Elizabeth Murphy in Emeralds (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Elizabeth Murphy in Emeralds (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Not so the Bolshoi corps in their ‘Diamonds,’ which came brilliantly alive. This ‘Diamonds’ really glittered. Yet everything in this performance paled in comparison to the ravishing splendor of 18-year-old Alyona Kovalyova in the lead role. It was her debut – for all I know, the first time she’s had such a major opportunity in anything. She’s tall, dark, willowy, beautiful. And she’s technically impressive, but you hardly notice because she’s so winning, so gently secure, so obviously happy to be dancing. If she was nervous, it didn’t show. If she was daunted, you’d never know it. She wasn’t Farrell, she wasn’t Odette, she was a magical new creature. The audience had never heard of her, but from her first moment, there was a collective holding of breath, and at the end, a wild, heartfelt ovation; really, a burst of love. Gimmick had been transformed into glory.
Kristina Shapran in Diamonds (Mariinsky Ballet)
Yekaterina Kondaurova in Rubies (Mariinsky Ballet)
There was an interview posted by Телеканал Культура on Youtube with Alena Kovaleva. The video is '2 ВЕРНИК 2. Константин Хабенский и Алёна Ковалёва / Телеканал Культура' and Alena's part comes in around 37:20. I don't speak very much Russian, so I have no clue what they're saying, but as a fan of Alena's, I was interested when I saw it and thought others would be too!
Igor Vernik (who is an actor) and Alena speak of the fact that they have worked together before on “Nureyev”. Vernik performed a speaking part while Alena danced the part of one of the paparazzi.
Alena on her debut as Odette / Odile in “Swan Lake” and whether she was scared: I was 18. It was a responsibility. I was nervous but I try to let go of any fears during a performance. Trembling legs won’t be of much use to me.
How she got into ballet: I was attending [after-school] dance classes and the teacher there suggested that I should audition [for Vaganova]. She said I should do ballet.
On life at Vaganova: From the age of 10 you know why you came to this place. You must work. Any fun and games must be set aside because you simply don’t have time for such frivolities. I wasn’t always a straight-A student. In the last four years, yes, I was one of the best in my class, but at the beginning I was very weak. I had very skinny legs and I couldn’t grow any muscles. I had to work harder [to build muscle] and I was told to eat pasta, because that’s supposed to help.
Why she isn’t dancing at the Mariinsky: My height was an issue, so they didn’t make me an offer. There are some tall ballerinas, of course, but it doesn’t always suit the company. Partnering [can be an issue]. I’m 177cm tall.
On dancing at the Bolshoi as a tall ballerina: Artem Ovcharenko and I danced together in “Etudes” but we aren’t really suited in height. There are few things we can dance together.
On being partnered by Denis Rodkin: We danced together in “Swan Lake”; I was lucky enough to debut opposite him.
On how she found out she was being promoted to soloist: I was told to go to the [admin] office and fill out a form. I was dictated the content and as I was being dictated I realised that it was a written request to promote me to the rank of a soloist. My heart skipped a beat. I took the form to Vaziev and I stood in front of him completely overwhelmed with emotion. He told me that I would now be taking on a much bigger responsibility and a lot more would be expected of me.
On dancing Myrtha: She is so powerful, ruthless and cold. It’s as if all of her feelings had died off with the betrayal.
On whether Alena herself has experienced disappointment in “that area”: Of course. Everyone has their own disappointments and losses.
On the enormity of the Bolshoi’s interior: I got lost when I went there for an audition. I had five minutes left till class and I had no idea where I was and I had no reception on my phone. I ran into a person and asked them for directions but they told me that it was their first day and they had no idea where anything was. I remember being so terrified that I’ll remain trapped in those corridors forever.
On her first time dancing on the Bolshoi stage: my very first time was as one of the Dryads in “Don Q” and then, just ten days later, I debuted as the soloist in “Diamonds”. In “Don Q” there are a lot of people on stage, but in “Diamonds” I enter the stage alone. During adagio, the stage is completely dark except for the light shining on myself and my partner. My breath caught in my chest. All I could see were my partner and the glimmer of the crystals that incredible chandelier up above. All I could think was: “How beautiful”. I couldn’t believe I would get to rule the stage, to dance in the midst of that magic, for ten whole minutes.
Megan Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz in Rubies (NYCB, 2017)
Alyona Kovalyova and Jacopo Tissi in Diamonds (Bolshoi Ballet ,2017)
photo: Julien Benhamou
Vanessa Zahorian and David Karapetyan in Diamonds (San Francisco Ballet, 2009)
More 2018 updates can be found here.
B O L S H O I
Oscar Frame will debut in the Emeralds Pas de Trois on May 9. He is also rehearsing the part of the Golden Idol.
Alena Kovaleva has debuted as Nikia in “La Bayadere”.
M A R I I N S K Y
Maxim Zenin has debuted Puss In Boots in “Sleeping Beauty”.
Maria Ilyushkina has debuted Florine in “Sleeping Beauty” and in “Raymonda” (Act I, Raymonda’s Dream variation).
Vlada Borodulina has “officially” debuted as Gold Fairy (as her original debut was during the Petipa Festival).