Fokine Classics, including 'Chopiniana,' 'Scheherazade,' and 'The Firebird'
by Art Priromprintr
October 23, 2003
-- Orange County Performing
Arts Center, Costa Mesa
Thursday night's performance
of the Fokine program was – like Tuesday's performance – anchored by strong
execution from the Kirov's marvelous corps de ballet and the truly phenomenal
orchestra (conducted by Mikhail Agrest).
The orchestra was in many ways the star of the show. Their performance
of "The Firebird," Stravinsky’s roller-coaster ride of a ballet
score, was thrilling, to be rivaled by any great orchestra in a concert
hall without the ballet on stage. The music in "Firebird" is glorious
even when it stands on its own. It tells the story just as much as the
stage action does. And, with such powerful music, the emotional response
to the aural is stronger than to the visual. It is even more true when
there is a great orchestra on hand. One place where I always remember
an orchestra making a huge difference is "Romeo and Juliet" - the music
is so poetic and dramatic that an orchestra's strong playing can sometimes
make up for lackluster performing on stage. But here with the Kirov, both
the aural and visual came together magnificently in "Firebird." It was
There was, too, the corps de ballet. It didn’t really matter what the
corps seemed to be performing, whether it be the delicate pointe work
of "Chopiniana" or the aggressive jumping of "The Firebird;"
each time they took the stage, they commanded attention. They moved as
a single body, and each individual performer had a total commitment to
the piece being performed. So, the hard work put into the wispy arms of
"Chopiniana" was a real-life dream, the almost cartoonish exoticism
of "Scheherazade" was vividly brought to life, and the creatures
in "The Firebird" were otherworldly.
As for the pieces themselves, "Scheherazade" – the second work
of the evening – was tiresome on second viewing. The central pas de deux
seems even longer and more out of place the second time, with the action
grinding to a halt for what seems like twenty minutes. It could have been
done in far less time (it is my understanding that the pas de deux was
added to a later "Scheherazade," to give a showpiece to the
ballerina role). There were strong performances, however. Irma Nioradze
was sinuous and sensual as Zoebiede; she often embellished poses and movements
with an extra sliver of her hips and belly. Danila Korsuntsev was the
Golden Slave, capturing the audience with the role's requisite virtuosity.
The pair got far more sensual during the pas de deux, fully touching each
other when it was merely suggested with the Lopatkina/Zelensky pairing
on Tuesday night.
If "Scheherazade" was wearing the second time around, "The
Firebird" was just as thrilling – if not more thrilling – than the
first live viewing. Tatiana Amosava was far more commanding in the title
role on Thursday, the same role she danced Tuesday. She was also supported
Thursday by a better partner: Andrey Yakovlev. The partnering in the first
pas de deux secure, and Yakovlev's mime were even stronger during the
rest of the ballet. He and Yana Serebriakova, as the Princess, gave the
ballet a strong dramatic foundation during their scenes together. With
a huge cast storming the stage and dancing brilliantly, it was an all-around
intense spectacle of a performance. And, of course, there was the aforementioned
"Chopiniana" – the program's opening piece – belonged to the
corps de ballet. There were particularly strong performances by Daria
Sukhorukova in the Prelude and Anton Korsakov as the young man. Irina
Zelonkina and Yana Selina danced the Mazurka and Valse Op. 70, respectively.
Edited by Catherine
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