Many first-rate epithets were used here to describe Tsiskaridze's Narcissus: superb, best of all, fascinating, brilliant, electrifying, etc. It is especially valuable because other male dancers were performing here the showpieces more familiar to the audience, where the old choreography prepares the viewer for 'tricks': the dancer comes out, takes a pose, preparation follows, and he does his variation, coda, finale. Even a new viewer is being prepared and conducted when to clap. It is more difficult to the wider, inexperienced audience to appreciate the first-class technique required for "Narcissus". All these beautiful jete, tours, difficult leaps are woven into the choreographic text and performed by Tsiskaridze with such ease that one needs to have a well trained eye to notice how almost casually he does the combination: treble fuete, double fuete and then 5-turn fuete. These difficulties are not even noticed because his lithe arms are twining a wreath of beautiful movements above his head. You just see that something beautiful happens, without dissecting the steps and movements. It is called 'harmony'.
Some of the remarks here showed a discerning eye that noticed Nikolai's exceptional "musicality and the pace and flow of his dancing". However, the old, unfounded accusations still were mentioned: "…not satisfying all those who value classical purity above all else." May be this myth was born for two reasons: firstly, because of the exceptional plasticity of Nikolai's body and, secondly, because he is so superb in exotic roles, like Golden Slave, Narcissus, etc.? Who are "all those"? I don't believe that the people who love classical ballet are not satisfied with Nikolai as a classical dancer. Try to say it in Moscow or St.Petersburg - and critics and ballet lovers will laugh at that! He is the best known and best loved classical dancer in Russia today. His teachers - Ulanova earlier and Semyonova and Fadeyechev now - trained and continue coaching him as a classical dancer. Are his teachers less competent than "all those"? He is the best Solor, Desire and Nutcracker Prince of the Bolshoi. Well, he is not terribly keen on Ziegfried but that's his choice. I am afraid that some people confuse "classical purity" of dancing with perfect purity of gymnastics. I remember a London critic suggesting about two years ago that Nikolai shoud always straighten his legs. Who said that both legs must be always straight? Unfortunately, it became quite popular with some dancers who started to introduce a neo-classical line into old classical ballets. I personally find it distasteful. The leg, which is beautifully, I stress - beautifully, bent behind, is so much lovelier than a straight leg which will score good marks in a different context. i.e. gymnastics competition. Please, Nikolai, don't follow that advice. Happily, he knows that pure classical ballet is not a hardened dogma but a live art within which every GREAT artist has a right to create his own inimitable style.
<small>[ 10 May 2003, 03:50 PM: Message edited by: coda ]</small>