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Kirov Ballet

'La Bayadere'

by Catherine Pawlick

February 1, 2006 -- Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

Sophistication. Refinement. Royalty. These are the terms that come to mind when the subject is Viktoria Tereshkina, especially for her role in this week’s “La Bayadére.” Already extolled by well-known dance critic Clement Crisp, Tereshkina continues to inspire the highest praises for a dancing style marked by purity of line and phrasing, and virtuosic technique that is noteworthy, but without the flash and fanfare that can so quickly cheapen a beautiful dancer’s interpretation.

It was indeed Tereshkina for whom the audience gathered, filling the house to the brim on an increasingly cold Wednesday night. Surprisingly, Leonid Sarafanov’s initial entrance to the stage as Solor was not met by the usual applause. He would need to perform his signature manège of split jetés to attract their attention with a ballerina of her caliber on the stage.

Long of leg, and unbelievably thin, Tereshkina began her interpretation of Nikiya with strength of character and self-certainty, but without losing the feminine element. Her refusal of the Great Brahmin’s advances showed pride in her position as temple dancer, head held high and gestures mighty. But self-doubt in her hung head immediately followed, revealing a young girl whose fate is about to become even more complicated.

Whereas Lopatkina’s Nikiya is more innocently in love, and more mournful immediately following the snake bite, Tereshkina’s Nikiya is more matter-of-fact but no less emotional. One receives the impression of Solor as her lover and life mate, that their connection has been decided before they even meet in the garden. This makes Solor’s declaration of love at their first on stage meeting slightly less of a surprise than expected, but nonetheless an appreciated element in the dance. Following the snake bite, Tereshkina displayed the antidote in her open palm to Solor, who turned away from her. Having her reply – he answers to duty, no longer to her – she tossed the antidote aside and fell to her death. Solor raced to her limp frame as the curtain closed.

As far as technical high points go, there were many in Tereshkina’s favor. Aside from her lovely lines and accurate emotional portrayal (no stray smiles or inappropriate gestures), not a step was amiss throughout the ballet. The sole complaint is several moments of faulty partnering that occurred on Sarafanov’s part, so much so that Tereshkina came down from pointe of her own accord in the attitude pose following the Act III pas de deux. Not willing to have that happen a second time, in the pose before the final curtain, she waited for Sarafanov to decide where she would be steady before finishing her own movement. Luckily these instances only slightly dampened a very high caliber performance.

Other enjoyments included Daria Sukhorokova as one of the four tutu-ed girls in the Act II pas de deux between Solor and Gamzatti. Her flirtatious eyes added a charming element to the high legs of four of the Kirov’s tallest ballerinas. Before her, both Yana Selina and Valeria Martynyuk onopposite sides of the initial four dancers (their bodices tinged in deep orange, as opposed to the baby blue of the taller set) offered wide smiles and grace in a warm opening to the pas de deux.

For her role as Gamzatti, Yekaterina Osmolkina deserves more than praise. Her acting has become masterful in this role. It is easy to hate Osmolkina’s Gamzatti, as she oozes manipulation, greed, fear and haughtiness simultaneously. Her pas de deux with Sarafanov was also polished in all respects. The two pair well together for their size differential and her ballon: in their synchronized split jetésdownstage, her front leg whipped up even higher than his. Maybe for this reason, Sarafanov seemed to pay apt attention to her during the partnered pirouettes. His own variation was stunning, as usual: his cabrioles as sharp as scissors, the triple beat audible each time.

In the Indian Dance, Yekaterina Petina and Islom Baimuradov burned up the stage with fiery native chemistry.

A treat came in the way of Grigory Popov’s debut as the Golden Idol in this performance. Popov, often cast as the Jester in “Swan Lake,” here dazzled with jumps that appeared frozen in mid-air. His well-defined musculature matches the casting demands for this role quite well. His finish at the end of the variation was almost early, but compensated with a saving port de bras.

“Bayadère” cannot be reviewed without mention of the Shades scene. Here the Kirov corps de ballet shimmered, like mirror images of the feminine ideal they are meant to portray. Olesia Novikova, Xenia Ostreikovskaya and Daria Sukhorokova danced the three solo variations. Novikova came first, with the hops on pointe in arabesque. Although her talents are best portrayed in roles with more character, such as Kitri or Aurora, here she met the challenge with flawless technique. Sukhoroukova danced the second variation, the double cabriole with chassé, but her inner tempo was different from the one that the conductor chose, making for visual confusion – it was difficult to determine who was on time. Ostreikovskaya closed the trio with the adagio sissone variation, reinforcing her image as one of the Kirov’s more traditional, classic ballerinas. Ostreikovskaya has an extension and flexibility that marvel, but where others would exploit them, she uses grace, taste and restraint, and the result is never less than lovely.Mikhail Sinkevich conducted.

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