The St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre
"The Sleeping Beauty"
Geneva -- 25th of March, 2011
The company, which I love, is a slightly different animal than its in-resident goddess, Irina Kolesnikova, who I love.
It has a very youthful feel to it. Irina Kolesnikova is more like its guiding-star.
Its moves and attitude seem somewhat crisper and livelier than what I am used to seeing from Saint Petersburg. Perhaps more like some of the videos that I've seen of the Bolshoi. Maybe even somewhat like the ABT via Balanchine.
When the dancers first appeared, I was even thinking Miami City Ballet, but after awhile, not really. This company is very distinct.
(By the way, for anyone based in Europe, if you would like to make your own comparison, the excellent Miami City Ballet will be in Paris this Summer for several weeks in July at the Chatelet.)
Why not Miami City Ballet? Both companies are youthful, exceptionally talented and exciting. One major reason for me is the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre's 'classically refined' underpinning, as compared to the Miami City Ballet's Balanchine footings.
For those who have been following the company longer than I have (5 days), please feel free to offer other points of view and corrections. I believe that the company is only about ten years old and was originally made up of young Vaganova grads and hopefully still is. It certainly seems that way, based its very high quality.
Superimposed over this remarkable element of refinement is a sense of fun. Maybe it was just in the nature of this production, being "The Sleeping Beauty." Even so, this was the most 'relaxed' version of "The Sleeping Beauty" that I have seen. It's not heavy at all and there's a nice and appropriate lightheartedness throughout. The king's assistant, for instance, is temporarily turned into the donkey from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the sorceress while her only assistant struts around the stage like a zeroing-in Archie Bunker.
There is a big step in Russia between the scale and production level of the Mariinsky/Bolshoi and any of the other companies. These two companies, I would guess, have resources to work with that would dwarf any of the other companies and it shows. But the other companies have their gem qualities and I would say that the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre shines through just beautifully. For those familiar with the American ballet scene it would be somewhat like comparing a scaled down Miami City Ballet with the ABT.
So on to the performers. The program didn't list a cast, just the members of the company. I did confirm from the company lady selling the programs that it was indeed Irina Kolesnikova that we would be seeing. Most of the dancers, it seemed, did at least several characters. One lady did beautifully as both the fourth Fairy (in green) and the Princess Florine (Blue Bird duet). It is even possible that the wonderful dancer who did the Lilac Fairy, was also one of the palace's highlighted work staffers, based on a similarly fine expressiveness, but I can be, and have been, fooled very easily by who's who on a stage. Ballet dancers can be exceptionally good and versatile actresses/actors.
As exemplified by this lady, all the company's dancers have very fine qualities. They are youthful, refined and flawless in their presentation. Their physical control of their dancing also was flawless. Although there can be a youthful abandon at times in these dancers, I don't recall seeing one them out of step or out of phase. And typical of much of the highlight dancing was a pushing of the technical boundaries, but kept within 'refined' limitations. There were hardly any huge, high extensions of the legs, etc. that I noticed. The lady that I referred to above, as the fourth Fairy (in green), did a series of arched back pivots (cambres?), I believe on pointe, the likes of which I've never seen before. And this sort of thing seemed to be happening all over the place.
A few other dancers that caught my eye for similar brilliance were the Lilac Fairy (who may have been way up there with her leg lifts to the side (developes?) on pointe, but beautifully so), The Diamond Fairy(?) (towards the end), Little Red Riding Hood, The Prince, The Blue Bird....
When the curtain came down in front of the members of the royal court, frozen still under the spell, the Lilac Fairy was left alone at the center of the stage, pivoting celestially-gracefully under a single spotlight.
She was Heavenly !
Andrian Fedeyev, when he arrives from the Mariinsky, to be the new Artistic Director, will have Wonderful talent to work with and hopefully a Wonderful time.
[As noted by Cassandra in the next post, Andrian Fedeyev is actually joining another company. I hope that he will find wonderful talent and a wonderful time there as well.]
If anyone would like to see an example of the 'hopping' sequence that I thought Irina Kolesknikova did so magnificently, performed by another artist, go here....http://www.melissahough.com/
and scroll down just slightly to the video and it starts about 15 seconds into the video and runs for about 10 seconds.
[some corrections made above as to what was done by the Lilac Fairy and what was done by the fourth Fairy/Princess Florine]