Kirov History VII

16 Dec

43. Zhanna Ayupova
Only 19, She is being pushed hard and fast and groomed for stardom. Won Third Prize in the 1985 Moscow International Ballet Competition. Came to the Vaganova Institute age ten from Petrozavodsa, Karelia. She was taken into the Kirov directly as a solo dancer – an almost unheard of jump over the corps de ballet, where even the best normally spend a year or two. When barely 18, she danced the lead in Giselle – the youngest dancer ever to perform that role at the Kirov. This season she has expanded her repertoire to include Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, and has a lead role in Chopiniana, among others. An impeccable technique that shows all the careful finishing and polishing of the best of the Kirov teachers and coaches. Clearly, she will go far; it remains to be seen if she will make it to the top of the pyramid. One of our most knowledgeable Kirov contacts thinks not, but then she is herself an older rival, and does not exactly qualify as a dispassionate observer.

44. Sergei Berezhnoi
People’s Artist of the RSFSR
Mid-30’s and already a bit past his peak. Married to soloist Tatyana Terekhova and accompanies her to events at the CG’s residence. Graduated from the Vaganova Institute in 1970. ON stage he is a careful, caring partner with impeccable control. As a soloist, however, he has less than superlative ability. Lacking a “big” technique, he has become skillful in shaping and suggesting in half tones. Under plays his roles, and does not succumb to the annoying habits of self-display that plaque the style of some of the Kirov men: The “Liberace” smile, the playing to the audience, the sharp flick of the wrists as the arm, rising above the head, reaches its peak. Berezhnoi shows much less narcissism (if less technique) and nice manners ,although he sometimes appears bored. Hew might have been a bigger star in the old days hen the male dancer’s role was largely limited to supporting and partnering the female lead. In recent years he has been the preferred partner of Prima Ballerina Kolpakova.

45. Constantin Zaklinkskiy.
Honored Artist of the RSFSR.
Fast becoming the king of a not overly distinguished lot of Kirov males. Graduated from the Vaganova Institute in 1974. His tall build (six feet one) and unstrained carriage give him the looks and proportions of a budding danseur noble of the first order. Has fair, golden coloring and an unaffectedly pleasant disposition. Facially a cross between a young Nureyev and the Bolshoi’s Vasil’yev, to whom he is sometimes compared. A naturally huge jump and easy turns give him a relaxed, casually elegant style on stage. Sometimes he appears to be loafing; perhaps he feels that clear turnout and smartly pointed feet are affectations that go against his nature. Has been getting most of the juicy newer solo roles over the past two years, and seems well on his way toward a very impressive career. He and his wife Asylmuratova are sometimes presented as the Kirov answer to the famous Bolshoi couple, Vasil’yev and Maksimova.

46. Yevgeniy Neff,
Mid-20’s. Young, slender, unaffected performer. An elegant carriage and sufficient height
give him the makings of a danseur noble. Less naturally gifted than his rival Zaklinskiy and

somewhat less accomplished in general. But may be a harder worker, and is improving and maturing fact. One to watch.

47. Eldar Aliev.
Late 20’s. His large-frame build and long, sharp nose make him a natural demi-caractere dancer. The Kirov seems to realize where his special talents life. His current roles include a lead in Vinogradov’s new ballet, Knight in a Tiger Skin, with more contemporary choreography requiring wild steps with character dancing, and Rothbart in Swan Lake.

48. Sergei Vykarev.
Won second prize at the 1985 Moscow International Ballet Competition. At age 22,
probably the most promising male dancer among the “youngster” in the Kirov Company. Said to be the one who will solve the Kirov’s “male problem.” Has a light high jump, a soft landing, a stunningly beautiful line. And – rare among Kirov men – some fire inside. Gives a haunting, virtuoso performance as the Kadza Tsarevich in the new ballet Knight in a Tiger Skin: it’s a pity he gets killed off early, toward the end of the firs act.

Conclusions

“There’ll never be another Ulanova, and it’s a good thing, too.
She was it in her day, but there’s a new scene now.
Watch her perform in some of her old films, and look how stilted,
even funny, she looks. Today’s young dancers can do so much more”

Kirov Soloist Tat’yana Terekhova,
who does some jumps Ulanova
never dreamed of.

49. The Kirov Ballet Is a. company in transition. It has decided to join the rest of the world, after a history of not always splendid isolation. Its own style of dancing and its repertoire is slowly evolving – on its own terms, to be sure, but definitely in a more contemporary direction. Asylmuratova and Chenchikova best represent the Kirov’s new breed of female soloists and recall Balanchine soloist: no longer standard textbook dancers but rather neo-classical dances, expansive and bold in sweep, if not perfectly clean in technique, reaching beyond the academic norm. Neither of these two dazzlers have the purity of the earlier Kolpakova or the present Terekhova – who best carries on the Kirov’s older classical tradition. Instead they offer fresh, exciting talent and innate originality, which can be cramped by the severe restrictions of the standard classical roles. If Vinogradov can give them and other rising stars some first-rate modern choreography – and his Knight in a Tiger Skin is a large, very promising step in the right direction – the results could be breathtaking.

50. It is easy to criticize the Kirov Men and say they have gone downhill. Yet they have not fallen as far as some suppose. In this company deservedly noted for consistency, the men are somewhat inconsistent. Zaklinskiy, with a genuine talent, the projection of a powerful build, and broad appeal, is a potential theatre idol. Berezhnoi is a fine partner, an actor of conviction, and, one suspects, could dance to fuller capacity. Neff shows considerable promise. And Vykharev may have what it takes to become a superstar. No one, however, comes close to matching Nureyev, Solov’yev, or Baryshnikov in their prime.

52. Finally the future of the Kirov rests upon its corps de ballet – from which nearly all its soloists rise – and the artistic direction the company will take in the years ahead. The corps remains solid, on the female side probably the most polished in the world. Artistic and choreographic changes will be slow, and the company will remain devoted to the classical repertoire. The Kirov is still very conservative, and there are powerful forces within and around the theater (some centered in the City’s main administration for culture) which do not want it to be anything but a museum. Vinogradov and his dancers have their work cut out for them. But there are encouraging signs of change – toward a slightly broader, more modern, “neo-classical” style of dance, and toward a repertoire that includes some top-quality contemporary choreography. Creatively, like the founder of the beautiful city in which it exists, the Kirov Ballet is beginning to open a window to the West.

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