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© Ismene Brown 2017

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Lunkina finally resigns from Bolshoi

Osipova rejoins Bolshoi as guest star


"Moscow ballet-lovers adored her for her luminous personality, so full of energy"

Prima ballerina Alexandrova quits Bolshoi

02 FEB 17

The Bolshoi Ballet's prima ballerina Maria Alexandrova has resigned from the theatre, described by colleagues as "shocking news". A popular figure in London on Bolshoi tours, Alexandrova, who is 38, announced her decision on Instagram without specifying any reasons, but it could be read between the lines that she was losing ground in performances to the younger generation of ballerinas and that she has other more independent projects in mind.

This report from Business FM gathers tributes to her from a critic, a ballerina colleague and a dance teacher and historian. Their consensus is that Alexandrova, with her combination of elegance and boldness, had made a remarkably varied career and epitomised the Bolshoi Ballet at its best in recent years.

Her personal popularity was never damaged in the internecine internal wars that left her former partner Sergei Filin, artistic director, semi-blinded and scarred in the infamous acid attack. In the tortuous rebuilding of company discipline that followed under the new general director Vladimir Urin, Alexandrova emerged as an approachable and articulate dancers' representative who could bridge all sides.

I would add personally that Maria Alexandrova has always been one of my favourite artists to watch in the Bolshoi, having, rather like Tamara Rojo, a modern wit and rich personality on stage that made entertainment of her virtuosity, as well as possessing the direct humanity and artistry to arouse true emotions in dramatic roles. I will not easily forget Alexandrova's joyously sophisticated Paquita, nor her contagious effervescence in The Flames of Paris and The Bright Stream - I attached extracts from my own reviews after this translation of the Business FM report.

Bolshoi prima ballerina exits: 'shocking news', February 3, 2017, 14:27, by Evgenia Smurygina

The Bolshoi's prima ballerina Maria Alexandrova has resigned from the theatre, of her own accord. The theatre press office stated that her decision is regretted by everyone. "The theatre's directors and the ballet leadership repeatedly met the ballerina, asking her to continue her career." Still Alexandrova would not reconsider. However, continued the statement, the theatre still believes she could return to the stage.

Alexandrova joined the Bolshoi company in 1997. We asked three people what made her special.

Leila Guchmazova, ballet and music critic

"She is of the very flesh of the Moscow school, someone who after graduating from the Moscow Academic Choreographic Institute turned out a success. Someone who took off immediately. The moment she finished school she performed in the Moscow International Ballet competition, partnered by the experienced Nikolai Tsiskaridze. And seizing her courage in both hands, she performed brilliantly, and was instantly hired into the Bolshoi Ballet company. Ie, from earliest youth she seemed to have been destined for the top.

Her Bolshoi career itself has also been relatively successful. No artist will ever be 100 percent satisfied with what he did. The ballet career is very short - at 38 it's over, it's time to leave the stage. This is usual. It's the law that at 38 the person has to retire.

Of course there will be exceptions. Of course talent comes in different forms - if the artist is still required, if he still feels needed, then he'll be on stage for considerable time. Masha Alexandrova is an intelligent artist, she's already tried out drama theatre, already several times done private projects, quite interesting ones. She did the independent production, Caligula. That is to say, Masha never sits for long without work, she is always been doing something alongside her Bolshoi career, and because she is an intelligent artist I suspect it will all work out well for her in future."

Yevgenia Obraztsova, prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre

"It is shocking news. Honestly, I'm so disappointed because in my view Maria Alexandrova embodies the Bolshoi Theatre itself, and it's hard to imagine now that she is leaving the theatre, that she'll no longer be there and shows will have to go on without her. It's not good, it's sad news.

Maria was an amazing Kitri, a very brilliant Gamzatti, and danced Myrthe in Giselle outstandingly well. And as well as that she interpreted the romantic roles really interestingly, roles that she didn't dance very often, like Giselle herself. She has a special quality, a distinctive individuality that she could show in her unexpected bravura, or in the very calm and interesting way she did romantic roles. Frankly, it's always been a pleasure to watch her because her dancing has always had courage, confidence and warmth. Moscow balletlovers adored her for her luminous personality, so full of energy. Masha is always in flight, I've never seen her tired on stage.

Dancer, teacher and ballet historian Olga Rozanov believes Alexandrova managed to make a brilliant career thanks to her unconventional mould.

Olga Rozanova, ballerina, teacher, ballet historian

"Maria does not have those long, thin lines, the most melodious body. She is a ballerina of strong technique and confidence. I remember her in the early days when she danced the girl-boy in The Bright Stream, and it was just amazing. She had something boyish about her. And then she acquired such technique that she became a striking ballerina. She has this brilliant dance quality, complete aplomb, her fouettés are elegant and of excellent speed.

She acquired a fairly wide repertoire for a ballerina at the Bolshoi Theatre. Of course the young come onto the stage and they dance more and more, and there simply aren't enough performances, After all, to maintain their normal best, everyone needs to have three or four shows, or at the least two a month. The youngsters, naturally, stack up, and that's the way it goes, it's the lot of all ballerinas. The older the are, the fewer changes they get to perform, unfortunately."

Alexandrova's statement

On her page on Instagram Alexandrova announced her resignation from the theatre and thanked her public, colleagues and teachers.

"My beloved and dear audiences and colleagues! I want to thank each and every one of you and say the most heartfelt THANK YOU for the journey we've shared together inside the walls of the Bolshoi Theatre!" she wrote. She did not spell out any reasons for her resignation but the implication was tha she was not prepared to waste any more energy waiting around for a handful of performances.

"This great part of my life is over. I have decided, of my own accord, to turn the page. The artist's place is on stage, and everything else is illusion and empty, spirit-sapping stress...  Life goes on, and I have many interesting and important things ahead of me! I wish you all success and patience! Always yours, Masha Alexandrova."

Alexandrova highlights in my reviews:

2006, The Bright Stream, for The Daily Telegraph::

"If you could tear your eyes from the awesomely funny Filin, there were equally relishable performances by the dazzling Maria Alexandrova as the Ballerina - she is truly Plisetskaya's successor, this one - the exquisite Svetlana Lunkina as Zina, Gennady Yanin as the oversexed Accordion-player, and indeed the whole cast, wrapped up by the Bolshoi's captivating musical performance under Pavel Sorokin. Encore, please."

2008, The Flames of Paris, for The Daily Telegraph:

"The peasant dances storm like thunder and lightning, Vainonen's own Dance of the Basques and Carmagnola riproaringly done by the Bolshoi's magnificently eager troops, particularly the boys to whom Ratmansky’s given a real work-out. The first cast starred the eyewatering Maria Alexandrova as Jeanne, whose technique is nowadays so sophisticated in its brilliance, and her party spirit so irresistible, that you couldn't expect the men in her life, Denis Savin (brother) and Alexander Volchkov (lover),  to match her. "

2011 Paquita & Le Corsaire, for The Arts Desk:

"After all the encomia for Natalia Osipova it’s time for a paean to another Bolshoi ballerina, whose witty underplaying and conquest of style makes her the lady I’d choose to see shipwrecked in full tutu, diamonds and pink satin pointe shoes on any desert island I fetched up on. Maria Alexandrova starred in two 19th-century restorations of palatial opulence - the pirate party Le Corsaire and the princess party Paquita. Mistress of balletic patisserie, she decorates these glorious old wedding cakes of choreography with delectable sugar rosettes in her footwork, leaps of lightest meringue, and a hint of citrus in her dimpled smile.

"This is the kind of epicurean artistry that is rarely seen in young ballet dancers who all want to show all that they can do, rather than conceal all that they can do. It was what spoiled the dancing of other ladies, such as the second lead of Le Corsaire last night, Marianna Ryzhkina, who fails to command with her arms and back the perfect spatial architecture that Alexandrova proudly outlines and then tosses away with a sophisticated flick of her hands. Golly, but Alexandrova’s good...

"In Paquita she has to trump a catwalk of exhibitionist ballerinas - who in Friday’s cast included the sensational Osipova, the elegant Maria Allash and the neat Nina Kaptsova - and gave a masterclass in regal understatement. In Le Corsaire she has to drive a story of utmost silliness, emitting emotions from joy to wretchedness, all the while with the complicity of a glance that draws spectactors in alongside her to enjoy the nonsense."