Posted 14 November 2004 - 11:38 AM
The Bolshoi’s Don Quixote (11/11/04) at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago was
a sensual feast with a menu of choreography credited to Petipa with reworkings by various balletmasters with additions, and emendations, and so on. In my view, there is a coherence to all the parts of the production, partly, perhaps, because of the variety of the accretions gathered over time.
By this I mean that the additions and changes may be value-added virtues by reason of providing a broader palette of movement ‘styles’ that set off the classical canon to advantage.
There were dances that I don’t recall seeing in western versions of D Q, that, in the Bolshoi’s version, added contrasts of tempi and mood. One example is the “Spanish Dance” in the tavern scene of the second act, performed by three women: two with prop guitars and the soloist playing castanets. It is slow in tempo and quite unlike the other Minkus set pieces. (A musical addition as well?)
Another example – and I think a wonderful feature of the Bolshoi production-, is the “Gypsy Dance” danced by the charismatic Yulianna Malkhasyants in the gypsy camp scene of the second act. The dance is not just another character dance but a species of ‘folk’ expressionism. Ms Makhasyants registered rapid mood changes in facial expressions with muscular tics in the forearms and hands and neck, wedded beautifully to the melodramatic and lushly orchestrated musical accompaniment. (Who choreographed this dance? I hope Inga can help me here).
Kitri in this performance was the elegant and exciting Ms Shipulina. The buoyancy of her jumps is exceptional. I had seen her once before, earlier this year, when she danced what I thought to be the best Gamzatti of the four or five I have seen.
Her partner Thursday night was Yuri Klevtsov. They made a handsome couple, but perhaps because of size, they did not make the ideal pairing. To me his dancing lacked the range and depth of her work. This is probably a quibble, but it could be said that the roster of Bolshoi women soloists outperform their counterparts in the men’s roster.
Klevtsov seemed too cautious in the completion of some of his pirouette combinations,
and partnering skills sometimes showed timing problems.
Quixote’s Dream section was handsomely rendered as a tableau with no dark corners, in full daylight, and in delicate colors: classicism presented forthrightly. Ms Allash performed vividly as the Dryad Queen, and Ms Shipulina embodied the ideal of the principal dancer as classicist. Xenia Pchelkina was physically appropriate, and technically accurate, as the young Amor. Alexey Loparevich’s elongated figure was eloquent in depicting the locked-in world of hopes and ideals of Don Quixote.
The Bolshoi’s production of this scene is a testament to the power of the classical dance canon to provide authentic art—as well as wonderful entertainment.
So, on to the entertainment of the third act.
The Grand Pas is so well-known and familiar, in its various incarnations around the world, that it is difficult to say anything that doesn’t sound trite (or repetitive). The Bolshoi’s version seemed to me very coherent, and in this performance excellently performed. The extra bonus is the inclusion, with the wedding couple, of the two maids of honor in lemon-colored tutus. (Anastasia Meskova and Nelli Kobakhidze). Ms Kobakhidze, performing the second variation, displayed the virtues one expects from great dancing: clarity, legibility (read musicality), attack that makes you think it’s being done for the very first time, and energy that seems unstoppable-all the while respecting the ‘rules’ of the classic game. She is a star of classicism rising.
Lastly I have to mention the Bolshoi corps de ballet. Their appearance in the third act was to splendid effect. The women in all-white flamenco style long dresses, the men in white jackets embroidered with black threads, white tights, and black broad-rimmed hats fitted close on the head, they personified the incomparable training, dignity, and artistry of
the Bolshoi Ballet.
It was a treat to hear the Bolshoi Orchestra led by P Klinichev in the Auditorium Theatre,
which is reputed to have the best acoustics in North America.
Kitri Ekaterina Shipulina
Basil Yury Klevtsov
Don Q Alexey Loparevich
Sancho Panza Alexander Petukhov
Gamache Viktor Alekhin
Juanita Natalia Malandina
Pikkiliya Irina Semirechenskaya
Espada Rinat Arifulin
Street Dancer Maria Allash
Mercedes Maria Isplatovkaya
Spanish Dance Maria Volodina, Anna Balukova, Eugenia Rozovskaya
Gypsy Dance Yulianna Malkhasyants
Bolero Anna Antropova, Georgy Geraskin