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Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet

Balanchine Mixed Program: 'Apollo,' 'Prodigal Son' and 'Symphony in C'

by Catherine Pawlick

November 16, 2008 -- Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

Following on the heels of Igor Zelensky’s appearance in “Apollo” this past Wednesday night, Sunday night’s bill included an entirely different cast, and one debut. Andrian Fadeev danced the sun god with noble resolve and power. His idyllic frame seemed exactly what Balanchine had in mind when creating the piece: a beautiful, well-proportioned body on which the movements practically sculpt themselves. Even as Fadeev’s Apollo explored his young limbs, an authoritative air and proud bearing signaled him as heaven sent from the start.

Maria Shirinkina, a 2006 graduate of the Perm School and currently a coryphée, debuted as Terpsichore. Despite a brief slip while setting down her lyre, she performed the role with a maturity far behind her years. Shirinkina is tiny, with limbs like a new faun and dainty features like a doll. While she might add a bit more hip to the Balanchinean movements, her accuracy in execution and winning smile signal a dancer worth watching.

Upon second viewing, Anastasia Nikitina’s Polyhymnia is one of attack: she assaults the steps and gestures equally, with high intensity, but there is an absence of smoothness in her transitions that may come with time. As Calliope, Ksenia Dubrovina was smoothly pleasing but also lacked polish in several fleeting moments, leading one to wonder how much time she’d been given to rehearse the role. In all, the ladies managed admirably and Fadeev was received with much audience warmth.

It is difficult not to love Andrey Ivanov in the title role of “Prodigal Son”, one he dances rarely but with utter artistry. His ability to project the curiosity, adventurism and utter despair of his character are marks of a true professional, but coupled with easy turns and jumps make it high art. Alongside him Anton Pimonov and Maxim Khrebtov were the warring brothers, bouncing around the stage with boyish abandon. Tatiana Amosova danced the Siren in shoes that seemed too small, and one wondered why Kondaurova hadn’t been cast, as she seems the best executor of the sultry temptress in the company, to date.

“Symphony in C” is nothing if not a masterpiece.  And danced by the Kirov, it approaches perfection. A ballet set to the full score of Bizet, here we see it all, from adagio to allegro, all of it grand, commanding, imperial.

In this performance, the corps de ballet exuded joy and serenity at all the appropriate moments. There was no hesitation, no fear, just sheer movement and utter gleaming perfection. In front of them, each set of soloists seem to outshine even the jewels on their costumes, but the epitome of grandeur came in the form of Uliana Lopatkina alongside Danila Korsuntsev in the second movement. Her impeccable delivery of the adagio section suggested the pride of royalty; Korsuntsev’s noble partnering was similarly immaculate. As the demi-soloists, Islam Baimuradov led Elena Vaskiovitch while Alexander Klimov led Elena Chmil through a fluid bourrée section.

The First Movement (Allegro Vivo) was led by newly promoted Alina Somova alongside Anton Korsakov. Unfortunately, Somova’s newly acquired title didn’t eliminate the stray, stiff fingers of her right hand, and despite a pleasant lightness in her movements, their unpolished nature attest to the need for further refinement  in her dancing. Korsakov’s jumps were powerful, as usual, but it was Fedor Murashov whose strong lines in sauté arabesque drew the most attention. He partnered Elizaveta Cherpasova, who, along with Anna Lavrinenko led the bright, energetic introduction to the ballet. Maxim Khrebtov supported Lavrinenko with noble bearing and spotless timing.

The Third Movement shifted pace from the Korsuntsev-Lopatkina duo, up a few notches to allegro vivace. Here Ekaterina Osmolkina joined Vladimir Schklyarov in what must be the most demanding  section of the ballet outside the finale.  Osmolkina’s clean delivery nicely complimented Shklyarov’s explosive ballon. Here Elena Androsova and Ksenia Dubrovina danced with Anton Pinonov and Alexei Nedvega as the demi-soloists.

The Fourth Movement brought a delight in the exquisite form of Evgenia Obratsova with Alexei Timofeev. Obratsova reigned glorious in her dance, revealing crisp, flawless technique with a radiant smile. The couple was flanked by demi-soloists Daria Vasnetsova and Denis Firsov with Anastasia Petushkova and Karen Iohannisan, all of whom melded seamlessly into the commanding finale on stage.

Pavel  Bubelnikov conducted with close attention to the tempi throughout.

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