Russian Companies

TV Talent Scouts

“Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia
“Большой Балет” (Bolshoi Ballet), Rossiya-Kultura TV, Russia
May 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Matevosyan (host), A.Haxverdyan, L.Hakobyan, M.Mkhitaryan, G.Karapetyan (jury), A.Julhakyan (jury), A.Davtyan (Shant TV), H.Ghukasyan (director and producer), S.Mikayelyan (jury), T.Mnoyan (jury), A.Khangeldyan, S.Margaryan, M.Babayan, S.Barseghyan (host); “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TVWhile German TV programs rarely promote the art of dance, dance is part and parcel of media abroad. The sequels of two dance competitions—Ազգային պարեր (Azgayin Parer/National Dances) on Shant TV, Armenia, and Большой Балет (Bolshoi Ballet) on Rossiya-Kultura TV, Russia—were broadcast recently. Both competitions are textbook examples of how to foster talent while simultaneously nourishing and cherishing dance culture.

Folk dance is a pillar of Armenia’s culture, and the Armenian State Barekamutyun Dance Ensemble has presented it professionally since 1987. Its founder and artistic adviser, Norayr Mehrabyan, is the father of Arsen Mehrabyan, who made his career on Western ballet stages. Shant TV’s first run of a folk dance competition reinforces the status of national dance.

3. G.Karapetyan (jury), A.Davtyan (Shant TV), and H.Ghukasyan (director and producer); “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV2. Finalists of the competition: A.Haxverdyan, M.Mkhitaryan, A.Khangeldyan, L.Hakobyan, M.Babayan, S.Margaryan; hosts, S.Barseghyan and S.Matevosyan; “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TVAnna Davtyan, when describing the project on Shant TV, explained that the show was a compilation of ten broadcasts featuring Armenian folk dance and modern dances. It was produced and directed by Hrach Ghukasyan. Twenty young Armenian dancers participated in the open competition; ten of them men and ten women.
A jury of four along with intermittent guest jurors assessed their performances. Gagik Karapetyan (principal dancer and artistic director of the Armenian State Dance Ensemble), Arman Julhakyan (dancer, choreographer, and ballet master), Tigran Mnoyan (dancer and artistic director of Prof Art Dance Studio Yerevan), and Susan Mikayelyan (dancer, choreographer, ballet master, and the mother of the Bavarian State Ballet’s former principal, Tigran Mikayelyan) were permanent jurors.
 4. L.Hakobyan and S.Margaryan, “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV 5. Participants and staff, “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV They preselected six finalists from which the viewers chose Lida Hakobyan from Artik, a town around sixty-five miles northwest of Yerevan, and Shavarsh Margaryan from Yerevan as the winners. The project was so successful that a second run is already in the works.

Bolshoi Ballet on Rossiya-Kultura TV is already in its fifth run. The last series of seven broadcasts closed with a gala on April 20th. Sixteen young dancers from Russia along with Cuban, Kirghiz, and Uzbek companies participated, performing solos and pas de deux. Each sequence featured another topic, such as Classical & Soviet Repertory or Choreography of the 20th and 21st Centuries. One edition comprised choreography created exclusively for the competition (among others by Nacho Duato).
7. K.Shamakeev, “Don Quixote” by M.Petipa and A.Gorsky, Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater © Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater6. K.Shamakeev, “Diana and Actaeon Pas de Deux” by A.Vaganova, “Большой Балет” (Bolshoi Ballet) on Rossiya-Kultura TV © Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater Svetlana Zakharova, principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet, and Igor Kolb, principal dancer of the Mariinsky Ballet, presented the broadcasts. The jury of four comprised Oleg Vinogradov (former dancer, choreographer, and ballet director), Maria Alexandrova (former principal of the Bolshoi Ballet), Gabriela Komleva (former dancer, coach, and repetiteur), and Farukh Ruzimatov (former dancer and artistic director). Each contestant received feedback from the jurors right after his or her performance. The quality of the performances varied but was often outstanding.

8. K.Ismagilova during a performance, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater © K.Ismagilova9. K.Ismagilova and S.Dangyt, “The Nutcracker” by YPossokhov, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater © K.ZhitkovaThe prize for the best duet was awarded to Maria Ilyushkina and Even Capitaine from the Mariinsky Theatre. Kamilla Ismagilova from the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater received the prize for the best female dancer; the best male dancer was Kubanych Shamakeev from the Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater. The Bolshoi Ballet’s Daniil Potaptsev was declared Discovery of the Year. The prize for acting talent was awarded to Nikita Ksenofontov from the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre (NOVAT). Ksenofontov also received the Soul Fulfilled Flight prize, which was established by the general media partner of the season: TASS.

12. D.Potaptsev and ensemble, “Coppélia” by M.Petipa and E.Cecchetti, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet/D.Yusupov11. D.Potaptsev and ensemble, “Giselle” by Y.Grigorovich, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet/D.Yusupov  10. D.Potaptsev and E.Kokoreva, “Jewels” by G.Balanchine, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet/D.YusupovThe final gala included a group performance by all contestants as well as performances by previous participants and guests, among them Anna Tikhomirova and Artem Ovcharenko (Bolshoi Ballet), Maria Alexandrova and Vladislav Lantratov (Bolshoi Ballet), Amanda Gomez and Wagner Carvalho (Tartar State Academic Opera and Ballet), and Yulia Lukyanenko and Nikita Tchetverikov (Mikhailovsky Theatre). All episodes of the recent run can be rewatched on smotrim.ru.13. N.Ksenofonotov (Modest Alexeyevich) and ensemble), "Anyuta" by V.Vasiliev, Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre © Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre

Link:
“Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia
Photos: 1. Sona Matevosyan (host), Arpi Haxverdyan, Lida Hakobyan, Mari Mkhitaryan, Gagik Karapetyan (jury), Arman Julhakyan (jury), Anna Davtyan (Shant TV), Hrach Ghukasyan (director and producer), Susan Mikayelyan (jury), Tigran Mnoyan (jury), Armen Khangeldyan, Shavarsh Margaryan, Makich Babayan, Senik Barseghyan (host); “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV
2. Finalists of the competition: Arpi Haxverdyan, Maria Mkhitaryan, Armen Khangeldyan, Lida Hakobyan Makich Babayan, Shavarsh Margaryan; hosts, Senik Barseghyan and Sona Matevosyan; “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV
3. Gagik Karapetyan (jury), Anna Davtyan (Shant TV), and Hrach Ghukasyan (director and producer); “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV
4. Lida Hakobyan and Shavarsh Margaryan, “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV
5. Participants and staff, “Ազգային պարեր” (National Dances), Shant TV, Armenia © Shant TV
6. Kubanych Shamakeev, “Diana and Actaeon Pas de Deux” by Agrippina Vaganova, “Большой Балет” (Bolshoi Ballet) on Rossiya-Kultura TV © Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater
7. Kubanych Shamakeev, “Don Quixote” by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater © Chelyabinsk Opera and Ballet Theater
8. Kamilla Ismagilova during a performance, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater © Kamilla Ismagilova
9. Kamilla Ismagilova and Subedey Dangyt, “The Nutcracker” by Yuri Possokhov, Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater © Karina Zhitkova
10. Daniil Potaptsev and Elizaveta Kokoreva, “Jewels” by George Balanchine, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet/Damir Yusupov
11. Daniil Potaptsev and ensemble, “Giselle” by Yuri Grigorovich, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet/Damir Yusupov
12. Daniil Potaptsev and ensemble, “Coppélia” by Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet/Damir Yusupov
13. Nikita Ksenofonotov (Modest Alexeyevich) and ensemble), “Anyuta” by Vladimir Vasiliev, Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre © Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre
Editing: Kayla Kauffman

Intense

“Romeo and Juliet”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
April 04, 2024 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. D.Efremov (Montague's Servant), I.Alexeyev (Benvolio), M.Lobukhin (Tybalt), and ensemble; “Romeo and Juliet” by L.Lavrovsky, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet / D.YusupovIn early April, the Bolshoi Ballet revived Leonid Lavrovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, which senior balletomanes may remember from the company’s famous tours of London and the Met in the 1950s and ‘60s. Galina Ulanova, Raisa Strutchkova, Vladimir Vasiliev, Maris Liepa, and many others wrote ballet history dancing the leading roles. I couldn’t attend the premiere in Moscow but was finally able to watch a video of the opening night. It made me wonder why the production had been dropped from the schedule. (more…)

Laureates of the XVIII Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024

“Gala Concert”
Perm State Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Perm, Russia
April 27, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Awardees, Gala Concert of the Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024 © A.Chuntomov Last weekend, Perm’s ten-day Ballet Competition Arabesque closed with two gala concerts performed by laureates and diploma winners. Many were Russians, but young dancers from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Armenia, Brazil, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and Great Britain also won awards. Thanks to many live streams, dance enthusiasts could easily follow the tournament. Saturday’s gala was the last broadcast and again presented by Aleksandra Domracheva. The first half was reserved for the award ceremony; during the second half, twenty-two of the thirty-nine prize winners performed a mixed program of solos and pas de deux. Treasures from the video archive from previous laureates and a well-made backstage video filmed during this year’s contemporary performance were shown during the break. Sunday’s gala had a different program, which included further awardees. (more…)

XVIII Russian Open Ballet Competition Arabesque – 2024 named after Ekaterina Maximova

“Gala Concert”
Perm State Tchaikovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre
Perm, Russia
April 17, 2024 (live stream)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, Gala Concert of the Ballet Competition Arabesque 2024 © A.Chuntomov “Perm is remarkable in that it’s Ballet Lovers’ Society initiated the first Russian ballet competition,” stated Russia’s dance icon, Vladimir Vasiliev. Though it was mainly an event for young Russian dancers at its inauguration in 1988, four years later, the biannual Arabesque Competition welcomed participants from the U.S.A. and Japan. In 1996, the same Ballet Lovers’ Society coaxed Vasiliev and his wife, Ekaterina Maximova (1939-2009)—Russia’s most prestigious ballet couple—to lead the jury. (Notably, Arabesque has a two-tier jury consisting of renowned dancers and ballet and theater critics.) In addition, Vasiliev became its artistic director. This year’s run is dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the birth of Maximova.

At the opening gala concert, director, Elena Zavershinskaya, recalled how Arabesque has grown: “Over the years, the spectrum of prizes increased thanks to generous donations and so did the amount of countries that participated. We used to have dancers from 8-9 countries and were quite happy with that. Seventy applicants were a big figure; eighty were many. Once we had one-hundred applicants and were so excited! Now, however, young talents from nineteen countries participate, among them dancers from twenty-three regions of Russia. This year we received a record-high of 266 applications!” (more…)

In Commemoration of Ekaterina Maximova

“Fragments of One Biography”
Bolshoi Ballet and Guests
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
February 01, 2024 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. Ensemble, “Fragments of One Biography” staged by V.Vasiliev, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet / E.FetisovaOn February 1st, the Bolshoi Ballet’s prima ballerina, Ekaterina Maximova (1939-2009), would have celebrated her 85th birthday. A phenomenally successful (and multi-decorated) artist, Maximova’s fame reached far beyond Russia’s borders. After retiring from the stage of the Bolshoi in 1988, she continued to dance with other Russian and international companies—and sometimes even returned home to the Bolshoi. From 1990 on, Maximova worked as a coach, teacher, and member of several arts councils and committees. Every five years, Maximova’s husband, Vladimir Vasiliev, stages a gala at the Bolshoi in honor of his late wife. I was able to watch this year’s event on video. (more…)

Love, Faith, and the Inevitability of Karma

“Land of Faith – Bargujin Tukum”
Ballet of the Buryat Academic Ballet and Opera Theatre
Buryat Academic Ballet and Opera Theatre
Ulan-Ude, Russia
February 2024 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Ovcharov and ensemble, “Land of Faith - Bargujin Tukum” by N.Dmitrievsky, Ballet of the Buryat Academic Ballet and Opera Theatre 2023 © N.Dmitrievsky Roughly 4000 miles separate Moscow from the Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East. Two-thirds along this stretch towards the east lies Ulan-Ude, the capital city of the Republic of Buryatia. Its population amounted to 436,000 last year. Lake Baikal is about 100 miles north of Ulan-Ude; the border with Mongolia to the south is 130 miles or so away.
Last year, the Republic celebrated the centenary of the foundation of the Buryat Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic—currently known as Buryatia (which is still an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation). On this occasion, the Buryat National Ballet and Opera Theatre commissioned the Moscow-based contemporary choreographer, Nikita Dmitrievsky, to create a new ballet. His Land of Faith – Bargujin Tukum premiered last May and will return to the schedule later this year. During a tour to Moscow last December, it was shown at the Stanislavsky Theatre. I was able to watch a video of the premiere. (more…)

A Grand Spectacle

“La Fille du Pharaon”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
February 16, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. M.Mishina (Ramze), E.Kokoreva (Aspicia), and ensemble; “La Fille du Pharaon” by P.Lacotte, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet / D.Yusupov The Bolshoi Ballet’s La Fille du Pharaon is about an Egyptian pipe dream—and it felt like a dream indeed. I was already impressed in 2019 when I watched it for the first time. Five years later, the cultural landscape has changed so much that its magnificence seems surreal. It highlights the extent to which the paths of Western and Russian cultures have diverged. While European culture finds itself on shaky grounds, the Bolshoi stands firm as a rock. The critics who argue that Pierre Lacotte’s recreation of Marius Petipa’s La Fille du Pharaon (1862) is like unearthing a dusty ballet mummy are wrong. True, the piece’s libretto (which is based on Theophile Gautier’s 1857 Le Roman de la Momie and was edited by Lacotte) is flimsy. Hearty drags on an opium pipe transport a traveling Englishman and his servant to the pyramids during the reign of a mighty pharaoh. This pharaoh has a daughter who instantly falls in love with the Englishman. After some adventurous trouble (including the dispatch of a lion, a last-minute escape, a nearly murderous assault, a suicide attempt, and the hero’s near execution), the lovers are happily united. But – alas! Upon awakening, (more…)

How to Warm an Audience

Don Quixote”
Ballet of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Moscow, Russia

February 15, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Limenko (Kitri) and ensemble, “Don Quixote” by R.Nureyev, Stanislavsky Ballet 2024 © K.Zhitkova Moscow’s ballet audience is well-versed and demanding. The crowd that filled the Stanislavsky Theatre last Thursday to watch Don Quixote gave the quirky Don Quixote (Nikita Kirillov) and his gluttonous squire, Sancho Panza (Konstantin Semenov), a friendly but reserved welcome. The company’s former artistic director, Laurent Hilaire, added the production to the repertoire in 2019, and Hilaire’s successor, Maxim Sevagin, has kept it since 2022. As a former etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet who danced under Rudolf Nureyev’s directorate, Hilaire chose to introduce the Russian audience to Nureyev’s version of Don Quixote. Its set and costume design replicates Nicholas Georgiadis’s originals for the Paris Opera premiere.

Back at the bustling market square, the exuberance of the Spanish youth gradually spread through the rows. The legs of the toreadors sliced the air like knife edges; their leader, Espada (Evgeny Zhukov), missed no chance to parade his oomph; the sultry show of Olga Sizykh’s street dancer heated the air so much that the men began to brawl over the women – but the arrival of Don Quixote (on top of his armored old nag Rocinante) chilled passions. (more…)

Reassuring

“Chopiniana”/“Grand Pas from the Ballet Paquita
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
February 14, 2024

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2024 by Ilona Landgraf

 1. A.Denisova, “Chopiniana” by M.Fokine, Bolshoi Ballet 2024 © Bolshoi Ballet / D.Yusupov The musicians of the Bolshoi Orchestra are on their toes. After acknowledging the welcoming applause, conductor, Pavel Klinichev, raised his baton in the same instant that he turned around to face them. The vigorous bars that he prompted belonged to a Polonaise by Chopin. It opened Mikhail Fokine’s romantic Chopiniana (1908), which the Bolshoi Ballet revived in November 2022. It’s the first part of a double bill the second piece of which – the Grand Pas from Petipa’s Paquita – has been a landmark of classical dance since its creation in 1881.

There’s no need to discuss how Fokine’s choreography was performed. The Bolshoi is a guarantor of sublime performances. Indeed, the unity of the corps was nothing less than staggering; every step was measured yet effortless like an outpouring of natural decency. Perfect proportions soothed the eye. As the leading sylphs, Anastasia Stashkevich, Elizaveta Kruteleva, and Anastasia Denisova paid great attention to detail, adding the right tinge of buoyancy, melancholy, or playfulness to their solos. Vyacheslav Lopatin’s poet combined sensitivity and decisiveness. His clean and – at times mighty – jumps earned applause. Alyona Pikalova’s set design – an arch of gnarled treetops opening onto a sunny water meadow – invited the mind to dream.
I’ve watched several companies dance Chopiniana, but no performance was as complete as the Bolshoi’s. Perhaps due to experiencing messy times in my home country of Germany (and in the West in general), the refined order and serenity of Chopiniana felt especially comforting. It seemed like the epitome of civilization. (more…)

Style Over Substance

Modanse”
Svetlana Zakharova Evening

Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
October 31, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. S.Zakharova, “Come un respiro” by M.Bigonzetti; Svetlana Zakharova Evening, MuzArts 2023 © A.Stepanov The title “Modanse” sounds like an à la mode ballet – classy, extravagant, and fashionable. It belongs to a double bill featuring the Bolshoi Ballet’s prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova. The external production includes dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet’s roster, and since 2019 has guested regularly on the Bolshoi Theatre’s stage and abroad.

As a seasoned artist, Zakharova must have an instinct about what suits her on stage. Hence I’m flabbergasted that she has kept Mauro Bigonzetti’s “Come un respiro” (“Like a Breath”) in the program. The 2009 creation, of which Zakharova acquired a reworked version, is ill-suited to make her and her co-dancers (among them Anastasia Stashkevich, Ana Turazashvili, Mikhail Lobukhin, Vyacheslav Lopatin, and Denis Savin) look good. Moreover, its succession of bland solos, pas de deux, and group dances fails to excite. (more…)

Trickling

Through the Looking-Glass”
Ballet of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre
Moscow, Russia

October 29, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. V.Mukhanova (adult Alice), G.Bosai (Black Queen), and ensemble; “Through the Looking-Glass” by K.Semenov, Stanislavsky Ballet 2023 © MAMT This April, the Stanislavsky Ballet premiered a new piece by one of Russia’s up-and-coming choreographers – Konstantin Semenov, who happens to be a dancer from within their own ranks. Semenov, winner of the 2015 competition for young choreographers of the festival for contemporary dance Context. Diana Vishneva, so far mainly created dance miniatures. His recent work “Through the Looking-Glass” is his first full-fledged, seventy-minute one-acter. Still a small-scale production, it was shown on the theater’s small stage, where the audience sits in intimate proximity to the dancers.
“Through the Looking-Glass” is based on Lewis Carroll’s 1871 eponymous novel, the sequel of his “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865). Again, young Alice enters a rhyme-ridden fantasy world, but this time through a mirror rather than a rabbit hole. Everything in this world is reversed, including written text, the meaning of words, and time (which runs counter-clockwise). (more…)

Fiendishly Fine

“Master and Margarita”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (New Stage)
Moscow, Russia
October 29, 2023 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. A.Ovcharenko (Master) and E.Krysanova (Margarita), “Master and Margarita” by E.Clug, Bolshoi Ballet 2023 © Bolshoi Ballet / Batyr Anadurdiev I was skeptical whether Edward Clug was the right choice to tackle Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita”. A Russian choreographer seemed better equipped to adapt this landmark of Soviet literature for the ballet stage than a Romanian-born working in Maribor, Slovenia. Two years after its premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre, I was able to watch Clug’s “Master and Margarita” – and my reservations were proven thoroughly wrong. It’s a fabulous blend of entertainment and food for thought, brimful of metaphors and allusions. Yuri Possokhov, Clug’s Russian colleague, currently preparing a new piece for the Bolshoi, is full of appreciation for “Master and Margarita” as well. I met him at another performance where he told me that Clug understands the Russian soul perfectly well.

Interestingly, Clug, together with Christian Spuck (then artistic director of Zurich Ballet) intended to stage “Master and Margarita” in Zurich in 2015, but their plan was thwarted when the theater’s research revealed that ticket sales would be uncertain because the Zurich audience wasn’t familiar with Bulgakov’s novel. Destiny brought the Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Makhar Vaziev to the scene who decided to stage the piece in Moscow.

A lifetime could be spent exploring Bulgakov’s political and social satire and the biblical questions raised by the novel. In short “The Master and Margarita” (published only after Bulgakov’s death in 1940, first in an edited serial form in 1966/67 and uncensored in 1973) intertwines two plots: (1) the mayhem caused by the Satan (alias Professor Woland) and his entourage when visiting Moscow in the 1930s, and (2) the trial of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem during Pontius Pilate’s governance. The connecting link is the Master, a Muscovite author (and Bulgakov’s alter ego) whose latest manuscript tells the Jerusalem plot. Margarita is the woman who loves him and – unlike Moscow’s critics – his work. (more…)

Sorting Out

“Catharsis Dante”
Russian State Ballet of Siberia
Hvorostovsky Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre
Krasnoyarsk, Russia
June 30, 2023 (video)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. G.Botenkov (Sisyphus) and ensemble, “Catharsis Dante” by N.Dmitrievsky, Hvorostovsky Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre 2023 © Y.Raskova This April, the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theatre scored a double victory at Russia’s Golden Mask Awards. Their reconstruction of “Catherine ou la fille du bandit” won the prize for the best ballet production and the best female part. I was curious about the company’s repertoire, but failed because of the distance. Krasnoyarsk is in Siberia, around 2400 miles east of Moscow. Luckily, Nikita Dmitrievsky helped me out. His ballet “Catharsis Dante” received its world premiere at the Krasnoyarsk Ballet this June and Dmitrievsky sent me a recording without much ado.

His name is well-known in Russia, where he realizes the majority of his dance projects, but he also worked in the Netherlands, UK, Israel, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Finland. An allrounder, Dmitrievsky is choreographer, artistic director, producer, filmmaker, lighting designer, and teacher in one. Costume design doesn’t seem to be on his spectrum and in the case of “Catharsis Dante” is by Inna Zaitseva. (more…)

Prix Benois Laureates 2023

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Theatre (Historic Stage)
Moscow, Russia
June 21, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

Yesterday evening, this year’s laureates of the Prix Benois were announced on the Historic Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.

1. J.Ryu, C.Kerche, and Q.Yunting, Prix Benois de la Danse, Bolshoi Theatre 2023 © Bolshoi Theatre / B.Annadurdyev2. M.Kang, Prix Benois de la Danse, Bolshoi Theatre 2023 © Bolshoi Theatre / B.AnnadurdyevQiu Yunting (National Ballet of China) and Misun Kang (Universal Ballet, South Korea) share the prize for the best female dancer. Yunting was nominated for her performance of Tatiana in John Cranko’s “Onegin”, Kang for her interpretation of the Widow in Bingxian Liu’s “Mirinaegil”. Hugo Marchand (Paris Opera Ballet) was awarded the prize for the best male dancer. He didn’t attend the ceremony. Vyacheslav Samodurov won the prize for the best choreography for “Dancemania” – a creation for the Bolshoi Ballet.

Mikhail Lavrovsky, People’s Artist of the USSR, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. (more…)

Dancer Nominees for the Prix Benois 2023

Prix Benois de la Danse
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
June 17, 2023

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

Eleven dancers from five nations are nominated for this year’s Prix Benois. Of the six women and five men, one dances in South-Korea, four in Russia, and two each in China, France, and Kazakhstan. This Tuesday the laureates will be announced in an award ceremony at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

Here’s a short overview on the nominees:
1. M.Elchibayeva, Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay © Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay 2. M.Elchibayeva, Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay © Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after AbayMalika Elchibayeva, leading soloist of the Kazakh National Opera and Ballet Theatre after Abay in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is nominated for her performance as Queen Shamkhat in “Frescoes” by Zaurbek Raibayev. Gulzhan Tutkibayeva, artistic director of the company, describes Elchibayeva as having “an outstanding appearance, beautiful texture, a professional school, and acting skills. For 5 years in the theater, Elchibayeva has performed almost all the leading parts of the ballet repertoire. In the role of the Queen Shamkhat she is organic, expressive, and managed to fully convey the idea of the ballet master Raibaev.” (more…)