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Dancers joining the Bolshoi Ballet corps this season are: Alyona Kovaleva, Olga Ladina, Alyona Ledyakh, Anastasia Strakhova, Elizaveta Khokhlova, Ilya Vladimirov, Artem Kalistratov, Andreï Koshkin, Modeste Skorodumov, Jacapo Tissi (ex-La Scala) and Kamil Yangurazov (ex Mariinsky & Stanmus).  The last is married to Yulia Stepanova who seems to be the only dancer promoted thus far. (Bolshoi often announces promotions in waves rather than all at once.)

 

In case anyone hasn't heard, Stepanova was moved up from soloist, past first soloist and leading soloist, to principal dancer.  Pretty much unheard of from what I can tell. Hopefully Vaziev is only waiting for an opportune moment to promote Anna Tikhomerova, Slava Lopatin and maybe even Igor Tvirsko, to mollify those who feel that Bolshoi style is at risk with the spectacular promotion of yet another Vaganova grad (Smirnova, Obraztsova and Zakharova being the other 3). I have my fingers crossed that nobody is considering the broken glass in the pointe shoes revenge strategy described by Mary Allash in Bolshoi Babylon -- there are bound to be a lot of dancers unhappy with Stepanova's elevation after only one year with the company.  Yet, that is Vaziev's style (remember Alina Somova's meteoric rise under Vaziev's guidance at Mariinsky) so they probably should just get used to it. Speaking of revenge, no sign of Dmitrichenko yet.  

 

It's hard to tell which dancers have left. The website is in flux and sometimes the English and Russian content offers quite a bit. For example Merkuriev no longer appears on the company list in either language, but his Russian bio can be found and he is still listed in the Don Q cast. Hopefully this will be straightened out soon.

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Thanks for the info, Lexy. To be honest, I'm really disappointed about Stepanova's promotion over dancers like Tikhomirova. When I saw her in London in July, I thought she was wooden and had almost a 'heavy' quality on stage, despite being a very slender girl. 

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Thanks for the info, Lexy. To be honest, I'm really disappointed about Stepanova's promotion over dancers like Tikhomirova. When I saw her in London in July, I thought she was wooden and had almost a 'heavy' quality on stage, despite being a very slender girl. 

 

I agree but, where promotions in any company are concerned, there are always issues that outsiders do not know about or do not understand.

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Thanks for the info, Lexy. To be honest, I'm really disappointed about Stepanova's promotion over dancers like Tikhomirova. When I saw her in London in July, I thought she was wooden and had almost a 'heavy' quality on stage, despite being a very slender girl. 

 

It is her lack of personality and poor musicality that I dislike and from her London performances her technique looked deficient too.  If Bolshoi dancers are feeling miffed I don't blame them.  Actually if you look at the St Pete's imports Smirnova is limited in range and Zakharova is little more than a contortionist, only Obtraztsova has true ballerina qualities.

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Thanks for the info, Lexy. To be honest, I'm really disappointed about Stepanova's promotion over dancers like Tikhomirova. When I saw her in London in July, I thought she was wooden and had almost a 'heavy' quality on stage, despite being a very slender girl. 

 

I agree with you about Tikhomirova - she is very commanding and seems to dance everyone else off the stage whatever role she's in - but I am really delighted about Stepanova too. Not nagging you at all, but I love Stepanova especially in character dances and 'oriental' roles - little clips of which can be found on Youtube.  I think she's very musical, alluring and confident but I don't think she was at her very best in London - I'm not mad on the extra-thin look.

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I agree with you about Tikhomirova - she is very commanding and seems to dance everyone else off the stage whatever role she's in - but I am really delighted about Stepanova too. Not nagging you at all, but I love Stepanova especially in character dances and 'oriental' roles - little clips of which can be found on Youtube.  I think she's very musical, alluring and confident but I don't think she was at her very best in London - I'm not mad on the extra-thin look.

 

That's a very good description of Tikhomirova; she has an excellent stage presence. It's true that I haven't seen Stepanova in a lot of things, and it can be easy to get the wrong impression of a dancer if they happen to be having a bad night. What roles in particular would you recommend I look at?

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Sorry, I started this thread for the purpose of sharing information about Bolshoi promotions and joiners, not really to evaluate dancers in derogatory terms without any substantiation.  All dancers have their strengths and weaknesses.  I won't here go into Tihhomirova's limitations (take a look at her resume and clips if you doubt that), but there's no point in tit for tat, imo.  Suffice to say that dancers at this very high level deserve our respect, even if they are not our particular cup of tea. 

 

I have heard that Stepanova is regularly trashed by Smirnova fans and Kretova fans and others on the Russian forums.  The effect is that canards such as "unmusical" are tossed around to the point they become received truths.  I have written elsewhere defending her musicality, which as a musician myself I find sophisticated and beautiful. https://bornagainballetomane.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/stepanova-promoted-3-times/#comments Ithink she is a wonderful dancer and would be happy to discuss further on another thread.

 

I do think Anna will be promoted soon, given all the nice things Vaziev said about her.  I hope she's promoted to the Leading Soloists and given opportunities to do the full lengths ballet roles she's not yet done.  

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Everyone is entitled to comment on posts in whatever way they choose, RB promotions run to pages of comment though I doubt a thread about the Bolshoi will evoke quite as much interest because fewer people have the opportunity to see the company that often.

 

It was very evident to me that the one dancer that really made a big impression here was Tikhomirova, most probably because she has qualities that appeal to British audiences, the foremost of those qualities is that she has a warmth that radiates beyond the footlights.  Regarding Stepanova it is curious that she has skipped a couple of rankings and on the basis of the three performance I saw her give recntly, I don't rate her as principal material.  I disagree with your assessment of her musicality, I consider it very poor.

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That's a very good description of Tikhomirova; she has an excellent stage presence. It's true that I haven't seen Stepanova in a lot of things, and it can be easy to get the wrong impression of a dancer if they happen to be having a bad night. What roles in particular would you recommend I look at?

 

I think she's very musical and engaging in this Russian Dance from Swan Lake:

 

and in this clip she's making love to the examiners in a very confident way for a young student:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOwvvVhM98w

 

 - I love her very detailed interpretation of Nikiya here, very far from just 'sad'

 

There are 5 clips of her as Aegina in Spartacus as well where she's very funny and vampish - the choreography can be a bit 'Strictly'

 

I haven't seen her dance Gamzatti, but I have a strong memory of Anna Tikhomirova in that role a few years ago at Covent Garden - she overwhelmed poor Nikiya and the audience and I have just had to look up the rest of the cast as I had completely forgotten who I'd booked for in the first place.  I don't think Anna had any leading roles in the season just past and really feel for her as she had many performances that were memorable.  She and Ovcharenko took Yulia Stepanova and Rodkin's parts in the ballet in Flammes de Paris and were brilliant - even though I was a bit disappointed to miss Yulia.

 

I fell for Yulia S as the Firebird two or three years ago when with the Mariinsky in London - she was brilliant and imposing but no clips on youtube.

 

I hope you enjoy some of these - I've had a nice time reviewing them, I must say.

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Everyone is entitled to comment on posts in whatever way they choose, RB promotions run to pages of comment though I doubt a thread about the Bolshoi will evoke quite as much interest because fewer people have the opportunity to see the company that often.

 

It was very evident to me that the one dancer that really made a big impression here was Tikhomirova, most probably because she has qualities that appeal to British audiences, the foremost of those qualities is that she has a warmth that radiates beyond the footlights.  Regarding Stepanova it is curious that she has skipped a couple of rankings and on the basis of the three performance I saw her give recntly, I don't rate her as principal material.  I disagree with your assessment of her musicality, I consider it very poor.

 

 

I'm fine with your liking Tikhomirova better and even with you being of the personal opinion that Stepanova is not principal material.  You must be aware that many disagree with you, but you may not know that the great dancer Ludmilla Semenyaka, Yulia's coach at Bolshoi, has been quoted saying she cannot work with an unmusical dancers.  Since Semenyaka is very happy with Yulia, it's virtually impossible that Yulia could have "poor musicality" as you allege.  Perhaps Semenyaka, Vaziev, Vladimir Vasiliev, Andris Leipa and Yulia's other fans have missed something?  You should definitely show us some videos of her being unmusical!

 

Since you didn't respond to it I guess you didn't go to the linked page where I demonstrated the subtleties of Stepanova's musicality, so here it is:  

 

"Many criticize Yulia for what they perceive to be a lack of musicality, but in actuality what they are uncomfortable with is the lack of what I call “beatiness”, i.e. moving or ending a moment “on” the beat in such a way that the “journey” between the beginning and ending is perfectly regular in speed, neither getting faster nor slower. True, this is pretty much how a corps has to move, in order to stay together, and Yulia does this when in the corps as can be seen from her many youtube videos. However, on her own she will sometimes, for example, start a movement late but end it on time. This results in a speeding up of the intervening movement which creates a phrase with emphasis at the end. There’s a good example of this a few seconds into this video https://www.instagram.com/p/BHpGE1DhZ02/ where the soloists behind her, as a group, start to lower their arms on the beat, before Yulia begins to move. Starting late, Yulia does the same move but faster, yet ends up back at the top together with the corps. Yulia gives emphasis to the movement (down UP) that reflects and enhances the musical phrase and gives it forward momentum.  (Try singing along with the music, or do the movements both ways yourself, and you’ll see that it’s a very natural thing to do what Yulia does.)   If we see ballet only as moving from static pose to static pose, or as essentially acrobatic, we don’t miss this sort of thing. But I think people who saw dancers of the past look for this kind of sophisticated musicality and are happy to find it in Yulia."

 

I would be interested in hearing your comments on this, supported by video.  Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 
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Sorry, I don't buy into this level of fan obsession, I've given an opinion and if you don't like it, you are perfectly entitled to express views of your own.  I rarely look at the Russian boards, as I don't read the language much but aware your idol has a number of shills pushing an agenda. 

 

Strange you don't comment on many of the other topics here isn't it.

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Sorry, I don't buy into this level of fan obsession, I've given an opinion and if you don't like it, you are perfectly entitled to express views of your own.  I rarely look at the Russian boards, as I don't read the language much but aware your idol has a number of shills pushing an agenda. 

 

Strange you don't comment on many of the other topics here isn't it.

 

No, it's not a level of fan obsession, it's a level of constructive, respectful discourse.  By refusing to defend your assertion of unmusicality one can only assume there's no there there. End of topic.

 

However, I must ask you not to attack me personally, even by implication.  You're implying that I'm a "shill" and I do resent that. I can be interested in Russian ballet and in particular dancers without being "obsessed", thank you very much.  Nor is there any rule that I know of that I have to comment on topics in which I have no interest. I live in California and I think I may have commented on here about our local San Francisco ballet, but I have no children taking ballet lessons and am not at present very interested in English ballet, so no, I don't comment on those threads.  I came here thinking many on this Board might be interested in hearing/talking more about Russian ballet.  I'm disappointed that the discussion has veered off into nasty baseless accusations and unfounded criticisms. Hopefully you will decide you've had enough and will allow us to get back to our friendly discussion.

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I haven't seen her dance Gamzatti, but I have a strong memory of Anna Tikhomirova in that role a few years ago at Covent Garden - she overwhelmed poor Nikiya and the audience and I have just had to look up the rest of the cast as I had completely forgotten who I'd booked for in the first place.  I don't think Anna had any leading roles in the season just past and really feel for her as she had many performances that were memorable.  She and Ovcharenko took Yulia Stepanova and Rodkin's parts in the ballet in Flammes de Paris and were brilliant - even though I was a bit disappointed to miss Yulia.

 

I fell for Yulia S as the Firebird two or three years ago when with the Mariinsky in London - she was brilliant and imposing but no clips on youtube.

 

I hope you enjoy some of these - I've had a nice time reviewing them, I must say.

Here's her Gamzatti debut: 

Edited by Lexy
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 I came here thinking many on this Board might be interested in hearing/talking more about Russian ballet.  

 

We are but, unfortunately for most of us, we have to rely on what we see in London.

 

Do you know which of the Bolshoi's new recruits have come from the Vaganova School?

Edited by capybara
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"baseless accusations and unfounded criticisms"   ???  I read that as only one opinion allowed.

 

 "Hopefully you will decide you've had enough"  What?  Is this some sort of boxing match?

 

You may deny being an obsessive fan, but your lack of courtesy suggests otherwise.  Although I'm happy to exchange opinions regarding the merits and demerits of individual dancers I find this level of fanaticism tedious.  You may if you wish take that as throwing in the towel, indeed I'm pretty sure you will.

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Wow, I am really sorry if my slightly off-hand criticism of Stepanova helped to start this argument. It might be worth remembering that most of what we post in this forum is personal opinion, and although we all have sensible reasons for our opinions, they are mostly based on personal taste and personal perception. As capybara pointed out, many of us are poor hapless Brits, who are reliant on Bolshoi tours, YouTube and DVDs for information.

 

fillebiengardee - Thank you for the videos! (And I love your story about Tikhomirova's Gamzatti! She definitely dominated as the Spanish Princess in Swan Lake and the Street Dancer in Don Quixote this summer, so I confess I'm not surprised that she had a similar effect in Bayadere.) I actually did really enjoy Stepanova's Nikiya (a role I can be picky about, as that solo is one of my favourites) so thank you for sharing. It seems like she just wasn't at her best in London. My policy tends to be not to write off a dancer at first glance, as I've had many changes of opinion over the years. Most people have good and bad moments and good and bad roles. 

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We are but, unfortunately for most of us, we have to rely on what we see in London.

 

Do you know which of the Bolshoi's new recruits have come from the Vaganova School?

 

Lucky you to live in London!  Out here in San Francisco we rarely see European or Russian companies.  

 

Alyona Kovaleva and Alyona Ledyakh are from Vaganova.  Check out Kovaleva ("Kovalenka") on Instagram.  She's utterly gorgeous.

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Wow, I am really sorry if my slightly off-hand criticism of Stepanova helped to start this argument. It might be worth remembering that most of what we post in this forum is personal opinion, and although we all have sensible reasons for our opinions, they are mostly based on personal taste and personal perception. As capybara pointed out, many of us are poor hapless Brits, who are reliant on Bolshoi tours, YouTube and DVDs for information.

 

fillebiengardee - Thank you for the videos! (And I love your story about Tikhomirova's Gamzatti! She definitely dominated as the Spanish Princess in Swan Lake and the Street Dancer in Don Quixote this summer, so I confess I'm not surprised that she had a similar effect in Bayadere.) I actually did really enjoy Stepanova's Nikiya (a role I can be picky about, as that solo is one of my favourites) so thank you for sharing. It seems like she just wasn't at her best in London. My policy tends to be not to write off a dancer at first glance, as I've had many changes of opinion over the years. Most people have good and bad moments and good and bad roles. 

 

I quite agree - I also think that we have inexplicable biases and preferences - I know I can be a bit all-or-nothing in my reactions and have my favourites, but then along comes a revelatory performance from someone I'd pretty much dismissed which makes me realise again exactly what you said (I don't want to give names in a negative context).

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Wow, I am really sorry if my slightly off-hand criticism of Stepanova helped to start this argument. It might be worth remembering that most of what we post in this forum is personal opinion, and although we all have sensible reasons for our opinions, they are mostly based on personal taste and personal perception. As capybara pointed out, many of us are poor hapless Brits, who are reliant on Bolshoi tours, YouTube and DVDs for information.

 

I totally agree with you that everybody has and certainly is entitled to their own opinion. I've heard lots of valid criticism and discussion of Stepanova's Queen of the Dryads variation (a truly ugly variation imo no matter who dances it), but I hadn't heard from any source that her O/O or Medora were wooden or heavy.  If I hadn't gotten distracted I would have followed up with you on your impressions.  I know nobody could tape those performances so I would happily rely on the observations of people who actually saw it.

 

But what if we're talking about a dancer's characteristic style or skill as opposed to a specific performance?  If I said that Tikhomirova has been held back because she is sloppy (frequently falls out of pirouettes), adds extra steps and has a limited range of characterization, i would not be surprised if somebody asked me to show them some video and/or her bio.  Perhaps she is generally unreliable and just had a great couple of days in London. Perhaps she has improved since the videos showing problems were filmed.  All this we can talk about in a constructive way.

 

If on the other hand I said in a pejorative fashion that I don't like Tikhomirova's grandstanding, incessant self promotion and mugging for the audience -- well, what would be the purpose other than to hurt her?  The charge that Stepanova is unmusical is in a similar vein. It's all over the internet promulgated by people  (primarily on the Russian fan sites) who don't want her challenging their favorites. It's designed to be hurtful and it's very difficult to refute because it's an artistic issue, unlike taking extra steps or falling out of pirouettes.  So the charge has stood, even though patently and demonstrably untrue.  This is why when anybody charges Stepanova with unmusicality I ask them for video.  Nobody has EVER been able to show me a video in which she is unmusical.  No reasonable person would believe that a dancer who is always musical on video would suddenly become unmusical in live performance. The indisputable fact is,Yulia Stepanova is a musical dancer. 

 

Anyway, I'm eagerly looking forward to additional promotions at the Bolshoi, especially the promotions of Tikhomirova and Lopatin.  I think the troupe is shaping up into something very interesting!

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I'm very disappointed at the tone taken in some of the posts on this thread.  At the risk of repeating myself, can I remind all members of paragraph 3 of the AUP (link at the bottom right of the page), which reads in full:

 

"3. Contributors must be respectful to others. Vulgar, abusive, racist, and sexist language will not be tolerated. Any posts determined by a moderator to be either offensive or potentially libellous or unlawful or to be against the spirit of this acceptable use policy will be removed. The relevant poster’s account may be suspended or banned. If a member chooses to make highly critical comments this must be done in their own full name and not behind an anonymous user name and email address. Forum rules prohibit members from acting disingenuously, including by personation or wilfully misrepresenting themselves. Members who do this face suspension from the forum."

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Wow, I am really sorry if my slightly off-hand criticism of Stepanova helped to start this argument. It might be worth remembering that most of what we post in this forum is personal opinion, and although we all have sensible reasons for our opinions, they are mostly based on personal taste and personal perception.

 

You have nothing to apologize for VP and you are absolutely correct.  We see the Bolshoi infrequently in London so expectations are high, particularly in the light of the exciting young dancers in the resurgent Royal Ballet and the high level of youthful talent at ENB.  Over the years the Bolshoi has been fairly consistent setting very high standards and although I don't expect to see an Osipova emerging on every tour there are standards of performance we expect to see and I think it would be a little misleadingt to turn a blind eye when those expectations aren't met.  Having said that I enjoyed the season immensely, though this time around it was the old favourites that gave the stand out performances.

 

As for starting an argument: you didn't.  The old saying that some people can start an argument in an empty room springs to mind in this case.

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Lucky you to live in London!  Out here in San Francisco we rarely see European or Russian companies.  

 

Alyona Kovaleva and Alyona Ledyakh are from Vaganova.  Check out Kovaleva ("Kovalenka") on Instagram.  She's utterly gorgeous.

 

Here's a video of Kovaleva

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I haven't seen her dance Gamzatti, but I have a strong memory of Anna Tikhomirova in that role a few years ago at Covent Garden - she overwhelmed poor Nikiya and the audience and I have just had to look up the rest of the cast as I had completely forgotten who I'd booked for in the first place.  I don't think Anna had any leading roles in the season just past and really feel for her as she had many performances that were memorable.  She and Ovcharenko took Yulia Stepanova and Rodkin's parts in the ballet in Flammes de Paris and were brilliant - even though I was a bit disappointed to miss Yulia.

 

Anna was given several principal parts last season and, I am very sorry to say that, practically in every one of them there was a serious problem. These are not  the things to be discussed in public so I will not say anything beyond this. Vaziev in full knowledge of the potential problem gave Anna another chance, a debut in "Giselle" in late Spring, and his decision was met left-and-right by a lot of skepticism, speaking politely. And there was a problem indeed. In London Anna performed the roles ideally suited to her current capabilities. Another thing is that when one sees Anna regularly, her strong acting and playing towards the audience quickly starts to feel as over-acting and not particularly subtle, and becomes wearisome as a result, this a complaint I frequently hear from seasoned ballet lovers in Moscow.

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I quite agree - I also think that we have inexplicable biases and preferences - I know I can be a bit all-or-nothing in my reactions and have my favourites, but then along comes a revelatory performance from someone I'd pretty much dismissed which makes me realise again exactly what you said (I don't want to give names in a negative context).

 

This has certainly been my experience! I have loved some dancers at first sight, and with some it has taken a lot longer. Some dancers work better live on stage, and some work better on film. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to revise their opinion sometimes!

 

 

 

Lexy - I have to agree with you about the Queen of the Dryads - it's a tough variation and can make even the lightest of dancers seem stodgy and tired. I'm not going to argue about Tikhomirova, because I think she's a marmite dancer and we've had enough arguing for one topic. I just want to say that, I would never call any dancer 'unmusical', because I myself am not at all musical. I like listening to music very much, but I'm sure dance examiners up and down the country can tell you that I've always scored lowest when it comes to musicality. I am, therefore, a terrible judge. I thought your idea about Stepanova starting movements late, but ending at the right time was an interesting one actually and I'll definitely consider it next time I see her.

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Lexy - I have to agree with you about the Queen of the Dryads - it's a tough variation and can make even the lightest of dancers seem stodgy and tired.

 

Actually, the Queen of the Dryads variation in the current Bolshoi "Don Quixote" is quite universally considered to be weak choreography. I am not entirely certain who is to blame but the fact remains. I wonder by the way which performance of "Don Quixote" did you attend, the opening night?

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Anna was given several principal parts last season and, I am very sorry to say that, practically in every one of them there was a serious problem. These are not  the things to be discussed in public so I will not say anything beyond this. Vaziev in full knowledge of the potential problem gave Anna another chance, a debut in "Giselle" in late Spring, and his decision was met left-and-right by a lot of skepticism, speaking politely. And there was a problem indeed. In London Anna performed the roles ideally suited to her current capabilities. Another thing is that when one sees Anna regularly, her strong acting and playing towards the audience quickly starts to feel as over-acting and not particularly subtle, and becomes wearisome as a result, this a complaint I frequently hear from seasoned ballet lovers in Moscow.

 

I was referring only to the London season.

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Actually, the Queen of the Dryads variation in the current Bolshoi "Don Quixote" is quite universally considered to be weak choreography. I am not entirely certain who is to blame but the fact remains. I wonder by the way which performance of "Don Quixote" did you attend, the opening night?

 

Well then, I think the universe is right about the choreography! And yes, it was opening night. I think it's generally agreed to have been a bit disappointing all round.

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Well then, I think the universe is right about the choreography! And yes, it was opening night. I think it's generally agreed to have been a bit disappointing all round.

 

You could feel everybody was nervous. It was only the second time Smirnova danced Kitri, I think, and her debut was not with Denis Rodkin but with Artem Ovcharenko. This partly accounts for the lack of "chemistry". She is not an easy ballerina to partner.

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