2008 brought an unexpected and, thus, amuch welcome treat for ballet audienceswhen Evgenia took on the role of Kitri inDon Quixote. Rarely do ballet heroines, eventhe vivacious ones, manage to survive andattain happiness at the end of a play, butKitri is one of the few fortunate exceptions.The audience discovered Evgenia as acompletely different actress –mischievous, light-hearted, but with a strongpersonality, a classical St. Petersburgballerina, yet with a genuine southerntemperament. Soon after the debut as Kitrion her home stage, Evgenia was invited toreprise this role in Sergei Vikharev’s versionof Don Quixote with the Tokyo-based ANBBallet company. This Japanese Don Quixotewas one of the many collaborations betweenVikharev and Obraztsova. She danced in hisother ballet productions as Flora in TheAwakening of Flora, Columbine in LeCarnaval and Aurora in The Sleeping
2006 brought a whole kaleidoscope of balletpremieres for Evgenia. She debuted in the roleof Maria in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, thenmade her long awaited appearance as Aurorain The Sleeping Beauty, and took on a new andunfamiliar dance plastique in Cinderellachoreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. Finally,2006 was also the year when Pierre Lacotte’sOndine premiered — the first ballet stagedspecifically in collaboration with Evgenia. TheFrench small step technique, uncommon for theRussian style, as well as health problems thatcaused significant hardship during finalrehearsals and the premiere — all of these wereovercome by the ballerina with sucheffortlessness and grace, that the unsuspectingaudience was nothing short of amazed at hervirtuosity and lightness, and heartbrokentogether with Leonid Sarafanov’s characterby the ballet’s tragic climax. The role of Ondineearned Obraztsova the most prestigioustheatrical prize in Russia — the Golden Mask.
2007 presented Evgenia and heradmirers with an encounter withGiselle. Evgenia may not appearas often as the audience might likein this role, probably the mostimportant one in the romanticballet repertoire. But every timeshe performs it, her heroinechanges, with her inner worldbecoming ever deeper, and theaudience being less and lesscapable of holding back its tearsover Giselle’s death in the first actor restraining its admirationof the fortitude of her immortalsoul in the subsequent scenes
2008 brought an unexpected and, thus, muchwelcome treat for ballet audiences whenEvgenia took on the role of Kitri in DonQuixote. Rarely do ballet heroines, even thevivacious ones, manage to survive and attainhappiness at the end of the play, but Kitriis one of the few fortunate exceptions. Theaudience discovered Evgenia as a completelydifferent actress —mischievous, light-hearted, but with a strongpersonality, a classical St. Petersburgballerina, yet with a genuine southerntemperament. Soon after the debut as Kitrion her home stage, Evgenia was invitedto reprise this role in Sergei Vikharev’s versionof Don Quixote at the Tokyo-based ANB Balletcompany. This Japanese Don Quixote was oneof the many collaborations between Vikharevand Obraztsova. She danced in his other balletproductions as Flora in The Awakeningof Flora, Columbine in Le Carnaval andAurora in The Sleeping Beauty
2009 turned out to be both happy and very sorrowful forthe ballerina. The tragic death of Ninel Kurgapkina endedtheir 8-year creative union that gave audiences a numberof performances by Evgenia that were truly movingin their depth and precision. But 2009 also brought newroles — first and foremost the first duet in JeromeRobbins’s In the Night, as well as the characterof Syuimbike in Shurale by Leonid Yakobson — andmarked the start of Evgenia’s creative collaboration withher new teacher Elvira Tarasova. Another very importantevent in the ballerina’s life that year was her appearancein the role of Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty as a first-time guest soloist at the Royal Opera House at CoventGarden, where she had performed previously on multipleoccasions while on galas or on tour with the MariinskyTheater. Although Aurora had been in Obraztsova’srepertoire for some time by then, at Covent Garden shehad to master a new version of this ballet, as well as theEnglish ballet style, which significantly differs from theRussian. According to critics and audiences, Evgeniaaccomplished this task brilliantly, successfully conqueringyet another leading world ballet stage.
Among Evgenia’s other notable accomplishments have been herperformances at Staatsballett Berlin, where she appeared twice in theambitious Malakhov and Friends project, as well as at theStanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow MusicalTheater, where Evgenia has been a guest soloist since 2010. It wason the stage of the Musical Theater, where Evgenia, for instance, hadher first encounter with the work of the remarkable choreographerJiří Kylián, and where in 2010 she also danced Giselle together withone of her favorite partners, the Paris Opera etoile Mathieu Ganio.Just prior to this engagement, she participated in the Etoiles Galaau Japon event, where she first danced the duet from McMillan’sversion of Romeo and Juliet (together with Ganio), and also starredin Pierre Lacotte’s new ballet The Three Musketeers (set to the musicof Michel Legrand) in the role of Constance Bonacieux. Partneringwith Evgenia in that performance were such renowned world balletstars as Mathias Heymann, Benjamin Pech, MatheuGanio, Alexandre Riabko and Jiří Bubeníček.
2011 for Evgenia without a doubt became the year of Swan Lake.Obraztsova spent over six months preparing for this role — probablyone of the most important and difficult ones in a classical ballerina’srepertoire. The premiere took place in April 2011 at the Stanislavsky andNemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Musical Theater where Swan Lakeis danced in the version of Vladimir Bourmeister, which is one of themost interesting, yet complex versions of this ballet. By taking on therole of Odette-Odile, Evgenia once again had to fight against popularpreconceptions regarding her typecasting, and once again she came outvictorious! In spite of her touching fragile vulnerability and thedesperation of her tragic fate, Evgenia’s Odette was still a characterof royal blood — not a strong powerful leader, but a gentle flower thathad known only beauty and love until brutally and mercilessly torn outof her familiar world. Appearing in sharp contrast to this veryembodiment of tenderness was Evgenia’s Odile, a cold calculatingvixen, whose brilliant glances were akin to flickers of light reflecting offa cold and indifferent mirror. Odile was like a diamond, a cold rockwhose masterly cut enthralled and whose brilliance made one forget thata stone is incapable of giving warmth
Evgenia Obraztsova was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg)on 18 January 1984 to a family of ballet dancers. Her future career choice(which course her parents made for her initially) was predeterminedby the girl’s liveliness, energy, excellent physique and obvious artistictalent. Moreover, the world of ballet was close and intimately familiarto Evgenia from a very young age. Tied to her theater seat with a beltfrom a ballet robe, lest she jumped onto the stage to join the action, shesaw the entire classical ballet repertoire. But by the time Evgenia hadto make a definitive career choice, she also became fascinated withdramatic theater. This love for the theater developed into a lifelongromance and almost cost the world the great ballerina that Evgenia wasto become. Nonetheless, the unity of music and theater, the stylistic beautyand the incomparable atmosphere of the ballet world ultimately tippedthe scales in its favor. Another reason why ballet ultimately won overEvgenia was the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. Evgenia still vividlyremembers her first acquaintance with the Philharmonic: EvgenySvetlanov was conducting, and the artistry that he displayed that nighttaught Evgenia how to truly hear and appreciate music. ThePhilharmonic was to become her third home for many years; it wasa place where she would come every evening after her classes at theVaganova Academy of Russian Ballet.
During her years at the Vaganova Academy, Evgenia worked witha number of teachers who played an important role in shaping her styleand personality as a ballerina. At different points in time, her class wastaught by Lyudmila Sofronova, Inna Zubkovskaya and MarinaVasilieva, and each of them imparted something of her own that helpedshape the overall individuality of the young ballerina. LyudmilaSofronova, one of Vaganova’s last students, instilled into her girls therules and the genuine feel of the St. Petersburg ballet style. InnaZubkovskaya helped them develop their inner strength and a trueballerina aplomb, while Marina Vasilieva, a highly experiencedteacher, enabled them to systematize the knowledge they received andmade them feel self-confident. One must also mention the graduate of theMoscow ballet school Nikolai Tagunov, who developed an impeccablyclean dancing technique in his students through hard discipline. As forthe Vaganova Academy’s acting skills instructor A. A. Styopin, Evgeniacontinues working with him to this day and happily turns to him for helpwhen preparing new roles.
In 2002, Evgenia graduated from the Vaganova Academy and wasaccepted into one of the world’s best companies — the Mariinsky BalletTheater. At the ballet school Evgenia had already appeared on the stageof Mariinsky multiple times.. However, the real start of her artistichistory as a Mariinsky dancer was marked by three crucial life eventsin the 2002-2003 season. First, during her very first year at thetheater, she was invited to take part in the Mariinsky’s tour in Paris.Second, Ninel Kurgapkina, a sublime ballerina with a God-given talentfor teaching, took Evgenia under her tutelage at the theater’s request.A guardian of the true St. Petersburg style, Kurgapkina later helpedEvgenia prepare for the roles of Shirin, PrincessAurora, Sylphide, Maria, Giselle, Kitri and many others. But that wasstill to come, in the meantime, the third and most fateful eventof Evgenia’s first season at the Mariinsky occurred — she was givena major role debut as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet by Leonid Lavrovski.For this role, still among Evgenia’s favorites, she prepared for an entiresix months together with her tutor and acting skills teacher.
2004 started for Evgenia with a second major role at her homeMariinsky theater — the title role in La Sylphide, now generallyconsidered to have become her calling card. To help prepare for thisrole, Evgenia and Ninel Kurgapkina enlisted the helpof S. Berezhnoi, a guardian of this ballet’s traditions at the Mariinsky.The preparation was very meticulous, as Evgenia and her teacherswanted her Sylph to be an example of the true St. Petersburg balletstyle. In general, the City on the Neva River has meant a lot for Evgeniaas an actress. For one, even Marius Petipa, when he created his famoussemitransparent descending shadows scene in La Bayadere, was inspiredby images of St. Petersburg — a city filled with music and poetry, a citythat may feel bit distant and cold, but at the same time be one of themost romantic cities in the world. The ethereality and poetryof Evgenia’s heroines are also in great part a reflection of her native St.Petersburg.
In the same 2004, Evgeniaperformed another importantrole in her career — thatof Shirin in The Legend of Loveby Yuri Grigorovich. Havingherself been handed that roledirectly by Grigorovich manyyears ago, Ninel Kurgapkinamade it the only one that shespecifically requested for herprotégé. Kurgapkina trulyloved that characterand, thus, demanded extremeprecision and attention to detailfrom Evgenia’s performance.
2005 was another key landmarkin Evgenia’s dancing career. That year shewon the Gold Medal at the MoscowInternational Ballet Competition. Havingarrived to participate in this competitionentirely on her own, without countingon anyone’s support, Evgenia managedto outshine a number of strong rivals andwin. Winning the medal was a goal thatEvgenia had set for herself while stillgraduating from the ballet academy, andthis victory opened up the internationalballet scene for her. Already in 2005, shestarted receiving her first personal touringinvitations. Her first such experience wasin the premiere of Konstanin Sergeev’sversion of The Sleeping Beauty in theUSA. That same year, she was invitedby the Teatro Dell’Opera di Roma to takeon the highly complex, yet interestingwork in Carla Fracci’s Cinderella
Evgenia would later return to the RomanOpera as a guest soloist several times: firstin 2006 as Margherita in Faust by LucianoCannito, and then in 2010 in the title roleof Giselle by Carla Fracci. Italy witnessedtwo other very important events in theballerina’s career. In 2006, Evgenia wasinvited to dance alongside other worldballet stars in the famous Roberto Bolle andFriends project, which was the first timethat she performed on the stage of La Scalain Milan. In 2007, she made her firstappearance at the renowned Arenadi Verona, where she danced at theinvitation of Maria Grazia Garofoli. 2005also gave Evgenia interesting experiencein cinema work, when she tried her actingskills in front of a movie camera in LesPoupees Russes (The Russian Dolls)by French director Cedric Klapisch.
In 2007, Evgenia graced heradmirers with a performanceof the title role in Giselle.Evgenia may not appear asoften as the audiences mighthave liked it in thisrole, probably the mostimportant one in the romanticballet repertoire. But everytime she does perform it, herheroine changes, with herinner world becoming everdeeper, and the audiencesbeing less and less able to holdback their tears over Giselle’sdeath in the first act or theiradmiration for the fortitude ofher immortal soul in thesubsequent scenes.
After such an Odile, it seemed that the ballerina could no longer returnin the finale as the same Odette, and she did not. Odette in the fourth actdisplayed a different type of desperation — no longer that of a girl tornout of the comfort of her world, but of a woman with a broken heart.There was no sense of desperation in this Odette anymore, only a senseof fate. She no longer saw the prince as her hero savior, but had rathercome to accept him just the way he was. Their devotion to each otherwas put through a trial, and Odette passed hers, thus breaking hercurse. She no longer needed her wings, for now she had love. The changeof masks between Odette and Odile, as well as within the characterof Odile that Evgenia displayed that night was simply amazing. It wasperhaps the chief artistic achievement of that performance. Evgeniamanaged to accomplish something that few others can — she createdcompletely different characters in the same play and it was difficultto tell which one was closer to her seemingly «obvious» typecasting.
Another important performance for theballerina that year was the Russian premiereof Pierre Lacotte’s La Sylphide in December2011, also at the Musical Theater, whereEvgenia appeared in the title role, thus eagerlycontinuing her long-standing collaboration withthe famous French choreographer.Of course, the French La Sylphide shares somekinship with the Danish version, butit is a distant one. The music, the choreographyand even the very image of the air spirit arevery different in the French ballet. The FrenchSylph was a true femme fatale, a creatureof witchcraft behind whose lovely smile lurkedsome very intense passions. In the end, thesepassions burned down both the Sylph and herunfortunate lover (partnering with Evgeniaat that performance was Thiago Bordin fromthe Hamburg Ballet), but not before shemanaged to weave an elaborate threadworkof small steps characteristic of the French balletstyle.
In October 2011, Evgenia Obraztsovahad a taste of what it is liketo be a prima ballerina of the BolshoiTheater, debuting on its stage as a guestdancer. For this debut she fittinglychose the role of Kitri, as Don Quixotecan be considered one of the more«Muscovite» ballets in the theater’srepertoire. The Bolshoi Theater soloistVladislav Lantratov became Evgenia’sBasil that night.Finally, in 2011, Obraztsova first triedherself on television, taking part in theRussian Channel 1 program Bolero,which paired ballet dancers with figureskaters in a dancing competition.Evgenia’s partner was a world famousskater Maksim Staviski. While notwithout some controversy, thisexperiment nonetheless proved usefuland expanded the ballerina’s circleof friends and admirers. Don Quixote
Despite the fact that 2012 has just begun, one can adhereto stereotypes, or follow expectations dictated by conservative tastes.The main goal for the actress is to live through and interpret her rolesin a way that makes audiences truly believe in the authenticity of thestage action. Among Obraztsova’s heroines there are strong-spiritedwomen, as well as naïve fairy-tale characters that differ greatly amongthemselves.already claim it as one of the most important years in the ballerina’scareer — in January 2012, Evgenia Obraztsova became a full-timeprima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater! In this new rank, she hasalready appeared as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty (versionby Grigorovich), debuted in the role of Anyuta in Vladimir Vasiliev’seponymous ballet and danced in Johann Kobborg’s versionof La Sylphide.Evgenia has a lot of wonderful roles, unorthodox characterinterpretations and artistic treats for her audiences ahead of her. Theballerina does not aim to confine herself to narrow typecasting,
A sweet Sylphide today, a graphicalTerpsichore tomorrow, and on thefollowing day a playful Kitri whotransforms from a girl to a grandedame over the course of a single play — allof these characters are so distant from oneanother. Yet if a ballerina is a real actressthat can be convincing in each of thesedissimilar stories, does it not mean that herdefining style is not a stereotype, buta collection of roles that one trulysenses, lives through and is able to relateto the spectator? La Sylphide
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