Vlad Lantratov to Principal

Only nine months ago, I wrote a short entry about Vladislav Lantratov having been promoted to Leading Soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet (https://kodamaballet.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/vladislav-lantratov-promoted/), and predicted that he would before long make it to the rank of a Principal Dancer. Well, he has done it! It was announced on 24th September 2013 that he is promoted to Principal Dancer.

Vladislav Lantratov ©D&D Art Production

Vladislav Lantratov
©D&D Art Production

Lantratov joined the Bolshoi Ballet upon graduating from the Bolshoi Ballet’s school, the Moscow Choreographic Academy, in 2006.  His first promotion, to Soloist, was in September 2010. He was promoted again to First Soloist in September 2011 and then up to Leading Soloist in December 2012.

preview_Bayadere-29-photo-by-Elena-Fetisova

Lantratov and Zakharova in La Bayadere

I noticed him for the first time when I went to see a live transmission of Pharaoh’s Daughter from the Bolshoi Theatre in December 2012. See the archived blog for the full review  (https://kodamaballet.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/pharaohs-daughter-bloshoi-ballet-live-transmission/). In that production he was dancing the role of a Fisherman; interesting but not a very big role. However, he caught my eye and impressed me. Since then I have been keen for more opportunities to watch him dance. I saw him dance the lead opposite two top ballerinas, Maria Alexandrova and Svetlana Zakharova, in La Bayadere in January 2013, shortly after he was promoted to a leading soloist (https://kodamaballet.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/la-bayadere-bolshoi-ballet-in-cinema/) . This performance deepened my conviction that he would climb the ladder of the ranks in the Bolshoi Ballet fairly quickly.

Lantratov and Alexandrova in the Flames of Paris

Lantratov and Alexandrova in the Flames of Paris

When Bolshoi Ballet came to London this summer, I ordered a ticket for a specific performance in order to see Lantratov and Alexandrova in the Flames of Paris, but due to Alexandrova’s injury earlier in the tour, the casting was changed and I did not get to see him dance on stage. Although the couple who danced in their place (Ivan Vasiliev and Ekaterina Krysanova) was an absolute delight, I was still disappointed at not being able to see the originally cast couple. The Bolshoi Ballet is broadcasting a fair few of their performances to cinemas around the world again this season. I am already looking forward to seeing them, and with luck Lantratov will dance the lead in one or two of the performances that they broadcast!

Lantratov and Smirnova in Onegin

Lantratov and Smirnova in Onegin

If you are lucky enough to be in Moscow, his next lead role seems to be the title role of Cranko’s Onegin with Olga Smirnova, who was also promoted to Leading Soloist yesterday. Lantratov appears to be dancing the role of the Evil Genius in Grigorovich’s Swan Lake as I write this article right now.

Lantratov as the Evil Genius and Svetlana Lunkina as Odile

Lantratov as the Evil Genius and Svetlana Lunkina as Odile

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Vladislav Lantratov Promoted

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Copyright © 2002—2012 Benois Centre

Vladislav Lantratov, whom I mentioned in the review of Pharaoh’s Daughter, was promoted from First Soloist to Leading Soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet on 14th December 2012.

Lantratov joined the Bolshoi Ballet straight from the Moscow Choreographic Academy – the Bolshoi Ballet’s own school –   upon graduating in 2006 (he was in the class taught by Ilya Kuznetsov).  He was given a fair few soloists roles from early on and took a principal role in The Bright Stream in 2009. He was promoted to soloist on 23rd September 2010 and was promoted again to First Soloist in September 2011.

He has noticeable stage presence, a very clear-cut technique and dances with apparent ease. His coach is Mikhail Lavrovsky and I can certainly see similarities in their light and yet strong styles.

With Bolshoi Ballet’s live streaming to cinemas in UK, we will hopefully have more chances to watch him in the future.

I am very much looking forward to seeing more of him and how he handles a variety of roles. I am curious to see how much further he improves; at this rate of progress he would appear to have what it takes to make it up the final step through the ranks of the Bolshoi to Principal Dancer.

Maya Plisetskaya

When I was only about two or three years old, my father had an 8mm film of the famous Russian ballerina, Maya Plisetskaya. It was a compilation of Plisetskaya dancing Dying Swan, Bach’s Prelude, Raymonda pas de deux and the Carmen Suite.

Oh, she was simply the perfect embodiment of a ballerina for this little girl who had fallen in love with ballet when she was only two and performed her own Swan Lake to the family in the living room. I begged my father to play the film ever so often. I could not get enough of her beautiful arm movements in the Dying Swan, her graceful lightness in the Prelude where her partner was wearing black and nearly invisible against the dark background, her crystal clear footwork in Raymonda, and her explosive technique in Carmen Suite.  But above all, it was her charisma that made me fall in love with her ballet.  I could not take my eyes off her, however little she might have been doing. I spent hours in front of our bathroom mirror trying to copy her arms and facial expressions. My mother still laughs about the time her three-year-old daughter copied Plisetskaya’s seductive move in the Carmen Suite!

There are people who command the audience’ s attention and will not let go of it once they have it. Plisetskaya is definitely one of those charismatic people. Whether you like them or not, you cannot take your eyes off them. There are many talented dancers all over the world, but truly charismatic dancers are rather rare.

I was so very lucky to have seen Plisetskaya perform live. She was certainly getting on a little bit by then; she was way over fifty when I saw her for the first time! But such thoughts never occurred to me then. It is only with hindsight that I think just how old she was at the time and it fills me with even more awe.

I was really privileged in that my mother valued quality and made sure that she showed me the very best dancers in the world as much as she could afford. I learned so much from watching them on stage, especially how they could command the audience and have the crowd at their feet admiring them!

Another thing I learned from them was their musicality. Really wonderful dancers are all so very musical. They never ever look as though they are dancing to music. They become one with the music. It looks as if their dance, their bodies, are making the music. They breathe the music.

Plisetskaya is one of those dancers whose movements, even down to a blink sometimes, seem as though they are the elements that make the music. She does not dance someone else’s choreography; each move she makes seems to be born from her.

Just a few years ago I went to see her eightieth birthday tribute gala. I was a little worried that she would be so old and frail and betray my image of the strong charismatic ballerina that I knew. How mistaken I was! The moment she walked onto the stage (in a pair of very high heeled shoes!) I could not take my eyes off her. She was still the same monstrously charismatic ballerina who captured my heart all those years ago. She even performed a small piece, although not on pointe, that was choreographed for her by Maurice Bejart, using two Japanese style fans, one red, one white. Oh, the movement of her arms! The musicality! Her artistry! But above all, her eyes! Those were the eyes that pierced through me when she shook my hand when I was a very little girl. Her handshake was firm. Her hand felt large and warm. She looked into my eyes and smiled. It might have been at that moment that I knew I wanted to be a dancer for sure. I went home, all the way from Tokyo to my house, which was good two hours away, without touching anything at all with my right hand lest her handshake would be dirtied. I refused to wash my hand that night and my mother had great difficulty trying to convince me that a handshake cannot be washed off. To this day, I can feel her handshake. And I feel so very proud that I am still involved in ballet even if I am no longer a dancer myself. No matter how small my part in the world of ballet might be, I am still living in the same world as this woman with such talent and such charisma.

Maria Alexandrova (Principal Dancer – Bolshoi Ballet)

I am not going to write her biography here. There are many extensive ones all over internet.  Just type in her name and many many links come up including plenty of images.

I saw her for the first time when I went to watch Bolshoi Ballet’s live cinema transmission in Oxford.Maria Alexadrova in The Bright Stream

It was Swan Lake, the Grigorovich version.  Swan Lake is one of the ballets I am most sentimental about.  It was the very first ballet I saw, when I was two, and it got me hooked on ballet for all eternity.  The first leading role I danced from the major repertoire, the White Swan, came from this ballet; later on it was  the Black Swan pas de deux that introduced me to my mentor; and Swan Lake was my first professional performance and my first First Soloist role at the same time …

The entrance of Odette in the second act (but labelled Act I, scene II in Grigorovich’s version) is so full of expectation. The female lead does not make an appearance during the first scene; the mood is set by the fantastic sequence with the Prince and Rothbart (I love how Grigorovich presents Rothbart! But that’s another story…). Towards the end of the scene,  the music plays so beautifully in crescendo, the Prince exits stage right, a beam of follow spot concentrates on the upstage corner of stage left then, in the midst of blue/grey scenery, a ballerina in a pure white tutu appears!

My first impression of Alexandrova was, “oh, no…” (If you are a fun of Alexandrova, please do not get cross, and keep on reading!)

In short, I did not like her at all as Odette, the tragic white swan. I did not feel any sympathy towards her character, and the only thing I could think of was that the costume did not flatter her physique in the least and I kept wondering whether her black swan was going to be better. She simply did not look like the vulnerable helpless maiden who is struck by tragedy.

Her Odile was a lot better. She was a fantastic technician. Her Odile was powerful, commanded the Prince’s attention and was convincing. However, I still was not entirely convinced by her. So when I left the cinema, I thought I would not be sad if I never got to watch her again.

Next time I saw her was another Bolshoi Ballet’s live transmission to a cinema in Oxford. They were showing Esmeralda. I must confess I was a little disappointed when I learned that Alexandrova was to dance the title role. However, I was pleasantly surprised! As a gypsy girl, full of life and love, she was very good! Her technique was very strong, but she did not really show off and instead managed to use it in order to tell the story. I was rather glad I had another chance to see her again which changed my mind about her to a certain extent.

The third time I saw her was yet another Bolshoi Ballet shown in the cinema. She was dancing the role of the Ballerina in Shostakovich’s comic ballet, The Bright Stream. She was simply fantastic!  Her technique so strong, her acting simply charming, she was charismatic. I simply loved her as the Ballerina in The Bright Stream. In the second act, her character pretends to be a man, in which she was brilliant as well. Using her very strong technique and high jumps, she was quite convincingly a dashing young man.

Since then I have watched quite a few clips of Alexandrova on You Tube and found her in other roles such as Swanhilda in Coppelia (excellent), Gamzatti in La Bayadere (fantastic), Kitri in Don Quixote (joy!). I will have to watch her Odette again and perhaps some more serious princess-type roles, but she certainly is a very talented dancer who is a joy to watch!

I admit, quite happily, that I was wrong to think that she was not good at all. She certainly is a dancer to look out for!

Maria Alexandrova as Gamzatti in La BayadereMaria Alexandrova in La Sylphide

YKBG Blog Starts Here!

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There will be a lot of interesting information about ballet and its history, methods, and many more!

If you like ballet, either to dance yourself or to watch, keep an eye on this page!

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