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Kirov Ballet - 'Don Quixote'

Lighthearted humor

by Catherine Pawlick

November 5, 2004 -- Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

If one act ballets are appetizers, the four act “Don Quixote” is always a full meal. Friday night’s performance at the Mariinsky was no exception, proving to be one the Kirov’s more pleasant performances.

Andrian Fadeev’s punctual, clean Basil was a pleasure to behold. He is a strong dancer, his blonde locks connoting Apollo but his mannerisms mediterranean in this ballet. Nearly every finish was perfectly timed, whether the end of a turn or a variation. Following the mock suicide in the third act, his series of double tours were flawless. As Basil he was energetic and enthusiastic, a trustworthy partner.

Kitri was danced by the Bolshoi-esque Olesya Novikova. This young brunette sports legs that remind one of Semenyaka or other Bolshoi ballerinas – well-muscled, but still streamlined, strong but refined, reliable, not weak. Her Kitri was both spicy and sweet. She accented movements with just the right amount of staccato, but when taking Basil’s hand she was usually soft and feminine, an interesting combination for this role. As Dulcinea she was even more the princess in pink, an ideal of beauty, calm and serene. And yet her 32 fouettes – completed in their entirety – were of lightning speed.

Andrei Mercuriev was the slick, smooth toreador, Espada. He drew more than one “bravo” after his cape manege, and again in the final act. His dancing is clean and not at all cumbersome, and he has a certain magnetism that makes him pleasing to watch. His pas de deux with partner Tatiana Serova, who seemed to suffer from worn out pointe shoes, was electric and seductive. Despite her handicap, she managed all of the bourrees through the cups.

The Dream Sequence was led by the always smiling Evgenia Obratsova as Amour. Having just seen her in “La Sylphide”, her ability to fit both roles is not surprising. Here she was the happy spirit of Love, vibrant, light and quick. The Queen of the Dryads was danced nicely by Yulia Obratsova, who was also in last week’s “La Sylphide”. Clearly the administration is using Obratsova’s talents to the fullest. Just out of the Vaganova school, she is already dancing soloist roles (and in some cases, better than some soloists). Her casting to date suggests the more fairy-like roles: sylphs, dryads. It would be easy to imagine her in “Swan Lake” or the second act of “Giselle” as Myrtha as well – her neck seems endless, all of her limbs long, and her technique, if not completely polished, shows that sense of refinement that comes with increased professionalism. She completed the Italian fouettes seamlessly in her variation.

Other dancers of note were Natalia Tsiplakova and Galina Raxmanova, as the Eastern (Arabian) dancer and Mercedes, respectively. Both offered the same degree of nearly 180-degree spinal flexibility that is impressive to watch.

The conductor, Boris Gruzin, who holds the title “People’s Artist of Russia”, was highly attentive to all dancers on stage. When he waited for Novikova to finish her many en dedans pirouettes into the partnered attitude in Act One, or paused slightly before Mercuriev began his variation, his sense of timing was expert.

Edited by Jeff.

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