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Ballet Stars of S. Petersburg in Albert Hall

Guest Baletoman

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Guest Baletoman

Did anyone see Ballet Stars of S. Petersburg? How did you like it?

Here are some of my "non-specialist" impressions about yesterday's (7 May) evening in the Royal Albert Hall.

Part 1: Madam Lioneli: Irma Nioradze and Ilja Kuznetsov

Part 2:

Legend of Love: Nioradze + Tsiskaridze (principal of the Bolshoi Theatre)

Corsaire, pas de deux of act 2: Zelensky + Irina Perrin (replaced Tarasova)

Manon, pas de deux, act I, scene 2: Makhalina + Kuznetsov

Narcissus: Tsiskaridze

Scheherezade, pas de deux: Ruzimatov + Nioradze

Swan Lake, Black swan pas de deux: Ivanchenko + Perrin (replaced Pavlenko)

Death of the Poet: Ruzimatov

Raymonda, grand pas of Act III: Kuznetsov + Makhalina

Don Quixote, pas de deux, act IV: Ivanchenko + Nioradze

Finale: all artists dressed in their "rehearsal" clothes made brilliantly their very small bits of performances

First of all, I would not advise to see ballet in Royal Albert Hall. The stage and how the seats are organised is not suitable for ballet.

Secondly, Daria Pavlenko and Elvira Tarasova were replaced this evening, which was a disappointment!

Madam Lioneli: It is a one act ballet about a businesswoman (strong at work during workdays and sensual and feminine in love affair with a clerk in evenings). I liked scenes with clerks and this part of music very much. The whole choreography is quite interesting, but not a chef d'oeuvre. At some moments there is something "predictable" in it and that's why it is a little bit boring, to my mind. I personally disliked the part in which the woman changes its clothes.

It was great to see Irma Nioradze (and Ilja Kuznetsov) dancing. They were impressive.

Le corsaire: Zelensky was very very good! As I wrote already, I've liked his manner of dancing since I first saw him some years ago with Lopatkina. It is different from another great dancer - Nikolai Tsiskaridze from Bolshoi. But not less great! It is reserved, but energetic and deep. It is amazing that he dances so great after his awful injury ! I would like to wish him health and more interesting roles and ballets! I hope I will have a chance to see the best duet I have ever seen: Zelensky + Lopatkina (I wonder if she is going to come to London in July? Different sources say differnet things).

Manon: I saw Manon with Darcey Bussel and Roberto Bolle. Their dancing was so vivid and dramatic. I doubt if I will like anyone else in these roles.

I must admit Kuznetsov and Makhalina's performance was not very sucessful. Not because of technique, of course. But it was too "classical", there was no real life and relationship in their dancing.

Narcissus: Tsiskaridze is just superb! Nobody can be compared with him. (I think I must pay more attention to Bolshoi theatre :mad:)) I think he is made for this role ;)!

Swan Lake: I didn't like this part of performance, although judging by applauds, the public liked it. Female part was average and lacked in dramatism (it was black swan pas de deux). Daria Pavlenko was supposed to dance but she was replaced by Irina Perrin ( not a Mariinsky's dancer). Her dancing was very nice, but non-confident (may be because ,as we were told, it was her first performance in the UK) and sluggish for black swan. Ivanchenko's dancing was clear, but did not impress me. They both lacked energy and feelings. It was completely different from what I had seen in the Lowry in Manchester a week before- brilliant Zakharova and Zelensky 's dancing.

As a whole, the male part of the whole performance was much stronger than the female one. There were only 2 female principals: Nioradze and Machalina (who danced Raymonda very lovely ). I am looking forward to seeing other principals, especially Lopatkina, Vishneva, Zaharova in London in July.

But the whole impression is very very good. In spite of negative moments that I described above it was the performance of the best ballet company. All performances were of a very high standard, some of them were just brilliant: Rusimatov's Death of the Poet, Ruzimatov and Nioradze's Scheherezade , Zelensky's Corsaire, Tsiskaridze's Narcissus.

" Thank you " to all dancers for a wonderful evening!

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Baletoman, I'm surprised no-one has to add something about these performances !

I saw both evenings and have enjoyed it in a great way !

Ok, I do understand that a lot of balletomanes are not into gala's but to me it's still a wonderful opportunity to

learn about dancers you otherwise don't see that often ! More, this evening was reasonable priced and in terms of 'entertaining' a great value for money.

I don't find RAH that bad...maybe I was just lucky with my seats ? Indeed some people in the Arena (top-price) -with flat floor ! - had problems with visability :)

On to the dancing now :

I quite liked "Madam Lioneli" - the new work of young choreographer Kirill Simonov.

What we saw was a sharp, flashy choreography tailormade for Nioradze on music by Adams and Bryars.

I thought the first part, the strongest (maybe due to the music ?) and you have a point concerning being 'predictable' in some way. We haven't seen a masterpiece, but an entertaining choreography and with a stellarcast like Nioradze and Kuznetsov it wasn't boring to me, even not on a second viewing !

My greatest disappointment was the absence of Daria Pavlenko. After missing her in Paris, I was really looking forward to have a taste of her moving dancing so that I could fill the gap until the summerseason ;) Instead of Pavlenko and Tarasova one had invited a Maly-theater's principal : Irina Perrin.

This poor replacement was the only real blame on the evening. I don't think it was a good decision to put such an inexperienced ballerina on the London-stage. A pity the organisation even didn't made the effort to add a cast-change note to the programme : so, I heard the French family next to me complaining about the dancing of Daria Pavlenko !!!

I must say I was intrigued by "Legend of Love", a ballet I only heard of and at first sight a bit bizar, on the second night...I hadn't enough with the Monolog and Adagio, I wanted to see more of it ! :) Is there any chance they'll bring this some day to London ?

The "Le Corsaire"-pdd was saved by Igor Zelensky. Great to see him back after such a long absence. Although he seemed carefull and omitted some lifts (? have I seen this right ?), I adore his commending of the stage.

Half of the venue was looking with eagles-eyes towards the excerpts from "Manon". A difficult task for Ilja Kuznetsov and Yulia Makhalina, not at least that building-up emotions along a complete ballet is so difficult to recreate in a flash. If possible, Kuznetsov is grown even more impressive as when I saw him a couple of years back in the London season, where he danced somewhat everything ! Not that he was a perfect cast as Des Grieux, but together with Makhalina they made a good couple. It was the first time I saw Makhalina and I'm not sure she convinced me totally.

Given the hype a group of fans is creating around Nikolai Tsiskaridze, I wasn't sure he could meet my expectation. He brought "Narcissus" and I agree he didn't disappoint ;-) He's a born stage-man, I must see more from him !

Irma Nioradze and Farouk Ruzimatov took us for a while into the world of Fokine's "Scheherazade".

Irma was in wonderful form and the performance of both these mature dancers was putting the Black Swan pdd - which followed - completely in the shadow !

I have never been moved by Evgeny Ivanchenko, even if he seems to be the most solid partner ever, and the combination with a insecure Perrin made me decide to forget quick about it.

Ruzimatov gave a breathtaking performance in Béjart's "Death of the Poet".

Makhalina and Kuznetsov made me longing to see - as soon as possible - "Raymonda" live !!! Why does Russian companies don't bring this to UK ?

With "Don Quixote" Nioradze and Ivanchenko warmed up the audience for a surprising ritmic finale !

Completely in-line with the atmosphere of this Gala, every dancer offered us an extra injection with great show-off dancing.

These brilliant evenings, made me look forward to see some of these dancers in full-length ballets this summer.

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Thank you, Viviane and Baletoman, for sharing your impressions about the Galas with St. Petersburg dancers (any reference to “Kirov” or “Mariinsky” was carefully avoided). I agree that the evenings were a good night out, even if the dancing wasn’t always topnotch. Best moments to my mind were Nioradze in “Legend of Love” and “Sheherazade”, and Ruzimatov in everything he did. I don’t think that Simonov’s choreographic manner can stand repeated viewing, though (How long can you keep dancers jogging around on a stage? :))

Yes, Zelensky avoided some of the lifts in the adage of "Le Corsaire".

Good point you make there, Viviane, about cast changes which are only set right orally – not everybody is bound to have heard them and especially Russian names can cause problems.

The Bolshoi Ballet brought Grigorovich’s version of "Raymonda" full length to London, last in 1999.

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