This is what a Moscow ballet lover wrote to me about Svetlana Zakharova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze in "Giselle" at the Bolshoi on 17.05.03:
I feel genuinely sorry about the strange behaviour exhibited by certain "connoisseurs" of art who were so 'impressed' with technical errors in that performance of "Giselle". It was all-good. There was Inspiration. A burst of inspiration felt by everyone. Zakharova and Tsiskaridze quite simply overwhelmed you with their impossible, not-of-this-world beauty. And I should add that the audience really picked up on this. On some level, the ovation for the adagio stunned me even more than the scene itself. It appeared as if this was the audience releasing all the pressure - an empty stage, just the Wills around the outside, and deafening applause without shouting (unlike the claque, our audiences don't shout "Bravo!"), which maintained the same high pitch until Tsiskaridze appeared for the variation…
It is shocking that during the performance of this kind someone was thinking that it should be better for Zakharova with her swan-like arms to dance "Swan Lake" or was measuring the angle of the dancer's raised leg. Well, after all, many people do not understand what is so special in Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" - but in spite of them it still remains a masterpiece! It is well known that the beauty always lacks a bit of harmony (it has been scientifically proved that a perfectly regular face can not be perceived as beautiful). I do not understand why some people expect mathematical accuracy from dancers? Art is meant to create an illusion, "an ennobling deception", since human beings will ever be fallible. It is especially laughable when such charges are brought against the art, which is meant to stir up emotions.
In terms of technique Zakharova and Tsiskaridze were exceptionally strong. Quite apart from the fact that they can be easily explained, those slip-ups, which "the book-keepers" managed to detect, did not spoil the overall impression. And they did not essentially relate to the execution of any particular step. Both dancers did everything they needed to do, and they did it in a way, which took your breath away. And it is simply laughable to suggest that the show failed simply because of the allegedly weak support in arabesques. First of all, it really wasn't that bad. To my mind, it was just a little strange. In fact, I rather liked it because it naturally fitted the tempo and almost Bulgakovesque mood, which formed on stage. The mere fact that Nikolai (and this was the first time I have seen him in "Giselle") performed at a quick tempo what is normally done slowly, is already a good thing. Next time he will just do it better. Secondly, how many people do actually pull it off? Some dancers prepare for it in advance by slowing down and holding back on the previous steps. Nikolai, on the other hand, whipped up a storm on stage with his brises and poissons and did not slow down during Svetlana's arabesques. Any talk of Svetlana's sliding down during pirouettes is a barefaced lie. Do they think that if Zakharova span her tours at an astounding speed and in extraordinary beautiful manner, it is of no importance but if she slipped down (as it appeared to someone), it instantly made the show a failure? That's unreasonable, to put it mildly.
On the 17th of May, we saw at the Bolshoi something that unified all - the dancers and the audience - Inspiration. It gave us a performance of the kind, which are so rare that happen may be once in a lifetime.