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Russian Ballet Icons Gala - London - 9th March 2014


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Alina and Johan probably get my vote for best performance of the night.  It was also great to see the Daria and Vadim partnership, plus a rare chance to see Zelensky (not sure where he had got to come the final curtain call?).  Kimin Kim was very striking in Diana & Acteon, and seemed to go down very well with the audience, especially considering he's not well known in London (as far as I'm aware).

 

Marian Walter didn't seem to be on good form (I think I spotted a few wobbly landings), which is a shame as he's been brilliant when I've seen him before.  Polunin was ok but not at his amazing best I don't think, which I put down to his dislike of galas and an inexperienced partner.  Diamonds with Soares and Nunez was also a bit so-so.

 

Overall quite a mix, as Balleteacher says.

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Fab night at Russian Icons. Highlights for me: Alina Cojacaru and Johann Kobborg in Manon pdd, Iana Salenko in both FoP and Corsaire she pulled off 32+ fouettes in both! Kimin Kim takes the crown for the most fantastic jumps in Diana & Acteon. Amazing. Most welcome return Maria Alexandrova even if she played it "safe" with Carmen. Most deprived piece Elena Glurdjize and Arionel Vargas in Spring Waters we only got about 5 nano seconds worth "we were robbed"!!!! DonQ gpdd was ok but the fouettes ran out of steam at about 25 such a shame given it was the finale. So good to see Sergei dance again. A great evening anyway and well worth the price of the ticket.

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I think Alina and Johan plus Daria and Vadim chose wisely in terms of what they performed. There were a few cringe moments like hands on floor after landing from jumps, lack of turnout in one dancer and lack of turns for another. I think there is the potential for this to be a great event but was surprised to come away disappointed overall by technical standard of some of the dancers.

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Not wild about Galas but went to this to see Daria Klimentova and Vadim Muntagirov one last time (I can't get to R & J). They are indeed wonderful to watch together and their matching of line even when moving backwards at speed wonderful to behold. I didn't agree with all her textural choices in her solo but he certainly got the audience cheering. Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg were also great. I'm not sure how much dancing he has left in him but they also radiate a magic together showing the importance of a regular partnership. Up to that point things had felt a but thrown together. Igor Zelensky seemed in a foul temper during Corsaire and didn't make the final curtain call (embarrassingly long drawn out) and Sergei Polunin also seemed decidedly grumpy, and not just when his partner ran out of steam in her foutées. Is it ungallant to suggest that Elena Glurdjize is carrying a little more weight than necessary? After all the lovely words about her I'd been so pleased to see that she was dancing and was rather taken aback. Kimin Kim was rather astonishing in Diana and Acteon and the most sheerly beautiful moment for me was Larghetto with Silvia Azzoni and Alexander Ryabko. Exquisite music of course (and the ENB Orchestra always does so well) and made me want to see more Neumeier. The whole programme felt rather flung together which may be the way of Galas but I wasn't sure how much of what we saw referenced the story of Russian ballet until a sublime rendition of the Dying Swan which seemed really to capture the spirit of that time. Writing this up ahead of a meeting, don't have programme with me and ashamed to say I can't recall the dancer's name.

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As ever, this gala was a well ordered affair as galas go.  It peeked without boos.  At its heart was the truly extraordinary orchestra of the English National Ballet.  What a magical instrument they are.  They anchored all by playing sensitively throughout.  The highlights in this particular gala were notable against their more run of the mill and, sorry to say, stumble down counterparts.  Chief amongst the highs was the delight of seeing Alina Cojocaru and her life partner Johan Kobborg once again inject their unique and pulsating zeal-filled soul into the passionate first pas de deux from MacMillan's Manon.  This was happily followed by Balanchine's stunning Diamonds pas (my desert island adagio) so enticingly etched by the luminous Diana of Marianela Nunez as always warmly beckoning her attentive husband Thiago Soares.  The first act (the more substantial of the two for me) ended with the delicate passion and perfume of that redolent union (now in its closing throws) we know as Klimentova and Muntagirov here in the third act pas from Sleeping Beauty.  Vadim Muntagirov's solo variation alone awoke delight and was, in and of itself, well worth the price of any ticket.   For me it etched a musical finesse (and certainly security in partnering) that was missed in Kimin Kim's performance in the Diana and Acteon pas from Esmeralda even though the latter's pyrotechnics were excitingly tossed out - much as if determinedly scoring against a pitcher's throw - and certainly much cheered by an audience in seemingly desperate search of intoxication via such penny highs as Yankee Stadium home runs.  The triumph of the second act was (again measured only against my personal taste) the theatrical heart that lay in, behind and through the immaculately partnered depiction of John Neumeire's La Muette by the husband/wife team of Silvia Azoni and Aleksandr Ryabko.  Stunning (if perhaps not entirely fitting in terms of the evening's overall theme).  Still it was not the chief offender in that specific regard.  As the lights rose on their affectionate and telling camera the picture zoomed into immediate focus and only ever grew in its clarity thereafter.  What a shame that London is almost entirely unfamiliar with the fine artists from The Hamburg Ballet where one particular Ms. Cojocaru is the choreographer king's chief muse.  That said it was as ever lovely to see Maria Alexandrova's sultry back back in scintillating (and saucily smiling) measure in Alberto Alonzo's Carmen - especially after that truly heinous accident we all watched her suffer in horror with the Bolshoi on the Royal Opera House stage last summer.  Kudos too to Zelensky for even attempting Ali in what must be the fall of his career.  His girded smile still riddles in its determined glee and with delight one was reminded of the silence of his landings' shadowed tread.  That said his certainly didn't seem the happiest partnership, e.g., with Iana Salenko who again - as she had done in the Royal's Don Q - twice illustrated with determined force her facility for balanced turns - even when such resisted the music that they were seemingly accompanying.  Otherwise there were some unfortunate and notable mishaps in terms of technical renditions (replete with one hand landings, blatantly missed choreography, a wayward curtain, one notable lack of turnout amongst the Russians, some over forced extensions - [was the opening piece meant to be set at the much favoured Russian circus I wondered? If so the chosen projection had rather missed it's mark] - and some rather stodgy partnering).  OVERALL however it was a fine event as galas go (e.g., it trotted along) and I do, sincerely look forward to next year's.  How lucky we are in London to have access to such undertakings; ones that both entertain and, in their rare and much appreciated parts, occasionally illuminate..  

Edited by Meunier
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Beautifully put as always Meunier.  

I too felt there were highs and lows, not only in the dancing, but also on a personal level emotionally. I was so pleased to see Maria Alexandrova back on stage (what a presence!) and so sad that this would be the last time I saw Daria Klimentova dance (I have Rojo /Acosta tickets for R&J in June). Vadim was wonderful and Daria so radiant, it was a fitting end to an excellent first half: they should have been given the honour of closing the show.

Marianela Nunez made Diamonds look oh so easy (when we all know it is anything but) and the musicality missing in other performances just shone through. I too loved the Neumeier piece. I had never seen Silvia Azoni and Aleksandr Ryabko before and would love to see more, they were definitely my highlight of the second half of the programme. However I'd had the value of my ticket before any of the performers mentioned had ever stepped on stage. The Kobborg /Cojacaru chemistry had worked its magic yet again for me and by the volume of appreciation at the end of their performance, I was not alone. Definitely the highlight of  what was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

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Since there has been a lot of speculation about who was listed and who would actually appear, I thought I would offer a list:

 

La Bayadere (a compilation of pdd and solo extracts for Nikiya and Solor): Alina Somova and Timor Askerov (Mariinsky)

 

Petrushka: Dimitriy Gruzdyev (ENB)

 

Flames of Paris pdd: Iana Salenko and Marian Walter (Berlin State Ballet)

 

Manon (bedroom pdd): Alina Cojocaru (ENB) and Johan Kobborg (Romanian State Ballet)

 

Diamonds pdd (from Jewels): Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares (RB)

 

Sleeping Beauty (grand pdd): Daria Klimentova (ENB) and Vadim Muntagirov (RB)

 

------------------

 

Le Corsaire pdd: Iana Salenko (Berlin State Ballet) and Igor Zelensky (Stanislavsky)

 

Adagietto from La Muette (Neumeier): Silvia Azzoni and Aleksandr Riabko (Hamburg)

 

Carmen mixture (A. Alonso): Maria Alexandrova (Bolshoi) and Yuri Smelakov (Mariinsky)

 

Spring Waters (A. Messerer): Elena Glurdjidze and Arionel Vargas (ENB)

 

Diana and Acteon ppd: Elena Yevseyeva and Kimin Kim (Mariinsky)

 

Dying Swan: Alina Somova (Mariinsky)

 

Don Quixote pdd: Ksenia Ryzhkova and Sergei Polunin (Stanislavsky)

 

-----------------------

 

ENB Orchestra conducted by Valery Ovsyannikov

 

So some of the 'usual suspects' did not appear but it was an enjoyable, if variable, evening. The highlights for me were Alina/Johan and Daria/Vadim - all of whom shined wonderfully and the chemistry.....WOW!

Edited by capybara
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My highlight was seeing Maria Alexandrova back on stage after the terrible injury she suffered.

Maria herself said yesterday that she is very happy that following that overdramatic "Bayadere" in London last year, when she was standing in pain on stage right to finish the act, her first appearance abroad after the rehabilitation was again in London. She loves London very much and feels that she is appreciated here.

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Shchedrin and Alonso called it "Carmen Suite".

The name of Maria's partner is Yuri Smekalov.

 

Apologies for the misspelling. It's funny how fingers and brain do not always fully connect when one is typing.

 

The piece in question was simply entitled Carmen last night.

 

I echo post #10 above in welcoming Maria Alexandrova back to the London stage. However, I did feel that the choreography didn't give her customary allure sufficient chance to shine through.

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I echo post #10 above in welcoming Maria Alexandrova back to the London stage. However, I did feel that the choreography didn't give her customary allure sufficient chance to shine through.

 

I liked Masha in this role. What was missing there - the right dancer for Toreador. The handsome and intelligent Smekalov performed all movements and gestures diligently but didn't exude a single gram of eroticism, which is vital here. 

This particular piece from “Carmen” is about overwhelming physical attraction. When Alonso staged it for Plisetskaya at the Bolshoi in 1967, Toreador was danced by the scintillating Sergei Radchenko. Several dancers appeared as Jose, including Fadeyechev and Godunov later, but Radchenko as Toreador remained irreplaceable. His movements were strictly composed and graphic, he wasn’t tearing passion to shreds but his Toreador’s sex appeal was reaching the back seats of Tier 5. You can see him dancing and his contact with Plisetskaya in this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYVIF-XNBQo

 

This is what I found missing last night.

Edited to change layout.

Edited by Amelia
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This is what I found missing last night.

 

 

 

I quite agree with you, Amelia.  I felt that way about the majority of the pieces as danced by the Mariinsky reps.  They strived in their execution for the steps at the expense of (i) the partnership and, most crucially, (ii) the humane soul which lies in the music and beneath the choreographic inspiration.  At least Alexandrova brought the Bolshoi character to bear in Carmen Suite.  That was much appreciated.  She, and we, deserved better in helping to honour such - not just in this..    

Edited by Meunier
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