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Performances week of May 15-22


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Last week I was in Kazakhstan on business. To my extreme delight, the online info about the theater's schedule (which showed no ballet for the week) was wrong -- I saw Don Quixote on Sunday, a school performance on Tuesday, and Swan Lake on Friday.

I do NOT have my programs handy at the moment but will try to add some more specific info when I find them.

The Abai Theater is absolutely lovely, and was restored about 5 years ago. It is a moderate size, and at the end of performances, audience members who want to give flowers to the cast simply walk up on the stage and deliver them.

In general, the costumes were terrific but nearly all of the dancers seemed to have impossibly worn shoes--I wonder if this is an indication of a budget problem or whether they prefer to use softer shoes to keep the noise down (there was almost no shoe noise).

Don Quixote was very thinly attended and seemed to be a bit of an abbreviated production--there was no "puppet show" and no final group coda. Also, the cast seemed a bit "thin"--perhaps some were on tour? Anyway, it was an enjoyable show, though I favor a slightly more "hammy" presentation when there are lots of kids in the audience. One notable feature: Gamache had a pronounced limp, which I've never noticed in other DonQ.

The school performance was a delight. The fifth-year boys were absolutely stunning, and one of them bore a very strong resemblance to Friday night's Prince. (Brother?) The upper-level students did 4 or 5 traditional dances from the region, which were very interesting and beautiful. The assorted solos, group pieces and pas de deux were a mixed bag, though the couple that danced "Flame of Paris" was amazing.

Swan Lake was performed to a much fuller house than DonQ, possibly because the local star, Leila Alpieva, was dancing. She is indeed a lovely dancer, very strong and (IMHO) better suited to Odile than Odette. The whole production was much more "lively" than DonQ.

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