The Kirov Ballet


Lincoln Center Festival 2002
Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY

Music: Gabriel Fauré from Pelléas et Mélisande (1898) and Shylock (1889)

Music: Igor Stravinsky (Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, 1929)

Set to music by Piotr Tchaikovsky from Symphony No.3 in D Major, 1875 (first movement omitted)

Choreography: George Balanchine
Staging: Karin von Aroldingen, Sarah Leland, Elyse Borne, Sean Lavery
Scenery: Peter Harvey (1967)
Costume designer: Karinska
Lighting: Mark Stanley
Technical direction: Perry Silvey

July 20, 2002
By Nancy Dow

Jewels is really three one-act ballets with music of three composers. They are united, in what is billed the first full-length plotless ballet, by the theme of the title. On Saturday evening, the Kirov's presentation of this Balanchine work was a gem of a way to end the Kirov's New York engagement.

When the curtain opened on Emeralds, there was a gasp from the audience. A stage full of dancers in emerald green with a simple, jewelled frame of a set was breathtaking. The impressionistic music of Gabriel Fauré leads us through a pleasant landscape of romantic style neo-classicism. But just as we are about to relax and let it unfold in front of us, we are confronted with an unusual duet in which the soloist walks en pointe across the stage, nobly accompanied by her cavalier. Daria Pavlenko walked nicely, very nicely. Zhanna Ayupova was lovely, but not quite strong enough in the ballerina role.

Rubies is the jazzy centerpiece of the trio, with music of Igor Stravinsky. The Kirov delivered an excellent rendition. Irina Golub was flirtatious and sassy in the lead, and really captured the essence of the piece. Daria Pavlenko was back as soloist and had a chance to shine here. She was commanding, with good attack and an understanding of neo-classic style. Viacheslav Samodurov looked like he was having fun in a chase scene (a thread carried over from the walking sequence in Emeralds?) and was happily commanding in his dancing. A word of praise is due for the male quartet and the female corps who helped make this a sizzling performance.

Diamonds appeared to be a homage to the roots of Russian ballet. There was a reverence in the Kirov's interpretation that was not so visible in other troupes' renditions. This showed in the opening duet for Sofia Gumerova and Danila Korsuntsev. Gumerova looked a bit uneven technically, but danced this duet with a love and care that made it resonate. Korsuntsev was much more appealing here than as Siegfried in Swan Lake. His neutral but noble dancing and lack of acting were assets here. The corps shone here as well.

Starting with the simplest of steps we would see in a Petipa ballet, Diamonds moves on to typically Balanchine moments. There is a line-up for a Polonaise very similar to the closing of Theme and Variations. Some time later, another line-up occurs, but on a swell in the music the women unfold their legs in an open, high extension to the front, and then bow forward. It is a ballet equivalent of the singing of a national anthem, or saluting an invisible flag. It was very powerful.

Many of the dancers grasped the Balanchine style, with only occasional lapses into more Kirov-looking port de bras. Differences had to do with attack; where Balanchine dancers might arrive in a high penchée arabesque as the result of a burst of energy, the Kirov dancers would place the leg in a high arabesque. It was more a position than an energy. Some of the men, especially in Rubies, had a bit of a challenge with the upper body, which does not retain its verticality when there is a hip thrust occurring. The resulting lines were not the ones we are accustomed to in City Ballet dancers. But the ballet as a whole seemed to take on a new meaning and lustre and turned out to be the perfect closing to the New York ballet season.


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Edited by Marie.

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