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Bolshoi Ballet

Stars of The Bolshoi Ballet in London

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, UK

May 14, 2001
By Kevin Ng

The Bolshoi's season at Drury Lane got off to a pleasing start with its first programme. The first half consisted of Act 2 of Yuri Grigorovich's version of "Swan Lake". The corps de ballet of swans, scaled down to 18 from the normal number of 24, had a pleasing uniformity though not comparable to the Kirov's.

Interestingly there are three big swans instead of two in this Grigorovich version. Anna Antonicheva danced Odette beautifully with a warm femininity. She has a long and thin line, and her dancing had an elegiac tone that was moving. Antonicheva's legwork was sharp. In her solo, she articulated very well the passage when Odette does a 'develope' with her working leg which she then turns back with a 'passe'. Her Prince Siegfried was the noble Sergei Filin who danced with a romantic ardour.

The second half of the evening had five divertissement numbers. Antonicheva returned for the short adagio from "Raymonda" partnered by Andrei Uvarov. Then we saw the pas de deux from Vainonen's version of "Nutcracker" which the Kirov had danced in the London Coliseum in 1996. Nina Kaptsova has an old-style Bolshoi glamour, with a slightly heavy upper body which is compensated by her incisive legs. In this version Masha does no 'gargouillades' in her solo. Her partner Yan Godovsky is more demi-caractere in style, but he showed off his dazzling turns and jumps.

My favourite item was the pas de deux from Bournonville's "Flower Festival at Genzano" danced with great flair by Anastasia Goriacheva and Dmitry Gudanov. Their dancing abounded in joy. Goriacheva danced with delicacy and finesse the intricate knitting steps in Bournonville's choreography. The handsome blond dancer Gudanov is a natural Bournonville dancer, with an impressive ballon, and excels in the 'battu' and 'elance' steps. His double tours en l'air, which he executed in both directions, were dazzling.

Then came the "Giselle" pas de deux danced by the 22-year-old Svetlana Lunkina who was the discovery of the Bolshoi's last season at the London Coliseum in 1999. Lunkina cuts a ravishing figure with her long and thin limbs, and her legs have great power in adagio. Her Giselle had a dreamy quality which captured the heart of this ballet. The large floating lifts were strongly executed by her Albrecht, Sergei Filin.

However I was slighly unimpressed by Maria Alexandrova in "Don Quixote" pas de deux. I remember Alexandrova as an imperious Myrtha in the Bolshoi 1999 London season. Two years on she has developed into a monotonous hard-edged virtuoso dancer without much softness. Her self-congratulatory air in her performance was slightly off-putting. Andrei Uvarov had a dazzling virtuosity as Basilio. His powerful manege of 'coupe jetes' were space-devouring.

In the first variation, Maria Allash travelled in her grands jetes like a javelin in typical Bolshoi fashion. The second variation was stylishly danced by Olga Suvorova who had a lovely port de bras.

The Bolshoi's second programme was even more enjoyable than the first, and showed off the dancers at their best. The opening work "Chopiniana" has a beautiful white floral backdrop bathed in moonlight. The corps de ballet was however not as polished and uniform as the Kirov's who had danced this ballet at Covent Garden last summer.

At the heart of the ballet was Svetlana Lunkina whose dancing had a pearly lustre. It was a pleasure to see her long delicate limbs etch such beautiful shapes in Fokine's choreography. And she was divine in the pas de deux, splendidly partnered by the tall and noble Andrei Uvarov. In fact this was only Lunkina's second performance in this role, after her debut in Moscow last month. In the waltz Maria Alexandrova sprang like a dart in her grands jetes.

In the second half of the evening which consisted of six divertissements, Lunkina made her debut in the pas de deux from Bournonville's "La Sylphide". (She had been coached in Moscow by Raisa Struchkova and Ekaterina Maximova.) Lunkina was an ethereal sylph, and rendered the mime with a delicious charm. James was danced by Dmitry Gudanov whose space-devouring grands jetes and double tours en l'air in both directions were dazzling.

The second half opened with the pas de deux from Leonid Lavrovsky's "Romeo and Juliet", which the Kirov had also shown last summer, danced with a sweeping passion by Inna Petrova and Sergei Filin. Filin also returned for the last showpiece "Le Corsaire" pas de deux, partnering Maria Alexandrova. Alexandrova again struck me as rather dry in her nonetheless impressive pyrotechnics, short on artistry. She managed some impressive double fouette turns and was very rapid in her diagonal of pique turns, but I noticed for instance that her supporting leg in her grands jetes was not well turned out.

In between was the grand pas de deux from Grigorovich's version of "The Sleeping Beauty", danced with grace and style by Anna Antonicheva and Andrei Uvarov. However the coda seemed rather underpowered in Grigorovich's choreography.

There was also a seldom-seen solo "Narcissus" choreographed by Goleizovsky, splendidly danced by Gennady Yanin who was a last-minute replacement for the injured Nikolai Tsiskaridze. There are lots of jumps in the choreography, and Narcissus' drowning at the end is actually quite subdued.

The highlight for me was the pas de deux from Alexander Gorsky's "La Fille Mal Gardee" which I had never seen before, set to music by Peter Hertel, unlike Ashton's version. Gorsky's airy choreography is sheer joy, and abounds in wit and technical bravura. The bravura passages necessitate frequent changes in direction. The choreography was impeccably danced by Anastasia Goriacheva and Yan Godovsky whose delightful dancing lifted the spirits.

It was gratifying to see a much fuller house than for the first programme, who gave all the dancers a loud ovation at the end.


Please join a discussion of this performance in our forum.

Edited by Marie.



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