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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 9:08 am 
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Since no interview with Tsiskaridze appeared yet, I dared to ask him a few questions:
An interview with Nikolai Tsiskaridze after the gala concerts at Albert Hall

- How did it happen that you, a dancer from the Bolshoi, joined the programme "Ballet Stars of St.Petersburg"?

N.T.: I was invited by Irma Nioradze. We have been friends for many years, since we both were students at the Tbilisi Ballet School. So, the Albert Hall is not the first place where we danced together. Two years ago we danced twice at the Mariinsky's performances of "Sheherazade" at Covent Garden. Last year we danced it again during the 2nd Mariinsky Festival at St.Petersburg. We also did "Swan Lake" at the White Nights Festival.

- Do you enjoy working together?

N.T.: Absolutely. Irma told me that she feels very secure with me. On the other hand, she helps me by being a daring partner who boldly approaches difficult lifts. We also both have an innate sense of oriental plasticity which is so important for some of our duets. Therefore, our partnership is very comfortable for both of us.

- The audience loved your adagio from "The Legend of Love". In Russia, it is one of the best loved ballets. However, when it was shown in the West many years ago, it did not have the success it deserved. Why do you think it happened?

N.T.: I may only guess that the Western critics were not happy with this ballet's ideology which was quite strongly expressed at that time. The version renewed by Grigorovich at the Bolshoi last year does not have such strong ideological colouring. The choreography there is so original and beautiful that one can only regret and sympathise with the Western audience who can not see this outstanding ballet here.

- Why not? The Bolshoi will come to Covent Garden in summer 2004. Russian and even American critics were so enthusiastic about your performance as Ferhad. Don't you think we have a chance to see you in this role in London?

N.T.: No, I don't think this ballet will be brought on that tour.

- In the Albert Hall, apart from partnering Nioradze, you also danced a solo, "Narcissus". How long have you been dancing this piece and what does it mean for you?

N.T.: Since 1996. This concert solo was choreographed by Kasyan Goleizovsky for Vladimir Vasiliyev. I felt very privileged when Vassilyev made such a present for me allowing to dance this piece. And another privilege was to rehearse it with Galina Ulanova. Do I have to explain what it means for me?

- On the 7th and 8th of May, we saw an example when performances of one particular piece in the programme looked identical on both evenings. Your performances of "Narcissus", however, were different. I saw you dancing this piece before and every time you appear as Narcissus but with a different tinge, or nuances. The same happens with all your roles. What makes you do that?

N.T.: I was taught to do this. Ulanova taught me to do it. She herself prepared her roles meticulously but appeared to be spontaneous on stage. And in the same meticulous way she worked with me on Narcissus, Bluebird, Desire, Albreht. But may be it depends also on my nature. If I am in a slightly different mood (which I always am), it brings out new nuances in the performance.

- Recently you danced in several modern ballets. What attracted you in those ballets?

N.T.: First and foremost, their choreographer. Which dancer wouldn't like to work with Roland Petit? When he came to the Bolshoi and chose me to be the only performer of his new ballet "The Queen of Spades", I was so happy. It was the first ballet ever produced for me and by such a great ballet master. Then I danced Quiasimodo in his "Le Notre Dame de Paris" at the Bolshoi and he offered me to dance "Le Jeune Homme et la mort" which I did at his festival in Japan.

- What do you prefer to dance - modern choreography or pure classical roles?

N.T.: Both. Both. Both.

- Can you tell what London means for you?

N.T.: A lot. I was born as an artist here on the 13th of January 1993. And it happened in Albert Hall. I was 19 and for the first time in England with the Bolshoi. I danced Mercutio in "Romeo & Juliet" and Mr. Clement Crisp mentioned me favourably in his review. I love London streets, parks and museums very much. Every time when I come here I try to see as much as possible.

- What did you do in your spare time during this short visit to London?

N.T.: I met some old friends here and saw - at last - the Wallace Collection, which I wanted to see for so long. It's a glittering collection, with wonderful rococo works of art, among other unique pieces in that refined English and French taste of the 18-19 cc. On the last day, I travelled to Kent to see the Hever Castle: a lot of history and beautiful gardens with absolutely stunning tulips.

- Is it too early to ask in what roles we will see you in London during the Bolshoi's tour next year?

N.T.: So far I can be sure of one ballet: "The Queen of Spades".

- What are you nearest plans?

N.T.: The nearest plan is to travel to St.Petersburg to dance the Golden Slave in "Sheherazade" with Svetlana Zakharova at the jubilee evening of her coach Olga Moisseyeva on the 14th of May. I will also dance "Narcissus" there. Then Svetlana will travel to Moscow where we will dance "Giselle" at the Bolshoi on the 17th of May. This is the nearest.

<small>[ 10 May 2003, 11:44 AM: Message edited by: coda ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 9:37 am 
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Many first-rate epithets were used here to describe Tsiskaridze's Narcissus: superb, best of all, fascinating, brilliant, electrifying, etc. It is especially valuable because other male dancers were performing here the showpieces more familiar to the audience, where the old choreography prepares the viewer for 'tricks': the dancer comes out, takes a pose, preparation follows, and he does his variation, coda, finale. Even a new viewer is being prepared and conducted when to clap. It is more difficult to the wider, inexperienced audience to appreciate the first-class technique required for "Narcissus". All these beautiful jete, tours, difficult leaps are woven into the choreographic text and performed by Tsiskaridze with such ease that one needs to have a well trained eye to notice how almost casually he does the combination: treble fuete, double fuete and then 5-turn fuete. These difficulties are not even noticed because his lithe arms are twining a wreath of beautiful movements above his head. You just see that something beautiful happens, without dissecting the steps and movements. It is called 'harmony'.
Some of the remarks here showed a discerning eye that noticed Nikolai's exceptional "musicality and the pace and flow of his dancing". However, the old, unfounded accusations still were mentioned: "…not satisfying all those who value classical purity above all else." May be this myth was born for two reasons: firstly, because of the exceptional plasticity of Nikolai's body and, secondly, because he is so superb in exotic roles, like Golden Slave, Narcissus, etc.? Who are "all those"? I don't believe that the people who love classical ballet are not satisfied with Nikolai as a classical dancer. Try to say it in Moscow or St.Petersburg - and critics and ballet lovers will laugh at that! He is the best known and best loved classical dancer in Russia today. His teachers - Ulanova earlier and Semyonova and Fadeyechev now - trained and continue coaching him as a classical dancer. Are his teachers less competent than "all those"? He is the best Solor, Desire and Nutcracker Prince of the Bolshoi. Well, he is not terribly keen on Ziegfried but that's his choice. I am afraid that some people confuse "classical purity" of dancing with perfect purity of gymnastics. I remember a London critic suggesting about two years ago that Nikolai shoud always straighten his legs. Who said that both legs must be always straight? Unfortunately, it became quite popular with some dancers who started to introduce a neo-classical line into old classical ballets. I personally find it distasteful. The leg, which is beautifully, I stress - beautifully, bent behind, is so much lovelier than a straight leg which will score good marks in a different context. i.e. gymnastics competition. Please, Nikolai, don't follow that advice. Happily, he knows that pure classical ballet is not a hardened dogma but a live art within which every GREAT artist has a right to create his own inimitable style.

<small>[ 10 May 2003, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: coda ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2003 1:04 pm 
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Location: London
It was certainly an evening where one got one’s money’s worth. If anything, with excerpts from ‘Le Corsiare’, ‘Swan Lake,’ ‘Raymonda’ and ‘Don Quixote,’ there were perhaps too many fouette turns to be fully appreciated (I lost count when I reached 300). The typical Royal Albert Hall audience wants Grand Pas though so that was sensible programming. The Royal Albert Hall must be the only theatre-type space where people can openly sit in the bar and quaff their own drinks brought from home in plastic flasks and produce their own sandwiches out of tin foil without the fear of molestation from the bar staff. Couples bring their vast numbers of children to an event like this and they have to be careful with the money. The bigger the jumps, the better they like it. So as Igor Zelensky whipped through the air in ‘Le Corsaire’ and Nikolai Tsiskaridze leapt round the huge stage in Golizovsky’s “Narcissus,” the audience erupted into paroxysms of clapping. The air was, correspondingly, a little more subdued for the UK premiere of Simonov’s “Madame Lionelli” (probably due to the absence of tutus) and Faroukh Ruzimatov’s performance of Bejart’s “Death of a Poet” did not receive the reverence it was due.

<img src="http://www.criticaldance.com/images/TSISKARI.jpg" alt="" />
Nikolai Tsiskaridze in 'Narcissus'

‘Madame Lionelli’ is an ambitious piece. It was conceived by Irma Nioradze and Kirill Simonov and evolved over another months. It doesn’t look too much like the product of careful planning mainly because the choreography is haphazard. The idea of portraying the contrast between the control and concentration required in the average business woman during the day versus her yielding and softening for her family in the evening after she has ripped her suit off, is a sensible one. The costumes are fantastic – Nioradze looks terrific and very non-ballerina but all ‘business woman’ in her mini suit and silver ballet shoes – and the music by John Adams and Gavin Bryars is suitably atmospheric. But the choreography is neither impressive at the time nor memorable after the event. As Nioradze progresses in her career, she is hungry for choreography to be made on her and and both she and Ilya Kuznetsov, her devoted clerk, were extremely excited at the prospect of performing the piece in London for the first time. Unfortunately, the piece is not a lasting masterpiece. There is so much potential waiting to be unleashed in those Russian dancers (new choreography is not something that happens so often back home at The Mariinsky Theatre) that I really hope that established and emerging choreographers catch on to the idea soon.

Zelensky is a lot more centred in his dancing and more expressive in his acting. After two years of uncertainty as to whether he would ever dance again, he is clearly thanking his lucky stars for coming back from the brink and is giving everything to the dance. Ruzimatov looked at the height of his powers. Perhaps his jumps were a little less energetic than ten years ago, but his expression and technical perfection in Bejart’s piece are clearly the product of maturity, dedication and factor ‘x’ – that ingredient that makes a good dancer a magical spectacle to watch. Tsiskaridze danced with an energy that leaves one exhausted from just watching him. He looked like he was enjoying himself so much that his ‘Narcissus’ produced big smiles in the audience. Kuznetsov and Makhalina danced the loveliest excerpt from ‘Manon’ and although one has to pile on the imagination to believe in them when they are frolicking on a big stage with no scenery and accompanied by a huge orchestra lurking at the back, it left me wanting much more. (The omnipresence of the Russian Orchestra of London was, however, a small price to pay for live music – Rimsky Korsakov’s ‘Scheherezade’ should always be played live or not played at all.)

And what an ending. The dancers’ individual personalities were on full view as they embarked on a jamming session and danced freestyle. Flowers were catapulted on to the stage and everyone left the auditorium with a contented look. Quite a success, I would say.

<small>[ 10 May 2003, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 3:09 am 
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Many thanks Coda for the interview and for your thoughtful comments. I look forward to the Bolshi touring the UK again so that we can Tsiskaridze in full length roles.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 1:47 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
BALLET STARS OF ST. PETERSBURG - WEDNESDAY 7TH MAY - 7.30P.M. - ROYAL ALBERT HALL

What a night this promised to be, some of the greatest ballet stars of Russia performing highlights from some of the greatest classics in the ballet world and the prospect of a new and exciting premiere. From the moment you took your seat in the lavish Royal Albert Hall, anticipation and excitement could be felt at the prospect of a truly accomplished night at the ballet.

Although the second act more than lived up to expectations I was disappointed with the showpiece, Madame Lioneli. After interviewing Ilya Kuznetsov earlier in the week this was a piece that I so wanted to work as he had spoke with such passion and soul about working on new choreography and dancing a modern ballet. Although the concept of the piece is an extremely interesting one and the choreography was well executed with panache, the themes of the piece do not seem to have been clearly developed enough to really ignite and inspire an audience in the way I’m sure the dancers had hoped. I hope that perhaps this will be treated as a work in progress and developed further as there does seem to be genuine enthusiasm for the project. With such talented dancers involved I’m sure it has the potential to be progressed into greater things.

The second act began with Legend of Love. Nioradze danced her role with great expression and passion and seemed much more at ease once her UK premiere was out of the way. Igor Zelensky also danced Le Corsaire with the assurance and confidence of a dancer who obviously relished being back performing. But the stars of the second act in my opinion were Nikolai Tsiskaridze and Faroukh Ruzimatov.

I had heard and read so much about Tsiskaridze’ performances, the quality and height of his elevations and the expression he brings to roles that I was worried that like all over hyped phenomenons, once faced with the real thing I would be disappointed. There was no need for concern. The height, speed and the extensions of Tsiskaridze’s jetes was truly breathtaking and he has such a beautiful clean line that it is very easy just to wallow in his technique.

Ruzimatov really came into his own with Death of a Poet, a piece he danced with such depth of feeling that his performance enveloped the vastness of the Royal Albert Hall and gave a sense that he was performing in a much more intimate venue. He truly had the audience spellbound and the hush that greeted the end of the piece before the applause was testimony to this.

The finale was also a fitting way to end the evening, as Emma says a great “jamming” session for the dancers, which truly showed off their personalities. It was a very entertaining evening and I am sure one that delighted seasoned ballet goers and first timers alike.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 2:39 pm 
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Posts: 218
The delicate young woman sitting next to me on the sofa in the hotel lobby seemed far
removed from the powerful characters I had seen her portray on stage. Yulia Makhalina
had been patiently waiting for our interview to begin and appeared very much like
the down to earth girl next door.

<img src="http://www.criticaldance.com/images/ID01429-Makhalina.jpg" alt="" />

PT: Yulia you are going to appear in an excerpt from ‘Manon’ at the RAH. How do
do you like the role and what was it like to get used to ‘western’ choreography?


YM: I like that role very much. Manon is an interesting challenge. MacMillan’s style
is very English and at first it was difficult for all of us to adapt. 2 years ago
Monica Parker came to St. Petersburg to rehearse with us and her input was a
great help. I am nervous about dancing ‘Manon’ in London. People here know
the ballet so well and so they are a very special audience. It is very different
from doing for example Don Quixote or Swan Lake where I feel secure in
the knowledge that I have a lot of experience in the role and can do it very well.

PT: Which roles do you enjoy most? I assume every young dancer dreams about
dancing ‘Swan Lake’when starting out. Has your taste in roles changed during the course of your career?


YM: I prefer dramatic roles that show the whole life of the character, like Anna
Karenina. It is rewarding to be able to slowly develop your character through
the course of her life and to show all her experiences.
I also like doing classical roles. The second excerpt I am going to appear in at
the RAH is from ‘Raymonda’. It is a real shame that this ballet is not performed
more often. There are even 2 versions in the repertory, one by Konstantin
Sergeyev and one by Yuri Grigorovitch. I guess the Pas de Deux just lend
themselves less naturally to being done as gala excerpts.
Overall I think it is very important to have changes and a variety of roles in
your work. Giselle, Kitri, Anna Karenina,… each role gives you something
different so it is important to keep your work varied. I have currently 40
roles in my repertory which keeps me happy and busy.

PT: How do you like touring. When reading the press it seems to me that
the Kirov Ballet is constantly here, there and everywhere. Is it not hard to
always have to live out of a suitcase?


YM: But that is our way of life. After doing this for a while is becomes difficult
to settle down anywhere for a while. After a week or so you inevitably get
the urge to pack your suitcase and go.

PT: What do you do outside of work?

YM: I am interested in nature and architecture. Yesterday night when I arrived I took
a little walk just to breath the London air which is very different from Russia.
Life today is so demanding so it is really important to keep your connection
to nature and to feel it giving strength back to you.

Unfortunately at this point we had to cut our conversation short because the press
briefing that had been scheduled for 5.30 p.m. was about to start. I hope that there
will be another opportunity in the future to learn a bit more about Yulia Makhalina’s
plans and hopes for the future.

<small>[ 29 July 2003, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 11:15 pm 
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Posts: 3129
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Review from The Independent.

Quote:
We've often been here before: commercially minded Russian ballet dancers trading on the highly exportable status of their art with a pick'n'mix of family favourites. But hell, why be a killjoy. It sounded a classier, two-night operation that included little-known modern items among the 19th-century warhorses, and some of the cream of Russian ballet, even if, strictly speaking, Nikolai Tsiskaridze is more Moscow (Bolshoi Ballet) than St Petersburg, and two announced names didn't materialise. At least a stage was being erected to quash protestations about ballet in the round. And it was an event marking the 300th anniversary of one of the world's most beautiful cities.

MORE


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 3:05 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Ballet Stars Royal Albert Hall, London
By CLEMENT CRISP for The FT

The full forces of the Mariinsky Ballet are due at Covent Garden in July, and it is hard to find justification for two performances by the Ballet Stars of St Petersburg, who set up camp at the Albert Hall last week to celebrate the city's tricentenary.

A barmy new 30-minute Madame Lioneli opened the proceedings. Irma Nioradze, identified as "a modern businesswoman" surrounded by six desultory boys and Ilya Kuznetsov as her lover, behaved like Joan Crawford at her most mannered. The choreography - a term I use reluctantly - is by Kirill Simonov, and it is about as much help to Nioradze as a bear trap. Music is by John Adams and Gavin Bryers. At one moment Nioradze must undress behind a lighted screen before offering herself to her lover - an action Crawford would scorn as corny.

You'll need to scroll down as the FT seems to have its undergarments in a twist at the moment with their Arts pages:

click for more

<small>[ 13 May 2003, 05:06 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 3:09 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Methinks both Nadine Meisner and Clement Crisp are a bit harsh. Yes, it is good to see a full-length work from the Kirov or a well-balanced triple bill and there were too many pdds in this programme.

Nevertheless, it was an opportunity for a lot of people to see some high quality dancers in a greater variety of pieces than we normally see at such events. I think the critics have missed the point that it was not intended for those who go to several performances each week and every ballet programme shown in London, but for people who go to ballet at most a few times per year. The audience saw some of the best dancers in the world and some good choreography, as well as some which was not.

Personally, I'd go again to a similar performance, despite the fact that Galas are not my favourite either. What do others think?

<small>[ 13 May 2003, 06:36 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 5:26 am 
Thanks a lot for all the interesting interviews. One of the dancers, Ilya Kuznetsov, especially must have had a hectic few days after the London galas. He told me after last Thursday's performance that he was going to take the morning flight back to St. Petersburg on the following day, just in time to make his performance that evening in the Mariinsky Theatre in the Shostakovich programme. And on Sunday he had to fly again, to Mexico City to join the Kirov's tour there this week. He is dancing Manon there this week.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 2:10 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Hellooo! There is an audience for Galas you know:

Ballet Stars of St. Petersburg
By David Dougill in The Sunday Times.

With the Kirov due back in full splendour at Covent Garden this summer, what was the need for the potpourri programme Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at the Albert Hall? This included an absurd new piece, Madame Lioneli, by the young Kirov choreographer Kirill Simonov. Searchlights, helicopter noises, all-purpose chugging rhythms of John Adams (plus some Gavin Bryars), and the ballerina Irma Nioradze got up in Max Wall black jacket and tights as a supercilious but vampy “modern businesswoman”, toying with the attentions of a part-time lover (Ilya Kuznetsov). It was pointless, boring and didn’t even have a climax that made sense.

Makhalina, Zelensky, Ruzimatov, Tsiskaridze and Ivanchenko completed the programme in an endless succession of gala highlights and some low spots from the repertory. Despite strong performances, the art of ballet is not best served by this sort of show.

click for more


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 11:01 am 
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Posts: 2172
Location: London
Quote:
Despite strong performances, the art of ballet is not best served by this sort of show.
'Tis a bold statement. It needs a little qualification. Maybe an "in my opinion..." Seeing strong technical performance of even a grand pas/finale can make a novice ballet-goer think about going to something else.

Quote:
With the Kirov due back in full splendour at Covent Garden this summer, what was the need for the potpourri programme Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at the Albert Hall?
The newspaper critics seem obsessed with this idea of 'why did they bother' coming to the Royal Albert Hall for this stuff when they're coming in a few months for the real thing. I can give you one good reason why we should be thankful that they bothered. My ticket for Swan Lake on 25th July at the Royal Opera House is £80. Unfortunately for the vast masses, they have to pay for their own tickets. There is no way my parents would have been able to take me to the Russian ballet for approaching £400 as a young family. Accessibility may be beneath certain people and they may think it impure which largely I suppose it is. But to be so bold as to slam the idea of galas at all and to imply that it wasn't worth the dancers turning up (if not brought over at vast expense by the Hochausers) is too much for my stomach. Galas have a role. I enjoy seeing the Kirov. The Royal Albert Hall undoubtedly brings in an audience that cannot afford to go to the Royal Opera House. Plus it's bigger and can accommodate more people. Plus a glass of wine doesn't require your credit card. A fiver will do and you get change. Case completed for the defence.

<small>[ 18 May 2003, 01:07 PM: Message edited by: Emma Pegler ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 6:32 pm 
Well argued, Emma. Also this event, organised by Ensemble Productions, hasn't been billed as a Kirov gala, but instead a St. Petersburg gala. Not all the stars were Kirov stars. There was Irina Perren, a dancer from the Maly Ballet in St. Petersburg, not to mention the illustrious Bolshoi star Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

I think that this gala may well benefit the Kirov's London season, as some members of the audience at the Royal Albert Hall last week may well be tempted to see those stars again at Covent Garden this summer.


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 Post subject: Re: Ballet Stars of St Petersburg at Royal Albert Hall
PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 2:16 pm 
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Emma I do so agree. What is the matter with the London newspaper critics? Some ballet novices having seen this Gala might have decided that it is worth to go and see something else. Surly that must be considered a good thing and does serve the art of ballet in a way.

Galas are not my personal favorite but if the choice is between seeing some of my favorite dancers in a programme made up of ballet highligths or not at all I will choose seeing them every time.


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