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Ruzimatov gala in St. Petersburg

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#1 Kevin Ng

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Posted 12 November 2001 - 09:33 AM

The Ruzimatov gala, which was held on two consecutive nights at the Conservatory in St. Petersburg, featured Farouk Ruzimatov, Diana Vishneva and a host of other Kirov stars. I caught the second performance on 30 October during my trip to St. Petersburg.

Ruzimatova and Vishneva appeared in three of the eight numbers. They first danced in a new piece "Songs of Remembrance" set to French songs by Jacques Brel choreographed by Nikolai Kabaniaev. There was an ensemble of three white-clad couples. The choreography was pleasing though not particularly memorable.

Vishneva and Ruzimatova appeared again in Maurice Bejart's "Bakhti" which closed the first half of the evening. This pas de deux was set to a variety of Hindu music and emphasised dislocations. The couple's limbs were twisted into various contorted shapes as is typical of Bejart's style. It was impressively danced by the couple who each had a solo as well.

The second half of the gala consisted of only one work - Roland Petit's "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort". Petit's choreography was exciting and highly theatrical. Vishneva had the right allure as death, and Ruzimatov gave a powerful performance as the young man.

Other stars who appeared included senior Kirov dancers Margaret Kullik and Vladimir Kim in Balanchine's "Tarantella". Alexei Ratmansky's "Middle Duo" which recalled William Forsythe's aggressive style was brilliantly performed by Natalia Sologub and Andrei Merkuriev whose dancing had a sharp edge.

Sologub also appeared in "Le Spectre de la Rose". Igor Kolb was spectacular as the Spectre, with his creamy port de bras and his high and airy jumps. Another Fokine work was "The Dying Swan" with the soulful Yulia Makhalina in the title role.

The "Don Quixote" pas de deux was dazzlingly danced by Elvira Tarasova and Rasta Thomas (who just joined the Kirov). It was my first viewing of Thomas, whose split jumps and great speed in his 'manege' were breathtaking. Tarasova had strong legwork, and danced with poise and style.

During my stay in St. Petersburg I also saw the Kirov's Neumeier programme, and Vishneva and Igor Zelensky in "Manon".

[ November 19, 2001: Message edited by: Kevin Ng ]

#2 NO7



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Posted 13 November 2001 - 09:50 PM

Thanks for the review, Kevin.
Bakhti sounds interesting. Then I wonder what other companies dance this ballet.
Also Rasta Thomas sounds promising. Do you happen to know where he came from?

#3 Hu Xinxin

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Posted 14 November 2001 - 02:08 AM

Hi, Kevin,
You were in St. Petersburg!
But Bolshoi is visiting Beijing and dancing Swan Lake on Nov.15-18. I heard the casts would be Uvarov/ Gracheva and Antonicheva/ Sergei Filin. It's a pity that I am in Tokyo and not able to go back to see the performances.
I also missed Ballet for Life danced by Bejart Company in Beijing. Helen says it was a great success.

[ November 14, 2001: Message edited by: Hu Xinxin ]

#4 Guest_amalinovski_*

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Posted 14 November 2001 - 03:54 AM

Thanks, Kevin, for your very interesting review.
There were reviews of that evening on Russian forums, and when I'll have time, I'll translate some.
Nevertheless, I was stunned by learning that Rasta Thomas is joining the Kirov. I strongly believe this is the last thing Kirov needed. IMHO, Thomas has nothing of a classical dancer. I saw him in Montreal Gala in 2000. He's very trained, vigorous and impressive, but his style is purely sporty, and has more to do with gymnastics than ballet.
(He was born in Saudi Arabia to American father. Studied martial arts - and you will see it on stage! Also worked with Oleg Vinogradov, former Kirov art director, in his school in Washington D.C. Usually works as independent artist. Participated in Kirov festival in February 2001).
I wonder what will he dance with the Kirov?...

#5 Kevin Ng

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Posted 14 November 2001 - 05:10 AM

A.M., thanks for your useful background information on Rasta Thomas. Actually besides Thomas, there are also 2 other male dancers who joined the Kirov last season - Denis Matvienko (formerly of the Kiev Ballet), and Andrei Merkuriev (formerly of the Maly Theatre). I think however that these 3 dancers are likely to dance in St. Petersburg than on the Kirov's overseas tours.

Xinxin, hope you are seeing some great performances in Japan. Yes, I regret not being able to see the Bolshoi in China this week.

#6 Hu Xinxin

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Posted 15 November 2001 - 02:20 AM

I saw Bejart's Bolero and Lacine Cubique with Silvie Guillem and Toyko Ballet last week. Will see Giselle with Viviana Durante and Kumakawa Tetsuya tomorrow.
Rasta Thomas was also in Toyko this mounth and danced in Gissle with a company came from Nagoya, but I missed it because I was busy with so many concert/opera performances(and my job as well). I saw him last year in Osaka. He was an interesting dancer.
Enjoy your stay in St. Petersburg. It's a lovely city.

#7 Natalia


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Posted 16 November 2001 - 07:18 PM

Rasta Thomas is one of the most famous graduates of Washington, DC's Kirov Academy of Ballet & a true celebrity in some parts of the world. Although only 19 years old, he has been a ballet phenomenon in Japan for some time, heading his own tour of independent guest dancers. He won gold medals at a number of the top ballet competitions, including Varna (1996, along with ABT's Michele Wiles, another KAB alum) and Jackson (1998). So I guess that a few competition winners do find their way to top companies? wink.gif [Ok, ok...You have to allow little-ole-me a bit of gloating in this department, as I was the original 'Rasta Rooter' on the old alt.arts.ballet site five or six years ago.]

I knew that this was coming for a while. It was killing me to keep it under wraps but now I'm loving every moment. wink.gif Rasta performed with the Kirov earlier, as a guest artist in the final gala of the February 2001 Mariinsky Ballet Festival...but it appears that our intrepid reporters failed to mention him. Rasta was also working with John Neumeier on the Kirov's Neumeier Evening triple bill this past spring, so I would assume that he's dancing in one of the three ballets on that program. Also, Rasta was originally scheduled to dance Lescaut in London but it didn't materialize. I chose to keep my mouth shut. Well, now I can say: Congrats to Rasta -- Washington, DC's principal at the Kirov Ballet.

Rasta should be making a homecoming of sorts next February, when the Kirov performs at the Kennedy Center in DC.

Jeannie [writing from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where I'm keeping hope alive in the hinterland. Blessings to all my ballet friends on this site!]

#8 Alexandra


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Posted 16 November 2001 - 09:18 PM

Hi, Jeannie -- stay away from caves!!!!!

You are more than welcome to gloat smile.gif , but I do have to say -- Rasta can't still be 19 years old. He's been 19 years old for several years now, I think.

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 November 2001 - 11:34 PM

Kind of reminds me of one of the dancers I worked with at Joffrey. When I was there, 74-76, he was three years older than I was. Now his most recent bio, updated this May, makes him five years YOUNGER! How time does fly!

#10 Alexandra


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Posted 16 November 2001 - 11:39 PM

I checked Thomas's web site. If it's accurate, Jeannie is closer to being right than I am. He turned 20 last July 18th. I would have put him at 22.

His age has slipped around, though. When he started, he was older than he really was. I remember reading he entered one of the competitions when he was not quite old enough to do so, and it came back on him a few years later, when a judge remembered.

More importantly, it will be interesting to see how Thomas functions with a company -- a great company at that. So far, he's forged a career as a gala performer and medal winner, and there's a great distance between punching out a one-minute solo and carrying a whole ballet. He has an enormous talent and I hope both he and the Kirov benefit from this. (Personally, I like Thomas better in character solos and wish he'd go Hollywood. He'd be the John Travolta -- Saturday Night Live Travolta -- of his generation. And maybe even a nice sitcom with a male ballet dancer portrayed positively smile.gif )

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