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Mariinsky Fokine/Ashton/Ratmansky Triple Bill, ROH, 8/14


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There were BY FAR two highlights for me in this programme:  (i) That it was a celebration of the pianist's art in the miraculous hands of one Vladimir Rumyantsev; for me the REAL star of the evening.  Here, at last, was a Maiinsky music maker on this tour worthy of the title.  (ii)  That the performance marked the long delayed premiere of Ratmansky's deliciously humane celebration of community, CONCERTO DSCH.   (I know many hereabouts really do not like Ratmansky so I won't dwell on it.  Still this work is - for my money - one of his finest creations - much like NAMOUNA - also created for NYCB.  Sadly the latter too has never been seen in this City.)  While I confess the Mariinsky performance lacked the polished attack of its originators (NYCB), it did at least give an enthusiastic overall sense of the work itself which was very much appreciated - especially after that sad take on the Ashton.  I, myself, would like to recognise the very fine contribution of Filipp Stepin in the Ratmansky trio.  Not only did he manage to keep ahead - moving through the music with relative (indeed elated) ease - but he was blithely able to additionally phrase within such as the choreographer himself requests.  Viktoria Tereshkina was, as ever, lustrous but I did find myself missing that sense of resplendent spirituality which the extraordinary Wendy Whelan graced the central exchange with when she created it aside Benjamin Millipied in 2008 (the same year that NYCB last visited London).  Let's hope these two viewings of CONCERTO DSCH will not be London's final peek at this extraordinary slice of choreographic artistry.. IMHO I think this would make a wonderful contribution to the BRB repertory and I know they would dance it well.  As but one paying punter I feel this piece deserves (as 20 minutes of bliss filled joy) to be celebrated (as I think it would be) throughout the UK.    

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I didn't check my watch, Alison, but it was certainly later than the 9.51 pm listed in the programme.  I would say closer to 10.15 pm myself (replete with curtain calls).... if I were to hazard a guess.   That said, it may have started a tad late.  I'm not sure.  

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The 9:50 finish time in the cast list is a mistake.  It was supposed to finish at 10:10, but it was closer 10:25.

 

A mesmerizing evening all around.  M&A was the highlight with Vishneva stealing the part from the many interpretations I've seen.  Zverev was good, but too bad about Shklyarov not dancing tonight.

 

The Firebird - very Russian (whatever that means) and perfectly executed.  Very curious to see Stepanova tomorrow night.

 

DSCH was blissful.  Not sure what Bruce means by it not being as polished as the NY version.  I saw it in NY and Mariinsky was in no way inferior. 

 

A+

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Tremendous evening - brilliant programming these three pieces made.  Lovely to see Diana Vishneva.

(Just made it to Waterloo in time for 10.50 train, having walked at double-quick time over bridge. We'd realised 9.51 was way out, when it came and went and DSCH hadn't even started!)

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We had just two of the ballets at yesterday's rehearsal, Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH and Ashton's glorious and tear jerking Marguerite and Armand. Here are some pictures that should make you buy a ticket if you have not already got one.

 

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Viktoria Tereshkina and Andrei Yermakov in Concerto DSCH 

 

Mariinsky%2B-%2BConcerto%2BDSCH%2B-%2BMa

 

Diana Vishneva - Marguerite and Konstantin Zverev - Armand in Marguerite and Armand 

 

Mariinsky+-+Concerto+DSCH+-+Marguerite+a
 
Andrei Yakolev - Father and Diana Vishneva - Marguerite in Marguerite and Armand 
 
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DSCH was blissful.  Not sure what Bruce means by it not being as polished as the NY version.  I saw it in NY and Mariinsky was in no way inferior. 

 

A+

 

'Polished' was merely the adjective, 'ENBlover'.  'Attack' - and ease of precision as towards the same - is, for me, where the NYCB difference lay for me - but then I only saw the original NYCB cast - albeit in four different performances.  Still, as I said, it was a good and much appreciated effort by the Mariinsky in DSCH who - lest we forget - was responsible for first bringing the landmark JEWELS to London - and what a gift they now are for the RB.  Certainly the Balanchine in many instances was brilliantly rendered last season by the home team, especially in the Osipova/McRae flights in Rubies and by the amazing Ms. Nunez in Diamonds.  As to the DSCH difference I was attempting to clarify in my remarks, I think the second picture in John Ross' (as ever) stunning gallery sums it up.  With luck - assuming I've got the link right - you can see that here.  Stepin was wonderfully precise as noted being able - through speed - to precisely 'phrase inside' as Ratmansky stressed at his ROH lecture demonstration.  Kim, a tad less successfully so here through the music - as dazzling as he was in his own effects.  The lad (i.e., Mr. Kim) has a ballon that was as easily celebrated by the ROH audience last night as it had been at the last Russian Icons Gala at the Coliseum.  Such gifts understandably render easy bursts of jubilation.  At just 21 he has much time to build precision in his attack though the music as much as in his partnering.  He is I think in a good place to build on these skills as is Mr. Parish (in a different light) his.  We will I'm certain be seeing both again.  I, myself, wanted to mention Stepin as I often fear that such precise artistry is less celebrated, indeed is frequently invisible in the popular press.  

 

I am, myself, sorry to hear that so many left before the DSCH performance.  There were a few empty places in the amphitheatre as well I must confess at that juncture.  Still, having read the considerable number of unfortunate (and sometimes I thought cruelly dismissive) responses on BcoF to previous Ratmansky works I can't say that I'm surprised.  In last night's instance it is very much the loss of those who left I think.  Hopefully with the wisdom of time - and just a little good fortune - some of that ground can be regained with a supportive eye towards the development of our own artistic future.   The Mariinsky precedent of sharing JEWELS certainly can but give us hope.      

Edited by Bruce Wall
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I was told by someone who I believe is in the know that he and Vishneva had a bust up of some sorts (obviously after the R&J performance).  He is not injured and will dance all his other commitments through the final performance of this Mariinsky London run.  (He needn't be concerned I think.  Vishneva dances VERY rarely with the Company in Russia.)  

 

It will be interesting to see what happens to him.  I have a feeling that with Vasiliev having been removed from the ABT roster ... and with Shylarov having been (with Tereshkina) the ABT 'exchange artists' this season ... I wouldn't be surprised if he became one of their 'regular' guests - or a shared principal (like Bolle) with ABT for the Met season.  He needn't worry about Vishneva there.  Although she too is a shared principal she ONLY dances with Marcelo Gomes at ABT.  Smart lady.  

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Well my husband and I were there last night - what a wonderful evening of classical ballet. We both enjoyed the Firebird and DSCH. We were so glad to have seen it - it was truly joyful. Is Ratmansky not Balanchine's heir?

 

My husband was not so keen on M & A. Vishneva was very moving I thought. I have never seen this before so cannot compare this performance with the RB for example.

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Well yesterday it must have started about 10pm as it cannot have finished till about 10.20 I think......though didn't realise was so,late at the time as my phone was in the cloakroom!!

 

I enjoyed all the pieces yesterday though was disappointed Stepanova wasn't dancing the Firebird but I thought the production was okay. It's always been a bit of a strange ballet but nicely dramatic I thought and anyway is worth going alone for the music!!

 

I loved Vishneva in Marguerite and Armand .......a beautiful performance by her and .....again what glorious music .....but in terms of the overall performance I'm going to be an old bore and say the ghosts of Fonteyn and Nureyev still hang over this piece and I don't think I will see this bettered now and so really beginning to appreciate the privilege of having seen them dance together and in this particular ballet. This young man last night showed how "cross " he was with Marguerite whereas Nureyev was all rage .....how dare anyone dismiss him!!

And Fonteyns ability to express abandon whether joy or despair is legend of course.

 

I really did love the Ratmansky piece.

I only realised in the interval before that the music would be the same as for the RB 's "Concerto" !! And as I love that ballet and it's interpretation of the music I then wasn't sure what to expect but would try to give it an open mind......certainly the first and last movements were witty and enjoyable and both the male dancers in the trio were exceptional .....however that slow movement is still Macmillans for me .......he has caught the beauty of the music in this section for me.

Anyway the whole piece was well danced and I would be happy to see it again .........and of course another musical treat with the Shostakovitch.

 

I hadn't realised just how much it had overrun and was surprised when I got on the bus and it said 10.42 pm when was expecting it to be just after 10!

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Would have posted these earlier, but was having probs accessing the Forum.
 
Anyhoo, Foteini was at the photo call too, so here are a couple more photos:

14707279050_3ca1cf8bf1_z.jpg
Marguerite & Armand: Diana Vishneva (Marguerite), Andrei Yakovlev (Father), Konstantin Zverev (Armand)
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Concerto DSCH: Viktoria Tereshkina, Andrei Yermakov & Artists of the Mariinsky Ballet
© Foteini Christofilopoulou. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
See more...
Set from DanceTabs - Mariinsky Ballet: Marguerite & Armand, Concerto DSCH
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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10 pm methinks.

Day made, as expected, thanks, Bruce. It was only to be expected, given what a $%^&& yesterday was :(

 

Thank you, ROH, for posting inaccurate information on the telephone line. I could very easily have got back from the RAH to the ROH in time for that, had I known. Oh well, I hope the person who bought my returned ticket appreciated it :(

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Sorry you missed it, Alison.  

 

DSCH was, again, by a goodly numer of lengths the highlight of the programme although I thought last night's stride was a shade under the standard of the evening before.  The combination of Matvienko and Zverev in the central core, while certainly competent, lacked the ethereal - and in one instance the refinement of the aerial - metaphysics that Whelan/Millipied brought to the original and Tereshkina/Yermakov (a very able partner) graced it with on Monday.  That said the overall quality of the work shone through.  I would love to see a bill where the Ratmansky and the MacMillan might be able to be shared together.  They deserve to stand aside each other as both are wonderful celebrations of the music itself and each so richly full in terms of choreographic glory.  Also they are both works that give plenteous opportunity to an ample many; both being COMPANY works.  Indeed they both are among my favourite works by these two landmark choreographers.  There are just so many fine one act ballets that might be sandwiched in between.  You could, I think, do a triple bill where you had two of these fine fillings at the ready and switched them.  (Again, I think this could be a wonderful project for our own very fine BRB.)  I was impressed last night by the animated Renata Shakirova as the female centre of the trio.  I understand that she is a graduating student at the celebrated Vaganova School.  All the more impressive therefore.  For me Vasily Tkachenko really stood out of this particular DSCH crowd, dancing the same role as was vividly etched the evening previous by the very fine Mr. Stepin.  Such beautifully fashioned entrechats by both.  Bravi.  I would, myself, have preferred to see either of those young men dance the Armand.  Certainly they would have been much closer to Nureyev than the artists who were on show and heaven knows the Ashton work crucially requires strength in its principal male rank, given that the female lead is largely responsive.  I felt so sorry for the exquisite Ms. Lopatkina,in that assignment given that it may well be the last time we see her in London.  She didn't on this occasion get the support she deserved.  I, myself, think I will hold onto memories of Saturday's very fine Titantia as a far more fitting farewell for her unique perfume.  The Ashton overall  was, again sadly, a caricatured burlesque of the original piece d'occasion.  How can the Ashton Trust allow this?  I doubt the Balanchine Trust would allow a Balanchine work to be so travestied in a similar circumstance no matter what its inherent weaknesses may be perceived as being.  (At least I hope they wouldn't.)  That said in both the Shostakovich and List the young pianist Vladimir Rumyantsev again proved himself to be the real draw - and that irrespective of the unwieldy musical forces that have surrounded both him and us throughout this particular run.  

For myself I have begun to think that Stepin, Tkachenko, Shklyarov and Tereshkina are the real standouts from amongst the younger crowd in these particular Mariinsky outings.  I look forward to seeing them all flourish in the future.  I did enjoy Stepanova's Firebird more than that of the evening before.  She is stunningly beautiful (although that was only really able to be seen in the final curtain call given the strange confluence of vulgarising coloured lights).  Certainly she seemed more comfortable/relaxed/confident in this role.  Her port de bras was often beguilingly beautiful in the guise of this more feral character.  How wonderful of the Mariinsky Acting Director to give this young corps member an opportunity to dance Odette/Odile, Helena and the title character in such a richly historic undertaking during this important Company tour.  Stepanova is most fortunate.  It reminded me in a way of our very own Kevin O'Hare gracing the truly exquisite Francesa Hayward (while still in the corps) the opportunity last season to give her very fine take on Ashton's glorious Rhapsody.  That said I fear I've never been particularly drawn to Isabelle Fokine's balletic prevarications vis a vis her relative's masterworks.  Of the Russian companies, I far prefer the Bolshoi's far more engagingly characterful production of FIREBIRD. Certainly it builds to a far more effective climax. 

Edited by Bruce Wall
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Bruce, the Frederick Ashton Foundation (which is what I think you were referring to) doesn't own any of his works and so its role in their staging and performance is nothing like that of the Balanchine Trust (or, with respect to the MacMillan works, Deborah MacMillan).  It really doesn't have any control.  As I understand it, the work's owner (Anthony Russell-Roberts) is currently the the only person in a position not to allow a company that peforms the work poorly to continue to stage it.  Hopefully he is keeping an eye on events and will step in if the company doesn't raise its game with this piece.

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 As I understand it, the work's owner (Anthony Russell-Roberts) is currently the the only person in a position not to allow a company that peforms the work poorly to continue to stage it.  Hopefully he is keeping an eye on events and will step in if the company doesn't raise its game with this piece.

 

On the evidence of Monday night's performance I agree that Anthony Russell-Roberts needs to keep a close eye on the Mariinsky's staging of Marguerite and Armand but, of course, the very Ashton-experienced Grant Coyle was in charge.

 

There was similar disquiet some years ago among certain ballet fans at the then Kirov's Manon and Deborah MacMillan subsequently withdrew their right to mount it.

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I'm glad again that I saw both performances of this triple bill, I think Timur Askerov should have partnered both Marguerite's as he was so much better in this role than Konstantin Zverev, Diana Vishneva was left to act by herself, she was still beautiful though and the broken bourrees were so well done.  Tuesday was better but still had almost no effect on me at all.

 

I like the costumes and scenery of this version of The Firebird though as usual I was too high up to see the final tableau, I've never noticed the lighting change to red every time the Firebird enters before, it looked tacky.  Thought both Firebirds were equal, Anastasia Matvienko has a gorgeous jete at the beginning whereas Yulia Stepanova hasn't, but then Stepanova was so good in expressing the enchanted bird, both in her eyes, and her arm movements, not overdone, and I've never seen the Prince danced with such vigour and belief as both these dancers did, it brought the ballet to life.

 

Concerto DSCH looked much better on Monday, either it looks less good with repeated viewings, or more probably because the first cast was fabulous, have to mention Kimin Kim's fast turns down the middle of the stage, what are they called, chaines?

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When I saw Concerto DSCH at this year’s Festival, I thought that it was delightful from the vibrance of the dancing, to the colors of the costumes, to the lively sense of humor that Alexei Ratmansky diffused throughout. The amazing Kimin Kim was probably the absolute star, being as proficient in ‘modern’ as well as ‘classical.’ Portrayal and attitude-wise he’s just as versatile and accomplished. Is there anything that this amazing young artist can’t do?! In addition to Viktoria Tereshkina and the others, I was able to see Yekaterina Kondaurova, who wasn’t able to be in London. She is also equally wonderful and proficient in ‘modern’ and 'classical’ and was another highlight of that evening.


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Here is a film of CONCERTO DSCH as performed by the Mariinsky Company and captured in its entirety by one of our friendly Russian audience members from their [i assume St. Petersburg] seat.  (Bless the Russians.  They seem not to be disturbed by any copy-wright restrictions.)  It does, of course, put things a tad askew - given the obvious circumstance of the capture - but it may I suppose be better than nothing as a taster.  It does feature Mr. Kim who Buddy found so very persuasive above. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA8-9okYyqY

 

It was sad that yet again a fair few people decided to not stay for the Ratmansky on Tuesday night at the ROH.  The three people who had been standing next to me - Brits all - did not return.  (I have a feeling they'd come primarily for the M&A which was sad as - [well, I felt] - it was sub-standard on the whole.)  The two Italian tourists on their other side did happily reappear and cheered DSCH at its end.  To each, of course, their own.  

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Thanks, Bruce W, for posting this. As with most videos of which I've seen the actual performance it does have some resemblance. :)  I'll quickly add that I find videos great to have and infinitely better than nothing, but in my experience the real performances almost always look much better and sometimes critical details come across quite differently in a video.

 

I just looked at parts of this quickly and will try to get back to it more carefully. The sense of aliveness, for one thing, seemed much greater in the actual performance. Also I haven't yet noticed Viktoria Tereshkina, so I may have seen her in another 'modernish' work at the Festival that included Yekaterina Kondaurova. That evening Kimin Kim and Yekaterina Kondaurova also appeared in Wayne McGregor's  Ultra which added a lot to the high energy excitement of it all.

 

Correction: This video was posted January 5, 2014, well before the Festival performance in April that I saw. My comments about video comparisons do remain the same.

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Yes on Monday Kimin Kim did some fabulous chainees ......among other things.

He may be a bit of an untidy dancer but makes up for it in other ways.

 

Even Nureyev was a bit untidy at times .......didn't have the polish of Anthony Dowell in my view......but he certainly made up for it in ways difficult to put into words!! But always a dancer you wanted to see.

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To try to untangle the confusion of my posts above (time allotted for editing ran out) neither Viktoria Tereshkina nor Yekaterina Kondaurova may have appeared in Concerto DSCH at the Festival. They did appear together in something. I don't have the programs with me, but my notes do confirm Kimin Kim's great performance, Svetlana Ivanova being in a beautiful and thrilling duet  (done in London by Viktoria Tereshkina and Anastasia Matvienko) and Kimin Kim and Yekaterina Kondaurova appearing in Wayne McGregor's  Ultra that evening. Whew!

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Here is a film of CONCERTO DSCH as performed by the Mariinsky Company and captured in its entirety by one of our friendly Russian audience members from their seat...

 

Thank you, Bruce Wall, for providing here a pleasure to see Svetlana Ivanova. I heard that Ratmansky was working with her on this role. With all respect to both ladies who danced in London I feel Svetlana's special quality even in this unprofessional recording of this romantic duet. Three years ago she just flitted as Kitty across the ‘Anna Karenina’ performance in CG but many who had seen her in the past in “Chopiniana” and “The Young Lady and the Hooligan" were dreaming to see her back here. What a delightful lyrical dancer.

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For me the standout performance was by Yulia Stepanova in the Saturday Matinée's Firebird. Her piercing facial expressions, staccato neck movements and flowing arms and hands transformed her into a truly believable bird. She's 'Just' a Coryphee?

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For me the standout performance was by Yulia Stepanova in the Saturday Matinée's Firebird. Her piercing facial expressions, staccato neck movements and flowing arms and hands transformed her into a truly believable bird. She's 'Just' a Coryphee?

 

You mean Tuesday evening surely.  The previous Saturday matinee was the Apollo / MSN programme - in which Ms. Stepanova danced Helena in the latter.  In the Saturday matinee of the the week previous to that she danced birds of two different shades (a/k/a Odette/Odile) in Swan Lake.  She is, as you suggest, a very fortunate coryphee to be given such glorious opportunities.  Many, sadly, are not ... and, of course, the majority never will.

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You mean Tuesday evening surely.  The previous Saturday matinee was the Apollo / MSN programme - in which Ms. Stepanova danced Helena in the latter.  In the Saturday matinee of the the week previous to that she danced birds of two different shades (a/k/a Odette/Odile) in Swan Lake.  She is, as you suggest, a very fortunate coryphee to be given such glorious opportunities.  Many, sadly, are not ... and, of course, the majority never will.

Oops, my mistake yes I meant Tuesday evening.

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