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 Post subject: St Petersburg Ballet Theatre
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2007 5:17 pm 

Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 84
Location: London,UK
ST PETERSBURG BALLET THEATRE Director Konstantin Tachkin

Due to overwhelming interest, Artsworld Presentations is delighted to announce some of the dates on the 2007-2008 tour of St Petersburg Ballet Theatre. More news will follow as later dates are concluded

The talented young company from St Petersburg is acknowledged as one of the few genuine Russian companies visiting Great Britain and Ireland. The company of 100 artists including a 38-piece orchestra celebrated its twelfth anniversary last November. Almost 100,000 people bought tickets during their last tour and witnessed the gorgeous productions of this dazzling young company with its world class Prima Ballerina Irina Kolesnikova and excellent Principals, including some fine young dancers who joined SPBT last year.

The company is delighted to present the eternal festive season favourites - the Tchaikovsky trilogy Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, as well as some performances of ‘Stars of SPBT Celebration Gala’ which received rave reviews from the few performances introduced on the last tour. The Gala programme includes some of classical ballet’s greatest highlights including the popular one-act ballet Chopiniana,; Paquita, a witty Harlequinade and the Dying Swan.

On the forthcoming tour SPBT makes a debut appearance in Cardiff at the magnificent new Wales Millennium Centre; a debut appearance at the Theatre Champs Elysees in Paris, and return visits to some of their favourite UK theatres including the beautiful and soon to be refurbished Norwich Theatre Royal where tickets are already on sale starting at £6.

For full details of venues, repertoire and links to box office websites see

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:35 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3378
Location: Canada
Warning: review written with nasty head cold. Memory may well be affected...

The St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre ended their 2007-08 UK tour with a single performance of "Swan Lake" on the Edinburgh Festival Theatre stage. Led by their prima ballerina, Irina Kolesnikova, the company gave the Edinburgh audiences a solid, if not entirely inspired looking performance of the classic ballet.

The production, which the company has alternated with a number of other full-length productions on tour, is heavily based on the Petipa and Ivanov choroegraphy with revisions credited to Konstantin Sergeev. With refreshingly lush sets (Smeyen Pastukh) and costumes (Galina Solovieva), it's a visually pleasing ballet, but a number of odd staging and tempo choices and a lackluster orchestra, it made for a less than satisfying evening.

The ballet itself is stripped down in all but length (an overly long 3 and a bit hours), concessions necessary for a busy touring schedule. There's no Benno, surprisingly little mime and a slightly sparse array of courtesans at Siegfried's party. Though Vyacheslav Sunegin's jester veers towards the annoying side of cute, Sunegin was by far the technical and artistic stand-out among the men, if not the whole cast. A dancer is the true demi-caractare mold, Sunegin not only was outstanding in the bravura sections, but full of precision. Unlike Pavel Kholoimenko's poor daft tutor, who was all caricature and no character, Sunegin's jester had personality.

And it was personality that seemed to be missing from this performance. The dancers, with very few exceptions had rock solid technique, but the production looked tired as if it the dancers had done it one too many times. The dancing was there, the heart was not, and the orchestra didn't help. A few off notes aside, the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre Orchestra played competently, but the live quartet for the La La La Human Steps the previous night had far more energy and passion than theis full orchestra. Tchaikovsky's score has some of the most memorable musical moments in classic ballet, but they didn't sing tonight.

What did sing was the corps – in true Russian fashion, they truly danced as one. Given that La La La Human Steps performed the previous evening and the theatre has no large rehearsal room, the dancers must barely have had time to a very fast spacing run through. Yet, bar one or two obvious moments, both the group dances in Act 1 Scene 1 and the swan corps sections were in perfect harmony. The womens' arms rose and sank, a flock flying together. It was a shame however that the first scene at the lake and later scenes were marred by a tempo that could only be described as painfully slow. I also did not recognize much of the music in the final act – whether because this version used very different music or because it's music that has been excised from the versions I've previously seen (or whether my cold is messing with my memory).

The least inspiring part of the ballet, I found, were the two leads. Kolesnikova has no shortage of technique, but the overly slow tempos took the electricity out of her pas de deuxs with Oleg Kharyutkin. She also fell back on some of the worst of the 'milk the applause' habits, including her first entrance in which she struck a sustainted arabesque which looked as utterly out place as the stretched out music sounded. I was much more convinced by her deliciously evil Odile than her nicely danced, but rather un-swan feeling Odette. Kharyutkin was a superb partner, with not a finger out of place in the pas de deuxs. However, his solos betrayed tiredness, and his second act (ballroom scene) solos looked watered down and the steps sloppily finished. He's an elegantly proportioned dancer with beautiful stretch, and I strongly suspect that his performance was a reflection of the long tour, not his lack of technique.

Happy ending aside (I find it much more moving when Siegried has to pay a price for his betrayal), where the production lost momentum for me was the pivotal Siegfried-Odile pas de deux. Each section of the pas de deux was split by very, very long silences whilst one wondered when the other dancer would re-appear. It looked odd, but worse, completely drained the pas de deux of any narrative power. It wasn't a seduction, but a series of solos by dancers who were paying more attention to the audience than to each other. Kolesnikova whipped off the 32 fouettes, counting double rotations, but with much travel to the front of the stage and (at least from above) less than elegant technique. By the end, there had been so many gaps in the action, that there was no electricity. I've seen pas de deux that had much less technical pizazz, but much more emotional power. Credit to Dymchik Saykeev's for imbuing his Rothbart with power, despite a lack of height advantage and the seemingly required silly looking costume. A big prize for a costume designer who can actually make Rothbart look believable – as if any Queen is going to let a face-painted and feathered stranger into her castle, let alone let sit on her throne!

Some like the happy ending, but to me it causes the ballet to fizzle out. That aside, this was a suprisingly un-fullfilling version of "Swan Lake". The dancers don't lack in talent, nor do the sets lack in lushness or production in cohesion. I wish I could have seen the production a few months ago when the dancers were fresh, for it might have made quite a difference. With a few tweaks here and there to improve the flow, an infusion of energy, and restore tempos, this could go from simply solid touring production to something more special.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:13 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1641
Location: London UK
Courtesans in Swan Lake?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:57 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3378
Location: Canada
By courtesans, I mean the visitors who appear in the first act scene and the people in the ballroom during his birthday celebrations. Who are to some extent - more in the third act - members of the court. No medieval prince would be inviting commoners to a formal event.

Usually the corps in the first act are supposed to be friends and servants/locals, but the costuming in this production suggested at a higher social level. Didn't look like peasants to me.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 6:36 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2006 8:21 am
Posts: 72
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
ksneds wrote:
By courtesans, I mean the visitors who appear in the first act scene and the people in the ballroom during his birthday celebrations... members of the court. No medieval prince would be inviting commoners to a formal event.

Maybe you mean courtiers?
My dictionary defines courtesan as prostitute; or lewd woman orig. woman of the court [but not of a sovereign's court].

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 11:26 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3378
Location: Canada
Ah yes...courtier...though if Siegfried's world was like any other, there probably were a couple courtesans too :o)

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:42 am 

Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1829
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Kate, this is an interesting review. I have not, to date, seen Kolesnikova dance in St. P, so I was intrigued to hear your impressions. To be honest I presumed from all the fanfare (nearly life-size posters of her in the main metro stations with her name in giant letters) that she was a name to be reckoned with. Now however I'm wondering why they promote her so much if the impression she left was so weak. My best guess is this is a tourist-oriented troupe that uses its name to garner more of an (uninformed?) audience than might otherwise be the case. Lots of tourists who flock to the city and who are not educated balletomanes will go to see *any* ballet in the city, presuming it is "The Troupe" to see. Likewise, many of my relatives in California exclaim when they see the name of a Russian ballet troupe visiting the area, presuming that it is the Kirov! I'm glad we have a means to hopefully make clear the differences.

The slow tempo sounds like Kolesnikova's preference; but even the Kirov has the happy ending version. I'm used to it now, but it implies less Siegfried's betrayal and more Odile's great deceit... how conniving women can be especially when it comes to capturing a man, whether he has courtesans or not :-).

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:14 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 3378
Location: Canada
I think Kolesnikova is quite talented, but this "Swan Lake" wasn't a great vehicle for her talents. She had no problem with the choreography, and given more rest and rehearsal, I think she would have had far fewer issues with the fouettes. A lesser dancer would have lost control far earlier and never been able to finish it all off with a multiple.

The corps was excellent, but it was the very end of a four month tour and it showed. There just was no real spark (other than the jester) - the dancing, for the most part, was of fine quality, but the dancer seemed to be going through the motions. Same for the orchestra. And she seems to have been allowed to develop mannerisms that a good coach would not have allowed her to get away with.

I wonder also if Kolesnikova's talents have not been best nurtured in a touring company where she's become the unquestioned prima ballerina (a whole page of the program was given to advertisement of her fan club...). First of all, given the limitations of touring, she probably doesn't get a whole lot of rehearsal and class time, as would a dancer in a non-touring company. Which limits her ability to work on the basics and to experience different choreographic styles. I think a great deal of growth goes on in the rehearsal studio, so a dancer who is touring month in, month out isn't going to develop in the same way as a dancer who spends the day in the rehearsal studio with a 2 or 3 performances (or less) a week.

Finally, my guess is that as the unquestioned prima, there's probably much less competition and correction that would be healthy. For instance, in a company where roles regularly rotate, with time and space to teach new dancers new roles on a continual basis, a dancer has to be much more on top of his or her game or things will change. And when the advertisement and promotion of a company doesn't revolve around a single dancer, that dancer probably can't get a way with nearly as much. I suspect that no-one's going to tell Kolesnikova to ditch the overly-slow tempo because they need her.

 Post subject: Irina Kolesnikova
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:46 am 

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1641
Location: London UK
To be fair to Kolesnikova, she has hardly danced at all this season due to illness. I caught her at the end of the tour and found her dancing a trifle tentative after such a long period away from the stage.

As for the slow tempo, it's not slow at all when compared with that other St Petersburg outfit, The Kirov. I recently watched Lopatkina dance a Dying Swan in such hideous slow motion that it wasn't so much a death as a merciful release - for the audience!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:46 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 8612
Location: El Granada, CA, USA
We got a very interesting Press Release today:

Please see attached a story from the Arizona Daily Star about a
company claiming to be the 'ST Petersburg Ballet Theatre' and
promoted by CAMI in the US.
As you may know, the real SPBT has been touring the UK, promoted by
Patricia Murray-Bett at Artsworld UK, not the US.

Also included is a statement from SPBT's website.

If you would like to speak to someone from SPBT or Artsworld UK this
can be arranged.

Claire Willis
ElevenTenths PR

Tel: +44 (0)1600 891512
Mobile: +44 (0)7951 600362


Tutugate? Ballet troupe at UA not the real deal

By Eric Swedlund
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.13.2008

Will the real St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre please plié?
When UAPresents hosted a sold-out performance of the classic
"Giselle" Saturday at Centennial Hall, some audience members were
shocked that the troupe they saw wasn't the world-class dancers they
"In three minutes I knew there was something wrong," said Linda
Walker, artistic director for Tucson Regional Ballet. "I was sitting
next to my co-director and she nudged me and said 'Who is this?' They
were dancers who were trained, but they were were not the St.
Petersburg Ballet company. It was obvious."
The confusion stems from the name the Russian touring group uses
while in Western Europe, Japan, and North and South America. The
official name of the troupe that performed at the UA Saturday is the
St. Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre.
Walker said it appears that UAPresents may have been duped and
worries that the integrity of the university's arts presenter could
be at stake.
"The U of A artists series is prestigious and you trust what they
say," she said. "I just feel inside that they are as much surprised
as I am."
The confusion extended to the Arizona Daily Star, which previewed the
ballet on Friday and reported on the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre.
The story misstated several facts, including that renowned ballerina
Irina Kolesnikova would be the featured dancer.
The famed St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre itself received so many
letters before the tour that it sought to clear the air for ballet
fans, publishing a statement on Dec. 1 that the troupe was definitely
not touring the United States. "We have no idea why they are
presenting themselves in America as the St. Petersburg Ballet
Theatre," the group wrote.
"To me, those were excellent student dancers, apprentice-level
dancers at some professional companies, but gosh there are dancers at
the University of Arizona who are more accomplished than those
dancers," Walker said. "They were not St. Petersburg Ballet dancers,
you could tell that."
Libby Howell said she was disappointed that the dancers weren't as
talented as she expected but still enjoyed seeing "Giselle" performed
live for the first time.
"I for one would not ask for a refund or a replacement ticket because
I do think there were aspects of the performance that were
worthwhile," she said. "It wasn't the quality I was expecting, but it
was a good production. Not excellent, but good."
UAPresents Executive Director Natalie Bohnet said the agency that
booked the show, Columbia Artists Management Inc. of New York,
presented the group as St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre and that
UAPresents didn't think any more about it. The agent, Andrew S.
Grossman, was traveling and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
"It's an agent we've worked with for many, many years and one of the
most reputable in the business," Bohnet said. "We're apologetic that
some in our audience had a bad experience with this particular
UAPresents will credit people not satisfied with the performance with
tickets to another performance, just as it would do with any
complaints, Bohnet said. The staff received about 10 complaints from
an audience of 2,500.
"Out of all our things we've had this year, I wouldn't put it as the
prime example of what we do here," Bohnet said. "I think the dancers
were a little young and inexperienced."
Still, Bohnet said she didn't think UAPresents was fooled, noting
that several other quality arts presenters across the country have
hosted the ballet troupe and that the current tour has received
numerous positive reviews.


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