. In 2000, he graduated from Ballet Khoreogrfik Skhool [in Kiev] and worked as a principal dancer in the Eifman Ballet Theatre in St Petersburg, Russia from 2000 to 2002, winning three silver medals in international competitions in Kiev and Moscow. He went on to be a principal dancer with Ballet Internationale from Indianapolis, USA (2002-2004), with National Opera & Ballet Theatre Ukraine (2004-2006) and Eifman Ballet Theatre again (2006-2007). Kozlov has danced in Giselle (Albreht), Don Quixote (Basile), Spartacus, Paqita, Scheherazade (Gold Slave), Bayadere (Solor), Bakhti, Rosse Malades, and in Eifman's Red Giselle (Chkist, Partner) and Anna Karenina (Karenin), among others

***

So it appears that Kozlov indeed has ample experience with the classics, if not with the tall Lopatkina. Which underscores my (our - many people's) dissatisfaction with Kozlov's weak Solor at the Kennedy Center two days ago. Sorry but he is not Kirov-Mariinsky material, though I concede that he imaintains a very elegant presence and does a great job in partnering/lifting the tall Lopatkina.

p.s. I've read your wonderful interview with Alexander Sergeev, one of my favourites among the younger Kirov-Mariinsky soloists (unforgettable Espada, for example!). I am sorry to not be seeing him here in Washington during the present tour but delighted to hear from you that he'll be part of Vishneva's 'Beauty in Motion' tour.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:14 am 
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Thanks for the additional information Natalia, I imagine he is the same dancer you remember from the US as I've been told Kozlov speaks excellent English, albeit with an American accent!

I wouldn't like to comment about his dancing in general at this point having just seen him in two pieces and neither being classical, but believe me he was no Golden Slave and the excellent reviewer on Dansomanie (Sophia) who also covered the Baden Baden performances, seems to share my views on him in the role as it was a classic example of mis-casting.

Not sure why Lopatkina needs her own exclusive partner though as there are several tall enough for her already in the company, e.g. Korsuntsev.


Last edited by Cassandra on Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:37 am 
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Cassandra, I suspect that the Kirov-Mariinsky's own men want to save their backs (and careers). Not only Korsuntsev -- who was out for a long time a couple of years ago -- but Lobukhin and Kuznetsov. Partnering Lopatkina repeatedly may have its prestige but also a few physical consequences.

Let's not forget the similar cases of extra-tall ballerinas who were constantly shopping around for the perfect partner:

* Darcey Bussell - the RB imported Tamas Solymosy who ran back to Budapest as quickly as possible when he could not take it anymore, so Roberto Bolle stepped in

* Anastasia Volochkova - the Bolshoi gave up on 'sacrificing' its men, so AV had to 'import' Kirov principal Yevgeni Ivanchenko for partnering duties

* Svetlana Zakharova - the Bolshoi struck a deal with Dennis Matvienko for heave-ho duties; Bolle partners her at La Scala


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:50 am 
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:lol: Point taken.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:54 pm 
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Washington, DC press reviews of "La Bayadere" at the Kennedy Center from the performance on Tuesday, January 22, 2008. Sarah Kaufman in the Washington Post:

Washington Post

Jean Battey Lewis in the Washington Times:

Washington Times


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:16 pm 
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Backing up a few posts -- Natalia, yes, you are absolutely right about Indiana. We did speak about his work under Eldar Aliayev there, but I did not have a list of his roles, so thank you for providing that to us! Well this means he has had much more experience in the classics than I thought... and I have to share the view of some others, based on his performance of Giselle, that he has some work left to do yet in terms of achieving the same level as the rest of his peers on the Kirov roster.

A note about Korsuntsev, he still has serious knee problems and I have seen him cast rarely in St. Petersburg in the last year or so. Yes he is tall but the injury affects casting. Lobukhin isn't quite the best physical match for Lopatkina -- his lines being less long and muscles more bunchy. Also, unlike Korsuntsev he isn't a principal on the roster yet. And as NN already noted, Ivanchenko is often off guesting iwth Volochkova. So the tall male pickings at the Kirov are slim at least in terms of official PDs. There are tall men in the corps (Sergeev, ahem, being one of them! :-)) but I dont know that the administration would ever go out on a limb and allow them to partner someone of Uliana's status permanently w/o an official promotion.

p.s. Thanks Natalia, about Sergeev, I think the photo they chose was perfect!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:20 pm 
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I don’t know if anyone else was bothered by some of Mr. Macaulay’s sweeping and unfounded assertions in the following review, but I was.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/arts/ ... ref=slogin
By ALASTAIR MACAULAY
Published: January 29, 2008

Quote:
WASHINGTON — “La Bayadère” is, above all, about transcendence, which is just as well, for there is much to transcend. No matter which production of this full-length ballet you see, at least 60 percent of it is trash. I write specifically of the Kirov Ballet production, which last week played the Kennedy Center Opera House here.
Trash? This is the premiere Kirov production, the reconstructed version that cuts out the fourth act, the desctruction of the temple and instead ends on a high note, the union of the two lovers in Solor’s dream.
This transcendence comes through opium.


Yes, the transcendence comes through opium – that is what Solor smokes in his dream. This is not a new aspect of the libretto. What is his point? The real transcendence of this ballet is life after death, lost love, and two lovers communing in the afterlife. Maybe it comes “through” opium, but it should not be implied that opium in and of itself IS the transcendence.

Quote:
Distraught at the death of his beloved Nikiya ... phrasing of the entrance is eroded too.


INTERJECTION: Yes, it has been stated before that there have been changes to the level of unison in the corps de ballet, but the quality overall, even on a bad day, far surpasses what ABT or any other American company can claim. If you’re looking for synchronicity, this is it. I don’t know what Macaulay saw, but I’ve seen numerous performances of this ballet by the Kirov and not once have I seen a Shade out of line. Not once.

I also find it curious that a major critic for the New York Times last saw the Kirov’s Bayadere was 1992. I have plenty of friends who have seen and raved over it in recent years – no need to hark back more than a decade for witnesses. Who can give his opinions weight when there is so little point of comparison?

Quote:
Once all the Shades are down their two ramps ...One of the supreme scenes of choreography has become ossified.


Ossified? Does a major NYTimes critic need to be told that these 3 variations are not plot-based. The entire act is based on Solor’s dream. Visions of the Bayadere. What meaning is he seeking in the movement? Or, if it’s not in the movement that he seeks meaning, then how can style itself be deemed meaningless when the movement and choreography speak for themselves? So he thinks the Kirov is elegant but meaningless? Does this even make sense? How can a ballet like Bayadere be considered to lack meaning? I am lost. I would venture to say this is an insult to the production and not only the dancers.

Quote:
This production ends with that plotless drug-dream.


Again, it isn’t plot-less. Solor dreams he is reunited with Nikiya and sees multiple visions of her, mirrored visions of her. Is that plotless? Is his subconscious’ expression in a dreamlike state, an expression of love that underscores the idea of eternity, is that plotless?

Quote:
It gives you less transcendence than you need ... an anthropologist’s nightmare.


INTERJECTION HERE: Anthropologist’s nightmare? Petipa wasn’t trying to compete with anthropologists. At the time he choreographed this ballet --1877 – most anthropologists were EQYPTOLOGISTS, and they were exploring EGYPT not India . If he wanted to make this remark sound “knowledgeable,” he should’ve reviewed the Bolshoi’s “Pharoah’s Daughter” > then that remark would have been MOST appropriate – not so in this case, or in the ballet performance under discussion.

Also, yes, ballet can be formulaic, as is most classical music. Symphonies are comprised of four parts. Ballets have their own orderly components: prologue, adagio, allegro, pas de deux, variations, coda, corps de ballet, finale. Is the fact that a ballet is structured and divided into acts… is that to its detriment? I would argue no, it needs that structure in order to function as a whole.

Quote:
The Kirov production features ... is good.


INTERJECTION: Did he say Monty Python? These PROPS are a part of the original libretto – at the St. Petersburg Theatre Museum . He should go there and READ IT.

Quote:
The one ingredient that can sustain me ... admirably focused dramatic artist),


Again I must interrupt. Lopatkina has never hoisted her chin in her entire career. She has, from graduation to present day motherhood, been a supremely refined artist, a symbolism of Petersburg classicism. To lop her in with these other two much younger dancers, neither of whom is a principal dancer, shows ignorance and disrespect.

Quote:
... Alina Somova (with her undulating arms but also with more of the Kirov chin-up emphasis .... effortlessly bounced through three double airs in rapid succession ...


That must be a typo. Three double tours? Is that what Macaulay meant to write? The NYTimes needs a copy editor.

Quote:
after his grande pirouette, and both Ivan Kozlov ... hope that is too strongly mixed with frustration.


At least Mr. Macaulay grants that the Kirov has been able to strike him with awe in the past. I hope his harshness will be softened in April, for the company doesn’t deserve these unfair criticisms.


[Edited by moderators to comply with copyright restrictions on the amount of quoted material permitted from a single article]


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 Post subject: Macaulay review
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:36 am 
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KirovFan, For as long as I can remember Macaulay has been hyper-critical of Russian companies, he is a critic with his own agenda and if you read him long enough you will be able to predict pretty accurately what he will write in advance. Also this isn't the kind of review you expect in a newspaper, as an historical overview is fine in a magazine or on line but seems out of place in the NY Times where I imagine the readers only want to hear about the actual performance. The only exception to this would be if the ballet in question was being seen for the first time, but New Yorkers are not exactly unfamiliar with Bayadere.

His comments on the corps de ballet I would give some credence to as I was also disturbed by how they danced the Entrance of the Shades when I last saw them dance this ballet in London a couple of years ago and if I remember rightly a lively discussion emerged on this board about them at the time. I hasten to add though that my disquiet was only directed at that one ballet as they were (and still are) superb in everything else.


Quote:
I hope his harshness will be softened in April, for the company doesn’t deserve these unfair criticisms.


I wouldn't bet on it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:37 am 
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Cassandra, you make a very good point about the historical focus in his article. Really only 1/3 of it is a review, the rest is a recapitulation of the ballet's history which -- you're right-- most NYers and many balletomanes do not need to reread.

I was just asked by the moderator to trim down the quotes in the post for copyright purposes, so I am going to go up and do that but leave my comments. You can link to the full article with the URL that I posted.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:06 pm 
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 Post subject: Baden Baden Gala
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:15 am 
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Ballet Gala: Stars of the Kirov
Kirov Ballet
Festspielhaus, Baden Baden
28th December 2007

Putting together an interesting programme for a gala isn’t always easy but the Kirov’s final evening in Baden Baden was one of the best I’ve ever seen: well balanced, varied and with the pas de deux section sandwiched between two substantial new productions. The only thing the Kirov got wrong was not taking into account the conservative nature of the local audience.

The Ring, a newly choreographed work by Alexei Miroshnichenko, was clearly not what the audience was expecting. Modern in concept with a loud score that at times became ear-splitting; at least four people near the rear stalls where I was sitting threw in the towel and walked out. It was a work that veered from modern, with more than a nod to Forsythe, to classical and was well danced by a cast of thirteen led by versatile Irina Golub and the ever-dramatic Viktoria Tereshkina. Set in an area marked out by ballet barres with the dancers in costumes of white or black leotards adorned with two horizontal stripes in either yellow or green, there appeared not to be a story line as such (couldn’t read the German programme notes), though I imagine anything calling itself the ring would immediately conjure up Wagnerian imagery for German audiences. The techno music at times came close to damaging the ear drums and consequently drew a number of boos at the end. The lady sitting next to me commented that “this is music for young people only and I am too old for it”. I’m told those sitting in the front couldn’t hear any boos because it was drowned out by applause, all the same the applause was brief and I think only in appreciation of the dancers’ efforts. Bring this work to London though and I guarantee the response would be far more positive.

It wasn’t listed in the programme so when an announcement was made that the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux danced by Olyesia Novikova and Igor Kolb was to be the opening number murmurs of appreciation were to be heard throughout the hall. Perfect for a Gala, this celebration of a royal wedding was finely performed by the two principals dancing with a blend of flamboyance and warmth. Another gala favourite came after the interval beginning with the Auber/Gsovsky Grand Pas Classique with Viktoria Tereshkina and Anton Korsakov, the same cast that I saw in this work at the Festspielhaus almost three years ago to the day. This time around Korsakov appeared a bit under the weather but Tereshkina’s impeccable timing was more impressive than ever with both partners totally unfazed by the technical demands of this piece.

Next came two gala items that although established favourites in Russia, are rarely seen elsewhere. The first was The Talisman, a chorographic gem of Marius Petipa’s danced by Ekaterina Osmolkina and Mikhail Lobukhin. Osmolkina knows how to disguise the difficulties of this virtuoso piece, she dances a fiendish sequence of steps and instead of admiring her technique you admire instead the sheer beauty of the execution of those steps with art completely overshadowing effort. Her toes appear to caress the ground and the very air seems to carry her across the stage to save her from the effort of jumping. This wasn’t simply a performance it was a heart stopping miracle: when I watch a dancer like Osmolkina I feel I’m in the presence of greatness, she is a priceless jewel of a dancer and restores my faith in the ability of the Kirov to produce dancers capable of conquering the hearts of the world.

Carnival in Venice, a pas de deux of real period charm came next with Evgenia Obraztsova and Vladimir Shklyarov. They make an adorable couple as they both look so youthful and sweet. I like Shklyarov more every time I see him, a bit puppyish, but time will remedy that. The lovely Obraztsova is one of those dancers that make you sit up and take notice as she dances with a maturity way beyond her years. Here she demonstrated an understanding of the lightness and frivolity of this piece recreating the slightly naughty atmosphere of a Venetian carnival with the meticulous dancing that is becoming her trademark. This was very much one of the highlights of the evening.

La Rose Malade is a piece first created by Roland Petit for Maya Plisetskaya back in the ‘70’s when her technique was starting to decline and danced on this occasion by Lopatkina And Kozlov. A dreary pas de deux set to Mahler’s 5th Symphony adagietto played at funereal pace, it seemed to go on for ever. Not a piece worth reviving in my estimation I'm afraid. The diverts section of the programme finished with a very lively Tchaikovsky pas de deux danced by Alina Somova and Leonid Sarafanov. Both danced the piece at a very brisk speed and Somova’s attack was admirable but her lack of musicality was not. Sarafanov did better, displaying that prodigious technique of his and showing off outrageously, the audience loved him but it was far from being a vintage performance of this piece.

They saved the best till last, "Le Reveil du Flore" (Flora's Awakening), is the latest Petipa reconstruction from Sergei Vikharev and the most interesting piece of ballet archaeology from him so far. Actually the work is a late one (1894) and credited to Lev Ivanov as well as Petipa and has choreography that is simply ravishing to watch. There isn’t much of a story; one of the dancers enlightened me as to the plot: “It is about the gods of Rome, they dance together and everyone is very happy.” Yep, that just about sums it up because although there’s a loose tale of pining Flora and various celestial companions there isn’t much drama to the piece just some of the most delicious classical dancing I’ve seen in a long time.

Apollo, portrayed by the commanding figure of Victor Baranov, is master of ceremonies and appears to be running some sort of celestial dating service on the side, introducing the initially despondent Flora to the handsome Zephyr danced by Andrian Fadeyev, who looked fantastic but never appeared very involved. In the central role Osmolkina captured the very essence of Flora, her hair dressed in late 19th century fashion, wearing a beautiful long tutu sprinkled with pink roses, she not only looked a goddess – she danced like one too. Margot Fonteyn was famed for her perfect line and total musicality, something that few have matched, but when watching Osmolkina I feel I’m transported back in time. Although physically different from Fonteyn, she shares the great ballerina’s perfectionism and can dominate a stage with a modest demeanour in the same way Fonteyn could. Osmolkina is never flashy in presentation; instead she seduces her audience through the sheer loveliness of her being, could she be the prima that the company has for so long been without?

The settings are a real blast from the past with a backdrop of an Arcadian landscape dotted with ruined temples and the dancers wearing costumes that flattered them in a way that modern costumes seldom do, the girls in particular never looked prettier than in their Roman draperies topped off with big wreaths of summer flowers. My favourite costume though was that worn by Sergei Kononenko as Aquilon, the North Wind, in a midnight blue tunic and a magnificent pair of wings. For the grand cortège towards the end two chariots cross the stage in the entourage of Bacchus, one pulled by what I think was a lioness (a prop, I hasten to add) and the other by the cutest little goat who trotted confidently across the stage like a real pro. I had worried about the goat as he had looked a bit anxious at the rehearsal earlier but had clearly lost his nervousness on the night. Sadly one thing did go wrong on the night when the small corps of children missed their cue and left the stage embarrassingly empty for their entire number. I’m told the poor kids were inconsolable, such a shame on a night when everything else in the ballet was so impressive.

The final apotheosis has the Gods of Olympus gathering on stage to celebrate the union of Flora and Zephyr with Neptune wielding his trident, Venus posing with her doves etc. all attended by a flock of cherubs. It’s quaint and old fashioned but what a spectacle and above all what a feast of dancing! Sergei Vikharev is to be applauded for this production and if the Russians haven’t proclaimed him a National Living Treasure yet then it’s high time they did.

I thoroughly enjoyed almost everything I saw in Baden Baden and on this occasion the performances of most of the leading female dancers were mightily impressive with Obraztsova, Osmolkina and Tereshkina having become the Three Graces of the Kirov. I know from my interview with Makhar Vaziev a couple of years ago how passionately he espouses the promotion of young talent, but his promotion of the younger generation has often produced a kind of scatter gun effect with too few performers actually hitting the mark. This time around the hit rate was higher than I expected and with a slightly more sensible approach to casting the company could regain some of the ground it has lost to the mighty, all-conquering Bolshoi. Certainly my faith in the company’s inherent abilities has been restored this time around.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:05 pm 
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Thank you for this very fine review, Cassandra. I'm very glad that you liked the performances so much.

I guess that I belong to the "try to get carried along" school of ballet watching. I really enjoyed "Le Reveil du Flore" for it's continual feeling of airiness and loveliness.

My fondest memory of Ekaterina Osmolkina is of her dancing Aurora ("Sleeping Beauty") several years ago. The smile that she radiated throughout the performance was one the warmest and most sincere that I have ever seen on a stage.


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 Post subject: Kiev Ballet in Australia!!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 2:42 am 
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I am not shure if this is the ballet company that touring australia. For what I have read of this thread seems that there is pleanty of ballet polictics around, Especaily the Kiev now the merinsky ballet.

Anyway I am about to see Swan Lake in the Frankston Arts Center on the 7th of May and I just cannot wait to see this ballet as you can tell I am not a great fan of greame merfy's version of the Swan Lake as an old story in the traditional costume. Call me a tipical Balletomante if you will but I also like ballanchine too :wink:

Ballet is a exciting dance. :D


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:50 pm 
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Agree 200% with Cassandra about Osmolkina, she is one of the truly great ballerinas of today. So understated, classical, balanced and refined - true Kirov style infact, unlike some of her contemporaries….

The music for Ring was fantastic by the way – classic case of the generation gap from Cassandra and the old dears in the audience in Baden. It was danced to some really good, funky Russian rap music (I would call it rap more than techno to be accurate) – current Russian music in that genre is fantastic. It was the quality, in places, of the choreography that may partly have brought the reaction – it had a mix of good and bad moments choreographically I thought. And the booing was minimal and drowned out by the cheering anyway.

Anthill - Kiev is a completely different company to the Kirov by the way.


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