On Sunday I attended the live cinema streaming of the Bolshoi ballet’s performance of Don Quixote, and boy did they deliver.
It was an incredible performance on all levels. I could have laughed out loud from sheer emotion if I wasn’t worried about disturbing the people next to me.
Ekaterina Krysanova is an astounding Kitri. She is an extremely skilled dancer and her confidence in her technique really gives her a freedom and lightness that this role needs. Her energy was contagious and my heart felt like a balloon during her fouettés! The speed combined with her control made for some of the best turns I have ever seen in my life. She danced with sheer abandon throughout the performance. One of the things I enjoy about Don Quixote is that it gives dancers a bit of a chance to show off. Showiness can be an annoyance in other ballets but in Don Quixote it really fits the characterizations.
Semyon Chudin as Basilio. . .what can I say? This man has my heart. Chudin is the pinnacle of male strength and elegance. He has a beautifully proportioned body and his dancing is truly flawless. I always trust his performances which is a very peaceful feeling. He blew me away, as usual.
Olga Smirnova was cast as the Queen of the Dryads. Because I watched the live stream, I was able to see her warming up onstage before the second act. She seemed nervous and perhaps frustrated and unsatisfied with herself as her coach was giving her tips. It was obvious after watching her performance in the second act, however, that Olga is like one of those kids who is worried they will fail the test when they always end up with an A. I thought she was radiant, and her saut de chats on that diagonal. . .she really flew!
Ksenia Zhiganshina put forth a very promising performance as Kitri’s friend. I was on the fence about her until this performance. I always knew that she was very technically skilled, but she is quite young still and I haven’t been able to see her in many roles. This was an excellent opportunity to see her acting skills and I thought she did a wonderful job. I am very excited to see what the future holds for her.
I was pleased to see Yulia Stepanova had a variation in the third act. I think Yulia is a very talented dancer who didn’t get her chance to shine at the Mariinsky for whatever reason. She was extremely graceful as always. I watched a clip on YouTube of her dancing the other DQ variation and she danced that just as well. I think she is perhaps more versatile than she has yet been given credit for.
I also found the interview with the Bolshoi’s new ballet director, Makhar Vaziev, very interesting. Of course he is a well known figure in the world of theatre and dance but this is the first time I’ve personally seen him speak. He seemed very straight forward. Very Russian. My first impression is that he is slightly intimidating, but I am a big fan of his candor. I like that while the world was watching he shot down the widely circulated idea that the Moscow and St. Petersburg ballet schools have fundamentally different styles, but that he thinks people should go on telling their stories. It was just the right amount of condescending mixed with amiability to appeal to my cynical side. I get extremely tired of balletomanes who have never danced in their lives trying to parse out differences and nuances that perhaps do not exist. He seems like a very respected man and like a presence the company needs right now.
The Bolshoi far supersedes the Mariinsky for me right now. This performance really showed the company’s strength at all levels. Even with the difficulties they were facing in the recent past. I don’t think they have any competition within Russia right now and I look forward to many future performances.