Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bolshoi Balet, Episode 5, Part 2

Midori Terada
Columbine solo from Harlequinade
music: Drigo
choreography: Petipa

Terada is kind of boxing herself into a corner these days - this is the latest in a long string of performances in the same style. At the same time, much like Kimin Kim, it is a style that she does very well. She has lovely pointe technique, and beautiful gestures, and she demonstrated the playful nature of her solo.

Koya Okawa
variation from Don Quixote
music: Minkus
choreography: Gorsky

Okawa is quite simply my favorite dancer in this competition, perhaps tied with Igor Tsvirko. Like Tsvirko he has impeccable technique, extraordinary athleticism, and a sense of how to use movement to create a character. Here, the focus is generally on the athleticism, but he has lots of details that make this part definitively Basilio. The flared hands on his gestures, the more flexible back, the way he drags his back leg along the ground (I think this is the “heaviness” that Edur wanted to see in Latypov’s performance).
In the interview, they ask Okawa what he thinks about Kimin Kim, and Okawa says some really nice things about Kim, that he “seems to fly” in his jumps. (Although, why is Okawa being asked about Kim and none of the other competitors are being asked? I think that sadly we know why.)


Edur starts by saying that it’s so nice to hear competitors saying complimentary things about one another. He goes on to say that he likes Terada’s more inner emotions, but he didn’t think she flirted enough with the audience. He also had a few technical complaints about her use of fourth position when raising her leg into passé. (N) For Okawa, he had some technical recommendations - more force on the pas de basque. But Okawa does have excellent pirouettes, excellent jumps, and a really fast relevé. He did think that Okawa needs to rethink the way his feet interact with the floor. (Y)

Lefèvre says that they have been excellent in everything they’ve performed but that they haven’t developed enough. (N) Okawa is also amazing but also isn’t evolving enough. She respects his love of the classics. But he has something special about him that he should be expressing onstage. (N)

Xiao Suhua tells them both that they have fake smiles. They don’t have enough nuance in their performance. We see their smiles but it doesn’t win over our hearts. No to Midori (N) and yes to Okawa (Y)

Vasiliev comes to their defense, saying that Terada and Okawa’s performances do touch his heart, because they dance. They’re not just doing exercises. When Terada came out, she was so exact from her very first steps. She doesn’t just dance on the beat, but on the intonations [this is a term from Russian musicology that refers to the real meaning/emotion/intellectual implications of the music]. He loves this pair. (Y) (Y)

Terada: 2/4
Okawa: 3/4

My scores:

Terada: 8
Okawa: 10

Inna Bilash
variation from Esmeralda
music: Pugni
choreography: Nikolai Beryozov

Bilash performs with real verve. It’s a technically difficult solo, but she dances with ease and enthusiasm, as if it were all nothing. I have to say, though, any time dancers have to make musical noise in their solos, I get a little twitch when they do it off time. Her tambourine hits are behind. Of course, that could be merely a function of the microphone placement in the room, rather than her playing.

Nikita Chetverikov
variation from Swan Lake
music: Tchaikovsky
choreography: Petipa

Chetverikov shows himself in this solo to be a very accomplished classical dancer. He has beautiful lines in his jumps. The dance is very passionless this time, but we’ve certainly see Chetverikov do more dramatic things in this competition, so I assume he just wants to perform the prince roles as if these characters are so noble that they don’t let the cares of the world affect their dancing. That’s not the way I like to see the prince roles performed, but it is a perfectly conventional choice to make.

Lefèvre says that Bilash showed off yet another style, yet another manner. But she wants her to show a little more passion. (Y) Nikita’s performance was a like a little buffet of difficult elements. It was a pleasure to look at his pirouettes, which he performed practically poetically. She does want to see more ardor from him. But he is a very noble performer. (Y)

Xiao Suhua claims that there is not enough musicality in Bilash’s performance. She needs to have more musical muscles (as opposed to musical ears). There weren’t enough accents. (Y) Nikita chose his variation well and danced it excellently. He was a noble prince, but there were problems with the arabesque after his cabrioles. They seemed a little crooked. (Y)

Edur says to Bilash that he agrees with Xiao - musicality is very important. There should be light and darkness, but today it was all the same. (N) He congratulates Chetverikov on the amazing solo. Technically, he thinks that Chetverikov should make his pliés faster - he should be coming out of them immediately. (Y)

Vasiliev begins by saying that there are only two accents in ballet - up and down.  He then talks about a performance of this variation that he really likes (Kolya?) for its musicality and openness, its use of pauses - and how the dancer shows off the different parts of the body. He didn’t see that in Bilash’s performances. He talks about how much depends on the artist’s performance. They can be performing bad choreography but still have to go out on stage and fill that choreography with their own thoughts and their own feelings. Nevertheless, he gives her his vote. (Y) To Nikita he talks about how much he enjoyed the performance. There were very few problems - perhaps just in the tours - and Chetverikov has an excellent noble manner. He hopes that Chetverikov will perform all his variations in this excellent manner. (Y)

Bilash: 3/4
Chetverikov: 4/4

My scores:
 Bilash: 8
Chetverikov: 8

Renata Shakirova
variation from Laurencia
music: Alexander Crain
choreography: Vakhtang Chabukiani

This lady is rocking some serious physical power. It’s not all harnessed yet, as there were a couple of minor fumbles, but those are some impressively high jumps and some exciting turns. I also appreciated that she was really going for the accent and the extension with her shoulders and hands - showing off what’s unique and interesting about Chabukiani’s choreography.

Kimin Kim
Solor variation from La Bayadere
music: Minkus
choreography: Petipa

As Koya Okawa said earlier in the program, Kimin Kim just flies. It’s hard to believe how far above the stage he’s getting, and perhaps more importantly, how pure and beautiful his line is even when he’s jumping that high. I also loved his coupés jetés en tournant (those leaps he does in the circle) - he flies through much horizontal space. It’s quite thrilling.

Vasiliev talks about how hard it is to forget Plisetskaya’s version of the Laurencia variation, whether or not one wants to (I actually think Shakirova must have been watching Plisetskaya because there’s definitely something about the prima ballerina’s forward lean that comes through in Shakirova’s performance). Plisetskaya’s performance was totally organic. She could have fallen onstage and it would have been fine - no one would have minded. He tells Shakirova that, in the turns at the end, she needs to emphasize the middle of that phrase more - there’s a musical accent there and by emphasizing it she’ll create a better phrase. But of course it was excellent. (Y) Vasiliev then asks what is there to say about Kim - he’s the best dancer in the competition. They are an incredible pair. Kim danced like a god. (Y)

Edur says bravo to both. But of course one can always dance better. Shakirova had an amazing character onstage, performed with emotion, and filled the stage. She does need a bit more turn out on the manege. (Y) To Kim he says that his arms can help on the chassé after the cabrioles - to allow him to land and then get back up in the air faster. On the saut de basque in the final manege - when he leaps up in the air, it would be better to jump when the legs are in first position - a little earlier than what he did. This would create a slightly more pure position. (Y)

Lefèvre says that she sees how much heart Shakirova brings to this performance. She thinks that she could push a little more with her heels when she does the tour en dedans. But this was a great performance. (Y) As for Kim, he was an artist already from the beginning of the show. We see his dancing as a real performance. He has such a level of performance that we always want to see more - such jumps and such turns. Nevertheless, she thinks that sometimes he loses the lightness. (Y)

Vasiliev then coaches Kim a bit through the final steps of his solo, saying that when he comes down from the saut de basque he can really open his arms up, with his chest forward.

Xiao Suhua begins by saying that they are not the dancers’ judges, they are their friends. They only want to help, not to judge. Today he gives his vote to both. (Y) (Y) He agrees with Mme. Lefèvre that sometimes Kim doesn’t have quite enough exactness in his arms. He could have a purer form with better arms.

Shakirova: 4/4
Kim: 4/4

My scores:
Shakirova: 9
Kim: 10

Darya Khokhlova
variation from Moididor
music: E. Podraitsa
choreography: Yu. Smekalova

Khokhlova took a risk doing this variation, because absolutely no one on the jury was going to know it. From my point of view,  she has a lovely delicacy to her performance style, and there was some charming bounce to her solo, but I didn’t see anything unusual about the dance, or understand why the slight changes to classical technique (for instance the when she twists out of normal position at the start). On the other hand, she is getting through some real technical difficulties without showing any of the effort that’s going into it.

Igor Tsvirko
variation from Flames of Paris
music: Asafyev
choreography: Vainonen

Tsvirko’s projects this amazing muscular energy - not just in the fact that he jumps so high and so far - but in the way that he flings himself into the movement with abandon. I also appreciate his musicality - all the steps are timed so that they hit the musical accents very precisely, all the while his manner gives the appearance of a sort of natural energy. For example, he seems to suspend that last jump in the middle of the air, which emphasizes the fact that the orchestra is dramatically slowing down the final phrase of music. [I do have to say that a couple of the judges mention him making some mistake in the finale of the solo - I think they may have filmed it an extra time]


Lefèvre says that up until now every week Darya’s showed some new side to her artistry, and a solo should show something really interesting about the performer. She talks about how this is a ballet for children, and it is important to have such ballets, but she doesn’t think this variation, which she didn’t know before, showed something new about Darya as a performer. (Y) She goes on to say that she’s already known Tsvirko for a long time and respects him as a great performer.  She’s seen him at the Bolshoi and here and he’s a handsome, seductive, courageous dancer. He had a great energy. (Y)

Edur says that Darya started with a great precision and musicality and has lots of great details. (Y) To Tsvirko he says it’s wonderful to have such energy, such strength. There also needs to be acting - of course some of that’s there, but it’s somewhat hidden. (Y)

Xiao Suhua thinks that the variation hid some of Darya’s talent. (N) He liked Tsvirko - he’s the most courageous/manly of the dancers in the competition. (Y)

Vasiliev also thinks that Tsvirko is the most courageous and manly of the competitors. But when a dancer is like that he must also show the nuances - softer. (Y) As for Khokhlova, he really loves her as a thinking person, with such a pure heart. But after the pirouettes it wasn’t good - it was like a knife to him. (N) [It’s really unclear to me what he objected to in her performance].

Khokhlova: 2/4
Tsvirko: 4/4

My scores:
Khokhlova: 8
Tsvirko: 9

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