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Mariinsky Ballet: Swan Lake, London, August 2014


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Swan Lake run opened tonight, with Oxana Skorik as Odette/Odile, and Timur Askerov as Prince Siegfried. We had a few snippets with them (so a couple of photo opportunities, before the main rehearsal run with Yulia Stepanova and Xander Parish in the leads (they perform in the Saturday matinee)
 
Here are a couple of sample photos from DanceTabs:
 
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Oxana Skorik & Timur Akerov (as Odette & Prince Siegfried)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Yulia Stepanova and Xander Parish (as Odette & Prince Siegfried)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Yulia Stepanova and Xander Parish (as Odette & Prince Siegfried)
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Set from DanceTabs - Mariinsky Ballet: Swan Lake
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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O wow, my heart now belongs to the Mariinsky corps. I rather adored tonight's Swanlake and time just seemed to fly by.

 

Vladislav Shumakov's Jester produced some jaw dropping moments, Zverev's Rothbart was avian, threatening and a complete show stealer.

 

It took me a little while to warm to Oxana Skorik, but her Odile clinched it. Wicked, with a streak of melancholy and those hands...

 

I always have a soft spot for traditional productions, and this one ticks all my boxes.

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O wow, my heart now belongs to the Mariinsky corps. I rather adored tonight's Swanlake and time just seemed to fly by.

 

Vladislav Shumakov's Jester produced some jaw dropping moments, Zverev's Rothbart was avian, threatening and a complete show stealer.

 

It took me a little while to warm to Oxana Skorik, but her Odile clinched it. Wicked, with a streak of melancholy and those hands...

 

I always have a soft spot for traditional productions, and this one ticks all my boxes.

So glad to hear this !

 

Swan Lakes -- I think that I could live on these, perhaps do. I’ve just seen five by the Bolshoi in NYC (two amazing ones each by Svetlana Zakharova and Olga Smirnova).

 

I won't be able to see any of the London ones because I'm on the other side of America, but if I could fly anywhere to see anything, it would be to see these.

 

I've watched Oxana Skorik through a magnifying glass for years. The first major impact was several years ago at the Mariinsky Festival when she performed the famous White Swan duet at the final night Gala. I've seen her do six full length Swan Lakes since then, culminating in this years at the Mariinsky Festival, which overall was magnificent, and came extremely close to being one of the greatest ballet performances that I've ever seen (stage or video).

 

"....and those hands." Yes, really !

 

And then how about....and...and....!

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Added to my post above:

 

Swan Lake -- then there will be Alina Somova, who is capable of miracles.

 

Also Ulyana Lopatkina, probably one of the greatest ballerinas ever.

 

And Viktoria Tereshkina, Anastasia Matvienko, Yulia Stepanova, Kimin Kim, Xander Parish....Corps de Ballet....!

 

And hopefully for the next visit....Yekaterina Kondaurova ,Olga Esina, Daria Pavlenko, Anastasia Kolegova....Danila Korsuntsev....

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Last night was my first Mariinsky (I had a ticket for R and J on Monday but health, and weather stopped me seeing it) so very pleased to have made it, very warm exciting atmosphere throughout, there is a special magic about these Russian Summer Seasons!

 

I was intrigued by the thought of seeing Oxana Skorik for myself and was surprised at how good her technique was, she makes wonderful shapes, has very long slender hands and beautiful arched feet, but I would agree with MAB that her general expression was "sullen", there were a few moments when she gave the Prince a wistful yearning look though, this transformed her, Odile suited her better, really exciting multiple turns and fouettes.  Timur Askerov was a very personable Prince and had good stage presence, Vladislav Shumakov was rather sweet as the jester, not as obnoxious as usual,  Kimin Kim (another dancer I had really looked forward to seeing) has amazing light jumps, and Konstantin Zvrerev was exciting as Rothbart (not something I usually expect).

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there is a special magic about these Russian Summer Seasons!

 

 

That's why I've gone to ten Mariinsky Festivals in a row, Beryl.

 

Once again, so glad to hear that you liked what you did, especially about Oxana Skorik.

 

Bruce W, Olesya Novikova is perhaps the only Mariinsky Swan Lake ballerina that I've not had the chance to see perform the work. There are also so many other artists that I could mention.

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Maybe Oxana has one of those unfortunate faces which unless smiling can look a bit miserable. Then when they smile the whole world lights up!!

 

Unfortunately I always associate her with that film made about the dancer who died from anorexia when she was about 14 and she did look rather sullen throughout that but then so did quite a few other girls.....not a film to recommend for people training to be dancers!!

 

I imagine it's quite hard for a dancer to find the right facial expression for Odette.....holding in all that sorrow with a touch of possible hopefulness!! But probably only really comes off if you happen to have a good rapport with your Prince so doesn't get too icey!!

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Skorik looks quite sullen in the photographs. I thought that I had seen her featured in a television programme in which she looked absolutely wretched and seemed very unhappy at her horrible ballet school. It wasn't clear to me whether or not she had a clinical eating disorder but she seemed to have a very unhealthy attitude towards food. When she danced (in the programme) for her assessment she seemed incredibly weak and not at all impressive technically or artistically. I was therefore amazed to learn that she became a principal dancer at the Mariinsky at a relatively young age. I hope that she has put whatever problems she had behind her. I found the images of her red-rimmed eyes and hollowed out face really appalling.

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It would appear that Oxana Skorik's school years at Perm were not easy ones, to say the least.

 

The only time that I've seen her in person was at a reception two years ago, where she seemed in fine health and was very lovely.

 

I usually sit quite close and use theatre glasses constantly. Her facial expression has in the past shown concern  (much less in the last year) during some of the major technical challenges, largely dependent on the physical (and psychological) support of her partner, but is, for me, in essence deeply poetic.

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I saw the matinee of Swan Lake with Xander Parish and Yulia Stepanova. It was very good...Xander was a lovely Prince and Yulia has the most graceful fluid arms. The corps de ballet swans were as good as ever with their straight lines and togetherness. I really hope Yulia Stepanova's skill is recognised as I am incredulous that she is "just" a coryphee. I much prefer her Odette/Odile to Natalia Osipova's! I think the role just suits some better than others. I would love to have seen Smirnova in New York Buddy!

Back to the matinee and I enjoyed Popov's Jester he performed some amazing jumps and Rothbart was very good too. The Odile act could have used some brighter costumes...brown and cream for the Spanish dance was very dull!

The conductor was Boris not the one on the cast sheet.

I was lucky to meet both Xander and Yulia at the stage door...Xander was most appreciative of the warm welcome he received when arriving on stage and said he had enjoyed the performance. Yulia was charming but I suspect does not speak English as she just smiled and obliged with autographs and photos...she had lots of beautiful flowers from fans too.

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I also saw Xander Parish and Yulia Stepanova at the matinee yesterday. Xander looked much more more comfortable in it then what I saw of him as Romeo - such a beautiful classical line. Overall I thought it was a typical matinee where you test younger dancers and they did fine - no disgrace, no revelation. They both looked beautiful at times but it's also early days and it could be dutiful too, with steps too fussed over. I thought she looked the most comfortable - amazing given, in RB hierarchy terms, she is a first artist only 5 years out of school. But the thing I enjoyed the most was the corps - meticulously together and all the same height - really mesmerising. It's a fine production that works.

 

It struck me how amazing it is that the Mariinsky can put on such a matinee and please the audience. If RB went to Japan and looked to put on a soloist and a first artist as the leads in Swan Lake I thing there would be an awful lot of very unhappy fans. It says a lot of the Mariinsky's strength in depth that they can do this.

 

Overall I find it interesting how the critics have generally been appreciative of Parish as Romeo whereas fans views I've heard have been more mixed - some impressed, some not. It's rather a reversal of what I'd normally observe. Be interesting to see what is said about lac, in print, here, and in what can often seem more candid conversations. It's certainly a ballet that plays to his strengths.

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I went to both the matinee and evening performances of the Mariinsky SWAN LAKE yesterday and in some ways felt afterwards that the afternoon had been but a rehearsal for what was to come in the evening.  Why?  Well, it is perhaps best summed up by two obviously knowledgeable (from a balletic perspective) British ladies sitting on an amphitheatre lobby bench next to me during the matinee's second interval.  "The leads are very tentative," one said to the agreeing other.  I won't go into specifics vis a vis the matinee as they have been very well covered by Bruce Marriott and others on this Board but what ultimately set the evening's performance apart FOR ME was that sense of confidence that happily lit an additional fire to all round it.  

 

This was, I think, primarily due to one Vladimir Shklyarov (of a similar age to Xander Parish) who gave, it must be said, a master class in partnering.  Let's face it; Swan Lake is a fantasy coned in Seigfried's fantasy.  Shklyarov made his enticingly secure.  He more than made sense (and his own) of what mime there exists in this production - it not, itself, being part of the Russian tradition.  Without hesitation or falter he made the choreography fit to/for his own streamlined/dedicated purpose.  In a delightful fleeting turn early in the first act Shklyarov twisted himself around and placed his finger to his lips in the direction of the young girls with whom he had just been convorting as if to say 'don't tell' whence his regal mother showed up on the scene.  There is no question but that Viktoria Tereshkina (herself an established Company principal) was surety itself as both Odette and a dazzling Odile and oh, so very much more relaxed to (i) be able to spin this tale entirely through the conventions of dance itself in (ii) the hands of her established and oh, so able partner.  IMHO she did so with far more assurance than I thought she illustrated in her Juliet on Tuesday.  Last night's  audience had no hesitation whatsoever in roaring their approval throughout.  That was deafeningly clear.  Her very fine Odile variation in the third act pas de deux deservedly brought the ROH down in justified and prolonged admiration.  

 

The audience also seemed much more assured in showing their approval of a particularly fine trio of 'Prince's Friends' during that second performance.  It was made up of the talented mix of Ekaterina Ivannikova, Nadezhda Batoeva and Filipp Stepin.  Although I remain to be convinced by the reported glories of the Mariinsky orchestra this time round*, I very much appreciated the fact that the opening of the second act's mazurka was played at its rightful rapid speed in order to best emphasise the allegro segment which follows and is so skillfully built within that particular character variation at both Saturday outings.  

 

* In but one notation: The fute segment in the middle of Tereshrikna's first (and very fine) Odette solo became so decidedly sour that I could hear audience murmurs about me in reaction and I for one certainly felt sorry for the dancer who appeared sublimely undisturbed in her own precision.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Last night's performance, with Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shklyarov, I found beautifully accomplished but not as mesmerising as some of the other ballet performances I've seen.

 

Technically the whole company was in great shape - I particularly liked Shklyarov and Vladislav Shumakov as the jester.  However, it seemed to lack a bit of emotional pull, perhaps because I was very distant from the stage (upper slips  :( - and it was still £20!), but I couldn't get much sense of the drama.  This may also have been because this version has a happy ending, which took me by surprise and seems to make the emotional narrative a bit weaker.

 

Judging from the comments around me, the rest of the audience seems to have really enjoyed it.  There seemed to be a lot of people going to ballet for the first time, presumably because they recognised the name Swan Lake, and the reactions I heard were very positive.

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I am glad to see that there is discussion on here about the performance of Xander Parish as Siegfried. I only saw his rehearsal on Friday (just Acts I, II and III as Act IV was danced by the corps only!) and thought that his portrayal and dancing augured well for the show itself.

 

When I watch him, I cannot help recall (and I may have said this elsewhere) Jonathan Cope's response to a question at the Ballet Association many years ago when he picked out Xander as showing real promise. Also, I cannot stop myself thinking that Xander's Royal Ballet School contemporary (Matthew Golding), having gone first to Canada and the Netherlands, has now been brought into the RB at Principal level. I start comparing the two of them and I know which I prefer!!!!!!

 

Maybe, just maybe, the signs are that, under Kevin O'Hare, the RB may become more willing to develop its own stars.

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Thanks Dave for such lovely photos.  One particular picture puzzled me though: in the White act pdd, there's a pose where she stands on the thigh of her kneeling partner.  When I first saw this I thought of the Chinese Circus version - surely it's not in the original choreography?  I've never seen in it in other companies' versions but perhaps I just haven't seen enough.  

 

Also, re Oxana Skorik, the film featuring her was called A Beautiful Tragedy and it is still shown occasionally on Sky Arts.  I found it very sad but it's heartening that she eventually overcame her unhappy adolescence and achieved the success she wanted.

 

Linda

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Thanks Dave for such lovely photos.  One particular picture puzzled me though: in the White act pdd, there's a pose where she stands on the thigh of her kneeling partner.  When I first saw this I thought of the Chinese Circus version - surely it's not in the original choreography?  I've never seen in it in other companies' versions but perhaps I just haven't seen enough.  

 

 

Linda

 

Thanks Linda - glad to hear you enjoy the photos.

 

They always seem to do it that way - another example form a few years back:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/gallery/dm_mariinsky_swan_lake_roh_0711/dm_swan_lake_3121

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Perhaps this isn't an easy question to answer, but why did Parish not progress at the RB? Were his contemporaries and near contemporaries (McRae was presumably one) much stronger all round and so he was increasingly overlooked as other dancers came into the company? Did he have significant weaknesses which became apparent after he joined the company (the Mariinsky claimed that he was very weak technically) and no-one was motivated to help him to improve? Luke Jennings has previously opined that British dancers take longer to mature.

 

Regarding his recent performances, Jann Parry's comments about partnering were interesting for me as I have always assumed that the male partner was at fault if the partnering was clumsy. An inexperienced partner can really benefit from a less experienced one but only if the former is sympathetic and supportive rather than critical and resentful.

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Last night's audience were even more ecstatic than Friday's, and rightly so as Viktoria Tereshkina and Vladimir Shklyarov were in what I imagine their best form, I've never seen her looking more joyous than in the Black Swan pdd, she must have been hard to partner as when he thought she had stopped the supported turns, she just kept on spinning, and as Bruce Wall says above, her variation and coda were totally brilliant!  Most of the other roles were the same cast as Friday except for another fine male soloist in the pas de trois, Filipp Stepin. 

 

The higher you are, the better the corps de ballet look and I was very high up last night so could see their sheer perfection!

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Perhaps this isn't an easy question to answer, but why did Parish not progress at the RB? Were his contemporaries and near contemporaries (McRae was presumably one) much stronger all round and so he was increasingly overlooked as other dancers came into the company? Did he have significant weaknesses which became apparent after he joined the company (the Mariinsky claimed that he was very weak technically) and no-one was motivated to help him to improve? Luke Jennings has previously opined that British dancers take longer to mature.

 

 

Funny, I had such questions in my mind when Jose Manuel Carreno went from the RB (after ENB, of course) to his seemingly immediate triumph at ABT.  'Can he have been that different a dancer when in England and at the Royal?', I had frequently asked myself.  Just look at the RB success that met his fellow Cuban peer, Carlos Acosta, (who was IN MY EYES always the lesser entity from a stylistic [balletic] perspective).  For myself I have always filed such considerations into that mental folder firmly marked:  'Some things you will simply will never know'.  It sits alongside that labeled: 'What might have beens'.  

 

It would have been interesting to hear what thoughts passed through Monica Mason's mind as she sat (as she did) in the Royal Box at yesterday's Mariinsky matinee.  

 

Whilst acknowledging that hindsight is always advantageous, 'Here, Here' I say in support of that BcoF poster calling herself 'capybara's hopes for a potentially brighter (or at least justifiably broader) field of future RB procurement/developmental prospect under Kevin O'Hare's administration.  I agree that the positive suggestions in this direction are happy ones indeed.  

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"It struck me how amazing it is that the Mariinsky can put on such a matinee and please the audience. If RB went to Japan and looked to put on a soloist and a first artist as the leads in Swan Lake I thing there would be an awful lot of very unhappy fans. It says a lot of the Mariinsky's strength in depth that they can do this."

 

No Bruce, it only says a lot about how utterly abnormal has been the personnel policies during Mariinsky's Acting Director reign. Most promising young dancers imprisoned forever in the corps de ballet, very rare debuts in principal parts made as difficult as possible, and so on.

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"Regarding his recent performances, Jann Parry's comments about partnering were interesting for me as I have always assumed that the male partner was at fault if the partnering was clumsy."

 

And you were right, Jann Parry wrong. I saw both of them many times by the way, how many times did Parry see both?

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The partisanship in some of the Parish reviews is a little too strong for my taste. It also does him a disservice by making it seem as if his performance needs to be defended by blaming his partners. The Swanlake wasn't faultless, but it was easily good enough that a few little slips didn't distract from the very enjoyable performance of both leads.

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It struck me how amazing it is that the Mariinsky can put on such a matinee and please the audience. If RB went to Japan and looked to put on a soloist and a first artist as the leads in Swan Lake I thing there would be an awful lot of very unhappy fans. It says a lot of the Mariinsky's strength in depth that they can do this.

 

Ah, but would the Mariinsky do it in Japan?   If they do, then does that mean the RB perhaps overestimates cultural sensitivities over there, or for that matter that the Mariinsky aren't sensitive enough?

 

"Regarding his recent performances, Jann Parry's comments about partnering were interesting for me as I have always assumed that the male partner was at fault if the partnering was clumsy."

 

And you were right, Jann Parry wrong.

 

I haven't read Ms Parry's comments yet, but I understood aileen's comments to be general, not specific.  Are you seriously suggesting that partnering problems are never ever the fault of the ballerina, no matter how inexperienced, inconsiderate or just plain selfish?  I know a lot of male dancers would disagree with that (and that some others are definitely guilty as charged).

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Whatever slips they were tiny in comparison to their two previous «Swan Lakes» (one needs to remember that Xander was dancing with Yulia only the third time!). On their two previous occasions in Petersburg I saw Prince Siegfried visibly in love with Odette. Yesterday, however, he was too distracted by everything that has been going on around him in London to think about Odette. A pity, since on July 6 they formed a very tender couple, in spite of the supported pirouettes needing much further work (yesterday that element was clearly improved).

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Whatever slips they were tiny in comparison to their two previous «Swan Lakes».

To prevent that I may be misunderstood, I decided to be more specific: compared to their joint debut in March, Xander greatly improved his lifting skills, and compared to both the debut and the July repeat - he visibly improved in the supported pirouettes. On the two previous occasions, instead of adding to the spinning he was rather obstructing it.

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