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Culture news, 28.11.2008 20:11

The Mariinsky Theater ballet troupe excels in the work of George Balanchine.

ballet George Balanchine’s ballets are an integral part of the Mariinsky Ballet’s repertory. Yury Fateyev, the new director of the Mariinsky Ballet, is also the chief Balanchine repetiteur (instructor) for the company. Last week there were two different Balanchine programs on view with interesting debuts in several roles, before the Mariinsky Ballet left for a short tour to Baku in Azerbaijan. The highlight was Balanchine’s sunny 1947 masterpiece “Symphony in C” which closed both programs. “Symphony in C” was revived towards the end of the White Nights Festival last summer after being absent from the Mariinsky’s repertory for nearly five years.

The first performance was more noteworthy with Mariinsky star Uliana Lopatkina’s presence as the ballerina of the adagio second movement, partnered by Danila Korsuntsev. However, as seems to be typical of Lopatkina’s performances nowadays, she gave a cold and self-conscious star performance, devoid of any expressiveness and spontaneity. What a contrast with the second cast three nights later: Anastasia Kolegova’s dancing was far more musical, alive and flowing.

The ballet was magnificently danced by the whole troupe. On the whole, both casts were rewarding, with Viktoria Tereshkina making her debut as the ballerina of the allegro first movement. She was sharp and precise, and was more satisfactory than Alina Somova, who has just been promoted to principal dancer. Andrian Fadeyev, Tereshkina’s partner, was technically dazzling.

In the allegro third movement, rising star Vladimir Shklyarov, partnering a radiant Yekaterina Osmolkina, was splendid, with his soaring jumps and sauts de basque enhanced by his charming personality. In the later performance the lead roles were danced by Yelena Yevseyeva and Filipp Stepin, making their debuts in the roles. In the last movement, Yevgenia Obraztsova was totally ravishing and delightful as the ballerina. Her cavalier, Alexei Timofeyev, an up-and-coming talent, was full of liveliness. The exhilarating finale, with the large corps de ballet filling up the stage, was a wonderful showcase for the whole company.

“Serenade,” an early Balanchine masterpiece from 1935 that opened the later performance, was also superbly danced. The Mariinsky female corps de ballet danced with far more vibrancy than the Royal Ballet had done in London the week before; their upper bodies were far more uniform and harmonious. Yekaterina Osmolkina was most expressive as the waltz ballerina. Irina Golub was pure joy as the Russian ballerina, one of her best roles. And Yekaterina Kondaurova, or “Big Red” as the New York public fondly call her, was imposing as the Dark Angel.

Kondaurova also impressed as the Lady in White in Balanchine’s haunting “La Valse.” Solslan Kulayev couldn’t have looked more deadly as the Fate figure. Ivan Kozlov made a respectable debut as the lover. Sergei Umanets, who has recently joined the Mariinsky Theater from St. Petersburg’s Vaganova Academy, stood out among the three supporting couples. This ballet has still retained its power since its Mariinsky premiere in 2004, when it was staged to celebrate the centenary of this greatest of 20th century choreographers.

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