Mindy Aloff reviews Zakharova's "La Bayadere" at ABT for the DanceView Times:
Svetlana Zakharova in La Bayadère
Svetlana Zakharova’s Nikiya is rather small in stature yet huge in projection of her dance effects—and so brilliant that she seems to come from another planet: effortless ear-high extensions, balances that strike a pose with the authority of a biblical patriarch smiting a rock, multiple pirouettes in which her positions are tantamount to sculpture, grands jetés that seem to get higher as they descend, petite batterie in which each beat can be easily counted, backbends in which her body seems to disappear completely into design. Her arms alone have such vitality that each ought to have its own passport. At one point early on, in the vicinity of the Sacred Fire, she performed a transition step—a glissade, or, perhaps, a précipité—so pristine and exact that it didn’t seem to be a transition so much as a goal. This is ballet dancing that’s as legible to the Family Circle, near the Met roof, as the program one holds in one’s lap, which probably helps to explain the screaming joy that came from the top of the house at several moments in the course of the evening. We just don’t encounter much dancing on this heroic scale, not even from Zakharova’s native Kirov, in whose productions of The Sleeping Beauty and Serenade she made her U.S. debut five years ago. She was recognized then as a phenomenon—physically magnificent in face and attenuated figure, a prodigy in the classical lexicon. Yet she was also willful, adjusting Balanchine’s details to suit herself, replacing Petipa’s orthogonal poses with anachronistically high extensions. How could a ballerina this beautiful and this sensationally gifted be so impervious to choreographic style? The extensions, in particular, affected some balletomanes like fingernails run down a chalkboard.