05 November 2006

Swan Lake
Лебединое озеро
chor. Marius Petipa & Lev Ivanov (1895), Aleksandr Gorsky (1901) / actual premiere 1877
recension: Konstantin Sergeyev (1950)

Mariinsky Ballet
Балетная Труппа Марийнскова Театра
National Arts Centre, Ottawa at the end of October, 2006

Nothing was spared: four acts, several principals, full orchestra with conductor, huge corps de ballet, and tons of gorgeous scenery. At the performance I attended Odette / Odile was interpreted with sensitivity and verve by principal dancer Daria Pavlenko, an exceptionally seductive Black Swan. Unfortunately, at a moment of heightened theatre, her furious 32 fouettés ronds de jambe en tournant en dehors ended in a fall (coda of the Black Swan pas de deux) — the sublime suddenly became human! First soloist Leonid Sarafanov was an elegant, beautiful Prince Siegfried, very much a youth, but strong and precise in movement, with impressive elevation — he commanded full attention. A rare unsteadiness happened with a male dancer, but when the corps was on stage its dancing was marvellously light as well as disciplined. In this version of Swan Lake, in contrast to most, there is a happy fairy-tale ending. The Ottawa audience gave a long standing ovation with cheers.

Lewis Segal, reviewing the present tour, called the company "an imperishable achievement of Russian culture...[Despite] more than 70 years of [Soviet] government meddling, a ruinous imposed aesthetic and the resulting hack choreography, it not only sustained the highest standards but also completely reconfigured and modernized Western classicism. Where it dances, whatever it dances, greatness reigns."  [Los Angeles Times, 19 October 2006]