Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bolshoi Balet, Episode 6, Part 2

This is a continuation of part 1, which can be found here.
Nadezhda Batoeva and Ernest Lаtypov
“Do Not Look Back”
music: Ezio Bosso
choreography: Anton Pimonov

Pimonov created this duet specially for this tv program, which is a part of Bolshoi Balet that I always enjoy - although we learn in the interview that the choreographer is Batoeva’s husband, so I guess it’s not too surprising that he was willing to stage a tv-ballet for her. Both the dancers have really gone for Pimonov’s almost gumby-like body and arm movements, but only Batoeva makes them look natural, as if that’s just how her body moves. I do wish, though, that her performance was more musical.

Xiao Suhua says that he always likes this pair, but today he was a little disappointed. He doesn’t want to judge the choreography, he doesn’t want to insult Batoeva’s husband, but the number was a little too variety show. Hе wishes they had done something that resounded a little more. (N)

(Nadezhda pushes back a little - and Xiao says that the number didn’t show off her best side)

Edur says that perhaps the number wasn’t chosen well. At the start it seemed like they had totally different emotions - maybe that was intentional (and they’re nodding that it was) but it seemed like they weren’t together. But as a member of the public, he didn’t understand it. They have mastered the movement but it seems a little empty. (N)

Vasiliev says that Nadezhda should tell her husband that he’s a great director. What Edur was saying about the finale - that rarely happens - that we follow the long narrative and suddenly in the finale we see a dream that was unexpected. They were excellent. (Y)

Lefèvre says that when they came out onstage, she thought this is a game. But then the game stopped. She could sense an energy coming from them. This piece is like an abstract painting, that doesn’t say anything but at the same time means something. Ernest had more contrasts than Nadezhda. He showed more colors, although Nadezhda is excellent. She also understands that it must be difficult to perform your husband’s choreography. The end it was really a miracle. Choreography has its pluses and minuses, but the performers did it well. (Y)

Total: 2/4

My scores:

Batoeva: 7
Latypov: 6

Renata Shakirova and Kimin Kim
music: Max Richter
choreography: Wayne McGregor

McGregor is quite popular in Russia, so I’m delighted to see his choreography in this competition again. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that Shakirova has quite yet absorbed the McGregor style of movement. There should be far more flexibility and strangeness to the shapes, particularly in the torso, and for the most part she is stiff as a board. While they have good accents, without the softer aspects of the choreography, those accents seem too harsh. That’s particularly true given the pounding minimalism of the music. Everything was just hammered a little too hard for my taste.


Edur knows McGregor’s choreography (he’s worked with the choreographer personally). He liked Shakirova and Kim so much that he wants to see more of their dancing. He also wants to see more precision in Shakirova’s performance. Kim is of course a perfect McGregor dancer. (Y)

Vasiliev gives them his vote. (Y) They are both remarkable dancers. Edur was right - he was happy watching them and could watch them much longer.

Lefèvre was happy to see McGregor’s work here, and she wishes she could talk more about the choreography because she likes him so much. She was inspired by their performance. Like Edur, she’s not surprised that McGregor chose Kim for his dance. But she thinks Kim wasn’t stable enough the entire time. Shakirova danced it so well. Overall, she was amazed by the performance. (Y)

Xiao Suhua says he rarely likes contemporary choreography on pointe. People lose freedom of movement on pointe. But this is a happy occasion, she seemed free - this show’s McGregor’s mastery. He liked Shakirova more - Kim was like a shadow. Kim was a little reserved. But he was impressed. (Y)

Edur discusses a time when he and his wife were working with McGregor and they talked about using pointe shoes. Edur thinks that it’s good that McGregor uses pointe shoes, because he unifies a groundedness from contemporary choreography with the airiness or elevation of the pointe shoe.

Total: 4/4

My scores:
Kim: 8
Shakirova: 7

Ekaterina Bulgutova and Yuri Kudryatsev
duet from Hussar Ballad
music: Tikhon Khrennikov
choreography: Sergei Bobrov

Oh, Yuri’s mustache! How adorable. This was by far their best performance in the competition - and I think between this and Stone Flower, we can see that their strength is in 20th and 21st century narrative choreography. It seems to give them a better sense of what the expression should be. There are even some similar steps here to the Stone Flower duet. They have lovely curving lines (which they’ve had all along) but with a better sense of dynamic and expression this time around.


Xiao Suhua begins by saying that sometimes the dancers suffer from bad choreography. It was grammatical and beautiful work, but it didn’t move him. He says to his students that they shouldn’t repeat what others have done. These are very talented dancers, but he is very sad that it didn’t turn out today as he had hoped. Nevertheless, he gives his vote. (Y)

Lefèvre says it’s a beautiful duet, and it’s understood that there are a lot of emotions. She likes Bulgutova a lot but doesn’t think that she expresses her emotions enough. The music is so beautiful, but she doesn’t use it - she doesn’t open up in this romantic story. Kudryavtsev is different, but they are a pair and she doesn’t see their inner dialogue. As individuals she likes them, but she agrees that she was not moved by their performance. (N)

Vasiliev says they were excellent, they did what they were supposed to do, with a few mistakes. Kudryavtsev doesn’t seem like a Hussar. He is miraculous - and has an excellent mustache. Vasiliev can see that they love each other. (Y)

Edur says that the number was well-chosen for them. He agrees with his colleagues that they can always use more emotion. Technically, he thinks Kudryavtsev needs to jump more lightly. (Y)

Total: 3/4

My scores:
Kudyravtsev: 7
Bulgutova: 8

Anastasia Soboleva and Viktor Lebedev
duet from Sensorium
music: Debussy
choreography: Alastair Marriott

Soboleva creates beautiful shapes with her entire body in this piece - whether long lines, or X’s, curled shapes. It’s lovely. And she seems to let the broken gestures in the music imbue her dance with a sense of otherworldliness. She has a tenderness to her gestures, an attention to her partner. Lebedev is a bit dull and on occasion even has difficulty with the lifts. More and more, I think that she needs to find a partner better suited to her artistically, although I can understand that it must be difficult finding someone tall enough to work with her.


Vasiliev talks about the title Sensorium, that it suggests that there should be emotion, sense. He thinks that, instead, this duet was just a series of easy exercises. Today he’s feeling very nice though and will give them his vote. (Y)

Xiao Suhua thinks it was a formal performance that did not win him over. (Y)

Lefèvre seems a little flustered. She loves Debussy’s music and thought there was a good relationship between the music and the dancers. Debussy doesn’t give concrete emotions. The performance was very beautiful, particularly Soboleva with her long arms and legs. As they do this duet more, she wants them to think about the transitions; they are doing pose, pause, movement, pause. (Y)

Edur is in agreement that Soboleva was stronger in the performance - her lines, her body, she’s musical and soulful. Lebedev is an excellent dancer. Balanchine said that ballet is like a flower. Edur wants Lebedev to bloom quicker. For that, he has to be more courageous - not to fear weakness, to open his soul. (Y)

Total: 4/4

My scores:
Lebedev: 6
Soboleva: 9

At the end, there’s an argument about whether or not they should give an extra vote to Shakirova and Kim. Xiao Suhua is the holdout - he wants to give Batoeva and Latypova the extra vote. So no one gets it.

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