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Monday, July 1, 2013


(Maria Klyueva in Adagio from “Sleeping Beauty”)

Some fine performances in a widely-differing programme (Review by Mary-Ann Salvage)

The Stars of the Ballet Moscow recently performed in Durban as part of their 2013 South Africa tour.

The first Act was dedicated to the Great Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov and opened with the Rachmaninov Tribute Prologue (Adagio from Symphony No. 2), a lovely Pas de Deux danced by Maria Klyueva and Roman Shuparskiy.

What followed was Paganini - One Act Ballet with original choreography by L Lavrovsky and restaged by Y Vetrov. As there was no programme note, I found this rather puzzling to follow. A mix of classical and neo classical styles, it did not quite gel with me. Paganini was danced by Aleksandr Alikin who appeared to struggle and almost dropped the Muse, ballerina Maria Sokolnikova. However, this did not faze her and she continued to dazzle with her superb technical abilities despite her small stature.

There were sudden appearances of six Muses with long flowing scarves which brought a lightness to the piece. Four men, the Violinists and Inquisitors dressed in red capes seemed to represent his darkness but this was soon thankfully overshadowed by the use of the haunting music of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. This was certainly the highlight to this confusing piece and lifted the mood. There was clever use of almost white light on stage which gave relief to a piece of choreography that for me was going nowhere.

The Final of the first Act (All by Myself) was an awful piece that should have been left out altogether.  It was one of those embarrassing numbers that I still do not understand the purpose of. It seemed totally out of place.

Having remained seated during interval pondering on the future of the programme, I noted that Act 2 celebrated the music of the Great Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky with ballets that we are more familiar seeing Russians perform. And, granted, they do the Classics the best.

Maria Sokolnikova’s interpretation of Juliet was youthful and exquisite. Alexandr Alikin was much more suited to his role as Romeo and danced this with tenderness. This was beginning to look more promising. The choreography was very clever with the two feuding Capulet and Montague families danced and represented by only two men each. It is not often that Tchaikovsky’s score is used for Romeo and Juliet as the Prokofiev score is more commonly used. This was a refreshing change.

The Sleeping Beauty Rose Adagio followed with Maria Klyueva dancing Princess Aurora with four Chevaliers who supported her with aplomb despite having to wear “over the top” costumes that looked like they had been found in the archives. This gave Maria Sokolnikova just enough time for her quick change and transformation into an incredible Odile which she performed with a very charming Prince Siegfried in the Pas de Deux from Swan Lake. I have huge respect for this ballerina whose third major Pas de Deux of the evening proved to be the strongest. Her 32 fouettes and effortless jetes across the stage, not showing a sign of fatigue, were impressive. The Dance of the Russian Bride from the ballet Swan Lake was danced with beautiful style by Maria Klyueva who was supported by six corps de ballet dancers in most unflattering costumes. They appeared quite uncomfortable and some of them rather busty, most unusual for Russian dancers. However, their Russian folk dance style and ballet training was evident in the piece.

The programme ended off with Le Grande Finale- Symphony No. 6 (Scherzo) performed by the whole company of Stars of the Ballet Moscow. - Mary Ann Salvage