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The Kirov in London


2005 Summer Tour


by Catherine Pawlick


June, 2005 -- St. Petersburg


After what was for some a remarkably long two-year absence, Russian ballet fans can finally take heart: the illustrious Kirov Ballet returns to the Royal Opera House for two weeks in July with five programs that display the range and depth of the company’s repertoire on their most talented and well-known dancers. London audiences will be graced with a chance to see ten classical, neoclassical and contemporary ballet works during the two week period, something that even a St. Petersburg resident may not see in a two-month timeframe.


Opening the program on July 18 will be an ode to pure classicism at its pinnacle, with Uliana Lopatkina dancing Odette-Odile in “Swan Lake”. Lopatkina sets the swan duo standard – hers is a rendition by which all others should be judged. With subtle elegance, always refined and never overdone, and a careful, intellectual approach to the role, she epitomizes the words “Kirov ballerina.”


The Kirov’s classical side will be further demonstrated by two other 20th century repertoire staples, Leonid Lavrovsky’s “Romeo & Juliet” and Marius Petipa’s “La Bayadère.” Lavrovsky’s is the Kirov’s ordinary “Romeo,” and differs in several respects from MacMillan’s more sweeping take on the Shakespearean classic. The Kirov is offering its earlier Bayadere rather than the newly reconstructed version, which will allow audiences a look at the three-act classic, including the famous "Shades" scene typically conducted locally at medium tempi.


The Forsythe program will comprise of “Steptext,” “Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude,” “In the middle, somewhat elevated” and this year’s newly added “Approximate Sonata.” The Kirov is not the Frankfurt Ballet, and one should not expect to see Forsythe delivered as such. But Forsythe a la Kirov takes the best of classical line and technique and clothes it in modern presentation with a Russian twist. The result can be exciting. Of note for London audiences, upon the request of its creator, Forsythe’s “Approximate Sonata” will sport a sign onstage localized into English for London audiences (the Petersburg sign reads “DA” in Cyrillic letters).


Having covered classical and contemporary, neoclassical will also be represented. The Kirov’s Balanchine program comprising “La Valse”, “Prodigal Son” and “Ballet Imperial” will be danced by the company for the first time in London. This bill is frequently performed in St. Petersburg and shows the company in a range of Balanchine works -- from sweeping waltzes to dramatic story lines and a representation of the Kirov itself as seen through Balanchine’s American eyes (“Imperial”). Adherence to strict Balanchine technique is an effort for the Kirov -- years of correct placement do not easily give way to off-balance battements or lightening speed petite allegro, but these three ballets lean to the more classical side of Balanchine. The results may differ depending on the performance and are always interesting to watch.


For those hoping for a glimpse of some Kirov stars, this will be the chance. Initial casting lists state that Diana Vishneva will dance the first performances for both “Romeo and Juliet” and “La Bayadere”. Daria Pavlenko, whose fresh honest approach is a pleasure to behold, is the company’s youngest principal ballerina. Male principals include the most well-known names: Igor Zelensky, Igor Kolb, Daniil Korsuntsev, and Leonid Sarafanov. A lookout should be kept for as-yet unpromoted soloists such as Natalia Sologub, Viktoria Tereshkina, Evgenia Obraztsova, Tatiana Tkachenko, Ekaterina Petina (especially in Forsythe works) and Ekaterina Kondaurova. Up-and-coming males include Alexander Sergeev, Anton Pimenov and Vladimir Shishov among others.


Enjoy the tour.


Here are a few of Catherine Pawlick's previous Kirov Ballet reviews -- ed.:

"Swan Lake": A Palpable Love -- featuring a discussion of Lopatkina's interpretation of Odette/Odile.

Fifth International Mariinsky Ballet Festival: Opening Night Gala -- with a review of the Kirov production of "Approximate Sonata".

An Evening of Balanchine - "The Four Temperaments", "La Valse", "Ballet Imperial": Balanchine with Nowhere to Hide.




Edited by Staff.


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