The New Mariinsky Theatre II
Saint Petersburg, Russia
21 March 2014
by Catherine Pawlick
As Petersburg edges towards springtime, and the Mariinsky Ballet prepares for the quickly approaching ballet festival on April 3, the company presented one of several performances of "Jewels" planned for this season, this one featuring an intriguing debut.
Emeralds opened with Alexander Sergeyev's princely nobility stealing the stage as part of the leading couple alongside Victoria Krasnokutskaya. Offstage pair Victoria Brilёva and Andrey Ermakov performed the "clock" pas de deux with cool beauty and measured precision. Brilёva continues to stand out for her strong technique and beautiful lines; one wonders why she's not been given the same recent forays into Odette/Odile as others from her age group have. During her variation, the "hop scotch" section was pleasing to watch, and throughout her dance one sensed a fullness and ease in line that is increasingly rare among the lower ranks. Nadezhda Batoeva and Oksana Marchuk joined Ernest Latipov in a glowing pas de trois, all three emitting radiance. In the brief all-male section, Sergeyev, Ermakov and Latipov --all wards of famed pedagogue Gennady Silutsky-- danced with a synchronicity and accuracy that attests to their teacher's high caliber. It was a Mariinsky moment, fleeting and priceless.
The debut of the evening came in Rubies, where Renata Shakirova, still a student at the Vaganova Academy, was granted the starring role alongside Kimin Kim. With numerous females in the company currently injured or out on maternity leave, the ranks have apparently not offered enough for the administration to draw from, resulting in reliance on the school. Surprisingly expressive in this sensual, pantherine section, Shakirova, who is as petite as a mosquito, has already performed in Don Quixote with the company last summer (as Amour), and supposedly in The Sleeping Beauty recently as Florine recently. She met the challenges of the jazzy choreography with verve and extroversion that is unusual for someone her age. Playful and flirtatious, she emoted in what at times resembled Vishneva's approach, if more raw, teasing both partner and audience with near-full abandon. Partner Kimin Kim looked at home in both the duet and solo sections, proving an appropriate choice of cavalier for Shakirova. Zlata Yalinich also debuted as the other first soloist in Rubies, but her shading was fiery in a darker way, matching the bass chords, and yet providing a cleanliness in technique and attack that was pleasing to behold.
Ekaterina Kondaurova brought out the sparkle in Diamonds alongside Evgeny Ivanchenko. Kondaurova offers the most abstract rendition of the Diamonds solo. Her sharpness, detail, and accuracy provide a flawless performance that few can match, and yet she leaves room for the audience to draw their own fantasy and meaning from her rendition. Ivanchenko partnered her with care, and managed a nice manège of split jetés and the entire round of tours à la seconde without a premature finish. In the grande finale, Balanchine's corps de ballet patterns recalled a long lost era, filling the new theatre with the aura of times past, with its own Imperial heritage.
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)