Svetlana Zakharova At The Met
I attended two performances with this new wonder girl: Don Quixote
on the 18th of July and The Pharaoh's Daughter
of the 30th. It was the very first time that I saw the Bolshoi production of DQ and I must say that I am rather disappointed. Precious little is left from the original production of Marius Petipa. What had overlaid it is an unfortunate mixture of fair choreography of Ivanov along with variety show high leg kicks and other wow effects of the Soviet period, Fadeechev and who else not. And among all that like some precious jewel shines genius of Petipa in the scene of Don Quixote' Dream!
But Svetlana Zakharova is a different story. To begin with I was somewhat surprised at how well known she already is in New York. Hardly had she stepped out to the stage when the audience started to applaud. To be completely honest with you, save for the Dream scene, the role of Kitri is not ideal for her. Regardless, one could easily see that she is a rare bird, a quintessential classical dancer with the gifts from gods.
The role of Aspicia suites her like a glove. Actually most dancers favored well in this spectacular ballet-show. It is true, that most of the choreography is not of Petipa but of the contemporary French choreographer Pierre Lacotte, who had made his career of restoring old ballets. But unlike the Bolshoi's Don Quixote where everything is a la "this" and a la "that", Lacotte's choreography preserves the flavor of the period, i.e. the 2nd half of the 19th century with its fondness of Ancient Egypt and pomp and circumstance of Russia's Imperial court. One dance of the River Guadalquivir has more genuine Spanish flavor in it than the whole of Don Quixote
Back to Zakharova. It was not possible to take one's eye from her. Sure enough she dances with the lightness and precision of Vaganova school, but that's not it …
...As this incredible show of Ancient Egypt unfolded before the mesmerized audience, I was trying grasp the essence of Svetlana's talent. And the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that it is not possible to dance the way Svetlana does without her physical properties: the exquisite arch of her elastic feet, her hyperextended legs and above all the fantastic curve of her neck and shoulders. She is the darling of fortune and this is all that is to it. You, be the judge:
I tend to agree with Balletomaniac about Ta-Hor as performed by Nikolai Tsiskaridze. The most surprising thing is that Nikolai is Bolshoi's #1 star. It's not even that I had expected too much of him - he just didn't deliver. The Pharaoh's Daughter gives a male dancer a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate his technique of petit batterie. Alas, Nikolai didn't take advantage of this opportunity, as his small beats were rather unexpressive if not downright sloppy as they were taken from the combination of 3rd and 4th position, rather than a proper 5th or 1st. It is especially evident if compared to the wonderful performance of Sergei Fillin who dances the role of Ta-Hor to Zakharova's Aspicia, now on DVD
In contrast Sergei dances the role of Ta-Hor to the spoiled perfection, his foot work is the one to admire and learn from. His understanding of his partner - Svetlana Zakharova in this case - is beyond reproach. I must give Nikolai his due, however. The Pharaoh's Daughter (read the synopsis below) ends with the last duet of Aspicia and Ta-Hor
. I'll tell you that never had I seen such sincere expression of love as they displayed in that scene: their arms interwoven, eyes seeking each other, heads touching ... And there was this indescribable sadness in it too, as they were to part again and this time forever!
Alas, it was just a dream. Shortly after Aspicia became a mummy and Lord Wilson (Ta-Hor) woke up.