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Bolshoi Ballet - Don Quixote, London 2019


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14 hours ago, Rob S said:

 

From my view in the amphitheatre it looked like she lost her balance while kind of kneeling 

 

I've seen so many Kitri's fall in that opening solo, the worst was Svetlana Zakharova some years ago whose Basilio rushed onstage to comfort her (although he hadn't officially entered) until she was ready to continue, the Bolshoi girls run onstage so fast!

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6 hours ago, Bruce Wall said:

 

Capybara, I would be grateful if you had quoted my entire entry.  I was NOT referring to Biktimriov - who, it is true, I have always admired - but, as clearly noted, 'one of the lads of the Fandango team (stage left side)' in terms of his unique headdress.   Somehow I can't imagine as consequential an artist as Biktimirov - who clearly was NOT in the Fandango section - donning such.  Blessedly Rob S had no difficulty in figuring my FULL statement out for which much appreciated thanks as much for that as for your stunning photo.  So beautifully framed.  

 

I am a big fan of Biktimirov too, Bruce. Sorry I didn't get to see him this time round!

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2 hours ago, Don Q Fan said:

Well, as my pen name suggests Don Q is my favourite ballet.  This latest version of DonQ from the Bolshoi (which they first brought in 2016) is not as good IMHO as the previous version which was much better as that lacked the rather incongruous jig dance which is possibly better suited to Corsaire or a panto.  That aside I enjoyed both Friday night (Krysanova/Soares) and Saturday matinee (Sevenard/Belyakov).  My only gripe for the matinee was the Queen of the Dryads did not dance any Italian Fouettes - technically really hard so I guess they were beyond the capability of Alexandra Trikoz - even then those that were danced on Friday by Olga Marchenkova were not perfect.  Really in my experience the Queen of the Dryads is a Principal or strong First Soloist role.  I know the Royal Ballet dancers struggled with this in the first run they danced of DonQ but the last run they seem to have it sorted.  

Krysanova's fouettes were absolutely amazing, with triples thrown in, and Sevenard managed her set well too.  I really enjoyed seeing Soares and found him to be a very elegant dancer.  Artemy Belyakov is, I think, a natural Basilio he really suited the role and gave a strong performance yesterday afternoon. The Grand Pas variations danced on Friday by Anna Tikhomirova and Ana Turazashvili were lovely and those 2 ladies are really great dancers and I always love seeing Anna and Ana.   I found both Espadas enjoyable (Biktimirov on Friday and Alexeyev on Saturday) but Vitaly Biktimirov will always be a favourite if I can't have Andrei Merkuriev!

The matinee was also the first time I have ever seen the Bolshoi Don Q with a different DonQ! Nikita Elikarov made a great job of the role and has clearly been well tutored by the usual Don, Alexei Lopaervich, but then he has improved on what I already thought was perfection, so the role is safe in his hands as retirement (or fewer shows) must surely be looming for Loparevich.  A spirited young dancer Elikarov was too when I met him at the stage door after and he must be one of the tallest dancers in the company.  

I have enjoyed the Bolshoi Season,  but I must lament the woeful under use of Anna Tikhomirova, how I would have loved to see her dance Kitri!  

I agree with the post above that nothing will ever quite compare to "that Friday night" at ROH (was it 2009?) when Osipova and Vasiliev wove their magic and brought the house down with their electric performance.  They did the same again on the Sunday matinee of that run too.  However, the Friday was the show that really was an extra special performance, it is one that lives long in the memory and probably I will never see the likes of again in my lifetime.  Wow that was a night to remember and no, nothing else comes near it!

 

A few photos from Friday and Saturday Matinee:-

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Krysanova/Soares

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Vlashinets/Biktimirov

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Krysanova (as the Dream Scene's Dulcinea)

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Anna Tikhomirova and Ana Turazashvili

 

From Saturdays Matinee

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Sevenard/Belyakov

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Kristina Karasyova and Ivan Alexeyev

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Erick Swolkin, Daria Bochkova, Nikita Elikarov, Eleonora Sevenard and Artemy Belyakov

Fabulous photos, as usual, Don Q Fan

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8 hours ago, Geoff W said:

 I strongly disagree that she was wooden.

I was referring to the times when Sevenard wasn't actually dancing - if you watched her you could see she just sat there smiling, as opposed to her Basil who constantly interacted with his friends in the tavern in a very naturalistic way.  I don't think she was wooden in her dancing and am sorry if I gave that impression.

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Lovely pics DonQfan and fully agree with everything you said about the Osipova/Vasiliev performances being really special and benchmarks for the role. The first time they danced it together over here was at the Coliseum in (I think) 2007. They then did future shows in 2010 or 11 at the ROH of both Don Q and Flames of Paris and brought the house down every time. Amazing performances that I consider myself very privileged to have seen and will treasure as a standard of excellence for ever.

 

That said, they might have contributed to my finding this year's Bolshoi performances on the whole lacking in the excitement of previous visits. I've always been a huge fan of the Russian Companies. Indeed it was seeing the Kirov (as they were then) in 1990 in Manchester and then the following week in Birmingham that directly led to my current love of ballet. For me the Kirov ruled supreme during the 1990s courtesy of the regular Hochauser visits and stars of the calibre of Konstantin Zaklinsky, Alytynai Asylnuratova, Faroukh Ruzimatov and Igor Zelensky. Through them I was introduced to ballets I'd barely heard of such as La Bayadere, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, Fountain of Bakhchisarai and many of the Diaghilev ballets courtesy of their Ballet Russes seasons. Later in 1999 the Bolshoi gave their first season for a while and we saw a bolder, more masculine style of dance and dancers such as Nina Ananiashvilli, Sergei Filin and Svetlana Lunkina and ballets such as Spartacus, Bright Stream, Pharoah's daughter and Flames of Paris. As the Mariinsky rather seemed to wane  the Bolshoi got stronger under the amazing directorship of Ratmansky and his newly choreographed ballets and amazing stars such as Osipova and Vasiliev. However, I've found the last couple or so visits by the 'Big Two' Russian Companies have failed to excite me they way they used to do. Whether this is because of my increasing attachment to the UK Ballet Companies, especially the Royal Ballet and because I have come to appreciate a more subtle style of dance, coupled with more complex, psychological plots and need for acting abilities not just technique - I don't know. By comparison with the Royal Ballet in particular (as unfortunately I haven't seen nearly as much of BRB, ENB and Northern Ballet as I would have liked) the Russian Companies' rep. seems very narrow and lacking in emotional depth (or at least that's what we get to see) When I think of all the fine performances I've seen by the Royal Ballet over the last year; Winter Dreams, Month in the Country, Romeo and Juliet, Mayerling, the Medusa triple, Two Pigeons, etc., Spartacus and Swan Lake seem very narrow by comparison. I know you can't judge a Company's rep by what we see here, and obviously they only bring ballets they think will sell well as the season is such a huge capital outlay, but they do usually bring 5 different programmes for the 3 weeks; 4 with half a week each and Swan Lake which has 2 half weeks. This time we only really got 2 and a half ballets with Bright Stream (their most interesting offering) only getting 2 performances.

 

My husband and I did enjoy seeing both performances of Bright Stream again as we haven't seen it for a while though the original cast of Filin and Alexandrova as the Ballerina and Ballet dancer are hard to beat as was Gennady Yanin's incomparable accordion player. However I'm afraid neither of us were really impressed by either of the Don Qs we saw on Friday and Saturday evening. Perhaps we were thinking back to Osipova/Vasiliev; also the last RB Don Q we saw only a few months ago was Osipova/Muntagirov which was almost equally special. So the bar was set high for the Bolshoi and for us they just didn't measure up to it. At the first interval on Friday Terry looked at me and said 'I'm underwelmed'. On the Saturday he said 'I'm even more underwelmed'. This more or less summed up what I'd thought too and being underwelmed didn't come cheap as it cost us hundreds of pounds for tickets, rail fares and hotel accommodation. I was particularly disappointed in Krysanova as I thought she would really 'nail' Kitri.  But her first entry and solo, which for me really sets the tone for the evening seemed rather half-hearted and lacklustre. The jumps weren't really high, the back bends (where she arches her back in full jump) weren't that accentuated; it just seemed lacking in sparkle and panache though it did get better as she went on and her fouettes were excellent. Motta Soares was OK and seemed pleasant personality wise but I didn't think his performance currently had the the 'wow factor' necessary for Don Q. In his solo he did attempt the Vasiliev move where he jumps, turns and sort of hangs in the air but they didn't have Vasiliev's height and polish. However, it may come. On Saturday night Rodkin couldn't even manage the one-handed lifts (he had to use two) and I don't know if he forgot his handkerchief for the 'death scene' but it wasn't in evidence. The death scene itself seemed rather rushed and didn't get the laughs it usually does. He did attempt the Vasiliev 'scissor jumps' in his solo though not as successfully as Vasiliev. Also the introduced dance in the tavern scene (itself not nearly as good as Acosta's) with the 3 men and a lady seemed completely out of place and from another ballet (which it was as it was very similar to the one Ratmansky did for Flames of Paris). However, the Don Q one wasn't nearly as well choreographed. 

 

In fact the only time either evening I got the 'wow factor' and my heart started racing and I got really excited was when Anna Tikhomiromova danced the first variation. As this lasted all of two minutes it's a bit of a reflection on how I viewed the rest of the ballet! As DonQfan said 'why wasn't she given the chance to dance Kitri?' Why hasn't she been promoted in the Company? She is still only a First Soloist which is below their Leading Soloist. Presumably this is where she was when the Bolshoi came in 2016. She doesn't seem to be getting the recognition and parts she deserves. In fact she seemed to have smaller parts this time than in 2016 though as I didn't see any Spartacus' or Swan Lakes that is only a guess on my part. I missed her street dancer in Don Q which seemed to be the only sizeable part she had in either Bright Stream or Don Q.

 

So apart from quite enjoying Bright Stream this visit didn't do much for us personally though obviously it's only our opinion. I know many others felt differently. I do feel the big Russian Companies might be trading a bit on their name and 'brand' though perhaps it's just my tastes have changed over time. Anyway, spent hugely on the Royal Ballet's new season and am really looking forward to seeing great performances and debuts which hopefully will not disappoint.

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41 minutes ago, jmhopton said:

In fact the only time either evening I got the 'wow factor' and my heart started racing and I got really excited was when Anna Tikhomiromova danced the first variation. As this lasted all of two minutes it's a bit of a reflection on how I viewed the rest of the ballet! As DonQfan said 'why wasn't she given the chance to dance Kitri?' Why hasn't she been promoted in the Company? She is still only a First Soloist which is below their Leading Soloist. Presumably this is where she was when the Bolshoi came in 2016. She doesn't seem to be getting the recognition and parts she deserves. In fact she seemed to have smaller parts this time than in 2016 though as I didn't see any Spartacus' or Swan Lakes that is only a guess on my part. I missed her street dancer in Don Q which seemed to be the only sizeable part she had in either Bright Stream or Don Q.

Agree with you.

As I said in the other thread, I think that Anna Tikhomiromova's case is largely due to her baby in mid-2017.  Maternity leave always delays a promotion and in ballet it is even more crucial... I hope that she will get to the leading level soon. She danced the street dancer on the opening night.

 

I attended both Thursday&Friday performance because it was Vasiliev scheduled for Thusday and Lantratov for Friday. I compared the 2 casts. The Thursday supporting cast is more "star-shinning" with more senior level soloists than Friday's. Although I am happy with many fresh faces on Friday, certainly Thursday performance has a stronger supporting cast and executed a bit better. It made Margarita Shrayner looked worse than she actually was... There was a press table reserved on the ground floor on Thursday and I guess that Bolshoi really bet a lot on that performance. The result? 3 stars in Telegraph... Well I actually think that it worth 4 stars for the brilliant corp and supporting soloists on Thursday night. Ruslan Skvortsov's Espada was very good. I don't think that it is fair to compare Ryoichi Hirano's Espada with Skvortsov's because Boishoi's has much less stage time. But I think that Skvortsov is a bit more/equally impressed to me (or at least no less).

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I wouldn't be so sure that "the Russian companies pale by comparison with the home team". Reading the above, gives an impression that ballet for some of us is a circus act where one-handed lifts and 'scissor jumps' are a determining factor. For some Ivan Vasiliev may be an ultimate ballet dancer, for me, and a lot of others, he is unbearable to watch on the ballet stage. One more thing, practically all of our principals and soloists nowadays dance in the pointe shoes that are a travesty of what the pointe shoes were and should be, while in those "Russian companies that pale by comparison", we still can appreciate, at least among some dancers, feet not disfigured by those terrible shoes that should have never been allowed in ballet, because they not only look ugly but they are also, to say it bluntly, a form of cheating comparable to doping in sports. Then, there is a serious issue with shoulders and hands whose form as displayed by our dancers is oftentimes simply painful to watch. Is the erosion of standards so great that no competent Royal Ballet coach can instruct our principals and soloists in what is right, and what is an absolute no-no?

 

Just a few questions to ponder...

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I think that very few, if anyone, posting on this forum would view Vasiliev as the ultimate ballet dancer, far from it, but performance is as much a matter of horses for courses as the exigencies of technique and Don Q, to be honest, is not that dissimilar to  a circus act - the flimsiest story line padded out with a series of party tricks and packed to the brim with exhilaration, rollicking fun and an extraordinary feel-good factor. Or, to put it another way, it is hardly best known for its subtlety. Vasiliev? Just the job!

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Assoluta - please could you expand about the pointe shoes as I am interested to know about this - are today's dancers not wearing proper "traditional" pointes?  Interested to know what has changed and what I should be looking for.

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Assoluta I found your comment about pointe shoes a bit difficult to understand.....especially when referring to dancers as doing something as serious as doping in sports!! 

Some pointe shoes look better than others that's true but then some dancers have tiny feet! Very young dancers still training often aspire to the prettier pointe shoe shape of course. 

As dancers however may be gradually getting a little taller and not all so finely boned then pointe shoes will vary to accommodate those dancers feet. 

They may not look as pretty but are still the real thing with all the usual probs of dancers adjusting to dance in them....not usually pain free!! 

Not sure how cheating is involved🤔

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I think that the point (sorry!) being made is that the shoes of today have little platforms at the end as distinct from pointes. This is sometimes the way they are made (e.g. Gaynor Mindens have a flat piece of suede there); but the outline is often created by the way dancers sew the tips of their shoes.

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Perhaps the platforms have got bigger then.

Was trying to cast my mind back .....quite a few years now though!.....when we used to crochet the tips of the shoes...to preserve them a little longer. There were little platforms there then back in the 50's and 60's but perhaps they have got wider? 

Its still a small balancing area though so not much of a cheat.

When you see Anna Pavlova's shoes in the Vaganova Museum in St Petersburg they were tiny and looked like they had very little shellac in them probably nowhere near as hard as current shoes. 

Probably all in the ballet world have been "cheating" since then!! 

 

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19 minutes ago, capybara said:

I think that the point (sorry!) being made is that the shoes of today have little platforms at the end as distinct from pointes. This is sometimes the way they are made (e.g. Gaynor Mindens have a flat piece of suede there); but the outline is often created by the way dancers sew the tips of their shoes.

 

There are times when the sewing is visible even from a distance - I have to admit that I don't like that since it does spoil the line/appearance. (Mind you I can't even conceive of how they manage to wear these shoes and dance on pointe regardless of what the ends of the shoes look like. I find it hard enough to walk in ordinary footwear.)

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Just now, LinMM said:

Perhaps the platforms have got bigger then.

Was trying to cast my mind back .....quite a few years now though!.....when we used to crochet the tips of the shoes...to preserve them a little longer. There were little platforms there then back in the 50's and 60's but perhaps they have got wider? 

Its still a small balancing area though so not much of a cheat.

When you see Anna Pavlova's shoes in the Vaganova Museum in St Petersburg they were tiny and looked like they had very little shellac in them probably nowhere near as hard as current shoes. 

Probably all in the ballet world have been "cheating" since then!! 

 

 

Exactly this - is it cheating or progress? Wasn't Pavlova herself the subject of disapproval for having a reinforced sole and toe box?

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Quote

I think that the point (sorry!) being made is that the shoes of today have little platforms at the end as distinct from pointes.

 

The shoes used nowadays by the majority of our principals and soloists, unfortunately, boast outrageously big blocs (I am not talking about the sewing which may look ugly as it does in certain brands). Not only this completely disfigures the feet, it also gives a huge (and unfair) advantage in performing what was previously considered technically impossible or very difficult. A number of my colleagues in the profession notice this with great regret. The bad example is now spreading like a disease through ballet schools everywhere. We are facing a total extinction of a pointe shoe as it was known for generations of great artists.

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I definitely think more is demanded technically speaking of today's dancers. Not talking dance quality here...that's a different matter...but just generally across the range .....higher legs, higher jumps, longer balances ( expected)  more turns...eg doubles instead of singles etc so in that sense perhaps the tennis analogy is quite good....the equipment adjusts to the demands!

Mind you isn't there something called "Real Tennis" where the game is taken back to its origins? Maybe slightly different rules and racquets?

maybe there will be a time for " real ballet" performances!!

Sorry I can't sleep tonight!!

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Reading forum comments comparing the Royal Ballet’s version of Don Quixote with the Bolshoi’s I decided (with the Belyakov/Sevenard version fresh in my mind) to watch my video of the Acosta version, with Carlos himself as Basil and Marianela Nuñez as Kitri.  I have seen this version live in the past but with different dancers.
 

My thoughts are: above all, Nuñez/Acosta are a perfect couple for those roles.  They are both so ‘Latin’, flirtatious, passionate and of course great dancers.  And they seemed to have a genuine affection between them.  So when they were on stage it was a delight.  Acosta wasn’t as elegant as Belyakov but for this role, his warmth and presence were just right.  He always exuded such sheer joy of dance – I do miss him!  Nuñez’ expressive dancing was dazzling throughout, with many little characterful touches which are more easily appreciated on film. 

I did feel the choreography had been changed to suit the rest of the company, with more ‘filler’ and pantomime scenes and less demanding virtuoso roles.  The RB men in particular didn’t come up to the standard I had seen at the Bolshoi this month.
 

The scenery and costumes were of a roughly similar standard – both good.
 

I liked Acosta’s introduction of ‘noise’ on stage – clapping, maracas, even shouting – which made it more atmospheric, and I particularly liked the live guitar-playing during the gypsy scene.  (I wasn’t fond of the puppet show of the Bolshoi version although their windmills were better.)  I also appreciated Acosta’s introduction of Dulcinea at the beginning and later, which helped to clarify the story.

Overall I loved both versions, and was left with a warm-hearted ‘feel-good’ response to both.  Above all, this ballet is FUN.

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A large number of Russian dancers, including Bolshoi primas Obraztsova, Shipulina, Smirnova and Zakharova, favour Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, which boast a "completely modernized interior", made of "advanced flexible polymers...not the 19th century paste and cardboard construction found in most other brands" (such as the Freeds still used by most Royal principals), with unbreakable elastomeric boxes and shanks, Poron cushioning and a platform that supposedly offers "38% greater useable surface for enhanced stability".

 

I'm not sure who is doing the "cheating" here.

https://dancer.com/about-gaynor-minden/about-our-shoes/what-makes-them-better/

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21 hours ago, alison said:

Wouldn't a better analogy then be (sorry for bringing tennis up yet again) using a larger racquet in tennis, or having a superior-performance car in motor racing?

 

I think this is a better analogy yes. 

 

Surely as the 'technology' of the pointe shoe has developed, certain movements/skills required etc has changed due to taste, the shoes merely adapt to this. It's a bit chicken and egg - have wider shoes enabled doing x movements or have x movements necessitated slightly different shoes? Or neither but wider shoes mean more comfort and endurance support for ballerinas giving us longer careers, less risk of injuries etc. Surely there must be a reason for 'clumpier' shoes which has some sort of benefit in payoff for some reduced lines? I would argue it's worth it in this case. 

 

Back in the day remember, there was no 'pointe'. Just soft satin slippers. Then Taglioni started doing pointe (without the hard bloc support of pointe shoes!!). By Taglioni's standards aren't all dancers using pointe shoes today 'cheating'? But ballet has changed quite a lot since those days, and changed again over more recent history (though less dramatically I suppose). 

 

Short of pointe shoes getting so extreme that the average person on the street is able to go on pointe and do ballet (which I don't see happening anytime soon), and short of there being very obvious clumpy silhouettes on the feet, I will continue to be amazed by the beauty and skill of professional ballet dancers, regardless of shoe choice. 

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Usually when there's a really wonderful performance going on whether one of exuberance ....drama....tragedy ....other worldliness or just sheer beauty ......the last place one is looking is at the feet.

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2 hours ago, JNC said:

Short of pointe shoes getting so extreme that the average person on the street is able to go on pointe and do ballet (which I don't see happening anytime soon), and short of there being very obvious clumpy silhouettes on the feet, I will continue to be amazed by the beauty and skill of professional ballet dancers, regardless of shoe choice. 

 

It may surprise you but they are already so extreme and, yes, they do disfigure the feet of some dancers in a very obvious way. The trend is spelling a catastrophe to ballet education, by the way.

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2 hours ago, JNC said:

Short of pointe shoes getting so extreme that the average person on the street is able to go on pointe and do ballet (which I don't see happening anytime soon), and short of there being very obvious clumpy silhouettes on the feet, I will continue to be amazed by the beauty and skill of professional ballet dancers, regardless of shoe choice

 

I hope that the technology and health science behind pointe shoes continues to move forward.  It is similar to the dramatic developments in athletic shoes.

I  understand that this creates a different aesthetic and performance.  Naturally there is some resistance to this change. 

 

For my young dancer it  means less damage to her foot and longer lasting shoes - so ballet is more affordable.  She has a mix of more traditional shoes and a pair of Gaynors (made with a polymer for greater support & to be longer lasting) as there are pro's and con's to them all.   

Edited by DD Driver
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