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Video: Full Mikhailovsky Swan Lake

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Review Swan Lake:

Odette/Odile: Ekaterina Borchenko

Siegfried: Viktor Lebedev

Vladimir Tzal (Evil Genius),

Zvezdana Martina (The Queen),

Denis Tolmachev (court jester),

Oksana Bondareva, Olympiada Saurat Alfa N’gobi, Anton Ploom (Pas des trois).

Choreography: Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, Alexander Gorsky, Asaf Messerer revised by Mikhail Messerer

Set and Costumes Design: Simon Virsaladze

Ballet Master: Mikhail Messerer

Principal Designer of the Revival: Vyacheslav Okunev

Premiere at the Mikhailovsky Theatre: September 15, 2009

Production of the sets was generously subsidized by the Imperial Mikhailovsky Theatre Foundation

I saw the Mikhailovsky Swan Lake today. I Loved almost everything about it. I did some research before writing this to try to figure out what exactly I was seeing since I was a bit put off by the costumes. From what I read it was a recreation of “the legendary ’Old Moscow’ production by Alexander Gorsky and Asaf Messerer. For many years it was considered in Moscow to be the standard production, and now it has been lovingly restored by Mikhail Messerer, Ballet Master in Chief of the Theatre.” This explained why the costumes seemed to come out of the Soviet era since the original of this production dates to 1956. I found the costumes and especially the gloves cumbersome and offputting.

Having picked these nits -- lets get down to brass tacks --- the nitty gritty -- the real deal lol -- the dancing! Ekaterina Borchenko is Odette/Odile -- this is her role and there are those, on this list I am sure, much more knowing about ballerinas and what they do than I. I was impressed with the lovely and sinuous use she made of her upper body. She seems to be a tall dancer with lovely long legs and arms which she uses to good effect. I believed her as Odette -- wilting and pale, the embodiment of a tragic and condemned figure. Her Odile was good. But not quite as strong as Odette or perhaps her Odette left such a strong impression that Odile could not compete. Her dancing in the coda was precise and I wondered if, during the fouettes she was somehow attached to the floor. She did not do 32 but who was counting? I saw Makarova in this role many times. She travelled so much during the fouettes I thought she would land in the orchestra pit!

Viktor Lebedev was only 20 when this was done in 2012, and only a short time out of the Vaganova Academy. He was an uninvolved participant in Act 1. He did his solo wonderfully but outside of that not much was going on. Clearly he was saving himself for what was to come. He came alive when he saw Odette in Act 2. He is a polished and elegant dancer. His stretched lean-ness is evident in his beautiful positions on arabesque. He seems to find 5th position in the air and his flawless technique, lite high jumps and fast and accurate turns are breath taking. He reminds me a bit of Mathieu Ganio. Although their techniques are very different they combine that technique with acting ability. I was convinced that this prince was looking for love and felt lost and alone at the end of act two, not something I usually experience. My one quibble is that he seems to lose his turnout at times. Which makes me uneasy in terms of future injuries.

Borchenko and Lebedev are well matched physically and technically which became even more apparent in Act 3. I am not a great lover of a Swan Lake with a happy ending. So I was not overjoyed with the way this ended. But one cannot have everything and I was quite happy overall with this performance.

Not as an after thought but I was happy to see Oksana Bondareva in the pas de troi. She has an unmistakable way of moving and an evanescent spirit that comes shining through.

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