Faroukh Ruzimatov of The Kirov Ballet in Fokine's "Scheherazade"


Reasons to be Cheerful

- the Kirov Ballet are coming to London in 2003

by Cassandra

July, 2003


There was a time in the not so distant past when London audiences were consistently denied sight of the Russian companies, a time when that infamous iron curtain was lifted only on those rare occasions when relationships between Downing Street and the Kremlin happened to be good and sadly for us ballet lovers that wasn’t very often. Glasnost in the ‘80’s changed all that and now visits from Russian companies and Russian artists are a regular occurrence. In the past our knowledge of Russian style was all too often limited only to those dancers bold enough to look beyond the constraints of the system, attracted by the diversity of the western repertoire. Now however many of those ballets that were such lures for the likes of Nureyev, Makarova and Baryshnikov are beginning to establish themselves in Russia also.

In July of this year the Kirov Ballet returns to delight the London fans with a three-week season at the Royal Opera House. They are presenting five different programmes: “Swan Lake”, in my view the best production currently in existence; “Le Corsaire”, that merry romp with pirates and slave girls very loosely inspired by Lord Byron and a new production of “La Bayadere” based on the production of 1900. In addition to these three full-lengths we will be seeing two triple bills: The first programme, Homage to Diaghilev, consists of “Chopiniana” (“Les Sylphides”); “Les Noces” and “Scheherazade” and the second, Contrasts, is made up of “Serenade”, “The Rite of Spring” and “Etudes”.

No fewer than four of these ballets will be danced in London by the Kirov for the first time: Sergei Vikharev’s newly reconstructed version of “La Bayadere”, with original choreography once believed to be lost; Millicent Hodson and Kenneth Archer’s reconstruction of Nijinsky’s “Rite of Spring”; Harold Lander’s “Etudes”, a challenging choice as this ballet can be either trite or highly exciting depending on the dancers. For me though, the most exciting addition to the Kirov repertoire will be Nijinska’s “Les Noces”, that seminal work depicting a Russian peasant wedding, danced at last by those that can claim the ballet’s theme as part of their culture. And we won’t just be watching new ballets this season either, as the Kirov’s continuing emphasis on youth means we will be seeing a whole clutch of new soloists previously unknown to us for the first time.

To sum up we are being treated to three weeks of new works and old favourites danced by familiar faces and talented newcomers. An experience not to be missed.


Edited by Stuart Sweeney

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