This morning Haglund climbed aboard the M57 crosstown bus on Manhattan's West Side and road a few blocks to Moscow's Bolshoi Theater for a live (streamed) performance of Don Quixote. The theater was packed; so was the cinema. Thanks to the Ballet in Cinema effort by Emerging Pictures and the French company CielEcran, we were treated to spectacular live performances by Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev as Kitri and Basilio. Everyone expected the spectacular from them and they didn't disappoint. The surprise of the performance was how the character principals nearly stole the show. Kristina Karasyova as Mercedes, Andrei Merkuriev as Espada, Anna Leonova as A Street Dancer, and Anna Antropova as the Gypsy were like hot lava flowing through the streets of Barcelona melting everything in its path. Mercedes' fan = sex toy. Well, almost. What exactly was her message when she completely bent over backwards and slapped that fan on the floor?! Lordy, and on a Sunday morning no less.
Osipova and Vasiliev were their own steam explosion. Of the two, Vasiliev had the more "on" performance with easy multi-revolution pirouettes in which he changed body positions and wound down to a complete stop - finishing with a mischievous smile as if to say "I got you with that one." Osipova's performance was her basic fill-in-the-superlative, superlative, superlative Kitri – the most athletic interpretation that Haglund has ever seen with legs and feet as sharp as a bull's horns. In the Act II dream sequence, the arabesque line under the white tutu seemed to lack aesthetic but the top half was lovely. Together in the grand pas Osipova and Vasiliev were dancing as one, reading each other's moves, finishing each other's sentences – truly harmonious in every way. Vasiliev may be short, but he has paws the size of a bear and he pressed Osipova into one handed lifts like she was light as air.
The corps de ballet was just fabulous in the character scenes and especially in the dream scene where lines were stunning, everyone was together, and all had beautiful unstressed expressions on their faces.
Haglund's only complaint about the performance was the camera director's tendency to zoom in on faces while we missed the overall formations and actions on the whole stage. Zooming in meant that when the action did start, parts were blurred – which kind of made Haglund a little queasy after a while and irritable about what he was missing. The camera work was the worst of the three Bolshoi live-streams produced thus far by CielEcran. It would be better to see the entire scope of the stage from about 12 rows back in the orchestra with minimal zooming in.
Crummy camera work aside, this presentation was a great treat. There wasn't an empty seat in the cinema. Seating was very democratic. It didn't matter who you were - if you didn't get there early, you didn't get to pick your favorite seat. Political favors and media clout got you nowhere. This isn't Russia, you know.
So, thanks to the Bolshoi for such a spectacular performance from everyone. Haglund doesn't want to leave out Anastasia Stashkevich as Cupid, Yekaterina Shipulina as Queen of the Dryads, Alexander Petukhov as Sancho Panza, Olga Kishnyova and Victoria Osipova as Kitri's friends, and Alexei Loparevich as Don Quixote – all of whom gave wonderful performances. But the Haglund's Heel Bump Pump Award, this black lacy little character pump from Christian Louboutin, must be bestowed upon Kristina Karasyova for her steam-filled portrayal of Mercedes: