The Kirov Ballet offered an all-Diaghilev program for its third bill in London: Chopiniana, Les Noces, and Scheherazade.
- Clement Crisp in the Financial Times
The grand interest of Noces was to see (and hear) Russian artists in this most Russian of works. The score was superb: four spiffing Kirov Opera soloists, plus chorus and pianists, brought total conviction to the music under Mikhail Agrest's baton - I have never heard it better played in the theatre. And a Russian cast knowing exactly what the sung text meant — this was tremendous.
- Luke Jennings in the Guardian
The opening night of the Kirov Ballet's Homage to Diaghilev programme, while promising much, proved a surprisingly muted affair. The evening opened with Chopiniana, Mikhail Fokine's moonlit reverie. Known in the west as Les Sylphides, the ballet has a delicate ethereality that is intended to evoke the Romantic ballets of the 1830s and 40s. An early fall by one of the principals, however, appeared to unnerve the ensemble. Thereafter, although all the dancers were moving and breathing as one, tension and caution were evident at all levels. Only Irina Golub seemed unaffected; she danced the Prelude with beguiling, unhindered lightness.
- John Percival in the Independent
[Les Noces] is a wonder. There's only one problem: the Kirov doesn't do it well enough.
The staging is by Howard Sayette, who learned it as the ballet master of a hardly known, small American company, the Oakland Ballet, from Nijinska's daughter, Irina. Remembering Nijinska's own wonderful 1966 production for the Royal Ballet, we see many differences of detail here but, more damaging, a complete change of mood, quite lacking the weight and the sharpness that she (with abundant rehearsal time) won from that company at its peak.
The outcome is prettified and decorative — which is not the point. The principal roles work moderately well, although they could all take more depth. It's the vitally important ensemble that suffers most. The dancers are adept at their steps, but the control, the energy, and the significance of what they are doing has been allowed to escape them.
- Ismene Brown in the Telegraph
In Chopiniana, the ballerina fell early on, demonstrating the supreme difficulty of maintaining a filmy delicacy that must completely disguise the rigorous mechanics of classical technique. Chopiniana is where you see the older, deeper Kirov refinement of style, the soloists chosen for their reticent, lithographic gracefulness, rather than the moviepuss-meets-gymnast glamour of a Svetlana Zakharova, reigning prima ballerina. The corps, giving a gorgeous performance, moved as if in a collective dream, chasing weightlessness and utmost gentleness, with arms and hands like sweet-pea tendrils.
Debra Craine's review in the Times is only available by paid subscription.