Hi Buddy and Natalia,
I will post comments on the Vaganova for sure, but I'm actually doing a short piece (last minute) for Dance Europe on that topic so, for copyright, I can't duplicate.
A quick reply to Buddy: Viktoria Brilyova is one to watch, and you heard it from me first!
(she was in Paquita, as one of the corps. She's tall and slender with a lovely face and dark hair)
I attended last night's Giselle which I presumed would feature Kondaurova in the leading role since, before casting was posted, the website was announcing her in Giselle in big bold letters. Well as everyone knows, she danced Myrtha again -- a role that is completely hers-- but I was so hoping this would have been a debut.
Instead, Skorik danced alongside Maxim Zuizin. The website also listed Alexei Nedvega in his premeire in peasant pas -- he did not dance, Vasily Tkachenko did, and he partnered Batoyeva (from the Harlequinade pas of a few days back). Needless to say: Dont go by the website!
I have an entire review in my head regarding last night's Giselle and I dont know if I'll be able to get it all down right now, so the brief highlights:
Vasily Tkachenko was the most unexpected, delightful surprise of the evening. His dancing in the peasant pas so far exceeded that billing, it was precise and effortless, with perfect batterie but soft, flowing port de bras. I've never seen him dance something like this before and he's not often (at least the past few months) been cast in any notable solo roles. He stole the show. At one point, a perfect quadruple pirouette -- slowwwwly executed -- pausing in retire passe at the end, and lowering to his knee in the silent millisecond before the last note of the music. (Boris Gruzin's attentive baton was conducting). It was utter perfection and the audience roared. He is, for those who may not know, Tatiana Tkachenko's little brother, but I have not mentioned this before (and only for informational purposes mention it now) because he is so much a strong dancer in his own right. While Tanya has been cast less frequently, we can at least now see more of Vasily.
Skorik has grown immeasurably from last year's festival -- Buddy you mentioned her White Swan Adagio with Timur done at that time. That was truly child's play and emotionless compared to last night's Giselle. She was warm and expressive in the first act and, most enjoyably, her epaulement and upper body showed a freedom of expression that felt like a breath of fresh air. We didnt see that from her Odette, which at times may have been so restrained as to be cold...this was different. Her Giselle was human, incredibly shy around Albrecht (and naive, needless to say, as per the character), but enthusiastic in her dancing, and quick to trust Zuizin's Albrecht as Act One wore on. Skorik's sweeping arabesques in that Act were like liquid beauty, infused with life and breath that (again) I haven't seen before from her. The second act, partly due to a tulle skirt that seemed to be made of the lightest fabric in existence, and more layers of it than usual -- was ethereal but not at all stiff. At the beginning of the Act Two pas, she did the slowest developpe a la seconde in existence, hitting a 185-degree pose (covered by the tulle of course) that here did not look distorted, it simply impressed. She had finessed all of the transition steps and the entire performance was of the highest caliber. Skorik has won me over, after this performance.
Maxim Zuizin was the strongest I've ever seen him in an acting role last night. I couldn't help but see the influence of his dear but late coach, Sergey Berezhnoi, in much of his onstage mannerisms. He and Skorik had several personal touches in the Act One sequences, one of them an extended allonge in the "tap/kiss" diagonal moving upstage. The details in Act One's pantomime were explicit and clear -- not muddled over as is all too common and easy to do. You had the sense he was out for a good time initially, and then befuddled as to why the entire peasant community shunned him (end of the Act). In Act Two he saved Skorik from one promenade that might have tipped offbalance. But he caught it in time so that you wondered if it really would have gone off balance after all. His own attention to detail has grown a great deal and I'm so pleased he's finally receiving principal billing. I was expecting that back in 2006 and wondering why, as with other dancers we know and love, it took so long.