Dornröschen (The Sleeping Beauty)
The Kirov Ballet
Baden Baden, Germany
22nd and 23rd (mat & eve) December 20007
The Kirov Baden Baden performances of Sleeping Beauty (Sergeyev Version) were all hugely enjoyable with just a couple of reservations about casting here and there. As it had been almost eighteen months since I had last seen the company dance I may have approached the first performance in a more indulgent mood than usual, so will start by saying that the first night Aurora, Alina Somova, appeared to have improved somewhat since I last saw her as she seems to finally be addressing that annoying habit of sticking her chin out. Her lack of co-ordination is becoming slightly less noticeable now and she looks more at ease in the Sergeyev version of Beauty than in the now notorious clip of her on You Tube in the Vikharev reconstruction featuring one error after another. In the first act her legs slammed up at every opportunity, though far more jarring to my sensibilities were her ultra gymnastic jetés that weren’t so much dropped crotch as actual ten to two’s; fortunately she was a bit more restrained for the rest of the ballet. Of course Somova does look the part of Aurora being pretty and blonde with coltish limbs but for me that’s as far as it goes: acrobatics and ballet simply don’t mix in my book.
Somova apart, there was a huge amount to admire. In the prologue every single fairy variation was danced as well as you will see anywhere today and the corps de ballet was praiseworthy throughout. Two dancers stood head and shoulders above the others though; firstly Viktoria Tereshkina in the Diamond variation of the last act, a miracle of musicality with perfect phrasing to match her speed and accuracy but sadly only appearing in this role on the opening night. The second dancer to send a shiver of pleasure down my spine was Vasily Scherbakov as the Bluebird, performing a series of brisés so perfectly executed that he brought to mind the great Valery Panov and was a reminder to me of exactly why this superb dancer has a fan following way out of proportion to the meagre number of roles he is allocated at the Kirov.
In the other two main roles Ekaterina Kondaurova danced a sweetly gracious Lilac Fairy who was both gentle and regal. I like this dancer very much: a willowy redhead, she has a similar body type to Somova but unlike that lady she is able to control her long limbs and has the épaulement and placement that Somova lacks. Like Tereshkina, Kondaurova only danced on the first night but her Lilac Fairy left an indelible impression. The Prince on this occasion was Anton Korsakov, one of the company’s finest, but I found him a little under par in all his Baden Baden performances though to be fair an under par Korsakov is still better than many dancers I’ve seen in this role when on top form. I didn’t consider him the right partner for Somova though as she was taller than him when on pointe, but Scherbakov was also matched with a taller partner: Sophia Gumerova, so maybe they aren’t too fussy in the Kirov about height compatibility.
The matinee Beauty of the following day was perhaps the best all-round performance of the three, with a gorgeous Aurora from Olesya Novikova who danced a Rose Adagio that was far more assured than is usual with Russian dancers who in my experience rarely raise their arms en couronne. Novikova did though and held a completely wobble-less set of balances quite perfectly, the only fault I could find is that she over-extends, but to be fair to her the high extensions are very controlled and not thrown wildly towards the ceiling. Her prince was Igor Kolb, ardent and elegant from start to finish, he dances well with Novikova and his partnering was as exemplary as ever with their last act pas de deux displaying real imperial grandeur.
This matinee performance featured a Carabosse I hadn’t seen before: Islom Baimuradov giving a very personal reading of the role. Tall and slender and more majestic than Aurora’s mother, he resembles a catwalk model gone to the bad, but his controlled viciousness was so effective you would have been forgiven for wondering if on this occasion evil was going to prevail. His opponent as Lilac Fairy was Anastasia Kolegova, recruited to the Kirov from St Petersburg Ballet Theatre, and although she didn’t have quite the impact of Kondaurova the night before she nevertheless gave a very effective and well danced account of the role. The other main cast change was Ekaterina Osmolkina replacing Tereshkina as the Diamond Fairy. She dances beautifully but with the warm glow of a pearl rather than the diamond glitter than Tereshkina possesses. The Sapphire, Gold and Silver Fairies were Nadezhda Gonchar, Irina Golub and Yulia Kasenkova at all three performances and all danced beautifully.
The matinee was so good that I actually toyed with the idea of skipping the evening show as I felt nothing could top it and would just be an anti climax after the delights of the afternoon but luckily I changed my mind. To be honest I couldn’t quite picture Viktoria Tereshkina in the role of Aurora as I’ve always seen her as a technical dazzler and the nearest thing the Kirov has to Alexandrova. It turned out that I was totally wrong, as Tereshkina was to give a performance that was quite simply inspired.
Although in the first act as she had problems with the first balance of the Rose Adagio, the second was more successful. This initial mishap aside she went on to give one of the most intelligent readings of the role I’ve seen as here was an Aurora that wasn’t just the prize of an intrepid fairytale prince, but a sensitive young woman responding to every aspect of the drama unfolding around her. There is what I would call an appropriateness about Tereshkina’s dancing, she can certainly let rip when the role requires it but in the many faceted part of Aurora she knows when to exercise restraint, and the lyricism of the second act vision scene where she was both elusive and ethereal contrasted perfectly with her sumptuous reading of the final act where she demonstrated exactly what the ‘grand manner’ should mean. Unlike Somova and Novikova, Tereshkina never over-extends and her working leg never goes higher than the optimum to retain the beauty of her line. In the pas de deux for example, her backbend was far lower than the other two dancers because she aligned her leg with her partner’s arm instead of raising it vertically and throughout the entire ballet I was impressed by her thoughtful approach to the role.
Her partner was the very youthful looking Vladimir Shklyarov who has come on a lot since I last saw him and with a little more experience will make a very decent prince, but at present there are still a few small flaws in his partnering that need ironing out. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a credit in the programme as the names of the matinee and evening princes had been transposed, so a large part of the audience never got to know whom they were watching. There were other errors too such as Obraztsova being listed as the second prologue Fairy Leidenschaft when in fact Elena Chmil danced at all performances and Nikolai Zubkovsky was listed as the Wolf when in fact he wasn’t even in Baden Baden. A printed cast sheet displayed on the wall was no better as at the matinee performance it claimed Aurora was being danced by Alina Somova instead of Novikova. I do hope the latter was a genuine error and not an attempt to mislead.
Last edited by Cassandra on Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.