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A much improved Swan Lake yesterday evening. At the start of week two the company seem to have settled into their London Season. 
 
Skhlyarov & Tereshkina have been a regular partnership for years, their familiarity with each other pays dividends in exemplary partnering. In some respects they are opposites who combine harmoniously to great effect.
 
Tereshkina is remarkable. She has a simply astonishing, unrivalled technique and is in total command of the steps from her first entrance to her last fouette to curtain down.  Shklyarov is no technical slouch either, although I feel his particular strength is his exceptional vitality and warmth. From his first entrance, he makes every small gesture count and his total commitment to telling the story breaths life into what can feel like a moribund classic when the dancers only go through the motions. It’s this warmth that works so well as a counter foil to Tereshkina’s naturally cooler stage persona. 
 
A nicely executed pd3 from Batoeva, Shakirova & Stepin and Batoeva also noticeable in Act III for her beautiful swan arms. Terrific corps. 
 
Huge cheers at the curtain calls, throughly deserved. 
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14 minutes ago, annamk said:
A much improved Swan Lake yesterday evening. At the start of week two the company seem to have settled into their London Season. 
 
Skhlyarov & Tereshkina have been a regular partnership for years, their familiarity with each other pays dividends in exemplary partnering. In some respects they are opposites who combine harmoniously to great effect.
 
Tereshkina is remarkable. She has a simply astonishing, unrivalled technique and is in total command of the steps from her first entrance to her last fouette to curtain down.  Shklyarov is no technical slouch either, although I feel his particular strength is his exceptional vitality and warmth. From his first entrance, he makes every small gesture count and his total commitment to telling the story breaths life into what can feel like a moribund classic when the dancers only go through the motions. It’s this warmth that works so well as a counter foil to Tereshkina’s naturally cooler stage persona. 
 
A nicely executed pd3 from Batoeva, Shakirova & Stepin and Batoeva also noticeable in Act III for her beautiful swan arms. Terrific corps. 
 
Huge cheers at the curtain calls, throughly deserved. 

Agreed on all counts. the PdT particularly fine from the ladies, rousing one or two Bravas! from me. 

 

I very much agree about Shklyarov, some of his expressions and yes, those small gestures were truly beautiful.  His expressions when realising he had forfeited his love or rather betrayed it, was wonderful. Great depth of conviction in everything he approached, feather-light respectful partnering and support. He made Tereshkina appear more humane in her Odette, and yes, he breathed life into what can be a rather austere production. During the final fight with Rothbart I was really rooting for him inwardly, one felt the moment of resolve when he faced his nemesis. It was truly thrilling. And even the happy ending worked! A great pleasure to have been there.

 

 

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I was lucky enough to see two casts: the one with Ekaterina Kondaurova/Evgeny Ivanchenko and the other with Ekaterina Osmolkina/Ernest Latypov as the leads. Realise I'm a little late to post but figured I might as well before I chickened out entirely.

I do prefer this version to the Grigorovich Swan Lake that the Bolshoi brought last year. In comparison, the Mariinsky version seems less visually gloomy. I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan of the happy ending though – I find it a bit of a let down after that tension has built up just before it – but enjoyed it nonetheless.

I always forget how much I love the music for Swan Lake and am quite glad I decided to go (even if I did grossly overestimate my standing abilities during that first act). It’s funny how certain phrases of music can make you feel emotional & that final section of strings does it for me, irrespective of what is happening on stage.

I’ll start with my impressions of the first cast. Ivanchenko was a strong partner but ultimately I found him quite bland. I didn’t feel much, if any, rapport between him and Kondaurova, so felt the performance fell slightly flat.

Kondaurova is a really lovely dancer. She has beautiful, long lines & is a very strong technician, making everything appear effortless. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of her commanding, sensual Odile against her more vulnerable Odette, although did find she kept an aura of coolness/regality about both characters.

I enjoyed the overall performance much more on Saturday afternoon, with the second cast I saw. I do tend to prefer shorter dancers anyway, but one of my main reasons for enjoying it much more was that the entire cast seemed much more involved with the story.

Osmolkina was a much warmer, gentler Odette. She gave a really understated, emotional account of the role, so much so that I’m struggling to do it justice here. She had natural chemistry with Latypov. Her Odile, in contract, was wicked and sensual.

One of my unexpected highlights of the matinee was Latypov, a dancer I’m unfamiliar with. I tend to write off Siegfried as a bit useless, with little to work with character-wise. However, after last Saturday I completely changed my mind.

Latypov looks really young, but his dancing was technically proficient and he had no obvious issues with the partnering. Some of his landings weren’t the softest, but it’s only a minor criticism.

What I really liked was how he stayed in character, even during the curtain calls – the look he gave Osmolkina during one of the act I, scene II curtain call was one of awe. During the first act in the castle my eyes kept being drawn to him, even at the side of the stage, as he stayed entirely in character. I genuinely felt his anguish at having betrayed Odette in the second act… I really enjoyed the subtle nuances he brought to what I assumed was a limited role.

The pas de trois and big swans were performed excellently on both occasions. Dancers who stood out for me were Nadezhda Batoeva, Renata Shakirova in the pas de trois and as the big swans, and also Filipp Stepin the the pas de trois.

I quite like having a dancing Rothbart but still haven’t made up my mind whether I prefer it to the usual character role version. I think a bit of the character, and subsequent story, was lost in this version. He seemed less evil and less involved. I also found that his black costume blended in with the dark background a few times.

Of course, I don’t think I could talk about Swan Lake and not mention the corps. They were perfectly in sync and danced elegantly for both performances. The squeaky pointe shoes were really loud in the evening performance but were much quieter for the matinee the next day.

The dancing for both performances was really pure; nothing flashy or over the top. I enjoyed both performances for different reasons.

I’m still slightly annoyed that the matinee ran over the 5PM estimated finish time (the final act started 10 minutes late, grr)… I was so absorbed I really had to drag myself away in order to run for my train. 

Edited by Lenore
tried to remove underlined words - can't
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Have to say I found the Saturday matinee sadly lacking in oomph. Maybe it was my front row balcony position coupled with a far too warm auditorium (nearly fell asleep) but I got little emotion from either Osmolkina or Latypov. It all fell a bit flat for me. The swans were good but I've seen them even better. I didn't come away feeling wow like the last time they were here. Funny how we all see a different ballet! 

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Oomph is a quality I've never felt Swan Lake requires.

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? yes odd choice of words but it was all I could think of! 

Have to say Osmolkina did polish of some very neat Odile fouettes. 

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Belatedly. For me, Shklyarov/Tereshkina on Monday reached a different level. I didn't know they had been regular partners and perhaps that explains why the partnership seemed more comfortable, more equal. To my eyes, Tereshkina's Odette was softer and more sympathetic. Shklyarov posted a photo of their joint curtain call on his instagram with the comment, in thanking Tereshkina: "I think this was the break we needed..." ('break' as in interruption). An interesting insight perhaps into creative partnerships. 

 

I tend to prefer Benno to the Jester because, in theory, Benno gives scope for deeper characterisation and a choreography that is more than turns and jumps. This theoretical preference yields, of course, to admiration for actual performances such as Vyacheslav Lopatin during last year's Bolshoi visit. The Sergeyev version has almost overcome this prejudice against jesters. In particular, I thought Monday's Jester, Vladislav Shumakov, gave us a someone who was very believably an integrated member of the Court, quite poignant at times - as well as performing the "party tricks".  I'd be interested to see him in a dramatic role which wasn't mainly jumping. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you Johnpw, you have said it all for me! I had a wonderful evening and like you enjoyed Shumakov contribution as jester. He was a real person and managed to  appear to be a man with feelings as well as perform some amazing feats.

Tereshkina was a beautiful Odette, such a contrast to last weeks Kitri, and Shklyarov    Showed technique and characterisation. A lovely partnership for me. I :do like the swans in tutus, although I had a little giggqle in act 4 when they all posed, back to the audience, kneeling, one leg extended behind, and all we saw was a rear surrounded by a frill. Difficult to describe clearly! However what a magnificent corps. I did hear some shoe squeak but the overall impression of Russian dancers on pointe is one of glorious line where legs and shoes blend as one. No ugly feet, no soft shoes. Is there something different in their shoes? Again I was troubled by some of the men's landings from jumps by a heavy sound. It seems worse just forward from centre back. In other areas they are almost soundless. It has puzzled me before.

Have so enjoyed ballets by Russian dancers and the slightly old fashioned feel and am now looking forward to our home company in the Autumn. 

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Thanks first of all for the guidance on finishing times. Another late start tonight but a perfectly timed cab! 

 

Any my thoughts from anyone on the music? The tempo seemed considerably faster for some bits vs the Royal Ballet at least and music on cd etc going back as long as I can remember... 

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Soporific in parts, but pretty normal in others ...

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Just home after a not terribly enjoyable performance.  Let me preface by saying that my overall feeling was how much I miss RB, their narrative ballets and their modern masterpieces.  I know I am still something of a novice so am therefore unlikely to pick up on all the wonderful examples of exemplary technique from the Marinsky, but I was left cold.  (It was certainly the only bit of me that was cold - the auditorium was stifling tonight with everybody fanning themselves madly.  Has the air-conditioning broken down or did they not bother to turn it on?  Everything I was wearing will now have to go to the cleaners tomorrow which is another expense.)

 

Certainly a lot to admire.  The corps is absolutely magnificent.  I went with a friend who has only seen one ballet before and yet she commented on their impeccable timing and co-ordination.  Their lines are perfect and as for their symmetry...A little disappointed with Osmolkina who danced beautifully but for me with very little differentiation between the two roles and zero chemistry or even recognition between her and Kim.  I appreciate the Prince has a dull role to play and, as far as I could tell, he was a wonderfully supportive partner, but......Where there should have been drama/sadness there was just, well, dancing.  Pretty good dancing, I agree, but never for one moment did I think there was a love affair going on.

 

Act II seemed a pointless exercise in irrelevant sideshows and next time I'll sit it out in the bar!  Rothbart was terrific but injected more of a pantomime feel rather than any real menace and, quite, honestly, I was glad when it was all over.  The endless applause and bows every few minutes extended the performance till nearly 10.45.  Elderly lady next to me had to be helped out as she was faint from the heat which really was uncomfortably sticky.

 

I appreciate others who have a more in-depth understanding will have enjoyed the night but I'm almost dreading Bayadere now!

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On 8/1/2017 at 21:25, Don Q Fan said:

Have to say I found the Saturday matinee sadly lacking in oomph. Maybe it was my front row balcony position coupled with a far too warm auditorium (nearly fell asleep) but I got little emotion from either Osmolkina or Latypov. It all fell a bit flat for me. The swans were good but I've seen them even better. I didn't come away feeling wow like the last time they were here. Funny how we all see a different ballet! 

See my post.  Osmolkina was a beautiful dancer but I agree there was zero emotion.

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I saw the Mariinsky Swan Lake early in my ballet-watching days and have never wanted to see it again (same with Bolshoi version).

 

I thought it was just about technique and no emotion.  I can't stand jesters.

 

A while later I saw a review of Assylmuratova dancing O/O and wished I had been able to see her.  It seems to me that people who are more used to our more dramatic/emotional performances find the Russian productions a bit cold unless someone exceptional dramatically is performing.

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How lucky we were to see Asylmuratova guest with the Royal Ballet in the early nineties. She danced all the great classics. Lac, Beauty, Giselle, Bayadere, Raymonda. She also danced Juliet, Manon and Natalia Petrovna. A truly great dancer given the opportunity to show us what she could do in RB productions.

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2 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

I saw the Mariinsky Swan Lake early in my ballet-watching days and have never wanted to see it again (same with Bolshoi version).

 

I thought it was just about technique and no emotion.  I can't stand jesters.

 

A while later I saw a review of Assylmuratova dancing O/O and wished I had been able to see her.  It seems to me that people who are more used to our more dramatic/emotional performances find the Russian productions a bit cold unless someone exceptional dramatically is performing.

I only saw Assylmuratova once - think it was Bayadere - and was spellbound.  What a dancer and somebody who has never been bettered for me.

 

I was so disappointed last night and at times, dare I say it, bored.  We had nice seats, the audience was quite well-behaved but the evening never caught fire.  It is almost as if the Marinsky interpretation is caught in a time-warp which is difficult for some of us nourished on a diet of RB.  It was just some dancing, interspersed with bows and applause; no dramatic drive or tension at all.  I shan't bother with the Russians again, I'm afraid.  Anyone want some tickets for Bayadere??!!

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I've seen their Bayadere before and enjoyed it very much.  I wouldn't give up on them...

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1 hour ago, penelopesimpson said:

I only saw Assylmuratova once - think it was Bayadere - and was spellbound.  What a dancer and somebody who has never been bettered for me.

 

I was so disappointed last night and at times, dare I say it, bored.  We had nice seats, the audience was quite well-behaved but the evening never caught fire.  It is almost as if the Marinsky interpretation is caught in a time-warp which is difficult for some of us nourished on a diet of RB.  It was just some dancing, interspersed with bows and applause; no dramatic drive or tension at all.  I shan't bother with the Russians again, I'm afraid.  Anyone want some tickets for Bayadere??!!

 

I only discovered ballet when a friend suggested we take our then 5 year old daughters to the RB. For years after that I thought the RB must be the best company in the world and when I first saw the Russians (I think it was the Bolshoi at the Coliseum) I really wasn't impressed, in fact I left at the intervals of Corsaire, & Romeo & Juliet. But then something changed & I think possibly it was discovering that the style of dancer I enjoyed at the RB did exist in the Mariinsky & Bolshoi, you just have to identify them. As with the RB there are some dancers that can make the stage come alive for you and some who can't seem to - these may be different dancers for different people it depends what appeals to you personally.  When you see a performance by the Russians with the dancers who have the qualities that move you, maybe then you can also begin to appreciate more that the general standard of the dancing is second to none. So I would say persevere with Bayadere - Kim is technically the best Solor but IMO the most complete all rounder (& my personal favourite) is Shklyarov who is ideally paired with the exceptional Tereshkina, so if you have a ticket for Friday 11th August I recommend you give it go. The Bayadere they danced  a couple of years ago in St Petersburg was one of the most thrilling performances I've ever seen anywhere. 

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I was with Anna at that performance in St. P. and I must say in 50 years of ballet-watching it was one of the most spectacular, moving and perfect performances I have ever seen.  

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1 hour ago, annamk said:

 

I only discovered ballet when a friend suggested we take our then 5 year old daughters to the RB. For years after that I thought the RB must be the best company in the world and when I first saw the Russians (I think it was the Bolshoi at the Coliseum) I really wasn't impressed, in fact I left at the intervals of Corsaire, & Romeo & Juliet. But then something changed & I think possibly it was discovering that the style of dancer I enjoyed at the RB did exist in the Mariinsky & Bolshoi, you just have to identify them. As with the RB there are some dancers that can make the stage come alive for you and some who can't seem to - these may be different dancers for different people it depends what appeals to you personally.  When you see a performance by the Russians with the dancers who have the qualities that move you, maybe then you can also begin to appreciate more that the general standard of the dancing is second to none. So I would say persevere with Bayadere - Kim is technically the best Solor but IMO the most complete all rounder (& my personal favourite) is Shklyarov who is ideally paired with the exceptional Tereshkina, so if you have a ticket for Friday 11th August I recommend you give it go. The Bayadere they danced  a couple of years ago in St Petersburg was one of the most thrilling performances I've ever seen anywhere. 

Thank-you for that, Anna.  I do indeed have a ticket for the 11th and having seen Shklyarov in Marguerite and Armand a few weeks ago, so I will certainly attend.  I think that for me ballet absolutely has to engage me emotionally, otherwise I feel disconnected.  I am not well enough versed in technique to be able to sustain enjoyment on this alone although my amateur eyes could see how absolutely marvellous the technique in the corps is.  Their stillness, alone, is breathtaking.  However, I used to laugh at their need to take bows and be applauded every five minutes but now it more than irritates me - can they not understand that this habit absolutely wrecks the narrative and destroys any dramatic tension they may have built?

 

I can imagine that Kim is terrific as Solor and there was much to admire in his assured performance last night but little to engage with.  The pairing with Osmolkina was non-existent;  I saw nothing that told any kind of story although one has to admit that the 'happy ever after' ending does the production no favours.  

 

Your point about identifying with performers who you identify with is well made.  I am sorry not to have seen Kondaurova but looking forward to Tereshkina.

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Am finding all this negativity regarding the company distressing, particularly as they have fielded a stronger team this season tham in previous years.

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I'm sorry about that MAB.  Do bear in mind that I don't have the in-depth knowlege of many other posters.

 

I also don't think I am talking negatively.  I am just expressing my personal viewpoint of a disappointing evening which did not fulfil my expectations of what I look for in a ballet.  It is just as probable that for many others, the performance entirely floated their boat.  It's a bit like when I went on holiday to a Greek island and hated every minute.  Nothing wrong with the island for sun-worshippers, sailors and those wishing to chillax - just absolutely the wrong holiday for somebody like me who looks for culture, architecture, good food and wine and variety.

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53 minutes ago, penelopesimpson said:

 It's a bit like when I went on holiday to a Greek island and hated every minute.  Nothing wrong with the island for sun-worshippers, sailors and those wishing to chillax - just absolutely the wrong holiday for somebody like me who looks for culture, architecture, good food and wine and variety.

 

Archaeology isn't culture?

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It depends on the island....not every Greek island has things of archaeological interest.  

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I believe this year we are witnessing the exacting standards set for generations by Vaganova and her successors are progressively dying at the Mariinsky ballet. I am very concerned about it. More and more dancers in the company counting  nearly 210 dancers, display the telling symptoms of this erosion. I have no answer for this except for the general apathy palpable in the company.

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Assoluta: I'm not as qualified to judge as some others here, but the main complaint seems to be the lack of dramatic edge, rather than any technical deficiencies. Or do I misunderstand you?

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Yes, I was wondering the same, Lizbie.  As far as I could tell they were excellent technically and the corps were superb.  It was just that there was something missing - a bunch of dancers performing splendidly but never really inhabiting the characters or telling the story.

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23 minutes ago, Beryl H said:

It still started 10 minutes late (could someone explain why this happens every night?) but finished at 9.35pm.

 

 

The Russians are not famed for their punctuality - late starts are built in, to the degree that I got used to arriving at the Bolshoi only a minute or two before the advertised start time and not having to rush to buy a programme, deposit my coat and get to my seat. Even after that, I'd still be waiting for the conductor to make his entrance.

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I agree, for the most part, about the coldness of certain Mariinsky dancers' characterisation, but I did not think all of them were completely technically perfect. Kim, who I actually quite like, has made some minor, but obvious technical errors, Parrish similarly, and poor Osmolkina wobbled right out of her fouettes on Wednesday night, having had a slightly wobbly Act III anyway, and she had to improvise a few pirouettes to fill the rest of the music. Since we're criticising the Bolshoi as well here, and since so many of the Bolshoi's intake at the moment are the top graduates of the Vaganova Academy, rather than Bolshoi's own school, I think it's worth remembering all the disappointment and censure over the casting of Margarita Shrainer in Don Quixote last summer when she was so clearly technically unprepared. I think the audience can mostly forgive and forget all these technical wobbles and imperfections when the characterisation is good enough, but that clearly isn't the case for quite a few of these dancers. Anyone with access to YouTube can also see other, more established and well respected dancers of the Russian school, such as Skorik, Somova and even Tikhomirova (who I adore), being thrown into situations in their younger days where they clearly weren't sufficiently prepared emotionally or technically for the roles and thus made varying levels of mistakes. My point in all of this meandering is that I'm not sure it boils down to the simple idea that Russians have beautiful technique, but not enough characterisation or storytelling. It seems like there's been a more noticeable general decline in standards on this tour, and possibly the Bolshoi's one last year. I've been feeling more of a fond and mildly disappointed reminiscence towards 2011's tour this year than anything else.

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