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  1. I read all the comments with interest. With regard to Yulia Stepanova's promotion to Bolshoi principal, I must say that I am primarily a Mariinsky fan, who has followed Stepanova's career for many years at that theatre, and been fortunate to watch her in class and rehearsal both at the Mariinsky and the Bolshoi, as well as seeing her in nearly all of her roles live at both of those theatres in Russia. In defence of her Bolshoi Swan Lake debut, I did attend this and reviewed it elsewhere, and am at a complete loss to understand the allegations that she was wooden or unmusical. She was neither. She danced with the liquid flow of movement and expressive, musical quality that actually is her trademark quality. Of course I understand that everyone has their personal favourite, who they would like to see promoted, but this is not to say that another supremely talented dancer may not be promoted. As has been stated above, Vaziev is known for his swift action in identifying and promoting talented dancers. Lexy and fillebiengardee have uploaded a number of videos and these surely stand as defence enough of Stepanova's great musicality. It stands out a mile. If you want to see an oom-pa-pa oom-pa-pa dancer and that is your idea of musicality then you must look elsewhere, and actually, that to me would be the definition of a wooden dancer, but Yulia dances with ebb and flow to her movement and actually with what in musical terms would be called rubato and line and phrasing . Further, I have to say that when I was backstage at the Bolshoi, I and a friend were privileged to watch Yulia being coached by her great coach, Lyudmila Semenyaka, and the very first thing Semenyaka said to us was "She's a wonderful dancer." She was very proud of her. I do not think Semenyaka hands out praise like that lightly. I think maybe some people associate Bolshoi dancers with a certain bold, acrobatic quality as its defining quality, and Yulia's style is understated, refined, expressive, with the most beautiful arms and epaulement. Maybe it is not what people expect to see? With regard to her technique, I can only say that I have seen her in class, and her technique is superb - i particular she has a very supple back, great extensions and a soft jump, but you only have to watch the above videos to see that. We in Britain know well what a difficult role Sylvia is, yet Yulia's debut in this at the Mariinsky a few years ago was impeccable - I never saw her struggle with any aspect of her technique. I feel very sad that many people on different fora feel challenged by her promotion and must set up comparison between her, Smirnova and others. These dancers all are professionals, all trained and gave their lives to that training, and now give their lives to their art, all are artistes beloved by many. There is room for all. All can dance and please their audiences. All have their own individual qualities. I wish Tikhomirova, Kretova, Smirnova and others joy in their careers, just as I wish Yulia Stepanova and her fans much happiness at her promotion.
  2. I rarely post on this forum, since I mainly take part in another one, although I am British myself, but I thought I should post here my review of the Stepanova/Rodkin Swan Lake that I saw a few nights ago. It was a great evening for all Yulia Stepanova fans and although I have seen her dance Odette-Odile several times with the Mariinsky, this was her Bolshoi debut in the role. There is much to say, and so apologies in advance it this is somewhat rambling (!) - but to start with the first act, Denis Rodkin has all the hallmarks of a Perfect Prince - handsome, tall, strong, courteous in manner. The first act showed off his somewhat stately technique and natural presence on stage as well as graceful arms. The jester, ,Gusev, was light and frolicsome, for want of a better word, without being too irritating. He pulled of his final grande pirouette magnificently and to predictable applause. I liked Kokhlova's charming prince's friend, with fast light pointework, but Ana Turazashvili was miscast in my opinion with little charisma and stiff arms and spiky fingers. Rodkin partnered both of them ably, however! This was Yulia's debut though and many of the audience near me were excited to be seeing her for the first time. They applauded her entry and not surprising. She did look absolutely exquisite, and her undulating swan arms throughout were just amazing! She has soft, flowing movement and everything seems easy for her, with effortless extensions and beautiful lines in arabesque. She and Rodkin complement each other physically very well. She was a tender, feminine swan with expressions that were so natural and just made perfect sense, and she interacted well with all the other characters on the stage. The adagio in particular was real poetry and flow of movement, met by great applause and cheers. She does have wonderful legato movement quality, but she is also technically superb. Her tiny frappes sur le cou de pied at the end of the adagio were delicate and precise and that section ended with single, double and then quadruple pirouettes. I have to say, that Denis Rodkin's partnering was exemplary throughout, and the high lifts especially were just so strong and easy. However, I have seen him dance many times before, and I did feel he was slightly hampered by the smaller stage. His grands jetes en tournant in particular lacked the ultimate stretching out of back leg, although they were high and easy. The corps in general were well rehearsed and not a pointe shoe to be heard. Congratulations on that! They do not have the arms of their Mariinsky counterparts, but nonetheless, they were good. The four little swans danced with great precision and well synchronised in their dance but later on in the scene their arms were all over the place. I have to say that I found two of the three big swans decidedly lacking, especially Marchenkova, who displayed the most awful flailing, vulgar arms throughout. Horrible. The same mannerism also prevailed in her Spanish bride variation later. I do hate what Grigorovich has done in particular to the first white scene, where Odette and the prince are interrupted far too much by the Evil Genius., Igor Tsvirko, who displayed animalistic evil throughout and strong technique. I also wonder what has happened to the lake? The backcloth is murky brown. The Black Act for me is very successful. I love the different variations for the brides with their retinues. Of the Brides, I enjoyed Yana Parienko the most. She to me represents good Bolshoi style, and she was strong, exuberant, stylish in her Polish dance. Loved her. The Russian bride, Yakusheva, was also excellent and musical, with charm and amplitude of arms and nice use of her head. Rodkin was acting well in this act and the Black Swan pd2 was fabulous. Yulia's difficult variation with its succession of single and double pirouettes was performed technically perfectly and with musicality also and her fouettes also were strong. She did single, single, double six times, and then singles until the last double, which she sailed round and then nailed dead perfectly in 5th. Characterisation was old fashioned glamour and seduction and Rodkin fell for it hook line and sinker! The last act contains some nice choreographic patterns for the swans, and the despairing Odette of Yulia was very moving. However, The ending of this version leaves much to be desired, with Odette apparently dying behind one of the irritating gauzy shells that feature in this production, while a sorrowing Rodkin is marooned in front . The people sitting near me were bewildered by this ending and actually asked "has it ended?" Having said this, the ballet was a triumph in artistry for Yulia Stepanova and she was met with cheers and much applause and two beautiful bouquets of flowers.. I heard many people say they had never seen anything like it, and several mentioned Yulia's beautiful arms. I waited at the stage door afterwards and Yulia was full of smiles and very happy when she came out accompanied by her coach, Lyudmila Semenyaka, and Denis Rodkin. Great evening! Great debut for Yulia, and I hope for a promotion for her very soon!
  3. I agree that the ballet company is neglected under Gergeiv, obviously because his interests lie with the orchestra and the opera company, yet often the prices of ballet tickets are more expensive than those of opera tickets in St Petersburg, and the Mariinsky is more internationally renowned for its ballet company than its opera company. It seems he should be paying more attention to what his second-in-command, Yuri FAteyev, is saying: seems Fateyev is bent on destroying the reputation of the Vaganova graduates in his company on the worldwide platform.
  4. I read the interview of Yuri Fateyev in The Dancing Times recently and was shocked by his answer to this question. What do others think about it? Igor Stupnikov: Many leading company dancers are not graduates of the Vaganova Academy. Does this indicate that the Academy does not produce enough dancers to fill vacancies? Or is it that not all graduates meet the high standards of the company? Yuri Fateyev: The Vaganova Academy is an excellent nursery for dancers and produces many professional artists every year. The majority of them are good for the corps de ballet, with some for the higher rank of coryphee. However, the Mariinsky needs more talented dancers with individual qualities who can perform leading roles in the classics. It is, I think, a problem for any company in the world. The thing is that nowadays parents prefer to send their children to all kinds of sports-gymnastics, skating, football. It is from Dancing Times (Dec. 2014 issue)
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