Premiere: Concerto DCSH, along with
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude and In the Middle Somewhat Elevated
Mariinsky Theatre II
Saint Petersburg, Russia
5 July 2013
by Catherine Pawlick
Alexei Ratmansky's Concerto DSCH is an appropriately Russian representation of Shostakovich's Concerto No. 2 for Piano with Orchestra, mixing expressive neoclassical movement with emotional displays that imply but never quite insist on a specific storyline. The choreographer's visual presentation began on Thursday night at the Mariinsky II Theatre with Nadezda Batoeva churing out powerhouse pirouettes and later an allegro solo flanked by the sleek and athletic Alexander Sergeyev and Vasily Tkachenko. Nods to Leningrad Symphony, another decidedly Russian (Soviet) ballet set to Shostakovich's famous Seventh symphony, abound - a fist held to the chest in a gesture of determination, sternum to the horizon out of pride and hope, a row of women communing on the floor, hands entertwined.
The adagio, led by the tireless Ekaterina Kondaurova alongside the handsome Andrey Ermakov, depicted tender love, fear, evasion and chase. Dressed in pale mint and pink, the couple embodied springtime and hope, decorating the lyrical pas de deux with questioning looks or sideways glances. The choreography itself is far from simple: a 360˚ flip that ends in a shoulder sit, or Kondaurova swung around by her harms, her legs reaching high above Ermakov's head.
The mood shifts to playful briefly before a more somber tableau section follows, where distinct movements then melt into more lyricism before the playfulness resumes. Batoeva and Sergeyev in a quick duet, with his high-kicking cabrioles and her --again, pirouettes -- transmitted energy and verve.
If the first cast offered a more abstract, removed presentation on an emotional level, the second cast brought more lyricisim and emotional depth. Svetlana Ivanova and Konstantin Zverev danced with particular poignancy, while Valeria Martionouk replaced Batoeva in the powerhouse role, adding distinct humour in the section where the trio tosses each other back and forth in a series of sautés, as if in a tennis match.
In all, Ratmansky's creation is an energetic, multilayered and symbolic depiction of Shostackovich's musical score, and one that warrants repeat viewing.
The two ballets that preceded the opening night evening were from the Forsythe bill, starting with In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, and followed by The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. Middle repeated the revival cast from this March in an equally electric rendition of the pulsing fervour that characterises this ballet.
The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude featured Keenan Kampa, Ekaterina Ivannikova, Yulia Stepanova, Vasily Tkachenko and Aleksey Timofeyev. Of the five, Kampa appeared most well suited to the choreography, dancing in perfect synchronicity with Ivannikova in the diagonal section. Tkachenko's increasing technical prowess was notable and he proved a pleasure to watch. The quintet delivered a sharp, well-rehearsed performance.
For the Ratmansky premiere, Mikhail Agrest conducted, and Vladimir Rumiantsev, brought in from Moscow, played the piano.
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)