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Kirov Ballet - 'Romeo and Juliet'

Palpable but not felt

by Catherine Pawlick

November 18, 2004 -- Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg

The first snowfall in St. Petersburg this week was accompanied by an equally cool performance of “Romeo and Juliet” on Thursday night. One begins to think perhaps the choreography is to blame, for this Lavrovsky version just seems more tame compared to MacMillan or Cranko’s versions, no matter how you slice it.

The dancing itself was in decent form. Despite a slip here by Irina Golub during the balcony pas de deux, and another well-covered slip by the Jester in the third act, technically nothing significant was amiss. Golub’s Juliet was energetic, bubbly, youthful and vibrant. She did a fine job of acting -- her anguish at being engaged to Paris was quite visible -- but that intangible spark between partners was absent between her and Mikhail Lobukhin, who danced his debut as Romeo.

Lobukhin is a compact dancer, shorter of stature, blonde, but strong. His lines are not long but his lifts are secure and reliable. His emoting was visible but not felt; just before he receives news of Juliet’s death, he took his angst a few steps too far, pounding the stage with his fists like a child would have done. It seemed out of place for a love-struck man; but on the other hand Romeo was just a boy, and perhaps such actions are indicative of the character after all.

Leonid Sarafanov again danced exquisitely as the fun-loving Mercutio. Once more one wonders why he isn’t cast as Romeo. His split jetes and leaps are a salve for the eyes. He excels as Mercutio, but his long lines and physique would lend themselves well to the title role.

Ilya Kuznetsov, with the exception of his repeat performances as De Grieux in “Manon”, is frequently cast as the bad boy in this theatre. This ballet was no different: he was the cocky, red-headed Tybalt dressed in a strangely avant-garde costume with a superman-like red cape. He was appreciably despicable, and his sword fight with Sarafanov was intriguing to watch. The sword-fighting scenes in general were riveting, and perhaps helped maintain interest in the ballet for those non-balletomanes in the audience.

Mikhail Agrest conducted.

Edited by Jeff.

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