3x3; The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude; In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated
Saint Petersburg, Russia
28 April 2013
by Catherine Pawlick
Upon second viewing --the first being during the Mariinsky's Festival in March this year-- Anton Pimonov's Choregraphic Game 3x3 is an abstract, whimsical piece that layers humor with fun in unique choreographic patterns. Pimonov, still actively performing with the troupe, began trying his hand at choreography last summer and after several successful small works, he was encouraged to continue to create. The results are impressive, and unarguably successful. Here, three men and three women dance for each other, first the women, one by one, and then the men. The concept of "3x3" is apparent in the two gender-based "teams" of expression, with one of the ladies -- Ekaterina Kondaurova -- insistent that she be "heard" repeatedly. Using flexed feet, inclined heads, and the recurrent them of an almost écarté pose in tendu, Pimonov infuses each step with complexity and yet he maintains a consistent choreographic language throughout. Alexander Sergeyev embodied a sexy cowboy with slaps, claps and heel-toe steps; while moments later the 3 couples were taking hands as if in a Renaissance ballroom. Nadezhda Batoeva and Tatiana Tiliguzova danced with assuredness, and both Alexei Nedvega and Denis Zainetdinov attacked the steps with clean force. 3x3 is a victory that needs to be shown during the White Nights Festival and beyond.
The latest Forsythe works to reenter the Mariinsky repertoire -- The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated filled out the remainder of the matinee performance, this time using the second cast that was prepared in February. Vertiginous sported the athletic Vasily Tkachenko, musical and precise in his performance, alongside Alexei Timofeyev, for whom the musical recording at times looked too fast. Anastasia Nikitina and Maria Shirinkina joined Ekaterina Ivannikova for the lightening speed pointe work that characterizes this ballet. Of the three, Shirinkina seemed most at ease, hitting each step clearly without smudging the lines, and staying well with the tempo. Nikitina was able to attack her sections with relish, although later on the port de bras work slowed a bit. Ivannikova is one of the strongest, reliable dancers in the company but here also seemed rushed - at which point the height differential comes to mind. Vertiginous requires shorter girls given its speed, and thus suits Shirinkina perfectly. And while the director has chosen not to cast Svetlana Ivanova any more this season (which runs through mid July), according to sources inside the Theatre, he would do well to reconsider that decision for ballets such as this. Ivanova was sorely missed.
The electric shock factor of In the Middle remains effective no matter if one is witnessing it for the first time or for the fiftieth. Also displaying the second cast of dancers, this performance treated us to Viktoria Brileva (in the role Daria Pavlenko danced in March), powerhouse Nadezhda Batoeva, and again the powerful Ekaterina Kondaurova leading the group. Brileva mastered her sections with utter poise and calm - almost, almost as if the choreography was too easy. In the final pas de deux, Alexander Sergeyev and Kondaurova found a mutual sense of timing that was stunning to watch: a perfectly supported balance, an endless pirouette, and a skyward lift. The sharp steps nonetheless remained fluid and connected. In between we saw Batoeva's snappy delivery and Tiliguzova's assuredness.
With four days to the opening of the new Mariinsky Theatre II building, let us hope the fireworks continue.
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)