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July 19, 2014


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Excellent review of this cast, Haglund. Not much changed judging by your review, except last year my recollection had Smirnova as a stronger Odette than Odile because of technical weaknesses. Odile demands more classicism than the more interpretive freedom in Odette. The tendency to be turned-in instead of turned-out is very real problem for Smirnova. So the same weaknesses that you've mentioned, yes her jetés in Odile variation feeble, no surprise there, and her turns merely okay as you described, same. Her YT videos show that indeed she does not jump well and has sloppy turns, specifically not finishing cleanly or with musical emphasis. Having these faults will do nothing to make Grigorovich version of Odile variation come alive. She would be better I believe, in the Mariinsky version. But I am glad Smirnova has learned to connect with her Siegfried this time. Good for her. What Chudin lacks in movie star looks, he makes up for in stellar partnering and projection of sincerity.

What ways did you find Smirnova mannered as Odette other than the oddly intrusive carriage of arms, shoulders and back? Some who love her dancing since Vaganova days now find her dancing full of mannerisms. It's true she should have stayed to further refine style befitting her schooling instead of joining Bolshoi dancing roles she wasn't ready for. As it stands now, the best Russian ballerina dancing Odette/Odile may still be Veronika Part, maybe next season when Smirnova guests with ABT she can learn something from Part.

I love Semyon Chudon. I saw him twice in the Grigorovich Swan Lake two years ago at the L.A. Music Center, and have been following him online since, and was overjoyed to see him the broadcasting in cinemas of Diamonds and Marco Spada. In my eyes, he is the stand-out among Bolshoi dancers and among male dancers in general. He is a superb, finished, polished dancer - with clean, lush technique, soft pliés; self-effacing and attentive in his partnering; no tension in his upper body, neck, arms, and hands; and graceful. He has a bravura technique and conceals all effort. I spoke to him and his wife after the L.A. opening night Swan Lake two years ago - and he had humility and was very gracious. Thanks for your report, Haglund.

I am so glad to read, both gathering from your post, Haglund, and from Genna's comment, that Veronika Part is still the world's reigning Swan Queen. I am not at all ready to shift my allegiance.

Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

It is interesting to read the outrage about the production, in particularly the ending which is more like the ending of Giselle, when the Balanchine one-act version is just as unconventional. It, too, has an ending that is more like Giselle, but Americans and a certain British critic rave about it. Go figure.

We really lost a lot because this Swan Lake was crammed onto such a little stage. I think that it would have experienced a much more positive reception on the bigger Met Opera stage.

With regard to Olga Smirnova - we'll just have to wait and see how she develops at the Bolshoi and hope for the best. I think I'll wait several years before spending money to see her again in a big classical role. Though unusually talented in many ways, she does not have clean basic skills. She may have spent several years in minor roles had she joined the Mariinsky, but at least the Vaganova pedagogues would have relentlessly nagged her to improve. There's not enough gratitude expressed for those women.

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