I experienced a sudden switch in aesthetic universes, when after a performance of the NYCBallet on the 17th of June, I landed in Moscow and saw a performance of the Bolshoi on the 20th of June. The performance was for the opening of the Xth International Ballet Competition, and the ballet was the Bolshoi/Grigorovich production of Bayadere.
Unlike the Mariinsky old-new productions, both of which have four acts, the Grigorovich version essentially ends after the Shades scene, with only a brief final scene where the temple
tumbles down and Solor is left in the ruins exhausted or perhaps dead, but with no resolution of his redemption concerning the issues of eternity and long-term partners.
The evening had a star-laden cast led by Svetlana Zakharova as Nikia, Maria Alexandrova as
Gamzatti, and Igor Zelensky of the Mariinsky as Solor (a last-minute change since Andrey Uvarov was listed in the printed program).
Zakharova, with the multitude of her physical gifts, certainly enjoys well-deserved popularity.
To me it seemed that she repeatedly during the evening marred the flow of a dance phrase by forcing an already high extension, just a bit higher. This was particularly unfortunate in the Shades act, during her lifts with Zelensky. My complaint may be wrong-headed, because others
applauded the extra effort and its results.
Zelensky made a virile figure of Solor while dancing, but in the mime scenes appeared a mystery
as to what was going on in his mind about decisions on life-partners.
I guess this is a comment that the mime scenes (and they do remain in the Grigorovich production) are trimmed to the detriment of following the plot and its development.
The scene, for instance, with Gamzatti and Nikia facing each other is not as compelling when both appear to be helpless victims.
In the Grigorovich production it seems that the father of Gamzatti decides for Gamzatti (and for Solor) their marriage plans and also gives the order for 'getting rid' of Nikia. In the Mariinsky new-old productions, Gamzatti seems to have a bigger role in the eventual fate and demise of Nikia. The different emphasis makes the G-N mime scene lose interest.
Alexandrova was in fine form in the 2nd act wedding variations, where her buoyant jumps elicited likely the loudest applause of the evening. (And there was lots of applause the whole evening)
The Bolshoi corps de ballet, in the shades scene, embodied the expressiveness of classical dancing at its best. The clarity of detail, with thirty two dancers creating the illusion of an organic whole, was riveting.
For me the heart of the ballet lies in the center of the shades scene: with the three variations.
(Are the three variations truly Petipa's? Anyone know the chain of custody?)
Ekaterina Krysanova danced the first variation with total attention- which is to say every step
was there at its fullest, and moreover was danced with zest. To me, she stands in a superb company, as an artist alone. [I just found out she will be competing in the Senior division of
the Xth Competition. I hope my view of her art will be confirmed].
The second variation was beautifully detailed but I don't know who danced it. Shipulina is listed
in the program but the dancer did not look like Shipulina.
The third variation of Nelli Kobakhidze was delicate and sharp, which is to say as outstanding as the other two.
Curtain calls were long affairs with rhythmic clapping, and with lots of flowers for Zakharova. Lots.
Bolshoi perf. of 6/20/05Bayadere
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