So who went to the live-streaming yesterday? The Manhattan showing was such a blast. Daniil Simkin, ABT soloist and Natalia Osipova’s friend, was there, and I saw Marc Kirshner from TenduTv and several critics. And Evan McKie, principal at the Stuttgart Ballet, who many of us know from the Winger, was tweeting from Stuttgart or Canada or wherever he was. He was very informative too! I tweeted a bit under the hashtag #DonQLive – after I found out we were using that hashtag; I also tweeted about the performance without the hashtag earlier.
Anyway, I loved it. As always, I loved Osipova, though my friend who went with me, a longtime Gelsey Kirkland fan, pointed out that though she has excellent technique and athletic ability, she was lacking in artistry, particularly in her ability here to evoke a Spaniard. It’s true, and funny, because that kind of thing used to drive me nuts – when ballet dancers would perform straight ballet without any culturally specific accent (see my harping here on Paloma Herrera’s Bayadere). I remember when Angel Corella and Paloma Herrera used to be THE couple to see in Don Q in America, and of course they danced it perfectly. But then the next set of dancers – whoever it was I saw after them, all I could think was, couldn’t they have taken some Flamenco, some Paso Doble? But somehow at some point, I stopped being bothered by it.
But, Osipova also doesn’t have the gracefulness of some of the others, like Yekaterina Shipulina as the Queen of the Dryads, and Chinara Alizade in the third act Grand Pas variation. I am beginning to notice that one – Alizade – more and more in these Bolshoi showings and I really like her.
Osipova is more of an athlete and my friend said she’d have made a great ice skater, or some kind of Olympian. Which is true. But I still think she adds so much to the ballet and creates so much excitement with all of the astounding things that she can do. The theater in Manhattan was more packed than I’ve ever seen it – nearly, if not completely full – and people were ooohing and aaahing during intermissions and afterward and were applauding throughout – like when, before the performance, the camera showed her backstage warming up.
Here she is in the Act One variation:
But it was Ivan Vasiliev who really wowed the audience – or at least he did as much as she. I’d seen him in Flames of Paris too and he was fabulous in that as well, but this is a larger role and so he stood out to me more here. He kept taking these flying leaps, sometimes with a turn thrown in, and he got amazing height on them, especially given that he’s pretty short. He definitely has the muscular legs of a jumper. And he always landed so solidly, which not everyone who jumps that high does. And his form was perfect. And he had the flirty, slightly mischievous character down perfectly. And he had the Spanish flair, for the most part at least. So, he’s perfect, in a word! I don’t know if there’s been a dancer since Baryshnikov who’s danced such an exciting Basilio. Bring him to NYC, Kevin McKenzie!!
Here is he dancing on his own in the studio:
I also loved Andrei Merkuriev as Espada, the matador, though I don’t know if anyone will ever outperform my Marcelo Gomes in that role, imo But Merkuriev just did incredible things with that cape – I’ve never seen anyone – not in ballet or Paso – whip a cape around with such speed like that.
There were many more character dances than in ABT’s production. It was hard for me to keep straight who danced which one because in the program it wasn’t broken down by act and I can’t tell the difference between, for example, what was called the Spanish Dance, and the Bolero. If Anna Leonova danced the lyrical Flamenco-like solo, then I loved her. I thought she was beautiful and knew how to work the dress and her arms and hands and everything. It might have been Kristina Karasyova though, or one of the three listed under “Spanish Dance.” I also liked Anna Antropova as the gypsy dancer. Ditto for her. They might have been the same dancer, actually…because those dances were in different acts… Oh who knows.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter because I liked everyone and thought they danced beautifully. Honestly, this company is absolutely astounding. I don’t think there’s anyone in it who’s not only an excellent dancer but compelling to watch in one way or another as well. If you ever get a chance to see the Bolshoi, don’t miss it.
One more thing – about the third act Kitri variation. I’ve noticed when Osipova dances with ABT, she changes that variation from the one ABT usually does, and so I wasn’t at all surprised that she did the same here. I’ve always liked her version BETTER because she does those traveling passees at the speed of blasted light, and they look so much better on her than the hopping on pointe. But my friend thought the other version, which Gelsey Kirkland apparently did, was harder and more artistic. But then Evan McKie told me via Twitter that Natalia’s is the version the Russians usually do. So maybe it’s not an issue of changing the choreography to suit the dancer but just the dancer performing the version she knows best. Anyway, I tried to look up Gelsey on YouTube and could only find the final scene pas de deux with Baryshnikov; they don’t have the variations. But here’s what I’m talking about: first video is the ABT version, starring Nina Ananiashvili, second is Osipova:
Which do you guys like better, or do you like them both the same?
Anyway, the next Bolshoi live-stream will be Coppelia, coming up at the end of May. The next live-stream from Emerging Pictures will be the Paris Opera Ballet’s Coppelia, coming up on March 28th. Visit the Ballet in Cinema website for times and theaters. These are such a blast!
Above photo of Vasiliev and Osipova from here.