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Mariinsky California Tour


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Yesterday's matinee was the last performance on the Mariinsky tour of California, La Bayadere at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall with Novikova, Kim and Batoeva. It was magnificent!  Rarely do we see such dancing in the Bay Area, and the audience was over the moon.  The scenery and dancers competed for space on the small Zellerbach stage but they made it work to create an escapist fantasy set in a mythical past.  The elephant, the tiger, the parrots! Oh my!  They even managed to get 32 shades on the stage. 

 

Kudos to the corps! The same cast (except for the principals) had performed the same ballet twice on the previous day and some of them looked a bit tired.  However they gave it their all.  I recognized the inimitable Yana Selina as the second shade and Maria Bulanova in the grand pas. Maria Illushkina was listed as one of two dancers in D'Jampe but I couldn't tell which one she was, nor did she stand out in the grand pas.  Anastasia Lukina had a slight stumble towards the end of the third shade variation but was otherwise pretty secure.  The crowd loved Phillip Stepin as the Golden Idol.  

 

Olesya Novikova as Nikiya -- words fail.  I was sitting next to a young dancer who gasped each time Novikova held an impossible balance or went into a lift with all the insouciance of a person catching a bus. Her technical security allowed her to inhabit the role without pause.  During Nikya's monologue the normally unruly Berkeley audience held its collective breath and you could hear a pin drop. Novikova rarely tours (she has I think 3 children) so we were very lucky to see this performance.

 

I was expecting great things of Nadezhda Batoeva as Gamzatti, and those expectations were exceeded. What a glittering princess she was, what great technique and stage presence.  I have never seen such slow and beautifully controlled Italian fouettes.  She was an equal match for Novikova in the "cat fight" scene and added many interesting details to create a unique Gamzatti. For example, after Nikiya attacks her with the knife Batoeva conveyed Gamzatti's gradual realization of what had just happened and the evolution of this into a decision to punish Nikya. 

 

Kim was Kim, flying through the air.  The audience went nuts.  Bouyed by this, his last manege of grand jetes at the very end were if possible higher and more energetic than earlier in the ballet.  He was better as a partner than expected.  During the bows the mutual respect between Kim and Novikova was touchingly evident.  

 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to see these great artists in person.  I hope they return soon.

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6 hours ago, Lark said:

Yesterday's matinee was the last performance on the Mariinsky tour of California, La Bayadere at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall with Novikova, Kim and Batoeva. It was magnificent!  Rarely do we see such dancing in the Bay Area, and the audience was over the moon. 

 

I "was over the moon" as well in Costa Mesa, Lark.

 

Thanks, for your fine review. I’ve been waiting to hear about Olesya Novikova and I’m glad that she did so well and that you enjoyed the entire performance as much as you did.

 

I saw all the performances in Costa Mesa, California two weeks before and was delighted. For a three hour ballet (including two intermissions), I enjoyed almost every minute. It’s perhaps the most entertaining of all ballets in that it constantly holds your interest and has something for everyone.

 

Unlike the Corps de Ballet that you described, the same one that I saw seemed to get better each performance, but they put in a lot more miles before you saw them. Its Shades dancing, for me, along with performances of Nikia by Yekaterina Kondaurova, Alina Somova (who was replaced by Olesya Novikova in Berkeley) and Maria Khoreva were probably the ultimate highlights. I’ve read at least ten reviews and each one of them praises the Corps de Ballet to the limit. It was Magnificent !

 

Kim was amazing — of course. Vladimir Shklyarov’s second night was as good as I’ve ever seen him.

 

In the “Dances D’Jampe” as printed in my program (Danse de Jambes (dance of the legs, in french) would make more sense) Maria Iliushkina, for me, stood out more than in the Grand pas. In either she would have been the one with a face like an angel. In the ‘Danse de Jambes’ she probably would have been the shorter with the amazing back leg (jambe) floating around in arabesque.

 

I probably agree with everything that you’ve written.

 

Here’s a review from Costa Mesa that I particularly like. Hopefully you saw much the same thing.

 

[Entitled quite correctly….]

 

“The Mariinsky: A Dream of a Ballet at the Segerstrom”

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomteicholz/2019/10/23/the-mariinsky-a-dream-of-a-ballet-at-the-segerstrom/#548208532995

Edited by Buddy
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4 hours ago, maryrosesatonapin said:

On a good day (which  is nearly every day) you can't beat the Mariinsky.  Their corps members would be principals in most other companies.  You were so lucky to see this - I'm jealous!  Thank you for the lovely write-ups.

 

One of the World's greatest ballet companies, yet there are goodly many days when the corps can be lethargic and apathetic, and a sizeable portion of the soloists lousy. I witnessed this many times during my recent visits to their home town. "Their corps members would be principals in most other companies?" Well, some are, in fact, much better, artistically speaking, than many principals in other companies, even in their own company, this has been a well known paradox of the personnel policies at the Mariinsky during the last ten years. Take, for example, Svetlana Ivanova, a glory of the modern ballet, who should be flooded with praise and awards by critics while she is, sadly, hardly ever mentioned. How often do we mention her in these pages? The praise, attention and the awards are flooded on others, some much less deserving yet very well promoted, which is a good reflections on the critics themselves, on their supposed knowledge and understanding of ballet. The majority, however of Mariinsky's corps are just corps members who are better trained than their peers in other companies, with a notable exception of the Bolshoi. To be a principal requires a lot more than technical competence.

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2 hours ago, assoluta said:

 

The majority, however of Mariinsky's corps are just corps members who are better trained than their peers in other companies, with a notable exception of the Bolshoi. To be a principal requires a lot more than technical competence.

I agree - which is why I chose the words 'MOST other companies' with which I hope you will agree.  It's sad if 'personnel policies' get in the way of true artistic merit, but in spite of having also seen the Mariinsky repeatedly in 'their home town' I must have been lucky as I didn't happen upon any lousy soloists whatsoever.  I suppose these adjectives are always not only subjective, but comparative ;) 

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On 05/11/2019 at 10:26, Buddy said:

 

Apparently you are right, Sim,...." second-act D'Jampe dance" (New York Times), but I don't know what it means

On 05/11/2019 at 06:20, Sim said:

D'jampe is how it is usually spelled in English.

 

 

Here's a brief discussion at BalletAlert. The second post by rg is perhaps the most correct. The Jampe dance is an ancient religious Buddhist dance from Bhutan.

https://balletalert.invisionzone.com/topic/42972-what-does-djampo-mean/?tab=comments#comment-420410

 

And since we're here  😊

I'd like to reiterate my feelings that the California performances of La Bayadere in Costa Mesa ( All of them ! ) were Magnificently Beautiful and Heart Touching -- definitely "Over the Moon."

Edited by Buddy
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