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Mariinsky Ballet, "Sleeping Beauty" 2/13/10



I did not look forward to this performance with high expectations. The Mariinsky has mostly disappointed me the last few times it's visited, and while today's performance had some nice surprises, it was mostly in line with what I expected. Anastasia Kolegova (Aurora) is a perfectly lovely dancer with pretty line, strong technique, and apparently no acting ability. In Act I, she seemed nervous, and she glossed over any technical challenges (she would have been better off not attempting the balances). In Act II, she was bland rather than ethereal, but in Act III, she seemed relaxed and confident, although still devoid of personality.

Anton Korsakov was an appropriate match--beautiful, strong, clean technique, but only one facial expression. I couldn't understand why either of them is listed as a principal dancer; the lack of stage presence makes them seem more like soloist material to me.

Alexandra Iosifidi (Lilac Fairy) was warm and caring, but otherwise not memorable. Of course, one must also bear in mind that she is hampered by the production, which has her dressed in a sort of evening gown/nightie for half the ballet, performing boring choreography.

I was surprised and pleased to see Maya Dumchenko listed as Princess Florina, and it did indeed appear to be her. She looks quite thin and frail, but in her one pas de deux, she gave a performance worthy of a principal dancer, and told more of a story with her choreography's little hints of narrative than Kolegova did during the entire ballet. Her technique has also not diminished, and her Florina was delicate and graceful.

Vasily Scherbakov was appropriately airborne as the bluebird. His petite batterie during the coda was especially nice.

Vasily Tkachenko and Valerya Martinyuk as Puss 'n Boots and the White Cat were witty and funny, turning a duet one usually suffers through into a highlight of the third act.

I agree with others who dislike the production. It needs new costumes, and the wigs ought to be thrown out. The almost total lack of mime means it ends up being performed basically as a plotless ballet, and even the few dancers who bothered to act weren't given much material to work with. There were a lot of cuts in this production, which is understandable given the time constraints, but it was nice to see that they found some children to perform in the Garland Waltz and also as the eight violinists during the Rose Adagio. I was surprised that they included the entr'acte for solo violin, as it is very long. I always enjoy hearing it, and the violinist played well, but it divided up the already short second act with an unnecessarily long pause.


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