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  1. Some video has just surfaced showing portions of a Swan Lake performance from this 2018 run. One shows Stepanova and Volchkov in the black act and the other two show Stepanova as Odette. You can see the Odette variations on Facebook in the account of "Passionballet".
  2. Yesterday's matinee was the last performance on the Mariinsky tour of California, La Bayadere at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall with Novikova, Kim and Batoeva. It was magnificent! Rarely do we see such dancing in the Bay Area, and the audience was over the moon. The scenery and dancers competed for space on the small Zellerbach stage but they made it work to create an escapist fantasy set in a mythical past. The elephant, the tiger, the parrots! Oh my! They even managed to get 32 shades on the stage. Kudos to the corps! The same cast (except for the principals) had performed the same ballet twice on the previous day and some of them looked a bit tired. However they gave it their all. I recognized the inimitable Yana Selina as the second shade and Maria Bulanova in the grand pas. Maria Illushkina was listed as one of two dancers in D'Jampe but I couldn't tell which one she was, nor did she stand out in the grand pas. Anastasia Lukina had a slight stumble towards the end of the third shade variation but was otherwise pretty secure. The crowd loved Phillip Stepin as the Golden Idol. Olesya Novikova as Nikiya -- words fail. I was sitting next to a young dancer who gasped each time Novikova held an impossible balance or went into a lift with all the insouciance of a person catching a bus. Her technical security allowed her to inhabit the role without pause. During Nikya's monologue the normally unruly Berkeley audience held its collective breath and you could hear a pin drop. Novikova rarely tours (she has I think 3 children) so we were very lucky to see this performance. I was expecting great things of Nadezhda Batoeva as Gamzatti, and those expectations were exceeded. What a glittering princess she was, what great technique and stage presence. I have never seen such slow and beautifully controlled Italian fouettes. She was an equal match for Novikova in the "cat fight" scene and added many interesting details to create a unique Gamzatti. For example, after Nikiya attacks her with the knife Batoeva conveyed Gamzatti's gradual realization of what had just happened and the evolution of this into a decision to punish Nikya. Kim was Kim, flying through the air. The audience went nuts. Bouyed by this, his last manege of grand jetes at the very end were if possible higher and more energetic than earlier in the ballet. He was better as a partner than expected. During the bows the mutual respect between Kim and Novikova was touchingly evident. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to see these great artists in person. I hope they return soon.
  3. Yes @DrewCo you are correct about that. Now that the power is back on I could look it up to check! I also meant to mention favorably vinogradova, whose lightness is quite miraculous. However, with all due respect, I am interested in reading and discussing comments on technical details based on objective observations. It’s not just about who we like or don’t like. 😉
  4. Raymonda — Some really wonderful dancing, notably Belyakov and the adorable Liza kokoreva in the third act variation. There were also a few shockingly weak performances like antonina Chapkina as Clemence or hortense (not sure which) — she really seemed lost to the music. As to Smirnova, her lower half was technically close to perfection but whatever has happened to her vaganova hands? just since the Bayadere transmission they seem to have turned into sticks sharply bent at the wrist and then there’s that index finger sticking up at an exaggerated anglle. I blame Maria Allash, her new coach, because somebody has to be blamed for such ugliness. 🤨Aside from those few negatives enjoyed seeing the complete ballet for the first time. sorry for telegraphic writing and bad typing — have to type quickly — power outage due to fires
  5. Olga is not really in a class of her own. She certainly appeared to be much better than the others in Allash's class but that's because nobody else of her rank was there. If you look at last year's Akimov class you can see she's really no better or worse than the other primas who were also in that class, including Obratzsova, Stepanova, Shipulina, etc. It seems as if somebody got rid of her competition this year (except for Krysanova, who is beloved). I guess that's the Bolshoi for you.
  6. Lantratov was not there, nor any principal other than Ovcharenko. First soloist Igor Tvirsko was spotted in the Akimov class. I recognized a few faces in the Allash class but again, other than Olga, none of the recognized stars were there.
  7. Shipulina complained in an instagram post that she and other primas were not invited to film, so that's the reason Smirnova was in a class of her own. Krysanova had some time in a different segment, but that was about it. Very disappointing for those of us who had hoped to see an Akimov class full of principals as we did in the 2014 World Ballet Day!
  8. Bolshoi and Pathe have started publishing on YouTube short "webisodes" in advance of the Raymonda broadcast. The first one features Yulia Stepanova narrating and dancing the wedding variation from Act III.
  9. Both Anna and Ana are excellent in variations and shorter roles but both have limitations when it comes to primary roles. Anna has had trouble sticking with the choreo and Ana has not yet reached the technical level necessary for primary roles. Both are favorites in Moscow, however, and have been working hard and making progress, so perhaps we will see Anna as Kitri some day, and Ana as Odette.
  10. Adding my thanks for the fine audience reviews posted on here. I do have a question, though. Has anybody seen any professional reviews of Stepanova's three (one Spartacus, two Swan Lakes) performances in the UK press? I haven't found any and I can't recall even any passing mentions. Aegina is a relatively new role for her, so it's not surprising that others got more attention, but she has performed O/O more than any other role in her repertoire. Balletomanes on the various ballet fora have been commenting that her O/O interpretations have evolved while under the tutelage of Marina Kondratieva to something both new (ie different from the current standard interpretation a la Zakarhova) and old (recalling Ulanova's tenderness and vulnerability). Am I right there has been not one mention in the press about this? Her two Swan Lakes were on Monday evenings -- do British critics typically take that night off? (No criticism, just curious.) Color me puzzled!
  11. These three ballerinas - Zakharova, Smirnova, Kovalyova -- represent three different stages of artistic development, don't they? It seems a good idea to evaluate each with that in mind. Zakarhova is the mature artist, blessed with a perfect ballet physique who learned over the years to access her internal emotions and share them with the audience, thus becaming the complete ballerina she is today. Smirnova is in the middle years of her development, having achieved technical near-perfection but still clinging to her safe place of remoteness and artifice. She has hopefully another 10 years or so to become, perhaps, less glacial, more human, should she wish to do so. Kovalyova is not an artist yet, but only a unique, delightful, beautiful ballet dancer with a lot of potential. We will see whether she will apply herself to her art or skate along on her physical charms. While we can certainly delight in performances throughout a dancer's lifetime, I don't think we can honestly evaluate any ballerina against the "greats" of the past until we see their mature artistry. It's our great good fortune to be able to follow and discuss their artistic development in Swan Lake and other ballets.
  12. As Odile, Stepanova generally does really fast fouettés, but a rough start would make it difficult to get in synch with the orchestra, I would imagine.
  13. There have been reports that other Bolshoi primas (Zakharova & Smirnova) also had uncharacteristic problems controlling their fouettés on the ROH stage. Is it that different from the Bolshoi stage, I wonder?
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