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Kirov Ballet - VI International Ballet Festival

Program 7: Farukh Ruzimatov Gala Performance

by Catherine Pawlick

March 24, 2006 -- Mariinksy Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

The glossy program accompanying this year’s Mariinsky Festival has, in accordance with last year’s format, essays on each of the three male dancers featured in their own evening of ballets. For the essay dedicated to Farukh Ruzimatov, Anna Gordeeva writes, “Not a dissident, and neither arguer or fugitive...Ruzimatov, nonetheless, creates in his dancing a parallel history of the Mariinsky theatre. The kind of history that could be. One of the possibilities.”

Gordeeva suggests that one of these possibilities “…would have been what is currently part of Farukh’s own personal theatre. Lots of Spanish. There were not enough exclamation points in Ruzimatov’s native theatre -- no, in the classics he stuck them in according to his own taste, it is always his own punctuation. The way that every flamenco movement seems fortissimo does not exist in the new repertoire at the Mariinsky.”

Not, of course, that it should, in the world’s leading classical ballet theatre. But the evening dedicated to Farukh Ruzimatov -- and featuring him in three spicy works -- drew a clear picture of the dancer’s native talents, highlighting his taste for dance that incorporates dramatic expression.

His “Scheherezade”, as mentioned in previous reviews, is never less than sizzling, and this evening was no exception. Each gesture to Zobeide was intense, each movement sleek, smooth and sultry. As always, he was visibly consumed by his passion for this princess. That excitement comes out -- the exclamation points, if you will -- both in flight, whether it be jetes or tours to the floor, and in his relations to his partner, each touch and physical interaction infused with fire.

The disappointment was his partner for the ballet. Svetlana Zakharova, on a brief visit from the Bolshoi specifically for this one performance, was much too cool for the role of Zobeide. She didn’t slink, and sensuality wasn’t readily apparent either. In fact, she managed to transfuse staccato into all of her movements, drawing a stark contrast with Farukh’s catlike slithering. Aside from her facial beauty, obvious contortionistic possibilities and painfully thin waist, why was this casting decision made?

Thankfully, that was quickly forgotten after the fifteen-minute curtain call and ensuing intermission. Ruzimatov’s dramatic flair again had ample ground for expression in both of the last two numbers. In Jose Limon’s “The Moor’s Pavane”, he was joined by Charles Jude, Viviana Franciosi and Stephanie Roublot of the Bordeaux Ballet in a dance-mime exhibition of Othello’s storyline.

For those who haven’t seen Limon’s choreography before, it begins in this piece with a series of deep, attenuated second position plies. As each of the four characters is covered with long dresses except for that played by Jude, this lowered positions are less grotesque than they would be had the dancers been clothed in simple leotards.

The two women stand opposite each other, in a diamond shape with the men, and the quartet mirrors each other’s movements initially. Leg swings are plentiful here, which, used under the long skirts, suggests Graham technique. A white handkerchief appears between Othello (Ruzimatov) and the woman in white, here presumably Othello’s wife Desdemona, and is tossed, stolen, hidden and exchanged between all four dancers.

The ballet closes with the dancer in white on the floor, and Ruzimatov behind her in grief. The symbolic choreographic display of Shakespeare’s story was easily followed, and offered Ruzimatov another opportunity to display his dramatic and modern dance talents.

The final piece entitled “Spanish Sigh” was a flamenco composition performed by Rosario Castro Romero and Ricardo Romero alongside Ruzimatov. To the music by five onstage musicians (one singer, two guitarists, one violinist and one percussionist) the dance began with Rosario Romero in a long, white and red flowered Spanish dress with shawl. Then Ricardo Romero performed a breathtaking flamenco solo while standing downstage on top of a table. He “tapped” his way through an incessant sequence of tiny, quick steps with great virtuosity.

Ruzimatov then entered, displaying his own skill in the genre. He appeared every bit the Spanish heartbreaker, debonair in smooth black pants, black cummerbund and white cuffed shirt. Again his movements were filled with Mediterranean spiciness. The general theme of the dance -- Ruzimatov’s attraction to Rosario, and an ensuing love triangle -- was clear. At curtain close, never have so many whistles and bravos filled the halls of the Mariinsky Theatre. An encore was called for, and given, before more applause.

Having danced so many years with the Mariinsky, Ruzimatov’s classical background is visible in his dancing no matter the genre. This evening’s performance attested to his strengths in expressive, dramatic, southern movements with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean themes, as well as his continued capacity for traditional Fokine works. One has the impression that nothing will stop this well-known star in his exploration of the limits of dance, in all of its genres and tempos. For the sake of the spectators, one hopes that he continues.

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