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jonac

St Petersburg Ballet Theatre (with Irina Kolesnikova): Swan Lake, London, August 2018

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Had a lovely and marvellous night at the ballet yesterday, the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre's Swan Lake at the London Coliseum. Denis Rodkin of the Bolshoi was superb, and what an outstanding ballerina is Irina Kolesnikova. I thought her portrayal of Odette in Act 2 had so much depth and was so moving. Is anyone else going?

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I'm so glad you enjoyed it, jonac and I hope that I'm not going to dampen your enthusiasm by saying how I found the performance today. 

 

I waited  to bag a standby ticket for the matinee as I was drawn to seeing Kimin Kim. But I cannot bring good news. Kim is a very pleasant, but one facial expression, Prince Siegfried and only really impresses with his amazing leaps in the Act 3 pas de deux coda. Yulia Stepanova was a grimly determined Odette with not an ounce of softness - so steely, in fact, that it left her almost nowhere to go with her Odile. She did nail Act 3 technically, if not attractively, and, for a brief moment, she gave us a hint of a come hither smile. Unforgiveably, there were moments when she seemed to spend longer milking the applause than dancing the segment she was taking her bow for.

 

This is not a production that I will ever warm to, although the scenery for Act 3 and the lighting makes it look far better than it did when shown at the Coli 3 years ago. I continue to have problems with the underpopulated stage, the unrelenting, unvarying corps work in Act 1, with the very average soloist dancing, with a exceedingly hefty dancing Von Rothbart (think Donald Trump), and with the amount of chatting which seems to go on on stage. I know that many people 'hate' the Jester role but he danced well and his acting lent much-needed life to the proceedings.

 

But the really good thing about this run of Swan Lakes is that it's clearly pulling in a lot of people who don't go the ROH or, indeed, to see other ballet companies. It's great to be part of such an audience.

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I also went to see the matinee today and thought the production was dire - only saved by Kimin Kim. Any  excitement in Act 3 was undone by Stepanova milking the applause for so long, but this is the Russian way I know. The jester is always a good dancer but I find him extremely irritating. I can just about accept him in the 1st Act but have always thought that he gets in the way in the black act. I won't comment on Von Rothbart as I might upset the moderators! I came away thinking thank goodness I had seen so many excellent performances at the RB earlier this summer.

 

As regards the audience - don't get me started!!! People wandering in and out, talking non-stop during the overture and the pause and poorly behaved children. I was glad that I had purchased a concessionary standby as opposed to paying full price. 

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I'd forgotten it was on, TBH.  I went to see it last time around, and was underwhelmed, so good to hear that the production, at least, has been improved on since then.

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14 hours ago, cackles said:

As regards the audience - don't get me started!!! People wandering in and out, talking non-stop during the overture and the pause and poorly behaved children. I was glad that I had purchased a concessionary standby as opposed to paying full price. 

 

I was guilty of a bit of talking, something I never usually do. But I couldn't  keep a comment about that particular Von Rothbart from bursting out.

 

I'm not sure how the company operates but it seems to be run by Kolesnikova's husband and to be focused almost solely on her.

 

 

Edited by capybara

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Is Von Rothbart being danced by Denis Rodkin, capybara?

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I traipsed down to the Smoke and back for last night's performance with Denis Rodkin and Irina Kolesnikova in the lead roles..

I quite enjoyed the evening though not as much as I had enjoyed La Bayadere three years ago.  Rodkin never fails to impress even though he was more subdued than he had been 3 years ago,  Kolesnikova was more convincing as Odette-Odile than she had been as Nikiya.  The man that impressed me particularly was Sergei Fedorkov as the court jester.  I liked the corps and the divertissements (particularly the cygnets in act 2 and Hungarians in act 3).  I also liked the sets and costumes - particularly the lake backdrop in acts 2 and 4 reminding me of the Queen's View and the castle in act 1 reminding me of Schloss Neuschwantein.

A very diverse but also very reactive crowd with more than a few newbie ballet goers which is perhaps the best sort of audience to be part of.

A fuller review for those who may be interested in my blog.

 

 

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I went to the matinee yesterday because I wanted to see the guest principals: Stepanova and Kim and I enjoyed the afternoon.  

 

The theatre was pretty full considering it's not a well known company and there weren't many ticket offers. 

 

The production was fine (could do without the jester and tutor, happy not to have all the weird saluting in the new RB production, but not keen on the ending which was the one where Rothbart has his wing torn off and they live happily ever after); the sets aren't bad given that it's a touring company. There were audible gasps from the audience when the curtain rose on the black act although it didn't rival the new RB version for opulence and undoubtedly not for cost either. 

 

The ENB orchestra was great, I don't have the name of the conductor. 

 

The company dancers were mediocre to say the least. Stepanova and Kim only had to walk on stage for the difference in quality to be apparent, and when they danced it was as though they came from a different ballet planet. Having said that Kim didn't overstretch himself in the black act pyrotechnics (who can blame him though) but he showed off his enormous jump, no wonder I've heard him referred to as "the flying Kim" I enjoyed Stepanova's performance, both black and white, her Odette was soulful and her Odile vampish, all her dancing was absolutely secure and on the music. As a couple they weren't ideally matched, she needs someone taller and Kim showed a few weaknesses in the partnering department, a couple of times it seemed he pulled her off centre in her supported pirouettes (not sure that's the right term), but they don't dance together and probably didn't have much rehearsal time. 

 

The audience gave them a very enthusiastic reception at the end - quite a lot of people appeared to be standing. 

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I'm not surprised that you wanted to comment on Rothbart, Capybara! My friends and I did the same when we met up in the interval!

Did you get his name? It is not clear in the photo I took of the cast list.  Something like A. Laidkin???

I know that Dmitri Akulinin danced the part on the first night but it was definitely not him!

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9 hours ago, annamk said:

I went to the matinee yesterday because I wanted to see the guest principals: Stepanova and Kim and I enjoyed the afternoon.  

 

The theatre was pretty full considering it's not a well known company and there weren't many ticket offers. 

 

The production was fine (could do without the jester and tutor, happy not to have all the weird saluting in the new RB production, but not keen on the ending which was the one where Rothbart has his wing torn off and they live happily ever after); the sets aren't bad given that it's a touring company. There were audible gasps from the audience when the curtain rose on the black act although it didn't rival the new RB version for opulence and undoubtedly not for cost either. 

 

The ENB orchestra was great, I don't have the name of the conductor. 

 

The company dancers were mediocre to say the least. Stepanova and Kim only had to walk on stage for the difference in quality to be apparent, and when they danced it was as though they came from a different ballet planet. Having said that Kim didn't overstretch himself in the black act pyrotechnics (who can blame him though) but he showed off his enormous jump, no wonder I've heard him referred to as "the flying Kim" I enjoyed Stepanova's performance, both black and white, her Odette was soulful and her Odile vampish, all her dancing was absolutely secure and on the music. As a couple they weren't ideally matched, she needs someone taller and Kim showed a few weaknesses in the partnering department, a couple of times it seemed he pulled her off centre in her supported pirouettes (not sure that's the right term), but they don't dance together and probably didn't have much rehearsal time. 

 

The audience gave them a very enthusiastic reception at the end - quite a lot of people appeared to be standing. 

 

Anna summed up very well my own impressions on every aspect of the performace. The production is fine and enjoyable, one needs to be reminded that scaled down versions of the classics used to be a staple of all the touring companies, including the legendary ones, and the St. Petersburg Ballet is a touring company. Irina Kolesnikova is the reason I am drawn to its performances, she is a ballet artist of a rare kind (for this reason I am prepared to make concessions re. the quality of the corps). This time she is being partnered by the principals of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky: Denis Rodkin whose particular strength is his partnering skills, by the darling of the Mariinsky audience, the "flying Kim", and also by Alexander Volchkov. The added value for me this year is the fact that Irina invited a fellow Vaganova graduate, Yulia Stepanova, whose Odette and Odile I find to be most compelling.

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11 hours ago, cackles said:

I'm not surprised that you wanted to comment on Rothbart, Capybara! My friends and I did the same when we met up in the interval!

Did you get his name? It is not clear in the photo I took of the cast list.  Something like A. Laidkin???

I know that Dmitri Akulinin danced the part on the first night but it was definitely not him!

 

I didn't manage to source a cast list (and, meanie that I am, there was no way I was going to buy a souvenir programme). The name was announced before the start and all I remember was it didn't end with an "ov". Sorry!

 

Very varied reviews, I see, including this one  LondonTheatre1 which is just about the most biased I have ever seen. Do companies pay online 'critics' nowadays, I wonder?

 

 

 

 

Edited by capybara
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Seems he forgot the mince, slices of quince, and even the runcible spoon - whatever that might be.  I've long since forgotten.

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

 

I didn't manage to source a cast list (and, meanie that I am, there was no way I was going to buy a souvenir programme). The name was announced before the start and all I remember was it didn't end with an "ov". Sorry!

 

Very varied reviews, I see, including this one  LondonTheatre1 which is just about the most biased I have ever seen. Do companies pay online 'critics' nowadays, I wonder?

 

 

 

 

 

Based on that oh so biased review (it had me in stitches)I have no doubt those particular reviewers (and I don't call them "professional dance critics" anymore) get paid by those foreign companies to sing their praises in order to get bums on the seats! The days of intelligent, well-informed, objective dance critics are over :( . 

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4 hours ago, Xandra Newman said:

 

Based on that oh so biased review (it had me in stitches)I have no doubt those particular reviewers (and I don't call them "professional dance critics" anymore) get paid by those foreign companies to sing their praises in order to get bums on the seats! The days of intelligent, well-informed, objective dance critics are over :( . 

 

"the rest is silence...."

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Not much in the way of pictures with the links reviews. Just one shot - one photographer?

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2 hours ago, Ian Macmillan said:

Rather more pics in this Express review for tomorrow, clearly written by someone other than the author of that London Theatre one:

 

https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/theatre/1007555/Swan-Lake-REVIEW-St-Petersburg-Ballet-Theatre-tickets-dates-prices-booking 

 

It's interesting, having caught the Stepanova/Kim cast rather than the Kolesnikova/Rodkin one, that everything that is said in this review could equally well apply to the performance I saw.

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On 25/08/2018 at 04:42, Xandra Newman said:

 

Based on that oh so biased review (it had me in stitches)I have no doubt those particular reviewers (and I don't call them "professional dance critics" anymore) get paid by those foreign companies to sing their praises in order to get bums on the seats! The days of intelligent, well-informed, objective dance critics are over :( . 

 

Given the fact that the performances meet with wide spread enthusiastic response from the audience, I decided to examine your supposition that the author must have "got paid" in order to write what he did. I looked at his other reviews and found him consistent in terms of the number of stars he gives to the shows he considers worth seeing. Neither him, nor the author of the other review, are professional ballet critics. The other author wasn't moved by what he saw, this was his main criticism, the flaw he considered fatal. I don't know what he is normally moved by, maybe by "Avenger 4" or "Star Wars 9" (just an example of what kind of "Art" he is also reviewing for Express). He on the other hand seems to have been satisfied with the quality of dancing, especially by the principals. The fact that he considers Irina Kolesnikova the company's "greatest weakness" baffles me and suggests that there was a misunderstanding on his part regarding what kind of show he had attended.

 

Reviews written not by professional ballet critics, what value do they offer? To the informed public, I am afraid, none. To the general public, they may indicate whether something is really worth seeing or not. The first author gave an enthusiastic endorsement, the other one — thumbs down. Which one serves the general public better? I believe that an artist like Irina Kolesnikova, partnered by some of the best male dancers on earth, dancing Swan Lake, is really worth seeing. Judging from enthusiastic responses on instagram, and standing ovations, quite a number of people is moved by what they see.

Edited by assoluta

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On 24/08/2018 at 14:45, annamk said:

The ENB orchestra was great, I don't have the name of the conductor. 

 

 

I believe it was the ENO orchestra, wasn't it - or did the reviewer get it wrong?

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Before the "Swan Lake" series of the St-Petersburg ballet is over, I would like to offer a few comments. Irina Kolesnikova is a dancer from another planet, or another era. There is absolutely nobody like her anywhere. Her dancing and acting is so replete with feeling, with meaning, with drama. She easily overwhelmed Dennis Rodkin in their final performance. She also seems to overwhelm the critics, who seem not to get it at all who do they see. The Black Pas de deux in the palace, today nearly always a vehicle for empty displays of tours de force by leading dancers, with Kolesnikova becomes a game of entrapment and submission of Prince. Everything Kolesnikova's Odile does serves exactly this purpose. Two days ago Kimin Kim debuted as her Prince Siegfried. This was possibly the most convincing duet of the whole series. Kim's variation and coda, with jumps, tours, pirouettes and jettés en tournant that defy description made that performance for me unforgettable.

 

Last evening Kim was partnered again by Yulia Stepanova, whose delicate, untainted beauty reminds me of damsels of Burne-Jones, or Pre-Raphaelite angels. The landscape of medieval tales of chivalry seems to be the only place where her Odette belongs. She danced very well, at times exceedingly well, particularly Odette's entry, the action scene with the Prince, Odette's variation and coda, the third act was very dramatic. Her Odile was executed with easy precision and it was thrilling to see the musical accents perfectly observed, a contrast with Irina Kolesnikova whose body seems to be guided more by her internal flow than by the actual punctuation of notes in the score. Compared to Kolesnikova's, with her dense web of ensnarement, Stepanova's Odile felt more like the alter ego of those Pre-Raphaelite maidens, a siren, La Belle Dame sans Merci of Keats and Waterhouse. With Kim displaying consistently excellent form this was yet another memorable evening.

 

I find the decorations, which are designed, by the way, by an accomplished scenographer, quite satisfactory, and the medieval setting to be far more preferable to the 'historical' transposition of Scarlett's production. I find weaknesses in the first palace scene, and in the character dances. The white scenes are generally fine, when one's eyesight is not exposed to some of the less shapely legs of the corps de ballet.

 

I hope that my comments help undecided to go and see the artists I mentioned in the last three performances of the series. What if we may not see Irina Kolesnikova again?

Edited by assoluta
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On 24/08/2018 at 23:48, cackles said:

I'm not surprised that you wanted to comment on Rothbart, Capybara! My friends and I did the same when we met up in the interval!

Did you get his name? It is not clear in the photo I took of the cast list.  Something like A. Laidkin???

I know that Dmitri Akulinin danced the part on the first night but it was definitely not him!

Think it may be Aleksey Lisitsin someone on Twitter is desperate for a photo of him as Rothbart. 

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