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 Post subject: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 6:05 am 
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The most likely Raymondas would seem to be Alina Somova, Yekaterina Kondaurova and Anastasia Matvienko. They all perform as well in Alexei Ratmansky’s Cinderella, which is scheduled for Berkeley and Los Angeles afterwards. Oxana Skorik would be another excellent choice, but she doesn’t yet do Cinderella.

My only experience with Raymonda is having seen a Bolshoi series in Chicago, about eight years ago, and the Bolshoi’s Maria Alexandrova performing it about six years ago in Paris with the Paris Opera Ballet. She performed more beautifully than I’ve ever seen her and was absolutely enchanting. I’ve also watched the entire Ludmila Semenyaka video with the amazing performance by Gedemiras Taranda as Abderakhman, the Saracen suitor.

Apparently Raymonda is one of the most difficult ballets for a ballerina because of the large number of variations (solos) and little time spent off stage for resting. Variations may be the highlight of this work although there are some lovely duets as well and a magnificent bravura display by the Saracen, Abderakhman. The Rudolf Nureyev version for the Paris Opera Ballet is supposed to have seven prominent variations.

I’ve been watching internet video clips of the recent debut by Alina Somova and one with Oxana Skorik from the day before. I’ve been unable to find anything with Anastasia Matvienko, but I have found one with Yekaterina Kondaurova from over a year ago.

Alina Somova is absolutely lovely in this. She’s as restrained as I’ve ever seen her and her lyrical gracefulness is just wonderful. Oxana Skorik has great poetic interest in her extremely beautiful and refined dancing. Yekaterina Kondaurova is especially noteworthy for her statuesque magnificence and is capable of fine lyrical flow.

All these women have excellent abilities of portrayal. In this it’s a matter of focus or in Oxana Skorik’s case, perhaps non-focus. Her portrayals can be the most sublime when she doesn’t seem to be concentrating, especially on her dance. When she goes naturally within herself in the most relaxed manner the results are extremely compelling. Based on Alina Somova’s amazing The Swan (Fokine) at last year’s Mariinsky Festival Gala, I also consider her to have exceptional and sublime depth of portrayal. The same applies to Yekaterina Kondaurova, who has the theatrical prowess of a great stage or cinema artist.

There seem to be several variations that are very popular. One is the very brief dance with a long flowing scarf towards the beginning. Another comes from the dream sequence after the duet (with her lover). One more is towards the end in a Hungarian, hand clapping style. This one is perhaps the most famous. All of these are essentially adagio or slowly graceful. I appreciate the interest and artistry of the Hungarian variation, but also enjoy very much the dream solo for it’s pure and simple loveliness, which is also seen in the much shorter scarf dance.

I would add another variation because it’s so beautifully done by Yekaterina Chebykina in the Alina Somova video. It's the one danced by Clemence, one of Raymonda’s two friends. Once again I’m extremely impressed by the very young, lovable and highly talented Yekaterina Chebykina. She is so natural and free in her motion and yet has an extremely fine refinement and articulation. I certainly hope that she's included on the tour.

For sort of a pleasant aside, I think that I see some of the performers from the recent Mariinsky Festival Young Choreograhers evening in the chorus dancing of these videos. They were prominent in Maxim Petrov’s “Ballet No 2 to A. Tsfasman's score”, which I really like, and include, I believe, Viktoria Brilyova and Anna Lavrinenko, both of whom are delightful.

I’m greatly looking forward to seeing several of these performances in September.


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 1:35 pm 
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For those who have an interest in the technical challenges of being Raymonda this Nov. 2004 quote of Paul Parish at Ballet Alert! might be very interesting. I’d be glad to hear any comments.

"But.... Raymonda is a MUCH more difficult role than Krysanova's [the second dream scene variation] -- it's generally admitted to be the most difficult ballerina role of all. She does so much unsupported dancing. Raymonda has 6 or 7 solos in every style, they exploit every aspect of the technique from big jumps to hops on pointe to hops in deep arabesque fondu to extremely exposed solo adagio -- she piques to arabesque, rolls down into fondu with the back leg at 100 degrees, then steps straight backwards onto pointe in passe, rolls down into fondu, repeats that, then takes one tiny extra step and repeats ALL THAT on the other side, at an extremely slow tempo. And that's only the adage."

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/ind ... nts/page-2


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 4:42 am 
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I’ve been watching video clips of other Mariinsky ballerinas who dance Raymonda. These would include, of course, Ulyana Lopatkina along with Anastasia Kolegova, Olesya Novikova and Maria Shirinkina. I’ve mainly been watching the dream scene variation (solo), whose initial steps are described in the post above. I’ve not yet found one of this with Ulyana Lopatkina.

The one ballerina of this group, who I really feel does a lovely, lovely presentation, is Anastasia Kolegova. I hope to be able to get into this more at another time.


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2015 4:56 pm 
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I continue to watch the dream sequence variation with much interest, keeping Paul Parish’s reference to the footwork (two posts above) in mind. As much as I appreciate the importance of the steps, which must involve considerable attention by a ballet dancer, I still tend to focus on the upper body -- the arms, the hands, the shoulders, the head and, sometimes above all, the face. It really impresses me that with so much primary attention that probably must be given to the steps, which can be hugely demanding, that so much more can be added on. So although I sometimes try to stay focused on the technical demands, my mind and heart eventually return to the overall imagery and enchantment. I’m sure that everyone has their own way of looking at this. When I watch the ballerinas performing this variation, I sometimes see one doing a technical feat that might be more correct or better than another’s and yet the other’s overall effect can be what I appreciate the most.

Anastasia Kolegova

She’s one artist who seems to be able to do both in this variation. There’s a series of back bending turns on point (cambres?) that she possibly performs technically better than anyone else. And yet she does this and everything else with equally beautiful grace, poetry, artistry and, above all, enchantment.

Also she is not a tall lady and does not have long limbs. Both these attributes can help a ballerina considerably. Yet like the former Mariinsky ballerina, Yevgenia Obraztsova, whom I saw do a remarkable Swan Lake about a month ago in London, she manages to convey so much in such a contained manner. Neither reaches out or adds emphasis as a possible compensation. Rather, there’s an inner beauty sensed that one can almost touch. They both derive and build from this a remarkable artistry and expression that makes them at least the equal of anyone.


[typo correction made]


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 6:09 am 
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Can a ballet as long as Raymonda be condensed into two minutes? [“Running time 3 hours 15 minutes….two intervals.” Mariinsky]. George Balanchine got his interpretation down to nine variations. And can this two minutes focus on one thing only — the arms?

I continue to watch the dream variation (solo). It’s perhaps the loveliest that I’ve enjoyed. It’s only 2 1/2 minutes long of which only two are the adagio (slowly lyrical) followed by a fast ending. I tend to treat them separately, greatly appreciating the adagio which, although possibly demanding, is so beautiful and so simple in structure.

For me, it’s the use of the arms that’s highly captivating. I’m sure that a lot more has to work for this to be so effective. There are two characteristics that I notice most in the arms. One is flow and the other is poetry or interest. After many video clip viewings and changing preferences these are artists that I really appreciate, but with more viewings that emphasis could once again change.

I’ve settled into a high appreciation of Alina Somova because of her beautiful, flowing arms. There doesn’t seem to be an emphasis on articulation, which made me favor some other interpretations, but now it’s become the simple, flowing loveliness that has me so entranced.

Of the artists that I find so noteworthy for their poetic statement and beauty are Oxana Skorik, Svetlana Zakharova and Anastasia Kolegova. Yekaterina Chebykina, who performs the Clemence variation, has a similar but very personal attraction. She manages to combine a remarkable youthfulness and freedom with exceptional refinement. Yekaterina Kondaurova has a statuesque highlighting that’s perhaps unequaled.

I’ve also taken a peek at George Balanchine’s Raymonda Variations and they make a very interesting contrast. This is a video clip posted by the New York City Ballet. Lauren Lovette briefly discusses and illustrates. She makes the observation that ballet dancers tend to be quietly lyrical or fast with high jumps, but that the Balanchine variations require both. I think that this is somewhat true of the classical ballet as well. The quite different dream variation starts at 1:30.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBrW_ja ... wELhEErCx5

I haven’t found any officially posted classical version but the dream variation can be easily located on the internet. I do tend to greatly appreciate the classical one for its pure and refined loveliness. I’m not that familiar with the works of George Balanchine, but I can see where there is great interest and commendable intent in this interpretation. It also gives a chance to appreciate the classical even more because of the contrast.

By the way, information about the Costa Mesa performances can be found here.

http://www.scfta.org/Events/Detail.aspx?id=13142


Added comment:

“In 1946, Balanchine and ballerina Alexandra Danilova mounted the full-length Raymonda for the Ballet Russe. Balanchine was not, however, enamored of the overly complicated storyline, and instead used excerpts from the score for several plotless works, including Pas de Dix, Cortège Hongrois, and

Raymonda Variations. Of this last one, Balanchine wrote, "To try to talk about these dances in any useful way outside the music [Alexander Glazounov) is not possible; they do not have any literary content at all and of course have nothing to do with the story of the original ballet Raymonda. The music itself, its grand and generous manner, its joy and playfulness, was for me more than enough to carry the plot of the dances." “

http://www.nycballet.com/Ballets/R/Raym ... tions.aspx

I tend to relate to many ballets in somewhat the same manner. Swan Lake, for me, revolves around the White Swan duet and Giselle can become more a dreamlike flow than a story. That's why I'm so focussed once again on one dance segment. I don't think that the dream variation is pivotal to the work, at least not yet, and if it were it would be an artistic or heartfelt focus rather than a story one. The dream duet is also extremely lovely, but since this ballet seems to be known for its variations, the dream variation takes on considerable significance and this one is a beauty.


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:25 am 
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It must be the "Year of Raymonda" for the Vaganova Academy requested permission to perform Balanchine's "Raymonda Variations" during the graduation performances that begin here tomorrow (3 separate performances, 3 sets of casting) alongside Laurencia and Act I of Sleeping Beauty. And as you know, we saw a series of (classical, not Balanchinean) Raymondas here just a few weeks ago as a "dry run" for the fall tours.

I was lucky enough to see Lopatkina live twice and Tkachenko live once in the 2006 or 7 (must check my archives) set of Raymondas. They'd not been done for years prior to that. That was my first taste of this incredible work of art live.

I have concerns that the Western critics -- nay I am 100% certain-- will all heavily criticize the sets/costumes as dated or faded or ugly or (fill in the negative adjective here). That is the usual recipe for the Mariinsky tours, a negative headline for the review in order to prop up the local company, while inwardly admitting the Russians are superior... we will see if it happens in LA and Berkeley with "Cinderella" and "Raymonda" this time around. But what should be kept in mind is the historical weight this production of Raymonda holds -- there's nothing like it in any US company's repertoire.

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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2015 10:16 am 
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Just announced.

September 24, 7:30 pm

Raymonda: Viktoria Tereshkina
Countess Sibilla: Elena Bazhenova
Jean de Brienne: Vladmir Shklyarov
Abderakhman, Saracen Chief:
René de Brienne, A Hungarian Knight: Soslan Kulaev
Ali, His Retainer: Islom Baimuradov
Henrietta: Renata Shakirova
Clémence: Kristina Shapran


September 25, 7:30 pm

Raymonda: Oxana Skorik
Countess Sibilla: Elena Bazhenova
Jean de Brienne: Andrey Ermakov
Abderakhman, Saracen Chief: Yuri Smekalov
René de Brienne, A Hungarian Knight: Soslan Kulaev
Ali, His Retainer: Islom Baimuradov
Henrietta: Nadezhda Batoeva
Clémence: Ekaterina Chebykina

September 26, 2:00 pm

Raymonda: Viktoria Tereshkina
Countess Sibilla: Elena Bazhenova
Jean de Brienne: Timur Askerov
Abderakhman, Saracen Chief:
René de Brienne, A Hungarian Knight: Soslan Kulaev
Ali, His Retainer: Islom Baimuradov
Henrietta: Renata Shakirova
Clémence: Kristina Shapran

September 26, 7:30 pm

Raymonda: Oxana Skorik
Countess Sibilla: Elena Bazhenova
Jean de Brienne: Andrey Ermakov
Abderakhman, Saracen Chief: Yuri Smekalov
René de Brienne, A Hungarian Knight: Soslan Kulaev
Ali, His Retainer: Islom Baimuradov
Henrietta: Nadezhda Batoeva
Clémence: Ekaterina Chebykina

September 27, 1:00 pm

Raymonda: Anastasia Matvienko
Countess Sibilla: Elena Bazhenova
Jean de Brienne: Timur Askerov
Abderakhman, Saracen Chief: Yuri Smekalov
René de Brienne, A Hungarian Knight: Soslan Kulaev
Ali, His Retainer: Islom Baimuradov
Henrietta: Renata Shakirova
Clémence: Kristina Shapran

September 27, 6:30 pm

Raymonda: Viktoria Tereshkina
Countess Sibilla: Elena Bazhenova
Jean de Brienne: Vladmir Shklyarov
Abderakhman, Saracen Chief:
René de Brienne, A Hungarian Knight: Soslan Kulaev
Ali, His Retainer: Islom Baimuradov
Henrietta: Nadezhda Batoeva
Clémence: Ekaterina Chebykina

http://www.scfta.org/Events/Detail.aspx?id=13142

Of the ballerinas, Oxana Skorik will do two nights in a row. Viktoria Tereshkina has three performances. It's the beginning of the season so their energy should be up. This is quite a job. Anastasia Matvienko will perform the sixth. Alina Somova and Yekaterina Kondaurova, whom I hopefully anticipated, won’t appear for the entire California tour.

Oxana Skorik with Andrey Ermakov should be outstanding. The Henriettas and Clémences should be a very fine look at some of the Mariinsky’s rising stars, Ekaterina Chebykina, Kristina Shapran, Nadezhda Batoeva and Renata Shakirova, with Ekaterina Chebykina being a particular favorite of mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:53 am 
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The shocking thing is that the only ballerina who will dance Raymonda in Costa Mesa who has Vaganova Academy training is Tereshkina, and even she did not do the full 8 years (I think it was 8 years when she attended and then changed to 9 years and just switched back to 8 years by Tsiskaridze).

Those of us who are Mariinsky fanatics love the Vaganova style of upper body movement and out of those 3 ballerinas for me Tereshkina comes closest to looking Vaganova trained, but, like I said, she only had 3-4 years at Vaganova. Granted, the Vaganova Method is used throughout Russia, but there is a huge difference between the ballerinas who were trained at the Vaganova Academy and other ballet schools.

The Mariinsky's version of Raymonda is so lovely when danced by a true Vaganova ballerina. Otherwise, it is sort of "meh...."

If I lived in Costa Mesa I would definitely go and see Matvienko and Tereshkina, but I have to say I would not book a plane and focus a trip just on those two dancers. I do like them both to varying extents and have seen them live and enjoyed their performances, but they still are not the very best the Mariinsky has to offer. Tereshkina does bring "star quality" b/c she is famous, so, in my opinion, I think anyone going to Costa Mesa should book for her performances (due to star quality and some Vaganova training and the fact she is such a hard worker and always gives a solid performance).


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:19 am 
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A very great shame that in this great classical ballet, Mariinsky is not to field its greatest exponents of the role of Raymonda. I have seen all of these in the role, and actually the best of these three in my opinion is Anastasia Matvienko, who will only dance the role once. The greatest - Somova, Lopatkina and Novikova (admittedly pregnant so unavailable) are not to dance. America is going to think that Oxana Skorik and Viktoria Tereshkina are the greatest ballerinas for the role. I pity America.
Incidentally, Tanz magazine has just awarded Alina Somova its "Hope" prize for the best ballet debut of last year for her debut in the title role of Raymonda, and since I saw this debut, I can wholly agree - it was perfect in every detail. What a shame America cannot see her.

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/news1/


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:02 pm 
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Kaitlin Wright previews Raymonda at Segerstrom Hall for the Orange County Register.

OC Register


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:00 am 
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I think it is bad for her to say it is a 3 hour ballet. That might scare off some people who do not know the ballet and were curious about going. It is really only slightly over 2 hours and the two intermissions (probably about 30 minutes each) are what causes it to be 3 hours long. If you take out the intermissions it is more like 2 hours and 15 minutes at the most. Many movies are that long.


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 3:17 pm 
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In the Los Angeles Times, Christina Campodonico talks to acting director Yuri Fateyev about Raymonda in Costa Mesa and Alexei Ratmansky's Cinderella at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

LA Times


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2015 9:03 am 
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Oksana Skorik was promoted to principal following the Sept. 25 "Raymonda" in Costa Mesa. That was one of the quicker rises to principal I've seen.

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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 3:42 am 
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I remember back in 2012 there was a YouTube video severely criticizing Skorik and Fateyev, predicting that the then new 2nd soloist, would soon be a prima ballerina and then prima ballerina assoluta. Most commenters criticized the predictions saying the uploader was crazy making those predictions, but reality is proving them correct and assoluta is coming ...


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 Post subject: Re: Raymonda — Costa Mesa — Sept. 24-27, 2015
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 4:10 am 
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What is surprising (and seems like preferential treatment) is that I have never known Fateyev to announce a promotion to principal on stage after a performance. Many companies like Paris do that, but I haven't heard the Mariinsky ever doing that and a friend said it never happened even when it was the Kirov. It is almost like this was planned all along and Fateyev was bound and determined to create a star ballerina against all odds to prove he could do it.

There is a video of the announcement and Fateyev announces her being promoted to "prima ballerina," and a friend said that is the normal term to use instead of "principal"......

Personally, I think she has improved technically but there are so many more ballerinas at the Mariinsky I would rather see and who deserve promotion. Most opera singers and I assume ballet dancers who have reached the top usually have one or two roles that could be called their "signature roles" and I just can't think of one single role that anyone would be able to call Skorik's "signature" role.


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