June 19, 2013
“Stars of the russian ballet” proves that the bolshoi tradition lives on in its young dancersFriday, August 10, 2012
The always-welcome splendours of Russian ballet
Russian ballet has a long tradition in our city, ever since we received the visit of Diaghilev with Nijinsky, Pavlova and Karsavina in the early twentieth century. Much later Maya Plisetskaya, Nureyev, Vasiliev, Makarova, Baryshnikov and the full Bolshoi Ballet of the Grigorovich period, among many others, gave their best in a Buenos Aires that idolized them.
This season we are having a rather astonishing quantity of visitors from abroad, and among them we had the Kiev troupe (the Ukrainians drink at the same source). Now a former dancer, Elena Zyrianova, has presented “Stars of the Russian ballet” at the Coliseo: principal dancers of Moscow’s Bolshoi and a feminine corps de ballet from the Theatre Grand Moscow Ballet of Kasatkina and Vasiliev. The Coliseo has a problem in the dimensions of the stage: it is neither large nor deep enough for the great displays or for those bravura variations that require space, so the dancers had to be cautious to stop without accidents. The music was very well recorded and by good orchestras – recorded music is certainly a logical choice in potpourris such as this.
The Gala Concert started with a First Part (not “act,” as wrongly put in the very poor hand programme) dedicated to the Third Act of a ballet which has been seen here several times: La Bayadère (Minkus/ Petipa). I recently wrote about the complete ballet by the dancers of La Plata’s Argentino. This is the Act where the warrior Solor dreams of his dead beloved Nikya in a world of shadows: a ballet blanc in the same type of phantasmagoric ambience that we find in Giselle’s Second Act. The entrance of the shadows has become a paradigm of exact synchronisation, as the 24 dancers descend in diagonal zigzags in the purest Petipa style. It was very well done here, even if the space restriction bothered somewhat. And afterwards the 24 served as the frame for the principals, all admirable: Anna Nikulina (Nikya), Alexander Volchkov (Solor) and three variations respectively danced by Gubanova, Parienko and Vorontsova (those three were chips off the 24).
The Second Part was a selection of eight ballets in three styles: Petipa (late nineteenth-century) and Vaganova (early twentieth) on the one hand; Grigorovich’s Spartacus, an athletic, muscular modernization of the classic steps; and two contemporary choreographers.
Petipa: the pas de deux from Le Corsaire (Adam) with its astonishing tours de force for the male dancer (Pavel Dmitrichenko, admirable) and delicate steps for the lady in tutus (the refined Angelina Vorontsova). The beautiful pas de deux of the Blue Bird and Princess Florina from The Sleeping Beauty, danced with apposite airiness and fluttery arms by Daria Khokhlova and Denis Medvedev. And the ultra-famous Grand Pas from Don Quixote (Minkus) – not just the pas de deux of Kitri and Basil but also two variations by other dancers (Gubanova and Parienko). Both Kitri and Basil were marvellously lithe and perfect, with the most pleasant allure and physiques: Evgenia Obraztsova and Vladislav Lantratov, genuine stars both.
Vaganova carried on the Petipa tradition and her own contributions in keeping the flame alive both with her choreographies and dance academy, still influential nowadays. The pas de deux from Diane et Actéon (Pugni) is a good example. Khokhlova (in a cunningly revealing costume) and Alexander Smolyaninov, as a virile hunter, gave life to the flirting of the goddess and the very human Acteon.
Although Grigorovich was rather prolific (and BA has seen other works from him, such as Ivan the Terrible), he remains mostly known for his Spartacus, on brilliant though tawdry music by Khachaturian. We saw two contrasting pas de deux: that of the warrior Crassus (the powerful Alexander Volchkov, versatile in a choreography very distant from Petipa´s Solor) with the courtesan Aegina (danced by Elena Andrienko with embracing, lascivious conviction); and the poetic Adagio (the composer’s best music) for Phrygia and Spartacus, where Nikulina and Dmitrichenko showed their subtlety and ease.
Moderns: a 4-minute Magrittomania choreographed by Y. Posokhov on unspecified music that sounded like 1920s’ music hall. It was funny and agreeable, by three men identically dressed in clownish fashion: Smolyaninov, Medvedev and Rouslan Pronin. Then,Piazzolla’s Last Tango in inventive steps by I. Micho that avoided aping the obvious attitudes of dozens of tango-derived dances. It was done with talented flexibility by Andrienko and Pronin.
And finally a surprise: the gorgeously assertive Third Movement from Tchaikovsky’s Sixth (Pathetic) Symphony was the vehicle for a final presentation of each soloist, adding variants on the roles they had executed. No choreographer was mentioned and I surmise that each dancer did his own thing with a general coordination that may have come from Zyrianova.
I had a good time and I was glad that at least the First Part was a full act from a ballet. I would have liked a bit more enterprise and see fragments of Russian ballets that have never been offered here, such as Anna Karenina on Shchedrin’s music, or The Fountain of Bakhchitsarai, a typical fairy tale. In fact, the modern pieces chosen were not part of Russian musical tradition.
Will we ever see works such as those mentioned whole in our stages? How about it, Colón and Argentino? Or is it too much to hope for a full visit from the Bolshoi or the Kirov? Meanwhile, this gala showed that high standards are still upheld in this new generation of Bolshoi dancers.