Uliana Lopatkina opened the Mariinsky season as an exquisite but emotionally inaccessible Odette. Making her first entrance in Jerome Robbins's In the Night, she's a different being – legs kicking, arms furiously thrashing the air. Dancing one of three couples in Robbins's supercharged portrait of sex and love, Lopatkina suddenly looks wide awake. And so does the rest of the company. While the Mariinsky's stock repertory of 19th-century classics may be good for the box office, it's a relief finally to see them in the less familiar world of Robbins and Balanchine.
The relationship between George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, twin pillars of American ballet, could be the subject of several novels. Robbins adored his mentor Balanchine, who respected his acolyte - but couldn’t resist putting him down.
So this programme serves up a certain poetic justice: it is dominated by Balanchine but it’s Robbins who triumphs. His In the Night, fashioned at the end of a deeply turbulent period in his life, is a wonder - and the Mariinsky perform it to perfection.
The Arts Desk
Great Mariinsky ballerinas are a breed apart, even from Bolshoi women. They take the stage with a consciousness of entitlement that’s thrilling to watch, and when this almost sacred sense of mystique and grace instilled in St Petersburg comes with vivid expressive distinction too, then there really is nothing like it. Even if three American 20th-century ballets might not be thought the likeliest territory to make such discoveries, what a night for ballerinas last night was. Viktoria Terëshkina and Alina Somova are on their way to joining the peerless Uliana Lopatkina at the high table.