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St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre - 'La Bayadere'

Touring troupe matures on tour

by Mary Barnstable

February 2005 -- Theatre Royal, Norwich, England

On Friday and Saturday I was in Norwich to catch up with the company’s production of “La Bayadere” which I first saw on the opening night in Wolverhampton [to read the review, click here--ed.]. I considered it a brave attempt at the time and hoped performance standards would improve, as the dancers grew more accustomed to what is an entirely new work for them. Towards the end of the tour the entire troupe appears to have settled down well in this difficult ballet and the minor shortcomings I noted on the first night have proved themselves to be nothing more then teething problems.

Irina Kolesnikova’s Nikiya was excellent from the start, but her first performance in Wolverhampton was undermined by very unstable support from her Solor, Dmitri Akulinin. Now however Akulinin’s partnering has improved almost out of recognition making their duets look smoother and less of a white-knuckle ride for his ballerina. In fact, I actually questioned Akulinin’s suitability for the role in the first place, but he has plainly worked hard at his deficiencies and now looks a very credible Solor. The fact that he is tall, dark and handsome doesn’t come amiss either.

Kolesnikova’s usual partner, Yuri Gloukikh, appeared with the very young Eleonora Adeyeva, a dancer who tried valiantly to catch all the nuances of the role of Nikiya, but hasn’t yet developed a strong enough technique for the part. Gloukhikh himself was in fine form, but is never totally at ease on smaller stages, as he is a dancer who needs a lot of space to be seen at his best.

The Gamzatti I saw in Wolverhampton, Diana Madsheva, was a real find, an attractive girl with a robust technique who looked as if she was a real rival for Solor’s attentions; unfortunately she wasn’t scheduled to dance this weekend and I saw instead, Olga Ovchinikova and Liliya Akhmetshina, making their debuts in the role on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon respectively. Both are experienced soloists within the company and I was very impressed with Ovchinnikova when she danced the lead in “The Nutcracker” a couple of weeks ago. Although both dancers appeared beset by nervousness, I felt they had a lot of potential and were able to bring out some of the intrinsic spite of the character they were playing.

I am rather annoyed that the Indian Dance with the drum dancer and pas de deux couple don’t seem to merit a mention on the cast sheet, as they are terrific. Drum dancer Artur Martirosian I recognize as the young bundle of energy that always stands out from the rest, but the wigs and make up of the other two make identification difficult. This number was performed with such gusto that the audience fairly erupted when the dancers took their bows. Hopefully this oversight will be rectified in the future and their names will appear on the programme.

The corps de ballet is very able, with minimal wobble in the shades scene and unlike their compatriots at the Kirov, they dance almost silently with no noise from heavy blocks to intrude on the sense of poetry that this scene invariably creates.

I still have reservations about Solor’s suicide scene with a snake though; after all he is supposed to die of natural causes when the temple collapses on him and Gamzatti at their wedding. With the omission of that final act it would be better to finish with the shades rather than the present anti climax.

Edited by Staff.

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