Evening of Russian Ballet

Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center,
La Jolla, CA

May 4, 2002
By Basheva

Ilya Kuznetsov, who is presently making his home in San Diego, brought together for two performances ten dancers who share a background of Russian training. Twelve pieces were performed; eight classical pas de deux interspersed with four solo works. Among the cast is a set of brothers, plus two men with the exact same first and last names, and three men named “Ilya”. This makes the written program (which also needs a spell-check) a challenge to decipher – but worth it.

No doubt the female star of the evening was Olga Pavlova both in the contemporary solo Ne Me Quite Pas and the two classical pas de deux one from La Sylphide with Alex Kozadayev and the other from Le Corsaire danced with several partners. She was compelling in her solo and one is immediately aware that here is a dancer with a fine instrument at her command. In the pas de deux from La Sylphide she didn’t need any props or set to give us the style and the wafting scent of that especially delicate romantic ballet. She made the bird’s nest visible as she showed it to James. With feet as expressive as her lovely arms, she is able to convey a complete vocabulary within a tilt of the head. Though there is no physical contact between the partners until the final pose, both Pavlova and Kozadayev left no doubt they were dancing for one another.

Mindaugas Bauzys dancing a neo-classical solo Narcissus was necessarily self absorbed and yet able to project that quality without breaking the mood. In the pas de deux Le Grand Pas Classique that he danced with Villja Putriute, he had easy soft turns and a light jump that was especially noticeable juxtaposed against his partner’s brittle performance. Putriute has the expected level of technique necessary, but her arms and hands assume a position and stay there – unmoving as she goes from step to step. There are no soft contours to her dancing, at least on this one occasion.

It is very difficult to evoke and capture the atmosphere of Giselle merely by presenting on a bare stage the grand pas de deux from the second act all alone without the previous act to set the mood. But Yuka Maike and Ilya Kuznetsov did manage this. While Maike has the pathos, the ethereality is not quite there. The necessary seamless quality of Giselle’s challenging batterie must not show how it is knit together. Maike has the emotional quality but needs to convince us of a lengthened upper body.

This was made more evident in the grand pas de deux from Swan Lake that she danced with Ilya Kuznetsov. She has not a swan’s neck and the feathered headdress than covers the ears and even a bit lower, shortens it still further. I found the modern propensity for overzealous splits and over-split penchés distracting. When Siegfried lifts Odette in a series of supported sissonnes and these are executed as full splits, it loses its romantic quality and is rather unswanlike. In the final supported penché, when executed as a full one hundred and eighty degrees (and more) the negative spaces of the triangles created by the arms and legs of the partners, are destroyed. More is not always better.

Chanella danced by Alex Kozadayev was a striking solo performed in black against a ruby red back lit backdrop. To music of a Spanish guitar with a Spanish motif it gave him an opportunity to project a marvelous enigmatic quality. He carved space and moved soundlessly, powerfully energizing the audience to come along with him. The only complaint that I have is that it was all too short.

The finale was the grand pas de deux from Le Corsaire done as a pas de dix. Though performed seriously by Olga Pavlova, the men of the company came in and danced various sections with her while her original partner, Ilya Kuznetsov, silently mimed protest. The audience very quickly responded to the humor intended and enjoyed it for the invitation to fun that it offered. Only one man in the company did not actually dance with Pavlova. However, as each section ended and the dancers left the stage, this man came forward to claim the applause. Gradually the women of the company joined in and everyone danced the final section. It was a funny and sweet way to end the evening.

Music for the performance was provided by tape, which at times was overloud for the space and rather tinny. The dancers deserved better.

Not since the demise of the original San Diego Ballet has this city had a professional ensemble in residence. One would hope that this group of ten talented dancers would be the beginning of such an entity. However, since the theater seating approximately 900 was not full, such a dream is probably still consigned to the future.


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Edited by Marie.

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