There need to be 36 hours in a day -- I am behind on posts and wanted to update a bit. Thursday night the Concert Hall had a mixed bill of Divertissements followed by Tereshkina/Shklyarov in Paquita. While I'm not a fan of putting ballet on a 360-degree ampitheatre type stage, the dancers did a beautiful job. The Divertissements included the following:
Butterfly - Maria Shirinkina and Alexander Sergeyev
Talisman Pdd - Ekaterina Osmolkina and Maxim Zuizin
Harlequinade Pdd - Nadezhda Batoeva and Filippe Styopin
Panaderos from "Raymonda" - Anastasia Petushkova and Rafael Musin
Corsaire Pdd - Oksana Skorik and Timur Askerov
Monologue of Mekhmene Banu from "Legend of Love" - Alexandra Iosifidi
Tchaikovsky Pdd - Elena Evseyeva and Alexei Timofeyev
Black Swan Pdd - Anastasia Kolegova and Evgenii Ivanchenko
Gypsy dance from "Little Humpbacked Horse" (Ratmansky)
Grand Pas Classique - Ekaterina Kondaurova and Andrei Ermakov
Although the concert began 45 minutes later than the stated time, it was worth the wait. Without a ton of time to describe each of them I'll mention highlights:
Sergeyev's timing, presentation, partnering and his variation in the Butterfly pas de deux began the evening on the right note. This piece suits him, from the saut de basque entrance to the quick, accented Hungarian style in the solo work. One always wishes there was more of it to watch. Shirinkina was a perfect Butterfly in part due to her impossibly tiny size: airy, light, she executed the series of batterie with ease, and it seemed this is the kind of piece she was made to dance.
Osmolkina and Zuizin danced Talisman with bright panache; Nadezhda Batoeva is often cast in the "darker" character pieces (her mother was also a Maryinsky dancer, so the ballet blood runs in the family), but here she had a solo role as the doll Columbine and did a wonderful job. She has a high, easy extension, and considerable onstage expression-- sweet and demonstrative, she's also incredibly strong as a dancer -- she spins like a top, and one has no fear of anything going wrong. Styopin was very enthusiastic and depicted Harlequin as I believe he's meant to be depicted -- the partnering sequences were also all very smooth.
Anastasia Petushkova is recovering from an injury and perhaps that's why she was given a character role here in the Panaderos. She did an expert job, but having seen her in Bayaderes, it's always hard to register such a great shift in typecasting.
Corsaire impressed. Unlike the early performances of Skorik and Askerov, this one was polished. Both seemed more slender, and more well rehearsed as if they'd finally found a level on which to relate. His jumps were delivered with a sprinkle of animal magnetism, which is what Corsaire requires. She danced lightly, precisely, but in the coda was all strength and bravura, finishing the fouettes solidly.
Elena Evseyeva dances with her heart and soul and it shows. Tchaikovsky Pas is not an easy piece to tackle and she succeeded -- even her eyes expressed joy on stage. She is an expert in terms of musicality and seemed at home in this choreography for that very reason -- she hears the music she dances to, and that offers her a chance to play with the timing to some degree. Alexei Timofeyev is repeatedly cast for his ballon and his jump, which always draw the audience's attention, but there are tiny nuances in upper body port de bras that might be altered to improve the lines. Nonetheless the pair was delightful.
Kolegova was excellent as Odile in the Black Swan Pas, but I could not help thinking about the tragedy of her husband and what she has undergone while she was onstage: none of that showed, which is truly a revelation of an expert performer. Ivanchenko managed a double pirouette in his variation and seemed slightly fatigued, although his long lines serve any ballerina well in a pas de deux such as this.
It was (no surprise) Katya Kondaurova and Andrey Ermakov who really drew attention in Grand Pas Classique. This is not a pas de deux that the Mariinsky presents frequently and as any balletgoer knows, one of the more difficult in the classical repertoire. Kondaurova appeared in a slim midnight blue velvet tutu, adorned with sapphires. Against her pale skin and red hair, the effect was stunning, and her dancing matched the beauty of her appearance and costume. Her performance more than justified her recent promotion to principal rank -- it was flawless. The first diagonal of ballones were strong as steel -- from there to the last section of fouettes-to-a la seconde-tour, she was unfailing in strength, energy *and* beauty. This piece, exhausting as it is, suits her well. Ermakov, as I've mentioned before, is stunning onstage (handsome, well over 6-feet tall, with uber long limbs which are eye candy when used to their full extent). That is, when he does not get nervous and lose focus. Here there was one glitch with Katya's costume, it seemed Ermakov didnt have any place to put his hands in the partnered turns (due to all the sapphire decoration) so one of the turns ended a bit prematurely. But it was easily forgiveable. This pas de deux exemplified much of the finesse that is the Maryinsky.
Tereshkina was spot-on and ever reliable in Paquita, and Shklyarov took to the stage like a playground, pulling off jumps-that-have-no-name in the coda to roaring cheers from the audience. It was a treat to finally see this ballet here; I know they perform it on tours, but rarely at home. The corps de ballet looked stunning, each dancer a ballerina in her own right. There is something about this Petipa work, the combination of ballet and Spanish flair, that makes it endlessly appealing. In the variations, Svetlana Ivanova danced "Amour" with sprightly precision; she is the sort of dancer one can put on stage in anything at any time, and she executes it flawlessly with all of the appropriate nuances, and decorated by an inner light ("Svet" means "light" in Russian) that comes through her dancing. Far from every dancer has that indefinable quality on stage. Sofia Gumerova's appearance on stage was a welcome addition in the adagio variation; she's been cast less frequently in recent performances and her presence is much missed; Yana Selina, Oksana Skorik and Maria Shirinkina performed the other three variations.
Apologies for the briefness of this review. Juggling too much these days!
This weekend is the first of the Vaganova Graduation Performances, which begin with Nacho Duato's "Madrigal", followed by (as yet unannounced) divertissements and finally, the Jardin Anime from Corsaire.
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)