Reviews of the Mariinsky Ballet.
But design apart, this 1962 ballet is not among Balanchine's finest. It's a full-length Dream, padding out the familiar Mendelssohn score with additional musical extracts. And while it follows Shakespeare's play more faithfully than Ashton, it delivers a fraction of the latter's humane sweetness and jokes. The result is a generic story ballet, disappointingly lacking in Balanchine's sharpest choreographic invention.
After the modernism of Apollo, Balanchine’s 1962 A Midsummer Night’s Dream seems wispily retro, with a story told in rambling, repetitive mime.
The best bit is the gorgeous duet that pops up in the divertissement, entirely unrelated to the plot. Kimin Kim and Nadezhda Batoeva are radiant in the floating lifts and dreamy phrasing.
.... First, though, is her stately duet with an anonymous Cavalier. When performed, as many Titanias do, with queenly hauteur, ignoring their servile porteur, it can be a starchy affair. Lopatkina, though, made it a deliciously warm conversation with a dinner guest, here Andrei Yermakov - not flirtatious exactly, but a reminder that these are adults, that this parade of arabesques and promenades is the equivalent of a formal discourse within which smiling glances may show pleasure in the other person's company. To see such a sophisticated, glorious creature utterly infatuated with a donkey minutes later was all the more painfully funny.
Act 2 is purely classical – a sparkling divertissement à la Balanchine to Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No.9 in C major, which shimmers with beautiful movement. The leading couple for this performance was Oxana Skorik and Konstantin Zverev. She has clarity and exuberance in her dancing, and her pliable back and open épaulement give her grace and refinement. Zverev possesses a noble demeanour and was a careful partner, setting Skorik gently on pointe in the many lifts, and demonstrating elegant beats and leaps.