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Hi

Just returned from the opening night of Swan Lake with Olga Smirnova and Denis Rudkin. It was a different experience to the last Swan Lake I saw with the Bolshoi a few years ago but still enjoyable. Smirnova was so elegant and the Corps were amazing. I was in Row M of the Orchestra Stalls and the experience was different to being in the first rows as I normally am.

 

Lots of curtain calls for Denis and Olga.

 

Did anyone else from here go? What did you think?

 

p.s. The smoked salmon sandwiches were nice but not worth 11 quid!

p.p.s. The Black Swan Champagne cocktail was definitely worth it!

 

 

 

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I thought it was a really fantastic performance. I don't actually like the Bolshoi production of Swan Lake very much, but the dancers certainly won me over. I had expected Smirnova to be quite a regal Odette, because the Bolshoi's dancers do seem to lean towards that interpretation of the role, but as it turned out, she was gorgeously shy and fragile, almost childlike. Rodkin's partnering matched that theme perfectly. They were much more in harmony than on Monday for Don Q. 

 

Of course, her Odile is always going to be a bit weaker, although I think she has improved her interpretation since 2013, there was definitely a long way to go. The highlight of Act III, for me, was Anna Tikhomirova again, who was fantastic as the spanish princess. I really can't wait to see more of her!

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We had the usual pattern for the Swan Lake rehearsal, with the first night leads of Olga Smirnova and Denis Rodkin before the run through with a cast for later in the run. The delightful Anna Nikulina and Ruslan Skvortsov headed the cast. Here are some pictures from the rehearsal.

 

Bolshoi%2BBallet%2B-%2BSwan%2BLake%2B-%2
 
Denis Rodkin - Prince Siegfried and Olga Smirnova - Odette
 
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Daria Khokhlova, Ruslan Skvortsov and Kristina Kretova 
 
Bolshoi+Ballet+-+Swan+Lake+-+ROH+-+July+

 

Ruslan Skortsov, Anna Nikulina and swans

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

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I enjoyed last night's performance very much. I really like Smirnova as both Odette and Odile. Loved Tikhomirova. Also really liked Nina Kaptsova as one of the Prince's friends in the pd3. She was light as a feather.

Unfortunately for me in "Act3" I could see the Odette double going up the stairs to the rear of the gauze screen covered by a black cape to do the vision scene so that was a bit of a shame/spoiler and likewise I could she her coming down again too!!

I agree the production is not the best but I got plenty of bang for my buck. No more now until Corsaire matinee. Phew!

Edited by Don Q Fan
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Well it's all sold out so no tickets for me this time but is there any way of getting in to have the Black Swan champagne cocktail without a ticket....sounds delish!

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I have been a Bolshoi fan since the mid 1980s but I have come home from today’s Swan Lake matinee feeling strangely subdued.

 

Unlike many others, I admire some aspects of Grigorovich’s production: the fact that Prince Siegfried dances almost as soon as the curtain goes up and then leads the pas de trois; the merging of Acts 1 and 2 and of 3 and 4; the way The Evil Genius mirrors Siegfried’s movement as Act 2 begins and the fact that that character dances a lot rather than lurking with menace or simply running around as so often happens; and the association of the princesses (brides in this case) with the national dances so that each has a group of supporters. I find the narrative weak (how would a newcomer know the story?), the insertion of a (sort of) dream sequence before the Black Swan pas de deux puzzling, and the ending very limp. I don’t mind The Fool and, after all, he does have the merit of warming up the audience.

 

This afternoon’s cast was Anna Nikulina and Ruslan Skvortsov, both Principals but often cast in supporting roles. For both of them, this was their only tour outing as headline leads. But I didn’t feel them giving the show their heart and soul. Skvortsov’s dancing was muted (at times he exuded so little energy it almost looked as if he was marking his part) and he displayed virtually no facial expression. Where was the Bolshoi commitment and elevation I remember of old? Certainly not passed on to him in this role. Nikulina gave a beautifully efficient but cold reading of Odette and an Odile who played more to the audience than to the Prince she should have been seducing. She has the facility to be wonderful if she gave us more characterisation and differentiation. There was little chemistry between Odette/Odile and Siegfried – certainly no love, tenderness, passion, or anguish. Doesn’t the Bolshoi do feelings any more?

 

Russian companies usually have the advantage of a female corps well-matched in height and body type. The Bolshoi is no exception but the unity and lines of its swans today were not spot on throughout and their faces looked disengaged. I guess that, after a hard week, they were thinking “roll on Sunday!”.

 

Come on Bolshoi, you can do better than this – can’t you????

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On the last night of Don Q, my friend noticed that during the long held pose of the dryads, two of the corps were having a right old chat! There is something afoot in the Bolshoi that's not quite right this year.

Edited by cavycapers

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Well I'm still buzzing from the matinee, eve performance v good as well. Too hard to type much on phone though...

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Just returned from London where I attended the matinee performance of Swan Lake.

 

I enjoyed it very much with two tiny reservations. I wasn't entirely happy with Grigorovich's libretto and I found the sets and costumes a little dowdy. However the important things were the choreography and dancing and I couldn't fault them at all. I was very impressed with all the cast - Nikulina and Skvortsov, of course, but also Georgy Gusev who danced the jester. His energy and virtuosity reminded me of Wayne Sleep in the 1970s.

 

There was an anxious millisecond towards the end when Nikulina seemed a little unsteady which made the person next to me draw in breath sharply but it was barely noticeable from where I was sitting (middle of row M in the amphitheatre),

 

I must say the management was a bit stingy in the flowers it gave to Nikulina. I thought she did a good job as did the cygnets, Kretova and Khokhlova and the various brides. Had the flower market stll been next door I would have thrown them some of my own,

 

I will review the show more extensively for my blog.

Edited by terpsichore
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I was at both performances yesterday. Whilst the Bolshoi Swan Lake story is not the best, I love the Bolshoi for the big dancing and big performances which were delivered to my satisfaction at both showings. The matinee was excellent. I had a restricted view seat and in the first half a big bloke was in front of me – normally this would bug me but I knew I was enjoying the performance because I really didn’t care!  Anna Nikulina’s Odette was enjoyable and I thought the corps’ Swan formations were good with one or two minor misalignments during the massed swirlings around the stage but I put that down to the stage being smaller than they are used too. In the second half of the matinee the chap in front had swapped seats so my view for the national dances was excellent and they were all good, especially the Spanish. Nikulina really went for it as Odile and the crowd loved it. In the final scene Nikulina (Odette) did slip/slide during a very slow diagonal stage-crossing move and went right down to the floor – she did bounce up very quickly and seemed un-flummoxed. The usual slightly odd ending but masses of long applause so the audience were clearly happy.

 

For the evening I was in the Orchestra Stalls with no viewing restrictions. All three principals were a step up from the matinee, especially the males (maybe because I was looking up at them as they soared into the air). The Russian dance was gorgeous with Anastasia Denisova as the Russian bride. I was in the front row and I didn’t detect any lack of enthusiasm from any of the principals or the corps, they all looked happy. The Orchestra were very LOUD, but excellent.

 

On the fashion front Nikulina had the big owl feather horns type headdress as Odile whereas Krysanova had just a few black feathers which would have been quite at home at Royal Ascot. In the evening the Polish bride costume started to come apart – the thing that wraps around the shoulders started to detach on one side.

 

So yes, it’s not a purist Swan Lake, no mime and a peculiar storyline, but it is a real contrast to the usual Swan Lakes I get to see. And it’s still a Swan Lake, with fantastic music and the marvellous Russian dance which no one else seems to do.

Edited by Timmie
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...There was an anxious millisecond towards the end when Nikulina seemed a little unsteady which made the person next to me draw in breath sharply but it was barely noticeable from where I was sitting (middle of row M in the amphitheatre),..

 

She did go right down to the ground at one point Terpsichore. Not a mistake as such just a slide on a slippery floor maybe.

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Timmie, on 31 Jul 2016 - 12:12 PM, said:

... one or two minor misalignments during the massed swirlings around the stage but I put that down to the stage being smaller than they are used too. 

 

      You are right, Timmie. The size of the ROH stage is just 60% of the Bolshoi’s stage. Compare the width: ROH - 24 m; Bolshoi - 39.3 m.  Additionally, the Bolshoi’s stage is raked, which caused, btw, some initial problems for the Royal Ballet dancers two years ago. 

 

Timmie, on 31 Jul 2016 - 12:17 PM, said:

She did go right down to the ground at one point Terpsichore. Not a mistake as such just a slide on a slippery floor maybe.

 

      It was the same spot where the Evil Genius also slipped and fell down during the dress rehearsal last Friday. Such things can happen to anyone and did happen to the greatest of dancers too.

      Nothing could mar for me the impression of that delightful performance by Anna Nikulina. I haven’t seen her dancing for two years and was amazed how she had grown technically and as an artist. There were moments when her touchingly sorrowful Odette reminded me of Natalia Bessmertnova.

Edited by Amelia
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Oh dear, I am in a minority here but we are always able to express ourselves honestly. I was so excited to be seeing The Bolshoi and my favourite ballet. I loved Flames of Paris last year and enjoyed Don Q at the Palace oh Congresses in 1980 ( Bolshoi being refurbished) however on Friday eve I was a bit disappointed. First part consisted of chances to dance and demands for applause. I missed the story telling and never felt emotionally moved in the love story. I didn't like the ending at all!

Rodkin was a gorgeously handsome prince, however he seemed very uncomfortable with the size of the stage. Smirnova was regal, I loved her arms, the 'broken wrist' technique and raised foot in attitude worked well. The pas. De deux surrounded by swans was beautiful, although her petite battlements sur le coup de pied were virtually non existent.

The corps did a magnificent job, but I didn't like their dinner plate tutus! I don't like Royal long dresses. I'm old fashioned, I like longer tutus with feathers! Loved the Princesses and entourage and other groups and soloists. Didn't like set, was there a lake? From the amphi it looked like a van in the background. The black swan pas de deux a disappointment, she fell out of the fouettés.

Too much asking the audience for applause, which was often lethargic. However good support at curtains.

A sudden thought music seemed very fast at times, especially the entrance of the swans.

Despite these petty quibbles I did have a great evening. I feel lucky and privileged to see great dancers. I hope to see Taming of Shrew on Wednesday but have chemo that day and may not make it. Thanks for this space to talk!

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Sorry to hear that you're having cancer treatment, jillykins. Perhaps a little trip to see Corsaire a week later might be in order if you can get a return. Hope the chemo on Wednesday is not too arduous.

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Best wishes jillykins.  I hope the chemo is not too arduous and that you can get to the performances you have booked.

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Such kind wishes, much appreciated. Ballet is such a special part of my life. Hope I wasn't too negative about Swan Lake! It was such a good evening and Ifeel so lucky to watch such talent.

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I don't think that you were unduly negative, jillykins. Your review was mixed and you were very positive about several aspects of the performance. When I saw the Bolshoi SL on a previous visit I thought that it was pretty awful, actually. In particular, Siegfried's dancing was really rocky in places, which is not what you expect of the Bolshoi; I said as much at the time.

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Best wishes from me Jillykins hope you can make it!

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Best wishes from me Jillykins hope you can make it!

M e too!
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I agree about the Bolshoi over doing the applause - after seeing 5 performances over the last week it wore rather thin by the end. They were good, but some were not *that* good as to warrant quite so much applause. I am dismayed to read dancers were chatting on stage that's not very professional. I think when it comes to Swan Lake there really is very little match for the Mariinsky swans with their even height of dancers, rod straight lines and timing. ENB (proscenium arch version) swans were pretty damn good too.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Stepanova in Corsaire and maybe splurging on one of those exclusive ROH Black Swan champagne cocktails! (The House champagne, passion fruit syrup and blueberry....sounds yum!)

Edited by Don Q Fan
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Me four! I hope you can make one of the performances before the Bolshoi leave, Jillykins. And there's always the glorious RB Fille to look forward to, not that far away.

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Me five! Very best wishes to you, Jillykins, and please keep your reviews coming, irrespective of whether they are positive, negative, or mixed. The important thing is that your insight and experience always make for very lucid and interesting reading.

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Having looked forward to seeing the Bolshoi since booking opened I found myself feeling rather flat after watching Swan Lake on Saturday evening. I know they, like the RB, have many traditions and their own way of doing things but, for me, the performance lacked emotion. Certainly during part one of act one they know how to milk the audience of applause. It felt like every little dance was followed by a stop when applause was required, very irritating. The two leads, Krysanova and Chudin are superb dancers, they would not be where they are if they weren't, but there appeared very little chemistry between them. I thought the character of the Jester, danced by Denis Medvedev, was very well realised, he really reminded me of Wayne Sleep, great dancer but on the small size to get the big roles. I did not like the choreography for the corps at all, sorry, much preferred the RB's or ENB's version. Too much messing about. Half a dozen or so chaps, holding huge trumpets/horns walk on, pretend to blow them when the orchestra are not, and then walk off again; as do a huge number of ladies/gents having served no purpose at all. At the end of Act one the whole cast come on, including principals, to receive an ovation from the unsuspecting audience who by then are on their way to the bar. Bit of an exaggeration but it was a bit strange. I must give a final word of the orchestra who I thought, particularly the solo violin, played superbly throughout. Flames of Paris on Saturday, so lets see how that is. Must say it has really highlighted to me how lucky we are with our own RB and ENB and how much we rather take them too much for granted.

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My thought exactly. And our BRB! I have been on edge watching the Bolshoi this year, and it made me realise how relaxed I am in the hands of our wonderful companies.

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I’m just channelling my ‘inner Russian’ and going with the flow (I do draw the line at the rhythmic clapping though).

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Just returned from tonight's SL.

 

I was really dissapointed for the reasons noted already (production/costumes/storyline etc)

Having said that, Smirnova was beautiful, elegant, expressive and technically superb. Except she did manage to fall out of the fouettés again as Jillykins noted in a previous performance. Lopatin as the Fool did a wonderful job (and was well appreciated by the audience), and the corps were on excellent form. The orchestra were again superb, especially the First Violinist (Alexander Kalashkov)

 

I just didn't enjoy it tonight, Grigorovich's 'dream' just doesn't make sense.

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