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Friday, May 23, 2014


A good night at the ballet not to be missed. (Review by Mary Ann Salvage)

As soon as the music of Rodion Shchedrin’s Suite for Strings and Percussion based on Themes from Georges Bizet’s Carmen began to play, I decided this was going to be a good night to be at the ballet.  This is one of my favourite ballets and it was very interesting to see how this version of the choreography developed. Quite unconventional and modern in approach, Anatoly Emilianov combined elements of pure classical ballet and contemporary dance in his choreography, with good use of musical dynamics and phrasing.

Carmen - The One Act Ballet was divided into 13 scenes. The Prelude introduced Carmen, danced by Olga Burmistrova, who was accompanied by eight equally seductive female dancers.  Don Jose, danced by Sergey Dyachkov showed his technical and dramatic ability in his passionate, tender and fiery Pas de Deux with Carmen, which eventually turned to anguish as the tragic story unfolded.

Alexey Konkin dancing Escamillo the Bullfighter who tried to steal Carmen’s heart did not convince me as much as he did her with his technical or acting ability and was a rather weak contrast to the strong Don Jose.  Perhaps this was the intention.

The Corps de Ballet of eight female and three male dancers, were kept very busy throughout the ballet and were a necessary part of bringing this ballet to its Finale which concluded the first half of the Programme.

A complete contrast awaited us particularly at the beginning of Act 2 of the Programme.  Four exquisite replicas of what could have been the original Pas de Quatre dancers from the Romantic Period graced the stage. With Pugni’s music and choreography by Perrot and Dolin, these four ballerinas really captured the 18th Century style. It was beautiful, refreshing and delightful to watch.

Next came the crowd pleaser in the Le Corsaire Pas de Deux beautifully danced by Yulia Nepomniashchaya and Sergey Dyachkov. One felt extremely safe while watching the two of them dance. With his multiple turns a la seconde and leaps and her 32 impressive fouettes, this was a feast to the eyes. However, I did find it totally unnecessary to have four female dancers in odd tutus behind them all the time. I felt they were in the way and were a total distraction to the lead dancers.

An absolutely gorgeous and moving Contemporary Dance Solo Don’t Leave Me followed, danced by Anastasia Shiladzhyan to music by Jacques Brel. Whoever choreographed this piece has a true gift. Unfortunately their name was omitted from the programme.

No Russian programme would be complete without The Dying Swan. Those exquisite Russian Port de Bras and the haunting Saint-Saens music and performed by Yulia Nepomniashchaya must be for any ballerina, an iconic solo to dance since Anna Pavlova’s time.

The final piece of the evening was the famous Bolero music by Ravel. I have seen this music used in various dance pieces, ballets, even in ice skating, countless times but have never seen such clever use of choreography. Anatoly Emelianov managed to portray the music through his dancers, thereby making the music visible. The build-up to the climax of this fantastic piece of music was highlighted with imaginative and effective use of lighting, spot on with the music. It was a great way to end the ballet and the entire programme.

The Crown of the Russian Ballet moves on to the State Drama Theatre in Pretoria for the last four performances of their 2014 tour of South Africa. Don’t miss them! - Mary Ann Salvage