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Kirov Ballet - All- Fokine Program

'Les Sylphides,' 'The Dying Swan,' 'Polovtsian Dances,' 'Scheherezade'

by Catherine Pawlick

July 29, 2005 -- Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg

The 2004-2005 Kirov Ballet season came to a close on July 29 at the Mariinsky Theatre with those company members not on tour in London dancing a mixed bill of Fokine works with clarity of purpose and dignity.
 
The eternally sublime “Les Sylphides” initiated the evening with an infusion of grace and ethereal eloquence. Unlike the previous week’s awkward excerpt from “Swan Lake,” “Sylphides” -- or “Chopiniana” as it is known here -- presented the refined, cool Kirov technique.
 
Sofia Gumerova danced the Prelude, her exquisite feet and legs embodying a strong sense of musicality and her epaulement faithful to the period of the ballet. The only weak moment came in a strangely deliberate dragging of her second leg in the diagonal of piques sur le cou de pied during her variation. One to wonder if a rehearsal director or coach specifically changed the choreography. If her Prelude was somber, she was all smiles and vibrancy in the finale, a strange and nearly inexplicable character change within the same ballet.
 
Veronika Ivanova and Evgeni Ivanchenko danced the pas de deux together. Ivanova, a very petite blonde, was sprightly in her grand jete variation, and soft in the waltz section. Ivanchenko manages a high second leg in every jete entournant, and his turnout stems even from his ankles, making him quite lovely to watch. From my vantage point in Lozhe O, with the large "Tsar’s box" to the left of the stage, I was able to see his participation in the partnering and lifts more clearly than a view from the orchestra would have allowed. He is a commendable partner and princely soloist in his own right.

 
Yulia Kasenkova -- a questionable casting choice -- danced the Waltz with stiff fingers and a lack of length that contrasted to the other soloists. However, she was energetic and accurate in her execution. Daria Vasnetsova was easily spotted in the corps de ballet. Her success at the Vaganova graduation performance (see my review from June 6) is now confirmed.
 
The remainder of the program was a repeat of July 19 -- "The Dying Swan," "Polovtsian Dances" and "Scheherezade" -- with much the same casting for all pieces.
 
Tatiana Amosova again danced the role of the Dying Swan. Her rendition does not differ radically from performance to performance, as confirmed by this repeat of last Tuesday’s bill. She may receive praise for consistency, but still does not achieve the kind of more lasting effect one would hope for in the short, emotive, historical piece.
 
In “Polovtsian,” Anna Sisoeva, Anastasia Vasilietz and Ekaterina Mikhailovtseva deserve honorable mention for their invigorated dance sequences as prisoners. Mikhail Berdichevski again danced the role of leading Polovetz with strength and the required warrior-like evil gaze.
 
"Scheherezade’s" casting was also unchanged, with the return of Ruzimatov and Mahkalina to the two leading roles. My nearby vantage point allowed me to see even Makhalina’s eyelashes and Ruzimatov’s gold body glitter up close. Whether it was the proximity to the stage or the energy of the dancers, this performance was about twenty degrees hotter than last Tuesday’s. The electricity between Ruzimatov and Makhalina was palpable, and the suspense in waiting for Shakhriar’s return to the fort added juice to the anticipation. Ruzimatov gazed at Makhalina with hunger, never taking his eyes off of her. She flitted between smouldering passion, cool indifference and playful glee, now handing him the cup from which to drink, now turning her back to climb the staircase, follow as he may.

 
Soslan Kulaev was a fearsome Shakhriar with vengeance gleaming from his gaze. Pavel Moskvito as Shakhezman was equally stern. Boris Gruzin conducted the entire evening.
 
The company will return to the theatre in late September and from there head to the
United States for their three-week, three-city tour.

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