Tag Archive: Pavel Smirnov

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…)


“The Flames of Paris”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre (New Stage)
Moscow, Russia
June 04, 2023 (matinee)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. E.Kokoreva (Jeanne), V.Lantratov (Philippe), and ensemble; “The Flames of Paris” by V.Vainonen, Bolshoi Ballet 2023 © Bolshoi Ballet / E.Fetisova “A highly unlikely work” – commented the late Clement Crisp in his Financial Times review about “The Flames of Paris”, which the Bolshoi Ballet performed at the Royal Opera House as part of their 2016 London tour. He argued that the dramatic scheme was papery and the chief roles were predictable.
I checked myself, watching the 85th performance of the latest production at the Bolshoi Ballet’s home base in Moscow.

“The Flames of Paris”, first staged in 1932 at the Kirov Theater in Leningrad (today’s Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg) is about how French revolutionaries turned politics and society upside down. Its rousing score by Boris Asafiev draws on music by Lully and Rameau, including the Marseillaise, and climaxes in the powerful revolutionary song “Ça ira”. In 2008, the Bolshoi Ballet’s then artistic director Alexey Ratmansky restored and revised Vasily Vainonen’s original choreography. Nikolai Volkov’s and Vladimir Dmitriev’s libretto, initially spanning four acts, was condensed to two acts. It tells the story of the revolutionaries’ march to Paris and their storming of the Bastille in July 1789. Oblivious to the people’s fury, the monarchy and its representatives continue to debauch in festivities (including a court ballet) at Versailles, but eventually apprehend the looming danger. Puppets of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette are already mangled by the crowd, soon to seize the palace. (more…)


“The Nutcracker”
Bolshoi Ballet
Bolshoi Theatre
Moscow, Russia
December 29, 2022 (matinee and evening performance)

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2023 by Ilona Landgraf

1. V.Bessonova (Colombine), “The Nutcracker” by Y.Grigorovich, Bolshoi Ballet 2022 © Bolshoi Ballet / M.LogvinovAfter meeting him at a guest performance with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo six years ago, the Bolshoi’s Semyon Chudin suggested that I see their “Nutcracker” in Moscow. Year after year, one thing or another has prevented me from getting to the Bolshoi at Christmastime. Finally, this year, it happened: on the edge of New Year’s Eve, I watched a matinee and an evening performance.

The Bolshoi’s “Nutcracker” dates back to 1966 – qualifying it neither as trendy nor hip by today’s standards. Perhaps Makhar Vaziev, the company’s artistic director, has kept it in the repertoire for a number of reasons: out of respect for tradition; out of respect for the ballet’s choreographer – Yuri Grigorovich – one of the company’s formative figures; and out of respect for the crowd-pleasing nature of the piece that leads to sold out performances now as ever. (more…)