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That's interesting, assoluta. Why is Smirnova 'not an easy ballerina to partner'? Is this a generally held view of her? I would have thought that a ballerina who isn't easy to partner would struggle to reach and maintain a principal position especially in a major company such as the Bolshoi, but this doesn't seem to be the case for Smirnova.

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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. 

Edited by Tiara
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I saw Stepanova's Medora in London and was quite happy with her performance. I do not have a trained eye so cannot see what people are referring to. I watch for my enjoyment and unless dancers are so catastrophically bad even I notice then as long as I enjoy what I see and don't feel short changed I'm usually happy.

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Whether or not an individual dancer deserves promotion and whether or not he or she is promoted are two very different things. I don't think that it is possible to evaluate the qualities of individual dancers on the brief acquaintance we have of companies like the Bolshoi or Kirov which we see for a couple of weeks every two years or so. We should not assume that we see anything remotely representing a cross section of these companies' repertory on tour and we should not assume that we see all the dancers in their best roles. What we see are ballets which those involved in arranging the tours believe will be of interest to the audience here and will sell tickets. It's the reason that we always get a lot of performances of Swan Lake. It is guaranteed to sell, to sell well and to sell quickly without any information about the casting. Repertory choice tends to be on the conservative side because the whole enterprise needs to make money and is intended to do so.

 

 

As far as casting is concerned I think that while in theory a company on tour has a greater degree of autonomy in casting decisions than it does in selecting its repertory  the casts who we eventually see dance are often a compromise between showing the dancers who the foreign audience has heard of and expects to see and showing dancers in their best roles.You only have to look at the RB's Manon casts on their last Russian tour to see that casting on foreign tours often has more to do with showcasing dancers who the foreign audience will expect to see and those that the AD wants to show off than it has to do with constructing casts which who work well theatrically and have the right sort of chemistry for the roles they are playing. 

 

The Bolshoi has recently had a change in artistic leadership in the form of Mr Vazem .We all know that such a change can mean anything from total stability to total upheaval for a company and everything in between.It can alter a dancer's prospects over night depending on what the new director looks for in performance.Although Filin recruited a number of Vaganova trained dancers during his time in charge of the company there did not appear to be any great change in performance style as far as what we were shown during the company's London tours was concerned. On the basis of those tours you could argue that the Bolshoi has enjoyed an exceptionally lengthy period of continuity and stability as far as its larger than life performance style is concerned.

 

It would certainly be difficult for those of us who follow the Russian companies intermittently from a considerable distance to know whether Filin's recruitment of Vaganova trained dancers reflected a wish to transform the Bolshoi or the wish of dancers to escape from the stultifying effect that Gergiev's artistic leadership of the Mariinsky theatre appears to be having on its ballet company. Mr Vazem is unusual in that he has considerable experience of running ballet companies in Russia and In the West. It is difficult to believe that he does not have strong views about the direction that the Bolshoi should now take and the dancers who have the capacity to work with him to achieve what he wants. Only time will tell whether the rather muted approach to performance that the company displayed during its recent tour is a radical shift in performance style reflecting Mr Vazem's taste and preferences or something else.As far as recent promotions are concerned I think it is safe to assume that they reflect his taste and are based on his knowledge of the dancers concerned and his assessment of their qualities and their potential in the context of his plans for the company's future.

Edited by FLOSS

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Stultifying is not a word I'd use to describe Gergiev's leadership of the Mariinsky, but ballet is the one area where he delegates, being aware that his knowledge of the art is limited.  He is therefore reliant on the abilities of others and of course being a kind of polymath, he spreads his attentions thin.  With plans afoot to establish regional centres one would think the dancers would be enthusiastic about the opportunities for extra performances, unless they are sniffy about provincial audiences.  Reasons for decamping to Moscow are probably different from one dancer to another but historically a number of dancers have made the change from Ulanova onwards. 

 

As far as touring goes I would have thought it essential to uphold the Bolshoi brand by fielding the company's finest, but having re-read the other comments on the Bolshoi's London season earlier today, it seems I'm far from alone in thinking the season started on a low but finished on a high.  On another thread I read that when the RB dance in Japan only principals are expected to perform, an interesting requirement, but also a pragmatic one.

 

It will be interesting to see how Makhar Vaziev's European experiences translate to a Russian company but personally future repertoire interests me most.  I've commented before on the financial crisis in Russia and I imagine unless sponsors with deep pockets can be found, there won't be the new additions that we've seen under the last few directors, consequently sticking to their established rep may be a necessity and that will mean dancers performing in the traditional Bolshoi style.

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Whether or not an individual dancer deserves promotion and whether or not he or she is promoted are two very different things. I don't think that it is possible to evaluate the qualities of individual dancers on the brief acquaintance we have of companies like the Bolshoi or Kirov which we see for a couple of weeks every two years or so. We should not assume that we see anything remotely representing a cross section of these companies' repertory on tour and we should not assume that we see all the dancers in their best roles. What we see are ballets which those involved in arranging the tours believe will be of interest to the audience here and will sell tickets. It's the reason that we always get a lot of performances of Swan Lake. It is guaranteed to sell, to sell well and to sell quickly without any information about the casting. Repertory choice tends to be on the conservative side because the whole enterprise needs to make money and is intended to do so.

 

 

As far as casting is concerned I think that while in theory a company on tour has a greater degree of autonomy in casting decisions than it does in selecting its repertory  the casts who we eventually see dance are often a compromise between showing the dancers who the foreign audience has heard of and expects to see and showing dancers in their best roles.You only have to look at the RB's Manon casts on their last Russian tour to see that casting on foreign tours often has more to do with showcasing dancers who the foreign audience will expect to see and those that the AD wants to show off than it has to do with constructing casts which who work well theatrically and have the right sort of chemistry for the roles they are playing. 

 

The Bolshoi has recently had a change in artistic leadership in the form of Mr Vazem .We all know that such a change can mean anything from total stability to total upheaval for a company and everything in between.It can alter a dancer's prospects over night depending on what the new director looks for in performance.Although Filin recruited a number of Vaganova trained dancers during his time in charge of the company there did not appear to be any great change in performance style as far as what we were shown during the company's London tours was concerned. On the basis of those tours you could argue that the Bolshoi has enjoyed an exceptionally lengthy period of continuity and stability as far as its larger than life performance style is concerned.

 

It would certainly be difficult for those of us who follow the Russian companies intermittently from a considerable distance to know whether Filin's recruitment of Vaganova trained dancers reflected a wish to transform the Bolshoi or the wish of dancers to escape from the stultifying effect that Gergiev's artistic leadership of the Mariinsky theatre appears to be having on its ballet company. Mr Vazem is unusual in that he has considerable experience of running ballet companies in Russia and In the West. It is difficult to believe that he does not have strong views about the direction that the Bolshoi should now take and the dancers who have the capacity to work with him to achieve what he wants. Only time will tell whether the rather muted approach to performance that the company displayed during its recent tour is a radical shift in performance style reflecting Mr Vazem's taste and preferences or something else.As far as recent promotions are concerned I think it is safe to assume that they reflect his taste and are based on his knowledge of the dancers concerned and his assessment of their qualities and their potential in the context of his plans for the company's future.

 

You (or your spell check) must have been thinking of the famous ballerina Ekaterina Vazem.  The new Bolshoi Ballet director is Makhar Vaziev.  

 

Mr. Vaziev has actually been quite vocal about his plans for the company, his dancers, and his views of Bolshoi vs Mariinsky style issues.  I would refer you to Ismene Brown's excellent reporting  http://ismeneb.com/blogs-list/160819-vaziev-full-steam-ahead-after-london-tour.html andalso to the film "Bolshoi Babylon" if you haven't seen it.  The dancers themselves are quite forthcoming in social medial, especially Instagram, to which I have become quite addicted.  I love seeing them in brief informal videos, working in the studio, preparing backstage, etc.  This one of Vaziev backstage in London  benignly watching Zhiganshina show off a bit tells us a lot about the tone at the company.  

 Then there's World Ballet Day coming up in October -- I personally plan to be glued to the screen. We also have many expert commentators on this Board and elsewhere, several of whom are longtime regular attendees at Bolshoi performances and who speak from time to time with Bolshoi personnel.  I gratefully rely on them for their insights and observations. It's true this is a lot to keep up with for people more interested in other companies, but there are those of us who have found ways to learn more about this company and its dancers, and I for one am happy to share, for what it's worth.   I agree that anybody on the outside is just guessing but it is interesting to speculate, 

 

One thing not generally known, perhaps, about the London Tour is that many of the more experienced high profile dancers were simply not available or had limited availability.  Obraztsova, Shipulina, and Vinogradova were on maternity leave.  There was a gala in Japan to which Zakharova and I think Lantratov and several others I can't remember had been previously committed. Staskevich and Hallberg were injured.  A number of experienced soloists were also pregnant, injured or had not been seen for a while.  Some, like Zakharova and Lantratov, showed up for some performances but perhaps not the ones they would have done had they been fully available.  This left Vaziev with a lot of holes to plug, so he used -- had to use -- less experienced dancers.  Unfortunate for audiences expecting to see familiar stars, but not done purposefully, I think. The "muted style" may have been partially due to the replacement dancers being relatively inexperienced and possibly not accustomed to dancing with each other, but who really knows, as you say.

Edited by Lexy

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The question of dancer's availability is an interesting one. Maternity leave and injury are not factors over which a company management has any control but I should have thought that guest appearances were subject to management consent. As international tours are not generally arranged at the last minute it is strange that the dancers you named were allowed to make gala guest appearances at the same time as the tour was taking place in London.Is leave of absence usually granted at such a time or was it a mistake on someone's part to agree to it? Do you think that Mr Vaziev is likely to agree to such arrangements in similar circumstances in the future?

Edited by FLOSS
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 it is strange that the dancers you named were allowed to make gala guest appearances at the same time as the tour was taking place in London.Is leave of absence usually granted at such a time or was it a mistake on someone's part to agree to it? 

 

Of course, when the tour was announced. Osipova and Vasiliev were due to feature. This would, one supposes, have made a difference to the casting of Don Q and Flames in particular.

 

As far as I could see, Lantratov was available throughout the three weeks.

 

Guesting seems to feature very strongly in the lives of the big stars these days, and not just those of the Russians. Four 'top RB names' have been posting pictures of their appearances elsewhere throughout this year and well into the period when the RB has been back rehearsing before the 2016/17 season starts.

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Lantratov was indeed in London for the entire tour. It was Lobukhin who danced with Zakharova in Japan and did not dance during the first part of the London tour.

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Yes Lobuhin was at the gala in Japan and partnered Zakharova. (I attended that gala)

 

Also, Skvortsov was only in Don Quixote because he was also guesting in a Japanese company which was a world premiere and had to be in Tokyo early for rehearsals. (his partner was Svetlana Lunkina)  

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The Bolshoi is due to dance 3 Don Q's soon, and the casting (last time I looked) is Krysanova/Ovcharenko, Zakharova/Rodkin and Smirnova/Chudin, all different to London.

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Thank you, Lexy.  That does make some of the casting decisions easier to understand, although I, like FLOSS, am slightly surprised at the number of dancers who were dancing elsewhere at the time.  Although the Royal Ballet tours are optional, so perhaps this is something which has spread to the Bolshoi?

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FYI, here is the cast for Bolshoi's Japan tour next June

 

http://www.japanarts.co.jp/bolshoi_b2017/english.html

 

Giselle 

Evgenia Obraztsova Igor Tsvirko
Svetlana Zakharova Denis Rodkin
Ekaterina Krysanova Vladislav Lantratov
 
Swan Lake
Olga Smirnova Semyon Chudin (2 performances)
Ekaterina Shipulina Artem Ovcharenko
Svetlana Zakharova Denis Rodkin
Yulia Stepanova Artem Ovcharenko
 
Flames of Paris
Ekaterina Krysanova Vladislav Lantratov
Ekaterina Shipulina Ivan Vasiliev (Guest)
 
Note that Zakharova's peformances are 2000yen expensive than other performances.
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Yes Lobuhin was at the gala in Japan and partnered Zakharova. (I attended that gala)

 

Also, Skvortsov was only in Don Quixote because he was also guesting in a Japanese company which was a world premiere and had to be in Tokyo early for rehearsals. (his partner was Svetlana Lunkina)  

 

Thanks for the correction.  I meant Lobukhin.  I forgot about Skvortsov -- I think I remember now that you posted about the Japanese premiere before.

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Although the Royal Ballet tours are optional, so perhaps this is something which has spread to the Bolshoi?

 

Really? I thought that i heard Kevin O'Hare say that he had given dancers the opportunity to opt out of the RB's tour to Russia but I didn't think that it was a general rule.

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Thank you, Lexy.  That does make some of the casting decisions easier to understand, although I, like FLOSS, am slightly surprised at the number of dancers who were dancing elsewhere at the time.  Although the Royal Ballet tours are optional, so perhaps this is something which has spread to the Bolshoi?

I don't actually know, of course, but it seems to me that given all the turmoil at the company and the unknowns surrounding the turnover from Filin to  Vaziev, it's not surprising that people might have wanted to take a little break from the company.  In addition to those who may have thought it a good time to go on maternity leave, there were other mysterious no-shows this past season (the first Bolshoi season I've followed) such as Maria Allash or Maria Semenyachenko. It will be interesting to see what the roster looks like going forward, whether these people will come back or just disappear.

 

On the question of why so many dancers were "allowed" not to be on the London tour, the only thing I can say is that I don't think it's Bolshoi policy for gala gigs to take precedence over company obligations but it's probably subject to negotiation at the "etoile" level.  Vaziev said in a recent article that he's considering implementing etoile status, meaning certain high level principals would be allowed to chose what they dance and with whom.  The interviewer pointed out that currently only Zakharova has this right and Vaziev agreed and said he thought some others should also be in that category, not naming names.  Given her etoile status, Zakharova's partial absence from the London tour was something she was entitled to do.  Her husband Vadim Repin was also appearing in the Japan festivities so perhaps that had something to do with her choice.  However, since none of the other absentees were considered by Vaziev to be etoiles, presumably they took advantage of a temporary breakdown of discipline that accompanied the turnover from Filin to Vaziev where a lot of things seemed to fall through the cracks (including leaving Vasiliev and Osipova on the list long after it was know they would not be appearing).  Again, this is just speculation, so if anybody knows the real scoop.....

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It is curious that Yulia Stepanova in a long interview

 

http://www.dansesaveclaplume.com/pas-de-deux/358869-rencontre-avec-youlia-stepanova-la-nouvelle-etoile-aux-yeux-demeraude-du-bolchoi/

 

the first one of many to come, says that she likes Wayne McGregor. I heard that the sympathy is reciprocal, so to speak. She was absolutely sensational in Infra. I don’t know how she does it but she has a rare talent of filling each movement in what looks like contortionist gymnastics with meaning.

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Dancers joining the Bolshoi Ballet corps this season are: Alyona Kovaleva, 

 

 

 

..... Alyona joined straight from Vaganova school and has been cast as the lead in Diamonds next month (her partner is Vladislav Kozlov also in the corps, joined the company in 2013). Looks like one to watch. 

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On the 1st of July 2017 the Bolshoi's brilliant dancer Vyacheslav Lopatin was given - at last! - the rank of Principal Dancer. Congratulations!

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Dmitry Gudanov, the only premier at Bolshoi who could properly be termed danseur noble, just retired. This is the raison d'être behind Lopatin's nomination, a stylist of limited emploi, it must be admitted. A great artist with similar limitations to Lopatin, Emmanuel Thibault, will be retiring from the Opéra next week, never attaining the rank of étoile.

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Very sorry to hear Gudanov's dancing days are over.  Both Gudanov and Lopatin have always been much admired in Britain. being old school I have a problem when the term 'emploi' is used to pigeon hole exceptional dancers.

 

I could draw up a list of dancers that should have had the world at their feet but somehow never did, but I'll just say that a former Bolshoi principal once described Emmanuel Thibault to me as "a genius" and I cannot argue with his assessment.  Far, far lesser talents have been nominated as etoiles, Thibault was one of the greats and personally I've met no one who ever saw him that thought otherwise

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O yes, there was definitely some similarity between Thibault and Lopatin, both perfect technically and expressive artists as well. The ballet critic Katherine Kanter, a  great admirer of Thibault, was the first who advised me to see him. Alas, the Opera's long serving boss missed a chance to reward that outstanding talent. Luckily, Slava Lopatin got the official recognition. The public appreciated his qualities long time ago.

 

And Gudanov ah...

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Gudanov, the dancer who illicites amazing and outrageous stories of his behaviour on and off stage from his colleagues.

 

nureyev and polunin have nothing on some of the stories, a real legend, I hope a book is written.

 

Also a wonderful natural talent of course :)

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According to their Instagrams, recent joiners Eleanora Sevenard and Tatiana Osipova took part as dryads in the just concluded run of Don Quixote at the Bolshoi. (See below). Also performing (twice) was Yulia Stepanova finishing up her first season as principal with this prima quality Queen of the Dryads excerpt.  Congratulations to these lovely ballerinas!

 

Edited by Lexy
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After her substandard performances of the role in London, I'm surprised she's still dancing the role

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In your opinion, MAB, in your opinion. In the opinion of others, including top professionals, she is among the best performers of this and other parts.  Your aversion towards Stepanova is well known and is not a reflection of her dancing or her unique talent.

Edited by assoluta
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Bolshoi Theatre's 241st season ends today. The last ballet performance (Don Q.) was yesterday. Some lucky witnesses reported that it was a fiery, breathtaking performance from Alexandrova & Lantratov.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BWiO0N8FYMc/?taken-by=jk__bt 
https://www.instagram.com/p/BWi2eGIF4zx/?taken-by=jk__bt 
https://www.instagram.com/p/BWjxw-1FhH1/?taken-by=jk__bt 
https://www.instagram.com/p/BWkA0lclbKT/?taken-by=jk__bt 
https://www.instagram.com/p/BWkIDcgFnPd/?taken-by=jk__bt 
https://www.instagram.com/p/BWkU3ByFzTl/?taken-by=jk__bt
https://www.instagram.com/p/BWkZo7vFX7p/?taken-by=jk__bt

Edited by Amelia
correcting layout
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Wow some great clips especially the fouettes they were so fast and su h a steady finish Brava to Maria Alexandrova ?

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