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October 22, 2017

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Hi, Haglund,

I was beginning to wonder where your review was. I went down to DC and saw Thursday's performance with Kondaurova/Askerov/Batoeva and Friday's performance with the cast you saw. Batoeva hit it out of the park as Gamzatti; she was the highlight of the evening. Kondaurova and Askerov were unwatchable; Askerov was the most boring nonentity of a Solor I have ever seen and he and Kondaurova had no chemistry, not an ounce, and it was hard to invest in the love story in any way. I also don't want to body shame, but if I could see Kondaurova's rib cage protruding from my vantage point at the back of 1st Tier, it must have been truly disconcerting from closer to the stage. She looked seriously anorexic to me. (Apologies if I have gotten any names wrong; I can't seem to find my program.)

Tereshkina/Kim/Matvienko were amazing. What a difference a night made! It was a sensational evening of dancing.

I agree the storyline was a hodge podge. Gamzatti just sort of disappears after Act II; you don't know who is dead, who is alive, who is just dreaming, is it the afterlife or not. You know what I mean. I missed ABT's destruction of the temple scene; the story makes more sense if you see the vengeance of the gods.

Loved the garden scene and all that non-stop dancing. Everyone was so well-rehearsed and together at all times. (I'm looking at under-rehearsed you, ABT.) I did have to stop myself from laughing at the girl who danced the water jug variation. With a blue crop top with a lot of silver sparkle and a handkerchief skirt of red and white stripes, all I could see was a dancing Stars and Stripes.

That's my shallow, superficial review. I'm so glad I went and glad I saw two casts for comparison.

Ellen

Hi, Ellen. Sorry for the delay in posting the review. It's been a crazy October in the non-ballet sense.

I agree about missing the destruction of the temple scene. And Makarova's recollection/re-envisioning of the Candle Dance is such a beautiful use of the music that once you see it, you can't help but realize when it is missing.

It's sad to hear about your disappointment with Kondaurova. I certainly hope that she hasn't whittled herself down to bones. It may be that she was punching out her rib cage which seems to be popular with some ballerinas such as Smirnova, Somova, Skorik, Zakharova.

Perfect timing since I’m sitting in the lobby at the Kennedy Center waiting to see that same cast! Thank you. Enjoy seeing Jared, Yuriko, Connor, and Sara tonight. Wish you were also seeing Charles-Louis as I’d love to hear your comments about him.

Haglund,

You always enlighten me. Thanks for your reply. I did read criticism from others (at Ballet Alert), so I am not the only one who questioned Kondaurova’s look. I did enjoy her dancing, but her Solor was such a cipher, that it was Batoeva’s Gamzatti that left the biggest performance impact. I would buy a ticket to something in future on the strength of Batoeva’s name alone.

Ellen

Hi Haglund:

I saw the same cast in this afternoon's matinee. I loved Tereshkina and KIm. Her arabesques and back were so lovely. Kim was gallant in his acting and his technique was phenomenal. It was the first time I had seen either of them.

At most performances of Bayadere, I am acutely aware of why many companies choose to present "Kingdom of the Shades" instead of the whole ballet; a choice I fully endorse. The full Bayadere requires the audience to wade through two acts of weird conventions (fire worshipping cave men, the corps ladies dancing with fake parrot props and awkward scarves, etc.) to get to the beautiful "white act". This production kept my attention and interest throughout. A couple production details that stood out for me: Solor's entrance on an elephant (impressive), child dancers dressed as lions serving as the corps to the Golden Idol. I still loved the white act the best, of course.

Thanks for your review and a belated welcome to Washington!

Jennifer

I saw the Saturday matinee with Skorik, who bungled quite a few steps shockingly. I must say I much much prefer the ABT version. There were a few people who left after the second act because it seemed like the ballet was over. The corps acquired themselves Ok. Nothing really was spectacular. Everything just seemed off.
About a decade ago Mariinsky (I think they were still Kirov at that time) came to Lincoln centre with the original Petipa four act version. They should've continued to stage that one instead of resorting to the Soviet-time rehash.

I saw the Saturday matinee and evening performances and I enjoyed both. In response to Anna, Oksana only messed up the first en dedan pirouette in the scarf variation and to be fair, it was not her fault. She very visibly had to pull the scarf from Yermakov before going to the left to get the length she needed. Her triple pirouette towards the end of the variation was also very beautiful.

In my opinion, Kondaurova did a great job as well. After the show she seemed a little under the weather - sniffling and the like. Her scarf variation was flawless and the act one pas de deux was immensely beautiful. I was a little annoyed that they started the show with the house lights still on, very awkward in setting the scene.
(Both Kolegova and Batoeva impressed me as Gamzatti; they need no comments)

Finally, I was so happy that the Kennedy Center presents flowers onstage. I came from Houston for the performance so I had called a florist to deliver the bouquets. I am happy to say that both Oksana and Ekaterina got the flowers they deserved!

Thanks to everyone for the comments. I really would have liked to see Kondaurova in the Kingdom of the Shades.

I always enjoy my visits to the Kennedy Center; it's such a fabulous stage for ballet. I don't much like the 4-5 hour wait in Union Station for the next train out, but that can be interesting as well.

I see that the Suzanne Farrell Ballet will bow out at the Kennedy Center on Dec 9th with Serenade. Here's hoping that there is a strong contingency of old-timers in attendance.

Thanks as always for your perceptive review, Haglund, and to all who commented. I was unable to get to DC and would have been thrilled to see both Tereshkina and Kondaurova. I have seen ABT's and Boston's Bayadere, so it looks like youtube is now my only source for Mariinsky's.

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