St Petersburg Ballet Theatre

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Japan     2011 2006 
It is said that Irina Kolesnikova is an actress. Recently, the Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre with whom she performs, toured Japan for the second time. Seven years have passed since, in 2004, the company made its brilliant Japanese debut. The long awaited full version of “Swan Lake” was performed on the stage of the Tokyo Bunkamura Orchard Hall from 6th to 9th May. There were four performances in Tokyo, and then the company moved on to Nagoya. I saw the last performance in Tokyo.

Kolesnikova has long, graceful arms and legs and dominates the space. The scope of this Prima Ballerina is palpable. She probably dances her roles so wonderfully well because she received a classical ballet education, but also because she searches for her own original way. In each act, in each scene, she expresses her talent in full. To give a typical example, in the second scene in Ivanov’s choreography she executes a dynamically undulating “port de bras”, a perfect rendition of the Vaganova style in my opinion. Right from the moment when she meets the Prince (Oleg Yaromkin) until the Grand Adagio, one can sense the fleeting changes taking place in Odette’s emotional state. They are so well performed that they are almost tangible. Her back muscles are so well honed as to allow her to adopt a pose whereby her upper torso bends way back, and her arms are amazingly mobile. All this allows her to express sadness and spiritual agitation to maximum effect and represents the core of Kolesnikova’s mastery of her art. There was also a new and original turn in this, K. Sergeev’s version, when the White Swan relates the story of her tragic fate.

When dancing the character of Odile, the expressiveness of her body changes with dizzying rapidity. When she meets the Prince’s gaze, she repeats exactly the gestures and facial expression of the unfortunate Odette when she met him on the lakeside. But as soon as she is out of his sight, any trace of a smile disappears from her face. This is a perfect expression of the Black Swan’s essence. Moreover, when the prince is not looking, Odile exchanges momentary glances with Rothbart and all her evil nature comes to the fore. I enjoyed observing her stunningly fast spins in the Coda and the shrug of her shoulders when she celebrates her victory and she finally reveals Odile’s diabolical quintessence.

Kolesnikova’s talent for reincarnation is based on very good technique. The very fact that she is dealing with a classical work bears witness to her supreme artistry. This ballerina is considered to be a unique performer with a large repertoire and I would like to see her return to Japan as Nikiya in “La Bayadère”, one of her best roles.

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